Hyouge Mono 4 – the logic of my incessant karma
May 20, 2011
I was starting to despair that the cynicism and crass commercialism that is pervasive in our world had been effective in shutting down Hyouge Mono (Tea for Universe, Tea for Life). Huzzah get my gratitude for persevering in the face of indifference and lack of discernment. So, “Huzzah! to Huzzah.” Episode 4 displays many threads of the developing story. A fashion show develops characters in the context of pageantry, gift giving demonstrates egotism, and the tea ceremony is the setting for both petty ambition, and spiritual colloquy.
For an episode in which very little seems to happen there is actually way too much to talk about. We are introduced to several new characters, including members of Lord Nobunaga’s family. One of my favorite parts was the gift giving section, in which Oda Nobunaga refuses to gift a retainer with freedom for a man who is suffering in exile because, Lord Nobunaga says, he is too capable. Nobunaga then turns to his three sons and gifts them with the crown, robe, and shortsword he wore in the parade. When the sons demurely thank their father for his generosity, he slaps them in the face and laughs maniacally. What a freaking nutter!
But the core of the story seemed to take place later when Sasuke and Hashiba Hideyoshi stop in to see Master Senno. At this point the story splits into two, with Sasuke stepping into the back with one of Master Senno’s assistants, and Hashiba joining Master Senno for tea.
All throughout this episode (as has been the case for most of the series), Sasuke is shown to be so caught up in his obsession with appearing to be knowledgeable as an aesthete that he is a bit of a clown. To be sure, he is also sincere in his pursuit of beautiful things, and there have been moments when he has taken his job so seriously that he commanded true pathos (such as the confrontation with his brother in episode two), but here he mostly shows his naivete.
One of the things I really enjoy about period series and true slice of life shows is the attention paid to animating processes. One of my favorite scenes in Yokohama Shopping Trip is the one in which Alpha makes coffee, and the various steps are animated in great detail. I’m glad we finally got a scene like that in this series. Note the sequence in which Master Senno pours the water into the cup, which is depicted from the viewpoint of the cup itself. A very interesting idea.
As they enjoy their tea, Master Senno and Hashiba discuss the master’s unusual fondness for the color black. Black, Senno says, is all that will remain after all the imperfections have been removed.
Master Senno explains that the imperfections cannot all be removed while Nobunaga is still in charge. Instead Senno wishes Hashiba to take over as the supreme leader of Japan, so Senno’s aesthetic vision can be put in place.
It is easy to tell, from the language used, even in translation, that this is a tough show for which to create subtitles. I truly appreciate the work Huzzah is doing. If I ever seem anxious about how long it is taking for a subbed episode to come out, it is because I am eager to watch the next episode of this remarkable series.