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Guest Post: Trapeze – Healing Is for Everybody

Those of you that have kept up with this blog for a while should be no stranger to one Omo, or his blog Omonomono. Here is a post of what you could joke is “lighter fare” than that on his blog, and I’m grateful to him wanting to do this in the first place. – TheBigN

mayumi from trapeze by itou noiji

One of the things about iyashikei I think is defining is the nature of the iyashikei narrative. In general they are like your typical snow globe; it does a great job instilling atmosphere and look pretty while doing it, but at the same time it exists in a stasis without external interference. In other words, the average plot of the iyashikei anime is about introspection–of the characters, of the settings, of the theme. It is rarely motivated by an external force. And of course, being iyashikei, there is some kind of healing or positive message somewhere.

In comes this show called Kuchuu Blanko, or Trapeze as it is translated. I think the story behind this whacky, noitaminA television anime (if you can call it that) is one about iyashikei. I mean, for crying out loud, the “Undine” of the story is a shrink! How can you be more “healing” than a psychological health professional?

Oh, I guess staring at Mayumi’s oddly revealing outfit could be healing. I might as well toss this out here now: When Irabu gets his thing going by looking at people getting injections, the audience also gets going by looking at Mayumi giving it to whoever it is. And yeah, all the patients are male. I guess it would be odd if that wasn’t the case? This has to mean something right?

Yeah, Trapeze is a noitaminA anime, by Kenji Nakamura (Mononoke, Ayakashi) and Studio Toei. If that combination did not produce an animation at odds with convention, then there is something wrong with this world. And yeah, Trapeze is an anime mixed with live action portions. Think of it as the opposite of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, in that while most of the animation is made up of photoshopped pictures and actually-animated things, majority of the character animation is just rotoscoped live action stuff.

So the question is, just how do these things affect the healing angle of the story? There was no doubt that by the end of the episode, Irabu’s patent-of-the-week will come to terms with his problem. And they do in a fairly realistic way–it usually shows the first “right step” to recovery rather than some kind of miracle shot that solves the problem wholesale. In fact the Canary episode is a great way to wrap it up and demo this concept. But none of the visual quirks and oddities get in the way of the essence of the show, being one that brings some kind of emotional fulfillment and accord to the viewer. In another words, at the end of each episode, I can nod and smile and feel better about the character that is being treated, and about my outlook in respect to each problem discussed in the episode.

The most “healing” episode, I thought, was the one before the last. The old man’s flashback was both a villain and a source of comfort, and it was pretty awesome how the episode was able to demonstrate that. The whole mono no aware life thing, a poignant reminiscence, a dash of romance here, a bit of that inaka thing there, it all adds up to a very charming profile of the last generation. The one curious trick they did in that episode was use different actors to depict the states of mind of the patient, rather than either an animated depiction or the animal chimera that Trapeze normally uses to signify different states of the self. I wonder what could that mean?

Well, like what Trapeze says, no one is perfect.


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