Hyouge Mono 2 – the color of loquat
April 24, 2011
Episode 2 of Hyouge Mono builds nicely on the character introductions so far. It also shows more clearly the tension between our hero’s passion and his profession.
There is so much to talk about this episode, but I really want to comment on the ancient Japanese ideal of a beautiful woman. I have seen this style before (there are some great scenes in Millennium Actress, for example), but it always makes a big impression on me. The hairline is artificially raised, and the eyebrows are removed, and something is painted on the forehead. I don’t understand it, and find it a bit horrifying (maybe because you mostly see it in ghost stories), and yet I know that the intention is to make the woman look more “beautiful”. :shudder: Anyways, Sasuke’s wife is docile, yet loving, a tragic combination that leads to a terrible crossroads in their relationship.
One of the great things about this episode was the way it could be received allegorically as the experience of the average guy working today. Sasuke does his best to provide for his family, but it is never quite enough. He has a wife that he loves (and knows he doesn’t really deserve), but sometimes has to choose work over his commitments to his family. And to make matters worse, he doesn’t really like his job; it is just something he must do to support his family, and to make enough money to pursue his hobby. Some guys love to fish. Some guys are dedicated to their local football team. Sasuke has refined tastes; he loves beautiful things, including ceramics and the tea ceremony. It is very easy to see how Hyouge Mono would be well received as a seinen manga. Despite the exotic setting, Sasuke’s concerns are those of your average businessman.
There was a lot of great stuff in this episode, from the mundane to the dramatic, from the ridiculous to the sublime. We met more characters, hunted down traitors, and enjoyed the simple pleasures of the tea ceremony. Our guide to this world is Sasuke Furuta, who we find wavering between the respectable life of a warrior, and his admiration of the finer things. Yet Sasuke’s consideration of life beyond struggle, a life of cultivated tranquility, is often presented in the most comical fashion. It is precisely when he spies a beautiful artifact that his eyes bug out, and he delivers lines that may be sincere and learned, but seem laughable and pedantic. One of my favorites from this episode: “These wonderfully coarse protrusions compliment the lovely loquatesque glaze.” I had to look up loquat, it is a yellow-skinned fruit, also known as the Japanese Plum.
I still don’t really know where this series will be taking us, but so far I’m enjoying the ride.
Tea for Universe, Tea for life!