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Saiunkoku Monogatari – Review

Saiunkoku Monogatari (aka SaiMono to its fandom) literally translates to Tale of Kingdom of Iridescent Clouds.

SaiMono started as a series of light novels by writer Yukino Sai (illustrated by Yura Kairi). It was turned into manga and anime in 2006/2007. My first encounter with SaiMono was through the anime.

SaiMono is a fantasy josei (adult ladies) anime, set in a fictional kingdom called Saiunkoku that was loosely based on Imperial Chinese empire. The story opens with the introduction of Kou Shuurei, daughter of the Royal Archivist in the capital city Kiyou. Shuurei was approached by the Emperor’s advisor to enter the palace as the Emperor’s concubine for three months. Her mission was to reform the truant and layabout Emperor into a competent and capable monarch. In her quest, she and the viewers, were introduced to the denizens of the palace and the world of Saiunkoku in general. Read the rest of this entry »

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Genius on a whim

So, I broke my glasses.

That same night, I went to make new glasses.

Three days later, I went to pick up glasses. It was no good. I had to redo my lenses.

5 days later, I went to pick up glasses second time. On a whim, I decided to watch a movie and have dinner at that shopping mall. I bought tickets to Wolverine.

I have an hour to kill, so I went to video store where they have a sale on Japanese and Korean dramas. What the heck. I’ve been watching anime, but I haven’t watched Japanese drama since Heaven’s Coins in late 90s. So I bought 2 series.

One of it is Tantei Galileo. All I can say is … It’s not something I’ll regret. I’m in awe of a writer who can craft such beautiful plots. The movie left me breathless. It broke all the rules of murder mystery genre. It was beautiful. It’s not without flaws, but the sheer audacity of a writer who sidelined his protagonist and gave so much focus and development to the antagonist … he has my respect. The movie, in contrast to the series, is darker, more conflicted and angsty. I did miss the lighter humour in series, but the movie is very touching.

I like the series for the clever and ingenious application of laws of science. It tries to explain certain impossible and paranormal phenomena through science without dumbing down to incoherence and magic. There’s good humour and it’s not above poking fun at the stereotype eccentric professor and feisty rookie detective. It even has the tacky formulaic scribblings, pose and cartoony laughter more suited for an anime, not a live-action drama.

The movie, on the other hand, has very little to do with science that the series is built on. It focuses on logic, human relations and human psyche. It’s understated, subtle and devious.

I am rarely moved to recommend something. Especially when I believe that my tastes tend to be a little off alignment with my peers. But if you want an intelligent and unusual entertainment, by all means, check out Tantei Galileo and see for youself.

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Internal consistency

Something’s been bothering me about Tezuka’s Kyuushuu arc.

Tezuka, upon arrival in Kyuushuu, was challenged by a group of tennis players who knew about his injury and rehabilitation in Germany. These were mediocre players that were looking for easy win and bragging rights for playing against someone with Tezuka’s reputation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tragic Hero Archetype – Tezuka Kunimitsu

Tezuka lost 3 matches; against Atobe in Kantou Tournament, against Sanada in National Finals Tournament and against Echizen Ryoma in unofficial match.

Tezuka vs Atobe is one of the most moving matches in the series.  It was a battle between captains. Atobe started the match with the intention of winning it at all cost. This includes exploiting his insight into the fact that Tezuka’s, although given a clean bill of health by his doctor, had an old injury on his left arm joint. Tezuka was warned against playing long matches or use his signature Zero-shiki dropshots. Read the rest of this entry »

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Captain’s seat #1 – Tezuka Kunimitsu

Seishun Gakuen’s captain, Tezuka Kunimitsu, is the most developed character among the captains. Personality-wise, he is serious, reserved, independant and highly principled person. He is normally shown as unemotional, expressionless with inscrutable poker face. At first glance, Tezuka is boring, uncharismatic (in contrast to Yamato’s charismatic and eccentric personality), unapproachable (habitually shown with unsmiling,even frowning expression), indifferent (despite Inui’s attempts to get him interested in gossip such as Momoshiro’s date, Tezuka hangs up on him, showing that Tezuka will not poke his nose into matters that are not his business) and detached (ignoring and refusing to rise up to provocations by Akutsu at Perfectural, Kakinoki’s Kuki and Kyushuu’s tennis club members).

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Study of Japanese modes of address and honourific

I guess I better start off with a disclaimer. I’m not Japanese. I studied it a bit and I have more than passing interest in it. So, this is what I can understand in my limited self-study and I may expand on this as I find new materials, aspects and understanding.

One of the interesting characteristics of Japanese language is the use of honorifics and the way someone is addressed shows the degrees/desire of familiarity in their relationship to each other. It even conveys the person’s personality, such as one who is normally formal or informal, open or distant, traditional or modern, rebellious, obedient or easygoing. A lot of these nuances are lost in translation to English. Which is why I feel it’s better to watch anime or japanese drama with English subtitles and original Japanese audio. You get the nuances and the depth of the story much better that way.

This post is an off-shoot from another article I’m writting on Prince of Tennis, The Captains’ Table, which is still half-done. I was looking at how Tezuka’s personality reflects the team dynamics and how it is conveyed and reflected in the members’ style of speech. So I’m afraid most of the examples require certain knowledge of Prince of Tennis. I’d recommend watching it, if only to study the nuances of Japanese language. But you should be able to observe similar usages in any anime or j-drama as well.

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Prince of Tennis – General

I just finished Prince of Tennis anime and half-way through the manga. So I thought I might write something about what I liked about it. It’s not intended as a review and may sound fangirlish, but I’m going to kill my inner editor for a few hours and hope I can write something interesting or insightful.

I’m just writting whatever thoughts that happens to occur to me after finishing the anime and halfway through the manga. As such, there is no timeline and I do tend to jump around as I build connections between events as they occur to me. Mostly, I’ll be referring to anime version. I’m looking at story elements, what works, what doesn’t, what appeals and what disappoints. These are my personal opinions of the moment, not fact or intents of the mangaka, Konomi Takeshi.

This post is full of spoilers, so if you haven’t finished watching/reading Prince of Tennis, I suggest you stop now and come back later.

Seishun Gakuen Tennis Team

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