In the manga Memories of Emanon (story by Kajio Shinji, illustrations by Tsuruta Kenji), the protagonist and narrator begins by remembering (or flashing back to) the moment he met Emanon on a ferry, a strange, seemingly wandering and rootless woman – the kind us men tell ourselves not to fall in love with, but we fall in love with her anyway. He tells us the events that characterized 1967, including the status of the space race (Apollo Project), and the things that he concerned himself with (failed love).
Do you remember when your first experience of a work of anime or manga that told you this was something special, that it was something as good or better than anything you’ve seen or read before in all other media? I’m not talking about the shows or comics you consumed as a kid, because you wouldn’t have seen or read much by that time. I’m talking about that thing that made you want to talk about it for days; that thing that made you proud that you understood how special it is, and perhaps a bit sad that others may have a tough time understanding it, or why you like it so much; how liking it made you different from other people.
Yeah, that piece among your favorites.
For me, it happened rather late. It was Cowboy Bebop and only in 2004 (I had a profound experience with Neon Genesis Evangelion a year earlier, but I still didn’t make up my mind about it). A good friend of mine had encouraged me to watch it for some time, but I only came around when I took one song from the movie OST (‘Gotta Knock a Little Harder’) along with me on a grueling 1,000km road trip that I figured I was a fool for ignoring this show all this time. In 2004 I was 27, and working the presidential campaign of (now outgoing President) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, traveling from town to town to pay for the expenses of the campaign sorties. I was in the thick of her controversial victory.
At the time I had begun to date the woman who would become my wife.
I was in love, with a woman and life itself that I could appreciate the humor in the long dark trip that Cowboy Bebop took me with. The Summer Olympics were held in Athens that year, and in the USA, George W. Bush was re-elected as President after a controversial election as well.
Tell me about your moment.
Why am I suddenly interested in this? It’s because of Memories of Emanon. A single volume manga that in less than 200 pages showed me the possibility of storytelling, and how wonderful it is to behold a beautiful young woman while you are a young man yourself. That night on the ferry reminded me of Richard Linklater’s film Before Sunrise, a one night love story that made me fantasize of French girls and backpacking through Vienna as a teenager.
There is something wonderful about an improbable love, perhaps how the affair feels like an affront to fate itself makes it fuller with meaning.
But this is where the similarities end. Memories of Emanon is a delightfully simple but engaging piece of science fiction as well. It also explores the destiny of living beings, as well as the sheer immensity of the past. I won’t go into further detail because the discovery of these things is a big part of the delight in this story.
It is 2010, I am a new father and at a crossroads in my career. The son of former president (the late) Corazon Aquino is now the President of our republic while the son of Ferdinand Marcos is in the Senate (and Imelda Marcos herself back in congress; YES HER). The financial fabric of the world is unraveling before my very eyes. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are making tennis history by breaking records seemingly in every tournament they play in. This is part of how I will remember the Memories of Emanon.
Tell me how you remember your own moments.