This blog is a storage space for various thoughts, observations and musings centering on shōjo manga (少女漫画, Japanese comics for girls), josei-oriented manga (Japanese comics for women) and manga created by women (in the widest sense). Topics from other fields of relevance, such as music, art, literature and film may be discussed here as well.

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Viewing all posts with tag: writer: murakami ryu

Murakami Ryu & Anime: The nomenclature of EVA plus Anno Hideaki, EurekA

During my research on Murakami Ryu I realized that Murakami’s been observing both mass culture & subculture phenomena from an almost outsider’s point of view while at the same time he himself is part of this mass media monster, this huge machinery (with both positive and negative qualities) in which everyone seems to be influenced by everyone in their output and instantly influences others the second they publish their ‘product’/output. As controversial as his thoughts and works might be, Murakami has already influenced a flock of younger writers, some of which have paid homage to his works through tiny details in their own works. As an example for that, here are a few connections between Murakami and anime:

1, The naming of a handful of (minor) characters from Eva was apparently inspired by character names from Murakami’s novel Ai to Gensou no Fashizumu (1987) as Anno Hideaki, the director of the anime, later wrote in an essay.

For example, there’s Suzuhara Touji (鈴原トウジ) whose name was “borrowed” from the protagonist of Fashizumu, Suzuhara Touji (鈴原冬二). His friend Aida Kensuke (相田ケンスケ) also has a doppelgänger – by name, at least – in the novel (相田剣介). The surname of their friend Hikari, Horaki (洞木), is used in the novel for a male character called Horaki Kouichi (洞木紘一).
One person appearing in the novel called Yamagishi Ryouji (山岸良治) might have been a source of inspiration in the naming of Kaji Ryouji (加持リョウジ) and Yamagishi Mayumi ((山岸マユミ), the female main character from the Sega Saturn game Evangelion 2nd Impression, though Anno said the ‘Ryouji’ came from a character in a Narita Minako manga, so who knows… There’s also a bunch of very minor characters whose names can also be found in Murakami’s novel, like Tokita Shirou (時田シロウ; inspired by Tokita Shirou – 時田史郎 – in the novel).

The Murakami/Anno connection continues. In 1998 Anno Hideaki made his non-anime directorial debut when he had the chance to adapt Love&Pop, Murakami Ryu’s short novel about enjo kousai which was published in 1996, for the big screen.

2, And then there’s Eureka seveN (2005), the current generation’s Evangelion, which I admittedly quite enjoyed, though not nearly as much as Eva. It was written by the highly celebrated screenwriter Satou Dai, who also wrote (episodes of) other brilliant anime series such as Cowboy Bebop, Wolf’s Rain, Ergo Proxy and Terra e…, to name just a few. He apparently made a cross-reference to Anemone, the female protagonist in Murakami’s Coin Locker Babies (1980) by naming the pink-haired Anemone, the oh-so-tormented pilot of the Nirvash LFO TheEND, after her. In the book, Anemone has an alligator called Gulliver and in the anime, Anemone’s pet is this weird mixture of a duck, a sheep and something indefinable that is called Gulliver, too.

Oh, the geekiness!


Categories: Anime, Books/Literature/Writing, Film/TV, Japanese Literature, Various.
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Posted on Dec 21, 2007 (Fri, 5:47 pm). .


The English translation of Kanehara Hitomi’s novel Autofiction is going to come out in just a few days through Vintage UK. I’ve already preordered my copy :) To celebrate the occasion I spent this afternoon re-reading her debut, Snakes & Earrings (which I’ve sort-of-reviewed here). This time I found it so much easier to relate to the three main characters and found the writing a lot more reflective than the first time. I think it has a lot to do with gained personal experience, my current mind set etc. And with that, my hopes for enjoying Autofiction just as much are extremely high.

Just by skimming through the reviews on Amazon Japan it becomes pretty clear that lots of readers seem to have difficulties with categorizing Kanehara’s writing. Is it pure literature? Is it entertainment meant to shock and sell? Is it literature at all or just plain trash? I’m not a friend of categorizations at all. Different pieces of art/culture/literature appeal to different people, you can love something and relate to it and feel that it reflects your own way of life and thinking, or you simply don’t. Kanehara’s stories truly aren’t made for a wide range of readers. (Though at least her debut was a huge commercial success after it received the Akutagawa Prize.) Only a small fraction of people probably can fully relate to her characters because not everybody is trying to find alternative ways of living or to take things to extremes. It is a kind of “alternative” literature that’s very controversial but definitely deserves to be called literature. (And that shocking, provocative nuance of her works definitely isn’t new to Japanese literature anyway, think Akutagawa, Tanizaki, Dazai Osamu, Murakami Ryuu etc.)

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Categories: Books/Literature/Writing, Japanese Literature, Various.
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Posted on Apr 29, 2007 (Sun, 4:01 pm). .

Snakes & Earrings

During my last journey through my favourite bookstore I was browsing the new books section, when one particular book caught my attention. I read the author’s name and the title and they certainly rang a bell, I blinked, my brain worked hard, I blinked again and then I almost hugged the person standing next to me out of sheer happiness: Kanehara Hitomi’s Hebi ni piasu has been released in English!!!

It is published by Vintage/Random House in the UK under the title Snakes & Earrings and was translated by David James Karashima. The cover design is absolutely beautiful. I was totally oblivious to the fact it would be published in English *_* Actually, says the book won’t be out until June 2 but it’s definitely out already ;) I didn’t even think twice about buying it, just grabbed a copy of it and was the happiest girl this side of the Equator.

Kanehara was awarded the Akutagawa Prize for this book early last year. The media went berserk because she and the other winner, Wataya Risa (for her book Keritai senaka) are both such young girls. There were even people complaining that the jurors chose them to get the attention of the public as the publishing industry has been on a decline and nothing sells better than scandalous books by sexy young ladies. (Both girls are quite different though. Kanehara is really much trendier and different whereas Wataya is more the nice smart girl who’s studying at Waseda.)

So last night, I sat down and devoured Kanehara’s debut. It was a fast read as the book is on the slim side with its mere 118 pages.

Lui is a 19-year-old girl who meets a guy with red hair and piercings in a night club. He’s called Ama and gets Luis attention by showing her his forked tongue. Lui gets interested in body modification and wants to get a forked tongue herself and also becomes Ama’s girlfriend. She gets to meet a friend of Ama’s, Shiba-san, the owner of shop selling earrings, accessories and sex toys. Shiba-san is a tattoo artist. Lui starts to visit him on a more or less regular basis and wants him to design a tattoo for her. They end up having sex together without Ama being aware of it. Ama has a soft core even though he looks pretty scary but one night he beats a guy to a pulp because he’d hit on Lui. A few days later, Lui reads in a newspaper that a gangster was killed and the suspect is a red-haired young man. Lui is shocked but isn’t sure whether this was really the guy Ama beat because she can’t believe he’s a murderer. Nevertheless, she dyes his hair blonde to protect him from any investigations by the police.
While Lui becomes more and more addicted to alcohol, she maintains a sado-masochistic affair with Shiba-san. She’s more or less convinced she’s going to get killed by either Ama or Shiba-san. But what if it’s not Lui losing her life but one of the guys…?

Unfortunately, I thought the novel was a bit of a letdown. Large parts of it read like the livejournal or weblog entries of your average girl who can’t deal with the majority of society and tries to live a life different than most peoples’. The writing isn’t really unique, smart or inventive, there’s not much specialness or even beauty in the language or the style.
There are just one or two reflective paragraphs; the book isn’t exactly full of insightful thoughts and ideas due to the limited language itself but interestingly enough, Kanehara realises this herself and expresses it through Lui:
“I collapsed on to the ground and broke down in tears. Screw you. Go to hell, you fuckers. I wish I had a greater vocabulary to fully express the extent of my pain and hatred. But I don’t. I’m just pathetic. That’s all I am.” (p.105)

The characterizations are also somewhat lacking. You don’t get emotionally very close to either of the three main characters, not even Lui, the heroine. You don’t get much information about their lifes or family backgrounds just like the characters don’t know much about each other. But this proves fatal in the end and just illustrates the faults of Lui’s life.

The relation between Lui and Ama is rather cute though. It’s what touched me the most emotionally because even if their relationship is based on almost no common interests, they care about each other. I also found myself liking her descriptions of the sex scenes. They are explicit but somehow distanced and unemotional and thankfully not as brutal or even downright disgusting as those of some other younger writers.

I think Kanehara is very much aware of the faults in her writing and she uses them to create her very own style. She’s by far not a second Murakami Ryu or Yamada Amy, two writers she likes and looks up to. At least not yet. But you can sense her potential.

Ash Baby, Kanehara’s second novel, is supposed to be just as shocking. (I read it involves rather unusual forms of love, for example one of the characters is attracted to infants – in a sexual way! o_O) One can only hope she doesn’t use such elements just for the sake of shocking people. She needs to develop a way to give her stories a bit more philosophical, sociological or psychological background so her books aren’t just shocking accounts of the life of young outcasts written in a pulp magazine kind of style but have depth and meaning and justify the term ‘literature’.

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Categories: Books/Literature/Writing, Japanese Literature, Various.
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Posted on Apr 2, 2005 (Sat, 12:09 am). .

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