May Anime Challenge: Folktales from Japan

To celebrate Japanese myths our challenge this month is the anime Folktales from Japan, also known as Hometown Rebuilding: Folktales from Japan. It is a 258 long episode anime series that adapt various traditional stories from Japan. Each episode has three seven-minute stories. The series ran from April 2012 to March 2017. Character voices and narration were provided by veteran film actors Akira Emoto and Yoneko Matsukane. A second 50-episode-season of Folktales in Japan ran from April 2017 to March 2018 due to its popularity.

Folktales in Japan reminds you of oral traditions. All over the world mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and teachers tell us myths and legends part of our folklore. Each tale has an underlining truth to be learned. Stories like the boy born from the peach, the old man that makes the cherry tree blossom and stone soup touches our imagination and keeps a little magic alive in all of us. This month we explore the magic by watching Folktales From Japan.

Week 1 May 03 – 09, 2021

Episode 1 – 4

Konnichiwa Minna, it is week 1 of our Folktales in Japan anime challenge and this week we’re going to talk about the series’ first theme song’s artist, Shoko Nakagawa. She was born on May 5, 1985, which means her birthday is this month! Nakagawa is a Japanese tarento (media personality), voice actress, illustrator and singer. In Japan, she is best known as the presenter of Pokémon Sunday, but some of you may also know her as the performer of the opening song from the anime Gurren Lagann.

Nakagawa is the daughter of the late actor and musician Katsuhiko Nakagawa, a 1960s celebrity who died from leukaemia in 1994. She was bullied as a child but escaped from it by connecting with Pokémon when she was a fifth-grader. Nakagawa said: “When I was a kid, I didn’t have friends, but I did have Pokémon.” Pokémon did not just save her as a child but became a huge part of her life. She ended up voicing characters in every Pokémon movie from 2007 to date. She is also known to play the character Yogen-gyo in the movies Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods and Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ and reprised the role in the series Dragon Ball Super. She also does dub voiceover for movies, she did the voice over for Jodelle Ferland’s character Alessa Gillespie in Silent Hill (2006).

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Shoko Nakagawa a little. Enjoy the challenge and have a super sugoi week.

Week 2 May 10 – 16, 2021

Episode 5 – 8

Konnichiwa Minna, this is our second week of exploring Folktales from Japan, and so far it has been fun learning more about Japan’s traditional lore. It is also amazing how much Japanese myth can have in common with myths from other parts of the world. One such example is in episode 2 of last week’s part of the challenge, “Little One Inch” about the boy that was 3 cm in height and never grew taller. It reminds you of myths from around the world: Tom Thumb from England, Pinkeltje from the Netherlands, which became part of South African tales as Pinkie or Duimpie, The Hazel-Nut Child from Bukovina. These went on to inspire more modern stories like The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf which later became a 1980 Japanese anime called The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (Nirusu no Fushigi na Tabi) to name but one. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils had many incarnations and was translated into many languages, even Afrikaans!

We hope you enjoyed the world myth and anime lore, enjoy the challenge and have a super sugoi week.

Week 3 May 17 – 23, 2021

Episode 9 – 12

Konnichiwa Minna, week 3 of our anime challenge and already we have met all kinds of mythic heroes from Japanese folktales, such as Urashima Taro from episode 5 of Folktales from Japan. Here we have a fisherman rewarded for rescuing a turtle. He is taken on the turtle’s back to Ryugu-jo, the Dragon Palace, where our hero is entertained like a king by princess Otohime. He and the princess spent days together, getting tours of the magic realm, eating delicacies, and when the festivities are over he is returned to our mortal world. That is where his life turned dark because what he thought was a few days turned out to be 100 years that he was away. His friends, family and everything he loved is dead or long gone… to top it all, when he opens a gift box the princess gave him, he is turned into an old man… Beware rewards from supernatural beings minna, such blessings might be curses.

We’ll this is a recap of episode 5 for those that missed it, a taster of only one of three stories that made up that episode. If you have not joined in, try out this challenge. The stories are short and very entertaining. We hope you enjoy our challenge and have a super sugoi week!

Week 4 May 24 – 30, 2021

Episode 13 – 16

Konnichiwa Minna, it is the fourth and final week of our Folktales from Japan Anime Challenge, this week we bring you an anime recommendation which is a fantasy and action series and is based both on Japanese folk legends as well as a Light Novel, Momo Kyun Sword. Released in the Japanese summer of 2012, Momo Kyun Sword offers female warriors, twisted Japanese myths, lots of fan service and a generous amount of skimpy outfits. This anime from Tri-slash and Project No. 9 is based on the legend of Momotarou but they changed the main character Momotarou into a girl called Momoko. Momoko was born from a giant peach and travel the Japanese countryside with three animal gods (A monkey, a dog and a pheasant) fighting Oni and collecting 300-year-old peach fragments.

We hope you enjoy this last part of the challenge and have a super sugoi week.