Brave Story (Novel-Paperback)

by Miyuki Miyabe

Other authorsAlexander O. Smith (Translator)
Paperback, 2009


Haikasoru (2009), Edition: 01, 820 pages


With a determined plan to reunite his mother and father, the 10-year-old boy named Wataru knowingly enters a fantasy realm inhabited by a goddess who has the power to change destiny. With the help of the Lizard Boy, the Cat Girl, and the Fire-breathing Dragon, Wataru faces a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. One way or another, the young hero must reach the Tower of Destiny and bring his mother and father back together again.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Silvernfire
This book kept defying my expectations--both for good and for bad. Sometimes in young adult novels, adults come across as cardboard cutouts, just obstacles for the young adult characters to react to. Not so in this book: Miyabe leaves you feeling as if the adults are people in their own right, even if Wataru only sees them as a child would. I was also afraid that this book would devolve into a generic "boy seeks magic talismans that let him power up" story, but while Wataru does indeed do that, the gemstones are pretty secondary to the rest of the plot. So after all this, I was disappointed that some major plot points were left unexplained. And after Miyabe went to all the trouble of devoting about a third of the book to Wataru's life and problems in the real world, I was surprised that she wrapped things up so quickly there at the end of the story. It was an abrupt ending for such a long story.… (more)
LibraryThing member rnnyhoff
This story, an 800+ page translation from the original Japanese, is a blend of the cartography of J. R. R. Tolkien (on the book flaps) and the fanciful world and characters (throughout the story) of J. K. Rowling. It is a rousing good tale that takes the protagonist, Wataru, an upper elementary student, through a looking-glass world named "Vision", a landscape populated by both malevolent and innocuous animals, a sorceress, provinces of virtue, and one fellow human out to do him harm.

The young boy's life is a mess and his journey is an attempt to reunite his family. His father has left the family and a distraught mother has tried suicide and is in the hospital. So begins Wataru's adventures to a place of fantasy and reality as he seeks to affirm virtues in himself. His reward: a key to the future and a way to heal his broken family.

I believe writing of Miyabe, a veteran novelist of immense popularity in Japan, is engaging, enlivening, and enriching for the YA reader. All ages from an advanced reader of 12 to college-age would enjoy the peregrinations of a bold young boy as he traverses a foreign world to find friend and foe as he perseveres to attain his goal, his quest of knowledge to bring peace, once again, to his family.

As Wataru experiences the realms of faith, bravery, charity, and the power of light and dark, gaining a gemstone in each, he is getting closer to the infinite strength he will need to win back family unity. It is an engrossing and absolutely thrilling read.
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LibraryThing member poulter
I was so surprised by this book; I would not have read it if it hadn't become required reading (and on short notice!), but it left me breathless. Comparisons to Harry Potter are inevitable, but this is not for children under 5th or 6th grade. I know very little about life in Japan, but I felt like I got a real and accurate sense of daily life for a child. The explanations of Vision amazed me, once I was able to fully wrap my mind around the concept. And Wataru's battle to the death with himself was astounding. Yes, the ending wraps up a bit too neatly; on the other hand, we clearly see how Wataru has grown through his journey.

I'll admit, I carried this book around for days after I finished it; I wanted to keep it close to me, opening to read random passages. It feels like a remarkably accurate translation, making a foreign culture and fantasy world accessible to American reader.
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LibraryThing member rebecca10
i loved the interesting plot and dramatic charictor backgrounds, but the end was terrible!
LibraryThing member FolkeB
This is one book you shouldn’t judge by its cover. While the art may scream “children’s book,” Brave Story is definitely aimed at an older demographic. The first part of the book details the life of 11 year old Wataru throughout the collapse of his parent’s marriage and several very strange happenings in his neighborhood involving a mysterious transfer student and an abandoned building. The second half of the book details Wataru’s journey through the land of Vision where he goes on a quest to change the fate of his family. But Vision isn’t perfect, and Wataru eventually realizes the true solution is not to change his past but to change himself. It’s a gripping fantasy story and is much deeper and darker than your average fairytale, with Wataru having to deal with suicide attempts, racism, injustice, and political power struggles. Miyabe moves the story along very quickly, pulling you in and keeping you on the edge of your seat for over 800 pages. Her characters are all very well rounded, interesting, and easy to get attached to. Don’t let yourself be turned away by the cover; this is a wonderful novel!

Nicole C.
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LibraryThing member shatteredreflections
This book reminded me a lot of Labrynth, or The Never Ending Story...with a child getting drawn into a secret hidden world. I really enjoyed this book. One reason that I enjoyed it is that it took me awhile to read. Being translated from japanese into english made it a little "choppy" so I actually had to concentrate on sentance structure and wording as my brain really could not predict what word was going to be used next.… (more)
LibraryThing member Eurekas
Waturu is eleven years old, his parents are getting a divorce and his father is moving in with an old lover. His and his mother's lives are in chaos. Vision is a land made up by people from our world. Every ten years the portal between Vision and our world opens and one or two Travelers (people who seek to change their destiny) came come through. Waturu would like to change his and his mother's destiny and not be the ones who are discarded and left behind. Each journey in Vision is individual and based on the mind and memories of the Traveler taking it. The objective is to find four gemstones which will lead to the Tower of Destiny where the Goddess will grant one wish. Waturu came through the Portal with Mitsuru, a boy he knows from school whose father killed his mother and sister. Their two journeys are very different.
Mitsuru is very sure of himself and very capable and will stoop to nothing to achieve his end. Waturu is not self assured and makes many mistakes but he has compassion and he both needs people and helps them when he can. Mitsuru is a loner but helps Waturu in several instances. Who will reach the Tower of Destiny first? Only one will get their wish granted. The cast of characters are many and they are all well rounded and compelling. This is a long book, over 800 pages, but well worth it.
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LibraryThing member LJuneOsborne
This book is an example of why I love to read a children's or young adult's fantasy novel every once in a while. The focus, instead of being on multiple heroes doing different things at once and massive battles between groups of monsters, is usually on an individual boy or girl reacting to the fantastical little by little, taking on challenges and making childish mistakes.

A good portion of the beginning of Brave Story is devoted to the main character, young Wataru, in the real world, struggling with family issues. These trigger his adventures into a fantasy world where he has the chance to change his destiny in the real world.

This fantasy world and the way it functions in connection to the real world is very well thought out. I found myself half wishing it were real, it sounds like such a lovely idea. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I can't possibly describe this fantasy world, but I will say the real world and the fantasy world are closely entwined, but that may be obvious by now.

Wataru's adventures in this other world comes to symbolize his struggle with grief, and I found myself relating to it more and more as the story went on. The book became a message on the positive transforming force the process of working through grief can be, as well as a cautionary tale for those that fall victim to grief and let it destroy them.

Anyone who has experienced or is experiencing grief will find themselves reaffirmed by Wataru the Brave and his adventures. Aside from the grief theme of the book, there is also a very entertaining story here that will be enjoyed by many readers, young adult or otherwise.

There is one thing to complain about, unfortunately. There were many typos and translation issues I seemed to notice, more of them around the end of the book than earlier in the story. A few typos is not enough to bother me, but there were so many that I was beginning to become distracted by them.
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LibraryThing member DenzilPugh
I remember as a child watching cartoon movies on HBO and Showtime, movies like Nausicaa, which fascinated me, as they were nothing like any of the cartoons you saw on television at the time. Characters with emotional depth, with real feelings. And sometimes the characters died, which is something you don't see on American cartoons. Cobra Commander might have been an evil mastermind, but he couldn't shoot the broad side of a barn. And no Transformer ever got killed until the movie, which sent many of us into therapy. There's a fundamental difference between anime coming from Japan and those cartoons coming from America.

Take even video games of which I've talked about recently. Final Fantasy VII was ported directly from Japan, with all of its movies added. This includes the death of Aerith, the flower girl, some 2/3rds of the way into the game. She's a playable character with special skills and everything, and even though you work on leveling her up, at that point, she dies. Of course, I thought (not having read any walkthroughs) that she'd be resurrected at some point. Of course we'll have her at the end of the game, or Cloud would go into the lifestream and find her essence and bring her back. But that's not the case. She never comes back. It was a shock to many people (look her up on the internet, it affected a lot of people). I think that's why J.K. Rowling shocked so many people with the deaths that occur in Harry Potter. Main characters just don't die. It doesn't work that way....

But it does. And that's what makes the movies and video games and books coming out of Japan for young adults so much more poignant than those that come from Western Civilization. We're just not willing to see someone that we have invested emotional ties to be killed off in the middle of a story line. They have to come back. Nowadays, when Optimus Prime is killed (which he is, inevitably, every single series), it's not a shock to anyone, because he will always come back somehow.

So, to the book review. I read Brave Story, by Miyuki Miyabe, who is most known, until this book, for Suspense thrillers. Most reviews will tell you that it is slow in the beginning, that it drags out and it is good, but too long. What they don't get is that the length of the set up of the story is meant to set up Wataru's real life. Which is the life that we all lead, for the most part. There are bullies, and divorces, adulterous affairs... all the things that makes the real world what it is.... and most importantly, it sets up all the things that children are protected from in the real world in America. The book talks about the suicide of one of the friend's parents. You wouldn't have that talked about in a normal kid's fantasy novel. But it is the real world that people run away from, and only through Wataru's running away into the land of Vision do we experience the growth during that time of escapism.

The book is like the worlds of Hayao Miyazaki all laid out in print. It is the world of Hyrule or Final Fantasy in words. Masterfully constructed, a work that should be aside Paolini's Eragon or Harry Potter. The interesting thing is that the book is placed in with the Manga works, with most of the Japanese authors. I understand why, as the story has been adapted to Manga form, and Anime, and video game form (on the PSP and in Japan on the PS2). But the main work is a novel, and deserves to be read by those who love Fantasy or Young Adult fiction. It will change someone's life, just as The Hobbit changed mine.
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LibraryThing member SMG-FParrington
A beautiful well written book.
Creates a world that i can visualise around me.
An enthralling storyline with amazing characters, cities, animals and natural features.
TAkes a while to get started but once it gets going you won't want to put it down.
LibraryThing member maribou
Weird in good ways, dull in some parts. It was too much work for the payoff, but I still liked it. Reminded me a lot of Chronotrigger in aesthetic/feel/level of focus-on-the-visual .... I kept seeing 16-bit versions of the story in my head.
LibraryThing member librarymary09
Heavy hardback with slippery pages and small text. Unpleasant to hold. Couldn't get into it. Didn't finish it. Not ashamed to admit it. :)
LibraryThing member AlphaHikar
Starts off slowly, but turns out to be an interesting enough read. Brave Story is very detailed and planned out. It feeds the imagination so that not one visual detail can be missed, while at the same time developing the characters as the story progresses. I was disappointed with the ending though. I felt like the main character should have changed at least one thing upon his return to his world. Mitsuru certainly would have, but Wataru was a let down towards the end. It's unclear what really happens to Mitsuru, but anyone can take a well informed guess and know his fate. I just felt as if Mitsuru earned that wish since Wataru seemingly wasted it. Why struggle so much for so long if you don't do anything with your reward?… (more)
LibraryThing member librarymary09
Heavy hardback with slippery pages and small text. Unpleasant to hold. Couldn't get into it. Didn't finish it. Not ashamed to admit it. :)
LibraryThing member NickAlmighty
Although over half of the story takes place in a world which could have been pulled from a generic JRPG(this is done purposely, but that is a lot of shallow reading you have to go through), the rest of it keeps you hooked.
LibraryThing member PhoenixTerran
Miyuki Miyabe's novel Brave Story was originally published in two volumes in Japan in 2003. The English edition, released by Viz Media's Haikasoru imprint in 2007, is complete in one volume and received the Batchelder Award from the American Library Association for best English translation of a children's book originally published in a foreign country. The translator in this case being Alexander O. Smith (who also did a great job with his translation of All You Need Is Kill). The story has undergone several adaptions, including a series of light novels for younger readers, a manga series, an anime, and appropriately enough even a few video games. I first encountered Brave Story through the manga, also written by Miyabe and illustrated by Yoichiro Ono. After reading the first volume I knew that I needed to read the source material. And so it was that Miyabe's hefty novel, over eight hundred pages, made its way to the top of my reading list.

Wataru Mitani is a typical fifth grader--he's an average student, enjoys playing video games (the Eldritch Stone Saga is his favorite fantasy series), and gets along well with most of his schoolmates, especially his best friend Katchan (even though his mother doesn't approve). At least that is until the aloof Mitsuru Ashikawa arrives as a transfer student. Wataru would be more than happy to be friends, but Mitsuru doesn't seem to care about anyone. Suddenly, everything starts to fall apart in Wataru's life when his father unexpectedly decides to leave him and his mother. But then he stumbles upon the world of Vision which seems like something out of one of his video games. Mitsuru, whose family situation is even more tragic than Wataru's, has also found Vision. The two of them become rival Travelers in the fantasy world, given the opportunity to complete a dangerous quest and by doing so change their and their family's destinies in the real world.

Brave Story is surprisingly dark and deals with some heavy issues such as divorce, death, and suicide. As if problems in the real world weren't enough, Vision faces religious war and genocide. But even so, Brave Story has a very positive message even if it is hard to accept--realizing that hate and anger are very important parts of being human and shouldn't be pushed away and hidden but embraced. Yes, things are bad but you have to learn to accept all of who you are in order to change anything. Reality hurts, and Miyabe doesn't pull her punches. Wataru's experiences are authentically heartbreaking and he has to deal with circumstances that no one should have to. It would have been nice to have seen a bit more of Mitsuru's story, but ultimately Brave Story is Wataru's tale.

The book almost seems to have a split personality--the real world is emotionally wrenching while the fantasy world is almost comforting in comparison. But, it works. Wataru's reality slowly starts to intrude upon his fantasy until it can't be ignored. Personally, I found the real world elements more compelling than the fantasy elements, but everything is pulled together nicely by the end. The majority of Brave Story takes place in Vision and while important the section felt a bit long to me and lacking in urgency until close to the end. But overall, Brave Story is quite good and is a story that adults and mature younger readers can both enjoy alike. I, for one, am very glad that it's available in English.

Experiments in Reading
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LibraryThing member schufman
Although it was a book about a child, had some adult themes and was a very slow-moving book. Obviously very Japanese. Not exactly a light or fun read, but interesting enough that I worked my way through all 800-some pages of it.
LibraryThing member kenkisa
sweet story


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

820 p.; 8 inches


1421527731 / 9781421527734
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