Gravitation 5

March 13, 2012

Maki Murakami – Tokyopop – 2004 – 12 volumes

So, Bad Luck gets a new manager in this volume. Because this series is insane, he’s a really tall, hyperactive American man that always has a gun and uses it to force his will on people. He’s creepy. In one scene, he shows up randomly in Yuki’s house and wakes Shuichi up by shoving a gun in his face and making alarm clock noises.

Even creepier, we get to see one of the more depraved sides to Seguchi. He reveals he’s way more into Yuki than we first suspected. And while this series has all sorts of Looney Tunes-like cartoon violence, what Seguchi does here is no joke. And I’m sure this is only the beginning. I know he will somehow turn this on Shuichi someday.

Other things happen. Nittle Grasper gets back together. Shuichi out-cools Ryuichi during an impromptu performance, which makes Ryuichi get serious for a moment and causes a rift between Shuichi and his hero. It also takes away Bad Luck’s keyboard player, so we get a new character as a regular, too. There’s a pretty fantastic Nittle Grasper / Bad Luck concert at the end of the book. It’s fantastic for a couple reasons. Story-wise, it’s pretty great, but it also manages to be really cool while still coming after about 1,000 of Gravitation’s trademark bad jokes. And they’re so bad that they come back around and are funny again. The dated translation only makes things that much better. For instance, at one point Shuichi asks if he’s been Punk’d.

One of the things that does bother me about the translation is that it uses the word “mongoloid” a couple times. I was an adult before I’d heard more than one slur, so most of them confuse me, and there’s a mental disconnect between the words and their offensive intent. Hard to explain, but it comes down to the fact that most slurs don’t really register to me. “Mongoloid” is different. It’s intent is to imply that someone is mentally handicapped, but it does that via implying an entire race of people is such. This is so offensive it blows my mind. I was genuinely shocked the first time I ran across this, and understood its meaning immediately without having ever seen it before. This word is so special that I remember the only other two times I’ve read or heard it anywhere. Once was in A Confederacy of Dunces, and the other was in a Patricia Highsmith short story. And I’ve seen it twice in the 7 volumes of Gravitation I’ve read. That is more shocking to me than anything else in this series ever could be.

But enough of the serious talk! The romance continues as Yuki and Shuichi have their ups and downs in this volume, but for the most part they seem to continue to go well together, with each motivating the other in their own special and absurd ways. This was mostly a Bad Luck volume, but there was still plenty of Shuichi/Yuki to sustain me through the volume. More on that later, though.

On to the next volume! I’ve already admitted I’ve read up to volume 7, so I’m mostly playing review catch-up before I let myself read more volumes. Volume 7 leaves off in a strange place, and I’m eager to continue, but more on that later.

3 Responses to “Gravitation 5”

  1. Chris Says:

    I didn’t know mongoloid was a slur. I thought it was just an old sciency word for east-asian people (there’s caucasoid/europoid and negroid too). “-oid” means “resembling”, so mongoloid means “resembling mongols”. It is an outdated concept, just like most racial ‘science’ but I always thought of it as a neutral, if somewhat politically-incorrect, term. But maybe it has developed into a slur.

    (sorry I’m a word-nerd so I couldn’t resist posting)

  2. Connie Says:

    Perhaps “slur” is the wrong word? The first time I ran across it was in a short story from the 50s or so that had an American man casually describing his mentally handicapped son as “mongoloid” rather than “handicapped” or “disabled,” which struck me as incredibly offensive. I can’t reconcile the original meaning of the word with a usage like that without picking up the connotations of a slur, but maybe I’m wrong? In Gravitation, it is used as an insult the same way “retard” would be, though.

  3. I believe I’ve seen it as a word used to describe people with Down’s Syndrome. I checked on Wikipedia just to see if I was making that up, but I wasn’t. I think you sort of got it as intended, Connie.

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