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the MAN GA in/ as ES Vol. 3, 20 SAY s 14 eries


kurama tengu


kurama tengu the Manga in/as Essay Series vol. 3, 2014

CONTENTS Manga competition - the call for submissions...4 Kurama Tengu synopsis...6 Winning entries Elena Vitagliano...10 Brittany Partin...34 Carl Li...56 Deanna Nardy Taylor...70 Colophon...87

‘Manga in/as Essay’ is an occasional online publication presenting manga dealing with topics related to politics and philosophy.

Manga competition the call for submissions

Following on the success of Asiascape’s first manga two competitions, ‘The Ox-Herding Sequence’ (2010) and ‘First Contact’ (2012), Asiascape announced its 3rd competition at the start of 2014. For this competition, we invited manga artists, cartoonists, students and scholars to give us their graphic interpretations of the classic Japanese Noh play Kurama tengu.

image: Stephane Barbery via Flickr

Contributors were asked to interpret the play as creatively, expansively, or parsimoniously as they liked: style, genre, and length could all be freely chosen. Contributors were encouraged to give the Kurama tengu a Science Fiction twist but this was not a requirement. In this ‘Manga in/as Essay’ magazine you’ll find the full manga of all 4 winners. We like them. We hope you will too.

Kurama tengu


A certain Yamabushi (mountain priest) from the valley of Sōjōga-tani had heard that there would be a cherry blossom viewing party on the nearby Mount Kurama. He decided that he too would like to enjoy the wonderful sight and fragrance of the blossoms. Coming to Kurama temple he sat apart from the others gathered there, he sat quietly and in waiting.

that they couldn’t lose their way on the winding path, following the sight and scent of the blossoms. When they arrived at the West Valley, one of the temple servants noticed the unkempt Yamabushi watching the proceedings from a distance. Distraught with the Yamabushi’s unseemly looks, the servant approached the Senior Monk and asked whether or not the Yamabushi should be chased away. The Senior Monk was concerned that this might lead to some personal disgrace, and unwilling to have a confrontation he decided it was best to retire with his retinue and return the next day. The boy Ushiwakamaru was left behind. The Yamabushi was somewhat insulted that, having merely seen him, everyone at the party had run off. He

Kurama temple shrine at Mount Kurama, north-west of Kyoto, Japan.

Meanwhile a servant from the West Valley temple arrived with a letter for the Senior Monk of the East Valley temple. The Senior Monk received the letter from his counterpart, and proceeded to read it. It was an invitation to visit the West Valley and view the cherry blossoms since they were at their peak. It was said that the blossoms were perfect, and that no branch was withering that there wasn’t another branch about to bloom. The Senior Monk of the East Valley and his retinue decided to accept the gracious invitation from the West Valley – they departed for Mount Kurama. They took with them a number of people, including some children and the boy Ushiwakamaru. It was as if the mountain were a cloud of cherry blossoms. They felt

was reminded of a poem that said that we should celebrate the blossoms in the garden together, and not have concerns about the nature of the guests who’ve gathered there to enjoy them. Believing that Kurama temple was free of worldliness, he was saddened to learn that the devoted monks and servants would fail to show compassion to all living beings. The boy Ushiwakamaru saw the Yamabushi’s distress, and in friendship invited him to come closer and enjoy a better view of the blossoms. The Yamabushi was grateful for Ushiwakamaru’s kindness and was taken by his youthful appearance. He inquired why Ushiwakamaru had stayed behind when all the others had left. Ushiwakamaru replied that the other children were descendents of the Heike clan and greatly valued at the temple, while he was a descendent of the Genji

and not treated with much favor. Learning of the boy’s noble blood the Yamabushi felt great empathy; he also was set apart and lonely as a result his station in life. Here, on Mount Kurama, it could be without doubt a lonely place. The cherry blossoms might fall just as snow or rain or pine needles when the wind blows. The cry of monkeys in the distance could echo from the peaks and sound sorrowful to those who might have listened. As the evening began to draw near, the Yamabushi asked Ushiwakamaru to accompany him. He spoke to him of Mount Atago as well as Mount Takao in the East where the flowers were first to bloom, and Mount Hira and Mount Yokawa where the flowers where the last. The evening bell at the temple began to ring and Ushiwakamaru was happy for the graciousness and attention shown to him. The boy inquired as to the identity of the Yamabushi. The Yamabushi declared that he had nothing left to hide. He was in fact the Great Tengu of Mount Kurama and had dwelt on the mountainside for hundreds of years. He informed the boy that he would be willing to impart the secrets of the art of war to him since he sensed he should become a leader of the Genji clan. With these words he bade Ushiwakamaru to return the next day, and then bounded off onto a cloud and flew away into the sky. And so Ushiwakamaru came to devote himself to training in the secrets of the art of war. His sparring partners became the menial tengu themselves and in time he was readily able to best them. For his practice Ushiwakamaru was taken to wearing a cherry colored kimono and a thin hitatare. He tacked his sleeves up on his shoulders by their strings and covered himself in banded armor while carrying a splendid sword with a white wooden handle. It was said that even monsters and demons were unable to overcome his elegance and bravery. The Great Tengu oversaw the young lad’s training, and introduced his own retainers – tengu from far provinces: Kyushu, Shikoku and Suruga. Tengu from many more places were present, even the revered tengu of Mount Takao. They flew about the mountain, leapt from tree to tree and were like smoke or mist or clouds; so swift were they and numerous. Like a storm in winter or the thunderous cascade of a waterfall, their ceaseless motion reverberated through the mountains. Ushiwakamaru had been lenient with the menial tengu. In sparring with them he had only cut them slightly. Since they were retainers to the Great Tengu he refrained from injuring them greatly out of concern that he would be admonished. The Great Tengu was

satisfied with his approach, and told him the story of the respectful treatment of a master: Once, in a distant time, there was a man named Zhang Liang who was servant to the first emperor in the Han Dynasty in China. Zhang Liang inherited his military prowess and the great secrets of the art of war from his master, the renowned ascetic Huang Shigong. One day each of them were on horseback, and ran across each other quite by accident. Huang Shigong, for some reason, intentionally dropped his shoe and ordered Zhang Liang to pick it up and put it back on his foot. Even though Zhang Liang felt unhappy with such a preposterous request, he dismounted his horse, retrieved the shoe and returned it to his master’ Comparing Ushiwakamaru with the dutiful Zhang Liang, the Great Tengu praised him for his diligence. Although the Great Tengu was rough and difficult to look at, the boy had treated him with the utmost respect. The Great Tengu was in fact a creature of immense dignity despite his appearance, and he danced a lively dance in demonstration of this truth. The Genji, descendents of the Emperor, were particularly prestigious the Great Tengu told Ushiwakamaru. If the lad were to follow the Great Tengu’s training he would truly be the one to defeat the boastful Heike and drive them in shame into the Western sea. Ushiwakamaru would have the secret skills to fly by riding on the clouds or even hover over the greatest of waves. He could utterly destroy his enemies and so erase a stain from his both father and his ancestors. The Great Tengu promised his eternal protection, and saying this bade his farewell. Ushiwakamaru caught at the Great Tengu’s sleeve, telling his master that he would miss him greatly. Even though he might battle in far distant lands, the Great Tengu said, he would ensure the lad’s protection even as a shadow never departs from its host. With these words the Great Tengu flew up above the treetops of Mount Kurama and disappeared into the gathering twilight. taken from


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Winning entries

1st place E

lena Vitagliano “...grew up in Italy during an era of predominantly Japanese anime, thus having a steady diet of the old anime classics from the 70s and 80s. This had a massive impact on me, leading to me developing a keen interest in the culture, culminating in a degree revolving around Oriental culture and language, and even spending a year living in Tokyo. Eventually, my passion got the better of me and I began to pursue a graphic design and manga career with explosive successive success. My winning streak encompasses various National Italian illustration awards, being a finalist at Torino Comix 2011, winning the European Competition "Comics for Equality" and culminating in the 2011 edition of Manga Jiman competition in first place. Futhermore, I occasionally write articles about manga, published in "Con gli occhi a mandorla" (Tunue Edition) in Italy. My work draws from everyday experiences and follows themes encompassing racism, the hopes and struggles of a colourful array of characters, with a strong emotional element present in most of my works.� Elena’s work is on

Elena Vitagliano Tariki

Divine Intervention

Ukiyoe by Kunitsuna depicting Ushiwakamaru learning martial arts from the tengu on Kuramayama (1859)

joint 2nd place


rittany Partin has a B.A. in Economics and Chinese and Japanese Studies, as well an M.A. in Chinese Studies from Valparaiso University, USA. She is a self-taught artist and has been heavily influenced by American newspaper comics and Japanese manga, especially shôjo manga. Currently a Coordinator for International Relations in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture, her artistic endeavors are focused on comic interpretations of Shinto mythology that took place in the San’in region of Japan, which are posted on her blog in English. Her purpose is to interpret the mythology and associated history and culture in a humorous, understandable, and memorable way; as such, manga is her medium of choice. In addition to writing manga, Brittany practices naginata and the tea ceremony.

Brittany Partin Wind Between the Pine Needles

image: Stephane Barbery via Flickr

joint 2nd place


arl K. Li is a PhD researcher at Leiden University (The Netherlands) who studies the visual expression of emotion and its political potential in science fiction manga. In addition to his research, Carl is an artist and an avid enthusiast of manga and other forms of comics, with a special interest in how art merges with narrative and how visual expression conveys ideas. As an artist, Carl generally places heavy emphasis on use of black tones and chaotic, painterly qualities, but also experiments with other styles as well. In 2006, he published the comic The Exciting and Emotional Adventures of Sylvia North, about a girl who delivers garbage to the world. In 2013, he created Look Ahead, a short science fiction romance about a society divided between those with torso and those without.


Ukiyoe from the series ‘Nōgakuzue’ (Illustrations of Noh) by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)

3rd place In Deanna’s own words:


ith an African-American mother and an Italian-American father, Deanna’s passion for Japanese literature and culture comes as a surprise to many people. Once they recover from the initial shock, however, they ask whether she plan to work as an ambassador or a translator when I graduate. This is when the shocked faces reappear, because Deanna’s dream is to become a professional manga artist.  She’s been an addict of anime since ‘Dragon Ball’, and with over fifty action figures, seventy-five volumes of manga, and innumerable T-shirts, notebooks, pillows and every other merchandise you can think of, there is no turning back for her. She’s spent nine months in Japan in her twenty-one years, and the last eight were for a study abroad program in Kyoto. During her stay, she actually climbed Mt. Kurama three times, and attended the Yoshitsune festival. Minamoto no Yoshitsune has always seemed like a tragic historical character to Deanna, and when she found out that Ushiwakamaru is Yoshitsune as a child, she could not help but put the whole story together.

Deanna Taylor Nardy The Ghost Flower of Mt. Kurama

PLEASE NOTE Deanna’s manga reads from right to left. GO TO PAGE 1 >>


kurama tengu the Manga in/as Essay Series vol. 3, 2014 project director Chris Goto-Jones design Esther Truijen coverimage excerpt from Elena Vitagliano’s ‘Tariki: Divine Intervention’ © 2014 | All Rights Reserved No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the individual artists and

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Manga in/as Essay vol. 3, 2014 - Interpreting Kurama Tengu  

Manga in/as Essay is an occasional online publication dedicated to exploring the critical, analytical, and expressive potential of manga. In...

Manga in/as Essay vol. 3, 2014 - Interpreting Kurama Tengu  

Manga in/as Essay is an occasional online publication dedicated to exploring the critical, analytical, and expressive potential of manga. In...