Denouement (Getenrou 8 & 9)

by suimasenscans

It’s naught a tumah.

I don’t really have much to say about the end. I’m not sure whether it’s the insomnia, or the rather neat (if brutal) way the story wrapped itself up. I would do a straight-up warning of somewhat more graphic material in these chapters (depicted murder, rape), but I’m going to attempt to act unconcerned about it and maybe even snark about it for good measure. Maybe, just maybe, I might even make a better post tomorrow if I can make some time. For now, let’s keep it simple and I’ll give you the releases, and you give me the sleep. No need for this to get violent….

> Getenrou 8 <

> Getenrou 9 <

[Translator: Umin; Typesetter: Oyashiro; Proofreader: IO]

Probably my last release here for two or three weeks. My apologies for our inconvenience.

– Oyashiro

(PS: I would also like to thank again /a/nonscanlations for suggesting this project and helpfully providing raws. Thanks guy.)

15 Comments to “Denouement (Getenrou 8 & 9)”

  1. Well that was an abrupt end, just as the tension and pace was getting good too =(
    Thanks for completing this

  2. Go to sleep, Oya.

  3. Thanks for the update. Actually, this length seems to me to be about the right length for this story. This is really another variation on Frankenstein and the result is the same. Ario is Frankenstein’s monster and kills his creator, who, like Frankenstein, deserved it. Einstein said: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” I think Einstein got it backward. Science without religion is blind, i.e., morally blind. Science not matched with an equally strong ethical system results in self-destruction. The problem for science occurred at the point you indicated, in the so-called Enlightenment (who decided to call it that, I wonder) when the natural philosophers split off from their synthesis with philosophy and ethics and called themseves “scientists.” It is not odd that the two main scientists in this story have both been driven insane, because they had no ethical standards to guide them. In a science not synthesized with morality, people become things to be manipulated for our own purposes. So this story is also a story of biological engineering like “Brave New World.”

    We are still stuck with the central problem, what is what is to be the source and authority for our ethical system?

    So this is the end of this arc of Genenrou. Is it also the end of the manga?

    • First question, I don’t really know. I’ll probably have some time to sit down and discuss this (through email perhaps) in a few weeks after I get moved and get settled into my job. I’m going to have to table this discussion for now, although it is intensely fascinating for me.

      Second question, yes, this is the end of the manga. I believe it was a side story Ishiguro developed in his free time, which he managed to get published in the somewhat more literary Mephisto magazine. It’s an interesting world he created here, and I think the universe is ripe for other short stories exploring the human/robot relationship. Maybe someday….

    • Also of interest to you may be Hiroshi Yamamoto’s “Stories of Ibis”, if I haven’t recommended this to you already.

  4. what abou katteni kaizo ova 6? 😦

  5. First reaction: “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

    Many elements of Getenrou reminded me of Blade Runner.

    I am trying to think of other fictional analogues to Ario but all I’m coming up with are the confused narratives about the conception of Merlin, who is usually described as being of inhuman ancestry as the son of a princess and an incubus, but is also occasionally described as the son of King Vortigern and his own daughter (in that account he denounces his father when the relationship is revealed).

    • I would agree that there are similarities to Blade Runner because the movie and the book deal with androids, and one of the themes there is how do you define “human.” But this is a topic with a very long history. I think the first robot story was “The Sandman” by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and that was written about 1818. It seems to me that Getenrou is not really humorous, but rather is grotesque in the manner of an E.T.A. Hoffmann story. There are a ton of references to earlier robot and android stories in the Clute and Nicholls Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

      Ario is the son of a human father and a human-like biological construct mother. So is Ario human? One definition of “human being” is a person who possesses a human genome. But is the definition limited to that? If the definition is not limited to that, then it is inadequate because it does not define the core concept of what constitutes a human being. Man is plainly an animal because he possesses many of the same qualities as the other animals. We usually attempt to differentiate man from the other animals by saying he is intelligent. But I have not seen any adequate definition of what constitutes intelligence. Even worms can be trained to thread a maze. So then do we limit it to self-conscious intelligence? But if the defining feature of what we consider to be a human is the possession of self- conscious intelligence, then would a self-conscious “non-human genome bearing” biological construct or a self-conscious computer also be human because it has the characteristic we have defined as essentially human? It appears to me then that it may not be possible to define “human” within a scientific framework at all, because what is “human” is not a physical characteristic at all; rather, man can only be defined within an ethical framework. So the question is, whose ethical framework are we going to use? Do we even have an ethical framework currently available to assist us? Are we going to figure out some sort of rational consensus standard, or are we just going to go with the flow and hope things sort themselves out? The problem with just going with the flow is that we will probably wind up with tragedies like Getenrou. There are more dead bodies at the end of this story than at the end of the last act in Hamlet. Maybe there was never an ethical justification for constructing faries to begin with. I notice that Kikchi Douge first began to go off the rails when he took the artificial life form that became Kirie off by himself because he did not want to share it with his research group. It was a selfish act aggravated by human pride, and the first of many such acts. He got into trouble because he had no standards to guide him, but only what he thought was best for himself. There are many ethics boards available in medical research which are supposed to be watching out for this sort of thing, and yet I also notice that they don’t seem to be stopping anything. I think that they are all just going with the flow because this kind of knowledge is just too powerful and promises so many things which may be good.

      Thanks for the reference to “The Stories of Ibis.” I have a copy I have not read yet. I have been buying most of the books in the Haikasoru line. I have also heard of Eve no Jikan although I haven’t seen it. From what I have heard it is supposed to be very good.

  6. It’s interesting that Kirie, who was formed from a compassionate act (to give the mass of cells that others discounted a chance at life), is portrayed as pretty much completely passive and tractable. We don’t see much action from Kirie, only reaction; it’s hard to say if she behaves like a creature with desires, emotions, or a soul. The fairies, from which she is derived, don’t appear to.

    The Sandman is an interesting comparison and although I haven’t read it, from the description it seems like the (non-sentient) female automaton in that story is similar to what Kirie might be, in that it is essentially an unemotional and soulless creation that is still capable of inspiring strong emotions in others.

    The robot in Metropolis is a similar case. Though it has no desires or reason of its own, it is given the form of a woman and provokes a strong reaction in the men of the city.

    On the same theme are the 1911 German novel Alraune (a sensual but dispassionate and soulless woman is born from a scientific experiment with a prostitute and a mandrake root) and the 1894 H.G. Wells story “The Lord of the Dynamo” (a man worships, offers human sacrifice to, and ultimately dies for a DC generator).

    Ario, who is the unintended result of a violent, impetuous act, behaves in a very human manner and ultimately commits violence against his father and others. To some extent this is different than many of the traditional robot narratives, where the robot is usually created intentionally and with good intentions but nonetheless turns on its creator.

    For example, the various stories of the Golem of Prague, which mostly date to the mid-late 19th century, say that it was created by Rabbi Loew in order to protect others but that it still became violent and dangerous.

    It’s peculiar that so much of the influential early literature on this topic is from Germany and what is now the Czech Republic – Alraune, the Sandman, the Golem of Prague, R.U.R, Faust…

    • You are right, I think, when you note that a lot of the early literature on this subject is linked to Germany, but this does not seem to me to be odd because the dominant cultural expression in Germany from about 1750 to about 1830 was the German Romantic movement, and one of their themes was this issue. It appears to me that in the Romantic movement this issue of what constituted a human being was not framed in scientific terms, but rather whether the being had a soul. Alan Menhennet states the following in chapter 2 of his book “The Romantic Movement”: “The central romantic dilemma is that of the relationship between spirit and reality. Pure spirit, infinite and eternal, is both everything and nothing. It is pure unified being, but if it is to achieve conscious existence, it must find an object, which means giving up some of its purity and admitting of a lower reality. … It is not hard to see from the foregoing that the romantic mentality favours religious feeling in the broad sense. … Romantic science, however, can accept a measure of mysticism. This was the era of ‘nature-philosophy’ when physical nature was seen as a series of variations on ‘thoughts’ of God, a vast unity formed and informed by spiritual forces.” So what constituted a material individual was seen in spiritual terms. Hoffmann was a major player in this movement, and also Goethe. I have found a very interesting article online called “Artificial Life and Romantic Brides” by Michael Andermatt of the University of Zurich, in which he finds that this is a major theme associated not with the Romantic movement as a whole, but rather primarily with German Romanticism. He goes into it in detail.

      I would note also that Hoffmann was an influence on Poe. This was not a theme that Poe appears to have spent much time on, although he wrote a story about a fake automaton called “Maelzel’s Chess Player.” We also know that Poe was a big influence on Lovecraft, and Lovecraft is a big influence on Gen Urobuchi. So then there is no surprise that we see a German Romantic influence on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, with its Goethe quotes on the wall (I think I read they are from Faust) and its soul gems. According to the Andermatt, there is also a reference to creating a homunuculus in Faust. I think this would resonate with the Japanese, because I think there is a Shinto belief that everything has a soul. In fact, I think that whole anime is grotesque in the spirit of a German Romantic Marchen (an adult fairy story). Even something like “Princess Tutu” is a full-scale Japanese attempt at a German Romantic Marchen, and a very successful one at that. I think someone who knows Japanese could write an important essay on the influence of German Romantic thought on Japanese culture. You mentioned “Metropolis”. The robot lady in that movie is named Maria, and I have noticed from time to time that this is sometimes used in anime as a name for a female robot.

      It would appear to me then that the Romantic movement is alive and well in the world’s popular culture, and I think that this is one of the things that makes popular culture resonate with the people as a whole; why it is “popular,” as opposed to belonging to the so-called intelligensia. The problem for the mainstream novel is that they for the most part do not seem to deal with the issues that are really important to the people and society, so it is danger of becoming irrelevant. If the most important issue of our time is the impact of technology on man and society, then the only place we see this issue being seriously and consistently addressed is science fiction, which in its turn springs largely from the Romantic Gothic Movement if you trace back its roots.

      But if all of this is the case, then it may be that popular culture leans toward the concept that what constitutes a human being is to be found in spiritual qualities rather than physical qualities; whether the definition of “human being” is a being with a soul, and this soul manifests itself through the qualities of free will and the capability of making ethical choices. I think it may be that this is a concept that runs through popular culture on this issue as an inheritance from German Romanticism. Whether or not this definition is actually true or not is a separate issue, but popular ideas have immense social influence and consequences even when they are wrong. So one of the most popular manga and anime dealing with this is “Ghost in the Shell,” although I don’t think I ever got any answers from them.

      But this I think is why anime and manga are worthwhile and why scanlation groups (such as yours) provide a vital service; they are not just a pleasure to read but they sometimes deal with important issues which give us something to think about, and which we need to think about. It is a long time since I got anything of that sort from American comics or any mainstream novel.

  7. Katte ni Kaizou OVA koi!

  8. Hello! I’am Angelique-Sama, a translator of Neko の Fansub. We request your traduction of Getenrou for Spanish’s translation, please. My email is We can add your credits’ page or a link in our list of projects in progress when your response is affirmative. Thanks very much. Your blog is great! If you prefer, you can answer me here in another comment. ^^

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