portion of the artwork for Cathy Ulrich's stories

Cathy Ulrich’s Comments

These three stories are part of my “Japan” series, which feature the same narrator, the Japanese boyfriend, the 12-tatami apartment, and, from time to time, an additional player who is always called Takeshi Tanigawa. The series starts with a ghost story and ends with one.

“Generic Magical Girl #12” is a commentary on the magical girl phenomenon and on American superheroes and their relationships. And, of course, on the sadness of the narrator, which is what these are all really about.

For “Asleep,” I took the title from a Banana Yoshimoto collection, Asleep, which features a story about a woman who is a paid co-sleeper (here, the similarities end). I had in mind a particular “sleeping club” in Akihabara when I wrote this story. This has a very hopeful ending for the narrator, but, of course, it’s all a lie.

“A Small World” is the earliest-written of this trio, and one of my personal favorites from the series. The hikkikomori (similar in nature to an agoraphobe or a recluse) is a pretty complex element of Japanese culture, these mostly young men locking themselves away from society. This story plays on that concept and, again, highlights the narrator’s general misery. But it also is the only of the “Japan” stories where I have an excuse to mention Cowboy Bebop, my favorite anime.


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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 51 | Spring/Summer 2018