Shadow Of The Moon Wind Of Shadows 01
Tsuki no Kage, Kage no Umi introduces Youko Nakajima as the principal character in the first of two novels from Fuyumi Ono's epic series, The Twelve Kingdoms, that together form the foundation of the subsequent narratives. It is also where the NHK anime series begins.
However, the anime conflates severalplot elements and invents others. Sugimoto, for example, does not accompany Youko to the Twelve Kingdoms. Asano is completely made up (they attend an all-girl's school, after all), and he quickly disappears from the stage. Including these characters as convenient dramatic foils unfortunately adulterates an otherwise compelling account of wrenching personal growth. In the book, Youko faces herdemons very much alone.
The starkness of her plight deepens the desperation of her actions and heightens the substance of her resolve. The moral evolution of her character, symbolized by her encounters with the harassing id of a monkey spirit, extends over the first volume of the book and builds towards a more profound and satisfactory resolve.
Ono's novels are quite successful in Japan, whichmakes it all the more difficult to understand, given the popularity of anime and manga, why no U.S. publisher has picked up the series. One obstacle might be that the Swords & Sorcery genre, from King Arthur to Lord of the Rings and even Star Wars, has long reflected presumptions about the European history and culture, even when the story happened "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away."Fuyumi Ono is also reaching back for a historical context, but to China. Her "Middle Earth" is suspended between modern Japan and ancient China. The fall of the Han Dynasty in the third century A.D. was followed by a period of political upheaval commonly known as the "Three Kingdoms." The era also produced China's most important literary work, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The title of Ono'sseries undoubtedly echoes this historical reality.
The philosophical counterpart to Christianity (Tolkien was a devout Catholic) would, of course, be Confucianism. The second half of the novel, especially chapter 59, serves as a primer on the practical application of Confucian metaphysics, with the Royal En quoting almost verbatim from Chapter 13 of The Analects of Confucius: "How can he whocannot rule himself rule others?" (Compare Proverbs 16:31-33.)
This could be said to constitute the theme of the book as a whole.
Rest assured, though. Just as you need not be a medievalist to read J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, Ono's narrative stands well enough on its own. The historical precedent Ono is drawing upon does present certain challenges to the translator, however. As noted above, shehas created in the Twelve Kingdoms a uniquely complex geopolitical landscape, detailing a hierarchy of governance that includes even the structure of the education system.
The problem is, she often creates her own compound words (think of descriptive terms such as "nation-state" and "city-state," and then extend that to a made-up term like "county-state"). The map that accompanies the novelclearly identifies kingdom, province and city/town/village. But then Ono include three additional geopolitical divisions between city/town and province.
The first of these is a county or shire. The second resembles a Japanese prefecture and has a governor. If the European Union were a kingdom, then Great Britain would be a province, and Scotland a prefecture. The division above the prefecture is a"district." As Yoshie Omura defines it, "Nobody actually lives in a district; it is for administrative purposes only" (similar to a federal appeals court district).
Ultimately, the most convenient reference point is the political divisions of China: province, prefecture, county, township, and village/hamlet.
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