mjj (flemmings) wrote,


I have the week off, is the theory, and it's too hot to do anything but read. So yesterday I finally started in on a manga that I've had for almost ten years. I bought it second-hand in December of '97 because I liked the art nouveau colours of the cover, though I had no idea who the mangaka was or what. Got another of hers too, vol 5 of a series, also for the look of the cover; and didn't read that either until someone sent me the whole thing in '03. Yup, that one was Kawasou Masumi's Karin. Sunday's was her Kaze no Toride (fortress of the wind) with toride furigana'd as casbah because a chunk of the vol 1 action takes place in Algiers.

Not that I read vol 1, mind. I *bought* vol 1 in '97, as I remember clearly. Then somehow when I was packing up at Jean's vol 1 disappeared. Or so I assume, because it certainly didn't make it home with me, any more than the Hatsu Akiko art book that I bought in 1999-was-it did. Memory says I lost that one at Jean's too. There's a black hole somewhere in Itabashiku, I'll just mention.

Kaze no Kasuba takes place in belle epoque France and confuses the hell out of me because the heroine appears at the start in a dress and then switches to men's suit with no explanation; but the explanation is that she dresses like a man when she feels like it, and can because she's inherited a third share of the largest bank and commercial zaibatsu in France from her mother, and is engaged to the cousin who owns the other two-thirds. Her name was also a thing of bitter tears, as katakanized French names will be. Sorue was how I read it, that my mind wanted to make Solveig and howcum, until it was revealed that her middle name is Luna and she's named for the sun and moon. Ah. Soleil. OK.

Soleil is in Algiers in vol 1 looking for someone to take her place as heir to the noble title she's slated to inherit from her father's side. This is because the family has a trademark eye colour, La Contesse Bleue: all the women in the family die miserably around the age of 18 because of it, and Soleil dammit wants to live and get married. So if she can find a male relative, like say her long-lost uncle, to inherit, somehow the chances of dying are reduced or something. I don't know. I don't have vol 1. I could *get* vol 1 (and 4, but not 3) for something like 30 yen second hand from an amazon.jp affiliate: and pay 4000 yen in shipping. Or I could get it (and vol 4) for 400 yen apiece from amazon itself and pay 3300 yen. But what I want is vols 1, 3 and 4, and those I can't get anywhere together, so at this point I say screw it. I waited ten years to read this series, I can wait a little longer. Some day it and I will be at bookoff together.

Though I don't much want to wait, because the series is actually quite interesting. Soleil comes home from Algiers with several people, two of whom are Tuaregs and one Japanese. The Japanese talks funny. I mean, it's a funny kind of Japanese. The Japanese meditates on a defeat that happened on a certain hill because his side lacked western technology. My guess is we're dealing with some disaffected Satsuma samurai defeated by the imperial forces during Saigou's revolt or something. Just guessing, but I would like to know.

The manga also deals quite interestingly, and critically, with the problem of imperialism and racism. It quite happily paints the glories of high civilization in France and happily shows Soleil ordering all and sundry about with the authority that comes from being very rich indeed: at the same time the older Tuareg brother is a guerrilla fighting the French control of his country, and when he finally reaches France is incensed at the extravagence and wastefulness of imperialist technology. The Eiffel Tower bothers him particularly. **All that iron** used up, for what? It doesn't *do* anything. And he can't even go look at it without people pointing and staring and the cops coming to arrest him as a suspicious character. The Japanese shrugs. 'The way it is, man.' The Tuareg (whose name I still can't decipher) isn't ready to accept that shou ga nai thinking. At the end of v.2 he's being tutored by the future Mme. Curie because Soleil's cousin-fiance has pulled strings and got him a place in the exams for officers' training school. I'd sure like to see where that goes.

The other manga I came home with in '97 was Rai aka Three Kingdoms in Spaaaace Plus Furries! I came home with lots of it- a good 16 vols or so- because for some reason ten years ago I thought I wanted to read Rai. I should have *looked* at Rai instead of haring about second-hand bookstores all over Tokyo amassing the volumes. (Which was fun, which was why I did it, but in those days I didn't realize that I like buying books more than reading them.) I looked at it today. The first four volumes is lotsa Spaceships Blowing Things Up. Around vol 5 appears the Zhuge Liang character who might be worth reading- who probably is worth reading- but first I'm reading the character summaries at the start of the book and then I'm going back to Rainy Willow Store that has nice simple kanji I understand and people I care about. (Sort of. There's a recrudescence, and I use the term advisedly, of the dorky forger who slaps women around and who suffers oh so artistically and whom Hatsu really kinda wants to make kewler than Ren when he so isn't.)

And when RW's language isn't simple, it's at least useful: arts-related, porcelain-related and textile-related terms. It's not military terminology, weighty high style vocab, and utterly unfamiliar name hanzi. And Rai alas is.
Tags: karin_mangaka, manga

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