Keiyaku no Kuroneko – a Translation

Keiyaku no Kuroneko (契約ノ黒猫) is the brand/circle name for the artist Anan.  Anan’s blog is here, and when you visit it you’ll see how talented this person is, and how mysterious.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko’s work is at the crossroads of 3 elements: goth-loli, traditional Japanese imagery (cherry blossoms, rising suns) and modern Japanese fiction (detective novels, film, anime)  through the medium of ornate Japanese letter paper (binsen) and postcards (hagaki).

Creation no. 21

(a section of) Creation no. 21

There’s a great compilation of Anan’s binsen over at the Saikusa Taisen site, specifically here, and in this post I want to provide a translation for the brief and enigmatically expressive text found therein.  So this will be a guide to read along with the images.  The translated text will be in yellow.  My comments will be in green.

page 2: December 2005.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Creation no. 27.

page 3: [ top] Wine.  Please enjoy. [on the bottle it says] Grape wine.  Made in France. [bottom]  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  April 2005.  Creation no. 25.

page 5: June 2005.  3rd version: November.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Creation no. 22.

page 6: 3rd version: November.  June 2005.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Rickshaw.  Creation no. 20.

page 7: 3rd version: November.  Taiji.  June 2005.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Creation no. 24. “Taiji” literally means “two peaks facing each other”, by extension it refers to a major confrontation between two sides (tiger vs. dragon in the picture?).

page 8: [top] Great Imperial Capital Cavalry Unit No. 5.  Starboard Maneuver.  “Maneuver” is an educated guess because the last character isn’t visible.  The Great Imperial Capital is obviously Tokyo. [bottom] 3rd version: November.  June 2005.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Creation no. 21.

page 9: Revolution. “Revolution” as in the revolution of a wheel.

page 10: Pursuit. “Pursuit” not necessarily of a person, but of a road or course of action in general.

page 11: Separation.

page 12: Restoration.

page 13: Black Lizard” is a novel, a play and a film.  The novel is by Rampo Edogawa, about a detective and a female villain.  This was adapted into a play and then a film by none other than my hero, Yukio Mishima!

page 15: [top] You, my captive. Literally “you, captive” but my impression is that the captor is the one speaking. [bottom] Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Creation no. 10.  Modified September 2005.  2nd version: November.

A section from Creation no.30

(a section of) Creation no.30

page 16: [center] Prithee do not die. [top left]  …and tell us death will be the glory of men, if His Highness’ heart be compassionate, how could he truly think so? This comes from a 1904 poem by Akiko Yosano, and I’ve taken the translation as is from here.   The famous poem is about a sister exhorting her brother not to die in the Russo-Japanese War, and the implied criticism of the Emperor made it extremely controversial in its time. [right]  Dear ____________.

page 17: [top down] To frolic under a moonlit sky.  Creation no. 17.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  3rd version: September.

page 18: Same as page 17, except for the version information. 4th version: December.

page 19: Great Imperial Capital Post & Telegraph Office.  April 2005.  3rd version: September.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Creation no. 18. [bottom right on the building:] Great Imperial Capital Post & Telegraph Office.

page 20: Images based on the Detective Kogoro Akechi stories of Rampo Edogawa.  Kogoro is the Sherlock Holmes of Japan. [top left] Masked Man of 20 Faces. [left] Seven Detective Tools. [center] Boy Kobayashi. [top right] 20 Faces escapes. [right] Boy Detective Club.  Author: Rampo Edogawa. [bottom right] Keiyaku no Kuroneko.

page 21: [big blue bubble] Tie me up properly, OK? [purple bubble] I tied… [cream bubble] What (did you tie up)? [small blue bubble] undo [Andu:]  To untie or unfasten.  To return to its original condition.  To corrupt, to ruin. [pinkish bubble] I tied up our love. [bottom] April 2005.  3rd version: September.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Anan.  1st version by Shunji Iwai. The reference is to the 47 min. film “Undo” by Shunji Iwai which does involve bondage.

page 22: As in page 21 except for the version information. 4th version: January 2006.

page 23: Both of the sentences in this picture mean the same thing: Would you like some tea? The order of the words is just slightly different in each.

page 24: Same as page 23.

page 25: Inspired by a movie based on Edogawa’s story “Human Chair”. [top left] They, with their voices, with their snorts, with the sound of their footsteps and the rustling of their clothes… [top in black] Human Chair.  Author: Rampo Edogawa. [bottom in black] April 2005.  3rd version: September.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  Rampo no. 1. [bottom right] …they are nothing more than a few plump, extremely pliable lumps of flesh. What it says on the signs is unclear to me.

page 26: Same as page 25 except for the version information. 4th version: January 2006.

page 27: This page is based on the film “Emperor Tomato Ketchup” by Shuji Terayama (review here).  The story is about children taking over in a revolution and then running amok. [top left] Unique Hell. The “unique” is an educated guess based on what is visible. [top center] Emperor Tomato Ketchup. [top right] Crossed Black Flag Faction. [bottom left]  March 2006.  4th version. Shuji Terayama. As for the background text, it consists of articles from the new “constitution” that the children set up in the movie.  If I see the movie I’ll comment on this at some point…

page 28: The text is the same except this is the: 2nd version: May, of the 4th version.

a section from "Rock Paper Scissors Treaty"

(a section of) Rock Paper Scissors Treaty

page 29: [left] March 2006.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  5th version. [center] Rock Paper Scissors Treaty. [right] Shuji Terayama.  From Emperor Tomato Ketchup. [background at bottom] Play Rock Paper Scissors, then Punish. This is repeated all over the background.  It comes from a scene in the movie.

page 30: Same as page 29, except it starts with: 2nd version: May. I guess this is the 2nd version of the 5th version (or more likely, 5th image of this series on Emperor Tomato Ketchup).

page 31: Based on the “Requiem from the Darkness” novels and anime. [left side, four big characters from top to bottom] Revolution. Apparition.  Insanity.  Murder. [bottom left in small print] 6th version. [red letters over the moon] In the name of the Ongyo. This is a sort of curse or spell in series. [top right]  Monsters.  The Seven Misaki.  May 2006.  Keiyaku no Kuroneko. [two characters bottom right, from the top down] Cruelty.  Misery. The white dress has several names, two of them are Kogoro and Eisuke Sasai, a famous actor.

page 32:  As it says at the bottom, the text is part of the lyrics from the song “Breeding” by hide of X-Japan fame.  I’ve used B. Cottrill’s catchy translation, to be found here.  [In the background, left side, top down] Unable to cross with just a smile, I become a demon child. [right side, top down] Holding up the thorns, even beloved memories become all bloody. [below lyrics, on both sides] Breeding. Keiyaku no Kuroneko.  May 2006.

page 33: Inspired by the anime film “Like the Clouds, like the Wind”, itself from a award-winning novel.  The big kanji in the dark blue bubbles are abbreviations for the characters’ names.  I will give the full name in the translation. [top right] Like the clouds, like the wind. [bubble behind old man] Kakuto. [bubble behind the two women facing away from each other, first left, then right]   Koryun, Tamyun. [next bubble down] Seshamin. [bottom left bubble, between legs] Kikkyo. [bottom center bubble] Sokankoku.  There are a few tiny characters at the bottom I cannot make out.


Seeking out all of the references in this set of binsen would make for a great introduction to the avant-garde undercurrents of dark Japan!

~ by Haloed Bane on February 18, 2009.

5 Responses to “Keiyaku no Kuroneko – a Translation”

  1. This guy’s art is sex. Reminds me a lot of ‘Okama’s art. Very fucking nice. Holding off on the TL momentarily.

  2. It’s awesome, no doubt about it. It ticks me off that I can’t seem to find any real info on the artist!

  3. It ticks us ALL off, I’m sure. But just think things this way, with your translation of this stuff, a billion eyes will gaze upon Anan’s art with more understanding. Bless your heart!

  4. @prophet

    Uhh, ehm, I think you’re overestimating the number of blog readers I got. A billion’s a tad high. Anyway, bless you for pointing it out to me, and why not?, bless your descendants up to the seventh generation. I won’t ask for a blessing for your eighth generation, coz I get the feeling they’re all gonna be assholes 🙂

  5. […] bad, you might think, considering all of this.  But you’re wrong.  It’s not not bad at all, not meaning that it’s bad […]

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