Asakiyumemishi (4-5)

The story starts getting better, IMHO, once Genji is exiled and political events start moving more. It was even better because I couldn’t remember what caused Genji to be called back to the capital, and was more in suspense. (Actually most of the stuff in the abridged version occurs in the first three volumes.) Now Genji has gained some maturity, and I can’t recall what happens next.

If this were in English I would recommend this as “Genji for Busy People,” but it’s not in English (someone scanlated a bit of the beginning, though). However it loses some of…the poetry? I don’t know what it is, but it’s the prose really that makes Genji exciting to read, because otherwise the plot does meander and then you’re all like ‘oh, so Genji is having yet another love affair?’

After awhile you kind of want to shake Genji and (ok, maybe not ‘you,’ but ‘me’) and you’re all like ‘look at all the trouble you’ve already gotten into!’ Tons of drama, man. It causes me to have inelegant thoughts like this. Another inelegant thought, why is it that Genji only has three kids after all of this?

Asakiyumemishi, by Yamato Waki (vols 1-3)

Manga based on the Genji Monogatari. I am going to admit that I’ve never read the Tale of Genji in its entirety, only the abridged version, which is pretty short. I think reading…well, experiencing the Tale of Genji in graphic form takes something away from it, because the prose felt, IIRC, quite important. It’s difficult to express the viewpoint and way of expressing emotions that the prose gives you in visual form. This manga is probably pretty boring at first if you haven’t read Tale of Genji and don’t know the general plot, I think, also, because it lacks dramatic tension at the beginning.

Note form: 

Normally manga which draw characters in a stylized way need to rely on hairstyle or radical character designs to distinguish characters. However this being the Heian era everyone needs to have the same hairstyle. This is especially bad with female characters (since there are not as many male characters). In other manga it’s because the artist only knows how to draw a pretty girl one way and they’re drawing in too realistic a way to take serious liberties with hairstyles etc., but in these manga, it’s usually not as much of a problem because most manga like this are about the male characters. However there are more important female characters than male in Tale of Genji, so you see how it begins to be a problem if you need to read the text to figure out who this woman is.

The family chart that is in the manga is both helpful (because there are so many emperors, and people are known by several titles, often) and confusing (because everything is so incestuous:  all the other characters are related to each other by blood or marriage, and they are marrying fairly incestuously). In Heian times it seems it was ok to marry your aunt/uncle. With all of this going on, it’s a wonder they didn’t come down with some horrible genetic disease.

I have to be happy that I’m not too bad at dealing with huge casts and characters having more than one name. A lot of people can’t handle, it seems?

The naming during the Heian period is pretty interesting, but I don’t really understand it. If I were translating this I would really be rather at sea regarding how to translate the titles, but thankfully if I were I could just use the conventional ones from professional translations.