Notes for Discommunication Seireihen chapter 12

v1.0.1, 2011-10-01
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Page 152-153

Most western sources hyphenate "asobi-be" so I've followed that convention elsewhere in the chapter. Here (and in the ToC) it's not, because I'm lazy.

Page 158

I haven't been terribly consistent with the Japanese word "kokoro," which literally means "heart" but encompasses the mind and the soul. In earlier chapters I've primarily used "mind." In this chapter Ueshiba starts putting an emphasis dot next to it; accordingly I've started using words like "soul" and "spirit." There's probably a more elegant approach, but again, laziness rules the day.

Page 161

In the Western literature, which we should perhaps take with the usual grain of salt, the asobi-be are described as placators "whose poems recall and pacify the spirits of the dead" (see Herbert E. Plutschow, Chaos and Cosmos). In another paper, Plutschow notes that "the ancient Japanese feared that the more powerful a person was in life, the greater placation he or she needed in death, especially if that death had been premature or unnatural," and quotes the Ryō no Shuge: "This is a clan which mediates between the dark and light worlds. The Asobi-be appease impure and impish spirits which cause disease" (Plutschow, "Towards a Definition of Tama," collected in Rethinking Japan, ed. Adriana Boscaro). By the way, I'm really thankful for Google Books. It wouldn't be possible to do this sort of painless low-impact scholarship without it.

Page 163

To understand how asobi went from "deity placation" to "fun fun fun fun," we have to get into a bit of background. First of all, Shinto is homegrown Japanese religion, dating from ancient times, which was somewhat codified in the seventh and eighth centuries. The asobi-be came to prominence during the period of what Plutschow calls "imperial Shinto," where the ruling order gave certain families a monopoly over particular religious ceremonies. As time went by, the Buddhist influence in Japan grew stronger and eventually displaced the asobi-be; this occurred by the mid-eighth century. As Yung-Hee Kim Kwon writes (from a feminist perspective), "consequently, among these women, who had no land basis or special mundane skills, many began to take up the itinerant mode of life, turning increasingly to performing arts and often to prostitution." By the Heian period, they had formed permanent settlements and were very much in demand for their services. They would attract customers with their songs while cruising on boats, an attribute that distinguished them from common prostitutes. (Yung-Hee Kim Kwon, The Female Entertainment Tradition in Medieval Japan: The Case of "Asobi". JSTOR, Google Books excerpt) To sum up, across several centuries, a word associated with serious business religious ceremony became a byword for the pleasure district.

This form of Broom God (hōkigami) is a Ueshiba creation as far as I can tell. [Andrew Cunningham calls these Holy Brooms, which sounds better.] Magatama are curved beads, often made of jade.

Page 169

Nichiyousei: "Sunday star." Recall that the Yume Tsukai are named for the Navagraha of Hindu Astrology.

Page 174

The chicken actually says "Mazinger Z chogokin." Chogokin, which literally means "superalloy," is a brand name first used by the Popy company for its line of die-cast toys. Bandai still uses this brand (e.g. chogokin tamashii, "soul of chogokin") and "chogokin" has become a sort of generic term for this kind of toy.

"Rocket Punch" and "Breast Fire" are trademark attack functions of Mazinger Z.

Page 175

I don't have good resources for ancient scripts, so I'll have to give Ueshiba a pass on this one.

Page 181

Touko actually says a catchphrase from the 1969 anime Hakushon Daimaoh, which was adapted to international audiences as Bob in a Bottle or The Genie Family. The anime is about a genie who comes out whenever somebody sneezes, and his genie daughter who comes out whenever somebody yawns. Of course, the point of the show is for hilarity to ensue; neither genie gets the wisher exactly what they want. Anyway, Touko quotes what the genie says when he appears: "Yobarete Tobidete Jajajaja-n!" I tried finding an example of this on Youtube but could only find the opening and ending, along with an ungodly number of pachislot videos. I ended up downloading the first episode of a dual-audio Italian fansub (strictly for research purposes, mind you) and while it's kind of funny, it's pretty dated. But now I can't get the Akubi song out of my head...

Page 182

The reference Ueshiba makes is to Space Sheriff Sharivan, the sequel to Space Sheriff Gavan, which we've encountered previously. Like Gavan, whose "jouchaku" gets his combat suit beamed onto him in 0.05 seconds, Sharivan has "sekisha jouchaku." The joke is that Sharivan's suit is red, like Dokin-chan. Here's a promo video of all three Space Sheriffs. Makes me kind of regret that I wasn't into Power Rangers when I was a kid. Okay, not really.

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