I’ve been watching an anime recently, called “Fairy Tail”.
For those of you who have been living under a rock (sorry, that’s mean), anime is a kind of Japanese animation usually targeted at kids or young adults. It’s quite whizzy and wonderfully creative. There are all these wizards, who are part of a guild titled “Fairy Tail”, who go on all sorts of adventures fighting evil. The currency in the world is jewels, and each wizard has a unique ability; Lucy’s, for instance, is a young woman with the power to open doorways to let celestial spirits come through to the human world to fight on her behalf, Natsu is a dragonslayer who uses fire magic, and Grey an “ice-maker” wizard, who can block attacks with walls of crystalline ice conjured out of nowhere, and generate a multitude of ice-centred assaults. And there is Erza, of course, a lady with scarlet hair and fiery with determination, who can fight with a host of different equipment, re-equipping with the ease of a bird flying in the sky.
If my poor summary of the brilliant anime sounds a little appealing to you, I would recommend you check it out on Youtube; the first episode is HERE.
You know, it occurred to me that I have never really shared with my viewers some of my favourite animated shows, even though they form such a large part of my daily life and happiness.
I mean, there are the obvious ones, like the famous Hayo Miyazaki movies. But there are others, some of which many Western viewers may not have ever heard of, and which I grew up watching.
Alright, so here are some of my favourite animated movies (just click on the titles to get directed to the movies on Youtube): Barbie as Rapunzel, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, Barbie in Swan Lake, Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus. I know what you’re thinking—Barbie! As if I would ever watch anything so childish. But trust me, I grew up on these animated films, and they are literally works of art, that have age-old themes, such as the importance of bravery and kindness. Also, talking animals are always a good thing.
Oh gosh, I can’t believe how excited I am to tell you about these animated pieces of bedazzling beauty. Growing up, my parents also let me watch a lot of Chinese animations—we would put in this old-fashioned VCR, the animations were on CDs—and it really is a shame they are not more well-known outside of China. One of these is a short animation whose title, directly translated, is “The Snow Child”, though “The Snowman” would also work. HERE it is. Everything that happens is so easily understood you don’t even need to know the language to get what is going on. A little rabbit helps his mother to pick mushrooms. And a snowman comes to life. It is the most tragic, exquisite thing ever. My mum told me I cried watching it as a kid.
Another beautiful animation is called “Ne Zha Conquers the Dragon King.” HERE it is. Up until recently, I thought Ne Zha, the heroine of this story, a child, was a girl—but in fact, she’s a “he”, a boy. That was an unpleasant revelation for me—there’s a lot of Chinese animations about little boys, a reflection of the gender gap that still exists—but it made a good impression anyway; I mean, she’s a girl blessed with magic, who fights dragons, after all. And there’s a beautiful deer.
“Monkey King”, or “Sun Wu Kong”, who is the monkey in the film Journey to the West, is the old, original Chinese animation of the story, and it is absolutely brilliant. HERE it is, and it has English subtitles, and though this is only the first of many—it is a long journey—it was the only one I was really able to find on Youtube. I would upload them myself, but I have long lost my old CDs, which makes me very sad. It’s about this monkey who is bestowed with heavenly powers, has quite a mischievous and fiery-tempered personality, and decides to take on the entire heavens and its rulers all on his own. The music is astounding.
Mewmewpower is a Japanese anime about these girls who can, effectively, transform into cat-like people with superpowers. HERE it is. Honestly, typing that, it sounds rather lame, and the target demographic is young women, or girls (I watched it as a child), but it is still quite a pretty anime to look at.
Last of all is a Chinese animation series called “The Calabash Brothres”. HERE it is (seriously, just click on it for the opening music). Calabash means a type of gourd, and in this whimsical yet high-stakes story, seven boys are “hatched” out of calabashes each a different colour of the rainbow, each with different powers, to fight an evil monster who can transform into a serpent and takes on the appearance of a beautiful woman. The animation sparkles—literally, you’ll see what I mean—and the music is the kind of music that is beautiful but entirely different from anything around in Western countries.
It kind of kills me how little recognition these animations, especially the Chinese ones, get around the rest of the world—and the little widespread award recognition old Barbie movies and some of the beautiful animes floating around get—so please, do yourself and both the creators of these works, many of whom are long gone, a favour, and have a peek at some of them. They are too beautiful to disappear beneath the morass of modern day entertainment.
To be honest, sharing these animated shows with my readers is kind of the most wonderful thing ever, because they formed such a great part of my creativity and psyche. Without these movies and animations, my heart would be cut out. I would not be who I am. I would not be a storyteller. I would not be a writer. As I girl, I sat in a living room and sat glued to the screen, entranced by the magical worlds unfolding before my very eyes—and some part of me alresdy knew, at that point, who I would want to become.