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working out plot questions (spoilers!)

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monkey-boy
Post #7910
Member

10:15 pm, Mar 11 2007
Posts: 18


I started this thread as a place to work out plot intricacies in the manga, and began with an enormously long post that bukuwawa then commented on pretty much line-for-line. In the interests of keeping things shorter and more readable, I've now deleted this post (the original), leaving bukuwawa's equally long reply (next) as the starting point for the thread.

Last edited by monkey-boy at 1:11 pm, Mar 18

bukuwawa
Post #7915
Member

12:10 am, Mar 12 2007
Posts: 13


I'm answering these as I read them so forgive me if i answer something twice.

Quote
p002: the babies are Suzuki (Amahiko) and Arie?


I believe so.

Quote
p003: the upper-left-hand panel shows a kidun (p139)


Man, that was one of my unanswered questions, except i think you took it further than I did. I thought it was a headless cat, but I think you're right. I don't know quite why it's headless, maybe there's something about those creatures someone more versed in japanese folklore can tell us?

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p006: the name of someone who was already gone --- Suzuki's (real) mother, I presume?


His conversation with Kimura in the graveyard later would lead me to believe that.

Quote
p019: what had Arie's mother been doing for the five years she was missing?


I think Arie and Suzuki's mother left her husband and did, in fact, live in that tunnel or elsewhere for five years. She seemed from what little we learned of her part mystic part lunatic. Arie finds her body (and presumably the butterfly pendant) on page 17 (at the same time she has her first period, according to the second panel.

EDIT: I have since revised my opinion regarding the blood on page 17, see the post below this one.

Quote
p043: I'm a little confused by the timeline of events with the tin box in the field


Quote
p046: it is now, I presume, that he leaves the tin box in the grass, only to come looking for it later with Higure (p159)?


I don't know what happens to the box during the scene with Sakaki, and i don't think he opens it till he's an adult. Refer to the running boy and the adult on pages 162 and 249, though.

Quote
p054: Komatsuzaki is taking his break on the roof of the supermarket when a butterfly catches his eye and leads him down to overhear the conversation ... am I reading this right?


I think Komatsuzaki is a pawn of the butterflies/suzuki's mother from the point he gets fed to the tunnel.

Quote
p061: why does Kimura smile when he's about to be (he must think) killed


Perhaps it's the guilt, perhaps it's the recognition of what has control of Komatsuzaki. Again, i think Komatsuzaki is in thrall to his former wife, and I think it's her that motivated his violence and mercy here.

Quote
p070: who is the overly-serious class rep --- does she show up elsewhere, and I missed it? Why is Higure's nickname 'Thermos' --- can anyone explain the joke?


We never see her, and Higure's nickname is never explained, I think it's mentioned to highlight that there are interactions in the class that Suzuki is not privvy to because he came late.

Quote
p075: "That's not it, teacher" --- but then what is it? (Maybe "it" is simply that he doesn't want to walk home with Higure any more than he wanted to go to the other kid's house; he wants to ignore them (p071);


I think that's accurate.

Quote
p077: it seems that Komatsuzaki is stopping in at the hospital frequently


At that point in the story he hadn't been fed to the monster/tunnel/mother yet. He was just close to Arie.

Quote
p078: is this diary Arie Kimura's original notebook? or is it Higure's notebook (the one she is said to be always writing in on p070)? I think it's the former (this is presumably Higure's brother's room, with his Nintendo, and the brother's accusation on p160 might well refer to what Suzuki is doing now; and p165 definitely suggests that it is), but the particular mention on p070 made me think initially that it was the latter.


I think so. If you look at scenes in the room with the puppet you'll notice he has shelves and shelves of notebooks filled up. He's a nutter. But I think he kept that one close.

Quote
p079: is the face drawn in the margin supposed to recall a particular figure?


I don't think so.

Quote
p093: who's the "horny dipstick" boyfriend


Just a part of the tapestry. Stephen (the translator) would have to tell you if the japanese was the same for the "just hang in there" remarks, but I don't think there's a particular connection between those scenes.

Quote
p099: we keep seeing fragments of the painting behind Higure's chair at odd angles (see p168 also)


I don't know, that one may just be background imagery =). but then again... MAYBE IT'S KEY

Quote
p101: why does Arakawa suddenly think that she needs to be going home?


Realizing she was absently giving him a drunken blowjob made her feel sort of awkward. We've all been there!

Quote
p118: is there a resonance between the two cinderblock attacks (Hayato attacks Komatsuzaki, Higure attacks Sakaki) --- I mean, why cinderblocks, which in principle don't make very handy weapons? And the effect of the attacks on vision (blood in K's right eye, damage to S's left) seems to be resonant, also --- it causes Komatsuzaki to see alternately the world of his imagination and the world of reality (p217), and blinds Sakaki on one side? What does this have to do with the appearance of the butterfly to Komatsuzaki as the one-eyed monster in the tunnel, and the fact itself that the monster is one-eyed (p214)?


Okay, I think the cinderblock may have been used as a weapon because they tend to be laying around, and they're really brutal things to use as weapons. I don't know if he intended a parallel between the two attacks or not. I will point out that the one eyed monster in the tunnel has a slashed wrist, if you look closely, and the cops talk about a recent (adult-era) suicide later in the story. The one eyed monster is Sakaki (post suicide).

Quote
p122: why in the world does Suzuki hit Higure (and why exactly does he say "you wouldn't betray me, would you"wink?


I love that scene. He had a crush on Sakaki and he and higure just got finished witnessing hot teacher makeouts. I think that's his sense of betrayal. I think he kissed Higure because he wanted to kiss someone, and he knew she was loyal within the bounds of her crush to him. Then he socked her because you can't let them get upptiy!

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p131: is Hatori taking them back here in a bid to salvage the marriage?


I don't think so.

Quote
p132: what is the slit on the tree?


Birch bark does that kind of thing. I think she's just seeing the past, maybe because the tree remembers it, maybe because her missing eye is remembering it

Quote
p135: OK, so this is obviously the same stairwell where Takahama was attacked by Suzuki ... but why does he attack another child (p183) ?


Maybe the child reminded him of Suzuki, maybe he was just reliving all the bullying. I don't think the butterflies were controlling him, but maybe he was sensitive to whatever was supernatural about them.

Quote
p138: is there a greater significance in this street?


It's just another place that leads to the tunnels, suzuki is on it a few times in the story.

Quote
p139: is the Two Children / Rainbow ambiguity significant?


It's clearly referring to the twins, yeah. The manga itself has uses the kanji for rainbow (i asked stephen). Both names have meaning in terms of the events of the story, I think.

Quote
p142: what's with the kill joke here,


gallows humor.

Quote
p143: what is the significance of the apparent bruising on one of the twins' shoulder here?


Based on the fact that the Dad carries/holds hands with the twins and Sakaki never does, I think it's pretty clear she was beating them, hence the divorce.

Quote
p144: does Sakaki kill herself here? (I think so, see p278)


Yeap.

Quote
p152: I'm not sure I understand, actually: why wouldn't Komatsuzaki take Takahama's money? He wasn't that kind of a kid, sure, but that's not the answer that Hayato is thinking of ...


I don't think Hayato ever fully understands Komatsuzaki or his motivations. And I don't think Komatsuzaki had any interest in money, he beat on Takahama for other motivations.

Quote
p155: major point of confusion: why does Suzuki see Takahama with Kimura's unmistakable teeth? (Less important: what is the significance of T saying "...poops" --- is there a double entendre in the Japanese that's significant?


You may be reading a connection there where there isn't one, that's just how he drew Takahama's teeth. He says poops because that's what nincompoops ends with. I think the Japanese was similar, stephen would have to weigh in.

Quote
p160: is it Higure who says "yes" --- she's admitting to her brother that she's lying?


She is admitting to lying. Remember Suzuki found the journal in her room.

Quote
p162: from what happens later (p249), we're to understand that he did find the box here after Higure left?


Possibly, I'm not sure what happens between the time he opens it and when he hands it to himself, nor am I absolutely sure what it symbolizes.

Quote
p168: is the inheritance insurance money from the fire in which they were killed? (p216)


Yes.

Quote
p169: is this ("Looking back ..."wink the second earliest time-sequence in the manga, after the Kimura family event in the field shown at the end of the manga (p273ff.)? I think it is ...


No, She has the pendant (now that I look, she has the whole pendant there, apparently Higure separated it for them). She did not have the pendant prior to finding it with her mother in the tunnel, I don't think (i.e. finding it in the river).

EDIT: I have since revised my opinion, see the post below this one.


Quote
p170: if this is the mother's butterfly necklace (p275), a few questions: is the mother already dead in the tunnel (she had been there a few months by the time she was discovered, see p018), and is Arie, having found the necklace now, crying because she's discovered the body? Or has she just found the necklace? Also, if the necklace was actually two pendants, does that mean it was a keepsake of some kind between the mother and father (Kimura)? Any other significance


I think mom's dead, I think this is when she gets the pendant. It's never made clear how it's split, and the significance in regards to Kimura is never addressed.

Quote
p171: does the number of seven villagers have further significance?


suzuki, komatsuzaki, hayato, arakawa, sakaki, I'm just kidding I don't know.

Quote
p172: is it reasonable to say that this is a fundamental challenge of the story, that is, one telling of the fundamental account of reality that Suzuki must choose to accept or deny --- that nothing changes or can be changed; the torture of the empty world just repeats itself?


I think of the story of the monster in the well as more of a treatise on human nature (as well as having obvious parallels to the events in the holograph story).

Quote
p178: did Komatsuzaki just appear now, as he's seen to do at the hospital, etc.? Or did he witness the rape (Sakaki wasn't in time to prevent it, see the blood on p017)?


p017 is pre-pendant, thus pre-rape. I think that's her first period. I think komatsuzaki was just nearby, maybe following Arie, whom he liked.

EDIT: I have since revised my opinion regarding the rape timeline, see the post below this one.

Quote
p180: like the cinderblocks, the umbrella seems like such an unlikely weapon (let alone for stabbing someone all the way through the torso!), that one has to ask if there isn't some metaphoric significance to the fact itself of it being an umbrella ... particularly, an echo of Higure's original attack on Arie (p173) ... Another question: what happened "nearly a year after she vanished, [when Higure] heard her voice" and saw the butterfly --- is that when he burned his house down (see pp203-05, where the snowflakes around Suzuki and Higure look like butterflies)?


Yes, I think the umbrella is an item common to both violent events. I think you might be right about the house burning down timeline, but I can't be sure. It's about right though.

Quote
p189: so here we see Kimura (Suzuki's real father) and Suzuki's stepfather more or less arguing over the grave of Suzuki/Arie's mother. The unnatural roundedness on the edge of the gravestone (p255) comes from Kimura's daily visits (see the lower-right-hand frame). The question I have here is, when Kimura asks about Suzuki's son, it must surely be because he knows it's his own son (and Suzuki obviously is aware of the same fact) ... but why in the world would either of these men allow things to go on this way, and keep it from Suzuki to boot (which must be what "does the poor kid even know" refers to on p233)? Another question: do we have any clear indication why Suzuki went to live with his mother, while Arie stayed with her father?


I don't know why they hid the adoption from Suzuki, that may be a cultural thing. We don't know why they split the children like they did, that may be another cultural thing, but I have no idea.

Quote
p190: upper-left-hand frame: these are presumably Suzuki's tears of grief over his first wife, Suzuki's mother?


Yes, and he's not drooling! he was crying with his mouth closed.

Quote
p191: why are the other students suddenly going to ignore Suzuki? what does this have to do with Higure's apology on p200 --- did she do something to "betray" him to the others?


The whole ignoring thing IS cultural, some fucked up thing japanese kids do to each other. Not clear why he was singled out, but Higure actively NOT ignoring him (and thus risking being ostracized herself) is how she did not betray him.

Quote
p193: what's the implied reproach here, when Suzuki suggests that Sakaki wouldn't "really read" his diary? Does he sense that if he writes the story of his present ostracization by the others, that she won't do anything to help, as she (though unknown to him) didn't do anything to help Arie in the same circumstances?


Maybe he does sense that, or maybe he assumes that's how all grown-ups would react.

Quote
p194: I had thought that the flowers might be a traditional gift in Japanese schools for students who are leaving --- but that information isn't divulged to the class until p241. So what are these flowers about?


It's also traditional to put flowers on the desk of someone who died. Part of the ignoring thing.

Quote
p204 Higure doesn't come to meet Suzuki as planned because she is dead in the fire, right? (see p216, where Higure (the brother) is said not to have any family).

p205 why is Higure (the brother, obviously) holding a hammer? what would that have to do with starting a fire?

p206: again, a mysterious appearance by Komatsuzaki ... the unreality of it is underscored by the fact that he's completely underdressed (and repeating the words of "God" from a conversation where he wasn't present, see p008) ... and yet his ears and nose are red from the cold. So is he really there?


Yeah that's when she died. Hammer is there because he's about to use it to murder Suzuki, who knows what he did, didn't because he sees the pendant.

This is post-tunnel for Komatsuzaki, he's working for momma now.


Quote
p209: Hayato and Arakawa are speaking in the hospital, right? Why are they there --- did he find her there after she checked herself in (after Higure's attack)?

p210: Hayato's "gallant" gesture ("I'm going to keep you out of harm's way"wink is presumably a subtle continuation his efforts to win her over as children (p123), right? And what Arakawa sees in the glass is what she and Komatsuzaki planned to do (p229-30), but never did --- bring flowers to Arie --- correct?

p212: these are the flowers that Arakawa saw in the glass, though


Yes, she's presumably there because of the attack. Yes, he seems to still have a crush on her.

The reflection is interesting. I don't think the version of arakawa that saw it ever had the conversation with komatsuzaki about the flowers.

Komatsuzaki seems to have been rewarded for his long service by a life with arakawa. However, one of those lives (flower life), i think is in his head, and the reality is the other one (illustrated on p283, in the epilogue).

Quote
p215: why does Komatsuzaki suddenly see pairs of lights, now, where before he just saw one? is this supposed to foreshadow the defeat of the one-eyed monster and the reunification of the separated butterflies, the Two Children?


Perhaps those are the ofther people eaten by the monster.

Quote
p216: what exactly is wrong with the rest of Higure's senses --- how can it be a matter "of course" that they're damaged? He wasn't stabbed in the eyes, the ears, etc., was he? Or is this a somewhat gratuitous opportunity for Hayato to attest to the other side of Suzuki's challenge, that it's better to live in the world of the imagination (as opposed to the world of what one physically sees) than to accept this empty world?


Yeah, i'm not clear on the senses thing either. I don't think the older cop is real cerebral.


Quote
p220: are we to infer that Komatsuzaki lost his parents after the "fall"?


I think that happened before the time we see him in the story.

Quote
p222: so Kimura kills himself at the same time that Arie awakes ... is one the cause of the other, or are they both caused by something else (see the origami butterfly Kimura leaves behind, like the butterflies that have led others to act throughout the story)?


Perhaps his wife/the butterflies called him home.

Quote
p234: here's another major point of confusion; did Suzuki find the box before, when he had been looking for it with Higure and handed it off to the adult that was himself? Or did he find it on this snowy night, when Higure died?


Ah, I think perhaps something/someone besides suzuki put it in his possession again.

Quote
p235-37: here again, led by the butterfly, Suzuki goes upstairs --- and is about to unify the butterfly pendants, but is blocked by the most unreal of all boy Komatsuzaki's appearances ... why couldn't the awakening happen now, is there a reason? Is it because he's still clutching the unopened box, i.e. not yet resolved to live his own life with a strong will?


I don't know why it was not yet time.

Quote
p238: why does Arie get a diploma if she's in a coma? Suzuki was said to be behind in his studies as a result of his injuries earlier (p036) ... Another question: are we to understand from this exchange that Kimura falls into debt with the store owner because of Arie's medical expenses?


I don't know how the Japanese school system functions, but it's possible it was issued out of kindness.

Quote
p250: I take the top frame to be the opening, finally, of the tin box (see p252, upper-right-hand frame) that Suzuki has just received from the boy (himself Suzuki) ... and from the subsequent images I understand that his opening it reveals the Holograph picture of himself and his family at the field many years before. Is this right?


Perhaps this is the event that had to precede the awakening.

Quote
p256: how did Arakawa know that the butterfly pendant was for Suzuki, and how did she guess to find him in the cemetery (she does recognize him; see third panel on p257)?


Perhaps she got further instruction from komatsuzaki, or the butterflies lead the way. She does seem to recognize him.

Quote
p257: is this the grave of Higure the brother --- in other words, are we to understand from this that he has in fact died from his wound? Does the fact that there is fresh incense on the grave corroborate this reading? Or is it the grave of the whole family? (Don't really know how graves work in Japan ...)


Me neither, except there is a problem with the amount of space left in cemetaries. I'm betting Higure-brother is burried there, butI bet it's really a family grave.

Quote
p258: who is "her" in the upper-right-hand frame? Arie? Arakawa?

p264: I sincerely don't understand why Suzuki is moved to attack Arie ... clearly (from the evidence of p270) this is a sequence in his imagination, rather than something that actually happens, but why is he moved to think it? Is it because "her" on p258 does refer to Arie, and this is something (like, alternatively, cutting his own throat) he thinks he should have the strength to will for himself, rather than simply going on living in an empty way (again see p258)? And he is imagining it, to see if he has the will for it? But the hatred in his face as he bludgeons her seems real ... what is this from?


Arakawa, I think. He hasn't seen Arie since the were like 10.

Here's an answer i posted to another forum about the attack:

I don't think he really tried to rape Arie. I think seeing her sent him into kind of a state of shock and he freaked out. He's kneeling in front of her at the end of that sequence and she's not hurt. The reason seeing her shocked him is Arie and Suzuki are twins. You can see them for the first time on page 2.

That scene is the climax of the manga, and sort of the end of the story. We never see further into the future than that moment. Suzuki was depressed as a kid, and when the insane cafe owner (Higure-Brother) killed Suzuki's only real friend (Higure-Sister) in the fire when he was a kid, i think it more or less broke him, left a lot of violence and bile inside him. What happened when he eventually saw Arie as an adult was, i think, kind of a catharsis, all of that blackness pouring out and blowing away all at once, possibly with the help of his butterfly based mother. The only hint we have about what happened to him after that was the behavior of the old man with his younger selves. He seemed like a pretty good old man to me. So in that sense, I think there is a happy ending to the story.

Quote
p265-66: Again ... why are they both thinking of their mother here? Does the sudden rage to actually kill her come from the mention of their mother?


I think the mother IS there. How much of her is in Arie I don't know, but she seems pretty much omnipresent, and Arie was always pretty mystical.

Quote
p276: Here again, major confusion: why does Kimura react so strongly to what his wife says? What in the world is so provoking? What is his "suffering" here (are we to assume that is this the same generic existential suffering that Suzuki suffers, the bottom-line challenge under the whole story)? Why does he suddenly try to kill his wife? This question is the number one reason for all of the above breakdown --- want to get to the bottom of this ...


This is, I think, Kimura's death flashback, so a lot of his rage/sorrow is informed by his life right up to jumping out that window. I don't believe he actually tries to kill her, but maybe that's why they got divorced.

Quote
p281: significance of killing the butterfly --- Arakawa is basically declaring her and Komatsuzaki's independence, their escape, from the entanglements of the Kimura family story?


That's my interpretation.

Quote
pp290-92: so we learn at the end that Suzuki himself is God; that is, that he is the one with the power, through a strong will, to change his own life (cf. p158, etc.). Having a strong will has an equivocal meaning: one can have a strong will to bring the world to an end (and I think this is the meaning of "strong will" in Higure's sense (p205), who would rather see his family and home destroyed than go on living with them), but that's an ultimately fruitless path, since the world is eternal (p275). But that the world goes on eternally despite the will for its end doesn't mean that will is a meaningless idea, that God doesn't exist, as Kimura would have it (p276); will is meaningful for humans who are reconciled to living in and with this world, who accept the burden of changing their fate. (This seems to me to be a very decisive conclusion, and a far from depressing one ...)


This is as good a conclusion as any of the others I've seen.

Thanks for getting so much out of the manga, we were really excited to put this one out.

bukuwawa

Thinking about it further, I think your rape theory has merit, regarding page 17. You would therefore be correct about the sequence of events. If that's the case, at the same time Sakaki was hit, and arie was raped, she then finds her dead mother in the tunnel. Hell of a day.





Last edited by blakraven66 at 10:06 am, Jan 2

bully_jesus
Post #7960
Member

1:55 pm, Mar 12 2007
Posts: 686


what a great thread! I have to read the manga again, but after that I'll take the 2 hours to read all that you read and add my view.
hopefully soon

bukuwawa
Post #7988 - Reply to (#7960) by bully_jesus
Member

7:12 pm, Mar 12 2007
Posts: 13


Quote from bully_jesus
what a great thread! I have to read the manga again, but after that I'll take the 2 hours to read all that you read and add my view.
hopefully soon


monkey-boy was a really detailed reader, he caught a number of things I didn't, and caused me to revise some of my theories. Everyone should post their thoughts!

monkey-boy
Post #8022
Member

1:45 am, Mar 13 2007
Posts: 18


OK, this is great feedback. I need to take it a piece at a time, go back and check on a few things, etc., but one major difference in your reading that I quite liked is the idea of "working for momma" ... I'd been thinking of the butterflies, the active workings of Arie in the world while she lies in a coma, as the only operative supernatural agent in the story; but you make a great case for the real existence of momma as the monster in the tunnel. (I'd been thinking of the monster as kind of a mass hallucination, something that has power only from the subjective fact of everyone's sense of it, as opposed to its objective existence ... but maybe not.)

I guess from p024-025 we're pretty clearly informed that the butterflies are momma's agents, and Arie is still awake when the first one appears ... so looks like my initial thoughts there were off.

Edit: and again on p274 ... man, I guess I was really confused about the butterflies, but there is some evidence that they (and the watching of everything that happens in the world) are associated with Arie, too, see a few posts below ...

I should add, before I post, that I realize many of these questions may not have precise answers --- I'm asking them not because I think they must have answers, but because I think they might. Some of the ones I thought were almost too stupid to ask ended up having really surprising responses (thx bukuwawa). Asano's obviously incredibly in control of what he's doing ... I'll give him the benefit of the doubt even if it ends up leading nowhere.

More later.

Last edited by monkey-boy at 1:59 pm, Mar 13

ares6
Post #8023
user avatar
Member

1:48 am, Mar 13 2007
Posts: 2896

Warn: Banned



you know......it took me 20 minutes just to read one of your single post.....I actually got lost a couple of times.......

________________
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monkey-boy
Post #8029
Member

3:59 am, Mar 13 2007
Posts: 18


p003 the headless kudan (I miswrote kidun above) ... we're told (p139) that they have the head of a human, body of a cow; they prophesy disease and bad crops and then die; when they die, they're washed down the river from someplace above, and a single dead kudan washes up as twin kudan in Nijigahara field.

So it's the human head that's cut off in this frame. The body is lying on a field of grass; maybe Nijigahara field. It's juxtaposed with images of a butterfly/butterflies being split apart ... but I'm not sure that these cuts are meant to be linked.

Boy. Because of the twin motif, the prophesying of evil, and the dropping into the river upstream, I'd say it's pretty clear we're supposed to identify the kudan with Arie/Suzuki, or at least Arie. But still I feel like there's something that doesn't fit well. Is the appearance of a twin in Nijigahara field supposed to foreshadow a reconciliation with Suzuki there? Pretty morbid, the analogy to a washed-up dead mutant. And it's still not clear why the kudan seen here is beheaded.

If in fact someone with knowledge of Japanese folklore were able to weigh in here, that really would be great.

p025 Again on the "working for momma" theme ... one could read this page as momma checking Komatsuzaki out, sizing him up for potential use later ...

p031 "I can see, I can see. I can see everything that happens in the world." I'd been reading this as Arie's voice, but it should be momma's if where we're going here is right.

Though it was Arie's voice that Higure-bro heard saying the same thing when he saw the butterflies (p180-181) ...

Quote
Quote
p101: why does Arakawa suddenly think that she needs to be going home?



Realizing she was absently giving him a drunken blowjob made her feel sort of awkward. We've all been there!


p101: I actually thought it was more than a "eww wtf am I doing" kind of reaction from Arakawa --- one that would be explained, for example, if she were remembering that she really did love Komatsuzaki ... except that when she comes back to Higure-bro's place for dinner, she seems to be ready to get with him seriously, and again I thought the whole point of her going to his place in the first instance was because she was scared to go home when she heard what K had done, i.e. she was scared of him. She seems to be thinking of something other than what she's currently doing, anyway.

Quote
Okay, I think the cinderblock may have been used as a weapon because they tend to be laying around, and they're really brutal things to use as weapons. I don't know if he intended a parallel between the two attacks or not. I will point out that the one eyed monster in the tunnel has a slashed wrist, if you look closely, and the cops talk about a recent (adult-era) suicide later in the story. The one eyed monster is Sakaki (post suicide).


It just seems like a cinderblock is really badly suited for bludgeoning (I mean, try to lift and swing one with one or even both hands, and ask yourself if you could hit a moving opponent), like an umbrella for stabbing ... which would lead me to think that Asano's chosen them for his own intricate purposes. But that might be reading too much into it. Maybe Japanese cinderblocks are smaller than American ones, too.

Excellent catch with the slashed wrist! Momma cut her own throat, not her wrist, right (can't remember where I thought I read that) --- that's how you know it's Sakaki?

Edit: momma did cut her throat, it's on p279.

Last edited by blakraven66 at 10:10 am, Jan 2

bukuwawa
Post #8062 - Reply to (#8029) by monkey-boy
Member

11:50 pm, Mar 13 2007
Posts: 13


Quote from monkey-boy
Boy. Because of the twin motif, the prophesying of evil, and the dropping into the river upstream, I'd say it's pretty clear we're supposed to identify the kudan with Arie/Suzuki, or at least Arie. But still I feel like there's something that doesn't fit well. Is the appearance of a twin in Nijigahara field supposed to foreshadow a reconciliation with Suzuki there?


According to my vast internet research, a Kudan comes into being to prophecy disaster, and then immediately dies. That's all I could find. He may have made it a headless death at that point to obfuscate the supernatural nature of the story that early in its telling. Perhaps in this case a dead kudan is just a dead kudan, and we're to read that as forshadowing of disaster, like Suzuki's attempted suicide or the attempted murder of Arie by the schoolchildren, or even the death of their mother. Or the rape. Or Arie finding her mother's body. Or the attack on Sakaki. Or all of these. The story of the twin kudan may simply imply two threads of disaster for the price of one. He's left this very ambiguous.


monkey-boy
Post #8096
Member

5:07 pm, Mar 14 2007
Posts: 18


Quote
According to my vast internet research, a Kudan comes into being to prophecy disaster, and then immediately dies. That's all I could find.


I did the same profound research (all the way to the 2nd pg of google results) and couldn't find more than what we already knew from the manga either. But Asano's made sure we know that much, and I suspect we have what's important.

(Again, this is my bias when looking at something that on first blush is as masterfully crafted as NH: assume that the author is exercising total control with total precision, unless shown otherwise.)

Quote
He may have made it a headless death at that point to obfuscate the supernatural nature of the story that early in its telling.


That could very well be. Here's another thought, though. There are two visual images later on that recall this one of the headless kudan very strongly:

1. When momma and Kimura are lying/sitting in the grass in Nijigahara field (p274), momma is laid out, all four limbs stretched, and her head is completely, unnaturally obscured by Kimura's arms. I say unnaturally because if you peer at it closely you can't even figure out where her head is supposed to fit, let alone see it. I don't think I'm stretching too much to say that she appears to be headless. Correspondences:
- appearance of headlessness
- lying in grass, limbs out
- prophesying doom
- a moment later she is attacked at the neck; and eventually (also in Nijigahara) cuts her own throat

2. When Kimura jumps from the window (p277), the pool of blood around his head is similar to that around the stump of the kudan's neck.
Correspondences:
- pool of blood
- limbs out

Obviously the former is a better one, although there may be room for an additional resonance with the latter. What if the one-kudan-dies-two-wash-up metaphor is as simple as a correspondence with momma dying up in the tunnel, the twins eventually finding themselves there in the same field?

Quote
Perhaps in this case a dead kudan is just a dead kudan, and we're to read that as forshadowing of disaster, like Suzuki's attempted suicide or the attempted murder of Arie by the schoolchildren, or even the death of their mother. Or the rape. Or Arie finding her mother's body. Or the attack on Sakaki. Or all of these. The story of the twin kudan may simply imply two threads of disaster for the price of one. He's left this very ambiguous.


Could be, yes. I'm not inclined to general or vague interpretations as long as I can hope that a little elbow grease will yield something more concrete, but I'm the first to admit that some of my avenues of inquiry are just not going anywhere. Still I think what I've got above is pretty reasonable.

Edit: added page numbers.

bukuwawa, want to hit a bunch of your other replies (I'll just leave the critical scenes at the end for another examination):

Quote
I love that scene. He had a crush on Sakaki and he and higure just got finished witnessing hot teacher makeouts. I think that's his sense of betrayal. I think he kissed Higure because he wanted to kiss someone, and he knew she was loyal within the bounds of her crush to him. Then he socked her because you can't let them get upptiy!


This makes perfect sense. Good call.

Actually when I was wondering if "that's not it, teacher" had another meaning, I wondered if it had something to do with Suzuki's crush on/mother-complex-thing for Sakaki ... no need for that, probably; would have to look at it again.

Quote
It's clearly referring to the twins, yeah. The manga itself has uses the kanji for rainbow (i asked stephen). Both names have meaning in terms of the events of the story, I think.


Would be interested to hear more of your sense of the ulterior meaning of "rainbow" in terms of the events of the story ... there's the holograph element (rainbow-colored), which I take to refer to the family "snapshots" at the field; there's the rain scenes and the after-rain segues (if the rape and the discovery of momma happened on the same day, as seems to be indicated by the blood, the dress she's still wearing, etc.), it looks like it's stopped raining by the time "Over here!" pulls her into the tunnel ... If the Japanese word/kanji for "rainbow" makes any explicit appeal to the seven colors, maybe there's a reference point for Arie's seven villagers (/speculation)

Quote
Based on the fact that the Dad carries/holds hands with the twins and Sakaki never does, I think it's pretty clear she was beating them, hence the divorce.


Excellent, I hadn't thought of this but it totally explains the gallows humor and at least certain aspects of "I'm sorry." I'm less clear how Sakaki the kind teacher devolved into a child-beater, but I agree this is clearly the right reading.

Quote
You may be reading a connection there where there isn't one, that's just how he drew Takahama's teeth. He says poops because that's what nincompoops ends with. I think the Japanese was similar, stephen would have to weigh in.


This I can't agree with --- those are Kimura's teeth, it's impossible that they were drawn that way by accident. Look at the way the two sides of the mouth are drawn differently, too. There's a meaning here but I don't have a clue what it is yet.

Of course I understand that poops echoes nincompoops, but I'm wondering if there's something more than "she said poops, Beavis" at work here. I.e., is the Japanese of "poops" understandable, like "poops" might be, as an insult directed at Suzuki and Higure by Takahama?

Quote
I think mom's dead, I think this is when she gets the pendant. It's never made clear how it's split ...


I figured this is one of those love-amulets that is made in two parts, so that each person in a couple can wear one; no artificial splittage required. That's why I guessed it had some relation to Kimura.

Quote
It's also traditional to put flowers on the desk of someone who died. Part of the ignoring thing.


Aha!

Quote
Yeah that's when she died. Hammer is there because he's about to use it to murder Suzuki, who knows what he did, didn't because he sees the pendant.
This is post-tunnel for Komatsuzaki, he's working for momma now.


Very good on both points, makes excellent sense. (Hig's learned his lesson, no more trying to get the job done with $#@! cinderblocks for this psycho.)

Quote
Komatsuzaki seems to have been rewarded for his long service by a life with arakawa. However, one of those lives (flower life), i think is in his head, and the reality is the other one (illustrated on p283, in the epilogue).


Really like this reading. I need to head back and reread these scenes to confirm how it pieces together, but this fits perfectly at first blush.

Quote
Perhaps those are the ofther people eaten by the monster.


Also a very good thought, also something I need to mull over.

Quote
Here's an answer i posted to another forum about the attack:


Is there another forum with a good discussion going on?

Last edited by blakraven66 at 10:13 am, Jan 2

bukuwawa
Post #8102
Member

10:15 pm, Mar 14 2007
Posts: 13


Quote
Would be interested to hear more of your sense of the ulterior meaning of "rainbow"


I think he was working with the image of a rainbow as an ephemeral illusion. I also think that's probably not all he was working with in regards to that term. I sort of wonder if the identical pronunciation of the two terms was the seed for the story in the first place.

In any event, talking about ephemeral illusions, for a while I toyed with the notion that the entire story took place as a dream that the mother had while she was lying in that field. There are also all sorts of other little illusions, the reflection arakawa sees, the children older sakaki sees, probably a few others i can't think of at the moment.

I'm pretty sure that the number 7 has some sort of significance in terms of the characters of the story, the problem is since half the cast gets fed to the monster at some point or another i don't know who the seven villagers would be.

Quote
Of course I understand that poops echoes nincompoops, but I'm wondering if there's something more than "she said poops, Beavis" at work here.


Well, I remember looking at the japanese when I was originally editing this, and the mothers insult was something that ended with something like 'baga", and takahama then said "...baka". I think he did want to insult them along with his mom, but his mental status as a mouth breather sort of left him grasping at what to say, so he seized in his limited way on what she was saying.

Re: the teeth, I remain unconvinced he was trying to draw a parallel to Kimura there, but you know, we never see who Takahama's dad is =)

Quote
1. When momma and Kimura are lying/sitting in the grass in Nijigahara field, momma is laid out, all four limbs stretched, and her head is completely, unnaturally obscured by Kimura's arms


This actually raises something else cool about Inio's style here that i was talking about with Stephen. Did you notice that througout the story, almost none of the supporting cast gets detailed faces? The nurse when they find Arie has woken up, Mr. Suzuki, Mrs. Suzuki, the doctor that talks about Komatsuzaki's case, we never see their faces wholly rendered. That's not true for 100% of everyone though, some of the kids get faces rendered. Something makes me think he didn't leave them out because he's lazy =)

That's part of what made me think that the whole thing is the mothers dream, and that the only part of the story that's real at all is when she wakes up for a moment with kimura before he kills her for some reason. It's not a very strong argument, but I kind of like the idea.

Quote
Is there another forum with a good discussion going on?


No, I've actually referred them here now. I'm afraid that at the moment this thread is the end-all be-all of Nijigahara Holograph story analysis in english.

monkey-boy
Post #8140
Member

6:05 pm, Mar 15 2007
Posts: 18


Quote from bukuwawa
This actually raises something else cool about Inio's style here that i was talking about with Stephen. Did you notice that througout the story, almost none of the supporting cast gets detailed faces? The nurse when they find Arie has woken up, Mr. Suzuki, Mrs. Suzuki, the doctor that talks about Komatsuzaki's case, we never see their faces wholly rendered. That's not true for 100% of everyone though, some of the kids get faces rendered. Something makes me think he didn't leave them out because he's lazy =)


Yeah, totally ... or rather, there's two things in what you're saying that I would separate.

On the one hand, faces of supporting cast are often deliberately partial: the living (as opposed to all-but-dead) Mr. Suzuki gets the mandibles-only weeping shot, Mrs. Suzuki just has braids and apron strings, Mrs. Takahama is only seen at extreme angles or with a shot of her braces (kind of a cruel touch on Asano's part, I thought at the time) and hardly anything else identifiable ... so they're detailed, actually, but deliberately stripped of the status of fully living breathing characters. And I've kind of taken this as evidence that Asano has known expertly how to slice out the things we don't need to be thinking about too much, *by the same token* suggesting that we don't take for granted, or as unintentional (i.e. a matter of artistic indifference), whatever has been left in.

(I guess I I've pushed the investigation of what I'd agree are, by this rule, deliberately marginalized supporting cast --- the horny boyfriend, the class-rep, even the painting in HiguBro's living room; but I was trying not to leave stones unturned.)

On the other hand, momma --- clearly not a marginal character --- doesn't get much of anything detailed except for the pendant. And my thought about this was that maybe it's Asano's way of reinforcing the intangible character of her presence in most of the book. (True of Arie too, now that I think about it, as long as she's outside the reconciliation scene which stands as a deliberate end to the intangible seeing-everything-that-happens-in-the-world epoch?)

Speaking of Mrs. Suzuki, what a great line: "I'm fine here because I know that Father loves me, but you must be very unhappy ..." Of course she's attempting to imply to Suzuki that he is unloved by his parents, but the knife she's put her hand to in order to hurt her stepson is the one that's cutting deep into her own heart: Father *doesn't* love her. Father is still totally, completely in love with his first wife (Suzuki's mother; see him saying her name in the hospital, weeping in the cemetery). That's a world-class literary touch right there.

bukuwawa
Post #8147
Member

7:12 pm, Mar 15 2007
Posts: 13


Quote
I guess I I've pushed the investigation of what I'd agree are, by this rule, deliberately marginalized supporting cast --- the horny boyfriend, the class-rep, even the painting in HiguBro's living room; but I was trying not to leave stones unturned


Well, that's sort of the point of the exercise. A huge number of things in the story are seemingly trivial, but aren't. There have to be some things that aren't loaded with meaning, obviously, but the saturation level is really high in this book.

Quote
(True of Arie too, now that I think about it, as long as she's outside the reconciliation scene which stands as a deliberate end to the intangible seeing-everything-that-happens-in-the-world epoch?)


The panel in which her face is fully drawn is, I think, one of the more shocking moments in the manga, but it only becomes shocking after reading the thing over and over.

Quote
Speaking of Mrs. Suzuki, what a great line: "I'm fine here because I know that Father loves me, but you must be very unhappy ..."


Good job follwing the thread of her, she's a pretty tragic character too.

Here's another tidbit to mull over. At two points in the story, someone looks into Arie's eyes and sees themselves reflected there. The only time we get to see a really overt reaction is during Suzuki's attack on her. However, Arakawa had the same experience, and the next time we see her she's talking to Komatsuzaki and delivering the pendant (Don't have the manga handy to cite page numbers, but i know it's somewhere in the vicinity of page 200, because i had to do that join a little later on). And she's also got the butterfly crushing scene, which seems to imply knowledge of their nature that she certainly didn't have when she first saw them at Nijigahara (pg. 104-105, the other join in the manga)


Unknown
Post #8174
Member

2:51 am, Mar 16 2007
Posts:


I don't know what you guys think of it, but for me it seemed like Arie is her mothers reincarnation. Like in her story about the messenger of god reincarnating every time it was killed by the villagers. That's also what her mother meant by the fact that the worlds never ends... It's an eternal cycle that keeps repeating itself.

Well actually I'm not so sure about this. And I really didn't read into this as much as you guys did. I was actually pretty surprised but how detailed the analysis was.
I had a couple of things in mind when I read the post but they where so long that I forgot them when I finished reading them. I'll probably re-read the thread sometime and mark the points that got my attention next time, so I wouldn't forget.

bukuwawa
Post #8191
Member

6:29 am, Mar 16 2007
Posts: 13


Quote
I don't know what you guys think of it, but for me it seemed like Arie is her mothers reincarnation.


It sure seems like where komatsuzaki was the mothers pawn, Arie seemed at least to be her avatar, if not her successor. She seems to still be distinct from her mother in some way, though, because she says "I can hear mommy's voice", although she says it during Suzuki's apparent psychotic break.

monkey-boy
Post #8196 - Reply to (#8174) by Unknown
Member

7:53 am, Mar 16 2007
Posts: 18


Quote from Stealth
I don't know what you guys think of it, but for me it seemed like Arie is her mothers reincarnation.


Of course technically Arie and her mother are both alive, or alive and dead, side by side, too, like on p22 ("is mommy dead?"wink; but I agree that there's many layers of connection between them that are more than natural (see my questions above about the voice saying "I can see everything" ... it seems like it has to be both of them, at times; actually it's probably those questions to which you're responding). The connection appears to be opened by the episode of Arie's rape, which I guess marks her crossing of the threshold into womanhood (even if you read the blood on p017 as evidence of menarche, it would have that significance, which is why it's a reasonable instinctive reading).

Should I go back to that first post and clean it up a little bit? Don't want to make this thread unreadable by sheer force of unbroken word count.

Quote from bukuwawa
The panel in which her face is fully drawn is, I think, one of the more shocking moments in the manga, but it only becomes shocking after reading the thing over and over.


You're right --- I guess that's why I remembered it as an exception even without going back to check, but I hadn't really realized it.

Quote
Here's another tidbit to mull over. At two points in the story, someone looks into Arie's eyes and sees themselves reflected there ...


This is great, am reading through again now (can't sleep) precisely to check this out. I got distracted by a couple of things, though, and dropped by to post:

p026: I understand the context of the children's game, but what is the literal meaning of "Hana Ichi Monme?" One 'monme' of flowers ... ? could you ask Stephen?

p027: the panel in the upper-right-hand corner doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the sequence; there appear to be a number of kids' legs bending side by side, as we know we have here, but it's a bit awkward; and there are bookbags swinging around them. The first panel at the bottom of p025 shows no bookbags. So either I'm reading this wrong, or there's an interpolation of a flash from another mob scene in the middle of this one --- I'll check the run-up to Suzuki's fall later.

p028: top panel shows 7 kids responsible for Arie's fall. You may have been aware of this when you joked about the identity of the 7 villagers, but at any rate this is certainly not a coincidence. We know Hayato and Arakawa are among them, and Arakawa is identifiable with the short haircut; maybe there's enough evidence to ID the rest ...

p038: while I'm at it, I vote for ms. "Oh you boys!! would you stop that?" as the overly-serious class rep biggrin Seriously though.

p078: on close inspection, it looks like Higure and her brother *share* a room. Check it out; there are two desks, and a bunk bed. So the Nintendo is in there because it's her brother's room, but the Diary is on the desk with the stuffed animals on it --- her desk, by the look of it (and the wide shot identifies the desk she's sitting at as the one with the Diary; it has the pincushion bear and pencil jar on it). So we were both right on that.

Edit: ugh, when we get to p100 we learn that the whole class was in on pushing Arie down the well, and there's a picture with 17 kids standing around it. Again, Arakawa, Hayato, and Hayato's flunky with the cap are identifiable. No bookbags, though.

Quote from bukuwawa
Based on the fact that the Dad carries/holds hands with the twins and Sakaki never does, I think it's pretty clear she was beating them, hence the divorce.


As to how Sakaki became a child-beater, see p118: "Every time I saw her beautiful skin and frail little body, I just felt sick." Her children, then, provoke her in the same way (the fact that they're also twins does I think mean that to us they are to serve as proxies for Arie in this case).

Regarding my earlier confusion about "Stop doing that to me!" on p122, I missed the obvious fact that it's a continuation of p120 "Stop it" (Suzuki's thought, wishing that Hatori and Sakaki would stop getting it on), p121 "Stop doing that" (again); so he's the one who says "Stop doing that to me!" to Higure, as if she were the one responsible for kissing him, and not the other way around.

Quote from bukuwawa
I think she's just seeing the past, maybe because the tree remembers it, maybe because her missing eye is remembering it


I had taken Sakaki's statement that the attacker had used a cinderblock "to *try* to destroy my eye" as evidence that he hadn't succeeded. But you're right ... middle bottom panel on p127 shows her looking right: right eye moves; left eye doesn't. It's a prosthesis. I'll be honest, this changes my sense of her trauma as well; I appreciate more the fact that she can't let go of it.

p129: don't know what I was thinking before when I wrote that Hatori was taking them back to the school ... it's Sakaki who suggests it, not he. Brain cramp.

Higure is starting to look like Naruto with that perpetual track suit collar thing. Time for me to go back to bed.



Last edited by blakraven66 at 10:16 am, Jan 2

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