Natural disasters have plagues mankind and the world for years: earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes… giant monsters? This the premise of the novel MM9 by Hiroshi Yamamoto. The MM in the title stands for Monster Magnitude, which is similar to the earthquake’s Richter scale or the F-scale for tornadoes. Like 10 and 5, respectively, are as high as those particular scales go 9 is the top of the MM scale. A monster’s rating is based on several factors such as size, potential for destruction etc, etc.
The monsters themselves are usually dealt with by the Meteorological Agency Monsterological Measures Department or the MMD. Now this isn’t a highly advanced, cutting edge monster fighting unit. No this is a regular agency with a budget, and the bean counter to go with it, who usually gets chewed out by public opinion when their prediction turn out wrong and their day gets messedÂ up, much like actual agencies that predicts earthquakes and volcanoes. Although they do have the authority to work with the military and help coordinate the attack.
The book itself isn’t one long story, it’s five stories in one. Mainly each one is a self contained tale, but two have some connection. I wouldn’t say the book stars a certain individual since it’s more of an ensemble cast but some of the main focuses are Ryo Haida, a relative veteran of the MMD and the man more or less in charge of the mobile unit out in the field. Sakura Fujisawa, the main vehicle driver of the unit, she’s also the one who tries to see if there’s another way to deal with the monsters aside from killing them. Yuri Anno, an astrophysicist and mother of one. And Shoichi Kurihama, the department head of the MMD and the one who takes the backlash when the predictions end up wrong. There are some other members of the cast who help flesh things out but those four are, in my opinion, the main ones.
The stories themselves break down like this and I’m trying to stay as spoiler free as possible:
The first story basically introduces the cast and concepts of the world Yamamoto has built. He also goes into the science of the monsters a bit, or pseudo-science if you will since monsters of these sizes shouldn’t be able to support their own weight. This one also has one of the more unique monster concepts in the entire book.
The second story has the MMD dealing with a giant naked little girl. No I didn’t mistype that,I’m not going to repeat it and I’m not going to let that sink in. And you pervs get that image out of your head. A good chunk of the story deals with the MMD trying to figure out where this girl came from and who did this to her.
Story three deals with a flying monster from another country that makes it way to Japan for some unknown reason. This story also introduces Ryo’s hot, museum working, yokai loving girlfriend.
The fourth tale has a bit of a twist, part of the narrative is told from the perspective of a TV news program. The MMD thinks this will make for some good PR, the TV guys do what TV guys usually do. And they get their wish for some really exciting television when a plant like monster appears.
The final story is where the stakes are raised when the MMD find what may be the first ever category 9 monster. And this monster may also bring about the end of the world. Now they try to find a way to stop it. And why is this mysterious group that show up trying to stop them?
Now who would like this book? I’d say if you or somebody you know enjoy the daikaiju genre then I’d say it would be a good gift. Although those looking for movie level type of fight might be disappointed but they work. There’s nothing really ground breaking about it, and you’ve probably seen the character before in various other media. But a couple of character have what you would call a defining moment. And if you look close you might find theÂ occasionalÂ easter egg to various daikaiju films. The monsters themselves and their situations are well thought out in my opinion. The story itself was originally printed in Japanese but was translated into English for sale over here, so some of the nuances might have gotten lost in the translation. Over all I’d give the book a solid 3.5 star out of 5, kinda average but enjoyable none the less.
The book is available in paperback, the big paperback not the smaller mass market style, and on the Kindle and Nook formats from Amazon and Barns & Noble.