Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

07:12:38 am , 595 words, 1228 views     Categories: Animation

Izumi Kyoka × Yasuhiro Nakura

When I was studying Japanese literature as an undergraduate, one of the authors I remember being particularly taken by was IZUMI Kyoka. He seemed to embody all the gothic wonder of the supernatural Japanese imagination that exterted such a fascination to me at the time. I have a particularly clear memory of writing a windy but earnest paper interpreting his story Osen and Soichi, based on the translation by Charles Shiro Inouye available in the book Japanese Gothic Tales. I don't even remember much about the story now, apart from something having to do with a frog and a bathing woman. I tend to be that way with my reading, remembering one small bit that had an impact on me for the prose or for the oddness of the situation, and blurring over the outline of the overall story. Having liked Kyoka so much, I thought it would be great to be able to read him in the original. Same goes for many of the other great authors I read at the time, among them Toshio Shimao, who retains the top spot in my canon. I had a wonderfully naive fantasy when I was younger that each language was merely a repository of literary classics just waiting for me to come acquire them, and that's one of the things that led me to learn this language. I still find the language beautiful and think that it exercises the brain to read regularly in a language other than your native tongue, but that early wonder definitely wears off. But for Shimao it's never worn off. He's one of those authors who's made it worth it; one of those people who writes with a prose that embodies everything that attracted you to the language. Well, what about Kyoka? I've heard many great things about Kyoka's prose, and enjoyed his stories, so I was very curious to have a stab at his writing. So I did. Then came the surprise of finding out how much the Japanese language changed in the first few decades of the 20th century. For some reason I've never been able to read his work, or that of any other pre-Showa Japanese, even though I've made efforts. I don't blame the education system that never taught me classical Japanese, because his work was written in the Taisho period when the patois was infiltrating literature, and I'm sure I could sludge through it if I made the effort, but I find I've become rather lazy in my old age. All of this reminiscence was brought on by hearing that one of his stories, Tenshu Monogatari, was recently adapted into an episode of animation in the Noitamina series. I was taken by the urge to try again to read him in the original, and even found an online text, but upon perusing a bit I'm afraid that I might not get very far and may wait for the cliff notes of the adaptation.

Sweetening the pot is the news that Yasuhiro Nakura of Tenshi no Tamago fame returns to animation with the piece as designer and animation director. By this point I never actually expected to see him come back to animation. There will be two other episodes, and I'm equally eager to see the adaptation of Bakeneko (by ?), which features FX animator Takashi Hashimoto as CD/AD. The excellent and underrated Satoru Utsunomiya/Shinji Hashimoto episode of the Hakkenden OVA series (#9 in total count) told the story of a bakeneko or demon cat, so it will be interesting to see if/how the two compare.

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4 comments

Random person
Random person [Visitor]

Many thanks for the info on Nakura, it was a very informative read… the only little help I can offer is in the form of a correction: actually Tenshu Monogatari hasn’t aired yet (unless I"m horribly mistaken…), it’s still into only the 2nd episode of the whole show, and the first 4 episodes are dedicated to Nanboku Tsuruya’s famous Yotsuya Kaidan (Original CD for the anime being Yoshitaka Amano.) I can’t really say the production was that good though. (Toei being Toei, maybe)

We could expect different stuff from the Tenshu Monogatari arc though, possibly… as for this Bakeneko I think it’s an original work. It might be of note that the director for Tenshu Monogatari’s previously done only live-action work (like Tokyo Love Story.)

Still, it’s nice to see the Noitanima producers trying to get something a bit different from the usual anime fare as of late. I think Fuji TV’s adopting this direction towards anime in general… they’ve got Mushishi too…

01/25/06 @ 06:26
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

I tend to skip over the stations broadcasting these shows, but that’s a good point, because the stations have an image that they try to cultivate, so you can definitely see a continuity there. Fuji TV was the longtime home of the World Masterpiece Theater.

I was also not impressed with the first two episodes of Ayakashi. I hope (and believe) the last two sections will be better. I would point you to Yasuo Otsuka’s 1981 TV special for a… special and decidedly more satisfying and interesting version of Tokaido Yotsuya Kwaidan - particularly in terms of the animation, since I think Otsuka drew it all himself.

I’m hoping the “original CD” credit refers only to the first story, as it would be a shame to saddle the other two great ADs with something that would limit their freedom of movement like that. I’m sure they could do much better work on their own terms, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Nakura piece, so I’m really hoping he gets to do it his own way.

01/25/06 @ 06:42
Manuloz
Manuloz [Visitor]

About that “Toei being Toei” comment, are they really no good with animation, because they are king of adapting Air Gear (Oh! Great)in anime, maybe it’s kind of extreme but i hoped to see something good at least once like on Kid Story from animatrix ^^’

As for Ayakashi, looks interesting, i have got the 1st one but don’t manage to see it, except for little bits.
so I hope your wish will come true, cause tha other show which feature Tetsuya Takeushi as CD (Rescue wings) was well, a little boring.

And in fact it was Kazuto Nakazawa the director of the new op of “Blood +".

01/25/06 @ 08:09
Random person
Random person [Visitor]

yep, Yoshitaka Amano is only doing the original character designs for the first arc…
I’m just hoping that in the next 2 instalments the CDs actually get to have more control over the animation rather than in, say Rescue Wings, which Manuloz mentioned…
(I watched the first ep hoping for at least one bit of good animation but came away with nothing; it was… boring. Tetsuya Takeuchi was not the AD or anything. So far he doesn’t seem to have been involved past being the overall AD and character designer. :\)
This is all I can find so far as for Nakura’s designs… admittedly I haven’t looked very hard

Thanks for the info on Otsuka’s Yotsuya Kaidan.

BTW: Utsunomiya was in episode 15 of Noein as expected, second on the list. I haven’t watched it yet though. So tired…

01/26/06 @ 02:24