Kusuri-uri Theory

November 29, 2008 at 8:48 am (Animanga) ()

In the epilogue of the last arc, Kusuri-uri mentions that as long as there will be mononoke, there will be the Sword of Exorcism, and as long as there is the Sword of Exorcism, there must be a hand to wield it (or something to that effect; I’m paraphrasing from memory here).

Now, I remember reading somewhere else that ayakashi don’t only arise from the souls of dead people (or living people who are repressing parts of themselves) or need to be from people period. Under certain conditions, they can also come about from objects or tools. Ones that are highly coveted and are valuable, I would guess. I remember a mention of tools which are used continuously for ninety-nine years?

Anyway, so let’s suppose that the Sword of Exorcism is one of these objects. Clearly it is a special object, and we’ll suppose it’s been around for a long time, used continuously to sever mononoke. What if the Sword of Exorcism gave rise to an ayakashi? What form would this ayakashi take? Perhaps…Kusuri-uri?

But Kusuri-uri refers to himself as human, doesn’t he? So maybe he isn’t an ayakashi. Maybe he’s a mononoke, one created when the ayakashi born of the Sword of Exoricism came into contact with positive emotion, or perhaps simply neutral emotion–and the emotion in question belonged to Kusuri-uri, hence turning him into a mononoke whose duty is specifically to wield the Sword of Exorcism. Sort of like Ochou-san and the Noppera-bo, where the mononoke was born of Ochou-san’s repressed resentment and despair and took on an autonomous aspect (which she may have been subconsciously influencing; the mononoke loves her faults and all, rather than overlooks them as her mother and husband did–he loves her for who she is.). In a sense, Kusuri-uri is himself a mononoke, essentially human but a vessel through which the Sword of Exorcism may act (hence his transformation whenever the sword is drawn).

The details of his contract between them, or agreement, or symbiosis are unclear (and I mean, I might just be flat out wrong, so.). Obviously it expresses itself physically in Kusuri-uri’s coloring and markings. But it also seems to grant him a kind of immortality; he’s still alive and well decades after the first four arcs are set.

(It may be that he was a human who gained enlightenment and thus attracted the Sword’s ayakashi’s attention.)

So, um. I’m not sure exactly where this leads or what conclusion may be drawn from it, but. Just a thought.

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Mononoke

November 28, 2008 at 3:28 am (Animanga) ()

Last night I watched the first five eps (aka the first two arcs) of Mononoke. It’s really really good; the visuals are so colorful and over-the-top you’d think they wouldn’t work for a mystery/horror show but they really do. It’s like this crazy funhouse candy shell over the seething darkness of the human id, and there’s always something that’s just slightly out of true, enough to make it just a little grotesque and creepy. They’re not beautiful, but they are effective and extremely cool to watch. Check it out, yo! And if you need more convincing, here’s a beautiful AMV/unofficial trailer to help sway your mind.

But enough blather! This is a meta journal, not a rec journal! And so, I move on to: thought about the Medicine Seller. Or Kusuri-uri, because the Japanese is more fun to type and say and also shorter.

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Unafraid to Need: Saiki Daisuke and Wanting to Matter

November 20, 2008 at 6:24 am (Animanga) (, , )

Because apparently Epic won’t leave my brain alone? Here, have a mini essay thing I wrote about Daisuke.

I’m pretty sure it’s chock full of spoilers for Epoch, but I might have to look into that more closer — it’s possible that it’s only full of spoilers up to a certain point. Spoiler warning to be revised at a later time when I have the .pdf on hand.

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The One True Ring

November 14, 2008 at 12:58 pm (Animanga) (, )

Okay, so this is beyond lame, but I want to gather up random bits of meta I wrote before I had this journal. This is the first: a collection of random thoughts on the theme of rings in Kaori Yuki’s Count Cain/Godchild (it’s had two English names. No, I don’t know why either.). Might be more to come…I can think of at least one or two other things I’ve written I’d like to add to the collection, if only for the sake of completeness. I can’t remember when I originally jotted these notes down.

Spoilers for much of the manga.

~~~

I remembered a comment I read somewhere about Kaori Yuki’s plots being INSANE but being set much more thoughtfully then you’d think. And I realized that that is more or less the case concerning Suzette’s ring.

The ring shows up three times: when Suzette returns to find her unfaithful lover, when Mikala shows up, and when Cain dies. Each time, there is the strong theme of fidelity with that particular story, and with the characters. The end result of that fidelity is always death.

With Suzette, she was devoted to her lover, who was not to her. The ring was her engagement ring. There was a Romeo & Juliet deal with them, except this time Romeo declined to die and decided to marry someone else. Juliet returns half-crazed from being buried alive and kills her Romeo, as well as herself. Suzette is loyal to her disloyal fiance, even until her death she believes that he loved her. She is buried with the engagement ring. (Maybe this is of significance: Cain was in love with Suzette, who was his cousin. He aided her Romeo & Juliet plot against his better judgement by providing the poison Emerald Forest.)

The ring later shows up on Mikala’s finger. Mikala is basically a clone made from the ring finger of the dead Suzette. Mikala was told and believes that Cain belongs only to her; she believes this to the point she will not tolerate anyone or anything hurting him (for example: a dog attacks her, Cain gets scratched protecting her, and Mikala nails the dog to a door). She is not so much loyal as obsessively and possessively in love with him. When he rescues her from the fire, she and Merry have a discussion about the nature of love. Mikala ends up betraying the Delilah member sent to make sure she kills Merry. However, as a result her unnatural lifetime runs out–and she “dies.” Leaving behind the ring.

The last time it shows up significantly is at the scene of Cain’s death, when Clehadol finds him. In the events leading up to it, we see Riff’s “fake” good personality win out over his “real” evil one, Riffael. The reason Riff’s fake personality wins out is because of his love and devotion to Cain; he can’t bear to watch his evil self kill or hurt his master. He finds Cain underground due to his understanding of Cain, knowing Cain’s likes and dislikes to the point he can find him anywhere. And then the building starts to collapse–but Cain refuses to leave Riff, who only has a little time to live. They are found together, Cain gently held in Riff’s arms, Riff protecting him with his body, even to the end. Both are dead. The ring is in Cain’s palm; Clehadol takes it and obliquely gives it to Merry.

So we see that the ring represents fidelity, love and loyalty, even until death. Actually, specifically suicide. It is a symbol of Suzette’s undying love for her fiance and belief in her fiance’s reciprocated love, despite all evidence to the contrary. She later dies along with her fiance (you could call it suicide as well since her hands are coated with the Emerald Forest poison; she may have still been aware that it killed, though why it took so long is a mystery). It is the symbol of Mikala’s (conditioned?) obsession with Cain, which later becomes a kind of genuine love for him, but her actions to prove it (to Merry and herself) result in her own death (suicide, again.) And then we have Cain and Riff. Riff, who kills “himself,” (ie. Riffael) to go to Cain’s rescue. Cain, who stays behind with Riff, knowing that he will die as the building collapses. Love and loyalty until death — to the point of suicide.

You could throw in the ring representing love from beyond the grave to boot. The ring appears with Mikala, who is at least Suzette’s body brought back to life. And then it appears when Clehadol carries out what he feels is Cain’s last wish, setting up the tea party with the ring for Merry, as a symbol of Cain’s promise to return to her for the party. The ring would represent love even after death, or love despite death, or the love of the dead.

More ring symbolism: the other ring, the sapphire one in the Solomon Grundy story. Not quite the same symbolism as Suzette’s ring, but the theme of love until death is certainly still present for Rose.

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Apocalypse Now

November 13, 2008 at 6:49 am (Animanga) (, , )

Someone’s writing a–I hesitate to say fanfic, even if it’s technically true, but it’s more like a novel in scope, really. Anyway, it’s the plot of CLAMP’s X/1999, but set ten years later (so, er, x/2009?). The premise is: what if Kamui had been given an extra ten years to think over his decision before he had to pick a side?

It’s called Epic, and the first book Epoch is currently being posted here scene by scene, though you can also request the .pdf of the entire first book. I highly recommend it; it’s what I ended up doing and it was totally worth the wasted hours spent mailining Epoch rather than studying. *grins*

I wish I had a more coherent, more meaningful review to give, but I really don’t, unless “Seriously guys, this is really really really good, and also relevant to many current issues and you need to read it right fucking now” counts. Anyway, Epoch made me think, so here, have some thoughts. They’re all chock-full of spoilers for Epoch so er, behind the cut we go! Half of ’em were x-posted to the Epic comm, but the other half I didn’t get a chance too…kind of debating whether or not I should. I want to turn #4 into an actual, fullblown essay, when I have a little more free time.

Okay, enough blather! Here are the comments for real.

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Luck Be a Lady

November 9, 2008 at 3:35 am (Drama Queen) ()

Last night at our weekly DnD game a friend of mine brought with her a play she was reading called M. Butterfly, which isn’t Madame Butterfly, though I guess you could look at it as a sort of response to the stereotypes present in Madame Butterfly. Basically the plot of M. Butterfly is a French diplomat, Rene, has a twenty-year long affair with a Chinese woman, an opera singer named Song. Except Song is actually a man in disguise who’s spying for the Chinese government and the French diplomat somehow fails to notice even though they consummated the relationship (which caused me great lulz). In the end, after he’s put in trial for spying for China, he finds out that Song is a man and he goes crazy — dresses up as a woman and kills himself.

To be honest I think one of the themes that should have been included on the book jacket was homophobia — part of Rene’s delusion, I think, is that he flat out refused to accept the possibility of a relationship between two men. Which I guess would combine with his refusal to accept the possibility that Song wasn’t the shy, submissive Chinese woman he wanted her to be. That was the status quo of their relationship; Song as the submissive Oriental woman and Rene as the dominant Western man and when Song upset that balance Rene snapped and tried to set it back, before killing himself because it’d been all a lie, and indeed his attempt to set it back is also entirely a lie (apparently in the movie, which my friend saw, had Rene dress up in pseudo-Chinese/Japanese clothing before he died).

I want to be sympathetic to him (well, not really), except I can’t get over the fact he didn’t notice Song was a man for twenty years even though they apparently had sex. I just — how do you delude yourself so much you don’t notice something like that? WTF.

M. Butterfly is supposed to be based of a real incident, to which I can only say WTF as well. Did a man seriously have a relationship with a man pretending to be a woman for twenty years and seriously not notice? In the author’s afterword (which I read) he mentioned that the real like Rene said that he just thought real life Song was being modest, which. Did they ever have sex or not? It’s ambiguous in the notes about the article, my friend said it was ambiguous in the movie…she’s going to read the play and let me know about that one, too. It’s just. I feel bad for focusing on this angle when there are other angles (ie. stereotypes of the East by the west, stereotypes of how women should act, stereotypes of how Asian women should act…in the afterword the author mentioned the concept of a Rice Queen; gay Caucasian men who are attracted only to Asian men, at which point they expect the Asian man to be the “woman” in the relationship.) I should be more interested in. But I mean — honestly. Twenty years, and he didn’t notice at all?

We also had an interesting conversation over whether or not it was supposed to be explicit to the audience that Song was actually male. Apparently in the movie Song was never seen undressed and therefore, while (s)he was slightly off, no one actually realized he was a man until the reveal at the end. Whereas at the beginning of the play, there’s a brief section where some unidentified men are talking about the incident and one outright asks the other how the diplomat didn’t recognize the spy was male. So — it would seem that the audience would have gone into the play with the knowledge that Rene was misidentifying some equipment, which would have inclined people to believe that the person he was misidentifying was Song — but then, was Song’s performance supposed to then put the audience in doubt of such a conclusion?

I’d actually kind of like to see this play on the stage. Any adult male who could pull of a convincing (stereotype of a) woman on stage, in front of a live audience, would be an actor to see. Now think of the mindfuckery if it was a woman who played the part of Song…

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Reaction Shots: Sakura Gari 5 RAW

November 1, 2008 at 5:27 am (Animanga) (, , )

GET READY FOR CAPSLOOOOOOOCK! Oh, and spoilers. *g*

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