The third book: Mosaic (Mozaiku モザイク), also published in 2001.
The first half was better than Antenna – quite plot-driven, with an interesting couple of main characters. But then it starts to suffer from the same weaknesses as Antenna. Too talky, to static.
The main character here is Satô Mimi – and yes, we’re meant to think of “ears.” Mimi, who narrates, discovers that. …She’s an ex-SDF, ex-martial arts, ex-psychiatric nurse who’s working as a kind of mover, an isôya 移送屋, helping with the transfer of people who are probably mentally ill, but who aren’t enough of a clear and present danger that the authorities are stepping in. She was transferring a delusional (?) kid through Shibuya when he ran away, and now she’s trying to find him.
The mental illness bit brings us back into similar territory as the first two novels – we’re dealing with hikikomori again. And like those novels this social issue is just a hook to get into all sorts of mystical speculation. This time the idea is that all the young kids hooked on cellphones are microwaving themselves into a new kind of consciousness, a new stage in evolution, and that Shibuya, where so many of these waves are concentrated, is kind of a portal or something into another level of existence, of awareness, of consciousness…
This time the mysticism is even less engaging than in the previous two books, partly I think because it’s so clearly pandering to kids. Hey, kids, most adults think you’re rotting your brains with all that cellphone crap, but I know you’re really pioneers of a new consciousness! Etc.
Narratively it’s perhaps even more problematic than the second book. Again the plot grinds to a halt while the narrator engages in endless repetitive conversations with experts in one field or another – we’re exploring epistemologies just like in Outlet, but while it was effective there, here it just feels random.
And this book doesn’t even have the virtue of attempting a gender-reversal or balancing act on the Outlet ideas, because here gender is all but eliminated as a concern.
Just kind of lame. And the focal image is kind of weak. Outlet worked partly because of the powerful focal image of the outlet. Antenna had a good central image, but it kind of failed to come into focus. Mosaic – well, given the sex-saturated nature of the first two books, I expected this to be the bokashi of porn (also called mosaic), but it’s not – there’s almost no sex in this book, in fact. Instead, it’s a mosaic in the English sense, a picture composed of tiny parts – it’s an image for the new collective consciousness of the cellphone kids. Kind of weak – and not at all parallel to the images in the first two books. It’s not electronic (although the cellophones are, of course).
Well, that's no surprise: it's not a trilogy in any except a marketing sense.