Zur deutschen Seite.
(Deutsche und englische Artikel,
deutsche Oberfläche.)

Read the German page.
(German and English articles,
with German interface.)

Read the English page.
(Only English articles,
with English interface.)

Zur englischen Seite.
(Nur englische Artikel,
englische Oberfläche.)

Archiv der Kategorie ‘toks’

The Death Undo: A Guilty General’s Wish

Sonntag, 16. März, 2014

In my article series on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time I explained how this youth novel strikes a cord with the reader by offering them a fantasy in which an unfortunate event (leading to death, for example) can be undone, and the past be redone. I also mentioned how this resonates with the structure of video games because you usually have more than one life, and/or restart points from which to redo already past events. Which is probably why this novel keeps getting referenced by video game plots.

ITOI Shigesato’s Mother RPG, which was one of the games I covered in this series, contains the opposite scenario as well, confronting the player with a death they can’t undo. I’m talking about the flying men in Magicant.1 Magicant is the magic kingdom ruled by the Queen Mary and symbolizes the player’s subconscious. The Mother Encyclopedia players guide describes them as follows:

The house of the flying men
The dream of the flying men lives in your heart…

On the Northern outskirts of Magicant there is a single house all by itself. Here live five brothers, kind of like birds, kind of like humans. They’re the flying men. Back when you were still little, your mother used to whisper the story of the flying men into your ears from the side of your bed. You probably don’t remember this very sad story which your great grandmother created. You should go and visit them. Try talking to them. Because maybe you might remember the story.

The flying men join your party one at a time when you talk to them. But you can’t restore their HP so during your battles they will inevitably die at some point. You can go back to recruit more flying men until their family is extinct and you can even find their tombstones. Or you can quit meeting them, leave them alone and alive, at the same time leaving yourself alone with your guilt.

The flying men in Mother (Earthbound Zero)

The flying men in Mother 2 (Earthbound)

Of course there were inevitable deaths dictated by the video game plot before but in the case of the flying men the player is fully responsible for their death because he initiates their recruitment (though likely not aware of it beforehand) and they die during the interactive part of the game, the non-scripted one.

(mehr …)

  1. Magicant is the magic kingdom ruled by the Queen Mary and symbolizes the player’s subconscious. []

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 7: The Anime in the Age of the Visual Novel

Mittwoch, 6. November, 2013

Warning! This article contains spoilers for HOSODA Mamoru’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Glory of Heracles III, YU-NO, Mother and World Destruction/Sands of Destruction.

The third movie adaptation of TSUTSUI’s novel from 2006 was the first to get some recognition in the West, thanks to it being an anime. It was also a sequel rather than a remake like the second movie, with Kazuko’s niece Makoto becoming the new heroine. The fourth movie from 2010 returns to the live action format but follows the anime’s sequel approach and had Kazuko’s daughter become the next heroine. In HOSODA’s anime, Kazuko is apparently still single and works in a museum, taking Mr. FUKUSHIMA’s function of explaining the strange power to the young girl.

Again we find the heroine in a triangle relationship with two boys, Kōsuke and Chiaki. They’re 17, one year older than the characters in the first movie who were in turn one year older than in the novel. They play baseball instead of basketball and start out as inseparable, as they were in the novel.

I won’t do a detailed analysis for this movie and instead again recommend you watch it for yourself. As opposed to the other versions it is widely available, I even caught it on local TV. What I’m going to do is I will pick up a few core elements of the narrative and put them into our larger context of video games influenced by TSUTSUI’s story.

If you compare this 2006 movie to previous versions the most notable difference is how Makoto is using the power. Kazuko hardly used it at all, wanted to get rid of it and be normal again. Makoto on the other hand finds plenty of uses for it and alters time to her liking, something which the original novel warned about, even claimed it were impossible.

Another notable difference is the nature of the accident. In the original Kazuko and Gorō were careless but still followed traffic rules when they were trying to cross the street as pedestrians. The reckless truck, while appearing similar to Gorō, was an outside force that almost killed the two. Makoto on the other hand is alone, on the street riding her bike and it’s her broken brakes that endanger her life. She is going too fast and is unable to stop, as opposed to the speeding male truck in the original.

Gorō’s new version Kōsuke becomes part of the same accident though when he borrows Makoto’s bike and rides it with his new girlfriend. Again it is Makoto’s responsibility but it isn’t even her who is injured but the girl she helped to get together with Kōsuke. These changes reflect the changes in society, Makoto is a more confident and emancipated girl than Kazuko was, not afraid to use the power and an active participant of street traffic.

But the heavy rewinding and branching of time lines also reflects certain new game genres, something which might have influenced HOSODA and his script writer OKUDERA, who later demonstrated an interest and deep understanding of video games in their 2009 movie Summer Wars.

Continue

When TSUTSUI originally published his novel in 1965, video games didn’t even exist. Still, his story was a prophetic description of game structure: Die, but return to an earlier point in time where you still live, retaining knowledge of what will cause your death. In games we have restart and save points and in a way the player’s experience is similar to that of Kazuko when she escapes death in a likewise manner.

But this kind of “time travel” is usually only part of the player’s meta plane, not of the game’s narrative. When you restart from a save point the game hero isn’t aware he’s doing things again for the umpteenth time. Yet there are games that bring this player experience explicitly into the game world. A prime example would be Ico, in which you save by taking a nap on stone banks. If you die, it will be a dream of the future the hero had and the knowledge of which he can use to avoid it the next time.

Ico incorporates this aspect into its game narrative beautifully but it wasn’t the first to do so. Mother also interpreted the events leading to the game over as a bad dream when you decide to restart from an earlier save. But Mother being a Dragon Quest type of RPG, it included an even better option. Return to the place where you last saved but retain experience and items you picked up. Glory of Heracles III also is a member of the Dragon Quest school of RPGs and since your heroes are immortal they can restart from save points without losing anything, not even money.

NOJIMA admitted to using motifs from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time in Final Fantasy VII, but he also already connected the novel with video game narratives in Glory of Heracles III. This is a major spoiler but a certain catastrophe is undone in this game by means of time travel. NOJIMA must have felt that TSUTSUI’s story was a perfect fit for video games and ITOI might have too, as it wouldn’t be surprising if certain shared motifs in Mother originated in TSUTSUI’s story also.

Despite all the inspiration NOJIMA takes from TSUTSUI, the time travel aspect itself he rarely uses explicitly. Final Fantasy VIII is one of the few examples, also showing NOJIMA’s particular interpretation of video games as time machines. Squall and his party several times find themselves in the past, taking over the bodies of his father Lagoona and his party. But they aren’t able to change anything, only experience the past events. This stays true to the explanation of TSUTSUI’s Kazuo, that history cannot be changed. Yet learning from his father’s history, Squall can make his own decisions in the yet unwritten future.

(mehr …)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 6: Return, Reset and Finding That Person Again

Freitag, 25. Oktober, 2013

Spoiler warning! This article contains spoilers for Chrono Cross, Persona 2 Innocent Sin, Final Fantasy X, its sequel X-2 and Lost Odyssey.

With his movie ŌBAYASHI made the connection between The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Wizard of Oz. This children’s book classic represents a number of similar youth novels in which a protagonist from the real world travels to an unreal fantasy world. TAKAHASHI mentioned Narnia in his text on Mother; there is also Alice in Wonderland which comes to mind, or The Never Ending Story. This last example is interesting as the fantastic world traveled to is actually the narrative of a book, which emphasizes the common theme in these novels: The reader is supposed to identify with the real life protagonist and his journey to the strange world is actually the reading of the story. When the story ends, the protagonist returns to the real world.

Now let’s compare this to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Here instead of one (or few) real person(s) traveling from reality into the fantastic, one person from a fantastic future comes into reality. He does return but to make the fantastic disappear his influence has to be undone, so in place of a return for Kazuko there is a reset. Kazuko never leaves reality, cannot return in a spatial sense, instead she returns to an earlier point in reality, before the fantastic occurred.

Fushigi Yūgi

The cover of volume 14 of Fushigi Yūgi by WATASE Yū. It shows heroine Miaka and her lover Taka/Tamahome in the background.

The movie version of Oz has the same actors who play the characters in the world of Oz also play the people from Dorothy’s reality in Kansas. This indicates that fiction is based on reality, that the made up characters are reflections of people that live in reality. In Fushigi Yūgi, a manga for girls from the 1990ies, after going on an adventure by being sucked into a book that tells of a fantastic ancient China the story doesn’t end with the return to the real life setting. Instead there are several volumes dealing with a guy resembling the love interest from the fantastic part transferring to the school of the female protagonist and them falling in love again.

It is a more pronounced version of Kazuko meeting Kazuo again, minus the reset. Fushigi Yūgi’s Miaka doesn’t forget her Tamahome, instead she returns from the fantasy and meets his reincarnation Taka. I have talked about how The Girl Who Leapt Through Time influenced Final Fantasy in part 3 and how another video game, Mother, fits in with the same themes present in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time in part 4. There are more video games that share themes from it and I will give two examples that use the “reset and finding a person from the fantastic adventure again in reality” motif. Both came out for the Playstation and after Final Fantasy VII.

(mehr …)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 5: The Parody

Samstag, 19. Oktober, 2013
Impaled Professor: Collection of short stories containing Scenario: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

Impaled Professor: Collection of short stories containing Scenario: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

In June 1983, one month before the first screening of the movie adaptation TSUTSUI also returned to his story and published a parody of it called Scenario: Toki o kakeru shōjo in SF Adventure, a popular SF magazine of the time running stories of that genre. It was later collected in Kushizashi kyōju (Impaled Professor, 1985) and is only about 10 pages long.1 Pages 155-164. TSUTSUI assumes his readers already know the original story and only uses some key scenes to retell it. Instead he introduces new story elements taken from the contexts of contemporary society like school violence and let’s his characters comment on the upcoming movie version.

Scenario: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: The original script for the movie.

Scenario: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: The original script for the movie.

In the same month, KENMOCHI’s script for the movie was also published using the same title: Scenario: Toki o kakeru shōjo. The word scenario in the first instance refers to the screen play and TSUTSUI’s parody approaches the style in which such screen plays are usually written, describing what the camera shows and giving the lines of the characters. Yet it only loosely follows this format and there are some major differences. In the second instance scenario refers to a potential outcome, like the future envisioned in the original story with a highly advanced educational system. Which doesn’t seem so likely with a present that sees violent outbreaks of students against adult authorities and teachers in particular.

(mehr …)

  1. Pages 155-164. []

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 4: The Mother Connection

Dienstag, 8. Oktober, 2013

I started this article series with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and arrived at Final Fantasy in the last installment because that’s the chronological order the works were released in and could have influenced one another. But me personally of course I started by playing Final Fantasy and then discovering the older works that had influenced it. And The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was one of the last sources I discovered, thanks to the Famitsū interview with NOJIMA.

Glory of Heracles I had discovered earlier and even without KITASE saying so in interviews the parallels between GoH3 and FFVII were very obvious. Not just that, the common theme of saving the planet made another influence on these games also very obvious. Let’s take a look at Gaia from Glory of Heracles III:

planet_gaia

She literally is the planet all the characters from the game live on and like a kind mother she forgives the injury humans caused her.

Now let’s compare Gaia to Aerith from FFVII. Aerith’s name closely resembles the word earth, even would be an anagram save for one letter. She can talk to the planet, kind of speaks for and represents it.

She is slightly older than Cloud, by Japanese custom of relating everyone in terms of family members she would be an older sister which by the same logic hierarchically puts her on a similar level as a mother. Cloud even accidentally calls her mother in the movie Advent Children, her and Zack appearing like his parents, the older generation. Cloud comes to Aerith asking for forgiveness.

Now let’s take a look at Aerith’s first appearance in the game’s opening:

planet_aerith01

planet_aerith02

A similar pose, standing and holding her hand(s) to her chest, looking at the screen. A similar backdrop, a starry sky surrounding Gaia, sparks surrounding Aerith. The color green, decorating Gaia’s head and neck and lighting Aerith’s face.

(mehr …)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 3: The Influence on Final Fantasy

Freitag, 27. September, 2013

I mentioned at the beginning of the first part that Final Fantasy VII was inspired by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Let’s take a closer look at what writer NOJIMA Kazushige had to say about that connection and how the game actually draws upon this source work.

Final Fantasy director and producer KITASE Yoshinori repeatedly said in various interviews that he thinks former director and producer SAKAGUCHI chose NOJIMA to write FFVII because of his critical acclaimed work on Glory of Heracles 3. He also said he wanted NOJIMA to make FFVII as mysterious and surprising as that game.

Asked by Famitsū about how Glory of Heracles influenced FFVII, NOJIMA mentions The Girl Who Leapt Through time as another influence on FFVII. From the Famitsū interview from issue 1224, 2012 5/31:

Famitsū issue 1224, 2012 5/31 page 58

About the Influence of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Famitsū: Did you want to make FFVII into a mysterious story like the ones in the Glory of Heracles series, which you wrote before you came to Square?
NOJIMA: Even before I could decide something like that KITASE-san had already asked me to write it that way (laughs). Even though it’s a pretty straight forward story I guess you could say it uses mysterious imagery. With this as the base plot I added ideas from the database server [into which the other staff members uploaded their suggestions]. Speaking about these ideas, since the team was reading my half finished scenario they kept adding new settings and drawings so we were influencing each other during the writing process.
Famitsū: What kind of ideas did you use?

Famitsū issue 1224, 2012 5/31 page 58NOJIMA: Someone posted a setting about „mysterious men in black coats“, which I turned into the Sephiroth clones. I also borrowed imagery from movies. I especially took inspiration from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time starring HARADA Tomoyo. With FFVII, I wanted to recreate the impression of a „mysterious story“ you get from watching that movie. Of course I didn’t just completely copy lines and settings one to one. I simply borrowed phrases like „To the lab room on Saturday“ from the movie and using it as a motif turned it into „To the makō reactor 7 years ago“. …but no one seemed to notice that (laughs).

If you read the previous installments you of course know that going back to the lab room on Saturday, where it all started, going back to the root of the problem, or the Crisis Core in Final Fantasy VII terms, is what resolves the mystery of the story by TSUTSUI. The longer scene in FFVII in which the adapted quote comes up serves a very similar function and I want to revisit this scene to show how NOJIMA adapted motifs from TSUTSUI’s and ŌBAYASHI’s original works. Spoiler warning!

(mehr …)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 2: The First Movie

Mittwoch, 25. September, 2013
HARADA Tomoyo

HARADA Tomoyo

My first encounter with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was actually the 1983 movie. It was the launch title of Nintendo’s Shiatā no ma (Theater room) video on demand service for the Wii and I watched it in December of 2009. It was written for the screen by KENMOCHI Wataru and directed by ŌBAYASHI Nobuhiko, starring HARADA Tomoyo as Kazuko. Apparently there’s also an English subtitled version called The Little Girl Who Conquered Time so you may want to seek that one out if you want to watch the movie yourself. Alternatively you could search Youtube for videos related to the movie. (mehr …)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) Part 1: The Original Novel

Dienstag, 24. September, 2013

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Toki o kakeru shōjo) is an SF youth novel by TSUTSUI Yasutaka first published as a series in 1965 in Chūgaku sannen course, with the later of the 7 installments published in Kōichi course. Both are educational magazines published by Gakushū kenkyū-sha, intended for 3rd year middle school and 1st year high school students respectively. This is partially true for the West as well, but in Japan in particular, same way as with manga, youth publications are often aimed at a particular gender readership and there are shōnen shōsetsu (novels for boys) and shōjo shōsetsu (novels for girls). But despite the female protagonist, because of the nature of the publication it was part of, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a general youth SF novel rather than a shōjo shōsetsu.

The story was later collected in book form in 1967 by publisher Tsurushobō. The illustrations for the series publication by ISHII Naoru were replaced with new ones by TANI Toshihiko. In 1976 the novel was re-released by publisher Kadokawa bunko, with new illustrations again by TANI. There were more rereleases from different publishers after that but this article is based on and the illustrations are taken from the 1976 version. To this day, TSUTSUI’s original story has repeatedly been adapted for TV and the big screen and it’s the only Japanese novel that has had four movie adaptations since 1980, the first in 1983 and the last one in 2010. It’s a true classic that transcends the ages.1 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/時をかける少女

In the West, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time became known thanks to the 2006 anime adaptation by director HOSODA Mamoru which saw an English version in the same year. TSUTSUI’s novel has also been available in English translation since 2011, translated by David James Karashima and published by Alma Books.2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_Who_Leapt_Through_Time Not many people in the Western hemisphere know this but The Girl Who Leapt Through Time also served as a major influence for the scenario of the 1997 hit game Final Fantasy VII, as writer NOJIMA Kazushige told Famitsū in an interview in their 2012 May 31 issue.

Spoiler warning! It is highly recommended that you read the novel before this analysis. The anime’s story is different as it expands on and modernizes the original story but some key plot developments are the same as in the novel so if you plan to watch the anime, do so before you continue reading this article. (mehr …)

  1. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/時をかける少女 []
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_Who_Leapt_Through_Time []