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The Tale of the Heike in Text and Animation




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Errinundra
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Joined: 14 Jun 2008
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 8:25 am Reply with quote
Thanks, Rebecca. I'm looking forward to reading your reviews to get a richer understanding of this series and this story.
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omiya



Joined: 21 Sep 2011
Posts: 1690
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 8:38 am Reply with quote
Could the author please clarify what a "biwa player" is?
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FireChick



Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 2033
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 8:40 am Reply with quote
omiya wrote:
Could the author please clarify what a "biwa player" is?


It's someone who plays the lute, or in this case a biwa, a musical instrument popular during that period of time.
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Gilles Poitras



Joined: 05 Apr 2008
Posts: 456
Location: Oakland California
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 9:17 am Reply with quote
I'll second the recommendation for Royall Tyler's translation. I have found his translations so readable that I have made it a point of buying every translation he has done. His notes are also very useful if you want information about the context of what you are readings.

As for Biwa players if you have seen the movie Kwaidan the Hoichi the Earless story involves a Biwa player and includes scenes of him reciting a portion of the Tale of the Heike.
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Neko-sensei



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
Posts: 260
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 9:28 am Reply with quote
I've got a copy of Tyler's translation I'm reading through as I watch the show, and I don't think his rendition and the Funi version really have anything in common apart from prioritizing readability and maintaining a modern English cadence. None of the terminology is translated the same way (e.g. "palanquins" vs. "portable shrines"), lines rendered as part of characters' dialogue by Tyler are made narration in the Funi version, and the anime subtitles also have to deal with the (increasingly heavy) abridgment of the passages being recited.

Some pieces of the Funi translation are surprisingly good, but it misses more often than it hits. Tajima's passage in particular comes off very weakly in the anime (it helps that Tyler's version is especially badass). I strongly recommend picking up Tyler's translation if you can—or do what I did and buy the Kindle edition so you have searchable text!
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dm
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Joined: 24 Sep 2010
Posts: 876
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 9:43 am Reply with quote
Neko-sensei wrote:
I strongly recommend picking up Tyler's translation if you can—or do what I did and buy the Kindle edition so you have searchable text!


Neither you nor Rebecca mentioned a big plus to the Tyler translation --- the use of traditional artistic renderings of the events in the story! I lucked into a copy of the book in a used bookstore a decade ago, and picked it up for the illustrations alone.
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Neko-sensei



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
Posts: 260
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 9:58 am Reply with quote
dm wrote:
Neither you nor Rebecca mentioned a big plus to the Tyler translation --- the use of traditional artistic renderings of the events in the story!
A lamentable oversight on my part, as the illustrations are also fantastic! However, they are a bit difficult to appreciate on a ten-year-old Kindle Touch. (I am... not a rich man.)
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Kyjin



Joined: 25 Nov 2005
Posts: 126
Location: Los Angeles
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 12:35 pm Reply with quote
I'm a historian of premodern Japan, so needless to say I was very excited when this adaptation of Heike Monogatari was announced. I'm four episodes in myself, and I am loving it so far! I was very curious to see how Science SARU could possibly adapt this monster of a story, but I think their choices in "episodes" from the tale were well done. In American universities, it is rare that students who read Heike will read everything; but the most common stories have been adapted so far. (For example Gio, Shigemori's visit to the temple, spoiler[and his death]). These are also sections that most Japanese high school and university students would know.

I'm very curious to see how those who are unfamiliar with Heike are finding the story to follow. I'm watching the show with my boyfriend who is not an academic, and he's been asking me a lot of questions as we go (and I may have pulled out Royall Tyler's translation last night to compare some stuff with him.) Personally, I love that they introduced Biwa as a way to bring the audience into the story. There really isn't a central protagonist (I never thought of Tokuko as one, but that's an interesting interpretation), so using Biwa as a way to center the story was a smart move. The fact that they interplay the traditional sung elements of the tale as well is fantastic.

Speaking on translations, I'll second Rebecca's suggestion to look at the Tyler translation if you're interested. I think it flows the best of any current English translation, and he includes some excellent notes in the appendices. If you're lucky enough to be able to take a class on Japanese literature, even better, as courses will help guide you through the best parts of the text. I haven't had a chance to look at the modern Japanese translation that the anime is based on yet, but I'm curious to see how much of the "dialogue" we see in the show is taken from that. I've found some of the translations of the dialogue a bit questionable at times (and man, this is a show that would really benefit from the occasional translator notes), but I've been pretty impressed overall.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing how the rest of the adaptation goes! Based on pacing, I'm guessing the show will get through the battle of Dan-no-ura and a little after that, but we'll see. I'm showing the anime to some colleagues at my university soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they like it. (I'm also selfishly figuring out how to use the anime in future teaching...)
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Princess_Irene
ANN Reviewer


Joined: 16 Dec 2008
Posts: 2295
Location: The castle beyond the Goblin City
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 12:45 pm Reply with quote
Kyjin wrote:
I'm showing the anime to some colleagues at my university soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they like it. (I'm also selfishly figuring out how to use the anime in future teaching...)


As someone who routinely uses Magnetic Rose and Jin Roh in her teaching (in classes on fairy tales and folklore), I absolutely applaud this ambition.
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