mjj (flemmings) wrote,

My problems with Takahashi Rumiko

Going from the sublime of Samurai Champloo (no really, anything that works in The Great Mirror of Manly Love, Mito Komon chanbara, real Dutchmen and classic ukiyo-e in the same episode deserves props) to the letussay unsublime, I'm also watching random Inuyasha to see what the fuss is about. I'm still unsure what the fuss is about but I suspect it's got to do with being 40 years beyond the target age group.

The style looks Sailor Moonish to me but the comparison is unfair. SM never gave me quite the kind of hives that Takahashi Rumiko gives me. They're unpindownable hives as well and may be Ranma specific. I don't know. It goes like this.

Someone somewhere (it may have been Tanizaki in In Praise of Shadows) said the trouble with cleanliness is that the dirt shows more clearly; and more: a cleanliness mentality automatically suggests that dirt is still there in places it can't get at. I'll agree with that and point to the NAmerican germ obsession as evidence. Expanding that idea to the arts, depictions of sweetness and light- or in the Japanese case, genkiness and 'akarui'-ness (which is still light, isn't it?)- suggest to me a nasty corruption below the surface. All that stuff you don't get to see, shut away and festering. (That sense is naturally absent in works where the darker side of the charas is also shown- umm, like Samurai Champloo.) I first encountered the idea when someone wrote about the original illustrations of Dickens' wee demure heroines and how they gave *him* the fantods, and had to agree. There's something dangerous and unnatural and slightly terrifying about those women: all sweet meekness and bland goodness to look at, and where has the humanity of them gone?

And I find the same with Takahashi. Everyone is so good and genki and normal, they must be practising coprophilia or bondage on the side. (Well, they're Japanese. You /know/ the guys are fantasizing bondage when they jerk off.) Something about her style automatically puts me in mind of hentai rape manga. It's the same kind of woman in both: wide eyed and innocent and asking for an introduction to the dark side of the human psyche.

Inuyasha may be different; after all, we've got the requisite dark side character given to us on an animus platter. Actually if Inuyasha the character goes on being the one-note unlikable dork he is (and no, Blue Seed has proven to me that 'otoko-rashii' doesn't /have/ to equate to 'socially challenged dweeb') what we have may be a bleak parable about the choices the average Japanese woman has to face: unlikable manly-male or destructive animus charm. No wonder they've stopped getting married.

(ETA: boo hiss VIZ. Doesn't give the names of the Japanese VAs. Dub-by-default thinking, I tell you.)
Tags: anime, inuyasha

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