Narutaru Ch. 3 — Refusing to Play the Game

Ch. 3 Summary: Shiina makes breakfast for her father, and discusses what happened on the plane. Shiina hides everything about Hoshimaru and the fact that she saw Otohime. After breakfast, Shiina attends a sword-fighting class where she meets Akira, a shy and awkward girl. Akira doesn’t want to hit people, doesn’t want to win, and doesn’t want to lose. Shiina befriends Akira, but Akira runs away when she sees Hoshimaru after practice. At home, she puts a blade to her wrist but doesn’t cut herself. She opens a box that holds a creature similar to Hoshimaru.

Trust

While Shiina and her father are having their family pow-wow over breakfast, Shiina asks her dad if he believes her about the monster. He says that he does. Then he asks her if she saw the princess, and Shiina denies it. This denial is all the more pronounced because of what we see in the next frame:

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There’s Shiina’s “backpack” which she also hasn’t told her father about. Shiina’s father believes her, but Shiina isn’t willing to open up and trust him on everything.

Why is this the case? From what we’ve seen so far, her father certainly seems like someone she should be willing and able to trust. Could she be worried her father would make her get rid of Hoshimaru? I lean towards the opinion that she simply doesn’t want her father to worry. Recall how she also tried to hide the fact that she almost drowned from her father. It could also be a simple desire to establish some independence.

Akira

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Shiina’s jealous of Akira’s name. Recall how Shiina said she hates her name? As we’ll learn later, that’s because her name means “an empty husk.” Akira’s name means “bright”, which explains her jealousy.

Kitoh is great at portraying panic in people, as we see here with Akira:

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Look at the way Akira’s sweat increases as her eyes and mouth move. That looks like one messed up girl.

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Akira claims that she doesn’t want to hit anyone or get hit by anyone. Shiina points out that she can’t win that way. Akira responds that not winning is fine.

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Then we start to realize that this is about something bigger than sword games:

Akira: I don’t want to hurt anyone or be hurt by anyone.
Shiina: Forever?
Akira: Yes.
Shiina: All your life?
Akira: Yes.
Shiina: Then the match will never end.

This is how Akira lives her entire life. Afraid to hurt anyone, afraid to be hurt.

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And the only way to live like that is not to live at all.

Is there anything wrong with not wanting to hurt anyone, or be hurt by anyone? Of course not. It seems that Akira has an enormous empathy, which is a good thing. But this has developed into a crippling fear of taking any action at all. On the bright side, it’s probably this same fear that prevents her from killing herself.

Further Thoughts

I like how they don’t just ignore the real-world consequences of these events— the police are actually asking questions about what happened to the plane and the two missing passengers.

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Again, Kitoh is great at portraying things that are messed up. That elongated Shiina head is pretty darn creepy.

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Hoshimaru backpack! Hnnnnggghhh!

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The English translation tries to use colloquial language, but does pretty terribly in my opinion. “Good cookin’, girl!” What the hell? It sounds like Shiina’s dad is hitting on her.

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Then we have Shiina calling herself stuff like “ol’ Shiina here”. What is she supposed to be, an eighty year old grandma?

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Kitoh sure loves his machinery. Look how much effort he’s put into this bike. Way more than on the characters, that’s for sure. Note also how since it’s her father’s bike, she doesn’t fit it at all.

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And I’m pretty sure he cut this airplane in half just so he could draw the innards.

4 thoughts on “Narutaru Ch. 3 — Refusing to Play the Game

  1. Do follow up with this “Dad hitting on Shiina” business when it turns up again. It might be an odd translation, but it might be more fitting than we think at first, hehe.

    1. Yes, I will keep it in mind. 🙂 I do remember some other “interesting” things in my previous read through which I glossed over at the time…

  2. Kitoh is very involved with bikes. He did a manga about bicycle racers a while back which was scanlated in part, but I have not seen a new episode in a long time.
    One thing I have noticed about many manga strips is that the artists will spend an incredible amount of time on the background landscapes (or things like bicycles), and hardly any time on the human characters. This also goes for many anime as well. I guess the artistic Japanese heart is more with nature than with people.

    1. Yeah, his bicycling manga is called Noririn. Apparently the group scanlating dropped it, but it’s still ongoing from what I can gather. At least two untranslated volumes are currently out.

      I think the emphasis on the backgrounds vs the characters depends on the artist. My other favorite mangaka, Asano Inio, puts a great amount of detail into both the backgrounds and the characters. Kitoh certainly does put more effort into his backgrounds though.

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