Thursday, September 13, 2012

Aoi Bungaku

Ever since I started learning Japanese Studies in university, I've been really fond of Japanese literature and the more I read the more I grow to love it. I've read a couple of books by Haruki Murakami, some detective stories by Edogawa Rampo, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima, The Pillow Book by  Sei Shonagon, my favourite book by a Japanese writer - A Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka and many more. 
About two years ago I stumbled upon an anime called Aoi Bungaku (青い文学/Blue Literature). I found it interesting, but there were some things that I didn't quite understand at the time. I really like to compare anime, based on a book to the actual book, so I was eager to read all the stories from Aoi Bungaku, but at the time I couldn't find them. A few months ago I was staying at my fiance's grandparents' place and they were so nice as to tell me to have a look at their old library and to take the books I like. So I started searching the library for interesting books and I found a lot of books by Japanese authors and took them all, without much looking at what I'm taking. Later, when I was looking more closely at them I noticed that I had taken some really interesting things like a book with short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, which include Hell Screen (地獄変) and The Spider's Thread (蜘蛛の糸). Later a friend gave me Kokoro (こころ) by Natsume Souseki. And in the end I found a book by Dadzai Osamu, which includes the stories No longer Human (人間失格) and Run Melos (走れメロス) in a local bookstore.
So basically I was able to read all the stories from Aoi Bungaku, except for one, which I can't find - In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom (桜の森の満開の下) by Ango Sakaguchi.
I'm sure that most of you have heard of the anime and if you haven't read the actual books you should give them a try, because they are a lot different from the anime. The anime exaggerates a lot and shows the main characters in a different light.
For example in No Longer Human in the anime the main character pushes the woman from the cliff and then jumps after her as for in the book they jump together, trying to commit double suicide. In Run Melos and The Spider's Thread the anime producers have added a whole new storyline to the original one. In Run Melos it has nothing do with the original one, but I really like how they've merged them together. In The Spider's Thread the new story line serves to explain the actions of the main character and his personality. In Hell Screen in the anime the ruler of the city is the bad guy who like perverted things, as for in the original story the artist himself has a really twisted mind and even tortures his student in order to see in reality what he wants to draw. In Kokoro in the anime, they have omitted about 2/3 of the story and the anime shows only the end of the story. The first part of the book was actually kind of boring, because almost nothing happens, but I think that it's important, because it makes you wonder why the author is building up such suspense.
To be honest, I like the books more than the anime. They just explain the story and the characters' actions better and I really like how the Japanese authors write. If you've watched the anime and haven't read the books, I really recommend them to you. You might find them a little strange at the beginning, but they are very interesting. 
About the books, from which I read the stories (for Bulgarians only) - the book with short stories by Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Kokoro by Natsume Souseki are really old editions and I'm not sure if you can find them. You might try some of the bookstores fo used books and the libraries, of course. As for the book by Dadzai Osamu, it was published in 2011 by Altera and it can still be found in some bookstores. I bought mine in Plovdiv, because I couldn't find it in Sofia. All of them are translated from Japanese to Bulgarian and the translations are really good.
If someone knows where I can find and read  In the Forest, Under Cherries in Full Bloom (桜の森の満開の下) by Ango Sakaguchi, please tell me!
Comments are always welcome.  


  1. As a philologist and writer, I love to read posts like yours. Particularly exciting is, when some of the anime really started following the path of one of the books, history, genres ... I can share that-I recently was very impressed by the stories of Shinsengumi, and I'm influenced by such anime. This was followed by the purchase of a book yesterday, which I think, if you have time and inclination, you would have liked, the book be read in a single sitting-Go Rin No Sho, or The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi.

    (I apologize for grammatical errors) ^^'

    1. Oh, I have read Go Rin No So a long time ago and I really like it. If you liked it too, you should try Hagakure by Tsunetomo Yamamoto. It can be found in almost every bookstore, I think.

    2. I see. Thank you very much. I will definitely look for this book, I think, I seen her one in a library.