0 Items | £0.00

VIEW BASKET

Corpse Princess and the relevance of 108

Monday 20th February 2012

Matt Kamen is counting mystery numbers in Shikabane: Corpse Princess

Corpse PrincessIn the complete collection of gothic action series Corpse Princess, undead teenage girls fight off rampaging monsters known as ‘shikabane’ – anguished spirits of the restless dead. Reluctant hero Makina Hoshino is one such warrior, resurrected in the wake of the slaughter of her family as a ‘Shikabane Hime’, unable to move on to her reward until she has vanquished 108 shikabane. The mystery of what exactly that ‘reward’ is forms a major subplot of the series – a promise of heaven, or is that too good to be true? But the oddly specific figure for Makina’s killcount is just as important.

If you’ve been a fan of Asian media for any length of time, you’ll probably have come across the number before. Water Margin, a classic of Chinese literature, features 108 outlaw heroes, while the game spin-off Suikoden sees you recruiting 108 ‘Stars of Destiny’ for your party. Even the most recent Digimon anime series, Xros Wars, includes reference to the number, with 108 digital zones for the latest batch of kids and pet monsters to battle through. It pops up in western entertainment, too – in Lost, the sequence 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 must be entered into a console every 108 minutes, or the island’s plane crash survivors face dire consequences. And the total of those numbers, added together? 108.

So what’s the relevance? For one thing, the number occurs with almost eerie frequency in ancient cultures and languages, appearing around the world and throughout human history. In the Sanskrit alphabet, which dates back over 4000 years, there are masculine and feminine forms of each of the 54 letters – 108 total. Sanskrit also considers it a ‘harshad’ or ‘great joy’ number, because it is perfectly divisible by the sum of its digits.

In several eastern faiths 108 is a sacred number, and many of those faiths have, in turn, had profound social and cultural effects on various Asian countries. In both Hinduism and Buddhism, prayer garlands called Japa Mala should properly consist of 108 beads, with a daily mantra repeated on each one. Hinduism also has 108 deities, which some branches believe have 108 names each. Sikhs use a similar mala, though traditionally comprised of 108 knots rather than beads. In Hinduism, it’s believed that there were 108 hand maidens to Krishna himself.

For our purposes though, it’s the number’s prominence in Buddhism that’s most relevant. Shinto and Buddhist practises influence modern Japanese life on a cultural level, which penetrates the country’s art and media. One of the core principles of Mahayana Buddhism in particular is that there are 108 virtues and 108 vices that followers must aspire to or resist, and Buddhist temples typically have 108 steps for visitors to climb on their approach. At New Year, a temple bell is chimed 108 times, again symbolizing the temptations people must overcome.

It’s here that we find the closest link or reasoning to Corpse Princess, with the shikabane representing the temptations and vices of life. And, just as there’s no way of knowing if there’s a path to Nirvana by overcoming them in real life, Makina has no way of knowing if she’s really earning her afterlife or something far more terrifying.

Shikabane: Corpse Princess the Complete Series is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

Corpse Princess and the relevance of 108

MANGA UK GOSSIP

Shikabane Hime Complete Series

£23.99
sale_tag
was £39.99
She’ll Kill Anything That’s Dead!
In the dark of night at a Buddhist temple, a mysterious ritual is performed causing the dead body of a beautiful teenage girl to be brought back to life. This girl is Makina Hoshino, the latest Shikabane Hime (corpse princess), or killer of restless souls. Caught between here and the afterworld, and bound to the monk who reanimated her, Makina can only gain eternal peace by killing 108 fellow zombies before she is murdered all over again.

FEATURED RELEASE

RELATED BLOG ARTICLES

One Piece. Pieces of Hate

Been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt....
Of the anime titles turned into T-shirts by Uniqlo, One Piece is the biggest – the reigning king of all the anime and manga franchises, pretty much unchallenged in the 16 years since Eiichiro Oda began the manga, and 14 since Toei Animation started animating it. But perhaps Uniqlo would have turned One Piece into a line of shirts even if the saga hadn’t been a world hit. Just look at those pirate designs – brash, cartoony, uncompromising. There’s no whiff of a committee, no hint of a five-year product plan reliant on changing a heroine’s hair colour (or deepening her cleavage). It just helps that the pictures are as commercial when they move as they are when they’re a cool static graphic in a manga, or on the front of a T-shirt.

One Piece: Strong World

The Straw Hats Pirates come together for an adventure like no other...
Written by One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda himself, Strong World leads the Straw Hats into the deadly path of Golden Lion Shiki.

One Piece - ninja or pirates?

Matt Kamen turns video pirate!
“Ninja or pirates?” While Naruto – representing the ninja corner, of course – has proven hugely popular, UK fans have long been unable to weigh in on the other side. With the long-awaited arrival of One Piece on DVD this May, that finally changes.

One piece: Crew Manifest #1

Matt Kamen finds out who’s who in the One Piece anime
Monkey D. Luffy: The founder and captain of the Straw Hats, Luffy is a carefree soul who wants to become king of the pirates. After eating the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit, he gained an elastic body, making him near-invulnerable and able to stretch but paradoxically making him unable to swim.

One Piece: Crew Manifest #2

Back at sea for volume two of One Piece
Before you set sail on the second round of voyages for One Piece, brush up on who you’ll be encountering in this latest volume of nautical nonsense

One Piece music: TOMATO CUBE

Tom Smith on One Piece’s TOMATO CUBE
One-hit wonders. Every country has them. And, as PSY can most likely attest, very few musicians really want to be labelled as one. Sure, it’s all fun, games and fancy dinners when that royalty cheque floats through the letter box. The one with all the zeroes from that single from yesteryear that went massive. But what about the rest of your work? It must be somewhat unsatisfying as an artist to be known for one track, while everything else remains relatively overlooked, and expectations are high for that difficult follow up single. If you’re TOMATO CUBE, you do nothing. Ever again.

RECENT FEATURED POSTS

Bleach Music: Miwa

Tom Smith rings the ch-ch-changes…
Bleach series 13 continues the clash between Soul Society’s Shinigami and Sousuke Aizen’s Arrancar army. It also brings with it a new talent in Japanese pop-rock: miwa. This fresh-faced female, armed with a guitar and an arsenal of upbeat pop-rock songs, provides the series’ twelfth opening theme, ‘chAngE’.

The Decline of the Japanese X Museum

Stephen Turnbull plays whack-a-mole with willies
The word hihokan is usually translated as ‘sex museum’, although most are best described as indoor sexual theme parks. Imagine that an anthropological collection has been bought by the London Dungeon and put on show there by the owner of a strip club with a degree in engineering and a penchant for voyeurism. The result would be the hihokan: a garish combination of serious museum and soft pornography in a bizarre and often haphazard blend.

Birmingham Comic Con Announcements

For those that missed our panel in Brum...
Attack on Titan, the One Piece movies, Ghost in the Shell: ARISE and more...

Bleach music: Kenichi Asai

Tom Smith on ‘Mad Surfer’ Kenichi Asai
“Try ‘n boogie, guns n’ tattoo” – there’s no greater embodiment of Kenichi Asai’s work than that opening line. As the words are dragged across the bluesy, rock n’ roll riff of Mad Surfer – the Japanese rebel’s song used as the 20th closing of Bleach – it’s difficult not to imagine smoke filled bars, motorcycles or leather jacketed misfits sporting hairdos your mother wouldn’t approve of.

Samurai Westerns

Andrew Osmond investigates the long love affair between samurai and cowboys
28th February sees the classic Hollywood Western go East. Yuresarazaru Mono has the English title Unforgiven; it remakes the celebrated 1992 Western of that name, which was directed by its star Clint Eastwood and won the Best Picture Oscar.

JORMUNGAND: PERFECT ORDER

Hugh David calls Czechmate on the endgame
"The action scenes remain superlative, designed and executed in a way Western live-action directors would do well to study. The way character moments are woven within elevates them above mere technical exercises. The Prague shoot-out and Tokyo car chase are the sort of gems that prove that anime can still trump live-action in the same creative arenas when it wants to."
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Corpse Princess and the relevance of 108 from the UK's best Anime Blog.