Hyouge Mono 1 – the art of tea
April 17, 2011
Can a man kill another man, in front of countless witnesses, for no good reason, and expect that there will be no repercussions? In modern society, this is not usually the case. Modern society, or as we like to think of it, “civilized society”, normally means that people must obey society’s laws. Sure, the wealthy and powerful will still find ways to skirt around the laws, but as they do, they acknowledge the power of those laws, by hiding their actions from those that will punish them.
Hyouge Mono brings us back to 16th Century Japan, the period of the Warring States. This is a time when the ability to kill makes it right. “The Law of the Jungle” … “a life that’s nasty brutish and short” … call it what you will, it is a condition that doesn’t lend itself to calm reflection, or principled action. Our hero, Sasuke Furuta finds himself surrounded by docile servants of the warlord Nobunaga Oda with naught on their minds, except proving that they too are bloodthirsty warriors. All the while, Sasuke thinks that there is something more. Beyond the violence, and raw show of force, Sasuke believes in the power of beautiful things.
Some have commented that Hyouge Mono lacks the essential component of a hit anime: moe. What’s more the show features adults. There isn’t even a single junior high student piloting a giant robot. The main character is in his thirties, he’s already married, and isn’t likely to be forming a harem any time soon. Instead, he is obsessed with the finer things in life, like Nobunaga Oda’s awesome incense burner. His appreciation for the arts sets him apart from his peers — in fact, it makes him a laughing stock. However, his commitment to his pursuit of aesthetics is profound, even heroic, in an age where death comes quicker than the next morning’s sunrise, and touches everyone like a torrential rain.
With 39 episodes planned, it is a bit difficult to judge how this show will proceed. I would expect that the main idea for the first episode was merely to introduce Sasuke. Probably the next few episodes will introduce more characters. In the meantime we can say that the show takes a fresh look at the Sengoku Jidai, or Warring States Period that preceded the Tokugawa shogunate. There is a lot of physical comedy — especially with faces. So far the central tension that has been created involves Sasuke’s respect for great works of art, and the contempt that just about everybody around him has for anything beyond grubbing for power.
Unfortunately it is already apparent that Hyouge Mono will not be as quickly subbed as most series this season. One problem it is facing is that it apparently uses some unusual language or complex grammar that will slow down the subbers. Another, of course is the aforementioned lack of common anime tropes. Some point to the over-abundance of geezers. I, for one, will continue to keep an eye out for future episodes, because I dig beautiful things.
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