Week Three: J-Horror
This week I read part of the book A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. From my experience, he is one of the most popular Japanese writer in China, a lot people like his books especially teenagers or young adults. But I was never a big fan of his works. I remember I tried to read the book Norwegian Wood, which is of his most famous books, but I just hated it and could not finish it. But this time, when I read his work again, I found some interests.
From what I had read of the book, I feel the novel is more like a story of emotion journey than a story of a physical journey. There was an actual journey involved as the main character went in search of the mythical sheep, but the true focus of the book was on the character's emotions. Murakami didn't even give a lot of the characters names. The main character could stand for any one of us. I believe that the mythical sheep can be seen as either "the meaning of life”. The main character finds himself at the end of his marriage. His wife have left him for a friend of his, and he can't understand what that guy has that he doesn't, since the friend doesn't have a lot of money and he plays the guitar too much. The girlfriend that the main character hooks up with following the breakup of his marriage is a talented, quirky girl who compliments his own quirks nicely. Yet throughout the relationship, he is obsessed with her ears, a part of her, instead of the whole of her. She, on the other hand, has shown herself to be quite devoted to him, even supporting and joining him on his quest for the sheep. These examples, and his friendship with his business partner and the company that they ran together, all worked together to form a meaning to his life that the main character was unable to recognize or embrace. He was on his own sheep chase looking for meaning that he already had. When he finally caught up with The Rat and had their final chat on the mountain, he realized, to a small degree, what he had been doing wrong.
And I also read some of the short stories from Kwaidan. The Story of Mimi-Hashi-Hoichi is probably my favorite. The whole story offers a lot of imagery descriptions and I quite enjoy it. I found that the biggest difference between western horror and Asian horror or J-horror is that Asian horror is more about emotion, and the scary inside someone, which the western horror is more on visual. There is a Chinese book called Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, which is very similar to Kwaidan, I read a lot, also got a lot of inspirations from it for doing my illustrations.