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“Carp” by Masuji Ibuse / “Mr.Carp” by Kuniko Mukoda

“Carp” by Masuji Ibuse / “Mr.Carp” by Kuniko Mukoda


“Carp” was written in 1926 by Masuji Ibuse. Although it is only 5-pages long, it has so many things to offer. I have read this story so many times and still now I find something new. The delicate emotions Ibuse depicts are rather complex to grasp fully. While a student, the protagonist receives a carp from his best friend Aoki. Since he doesn’t have a place to keep it, he decides to release the carp in a pond of Aoki’s mistress’ house. There exist some kind of antagonistic feelings between the protagonist and mistress, who both think they are the most important persons to Aoki. The protagonist tries to avoid her as much as possible. Why then does he leave the important carp at the mistress’s house? 6 years later, Aoki dies due to illness. Then, the protagonist gets the carp back from the mistress and releases it in the pool of Waseda University, where the protagonist and Aoki studied together. The story ends with the protagonist drawing a picture of the bigger carp on the frozen surface of the pool. Most probably the carp represents Aoki and their friendship and it (Aoki) will continue to live in the protagonist’s memory. It is said Ibuse wrote the story for Mr. Nampachi Aoki, who actually existed and was the best friend of his. This story is famous for its distinctive “I” novel style as well.

Mr. Carp was written by Kuniko Mukoda. This story shows the archetypes of a family in the Showa Era. One day, the protagonist (Shiomura) finds a carp at the entrance. He concludes it came from his mistress with whom he cut ties. The carp which looks like the former prime minister Shigeru Yoshida (I find this Mukoda’s simile very funny and effective) annoys Shiomura. Mukoda was a very popular scenario writer and she really knew how to attract the audience. Some of the depictions took me by surprise and I was automatically drawn to story. It is said that she was really conscious about the meanings evoked by names. In this story as well, each name of the characters plays a significant role. Both writers were awarded the Naoki Prize, which is one of the most coveted literature prizes. I would highly recommend these!




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