Daily Bibibi – What is the appeal of Ryoko Yamagishi’s masterpiece “Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi”? [13/12/2021]

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In December’s Bibibi column, Ranko talks about Ryoko Yamagishi and her manga about Prince Shoutoku!

I’m Ranko, the BUTAOTOME vocalist. This series of articles is about the things I like and how I like them.

…but you know, from this point on, it’s going to be “a series of articles and sometimes a production diary about my favorite manga and anime”. This means that the scope of what I like has been narrowed. Thank you for your continued support.

This time, I’d like to talk about the manga artist “Ryoko Yamagishi”‘s masterpiece “Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi”, which formed the basis of my work.

I have a lot of favorite manga, but I’ve been reading Ryoko Yamagishi’s manga since I was a little girl, because my parents liked her works and we had them on our bookshelf at home. (as well as Moto Hagio’s and Osamu Tezuka’s)

Covers of Ryoko Yamagishi’s “Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi” / Photo courtesy of Ranko no Ane

This is the bunkobon version, isn’t it? It’s the same as the one I had at my parents’ house. I like the cover of the fifth volume.

As the title “Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi” suggests, Prince Shotoku (known by his childhood name of Prince Umayado in the manga) is the main character. The story is about him and the people around him, mainly Soga Emishi.

The first time I consciously thought to myself, “Let’s read this manga,” was when I was in high school.

I was in a Japanese history elective class of liberal arts, and I adored my Japanese history teacher. He told me “you really should read this manga”, but I read it when I was little, so I read it again.

It’s hard to put into words how shocked I was at that moment… I read through it in one night, and even though I had school the next day, I stayed up all night weeping.

The loneliness of the prince was too painful and too heavy for me as a high school student to understand or accept, and all I could do was cry.

Ah~~~Anyway, the prince is so cute!! He’s really beautiful and bewitching, yet dangerous and fragile… In fact, all he really wanted was love…

It’s very cruel to have the power to have everything, but not be able to have what you want the most. I think Ryoko Yamagishi is a genius and I love the way she depicts this in a very neutral and vivid way.

I liked the prince very much, so I really disliked Soga Emishi, or rather, I was angry with him for leaving the prince alone… Everyone in my class felt the same way.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve read the manga again, and I still love the prince. However, I have come to understand Emishi’s feelings a little better. I’ve become an adult. I’m not convinced yet, though.

There are many other manga by Ryoko Yamagishi that I like, but I picked up this one because it was well-timed.

The other day, I went to the “Prince Shotoku Exhibition” at the Suntory Museum of Art in Roppongi.

Prince Shotoku Exhibition poster

This exhibit showed how much faith has been placed in the existence of Prince Shotoku. Every time there is a new era, there is a new large picture scroll depicting his life, from the Heian, Kamakura, Muromachi, and Edo periods. Even though the content is the same. Isn’t that amazing?

By the way, the original arts of “Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi” are also on display. Really… seeing them up close only made me wonder more and more about how they were drawn… it was amazing.

This exhibition will be open until January 10, 2022, so please come and see it.

And now Ryoko Yamagishi’s manga has been published as an e-book! Woo-hoo!

I don’t have many e-books, but I left Hi Izuru Tokoro no Tenshi at my parents’ house, so I took this opportunity to reread it in e-book format. I still want it in book form, so I’ll buy the complete edition.

And that’s it, I will write my impressions rather than a review.

I hope you’ll all stay tuned for the next installment. Well, Ranko signing off.