hop along

anonymous asked:

Do you think there is any significance to the painting "Backward's Beauty?" I noticed recently that Fuu often does that pose throughout the show. Often looking contemplative or worried.

Hello! Thanks for your question! Actually, yes. I find it very significant. I recently found some more information on this topic that I am using for my Samurai Champloo story. I think the contemplative/worried look of Fuu is meaningful to the term itself. To begin with, let’s talk a  little bit about the actual meaning.

The Japanese words for “Backwards Beauty” are “Mikaeri Bijin”. Another better translation is “Looking Back Beauty”. The term was popularized by the artist Moronobu Hishikawa when he made this Ukiyo-e (woodblock print) painting in the Tokugawa era, titled “Mikaeri Bijin”:

It was later printed on the first commemorative Japanese stamp in November of 1948. Having made drawing styles of his own creation, he is considered a forerunner for many future Ukiyo-e artists. He even inspired Vincent van Gogh. Samurai Champloo watchers will better know Moronobu Hishikawa’s work looking like this for the sake of mashed up history and an anime plot twist flair:

…Very little similarity besides the title. And anime viewers will see Moronobu Hishikawa looking very different than actual history. I highly doubt he was so flamboyant with long manicured purple nails, and purple lipstick. But hey, ya never know.

Since the making of this painting and many other prints by Hishikawa, the idea of Mikaeri Bijin has influenced Japanese culture for years to come (to the point where Samurai Champloo references it). There is a song by pop group Morning Musume using the title. Mikaeri Bijin refers to a woman who looks beautiful when looking behind her. It is considered coquettish, as she does not turn around to flaunt herself, but rather shyly glances over a shoulder. It also reveals a woman’s nape of the neck which is a sexual yet not raunchy display of the body in Japanese culture. The term itself has romantic undertones too, as it can refer to a woman looking at the man of her affections without expressing her feelings. Modern day Japanese people will use the term as a joke. As it can mean, “a woman who looks beautiful from the back…who turns around and is ugly”. Of course, this was not the case in old Japan.

Mikaeri though, as a word, is simply “looking back”. Looking back can represent looking back at the past, but pressing forward. I think this heavily describes Fuu as a character. She is searching for her past, and yet is forced to look onward as she travels across Japan. And yes, you are correct in saying Fuu is shown many times looking back. Even the opening credits has her doing so.

We can safely say, just as Hishikawa said in the anime, she is truly a beauty looking backwards.  Now from here, I’m going to diverge a bit. But I promise this will connect to the concept of “Mikaeri” or “looking back”

Many people wonder where Mugen, Fuu and Jin grew up. And while the anime never states it, it is very apparent for Mugen and Jin due to actual history. Miyako-shima was the penal colony in the Ryukyuan Islands during the Tokugawa time period, where criminals of all kinds were put. The paantu black figures that watch Mugen as he almost dies three times in his life are a Miyako-shima deity that chase off evil spirits during an annual festival. This is obviously Mugen’s birthplace. The Takeda clan, or more specifically, the real Mariya Enshirou owned the Kururi Castle outside of Edo. Since this was Jin’s caretaker, and teacher, and Jin was supposed to be heir to the dojo, we can assume Jin grew up there.

What about Fuu?

There is very little information to deduce where she grew up. We know nothing of the town. There is no recorded information I can find about an actual person names Kasumi Seizou. And we see she didn’t live in Nagasaki because that is where her father fled. But…her hometown could quite possibly be handed to us in the very first episode. 

Or should I say…the very first ending song.

“Shiki no Uta” or “Song of Four Seasons” is the ending song for the majority of the anime. A collaboration of the singer Minmi and the composer/arranger Nujabes, it was made specifically for the anime itself, and not by the artists separately. This is considering the anime’s first episode aired on May 19th 2004. But the song was only released in the album Samurai Champloo Music Record: Masta on June 23rd 2004, a whole month later.

The lyrics describe the seasons passing by from a girl’s perspective. And there is the repeated mention of someone they wish to follow, or the way they felt when they were “being held”. It can sound like a romance song, pertaining to Fuu’s relationship with one of her bodyguards. However, I think the song is more about finding her father, as that is the theme of the entire show. The montage of pictures for ending credits display memories of Fuu’s childhood, and her mother and father.The reason I bring this up is for a very specific lyric. Again…the song was made for the anime itself.

Lyric: “Summer comes to Uji, and in the fields are patterns of grass set out to dry.”

Uji is a town southeast of Kyoto that dates back to over a thousand years ago. Uji held no significance in the anime. Never did the trio go there. Never was it mentioned, nor is Uji a a super famous place to the rest of the world. But, Uji,  despite being a small city, is pretty notable in history. For one, the last chapters of the Tale of Genji take place there. The Tale of Genji was the first novel. By first novel, I mean FIRST novel. Ever. So Uji has many landmarks and statues referencing the book for tourists.

Uji is also well known for being a key producer of tea in Japan, as there are many tea leaf fields in the past and even now. The Tsuen Tea Shop still stands, and is the oldest tea shop in all of Japan. This perhaps explains the lyrics “Summer comes to Uji and the patterns of grass (plants/shoots) are set out to dry.”

Grass, being tea grass.

These are women during the Tea Harvesting Festival in Uji:

I’m no expert on botany, and I would like if someone could give more info…but it seems to me that these plants by Kasumi Seizou could quite possibly be tea plants. They look very similar.

So now, we can theorize based on the anime credit’s lyrics and pictures that Fuu was possibly born/raised in the town of Uji.

Here’s a little bit about Uji that will help clarify why this pertains to “Mikaeri Bijin”.

Long ago, the kanji for Uji was written to mean “The Way of Rabbits” or “Rabbit Road”. Rabbits… Seems pretty random right? Well, like anything Japanese, there is of course a  legend surrounding this:

Prince Wakairatsuko once got lost in the woods trying to find the way back to Uji. Upon walking, he saw a “Mikaeri Usagi” or “Looking back rabbit”. The rabbit would look at him, then hop along. It would stop again and again every little while, as if to tell the prince to follow him. Eventually, after following the rabbit for a time, he found himself in Uji again.  

This would be an example of a “Mikaeri Usagi” or “Looking back rabbit”:

Since then, the “Mikaeri Usagi” has been the motif of Uji, as well as the guardian of the Shinto Shrine Ujigami-jinja. The Prince the rabbit helped is also one of the three deities of said shrine. The Ujigami shrine, thought to be the oldest shrine in all of Japan, sells an array of rabbit trinkets.These rabbit charms hold fortunes for the future. 

The meaning of the“mikaeri usagi” is that it will help you find your path in life, if you ever feel lost. Just like the legend. Rabbits are also symbolized with this, because despite looking back. they do not ever leap back. Only move forward while contemplating the past. Across from Ujigami shrine, is another shrine called Uji shrine. Before the 1800s, The two shrines were connected labeled “upper and lower” Uji shrines… But…they were separated during the Meiji Restoration. Here is Uji Shrine nowadays, still preserved:

…Could it be?

There’s always the possibility Fuu once prayed to the guardian spirits of Uji shrine for her future. 

If Uji could very likely be Fuu’s hometown, and the “looking back rabbit” is a town icon…and she is called the “looking back beauty”, I can safely say that it described her perfectly. She looks back on her past, and from there forges her future. Mikaeri as a term both describes her and could reveal the location of her possible hometown.

Thank you for your question and I hope it interests everyone who takes the time to read or research this topic! ^^



for real tho im love this song


star crossed lovers + insp


“The original novel [Dumb Witness] was dedicated to her [Agatha Christie’s] own wire-haired terrier - ‘To dear Peter,’ it read, 'most faithful of friends and dearest of companions. A dog in a thousand.’
I felt exactly the same way about the terrier in our film. He captivated me from the moment I set eyes on him. The little dog, whose real name was actually Snubby, became my dear friend. [..] My now ever-expanding fan club wrote to tell me how much they enjoyed it [the episode], so they also told me, the sales of wire-haired terriers shot up exponentially after it was shown for the first time in March 1996.”
- David Suchet, Poirot and Me

One foot in the grave

From the age of two Lance never stopped moving.
He would crawl through his house making it impossible to keep track of him.
However it was nothing compared to what he was like when he learned how to walk.
Soon as he could stand on his own two feet he was gone.
He would run through the garden chasing birds.
He would run to his classes in school.
He would run to the store.
He would run across the road.
Without looking both ways.
He would run straight into the path of a truck.
While he was lying in the hospital bed with his legs shattered all the doctors would tell him was how lucky he was to be alive.
For a while Lance thought that his luck would also save his legs.
But it wasn’t to be.
The doctors did all they could, using pins to try and fuse the bones back together.
However after only two days infection had set in and they had no choice but to amputate the first leg.
The second came a week later after it became clear that the bone just wasn’t fusing back together.
For months Lance was trapped in a chair, healing and waiting.
He never cried though. If he cried then his mama would cry.
Lance wouldn’t have his mama crying because of him.
When he finally got prosthetics it wasn’t what he had been hoping for.
It was a long painful process full of disappointment and failure before he could walk again.
And an even longer time before he could run again.
However Lance was determined and never gave up.
By time he moved to a new high school no one could tell he was missing both legs.

Lance was walking home from class grumbling to himself. He was pretty annoyed that his best friend Hunk had decided that he would prefer to hang out with Pidge then him.
Well not decided more like had to do he wouldn’t fail the project they were working on.
But Lance felt like being petty.
It had been raining that day, the humidity made his stumps painful which made him irritated.
To make things worse he had no choice but to walk home in the rain since his car had gone and died on him that morning.
Lance was so busy wallowing in self pity that he didn’t even notice he was about to walk into someone.
He managed to walk straight into a figure huddled inside their jacket causing the two of them to fall to the ground with a thud.
“What the hell man!” Lance yelled before stopping when he realised who he had just walked into.
Keith glared at him the rain plastering his dark hair to his face “not my fault! You walked into me!”
“Yeah well your still a jerk! You park in the handicapped space yesterday at the mall!” Lance yelled pointing at him accusingly.
“Why the hell do you care where I park! It was like 4am and it wasn’t like anyone needed it!” Keith snapped getting to his feet and trying to brush some of the water away.
“You didn’t kno-” Lance had tried to stand but when he was halfway up a cracking sound echoed around the empty campus and he went flying forwards right into Keith who caught him out of pure instinct.
Keith’s anger quickly turned to concern and nausea at the sight of the unnatural angle the lower half of Lance’s leg was now bent.
“Oh my god! Shit I’ll call an ambulance!” Keith stuttered as he carefully lowered Lance to the floor and looked for his phone only to find it cracked and unresponsive.
“D-don’t worry I’ll erm I’ll… why are you laughing?”
Lance was laughing hard as he watched Keith’s panicked actions.
“Relax dude I’m fine. See” he grabbed his foot and pulled making Keith have to fight the urge to throw up as it came away in his hand.
“See just plastic.”
Keith’s eyes widened at the sight of the prosthetic. He had no idea that Lance, the over confident narcissistic pretty boy was a amputee.
Suddenly him getting upset about Keith taking the handicapped spot makes much more sense.
“Shit… I’m sorry.”
Lance shrugged, “nah you were right it wasn’t your fault. But erm if your still riding the guilt train I could use a ride? I mean if you don’t mind.” He looked away blushing and Keith couldn’t help but smile.
“Yeah sure.”
He didn’t wait for permission, instead he simply scooped Lance up princess style and walked him to his car, a small beat up red thing that could almost pass for home made with all the repairs done to it.
“H-hey I don’t need carrying!” Lance’s blush deepened as he wrapped his arms around Keith’s neck for stability only. Or at least that’s what he told himself.
“It’s quicker then you just hopping along.” Keith shrugged as he deposited Lance in the passenger seat and took his place behind the wheel.
“Still dude. It’s humiliating. Bad enough you know about my legs.”
Keith rose and eyebrow as he pulled out of the parking lot. “I only knew about one of them.”
“Fuck…” Lance hissed under his breath.
Keith couldn’t help but chuckle quietly at that.
“Man I really am an idiot, can you keep this between us… it’s just I’d prefer everyone not to know.”
Lance sounded so small and vulnerable in that moment that Keith glanced over to check that it really was the same obnoxious guy he knew from school.
“Look I promise I won’t tell anyone… but maybe you should.”
“What would you know about this?” Lance huffed crossing his arms.
“More then you would expect, my brother Shiro lost his arm and he was suffering in silence for a long time. I just don’t want you to do the same.”
Keith glanced over at Lance to see him looking very embarrassed.
Keith’s eyes widened “b-by that I mean anyone in your situation not j-just you specifically!” He rambled on quickly.
Lance laughed that strong joy filled laugh of his That always seems to light up the room. “It’s cool man. I knew what you meant.”
They pulled up outside Lance’s home and Keith offered his shoulder for support this time rarther then carrying him in.
After ringing the bell and waiting on the door step Lance looked up at Keith. “Hey Keith.”
“Yeah Lance?”
Lance kissed him on the cheek just as the door opened and Lance launched himself on his older brother closing the door behind him.
Leaving a very confused, very wet but also very very VERY happy Keith standing outside.