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kyonoki - 京のキー A very incomplete guide to Japanese Anime Part One: The Early Years

kyonoki

京のキー A very incomplete guide to Japanese Anime Part One: The Early Years

A very incomplete guide to Japanese Anime Part One: The Early Years

Over the past couple of weeks I have had to make listening exercises for the students. As this is usually so mind numbingly boring some students actually die, I thought I would try and make the activities more relevant to them and just a tiny bit more interesting. Thus I have become a massive researcher of Japanese anime on TV.
These four represent the end of WWII to the early 70s. I have been selective. In reality I have chosen the ones I like most. Sorry, no giggly girls in frilly frocks here. And none of the more perverted stuff. This is for children.

So let's start with Atom Boy (Astro Boy) and a world in which humans and androids co-exist. Dr. Tenma, the head of the Ministry of Science, creates Atom in order to replace his son (Tobio) who dies in a car accident. Atom is built in Tobio's image, but does little to help Tenma's grief as he realises his son is gone.

Atom is signed over to a cruel circus owner (Hamegg) and his fate looks more than a little dismal. However Professor Ochanomizu subsequently rescues Atom after becoming the new head at the Ministry. He soon realises that the robot-boy has extraordinary powers and the ability to feel human emotions. The series explores prejudice, morality, racism, heroism and loss.
The longest running comic strip in Japan (1947), Sazae-san was created by Machiko Hasegawa who first had it printed in her local Kyushu newspaper. The Asahi Shimbun (newspaper) picked it up, prompting her to move to Tokyo in 1949 (as did the characters). All the names of the characters derive from marine animals and things found in the sea.

In the first few strips Fune Isono (Sazae-san's mother) was worried that her daughter was too unladylike to attract a man, though before long Sazae-san was married to Masuo Fuguta. Shortly after followed a son, Tarao Fuguta.

Many of the stories revolve around other members of the family, such as her father (Namihei Isono) and her younger siblings (Katsuo and Wakame). In all these years Sazae-san has remained 27, despite marrying and giving birth.

Hasegawa was very forward in her thinking, even in the early years. Sazae-san's neighbours are constantly shocked that she appears to wear the trousers in the household. The Isono and Fuguta clans embody how a modern Japanese family would look following the post war years, years before the change actually occured. Sazae-san is very liberated, and although a stickler for tradition remained a popular role model. With the times, the dress and attitudes of the characters have subtly changed.
Anpanman is a kind of superhero with a head made of bread. Inside his head is bean jam (an - bean, pan - bread). A shooting star landed in the oven of the baker Uncle Jam (Jam Ojisan) when he was making bread, and Anpanman was born. He can help people by feeding them his head (giving sustenance and energy). Jam Ojisan then bakes him a new head and the old flies off.

Takashi Yanase begun designing the characters more than 40 years ago and they have been popular with toddlers and early elementary school children ever since.

Anpanman has many friends: Currypanman (curry bread man), Shokupanman (sliced bread man), Melonpanna (melon bread lady) and the dog Cheese to name a few. Anpanman's nemisis is Baikinman (germ man), who was born at the same time but cannot fly, thus hovers around in what looks like a mini flying saucer. Anpanan's greatest weakness is getting his head wet!
Doraemon is a robot cat who travels back in time from the 22nd century to help a schoolboy, Nobita Nobi (his grandson is the one sending Doraemon back in the hopes that his terrible fortune in the future can be reversed). Adventures revolve around the hapless Nobita getting into mischief.

The first story appeared in 1970 by the author Hiroshi Fujimoto.

Doraemon himself is scared of mice as a robot rat bit off and ate his ears. He loves dorayaki (Japanese pancakes filled with sweet bean paste) and is often saving the rather selfish Nobita from trouble.

Doraemon's main power comes from a 4D pocket. Through it he can travel around in time, pull out instruments and objects from a future department store and pretty much travel anywhere he wants.

Thus ends today's lesson children. Armed with this knowledge, Japanese kids will love you.
  
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Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.

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