OK, I've never been to Japan, but I'd like to see this version of Japan, definitely.
This book is very stylish, hip, cyberpunk, yet also mixes in the beautiful traditional things about Japan, which can also be a double-edged sword in being frigidly traditional and coldly rejecting.
I really enjoy the Rei's spunk and drive to keep working in a very nonreceptive overall environment, although there were some friendly individuals who were nice to her. People just cannot get over her mixed race, old-maid syndrome and her short hair--it just brings social interactions to a screeching halt.
This fantasy world of anime and role playing is amazing and offbeat. If they really do have huge conventions of anime role-players, I would sooo love to be there, just to see the spectacle.
If you liked this book, you'll like the movie "Chungking Express", which is very quirky as well.
Storyline: Rei gets assigned to work on a manga article. She knows nothing about it, but on investigating, a whole new world unfolds, with thousands of people totally obsessed with role playing, having huge conventions, wearing character costumes. Then, one of her sources turns up dead in the river, and her other sources are running scared. There's mafia at the beach and other fun.
About the boyfriend, there were some things about him that turned me off, I thought he was self-centered and self-obsessed in how he treated her, especially the swimming at the beach scene, and I'm glad she's not going gagga over him. It's good that he cares about the environment, yet he doesn't really care that deeply for her. He means well though.
I really enjoyed that she has strong, funky friendships that are highly entertaining and that give her some social support. Her friend Richard and his shenanigans are hilarious.
I would love to see a movie "ChungKing Express #2"-version of this book.
Another good book on wacky conventions and crazy people at them: "Bimbos of the Death Sun".