Manji, it is a symbol that is quite important to some or most Buddhists. According to the Buddhist tradition the Manji, which is a symbol that strikingly resembles a reverse swastika, appeared on the chest of the historical Buddha, and represents the four-way power of the human heart. It's rather abstract, but I tend to think of it as something like a compass, or a pinwheel swirling around in all directions.

Manji, is also the title of a novel written in 1928 by everyone's favorite Japanese author, and master of ero-guro-nansensu, Jun'ichiro Tanizaki, this node is mainly about said publication. Since the date of it's original publication, Manji was translated into various languages, including German (The Buddhist Crucifix) and English (Quicksand); it even spawed several film adaptations and interpretations, one of which is described as "poruno"

The story of Manji is a tragic tale involving lesbianism, confused religous values, a love quadrangle, suicide pacts and more! It is told in a retrospective confessional style narration by Sonoko Kakiuchi, a bored "leisure class" house wife. Essentially, the story goes like this: Sonoko, becomes severely physically attracted to a mysterious Ms.Mitsuko Tokumitsu, a fellow pupil at a ladies' art academy. As the two become more intimate, Mitsuko's manipulative and religously androgenous 1 lover Eijiro Watanuki becomes involved, and eventually the whole affair leads to the death of Mitsuko and Sonoko's freeloading and socially awkward lawyer-husband Kotaro through a suicide pact.

While the story is played out over the plot of a risque sexual affair, the actual meaning transcends far beyond sexuality to give tiny insights into the nature of human beings. There are several different themes at work all at once, among them are (or possibly): the rise of bizzare religions in affluent times, women's liberation, westernization, and good old big nasty overpowering government. Manji, is considered to be Tanizaki's most complex and important work.

Among some of the interesting things that occurr stylisticly in Manji (the novel) are: An unreliable narrator, Sonoko assumes the perspective of other characters and knows everything about them, yet often backtracks and tells different versions of her own story to reveal more information; and she even explains various forms of trickery she carried out and willingly fell for in her relationship. Also, in both the film and novel, the characters become personifications of the meanings of their names; Mitsuko ( 光子 or "Light-child") becomes the object of everyone's devotion, Eijiro ( 影次郎 Shadow boy, similar to the Japanese word eikyou 影響 or influence) is constantly looming in the backround of things and whipping up contracts and pacts in his favor, Sonoko( 園子 Garden-child), is a bored young lady trapped in the role of a house wife, and Kotaro (児太郎 or Big-fat-baby) is a big fat stupid guy who is naive about things in the world.

The numerous film adaptations of Manji include:

  • Manji - Masumura Yasuzo (1965) very close to the original novel
  • Manji - Yokoyama Hiroto (1983) this is the much hated "poruno" one
  • The Berlin Affair - Liliana Cavani (1985) Set in Nazi Germany with Germans, Nazis, and a Japanese lesbian love interest.

  • 1 - He's impotent and described as a "100%-safe playboy", with a masculine beauty like a "grecian statue" or "Jesus or the Buddha" (unicode tags)
    And the original novel, translated to English and published by Borzoi books.

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