Adachi, Mishima, Wagner
Chapter 10 of Ganso Dai Yojohan Dai Monogatari is titled 4½ Tatami Revolution, and the plot involves protagonist Futoshi Adachi finally getting what he had been waiting for so long: money from his dad back in Kyushu. It’s a whopping 10,000 yen, but when you live in Tokyo any amount of cash is bound to disappear very quickly!
Adachi’s new hostelmate, Masami, invites Adachi to a “party” at a snack bar called Capricorn. This Masami is a remarkable fellow. He speaks and acts in a stereotypically effeminate way while hanging out and sleeping with knock-out babes. Adachi is lured by the promise of women and pays the cover charge, then gets told to undress.
It dawns on Adachi that the party is basically going to be an orgy. He says to himself: “I’ll do it! When you compare my body trained on simple meals with the fat, sissy body of that fag it’ll be like comparing Yukio Mishima to Yukio Aoshima.”
I’m not really sure how Leiji actually wants us to see the comparison, but let me just lay the data out. Yukio Aoshima (1932-2006) was a multi-talented figure in Japanese life for many years (from actor to politician and everything in between). In the late 1960s he was best known for doing the title role of Ijiwaru Obaasan (=Granny Mischief), about the adventures of a very nasty grandmother. So Adachi’s reference to Aoshima must be to this grandmother character.
I don’t think that Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) needs an introduction 🙂 What we need to remember is that in the last years of his life he took up kendo and bodybuilding in an attempt to make his body into a warrior’s work of art. It makes sense for Adachi to look to Mishima’s body as an ideal of manly perfection.
What makes the comparison confusing is the issue of sexual orientation. I’ve never heard anything to suggest that Aoshima was gay. His famous role was obviously just that, a role. Yukio Mishima, on the other hand, was gay. So it’s like Adachi is making a comparison between a man who walks and talks like the womanliest of women (and is not gay) and a man who walks and talks like the manliest of men (and is gay). And he compares his effeminate neighbor to the first man and himself to the second. I don’t really know if this was Leiji’s way of having a joke at the expense of Adachi’s ignorance, or if Leiji didn’t really know that Mishima was actually gay, or what.
Another complicating factor is the timeline. This manga began serialization on June 27, 1970. Yukio Mishima committed suicide on November 25, 1970. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the specific publication date for this chapter. In Leiji’s non-SF comics the internal time of the story is usually more or less in sync with the external time of publication, and the characters in this chapter are all talking about the cold weather and how the year is about to end. Logically, I’d put the publication of the chapter in December. But Adachi speaks of Mishima as being alive and well, which tells me that Leiji probably wrote the chapter in October or November, with an eye for publishing it in December. And I don’t think Leiji would have even mentioned Mishima if he was writing the chapter after the famous author’s very public death. There’s an eerie feeling to all of this.
Halfway through this chapter I went and googled Leiji Matsumoto and Yukio Mishima, trying to see if I could find any comments of the former on the latter. The only articles I could find linking the two men did so by way of Richard Wagner. This shocked me a bit as I’m in the midst of a Wagner consumption binge.
One of the articles was really just a question about the most representative Wagner pieces of music, but the Japanese fan introduced it by calling all of the following people “Wagnerians”: former prime minister Jun’ichiro Koizumi, Leiji Matsumoto, Yukio Mishima and Hayao Miyazaki.
The second article is a blogger’s report on a Wagner concert held in Japan. The author hates Wagner but admits the man is popular around the world and gives us two examples of Japanese Wagnerians: Yukio Mishima and Leiji Matsumoto.
The third article (celebrating the anniversary of his birth) is a bit longer, but it begins in the same way by giving a list of famous Wagnerians. The list runs as follows: Dali, Nietzsche, Baudelaire, Renoir, Thomas Mann, Adolf Hitler, Takuboku Ishakawa (a poet), Yukio Mishima, Leiji Matsumoto and Jun’ichiro Koizumi. The author then goes on to discuss how even though Wagner’s thought is associated with manliness, the man was obsessed with women and the feminine. It’s an interesting line of thought but I don’t know enough about the issue to discuss it properly. (BTW, the author also clarifies that Nietzsche was a virulent anti-Wagnerian in his later years). [sources here, here, here]
One of the things Wagner is best know for are his stories of doomladen romance (Siegfried and Brünnhilde, Tristan and Isolde) and interestingly this same manga chapter begins to develop the same motif here. Adachi can’t go through with the orgy once he notices most men are extremely well-built. But on his way out the women from a nearby hostess bar grab him and try to get him to pay them for services. The one to rescue him is Jun, his neighbor, who happens to be employed at the same bar.
Jun lives with her yakuza boyfriend, but she’s slept with Adachi a couple of times and she seems to have a sweet spot for him. Later on that day Jun tells her boyfriend Juri (yes, it’s an odd name for a guy) that she’s leaving the place. The reason, she finally confesses to Adachi, is that she’s ashamed to have been seen by him in a place of ill repute. Jun decides to stay when Adachi swears he doesn’t have any contempt for her [poignantly, Jun tells him she’ll do fine just as long as Adachi pretends not to despise her, even if he does].
This is a twisted love triangle with an intensity not found in Otoko Oidon (where Oyama could never get very far with women). Juri the gangster is very dependent on Jun, and he literally begs her to stay. Jun’s love for Adachi seems to be based on his honesty as an individual, something she feels she’s lost..but we get the sense that she won’t leave Juri’s side until Adachi is able to support her financially. Jun knows what she’s doing and upset by it. Adachi for his part just seems very confused. The storyline promises some Wagnerian drama after all!