Books

Where Did Blue Ogre Go?

Even though it was supposed to be the first day of spring, it became very cold and snowed in Tokyo. ONI(Japanese goblin) On the other hand, it was very warm the day before, which was also Setsubun, the last day of winter.

Japanese people have a custom called mame-maki, in which they throw and scatter beans inside and outside their houses while saying “Ogres out! Fortune in!” on Setsubun. Ogres are one symbol of Setsubun. I saw many red ogres, on the Setsubun advertisements around town.

Where did Blue Ogre go? By blue Ogre, I mean the Blue Ogre in Naita Akaoni (The Red Ogre That Cried) by Hirosuke Hamada.

The main character in this story is Red Ogre, who is eager to become friends with humans. He is a character with strong desire to earn the trust of the humans in the near-by village. His best friend Blue Ogre, who understands Red Ogre’s wish, comes up an idea that he attacks the village, and Red Ogre comes to defeat him. Then the village would know Red Ogre is trustworthy figure. Blue Ogres’ plan indeed works and Red Ogre does become friends with villagers. But when Red Ogre visits Blue Ogre, he finds out that his friend disappeared. Only a letter is left on the door.

Dear Red Ogre,

Whatever happens, be sincere and stay friends with villagers. I hope you have a happy and fun life with them.

I will not see you for a while. If we keep hanging out together, the villagers might begin being suspicious of you again. That’s would indeed be disappointing. So I decided to go out on a journey. It might be a long one. But I’ll never forget you. We might see each other again somewhere. Farewell, my friend. Please take care of yourself. No matter what happens, I am your friend.     

Blue Ogre

naitaakaoniRed Ogre reads the letter again and again, and cries.

I suppose that Blue Ogre thought that it was impossible to continue his friendship in the same place (situation) with Red Ogre, who wanted to be friends with the skeptic humans, and that was why had he left.

When Blue Ogre shares his plan of him attacking the village, Red Ogre worries the villagers will think of his friend as evil. But we can see his philosophy in his reply.

“You cannot avoid feeling pain or loosing something when you accomplish something. Someone must be the sacrifice, or the scapegoat for someone other’s success.” 

Is that true? It may be that I just don’t want to agree with him, I don’t know. But  I think Blue Ogre is very cool.

Red Ogre’s dream comes true and he becomes friends with humans. But they might have doubts in him again if they find out that Blue Ogre is his friend. That’s would indeed be disappointing. So Blue Ogre goes on a journey. He chooses the way to best leave hope for his best friends’ future.

It might be a long journey. I wonder if Blue Ogre had always had a choice to go on a journey. Maybe he had always had that nature to encourage him to live that way. If so, it means that the day to go on a journey just came in a wake of the incident.

I think that Blue Ogre had compared himself with Red Ogre who is purely eager to become friends with humans, and could not help but seeing that his nature is absolutely different from Red Ogre’s. After realizing that he couldn’t hide it any longer, he decides to help his friend’s dream come true, and takes the role which he thinks is correct.

Red Ogre cries to read the letter, but I think that Blue Ogre does not think that he had sacrificed himself. Even though they can no longer stay together.

No matter what happens, I am your friend, Blue Ogre said.

I respect Blue Ogre’s capacity for compassion. Not just during Setsubun, but I sometimes wonder: Where did Blue Ogre go?

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photo by: tanakawho