Last time I talked about how the classic Japanese novel The Tale of Genji — about the playboy son of a fictional emperor from the Heian Period (794-1185) — can be thought of as Japan’s first “harem” story, and that got me thinking about ways they could potentially update the tale for our modern age. Genji can go to high school, and all the beautiful and stylized characters in the book — Lady Murasaki, Aoi-no-Ue, etc. — can be his classmates trying to get him to join their school club, with the warring Taira and Minamoto clans represented as rival high schools who play a game of baseball to determine which is the better school. This got me thinking about what other absurd anime stories I’d like to see. I’m a fan of the film Pleasantville, about a brother and sister who get teleported inside a 1950s black and white TV show, and I wondered why there’s no anime version of this? It can be about an otaku who obsesses about his favorite anime so much, some all-powerful force sends him “into” the show, where he has special powers because of his knowledge of anime tropes. Perhaps the characters can “sense” that there’s some force guiding their actions (the animators and character designers), like the programs and users in Tron. When the main character has to return to the 3D world, there can be a moving scene with the 2D girl he fell in love with, who can’t be with him because he’s real and she’s not. What other silly ideas for an anime do you have?
Looking back, there have really been only two important influences in my life: Japan and Star Wars. Japan came first, delighting my 5-year-old self with the early series like Space Battleship Yamato and Marine Boy (about this kid who could breathe underwater with the help of “oxygum,” it was so cool), plus classic monster fare like Godzilla and Ultraman. Then came Star Wars, which blew my mind by creating a galaxy we never suspected was possible. It turns out that Japan and Star Wars are both two sides of the same coin, since the former draws so much inspiration from Japanese films and history, from the
space samurai Jedi to Darth Vader. I love the way Star Wars brings people from different corners of the world together, the same way Japan’s pop culture would enable me to instantly connect with otakus from Norway or New Zealand. After I post this I’m taking off work to head down to Tokyo to watch the film with friends. Have a great weekend, everyone!
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