Wanting to improve my Japanese reading skills, I went to the library to check out some books. My reading ability is still at a beginner level so I browsed the children's section and came across a book with an enticing cover that looked promising. The text is in Japanese with no English translation but has furigana (a Japanese reading aid which shows the simple way of reading kanji characters), which is helpful for children and people like me who still know far too few kanji characters.
The story is about a newspaper reporter named Mr. Mizuno who is thinking about what to write for his next article. He’s out fishing when he spots a young boy who helps him make a catch. As Mr. Mizuno takes the hook out of the fish and gets a good look, he sees the the fish's eyes look like binoculars. The boy drops his fishing net in surprise, and the fish escapes. Mr. Mizuno makes friends with the boy, Masashi, and then catches a normal-looking fish. The two of them grill the fish on the beach but Mr. Mizuno drops it on the sand when it’s fully cooked and their lunch becomes inedible. Instead they open cans of beer and juice, have a drink and prepare to leave.
Masashi takes his juice can to the nearest trash bin and can't believe how full the garbage can is and how dirty the beach is. He throws his can in another empty bin but Mr. Mizuno tosses his can away, hitting their abandoned grilled fish.
The next day Mr. Mizuno sits at a table in a coffee shop faced with a looming deadline and no story. He looks out the window and sees what looks like a man dressed as a giant fish is driving a jeep. He hurries out of the shop, flags down a car and convinces the driver to follow the jeep. They lose sight of the jeep but suddenly Mr. Mizuno finds himself out of the car, on the road, face to face with the giant fish!
“Is there something I can do for you?” asks the giant fish, “It seemed like you wanted something from me so I fished you out of the car with the antenna from this jeep.” Mr. Mizuno’s shirt is torn by a fish hook and he can’t believe his eyes. This isn’t a man wearing a giant fish costume, it’s a genuine talking fish who’s as large as Mr. Mizuno himself.
When Mr. Mizuno asks the fish where he came from, the fish replies, “ I came from all the smaller fish that humans toss aside without a thought.” He adds that he’s hungry. and Mr. Mizuno suggests that they have lunch but when the fish stops the jeep, there’s no restaurant to be found. The fish explains that this spot is his own personal restaurant. Mr. Mizuno looks around, sees a mountain of aluminum cans, and realizes this is where he was fishing when he met Masashi.
In the meantime, Masashi has found a small fish in a puddle and takes it home. It’s covered in mud so Masashi washes it and sees that it’s rainbow-colored. He wants to show his mother and goes to look for her. But Masashi's fish starts eating everything it can get its mouth on and becomes as huge as the fish whom Mr. Mizuno has encountered. When Masashi comes home to find the giant fish, he tries to call for help, the fish eats the telephone before he can use it.
Mr. Mizuno’s giant fish had been nourished by many little fish that were discarded as waste. Those small fish had eaten all the accumulated garbage on the banks – the aluminum cans, the beer bottles and other assorted trash. And now what's to become of Masashi? Will the whole town be taken over by giant fish eating everything in sight? Somebody needs to do something, but what can be done?
This story is a warning to humans about what could happen if they let every little thing go to waste and don’t take better care of the planet.Entertaining from start to finish with a surprise ending, this book should be read by adults as well as children in order to make them think about how they treat their environment.~Ernie Hoyt