When I first saw the cover to Maiden Japan’s A Spirit of the Sun, I immediately thought of the classic anime film Barefoot Gen which touched on a boy making his way through the horrible nuclear bombings of Japan back in World War II. It seems I wasn’t that far off, as this modern take instead focuses on natural disasters this time around and the toll it takes it Japan and its people, making for a moving drama everyone should see.
If one disaster isn’t enough, Japan finds itself hit by two of them, the eruption of Mt. Fuji and a massive earthquake that breaks the country into pieces. Needless to say there’s mass chaos as millions are dead and no kind of infrastructure holding things together, leading those who survived to be mass evacuated to Taiwan. The main character we follow, Genichiro Ryu, is one of the survivors who was fortunate enough to be adopted by a Taiwanese couple.
Most of the Japanese refugees haven’t fared as well, with fights constantly happening due to the lack of jobs between them and the natives, harsh living conditions and learning that Japan is now occupied by China and the United States. Genichiro does what he can to bridge the gap between his people and the natives by trying to get both sides to come together, but it won’t be easy for him and the few friends he makes along the way to establishing peace.
To give more away would ruin this touching two-part anime special that you need to watch and experience for yourself. It reminded me heavily of Barefoot Gen and Grave of the Fireflies where tragic and traumatic things happen to people and how they cope with the outcome in both positive and negative ways. The animation and music are well done and help draw you into the story and constant conflict going on. These are made better thanks to a high definition release where every detail comes in nicely.
If you’re into deep dramas or tough slice-of-life stories, you’ll want to find your kindred spirit in A Spirit of the Sun. Well thought out characters with joys and pains to spare as they take life day by day after tragedy, along with great animation and music help drive this moving tale straight to your soul.