< Seraphim >
Thursday - November 30, 2000
Piro and I rented Princess Mononoke for the holiday weekend. He had seen the American release of the film when it first hit theaters, but I knew he would like to see it again (and again and again...) Our sweet little kitten got her name from the Japanese title of the film, "Mononoke Hime" (Demon Princess). Both names suit her well. Hime has single handedly destroyed $2000 of appliances, clothes, and computer equipment with her little sharp teeth and razor sharp claws. Piro actually made me watch Mononoke Hime a long time ago - it was a VHS version of a Chinese subtitle that had THEN been subbed into English. It was awful, and I started to regret my impulsive generosity...
Over the past few weekends I have made Piro endure some things that really are beyond the call of duty, including a co-worker's hoe down birthday party and a boiled corned beef and cabbage charity dinner. He is such a good sport. I owed him BIG. So i figured i owed it to him to sit and watch the american version of the movie. Don't tell Piro, but I really enjoyed it.
I am not very familiar with Japanese legends and lore. I grew up Catholic - very Catholic. Put me in the middle of Catholic mass or rite in any language and I would know what is going on. My moniker is even based on Catholicism. Piro keeps mentioning something called "Seraphim Call", but I have no idea what he is talking about. The Seraphim are the highest order of angles that sing the praises of God and have three sets of wings. My girlfriend, Mary, and I were the first female alter persons at St. Francis of Assisi.
What really confuses me is when Japanese anime uses Christian symbolism. Take Seira in St. Tail - in reality she would be a novice in an order. But what order does she belong to??? Dominican, Benedictine, or does she belong to the Convent Hall of Justice for semi-super heroes? The only thing they seem to get right is the school uniform - but it should be a really ugly green and blue plaid with criss-cross suspenders, a white blouse, and saddle shoes. (I'm sure even Dom could draw it).
As for Mononoke Princess, with an excellent translation, beautiful imagery, and Piro to fill in the blanks, the story is superb. It has some violence (decapitations like school girls popping off dandelion flowers) and disturbing visuals (animals turning into worm beasts). Really, it is no more scary than a story about making a man wear a crown of thorns and then nailing him to a cross. The beliefs in the movie seem more similar to Native American mythology - the reverence for nature, animals, and the theme of birth, death and renewal. The final scene where a Kodama stands over the tiny new saplings leaves me verklempt. Forget having a conscience sitting my shoulder, I want a Kodama to watch over me.