mjj (flemmings) wrote,

An oddity. Since I started reading 12 Kingdoms I find it nearly impossible to read manga. I used to wonder how anyone could prefer novels to manga 'cause you know, pretty pictures and visual clues to help with text etc etc. But now I'm finding manga's lack of, umm, language context is it? a drawback.

It's stripped down dialogue, often without any story context to start with, and figuring out just what people are talking about, when they happily drop their subjects and verbs all over the map, is work. Japanese prose doesn't have the same ambiguity: or at least, Ono's prose doesn't. You always know who's talking to whom about what: no empty frames with only a dialogue bubble, no close-mouthed characters who may be either the speaker or the subject of the (minimalist and obscure) dialogue bubble, no dialogue-over that signals a transition to a new scene and does not apply to the scene it appears in. (And yes, Minekura sensei I *am* looking at you.) I'm sure it's possible to be just as opaque in a novel as in a manga if you put your mind to it, but 12 Kingdoms isn't. Well, much. A lot of this one was a slog because it's talking about political circumstances and slightly paranoid conjecture on the part of the speakers- the fact that he did this doesn't it mean that he's thinking that or could it mean that he intends the other?- but that's tough in English, as Dune (shudder) proved.

(Further 12 K natter, spoiler minimalized but don't read if you intend reading some day and want it to be blank slate.)

There's a lovely bit in the current novel (Second Taiki, as I call it) where Youko gets a letter from a new arrival asking to meet {the personage} who is presently a guest in Kei. Youko is not accustomed to the Chinese-ish writing fashion of this world. 'Umm ordinary greetings OK, apologies for sudden visit, umm, and then-- is it "please send an envoy to the guest house," or "please come see the envoy /at/ the guest house" or what?' She hands the letter over to the ex-Hou princess. 'Please bring {the personage} to meet the envoy now staying at the guest house.' I heart Ono. Ah yes, I know that one well.

Also Han-ou and Hanrin have just turned up. I thought from the little I'd heard that Hanrin would be rather like Sairin, sweet and young. Ahh- no. Now I want to see an encounter between Hanrin and Enki, just because. You know, for all Enki acts fifteenish and looks even younger, he's 500 years old, and here it shows.
Tags: 12kingdoms

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