Blog Archives

Carnival Time: Anime Wish Fulfillment, Part I

Justin’s failed attempt to avoid a “wish fulfillment anime post” led me to Iso’s latest proposal for the Blog Carnival series.  Though I love my life in the here and now, it’s still fun to think about the little things I would have liked to add to my life, and certainly anime is the tops, man when it comes to having us put ourselves in place of a character who is thrust into something we might dream of doing.

Here are my “wish fulfillment” anime:

The Childhood – My Neighbor Totoro

Some of my best memories of childhood had to do with nature – walking through the woods, playing in old wagons, and somersaulting down green hills.  But those instances were few, as I spent most of my life living in an urban setting.  It would have been nice to get away and live a childhood of imagined adventure, chasing down totoros and finding trouble with a sibling (I’m an only child).

Totoro

Art by Naru

The City – Kanon/Whisper of the Heart

I thought my hometown (El Paso, TX) was a delightful place growing up.  As soon as I moved away, however, I realized how much I’d been missing.  Nestled in the mountains, I enjoyed the scenery, and I treasured the times I spent wandering through the sprawling desert that was literally just a street away.  But I would have preferred a beautiful city of interconnected paths and pretty backdrops, like Seiseki Sakuragaoka.  Or a wintry wonderland that evokes sad, nostalgic, or mystical tones, as Osaka is portrayed in Kanon.

Seiseki Sakuragaoka

Screen capture from Wonders in the Dark

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The Stigma of an Anime Divorce

In multitudes of anime series, the children largely have free reign, and often in very dangerous situations.  One or both parents are nowhere to be seen – they’re either just not part of the script or one is deceased.  TV Tropes calls it “parental abandonment.”

What’s rarer than deceased anime parents is finding those that are divorced or separated.  In my list of anime I’ve watched, I could think of very few examples (some series I haven’t seen that include this storyline are Sailor Moon, Captain Tsubasa, Soul Eater and Mirai Nikki).  And oftentimes, the split is either played for laughs (Marmalade Boy) or to create a dramatic, tragic story.  Very few times is it played out, well, normally, as with Takeru and Yamato’s parents in Digimon and Kouki’s parents in Usagi Drop.

Digimon T.K. and Matt

Art by こな@ついったたた

The divorce rate in Japan is much lower than than in the U.S., but it’s still significant at 27% – and it’s rising.  There must be a variety of reasons for this lack of representation in anime, not least of all lack of entertainment value.  But I also think the following also has to do with it:

There is still a stigma attached to divorce that can lead to a lifetime of hardship. Some elite private schools reject children from single-parent homes. Many employers try to avoid hiring divorced women if they can help it. But this has changed quite a bit in recent years as divorce has become more common.

- Facts and Details (Divorce in Japan)

Although this stigma is less strong in the U.S., and even less so in other western countries, it’s still there.  And a lot of times, the feeling of guilt impressed upon divorced couples comes from Christians.  Those who are supposed to be most loving are the ones who shame divorced men and women. Read the rest of this entry

The First Day of Christmas Anime: Digimon

Digimon Adventure 02
Episode 38:  “Holy Night the Big Digimon Reunion!” /  “A Very Digi Christmas”

Characters from season one (not two), but hey, its the better season anyway...

The Christmas Story

Note: All the names are and plot points reflect the Fox Kids dubbing, since that’s the once I’m familiar with.

As the episode begins, Ken, now a member of the team, shyly invites the other to his Christmas party.  The Digidestined accept, as “Davis Claus” also leads a plan to present the original Digidestined team their Digimon for Christmas.

After reuniting with their Digimon, Tai, Sora, Jyou and Izzy (and Jun, too, of course!) go to a concert Matt’s band (THE TEEN-AGE WOLVES) is throwing (Note: the band sounds soooo 90′s – they remind me of Spin Doctors).  But the music is interrupted when a control spire appears and Digimon run rampant.  The rest of the kids, who are playing cards at Ken’s party, soon join the older group in sending the Digimon back to the Digi-World.  Everyone gets a good night’s rest with their digital friends, but awake in the morning to find that control spire have appeared around the world, beginning the Digimon World Tour arc.

While this episode isn’t particularly Christmas-y (no Santa Claus, Christmas cakes, or snow – and certainly no Christian symbols), it does present us with some Christmas spirit-y moments. Read the rest of this entry

“Shikigami! Descend, O Great One!” Spiritual Gifts Personified in Onmyou Taisenki

If you’re like me, sometimes you watch an anime that doesn’t seem all that great, but for some reason captures your imagination anyway. Perhaps you realize why only later. For me, Onmyou Taisenki (“The Great Battle of Yin and Yang”) was such a show.

The premise of the anime is nothing that hadn’t been explored before in shows such as Digimon. Humans called 闘神士 toujinshi form contracts with animal-like guardian spirits known as 式神 shikigami. The toujinshi uses a colorful gun-like “drive” to cooperate with the shikigami, in order to fight either demons or other toujinshi-shikigami pairs. Further, the shikigami (and, by extension, their toujinshi) belong to either the 天流 tenryuu (“Heaven Style”) or the 地流 chiryuu (“Earth Style”), with other affinities toward certain seasons and elements. In this manner a great dualistic battle plays out, with strong Taoist overtones.


Three koujin sequences for the price of one:  the toujinshi Tachibana Riku, Asuka Yuuma, and Oogami Masaomi call out Byakko-no Kogenta, Byakko-no Rangetsu, and Seiryuu-no Kibachiyo, their respective shikigami

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