Utsusemi is a beautiful manga serial by Visual Kei artist Nheira, inspired by Yosano Akiko's tanka collection Midaregami (1901).

Yosano Akiko was a feminist poet, daring to ascribe passionate emotions to women, spurring them to act in matters of love and politics. While the modern comic is very beautiful, it switches the woman's position from subject to object - the stepsister seems unaware of her older brother's feelings. I doubt that this was Yosano's intention. Her accompanying poems sound, to me, written from a specifically female perspective, daring to approach the lover (of indeterminate gender) fully aware of hope and danger.

Hot blood flows underneath my soft skin.
But you only talk of morality and do not touch my flames of passion.
Are not you lonely?

Translation from the Utsusemi site.

Incidentally, I wonder if it isn't the same poem as this one, from Mike Lidgley's blog.


Having never felt
the hot tide of blood that throbs
beneath this soft skin
even you who seek the Way
must know what you are missing.

It is interesting to compare the translations, and both make me think of Falco, of course. But the poem ends with the pronoun "kimi" - a form of honorific "you" that is mostly used by young men. This would seem to undermine my theory of an active female voice! Perhaps Yosano felt that a change of grammar was necessary to empower a new female voice - perhaps an "anata" was too deferential. "Kimi" is used by young men to men and women alike, if they are of the same status. "Anata" refers to a husband or a lover. But I don't know enough about early 20th century Japanese to argue this.

1 comment:

PIGNOUF said...

la comparaison est judicieuse !
A bientôt...:)