Asian Literature

There is a wide array of ideals to emulate in Asian literature, from India’s passive resistance and nonviolent protest, China’s Yin and Yang, to Japan’s concept of ephemeral beauty.  Asian literature holds some of the finest and notable works of literature – Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, Tale of Genji – these works carried the country’s own distinct ideals and customs.  From these three major countries, I learned a lot how their religion and their ways of lives affect the modern countries that they are today.

India, one of the oldest countries of the world, the cradle of the ancient Indus civilization, is rich and diverse in terms of culture and religion.  It is known for its devotion to the discipline of the senses, the eradication of worldly pleasures for spiritual purification, and core idea and passionate commitment to fight against moral violence.  The Bhagavad Gita, known as the Upanishad of all Upanishads, holds many of India’s philosophy that is widely known in the world – the creed of nonviolence, heartfelt devotion to public service and the moral battle to righteousness.  I am particularly impressed with the greatest Indian leader and reformer Mahatma Gandhi who once practiced the philosophy of it.  And also he inspired and influenced some of the greatest political thinkers and reformists like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela later on.  In our country, the idea of nonviolence can be seen in the 1986 EDSA Revolution, where a bloodless revolution eradicated Marcos’ aristocratic leadership, granting the country its freedom from dictatorship.

Bhagavad Gita is my personal favorite Indian work; it encapsulates all Indian philosophy in a nutshell, an all-in-one credo to attain enlightenment.  It is universal and complete, literature and philosophy combined.  Some of the Indian works of literature are hard to read and analyze like the ancient epic Mahabharata but most of them concerns with the idea of the attainment of supreme enlightenment, a typical Hinduism thought that influence China and Japan’s

Bhagavad Gita

Bhagavad Gita

Buddhism.

Literature and religion in China is heavily influenced by Indian philosophy.  Along with Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism, the Buddhist religion first originated in India but deeply stemmed out and flourished in the neighboring China, and eventually to Japan.  Chinese literature is known for its simple and profound verses about nature, the silences and the wisdom of the images used in the ancient songs, verses and hymns, and the rough and fresh ideas and images in the works of Tu Fu, Li Po Wang Wei and Po Chui, inspired by Taoism, Buddhism, and Zen in nature.  The founding principles of Chinese philosophy can be seen in the works of The Analects by Confucius and Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.  Both works and considered pillars of thought in Confucianism and Taoism – two of the greatest philosophical schools of thought in China.  I also like the Chinese symmetrical relationship of the Yin and Yang: that one cannot exist without the other.  For me it deeply emphasizes the harmony between two different things in the physical universe as well as the harmony of the mind and the body.

The Chinese poems are simple yet powerful short verses; they are concentrated with vivid images that evoke emotions of solitude, joy and wishful thinking.  I love the poems of Chu-i Po: the sadness and the melancholy in his poems are melodies of profound human experiences: losing a loved one, missing one’s own brothers and sisters, and the experience of being lonesome.

nature in Japanese poetry

nature in Japanese poetry

Japanese poetry has a lot in common with Chinese poetry, since the latter influenced the former.  And so, Japanese poetry are also imagistic, full of pathos, and their poetry uses the images in nature to express the emotions.  Although Japanese and Chinese poetry are fond of using nature as a metaphor (akin to TS Eliot’s objective-correlative concept) I think that Japanese poetry is much more intimate and personal.  There is also more restraint in the expression of emotion.  Japanese poems, usually short ones, are also easy to understand, sentimental, and reads almost like a diary entry.  The concept of the impermanence of life, the interplay of permanence and transience, and finding beauty in ephemeral things are just few of the themes one may find in Japanese poetry.  Usually, poems like these use the images of the cherry blossoms, the passing seasons, or even the moon.  Generally I like all Japanese poems discussed in class because they contain in them tantalizing and brief images of seasons and their associative emotions.  Like the passing of seasons, there is a certain kind of brief flashes of experiences that reverberates in the minds of the readers.  Japanese literature is more sensitive to the moods: they can clearly hear the sounds of insects and birds and they always emphasize the ever-changing nature.  Perhaps what I like about their literature is the recurrent concern of identity, self-awareness of beauty and the affecting isolation in the moments of pathos.  These themes are major constitutes to the Japanese aesthetics, powerful and rich, and different to the Western’s ideas.

Japanese literature is as rich as Chinese literature, from which they are intensely influenced – from the royal dynasties, art of writing, and religious philosophy.  Japanese culture really interests me a lot:  from the early novels like The Tale of Genji, the concept of Japanese theater, to the beautiful and exotic geishas. Every work of literature depicts clearly the Japanese life; the Tale of Genji for instance, vividly portrays the aristocratic Heian court of life.  The samurai is also a famous Japanese cultural feature:  loyalty and honor to their overlord are strictly practiced; there is supremacy of political over personal considerations.

Equally interesting are also the Japanese concept of theater, which includes the famous ones like Noh, Kabuki and even the Puppet Theater.  These three kinds of theater project that kind of sophistication based on the art of movement through disciplined speech, gesture, dance and body of the actors.  I also learned that geishas are not courtesans, that their ways are governed by the art of entertainment and pleasure.

I have been exposed to Western ideas, culture and literature – the hegemonic concepts in general – and it is truly satisfying to find a different approach in aesthetics and philosophy in Asian literature.  If the Western culture believes in the eternal beauty of art and the things in general, I find the Asian culture (particularly Chinese and Japanese culture) concepts different because they find that the ephemeral quality in things more beautiful, therefore, they must be cherished and appreciated more.  Some of the famous concepts in the Western world are already present in the works of Asian literature, even much before, just like the concept of TS Eliot’s objective-correlative in the works of early Japanese poetry, post-modernist style in the Indian play Shakuntala and the all-knowing and shifting narrator and the free indirect style of narrative in some of the Tang stories discussed in class.  It means that Asian literature is never far behind the Western culture.  They should be appreciated more because Asian culture and literature is much closer to our own understanding, and it is ours.

Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Now that summer has just started, I am totally updated with the goings-on on Animax. Laughs. You could say, it’s really weird, but part of summer is watching lots of anime shows and downloading manga. Yep, just like what I did before.

Speaking of, I am totally excited of the upcoming fullmetal alchemist series, entitled Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood that will be premiering for the month of April. Nothing is much happier knowing that I can surely keep track of the episodes because it’s summertime! It’s kinda exciting this time because this is Animax Asia’s world’s first anime simulcast in the same week, as the anime will be premiering a week earlier in Japan. So FMA fans need not to wait for too long to catch up with the episodes, or wait for someone else to download them in YouTube.

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Edward Elric

The manga is originally written and conceptualized by Hiromu Arakawa, and the Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is the third FMA franchise – the first one is the Fullmetal Alchemist anime adaptation and the second one is the movie Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa. Like the previous FMA shows, the long awaited Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is produced by the anime studio Bones. It is directed by Yasuhiro Irie.

I’m totally excited of this third FMA shows, and I hope that my onscreen anime crush Roy Mustang (The Flame Alchemist!) would still be there. Well anyway, let’s keep our fingers crossed. If he’s not there, at least, the cute pip squeak Ed would do me a little show.

The most anticipated anime will be premiering in the same week broadcast, April 10, 2009, 8:30 pm. The anime has a staggering 51 episodes. Don’t worry, if you can’t catch up with the primetime show, I’ve read that Animax will have a recap marathon of a month’s worth of episodes on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month.

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist

Darker than Black

Hei - Darker than Black

Hei - Darker than Black

I’ve come to like the new anime show in Animax entitled “Darker than Black”. It’s an action-packed anime originally conceptualized by Tensai Okamura of Bones and planned by Seiji Takeda (MBS), Masuo Ueda (Aniplex), Masahiko Minami (Bones), and Takuo Minegishi (Hakuhodo DYMP). Produced by MBS, Aniplex (eg. Girl From Hell, Fullmetal Alchemist), Bones and Hakuhodo DY Media partners, this anime mainly revolves around the appearance of Hell’s Gate in Tokyo and how it created disturbances in the people in the nearby areas.

The appearance of the so-called Hell’s Gate is also responsible for the disappearance of the stars, so all the people in Tokyo (and probably in some areas in Japan) happens to see, “false stars”. Each false star corresponds to a single Contractor – an individual who has the power and the strength to carry out murderous intent without hesitation. These Contractors only appeared soon after the appearance of the Hell’s Gate and they have corresponding Messier codes – sort of like “nicknames” in a plain sense. Along with them came also the “Dolls” –

BK-201

BK-201

emotionless individuals created to imitate forms of other people. The Dolls can assume the person’s feelings, emotions, habits and characteristics precisely in a given time. The usual metaphorical sense for dolls, I say.

Contractors also have their own shares of difficulties. For one thing, after they used their power, they have to carry out some kind of a “payment” (contract payment) to atone (sort of) for it. For me, the difficult and the most painful among the payments would be injuring oneself, such as dislocating your fingers (as seen in the episode one). But I can’t deny that I was also amuse that among the list of the contract payments, there are some things like singing a song, earmarking the pages of the book and even writing poetry! I mean, there’s no harm in writing poetry – uhmm, thinks – well, it’s really hard, take it from me. Laughs.

Hei

Hei

Well anyway, the lead character in the story is the Contractor named Hei, an exchange student from China, also referred to as Li Shengshun, or Li Siangshon when undercover. The character is voiced by Hidenobu Kiuchi in Japanese and Jason Liebrecht in English. He carries the messenger code BK-201, the same code that enables other people to recognized him as a merciless killer and murderer. Along with him are Yin In, a doll who can locate individuals to kill and Huang Han which serve as a mediator, passing down higher orders from above (the Syndicate) to the Contractors. Not to mention, Mao the cat, who appears almost everywhere, (haha!) he was a Contractor who lost his original body.

Hei aka BK-201 was among the list of must-capture of the national police, especially in the case of another character, Misaki Kirihara, the section chief of the Foreign Affairs Division 4 that investigates matter regarding the Contractors. Kirihara is a strong-willed lady police, with eyeglasses and straightforward manner approach.

Actually there’s more characters in the story, and there is more to it in general so don’t forget to watch it on Animax every Tuesday night at 8. Replays at 12 midnight of the same day, and weekend encore on Sunday, 12 noon.

Now, I’ve got to say that I really love the theme songs of the anime. I just posted the Howling by the Abingdon Boys School (Epic Records Japan) – that is the first opening theme song of the anime. The first ending theme of the anime is entitled

Darker than Black

Darker than Black

Tsukiakari by Rie Fu (Palm Beach Inc.). The second opening theme is Kakusei Heroism – The Hero Without Name performed by An Café (Music Ray’n) and the second ending theme is Dreams by High and Mighty Colors (SME Records). The original soundtrack was officially released in year 2007 thru Aniplex Inc, and these soundtracks were composed by Yoko Kanno, including tracks by Abingdon Boys School, Rie Fu, and Mai Yamane.

Death Note

Death Note

Death Note

When I first came across with the Death Note’s plot (as told by a friend) I thought it sounded very violent and so ‘off’. But when I finally read the whole manga series, I like it so much I find it hard to take a break in between. Now, I consider Death Note as one of the best manga and anime series that I’ve ever read and seen, along with the all time favorites, Rurouni Kenshin, Slam Dunk, Inuyasha, Naruto and many more!

The anime is classified as shounen, in general, and a suspense thriller to be specific. The manga was written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata and it spanned to 108 thrilling chapters. It was serialized by Shueisha in Weekly Shounen Jump. I finished downloading the complete scanlated manga series last semester, thanks to Toriyama World, Orange Tangerine, Shannaro, TOWNL (The Ones Who Never Lie), We The Fans, and Pedo Bears who took the painstaking job of scanning the raws, translating, typesetting, proofreading, editing, and doing the quality check job before they reached us fans.

I especially would like to thank the translators: masterkeaton, burner, hoihoi-nya, ssh, rikki-tikki-tavi, rei, chikubi, SSH, godly, yuurei, rain, heavy duty, happy Japanese; typesetters and cleaners: chris, nightmare_80, naiujiro;

L

L

proofreaders: ndruo, seres, blue chaos, dits, nhongaeri, sneweee, the next generation; editors: william_h, lilink, riesig, alpha0me9a, ratti, liaison, madmane, chibura, rikku, kaiser-chan, chibi yuuto, lolimaster; raw providers: vilespawn, general smoker, asakura; quality checkers and staff members: iwanin, scout, occa, chris, murmel, yumi, rut, syon, rei, bluechaos, chikubi, leona, seres, fnuckale, GX, kumo, grungy_hamster, shaza, terramare, wasabi; scanner gto0o; and additional art provider devil ozma for making the scans available to the Death Notes fans out there. You rock guys!

The 108 manga chapters was squeezed to 37 chapters of anime adaptation produced by MadHouse Studio, Nippon Television, Shueisha, D.N. Dream Partners and VAP. It was directed by Tetsurou Araki. It has been aired in Nippon Television (Japan), Bionix (Canada), Adult Swim (US), and Animax (Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other respective networks worldwide).

The story centers about Light Yagami (or Yagami Raito in some adaptations) who finds a supernatural notebook named as Death Note. At the back of the notebook are the rules on how to it, and one of them says that if you put a name of a person in the notebook, he or she will die. Light finds the notebook really stupid to start with. He begins to believe a little when he first glimpsed the death god Ryuuk, a Shinigami and who happens to be the owner of the note. Later on, he is immersed with his own idealogy to purify the world by writing the names of the evil people in the notebook and create the ideal Utopia – but to the extent of destroying himself in the end.

Of course, lots of things happen in between: like meeting Light’s opponents L, Mello, Near, Light hooking up with Misa (another Kira) and Takada (messenger of Kira) to pursue his plans, meeting other Shinigamis and many many more!

I love the Misa and Raito (Light Yagami) tandem. Somehow, it’s appealing. Hahahah. The Kira and the second Kira.