Monday, October 31, 2005


Do Not Adjust Your Set was a TV series of great significance in the history of British comedy. It was written by Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, who starred in it along with David Jason and Denise Coffey; and Terry Gilliam contributed some animations. it was ostensibly a children's show, but in fact Idle, Jones and Palin simply sought to be funny, without aiming at children in particular. It was Idle, Jones, and Palin's first regular TV series, and featured many of the characterizations, themes, and techniques that would they would make use of in Monty Python's Flying Circus, which began a few months after Do Not Adjust Your Set ended. Recently, a 2-DVD set was released collecting nine episodes from the first series.

And it isn't funny. Most of the ingredients of Python are there: Idle, Jones and Palin play the same sorts of characters they would on Python, the structure is similar, there's the same emphasis on parodying TV itself, and there are even sketches which are germs of specific Python sketches. But while on Python these ingredients combined to produce brilliant comedy, here they just lie there, inert. The main problem is the writing: most of the jokes are telegraphed a mile away. This is particularly true of the punch lines, which are usually thuddingly obvious, so much so as to make the sketches they conclude seem even less funny than they were. (I wonder if the experience of this show wasn't a factor in Python's decision to abandon punch lines.) Also, the pace is much slower than in Python. So, whereas Python kept its viewers constantly off balance, Do Not Adjust Your Set is all too predictable.

The first two shows are particularly painful to watch. As the season wears on, the show gradually improves, and the best sketch on the entire DVD is an extended sequence on the last show, "covering" the end of the first season in the style of an election-night special (a clear precursor of Python's election night sketch). And one scene within this sequence, of Eric Idle as a "hip" Conservative delivering an election message, would not have been out of place on Python. (It occurs about 20 minutes and 40 seconds after the start of the episode; there are no chapter divisions within episodes, annoyingly.) Presumably the second series would be even better; unfortunately, it appears that only one episode from the second series is known to survive. Also unfortunately, there are no Gilliam animations on the DVD.

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band was the show's house band, performing a number in every show (and occasionally acting in sketches). This was before they dropped the "Doo-Dah" and became a rock band, albeit a satirical one; and the emphasis in most of these performances is on theater, with the music in an auxiliary role. The performances here aren't funny funny, but they are entertaining, especially Vivian Stanshall's impersonation of a crooner. (And watching them also made me realize why a good deal of the Bonzo's recorded output, especially on the first album, seems so pointless: many of their numbers were never intended to work separately from the visuals.)

As with the show as a whole, the best of the Bonzos' performances on this set by far is the one on the last show (which begins about 6 minutes and 40 seconds after the start of the episode). This is a parodic rock song entitled "Metaphorically Speaking," which the Bonzos apparently never recorded for some reason; but it's worthy to stand beside such later-album gems as "Rockaliser Baby" and "Busted", and has an insanely catchy chorus (the chorus of Reunion's 1974 hit, "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" is very similar melodically, rhythmically and harmonically).

I wouldn't recommend buying this unless you're a Python completist or a dedicated Bonzos fan. But it's worth renting, if only for the historical significance and for "Metaphorically Speaking." Here's a track listing of the DVDs. (Note that the Bonzos actually perform only one number in episode 2: the first "song" listed there is actually just a regular sketch. Also, their number in episode 8 is "Tubas in the Moonlight," not "Tubas in Midnight" as that listing states.)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005


A few days ago I finished reading Fruits Basket vol. 18. Once again, there's a major revelation in the last chapter. (Am I gloating? Yes.) This is followed by one of those "emotional gut punches" that David Welsh described so well. Unfortunately, vol. 19 won't be out until January 2006. And chapter 114, which apparently caused a lot of buzz on the internet when it appeared in Hana to Yume (the anthology where Fruits Basket is serialized), won't be collected until the volume after that.

I've seen reports that there are rumors in Japan that Fruits Basket will end with vol. 22 or 23. (I don't have a link handy, unfortunately.) I'll be sorry if this is true, because the book just keeps getting better. But the revelation at the end of this volume does give me a sense that things are drawing to a conclusion. And the pace of action does seem be picking up, beginning with vol. 17.

The other day I was thinking about a post I'd once read, in which the behavior of some of Fruits Basket's characters is compared to the behavior of members of an abusive family. (Sorry, I don't remember where it was.) Anyway, it occurred to me that an important theme of Fruits Basket is the pain and psychological damage caused by being unable to protect someone you love from an abuser. This was showed up back in vol. 2, with Hatori and Kana's story: another example of how integrated the series actually is. Of course, this isn't the only source of psychological damage among the Sohmas, but it's a major one. (Unless I've missed something, we don't really know yet why it's so difficult for the Sohmas to oppose Akito.)

But it's also possible to overemphasize the darkness of Fruits Basket, as some of the posts on this thread demonstrate. As ayumu-chan says on page two of this thread, while the darkness is there, so far at least the overall tone of the manga has been hopeful. While many of the characters are severely damaged psychologically, there are also many who have overcome, or are in the process of overcoming, this damage. And while I'm sure there will be more suffering before the series ends, I'll be surprised if Akito's gloating predictions in volume 11 come true. (I'm not basing this on anything I've read in the as yet untranslated volumes.)

For those who really can't wait to find out what's going to happen, this thread on the AnimeonDVD Manga Views, Reviews, and Recommendations Forum discusses the Japanese releases, with spoilers. (I haven't read it myself, since I don't want to spoil the chapters that have been serialized but haven't been collected into books.)

Finally, a note on the translation of the title. This is something Tokyopop has no responsibility for, since Fruits Basket is the "official" English-language title in Japan. But in the Japanese-English dictionaries I've looked at, "furuutsu," which is the word in the Japanese title, means simply "fruit." Thus, "furuutsu keiki" means "fruitcake" -- and "furuutsu basuketto" means "fruit basket," not "fruits basket." It's possible that Takaya or the Japanese publisher deliberately mistranslated it, because they liked the sound better or for some other reason. It's also possible that they just made a mistake.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005


About a year and a half ago, I reported on a book by Bart Ehrman containing some arguments that the "Secret Gospel of Mark" allegedly discovered by Morton Smith was actually a forgery (and implying that Smith was the forger). I just discovered, via The Busybody, that there is a book forthcoming in November, entitled The Gospel Hoax and written by Stephen C. Carlson, devoted to showing that the Secret Gospel was a hoax concocted by Smith. Here, from Carlson's blog, are the table of contents and links to reviews of the book. See also Amazon's page for the book, which quotes the Publisher's Weekly review.

For those of you who remember fondly my lengthy rant on Bendis's Daredevil #56 (which still accounts for my two biggest days of traffic): I probably will never write about Bendis again, but as a substitute you might try this even lengthier critique by Rich Kreiner of Bendis's entire career, from The Comics Journal's website. (The version appearing in the print magazine is nearly 50% shorter.)

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Most movie fans if they've heard of the French filmmaker Chris Marker at all, probably know him as the maker of La Jetee, the short film upon which the screenplay for Twelve Monkeys was based. (And I know there should be an accent in there.) But to film scholars, Marker is renowned most of all for the groundbreaking nonfiction films he's made. ("Documentaries" somehow seems an inadequate term for them; they're more like filmic essays.) The best-known of these (and the only one widely available on DVD as far as I know) is the stunning Sans Soleil, which ranges from Japan to Iceland to Guinea-Bissau, with the overall theme being the fate of the revolutionary impulse in the present-day world. Also outstanding is The Last Bolshevik, a film made in the Gorbachev era which used the life and works of the Soviet filmmaker
Alexander Medvedkin as a frame for examining the history and fall of the Soviet Union.

Recently, courtesy of the invaluable Odd Obsession Video, I had the chance to watch Marker's A Grin without a Cat, a three-hour film originally made in 1977 (but with the last few minutes of the soundtrack replaced with Marker looking back on the film from 1993) examining revolutionary politics throughout the world, from the worldwide anti-Vietnam War protests in 1967 and May 1968 in Paris, to the coup that overthrew Allende in 1973, and after. Marker is himself pro-revolutionary, and the film reflects disappointment, and awareness of the mistakes made by revolutionary movements, but not the disillusionment evident in The Last Bolshevik (apart from the 1993 coda).

The first four minutes of the film are a montage intercutting shots from Battleship Potemkin with "matching" shots from contemporary newsreel and documentary footage: it's a brilliant, rousing piece of political filmmaking. The body of the film is less spectacular, but does an excellent job of conveying the spirit of the times from a radical perspective. Personally, I have never been tempted to romanticize either Che Guevara, or the French (or any other) Communist Party, but the first half of Marker's film helps to make it understandable why people would.

There's a lot of great interview and documentary footage in here. One particularly fascinating bit shows Salvador Allende speaking to the workers of a factory. He does come across as very much the college professor, lecturing and even scolding the workers at one point for not attending factory meetings enough. But while he's somewhat patronizing, there's also something attractive in his willingness to be frank with the workers, rather than flatter them, and his belief that the workers will accept this. He says: "No, I didn't come here to be hissed or cheered. I've just come to talk sense to you," and you feel that he means it.

If you don't have some knowledge of the political history of these years -- particularly France and Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Chile in the Allende years -- you'll probably find the film confusing. But if you do know something about this period, the film is well worth searching out. Note that the copy at Odd Obsession has the narration, which was originally French, dubbed into English, but the interviews and documentary footage are left in the original languages and subtitled.

On a previous visit to Chicago, I'd watched Level Five, another Marker film available at Odd Obsession. This is a lesser film, but it's worth watching for its harrowing portrait of the aftermath of the Battle of Okinawa, when thousands of Okinawans committed mass suicide in the wake of the Japanese defeat, having been convinced by Japanese propaganda that this was the only honorable course and that the American troops were monsters who would rape and torture them. Here's an article on the film. Odd Obsession also has documentaries by Marker on the directors Andrei Tarkovsky and Akira Kurosawa (cinema being Marker's other great love) which I haven't seen.

This website has info and lots of links on Marker (via GreenCine Daily). And First Run/Icarus Films has A Grin without a Cat, The Last Bolshevik, and three of Marker's other films for very expensive sale or rental.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Takashi Miike has made films in a wide range of genres ranging from psychological horror and ultra-violent yakuza films to absurdist comedy, wistful fantasy (The Bird People in China), and even a musical. But Miike doing a big-budget children's movie might seem too far a stretch, at least without Miike suppressing his individuality altogether. But in The Great Yokai War (Yohkai Daisensoh), which I saw last week at the Chicago International Film Festival, Miike has pulled it off. Despite a few reservations, it's a first-class film overall, and reveals an unsuspected side of Miike.

The story itself is not that original: it's the trope familiar from much classic children's literature and film (and also anime) of an ordinary child suddenly thrust into a key role as a fighter for good. Tadashi, a boy who has moved to a village in the country after his parents' divorce is chosen at a village festival to be the "Kirin Rider," protector of peace and justice. It soon turns out that he is expected to be a protector of peace and justice for real, as a friendly yokai (spirit or goblin) recruits him to fight a villain who intends to plunge humanity into a world of darkness with the help of an army of robots created from junk. At first, Tadashi is terrified. But after a while, he rises to the occasion, and, with an enchanted sword and the aid of a small band of yokai, goes forth to battle the villain.

First and foremost, the movie is a visual feast. I don't know how big the budget was, but it must have been much bigger than any of Miike's previous films, and Miike put it to good use. We see dozens of yokai, all different from one another and all completely lifelike. (These yokai seem to be drawn from traditional Japanese folklore, as reflected through the works of Shigeru Mizuki, a revered -- though as yet untranslated into English -- manga creator. And the umbrella and wall yokai briefly depicted in Azumanga Daioh play small roles here.) The special effects, too, are impeccable, from Tadashi's sword-battles with the robots, full of aerial leaps, to a scene in which Tadashi and his allies hitch a ride clinging to the wings of an airplane, and you can almost feel the cold and wind buffeting them. Then there are the sets: the enormous junkyard where we first see the villain, the villain's henchwoman's steampunk lair, and the field of smokestacks on the back of a Gamera-type flying monster. Visually, the film reminded me above all of Terry Gilliam. (I want to say "it's as if Gilliam had made a children's movie," but of course he did; but from my recollection of Time Bandits, which I saw a long time ago, The Great Yokai War is more elaborate.)

The movie's main weakness is "heart." While the story is fast-moving and ingenious, by and large we don't feel an emotional connection with the characters, and hence we don't have any investment in their success. I'm not sure whether this is primarily the fault of the actors or of the script, which doesn't give the actors much to work with: Tadashi in particular is supposed to be motivated largely by a desire to protect certain specific characters; but his relationships with these characters are only sketchily developed. There are a few exceptions to this. The River Princess, one of Tadashi's yokai companions, is a touching character. Two minor characters -- a bean-washing yokai, and a human reporter who loves yokai since he was rescued by the River Princess as a child even though he's never seen any yokai since then -- also make an impression. But the "character" that steals every scene in which it appears is Tadashi's cute (but non-talking) little furry yokai mascot, whose name I forget. While undoubtedly created with toy sales in mind, it's "acted" well enough to make you forget this.

Like most children's films, the movie has a moral, though it's lightly laid on, and a rather odd one. The force the villain harnesses to create his robot army is "Yomotsumono," the resentment of man-made artifacts at being discarded. The idea that one has a moral obligation to an old shoe or a broken microwave oven is a strange one to Westerners. But it may be more natural in Japan, with its Shinto tradition of gods residing in natural objects: in an anime I saw a few days ago, a character asks a god how many gods there are, and the answer is "As many as there are created things in the universe." (But the word "yomotsumono" seems to have been an invention of the scriptwriters; at any rate, it's not in my Japanese dictionary, and Googling it (in English) turned up only references to The Great Yokai War itself.) In any case, when the River Princess tells Tadashi "those who discard the past have no future," you sense that she's not just talking about objects.

Despite my reservations, the film is well worth watching -- preferably on the big screen -- whether or not you're a Miike fan. It's probably not suitable for younger children, though: while it obviously lacks the excessive gore for which Miike is notorious, some of the scenes are intense, and if a child is too young for Spirited Away, I'd say they're too young for this.

[Edited to add the Japanese title.]

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Yesterday I watched Le Portrait de Petite Cossette, a 3-episode fantasy-horror OVA about a boy who falls in love with a girl whose soul has been trapped within a set of antique glasses for 250 years. ("OVA" is the anime term for "direct to video," but with the connotation of "better production values than TV," rather than "not good enough for theaters.") The art of Portrait is heavily influenced by surrealist painting, and is stunning at times. However, just as often it's merely pretentious, and it becomes very repetitive by the end of the series. And unfortunately, the story served by this art isn't that good: there are some interesting ideas, but the execution is weak. Still, if you're looking for something different in anime, you might want to give this a shot. (The director is Akiyuki Shinbo, who also directed Soultaker, another anime with an unconventional art style.)

[Edited to insert the phrase that I had really wanted to say, but which my mind kept blanking on when I was actually writing the post.]

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Saturday, October 15, 2005


Fanboy Rampage is ending Monday. (Though for some reason Graeme hasn't announced this on the blog itself, as far as I can see: the most explicit statement I found is in this comment thread.

The internet will be a much less entertaining place when FR is gone.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Warren Ellis's Engine forum has a thread on Tokyopop's "OEL manga" (via Fanboy Rampage) that turned into a discussion of Tokyopop's contracts with the creators of such manga, which a number of posters regard as exploitative. The whole thing is worth reading, but I was struck by this quote from Rob Valois, an editor at Tokyopop: "In the current market, very few OGNs make any real profit. A 'best selling' graphic novel sells nothing compered to a decent selling text novel. Breakeven is the best most GN publishers can hope for. The only way for a company like TP to sustain their business is the chance that a title or two will break and become a movie or a TV series or a line of fashionable accessories." To be sure, Valois has an ulterior motive: he's justifying Tokyopop's contracts. But if what he's saying is accurate, that's bad news for everyone (including me) who's been hoping that the bookstore market will be the salvation of indy comics.

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Monday, October 10, 2005


Lying in bed last night, I realized that in my previous post I'd overlooked something. I had written that Shigure's remark "Suki ni sureba ii" should be translated as "We can do as we please." In fact, the Japanese sentence does not say "we": the reader must determine from the context who Shigure is talking about. (In Japanese, this is perfectly grammatical and ordinary.) And while it might be "we," as I had written (as had Tokyopop's translators), given the context it's more likely to be "I". So a better translation would probably be something like "I can do whatever I want."

(I also just noticed, to my embarrassment, that I had twice written "Shigeru" instead of "Shigure." I've fixed it now.)

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Sunday, October 09, 2005


Recently, in my local library, I was paging through their copy of the English-language Fruits Basket vol. 7, and as I did so I remembered that some of the scenes had puzzled me when I originally read them in Japanese. So I checked it out of the library, hoping that rereading it in light of the revelations of later volumes, especially in translation, would make things clearer. This did happen to some extent. But I also found instances where the translation introduced obscurities that weren't there in the original, or was simply misleading. (Alethea Nibley and Athena Nibley are credited with "translation," and Jake Forbes with "English adaptation"; for convenience I'll refer to them collectively as the translators. Note that I'm not making any judgement on the translation as a whole. Mistakes are inevitable in any translation, and I have no reason to believe that the translation of Fruits Basket is less accurate than that of the average licensed manga, despite the several posts I've devoted to the topic. I'm simply presenting information for those who are reading the series in English.)

Because I had found the conversation between Shigure and Hatori on pp. 51-55 of the English volume obscure, I checked it against the Japanese text. (If you happen to own the Japanese volume and want to follow this discussion in it, you'll need to subtract two from the English page numbers to get the Japanese page numbers.) In panel four of p. 53 in the English version, Shigure says: "Whatever we choose to do, mistakes we make... Akito will be the one to pay for it in the end." The Japanese reads: "Suki ni sureba ii. Doose saigo ni omoishiru no wa Akito nanda." "Suki ni suru" is a phrase meaning "do as one pleases" or "act as one's fancy dictates" (according to my big Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, 1954 edition), so the first sentence should be translated: "We can do as we please." "Omoishiru" is one of those annoying Japanese words with multiple meanings: among other things, it can mean "feel one's vengeance," "know to one's cost," or "repent of." In this context, "feel one's vengeance" is probably the way to go. So an accurate translation of the second sentence would be something like "In the end, the one who feels another's vengeance will be Akito" (which may seem obscure now, but will make more sense after you've read later volumes); except I can't think of any non-awkward way to say this in English. So I guess I'd go with something like "We can do as we please. In the end, the one who suffers will be Akito," despite losing the idea of vengeance. But the main problem with the translation here is the first sentence. As a response to "We can do as we please," Hatori's answer "You're so childish" makes sense, but in the English translation it comes off as a non sequitur. (My guess as to where the "mistakes" in the translation, which have no counterpart in the Japanese, came from: the translators interpreted "omoishiru" as meaning "know to one's cost" or "repent of," and stuck "mistakes" into the first sentence to make sense of this.)

My next problem spot is on panel two of the next page. Hatori's response here is given as "Such trivial labels": an inexplicable abridgement of the Japanese, which is "Aitsu wa mou sou iu reberu no yatsu ja nai darou," which translates roughly as "He's already beyond a label like that." This makes sense of Ayame's aside "Because I'm the king!" which again comes off as a non sequitur in the translation.

My third example is from the second balloon in the next panel on this page, where the translation is not so much wrong as incomplete. To those unfamiliar with the Japanese writing system, I'll have to provide a little background to make sense of what's going on here. Japanese is written in a combination of two kinds of characters: kana, which stand for syllables, and of which there are over a little more than 100; and kanji, which stand for words or part of words, and of which there are around 2000 in regular use, and many more that are occasionally used. Learning all the kana isn't much more difficult than learning the alphabet, but learning kanji is much more difficult and time-consuming. In fact, by the end of sixth grade Japanese schoolchildren are only expected to know about 1000 of the approximately 2000 regularly used kanji. Hence manga aimed at children and adolescents typically place next to each kanji, kana in tiny type indicating how that kanji is to be pronounced. These tiny kana are called furigana. (Manga or regular prose for adults may use furigana occasionally, too.)

What I've just described is the usual use of furigana. But occasionally you will see tiny kana which do not indicate the pronunciation of the kanji they're next to. This is something that Takaya likes to do, and it happens in the balloon I'm talking about. The English translation is "I'm worried about whether she'll have to face it." In the Japanese text, corresponding to "she" in the English text we have the kanji for "Honda-kun," with the Japanese word for "she" (kanojo) given as furigana. The interpretation I've read of this sort of thing, when it occurs in dialogue, is that the furigana represent what is actually said, while the kanji make clear to the reader what is meant. In Japanese, third-person pronouns are rarely used, so Hatori's using one to refer to Tohru would have a significance that the use of "she" in English can't convey. (The use of bold type in the English translation presumably is meant to convey something of such significance.) But whatever is gained by mimicking the Japanese text's use of "she" isn't worth the confusion created by not indicating who "she" refers to. (It's not indicated anywhere else in the conversation, either.) When I read the English version I couldn't tell whether Hatori was talking about Tohru, Kisa, or someone not yet introduced.

My final example is not a case where something was left out, but where something was added that shouldn't have been. In the second panel on page 52, the fourth balloon (the one placed between Shigure and Hatori) reads "And who could blame the poor boy? If I were in his shoes, I would have done just the same." This is pure invention on the translators' part. What the Japanese says is "Soba ni chikazuku no o saketeta nja. Shikata nai," which I would translate as "He kept his distance from her. It was inevitable." While the facts are unaltered, the overt sympathy the translators inject into Shigure's speech is absent from what Takaya wrote.

To be sure, none of these translation problems affect the plot. But Fruits Basket is less about the plot than about character. And the English translation does alter Shigure's character, as seen in this dialogue, significantly. In addition, it makes Takaya's writing seem more obscure than it really is.

[Update, 10/10: I revised the final paragraph, and also fixed a couple of embarrassing typos.]

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Here are a couple of items about comics that have been around for a while, but that I just discovered:

A well-written and well-argued post on the trouble with long-running superhero comics.

This thread on the history of the direct market, with lots of meaty contributions by people who were there in the early days. Note that the thread actually starts in 1999; I didn't realize this at first, resulting in a slight case of vertigo. Also, the third page of the thread gets bogged down in an irrelevant argument, but the thread recovers in the fourth and last page, so don't give up.

I've also added Acephalous, a very intelligent and enjoyable blog on literature and academia, to my sidebar.

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Friday, October 07, 2005


A couple of days ago I watched One Missed Call, Takashi Miike's foray into J-horror, on DVD. Like the movie that touched off the J-horror boom, the original Japanese Ring (or Ringu as it's known here), One Missed Call features a curse scheduled to take effect at a specific time, setting up a race against the clock. In One Missed Call, it's a cell phone message (hence the title) that announces the victim's death in two days.

One Missed Call isn't Miike's first mainstream project directed at a teen audience (all the prospective victims are college students); earlier there were Andromedia, Tennen Shoujo Mann, and Tennen Shoujo Mann Next, all of which starred teen "idols." But none of those attracted the international notice that One Missed Call has. (There are even plans for a Hollywood remake.) I found the film to be a fairly standard horror film, with little to mark it as a Miike film aside from the ending. And the ending just didn't work for me: Miike's intentions, as stated in the interview included on the disc of extras, were simply not present enough in what's actually on the screen, so the ending comes out simply cryptic. But it was a well-crafted and effective horror film (though I'm not a horror aficianado, so I may not be the best judge).

The film comes in a two-disc set, with plenty of extras. Among these, the highlight is the interview with Miike I mentioned above. In addition to explaining the ending, Miike discusses his general philosphy of movie-making, and hints at creative differences between himself and the production team, though these aren't spelled out. There's also a "alternate ending," which doesn't really shed much light on the actual film, but still shouldn't be missed.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005


Maybe I should just change this blog's name to "The FuruBa Blog" and be done with it...

Anyway, this is just a note for anyone who's curious about what the one-page gag at the end of volume one looked like in the original Japanese. In Tokyopop's version, Tohru is asking Yuki to explain the proverb "you can't see the forest for the trees." In the original, there is the same basic idea of Tohru misunderstanding a proverb by taking it literally, but the proverb itself is different. The original's proverb is "okame hachimoku," literally "an onlooker has eight eyes," which Takaya glosses as meaning "a third party understands the situation better than the parties involved." And the question Tohru asks is "if an onlooker has eight eyes, then if her sight goes bad, what does she do about glasses?" While I agree with the decision to substitute an English-language proverb -- nobody likes a joke which requires footnotes to be understood -- it would have been nice if the translation had kept the absurdity of Tohru's question, rather than just having her be literal-minded.

Incidentally, Fruits Basket vol. 1 was originally published in Japan in January 1999. The copy I have was printed in September 2002, and is already the fortieth printing. I don't know how many copies that translates to, but it's some indication of how popular successful series can be in Japan.

UPDATE: Well, now I feel dumb. It didn't occur to me until just now that the original Japanese proverb describes Tohru's own role. She is herself an onlooker to the Sohmas, who often understands the emotional dynamics among the Sohmas better than do the parties involved: for instance, the relationship between Yuki and Kyou. Now I'm no longer sure that the decision to change the proverb was correct.

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