Notes for Discommunication Seireihen chapter 1

v1.0.5, 2010-07-25
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Page 0, flap

The blurb on the flap isn't particularly essential, but here goes:

Takaomi Matsubue and Arika Togawa are second-year students at the same high school. By some strange quirk of fate, they started dating. Matsubue-kun is a really weird guy (in truth, other people just don't understand him), which causes Togawa-san to ponder: "Why do I like this guy anyway? Why do people fall in love?" Profound mysteries will emerge before the two of them -- the curtain rises on a new series, Seireihen!

Perhaps a bit of backstory is in order. Riichi Ueshiba's series Discommunication started running in Kodansha's Morning magazine in 1991, and it got moved to Afternoon in 1992, where it continued until March 1999. (The six chapters that constitute Gakuen-hen, or "School Edition", ran from October 1996 to March 1997.) Discommunication Seireihen ran in Afternoon from July 1999 to November 2000, one chapter per month for 17 chapters in total. Following Discommunication Seireihen was Yume Tsukai, which also ran in Afternoon (June 2001 - February 2004). Finally, Ueshiba's current series Mysterious Girlfriend X, which is unrelated to the previous works, started sometime in 2004. This guy doesn't take much time off, huh?

If you've read the Yume Tsukai scanlations from Band of the Hawk, you know what to expect in this series. (See the note for Page 28 for a bit more about how the different series fit together.) With the exception of Mysterious Girlfriend X, I would describe Ueshiba's work as 1) densely drawn insanity and 2) the intersection of the otaku and the occult. All of his works, though, deal with broader themes of romantic love and sexual attraction, and the very blurred line that divides them.

"Seirei" literally means spirit. I haven't read widely enough to know whether the usage is rare or not, but it's implied by the usage of furigana in a seinen manga; furthermore the author narrows the definition in the next chapter. "Seirei-hen" is literally "spirit edition". Apologies to all that is holy and good, but I'm indulging my wapanese tendencies by leaving it as "seirei" and "seireihen". (Pronounced "say ray".) [Andrew Cunningham, writing in the Eastern Standard zine #3, renders seirei as "ancestral spirits". I'm inclined to defer to him, but Rinko's seirei doesn't really fit into that framework, does it?]

Page 1

The image used here is from the title spread of chapter 7, so explanations will wait until then.

Page 3

This is a typical Ueshiba title page: crammed full of stuff. I would love to track down each and every allusion on these pages, but I have other things to do. If you can identify something, please let me know and I'll add it to the notes.

Page 4

Rinko's name is composed of the kanji for "phosphorus" and "child". "x + ko" is a common construction for girls' names, e.g. Kyouko (apricot), Akiko (autumn). Matches are made with phosphorus.

Page 5

I edited this a long time ago, so the sfx aren't quite consistent with the rest of the chapter (punctuation, bolding).

Page 8

Japanese/Asian bakeries have a lot of what I think of as "theme bread": a bun with something in it. Amusingly, Wikipedia has an article on melonpan. Hrmm. Also, Yubari melon is a ridiculously expensive melon that's generally for gift-giving.

Page 9

On this page (and the previous page) the chicken is reading Hitoshi Iwaaki's Parasyte, which is about an alien invasion of parasites. The action on the next few pages is basically a shout-out to another author whose work ran in Afternoon.

Page 17

Where Rinko says "boyfriend" or "my flame", the original has the kanji for "fire", with a given reading of "boyfriend". It's convenient that in English, "my flame" also has a romantic connotation.

"Kai-denpa", literally mysterious electromagnetic waves, is an urban-legend-ish explanation for people's strange behavior; they act as if they're being remote-controlled by aliens, etc.

Page 26

Kachi-kachi Yama is a folktale about an evil but stupid tanuki.

Page 27

Dokin-chan is a character from Anpanman, a children's manga and anime series. She's a villainess with a petty personality.

Page 28

In Japan, fans will send in fanart on postcards. Evidently this postcard was based on the original series. I've only skimmed the original, but I'm pretty sure that Touko Mishima only shows up in one chapter -- chapter 5 -- which makes her inclusion in this postcard rather impressive. The original series focuses on Matsubue and Togawa very closely. Seireihen is a bridge work: it introduces new characters and new concepts, while retaining the main characters of Discommunication. Yume Tsukai then is a reboot, taking the new concepts and characters while leaving the old characters behind.

I managed to find the three books Ueshiba mentioned on, but I can only guess at what they're about.

Wikipedia: Kon Ichikawa, geta; IMDb: The Inugamis (1976), Koji Ishizaka; figure based on the movie

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