A huge, powerful dragon falls in love with a chatty donkey, romantically pursues him, and the pair are finally married in Shrek and have babies in Shrek 3. What does their happy marriage embody? Does it promote the notion of indiscriminative love?
Focusing on Japanese folkloric representations of non-human animal brides, this paper discusses the significance of and changes within the irui-kon (lit. marriages between different kinds) and situates the folkloric legacy of these tales in relation to contemporary manga/anime, in terms of the search for genuine and equal relationships.
Irui-kon has been a popular motif in many parts of the world since the ancient period. In Japan, such folkloric tales have evolved intertextually through different genres. Typically, such marriages are established between human grooms and non-human brides (e.g., heavenly woman, cranes, and foxes). The position of the non-human is ambiguous. They can marry only in human shape and will disappear when their identities are revealed. Despite the animistic closeness between humans and non-humans, the stories may be read as an individual’s longing for a genuine love suppressed and/or prohibited by social norms.
Conversely western tales of love between humans and non-humans are anthropocentric with many non-humans (both males and females) being in fact cursed humans. When their curses have been broken, (e.g., by a princess’ kiss to a frog prince), they regain their human form. As exemplified by Beauty and the Beast, these tales are often retold and analysed in terms of sexual awakening.
The tales of love and friendships between humans and non-humans (e.g., vampires, robots, animals) have increased considerably in recent decades. What do these discourses represent in a society where numerous social and physical barriers have been shaken, blurred and shifted? This paper deals with the irui-kon to link a message, posed by numerous youth literature today – Love me as I am. (290)
|Keywords:||Irui-Kon, Marriages between Different Kinds, Equal Relationships, Manga and Anime, Intertextuality|
Liaison Librarian, Library, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Senior Lecturer, Division of Humanities, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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