One may have picked up a few (if not TONNES) of grammatical/ spelling errors in my English. Well, I am not begging here for excuses or forgiveness, when I tell you that English is not my mother tongue indeed…. But I do hope those “school-boy” errors alone would not deter you from exploring this site further, especially if you have a keen interest in the retro shoujo manga ^^
I grew up with a strong oriental background, as it would have been reflected in my style of writings and ways of thinking….
Back in those “old” days when I was a kid, manga was generally perceived by many parents as a bad influence to children, as if it supplied only the “low-grade” stories which would have been branded “cheap” and “naughty”. I can still count on those days when I was hiding from my parents, in order to indulge in the pleasures and excitement of reading some shoujo manga behind their back!
It has taken me that long, to finally discover and realise the real “literature values” of those shoujo treasures!! ….. it’s better to be late than never! ^^
My English friends kept complaining to me that oriental languages are too difficult for them to comprehend, especially chinese.
I can’t agree more!
Just to give an example: For a very long time now, I have struggled to find appropriate words to describe the feelings of wu nai (無奈）, not even after I have looked up in the List of Emotions ^^.
Wu nai (無奈）or wu ke nai he (無可奈何) is expressed as a sense of helplessness. Nai he (奈何) literally means “How?” or “What to do?” So, wu ke nai he (無可奈何) implies one who could not solve a problem but was forced to accept the situation as it is instead; the feeling of such then becomes wu nai (無奈）.
Wu nai would often be used to describe a sense of irony, for instance, in a catch-22 situation. Some people may also refer wu nai with a sense of sadness, as often quoted in the lyrics of love songs or classical poems of miseries.
My favourite interpretation of (the feelings of ) wu nai, is a song sung by the chinese songstress Paula Tsui （徐小鳳）:
The song started with lyrics about this person intended to set off (somewhere) with her man, but was unable to due to circumstances. When both of them were at the point of departing, the man saw her confusion and helplessness in her eyes; he did not have the heart to leave her on her own. However calm she appeared to be, her heart was crying with tears… she did not tell him the truth, but merely asked him to go and move on instead. She looked at him dearly for the last time, as every second counts. He would understand, she hoped, that she had wished wholeheartedly to be the love of his life forever…. However the sadness and unwillingness to let him go, she saw their romance was already fading into thin air, like the morning dew…..
Below another version of Wu Nai, sang by the legendary Terra Tsang (鄧麗君) in mandarin, with english sub lyrics.
(NB. the “triangular problems” in the sub referred to an entangled relationship between a woman and two men as per the story of the lyrics…. not to be confused with triangular problems in geometry mathematics!!! lol.)
….. and the original Japanese version, 鵜戸参り by ジャンク(JUNK):
I also found Adele’s “Someone Like You” a very good interpretation (if you like) of the feelings of wu nai, especially for its lyrics towards the end (note the words in bold):
No worries or cares
Regrets and mistakes
They are memories made.
Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?”
Moving on from the subject of wu nai (which by the way can be translated as 奈（いかん）ともする無し in Japanese, in case anyone is interested ^^)….
I stayed in a very ugly town, when I studied in the university there. But there was one stretch of a pathway in the park, with few cheery trees planted on both sides, that could really cheer me up, especially during the days of cherry blossom ^^
But for some reasons, I found myself being more engaged in the beauty of falling cherry petals, echoing to (I hope) a passage from Tsurezuregusa (徒然草):
“Should we only be interested to view the cherry blossoms at their peak, or the moon when it is full? …. Flowers fall and the moon sets, these are the cyclic things of the world, but still there are brutish people who mutter that there is nothing left worth seeing, and fail to appreciate.”(137 Tsurezuregusa)
Ok. I do not claim to be, or intend to sound like an academic/ professional in Chinese nor Japanese literatures. But if I have not mistaken….
There are many references to nature in Chinese as well as Japanese literatures, whereas in Chinese, nature and scenery were often used to imply emotions (of the poets or authors) at the time of writing. For instance,
The “glory of the sunset” was often applied in Chinese poetry for poets to express their feelings, such as feelings of regret, near the end of life. In particular, one of the most famous classical poem “THE LEYOU TOMBS (登樂遊原)” by Li Shangyin (李商隱), in which the last two lines:
“The evening sun shines unlimited beauty 夕陽無限好,
Only it is close to the falling dusk. 只是近黃昏。”
Another poem by Zhu Ziqing (朱自清), a renowned Chinese contemporary poet, written on his desk one day to express his optimism as he was suffering from a chronic disease:
“A wish for the evening sun to shine its glory 但得夕陽無限好，
Not to be concerned by the falling dusk 不須惆悵近黃昏”
On the other hand, scenery was often weaved in Japanese literatures to bring upon further thinking (or meditation) on cycle of life, hence religious and/or spirituality.
So going back to the falling cherry petals that I was talking about and put that into a shoujo-manga context… and example would be Kaze Hikaru (^^), when Saito san reflected on the spirit of Bushido as he watched the cherry petals falling from their tree, as if like the shedding tears of a fallen (?) bushi:
….. Also a AMV made by myself on KH, using the falling sakura as theme, in case anyone is interested ^^