Well isn’t this an interesting topic for Spooktober. “Fantasy” sure opens up a lot of worlds to explore. Apparently we have Aria to thank for this and of course we do cause Aria is a wellspring of good ideas:
- 10th Monthly Deadline: October 1, 2019
- 10th Monthly Topic: “Fantasy”
- MagicConan’s Request
In the month of October, we will be exploring the world of fantasy in pop culture. The genre of fantasy focuses on telling stories about our external and internal environments. There are many ways we can interpret the word, fantasy. For example, we can talk about how a fantastical place could glorify what reality should be or the dangers of ideal expectations. Fantasy could also be seen as taking a “wild journey” or a “hallucination” and how that can affect our psyche and well-being. Fantasy can also focus on our personal dreams and expectations and how those expectations do not align with our reality. Overall, our posts will reflect on how we view the fantasy genre and what we can learn about these pop culture mediums.
- Harry Potter
- Norn 9
- Ancient Magnus Bride
Fantasy is an interesting phenomenon. It’s very human. It’s a way for us to escape the everyday if just for a bit without immediately getting devoured by the first dragon that comes along. A place to create all the things that cannot be. A pretty garden in which our dreams can rest in the shade while our imagination roams free.
It’s a precious gift. Like cake. And to me, it tastes best when there’s a good dose of realism mixed in. That’s probably why I gravitate more towards urban fantasy. And that is definitely one of the very many things I love about Natsume’s Book of Friends.
Natsume’s world is certainly fantastic. It’s full of Yokai after all. Each special and impossible in its own way. It’s populated by all those things they tell us don’t exist. When you stop to think about it, there are almost no limits in Natsume’s universe. Any special powers or impossible circumstances you can think of are completely reasonable when the right Yokai shows up. When you lay it out like that, it’s possibly one of the most far fetched shows out there. And yet, that doesn’t matter.
The fantasy of Natsume’s Book of Friends is at its most vibrant when it’s ordinary. Powerful and magnificent Yokai, in all respects otherworldly just want to have somewhere to belong, to feel some sort of connection, just like we all do. The most epic quests are to make sure an old friend is doing ok during a rough patch or to find the best present for the person who takes such good care of you every day.
Because when fantasy becomes part of your normal, the little mundane moments that really matter sort of float to the top and become magical.
Most of us have at some point wanted to live in a fantasy world. Most of us still use it as a safe haven at the end of a long day. Whether that fantasy is the traditional elves and magicians or whether it’s remarkably attractive friends living in improbably fancy apartments and all having perfect comedic timing. We just like to share in a world that doesn’t really exist. Don’t get me started on photo editing and Auto-Tune. We are getting close to living in a fantasy world as it is. I’m ok with it!
But Natsume is a boy who spent his whole life trying to shut out the fantastic. Actively seeking to make it disappear. Anime has a long standing tradition of being uncomfortable for those who can see the world’s beyond, and Natsume was no exception. I say was because things have changed a little.
Instead of the path most of us thread, trying to inject our lives with just a touch of the extraordinary, he travelled in the opposite direction. Trying to hold onto the mundane tightly enough to make a fantastic reality bearable. It took a friend or a whole bunch of them (I wanted to go with book but it’s terribly inaccurate and my square little heart wouldn’t let me) for him to finally get there.
And on his journey back to what most of us call normal, he discovered that the true wonders really were all around him to begin with. He was just blinded to the wonderful by the extraordinary!
And in a way, that’s also what fantasy is. A crazy fun house mirror to hold up to life. A collection of tales that never were and never will be to show us all how things really are. Fascinating lies that hold some very deep truths. A good fantasy will usually make you think about life even when it seemingly has nothing in common with any life ever lived. That’s exactly what Natsume did for me.
When Natsume jokes around with Nyanko just like I do with my old friends. The increasingly powerful shape shifting beast Yokai isn’t the fantastic part, it’s the simple relationship born out of coincidence that now means so much to two people. When he has to find a doll to avoid getting cursed by some ghoul, the magic lies in how we all get attached to random things because of the emotions and memories we pour into them.
When a character can journey like that, strolling from our world to the next and back again. Mixing one with the other until the become barely distinguishable. They can also show us exactly why the mundane can be so fantastic. What better escape could you ask for?
What does fantasy mean to you? What role does it play in your life.
You should definitely find out what it means to Megan Peoples of Nerd Rambles, as the next stop on this month’s tour coming out on October 13!