Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sakkigake Chamorro! #5: Master Keaton

Esta måtto ta’lo i tiempo para bei in che’gue ta’lo “Sakkigake Chamorro!”

It’s been a while since I did one of these, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it.

I never was really an Otaku, but rather an anime dilettante, and so I very rarely go through periods of sleep depriving anima obsession, where I make unwise decisions to stay up for most of the nights reading through back issues of mangas such as MPD Psycho or Gantz (ta'lo!) or start watching an entire season of anime late in the evening, knowing full well that each episode I watch will just make me want to watch one more and the closer I get to the end of the season the more I will be able to convince myself that it is tomtom that I stay awake to finish it.

The rest of the time however, my approach to anime is very temperate, ko’lo’lo’ña since I moved back to Guam. While in the states, cheap, sometimes pirated anime on Ebay or at flea markets would constantly feed my habit, on Guam finding titles I’m interested in isn’t as easy and so I’ve come to watch less and less. When My Anime Shop closed at the Agana Shopping Center this made it even easier to watch less anime and read less manga.

But recently I found a couple of DVDs for a series called Master Keaton, and I really enjoy it. It originally comes from a manga of the same name created by Urasawa, who is famous for 20th Century Boys, Monster and Pluto. Master Keaton is about a very talented, intelligent and resourceful academic named Taichi Hiroga Keaton, who has difficulty getting a permanent academic post and so constantly turns to doing “consulting work” for different individuals or entities, most prominently the insurance consortium Lloyds’s of London. His consulting work takes him around the world and allow him to show off his skills as a historian, archeologist, survival specialist, hostage negotiator and many other talents. In my mind he represents an interesting reversal of the heroic mythos of Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones. When Harrison Ford wore his glasses and had his bowtie and suit on, we were supposed to see him as this uber-nerd, yet these moments were always a sort of limbo, a transition/waiting period. The norm for Indiana Jones was his bahakke’, his hat and his whip. When we saw Jones in his “regular-guy” clothes, it was almost meant to be humorous, not really who is was. That is why when I watched the Indiana Jones films, the most unbelievable moments were always when Indiana Jones was somehow supposed to be a real college professor! Giving lectures! Meeting with students about grades! Mas ti hongge’on ayu kinu annai ha sodda’ i taotao estreyas gi i mina’kuatro na mubi!

With Keaton, it is the opposite. He is a mild-mannered, blue suit and tie wearing professor. Who is clearly brilliant, but is also perceived as being mediocre and harmless by nearly all who meet him (at least at first). What makes episodes of Master Keaton funny and entertaining is how this mild-mannered quality is maintained throughout the episodes by those who Keaton interacts with. Even when he lets slip snippets of his brilliance, those around him still don’t take the bait. And so, by the episode’s end, when Keaton, the dork in the unlimited supply of boring blue suits has saved the day in some miraculous way, it makes his accomplishment even more exciting, because although we all know he is not “normal” the tone of the anime still keeps that veneer. I’m sure that for many, you can see the difference between the two heroes in the cultures that spawned them. Indiana Jones is a more Western style hero who is tactless, upfront, brawny, he is simple to understand, simple to follow and distinguishes himself by getting out of impossible situations by the skin of his teeth (is this a saying or did I just mix metaphors again?). Keaton is the epitome of an Eastern style hero, who does not wear his skills on his sleeves, and does not reveal more than necessary. He is more composed than Jones and triumphs because of more careful calculation than daring or bluster.

Also, as someone who for the past year tried to get different jobs at UOG and failed to be hired permanently, I feel an affinity with Keaton who has tenure problems of his own. I also (wishfully) identify with his combination of being an academic but also a survival expert or master. For the past few months I’ve started to work on becoming more familiar and more accustomed to the outdoors on Guam, taking hundreds of people on hikes, helping them understand the history of this island. I am in no way a survival expert, but I hope that I can find more ways to be connected to the world around me through my academic and my activist work.

The first half of Master Keaton had a song titled “eternal wind” by the band BLUE play during the ending credits. The song is simple and not very long, but because of my newfound love for the anime, I decided to translate it into Chamorro. Original lyrics in English are first and then the Chamorro translation below. Keep in mind, the Chamorro translation is not exact and does not really intend to follow the lyrics of the original. Languages each have their own metaphors and images and ways of saying things, and so this is the pain of translation. What may be easy to say in some silly pop song in this language, may take several sentences in another.


“eternal wind” by BLUE
In a dream I had,

I noticed your distant, faint voice

A scene so familiar playing out in reality

In my consciousness

The sky I was searching for brings forth a gentleness

Time will give me the answer

In the blank scene before me

I walk as the wind blows

I just want to touch it with my own hands

As the wind blows against me


“Taifinakpo’ na Manglo”
Ginnen BLUE
Gi painge mangguife yu’

(Last night I had a dream)

Hu fakcha’i i chatoppan na bos-mu

(I discovered your voice so very soft)

Ha na’hasso yu’ na eståba hit taiguini

(It reminded me that we were once like this)

Ya esta masusedi este

(And that this has already happened)

The sky I was searching for brings forth a gentleness

(And the sky is helping me find it again)

I tiempo ha’ tumungo’ i chalån-hu

(Time alone knows my path)

Gi i fantufaiyan gi me’na-hu

(In the desolation ahead of me)

Mamomokkat yu’ gi halom i pakyo’

(I am walking through a storm)

Hu kekepacha’ gui’ ni este dos kannai-hu

(I am trying to touch it with these two hands of mine)

Lao i manglo ha kekeasa yu’.

(But the wind is trying to push me away)

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