Friendship in Gungrave and Legend of The Galactic Heroes

April 18, 2009


Here is my attempt at something Wabisabi would write. There is a word made up of four chinese characters and that is (金蘭之交). It is pronounced Geum Lan Ji Gyou in korean (don’t ask me for chinese pronounciation) and is a quite beautiful description of a friendship. This word derives its meaning from what Confucius said long ago: “When two friends put their mind together, it is strong enough to cut through steel and is more fragrant than an orchid”.

同人 先號 而後笑 子曰 君子之道 惑出惑處 惑默惑 語 二人同心 其利斷金 同心之言 其臭如蘭. 《易經 繫辭上傳》

Out of countless chinese words invented to describe friendship I found this to be very interesting and also appropriate to the one shared between Harry and Brandon in Gungrave. They were like brothers and together, nothing could stop them. But when feelings conflicted, and things like suspicions and betrayals came between them, it all fell apart. While Brandon chose his friend over the Millennium, Harry chose ambition over his friend. Harry may have his organisation and army of zombies, but does it compare to the friendship he once shared with Brandon? The kind of friendship that can overcome any obstacles, as long as they had each other’s back they were content to die together. Stronger than any metal and more fragrant than any flower in the world. At the end, although it may seem that they have lost everything (and Harry did once lost everything when he realised that he killed Brandon for nothing), they finally have each other once again, content to die together in the most resolute and beautiful way possible.

legend of galactic heroes

This is another interesting word in relation to friends. It describes not a friendship but a special kind of grief, and that word is baek a jul hyun (). This word is derived from a story between two people, named 牙 and 種子期 from Jin Dynasty.

For the sake of simplicity let us call them Baek and Jong.

Baek was a great player of Guqin(traditional chinese stringed instrument) and he often performed for Jong. When Baek played thinking of mountains, Jong proclaimed, “this sense of soaring high into sky is like that of great mountains!” and when Baek tried to express rivers, “this boldness is like a flow of great river!”. One day, Jong died of an illness. Baek cried and cried, and he himself cut the strings of his beloved musical instrument. He truly believed that no one understood, nor ever will understand his mucic like his friend. Music was everything for him and to lose one person who could understand him, and share it with him, was a grief beyond words.

There is a character in Legend of The Galactic Heroes who goes through a similar loss. An unbearable loss, and even without having watched further episodes, I can already sense its consequential effect on himself  and the entire universe already in motion.


9 Responses to “Friendship in Gungrave and Legend of The Galactic Heroes”

  1. ghostlightning Says:

    The memory of this moment in Legend of the Galactic Heroes is still very much with me. I wasn’t able to watch the show for a whole week after episode the 26th.

    I won’t confirm your prediction, but it is indeed obvious that this is a significant loss – a friend of mine and spoke of it as the final severance between Reinhard von Lohengramm and any innocence he had left.

  2. Harry may have his organisation and army of zombies, but does it compare to the friendship he once shared

    I don’t know, an army of zombies might come in handy now and then. But seriously, I haven’t watched Gungrave, but it sounds entertaining and Kuroda, the script writer, has been involved in some decent stuff.

    I like the story behind baek a jul hyun. It captures the importance of an appreciative audience.

    LotGH is indeed very bromantic/homosocial. I wonder if you could say that conquest and statecraft are Reinhard’s equivalent of Baek’s music? There is something artistic about it, if you ask me. Then again, as I’m sure Oberstein and Yang would both say (though they would see it from different points of view), seeing art in Reinhard’s conquest ignores the suffering and death caused by his ambition.

  3. lelangir Says:

    Hmm this reminds me that I need to write about gartyrdom in G00….

  4. Baka-Raptor Says:

    Friendship. Bah. Anything worth doing is worth doing alone.

  5. gaguri Says:

    Yea it was really depressing. I was like, ‘no no NOOO THIS CAN NOT BE HAPPENING’. I think it’s ok for me to consider this as the end of ‘season one’ and watch something else for a while.

    @The Animanachronism
    Do watch Gungrave, it is amazing. Although I myself have a very big problem with how it handled second half of the series, it still redeemed itself with one of the best final cinematic moments.

    There is artistry in conquest but the parallel between Baek’s music has I think more to do with what it means to those people. Music was everything for Baek and arguably Reinhard’s purpose was to overthrow the corrupt dynasty and conquer the universe. To lose someone who understands their world, way of life, is very sad indeed.

    I like Iknight’s ‘bromantic’ better than ‘gartyrdom’ but good luck on your posts anyway 😀

    Yep, exactly why I blog alone ^__^

  6. muhootsaver Says:

    Oooh, watching Galactic Heroes? That was a decent series. I don’t think any space opera(anime) had bigger scale than this show or manage to wrap things up as cleanly as this one. It was as if I was reading an autobiography of historic figures.

    And you are right. That loss will influence Reinhard’s future decisions quite a bit.

  7. gaguri Says:

    I suspect Galactic Heroes is going to be better than just decent but yea…the scale of this series is immense and that’s just the first 26 episodes. And it does have that feel of reading through history, and the last time I remember such feeling when watching anime was Rose of Versailles, which is also amazing.

  8. MightyMaeve Says:

    My! What unusual entries you have here! I find your blog fascinating, especially with my love of words and expressions and the power they can evoke when strung along masterfully in an anime or manga.

    ““When two friends put their mind together, it is strong enough to cut through steel and is more fragrant than an orchid.” That was striking.

    And the story of the ‘special kind of grief’ was so briefly relayed by you, but it piqued my curiosity and touched me immediately.

    Both of those animes are on my ‘to watch’ list. I’m bumping them up on said list!

  9. gaguri Says:

    It is usually the unusual that truly captivates me, and unusual is something I strive for in my blog 😀

    That friend quote, and the grief story originates from Chinese history, all I did was describe them as succinctly as I could. There are tons of these words, which really are fascinating I agree, and many asians (well…more like cultural elites) learn these Chinese words, as they are amusing/interesting. I know quite a few but there are others who are far more versed with them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s