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.
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 (伯牙絶絃). This word is derived from a story between two people, named 伯牙 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.