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47 Roin: Stan Sakai on Feudal Japan and the Power of Comics

 
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Hosokawa Gracia
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:30 am    Post subject: 47 Roin: Stan Sakai on Feudal Japan and the Power of Comics Reply with quote
In case anyone is interested, I just saw this new article about the last episode of 47 Ronin comic series by Mike Richardson and Stan Sakai, with an interview of Stan Sakai by Jevon Phillips.

http://herocomplex.latimes.com/comics/47-ronin-stan-sakai-on-feudal-japan-the-power-of-comics-to-educate/#/0

Here's the Samurai Archives approach:

http://www.samurai-archives.com/ronin.html
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for the link, Carmen.

I find it amazing that even after Sakai read the SA's review of the 47 Ronin comic and told his Facebook followers that the article was correct, he continues to make statements like "We are trying to be as historically accurate as possible". They ignored basically every historical account and went with chanbara/kabuki versions. I suppose that's what one should expect when his publisher asks if he knows the story and he replies with "Oh yes, I know the story. In fact, I have eight adaptations of it on DVD". Sounds a lot like one of our former forum members...

And just because I enjoy starting off my Sunday with a good 47 Ronin rant, other gems from this interview...

Sakai states "However, one bit of curiosity is that right after the incident, the shogun and the government had put a clamp on all information about the vendetta. It was not until 50 years later that stories started being written about this. So it is a historical incident, but it’s not well documented". ?!?!?!!?!?! I'd like to know where he came up with that tidbit, because it's a complete fabrication. The Shogunate never 'put a clamp' on information about the Ronin, and there are all kinds of accounts that had been written about it (many by the Ronin themselves before they were executed). I think Sakai is confusing this with the Shogunate's general ban on using historical names from the Sengoku on up in works of popular entertainment, which applied to EVERYTHING. It also looks like he further considers "Kanadehon Chūshingura", the puppet play written based on the Ronin, to be the first time it was written about (about 50 years after the incident in 1748). Not so, lots of plays appeared tight after the incident and in the following months and years. And the story of the Ronin is very well documented with volumes and volumes of every sort of document one could ask for-Sakai doesn't read Japanese and depends on English language sources so he wouldn't know about this, I assume. The only thing not documented is Asano's motivation since (like many criminals) he wouldn't tell anyone.

On Edo Castle and his completely bogus depiction of it..."I tried to visit Edo’s castle, and I once took pictures there, but it’s been burned down a couple of times, so how it looked back then is still conjecture." Well, no, it's not. There are dozens, hundreds, of contemporary drawings and artwork of how the castle looked at various times, including the destroyed tenshu. You can easily buy any number of Japanese books that show what it looked like, including some really well done CG reconstruction books that go into incredible detail. I mean, I even have a model of Edo castle sitting on my shelf...and even putting that aside, I can tell you exactly what the Edo castle tenshu looked like at the time of the Ronin. Just like it does today-an empty base with nothing on it since it had been destroyed decades earlier. So much for conjecture.

On the Ronin's waiting a year and a half to do the deed..." They wandered the land and were kept under surveillance because it was thought that they would try to take revenge on the person they thought responsible, Lord Kira. So they were watched for about a year and a half.". Nope, no surveillance-not by the Bakufu or Kira (who couldn't have afforded it). The Ronin waited a year and a half because they were waiting on the Bakufu's decision on whether Asano's brother would be allowed to take control of the clan. Only when the Shogunate said 'no' did they decide to go through with it.

The thing that really disheartens me is...

"One of my books has even been used as a textbook in Japanese history classes at a university level."

I'd like to know what University would do that. I'm all for using pop culture to get people interested in Japanese culture and history, but using it in a University...hopefully it was something to do with "Japanese history through popular culture".

While I'll give props to Sakai for trying to spread Japanese culture, he should make it clear to media that he's no expert. And that same media shouldn't be going to a comic book writer/artist if it wants information about history-there are enough actual history professors out there more than happy to talk about it.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
And here too. It all depends on people once having their interest piqued researching the truth for themselves. John
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