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[Manga Talk] Tsue to Tsubasa by KIHARA Toshie (木原敏江)

Tsue to Tsubasa

杖と翼 (杖與翼)
KIHARA Toshie (木原敏江)
Complete: 6 volumes

The story began at the eve of the French Revolution, when Léon, the “wild and transgressive” young man moved to the countryside to stay with a family friend with his mother. There he met the little energetic Adele and her mother, a very charming lady and both of whom became Léon’s inspiration for his future role in the forthcoming revolution. The beautiful Adele grew up believing that she would end up marrying Léon, not knowing that her “childhood first love” had already turned to become the cruel and ice-hearted Saint-Just, famously nick-named as the “Archangel of the Terror”, whom played a significant role in delivering the condemnation and execution of King Louis XVI of France.….

My say: As the recent political crisis and unrest continued around the globe, I started reflecting on those times when I read Versailles no Bara, Eikou no Napoleon, and a couple other shoujo manga alike, all in which the setting of national revolution was somehow glorified or romanticised.

I suppose it would have been. After-all, romanticism (or the assertions of romantic nationalism) was the key theme in the Enlightenment which, in history, has been famously related to the French Revolution in 1789, with its influence of romanticism in political philosophy.

In no doubt, the French Revolution remains in history as an ultimate success in overturning the unfair class system, that was ruled by the distant monarchy, the “unreachable” nobility and the clergy. But as the last monarchy, Marie Antoinette, was executed and the Revolutionary Government established, and dominated by Robespierre whom created the Committee of Public Safety, France soon entered into a turmoil, plagued by  corruption, social-unrest, war and bankruptcy, under the Reign of Terror, i.e. a dark period that would defy the idealistic philosophy of romanticism, hence not a theme that would commonly be applied in a romantic shoujo manga I suppose?

In comparison, Versailles no Bara centered on the romance between Oscar and Andre based on the French Revolution as it was about to be romanticised to the max with Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité. Eikou no Napoleon looked at the uprising empire of the “heroic” Napoleon and his famous romance with Joséphine. Tsue to Tsubasa, on the other hand, was set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution.

In a way, I found the two main characters of Tsue to Tsubasa, Saint Just (or “Louis Antoine Leon de Saint Just”) and Adele, were somehow designed to highlight a stark contrast between the ideal of political romanticism of Enlightenment  and the reality of social unease under the Reign of Terror.

The title, Tsue to Tsubasa, can be directly translated as “a staff and wings”, which implies “leading to freedom with guidance”.  Luke (Adele’s fiance) confronted Saint Just in being over aggressive on his policies as people needed time and stability, not living in any further fear, under the new Revolutionary Government. Saint Just coolly replied, “(Do you mean) staff and freedom?”

Saint Just shared a strong belief of Enlightenment with Robespierre, to the extent that he had sacrificed everything, including Adele’s love to him, to pursuit his belief. Nonetheless, it was until Adele being on the verge of dying then he realised her importance to him.

According to history, Saint Just was loudly interrupted by Tallien in reading a crucial report to the Committee of Public Safety (Thermidorian Reaction). Since then, Saint Just leaped into silence instead, and on the following day, he was guillotined alongside other Robespierre’s main supporters on the same day. In Tsue to Tsubasa, Saint Just kept his coolness and silence until the very last moment, of the reason being unknown to anyone. Facing death, Saint Just merely smiled, at the thought of his beautiful Adele…..

As per usual, KIHARA Toshie offered a degree of wit and humor in between the lines, which did help to lighten up the seriousness and darkness of the story. In particular, I giggled reading the lines between Luke and Adele as they despised each other, and then eventually became a couple. Even Danton was portraited with an amusing character that was hard to dislike!

I found myself in love with this series.

But I also found it hard to concentrate on the the story or try to read the series in one go. So in short, I would conclude that this series is definitely not suited for those looking for fast-paced (or “fast-food” shoujo so to speak).


12 thoughts on “[Manga Talk] Tsue to Tsubasa by KIHARA Toshie (木原敏江)

  1. Did you read Yumi No Ishibumi by Kihara Toshie as well? I’ve just discovered that it was published in Chinese by SPP and I’m very curious about it 😉 .

    By the way, happy new year 🙂 . Wish you all the best!

    Posted by a-yin | January 16, 2014, 3:49 pm
    • Hi there
      Happy new year AND happy chinese new year to you too – wishing you a very happy manga year this year! lol 🙂

      Re “Yume No Ishibumi” by Kihara Toshie
      So glad you brought it up, as I DID want to do a review on the series a while back when I was revisiting Kihara’s work – I personally view this series as the greatest manga representation of Japanese aestheticism and romantism, thus far. Though not the first, nor the best (and certainly not SF in case you wonder :), some of the “shounen-ai” stories in “Yume” were certainaly remarkable and have been noted as “classic” by many readers! 🙂

      I can keep talking about this series forever! In fact, you might have just motivated me to do a [manga talk] on it later! hehe 🙂

      Anyway, in short: yes, you are right – there was a chinese edition published by SPP. If I remember correctly, it was published as a series in 20 volumes, together with another two related tankoubons: “Oeyama Kaden” (大江山花伝) and “Mugen Kaden” (夢幻花伝).

      In case of you planning to buy the chinese editions – It really depends on your preference on the type of stories, I’d suggest either buy the selected volumes, or go for the best quality and buy the Japanese bunkoban editions… and here’s why:
      As you might have already known, “Yume” contains a series of short stories with a selected few focus on “shounen-ai” elements which, I must say, were the “best” of the entire series. In comparision, the non “shounen-ai” (aka shoujo) stories would appear to be quite plain to some (by saying that, i don’t mean they are not good, but perhaps not as outstanding as the others in the series which were too remarkable!). The more popular (or from what I can remember!) shounen-ai stories from “Yume” were: “Aozukin” (青頭巾), “Furenki” (風恋記), “Nue” (鵺), and etc.
      Though the chinese edition of the Yume series would serve the purpose of basic translation, the printing quality was disappointing. For the same amount of money you may have to pay, and assuming you are merely interested in selected story/stories, I’d go for Japanese bunkoban editions instead (and look for the chinese “translation” online 😉 ….. I guess what I am saying is: this DESERVES to be collected in its best form 🙂

      Posted by xkazemg | February 9, 2014, 10:32 pm
  2. Gong hey fat choy to you as well 😀 !!!! Wish you happiness in your manga readings as well 😉 !

    Thank you so much for your advice 🙂 . I was thinking of buying them all because I like complete series (especially in Taiwanese edition, it’s not easy for me to buy them one by one because of the shipping fees). I’m about to buy Hi Izuru Tokoro No Tenshi (I’m giving up for a French/English translation ^^; though the high prices of the Tong Li edition T-T I’ll be ruined this month) so I was thinking of buying Yume no Ishibumi together.

    I find the art very beautiful in Yume no Ishibumi, I was completely stunned when I saw this manga (I’m a big fan of Reiko Okano’s Onmyouji… I love this kind of very “japanese” atmosphere ^^ )! Are the stories more love stories or surnatural stories? I had the feeling of surnatural stories, but I maybe getting wrong 😦 . It’s not easy for me to read scans on a screen espescially in Chinese, that’s why I was thinking of buying them (+ there is almost no hope to see Yume no Ishibumi translated into French or English…). I didn’t know for SPP’s printing T-T . Such a shame…

    Posted by a-yin | February 10, 2014, 10:48 am
    • Hi Izuru Tokoro No Tenshi – lucky of you if you managed to get hold of its original chinese (Tongli) copy! yes, they will be ex (hence i have given up on it and go for the Japanese version instead 🙂

      and yes, the artwork of “Yume” is beautiful 🙂
      You’d still see those vintage galaxy eyes in the earlier volumes but they were tonned down and artwork has improved a lot towards the later volumes (and i guess that might also due to the later stories containing more mature and deeper storylines?….)

      If you can wait, I am in the middle of a [Manga Talk] on “Yume”, which I will post around these few days 🙂

      ps. Re supernatural in yume: there are stories involving yokai (the supernatural monsters often seen in Japanese folklores) to highlight the human emotions (e.g. jealousy, anger, despair, etc) in the stories.
      …. and yes, those are mostly “love stories” but with a lot of ambiguity, which I guess works great in stories (like those in Yume) by evoking emotions and deeper thinking of the readers 🙂

      come to think of it, have you read/bought Waki Yamato’s Asakiyumemishi? if you like that sort of “Japanese atmosphere”, then may be you’d like this one too? 😉

      Posted by xkazemg | February 12, 2014, 10:47 am
      • Oooh, I’ll wait for your post on Yume 🙂 .

        I’m purchasing Tong Li’s Hi Izuru Tokoro No Tenshi too. I can’t read Japanese, so… And even Chinese will be hard I think. There are still English scanlation if I’m lost…

        I know Waki Yamato’s Asakiyumemishi but I’m not sure I’ll like this one. I know her by reputation for her very romantic stories, but I love the art in this series. Still don’t know. But this one is easier to purchase than Yume No Ishibumi, for sure. I love yôkai, that’s why I was thinking on buying Yume no Ishibumi…

        Thanks again for your advices 😀 !!

        Posted by a-yin | February 12, 2014, 11:58 am
      • Come to think of it, haven’t you had a copy oh HITnT already, since I remember reading your review on it?

        erk, i said yokai but they were certainly not cute and adorable…. “lengendary monsters” I should have said! ^^:

        re Yamato’s… the series is not shoujo-ly romantic, as seen in her other works.. if that’s what you meant 🙂 The story is quite tragic in fact, depending on how you look at it. Btw, there is an english version (for vol 1&2 of Asakiyumemishi) – don’t ever bother. I read it at the library and nearly screamed out loud, being frustrated by the translation 😦

        Posted by xkazemg | February 13, 2014, 1:38 pm
      • Didn’t have the chance to buy Hi Izuru Tokoro No Tenshi but did write a post to mention that the Tong Li edition exists 😉 .

        I love yôkai manga… Hyakki Yakoushou (which has been stopped at volume 6 in French… 😦 ), Natsume Yujinchou, Uryuudou Yumebanashi, Onmyouji, the very funny Shiori & Shimiko, and so on. Espescially with a shojo drawing… xD

        I’ll think of Yamato’s Genji Tale 🙂 . Sometimes, I feel maybe we can hope for a French edition since it is an adaptation from a famous japanese novel (and Yamato is pretty famous as a mangaka, more than Kihara Toshie). But Heian doesn’t sell well in France (cf Onmyouji by Okano Reiko, I’m crossing the fingers to read the end in French … vol 8 announced in June). I’m completely in love with Okano Reiko (thinking of buying Tong Li edition of Onmyouji Sequel… not a chance to see this translated into French xD).

        Posted by a-yin | February 13, 2014, 2:15 pm
      • Wow, you are a very savvy manga reader 🙂

        With the exception of S&S, I have only very briefly read the yokai manga you mentioned above. But I guess I was very inexperienced to really appreciate the pace of the stories back in those days (having been “brainwashed” by the likes of “Abe no Seimei” by SANAZAKI Harumo and “Kashou no Tsuki” by HIRAI Mari!). Now that you have brought them up, I’d definitely give them a go again especially Onmyouji 🙂
        By the way, i just read some reviews mentioning that Onmyoji has become quite confusing from vol. 6 onwards, with too much details on the onmyouji practices – is that so? I only read upto Vol.5 though (I think)….

        Hmmm, think period (shoujo) manga just doesn’t sell well outside Japan overall. Having said that, I was told that those that involve time-travelling did manage to gain some popularity these days! (I guess readers just have to see a connection with the modern world in some way!)…… But that’s a different thing from the likes of traditional period manga we’re talking about of course… sigh.

        Posted by xkazemg | February 14, 2014, 1:26 am
  3. Not really 🙂 … But we got some very interesting manga translated into French (lucky). That’s how I fell in love with Hyakki Yakoushou. I was so desperate when it was stopped that I continued in Chinese. Even I don’t really find Ima’s works as easy-reading.

    You’re a kind of expert from my point of view and always talk about manga I don’t know!!! Kashou no Tsuki seems interesting 😉 I saw some scans online (I don’t have place anymore 😦 ). I’m very curious about Sanazaki’ Abe no Seimei!!!

    I agree with your point of view on period shoujo manga. I love Ooku but seems it doesn’t sell well here (don’t know if it’s successful in Italia and in the US – critically praised there). Really excited to see volume 9 on shelves next week ^^ !!! Seems that I’m always waiting for an Ooku volume…

    I’m not the very right person to ask about Okano’s Onmyouji, I’m so much in love with it… I only read the French translation and it’s not an easy read, I can’t imagine read this one in Chinese (even I’m thinking of buying the sequel…). I’ve read until volume 7 and as I’ve seen, people often find there is too much onmyoudo in vol 6 and 7 in France as well. So… I love Okano’s drawing, her characters and the atmosphere of her series.

    Posted by a-yin | February 14, 2014, 9:59 am
    • Ok. Before your curiosity kills the cat, let me just tell you (in case you don’t already know) that, Sanazaki’s Abe no Seimei is a very 80’s/90’s kind of BL (aka a mushy-washy storyline that is definitely not the aesthestic kind of shonen-ai/June from the 70’s/80’s, nor the kind of “yaoi” that is commonly seen today); it was presented to me at the time when I was a “keen follower” of mainstream BL “a long long time ago.” (*ehem*…. ^^| )
      With that “subtle” hint in mind, you can tell Sanazaki’s AnS is far from being anything like Okano’s Onmyouji, RIGHT? : )))))))

      Ooku: Oh of course! how could I forget to mention that!
      I read an interview on Fumi Yoshinaga, from it anyone can tell she is a great fan of Year 24 – she even mentioned that her works were greatly influenced by the group. 🙂

      Posted by xkazemg | February 15, 2014, 3:45 am
      • Seems I couldn’t find chinese scanlation for Abe No Seimei 😦 . Sanazaki did come to a convention in France a few years ago but I didn’t know her by the time. There were a 500-limited edition of Bishin sold by the time. I know what you mean speaking of her drawing 😉 AND the difference from Okano’s Onmyouji.

        I’m kind of Okano’s fetich, I did buy The Calling in Italian even I don’t read this language (but I read the novel which it’s based on, plus I’m counting on the French/Italian languages which are pretty close ^^; )… I’m always wondering if Okano is influenced by Yamagishi Ryouko.

        Oooooh Yoshinaga is a master… What did you eat yesterday? (Kino nani tabeta?) will be out in English (Vertical, inc) by the end of March. Can’t wait ^^ !!! I love her work and FORTUNATELY most of her works have been translated into English. I can’t read Yoshinaga in Chinese, her characters talk a lot LoL. We can feel Yoshinaga is a feminist. Her Ooku is really one of the most interesting manga this last few years. This work is really ambitious to me (I always think that by the end, the Tengu sickness will be eradicated and then, man will gain the power again, resulting on a female-power period everybody has forgotten, snif 😦 ). And All My Darling Daughters, Antique Bakery, Flower Of Life are masterpieces! I didn’t want to read Gérard & Jacques for years because of the names of the protagonists (Gérard doesn’t sound very “sexy” for French ppl of my generation lol) but I did and I wasn’t disappointed at all… I’m not surprised she’s been influenced by Year 24 Group ^^ .

        Posted by a-yin | February 15, 2014, 10:48 am
      • lol. So funny what you said about the name! The first Gerard that came instantly into my mind was Gérard Depardieu, who was actually considerd as an international sex symbol (back in those glorious days at least)!!! XD

        Glad to hear you have given “Gerard & Jacques” a chance finally – it’s great stuff, isn’it? 😉
        I”ll see if I can dig out the interview on Yoshinaga that I was talking about – have a feeling you may be interested in reading it 🙂
        Don’t know about her being a feminist, but yes, you’re right that her works are somewhat influenced by a feminism thinking, as it did on the works of Year 24 🙂
        I like your thought on that possible ending of Ooku… because if that’s true, in a way it’d contradict what we said about the artist re feminism in the same time – that’d be interesting to see 🙂

        Re Abe: Giving the age of the manga, you’d probably have a better chance of finding the Drama CD of Abe than its scanlations: ttp://www.neowing.co.jp/track_for_cdj.html?KEY=AKCJ-80030

        and here some manga snapshots I found online:

        Posted by xkazemg | February 15, 2014, 11:56 pm

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