Review - Lala Pipo by Hideo Okuda

Lala Pipo


“This sleazy novel is not recommendable for ladies or gentlemen.”

So reads the jacket of the Japanese edition of this collection of six dark, interrelated, tragicomic chapters dealing with themes of desire, inadequacy, and failure, using the underbelly of sex as its canvas. As misheard by one of the characters, “a lot of people,” is “Lala Pipo.”

Lala Pipo is an ingenius tapestry of absurdity, whose cast of unlikable characters cross the line of good taste that even those who have crossed the line cannot help but notice. Each act pushes the envelope past the one preceding it. It’s like an episode of Seinfeld directed by Bob Guccione, all the story elements cleverly weaving together, taking the reader from shock to gut-busting hilarity with each tale. The main difference: these losers are X-rated.

Lala Pipo is being made into a feature film to be released in Japan in 2009.


Well I have to agree with the book’s cover quote, this book is sleazy. It’s also not a book to read if you are looking for something uplifting or happy. The themes this book explores are all related to hopelessness and the helplessness that follows. The characters in this novel may have been good people at some point, but life, society and other people have dragged them down into a depraved existence.

Lalo Pipp is separated into six short stories involving related characters (although unknown to one another), and builds to a explosive coming together of coincidences and misery. There are no likable characters to be found here, but their horrible lives and the disastrous decisions are what keep the plot moving and the reader ensnared.

I What A Fool Believes A self-exiled writer who is obsessed with masturbating to sounds of sex he hears coming from his upstairs neighbours apartment.

II Get Up, Stand Up The story of the upstairs neighbour who is a talent scout for hostess clubs, now has to find a mother/daughter ensemble for a porn shoot.

III Light My Fire The mother half of the group who lives in a garbage infested home and steals her neighbours hate mail for thrills.

IV Gimme Shelter A Karaoke Bar employee, and writer of the hate mail, who finds his workplace turning into a whorehouse.

V I Shall Be Released This follows the story of a writer of erotic novels who goes undercover to the Karaoke bar to escape mid-life frustrations.

VI Good Vibrations This chapter wraps up all the stories and ends the novel. 

While Lala Pipo is definitely not for everyone and does contain a lot of disturbing things, it does present a valid representation of the way in which society has created a self-involved way of life. None of the characters seem to be aware of the world and people which surround them. Although the subject matter of Lala Pipo is not attractive, I did find the narrative and dialogue to be quite engaging.

About The Author

Hideo Okuda was born in 1959. His first novel was published in 1998 after he worked as a magazine editor, planner, and copywriter. He is now one of the most popular author of entertainment novels in Japan, known for his comical portrayals of people at all levels of society.

Published by Vertical Inc.

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Florinda said...

It sounds interesting, but not really my thing. I'm not much for short stories, but they do appeal to me more when they're linked like the ones here, and I am a sucker for story titles taken from songs. Thanks for the informative review!

Book Zombie said...

Interlocking stories are a thing I love in books too.

The song titles as chapters were an interesting touch, it makes you wonder how the song relates to the story afterwards.