Author: Haruki Murakami.
When I was at Watanabe's age I tried to read Norwegian Wood for the first time. I didn't make it pass the 3rd chapter.
I had a good friend back then, Noam Margolin, who swore by this book. He encouraged me to read it, but I couldn't.
Now, many years later I finally finished, Noam is dead, like Kizuki and Naoko. I dedicate my new animation to him in the credits "In loving memory", now this film is about to be released and I, like Watanabe, learn how to move on.
This novel is the first novel by Haruki Murakami (in chronological order) that has well developed female characters, and boy... He does such an amazing job. I think this is the best novel I've ever read in terms of character development and coming of age.
Watanabe is such a good person, he is a good listener, always there for his friends, and never forces himself upon others. And yet, he's exposed to so much manipulation, chaos and harm.
He is a victim of his own good soul.
I could relate to him and to his journey, though I find him sometimes empty of personality - which I wasn't at his age, and could not really relate to that side of him.
The way Murakami is dealing with mental health is so respectful and sensitive I can only jealous of him. Though I could feel it comes from difficult life experience.
From an older perspective, I understand I was not ready to read it when I was 20 years old. But I am so glad I finished it 15 years later.
Verdict: 5 / 5 ★ - Life changing.