So far, ClassicaLoid has been a story about the great Western classical music composers seemingly being reincarnated in modern Japan, capable of great feats of magical illusions through the power of “muzik.” However, something caught my eye in a recent episode: the connection between Sōsuke Kagura’s surname and the mythical history of Shinto-style entertainment.
When the famous Hungarian composer Franz Liszt–in female ClassicaLoid form–unexpectedly turns up at the mansion, it is revealed that Chopin had secretly been living in one of the rooms for quite some time. Liszt arrives to convince Chopin to finally give up his seclusion and become independent.
Chopin is hiding in the closet of a disused room in the mansion because he is not comfortable being around people. He has been living off orders from online stores delivered directly to his room.
When Chopin is finally discovered, Kanae and the others try to bring him into the outside world. However, Chopin continues to refuse to step outside of his comfort zone.
Thus our heroes come up with a plan to lure him out: to stage a party right outside of his closet. The sounds of cheering and laughs, music and stomping (and smell of gyōza!), and overall general merriness does not fail to manifest a slight hint of jealousy within Chopin’s heart. This in turn piques his curiosity and he takes a glance at what is going on outside. But as soon as he nudges the door open just enough to sneak a peek, the others take that opportunity to finally drag him out.
This scene echoes the origins of Kagura, an ancient Japanese tradition that has its roots over a thousand years ago and is still practiced in many forms today. Kagura originally refers to the forms of entertainment that are practiced not only for enjoyment, but also to show reverence to the Shinto gods.
Legend has it that the ancient sun-goddess Amaterasu had become very angry with her brother, Susanoo, who had caused a lot of grief. She thus shut herself off from the world in a heavenly cave known as the Ama-no-Iwato, and therefore darkness had descended upon the land. In a world plunged into pitch black, chaos and unrest befell society.
In order to bring back the light and restore order, the gods had to figure out a way to take her out of the cave. They ended up staging a clever plan–they decorated the area and set up mirrors and jewels, and the goddess Ame-no-Uzume began to do a strange dance.
This turned out to be hilarious for the gods watching and so they began laughing extremely loudly. At this point, Amaterasu noticed the laughter coming from outside the cave and began to wonder what the commotion was about. As she was expecting everyone to be miserable from the eternal darkness engulfing the land, she was surprised to hear joyful laughter, and that people were seemingly having a good time. She decided to take a small peek. As she opened up a slit in the doorway, the gods pulled her out, and as a result, light returned to the earth.
The Shinto ritual borne from this legend is called Kagura–the same as our main character’s surname.
There are many different types of kagura in Japan still in existence, but the common point they all share is a connection between entertainment and worship. Various offshoots of kagura traditions such as juggling performances, comical routines, lion dances, and such, all give a festival-like air that perhaps in the West one would not associate with prayer and respect to a deity.
However, in kagura, the act of making others laugh and spreading joy amongst all the participants is a representation of the praise offered to the gods. Perhaps even, one could say it is a re-enactment of the faithful restoration of the light of life.
While ClassicaLoid‘s Chopin did not immediately come out of his shell entirely and is still very much shy around people, the entire sequence appears to be too much of a coincidence for it not to be a modern version of the Amaterasu story.
Who would have thought that in a show about Western music, broadcast on NHK-E (which focuses on educational programming), the character of Sōsuke Kagura would teach us instead about ancient Japanese folklore?
ClassicaLoid is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.