Ch. 8 Summary: Shiina and Akira emo out at home after killing knife boy.
Ch. 9 Summary: Knife boy’s friends meet at a karaoke place to discuss their plans to bring about the world revolution.
Ch. 10 Summary: The government’s special research council on military balloons meets to discuss the dragons. Shiina’s mom attends and explains mythology to the bigwigs.
In short, three chapters of build-up. Ch. 8 follows up on the emotional impact of the previous chapter’s death. Ch. 9 and Ch. 10 introduce the two new major factions, the revolutionaries and the government.
My favorite scene from these three chapters is when Shiina is moping around at home, and we see that she has exiled Hoshimaru to sleep outside on the roof:
As would be expected, Hoshimaru doesn’t give a crap. But the next panel in particular is rather interesting:
At the end of Ch. 10, Shiina’s mother says that dragons are “Born from the Earth… yet soaring through the heavens… and living in the ocean deeps.” We already were exposed to similar imagery back in Ch. 1 when we first met Hoshimaru. If you’ll recall, Shiina discovered him at the bottom of the ocean. Then they walked around on land before soaring through the sky together.
But in this panel, the image is reversed. Hoshimaru has been grounded and is living on the Earth, stuck to the roof. The entire universe is upside-down and Hoshimaru stares downwards at the stars. He is a star himself but lives apart from them: everything is upside-down. To make how out of place he is even clearer, he’s wearing some ill-fitting human clothes. Shiina is trying to imagine Hoshimaru is something he isn’t.
High School Revolutionaries
The first time I read Narutaru, I took these revolutionaries seriously. Their philosophy and goals seemed like the epitome of evil.
Now that I’m a bit older, they seem like… kids. They are kids. Some of them are sheltered children who think they know everything but have hardly experienced anything life has to offer. Some of them are immersed in delusions of self-grandeur. Some of them are just plain stupid. All of them think they’re better than the foolish adults who are keeping them down.
Now that I’m a bit more distanced from my own childish delusions of self-grandeur and can see them as children, I think it’s clear that this is what Kitoh intended as well. I mean, they’re meeting at a karaoke place and sipping on juice boxes.
Satomi gets most of the focus in this chapter. When it comes up that knife boy kills someone, she’s shocked. “It’s not fair… even I haven’t killed someone yet…”
Like I said, they’re children. She claims to want to kill someone but is clearly deathly afraid of doing so.
Ch. 10 introduces us to the government task force. The main takeaway is that they mean business and they know what they’re doing.
One other very interesting fact comes to light: the dragons were first detected by the Pentagon thirty years ago. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that that sounds about the right time frame for when Shiina’s father would have drawn the pictures of the dragons we saw in Ch. 1 as a boy.
Shiina’s mother explains to the gathered bureaucrats about dragons. For reference, I’m going to list the things she said here. We’ll probably come back to this list in future posts:
- The origin of all things.
- The beginning of life.
- The parent-god of all things.
- Shape-changing at will.
- Omnipresent, yet insubstantial.
- Unifier of opposites. Synthesis.
- Hermaphrodite. Androgynous.
- That which mates with itself— swallows its own tail.
- The unconscious chaos.
- The cycle of life and death.
- The avatars of mother Earth, of Gaia.
- Born from the Earth, yet soaring through the heavens, and living in the ocean deeps.
- Dragons live free of the dreary reality of our mundane world, in Ryugu, the dragon palace.
- Dragons eat people.
Much of this makes sense now, much of it doesn’t. I’m posting this here now so that we can look back at it later once we discover more about the true nature of the dragons and their partners.
I thought this panel looked really cool. Also notice that it looks similar to the image on the wall of Akira’s room.
One final thought: compare and contrast the final panels of Ch. 9 and Ch. 10. Ch. 9 is titled Part I, and Ch. 10 is title Part 2, so this seems a fair approach to take.
Ch. 9 shows a dead bird as the leader of the revolutionaries explains that discrimination creates equality. The implication is that the fit ones, like themselves, will be the only ones left. And they’ll be equal.
Ch. 10 also ends with the strong remaining and the weak passing away. But it’s the dragons who devour the humans. Somehow I don’t think the reovlutionaries’ plans will pan out as they expect.
I noticed some rather obvious changes in the English version in these chapters. First, here’s a scene from the original:
And here it is in the English version:
Can’t say I blame them. Still I think the original works better at conveying the sexual undertones involved in how her father observes Shiina growing up. We observed previous signs of Shiina’s sexual coming of age in the previous installment when Shiina was violated both mentally and physically.
Also, here the text that was originally spoken by Shiina’s mother changed to a place label. I have no idea why they thought this was necessary.Seems like a fair amount of effort too as they add to add on the covered up part of the building to the image. Very strange.
I was doing pretty well at reading the Japanese version until I got to Ch. 10. It had so many names, titles, and technical talk about mythology, government and the military. But I somehow got through it with the help of the dictionary.