"Nightsong of Splendor" --- "Kasei Yakyoku"
For those who loved "Brother, Dear Brother", here is another little-known work by the talented team Osamu Dezaki & Akio Sugino. "Kasei Yakyoku" is a 4-part OAV series produced in 1988. The anime is based on a "ladies comic" manga feature by Makiko Hirata which ran in "May" magazine. This magazine is apparently no longer published.
Why isn't this anime better known? This OAV set is extremely rare.
Though it was sold on both laserdisk and VHS, its tiny market (older girls,
young working women) probably contributed to a very limited release.
Add to that the fact that VHS tapes are deteriorating after this much time,
and even the laserdisks show some signs of degradation ("laser-rot").
We have the first two parts of this from tape source, and the second two
parts on CAV laserdisk. All 4 parts can fit onto one 120 minute tape.
We'd like to thank our club member, Jen Garuti, who located the precious
source video for us.
"Nightsong" predates "Oniisama E" by 4 years, but the "BDB" fan will immediately recognize the unmistakable character design of Sugino Akio and the dramatic, subdued intensity of director Osamu Dezaki. Scenes pan accross the screen, colliding with faces, leading to shots with stunning color contrasts and enormous depth of field, almost unmatched in animation. Over and over, agonizing frozen moments of personal conflict dissolve slowly into art-rendered paintings of great beauty, to remain stored in our conciousness forever. This is some of the greatest animation from two of the greatest masters in Japan. The viewer is likely to be reminded of both "Oniisama E" and "Black Jack".
The story takes place in old Tokyo, the Tokyo of August-September 1923 (Showa 12). At this moment in time, the city is a mixture of extremes... past and present, rich and poor, good and bad. This is a city where we see both horsecarts and motorcars, swords and pistols, lords and businessmen. A wealthy woman from an upper-class family finds herself attracted to a handsome young man, Taka. He and his younger brother seem to be allied, perhaps not entirely willingly, with some of the city's criminal underground (Yakuza). The lady's lovely young maidservant, Sara, meets him too, and a conflict ensues which can only lead to tragedy, passion, and dishonor. But, as events move on, and the days pass, the viewer sees a terrible date coming closer... that unforgettable day of September 1, 1923, at 11:58, when the Great Kanto Earthquake and tidal wave struck Tokyo, causing the death of almost 100,000 people, one of the greatest disasters in human history. But, as an era ends, life still continues. From the ashes even romance can rise again. This story would make a fine opera. Dezaki's methodical and painstaking storytelling unfolds at a comfortable, brisk pace. The characterization is detailed and vivid.
"Nightsong" is for MATURE VIEWERS ONLY. The story contains scenes of violence, nudity, and sexual encounters. I would venture that the material might be suitable for 16 year olds or older, but parents should decide this for themselves.
For those who have seen "Brother Dear Brother", recall the movie "Believe in Love" which Nanako sees with her friends in episode 25. This "movie-in-an-anime" which showed for a few seconds could almost be a twin to "Nightsong" in appearence. Both of them were "rather adult in nature." 16-year old Nanako felt a little uncomfortable watching "Believe in Love" because of the steamy scenes, and similar scenes are found in "Nightsong."
We will begin accepting sponsorships (4 of them) for the feature later in 2000. In the meantime, we'll keep this web page current and available so that you know what to expect.
There is no direct translation of the title because it is written as a "kanji pun". Right now, we're using the working title of "Nightsong of Splendor" for our English language fansub of "Kasei Yakyoku." The word "yakyoku" translates in a straightforward way as night music, evensong, nocturne, etc. In this case it feels right to include the word "night" in the translation to help emphasize the passion and adult nature of the subject matter. However, the word "kasei" is less easy to render. As spoken, "kasei" could mean "Mars" which would be written as a combination of the usual kanji "fire"+"star". However, the "ka" from the combination "ka-rei" meaning "splendor, magnificence" is used instead of the Mars "fire" kanji, implying that the meaning is not literally "Mars." A closer rendering might be "Of Starry Splendor" or "Star-splendored" but this is a bit clumsy in English. We'll decide later on the final title with the help of our translator, but for now "Nightsong of Splendor" is the title we're using, and it could well be the title we'll stick with.