Favorite Mothers in Books and Anime

I’m a bit late to the Mother’s Day party with this post, but as can be seen on site and its (lack of) activity, late is the order of the day, so here we go!

It’s long been a goal to use this site to talk about the kinds of things I like in media, particularly books and anime, my two favorite storytelling mediums (Video games are third, with live action TV and feature films a distant fourth and fifth), and what better way to kick that off than with a (belated) Mother’s Day piece? Because if it’s one thing anyone reading this has in common with each other and with me, it’s that we all have mothers in our lives. I use the term in the plural not to make a political statement, but rather a sociological one. Whether or not any one of us has a relationship–good or bad–with our biological mothers, we all have motherly figures in our lives who have helped to shape and mold us into the people we are. For better or worse, because not all parents or role models are created equal, and even the best have their failings because we are all flawed creatures.

That said, let’s keep the focus on the positive. Following are some of my favorite depictions of mothers and motherhood in fiction, with an emphasis on anime for the post since that’s what’s coming to me the most at the moment:

  1. Soh-Yon (Beast Player Erin)
  2. Trisha Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
  3. Clara Magnolia (Violet Evergarden) with a bonus(!)

Soh-Yon (Beast Player Erin)


Beast Player Erin follows the tales of a little green-haired, green-eyed girl named Erin as she grows up in a fantasy kingdom and attempts to follow in the footsteps of her mother Soh-Yon, who is a veterinarian for huge lizard creatures called Tohda. The Tohda basically serve as the backbone of the kingdom’s military, their equivalent of horses and war elephants rolled up into one scaly package. Life is good for Erin, who is the granddaughter of the village elder, but all is not as it seems in her idyllic community. Despite being related to the village elder, her mother is an outsider, from a nomadic clan that is not seen in a positive light by the people of the kingdom. She slowly comes to realize this, but through many of her formative years she has her mother, Soh-Yon, to watch her back, to tend to her needs, and to give her someone to look up to. I can’t write more about her without major spoilers, but just know this is one of my favorite anime of all time. It used to be available on Crunchyroll, but I think it’s been pulled down as of this writing, and no one has published it physically or digitally in the United States. A shame, since it’s deserving of a lot of acclaim in my opinion.

P.S. I just realized that the book this is based on is out in English, both in audio and in hardcover. Let’s goooooooo…!

Hey, where’d the green hair go? And that looks like a wolf, not a lizard. Ah, whatever. Still excited!

Trisha Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)

Trisha Elric - Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood - Image #745384 ...

Trisha Elric is the mother of protagonist Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse. She alone raised Ed and Al after their father Hohenheim up and vanished one day when they were young. They saw him leave, and that was that so far as their father was concerned. (Or was it…? Plot thickens!) Trisha raises the brothers on her own as best she can, always a smile on her face and never a harsh word for the seemingly irresponsible father of theirs who left them in their formative years. Right on up until her death (It’s in the first episode, so it’s not a spoiler!) and in all flashbacks to come, she clearly had nothing but trust and love in Hohenheim, knowing that he was doing something important enough that he had to leave them behind for now. Up until the end she fulfilled her duty as a mother with love, grace, and humility. And occasionally a big spoon or broom for when the smacks needed to get laid down. Am I imagining that last part? Hmm…

For those who have seen the show, I’d love your input on a theory of mine. There’s a moment in the fifth opening of the show (The last “season” or “arc) where we see her approaching what we think is Ed in a dream, before she bends over and extends her arm. Then we cut to Ed who is asleep with a smile on his face. Is he dreaming of Trisha coming back for him, or someone else? I think it’s someone else, and he’s happy to see it. But, hey, that’s just a theory. An anime theory…

This moment gets me every time since my “realization.”

Clara Magnolia (Violet Evergarden)

Violet Evergarden is an anime that, at its heart, is about someone with PTSD attempting to reintegrate into society. Violet, the titular character, is a former child soldier who has just survived her land’s equivalent of World War I, and not without severe cost to body and soul. In the final battle of the war, she lost both arms attempting to protect her commanding officer. Her commanding officer’s best friend takes her under his wing after the war and hires her to work for his company, a mail delivery and letter writing service. The majority of the story follows Violet as she learns to convey the feelings and desires of those she’s contracted to write letters for and, as a result, learns to understand and convey her own feelings. It’s an emotional roller-coaster at times, and the visuals and music are gorgeous. I can’t recommend the show enough.

In one of the episodes, Violet visits Clara Magnolia, a chronically-ill woman in need of Violet’s skills to help her write a series of letters. While there, Violet meets Clara’s seven year old daughter Ann, who has a love-hate relationship with Violet. On the one hand, she’s glad to have a new friend. On the other hand, she hates that Violet is taking her mother away from her when she needs

Bonus – Unnamed Mother (Violet Evergarden)

There’s another mother in Violet who reaches out and comforts Violet in a shared moment of grief. I can’t say any more or show her without spoiling an entire episode, but it’s a testament to both the woman’s strength of character and her motherly instincts that she, in the deepest grief imaginable, would be able to show compassion for another who’s suffering. It’s beautiful, it’s tragic, and I love it. It’s the kind of emotional impact I hope to impart on readers.

This is strength right here.

And that’s it for the moment. There are a ton of other examples I could give, but this post has already gone on long enough. If you’ve made it this far, thank you! Please consider leaving a comment. I’d love to know which fictional mother is your favorite.

In the coming days, look for a link to a newsletter sign-up page. It’s high time I get one going, and it is in the works! For those who sign up, a free novella set in my Necrolopolis fantasy universe awaits! Learn how necromancer Adelvell wound up in the undead city of Necrolopolis, employed as the assistant to the city’s director herself:

“So, how did you end up in this position, Addy?” Ferryman looked up from his ale, his face lost deep inside the hood of his black robe. “Originally someone from the Necromancer’s Guild was favored for the position, but you’re not a member.”

“Addy isn’t a member of the guild?” Mad Molly floated her plump form closer, a fresh tankard in each translucent hand. She set them in front of us. “Am I hearin’ that right?”

I took a long pull to finish my first tankard, then reached for one of the new ones.

“It’s not something I go around advertising, but yes. And you’re right, Ferryman. One of my rivals was a member of the guild, along with someone from the Cult of Mortus.” I shrugged. “In the end, I had the job.”

“That sounds like a story.” Molly’s green eyes glinted with ghostly mischief. “Care to share?”

“It’s a bit of a long one,” I warned. “It starts in a distant city, with a couple of missing pieces of mail…”


Anime Review: GAMERS!

A series of unfortunate (But hilarious) misunderstandings. 4.75/5.0

My wife and I have been on an anime comedy kick of late. I’d like to get her into the new(er) Star Blazers anime, but she’s been in the mood for more lighthearted shows, so our newest foray has been into the Funimation dub of “GAMERS!” (The sub is available for free on Crunchyroll) a show that’s a cross between a romantic comedy and a tribute to video games and the many reasons why people love them.

The lead protagonist is a soft-spoken, socially awkward boy named Keita and his encounter with Tendou, the school’s blonde bombshell who’s way out of his league except for one shared passion: their love of video games. Tendou secretly runs the school’s game club and invites Keita to join an elite group of high-end, tournament-winning gamers. His response leads to a chain of events that ultimately devolves into a love dodecahedron where he and all his new friends have no idea what’s going on, who’s dating who, who likes who, or what the ultimate outcome will be. One of the funniest parts about it is how clueless Keita is regarding Tendou’s feelings. She’s head-over-heels for him, but he can’t see it, and she worries she’s out of his league. We’re only six episodes into a twelve episode season, but already it’s one of my favorite shows from last year.

And the video game references used range anywhere from old school RPGs and platformers to fairly recent entries like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. That alone got me interested, but the strange relationship web is what’s keeping our interest. The characters are funny, the situations are even funnier, and we’re loving every minute of it.

Give it a try if you’ve got some time to kill! I haven’t seen the Japanese version yet, but the English version has been spot on. Funimation has been putting out a lot of great stuff over the last few years, and we’re glad to see that trend continue. 4.75/5.0.

Movie Review: Cardcaptor Sakura – The Sealed Card

A fantastic bridge between the old series and the new. 4.5/5.0

The last couple years have been great for theater-going anime fans, at least in the United States. Last year we saw, in no particular order, Sailor Moon R’s re-release, Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, Your Name, lots of good stuff. And this year, we’ve already seen two films in theaters: Fandango’s release of “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” and now Crunchyroll’s release of “Cardcaptor Sakura – The Sealed Card.” It is being shown in theaters around the country for one more day, 02/04/18.

This is actually the second Cardcaptor film, but it serves as the closure of the original series. In it, Sakura has one last challenge to face as the cards she spent the entire series capturing are disappearing, and she has to figure out why. And once she discovers who – or what – is doing it, it’s time to fight and the whole city is at stake.

For a film released in 2000 it holds up really well. The animation quality and production values are top-notch. It was released in its original Japanese language, and from what I could tell the translation held up well. I’m no expert, but I’ve listened to enough subtitled anime to know when something sounds a little off.

The movie itself is paced well. We’re treated to introductions for most of the main and supporting cast early on, we learn that Sakura’s personal goal is to someday admit her feelings for a special someone in her life (Hint, it’s the guy next to her in the video down below), but things quickly get derailed as a new enemy appears that she and all her friends spend the rest of the movie battling. It’s funny, it’s action-packed in the latter-half, and watching Sakura master her feelings will make anyone who’s gone through a similar romantic journey just a bit nostalgic. It’s recommended, even as a stand-alone feature. Though, you’ll be a little lost just in the beginning as there are a lot of inside jokes and quirks that you won’t fully appreciate unless you’ve seen at least some of the series.

“How many versions of our show are there?”

This is being shown to celebrate the launch of the new Cardcaptor Sakura series, “Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card.” We’ve seen the first two episodes of it, and we love it. I may do a review of it once we’re a few more episodes in, but so far it’s as good as the original. And, if you haven’t seen the original and like magical girl shows, Crunchyroll has both the subbed and dubbed versions.


To sum it up, we loved it! 4.5/5.0. I only docked a half point because I wish the final battle had been a little more involved. The way it ended was satisfying, but abrupt. Still, it has me even more excited for the rest of the series. And for the experience of seeing it in theaters, we give that a 10/5. Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Fathom have been doing a lot of great things for us anime fans! Looking forward to more coming out.

“Your Name” – A Fantastic Film

My wife and I just got back from seeing this film on its opening night here in the States. We went with a couple of friends, one of whom is just getting into anime. The theater we went to had listed our showing as the English Dub (The first trailer below), but we ended up with the Japanese version, which suited us all just fine. We all prefer to see anime in Japanese for the most part, but I doubt we’d have been disappointed if it had been English. Funimation has a habit of putting out high quality English dubs, from Psycho-Pass to Attack on Titan just to name a couple. And the theater was almost full, which was nice. It reminded me of when we saw Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale a few weeks back. It certainly beat how we were the only ones in for the live action Ghost in the Shell.

Anyway, I won’t give too much of the plot away in my review (Or any future reviews), but just in case I will post the meat of the review right after the English Dub Trailer below. First, a synopsis taken from Funimation Films‘ site:

“The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places. Mitsuha wakes up in Taki’s body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint.

“When a dazzling comet lights up the night’s sky, it dawns on them. They want something more from this connection—a chance to meet, an opportunity to truly know each other. Tugging at the string of fate, they try to find a way to each other. But distance isn’t the only thing keeping them apart. Is their bond strong enough to face the cruel irony of time? Or is their meeting nothing more than a wish upon the stars?”



As you can see from the trailer, the animation is gorgeous. I have yet to see anything as smooth and detailed as what I’ve seen in this film, and that includes Disney films of days gone by, and even Studio Ghibli, although Ghibli would be the closest to compare it to. For this reason alone the movie is worth seeing, at least if you’re a fan of animated films.

The plot and setting are both solid, with aspects of the setting (The small country town that the heroine Mitsuha lives in, especially) fully explored and used to drive the main story. For instance, a couple of minutes is spent early on in the film showing Mitsuha and her sister carrying out a ritual at the shrine their grandmother maintains, where they make sake from rice that they are chewing and then spitting into containers. These containers are then sealed and given as an offering to the god that watches over their town. You initially think it’s just a bit of interesting worldbuilding with the added bonus of self-conscious Mitsuha being mortified when she realizes that some of her classmates witnessed the ritual. But, this cool little bit of worldbuilding and culture sharing is instrumental in the story’s ultimate resolution.

The amount of high schooler hijinks is kept to a level necessary to provide much needed humor in a story that grows increasingly tense without going overboard. Mitsuha and Taki swap bodies with one another for an entire day at a time, meaning that one will go to sleep Sunday as themselves, spend all day Monday as each other, and then return to their original bodies in time for Tuesday. This does not go unnoticed by family and classmates, who see the switches in personality and mannerisms as explainable only by “Well, s/he is a teenager, so…” The humor stays mostly clean, although there is a bit of boob-groping on the part of Taki pretty much whenever he wakes up in Mitsuha’s body, but without any actual skin showing. Be warned, though, if that is a problem for you and/or your children.

The music was great to the extent that many times I didn’t notice it separate from the scene unfolding before me. It was just another part of the experience, blending in perfectly with the animation, the setting, the characters, and the tension (or levity) of the scene at hand. About the only time it really stood out were during the scenes where vocal tracks were used.

Without blathering on any further, I’ll just end it with saying the movie was fantastic, I’d like to go see it again, and I hope others will do the same.

If I have to have a rating for the movie, it’s A+.