Monday, January 9, 2012

Jigokucho - The Hell Butterfly

Once upon a time.

Or, to be more specific, in year 10. I'd been hanging out with my friend group. In year 9 and 10, I'd hung out with Josh's friends, who eventually became my mates also. There was always an interesting balance of 'I am your friend' and 'I am the girlfriend of your friend' vibes and I was by nature rather volatile with the guys. It was the grand old time and I loved it.

This story starts when, one spring morning, we were enjoying recess break. Eating, standing around, enjoying the sun. We were standing in the general circle-clump of friends when I noticed something creeping around the rear left of my peripheral vision.

I didn't know what it was but it was big and black and full of malice. I balked and flailed wildly at the black thing, screaming in surprise.

The other guys immediately turned and I backed from the giant black shape; thinking that the face-sucking demon would cause my end within the seconds I had to react.

And I turned to see a palm-sized butterfly float on by, no doubt confused by the shriek of the pink-demon it had sailed past.

Perhaps it was some kind of omen, or maybe the butterfly belonged to a select group of daredevil butterflies who laughed in the face of their mortality and flew routes which scraped along the closest, most dangerous large structures they could find - like the wingsuiters of the insect kingdom or something.

By that time, it didn't matter. The butterfly was not a face-sucking demon and I was laughed at heartily by my mates for screaming like the fifteen-year-old girl I was.

But get this.

A couple of years later, while sitting on the bus destined for the school snow trip, I was introduced to this anime series by another friend. We crowded around the tiny ipod screen, sharing a pair of headphones while I squinted at the sega logo and wondering what the hell was going on with that bear/lion thing.

Pictured: Kon, the 'adorable' plush mascot and cousin of pedobear

That series is called Bleach. It's an action/adventure/supernatural story about a boy who can see ghosts and a girl spirit who is in charge of governing the good and the bad ones. The story gets interesting when an evil ghost threatens the boy's family and the girl is incapacitated. In an act of desperation, the girl gives the boy her ability to fight the evil ghost. He turns out to be some absolute legend in the department of beating ghosts and the story goes on.

The boy's name is Ichigo.
The girl's name is Rukia.

And that episode is called 'the day I became a Shinigami'.

Shinigami is a generic term. It's Japanese. Translates literally as 'Death god'. Think of a reaper. Like, the guy with the cape and the scythe and the bones.

Bleach's Shinigami aren't bones. But that's a bit off-topic.

Um. Um. Um. Relevance.

The girl, when she first walks into Ichigo's house, is accompanied by a black swallowtail butterfly. The butterfly shows up a couple more times in the episode as a portent, because it is a part-time companion for the shinigami. The rest of the time it is the guide when the shinigami travel between their world and ours.

Big black butterfly.

Can you, understanding my problems with blurring fiction and reality and nerd tendencies, see where this is going?

Whether this is clear or not makes no difference.

It's become more common now; I'll see one every so often and smile. Because that butterfly has become more than just a face-sucking demon. Well. Less. More.

I grin when I see one. Because, in my sad understanding of reality, it means that there's either a reaper chilling somewhere, or that it's my own jigokucho.

Just joking. I know where reality is. It's called a 'willing suspension of disbelief'. You do it all the time when you go and watch movies. I just use it to smile a little more.

Oh, and another thing.

This butterfly exists. It's called a double-branded crow. Also known as Euploea sylvester.


This is a photo I snapped of one that landed in my grandmother's back yard. It decided to hold still after I'd spent twenty minutes previously chasing it around the yard with the camera. I'm well aware that it's not swallowtail-shaped. Just read and smile, okay?


  1. Wait...

    All this time I thought you joined our group out of a mutial appreciation of card games... but that was nothing but a clever deception to get near Mark? I'm crushed.

  2. What do you want me to say to make you happy, Kyran? The mutual appreciation of card games was, if I remember rightly, something that came afterwards. And it was glorious.


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