Daifurinden

Daifurinden was serialized in 1972 and its ten chapters were compiled in one volume released in 1976.  A good and accurate translation for the title would be: “Legends of the Great Philanderer”.

The opening chapter of Daifurinden is perfect.

First we get a shot of a regular-looking apartment building.  The narrator immediately warns us not to pay too much attention to it—the action won’t focus on that place for long.  One of the tenants, a middle-aged fellow, wakes up late for work.  He changes into his suit and starts walking down the stairs only to slip on a banana peel and crash at the bottom.  He finds out that the banana peel was probably left by a kid that lives on the second floor, so he rushes upstairs to demand some answers.  There is a man (our protagonist, named Utamaro) sleeping there.  The businessman complains and Utamaro says the culprit (his little sister) is in kindergarten but he’ll teach her next time to eat the whole banana—peel and all.  Then he tosses the offended man a bottle of expensive liquor and the case is settled.

So the businessman goes off to work and returns late at night.  He asks his friend and learns from him that Utamaro is still sleeping.  The businessman wonders what sort of job this fellow has.  He passes by Utamaro’s room and hears a lot of moaning.  Thinking that curiosity is the hallmark of youth, and that men must be young always or die, he climbs to the roof of the building and peeps into Utamaro’s room from a little hole.

Utamaro is having sex with a beautiful woman.  The businessman notices Utamaro pulling a wire with his foot.  Click.  Sex is finished, and Utamaro tells the woman to leave quickly as Hotaru (his sister) will be arriving anytime now.  The woman says she didn’t go there with the intention of sleeping with him.  She simply wanted to talk to him about his business with her husband.  She leaves with a sad face.

There is a man waiting outside, and once the woman has left he comes right in.  He is her husband and he is Utamaro’s client.  The plot is revealed: the man wants a divorce without having to pay her any money.  Utamaro has recorded their love-making on tape so the husband can use it in court.  This seems to be Utamaro’s job, he is an adulterer for hire.  The man asks for pictures but Utamaro says he couldn’t take them.  The man seems satisfied with the answer, and he asks Utamaro what he wants in life.  Utamaro responds: ordinary height and an ordinary face [note he looks just like Tochiro, complete with hat and poncho!].  The man leaves.

click!!

Utamaro knocks on the peeping businessman’s door and demands 1,000 yen as a viewing charge.  The businessman is surprised that Utamaro noticed him peeping earlier.  They get to talking and the businessman asks Utamaro why he lied about not being able to take a photograph (with his foot).  Utamaro says that he feels sorry for the woman and he doesn’t want her to go through the shame of having her pictures all over the place.  If so, asks the businessman, then why trick her like this at all?  Does he have something against women?  Aside from it being his job, and aside from having to take care for her sister, Utamaro does admit having a grudge—because of his face and his glasses.

Utamaro takes out the photos and shows them to the businessman, then burns them.  Hotaru comes in with a letter from a new customer.  She begins to pack her belongings.  Utamaro and Hotaru are moving on again.  It’s clear that Hotaru doesn’t have a clue as to what his brother does for a living, and that she trusts him completely.  Utamaro feels bad about this, but before he can say anything Hotaru tells him she’s used to moving and it’s not a problem for her.  The next day they move out, and as the narrator said at the beginning, the apartment building will no longer play a role in the story.

***

I think the chapter is excellent because it tells us so much about our protagonist.  Utamaro is jaded, he is sassy, but at the same time he is extremely unhappy with who he is.  There is an irony in that he makes a living out of sleeping with women even though he himself is bitter about women not liking him.  His rationale is likely that women sleep with him because he puts a mask on (or drops his pants, see below), but they wouldn’t go out with him if he was just himself.  We also get a ready sense that he is extremely good at what he does: there is money everywhere in the room, he offers a complete strange an expensive bottle just to get him out of his face.

Hotaru is so cute and innocent, and is absolutely obsessed with chahan (=Chinese fried rice, Japanese-style).  When they travel from place to place, Hotaru likes to walk under the cover of Utamaro’s poncho.  Adorable!

Utamaro and Hotaru

Utamaro’s name is highly significant.  As he explains in the first chapter, his father named him after the famous ukiyoe painter Utamaro Kitagawa, immortalized for his portraits of beautiful women.  In Japanese slang, well endowed man are named Utamaro because of this artist’s propensity for painting just such types in his more erotic paintings.  Chapter Three has a woman take a look at the naked protagonist and exclaim: “You’re an Utamaro, huh?” and he replies: “That’s my real name too!”.  It happens too that sometimes Utamaro will get rejected, and then all he has to do is drop his pants and show his “Utamaro” for the rejection to turn into acceptance!

***

My favorite chapters →↓

Chapter Two: Utamaro is hired by a man whose wife died long ago.  The man’s reason for hiring Utamaro is that while peeping on his daughter he discovered she has a lover with certain imperfections in his phallus that he himself has.  Knowing that his own wife suffered quite a bit of misery from her husband’s imperfections, he wants Utamaro to sleep with her and show her what a healthy, natural phallus looks like.  Utamaro goes through with the job, but the man’s daughter, who’s known all along what her father was plotting, tells Utamaro that she loves that man in the same way that his mother loved her father (warts and all, so to speak).  Her father, who’s been peeping all along, accepts the situation and off go Utamaro and Hotaru again.  How lovely! (???)

Chapter Five: A man hires Utamaro to sleep with his wife.  He then barges in on the two as they make love, beats both of them up, and drives his wife away.  He meets Utamaro at a shop and gives him his money.  So the job’s done without a hitch.  However, the wife sees Utamaro later on and thanks him for what he’s done.  Later the man’s new girlfriend (and the reason he wanted to break up with his wife in the first place) meets Utamaro and tells him she knows about what he’s done and she wants to know everything about her fiance’s soon to be ex-wife.  One thing leads to another and they have sex.  The woman realizes Utamaro is much better than her future husband.  She thanks him.  There’s a hint here that she’ll leave the man before long.

Chapter Ten (final chapter): Utamaro and Hotaru are at a coffee shop.  While Hotaru is on a toilet break, a man approaches Utamaro and thanks him for his terrific service.  He asks him where he’s staying and the leaves.  Utamaro has absolutely no recollection of this client, but back at the hostel he goes through his records and finds the man: it was a job two years prior, the man is named Yamashita.  Back in his own room, Utamaro notices that the woman next door is getting assaulted.  He looks through a crack in the wall and sees the man is none other than Yamashita.  Utamaro waits until it’s over and then confronts Yamashita.  The man seems surprised that Utamaro is in the next room, and flees.  The woman tells Utamaro she has a beloved husband and she desperately wants Utamaro to keep quiet.  He agrees.  The next day Yamashita’s (ex?) wife and daughter pay Utamaro a visit.  The kimono-clad wife tells him that 2 years ago Yamashita hired Utamaro because he wanted a divorce, but once he saw the pictures of his wife with Utamaro he vowed revenge.  The night before he went into the wrong room thinking of raping Utamaro’s wife.  The wife pleads with Utamaro not to let this terrible incident come out.  Utamaro is quick to point out he’s single, but Mrs. Yamashita offers her sailor suit wearing daughter in compensation [for her husband assaulting Utamaro’s non-existing wife!!] and he ends up sleeping with mother and daughter simultaneously.  Next day Utamaro and Hotaru are off once more.

compensation

A later edition of Daifurinden adds two more stories, but I don’t know if they provide a proper conclusion to the story or not, as I haven’t seen them.  My guess is that they don’t.  This is one of those eternal tales… a legend indeed.

~ by Haloed Bane on April 25, 2010.

10 Responses to “Daifurinden”

  1. Jesus. Like a Lupin III of sex, this fellow. I’m definitely interested in checking this out. Cheers.

  2. Oh my God. Mind = blown

  3. Not happy with who he is… ah, matters always more complicated than they appear. Interesting circumstances indeed.

  4. OHHHHHHHH! This seems really really interesting X3 It gets really good reviews and you say it is good – it sounds like a great manga to read!

    Sucks about the later chapters – but this Leiji manga sounds really good ^^

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