Tag Archives: kitazawa rakuten
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.
It is, perhaps, a bit unfair, even if useful and necessary sometimes, to pick apart someone else’s translation, to linger creepily over its supposed faults, and generally slap it about with the sloppy phallus of your smug superiority. I myself only started to eschew these bouts of accusatory dick-waving once I had spent a considerable […]
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]!
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.
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.
This is the first in my ongoing series of translations of kindai manga from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, beginning with the work of Kitazawa Rakuten. Unless otherwise noted, the originals are taken from the Rakuten zenshū published in 1931 by Atorie-sha, though they originally appeared throughout Rakuten’s earlier periodical work.
I am not going to get into an extensive post mortem of [Comics] as Reading at this time. I do not yet have the distance from it to accurately assess whether I believe now that it was worth the while or how I should have approached things differently. I will say, on a purely visceral level, that I am far more satisfied, emotionally that is, with this effort than many of my previous endeavors.
It is a question incumbent upon you—not some hypothetical “you” but rather you reading this statement at this moment—to answer, even if only imperfectly and provisionally, and that answer may very well guide you toward vectors of understanding I have yet to see or may never see. For Rakuten’s [comics] mirror within, with many facets, as well as without, to a larger world as well as to yourself as reader, because the many potential readings his [comics]—really all [comics] and therefore all texts—seem to anticipate are only there insofar as you are primed and willing to see them.
PREVIOUS: [Manga] pt. 5 This mode of sequential progress through a number of juxtaposed frames/cells within a total page/board layout may be analogous to a common though by no means universal understanding of [comics] as, at their core, “sequential art,” yet it remains an open question whether this mode of understanding is especially useful for […]
PREVIOUS: [Manga] pt. 4 The [manga] variants on the game of the goose one sees around this time retain some features (e.g. the spiral pattern, which is not specific to it, and the satire of current affairs) while discarding others (e.g. the rules of play and the 63 game spaces). For instance, Rakuten’s Election Race […]