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I was reading The Elusive Samurai, a manga by Yusei Matsui, which is set in the XIV century in Japan. The author uses some kind of special "flashforward" in which the characters, mostly warlords, are pictured as normal people in a future, modern-day world.

As an example, here's a scene in chapter 129:

Shiba Ienaga, the character, was dying when he sees himself as a high-school student in a flash of the far and peaceful 21st century. Normally, a dying character would see their own life, or their past, flashing before their eyes right before their death. This is the total opposite of that. What is the name of this technique, if any?

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  • Foreshadowing, perhaps? Or ironic juxtaposition
    – verbose
    Dec 8, 2023 at 5:54
  • @verbose "Foreshadowing" is (to quote Wikipedia) "giv[ing] an advance hint of what is to come later in the story". In this case, the situation will never come since it is completely irrelevant to the main story aside from the characters (or their design). "Ironic juxtaposition" sounds about right. Please post an answer so I can accept it.
    – 10Seconds
    Dec 8, 2023 at 7:14
  • @10sec your wish is my command.
    – verbose
    Dec 8, 2023 at 7:42

1 Answer 1

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Since the image of the character in the modern world is placed next to and contrasts with the image of the same character in the 14th century, the two images are juxtaposed. The contrast between a heroic personage undergoing death throes in the remote past and an ordinary person engaged in everyday activities in the immediate present is also ironic, particularly since the two are the same individual. Another level of irony are that the dying character is seeing his future, rather than the expected past, flash before his eyes.

These devices of irony and juxtaposition also occur on a metafictional plane. While reading, one expects to be transported to the world of the characters, but here, the character is transported into our world. The sudden juxtaposition of the two worlds is therefore ironic in that it inverts the position of character and reader. And living in our world, we know that it is not one of "uninterrupted peace" as Shiba Ienaga imagines, so the contrast between the vision and the reality furnishes a further irony.

It seems, therefore, that this flashforward technique can be described as a many-layered ironic juxtaposition.

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    There's actually one more level of the irony: The future Shiba Ienaga complains about the rise of AI, saying that human geniuses have no place in the future. In the back-transition scene at the end of the chapter, as he watches the snow falling (which also happens as he dies in the main story), he thinks that he would have found "a burning passion" had he lived in another age.
    – 10Seconds
    Dec 9, 2023 at 16:06

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