A memorial for Sato Shio (part four)

ワン・ゼロ (1) (小学館文庫)
ワン・ゼロ (1) (小学館文庫)

Thus Yutaka got transported into the game.
And he knew that he had to escape from the labyrinths as the blue point “C” = “blue monkey,” with the Minotaur who has the same face asMino.

I became Shio Sato’s fan when I read these pages.
I felt like my brain was grabbed and drawn into Sato Shio’s labyrinths.

 I will write the end of the story.
(Spoiler alert!  However, if you have no intention to read this manga in Japanese, I think that it’s no problem to read my spoiler because considering the situation, there is little possibility that this manga will be translated into English. )

Minowas Mogami Kiyora, who was the genius youth disappeared in the first story, “On This Poor World.”
This game was a self-hypnosis program which Mino/Kiyora made for himself.
He programmed it, in order to regain his memory. He designed this game in which the player goes into the depths of his memory and is hypnotized by the effect of the picture and the sound, so the player has a dream that he is in the game while playing it.
Minotaur, who was shut up in the labyrinth, was Kiyora himself who was isolated from the world. It was the purpose of this game to help the Minotaur get out from the labyrinth and to regain his lost self.

However, it didn’t work.
Minohad played this game repeatedly and he sometimes won and sometimes lost. Whatever the results were, he was not able to regain his memory.
Minodid not assume at all that someone else besides but him would play this game, and it was a total accident that Yutaka found it and played it.
WhenMinonoticed it, Yutaka already got hypnotized by the game andMinowent into hypnosis following Yutaka.
They shared the same dream. 

In the end of the story,Minoregained his memory after finishing the game.
However, it was not by winning the game. This is the interesting/important thing about this story.
What brought the result was a certain decision which Yutaka made in the game.
Yutaka noticed that Minotaur didn’t want to escape and was afraid in fact. And he decided not to escape but to die with the Minotaur in the collapsing labyrinth.
Mino/Kiyora recollected it like this:

“Although deceiving myself by myself is easy, it has a limit. I hated the Minotaur in myself.”

The reason that he disappeared in the first story, was that he discovered the secret of his birth. He went into extreme self denial and it caused amnesia/loss of memory.
Unless his strong self-hatred and self-denial were healed, he couldn’t regain his memory even through winning the game.
He himself did not want to win the game because he was afraid to regain his painful memories.
What he needed truly was someone could understand him and allow his existence.
Yutaka didn’t deny the Minotaur. He didn’t force him to come outside but instead nestled up to him in the collapsing labyrinth.
This decision of Yutaka’s cured the crack of Kiyora’s heart and Kiyora was then released from his self-denial and was able to regain his memory.
I think that this story is a very wonderful human psychological drama. 

In addition, I suspected that the blue monkeys in this story were not only the “The Blue Monkeys of Crete” but also the “Three Wise Monkeys” in Nikko Toshogu.

※The three wise monkeys (Japanese: 三猿, san’en or sanzaru, or 三匹の猿, sanbiki no saru, literally “three monkeys”) are a pictorial maxim. Together they embody the proverbial principle to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil.

The source that popularized this pictorial maxim is a 17th century carving over a door of the famous Toshogu shrine inNikko,Japan. The carvings at Toshogu Shrine were carved by Hidari Jingoro.

While the original “Three wise monkeys” do not hear, speak or see evil, the three monkeys in this story do. I thought that it was interesting. 

It’s really a shame that there is no possibility that this manga will be translated to English.So I’m planning to try to translate his manga.

Finally, I will add a little trivial thing about Sato Shio.
Sato is from Tome-shi inMiyagiPrefecture, the same as Otomo Katsuhiro, who is the author of “Akira,” and they graduated from the same high school. (Sato is two years older.) 
Also, Shotaro Ishinomori, who was a great manga author, who created “Cyborg 009 “ series and the “Kamen Rider” series, was also from the same high school.

What kind of education is taught at this school? I was very interested.


A memorial for Sato Shio (part three)

now preparing

(continued to the part four)

A memorial for Sato Shio (part two)

夢みる惑星 (1) (小学館文庫)
夢みる惑星 (1) (小学館文庫)
“The Blue Monkey Chronicle” is the second story in a series consisting of three short stories.
The first story, “On This Poor World” is about the disappearance of a genius youth named Mogami Kiyora.
Mogami Kiyora, who was the oldest son in Mogami family, was regarded as a child prodigy since he was an infant, but he disappeared suddenly when he was eighteen.
His brother, Mogami Yasura admired him, and traveled to Crete Island where Kiyora left his last footmarks. This is the outline of the story.

The person who was carrying out the monologue at the beginning was the main character in “The Blue Monkey Chronicle” named Hasumi Yutaka.
He was recruited by a major company, but quit the company after two years because it was wearing on his nerves.
Then, he programmed a computer game for fun to relax his ragged nerves. The game sold very well, he became a popular game designer and earned a lot of money unexpectedly, but his misanthropy only kept increasing.
He shut himself up in a cottage in the suburbs and decided to only communicate with troublesome human society only through the line of a computer. (on the network.)
“It was in the summer of last year when I moved to Japan on the pretext of a  change of air. Although it looked to an outside observer to be a homecoming loaded with honors, in fact it was nothing but running into an easy life with less rivals.” (I like this dialog. It’s expresses well that this character is in a nihilistic mental state.)
Like this, at the beginning two pages, the main character Hasumi Yutaka’s profile was explained briefly.
 Yutaka encountered a mysterious youth in the ruins of the Knossos royal palace in Crete three months ago.
The young person called himself “Mino” from the Minotour.
Except for his name, he had lost all of his memory and didn’t have any belongings that proved his identity.
Yutaka took him back to Japan with him and they began to live together.
What he was surprised at was Mino’s intelligence.
He finished some games Yutaka gave him, in the blink of an eye and mastered the method of programming and completed the debugging, although Yutaka hadn’t taught him how to doit.
Also, recently Yutaka had begun to see some strange shadows around Mino. Mino said, “They are the blue monkeys.”
“The Blue Monkey” is the name of several pictures of monkeys painted in the palace of Knossos.
(This picture is from this site; http://www.historywiz.com/galleries/bluemonkeys.html
Its name came from the blue paint used to paint the monkeys.
Blue monkeys didn’t actually exist.
Yutaka thought that Mino seemed to have a strange concern for these fictitious monkeys.
One day, he noticed that Mino converted his game “The Hidden Treasure in the Pyramid” into a completely different game. He began to play the game. It was a terribly complicated and difficult game.
While playing, he found himself transported into the game.
It’s now a common story that people get transported into video games.
However, it was new those days and Sato Shio’s description/depiction is so peculiar and supremly excellent that it evokes a feeling of novelty even now.
Since it is difficult to explain the depiction in words, I’ll reprint the several pages from the manga.

(continued to the part three)

A memorial for Sato Shio (part one)

天界の城 (ハヤカワ文庫 JA (664))
天界の城 (ハヤカワ文庫 JA (664))

April 4th was the first anniversary of the death of Sato Shio who was my favorite manga author.
One year ago, when I heard the tragic news that she passed away, I was so shocked that I couldn’t say a word.
It was the first time I had been so shocked since Arkady Strugatsky, who was the big brother of The Brothers Strugatsky died.
Don’t you have some favorite artists、musicians or writer whom you wish to see once? Even if it’s only to say, “I’m a fan of you.” Those artists for me were the writers Arkady Strugatsky, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin , musician Joe Jackson, and manga author Sato Shio.
Although she had not been publishing new work recently, (except some collection books), I thought that I could read her new work by waiting patiently because she was always not prolific.
I would never have thought that she had been fighting against disease.
I read many comments regarding the news of her death on blogs and twitter.
It seemed that there were many people who felt the same as me.
I can’t explain it well, but…she was special somehow.
Her works were certainly not the kind of manga everyone would like, but of the kind that get cult-like popularity among a small audience.
The first time I read her manga was 1983, when I was still a school kid. The manga was a short story titled “The Blue Monkey Chronicle” which was carried by a girl’s manga magazine called “Grapefruit.” 
The story starts with a monologue like this.
“I went to America with my family when I was 12 years old because of my father’s job transfer and fafully encountered a computer. I’m the same age as Bill Gates who started Microsoft, but since I was not very interested in microcomputers, I was not able to be a billionaire in youth like him.
However, I think that my passion for computers in general and my devotion to them starting in high school and going through graduate school was comparable with him.”
If this monologue was written recently, it might be ordinary.
Computers have spread through ordinary homes and many people in Japan know the name of the chairman of Microsoft.
However, I think in 1983, there was no other Japanese manga writer who could write a dialogue like this.
In one of her stories, which was serialized in another girl’s manga magazine “Petit Flower”, titled “One Zero”, there is a dialogue like this:
“These days, besides e-mail, advertising by mail is uncommon.”
It was 1984 that this dialog was written.
I don’t know how developed the Internet and e-mails were in Japan at that time, but as long as information on the Internet is correct, Keio University, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo University were connected via computer network  in 1984. This was the origin of the Internet in Japan.
I couldn’t help but be surprised at her farsighted intelligence.
Well, it was not new that the computer appeared in Japanese manga those days.
However, those computers always were fantastical and imaginative omnipotent machines like a dream or nightmare. I think those computers were not based on any realistic predictions of how computers would develop and relate to society,.
I won’t say that Sato Shio’s stories are always correct scientifically. Reading it strictly in a scientific way, I can find one or more contradictory points in “The Blue Monkey Chronicle” too.
However, her skillful storytelling does not let readers notice these discrepancies. And in fact, this story is a fantasy story rather than a science fiction one. The scientific contradictory point does not spoil the essence of the story. (continued to part two)

Book review “Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari 巷説百物語”

巷説百物語 (角川文庫)
巷説百物語 (角川文庫)
Kousetsu is a rumor which people believe.
Hyaku Monogatari means one hundred stories.

“Kousetsu Hyaku Monogatari is the first book of the Kousetsu series by Natsuhiko Kyogoku , while “Warau Iemon” was one volume of his another series, “rewritten classic stories in Japan.”
This book consists some short stories. The all of the stories are titled names of yokai.
Yokai is a class of preternatural creatures in Japanese folklore, like a monster or ghost.I will introduce the first story, “Azuki Arai.”

It is set in the Edo period.
Momosuke was a  writer. While he aspired to be a drama-writer, now he was writing riddle stories for children.
One day, on the way of his travel, he came across some strange people when he stopped at a small shack to take shelter from the rain.
There were some men and a woman in the shack. They too were taking cover from the rain.
One of them, a man who looks like an Ongyo— Ongyo is a person who wears Buddhist monk’s clothes and begs for money while scattering paper talisman. — suggests to play “Hyaku Monogatari” to kill time.
Hyaku Monogatari means one hundred stories. It is a game which was popular in Japan during the Edo-period. People in a room have to tell one hundred mystery, strange, ghost or monster stories. It was said that something mysterious would happen when all the stories were finished.
Momosuke was happy to hear the suggestion because he really loves mysterious ghost or monster stories, and he frequently traveled around Japan to collect them. His dream was to publish a hyaku monogatari book someday.
The woman began to tell her story. It was a story about a monster cat. She said that her sister, whose name was Oriku, met with the monster cat. It was the the day before her wedding. After seeing the cat, she became mad suddenly and shut herself up in a shack in a mountain. She refused to have a meal and died in the end.
It was a strange story.
Momosuke knows many monster stories, but this was the first time he had heard it.
When the story ended, they heard a strange sound from somewhere as though someone was washing rice or beans. Hearing the sound, some of the people in the shack said that it was the sound of a monster called “Azuki Arai.”
“Azuki Arai” means azuki beans washer. It’s a yokai.
There were many old tales about Azuki Arai in Japan. It’s said that it make the sound near a river, so that a person will become confused, and they will fall into the water. It’s also said that it sings, “Shall I wash azuki beans or eat a human?” while washing azuki beans.
Momosuke noticed that one man in the shack, whose name was Enkai, seemed to be uneasy while hearing the woman’s story. Moreover, Enkai overreacted to the word “azuki beans” sensitively.
Next, the middle aged man began to tell his story. Although it was a story about Azuki Arai, Momosuke didn’t know the story.
He was a master of a large wholesale store. There was an employee who had a special ability in the store. His name was Yasuke. He was a boy who had an interectual disability, but he had a strange ability. He could correctly add up the number of beans in a scoopful of azuki beans in an instant. The master was interested in his ability and gave him an important position in his shop, even although Yasuke couldn’t anything except for very easy job.
However, Yasuke was killed by someone and his body was discovered in a river.
From the  day, a strange incident began to happen in the store. People in the store heard someone’s voice singing, “Shall I wash azuki beans or eat a human?” It was Yasuke’s voice and azuki beans was scattered in the entrance.
After all, an employee, called Tatsugoro, confessed his crime to a magistrate. He was jealous of Yasuke and killed him secretly. He became half mad because he saw Yasuke washing beans.
When the second story ended, they heard the sound of azuki beans again.
Suddenly, Enkai, who was silently listening to the story, cried out.
He looked scared and paniced and rushed into the rain. After the rain stopped, he was found dead. He probably slipped in the rain and fell into the river.
It appears as though he was confused by the azuki beans washer.
The people agreed that this accident was due to the youkai.
The Ongyo rang a bell and prayed: “Ongyo, si-tatematsuru-”

However, afterwards, Momosuke found out the truth.
It was not monster’s evil doing but a human’s.
The man who looked like an Ongyo, was in fact an uncommon liar, whose nickname was “Komatakuguri-no Mataichi.” Komatakuguri means swindler. His job was to solve problems or negotiate a private settlement using his gift of the tongue and elocution. This time, his duty was to find a murderer.
The dead man in the river, Enkai’s real name was Tatsugoro.
He had raped a woman called Oriku who was going to marry with another man the next day. Oriku became mad because of her ordeal, shut herself up in a shack and died. He also killed her brother, Yasuke, because Yasuke saw him do it. Oriku and Yasuke’s father suspected him of the murders, but he had no evidence. So he requested the service of Mataichi.
The woman, Ogin and the middle aged man, Jihei who told the two ghost stories were his accomplices.Mataichi and his accomplices trapped Tatsugoro. They followed him who traveled and,lired him into the shack seizing the rain. the shack in which
It got down and this hut was the very hut in which they took shelter was the exact one in which Oriku had shut herself up.
Mataichi only intended for Tatsugoro to confess his crime by being frightened by the stories, but Tatsugoro killed himself because of his fear of hearing the names of his victims in the ghost stories, and the sound of the azuki beans. It was true that Yasuke had a special ability adding up the number of beans in a scoopful.
After finding out the truth, Momosuke thought that it was better that this incident appeared that it was due to the monster.
Mataichi said, “Shall I wash the azuki beans or eat a human-”

It is the outline of  “Azuki Arai.”
This story tells about Mataichi’s work (which is called “sikake” in this book, and it means a scheme or plot) and the encounter of Mataichi and Momosuke.

Mataichi is a komatakuguri. Although he dresses as a wondering monk, he is a faithless man who believes neither in God nor Buddha. Although he is a scoundrel, he is very likable character. When he solves a problem, he skillfully kids people into thinking that it was due to a monster or a ghost.
His accomplice,”Yamanekomawasi is a beautiful woman who is a street performer who uses a puppet. “Kotobure-no Jihei” is an expert in disguise. In a later story, “Yotsudama-no Tokujiro” appears. He is a showman and an expert hypnotist. They act in various roles in their work.
After this first story, Momosuke started to cooperate with them.
He is a writer and is well versed in monster and ghost stories, so he is able to give reality to Mataichi’s work.

They deceive people using the monster or ghost stories but, actually don’t believe in them. This is especially true of Matachi. He declared “There is neither soul nor a after world. Those things exist only in people’s minds. A dead person is only a dead body.” in the last story of the book.

This is the first book of the Kousetsu series. The later books are also fantastic.