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Abstract

In Chapter 6, “Celebrating the Present: The New World of Kibyōshi Unlocked by Mr Glitter ’n’ Gold,” Tanahashi Masahiro complicates our understanding of the 1775 Kinkin sensei eiga no yume (Mr Glitter ’n’ Gold’s Dream of Splendor), ubiquitously celebrated as the first kibyōshi (yellow-cover book). English-language scholarship has insisted on its intertextual qualities and its ability to define, albeit obliquely, the essence of the Edo sophisticate. There is some recognition that it displays an interest in the latest fashions. Tanahashi pushes this line of inquiry further, arguing that engagement with the here and now is what mattered most in (this) kibyōshi. Tanahashi deploys his encyclopedic knowledge to meticulously illustrate how Kinkin sensei eiga no yume is a celebration of whatever was topical, including the economic and political reality of its time. Tanahashi’s analysis points to a reading experience akin to a hunting expedition. Those in the know can discern the subtle hints to the extradiegetic reality. The others are left with the pleasing façade of the rise-and-fall story of Mr Glitter ’n’ Gold, before the moment of awakening. Tanahashi explains that by the 1820s Kinkin sensei eiga no yume had become almost impenetrable. This, in turn, alerts us to the difficulty of unlocking the pleasures of kibyōshi when reading them in the twenty-first century, without the chance to experience the early modern daily life of Edo. Tanahashi teaches us that engagement with the present is a major hallmark of early modern Japanese graphic narratives.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan
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In chapter 2, “The Creative Process,” Takagi Gen discusses the creative team that is behind the publication of early modern Japanese graphic narratives by delving into a close reading of a double-page spread from the 1818 gōkan (combined booklets) titled Takarabune kogane no hobashira (Golden Mast of the Treasure Ship). We learn that kusazōshi were the product of a team of professionals that included publisher (hanmoto), author (sakusha), illustrator (gakō), copyist (hikkō), block-cutter (hangishi), and printer (hansuri). Takagi’s close reading of the visual and the verbal components of this spread takes us behind the scenes of the publishing process, revealing the craftsmanship involved in the making of these books and bringing us closer to the many human struggles that these professionals faced. A fascinating reading for anyone interested in questions of authorship.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan

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In Chapter 8, “Generative Interactions: The Osmotic Boundaries Between Kusazōshi and Ukiyo-e,” Fumiko Kobayashi deploys her vast knowledge of both early modern Japanese art and literature, and asks us to bridge the two disciplines. This chapter is a fascinating and unconventional journey into one of the most celebrated Japanese artists of all times: Hokusai (1760–1849). By working with kusazōshi both penned and illustrated by Hokusai as well as with his single-sheet prints, Kobayashi shows how Hokusai used kibyōshi (yellow-cover books) to experiment with ideas that his artistic genius would later refine. Along the way Kobayashi introduces us to less-known texts that play with the complexities of the figurative language. Kobayashi argues that humor, blissfully inconsequential humor, is unleashed as a result. This chapter appeals to anyone interested in knowing more about Hokusai and his genius.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan

Abstract

“Introduction to the World of Kusazōshi” is designed as a stand-alone, short introduction to early modern Japanese graphic narratives as a whole, while mapping out what follows in the edited volume. As such it assists anyone who approaches the subject for the first time and can be of use in the classroom. In this introduction, the editors explain the choice of the label “graphic narratives” and explore the basics of kusazōshi, including key scholarship produced to date in Japanese and English language. The booklover will even be offered a virtual tour of the bookshop that publisher Nishinomiya Shinroku ran in 1801.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan

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In chapter 15, “Kusazōshi as Comic Books? Reading Early Modern Graphic Narratives from a Manga Studies Perspective,” Jaqueline Berndt puts to the test the conceptualizations of kuzazōshi as comic books by subjecting two early modern graphic narratives to mangaesque reading. Berndt comes to this experiment as a scholar who works in the field of visuals arts and media cultures with a focus on manga and anime as multimodal serial narratives. The textual and visual analysis that is deployed in this chapter is eye-opening. Berndt asks us to think about aspects of visual storytelling rarely taken up by the scholar of early modern Japanese graphic narratives. She asks us to dissect the visual flow, to follow the gaze, to engage with the body language, and to explore the empathetic response enabled by the visual language. For Berndt, this analysis leads to the identification of inherent differences between story-manga and kusazōshi. Berndt also points to an exciting direction. She argues that illustrated novels (sashie shōsetsu) and picture stories (e-monogatari) produced between the 1930s and the 1950s can be viewed as “occupying an intermediate position between kusazōshi and contemporary manga narratives.” A must-read for anyone interested in the connection between early modern Japanese graphic narratives and manga.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan
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In chapter 14, “Kusazōshi as Comix,” Adam L. Kern builds on his previous research and places kusazōshi firmly in the field of Comics Studies, gifting the reader with a sophisticated evaluation of the cultural significance of this intellectual move. Wonderfully rich in breath and incessantly provocative, this chapter alerts us to what Kern calls the responsibility of “Kusazōshi Studies”: “to overcome any cultural chauvinism occupying Comics Studies.” Kern views this as “a kind of postcolonial intervention.” A must-read for anyone interested in the connection between early modern Japanese graphic narratives and the world of comics.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan
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In chapter 1, “Kusazōshi as Material Objects,” Ellis Tinios meticulously reconstructs the materiality of kusazōshi. Moving from cover to cover and across the various formats that make up kusazōshi in their historical development, readers will grasp what makes a kusazōshi a kusazōshi. Those with no access to originals can form a clear mental picture of how a kusazōshi looks and feel. Those with access to originals, including book collectors, can develop in-depth understanding of the bibliographic nature of kusazōshi. A must-read for any bibliophile, not only those interested in graphic narratives.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan
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In chapter 11, “The Lifecycle of Stories: The Question of Sekai in Gōkan,” Satō Satoru explores the adaptational stance of short gōkan (combined booklets). Building on an impressive number of primary sources, Satō Satoru talks about (story)worlds (sekai) and how they are redeployed in new graphic narratives, subject to fresh twists (shukō) foregrounding the privileged relationship that gōkan had with the kabuki theater. Satō Satoru’s chapter is a tour de force in reconstructing the storyworld of Otsuma and Hachirobee and in exploring how it was infused with new life in the 1814 Unagidani kabuki no sujigaki (Unagidani: A Theatrical Synopsis). The amount of detail provided on this nineteenth-century gōkan showcases how we can do justice to texts that have not been, and are unlikely to be, translated. From a theoretical standpoint, this chapter expands the traditional understanding of the complex dyad sekai-shukō and prompts new reflections on adaptation.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan
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Chapter 16, “‘Managorō wailed’: Visualizing Kusazōshi in Translation,” is a compelling journey in the history of the translation of kusazōshi. Glynne Walley explores the various methods of translation that have been employed to data: the chapbook method, the playscript method, the narrative picture scroll method, and the comics method. He convincingly argues that they are informed by the changing conceptions of kusazōshi. Walley crucially reminds us that the act of translation is an act of interpretation. We are invited to choose a preferred method of translation but are reminded that any choice comes with specific cultural baggage. An enlightening chapter for anyone interested in Translation Studies.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan
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In chapter 9, “Metafictional Pleasures,” Satō Yukiko works with kusazōshi that are replete with what we would easily label metafiction. The close reading of several kusazōshi reveals a number of patterns in a type of fictional writing that self-consciously draws attention to its status as an artefact. The argument put forward is a powerful one: “in kibyōshi metafiction is employed to create a communal space that brings together author and readers.” The chapter explores the ramifications of this argument, and the intellectual potential is significant. It shows that the study of metafiction can, and must, be freed from the postmodern insistence on questioning the relationship between fiction and reality. Theoretical ruminations produced in the West at a specific point in time can be productively adopted to study Japanese texts but engagement with Japanese texts has the potential to change the theoretical discourse. A gem for any reader interested in expanding the understanding around metafiction.

In: Graphic Narratives from Early Modern Japan