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Takaya Miou’s Brilliance

Brilliance (Hikari , 2000) concisely distills the themes and iconography that Takaya developed over the previous decade.

Brilliance is a mythical tale of Emperor Tian Fuandi and his consort Hai, two lovers from ancient China who rule over the Realm of the Dead. Because its inhabitants undergo spiritual purification through BDSM (bondage, domination, and sadomasochism), the extent to which this clearly compassionate couple tolerates such a hellish environment is surprising and ironic. When Hai is compelled to “descend” to the Realm of the Living, she does so with great reluctance, and Tian Fuandi mourns her absence. Ultimately, Hai “conquers life” and returns home. Possibly intended as a ironic inversion of the Greek myth about Orpheus and Eurydice, Takaya challenges the overly simplistic concepts of damnation and redemption that our popular culture perpetuates. To do so, she raises thought-provoking questions: How do we distinguish between cruel torture and ascetic practice? Can we become so accustomed to such a lifestyle that we learn to fear the possibility of bliss?

In the tradition of Japanese manga, the images to the left are intended to be viewed from upper right to lower left.