Hyouge Mono 4 – the logic of my incessant karma

May 20, 2011

The subs are out?

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.

In some respects this was Master Senno's episode. We begin with the observations by him and two merchants on a parade.

Cultivated, elegant, and classic.

Unrefined, perhaps, but authentic.

Tropical stripes.

o.O Tropical what?

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!

I'm not even going to TRY to explain this.

Sasuke's wife defines the line in between beautiful and creepy.

Master Senno loses his shit over a tea cup.

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.

Sasuke gets into a pissing match over ceramics ...

... and loses.

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.

You better be ready, 'cuz it's tea time.

Pour in the water.

Stir up the tea.

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.

"Black is the color of my soul." No, that's not creepy at all.

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.

What exactly does this have to do with me?

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.

10 Responses to “Hyouge Mono 4 – the logic of my incessant karma”

  1. Dop Says:

    I second the Huzzah for Huzzah!

    It struck me that this is not as easy a show to fansub as the average moefest, so I really hope Huzzah continue as so far they’ve done a great job.

    This series does really stand apart from pretty much everything else out there at the moment, and that’s great.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Yeah, honestly I can’t think of anything else quite like it in the past, either. I’m looking forward to seeing where they take it, as the story is still being built up.

  2. Ginnodangan Says:

    I was tempted to start watching the raws but good things take time I guess. So it’s great to see that Huzzah is still going with this.

    Master Senno’s prediction at the end was undeniably creepy, not as much as his affinity with the colour black, but there’s just something eerie about him telling Hashiba that he will be Oda’s successor. It really suggests that he holds a lot of influence, more than you would initially suspect. And then there was the “three tea jars to rule the country” part, it just gives the impression that the aesthete may command just as much power as the military would, only from the shadows.

    Aside from that it was good to see the range of characters widen a bit with the additions of Shibata Katsuie, Azai Nagamasa, and Oda’s sons. I only hope the series will have a chance to use them a bit more.

    • Ginnodangan Says:

      *Oda Nagamasu
      I got him mixed up with Nagamasa, who was Oda’s brother-in-law.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      It is still quite early in the series so it makes sense that we are still adding characters. I don’t know exactly what they have planned, but there’s plenty of time to make use of them before the 1st course ends (to say nothing of the 3 courses planned).

      Senno’s growing importance in the story is interesting. I don’t know what to make of the 3 tea jars business. I hope they follow that up in the next episode.

      • Ginnodangan Says:

        I hope so as well, it’s something I think would give a nice spin to the series.

        There still may be a lot of episodes but when you look some of these characters up they don’t exactly have much time left. But it’s probably something that I shouldn’t get worried about, like you’ve said there’s plenty of time left and personally I can see them dragging out the 1st course to end at Honnouji.

        Also they’ve apparently changed the opening theme in the next episode due to incident that the band had. It doesn’t fit nearly as well.

      • Joojoobees Says:

        Grrr. Don’t remind me about the stupidity with the band. Can they possibly be thinking that the show’s popularity would suffer it was known that the OP was performed by a guy who smoked a joint? Why can’t music be music?

  3. Mushyrulez Says:

    I think he meant that he was an incompetent old man, not that he was ‘too capable’.

    Next, I’m pretty sure Senno’s not engineering Oda’s downfall/Hashiba’s rise or anything, just a ‘Yo, if you somehow manage to become emperor and shit, I’m gonna paint the whole country black if it’s OK with you’-thing.

    Finally, what would be super hilariously not-really-that-funny would be if the three tea jars, when united, really did make Furuta the ruler of Japan, or something. Since Senno, Furuta, and a bunch of other less-important people are fictional, it wouldn’t be /too/ much of a stretch to start some alternative history…

    Though of course, if this were just a by-the-book tell-the-past type of story, it would work too.

    (I can just imagine Hashiba’s face when…)

    • Mushyrulez Says:

      Yes, an old man ‘of his competence’. That’s implying that he’s incompetent.

      Whew, Huzzah really is a good trans1337or.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Well, given that Hashiba is neither in charge, nor the heir apparent, saying, “If you somehow become in charge, I’m cool with that,” has at least a whiff of treason to it. Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t recommend saying anything like that where Oda Nobunaga can hear about it.

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