Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi – 12

[HorribleSubs] Utakoi - 12 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.14_[2012.09.18_17.55.36] [HorribleSubs] Utakoi - 12 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.10_[2012.09.18_17.58.32] [HorribleSubs] Utakoi - 12 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.59_[2012.09.18_18.08.21]

I think the overriding message of Utakoi is, “You know – maybe people just aren’t meant to get together.”

[HorribleSubs] Utakoi - 12 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.04_[2012.09.18_17.50.53]Utakoi took a slightly different tack this week, offering the same series of events from two different perspectives, and fancifully imagining that two poems in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu referenced that scenario.  We’ve often seen the theme of how rigid class structure in the Heian period was an enormous obstacle to personal happiness, especially as it comes to romance, but rarely have we seen it in such bleak and depressing terms.  The first part of the story is told through the eyes of Fujiwara (duh) no Michimasa (Kiuchi Hidenobu, who as far as I know holds the distinction of being the only seiyuu to appear in both versions of Hunter X Hunter), as he has a chance encounter with the young princess Masako (Hanazawa Kana) on the evening before she’s to be sent off to be a Miko at the Ise Shrines.

[HorribleSubs] Utakoi - 12 [720p].mkv_snapshot_02.28_[2012.09.18_17.52.50]Things would have been hard enough for Michimasa and Masako anyway, as he’s the scion of a once great clan in decline and she the daughter of a former emperor, but the fact that she was a priestess at the holiest shrine in Shinto makes things even more impossible.  Though a child at their first meeting, Masako remembers Michimasa’s kindness well – and when he sends her a letter welcoming her home three years later, an illicit romance is born.  She wants to elope with the intention of forcing her father to acknowledge their relationship and elevate her lover’s status, but though he loves her, Michimasa refuses on the grounds that it could shatter what was left of his family’s reputation.  After her father hears of their tryst and forbids them to meet, Michimasa pens poem #63 in the Ogura:

Ima wa tada
Omoi taenan
To bakari wo
Hito-zute nara de
Iu yoshi mo gana

Is there any way
Except by a messenger
To send these words to you?
If I could, I’d come to you
To say goodbye forever.

Fujiwara no Michimasa

[HorribleSubs] Utakoi - 12 [720p].mkv_snapshot_04.05_[2012.09.18_17.54.27]Unlike so many of the poems in the Hyakunin Isshu, the meaning of this one is pretty indisputable – whether the words refer to Masako or not, the situation it depicts seems clear-cut.  The second part of the episode recounts the same events from the point of view of Masako, with a focus on her aging father Sanjo (Yara Yuusaku).  The tragedy here is that if he could, Sanjo would have loved nothing more than the bless the marriage and make his daughter – the apple of his eye – happy.  But he can’t, and hates himself for it – and Masako hates herself for being naïve and putting both the men she loves into an impossible situation.  There are no villains in this trio, just an untenable situation that brings unhappiness to all of them.  In despair, Sanjo pens Ogura poem #68 upon his retirement to the life of a monk:

Kokoro ni mo
Arade ukiyo ni
Koishikaru beki
Yowa no tsuki kana

Though I do not want
To live on in this floating world,
If I remain here,
Let me remember only
This midnight and this moonrise.

Emperor Sanjo

[HorribleSubs] Utakoi - 12 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.45_[2012.09.18_18.44.41]Sanjo’s poem is subject to a bit more interpretation, but here it’s conceived as a lament from a man who’s given up on life, wishing to recall a moment he shared with his daughter, staring at the moon (possibly for one of the final times of his life, as his vision was failing).  Sadly, both Sanjo and Masako seem to have given up all hope (she contemplates becoming a nun), and one can only assume that Michimasa is similarly bereft.  Again, we have a father who wishes he could have given his daughter what she desired and a daughter who holds him blameless for not doing so – yet, this offers little comfort to either.  Of all the stories Utakoi has used to illustrate the Hundred Poets, this just might be the saddest.

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  1. A

    I was saddened by the second part…a lot… Uta Koi seems to use all these brilliant poems to tell stories of the different relationships — between lovers, amongst friends, and between father and daughter. The thing is how the old structure gets in the way of one's pursuit of happiness, especially for the royals and nobles… That makes me appreciate more for being a commoner in today's world — the freedom of choice is priceless.


  2. A

    ugh, I didn't need to watch this episode after the Hyouka finale D:

  3. LOL, I hadn't thought of that. There are some parallels, aren't there?

  4. e

    argh! well, I do hope Hyouka's characters relationships can get a MUCH happier outcome – I like to think those glorious purple and pink tones in the final episode were a nice and hopeful visual clue for that among other things – . May their spring know a long warm summer instead of – to quote my fav Heian redhead lady – a winter of parting .

    About the Utakoi episode itself… it really got me from minute 10 and onwards, as soon as Michinaga started running under the first falling snowflakes (great bgm too). And the ending was killing me.
    I'm bracing my soul and arranging my kleenex shield for Teika's episode already, I'm afraid it'll be another blow to my pure maidenly heart XD.

  5. e

    Edit: MichiMASA .

  6. A

    @Enzo I'm honestly surprised that you didn't catch on it while watching it. All what I thought about in the end was how much this was similar to the themes in Hyouka, and it made more sense going by how integrated literary references are in that show.

    It's not exact, but yeah, the parallel is there and it's really uncanny at times. I honestly don't like it (LOL) but at the same time I can't help but have foreboding feeling about Oreki X Chitanda after this episode hahaha

    In any case, it's certainly a lot more similar to Hyouka than 5cm per Seconds could ever be (Takaki and Houtarou are not even remotely similar in personalty or ability (in fact, the two have very different hobbies and ambitions), Houtarou and Eru meeting and eventual feelings are different from how Takaki and Akari ended up falling in love, the pressure they face is different etc.) so I guess if someone wants to make the argument this is how it would turn out for the two …

    @elianthos Yes, I hope that the conclusion for the Hyouka parings will be much happier (and if anything, the conclusion to Satoshi's episode does give me that impression along with Oreki's daydream, so I shouldn't be too worried …). I honestly fear that my heart will shatter if this is what awaits at the end …

    As for the episode itself, man, was this just not good on my heart. I teared up with the parts with Sanjo, and like you said, after 10 min, it's just was difficult to watch.

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