The Octave of Anime Christmas – Day 8: Watching Anime with my Mom

For this last day of my look back at 2016 and anime, I have to cover another item that’s not really a moment, but, was important to me.

A year ago, at the start of 2016, my Mom was about halfway through her chemo and it was kicking her down like it was supposed to. She didn’t have much energy, so, I had taken it upon myself to cook dinner for her to make sure she’d get at least one full meal each day. She spent so much of her day on the couch that, while eating, I’d put on a new-to-her show to watch.

We plowed through many shows this way. I’d already gotten her hooked on Doctor Who so we went and watched a good sized chunk of classic Doctor Who. She likes detective shows and has a warm spot for British TV so we watched the original Broadchurch, Rosemary & Thyme, a couple seasons of Father Brown, Whitechapel, and Inspector Lewis.

I started running out of shows to show her.

There was one area of shows that I have a large knowledge of that my Mom was unfamiliar with – anime. She wasn’t wholly unfamiliar with anime. She’s seen just about every Miyazaki movie and a few others like Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers as well as Masahiro Andou’s Sword of the Stranger. Those last three she watched subtitled. As a result of this, I was fairly confident that, if I picked the right series, she’d like watching anime series as well. The question was were to begin.

I thought and thought and thought some more and I finally decided on Silver Spoon. It was cute and relaxing while also having a bit of solid heft to it. I held my breath as we started watching it and only exhaled as we neared the end of the first season because I realized my Mom  was actually enjoying Silver Spoon and not just being polite about it. You know how moms are. From there we watched Erased, Ore Monogatari, Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!), Natsume’s Book of Friends, Steins;Gate, Death Parade, Ushio and Tora, and – most recently – Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

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And yes, even my Mom realized how weird the city Madoka lived in was. At one point she was like, “Is she walking through a steel factory?”

Some observations from my anime watching with her:

  • She’s read one manga – Yotsuba – and was disappointed to learn that there was no anime for it. Do you hear me Japan? It’s way past time to make a Yotsuba anime, preferably animated by Kyoto Animation.
  • Her favorite series at this point is Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!).
  • A close second is Natsume’s Book of Friends which I picked to watch before finding out about the fifth season that aired last year.
  • The fifth season of Natsume’s Book of Friends was the first anime she watched weekly as it came out and it killed her to have to wait for the next episode.
  • One of her overall favorite characters is Nyanko-sensei from Natsume’s Book of Friends.
  • The show she least liked was Death Parade because the ending resolved so little, but, she was still glad to have watched it.
  • Without prompting, she told me she really liked the art style of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I was worried it’d look too weird to her, but, she was an art major in college and that might help explain it.
  • One of my favorite moments, so far, was when the reveal of the murder in the first episode of Erased caused my Mom to loudly gasp in surprise. Erased was the second anime we watched together and I knew at this point that I’d gotten her hooked on anime.
  • Probably the biggest constraint I’m having in coming up with anime for her is she likes shows with a clear climax and ending because so much of anime is partial adaptations of manga, light novels, etc.
  • The second most constraining factor is levels of fan service. She hasn’t voiced a preference on this, but, I figure there’s little chance that she’d be okay with a series like Bakemonogatari or Shokugeki no Soma and haven’t tried series that fall into this group.
  • Having someone fresh to anime has given me a good excuse to revisit several of my favorite anime series.

So, as we begin rolling through 2017, the anime experiment of 2016 with my Mom has been a success. She’s now bugging me about what will be the next anime we watch.

And with that I finished my 8 day look back at 2016. I’m going to try to watch enough anime in 2017 to do the traditional 12 Days of Anime next year. I’m also going to try to post more often in 2017 as well.

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5 thoughts on “The Octave of Anime Christmas – Day 8: Watching Anime with my Mom”

  1. That’s really cool that you’re able to watch anime with your mom. Even if we still lived in the same country, I could never imagine even the possibility of watching anime with either of my parents – not even mainstream and critically-acclaimed films like Ghibli works. I did watch a fair bit with my sister when we were both in our teens though, which I now look back quite fondly on.

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  2. Watching anime with my mom has given me some of my favorite memories as a fan. We’re both lucky to have moms who genuinely enjoy our weird little niche hobby, and I treasure that time we can spend together. I hope your mom fully recovers so that you can enjoy many more years of watching things together.

    My mom is 80 years old, she doesn’t know much about Japanese culture (so is constantly asking me questions) and is absolutely terrible about remembering Japanese names – I’ve sometimes had to still remind her 20 episodes into a series what the main character’s name is. But she enjoys the stories and the serial storytelling format and especially loves the art style of anime, so whenever I come home with a new series or movie she’s always ready to try it, and sometimes will even ask me if I’m planning to bring another one when I’m coming home for a visit. The biggest limiter for me in picking shows is that my Mom strongly prefers dubs. Not because she can’t follow subs, but because she’d much rather keep her eyes glued to the animation. When we watch things subbed she always feels like she’s missing half the show.

    TV series I’ve shown her that she’s really liked include Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (and she’s excited to see the live action movie too), The Vision of Escaflowne, K-On! (I remember her exact comment on that series was: “I wish Americans made shows like this!”), Naruto (just the first arc, though she actually went to the library and borrowed the next arc to watch on her own after I went home), Kanon, and while it’s not technically anime she also thoroughly enjoyed Avatar. She’s also liked every Miyazaki movie I’ve shown her, with Spirited Away and Kiki’s being particular favorites, and even appreciated Redline, albeit much more for the animation than the story. The next thing I plan to show her is Love Live – she’s always been a fan of Broadway musicals and musical comedies, and LL definitely has a similar feel to it. It also fortunately has a really good dub. Over Christmas I showed her the five original music videos from before the anime debuted, and she really liked those, including the songs, so I’m sure she’ll like the series too (Nozomi’s grabbiness is the only thing I’m a bit worried about, but it’s such a small part of the show that it shouldn’t break it for her).

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  3. I am sorry to hear that your mom is going through chemo. It must be a very difficult time for the entire family… I hope it is a localized case…

    It is good that you managed to watch so many anime with her! My mom just watched a couple of Ghibli films, and we never watched anime TV series together. I am glad your mom enjoyed the anime you chose!

    One thing is very clear: Yotsuba anime totally needs to happen!

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  4. Thanks for the comments

    @Artemis: Does your parents have something against animation or just very particular taste? I like to think that there’s an anime to fit any possible desire, but, maybe there’s not.

    @WingKing: Thanks, I hope so too.

    That’s one cool sounding Mom you got 🙂 !

    I can see that about dubs. It is easier to follow a show when it’s in English. I like to think that I’ve perfected the art of reading subs without intruding on my enjoyment of the animation, but, I’ve wondered.

    I’ve just started watching Hyouka with my Mom. I wanted to watch something from KyoAni and almost went with K-On!. I went with Hyouka because of the mystery angle and because I wasn’t a big fan of the first season of K-On! until Azu-nyan shows up and the cast chemistry really hits it’s optimal level. I do wish we’d get series like K-On! made in America.

    At this point, I think my Mom might like AKB0048.

    I’m also considering trying Hunter x Hunter out on her. It’s such a big commitment of time, though, and I’d hate to waste 30-40 episodes of time for her to decide she doesn’t like it.

    @Kitsune: Thanks, it was. My Mom tried really hard to try to keep everything feeling normal and I was happy helping her to do so.

    The cancer had moved to her upper back – four small spots – which explained the pain she’d been feeling there for the last few years because halfway through chemo the pain disappeared and has stayed gone.

    Her doctor, one of the best in the area (having nurses in the family really help in figuring out which doctors are the truly good ones), told her that 5 years ago she’d probably only live a couple of years but now she should live another 15 years and die of something else. She’s on estrogen suppressors for the rest of her life and is currently taking a monthly shot to rebuild her bone strength but seems to be almost as healthy and energetic as she was a year and half ago (before the chemo and surgeries).

    Oh, my Mom has had straight hair her entire life but it has come back curly which she finds slightly funny.

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