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Signs, Signs, Everywhere're Signs

So first off we have the ever-popular ...

Signs of Spring

I like spring. Spring works for me. Everything progresses. Things grow and bloom. Birds sing (and sometimes beat each others' brains out - boys!   > rolls eyes <) The days get longer (very important!).

On Saturday the weather was wonderful, soft and warmish, with that great after-a-rain feel, and we had a lovely row of little purple crocus growing along the side of the house.

The yesterday and today - meh. Cold again, and they're calling for snow on Wednesday.

But your days are numbered, Old Man Winter! Saw the writing on the wall this weekend, din'tcha? Nya hah hah!

Next up,

A Certain Sign (Symbol) in Saiyuki Reload

I'm going to be good and use LJ Cut in case this would be a spoiler for anyone. It's Saiyuki Reload vol. 4.

The guys have run into this slightly-too-cute Euro-looking priest-type named Hazel Grosse. Hazel is a creep who is claiming to raise the dead, but IMO (which is heavily influenced by a couple of years of playing VtM online, and reading too much Tanith Lee), he's just turning the poor souls into ghouls of some kind. Anyway, Hazel does his voodoo that he do do so well by waving around a large Star of David - actually, to be really picky, it's the Seal of Solomon, because it's the star in a circle.

So obviously my liberal Jewish religious education has done too much of a number on me, because the sight of this bastid waving his talisman around gives me a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach, and reminds me of the significant group of Japanese during WW II who thought the Nazis were on to something ... .

On the other hand, I can't find anyone else on the big ol' WWW who seems to find this at all worthy of note, so I guess it's just my paranoia getting the best of me. It's probably of the same significance as the Tree of Life Kabbalistic diagram that showed up in Samurai Deeper Kyo when someone was discussing the wide range of mystical knowledge used by the Mibu - look, a nifty cool Western mystical symbol!

I hope so, anyway. :-(

Someone tell me I'm being silly, please.

I shall not mention the Content Mismanagement System at all except to point out that it apparently retained too much memory this morning and had to be restarted. Let this be a warning to all of us ... keep your systems regular, folks ... wonder what the equivalent of oat bran is for a Solaris system?


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 6th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC)
Aha, I did some searching on the Japanese messageboards, and apparently Minekura mentioned that she used a Star of David because Hazel makes shikigami golems that turn into clay. Disn't the Seal of Solomon allow Solomon to control demons? Given that Japanese people are largely ignorant of Judaism beyond the Kabbalistic references that show up pretty frequently in manga, they might not see anything glaringly wrong with a Catholic priest sporting a giant Star of David (there's virtually no mention of the discrepancy in Japanese online, either). It's not unusual for a manga to incorporate Jewish, Christian, Shinto, Buddist, Rosicrucian alchemical and assorted pagan imagery - sometimes all in the same illustration, which can be a bit odd at first... manga like Angel Sanctuary and X have stars and Hebrew text all over the place, along with random Latin, crosses, Sephiroth diagrams, chakras, pentagrams and the imperial treasures of Japan. The author's knowledge of the symbolism they're using is most often about as deep as a Wikipedia article. Japanese world history classes are pretty focused on Japan, too - I once saw an elementary school textbook which included a picture of Hitler beating Japanese peasants with a riding crop, with only scant mention of the actual Holocaust.

They are starting to wise up, though, at least with anime intended for international release - in a popular kid's anime, a guy who has a Buddhist swastika tattooed on his forehead in the manga gets an X mark to avoid any Nazi confusion, and the Saiyuki anime replaces Hazel's medallion with a floral design. Minekura is generally very complex and careful with her symbolism, so while average Japanese readers might not make much of the Star of David, she was probably trying to say something. Kanan wore a big cross necklace not for any religious subplot but rather to identify her as an innocent sacrifice, so Hazel's big, obvious mark probably means something else too. It's kind of sickly ironic that a guy wearing a symbol of a group of people that have been persecuted throughout history is carrying out his own one-man genocide against youkai, isn't it? And it's very Minekura-ish to reverse the expected symbolism, like was mentioned in that essay on character colors. Minekura has been slowly introducing a theme of deep anti-youkai prejudice in the seemingly idyllic land of Shangri-la, so there was trouble brewing even before Nii created his Minus Wave thing. Hazel is a weird character... he's obviously wrong, but he's not a traditional villain and occasioanlly he's even an ally, so his presence sort of forces the guys to examine their own beliefs. I like him (hey, I like Ukoku, so my taste in characters is kind of weird...), but there's something deeply unsettling about him. I highly doubt that Minekura is trying to be anti-Semitic, but I also doubt that her choice of symbol is accidental.
Mar. 6th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)

Well, that makes me feel a bit better. I just hope Minekura's audience is as sophisticated as she is!

Now that I've read through the end of Reload #6, I feel a bit less negative about Hazel ... someone else is pulling his strings, poor little creep. You know me well enough by now to know that I am not going to get less angry at Ukoku. He's one of those guys who make me feel like letting loose with that classic manga "I will never forgive you!" line that shows up so often in SDK.

In one of Peter Dickinson's mysteries, One Foot in the Grave, his classic Brit police detective James Pibble ends up in a luxury nursing home, where he has really fascinating conversations with a couple of aging super-criminals, one of them a woman. She describes three basic types of villains: (1) those that really don't know right from wrong - they don't get very far "because they're thick"; (2) those that know right from wrong, but don't take it seriously: it's just rules, and they can always get away with breaking the rules; and (3) those that know right from wrong, but it doesn't matter - they're above all that, "because they're God."

Ukoku is definitely Villain Type #3.

Mar. 7th, 2007 12:02 am (UTC)
Minekura has been around forever and has a loyal fan following that's considerably older than the teen target audience of the magazine, so it's a somewhat more mature fandom in Japan too!

Yeah, I feel sorry for Hazel... he's the sort of character where you know from the moment he shows up that he's going to die horribly (he's Katie's favorite character and she's in denial, so we have a bet on whether he'll survive the series). Hehehe, I can't _forgive_ Ukoku, but he intrigues me... Minekura has revealed so little that his true motivations are still a mystery.

...Oooh, I like that system of classifying baddies! You're right, he's totally Type 3. And he's so good at it. I can't even think of him as evil, because he's something beyond normal evil. *laugh* He's even worse than Aka. When Ukoku and Sanzo finally meet, it's going to be like Aka and Kyo, but with an internal mental struggle instead of or secondary to a physical battle. Hehehehehehe I can't wait...
Mar. 7th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)

The ironic thing about the character Mrs. Isaacs using that system of classification is it leaves out both herself and the other super-criminal at the facility, "Mr. Wilson" (not his real name - you never learn his real name ...). They could both be described as people who know right from wrong and expect to have to pay for their sins some day if they don't somehow make amends, but figure that while the odds are with them, they'll continue to do what they do best. Like Type 3, they don't have much in common with humanity, but unlike Type 3, they're realistic about the possibilities of being caught by the mere mortals.

You're going to meet the Type 3 to end all Type 3s in Disorderly Knights, BTW - Aka-chan is innocent by comparison, and I think Ukoku might be pretty envious ... .

Hmm, I wonder what Katie sees in Hazel He's kinda cute, but presumably there's more to it than that. My own budding sympathies for him beyond the "poor little manipulated creep" level were squashed by the incident with the feral little youkai kid. He is weirdly pure, in some ways - I felt sorry watching him squirm at Ukoku's suggestive compliments.

I was going to say that Sanzo has more personal reason to hate Ukoku than Kyo does for hating Aka-chan, but, having just gone through SDK chapter 303, I'm reminded that this goes way beyond messing with mentors in that storyline. I'm wondering how much Sanzo will find out about exactly what Ukoku has been up to ... probably pointless to speculate right now.

FYI, I found a Saiyuki gossip site that says Minekura is ill ... one hopes it will turn out to be just a bigger version the same sort of benign annoyance that K. and I have both had (scroll down to "Newest News" graphic - this person apparently knows not from internal page anchors).

Mar. 8th, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
Argh, I should have thought enough to bring Disorderly Knights to read at work, since it's not like I'm doing anything else... instead I bum books from other people and end up with dreary romance novels. x__x I love those sort of characters...

Hehe, for Katie, part of Hazel's appeal is the Kansai accent... the odd thing about Hazel is that he seems to be aware that he's being manipulated, unlike Kami-sama. He's a zealot, but it becomes more and more apparent as the arc goes on that he's lost faith in his own mission and, much like Hakkai, he feels the need to compensate for his guilt. (Katie is also a big Hakkai fan.)

*laugh* But speculation is fun...

Oooh, I had heard a few months ago that she was ill, but that was in an official announcement and they never give any specifics. I'm shocked that it's such a serious problem! The March updates say that she's back to working ("color illustration hell" - I guess she's doing the DVD covers and promotional art for the new OVA) so she must be feeling a bit better... poor lady, her blog is all apologies!
Mar. 8th, 2007 09:50 pm (UTC)

Well, I'm currently speculating that Gat is actually a youkai soul in a human body, but for some reason he's maintained his original memories. There are those comments he makes about "you put me in a body that doesn't need to eat or sleep" and Hazel's cross observation that "I s'pose you wanted to go with them" when Sanzo and Co. zoom off - which I think is about more than just Gat's growing paternal affection for star-struck Goku.

I must say that the whole idea of a demi-god hero-worshipping a re-animated possessed corpse has a screwy black-humor charm to it ... .

- Cho

Mar. 8th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
I don't think you're being silly -- sure, Minekura may not know the potential pitfalls inherent in a Catholic priest type character waving around a Star of David or Seal of Solomon and doing some pretty evil things with it. But then, the audience reading it might and quite possibly is reading the same things into it that you are.

Also, hee to the CMS. Ahhhhh, wonky systems....
Mar. 8th, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC)

Well, that's also comforting ... both that Minekura likely doesn't mean anything by it and that I'm not off my rocker on the subject. It's funny how I never feel like a member of a minority until something like that comes up, and then blammo!

Ahhh, my ol' enemy the CMS ... >urk< don't get me started ... it's modern technology, it has to be better than a text editor and human brains, right?   ;-)  

Mar. 14th, 2007 12:35 pm (UTC)
Yay for Spring! At least the few weeks we get in DC before it turns all hot and muggy. Time to start taking my allergy meds... tree pollen is the worst, I finally learned.

Is the Solaris running Unix? Apparently Unix systems (including Macs starting with OS X) need regular restarts to clear out their memory... especially when you are opening and closing apps a lot (not much of an issue in the old days but worse now for desktop systems).
Mar. 14th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Spring

Is that you, TK? (Wish these various blogging sites talked to each other better!)

Yes, it's definitely a Unix system. Also there are several other applications running on the same box, hogging up the processors and CPU. We're trying to arrange for the CMS to have its own Windows box, which is actually an option. I don't think much of Windows (as you know), but at least if it's on its own box, it will be a lot easier to troubleshoot! Meanwhile, I'll see if our techie guys (despite a BS in Computers & Info Science, I apparently don't count as one ...) can help bring up what you said to the main IT department guys.

Too bad about the allergies   :-(   ... that's the downside of our lovely green, green tree-filled city.

Nov. 1st, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
Speaking of necromancy...
...since you actually were poking at this old thread in the Saiyuki comm and all. ;)

If you've started in on the Naruto volumes you borrowed, you've probably already met the character sanada referred to here as having the left-facing manji on his forehead that was edited for Western consumption: Neji Hyuuga: you can see the original manga version and the simpler x that was used in the anime here (Western releases of the manga have the seal edited to match the anime version.)
Nov. 7th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Speaking of necromancy...

I think maybe Neji has not shown up quite yet, although I am in the first part of the story arc in which he appears. Thanks for the link to the images!

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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