Haruki was by and large a blameless man and had not done anything to deserve his new assignment. His only transgression was that he was not indispensable. And it had been explained to him three or four times that this was not a punishment, as far as that went. Not for him. Still, it smarted to be called before the board of directors and reassigned to a woman with a reputation as odd as Mrs. Nakamura’s. She had no friends in the company.
She was a normal kind of woman: her eyes were dark brown and always moving; her hair was tucked back into a bun. She was shortish and neither slender nor fat, with a face just too long to be pretty. She was well spoken and dutiful, polite – ‘To a fault,’ they would say. ‘Polite to a fault.’ Mrs. Nakamura was so polite that she could freeze a man’s blood in his veins at ten paces.
But there was no reason that she should be followed by a reputation for oddness and unreliability, a very vague reputation, because there were never specific charges. It could only be agreed that she was strange, and the exact manner of that strangeness had not been quantified yet to anyone’s satisfaction.
—from A Strange Adventure with Mrs. Nakamura the Safety Consultant by shiplizard
Most Spirited Away fanfics which are set post-movie tend to focus on the burgeoning love story between Chihiro and Haku. I can certainly see the reason why—we had come so close to a romantic coda, just for Chihiro to be sent back to the real world with only Haku’s promise that they’d meet again. Who wouldn’t want to see that play out?
But on the other hand, there are so many things in the world of Spirited Away to explore that I can’t help but wish they got equal time alongside the romance. So A Strange Adventure with Mrs. Nakamura the Safety Consultant by shiplizard was a delightful find. It stars a hapless company employee, Haruki, who’s forced to accompany Mrs. Nakamura, otherwise known as our Chihiro, and report back on any strange events. Haruki’s an adorable original character whose narration is pretty much spot-on what you’d expect from a newbie suddenly thrust into the spirit world. The imagery, in particular, is beautifully descriptive—shiplizard’s poetic description of every little detail renders the new version of old characters completely believable.