Category “Lesser Known” Manga Artists

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A World Turned Upside Down, or Rakuten’s Elliptical Ambivalence

In the spirit of translative promiscuity, letting no one way of doing things become an ossified norm, I thought this week I might make use of a selection of translated single page manga from Rakuten’s oeuvre to illustrate an argument in that way that used to be my weekly habit not so long ago.

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Kitazawa Rakuten – The Burglaress – Kindai Manga Translation

There is quite a bit to unpack in this week’s offerings, so I’ll leave my commentary for next week. For now, I hope you enjoy the [comic]!

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Kitazawa Rakuten – Film Without End – Kindai Manga Translation

When thinking about how to approach this translation, it occurred to me that I am somewhat blessed in having Rakuten’s own tri- and bi-lingual manga to work from, to see how he works multiple sets of text into his [comics] (often haphazardly), so as to free myself, as he does, from a slavish devotion to sense in order to work from the perspective of effect. The original of this text is, of course, entirely in Japanese, yet its translation by my own hand would not be out of place with any of Rakuten’s bilingual manga.

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Okamoto Ippei – Woman’s Hundred Faces – 3 – Kindai Manga Translation

On their surface, Ippei’s film stories might be read as quaint domestic comedies, fodder for the much maligned and quite often stereotyped pedestrian predilections of bored housewives, and a superficial understanding of women’s magazines in prewar Japan would certainly buttress that reading. However, the historical print milieu in which Ippei’s manga quite often found itself was neither decidedly middle brow nor exclusively for women, even if the print matter where they appeared was a woman’s magazine. In fact, given what is readily apparent about the kinds of stories regularly published in newspapers and magazines, it is entirely possible that Ippei’s manga aspired to a certain high literary status.

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Okamoto Ippei – Woman’s Hundred Faces – 2 – Kindai Manga Translation

It became clear that what I needed to do was not replicate Ippei’s text in one of its extant forms nor one purely of my own invention but rather relate to it in a manner analogous to how his own eiga shōsetsu do not quite resemble other contemporaneous examples of the “form.” I had to remember for myself and, more importantly, show how Ippei’s manga represent an aesthetic attitude, not just a visual format, an orientation that has as much to say about how we might approach translation as how we might regard [comic] form.

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Okamoto Ippei – Woman’s Hundred Faces – 1 – Kindai Manga Translation

Pre-war manga, like pre-war modernism, requires us as readers to shed most if not all our presumptions about what Japanese [comics] are, to rethink them from the ground up in a manner than is neither clichéd nor dwells obsessively on well worn tropes, as so much thinking about manga as style does nowadays.

30. Manga in Review – Ariyoshi Kyōko’s SWAN

I’m not really much of a fan of writing reviews, though I read do occasionally read them.  I know some people who read any and everything someone writes about them, which always seems to me to represent a kind of self-defeating narcissism: narcissistic, because judgments of one’s work always have to be viewed through how […]