mjj (flemmings) wrote,
mjj
flemmings

Ze

Aaargh. Man I really want to write some Ze fic now. There's even a Ze request up at yuletide's New Year's resolutions page. Trouble is, the requester is reading in scanlation, and googling suggests those are barely halfway through vol 2. She wants kamisama background? That comes in vol 4. It comes in vol 4 in spades, with a ceremony straight from the King's Blades, except that Shimizu, bless her, is of course fully alive to the overtones that yaoi-onchi Duncan utterly ignores.

I don't want to do one of the settled pairings either. The settled pairings are a yawn, there for the BL by the numbers. Far more interesting is the unpaired 'doll master' Waki, the guy who makes the shikigami, who lolls about in Japanese dress (ahh, men in kimono déshabillé) drinking and being needly and I suspect playing with people as if they were the paper dolls he creates in a distinctly Shinto ceremony crossed with a hint of necromancy. See, he's not a 'word master' who can change reality just by speaking the word. He doesn't have a shikigami created specially for him that's fanatically devoted and will protect him with its life. He minds, sort of, but only in soliloquy. Otherwise the word masters can threaten to kill him with, well, a word when he doesn't do what they want, and he laughs in their faces. (For 'they' read 'he', of course. The stock rambunctious seme from vol 3, natch.) The question of just where the power lies in Waki's relationship with the Mitou family is worth thinking about.

Then there's Asari, that third generation shikigami who wanders about the house invisible, as long as he wears his fox mask. Yes, yes, he's a stock ijiwaru uke, I get that, with a Kansai accent. That's vol 2. Vol 4 raises some interesting questions. Shikigami are created for a particular word master and theoretically go back to being paper when he dies; or possibly Waki turns them back to paper. Howcum Asari's been around since granddad's time? Howcum *he* can threaten rambunctious seme with death unless he cleans up his act, *and* pull a sword on him, and Waki does nothing? That's more than old family retainer privilege. Something's distinctly up with Asari.

There's Konoe, tall chin-bearded shikigami to young Sulky, the proper head of the house who's ducking his responsibilities and shoving them onto his older (I suspect half- and illegitimate) brother. I should reread vols 1&2 as well, because I sensed something up between Konoe and Waki. Possibly just the fact that they're the only two adults in the house to date, but also some hints that Konoe knows something about Waki's past that no one else does.

There is, as ever, the fascinating and non-intuitive (to a gaijin) way things are done in old Japanese families, or rather the manga version of same, or rather the fantasy manga version of same. Main houses, branch houses, main wives and mistresses and their kids and who inherits what when, and in particular the arbitrary authority exercised by the head of the family. Fruits Basket (I did say Ze reads like a BL remix of FB) and 100 Demons do this a lot; so does that film The Ceremony, that I need to re-view, because all I remember is a terrifying patriarch and his old wife who was the one person who didn't register him as terrifying at all. And so do yakuza manga, but one expects tradition and hierarchy in the Mob. In families, not so much.

And there's finally the little wrinkle in v.4 that shikigami are made from the bones and ashes of dead word masters, and given their names. Ah, yes. Konoe and Asari and the rest were once the masters. It makes no difference to them, because they don't remember, but I wonder if a word master ever gets a shikigami who embodies the physical features and (presumably) the DNA of oh say the grandfather who made oh say your mother's life a misery back in the day? And certainly it's practically said that depressive uke Kon is made from the ashes of somebody Waki knew personally. Ah. Um. Interesting, that.
Tags: manga_07, ze
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