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Calling josei readers. I need help understanding this manga. :shy:

Back to Bathroom Guuwa


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bakerygirl
Post #637970
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12:52 pm, Mar 31 2014
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So I read Bathroom Guuwa just today, and had difficulty understanding the second one shot, Bathroom's allegorical tale. I know the title sounds funny. The first story was wonderful though. Bathroom's Allegorical Tale also seems to have some hidden meaning to it, but it's lost on me sad I would be ever grateful if someone who has read this manga could explain the second one shot to me. I am not complaining if you choose to read the manga so as to explain it to me bigrazz

EDIT: apparently emoticons don't work on the topic title..

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Tripitaka
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7:32 pm, Mar 31 2014
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Great pick. OKAZAKI Mari's stories are always worth reading. Now I'm tempted to re-read her other short stories, too.

So from my point of view, Bathroom Guuwa is an allegory to the irrevocability of a broken romantic relationship and the protagonist's inability to cope with this truth. Since the heroine stays unnamed, one can probably go as far as taking her for a generalised example of this human behaviour. I'll try to explain my take on the things as well as I can.

Starting with the most obvious allegory, the (ex-)boyfriend-turned-penguin Toru. Given the transformation's crucial timing - after the official breakup and just before Toru leaves her for real - and how she reacts towards this absolutely ridiculous situation, I'd say the penguin marks the irreparable change in their relationship. Normally, anyone would give up on their ex-lover after he's become an exotic animal. The female lead, however, cannot be shaken and readily accepts the strange circumstances because they provide her with a reason to stay with him. She's clearly in denial of reality - both the split-up and its personified companion.

If only she could've let things be. But she can't. Instead, she takes another step away from the truth and decides to keep Toru the penguin in her tub, not as a pet but as the boyfriend she refuses to let go of. Her initial efforts to create a homely environment lead to the first crack in her pretense: The impassive penguin faints which foreshadows that the protagonist's approach doomed. You can't re-build a relationship one-sidedly.

I'm a bit short on time; I'll finish this tomorrow.


Last edited by Tripitaka at 5:24 am, Sep 18

________________
"Stories are what death thinks he puts an end to.
He can't understand that they end in him, but they don't end with him."
- Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts


To be savoured:
- Blood Alone by TAKANO Masayuki
- Otoyomegatari by MORI Kaoru
- Gangsta. by Kohske
- Seishun Kouryakuhon by AKIZUKI Sorata
bakerygirl
Post #638030 - Reply to (#637996) by Tripitaka
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4:19 am, Apr 1 2014
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Thank you so much! I wasn't expecting any replies actually, considering the topic. I decided to give it a shot just in case, and am so glad that you replied biggrin

I still have some lingering questions though. The way you explained it makes it seem like the penguin actually exists. I was of the opinion that she was hallucinating the whole episode. At first I thought that she had "kidnapped" her boyfriend, locked him up at her house and was imagining him to be in a penguin's form for the sake of her own sanity.

However this didn't seem real considering the fact that any normal person would try to escape this form of torture, or at least try to hurt the culprit while attempting to escape. So I concluded that it was a hallucination. There was also the fact that no one seemed to be eating the fishes. If she had been feeding the penguin/toru the fishes in reality there should have been a decrease in their number, seeing that it/he wasn't getting anything else to eat.

I was also wondering what the sea of fishes personified. The fishes were everywhere in the story - coming out of the tap, the fridge, a random few thrown about here and there.

P.S.
Quote from Tripitaka
Normally, anyone would give up on their ex-lover after he's become an exotic animal.
laugh

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Tripitaka
Post #638106 - Reply to (#638030) by bakerygirl
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9:23 pm, Apr 1 2014
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Glad to be of help smile

Regarding the reality of the transformation, I also thought the same at first; kidnapping Toru and hallucinating the transformation seemed to be far more believable. However, after I had re-read the story for the third time, I came to the conclusion that the male lead must have really become a penguin that was being held captive by her because
a) his disappearance has been confirmed by his friends and new lover. (I doubt she would've hallucinated meeting her rival.)
b) he would have rather driven away in his car than following her back into her bathroom.
c) like you've already stated, even if he'd been kidnapped as a human, a grown man like him could have left the bathroom with ease, which is proven when he does exactly that after he's turned back into a human.

Either that or she really hallucinated the whole penguin thing, somehow managed to persuade him to come back to her home only to lock him up inside her bathroom with a heap of raw fish and artificial sea water in the tub for a whole week, all the while he stayed put because he tried to be considerate towards his ex-girlfriend's feelings. The second scenario is just as far-fetched as a spontaneous transformation into a penguin for the sake of artistry. Still, we can't rule it out completely since Toru doesn't (physically) speak a word in his penguin form.

As for the fish, I interpreted them a symbol for the heroine's devotion, maybe even for her one-sided and obsessive love for her ex-boyfriend. The way she over-nurtures the penguin with raw fish shows just how much she tries to bridge his lack of feelings by caring for him all the more. As she explains on the one-shot's last few pages, she believed that her love was enough to sustain their relationship. She outright disregards her partner's feelings.
While she did amass the fish in her fridge, the rest of the isolated "fishy" panels only mirrors her overgrown devotion; they don't exist physically. The fish you see coming out of the tap are only imagery. This is implied by the silence in this panel which stands in contrast to the preceding panels where the focus lies on the dripping tap and the noise it makes.

The only real overflow of fish happens when she opens the fridge because of its "putrid smell". Another great metaphor. Just like fish go bad when they're stored for too long, her efforts to keep their overdue relationship with her nurturing start to rot. She literally reaches a dead end. Only then is she able to face the truth by letting Toru go.

There's one last motif I need to mention: the tub filled with artificial sea water. Despite the heroine's successful recreation of sea water, the tub is a narrow, confining space much like the emotional one she grants her ex-lover. To emphasise the contrast, the open sea, which symbolises freedom in a balanced relationship, is used as a background for the opening pages. The mangaka probably wanted to convey how a consensual relationship frees people whereas one-sided feelings only restrict them.

Puh, that was a long-winded post. At least, now, nobody can claim that OKAZAKI Mari's stories aren't works of literary quality.


Last edited by Tripitaka at 5:41 am, Sep 18

________________
"Stories are what death thinks he puts an end to.
He can't understand that they end in him, but they don't end with him."
- Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts


To be savoured:
- Blood Alone by TAKANO Masayuki
- Otoyomegatari by MORI Kaoru
- Gangsta. by Kohske
- Seishun Kouryakuhon by AKIZUKI Sorata
bakerygirl
Post #638127 - Reply to (#638106) by Tripitaka
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3:50 am, Apr 2 2014
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Both the scenarios regarding Toru's transformation are exceedingly far fetched. Maybe that's why I had difficulty understanding. I had drawn up pretty much the same conclusion about the fishes. But, I hadn't noticed the absence of noise in that panel. That was a nice observation! smile

I hadn't noticed many things which you pointed out and analysed - like the contrast between the sea and the tub. Just reiterates the fact that I need to be more patient and observant while reading.

Okazaki Mari's works are indeed pure genius. I am encouraged to read more of them. It's pretty sad that most people read manga for entertainment, and won't consider reading them for their quality. Thanks again for your patience and time biggrin

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Tripitaka
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6:02 am, Apr 2 2014
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You're welcome. There aren't many opportunities to appreciate her stories in this way, so I really enjoyed discussing this story with you.

By the way, I just went back and re-read the fish-out-of-the-tap scene because it didn't sit right with me. I was mistaken: It isn't the noise that's missing but the water drops. Sorry about that. The conclusion doesn't change though. The water should've flown out into the tub alongside the fish if the situation were real. The noise, however, indicates that the tap is still dripping, so there's a mismatch between the panel's drawing and the sfx to hint at its metaphorical nature.


Last edited by Tripitaka at 5:43 am, Sep 18

________________
"Stories are what death thinks he puts an end to.
He can't understand that they end in him, but they don't end with him."
- Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts


To be savoured:
- Blood Alone by TAKANO Masayuki
- Otoyomegatari by MORI Kaoru
- Gangsta. by Kohske
- Seishun Kouryakuhon by AKIZUKI Sorata
nunya_bishieness
Post #638143
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9:59 am, Apr 2 2014
Posts: 123


I read it right now because it sounded pretty interesting, and I'm glad i did. Thanks for bringing this manga to my attention!
I love how the two of you have analysed it. biggrin
Well you've probably noticed them but I wanted to point a few things out.

In the first few pages, there are several panels where you see a crescent moon; you can see Toru looking at it while turning his back to his ex-girlfriend. There is also moon in the background when she discards of the photograph. In my opinion the moon is symbolic of Toru's yearning for the other woman.

Also there are panels that contrast the live fish in the sushi restaurant and the dead fish, which in my opinion implies that she too is being suffocated by that forced relationship. This can also be seen in her expressions, when she is outdoors, she can be seen smiling, and being cheerful, whereas at home her expressions look pained.

Also I really liked the reference to the fairytale The Princess and The Frog in the panel that says "the prince had found his original appearance", except in this case it is her lingering feelings for Toru that place a curse on him, turning him into a penguin, and it is the first time she rejects him (when she slaps him), that sets him free. I love how Okazaki Mari, took a children's tale and turned it on its head.

Well that's my just my twopence.





Last edited by nunya_bishieness at 7:29 pm, Apr 2

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bakerygirl
Post #638233
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10:29 am, Apr 3 2014
Posts: 412


Quote from Tripitaka
The noise, however, indicates that the tap is still dripping, so there's a mismatch between the panel's drawing and the sfx to hint at its metaphorical nature.

I re-read the manga to gain a better understanding and noted the sfx as well. I would have pointed it out sooner but I have been swamped with work.

Quote from Tripitaka
Since the heroine stays unnamed, one can probably go as far as taking her for a generalised example of this human behaviour.

I also noticed that she has been named. she is Kakegawa Yuri. But, the moral behind the story still makes sense without being considered as a general example.

Quote from nunya_bishieness
I love how the two of you have analysed it. biggrin

That credit goes solely to Tripitaka. I only ask questions bigrazz

Quote from nunya_bishieness
Also there are panels that contrast the live fish in the sushi restaurant and the dead fish, which in my opinion implies that she too is being suffocated by that forced relationship.

Interesting take on things. I was always of the opinion that she was the culprit rather than the victim. I took the contrast to mean that the sushi in the restaurant are free and have some shred of liberty. However the dead fish are a symbol for Yukari's love which is obsessive and constrains her. Words can take on so many meanings, don't you think?

Quote from nunya_bishieness
I love how Okazaki Mari, took a children's tale and turned it on its head.

Even I loved this part about the story. I liked the fact that Yukari placed as well as removed the curse. Within the span of 48 pages she makes mistakes and atones for them, and we can actually feel the difference in her.

I absolutely loved your twopence as well. All this is teaching me how to analyse a story. I lack in that subject sorely given that I have never done it before with anyone else.


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Tripitaka
Post #638693
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5:05 pm, Apr 8 2014
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Quote from nunya_bishieness
In my opinion the moon is symbolic of Toru's yearning for the other woman.

Thanks for the hint. I didn't think of the moon at all but I find your explanation to be very plausible, particularly the yearning part. Looking up to the moon has always been a symbol for longing, be it longing for a loved one or for freedom (e.g. from inside a prison cell).


Quote from bakerygirl
Quote from nunya_bishieness
Also there are panels that contrast the live fish in the sushi restaurant and the dead fish, which in my opinion implies that she too is being suffocated by that forced relationship. This can also be seen in her expressions, when she is outdoors, she can be seen smiling, and being cheerful, whereas at home her expressions look pained.

Interesting take on things. I was always of the opinion that she was the culprit rather than the victim. I took the contrast to mean that the sushi in the restaurant are free and have some shred of liberty. However the dead fish are a symbol for Yukari's love which is obsessive and constrains her. Words can take on so many meanings, don't you think?

I fully agree with you; she's limiting herself alongside Toru. Her psyche can't keep up with her fantasy of an intact relationship, and it shows: Not only does she have to work hard to keep the penguin alive and hidden, but she must constantly lie to herself, to her ex-boyfriend and to Toru's friends about their feelings. She may have overworked herself in order to distract her strained mind.
I noticed that she only realised the fish's putrid smell after she was confronted with the rival whose existence she had tried to forget. So it must have been the meeting's undeniable reality that broke her mental shell eventually (shown by the short haircut).


Quote from bakerygirl
Quote from Tripitaka
Since the heroine stays unnamed, one can probably go as far as taking her for a generalised example of this human behaviour.

I also noticed that she has been named. she is Kakegawa Yuri. But, the moral behind the story still makes sense without being considered as a general example.

You're right; I never realised this. Thanks for pointing it out.


Quote from bakerygirl
Quote from nunya_bishieness
I love how Okazaki Mari, took a children's tale and turned it on its head.

Even I loved this part about the story. I liked the fact that Yukari placed as well as removed the curse. Within the span of 48 pages she makes mistakes and atones for them, and we can actually feel the difference in her.

@nunya_bishieness Thanks for making the link; it didn't occur to me at all that it could've been the Frog Prince's tale.
@bakerygirl Well-said. There's nothing left to be added.


Quote from bakerygirl
Quote from nunya_bishieness
I love how the two of you have analysed it. biggrin

That credit goes solely to Tripitaka. I only ask questions bigrazz

Come on, don't hide your light under a bushel. You contributed just as much to the analysis as I did. Besides, if you hadn't started this thread, we wouldn't be here today.


Anyway, thanks for the excitatory discussion, you two. I appreciate the opportunity to analyse this work with you. So if you ever get the urge to take a story apart, I'd be glad to join you.


Last edited by Tripitaka at 5:45 am, Sep 18

________________
"Stories are what death thinks he puts an end to.
He can't understand that they end in him, but they don't end with him."
- Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts


To be savoured:
- Blood Alone by TAKANO Masayuki
- Otoyomegatari by MORI Kaoru
- Gangsta. by Kohske
- Seishun Kouryakuhon by AKIZUKI Sorata
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