The initial idea of creating an anime series based on famous Japanese literature isn’t the kind of premise that usually generates intense interest. Probably, this series would appeal to people interested in the horror/psychological genre of anime. However, this series could be easily used to introduce someone to anime whom isn’t readily familiar with Japanese culture or the typical anime fare. Also, it is intensely interesting to someone with a literature background, such as myself.
Aoi Bungaku – aka Blue Literature
“No Longer Human”
The first work of classic modern Japanese literature animated in this series is “No Longer Human” by Osamu Dazai, the second-best selling novel in Japan. This is a great introduction to Japanese culture, particularly parts of the dark side of Japanese culture: suicide and fear of female sexuality. The main character is the son of a well-to-do businessman, who finds himself struggling with the stereotypical Japanese malaise. He feels detached from humanity and cold. He is unable to relate with people and especially not women, and considers suicide at many different points of his life.
This novel demonstrates that the psychologically dark story has been alive and well in the Japanese consciousness for over a half-century. There is a very interesting chicken-egg debate: did he become a sociopath because of his trauma from early sexual experiences, or was he a sociopath prior to those experiences. Each of the female characters embodies an archetypal woman: mother, girlfriend, wife, or daughter. Each time, he ultimately rejects this relationship out of disgust, cowardice, disconnect, or fear. It seems almost that this story comes from a time in history when Japanese psychology has not yet learned the effects of sexual abuse, since his sociopathy is described as a form of inhumanity.
The success of this series will depend on the quality of the future novels being converted to anime form, since “No Longer Human” is such a strong story it will be hard to follow if the next stories are not equally complex.
I somehow got derailed and failed to post the other two entries that my sister wrote about a month ago. Luckily, she’s been too busy with getting Chibi (a very large purebred Rottweiler) moved into her house and finished with guard dog training to notice 🙂 . If you missed the introduction of my sister as a guest writer, you can check it out here.
This series ran back in the Fall 2009 season and at the time I was really impressed with Madhouse trying something like this and then impressed with the quality of the stories. I would have liked a better mix of stories adapted – is all of Japanese literature really that depressing? However, when I was thinking of my initial batch of shows that I wanted my sister to watch, I realized this anime series would be perfect for her. It wasn’t a series that would ever get licensed for America and it’s a series that aligns with her interests. Hopefully I can convince her to watch the rest of the series.