Shakespeare in Japanese Pop Culture: King Lear on CD
In October 1998, an audio compact disk entitled King Lear: A Comedy was released by Teichiku Records Co. Ltd. It was performed by Teikoku Kagekidan (the Imperial Revue Company). This comic version of King Lear quotes from and makes frequent references to other Shakespearean plays such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It seemed as if this Lear “had been written merely to make a jumble of quotations” from Shakespeare’s plays (Ryuta 109). For this CD to appeal to the public, it had to be “one of the derivative products developed across different media from a popular video game Sakura Taisen (Sakura’s Great War)” (Ryuta 109).
“Because this Shakespearean adaptation caters to the fans of the video game, fidelity to Shakespeare’s texts is the last thing to be expected,” writes Minami Ryuta (109). This comic Japanese version of King Lear is only one of the ways in which “Shakespeare is repackaged, circulated, and consumed in various forms” (Ryuta 110). What can you say about Shakespeare’s works being translated and transformed into a local version? Does it remove the essence of what is “Shakespearean”? Or does it test the “capacity of Shakespeare’s writing to transcend the particularities of his chosen medium” (Ryuta 110)?
Ryuta, Minami. “Shakespeare for Japanese Popular Culture: Shojo Manga, Takarazuka and Twelfth Night.” Shakespeare in Asia: Contemporary Performance. Ed. Dennis Kennedy and Li Lan. Yong. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2010. 109-27. Print.