Once I start finding a show’s symbols and symbolism to be attractive, it often heightens my appreciation for the show and makes me passionate in my pursuit of understanding more about the series as well as interpreting the symbols in relation to the series. This was the case with Tatami Galaxy, and it is what’s currently happening to C – Control and me. I always loved series that were subtle with their symbolism, especially when they contribute to the milieu of the series and its further development.
I’ve tried to prove in the past that mysticism has an integral part in C especially in the Financial district. Although the reasons remain to be unclear, one is already more than a third into the series and I sincerely doubt all those symbols to be mere coincidences, as I’ve stated in my three previous posts.
Since this post is going to be sprawling, I think I should begin with the intricate link between the Qabalah and tarot mysticism, and work from there.
The Qabalah and the Tarot
The Qabalah is an important part of Judaistic philosophy that presents, through the Sephirot diagram, God’s relationship with his creations, or with the universe. Among the ten different emanations (marked with a circle), there are 22 relationships that not only correspond with the number of Jewish letters in its alphabet but also of the number of cards in the major arcana of tarot. Occultists did not take long to notice the parallels between tarot mysticism and the Qabalah, and developed that link with years of passionate study. While I honestly read five articles on the relationship between the Qabalah and the tarot, I cannot cover for a half millennia of intense study in just a few hours. I must also admit that I lack knowledge about both entities. What I did glean from the different articles I have read is that both the Qabalah and the Tarot observe and interpret the Tree of Life, or life itself: the two are not merely mystic and occult in nature; they also present life. I find it notable that these arcane symbols of life are solely seen in the Financial District. They do not appear in the real world, which seems contradictory, as the real world reflects more of life than the Financial District.
This, however, makes sense when the viewer discovered in the past episodes that the Financial District has such a hold in the real world that any major occurrence in the Financial District tornadoes into catastrophe in the real world, as explicated upon by Mikuni in the fourth episode. The real world shivers and quakes from the actions of the FD, but the converse is not true. The real world seems to be the puppet existence in this series.
Anyway, I also found it amusing that in my research, the Malkuth corresponds to a suit of pentacles in tarot. When the exchange of Msyu’s stock was being done between Kimimaro and Mikuni, guess what suit appeared: it was the suit of pentacles.
A Mix of Historical Mythology
Many people have noted that the Financial District presents an infernal image. I think they are correct, but to specify, I think the district channels Dante’s City of Dis. Wikipedia states that:
Dante emphasizes the character of the place as a city by describing its architectural features: towers, gates, walls, ramparts, bridges, and moats.
The viewer sees a desolate city with tons of towers, gates, and walls around. I don’t think it’s accidental. Furthermore, the natural inhabitants of the city, the assets, seem to look like the Furies that guard hell’s city. Not only does Q look like a Fury, so does Msyu.
Wikipedia describes Erinyes physically as:
The heads of the Erinyes were wreathed with serpents and their eyes dripped with blood.
Q nearly berserk
Compare this to the historical portrayal of the Erinyes.
It sure reminded me of Msyu and Q and of Ebara's asset.
I disagree, however, with the people who think Masakaki as the Devil himself, with the sole reason that he seems too disjoint from the action in the Financial District. He is more of an observer than an actor, even after a third of the series has already past. I think he was based more on the image of Pluto, who is not merely a god of the underworld, but is also heavily involved with wealth. I thought of this when I thought of the term ‘plutocrat,’ which was a person who domineered an aspect of society or government through his sheer wealth. I think this is closer than thinking of Masakaki as the devil.
Pluto, according to Wikipedia – one doesn’t really have to look very far, is:
Pluto (genitive Plutonis) is the Latinized form of the Greek PloutÅn. Pluto’s Roman equivalent is Dis Pater, whose name is most often taken to mean “Rich Father.” Pluto was also identified with the obscure Roman Orcus, like Hades the name of both a god of the underworld and the underworld as a place.
Most people are sidetracked by his abduction of Persephone and his being synonymous to death that they ignore this part of him. I think Masakaki as a pagan god is more apt than the obviously devious devil, and his actions reflect this.
To conclude, as these are all just speculations, I think an aberration occurred within the Financial District that connected it to the real world. As it is the realm of gods (or a god), the actions within this area have major repercussions in the real world, just as the actions of gods in Olympus affected how the world ran in Greek mythology. It’s obvious enough that the name of the circulating money in their world is Midas money – it doesn’t take much to connect it to another god known for his wealth, Pluto. I don’t think the infernal method of portrayal of the FD is a representation of hell; I think it presents an ‘underworld,’ and what more can remind us of an underworld than the City of Dis?
The symbols of life found in both the assets and the players and the mysticism behind them reflect the priority of the Financial District over the ‘real world,’ and it could be seen when one player became bankrupt: this was essentially where life was. Tarot and the Qabalah are known to observe not only one’s current life, but of one’s future lives. It also can be used to predict what will happen. It symbolically applies to the future collateral of the players in the FD.
I think Kimimaro was led into the FD by his father to correct this aberration (remember the mysterious notebook), and to free the real world from being affected by the actions within the FD. In contrast, Mikuni seeks to stabilize the FD to produce the same effect. There is something devious within the FD that I am as yet unfamiliar with that will propel Kimimaro to want to destroy the source of it all, as the ED suggests. Kimimaro will probably want to break the puppet strings between the FD and reality; Mikuni wants to maintain it with his guild and way of winning. I think this will be the source of friction between them from what I have researched, although all these are just guesses.
When Kimimaro sold Masyu’s stock in the fourth episode of C, the symbol struck me as something I’ve seen in Evangelion before. It was actually the symbols of the Qabalah: it was the Sephirot. The Sephirot is the symbol for the 10 emanations of the Qabalah. The Qabalah is a Judaic school of thought that discusses the relationship between God and the universe He created. As I’m not expert in its philosophy, I’ve provided links where one can read about it. (Kudos belong to wasabi of MAL for telling me what the diagram for the Qabalah was actually called. He reminded me of something I already suspected.)
The stock that Kimimaro sold was actually the location of the Malkuth, or the Kingdom. It is the only attribute of God that does not emanate directly from God. It emanates from God’s creation (one could perhaps interpret it in this series as the players’ assets). The description, as always, fits:
[The Malkuth is a]Female vessel for the pregnant nurturing of the male lights of the emotional sephirot into action/becomes the Keter Will source for any subsequent lower level in Creation/accomplishment/realization of the Divine Plan.
Msyu’s Kingdom is actually located in her womb (her vagina), the location where a normal lady can get pregnant. It is the location where the female vessel can and will get pregnant. Msyu, as a woman, is also the source of the realization of Kimimaro’s plan. Finally, tarot symbolism is heavily related to the Qabalah, as this picture suggests.
What connects the emanations - are actually the major arcana.
It may not really affect the plot in a major way, but I’m glad with the series’s attention to detail. The tarot and qabalah are quite closely connected, as they both explore the tree of life.
With the continuance of my observations regarding the previous episodes, I’ve become more convinced that tarot symbolism pervades the series especially in the Financial District. I think that it’s only apt because the Financial District is a mysterious, alternate reality that is out of reach to most existents in the real world. Whereas the major arcana depict the major players in the series and the cards that they possess, I’ve noticed that actions within a deal often show not only concepts in economics but reflect the meanings of certain cards in the minor arcana. In the succeeding paragraphs I will attempt to correlate the minor arcana with their appearances and their interpretations in the desire to create a link beyond mere coincidence and solidify tarot mysticism’s place in the Financial district.
Five of Cups
I think this episode established that the tarot symbols are anything but consequential: they are very deliberate, and they present themselves not only as reflections of the major characters that hold the cards, but are also seen in the actions during battle that the characters make. When Kimimaro was forced to sell a part of his asset, for example, the action he made seemed to create a picture of five cups (I actually counted them).
Not very obvious, but I'm assuming that's the five of cups.
Although the Waite-Smith deck does not reflect the picture as much as I would like, here is its picture:
It is a card of loss, but something remains over; three have been taken, but two are left; it is a card of inheritance, patrimony, transmission, but not corresponding to expectations; with some interpreters it is a card of marriage, but not without bitterness or frustration.
The description, as taken from Supertarot, again fits the actual incident in the show: Kimimaro is down on his luck and was quickly losing money because of the Poison Pill attack from his professor. He needed some help, and he inherited money from Mikuni because of that.
The Poison Pill: the Queen of Cups
The Queen of Cups
When Ebara enacted his special attack, the Queen of Cups was the predominant imagery shown, although there were also parts from The Moon (the lobster), and The Star. Like the Five of Cups, this card belongs to the minor arcana. According to SuperTarot,
[S]he sees, but she also acts, and her activity feeds her dream.
That’s pretty much the professor pat down. He acts because he wants to let his family prosper, but he also dreams. I’m glad he didn’t have any anger toward Kimimaro despite what Kimimaro did to him, although I also think he expected it given the nature of their competition. In the end, just like in real-life business, sometimes one gets lucky with the people he or she knows. What happened to his family was truly tragic, however, but I am glad that he has taken it with a bit more levity than his contemporaries.
The Trade: the Seven of Pentacles
The Seven of Pentacles suggests borrowing money to finance a project.[!] Coming up against obstacles to success. Hard work with no sign of success. It is a card of money, business, barter; but one reading gives altercation, quarrel â€” and another innocence, ingenuity, purgation.
I myself was surprised at how apt it was at that juncture: Mikuni traded for a stock in Kimimaro’s asset, essentially borrowing money to finance his survival in the financial district. I assumed it was pentacles because it was the only round object among the minor arcana. It’s undeniably apt.
Scorched Earth: The Queen of Wands
Notice how the flower looks like the ball in the series?
[...] love of money, or a certain success in business.
I am not even making any of these up. The tarot symbols overlap with the events of the story.
White Knight: The Knight of Wands
This will be the last post that I will correlate the symbols of Control and the actions during deals. All I can say is that more than ten points of synchrony is a lot more than just mere consequence, and that the symbolism of this show is really heavily based in tarot mysticism. An /a/non helped me with more pictures, so a lot of thanks to that guy.
The final symbol we’ve noticed is the White Knight of Mikuni.
Compare this to the Knight of Wands:
suggests the precipitate mood, or things connected therewith.
I rest my case. That’s a lot more than just coincidence.
I honestly thought that this was the best episode of the series as it is the first episode where Kimimaro realizes the full repercussions of his actions in the financial district, as well as the episode where he has finally made up his mind regarding his participation in the financial district. I was utterly floored not because it was only smart, but because it finally showed a heart that was lacking in the previous episodes. That simple declaration of determination by Kimimaro at the end of the episode introduced to us that beneath the cutthroat economics [Scorched Earth, Poison Pill, and White Knight are terms used to describe company takeovers in general] and competition lie the perseverance of a boy unwilling to lose against his demons. It gives a whole lot of significance to the introductory animation of the ending where Kimimaro stands on top a pyramid of money, raising his asset while nearly simultaneously appearing with the message ‘I HAVE CONTROL.’
The aptness of the ED only bolsters this love I have for the series, as it’s just so apt: it’s not merely a role-playing game he’s playing, especially in light of his teacher’s defeat. He is in to play for his life, and for the people he loves.
When I started watching C, I really thought that the symbols in the Financial District were both arcane and yet strangely familiar to me. Because I absolutely liked the introductory instrumentals, I kept on replaying the ending credits sung by School Food Punishment. This allowed me to look at the ‘credit card’ Kimimaro was holding, and it was strangely reminiscent of the tarot deck. It was then that I discovered that the majority of the symbols in the series were based on tarot mysticism, and the undeniable synchrony between the cards the characters own and what their symbols represent in tarot in comparison to their own personalities made me realize that there was more to the cards than just the pictures: they essentially reflected their entrepreneur’s personalities. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m not someone one would consider a film-lover, although I try my best to be abreast of critically-acclaimed films. I can’t say I love independent films more than big-budget blockbusters, but I try to watch as many good films as I can (although I haven’t watched Paprika yet).
I haven’t watched Oldboy, but I have watched two films of Park Chan-wook’s, and I am in agreement with many as regards his ability and talent in directing. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was pretty good, but Thirst was beautiful.
One would probably wonder why I’m talking about films when this is an anime blog, but Thirst is thematically similar to an anime series I recently finished: there are shared elements between it and Shiki. I know I haven’t been around to keep pace when it was airing, so I’m trying to make amends.
The most obvious motif is the supernatural existence of vampires. This is what arguably pervades the majority of philosophical problems that both film and series possess. In Thirst, a priest who sought meaning in his life decided to be a test subject for a fictional disease with no cure. Because he was transfused with vampire blood, however, he was the only one who was able to escape death from the disease. In exchange for his ‘cured’ state, however, was a severe desire for blood.
Unlike most stock vampires, however, the priest tried to procure blood through relatively benign means: he would steal from blood banks and seek out people who desired to die, and magically give them anemia, of course, which would hasten their death. He did not actively try to feed on people, and if he did it was never to the extent of murdering them. His transformation, however, awakened his desires of the flesh, and this was reciprocated by a woman who felt trapped in the mundane existence of her family.
I guess the prior viewing of Thirst didn’t really allow me to view Shiki as an ambiguous affair: I thought the family of vampires were enemies because they invaded a peaceful place and didn’t practice moderation, which they could have done. What happened to them near the end of the series was merely their recompense: what goes around, comes around. Was it utterly necessary for Sunako and the Kirishiki’s to create a palace in the middle of nowhere so that they can feed on the Sotoba village?
It was not. If they had the resources to create a castle as grand as their residence, they would have had the resources to purchase blood from banks, or even steal from those places. They could have made photodermatosis as an excuse for their inability to go out during the day, and then drink from bought blood when they felt hunger. Instead, they felt it was better to terrorize a whole village because they needed to feed.
Hemophilia, for example, is a genetic disorder. They could create that as an excuse and if that didn’t pass through they could just steal from the city’s blood banks. Instead, they wanted a village all their own.
I laughed when they were dying. It served them right.
Thirst for me was a great film because it didn’t make things as clear as other vampire movies did. The priest was a vampire one could definitely empathize with, because even if he was accidentally made into a vampire he tried his best to not kill others. His only weakness, in the end, was that he loved too much that he created another monster like himself. Even then, he tried to make up for his misdeeds by suicide: because he couldn’t stop her, he made sure that they both died. I can’t help but remember the final, haunting line he uttered to the lady he transformed:
‘I wanted to live with you forever and ever. Together again in hell then.’
I didn’t empathize or sympathize with most of the vampires in Shiki because of this. For me, they didn’t deserve any. They blindly obeyed the commands of Tatsumi; some even murdered their own family because they were merely hungry and wanted to have some companionship as vampires. There was no one other than Natsuno who thought of fighting against the spreading plague. The only other shiki I empathize with are Ritsuko and Tohru. Both still retained their consciences even as shiki, although Tohru fed on Natsuno out of necessity. I think that despite everything it was a good move by him, because it prevented Megumi from hypnotizing Natsuno, allowing Natsuno to warn Akira and Kaori. In the end, he also helped Yasuyo escape due to the prodding of Ritsuko, and faced his death together with her.
Self-control reminiscent of Father Sergius
I empathize most with Ritsuko and Natsuno, however, because they did not let their beastliness obscure their humanity. Ritsuko fought against her hunger and upheld her basic human duty to be responsible for others. Natsuno and her are probably the apotheosis of the Kantian deontological philosophy: treat each and every person not merely as a means, but always as an end. She translates this responsibility beautifully in her dialogue with Tohru:
I don’t want to die either, but I don’t want you [Tohru] or Yasuyo to die. [...] For me to live on, someone else has to die.
Tohru thanked Ritsuko after his release of Yasuyo: although he was a well-meaning guy, he needed see the decisiveness of Ritsuko to know that he finally did the right thing. Both would die in each other’s arms.
What Natsuno has done to deserve sympathy is more obvious, however, because even as a Shiki he helped destroy the other Shiki as well as helped Dr. Ozaki battle the vampires. In the end, even if he could have lived (as a werewolf he did not have any fear of the dark and could very well survive on human food), he decided to die with Tatsumi, the devilish werewolf who was actually the enforcer among the Shiki. He protected Akira and Kaori and placed Kaori in a hospital; he also smartly bit Dr. Ozaki because he knew the other shiki were targetting Ozaki’s life.
There are three other characters I’d like to share my thoughts on. They are Seishin, Sunako, and Dr. Toshio Ozaki. I won’t be very long with the former two.
I am not atheist. I am pretty much a Catholic. I honestly don’t have much of a desire to go to Church, however, because I have lost faith in a good amount of priests in our country. As a medical student, and being familiar with the reproductive health bill, I believe in the power of contraception especially in a state where the poorest families have the most amount of children. I would rather have the prevention of the creation of children rather than children who couldn’t even eat and probably will be those who will become the next generation of breeders. The Philippines cannot withstand another population explosion, especially because it has a small area.
I guess this negativity has rubbed off on my perception on Seishin, especially because he did everything a monk should not have done: he sided with evil, and condoned the perpetuation of the Shiki. He also killed someone who only desired to cleanse his village of the Shiki, Tomio. He never helped Ozaki when the deaths started to escalate and instead turned to Sunako to be with her. I hate hypocrisy, and he was one of the biggest in this series. It’s just like the priests here in the Philippines: unable to see the pragmatism on the Reproductive Health bill, they desire to uphold natural family planning in a country that’s for the most part a confederacy of dunces.
Together again in death, then
I have little to say about Sunako. Her logic and reasoning to me were weak, and she should have died. I’m glad Ozaki and Natsuno outsmarted her. There were other less violent ways and she didn’t think of it, but she thought on spending on a castle and eradicating the Sotoba village? She was an imbecile.
Finally, we have Dr. Ozaki. I don’t despise what he did to his dead wife, and I certainly don’t despise what he did to the Shiki. There wasn’t really any difficulty for me to tell the good from the bad, and he was the good party for the most part. I like him a lot because he reminded me of Dr. Bernard Rieux, the protagonist of Camus’s Plague.
Although he thought of the occurrences in Sotoba to be unreal, once he discovered the reality with Natsuno’s help he did not hesitate to do everything in his power to stop the deaths from consuming the entire village. He tried to pragmatically deal with his supernatural enemies, and was successful because he used reason more than emotions. Did I like what he did to his wife? No. Could there have been something else? It would have taken much longer and the village would have been outrun by the Shiki by then. He did not exactly have the benefit of choosing his specimen and while he could have controlled and aided his wife it wouldn’t have saved the village from them. It was because of this decision that the secret to the Shiki’s weakness was thoroughly discovered and it was because of this assiduity that the villagers were able to destroy the lair of the Shikis with such precision. He tries to battle the shiki in the village because it is his job as doctor to protect human lives.
He is just as pragmatic as Dr. Rieux and that is why I admired what he had done in the series.
I just finished reading Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Retailored). I can’t say it was pleasurable, but I usually finish what I start, whether with books or life choices: I’m still in medical school, after all. It was one of the earliest examples of postmodern literature, essentially being metafictional in the sense that it’s fiction about the creation of fiction: critics have classified it as a poioumenon.
For me, it was extremely boring. The combination of dry and archaic wit with an absence of any plot progression was just difficult to withstand, in my opinion. It is nevertheless one of the recognized English classics, and its historical presence cannot be undermined. As quoted from Wikipedia (because I’m lazy and the short entry is quite believable, at the very least):
Poioumenon (plural: poioumena; from Ancient Greek: Ï€Î¿Î¹Î¿ÏÎ¼ÎµÎ½Î¿Î½, “product”) is a term coined by Alastair Fowler to refer to a specific type of metafiction in which the story is about the process of creation. According to Fowler, “the poioumenon is calculated to offer opportunities to explore the boundaries of fiction and realityâ€”the limits of narrative truth.” In many cases, the book will be about the process of creating the book or includes a central metaphor for this process. Common examples of this Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus and Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy which is about the narrator’s frustrated attempt to tell his own story. A significant postmodern example is Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, in which the narrator, Kinbote, claims he is writing an analysis of John Shade’s long poem “Pale Fire”, but the narrative of the relationship between Shade and Kinbote is presented in what is ostensibly the footnotes to the poem. Similarly, the self-conscious narrator in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children parallels the creation of his book to the creation of chutney and the creation of independent India. Other postmodern examples of poioumena include Samuel Beckett’s trilogy (Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable); Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook; John Fowles’s Mantissa; and William Golding’s Paper Men; and Gilbert Sorrentino’s Mulligan Stew.
I have also read Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (because of Daniel‘s suggestions), and I have found both to be unappealing to my tastes. Both are too particularly English for me to love.
The novel is essentially an unnamed Editor writing about the complex Philosophy of Clothes written by Diogenes Teufelsdrockh. The Philosophy of Clothes is essentially a smorgasbord of philosophy, theology, culture, and a massive amount of tangents. I do recognize some of the wit in the tome and the attempts at humor, only that I believe it hasn’t aged well with regard to its comic side. Frankly speaking, it is about everything and nothing at the same time. If I were to compare this novel to anime, it would probably be a slice-of-life series dealing with the mundane coupled with a bit of wit. Hataraki Man comes to mind, although that series was a lot more entertaining with the issues it tackled. It’s also less forgettable compared to Sartor Resartus, because it at least has a proper plot that drives it forward. Sartor Resartus is a compilation of musings that were probably intriguing 180 years ago, but seem too trite nowadays. It would make a pretty bad anime series.
One of my notebooks was nearing depletion after about three years of use, and so I decided to write a lengthy write-up with dedication until I filled up the notebook’s remaining pages. I decided to write about Kuragehime.
The weight of words
It is nothing funny to lose a loved one at such an early age. Children for the most part are unprepared for it and have difficulty dealing with such loss. The absence will most certainly color their maturity and define their personalities in the future (as what is visible with Tsukimi). There are certain things one should never say to children suffering from the passage of someone dear: in our block on pediatrics one of the most memorable things I’ve learned is that one never tells a child who’s lost a loved one not to cry. It’s also no good to lie about the one who died, since children, while being young, are more perceptive than they seem, and lying about who they love will reverberate through their entire lives.
A loving mistake
Despite being unprepared, however, these children’s perceptiveness must not be ignored. Even at such young ages, children often correctly understand a certain event from the priming cues that event presents. In child psychiatry, it is an absolute no-no to be dishonest with a child upon the death of a loved one. As much as we’d like to believe the contrary, children are not idiots. Honesty is extremely important so that the child can face the truth of the event, although that truth must not be forced upon the child at loss: the child must know the truth, but in his due time and in his own terms. It’s no good to shove the truth down his throat.
A costly mistake most parents commit towards their children is lying to them with regard to their (the parent’s) condition for ‘the sake of the child.’ Simple words and statements like this build up a child to have faith in the dishonesty of fantasy, even if the words were said with noble intent. Another mistake is for the parent to tell the child not to grieve: as most of us know, children don’t have a mature sense of ideation, and their actions are mostly rooted in the physical world. If a child was told not to grieve by a loving parent, chances are he will follow that command even if it will be to his detriment in the future (how should the child know how about that?). Taken to the extreme, the child may have difficulty growing up adjusted, as the process of grief was not followed naturally.
The process of grief (described properly by the thanatologist Kubler-Ross) is not something to be taken lightly, as it is only in its completion that people finally move on and face the reality of the loved one’s passage. Because of her mother’s words, Tsukimi was not afforded this normal process of grieving. It is no surprise that her current existence was majorly defined by her mother’s death as she was still unable to move on from it. Because the normal process was stilted and stoppered, it transmogrified into something pathologic. Even after years have passed, Tsukimi was still heavily affected by her mother’s death. Had she been allowed to cry her heart out or had she not been ‘pressured’ by her mother, she may have become more adjusted as a person. She may even be one of the princesses who proudly strut Tokyo. One must recall that the primordial reason to her being an otaku of jellyfish was her excursion with her mother when she was near death: the child is the father of the man.
The OP expanded further
The opening animation of the song, as I mentioned in a previous post, is full of prognostication with regard to the future events in the series. As the allusions speak for themselves, they predict certain events from the short, referential skits.
At the later part of the OP, there was a marriage skit with Shu protesting the marriage of Kuranosuke with an unknown lady. That unknown lady popped up in the preview for the next episode, and it is currently obvious where Shu’s emotions lie. While it may seem disturbing for some that Kuragehime was going to become a love story, I am enjoying the direction it’s been taking as it won’t be anything but an iridescent love story: I’ve had my fill of the Amars and they’re very good, but only as side characters. I hope they will be more than one-dimensional at the end of the series, but I’m thankful that they have shifted focus to the relationships of the main characters. Besides …
Every story is a love story
All stories eventually and inexorably deal with love. The love may not be romantic or erotic in nature, but love can never be skirted from and can never be avoided in any story, as it is a fundamental positive emotion ingrained in every human being. It’s just that the love is directed towards different objects: whether these are inanimate or imaginary, as is the case with the Amars; filial, as with Quentin Compson; or of course, romantic, as with Shu’s towards Tsukimi’s. Every story is essentially a love story, however, perverted or sublimated.
As I’ve mentioned in the previous segment, I’m not too fond of the previous focus on the Amars and their idiosyncratic manifestations of love, so I find that the current direction of the series is more interesting. By placing focus on such a paradoxical emotion among the series’s central entities, the show’s become more colorful.
It has already been pointed out by many that Kuranosuke is highly attractive. An unbiased observer, as observed in the previous episode, funnily pointed out that Kuranosuke was ‘ikemen.’ Whether dressed as a woman or man, he’s highly confident in his beauty. He isn’t delusional: as he pointed out, he was endlessly scouted and his girlfriends were the beauties of his place. Their bitterness towards each other, however, lead to his disappointment in them. Their outward beauty was masked by their ugliness within.
In contrast, Tsukimi did not bathe in the knowledge of her attractiveness: in fact, she tried to shy away from it. She masked her outer beauty with disregard, but it’s quite obvious that she’s a kind girl. When Kuranosuke touched her up, however, she noticed her being a diamond covered with just a ton of dirt. Even then, he still wasn’t able to see her beauty, because he was so focused on her physical makeover. It was only in this episode where they looked into each other’s eyes (as Tsukimi’s disability with her vision made her braver), and he saw the beauty within and without. It was very entertaining to watch because he was in persistent denial with his feelings until he finally realized that his feelings towards her were growing. It’s ironic that despite his overwhelming handsomeness, physical charms and aggressiveness, he’s quite the underdog for Tsukimi’s heart.
I think it’s difficult to root for him, however. He can practically just walk and beauties will flock to him, whereas his brother has difficulty even having relationships with women. Shu has never been besotted as much as he is with Tsukimi, after all.
I sought to write this post topically, since there are a lot of interrelated but highly disparate issues that the current episode tackled. As the puzzle slowly gets constructed, the pieces more and more become connected to the picture. I’d assume that the mystery woman will present complications to the love triangle being fomented by Kuranosuke’s jealousy. She will either be interested in Shu or Kuranosuke, and will be a confounder to the major players involved.
I really don’t think Shu’s turned off with the normal Tsukimi, although I will have to see the future episodes to really tell. The incident during the previous episode was just one bad fluke, after all: he saw her at her worst. Sooner or later, he will have to see her as she really is. I am patiently waiting for the role the new lady will play, since she, at a physical level, is the antipode to Tsukimi: she is quite stylish; she looks mature; and seems social, too. She’s one of the princesses that Tsukimi dreams one day to be (even if she is already one).
One of the most haunting lines written by James Joyce was a quip from Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses. Dedalus says that ‘history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.’ It seems ironic, as it is due to the seamless intertwining of history and fiction that made Ulysses an enduring novel to many a critic. I think that the best stories serve as historical tracts at the same time, and this is especially true in novels.
Petersburg in revolution
Petersburg, written by Andrei Bely, is both brother and father to Ulysses. It was written earlier than Ulysses, and implements that magical mixing of mythology, history, and philosophy that was found in spades in Joyce’s novel. It inculcates news reports (history), mythology, psychology, and anthroposophy in a certain city, Petersburg, just like Joyce did with Dublin in his Ulysses.
Vladimir Nabokov and Anthony Burgess, among the most prominent writers of the 20th century, had nothing but praise for this novel. The premise of the story is quite simple: a senator, Apollon Apollonovich, was marked by an unnamed Party (note that this novel was situated during 1905 in Russia) for death by means of a bomb, which was a popular method of assassination during those times. The catch was that the assassin was going to be his son, Nikolai Apollonovich.
Bely made sure this wasn’t going to be just a rendition of Fathers and Sons. There are even instances in the novel where he parodied Turgenev’s works himself, such as mentioning a certain revolutionary who died of consumption (applicable to Fathers and Sons, as well). Petersburg was something more tasteful than that, and by avoiding being moralistic, Bely was able to elevate his novel into something much more.
The fundamental opposition of the story is between father and son. It is illustrated by the difference of their ages, but more subtly by the incongruity of their philosophies: whereas Nikolai Apollonovich was progressive and a liberal, his father was a Tsarist to the core. It was the reason why he was a high-ranking official in the monarchist government, but it was also one of the reasons why his son and him did not agree with one another (and barely even talked).
Like Ulysses, however, the relationships and references did not end there: mentions of Saturn were made. In Greek he is known as Chronos, or as the father who devoured his offsprings so as they would not be able to displace his reign or dispose of him. This is in disagreement with his namesake, however, who is Apollo, the god of the sun. There remains something that still connects them as family to one another, even in all their differences: while fond of symmetry and logic, Apollon Apollonovich was soft toward his hussy of a wife; in contrast, despite his Kantian philosophies (which was one of the reasons that led him to the madness of carrying the bomb), Nikolai was a fool in love. The idiosyncrasies of their character blur their clash of ideologies and sometimes father and son are painted as similar individuals.
The sun is also a symbol of the Ego’s progression in anthroposophy, which compounds the story further. While they are seemingly just caricatures, their personalities and characteristics disallow easy generalizations, and in this regard they are just as dynamic as real people. The best thing about this novel, however, that for me made it better than Ulysses was the fact that it actually told a highly engrossing story despite its wordplay and complex narrative. Whereas Ulysses was one large sex joke hidden in magical prose and complex storytelling, there was actually an engrossing story in Petersburg. This alone made it a much better read and a much better novel, in my opinion, than Ulysses: it told me that reality and fiction can be intertwined in creative ways while still being able to tell a wonderful story.
In 2007, Ang Lee made a stir in the cinema industry with Lust, Caution. It was a film that was sexually frank and uncompromising, showing visceral scenes of sex and sadomasochism between Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Tang Wei. The exposure was not merely for art’s sake, however, as it illustrated how the couple’s relationship evolved through the film. It was basically an espionage film: a girl was to infiltrate a Japanese collaborator’s hideout (this was situated in China), make him fall in love with her, and then entrap him so that the rebels could kill him. The rebels did not take the heart of the girl into consideration, and she had slowly, yet inexorably, fallen in love with the collaborator. It was a simple film that was more evocative than intellectual, but it made waves with both the critics and its perceptive viewers. I myself enjoyed the spectacle: pundits in fact were quite certain it would have won Best Foreign Film in the Oscars had there been consistency with the film crew.
Thirty years before this film, however, was Nagisa Oshima‘s In the Realm of the Senses, which was practically a re-enactment of a real life incident in Japan known as the Sada Abe incident: a prostitute had erotically asphyxiated her lover in the act of sex, and it was a notable film because aside from the sexual frankness (even more shocking at that time) it had unsimulated sexual activity. This means that the girl actually performed unsimulated felllatio on the male protagonist. The film itself is part of the Criterion Collection, a compendium of a significant amount of critically acclaimed movies from all parts of the world.
Ten years before this experimental and seminal film, however, Nagisa Oshima offered his own version of a Japanese anime. It was the 60s, where Astro Boy was the first animated series to appear on television, and when anime was not yet as developed as it was today. Oshima made Band of Ninja, a film that is technically anime because it is composed of moving pictures, but is actually the slideshow Bakemonogatari was assumed to be: it is, quite literally, just thousands of pictures spread across a two-hour period, with added sound and dialogue.
The result is a film that seems to be Naruto’s predecessor: there are ninjas with mystical powers, violent confrontations everywhere, and a decent amount of mutilations. Sadly, the subtitles of the film are lacking, and the animation techniques obsolete. As a testament of its time, however, Band of Ninja is, at the very least, interesting to watch.
You can download the torrent here [the film is unlicensed]. I am seeding for at least a week.
[This will constantly be edited with questions addressed in the commentary section of this post. I will utilize other blogs, research, and Quarkboy as references, in addition to my observations with regard to the series.]
1. From Vendredi: What is the importance of cats in the series?
When he asked the question, I was actually pondering the answer myself. This is merely a hypothesis, and may not be satisfactory to many, but even as early as the first episode the viewer is exposed to cat symbolism and cat imagery, most notably here.
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