By Yali Perez
The world of parenthood is a magical, beautiful and often challenging place. It has its highs and its lows, similar to the world of anime. Of course, that’s without the magical outfit changes. Wouldn’t that make getting ready in the morning so much easier?
As a single parent to a 10-year-old son, I sometimes use anime as a way to connect with him. Anime is something we mutually enjoy and is a great medium to discuss subjects without the pressure of feeling too serious. The aim of A Mom’s Guide to Anime is to use anime to help you navigate the world of parenthood.
This month’s focus: Anime to be grateful for. My son is 11 and I’m approaching my 30th birthday, and I can’t help but look back on my life so far. I can remember the day my son was born, every detail so clear. I can remember every moment of his life too, including every time I used anime to help in my role as a mother.
With Thanksgiving almost here, I would like to share some anime that I’m grateful for, series that have personally helped me throughout my life. So strap in—that means more personal stories, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help you too! Let’s jump in.
The music of The Vision of EscaFlowne and Outlaw Star
You’re probably wondering what these two series have in common, or why I’ve chosen to open my list with them? The answer is simple: music.
When my son was just 3 months old, he was colic, which meant frequent, prolonged and intense crying. He was perfectly healthy, but could not stop crying. It was scary, so I looked to ways to help him stop and just be comfortable.
One desperate late night, I sang to him a song from The Vision of EscaFlowne, “Sora,” by Yoko Kanno. It tells the story of a dragon, but more importantly, it sounds like a lullaby. Not only was my son now quiet, but he was staring right at me!
Of course, it didn’t take long for him to get fussy again. Thinking he might keep crying if I chose the same song, I turned to “Melfina’s Song” from Outlaw Star, which also helpfully sounds like a lullaby. And now? He was falling asleep!
I’m so grateful to both of these series, and when my son (around 9 at this time) caught me watching The Vision of EscaFlowne, he said, “Mom, I’ve never seen this show, but I remember this song!”
My first anime memory and inspiration from The Slayers
Being grateful to The Slayers also means being grateful to my godfather. I’ve mentioned before how he was the one who’d let my brother and I watch anime with him, so it only makes sense that my first anime memory is tied to him.
But The Slayers isn’t just my first memory with anime—it’s the series that helped me discover I wanted to be a writer. Seeing Lina Inverse as a strong female lead truly inspired me, and I wanted to write stories about strong women too!
I wanted to tell imaginative stories to inspire girls just like me. Without The Slayers, I might not have dived deeper into the anime community, and I certainly wouldn’t be telling you this story, right now, as a writer.
Watch The Slayers on Funimation!
Learning identity through Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena will always hold a very special place in my heart. There was a period in my life when I struggled a lot with identity. Certainly, starting puberty at 9 years old didn’t help, and it meant I looked way older than 9.
And it came with a lot of unwanted attention. So, my parents did something drastic: they chopped off all of my hair and dressed me in clothes that were considered “for boys.” I was devastated.
I was confused, and I didn’t know why. Revolutionary Girl Utena was therapy. Utena Tenjou was this beautiful girl who dedicated her life to be a prince and marry the Rose Bride. She was feminine and masculine, strong and delicate. I didn’t realize I could be all of these things!
I learned that no matter how I looked or dressed, that didn’t define my identity. My parents tried to hide me, and it was dangerous and wrong. This series helped me embrace myself fully and unapologetically, and as I grew older, I emulated Utena.
I’m grateful that this series helped me define myself, and though I identify as a cisgender woman, I know I alone own my beauty, and my identity.
Watch Revolutionary Girl Utena on Funimation!
Growing up with Dragon Ball Z and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
If you’re a regular reader of A Mom’s Guide to Anime, it shouldn’t surprise you that I love Dragon Ball Z. But you might not know I’m also a huge fan of the incredible Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
And, well, my gratitude for these series all has to do with my younger brother. Growing up, all we had were each other. That’s not to say my parents were horrible, though! As someone who became a teen parent, I understand their choices more, but that doesn’t mean I agreed with them, and it doesn’t mean things were easy for us.
Sometimes we’d fight, and we’d take out our frustration on each other. As his older sister, I should have protected him, but I could barely protect myself. Anime was our escape.
We used to sneak around and watch Dragon Ball Z while out parents were sleeping, staying caught up and acting our our favorite scenes as our favorite characters. We then bounded over to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The story hooked us, but we also related heavily to the Elric brothers.
Through this series, we healed our relationship, letting go of the anger or guilt toward each other, just like Ed and Al healed their own. And now? My brother and I have matching tattoos for BOTH of these series. We’ll always have each other’s backs.
And that wraps up just a handful of the anime series I’m thankful for. What anime series are you grateful for? Share this post and let us know! And I’ll see you next time on A Mom’s Guide to Anime.