Tue May 26th, 2015
Tore through eleven volumes of Ze in four days, more or less, including re-skims of 10 and 11. (And Shoui was adopted by Kotoha's parents, so yes, they're brothers.) Very satisfying, and these days very rare, to be able to lose myself in a series like that, one that precisely scratches an itch I wasn't aware of. I wonder where manga fandom is happening now? Probably through scanlations, I suppose.
Finally realize that what makes Waki run is not so much the Jewish mama matchmaking / making sure her kids' husbands treat them right-- though that's in there too-- as it is Iolanthe's Lord Chancellor:
And in my court I sit all day,
girls kami away,
With one for him — and one for he —
And one for you — and one for ye —
And one for thou — and one for thee —
But never, oh, never a one for me!
Though god knows he says it enough through the course of the series. "Kami will always choose the word masters" and never the man who created them: unless they're part dog. Really, Waki owes Konoe big time for messing up his raw materials.
Partly anent all this, I was cruising the fiction section of the local used bookstore and realized why I have little use for mainstream fiction. It's all about the experiences of ordinary people in relationships: marriage, affairs, whatever. Which is foreign country to me. I have no idea what it's like to live with someone you're emotionally involved with (or, depressingly in the case of many male authors, *not* emotionally involved with.) The idea, as presented in English fiction at least, has all the appeal of working for a large corporation. It's so dreary. Why would anyone *want* to?
Which I suppose is why I go for genre. Genre does romance: high-flown, overblown, operatic, and always far too simple in its resolutions. But satisfying, goodness yes. It isn't like that, it can't be like that, but how nice to read a fantasy where perfect love is perfectly possible.
Well, yeah, real relationships can be a lot of hard work.
So what is this Ze? I just glanced at it on the Big River place (they're out of vol. 1), and maybe I'd like it?
I thought I'd done a review at Aestheticism, accessible by the wayback machine, but it doesn't seem to be there. As everyone says, it's like Fruit Baskets on crack: sweet-natured genki orphan (guy) gets taken in at the Big House as a housekeeper and finds the inhabitants stranger than expected. Half of them are, well, made of paper: kami. The kami are attached to 'word masters'- people whose utterances (when spoken formally) can change reality. Except this family can only use their power to harm, so assassination is the family business, basically.
But the real story is all about the relationships between kami and their word masters, and the man who makes the kami, the mysterious (as the Japanese would say) Waki. It has a lot of my fave trope, obscure currents of emotion related to the as yet unrevealed backstory. Also a rather sophisticated narrative, in that random events in vol 1 are shown to have reasons in vol 9, and most of the action between 1 and 9 predates the main action, being stories of how the present relationships came about. (I had to be told this, by TV Tropes no less, because I'm slow that way.)
Also has a lot of gratuitous sex, because it's pure BL. But I'm not used to BL with this kind of weird fascination and narrative poise.