F.A.Q. and Glossary
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Table of Contents

  1. Glossary
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  2. What are the meanings behind the names?
  3. So what does the series title mean?
  4. Why the hell are the wandering around solving mysteries?
  5. So is Ukon possessed?
  6. What's with their outfits?
  7. Why does Ukon look like Kenshin?

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Glossary
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General Terms

Anime - animation in Japan, technically refers to any animation, in the US it refers only to that which originates in Japan

Manga ? comic books in Japan, usually the size of a graphic novel here

Doujinshi ? self-published comics created by a fan or a group of fans in Japan.  These can be purchased at large comic events such as Comiket

Shounen Jump ? gphonebook-sizedh weekly manga, Sakon was first published there in 1994-95

Seiyuu ? voice actor in Japan

Scanlation ? a translated version of a manga done by a fan and usually found online

Douga/Genga ? the sketches used to create an animation

Shounenai/Yaoi ? boyfs love in anime, male/male relationships, aka gslashh

Bishounen/Biseinen -pretty boy, pretty man
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Japanese Puppetry Terms

Ayatsuri ? technically means gmanipulateh, when paired with the word for doll it becomes gpuppeth, but is not used when referring to puppeteers.  It was an older term for Bunraku (Ayatsuri Jyoururi)

Karakuri ? clockwork dolls used in shrines, festivals, and the homes of nobles

Ningyou ? means gdollh

Zukai ? term for puppeteer, though usually one would say ningyou-zukai if not referring to a specific role or purpose

Bunraku ? traditional and national puppetry theatre style of Japan.  Three-man system of performance

Omozukai ? lead Bunraku puppeteer, controls the head and right hand

Hidarizukai ? second Bunraku puppeteer, controls the left hand

Ashizukai ? third position of the Bunraku troupe, controls the feet and legs

Mawashi ? ancient term for gpuppeteer,h used after the purpose name (ie Ebisu-mawashi: puppeteer performing the rites and tales of the God Ebisu)

Tayuu ? chanter and vocalist of the Bunraku theatre- one person speaks all roles

Samisen ? stringed instrument used most in Bunraku

Chikamatsu Monzaemon - famous writer of Bunraku and Kabuki plays

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What are the meanings behind the names?

In both names, "Sakon" and "Ukon," the second Kanji character means "near" or "akin."  So, "Sakon" translates to "on the left" or "to the left" and "Ukon" translates to "on the right" or "to the right"

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So what does the series title mean?

The first word in the title can be read either as "Ningyou" (this is the traditional reading) which means "doll," or as "Karakuri" (as indicated by the hiragana beside the Kanji) which means "clockwork"
The second word is "Zoushi" which can be translated as "book collection" or "story anthology"
The third word in the title is "Ayatsuri," meaning "puppet" or "manipulation"
The final Kanji is "Sakon," meaning..."Sakon"

This whole thing directly translates to "Clockwork Doll Story Collection Manipulation Sakon"
The most accurate translation out there seems to be "Tales of Puppeteer Sakon" , though you will also find it under these titles:
Puppetmaster Sakon
Tales of Puppetmaster Sakon
Puppeteer Sakon
Sakon the Ventriloquist (there are hong kong DVD's released under this title)

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Why the hell are the wandering around solving mysteries?

I now finally have a good answer for this one!  In a special storyarc which appeared in Shounen Jump in 1995, Sakon meets one of his grandfather's a puppeteer friends, named Oichan.  Oichan and his puppet Nanashi are traveling Japan and performing in villages and festivals instead of in a traditional theatre setting.  This harkens back to the oldest puppetry traditions of Japan, when puppeteers were more priests than entertainers.  The traveled telling the stories of various gods, and performing rituals where a puppet's ability as a vessel was vital.  Oichan is framed in the story and for the first time, Sakon teams up with Ukon to prove his innocence.  Sakon then decides to follow in his new mentor's footsteps.  Bad luck is to blame for his constant run-ins with thieves and murderers (well, bad luck and his detective Aunt).

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So is Ukon possessed?

That's up to the viewer.  On the whole, most fans seem to believe he is.  On storyarc in particular shows how his creation came after a very very similar person in the Edo period was mortally wounded and he suggested the name "Ukon" to Sakon, saying it would be good for a puppet.  When you look at it from a professional standpoint, there is no way in hell that Sakon could do everything with Ukon that he does.  Looking at the technical aspects, he holds Ukon with his right hand.  This would be holding the main support rod, which is attached to the neck.  The rod also provides support for the shoulder bar.  The controls for the puppet head are on this rod, and would require a great deal on concentration and skill, which I do not doubt he possesses.  However, Ukon is seen not only speaking but moving both hands, gesturing like a normal person.  Technically that has to be done by multiple puppeteers.  So, my verdict?  Yep.  Possessed as hell, baby!  You can also take note from the "spirits" Sakon often channels into Ukon when confronting the villians.  So I do believe the spirit of the Edo boy is kicking around in our favourite lil' redhed.

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What's with their outfits?

First up, Sakon!  His outfit is very basic.  Armcuffs to protect his forearms.  Makes sense for a puppeteer.  The pants are supposed to resemble hakama on the sides, but are not actually made that way.  The big point to make about his clothing is his collar.  As best as I can tell, it's got to be a joke by Obata-sensei.  His collar is a gear, like one would find in a clockwork doll... So it could be a way of bridging the gap between puppet and human, or it could be there for fun.  Either way, it has spawned alot of great theories in doujinshi pages!
As for Ukon, his is a little more complicated...You might recognize the style from other anime you have seen.  But it actually falls back on Shinto priests.  His clothing is traditional to mountain aestheitcs called Yamabushi.  They had a history of being more rough and tumble than your average priest or monk.  The 'collar' with the puffballs is known as a Yuigesa.  His hair colour also lends itself to the notion that he is a rough sort of character.  Usually when Japanese people worked manual labour and spent many long hours in the sun, their hair would bleach red.

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Why does Ukon look like Kenshin?

So many people have asked this and so many think that Ukon is a copy of the Battousai...but I am afraid they are wrong.  Kenshin actually looks like Ukon.  >^-^<  The creator of Rurouni Kenshin, Nobuhiro Watsuki, was an assistant to the artist of Ayatsuri Sakon, Takeshi Obata.  His interest in having a red-haired character got it beginnings there.

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Any other questions?  Be sure to send them to me!
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