Over halfway through Week 3A at least. More importantly, over 50% editing total as far as text size goes! Weeee.
I also removed the Twitter as I just don’t use it at all and barely even check it in the first place.
This week, I want to talk about a few little details that are easy to miss due the way Cross Channel is written.
The rest is under the fold as it contains HEAVY SPOILERS for Cross Channel.
<–SPOILERS FROM HERE ON–>
The majority of the story and themes of Cross Channel exist outside the straightforward narrative; most is in the backstory, the actions taken by the characters, and the connections between them – be they physical, thematic and more.
One of these themes is the connection between loss of memory and forgiveness: is something that is simply out of one’s memory truly gone, when it is a fact often recorded in the history of the world?
Cross Channel’s answer is a definite no, and that’s why characters who appear to have forgotten never do. Even if they seem to have consciously forgotten, something deeper inside them never has. Often, these characters are completely unaware that they remember, and there is no way for the reader to know that they do except for careful observation of events.
Let’s see an example of this in action, but first, it’s necessary to remember certain events in Cross Channel.
In his early days, Taichi took the clothes and the manners of a girl, manners which in Japanese involve recognizable ways of speaking. Specifically, his role was defined as that of a Living Doll. Later on, the owners of the mansion changed, and the character of Shinkawa Yutaka appeared in Taichi’s life. Where the previous owners were eccentric, the new ones are violent, rapist thugs; Yutaka in particular was the one to cause Taichi to fall in favor with the rest, and be subjected to far more abuse than he already was. It all ended when Taichi murdered 14 people. Including Yutaka – or so he thought.
Yutaka instead survived being pushed down a staircase, with memory loss of that event and all that preceded it, and a psychological wound that makes him incapable of walking without crutches. (That psychological wound alone is a sign that he has not forgotten everything, but its meaning quickly branches off the main theme of memories.)
Keeping these details in mind, we can examine apparently insignificant sentences that appear in three of the meetings Taichi has with Yutaka in the streets of Kamisaka.
In the first of these scenes, Taichi is walking home and, on the way, sees someone tripping and falling down.
Taichi’s reaction seems obvious and expectable, but only appears to be so:
The original line is あらぁ？, lit. “araa?”. This is very easily recognizable as female speech, and consumers of Japanese media will recognize it as being used often by characters of the “prim and proper” mould. That is why I have rendered it this way, as English requires much broader strokes to have similar effects.
Yutaka tripping and falling never happens again, is never explained, nor is it ever mentioned that he has difficulties walking beyond the obvious; this would again seem a simple storytelling device, a way to kick off an encounter, but in the light of all the above it is nothing of the sort.
What happened is that Yutaka spotted Taichi, unconsciously recognized him, and manifested this unconscious recognition by repeating the last thing that Taichi had done to him: falling down. After noticing him, Taichi also unconsciously recognized Yutaka and manifested this unconscious recognition by resorting to a girl’s mannerism, as he was used to back in those days.
This explains, for example, why Taichi soon becomes angry for no real reason; that is simply how he rationalizes the anger he still feels for Yutaka.
In a second scene, Taichi and Yutaka meet again in the streets, and this odd exchange ensues:
These odd nicknames, originally 谷崎 (Tanizaki) and 鴻巣 (Kounosu), are of course no random things.
Tanizaki refers to Junichiro Tanizaki. “Some of his works present a rather shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions; others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century Japanese society.”
Kounosu refers to a Japanese city. “Kounosu earned the nickname “Doll Town” for its many “Hina Ningyou” (a type of Japanese doll) factories”.
Taichi is calling Yutaka with the name of an author known to discuss sexual obsession and family issues; Yutaka calls Taichi by the name of a town known for his doll factories.
Taichi used to be a Living Doll, Yutaka a sexual deviant.
This is further evidence of subconscious recognition.
In the third encounter, Taichi is walking down the street and sees Yutaka lost in thought, gazing into the grove next to the road. Yutaka takes a step back, possibly putting himself into the path of a passing car, and then this:
The event itself doesn’t happen, so this sentence has no apparent bearing on anything and would seem to be simply Taichi being Taichi; naturally, that’s just appearances.
The word originally used for Yutaka being run down is 轢く: the meaning is certainly that of “to run over with a vehicle”, but even looking at sample sentences offered on English-to-Japanese dictionaries shows that the emphasis is on being knocked down by the vehicle.
By imagining Yutaka being knocked down by the passing car and killed, he is subconsciously reconnecting this event to those of years ago. It is absolutely true that this event was the beginning of Taichi’s trauma, and more evidence of complete and subconscious recall.
Of course, Yutaka was pushed down the stairs, not run down by a car… nor did he die in any case. None of these non-event can have caused Taichi’s trauma, either. Therefore, the next sentence:
This is absolutely correct. Nothing of the sort happened; but simply not being the literal truth doesn’t mean it can’t shed light on a deeper truth.
That’s something to always keep in mind while reading Cross Channel.