“Dante nell’Inferno di Fukushima: Lorenzo Amato intervista Kazumasa Chiba”

On January 22, 2020, the journal Insula europea published Lorenzo Amato’s interview with Japanese visual artist Kazumasa Chiba, who, over the last twenty years, has dedicated his art to translating scenes from the Commedia into contemporary political and moral commentary. “Come su un palcoscenico teatrale,” writes Amato, “Chiba si ‘traveste’ da Dante e si muove in grandi paesaggi allegorici costruiti su elementi culturali ibridi, che derivano dal sincretismo di cultura popolare giapponese e tradizioni classiche occidentali e orientali, antiche e moderne.” In 2012 he was awarded the Toshiko Okamoto Award for his work that interprets the Fukushima earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster as an Inferno in the manner of Dante.

Here’s a brief extract from Amato’s interview with Chiba:

“Dante nomina in modo molto chiaro le persone famose che secondo lui sono colpevoli di qualcosa, anche se sono ancora vive. Diciamo che questo tipo di poesia mi ha mostrato una possibile strada per affrontare con l’arte i problemi del mondo, e quindi anche sfogare la rabbia che a volte provo nei confronti di certe persone, politici o responsabili di avvenimenti importanti, come tutte le persone coinvolte nel disastro di Fukushima. Ogni volta che succedono disastri, o che vengono fatte scelte a livello politico che poi provocano conseguenze negative, provo una forte rabbia. È raro che le persone comuni possano avere un qualche impatto su quelle scelte, e a volte mi verrebbe voglia di mostrare il mio dissenso in forma di protesta anche violenta. In questo senso l’arte è un modo per sfogare questa rabbia, ma anche per lasciare un segno, ovvero per mostrare quello che penso.” — Kazumasa Chiba, in an interview with Lorenzo Amato, Insula europea, January 22, 2020

An exhibit of Chiba’s work, called “A Modern Interpretation of Dante’s Divine Comedy,” was shown at the Mizuma Art Gallery in Tokyo from August 21 to September 21, 2019.

When Seagulls Cry (2007)

Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a Japanese visual novel developed by 07th Expansion. The title translates to When Seagulls Cry in English. The series was released in Japan from 2007-2011, and globally through 2016-2017.

“The story focuses on a group of eighteen people on a secluded island for a period of two days, and the mysterious murders that befall them. Readers are challenged to discern whether the murders were committed by a human or of some other supernatural source, as well as the method and motive behind them.” [. . .]    —Umineko When They Cry, Wikipedia, 2018.

Fans of the series have pointed out several references to Dante’s work in the series, such as these found by readers on MyAnimeList:

“I’ve started reading Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy few days ago and I found several analogies with Umineko.

  1. “Names:
    Beatrice – name of deceased Dante’s love, his guide through Heaven
    Virgil – name of Dante’s guide through Hell and Purgatorio
  2. “Structure of Mt. Purgatorio is of the form 2+7+1=9+1=10, with one of the ten regions different in nature from the other nine ( last – Earthly Paradise). It may resemble 10 twilights of the Witch’s Epitaph.
  3. “Dante meets Beatrice at 10th floor, Battler meets Beato at 10th twilight
  4. “Seven Stakes resemble floors 3rd- 9th of Mt. Purgatorio (each floor represents 1 of 7 deadly sins.)
  5. “Magic circles in Umineko have a same names as the Spheres of Heaven:
    First Sphere of the Moon –> First Circle of the Moon” [. . .]    —Azakus, MyAnimeList, October 11, 2009.

To see more of the Dante references fans of When Seagulls Cry have found, check out the full forum discussion on MyAnimeList.

You can buy When Seagulls Cry and check out other games in the series on Steam.

Contributed by Philip Smith (University of the Bahamas)

Devilman Lady Vol. 16 Chapter 7 – Demon Lord Dante

“Ryo Utsugi makes another appearance in one of Go Nagai’s works,’Devilman Lady‘. This time, he is the reincarnation of Dante Alighieri, Mao Dante. He can be found in Hell where Devilman Lady must combat him.” — Contributor Savannah Mikus

Check out the full chapter here. Devilman Lady Vol.16 was originally published by Kodansha on July 21st, 2000.

Click here for another post about Go Nagai’s 1971 manga Mao Dante.

Contributed by Savannah Mikus (FSU 2020)

Hatsune Miku DIVINE-神曲- Xenon-P (2011)

“Ready for some history? How about the Vocaloid clan teaching you the history? These sets of songs come from Dante Alighieri’s most famous writing, The Divine Comedy.” [. . .]    –Demosthenes Alathea on VocaloiDemo, 2016

The tracklist for the album includes:

  1. Introduction –A Seed of Life-
  2. HIMAWARI
  3. Buy Them All
  4. Tatoo
  5. Eat Them All On The Table
  6. Hand To Hand
  7. Incubus
  8. Immortal Soul
  9. Rain of Tears
  10. Survive
  11. Come La Divina Commedia
  12. Birthday

You can purchase the album on Amazon.

Contributed by Savannah Mikus (FSU 2020)

Go Nagai’s Dante Shinkyoku

dante-shinkyoku-cerbero-nagai-go-infernoDante Shinkyoku is a manga adaptation of Dante’s Inferno by Go Nagai. Nagai is faithful to the text, as he includes snippets of the original poem (in the vernacular). Though he chooses not to include the entire poem word for word, he shortens main ideas for the sake of comic style dialogue and transitions. He also includes an intro introducing the Guelphs and their struggle.” — Contributor Savannah Mikus

The full Dante Shinkyoku series (originally released in 1994-1995) is available to read online here.

Click here for a discussion of Go Nagai’s work in relation to three other Dante-inspired graphic novelists (article in Italian).

Contributed by Savannah Mikus (Florida State University, 2020)

Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game

Yu-Gi-Oh!

In 2014, the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise released a set of trading cards called “Duelist Alliance.” The set featured characters from The Divine Comedy, including Dante (“Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss“), Virgil (“Virgil, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss“), and Malebranche demons like Graff (“Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss“).

Contributed by Ramiro Castillo (University of Texas at Austin, ’17)

Impel Down Prison, One Piece

Impel Down

In the Japanese anime One Piece, there is a prison called “Impel Down” with five levels.

“Impel Down seems to be heavily based on how Hell is described in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Both are level-based, ‘inescapable’ prisons with unique forms of punishment per level, and the lower one traverses, the worse the punishments become.”    —One Piece Wiki

Contributed by Nicholas Hentges

Go Nagai, Mao Dante (1971)

mao-dante-go-nagai-divine-comedyConsidered one of the most important authors of Japanese manga, Go Nagai is creator of a Dante-inspired comic series called Mao Dante (also known as Demon Lord Dante in English). Nagai published the first series in 1971, and he has revisited these Dantesque themes, characters, and images in several series since (among them his 1972 anime series Devilman). Nagai’s illustrations were originally inspired by the dramatic 19th century lithographs Gustave Doré produced for the Divine Comedy. In 2017, it was announced that J-Pop would re-release Mao Dante (see here).

See also Dante Today‘s posts on Nagai’s Dante Shinkyoku and Devilman Lady.

Click here for a discussion of Go Nagai’s work in relation to three other Dante-inspired graphic novelists (article in Italian).

Contributed by Andrea Sartori

“Noboribetsu, the Japanese mouth of Hell.”

noboribetsu-the-japanese-mouth-of-hell

Contributed by Victoria Rea-Wilson (Bowdoin, ’14)

Full Metal Alchemist

full-metal-alchemist“In the TV show ‘Full Metal Alchemist’ there is a character named Dante and she controls beings known as Homunculi, or fake people. There are seven Homunculi and each is named after one of the deadly sins.”    –Andrea Beauvais

See more information on Wikia.

Contributed by Andrea Beauvais (Luther College)