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Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2013 Winter Issue]>[Memorial column] Anpanman and me

Hakumon CHUOIndex

Memorial column

Anpanman and me

Mirai Tanaka (2nd year student, Faculty of Letters)
Student Reporter

Mr. Takashi Yanase, the creator of Anpanman and a songwriter, passed away on October 13 because of heart failure. Yanase was 94 years old. First televised in 1988, the cartoon Anpanman went beyond the bounds of a TV screen to become a national hero and enthralled children throughout Japan. A student reporter from Chuo University submitted a letter in memory of Yanase.

♪ What makes you happy? What makes you smile?
You must find an answer to these questions!
Remember your dreams and stay brave—the sky is without limit!
(Anpanman March, lyrics by Takashi Yanase)

Ever since I was in kindergarten, I tended to stay indoors. Instead of going to a park, I spent my days watching cartoons at home.

I am now 20 years old, but my tendencies have not changed much. It seems as if my personality was already formed to some extent when I was only 5 years old.

When I was little, my life was centered on three cartoons: Doraemon, Pokémon, and Anpanman.

What would Kamen Rider say?

When I was a kid, there were no Blu-ray Discs or other convenient technology for recording TV programs. My room was filled with videotapes of recorded cartoons. I remember how my grandmother kept many videotapes of recorded cartoons at her house for me.

As I grew up, all those videotapes disappeared before I noticed. My grandmother has also passed away. Although my world once revolved around Doraemon and Anpanman, I no longer watch the cartoons at all. I have also learned to live without the comforting smile of my grandmother. However, I sometimes suddenly recall feelings and questions which I had in my early childhood.

I often recall my indescribable feelings toward Anpanman. Although I was a little child, I sometimes thought that his behavior was not appropriate as a hero punishing villains.

For example, if a roundtable talk by heroes were to be held, Kamen Rider might say something like the following: “Anpanman is sometimes too gentle, but that kindness is also one of his strengths.”

How true this is. Despite the virtue of Anpanman’s kindness, his stubborn attitude of self-sacrifice makes the viewer worry. Although I did not think so deeply at the age of 4, it is certain that I vaguely felt the pain of Anpanman’s sacrifice.

Creator Takashi Yanase envisioned a hero as someone that provides food to starving people.

There is reality in this vision. Although there are few young girls who are hounded by evil crime organizations and few young boys that are preyed on by bizarre monsters, there are countless people suffering from hunger.

At this very instant, Anpanman tears off a piece of his face and offers it to the starving people. His face gets smaller and smaller, which leaves Anpanman weak and exhausted. Even so, he says that he is OK and confronts his enemies. Such scenes were somewhat painful for me to watch as a little child.

“Anpanman, you don’t have to make things so difficult for yourself!” I would plead. Of course, I was amused by watching Anpanman. However, there were instants when even a small child could sense the ideas imbued into the cartoon by Yanase.

Now that I am 20 years old, I would like to write a memorial message to Anpanman.

Anpanman, you are called the weakest hero, but that is not true. I know you are amazing because you calmly and succinctly explain your situation even when things get desperate. “My face is dirty and I have lost my power,” you note with great composure.

Even the famous actor Yusaku Matsuda who was a hero in his films, could only say “What’s this?!” in his last shooting where he gets killed. Anpanman, no matter how painful or agonized you felt, you always continued to fight. Your courage left a vague impression on my young mind.

Unlike you, I run away when things get tough and I stop fighting when hurt. Currently, I run away from so many things, almost like a deserter.

That is why I still need your help. I must find the answer to the question “What makes me happy?” Until I find that answer, I need you to help me increase my power 100 times or 200 times!

Anpanman, “the sky is without limit!”