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Old 2010-01-07, 11:52   Link #141
TinyRedLeaf
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I'd chip in by pointing out that Aoi Bungaku should more accurately be translated as Evergreen Literature rather than Blue Literature. Meaning to say, the stories that the production committee chose to animate have an enduring value and are still relevant to modern audiences despite being written more than a century ago.

And that, in my opinion, ought to be starting point of any critical analysis of the adaptations seen in this series. Personally, I do not mind the various points of departures, so long as each adaptation stayed more-or-less true to the spirit of the original stories.

Out of all the stories presented in Aoi Bungaku, I've read only Kokoro, for reasons I have already explained earlier. And, like I've also explained, I don't think it was necessarily "wrong" of the anime writers to posit a possible affair between K and Ojou-san, even though this did not occur — apparently — in the novel.

We need to understand that we are dealing with two different mediums of expression here. Therefore, it would be necessary to make changes to the execution of the story in order to achieve the same effect in tone, theme and imagery. In my opinion, the anime creators managed to do this very admirably, for Kokoro.

===========

Unfortunately, I don't feel quite the same for The Spider's Thread and Hell Screen. In fact, I was underwhelmed by these two episodes. Watching them, I felt for the first time that the creators were trying a bit too hard to be clever and "original".

I suppose it didn't help that both episodes were based on short stories, with The Spider's Thread being originally a children's story. As a result, both episodes felt noticeably flimsy to me. The Spider's Thread in particular, had a very simple, straightforward moral — the idea that man condemns himself to eternal damnation through his selfishness — but the anime adaptation was too self-consciously arty-farty, so much so that the presentation of the story completely overshadowed its core message.

That, to me, is a terrible no-no.

More importantly, for the first time, I couldn't discern how this arc connects with the rest of the series. Whereas the earlier arcs were all clearly set in Meiji or Taisho Japan, these final two episodes were set in an entirely fictional world. As a result, both the episodes felt like frivolous side-stories, unrelated to the larger message of Aoi Bungaku.

===========

In my opinion, Aoi Bungaku is a fairly ambitious project in which the anime creators tried to portray a comprehensive overview of the human condition, as perceived by Japan's most influential Meiji/Taisho era writers.

The central conceit is that this view of humanity remains relevant to us today. Obviously, not everyone will agree — the social contexts have changed so much that it is difficult to say whether we can still draw lessons from the past.

From my perspective, this appears to be how the message unfolded in Aoi Bungaku:

(1)
Man exists in a vacuum. He has realised that he lives in a world without meaning, and this knowledge torments him every day. With no morals to guide him, he gradually loses his will to live. Eventually, he becomes something that is no longer human.

(2)
But, perhaps, there is a way out of this depressing predicament. Perhaps we should regard ourselves as innocents, like noble savages. By living naturally, we free ourselves from social expectations and the taint of civilisation. We would be free from "morality", and therefore remain blameless no matter what our actions. If we do something wrong, it would be because someone told us to do it. Since we have no sense of right and wrong to begin with, how then can we say that the fault was our own?

Or is it?

It's one thing to live life to its decadent fullest; it's quite another thing entirely to deny our own ego. Once we recognise our true faces, and acknowledge the deep desires that drive us, we lose our innocence. We will then discover the terrible secret that lies hidden, beneath the cherry blossoms deep in the forest.

(3)
Once we acknowledge our egos, we open ourselves to another kind of hardship. Yes, it's often true that it's pride that drives us. We motivate ourselves to achieve because we believe ourselves to be valuable. If we cease to be human when we do not believe in our self-worth, then the obvious solution should be to love ourselves, to trust in our own sense of judgment.

Alas, can we ever truly trust our judgment? We may think ourselves capable of becoming higher men but, in truth, we will all be undone by our inconstant hearts. For experience will show us, sooner or later, that pride and emotion will always lead us astray.

What hope then, of finding the truth, when we are doomed forever to see only what we want to see, to hear only what we want to hear?

(4)
But are emotions always to blame? Is there nothing we can believe in? Is nothing ever sacred?

No one can give you the answer to these questions. You must simply believe that goodness is possible, no matter how hard it is to run against all doubt. Quite simply, you must have faith in your fellow men. We are all flawed creatures, and yet we all remember love. And as long as there is love, genuine love, anything is possible.

And what is love, if not another emotion?
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Old 2010-01-07, 21:00   Link #142
HitagiIsHot
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Originally Posted by silverwolf0 View Post
"cock is most favorite food in my life"

Can someone explain this to me? Intentional, or English 101 faux pas?
It's an old post, but I would also like an explanation of this... Is the boar supposed to be the "cock"? lolwut

For reference: episode 5, around 6:42.
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Old 2010-01-07, 22:09   Link #143
drobertbaker
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You guys!

I listened to it. She actually says "Ocock is most favorite food in my life", if you find that helpful. I vote for the English 101 faux pas choice, confusing cock for boar.
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Old 2010-01-08, 03:23   Link #144
HitagiIsHot
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lmao yeah i think so too. it can mean chicken though. maybe she was meaning to say her favorite food was chicken?
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Old 2010-01-08, 08:17   Link #145
Tale
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@TinyRedLeaf
Every single writer here is famous and considered as a great writer in those days. In my understanding, these works are not to question the morality but are trying to shed some light on the human condition, focusing on the loneliness of modern men. If you read Japanese, they are available on the web for free. You may find some works are tough to read, though. Especially, Hell Screen (Jigokuhen) is written in a mixed style of old and modern Japanese. For Akutagawa is well known to be good at mixing them to establish his own style. It is said that he wrote his works in old Japanese and, then, he "translated" them into modern Japanese.


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It's an old post, but I would also like an explanation of this... Is the boar supposed to be the "cock"? lolwut
For reference: episode 5, around 6:42.
English there is fishy...Japanese sub says, Saikou-no Shokuzai-desu. "It's the best foodstuff." This cannot be an important part of the work. I guess I don't have to point out that it's not in the original. In any case, this is pretty much dismissible.
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Old 2010-01-09, 03:59   Link #146
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The directing is a work of genius.

That is all
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Old 2010-01-09, 05:16   Link #147
Ghostfriendly
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Great summary of the series, Tinyredwing. I thought The Spider's Web did a fair job of showing the mental state of a sociopath, but the settings, including hell, did significantly lack depth, and most of the characters any complexity. A lot of psycological meaning got cut out of Hell screen too.

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I meant that I don't think No Longer Human as an independent work due to its autobiographical nature...nothing more. Also, I think your description of young angst marks modern issues rather than universal one. Remotely related with the issue above, I think some issues become prominent due to social structure. It's only after Japan was modernized that some authors such as Haruki Murakami began to be read internationally although I think these works introduced in this series can be accepted by modern audiences, rather paradoxically, which can be one of the reasons why such issues like the social status of women in those days feel alien to us. Something may feel common to us but I wouldn't use the words universal considering how our views are closely tied to our social structures.
No Longer Human is autobiographical, but that just means its more obviously a product of the author's life; it isn't just a bland account, but autobiography interpreted. If he hadn't been so depressed he would've produced a completely different story from the same material, or some other writer could have used his, NLH's author's, experiences to make another book again. Basically I don't think stories are independent. And they can be universal as well as non-independent, since their source is in the same human problems every society has to deal with, though the statements of the problems and the solutions to them will be different for every culture. As a Christian I'd say we're all cut from the same branch.

I guess young angst is a relatively modern issue as No Longer Human is a relatively modern novel; at least it was previously limited to guys like Hamlet who had the chance to freely discover their own limitations rather than working in a field all day. Angst might not have come along if society had developed in a way less removed from nature, but it seems in our current history that distance from other people and natural morality is linked to the progress of society.

BTW, I think even if Hentai certainly isn't an artform, it has its own distinct character (as far as I can make out from some distance!). Good points about sexual values in society.

Last edited by Ghostfriendly; 2010-01-09 at 05:27.
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Old 2010-01-09, 12:03   Link #148
Tale
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No Longer Human is autobiographical, but that just means its more obviously a product of the author's life; it isn't just a bland account, but autobiography interpreted. If he hadn't been so depressed he would've produced a completely different story from the same material, or some other writer could have used his, NLH's author's, experiences to make another book again. Basically I don't think stories are independent. And they can be universal as well as non-independent, since their source is in the same human problems every society has to deal with, though the statements of the problems and the solutions to them will be different for every culture. As a Christian I'd say we're all cut from the same branch.

I guess young angst is a relatively modern issue as No Longer Human is a relatively modern novel; at least it was previously limited to guys like Hamlet who had the chance to freely discover their own limitations rather than working in a field all day. Angst might not have come along if society had developed in a way less removed from nature, but it seems in our current history that distance from other people and natural morality is linked to the progress of society.
You seem to like the story, then. I think it touches the weakness, fragility and instability of modern young men. Staying at one of the best sellers, it is said to be triggering the suicides of its readers, to some extent. It's rather sad to think what it can do is only to cause negative effects considering the suffering caused by Dazai and people around him. I'd like to think it has some positive side as an art work.

I could tell that you are a Christian and I have to say that social progress is just an idea as well as the Original Sin. Technology may change societies but does it make some ethical progress? It is the matter of belief. These works marks the struggle of Japanese mind trying to be modernized, which can be a hint to newly rising countries. I hope they can be a key for the idea of common human condition as well since the idea of humanity is mostly formed through the Western context. For Japanese, I think Japan is at a loss and it needs to look back to the place its modernization started as a long-forgotten homework. For good works, especially those which can be called classics should be like a torch which can shed light when people are lost.

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BTW, I think even if Hentai certainly isn't an artform, it has its own distinct character (as far as I can make out from some distance!).
Well...
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Old 2010-01-11, 23:45   Link #149
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Having just watched Kokoro this evening, might I make a couple of observations? I have none of the depth of knowledge of Japanese or Asian literature and culture that many of you here obviously do, but there were a couple of features of Kokoro that I saw a bit differently from others here.

First, there's the obvious and powerful physical attraction between K and Ojo-san. I didn't find it implausible that she would sleep with K. I saw Ojo-san's reactions to K powered more by lust than by love. While she might have loved and respected Sensei for his cultured demeanor, K's arrival activated her obviously repressed sexual longings. I doubt she would have put Sensei's hand on her breast quite so brazenly as she did K's. I saw this aspect of the story as portraying the, somewhat hackneyed, contrast between the more cultured and more bestial parts of human nature.

I was also puzzled by the whole notion of "love" in this story. From what little I know of Japanese culture before the fifties, Western concepts of emotional love were rather foreign to relationships and marriage. So for K to express "love" for Ojo-san so openly surprised me, as did the passages from the novel TRL quotes above about her love for Sensei. When I saw the wedding party at the end of the first half, I imagined a courteous, respectful marriage, but one that was rather love-less by contemporary standards.

Finally, why does Ojo-san not come to the station? She seemed sincerely dedicated to leaving her mother and her stifling life behind. Did she realize that she actually did love Sensei and wish to marry him? Or did she realize that running off with a penniless ascetic against her mother's wishes might lead to a life of penury and suffering? Like others, I would have enjoyed seeing a third take on the story from her point of view.
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Old 2010-01-12, 04:43   Link #150
Ansalem
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I am just getting around to watching this and have made it through Kokoro. This is the first of the stories that I have previously read. It's been several years, so my memories on the novel aren't particularly fresh, but the adaptation was very strange to me.

As has been pointed out already, the novel is split into three sections. The first two are about the narrator of the book and his relationship with Sensei, and with his relatives, with the third being the letter from Sensei to the narrator as he before dying about his life. This third part was what was adapted in the first episode of the Kokoro anime. While an interesting adaptation, it certainly is different, especially since the anime staff made up the entire second episode.

The character design of K in the show seemed quite unusual to me. When reading the book, I don't remember getting the impression of K as a huge, dirty, brutish character like he appears to be in the anime. It also portrays him as though he came from a disadvantaged background. His family was from a Buddhist sect that is described as affluent and it describes their living as comfortable. It was arranged for him to be adopted by a family whose head was a wealthy doctor, and arranged for his studies in medicine. He instead secretly studies religion, and when this is revealed, he is unadopted. His true family covers the debt of his education up til that point, but doesn't want to associate with him afterward. The anime briefly touched on some of this, but it certainly gives the impression that K was a pauper his whole life rather than someone who became disinherited for lying about what his education payment was being used for. In general, I felt the show portrayed K very differently than the novel.

Despite the differences to how I interpreted K and the novel as a whole, the first episode was a decent adaption. However, the second episode is another story altogether.

The second episode, I would have to disagree with other interpretations here, in that I feel that while it captures some of the message of book, it is a disservice to the story of novel and the spirit of the narrative. As stated, it's completely written by the anime writers. It's more a "what if this were the case" scenario rather than having anything to do with the novel, since the view is so blatantly contrary to that actually presented. The first episode perhaps portrayed the story a bit negatively as well, for in the novel K and the daughter do get a long. The first episode doesn't really reflect that. On the other hand, the affair and elopement scenario that they write for part two is completely alien to me. I don't think Soseki intended any reader to imagine that something like that had occurred. The villainization of Sensei and the mother is also quite bizarre. It makes them appear to be intentional antagonistic rather than the unfortunate reality of self interest that leaves K in his condition.

In the end, it was an interesting watch, but ultimately doesn't capture the narrative of the novel. It does present the uncertainties of the heart that are present in the novel, and how emotions between you, a loved one, and a friend can be quite complicated. However, it seems to purposefully contort the story into a much darker, crueler chain of events than what Kokoro actually is, simply to match the theme of the other works chosen. It also boggles me that they adapt only a third of the novel, completely eliminating the narrator who I consider to be the protagonist, yet spend an entire episode on their own twisting of the story as "K's Point of View."

Thanks for reading if you did; I'll post more about my thoughts on the other segments later when I've finished, and sorry for not actually engaging the other posts written on it so far, but this was pressing on my mind and I had to write it out.
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Old 2010-01-12, 05:16   Link #151
Tale
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I re-read some parts of this novel. In the novel, I don’t find anything which implies lust from Ojyou-san or K. Instead, I found Ojyou-san or Shizu is a more determined woman than in my memory. She is not from upper-class, either. She is good natured and very straightforward. She knows his husband has become gloomy and tends to avoid any company except the protagonist who seems to be simple, up-lifting and good natured. However, she cannot understand why. She has done everything to make him happy but sensei seems to have something she cannot touch. She doesn’t hesitate to ask the protagonist about the problem. Even then, she is not complaining but trying to find what the problem is. She seems to be like that since she was young. For example, there is an episode about card game among K, Sensei and Shizu. Seeing K is not good at the game, Shizu played against Sensei. I don’t know how these seemingly trivial things affected on K but she cannot stay back when there is someone who needs help…even in a card game. So, Souseki is as good as usual…his characterization of Shizu is a good model. He showed simple, trifle episodes to show his characters to his readers. Sensei’s admiration to Ojyou-san is not from her social status but her character, it seems.

Since I couldn’t understand comments here, I finally watched this part of the series. As for the anime adaptation, the direction of dividing the viewpoints to Sensei and K is interesting. In the original work, Sensei’s complex to K was one of the trigger of his “betrayal.” However, there is no viewpoint from K’s side. In this adaptation, K, too, felt complex to Sensei. The anime makes the story clear by this complex vs complex formula but it doesn’t justify the title, Kokoro, which is much less clear-cut. However, I wonder if they could present the nuance of the original in such a short work. So, I guess their decision was not wrong. That said, I have to say this is a different work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
First, there's the obvious and powerful physical attraction between K and Ojo-san. I didn't find it implausible that she would sleep with K. I saw Ojo-san's reactions to K powered more by lust than by love. While she might have loved and respected Sensei for his cultured demeanor, K's arrival activated her obviously repressed sexual longings. I doubt she would have put Sensei's hand on her breast quite so brazenly as she did K's. I saw this aspect of the story as portraying the, somewhat hackneyed, contrast between the more cultured and more bestial parts of human nature.

I was also puzzled by the whole notion of "love" in this story. From what little I know of Japanese culture before the fifties, Western concepts of emotional love were rather foreign to relationships and marriage. So for K to express "love" for Ojo-san so openly surprised me, as did the passages from the novel TRL quotes above about her love for Sensei. When I saw the wedding party at the end of the first half, I imagined a courteous, respectful marriage, but one that was rather love-less by contemporary standards.
Well, love is a huge theme... Even in the Christian culture, it can vary. However, I guess I understand what you mean here. In the novel, love between Sensei and Shizu is more like affection, which is a key for the reason why the title is not translated to “Heart” but stayed as Kokoro. To some extent, modern sex conscious mind lost some complexities... They definitely care each other but it couldn’t help Sensei out of his loneliness. In the anime adaptation, she was probably attracted to K, more or less physically but she probably hadn’t been conscious of her feeling toward Sensei while her mother seems to have been aware of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
Finally, why does Ojo-san not come to the station? She seemed sincerely dedicated to leaving her mother and her stifling life behind. Did she realize that she actually did love Sensei and wish to marry him? Or did she realize that running off with a penniless ascetic against her mother's wishes might lead to a life of penury and suffering? Like others, I would have enjoyed seeing a third take on the story from her point of view.
I think she didn’t know who her mother chose as her fiancée when asking K to run away with her. After knowing it’s Sensei, she is cornered to choose Sensei and K. She chose Sensei but she didn’t originally plan to play with K’s feelings: She was probably serious. After knowing that through her message, K committed suicide.

If you are interested in, here is a translation. You will probably find other translations, too.

I agree with Ansalem about the presentation of K and the affair between Ojyou-san or K. In the novel, the readers cannot know much about K simply because he is only written in Sensei’s letter to the protagonist. Even if the scenario writer made his “what if scenario”, using his imagination, I don’t think it is compatible with the novel. As I wrote above, I regard anime as a different work.

Last edited by Tale; 2010-01-12 at 05:35.
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Old 2010-01-12, 14:47   Link #152
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Okay, I just finished episode 11, The Spider Thread. This is another of the works I have previously read. The episode actually expands on the story a great deal. The story itself is only four pages in length and deals entirely with the part set in hell. There's also an exterior religious element that is left out.

First, I thought the character design for Kandata was quite interesting. The story just mentions he was a criminal who murdered and committed arson, so they were pretty free to do what they wanted in this expansion. It does a good job of portraying him as the evil criminal that still doesn't kill a spider.
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I can't help wondering if the spider's thread was actually a part of the torture of hell, offering a useless hope which the thief's nature makes him helpless to take advantage of. Maybe the line would've held if he hadn't tried to keep it to himself. The spider failed to seem particularly sympathetic towards him; in fact its web seemed to be entraping Kandata throughout the ep. A minute, animal existence would be pretty fitting for a creature that spent eternity torturing sinners...but the moral about not killing spiders still holds!
The story actually makes the chain of events very clear. The anime rendering does leave it up for more interpretation, which I found to be more interesting than the very clear-cut fable-like narration in the story.
Spoiler for Short Story:


Overall, I thought this episode was a very nice expanded interpretation of the story, changing it from a simplistic moral story into an interesting tale of the criminal's life, while still capturing the message of the original.
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Old 2010-01-12, 20:54   Link #153
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I just watched the last episode.

Epic.

Oh my god. I wish this would get licensed or something. It so deserves it. If only there was a large audience for it.
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Old 2010-01-13, 15:37   Link #154
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I have now finished the series. It was an interesting experience to see the depiction of some classic writing, some of which I had read and some that was new to me.

The Hell Screen I have also read. If anyone is interested to know, and I don't think the show mentioned this, Akutagawa, who authored this and The Spider Thread, is more famous (at least outside of Japan) for Rashomon and In a Bamboo Grove, the two stories that provide the basis for Kurosawa's movie Rashomon.

The Hell Screen had some interesting alterations made to it. I'm a bit fuzzy on my memory, but basically the daughter of the artist is a lady serving the lord. He falls in love with her, but she declines his advances. The lord asks the artist to paint a depiction of the Eight Buddhist hells. The artist is known as a very unpleasant sort of person, whose only fondness is for his daughter. After working for a long time on the screen, he tells the lord that he cannot paint one part and asks for a woman to be burned alive in a carriage so that he can portray it. The lord agrees, but at the burning it's revealed that the lord has put the daughter inside, to punish the painter for his arrogance of asking for a victim for his art. The artist finishes the screen, then hangs himself.

So here we have a fundamental change in the morals of the story. The egotistical artist becomes a kind of hero-like protagonist who determines to show an evil king the true face of the kingdom.

As TinyRedLeaf points out, it is a bit unusual for the settings of all the previous to be in a period Japan setting (although I'd point out that In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom appears to be set much earlier than the Meiji period), yet end the show with these two stories set in a whimsical fantasy world. It seems to not quite fit with the rest of the show. They also seem to have gone out of their way to create a non-Japanese setting for these last two episodes, but as far as I recall nothing in the stories themselves would suggest a setting in a different world. This is further confusing because from what I read looking up the story Run, Melos, the short story is only comprised of the part of those episodes set in Greece (that is, the short story was made into the play in the anime, and the rest of the early modern setting story was created by the anime staff). Why would they go to the trouble of incorporating that into a Japanese setting, yet then and change the setting unnecessarily in the final two, disrupting part of a theme of the show?
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Old 2010-01-14, 05:01   Link #155
Tale
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The Hell Screen had some interesting alterations made to it. I'm a bit fuzzy on my memory, but basically the daughter of the artist is a lady serving the lord. He falls in love with her, but she declines his advances.
In the original work, the narrative is done by another servant who serves the same lord. So, while he implies that there is a rumor about the one-sided love of their lord to the daughter of the painter, he denies it...not only once but quite a few times in the short work, which rather leaves the readers unsure of the truth. This kind of ambiguity is done in quite a lot of works in Akutagawa, most notably in In a Grove (Yabu no Naka), or in your post, Bamboo Grove. In fact, in Japanese, for example, a phrase such as Shinsou-ha Yabu no Naka or The truth is in a grove means the truth is unknown.

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As TinyRedLeaf points out, it is a bit unusual for the settings of all the previous to be in a period Japan setting (although I'd point out that In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom appears to be set much earlier than the Meiji period), yet end the show with these two stories set in a whimsical fantasy world. It seems to not quite fit with the rest of the show. They also seem to have gone out of their way to create a non-Japanese setting for these last two episodes, but as far as I recall nothing in the stories themselves would suggest a setting in a different world. This is further confusing because from what I read looking up the story Run, Melos, the short story is only comprised of the part of those episodes set in Greece (that is, the short story was made into the play in the anime, and the rest of the early modern setting story was created by the anime staff). Why would they go to the trouble of incorporating that into a Japanese setting, yet then and change the setting unnecessarily in the final two, disrupting part of a theme of the show?
I don't think settings are so important since what count are the themes as I wrote earlier. In the case of works by Akutagawa, as I wrote above, he didn't only learn his style but also settings from Japanese literature, so, in quite many works of his such as Hell Screen (Jigokuhen), In a Grove, and Rashyomon, settings are not his contemporary. However, of course, the themes treated there are modern. Among these works in this series, In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom (Sakura-no Mori-no Mankai-no-shita) by Ango, which dates 1947, is more sure-realistic rather than a question of the setting, though. I think Grigori Kozintsev, a Russian film maker who directed some Shakespean works, said something in a line of "They treat the themes of Middle Age in the modern costumes, but I treat the modern themes in the costumes of Middle Age." I think he is right: Why should we care for the settings? Coming to think about that, did Shakespeare only make plays with the settings of his contemporary world?

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Originally Posted by Ansalem View Post
The villainization of Sensei and the mother is also quite bizarre. It makes them appear to be intentional antagonistic rather than the unfortunate reality of self interest that leaves K in his condition.
I guess I missed this part of your older post. Personally, I don't take it as a simplistic villanization... My impression is that Sensei seems to be depicted as a favored son while K seems to be depicted as an outcast of global competition nowadays for modern Japanese audiences, which is single possible reasoning I could come up with about the change of K's character by the anime stuff. The contrast of the two endings where Sensei is an unhappy "winner", who lost trust in humanity, while K is a happy "loser", who died happily, keeping his trust in humanity, makes me think like this. Sensei made himself a lone captive of self-consciousness and social system by using his social advantage of him to "win" Ojyou-san rather than relying on his own ability. In any case, I repeat myself again…the original and the anime are different works and I recommend someone who is interested in it to reading the original. However, please don't misunderstand me, here. I don't think the anime adaptations are bad but they are good enough for me to go back to the original works.

Last edited by Tale; 2010-01-14 at 05:18.
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Old 2010-01-14, 10:35   Link #156
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I don't think settings are so important since what count are the themes as I wrote earlier. In the case of works by Akutagawa, as I wrote above, he didn't only learn his style but also settings from Japanese literature, so, in quite many works of his such as Hell Screen (Jigokuhen), In a Grove, and Rashyomon, settings are not his contemporary. However, of course, the themes treated there are modern. Among these works in this series, In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom (Sakura-no Mori-no Mankai-no-shita) by Ango, which dates 1947, is more sure-realistic rather than a question of the setting, though. I think Grigori Kozintsev, a Russian film maker who directed some Shakespean works, said something in a line of "They treat the themes of Middle Age in the modern costumes, but I treat the modern themes in the costumes of Middle Age." I think he is right: Why should we care for the settings? Coming to think about that, did Shakespeare only make plays with the settings of his contemporary world?
I'm not saying that themes cannot be expressed in any setting that one desires. I simply find it unusual that out of the stories in the show, 10/12 are set in a period setting in Japan, yet they go out of there way to change Run, Melos from a simple Greek setting into a Japanese setting, yet later change the Akutagawa settings from a Japanese setting to a fantasy setting.

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I guess I missed this part of your older post. Personally, I don't take it as a simplistic villanization... My impression is that Sensei seems to be depicted as a favored son while K seems to be depicted as an outcast of global competition nowadays for modern Japanese audiences, which is single possible reasoning I could come up with about the change of K's character by the anime stuff. The contrast of the two endings where Sensei is an unhappy "winner", who lost trust in humanity, while K is a happy "loser", who died happily, keeping his trust in humanity, makes me think like this. Sensei made himself a lone captive of self-consciousness and social system by using his social advantage of him to "win" Ojyou-san rather than relying on his own ability.
I agree that this is how the story is told in the anime. However, I think that it goes beyond this. The entire second episode, Sensei's lines are spoken with a cold tone and implied malice, with cruel sarcasm mocking K at each opportunity. Every shot they can, they portray him like this.

The view is angled, his glasses are shined, and his eyes not portrayed. It seems to me that they went beyond Sensei being winning from social standing and indifference to his friend, and intentional make him seem, well, evil.
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Old 2010-01-16, 05:43   Link #157
Tale
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Originally Posted by Ansalem View Post
I agree that this is how the story is told in the anime. However, I think that it goes beyond this. The entire second episode, Sensei's lines are spoken with a cold tone and implied malice, with cruel sarcasm mocking K at each opportunity. Every shot they can, they portray him like this.

The view is angled, his glasses are shined, and his eyes not portrayed. It seems to me that they went beyond Sensei being winning from social standing and indifference to his friend, and intentional make him seem, well, evil.
I agree with you at that vilainization doesn't make sense and I think there is no vilainization (at least, intended one) in the story. If you watch the former part of the story, like the expressionless glasses of Sensei, which K saw in the latter part, K appears more arrogant to the eyes of Sensei: However, these are just mere productions of self-consciousness from each side. As for the "secret agreement" between Sensei and the mother, I have already written my interpretations.

All in all, in this series, I am inclined to think there is more emphasis on loneliness rather than moral issues, where I see the consistency in the theme.
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Old 2010-01-17, 12:55   Link #158
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In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom, was a rather nice story, the adaptation seemed hilarious, it seemed so light hearted til all the gore. I was waiting for the woman to touch the bandit's face while he was strangling her.

Waiting to say those words Kimochi Warui! But I digress, that would have taken away from the message of the story as I heard of it.

Kokoro's sorta shocked me as much as No Longer Human did. I felt that alot of things were sorta pulled out of their asses to reach some sort of conclusion (And the whole omitting of the student to me, took away alot; it was something I was hoping to see animated.) It seemed that Sensei and Oku-san were indeed villainized alot, especially Oku-san.

The elopement was a surprise to me; it was never hinted that something like that ever happened. I always was surprised at the whole running away thing, it was stressed in the novel that Ojyou-san favoured sensei of the two.

I felt that they had a different idea of what the message was, rather than I had. I had intially thought that sensei had become a prisoner of what he described as the ugliness of humanity; selfishness. He had lost to his humanity in that sense, that he fought for Ojyou-san for himself. K stresses in his suicide note that it wasn't because of sensei that he committed suicide; he had forgotten his way, and chose to end his life then and there, he had nothing else to life for; he had failed himself. But sensei naturally blames himself anyways because he feels incredibly guilty for his actions, he hates himself. But he is redeemed in the end (of the novel) though he hates himself, and can't trust humanity; that is untrue, his one love Ojyou-san and of course the student, he has a great amount of love for both of them. He wishes the student could learn from his mistakes, and hopes that his wife can live a life not knowing the reality of human ugliness.

Rant over.

But in terms of execution, kokoro was done well, in fact what I've seen up til now has been very well done.
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Old 2010-01-17, 14:21   Link #159
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Originally Posted by ClockWorkAngel View Post
In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom, was a rather nice story, the adaptation seemed hilarious, it seemed so light hearted til all the gore. I was waiting for the woman to touch the bandit's face while he was strangling her.

Waiting to say those words Kimochi Warui! But I digress, that would have taken away from the message of the story as I heard of it.
Believe me...the short story is much more grotesque. I think it is designed to be like a surrealistic nightmare, at least, to some extent. It's grotesque but, somehow, beautiful at the same time, which definitely shows the talent of Ango, the author.

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Originally Posted by ClockWorkAngel View Post
Kokoro's sorta shocked me as much as No Longer Human did. I felt that alot of things were sorta pulled out of their asses to reach some sort of conclusion (And the whole omitting of the student to me, took away alot; it was something I was hoping to see animated.) It seemed that Sensei and Oku-san were indeed villainized alot, especially Oku-san.
Vilainization theory seems to be quite popular, then.

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Originally Posted by ClockWorkAngel View Post
The elopement was a surprise to me; it was never hinted that something like that ever happened. I always was surprised at the whole running away thing, it was stressed in the novel that Ojyou-san favoured sensei of the two.

I felt that they had a different idea of what the message was, rather than I had. I had intially thought that sensei had become a prisoner of what he described as the ugliness of humanity; selfishness. He had lost to his humanity in that sense, that he fought for Ojyou-san for himself. K stresses in his suicide note that it wasn't because of sensei that he committed suicide; he had forgotten his way, and chose to end his life then and there, he had nothing else to life for; he had failed himself. But sensei naturally blames himself anyways because he feels incredibly guilty for his actions, he hates himself. But he is redeemed in the end (of the novel) though he hates himself, and can't trust humanity; that is untrue, his one love Ojyou-san and of course the student, he has a great amount of love for both of them. He wishes the student could learn from his mistakes, and hopes that his wife can live a life not knowing the reality of human ugliness.
Did you read Japanese or English version? If it's English version, I see the translation seems to be successful. I can agree with you a lot of things here. At least, the anime adaptation doesn't justify the complexity of the original novel. As for the novels, the Wayfarer (Kojin) by Souseki carries the theme well but I think Kokoro is more beautifully done, which is, I personally think, similar to the relationship between the Idiot and Karamazov Brothers by Dostoevsky.
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Old 2010-01-17, 15:39   Link #160
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^ Ah it was the english translation; it was beautifully translated and I was very happy with it.
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