Musashi Audiobook Review
“Musashi” might be the most famous book in Japan. Eiji Yoshikawa’s masterpiece is a book that has everything: romance, heartbreak, battle, action, revenge, character development, and personal growth. Musashi is a story about a wild boy who grows up only knowing how to be strong, but who evolves into a wise adult. That man is Miyamoto Musashi.
Note: This is not a paid advertisement in any way. I’m just writing about an audiobook.
The Ultimate Adventure Story
That’s right, “Musashi” is the ultimate Japanese adventure story. The way he goes wandering around feudal Japan, accepting challenges and falling into fierce feuds with samurai and ronin: as you listen, you start thinking maybe you know where they got the ideas for those adventure anime series that never seem to end. You know the kind. Shows like Bleach, Inuyasha, and Naruto come to mind.
“Originally released as a serial in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, between 1935 and 1939,” Musashi is a book that every Japanese person surely knows about, even if they have never read, or heard, the novel (quote from Wikipedia).
And talk about epic. The audiobook clocks in at a whopping 53 hours and 24 minutes. That’s over two entire days. Here’s a screenshot from me on chapter 6:
The Audiobook Version
Ok, so Musashi is a famous, amazing adventure story that has everything. And at 53+ hours, you’re definitely getting bang for your buck. But what about the audiobook narration?
Narrator Brian Nishii
Brian Nishii was an obvious choice for narrator. His first language was Japanese, so he’s able to pronounce the Japanese names correctly. It would be so cringe to have a native English speaker bungle all the names — something that always seems to happen to Mongolian books! (Someday, I’ll write up a little article about that mess.)
It’s not only that Brian Nishii’s pronunciation is accurate. His resume is amazing. The dude’s a professional actor. What’s more, he has also narrated other books, including Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima, and I loved him in that.
But with all due respect, Brian Nishii has this tendency to ruin the book for me. His voice acting style is extremely campy.
To be fair, that’s fun sometimes. And honestly, his campiness is often warranted. There are a lot of funny scenes, and Brian Nishii’s goofy voices capture the humor. But they’re so extremely goofy sometimes that it takes me out of the scene. And that’s the last thing I want. I hate that.
One More Problem with Musashi
There’s one more problem with the book, and this one isn’t his fault. From chapter to chapter, there’s a lot of characters. And it’s hard to keep track of. Not only that, but they all have Japanese names. It would be hard enough to keep track of a Bob, a Fred, a Chris, a Dave (then again to be fair I’m terrible with names).
With Musashi, it’s one of those situations where you find yourself rewinding several times to make sure you caught all the background whenever we get introduced to new characters with new backgrounds. But luckily, it’s one of those things where you can sort of just let it go and the book is still enjoyable.
And that really is lucky. After all, don’t you just hate it when you miss something, and then you go through the rest of the book not knowing why the story doesn’t make complete sense, but you’re too lazy to go back for it? That is the absolute worst.
Well, I found that that isn’t a deal breaker with Musashi. Which is good. Because it is a long goddamn book.
Long story (bang for your 1 Audible credit); accurate pronunciation; seasoned voice actor; classic Japanese adventure story; captivating characters who grow and evolve
Campy acting at times; multiple names can be confusing
All in all, “Musashi” was worth my 1 Audible credit.