Pretty as a Picture

While puttering around the Internet in search of something to make her smile, this author stumbled across the picture below:

I am fairly certain this is a panel from the Zoids: Chaotic Century manga*. If it is not an illustration from any particular issue, I believe it was drawn by one of the artists involved in the books’ creation. Even if it is the work of a fan, the characters – Zeke (the tyrannosaur-style Organoid), Van Flyheight, and Fiona Elisi Linnet – are instantly recognizable to anyone who either read the manga or watched the anime*.

Though this author prefers the story in the latter medium to that seen in the former, this does not make her averse to enjoying the above illustration. There is something wholesome, something transcendentally beautiful, about images such as these. Watching Van attempt to repair his hoverboard with Zeke and Fiona’s help is just….sweet. It reminds a reader (or a viewer, in this case) of the simple pleasures in life. There is nothing quite like spending time with those you love, even when you are working hard at an “ordinary” task.

And that made me think: almost every anime I have watched to date has included slice-of-life vignettes like these. I am not referring only to the “requisite beach episodes” or recap installments that feature heavily in shonen anime, but to those genuine, if brief, moments of domestic ease and happiness shown during an episode’s run. With the exception of a few films and perhaps one or two television series, I cannot recall current Western writers taking the time to show the characters “just sitting and enjoying” their everyday lives.

Of course, this was not always the case in the West. There was an Avengers* adventure in the 1960s that opened with Hawkeye fixing a fuse at the team’s mansion. Similarly, in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show,* viewers watched a city resident’s car break down in Mayberry. During the show’s run the man is nearly driven mad by the country folks’ restful Sunday attitude, which he mistakes for laziness. Bonanza*, meanwhile, had an entire installment focus on the Cartwright men relaxing and enjoying spring after a long, hard winter. And who can forget Iroh’s near-reverential attention to such mundane things as tea-making or playing a game of Paisho in Avatar: The Last Airbender*?

It is the simple things in life that make the momentous events so important, not the other way around. Scenes like the one in the picture above offer effective, direct reminders of this fact, which is one reason why they inspire automatic smiles in the audience. After all, who cannot relate to watching someone attempt to fix a broken toy, replace a fuse, or just sit back and take pleasure in the day?

Here’s to the simple joys of life, readers. Enjoy the picture – and don’t forget to appreciate the everyday items that make a “humdrum” domestic life. After all, when everything we know and love is at risk, and there is no surety of routine or safety, it is this lack of domestic joy we miss the most. Even those who thirst for adventure or the next adrenaline rush wish everything “could go back to normal” sooner or later.

*These are Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something through it, this author receives a commission from Amazon at no extra charge to you, the buyer. If you liked this article, friend Caroline Furlong on Facebook or follow her here at www.carolinefurlong.wordpress.com. Her stories have been published in Cirsova’s Summer Special and Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth, while her poetry has appeared in Organic Ink, Vol. 2. She has also had stories published in Planetary Anthologies Luna and Uranus. Her latest story is available in Cirsova Magazine’s recently released Summer Issue. Order them today!

One thought on “Pretty as a Picture

  1. I can of course instantly think of a couple of examples where they did character building like this– first one to mind is the animated X-Men episode where Nightcrawler is introduced, where Logan sits down to pray with Kurt in the final scene; there’s also Gargoyles, where they did “(Character’s) Day” episodes for at the very least Hudson, Lexington, Broadway….those are the ones that stuck.

    But compared to anime, it’s very rare. Notable enough that when it’s done right, it stuck in my head.

    It’s one of the weaknesses in some fanfic — folks never learn to build the characters. And by this time, yes, I DO include even paid writers as doing fan-fic. *grin* Anything where folks don’t learn to build characterization.
    (Fanfic also includes a LOT of stories that are nothing but characterization, and many that do more thinking than the original creators did.Embers by Vathara took Iroh in a direction that managed to keep the shown characterization, and also fit the provided background, AND give him interesting flaws that make perfect sense. Want to be clear I’m not dissing fanfic, here.)

    I think part of it may be that the folks writing the stories don’t really like the characters they’re using. They don’t want to spend more time with them. While manga is frequently someone’s heart’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

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