Bottle Fairies, Volume II
I'm not sure how this happened, but I managed to make it to the age of 36 relatively anime-free. This era recently ended with the viewing of the last 6 episodes of the Japanese children's television show Bottle Fairies. It seems the Bottle Fairies are four female fairies, sent to Earth in bottles with a small white winged cat to spend a year studying humanity, in some sort of human/fairy exchange student program. Their host family consists of the somewhat anonymous Sensai-san, a college student with sexy shaggy hair and an aw-shucks demeanor. Sensai-san, presumably, is to guide them toward humanity, teaching them about traditional and modern Japanese customs, and introducing them to different seasonal holidays and festivals. Most of their information, unfortunately for them, is actually given by Sensai-san's next door neighbor, Tamachan, whose certainty is persuasive, if sometimes misguided, and, typical of the first-grader she is, she takes great delight in issuing them humanizing tasks before getting distracted and wandering off to play video games.
Each episode is broken up into different months, from October and ending with their graduation into humanity in March. Each month is devoted to learning about what is special about each month, ("A typhoon is exceptional! A typhoon is an unbelievable superpower!") and preparation for the month's holiday.
The show, specifically geared toward Japanese girls between the ages of 4-8, is very soft and gentle, with an emphasis on traditional femininity, with the exception of grey-haired, red-eyed bottle fairy Sarara, who gives a shout out to the tomboys with her love of sports, ninjas, and martial arts. However, the show occasionally gives Japanese parents something to be amused by, with the bottle fairies often darting off into small pop culture parodies of Japanese soap operas and a disdainful reference to "obligatory chocolates" that Japanese women are required to buy men on Valentine's Day.
As an adult anime virgin, the overly formal, slightly stilted English translations sounded a bit jarring and sometimes, unintentionally hilarious, such as this conversation between Sensai-san, the bottle fairies, and Tama:
Sensai-san: Hey. I didn't know all of you were over here.
Tamachan: Well, hello there, Mister Next Door Neighbor! To what do we owe this visit?
Sensai-san:Well, I just purchased some autumn treats, and I'd like to share them with you.
Tamachan: Ah! That is the true taste of autumn, and it will never fail to capture the heart of a lady!
Bottle Fairies: Sweet Potatoes!
So not what I expected, although now that I think about it, my husband did once court me all those years ago with exactly that - a big steaming bag of sweet potatoes. That, and the weird white winged cat that inexplicably floated across the screen at random moments, and I was mostly too tripped out over the constant surrealism to fully appreciate it.
Not so for my children. My sons, ages three and six, reacted to the DVD like it was a big snort of brown heroin. They nodded out in front of it for literally hours, eyes growing gradually more and more anime-like, until they began walking around the house, giggling into their hands, saying stuff like, "Oh! I am feeling shy today, Sensai-san!"
This caused my husband to freak out and banish it from the house. He didn't care when our six year old twisted his ankle running around the house in my high-heeled shoes, but evidently he draws the line at a DVD that turns them into giggling Japanese schoolgirls. Go figure.
(Cross-posted at the Lincoln Heights Literary Society)
DVD Release November, 2005
Distributed by Geneon
Appropriate for Ages 4-7
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Bottle Fairies, Volume II