20.6.09

Nekojiru / ねこぢる

Just recently I started reading a very unusual, interesting and sometimes even shocking and gives-me-the-creeps manga called ねこぢる (Nekojiru / "Cat Juice"). It's the first manga I've ever read in Japanese. I have to admit it's more difficult than I expected, although I have been enjoying the addition of lots of strange new words to my vocabulary. LOL!

橋口千代美 (Hashiguchi Chiyomi) (1967 - 1998) is the mangaka (manga artist/writer) who created this fine work, although she, herself, usually went by the name Nekojiru. The series ねこぢるうどん (Nekojiru Udon), which is now considered to be her finest work, first debuted in 1990. The main characters in Nekojiru are, as the title suggests, cats, primary focused on the cute little kitty brother and sister duo, Nyāko and Nyātta. Surprisingly, the lives of these cute cats are steeped in dark humour, paradoxical comedy, brutality, eeriness and just outright craziness. This probably sounds a bit strange and perhaps even off-putting to some of my readers, but I give you my assurance that this is what makes this manga so unbelievably appealing and fascinating! Quite possibly, some of the content in Nekojiru's stories was influenced by psychedelic drugs like psilocybin mushrooms which make appearances in her books from time to time. Admittedly, after reading one of the stories, I find myself feeling dazed and a little bit creeped out or even disturbed, but in spite of that, or perhaps *because of* it, I am eager for more! I think there is a lot to be said for manga that has the power to do THAT!

After an increase in popularity two anime adaptations of Nekojiru were created. ねこぢる劇場 (Nekojiru Gekijō / Nekojiru Theatre) aired in Japan on TV Asahi in 1999. Then, in 2001, the award-winning ねこぢる草 (Nekojiru Sou / "Nekojiru Grass") was released in both Japan and the U.S. (named "Cat Soup" in English). Sadly, Hashiguchi-san was unable to enjoy any of the fame surrounding her work since she had committed suicide by hanging herself on 10-May-1998, seemingly without any clear motivation, leaving no suicide note.

People who knew Nekojiru personally found her to be somewhat plain and misunderstood, but also unpredictable, mysterious and seemingly fragile if not for shadowy side of her internal personality which she expressed so powerfully in her manga. Whatever the truths of her persona may be, she was an amazing mangaka who left her unique and incomparable mark on the world for which many of us will be forever thankful.

Here are some links I'd like to include with my post:
  • Nekojiru homepage: http://nekojiru.net/
  • A wonderful up-close-and-personal English-translation of a memoir written by 吉永嘉明 (Yoshinaga Yoshiaki) in a book called 自殺されちゃった僕 (Jisatsu Sarechatta Boku) about his acquaintances with Nekojiru: Part 1, Part 2

17 comments:

Douglas said...

Thanks for posting this. You should translate these someday! It's tragic that the Collected Works aren't available in English.

Brother Wormgear said...

Yes I agree- an English translation would be great since I am sure there are lots of people who would love to have it. I'll have to work at my skills a little more to do the translating myself, but it's an exciting idea! Thanks for visiting, Douglas!

Marco Nacher said...

Nekojiru's work definitively deserves more attention. I've posted a small article on my blog about her here: http://exlibrismarconacher.blogspot.com/2010/06/nekojiru.html

landry said...

I am dying for english translations of nekojiru work :(

i try not to think about it because it makes me cry

クリス said...

Hi Landry! Thank you for visiting and leaving your comment! It seems like these works really mean a lot to you, and to a couple of others here as well! Surely there must be other people who are interested as well. I guess I didn't realise this was so highly needed. Reading your post makes me really motivated to try and work on it myself. The only problem is, I can't legally distribute the translations without permission from the publisher. I would like to look into this, actually. If any of my readers have any information about taking on such an endeavour, I would really like to hear about it. I have no experience whatsoever in publishing.

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I have been reading this manga Nekojiru, and I like it because the stories are totally different from the regular series. I recommend it

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Anonymous said...

Hi-
Some of my cousins in an internet cafe have been wondering about "(Hashiguchi Chiyomi) (1967 - 1998)
committed suicide by hanging herself on 10-May-1998, leaving no suicide note." Who is appearing on YouTube with new issues?
Personally- I think these derivative works degrade the original art.
What do you think?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous:

It's her husband, NEKOJIRO-y.

Anonymous said...

I'm very interested in reading an english translation. Your post was one of the first results in google when I searched "Nekojiru Udon english", surely there must be loads of people searching the same thing and finding this same page. There must be some way you can get around the copyright issues ;]

クリス said...

Wow, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving feedback. It makes me really happy that people are still visiting my site (but I also feel bad about not updating it with new posts).

With all the interest in this particular post, I'm staring to think I should actually consider making a serious attempt at the licensing and translation!

chris said...

Jay! You should!
I would love to have the chance to look into this collected works. I recommend kickstarter to you, maybe this is a way to make this project real in a safier way.

Aksel A. Henriksen said...

I just discovered Nekojiru myself, and I love it. Zany and endearing like nothing I've ever seem before.
It's a great shame that there have been no comprehensive english translation of her works.

クリス said...

Thank you for commenting Askel! Yes I agree there really is nothing else like these works anywhere else-- cute, charming, frightening, brutal, funny, weird. It's incredible!

Parched Pinemarten said...

How did you find out she hung herself? I couldn't find much information about her suicide, always wondered how she went out. The bigger question is why she did what she did, though.
There aren't any pictures of her either. She was very mysterious, but that's what I love about her.

クリス said...

Hello Parched Pinemarten,

Yes, she was definitely very mysterious. I found that information by searching for info about her in Japanese. The info about her in English is a bit sparse. There was also some info about her suffering from depression, which was probably a contributing factor and certainly played a role in the dark content of her works.

Thanks a lot for stopping by and leaving a comment!