I just watched the second series of Otona Joshi no Anime Time, which are animated adaptations of award-winning short stories about adult women. It’s a nice change of pace from the kid and otaku-demographic shows that I’ve been watching lately, and I’m going to talk about all three episodes here.
Note: There’s another episode of Otona Joshi no Anime Time, which I might add here once I’ve gotten to watching it.
What: Mimi is a separated housewife who moves in with her friendly neighborhood trash collector. She has a real fondness for cooking and a good part of the show focuses on photographic stills of food. Sometimes the animation cuts to a live-action segment of Mimi cooking (showing only bits of her limbs), but the transition is never jarring. The episode is about how Mimi sees her relationship with her boyfriend, framing it through her not-so-bright past and her failed marriage.
Hard-hitting issues: Cohabitation, divorce, anxiety
Why should we care? The episode sets a good mood and puts you into Mimi’s mind very well. I spent watching it waiting for the shoe to drop, for her boyfriend to leave her, as I start seeing clues that he may not be really into her as much as she is to him. The episode shows that Mimi’s life before meeting her boyfriend was sad without being melodramatic. That, and she’s really earnest about making things work for a change. It’s a good story, but it’s more of an appetizer to the next two.
What: Hatoko is a single woman pushing forty. Her life’s best moments are all taken from her youth, and she’s suffering a sad case of mid-life crisis. Nobody takes her seriously! Then one day she receives an invitation to a class reunion. This could be the chance to meet her middle school ex, who dumped her unceremoniously after three weeks of dating, so she hops on it. At first she’s shocked at how her old classmates have changed, then she finally meets him. Stuff happens. It’s told in a light, comical tone, complementing Hatoko’s easygoing personality. She also has a vivid imagination that never syncs well with reality.
Hard-hitting issues: mid-life crisis, inferiority complex, alcoholism, that feeling when you look at your age and realize you’ve done really nothing worthwhile in your life OOPS–
Why should we care? Because it’s funny. Hatoko is the easiest to relate to out of the three protagonists in the series, because her issues are more relevant to people who may not be adults or women. I’m sure some of us have old flames in school whom we want to see again, or that the most memorable events in our lives happened decades ago. Usually, a story like this ends up hamfisted, but its execution made my reservations disappear. It’s also easy for me to relate to someone who drinks too much and pukes into toilets. Overall my favorite, but the best episode goes to–
What: Maho is a mother who is working part-time in a late-night shift in a supermarket, because her husband had gotten fired from his job and got another one that pays less. Her teenage children don’t listen to her–her daughter in high school goes away for five days, and her son in college doesn’t want to be in the same room as her. Yet she cares a lot about her children. On top of that, Maho’s elderly mother keeps nagging her to come visit her and basically wastes her time when she does come. Also some creepy guy at work seems to be hitting on her, uh oh! Her life kinda sucks. The episode is done in a very matter-of-fact way, of a family falling apart in a way that can’t be helped, conveying a feeling of powerlessness without being forced.
Hard-hitting issues: depression, estrangement, self-image, motherhood when your kids are all independent and rebellious and think they don’t need you anymore (basically, motherhood)
Why should we care? Also your summary seems melodramatic as hell, no thank you. That’s the best thing about this episode. Maho has a very soft, world-weary voice, and it bleeds into her narration. The things I wrote above are shown to us, with the pressure gradually piling in as Maho feebly tries to make things better, and the more they stay the same. She’s portrayed as a victim, but she doesn’t play the victim card herself. And there are also signs hinting that there might be another side to things. When I was watching this, I felt a growing sense of dread as Maho’s life gradually spirals downward, and then, the ending hits you. It doesn’t end as I expected it to do, but it’s believable and incredibly cathartic. Maho doesn’t solve all of her problems right away, but it’s a start.
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It’s a show aimed at adult women, but there’s certainly a lot to like. The writing is strong across the board and despite the sad nature of these stories they never descend into self-pity. Now that’s what I call empowering. I hope you check it out, too! I sure think we need a lot more shows like these.