Author has written 11 stories for Naruto, Last Exile, Odyssey, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~, and His and Her Circumstances.
With you, I have skimmed the oceans of imagination,
When fear engulfs me, the inspiration of your nobility and courage will buoy me.
This term I am taking an anthropology class -- or perhaps I should say retaking. Anyway, anthropology is way more difficult than any of the English courses I have taken as it has a specific way of viewing things that is hard to grasp. I have to study for hours and take extensive notes. But I think it is sinking in because when I listened to President Obama's speech about broadening opportunities so more people in the middle and lower classes can go to college or other types of schools, I understood that he expressed egalitarian ethics. What do you think? Am I getting it?
Thanks to the forced writing regime I suffered under for the last thirty-six weeks, I managed to whip out a new chapter of SCR pretty quickly . Right now I'm alternating between new chapters of SCR and rewriting chapter eleven which is a mess -- huge, enormous plot holes. I have decided to rename the barracks squads. I got this from Edge of Tomorrow which I saw with a friend who said squad J reminded him of Barracks H. It's a pretty good movie -- not the run of the mill stuff that has gotten so boring not to mention old.
I'm also working on the last section of "baby birds" which is completely outlined. Thanks to everyone for reading it and commenting on it. It means a lot to hear from you.
Anyway, so glad summer vacation is rapidly approaching. Thanks for reading.
My new manga favorites --Itadakimasu, Aisura Hito, Blanc Marie, Chocolate Girl or anything else by Yuki Yoshihara; Barakomon, Library Wars, Noragami, From Far Away, Midnight Secretary, Vampire Knight, No. 6, Butterflies, Flowers, Until Death Do Us Part, Lone Wolf and Cub, Barefoot Gen, Dawn of the Arcana, A Bride's Story and After School Nightmare. I also like Blue Exorcist, Bastard!! (very funny, but meant for a mature audience), Kuroshitsuji, Pandora Hearts, Gintama, Natsume's Book of Friends. After School Charisma, His and Her Circumstances, Akira, Monster, Buddha, Clover, Jack Frost, Manga Sutra, Naruto, Bleach, Darker than Black, Blackbird, and Dance of the Vampire Bund.
My favorite anime are Harlock: Space Pirate, 2013, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Knights of Sedonia, Black Lagoon, Hellsing Ultimate, Code Breakers, C, Fate/Stay Night:Unlimited Blade Works, Aldnoah, Doomed Megalopolis, Kara no Kyou Kai, Psycho-Pass, No. 6, Kill La Kill, Attack on Titan, Gargantia, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, Texhnolyze, Steins;Gate, Sword Art Online, Kurenai, Demon King Daimao, Shiki (not for kids or the faint of heart), Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ozma, Clannad, Fate/Zero, Fate/Stay Night, Beelzebub, Corpse Princess, Asylum Session , Code Geass, Orphan (first season only!), Angel Beats, Outlaw Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Sengoku Basara, Gasaraki, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler), Grave of the Fireflies, Trigun, The Glass Fleet, Macross Plus, Utewarerumono, Gun X Sword, Eden of the East, Sekirei, Darker than Black, Blue Submarine no 6, Le Chevalier D'Eon, Getbackers, Samurai Champloo, Noein, XXXholic, Last Exile, Escaflowne, Evangelion, RahXephon, Heroic Age, Vandread, FLCL, Neo Ranga, Blassreiter, Sword of the Stranger, Ergo Proxy, Blade of the Immortal, His and Her Circumstances, Bastard!!, Rin Daughters of Mnemosyne, Gankutsuou, the Captain Harlock series, Tokyo Majin, Gurren Lagann, Arjuna, Melody of Oblivion, Kamichu, Wolf's Rain and Tekkamon.
Time in Wuthering Heights
The sequence of events in Wuthering Heights is not chronological. Nellie Dean recounts the story to Lockwood, and she tells of events either in the order she learned of them or when she can no longer hold them back. For instance, we do not learn of Heathcliff's close encounter with death as a result of Cathy's death in Chapter 16 until much later in Chapter 34, though it is hinted at by Apothecary Kenneth at the end of Chapter 17. Instead of describing Heathcliff's grief, Ellen recounts the story of Isabella's escape from the Heights, which in light of what is revealed much later about Heathcliff's condition at the time makes no sense. But by the time Lockwood and the reader learn this, they have forgotten the details and are only left with a distant impression. Too, by the time Nellie talks of how weak Heathcliff was when Cathy died, she has Lockwood and the reader in her thrall; thus her obvious misrepresentation of the truth goes unnoticed. The cruel injustices she has inflicted on Heathcliff since she has known him continue even in his death.
This instance is one of many threads throughout the book that are told out of order at Ellen's will. She is an exceptionally good liar and story teller. There is a similar example in Jane Eyre, when at the end of the book Jane makes outrageous statements -- obvious lies -- but by this time Jane's "dear readers" have become so enamored of her they have suspended judgement and believe anything she tells them. I must believe both Emily and Charlotte Bronte were making some comment on the credulity of the general public. But, whereas Jane is simply making herself look good at the expense of Rochester, who has been a very bad boy, Ellen is a malevolent agent not only in action, but in the slander she relates. It takes several readings to see Nellie's diabolical cleverness, and if Nellie is the moral center of Wuthering Heights as Charlotte Bronte has said than the amoral followers of Ayn Rand may rejoice.
To sort out the chronology of the events in Wuthering Heights there are several timelines available. I recommend them to anyone who is confused by the story, and, though it takes work sorting this out, it gives the reader a whole new perspective on Nellie Dean and the story. I have used Stuart Daley's timeline which corrects an earlier one by C.P. Sanger. These chronologies are helpful too, in that they give genealogies and birthrates so that it becomes clear that Nellie and Hindley are the same age and at least seven years older than Cathy and Heathcliff. Further they establish the action of the novel to between 1784 and 1802, and I believe part of Emily Bronte's intention was to compare England prior to the industrial revolution (the Heights) to England after the industrial revolution (Thrushcross Grange).
How were these chronologies made? Well The first version of the novel was so confusing the publisher sent it back to Emily Bronte, suggesting she find some means of establishing the sequence of events. So she took old almanacs, and used moveable feasts, astronomical data and weather events: thus she was able to establish a subtle order. Sanger was the first to discover which almanacs, later Daley tweaked it. I highly recommend them.
Why do most adaptations of Wuthering Heights miss the mark?
Most adaptations of Wuthering Heights either skip or spend very little time on the development of the childhood bond between Cathy and Heathcliff, even to the point of aging the characters. Some delay their meeting until they are teenagers, which has more to do with Romeo and Juliet than Wuthering Heights.
I realize all adaptations are a form of fanfiction and, therefore free reign for the imagination is to be encouraged and expected. But ignoring the nature of the childhood bond between Cathy and Heathcliff neglects one of the central themes of the novel: the betrayal of childhood dreams and promises in order to meet adult and societal expectations.
If Cathy and Heathcliff are teenagers when they meet, they have already passed beyond the borders of childhood and are aware of what is expected of them based on their situations in life. If at this point, they choose to pursue their love for each other it is simple rebellion, more like Catherine and Hareton, who meet when she is eighteen and he is twenty-three. And then too, though they rebel against Heathcliff, it is only a minor skirmish, since there is no societal constraint against these two marrying – even though they are first cousins.
On the other hand as far as social mores are concerned, Cathy and Heathcliff are definitely not acceptable marriage partners, but, with their shared history as children, they have a bond goes back to when all things are possible. Pledges made at this time of life are oddly true and binding. True in the sense that most children are still free enough to act in congruence with their authentic natures, and binding in the way a forgotten childhood prayer or promise can hold sway over a lifetime.
This is why Cathy’s betrayal of Heathcliff for all that is shiny and valued by others is such a dagger to the heart. We have all been faced with leaving behind something or someone we valued deeply in order to enter the adult world. We have all betrayed our childhood hearts to fit in as teenagers and adults. Further, though the novel does not deal with it directly, after Cathy’s death Heathcliff spends his life trying to regain that childhood paradise.
This is why I think the story must start with Heathcliff and Cathy meeting at the ages of approximately seven and six as they do in the novel. This is a difficult task in movies given that the characters must be aged from childhood through adulthood. Too, there is the problem of how to portray the child abuse suffered by Heathcliff, without which his character makes little sense. In a narrative it is not as difficult; the author has to re-imagine the childhood mind. But take it from one who has tried to figure out what games Heathcliff and Cathy might have played, it is hard to recapture that sense of tangential play.
However, there is another possibility I would love to see attempted. With good writing, Japanese anime could manage it, given the high state of the art and the extended episode format. The problem of aging the characters does not require multiple actors that look alike. Making plain Heathcliff’s childhood suffering does not require a child actor to suffer through acting it out. Too, heartrending poignancy is a feature of Japanese anime making the medium uniquely capable of rendering the pain and sorrow of Cathy’s betrayal to both herself and Heathcliff apparent.
What is gossip and what is true in Wuthering Heights?
Perhaps, my Heathcliff seems out of character to you. But what do you really know of Heathcliff? Just the gossip of his jealous competitor, Nellie Dean, who, in truth, witnessed very little of his life. He must have been clever considering all that he managed. Then too, how did he occupy his time during all those years Nellie was not around? If this book teaches you anything it is the unreliability of gossips. They always have a hidden agenda; poor Lockwood is oblivious to her end.
The other day at dinner a guest commented on the wasted life of another person, recently passed away. A person my guest saw at the most once or twice a year. At these careless comments Nellie Dean sprang to mind. How, I wonder, can anyone make such a judgment on another's life unless they are witness to every minute of it? Such comments are cruel; and, you people who make them, you should know that is what others are thinking of you. Unless you are omnipotent, you should hold your tongue.
My justification for Heathcliff’s articulate chattiness in Haunted comes from several incidents in the book. I’ll mention two: Lockwood’s description of his conversation with Heathcliff on his first visit to the Heights, and Heathcliff’s tale of what happened to Cathy and him when they were caught peeking at Thrushcross Grange, including the detailed description of the manor house’s furnishings and décor.
As to the latter, I questioned it as Nellie embellishing at first, but shortly after, Nellie, knowing Heathcliff stands in the shadows, lets Cathy go on about Edgar’s proposal. Why did she do something so cruel? To get to Thrushcross Grange, I believe. Heathcliff’s description enticed her, and who would want to stay at the Heights around Hindley’s drunken dissipation?
Many of Nellie’s judgments regarding Cathy and Heathcliff are projections of her own desires. It is Nellie who is moved by greed, not her two wards. Cathy’s assessment when near death that Nellie is the architect of everyone's misfortune is spot on. Nellie wanted to work at the grander more orderly house, and she had no intention of turning Edgar down for Hareton’s sake. When she tells Lockwood this, no one is alive who can verify her story regarding her protests about leaving Hareton.
As to Heathcliff writing to Cathy during his travels, do you think any of those letters would have ever reached her? No, Cathy was enslaved by her need to be taken care of, just like Hindley, Edgar and Isabella. The servants brought their mail to them and an unscrupulous, ambitious lady's maid might take it upon herself to censor the mail. Certainly Heathcliff would have realized this.
In the end Nellie Dean becomes the overseer for young Catherine’s landholdings, and she states as much to Lockwood when he comes to pay the remaining rent for Thrushcross Grange after Heathcliff’s death. Joseph accuses her of taking money from Lockwood for sex. I can only wonder in fear how she went on to manipulate Catherine and Hareton.
Why is Heathcliff a more daring choice for a hero than Edward Rochester?
Edward Rochester may be a bad boy, but he is still a member of the British gentry, very well connected, and very rich. Further, he is rather severely punished for his misdeeds before being allowed the happiness of marrying Jane. So Victorian Christian morality receives its due, and Jane climbs the social ladder, from servant to master. Though there are scandalous and cruel aspects to this story, and the narrator is shown at the end to be unreliable, the devil gets his due, and the story follows the romantic formula.
Heathcliff, on the other hand, is of unknown pedigree, being referred to as a Lascar (from India) a gypsy (Romani) or an American, which I take to mean Native American. Ellen even imagines him to be the son of a Chinese Emperor. Thus he is not Caucasian -- not shocking in our time, but when Emily Bronte wrote, interracial relationships were viewed very differently. When he arrives at the Heights at the age of seven, he speaks an unrecognizable language, and cannot communicate with anyone, though in a poignant scene he tries desperately.
When Cathy rejects Heathcliff, he runs away and gets rich. This part of the plot reminds me of Persuasion by Jane Austen, except that Cathy gives in to social convention and marries Edgar Linton whereas Anne Elliot refuses Charles Musgrove and remains a spinster. Anne is rewarded when her true love, Fredrick Wentworth, whom she rejected because he was poor, returns a rich and respectable naval captain. Poor Cathy is married and pregnant when her true love returns, resulting in mayhem.
Heathcliff and Cathy's deep and unbreakable bond scandalizes Edgar Linton, as it must have Victorian England, because Heathcliff is utterly other, and no amount of wealth will ever make him acceptable. As the book progresses, Edgar's refusal to accept their friendship leads to Cathy's and much later Heathcliff's unrepentant and subtle suicides. In the end, in accord with suicide lore of the time, the two lovers triumph, becoming earthbound spirits, eternally free to roam their beloved moors, even though no minister ever interceded for them.
It seems to me that Heathcliff is clearly a very brave choice on the part of Emily Bronte. Whereas her sister Charlotte, who wrote Jane Eyre in reaction to Wuthering Heights, chose a much safer and well connected bad boy. Heathcliff is a reflection of all that proper Victorian society rejected, and yet most readers remain sympathetic to him. Why? What does he represent? And what makes him so deeply and intriguingly masculine, out shinning other the male characters like Rochester? Well, I have a theory or two which I plan to expand on in my fanfics, but one thing I will say; Heathcliff is incredibly brave and noble, standing up to a system that considers him inhuman, good for nothing but the free labor that can be extracted from him before he perishes. He takes this system and turns it upside down, by completely legal means. When he finds that he is now the oppressor, he lets it all go; unlike the characters of Jane Eyre, who never question the master/servant relationship. In the end Heathcliff is set free and discovers something amazing.
Both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre have a lot more going on in them then most novels-- the unreliable narrator or the difference between fate and providence, for instance, that is why these novels live on. Neither are simple romances. I like Jane Eyre very much, but I love Wuthering Heights.
Several Bronte scholars have mentioned this poem as the possible inspiration for Cathy and Heathcliff.
The Two Children
Heavy hangs the raindrop
Heavy looms the dull sky,
Never has a blue streak
Frowning on the infant,
Day is passing swiftly
All the flowers are praying
Blossoms, that the westwind
Soul, where kindred kindness
Wither, Brothers, wither,
Child of Delight! with sunbright hair
Thou shouldest live in eternal spring,
"Ah, not from heaven am I descended,
I, the image of light and gladness,
"Heavy and dark the night is closing;
"Guardian angel, he lacks no longer;
Often rebuked, yet always back returning
To-day, I will seek not the shadowy region;
I'll walk, but not in old heroic traces,
I'll walk where my own nature would be leading:
What have those lonely mountains worth revealing?
A Fragment from the Writings
I owe him something; he has held a
And he has been a mental king
Orphic Hymn 29 to Persephone (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
Orphic Hymn 29 to Persephone
Persephone, Daughter of Zeus, blessed
Mother of loud-shouting, many-shaped Bacchus.
Raped into your marriage bed in the late autumn
Listen, blessed Goddess and send up fruits from the earth
Fly / Small Circle of Friends
One morning, while I lay stretched in the grass by the river.
As to that, as to that, as to that, as to that …
In other words, we travel westward,
I knew the day I was born I would set out on a journey one day.
The journey finally has begun to seek out and awaken the “me” that I am sure lived long ago.
In other words, we travel westward,
Erect no monument. Just let the roses
To find another name. Once and for all
And though he also worries at his passing,
He is already, where you can't go with him.
The Buddha on Belief from the Kalama Sutta
A Song of Despair
The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
Deserted like the dwarves at dawn.
Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver,
In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
I made the wall of shadow draw back,
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
There was the black solitude of the islands,
There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,
Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
From billow to billow you still called and sang.
You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.
It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!
A Tree Telling of Orpheus
White dawn. Stillness. When the rippling began
Yet the rippling drew nearer — and then
I was the first to see him, for I grew
He came still closer, leaned on my trunk:
Then as he sang
Fire he sang,
I was seed again.
And at the heart of my wood
It was then,
And I in terror
You would have thought we would lose the sound of the lyre,
All day we followed, up hill and down.
Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes
It was a mineshaft peculiar to souls.
Rocks were there
They came along this very path.
In front, the slender man in the blue cloak
But he said to himself: “They are still coming.”
The god of gateways and far-off messages,
But she went by that god’s hand
She was within a new maidenhead
She was already loosened out like long hair
She was already root.
And as abruptly
But in the distance, dark against the shining gateway
with a sorrowful look the god of far-off messages
To make a prairie (1755)
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
Sweet is the swamp with secrets
Sweet is the Swamp with secrets,
At that enthralling gallop
Orphic Hymn 77 to Mnemosyne (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
The consort I invoke of Zeus divine;
Reason’s increase and thought to thee belong,
Come, blessed power,
From the an Orphic Tomb Lamella
Parched with thirst am I, and dying.
You will find to the left of the House of Hades a spring,
The Robin is the On
The robin is the one
The robin is the one
The robin is the one
Bacchylides, Fragment 55 :
"For the keenly-contested gifts of the Mousai do not lie open to all for any comer to carry off."
Pindar, Olympian Ode 6. 91 ff :
"For you give to my words their true report,
Pindar, Fragment 150 :
"Moisa! Be thou mine oracle,
Orphic Hymn 76 to the Muses (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"Daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus . . .
Comments on Barefoot Gen
I've just finished reading Barefoot Gen, by Keiji Nakazawa in the new translation, which is spectacular. The story is based on the author's experience as six year old in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on that city. He and his mother, who was eight month pregnant at the time, survived along with two older brothers who were not in Hiroshima on that terrible day. His father, older sister and younger brother died in the fire storm that followed, burned alive, trapped in their collapsed house.
It is a cruel irony of this autobiographical story that the author's family were outspoken war dissenters who criticized the Japanese military and the war its leaders started. In fact the author's father spent eighteen months in prison for speaking out. The family suffered ostracism for their views with many dire results.
The story is told through six year old Gen's eyes, and a remarkable child he is. Indefatigable in the face of the terrible horror that resulted from the dropping of the bomb, he carries on, inspiring others. This is not an easy story to read. It does not pull punches, and it comes down hard on both the Japanese and the U.S. military. Gen survives pretty much unscathed compared to others because he happens to be standing behind a concrete wall when the bomb detonates. Afterwards, as he walks through the streets trying to find his way home in the devastated city, he sees people, whose skin has melted off their bodies walking the streets like zombies, searching for water. Dead bodies of men, women and children lie everywhere, burned to a crisp. And that is only the beginning of the horror as fire envelopes the city only to be followed by 'bomb sickness'.
The survivors of Hiroshima did not understand the nature of the bomb so they did not realize the strange plague that followed was due to radiation. Many thought it was communicable like influenza or measles which led to the abandonment of many of the bomb victims. Through Gen we see a cross section of the Japanese peoples' reactions and experiences, ranging from deplorable to heroic. Too, we cringe as the U.S. military examines victim's bodies in the streets of Hiroshima, removing body parts to conduct research, something the Japanese people found ghoulish.
There are ten volumes in all of Barefoot Gen. I will read them all though it is painful. I highly recommend this manga, though the story is unprecedented in its tragic horror, the author offsets it with Gen's humor, loving kindness and sweetness. Reading this story puts so much in perspective, and I came away inspired by Gen. If he could survive such a huge tragedy I can certainly make it through my comparatively minor problems.
I have read some of the debate about Barefoot Gen. But you know what? That terrible arithmetic is just so much blah, blah, blah. This author does criticizes militarism and war in a general sense, making the observation that the war was started by rich, old men, who, through the military dictatorship, mislead the Japanese people in order to make themselves richer. Gen's father suffers dire consequences when he states this and asks the people in his neighborhood when they are going to wake up and think for themselves; something everyone from every country needs to do. Nakazawa also comes down on the U.S. military for dropping the bomb on cities full of civilians not once but twice. To debate the rightness or wrongness of any particular action is not the main purpose of the manga, however. It's purpose is to describe the hellish suffering and terrible destruction of lives wrought by the bomb so that it will never be used again.
Towards the end Gen makes a startling speech in which he says that dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately saved lives, and that the rest of Japan and the world should feel gratitude toward the citizens of those cities for their sacrifice. How could he say this after all he'd experienced? Gen reasons that the devastating effects of the bomb not only ended World War II, but made large scale war unfeasible.
In this day of saber rattling, when many of the same old chicken hawks left over from the Iraqi debacle are demanding that the nuclear option be left on the table, it would do them, and all of us well to read Keiji Nakazawa's story so that we all might see the horror that such an action would reap. Survival, as we all know from Darwin, depends on adaptation, and species that cannot adapt do not survive. This includes us humans; surely it is time to develop more skillful means for dealing with our fears and disagreements. Thank you Keiji Nakazawa for your deeply moving manga. Gen is a treasure!
Review of 1Q84
I've just finished reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Whew! All nine hundred plus pages! However, the author did have mercy on his readers by dividing his tale into three parts, so I must admit; I took little breaks between each section. I enjoyed this novel for many reasons, but, in particular, I loved the modern rendering of one of my favorite myths – Orpheus and Eurydice. Murakami uses this story as the framework of his 1Q84. In this case, however, it is Eurydice who descends into the underworld to seek out Orpheus. Neither does Murakami confine himself to the cosmos of the ancient Greeks; instead, he expands the possibilities with Buddhism's concept of myriad worlds.
The story is complex and adult which I appreciate; I am tired of the tightly-woven, fairly simplistic plots of most current novels. As the story begins, Aomame, our Eurydice, works as hitwoman, an agent of Hades; she is on her way by taxi to assassinate a fantastically rich man who is a wife abuser. On a tight schedule, she worries she will miss her target when freeway traffic slows to a halt. She waits in the cab while the mysterious driver blasts the radio which happens to be playing “Sinfonietta” by Leos Janacek, one of my favorite composers, and, though I'd never heard this piece before, I've come to love it. “Sinfonietta” takes on significance later in the story with regard to Tengo, our Orpheus.
When it becomes obvious Aomame is in a hurry, the cab driver suggests a short cut which entails crossing lanes of halted traffic to a utility cutout where there is a stairway. Oddly she takes him up on his suggestion, climbing down the stairway, which takes her below the freeway and into an underworld with two moons, long distance sex, little people, air chrysalises and lots more. Because many things in this new world are similar to the world from which Aomame came, it takes some time before she realizes what has happened. Once she understands her situation, she names this new world 1Q89 to differentiate it from the first world, where the year is 1984.
While Aomame climbs down the ladder, Tengo waits at a coffee shop for his friend, a publisher with a strange proposition. But as Tengo sits alone, a recurring vision that has plagued him since childhood paralyzes him.
Though I do wish to tantalize you; I don't want to give too much away. And just because it resembles the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, I can honestly say I have not given away the end. After all there are many versions of that story. This novel is convoluted, complex and very original. There are many plot threads that are never tied up, but as a manga and anime fan this is familiar to me. In fact I've come to prefer such conventions, since it more closely resembles life. However, that said, I loved the resolution of the story. I found Aomame and Tengo's search, each for the other, deeply moving, Yes, I cried; their love, separation, and yearning for each other mirrors longings we have all felt. The desire to be with the one being that completes us.
One of the recurring complaints I’ve read in regard to the novel takes Murakami to task for his extremely detailed descriptions of everyday life. As an Asiaphile I liked this; I was truly interested in everything Tengo cooked and ate. Recently, I read a book by a Japanese Jungian psychologist in which he described the primary functions of the Japanese psyche as sensate and feeling. So it makes sense that Murakami would go into such detail regarding the minutia of daily life, but I think there is another reason as well. In the novel, constant reference is made to Marcel Proust's novel Remembrance of Things Past, which, like 1Q84, is highly detailed. One of the characters even reads it.
As to the feeling function, touch and the emotions are all highly important. The memory of holding hands as children drives both Aomame and Tengo; there are many long descriptions of how the experience felt physically as well as the emotions it elicited. For both characters this encounter was life altering as they were both on the brink of puberty. In this way, to bring Jung up once more, Aomame receives Tengo’s anima projection even as Tengo carries Aomame’s animus projection.
I have no doubt that Murakami is ruminating on Jung’s ideas regarding the animus and anima in this love story. First, I must say that this is a common subject of both manga and anime. What is interesting is that whereas in the west the story is most often told from the male perspective as with Orpheus, in Japan the story is just as often told from the feminine perspective, as for instance in the anime Escaflowne or even Howl’s Moving Castle. Murakami manages his story from both points of view.
Not to belabor the point, but I loved Murakami’s tale; it evoked complex emotions which I savored. Its basis in myth, too, was very meaningful to me as I've written my own version of Orpheus and Eurydice, coming to some of the same conclusions as Murakami, especially in regard to Orpheus' character traits. However, it never occurred to me to make Eurydice a feminist hitwoman, though it makes sense, for in one version of the myth she is attacked by Aristaeus and bitten by a deadly snake as she flees from him. This modern and relevant rendering of a very ancient tale into something meaningful for our era is the sort of thing that Joseph Campbell said must happen or we will lose our bearings.