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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Yamamoto Hiroshi

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To purchase MM9

Title: MM9
Author: Yamamoto Hiroshi
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007 (Eng. 2012)
Length: 251 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: MM9 - US
MM9 - UK
MM9 - Canada
MM9 - India
  • Japanese title: MM9
  • Translated by Nathan Collins

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Our Assessment:

B : light fare, but entertaining and quite well done

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       MM9 is set in a slightly alternate universe, where many of the great natural disasters of recent (and older) times were caused not by things such as earthquakes but rather by kaiju (怪獣) -- the oversize monsters like Godzilla familiar from countless Japanese schlock films. So, for example, it wasn't an earthquake that killed 140,000 people in and around Tokyo in 1923, it was one mean mother of a kaiju. The novel focuses on the department of the Japan Meteorological Agency in charge of kaijus, the Monsterological Measures Department (MMD).
       Like seismologists, the monsterological measurers have a scale to define how nasty a kaiju is -- MM, short for 'Monster Magnitude', which originally only went from zero to five, and:

Kaiju of one ton or less rated at MM0, and each increase of a point on the scale was equivalent to a 2.5.times increase in volume.
       To date, the biggest kaiju weighed in at 3,600 tons of water displacement -- MM8.9 --, so the title of the novel suggests they might eventually be facing something bigger.....
       The novel in five parts -- with chapters with titles such as 'Arrival ! The Colossal Kaiju of the Apocalypse !' -- has the MMD deal with a series of kaiju, but there's also an overarching story involving a group that is actually egging the kaiju on (and worse). The MMD aren't really kaiju-catchers -- taking out the kaiju is generally left to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (so the official euphemism/term for the Japanese military) -- but the members of the MMD do often wind up on the front lines in assessing the kaiju and how to deal with them.
       In MM9 they're faced with some sizable specimens, and Yamamoto is fairly creative in what he comes up with -- beginning with the surprise twist of the first seemingly enormous one the team is confronted with. An outsized girl then presents a special problem -- clearly human, this isn't the kind of kaiju that you can just blow to bits on national television (oh, yes, the camera crews are almost always on scene). Kaiju also aren't just a Japanese problem, and one particularly dangerous (though not too oversized) one makes a beeline for Tokyo from very, very far away in a fairly exciting race to the finish; this one presents special problems in how to deal with it even if and when they catch up to it (or vice versa). There's a mandrake-kaiju, too, in a clever twist, but of course what it all builds up to is the biggest, baddest kaiju imaginable -- yes, an MM9.
       Yamamoto develops this alternate-reality -- more or less identical with ours except for those kaiju -- fairly well, even going so far as to try to explain the physics of the kaiju's existence and even coming up with an explanation of how such oversized creatures can exist, given that basic physiology doesn't really allow for it (too much weight for their anatomy to bear). He also doesn't rely on the most familiar kaiju -- no Godzilla or Mothra -- but offers a creative and entertaining variety. There's also a fair amount of behind-the-scenes description of the MMD team at work, as well as descriptions of some of the members' lives outside of work (though usually not for long -- they're pretty much always on stand-by, and kaiju keep popping up). A nice touch is a chapter presented as a television documentary of the MMD at work.
       This is all pretty light and superficial fare, without too much detail or deep reflection, but it's solid, well-thought-out and presented, and pretty darn entertaining. Good fun.

- M.A.Orthofer, 15 January 2013

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MM9: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Yamamoto Hiroshi (山本 弘) was born in 1956.

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© 2013 the complete review

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