There’s really a ‘We’ in We Remember Love, beyond the guest posts of bloggers you may already know of, this blog is a family and friends operation and for special occasions like today we all come together. Today we remember our love for our mothers: our Mamas, Mommies, Mums, and Nanays because it’s Mothers’ Day and we’ll talk about a few moms in anime who we love. After all, they are showing a bit of character:
Millya Fallnya Jenius, Macross 7
Millya Fallnya Jenius is one of the most unconventional mothers in anime. She jumped headlong into something she knew nothing about (marriage) with someone she hardly knew (Maximillian Jenius). Maybe there’s something to this ‘culture’ thing in Macross.
She is unlike most doting mothers who are happy to show off and share their babies to anyone who’d pay attention. When her contemporary Misa Hayase asked to hold her firstborn Komillya, she told her off, “Make one of your own!” When her husband finally talks her into letting Misa hold the baby, our dear Millya tosses her poor infant to the shocked Misa. More, she has no qualms about bringing her baby with her while dogfighting rogue Zentraedi and is more than willing to use her in shocking the poor Zentrans as ‘the product of culture.’
After 6 more kids, Millya has left soldiery to become Mayor of the Macross 7 expeditionary fleet. Her kids have mostly left, save for her youngest Mylene, a perky 14-year old determined to become a rockstar. She’s quite supportive of her, provided that she bends to her will and marries the man her mother chooses for him.
Despite this (among many) foibles and eccentricities, she has come a long way from the alien who agreed to marriage without knowing what it is (GJ Max), to a mother of 7 daughters while launching a successful third career.
From the 2nd best ace pilot in all anime, to one of the best pilot instructors in the Macross franchise, to the tempestuous but fair Mayor of Macross City 7, Millya is hard not to like.
Takasu Yasuko, Toradora!
Takasu Yasuko is not exactly the conventional maternal figure. I find Yasuko intriguing, considering that her son, Ryuji, calls her on a first name basis, and at thirty-three years of age, could pass as his older sister. Yasuko is also often seen acting hardly her age. She comes home slightly flushed from her job at Bishamontengoku bar, wakes up late and relies on Ryuji to take care of her and the house—hardly a description of a responsible parent. However, Ryuji actually takes it all of these quite well—he does take care of her, assumes responsibility in the house and appears to be not embarrassed with his mother’s job. This is the reason why I think Yasuko is awesome in her own right. Despite the irresponsible disposition, she is still able to elicit respect; after all, it is no easy task to own up and bringing another life in this world, then raise it single-handedly without pretense.
I also can’t help but be amused with Yasuko’s insights about Ryuji and Taiga, and her adamant stance for Ryuji not to give up school and leave the financial matters to her. I especially liked the talk she shared with Ryuji towards the end of the series, where the paradox of showing her vulnerable side was a welcome change from the authoritative and generative behaviors that typical mothers exhibit. It’s not that mothers should not display authority but I found that it showed a side of her—the one that is also human and open for nurturing. For some reason, it makes her more relatable, which I think was a good way of showing the connection between mother and son. Overall, I’m glad that Yasuko’s character was grounded and realistic, and that it still reflected admirable qualities despite her seemingly immature persona.
Takehara Fusa, Bounen no Xam’d
Being the parent of an anime character cannot be an easy job, but probably the most terrible thing about all of it is the nagging uncertainty as to the fate of your child who ventures out into the terrible unknown. This anxiety is, among others, the focal point of Takehara Fusa’s character in the recently concluded Xam’d Lost Memories. Fusa is the mother of the series main protagonist, Takehara Akiyuki. Estranged from her husband, she is, by all intents and purposes, akiyuki’s a single mom. Although it is the strained relationship between her and her husband that serves as her main conflict throughout the story, her anxiety over the fate of her boy as he is violently wrenched from her and thrown into the world, is no less an important part if her character.
This is brought out beautifully in Episode 13: “Running Barefoot”, which features Akiyuki’s return to his home island as a wanted criminal. Unable to move around freely, Akiyuki visits his father and meets some of his friends, but strangely leaves only a trace of his presence (an unopened bento) in his and his mother’s apartment, as if to say to her “I was here”.
What follows is her heartrendingly frantic search through the island, literally running barefoot after her son. The dialogue of the scene, a calm retelling of a simple story of Akiyuki’s childhood, stands in beautiful juxtaposition to the desperate energy taking place on-screen. The scene ends with Fusa finally getting a glimpse of Akiyuki as he boards a bus that will take him farther from her once again. As she runs futilely after the bus, her strength finally gives way and she is left looking forlornly after it in the distance. And yet, mixed with her tears and weariness, there is an undertone of pride as she declares “That’s my boy”.
“Running Barefoot” is probably one of the most effective and beautiful depictions of parenting that I have ever seen. The dialogue tells of Fusa’s incessant failed attempts to curb Akiyuki’s unruliness and exuberance as a child, with her devising various punishments for misbehavior, while he gleefully finds ways to circumvent such punishments. This really resonated with me as my brothers and I have a very similar dynamic with my mother. Now that I am older, I can finally understand the sheer effort that my mother put into my upbringing, and it staggers me. I can only hope that I inspire in her the same pride that Akiyuki does in Fusa. And so today, we celebrate all of our mothers who, in a very real sense are running barefoot after us.
Irie Noriko, Itazura na Kiss
Oh boy. This woman is nuts, but the kind any son or daughter-in-law is so lucky to have. It may have little to do with overall disposition, but rather how Noriko has two sons and no daughters factored into her outright infatuation for Kotoko. It’s not like she’s daughter-crazy to the point of wanting Kotoko at the expense of her own son’s wishes and welfare. Rather he does know her Naoki well enough to know that Kotoko is the woman who would bring out the best in him. In any case, she feels strongly for Kotoko knowing the kind of indignities Naoki subjects her to.
Is there any disadvantage to having a mother|mother-in-law like Noriko? If you don’t mind a stalker from your own household, she’s just perfect. The woman has a lot of time in her hands.
It is tempting to think of mothers in anime as background characters that the leads either run home to for support, or rebel against, or treat as some kind of nuisance. In the case of these four mothers, we get to see fuller characters in their own right, with their own goals and motivations, their own triumphs and tragedies. We certainly remember our love for them.
We close this post by celebrating a birthday. Not of another anime mother, but that of a father: otou-san of Shameful Otaku Secret is one of the finest friends of We Remember Love. Not only has he been there from almost the very beginning, providing supportive advice and perspective on the world of anime blogging, a fellow Macross fan to travel with to the ends of the galaxy, but also a significant influence to the ideology of fanboying that goes on in this corner of this series of tubes.
While he isn’t as old as me, he is old enough. Happy birthday otou-san. May you continue to hang your head in shame, Power to your dream, We listen to your song, Your secret is safe with us.
An ideology of ‘remembering love.’ (ghostlightning 2009/05/09)
It Takes a Fanboy, a post of great influence to a new aniblogger even if already an oldfag fanboy. (otou-san 2008/10/04)
Further writing on Toradora! [->]
Husband and wife talk anime husband and wife (Itazura na kiss) [->]