Yuri Kuma Arashi and M. C. Escher

In episode 7 of ユリ熊嵐 [ユリくまあらし, Yuri Kuma Arashi, Lily Bear Storm], you may have noticed this pretty pattern on the glass.

yurikumaarashi7

The negative space between the 鳥 [とり, tori, birds] morphs into 百合 [ゆり, yuri, lilies]. It’s a beautiful transformation. Now, the team behind ユリ熊嵐 is very creative, but here I think it’s a reference. After all the anime is chock-full of references.

MC-Escher-Sky-and-Water-I-1938

This is a woodcut by M. C. Escher from 1938, where the white space between geese morphs into fish. It definitely looks similar, doesn’t it?

M. C. Escher did a large number of these “transformation prints.” To see some more visit the website of the M. C. Escher Foundation and M. C. Escher Company.

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Why Is Girls’ Love Called Yuri?

When talking about lesbian relationships in anime and manga, we often use the word yuri. (When talking about homosexual relationships between men, we use yaoi.) What does it mean originally and how did it come to be used as a synonym for girls’ love?

The word 百合 literally means lily, as in the white flower. I know there are lilies of countless colors (we have some orange ones in our garden), but the 百 in 百合 means white and the original Madonna lily is white.

from episode 2 of Blend S

Now, regarding the second part of the question, how it came to be used as a synonym for girls’ love. In the seventies in Japan, there was a magazine for the gay male community, called 薔薇族. If you’re into yaoi, you might know that there is a genre called 薔薇, which refers to gay manga made (usually) by and for gay men. (To be contrasted to yaoi, which is usually drawn by and for straight women.) Anyway, in 1976, Bungaku Itō, editor of 薔薇族, used the term 百合族 in reference to female readers in the title of a column of letters called 百合族の部屋. The column didn’t last long and appeared just sporadically, but since it was geared towards lesbians, that name stuck. So gay men were the roses, while lesbians became the lilies.

Take this explanation with a grain of salt though. Who knows, maybe this wasn’t the first instance of lilies used as a synonym for girls’ love. Maybe it came from so many main characters in yuri manga being called 百合 or 百合子. (I wonder how that idea would have blossomed without the magazine popularization.) Mr. Itō is still alive (85 years old this past spring), but I doubt he remembers where the name came from.

from episode 2 of Yuri Kuma Arashi

Fujisan

I want to rectify a misconception about the highest mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji.

fujisan

Written 富士山, the last character means mountain, which is read yama when stand-alone. When a part of a “word” though (the on-yomi), it is read san. So this san means mountain, it’s not an honorific as someone could have thought — Fuji-san!

Quote from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

You might understand why I’m quoting this tomorrow, when I publish a review of this one AMV…

You’re a projectionist and you’re tired and angry, but mostly you’re bored so you start by taking a single frame of pornography collected by some other projectionist that you find stashed away in the booth, and you splice this frame of a lunging red penis or a yawning wet vagina closeup into another feature movie.
This is one of those pet adventures, when the dog and cat are left behind by a traveling family and must find their way home. In reel three, just after the dog and cat, who have human voices and talk to each other, have eaten out of a garbage can, there’s the flash of an erection.
Tyler does this.
A single frame in a movie is on the screen for one-sixtieth of a second. Divide a second into sixty equal parts. That’s how long the erection is. Towering four stories tall over the popcorn auditorium, slippery red and terrible, and no one sees it.

from the third chapter of Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club is a renowned piece of literature for readers with a rather strong stomach. If you’re up to that, I highly recommend it. The movie isn’t half-bad either and is pretty loyal to the original. I mean it. Go read/watch it.

俳句 | Haiku

Whenever I encounter haiku in the Western world, the given definition is always along the lines of unrhymed three-line poem with seventeen syllables (written in a 5-7-5 syllable count), often about nature. Sometimes the theme is omitted. In reality there is much more than that to this traditional Japanese form of poetry. I’ll try to avoid boring you with its history and write mainly about the main principles one should follow when writing haiku.

Kobayashi Issa google doodle

Google doodle for the 250th birthday of Issa, one of the four haiku masters

Continue reading

Announcement

I’ve been rather busy with my other projects and responsibilities, both real life and not, hence the lack of new posts. Nevertheless I’ve at least found time to do something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I had written a couple of guest posts at other blogs in the past and only posted an excerpt and a link here. Since all of those blogs are pretty much inactive nowadays, I’ve finally decided to publish those guest posts here in their entirety to have a safe archive, as those sites might not even be online tomorrow.

The four posts in question are:

The -gatari Series, originally published on July 6th, 2012 here.

Touhou Fandom, originally published on September 13th, 2012 here.

First Impressions: Photo Kano, originally published on April 13th, 2013 here.

Photo Kano 2&3: dropped, originally published on May 25th, 2013 here.

That’s all for today. またね~

弁当 | Bento

In the summer of 2011 we, my girlfriend and I, bought two bright green bento boxes. Since then I have lovingly prepared what the Japanese would perhaps call an aisai bento (“Loving Wife Bento”, basically a boxed lunch that a newlywed Japanese wife would make her beloved husband to take to work) a total of seventeen times for her. I am not the perfect Japanese wife to make it for her every single day after all… *しく しく* Continue reading

ひさしぶり | Long time no see

Dear Reader,

Do you remember me? It’s that perpetually procrastinating writer with a penchant for old-fashioned language.

Looking back I realize I published my last post on the 15th of June. That’s exactly four months ago. What have I been doing all this time? If you’re interested in my day-to-day real life, or the evident lack of, you can follow me on Twitter or read this short recapitulation of the past months. Those impartial to my daily adventures can skip ahead to the emphasized “As for this blog:” subheading.

To put it simply, in June I had school, from July to mid-September I had a more-than-fulltime job and then went back to school. Oh, don’t forget that in-between all that we have been trying to furnish the apartment we moved into in April.

Have you ever read/heard those great speeches on how university students are the bane of society, lazy and worthless bums living off the proper hard-working citizens? Let me tell you, I’m one of the few of my peers who works only in the summer. Others work fulltime alongside school and I feel like a good-for-nothing compared to them, not that speaker. *fumes* /rant

Bottom line, I’m currently still in university and doing a bit of English tutoring on the side. My free time is basically made up of ‘time when I should be sleeping’ and ‘time when I should be studying.’

As for this blog:

Perhaps you have noticed the new headers. Both depict a Genshiken character, Sue Hopkins, in cosplay. In the one with a question mark she is wearing Meruru’s Alchemist outfit (from the JRPG Atelier Meruru); in the other she is dressed as princess Gruier Serenity of Bodacious Pirates. Any feedback of the blog design is welcome!

I hope to steal some time to write more often. Meanwhile I have one real post written and set to publish on Thursday, so look forward to that.

またね~