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Street kamishibai. Irie Masayuki & Aoki Shiro. - Kogane Yasha 81 Neppu Hen

n.p. Shinko Gageki Kyokai (194-?). Eight handpainted and varnished heavy boards, 25x35cm. Text handwritten on the back. Edges worn and minor scrapes and blemishes as expected. ¶ If you've looked at published kamishibai and wondered how it could ever have been popular ... it wasn't. The published stuff was almost all heavy handed propaganda and improving drivel produced without any artistic skill or imagination by government and education agencies and pressed on children in schools. Real street kamishibai was produced by hand by the kamishibai men themselves or by associations - such as the Shinko Gageki Kyokai - that acted more or less as lending libraries. Which is not to say that a hell of a lot of street kamishibai wouldn't be described kindly as 'naive'. But enough had to be compelling to bring and keep audiences. Specially through hundreds of episodes, which some stories ran for. Kamishibai was not long lived. It was more or less born with cinema and died with television, and the greatest works, as far as they have survived, were produced toward the end, during the occupation after the war. The connection to film serials is inescapable of course but kamishibai is not burdened with technical restraints. If you can imagine it, you can draw it and you can tell the story. The greatest of them all, without doubt, is the Golden Yasha. Irie, the writer, and Aoki, the artist, both worked on other stories and some of them are fabulous but everything came right with this weird gangster noir. The attention and care show that they knew they were doing something great - it's way beyond what was needed to tell a story from the back of a bike to a bunch of kids. At first I though most of it was airbrushed but, peering with a lupe, I'm now less convinced. Much seems to be washes of ink done by brush. I'm yet to see another kamishibai with this amount of careful detail. If you want to see what happens when a master of the fine brush has fun have a close look at those eyebrows and moustaches. I have no idea how many episodes were produced, nor how many survive. I have enthusiastically chased the Golden Yasha for a few years, since I first saw a fragment come up for sale, and have traced a few episodes between episode 70 and this episode 81. All seem to have come from the same source but no more have appeared for some time. Neither can I help with the story. The character on the bike is one of a pair of goons fleeing for his life after seeing his partner killed on the street. The young woman has spent every episode I've seen being kidnapped by various thugs. The only other characters I've glimpsed that might not be villains are a burnt woman with her head in bandages and a brunette with a furious glare and a revolver. I think she might be the Yasha - the female demon - but that's maybe too obvious. And she's not the sort to hide behind a mask.
AUD 5000.00 [Appr.: EURO 3215.25 US$ 3467.5 | £UK 2878.5 | JP¥ 455341] Book number 10950

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