Anime “Tsugumomo”: A Fantasy Featuring Tsukumogami, Uniquely Japanese Gods
Since ancient times there are legends in Japan that a long-used item acquires its own soul and it starts moving around on its own.
Such an existence is called “tsukumogami”.
Its name contains “kami” (“god” in Japanese), but far from having special abilities or being omnipotent, it is rather like a fairy.
Anime “Tsugumomo” featuring such tsukumogami has started airing in Japan in April 2017.
He is an ordinary boy living in a family of three, including his father and elder sister.
His one distinctive habit is that he misses his late mother who died in his infancy and he has no memory of, but he always cherishes and carries around her obi, a sash for kimono.
One day at school Kazuya is attacked by a hairy monster.
A girl named Kiriha saves him from the monster’s attack.
And she turns out to be tsukumogami, transformed from obi, the late mother’s memento.
Obi, Kimono’s Best Partner, or Actually the Statement Item?
One type is called “tsugumomo” and they are born from tools that have been used by people for a long time, just as the legend says.
The other type is referred to as “amasogi”, and this type is also transformed tools but with the owner’s desire and a bad spirit called “suso”.
In this story, the two main characters of Kazuya and tsugumomo Kiriha fight against amasogi monsters that were generated by bad spirits.
As tsugumomo and amasogi were everyday wares that changed and acquired self, they retain qualities and characteristics of the original items.
Such a story development featuring many tribes of monsters with individual characteristics, seen in Pokemon, Yokai Watch etc., is a common format deployed in Japanese manga.
Hyakkiyako Emaki (百鬼夜行絵巻) by kotobank.jp
Tsukumogami that appear in the actual legend are not necessarily submissive to human beings, and many are rather capricious, mischievous existence.
Especially well-known ones are tsukumogami of musical instruments, and a good example is “Biwa” included in Hyakkiyako Emaki drawn in the 16th century.
Even Kiriha, though being a tsugumomo thus a good-natured tsukumogami, tries to subjugate Kazuya soon after her first appearance.
This story also features gods of Shinto, the traditional Japanese religion, and many settings and episodes are based on Japanese legends and myths, which is another characteristic of this anime.
This anime is a perfect introduction to the world of uniquely Japanese legends and myths.
GeGeGe no Kitaro by artcafe.co.jp
Many stories based on Japanese yokai monsters or mythical world have dark atmosphere, which is common in horror stories like GeGeGe no Kitaro.
Though featuring tsukumogami that is no different from other yokai monsters in Japan, this anime’s drawing style and story are not depressive; it is bright and comical with laughter and humor.
The anime consists of 12 episodes and the last episode of the series was aired in June 2017.
The original manga was first serialized in 2007 and having published the book version up to Vol. 19, it is continuing even today.
This anime is a unique fantasy work that incorporates Japanese culture, using Japanese myths and legends as its settings.