More Oidon Lore: Seven Chapters of Ganso Dai Yojohan Dai Monogatari
The title literally means: Ancestral Great 4½ Tatami Great Story. It’s a ridiculous title, yes, though at least the “Ancestral” was tacked on later on to promote this manga as being the predecessor of more popular works like Otoko Oidon.
I just read the first half of the first volume so I’ll say a few words to introduce this work.
The Art Style
Otoko Oidon began serialization a year after Ganso and I dare say the style of the latter (at least in the first dozen chapters I’ve read so far) looks like a cross of the Sexaroid/Mystery Eve (late 60s) series with Otoko Oidon. The two big points to notice are 1) the thicker, rougher lines and 2) the (slightly) closer similarity between women and men. The main character, Futoshi Adachi, talks and walks just like Nobotta Oyama from Otoko Oidon, he even uses the pronoun “oidon”, but he’s taller and lankier than Nobotta. Adachi is still shorter than the women he interacts with, but at least they look like they belong to the same species 😀
The interesting thing is that by the time the first volume of Ganso was compiled (in 1974) Leiji apparently had determined that it was the Otoko Oidon style that he preferred. When you look at the first volume of Ganso then, you see Adachi on the cover looking just like Nobotta Oyama, and yet when you start flipping through the pages you notice Leiji used to draw him quite differently! BTW, the Tochiro we know and love from the classic Matsumoto shows is definitely otokooidonesque.
Bye Bye Virginity
It happens in chapter 3. The room opposite to Adachi’s is occupied by a low-rank gangster and his girlfriend. The gangster gets in trouble and needs to go into hiding for a while, so he entrusts his girlfriend to Adachi. The girl ends up assaulting our hero and taking his virginity. Adachi suffers from crotch rot (another similarity with Otoko Oidon‘s Oyama). Women don’t usually get crotch rot so the gangster’s girl is fine but once her man is back he gets it through her. Adachi has to keep hiding his itch to prevent the gangster from realizing what’s happened…
I could have sworn that I’d read in more than one place that the Leijiversal black bird first made his appearance in Otoko Oidon, but he shows up in Ganso first!! Adachi’s neighbor, the girl who took his virginity earlier on, brings the bird over to him in chapter seven (a chapter released in 1970, whereas Otoko Oidon began in mid-1971).
Adachi’s new pet looks and acts just like Tori, and Adachi names him Tori. Two differences from the Oidon version: a) Tori came from the Japanese countryside (Oidon: Tori came from South America); b) he already comes with his beak bound, Adachi wonders why and finds out as soon as he unbinds him (Oidon: It was Nobotta that bound his beak when the bird started yelling). By the end of the chapter Adachi has let him fly off since he’s too noisy. Will he be back? I don’t know, but I think it’s likely 🙂
The content varies wildly between scenes and chapters which are carbon-copies of Otoko Oidon (or more likely, since that manga started a year later, it’s the other way around) and chapters which are as un-otokooidonesque as you could possibly get!
The reason for the difference is that Ganso came out in a magazine for an older audience, so there’s plenty of sex involved. It’s interesting that Otoko Oidon was far more popular and yet I’ve come across many a Leiji fansite today claiming Ganso as its favorite of the tatami series. I imagine that part of the reason for these claims is a desire to go against the current. Oidon is such a popular piece that it’s probably hip to disparage it in favor of a work the great majority of Japanese people are probably not even aware of.
But I figure there’s more than that. As I said, Ganso has lots of sex, whereas Oidon has none. Sex sells. And of course sex sold in the seventies too but I think that back then manga readers looked more into other factors as well, and the truth is that Otoko Oidon seems like a more honest, realistic portrayal of what a poor dude coming in from Kyushu with a very short temper and not much brains would have experienced. Chances are he wouldn’t have gotten laid a lot, if ever. And I think this “realism” is what attracted people to that work. Today the lack of sex would have put it in a severe disadvantage. [I should add that the circulation figures for the magazine Oidon appeared in were likely higher to begin with too, so this must be taken into consideration as well].