— Temporal Vortex

Folklore Driven Anime

I think I have discerned a particular theme that I certainly enjoy watching and I’m hoping that there would be more shows like this in the future. I’ve come to realize this only after watching the recent movie of FMA and it made me remember my rewatch of Seirei no Moribito last year. Well that was random wasn’t it?

To get to the point, I think I really enjoy watching series that make good use of history as a plot tool. To make it a  little clearer, I really like (in Moribito) how the history of the founding of Chagum’s country was misinterpreted throughout the years. This made the whole procedure on how the sacred spirit inside him could be freed, more complicated. I find the whole idea of falsified (well — not per se) history interesting as it sets the conflict more onto rational terms. It becomes more about preserving what everyone has believed up until then or crushing the misled belief of the people. It makes the conflict go into the issue of realigning everything — sometimes even bordering into political issues such as motives of the people involved.

The more conflicting factions present, the more it makes me thrilled on watching the show. This makes the story more interesting in such a way that it normally takes something concrete — not just abstract solutions to meet the demands of the situation. And since there are “factions”, it’s rather interesting to witness how they’d clash with each other and ultimately see if things would work out according to someone’s plan.

Both Moribito and FMA also touched the idea of rebuilding a nation — making the involvement of the citizens to the big problem at hand produce more impact to the story. The impact to Moribito was easier to point out though because it concerns a necessity for the whole country.

The shows both had a share of foreboding sense that something bad is going to happen (or at the very least- something fishy is going on). The episodes of Moribito when Shuga was investigating the water levels is a good example because it was episode where Tanda showed and explained to him the relevance of the height of the mantis eggs to that of rains. FMA had lots of this bordering into conspiracy like the involvement of the prisoners to the experiments — and especially the connection of the Fuhrer. I still remember the scene when Ed and Al drew a radius of some sort just to discover portion of the Fuhrer’s office to be inside that radius. These scenes may not work like those from thriller shows but I like how everything’s unveiled as if the protagonists just dug their own grave by discovering something they shouldn’t have.

If there’s one thing that I really liked, it’s how the two shows somehow regressed back and turned to its origins. Moribito — to the underground tablets and shamanic practices and FMA — to the history of Xerxes and framework of Alkahestry. This part showcases the fundamental part of both shows, the lore from which they are based upon and how everything started. It’s not that common for an anime to make references to events that happened prior to the period that it is set. In my opinion though, both Moribito and FMA made an ingenious convergence in the way that the story was told. Moribito was pretty solid if you tie up the connections among Torogai’s knowledge, Shuga’s deciphered texts, and even the old farming song.

On the other hand, (I forgot already all the revelations that happened in Central during the last chapters!) FMA’s Milos movie (and this one’s rather presented disorderly) pretty much possesses the theme where you have to stitch together the background story and the lore. FMA has a penchant for locational oddities that often turns out to be related to transmutation circles’ patterns — and as usual, the story was technically driven by the “legend” of the Philosopher’s stone.

I guessed this somewhat applies to what Gosick does albeit majority of the myths being episodic and limited to a certain arc unlike the lore of the two aforementioned shows being holistic. Actually, maybe I could pitch in as well the cyber rumor-based driven story (care of Saten) of To Aru Kagaku no Railgun. This one though doesn’t largely depend on the rumors/lore to map out the incidents such as the Level Upper arc since the story would have progressed even without it. The rumors simply fleshes out early-on involvement of the characters to the incident (such as Saten actually finding the Level Upper herself and being a victim).

Well, I hope there would be more shows that handle their aniverse’s folklore more proficiently like the two so I get to see more stories that showcase a deeper interconnection between the past and the present.


image credits: GENEON, and pixiv user  BAK

  1. Ryan A says: March 1, 20123:46 am

    Great thoughts. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other stories that work this angle, except Moribito's relative, Kemono no Souja Erin (written by the same author). This is essentially a great aspect of world-building imo.
    My recent post Mouretsu Pirates: Princess Antics

    • foomafoo says: March 1, 20128:50 am

      Thanks 🙂 That's what I was actually trying to think of! The aspect of world-building. I find it pretty silly when anime(s) — Angel Beats! for example — are inconsistent in trying to show how their universe works.

  2. Mint says: March 3, 20121:42 am

    I just started watching Moribito and the main attraction for me so far is the setting. I like learning about the Mongolian influences, and the details of the folklore and traditions of that country are really fascinating. When a lot of thought is put into the setting it helps make things feel more epic. FMA is kinda insane in that regard. 😀

    • foomafoo says: March 3, 20125:04 pm

      Exactly what I felt when I watched the series. It's as if it there was a mastermind who planned how each of the traditions would relate to the story. FMA has always been insane with the loose alchemy concepts haha but I also like how exaggerated it has become.

  3. Foxy Lady Ayame says: March 20, 20128:54 pm

    If you like misinterpretations during history, then you'll love the "Land of Prophecies -We No The Future-" episode from Kino no Tabi.

    If you like historical animanga in general, I recommend Anatolia Story/Red River. Epic scale story and great characters 🙂 My fav of all times!

    Other anime with great world building are Saiunkoku Monogatari and Twelve Kingdoms – though we're left with cliffhangers
    My recent post Soul & Body: Unbreakable Bonds in xxxholic and TRC

    • foomafoo says: March 30, 20128:54 am

      Thanks for the recommendations! I've been meaning to watch Kino no Tabi and you just gave me the push!

  4. GoodbyeNavi says: April 24, 20121:13 am

    I really enjoyed Moribito and had the pleasure of watching it thanks to Netflix. Your post pointed out to me another reason why I liked the show and that was the mythology, the background stories, the historical aspect. I thought the show was able to be well-rounded with all of its characters. Haven't watched every episode of FMA not because I don't like it but because I've not gotten around to finishing it.

    • foomafoo says: April 24, 20123:17 am

      ooh, I haven't tried watching the dubbed version of Moribito. I wonder how they tweaked the explanations and way of telling some of the myths to suit the English language. The thing about shows like Moribito is that it's background stories' relevance aren't limited and actually an aspect of its very own universe. Gotta like historical series.

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