Thursday, March 22, 2012

Short Review: Sayonara, Zetsubo-Sensei, vol. 22


(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Sayonara, Zetsubo Sensei, vol 22. By Kouji Kumeta.
I pretty much wrote what I want to about Zetsubo last week (which is going to make the next 4 blog entries something of a challenge). I should add, I guess, that each character in the series is named based on a specific characteristic. The one above is Meru Otonashi (i.e. - Soundless E-mail), and she is addicted to cellphone text messaging. (Last week's was Kaere Kimura, a returnee that may have spent time in Russia. Her first name means "Return". She suffers from identity disorder, and waffles between loving and hating both sides of her cultural identity.)


(Book title: Ningen Shikkaku. This is a famous novel, marketed in English as "No Longer Human".)


(Back under cover. Ai Kaga, again. We last saw her in the previous week being influenced by a pair of sagging boots.)


(Part 2 of the funeral project.)


One of the chapters this time has two of the school girls moonlighting as idol singers parodying AKB48. The gag in the story is that everyone is chained by other people's expectations, or by their own weaknesses. The last page is an advertisement to buy "AKaBaNe84" goods. This is also a pretty good satire on the products offered by @Home, one of the maid cafe chains in Akihabara.

A little background on the joke, for those of you interested and unfamiliar with it now. According to most sources, the current station stop on the Japan Rail system was originally a bit of undeveloped land called by the locals "akibahara" - "field of autumn leaves". Over time, though, people began mis-pronouncing it as "akihabara". The Japanese also like shortening words, and by convention, kind of moved it back to the original word as "Akiba". Using the hiragana characters, this is pronounced "a-ki-ba", and if you take the first letter of each character in romaji, you get "AKB". A TV writer and lyricist, Yasushi Akimoto, came up with the idea of using 48 female stage performers in a small theater in Akihabara to give musical performances in a setting where the fans can meet the idols. AKB48 has gotten insanely popular since then, and rabid fans will buy anything with their pictures on it (hence the joke about being "chained" to other people's expectations). (Yasushi has created 5 other "48" groups as well, based in Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka and Jakarta in Indonesia.) "Akabane" is just another way that older people refer to "Akibahara".Link

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