Fri, 18 February 2011
First, my apologies to Casey for my butchering of Japanese pronunciations. You tried so hard and were so patience with me. I can hear you cringing now as you listen to this.
Second, I knew I would forget something and I did. We discussed the translation of Ayako and in particular translator Mari Morimoto's choice to use a faux rural accent for the Tenge family and the village residents. I remarked that it sounded faux Southern, but others felt it just sounded rural without any similarity to any particular regional accent. All of us, praised the wonderful job Ms. Morimoto did on Ayako.
Casey Brienza's website is www.CaseyBrienza.com
Carlo Santo's column for ANN can be found here http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/right-turn-only/
David Welsh's Website is http://mangacurmudgeon.com/
Deb Aoki's Website is http://manga.about.com
You can follow us on Twitter. Casey is @caseybrienza, Carlo is @patachu, David is @mangacur, Deb is @debaoki, and I'm @edsizemore.
What I forgot another thought was, how typical I felt that this was a 19th century story, with the overthrowing of the agricultural family head. Many Asian drama pieces I recall watching always has the main family having the tragedies occur and there's always bones in the closet. I didn't realize that Japan had the Communist aspect as well, when they had a Diet/parliamentary system. Cold War and spys seem more Russia and U.S. Though Spies. hmm.. this in some ways remind me of a noir tale.
Reading Ayako for me an okay read. This is actually one of those stories that I see with utter tragedy occurring for the woman role. I wouldn't recommend reading this book to anyone who is new to reading Tezuka, I would probably say that Buddha and Black Jack would be easier to swallow.
OK, was finally able to listen to it. I need to get in on one of these some day. :) I wanted to comment on that one panel you mentioned. I vaguely remember it (and can't remember where it is in the book), but I think my impression was that he was saying, "This person is so weak and small that she has zero impact or relevance on the story, or in fact the world itself." I absolutely think it's meant as an insult to the character, and not a rushed, off-handed remark. Also wanted to comment on perspective, etc. My favorite subject in HS was English, and I minored in English Lit in college. I believe in exploring perspective for works. IE: When was Ayako written, what time period is it set in, who was it written by, etc. To me, it's always been important to understand the background of a work I plan to take seriously. If I'm going to read Charles Dickens, I want to know his upbringing, and I want to understand the labor and economical situations of his era. If I'm going to read Victor Hugo, I want to know about Parisian history and economics. The last story in Canterbury Tales would seem exceedingly out of place if you didn't know who Chaucer was writing it for. Reading Ayako, it's important to note that Tezuka lived through that period of time himself, and had first hand experience with the post-war change in Japan. Yes there are critiques in there on all sorts of things that may not be relevant today, or to an American audience at all. But I enjoy reading to experience another culture, another's history. And so on.... :)
At first I thought,"This book is fine for someone unfamiliar with Tezuka." Then I thought back about the strange comedic elements in this serious, tragic story, and realized that people unfamiliar with Tezuka may not understand the style, and might be taken aback by it or even find it offensive. I don't have a ton of exposure to Tezuka (I've seen the Phoenix anime and read the first volume or two, and I think a volume of Buddha), but that was enough not to be turned off by his style in such a story. Ed, I still have not listened to the pod cast, but I really want to. I just got wrapped up in other things today. I've been thinking of writing a short essay about Ayako, myself. I've already reviewed it, but felt that was inadequate. By the time my brain really got rolling on it, I was in a hurry to get it done because I was running late. I keep wanting to go back to it, and I may soon. Ayako was very interesting to me, because I have a fascination with foreign influences on old cultures. Specifically how the British, and then (and now) Americans, went around forcing their culture and ideals on any country they set foot in. That is definitely the part of Ayako that I latched onto the most.
Great summary, Ed, and sorry about the technical issues. I did want to expand on my final verdict on the book, which I maybe didn't articulate very well during our discussion. I probably wouldn't recommend this book to someone who was unfamiliar with Tezuka's work, because I think it's most interesting in context. It's certainly the most serious, straightforward piece I've read by him, and while I find that admirable in a sense, I missed the outlandish qualities and the risk-taking that I find in his other works -- the merger of serious themes with absurd grace notes, which, for me, make the serious themes more evident. Honestly, I have never regretted reading a single page of Tezuka's comics, and I certainly don't regret reading "Ayako" (or even "Swallowing the Earth," which is fascinating but terrible), but on the Tezuka continuum, I don't feel the urgency or the thrill that I do with work like "MW" or "Ode to Kirihito" or others.
OK, for the record, I grew up in a rural south Texas town, population 3,500. NOBODY talks like that there. The only people who talk like that, and excuse this if it's a little mean, are inbred, white trash, hicks. Certainly not a prestigious, generational land owning family. If the Gone With the Wind characters (with the exception of Mamie, I guess, where it fits)didn't sound like a bunch of illiterate "country folk," I don't know why the people in Ayako did.