Iced cream

In this week's Sayōnara Zetsubō-Sensei, for reasons too involved to explain here, the titular sensei ends up shouldering all the troubles of Japan's womanhood throughout history. Since I have nothing else to blog today, I thought I'd share those troubles with you.

  • Share computer with parents
  • School uniform is dorky
  • Hair is unruly and hard to style in the morning
  • Gained 3 kg over New Year's
  • Got billed for 80,000 yen via Dial Q2 [an NTT service allowing third parties to bill phone users more easily]
  • Cooking pots confiscated for war effort
  • Kissed before marriage... [We are now back before WWII; note the kana/kanazukai change]
  • Believe father has mekake [a kind of kept woman/mistress, and a tradition which underwent a renaissance in the Meiji period]
  • Want to taste this so-called "iced cream"
  • Sei Shōnagon is a smug and horrible person

That last one is the beginning of an infamous passage from Murasaki Shikibu's diary 紫式部日記, inevitably dragged out whenever female Heian authors are discussed:


Sei Shōnagon is a smug and horrible person. She acts so smart and is always writing in true [Chinese] characters, but if you look closely, you can find lots of mistakes. People who try that hard to be different from everyone else always end up falling behind, with trouble waiting in their future; and people who are that affected act all mono no aware and attend all the interesting events even when they're lonely and bored, so that in the end the affectation stops being an act. How exactly are things going to end well for a person like that? [They are not.]

Popularity factor: 8


But! On the brighter side: apparently for the period between Sei Shōnagon's death and when rumors of ice cream finally started circulating in Japan, things weren't that bad!

Leonardo Boiko:

I am, for some reason, glad that you are still following SZS.


A couple of years ago while passing through Japan in the Narita airport I picked up the first volume of this manga on a whim. It's about the funniest thing I had ever read. I really liked how it makes fun of many of the trope in manga/anime without pandering to them. Alot of the jokes I still had to ask my (Japanese) wife for help understanding though.


MMS: I suppose if he'd put in an "All my children were killed by starvation and war" to represent the post-Heian, pre-Edo period, it might have seemed like a return to the 20th century.

Leo: Oh yeah, as long as Kumeta keeps his right-wingery amusing, I'll stick with him.

Derek: You ought to check out "Katte ni kaizo", Kumeta Koji's previous manga. I think it's even funnier, though it takes a volume or two to get running. For a while SZS was starting to look like KnK resurrected, but then he managed to get a hold of the Chiri character and averted that one.


How long does it take to translate all this??

I gained 3 kgs over New Year's too.


You mean in this post? Only a few minutes, but then again, it's a very half-assed translation...


That passage from Murasaki Shikibu's diary, how is it usually used? To make fun of women who think they're smarter then everyone else, to poke fun of women's intellectualism in general, or something else?


It's used to talk about Sei Shonagon specifically. Basically, it's great contemporary scuttlebutt, and almost no-one can resist throwing it in when writing about Sei Shonagon The Person (or that milieu).

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