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:
- Soh-Yon (Beast Player Erin)
- Trisha Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
- 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…!
Trisha Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
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…
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.
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…”