August 15, 2016
Shonen 娼年is a novel about a 20 year old college student, Ryo who becomes a callboy. He is very bored with his school, women, friends, family, and basically everything about his life. One day he meets Shizuka Mido, a mysterious and gorgeous woman in her late 40’s at a bar. He starts working as a callboy at her club. Shonen is a play on word involving shonen 少年 (teenage boy) and shofu 娼婦 (prostitute). The novel was written by Ira Ishida and had been nominated for the Naoki Award in 2001, for the award that is given to literature that is considered to be included in the most prominent literatures of Japan. Though he did not win the award for Shonen, he won the award for his other novel, 4teen in 2003. Despite this, many say that Shonen was the best amongst all of his novels. A lot of literary critics say that Shonen is said to be a masterpiece that describes the sexuality of older women. However, it also beautifully depicts the romantic tendencies of youth. For example, when people cannot receive love from their parents during their childhoods (a parent dies, or a parent is emotionally unavailable), that person tends to be attracted to a person as old as their parent.
Another example of romantic tendency that Shonen describes is that when people are young, they tend to take drastic measures when they are in love. The second volume of the novel is titled Seinen ( 逝年）which is a play on the words 逝 sei which means to die and 成年, an adult man. Both of the novels were adapted into comics. In addition the novels were adapted into a play in 2016. In the play, Saki Takaoka played the owner of the prostitution organization and Tori Matsuzaka played Ryo; the play was very well received. There seems to be no plans to adapt the novel into a live action movie as of yet. However, if a movie based on Shonen was created by the prominent French movie director Patrice Leconte, it would be wonderful as he is known for his excellent skills in depicting the beauty of women as is shown in his movie, Rue Des Plaisirs. Sadly this would be impossible as he has already declared his retirement.
The English version of Shonen was published in digital format a few years ago, but it is no longer available.