Under Two Leaders, Lie One Community

Communities may be seen as a complex grouping of people or figures, but can be brought upon each other through the simplest of ideas. Bonds may be created and communities may be unified through ideas as simple as food and enemies. This can be seen in Iwaya Sazanami’s story of Momotaro, The Story of Peach Boy as well as in the anime Momotaro’s Sea Eagles, directed by Seo Mitsuyo. Both of these works depict the tale of Momotaro in which he sets out to defeat his enemy to save Japan.  Though, similar in story, however, both works hold their own distinctions and variations. Even with their differences, ideas of community building can still be seen to be paralleled. Such ideas can be seen in the use of millet dumplings to show camaraderie, the idea of happiness to create bonds, and the idea of sharing a common enemy to bring groups together. Community building can be seen in both the story as well as in the anime through the use of food, happiness of children, and a common enemy.

The idea of food as a unifier can be seen in both the story and the anime when the millet dumplings are used to show camaraderie. This is seen in the story when Momotaro is first given millet dumplings by his father when he was about to head out to face the ogres. This is the first instance in which food was used to show affection. However, this is not the main use of the millet dumplings in this story. The main use can be seen during Momotaro’s actual voyage to conquer Ogres’ Island. During his trip, Momotaro meets three animals, a dog, monkey, and a bird, and during his confrontations, he gives each of them half a dumpling to join him in his destination. This can be seen when Momotaro states to the monkey, “In consideration of your good intentions, I will give you half of one of the best millet dumplings in Japan, and you may follow me” (23). Just like how the dog was given half a millet dumpling, the monkey was also given one as a sign of camaraderie and was due to the fact that he became Momotaro’s ally. The use of the dumpling was to obtain allies and through that, a community was formed as Momotaro ended up having three animals join him in his fight against the ogres. This idea can be similarly seen in the anime when one of the monkeys decides to help out a lost bird on the wing of the plane. In order to comfort the bird, the monkey grabs a bag with the label, “millet dumplings” and pulls out a toy plane. He then gives it to the bird which comforts the lost bird and soon after; the mother bird comes and takes his lost bird. In this scene, the use of millet dumplings may not be exactly the same as the story, but the idea is still similar. In replace of the dumpling, a toy plane which came from the dumpling bag was used in order to show camaraderie and this later plays out as the birds come help them at the end in their fight against evil. Both the millet dumpling of the story and the toy plane of the anime were used to signify friendship and camaraderie. Food was not the only sign of community building seen in the story and the anime as the happiness of children also played a large role.

The next example of community building can be seen in the idea of the happiness of children in both the story and the anime. In the story of Momotaro, the young peach boy is seen to be born from a large, magical peach. He was sent down by the Heavens and came to become the child of an old family. In this family, he was treated with kindness and affection and learned to experience happiness. This idea can be seen when Momotaro states, “Father, we became parent and child in a most remarkable manner. Your goodness to me has been higher than the mountain from which you cut grass and deeper than the river in which the washing is done” (17). In this statement, Momotaro compares his father’s kindness with that of the height of the mountain and the deepness of the river. These similes show how much compassion he has received and cannot help but be happy with his father’s kindness. The father’s love and affection help create a bond between him and his son. This idea is further remedied in the anime with the idea of Children’s day. This can be seen throughout the anime in which a koi banner becomes the focal point in multiple scenes. The koi banner is a clear representation of Children’s day in Japan and a celebration of the children’s happiness. To add support to this idea can be seen in the the scene in which the dog and the monkey play Jenga inside their airplane as they begin their attack against the enemy. Even during times of war, the animals are seen to enjoy themselves and further show their happiness. These scenes of joyful playing help create a community amongst the animals as they are children happily playing with each other. Even though this example is completely different from that of the story, happiness is still the focal point in both. The idea of happiness creating bonds is apparent and shows how the happiness of children is an example of community building. Besides the happiness of children, having a common enemy can also bring groups together.

The last example of community building can be seen in the idea of having a common enemy. Before establishing the idea of creating a community through the fact of having a common enemy, one should look at the idea of leadership first. Leadership is depicted differently in the story as opposed to that of the anime. In the story, Momotaro is seen to be more of a comrade then a leader. On his journey, he interacts with the animals and commends them for their personalities. He shows them sign of camaraderie and friendship. This is completely opposite in the anime, however. The Momotaro seen in the anime is distant and is more of a commander and supreme authoritative figure. Throughout the anime, there are few scenes of Momotaro and in all of them, it is him gazing upon his troops, never interacting, never saying a word. In the story, however, Momotaro fights with his comrades and is a leader in which his allies fight with, but in the anime, Momotaro is a leader in which his allies fight under. Even though their leaderships are distinct, they are still a part of a community that shares a single goal: to defeat their enemy. In the story, Momotaro and his allies are brought together in order to defeat the evil ogres. The ogres, are, by default, naturally evil and thus must be defeated. This can be seen when the Monkey states, “I hear that you, Lord Peach-Boy, are making this journey in order to conquer Ogres’ Island, I also wish to be allowed to accompany you” (27). This is a clear example that shows how Momotaro’s allies came to be his allies. They wanted to follow him under his command to defeat the evil ogres. By having this common enemy, a group was formed and bonds were created. The use of ogres in the story also plays a role with the audience. By having ogres, the audience would be more drawn to the side of Momotaro as he and his allies are not fiendish creatures. Just like the story, the anime plays along with this idea of creating a community through the use of a common enemy. This is seen when the American are first introduced. They are depicted as grungy, human like-beings that look nearly identical to Popeye’s enemy, Bluto, and have horns and drink alcohol. This, in contrast with the cute, loveable animals makes it much more believable that the Americans are the enemies. The use of adorable animals also plays a role in attracting the viewers as they are most likely children. Knowing that, it makes it much more understandable that the humans are seen as the enemy. Even though the Momotaro in this anime does not interact with his comrades, they still fight under him because they want to defeat their enemy. Even with two different types of leadership, communities were still formed because of the same reasons. This clearly shows how having a common enemy can create communities and bring unification.

Even with simple ideas such as food, happiness and enemies, communities can still be formed from them. This can be seen in both the story and the anime of Momotaro. Even with their clear distinctions, similar ideas are still seen to be prevalent in both. Food is used as unification by creating allies through sharing and the happiness of children is capable of creating lasting bonds. Not only does friendship and camaraderie create communities, so does having a common enemy. With that being said, even with differences, groups can still be brought together as seen through both works of Momotaro.


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