The new project I was talking about, due to being a sucker for Narita. OTL I've been tossing around the idea of translating some of his works for some time and I finally feel like Naoto has given me enough levels for me to give it a try. (I must be masochistic or something.)
Hariyama-san, Center of the World (or Sekai no Chuushin, Hariyama-san) is a series of connected short stories by Narita Ryohgo, the author of Durarara!! and Baccano!. They're basically strange or supernatural events that are seemingly unrelated, except that every one of them involves the title character, Shinkichi Hariyama, as a minor character in some capacity. The last story in each volume ties all the previous stories together. It doesn't take place in the Naritaverse (consisting of Durarara!!, Baccano!, Vamp!, and Etsusa Bridge), but it seemed interesting and it isn't currently being worked on, so I figured I'd give it a shot.
I do plan to translate all three volumes, though they're not a priority right now, since I really should finish Naoto first. Corrections and the like are always appreciated, since it's not like I'm great at this, lol.
Hariyama-san, Center of the World
–The monologue of a certain newspaper reporter
“...So, to put it simply, the newspaper I work for goes way beyond being just a gossip column... How do I put it? Stuff like kappa sightings, or America’s president shaking hands with an alien... It’s the kind of newspaper where those stories make the front page.
“A terrible incident I’ve run into before, huh... I’ve got lots of those. Let’s see... Well, don’t say anything, just listen to the story ‘till the end.
“A certain man was kidnapped by aliens right in front of his friend’s eyes... You know, like an abduction? And then it seems like he was taken to their mothership up in orbit.
“But you know, one day he suddenly came back. He won’t say what happened to him, but the friend who was with him when he was abducted... He told everything to that man, Hariyama. And what that Hariyama guy said was...
“The guy who was kidnapped was really the descendent of a Sayama ninja. He used ninja arts which had been sealed away at the close of the war because they were for hurting humans, saying, ‘It’s probably okay if my opponent is an alien,’ and with a shing–
“–Hey, wait, don’t leave, don’t get me wrong! The story starts here. The important part starts now, okay!”
“...Well, it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe me about that alien event. This is the meat of the story.
“So... hey, do you know about ‘Phantom Thief Ethanol’? Right, that world-famous thief. She always sends a letter with advance notice and takes the treasure for herself when the police and reporters are watching, just like those thieves Lupin and Tonchinkan from those manga.
“She sent one of those letters to a certain private house. The reason is simple. A kid living in that house had picked up the boot where she’d temporarily hidden a stolen jewel. ...But the phantom thief’s very proud, so she sent a letter even though she was just taking it back.
“Well... In the end, the theft wasn’t a success. On the date and time she’d written in the letter... That boot was left in the foyer of the house along with the child’s note: ‘I’m sorry I took it by accident.’ The thief’s pride was injured, and she kept pestering that house, sending letters for things no one cared about and continuing to steal them. ...Well, the family didn’t file a police report, so it didn’t turn into anything more than that. ...One day, the item specified in the letter was left in the living room along with some oranges and a note: ‘Feel free to take some.’ Since then it seems like the phantom thief has gotten along well with the family. Stupid, isn’t it?
“...You want to know what this has to do with the alien story?
“...The surname of the family living in that house is Hariyama.
“Yeah... It was the friend of the guy who got abducted... see.”
“...Do you think it’s just coincidence? Right. That’s gotta be it. It was coincidence. But if a lot of coincidences come together, it’s fate. All the suspicious incidents I covered after that. He’s in each and every one of them. He’s not the main character; maybe he’s just a passerby, or an eyewitness, just always as a ‘bit player’!
“The invasion of the cat-eared subterranean people (who have the bodies of worms besides the cat ears). The fraudulent marriages of three hundred people in a year. The Chuchuchu Chuchuparos incident. The first championship victory of the boys’ baseball team ‘Tokorozawa Ghost Busters’. The sightings of a dragon at Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park.
“Recently, there was a big, mysterious explosion at his house, too. There wasn’t a single trace of fire and in the end it was put down as having an unknown cause.
“Even in the articles we can’t publish... In all the cases I’ve covered, and there are lots of ‘em, he always appears!”
“Shinkichi Hariyama, age 37. Has a youthful and extremely fashionable wife, a daughter in high school, and a son in elementary school. His occupation is in graphic design, and he makes a wide range of things, everything from basic leaflets, books, and department store signs, to company logos and game packages. …‘Course, you would call him a designer... but that’s all. He can’t summon aliens, he doesn’t have ESP, and he can’t see ghosts. Just looking at him, he’s an extremely ordinary guy, no different from a regular human!
“...Still, there’s always something happening around him. The existence of that Hariyama man in and of itself – that’s the strangest ‘incident’ I’ve dealt with up till now.
“He’s always just a bit player in one incident after another, but if we think about it from his point of view – the number of incidents with strange conclusions are increasing, with himself as the center.
“It’s as if he’s the center of the world.”