The Japanese can take most any idea, animate and anime it, which almost always results in a cuter, friendlier, more happy version of most anything. This is no less true in terms of donating blood, or, given the season, in regards to Halloween and vampires!
A few weeks ago we ran across a local blood drive at the Okinawan Mihama Jusco. What caught my eye, and set the vector for this blog, was just how cute the graphics of the campaign were, in print, poster, but mostly on the bloodmobile! How could you resist such frivolous happy-go-lucky blood-based critters?
Well, I still could resist. But then again I have a “thing” about needles….
In all seriousness, The Japanese Red Cross says the decreasing birthrate and aging population throughout Japan are causing a drain on blood supplies, since more elderly people are in need of transfusions and fewer young people donate.
And contrary to what some people here may think, foreigners (to Japan) can donate blood. However, there are some conditions which do preclude such giving, including “anyone who has sexual relationships with random people in the previous six months….” Define random.
And, in a Japanese twist on the American culture of fear, British nationals are not eligible due to scares from Creutzfeldt-Jakob (mad cow) disease if they lived in the United Kingdom anytime from 1980 through 1996. But not to call out the Brits; anyone who has resided in “certain countries in Europe (yeah France) since 1980″ are also included, but you have to specifically ask about these. Odd.
Now for a refreshing take on vampires, you know, in honor of Halloween. Karin is an anime show in Japan that not just happens to be about vampires, but is about an interesting spin on the vampire mythos that perhaps is distinctly Japanese. But it’s more: Karin is also a romantic comedy about a clumsy and somewhat dull-witted vampire girl and her vampire family trying to survive in modern day Japan. However, what makes this all so unusual, and unusually Japanese is that Karin is a rare vampire that produces blood. So, as a result, when she gets the urge to bite, Karin actually gives blood and can heal rather than feed on blood which leads to more dreadful results!
Being this unique type of vampire allows for certain advantages over the more traditional fare; Karin can walk around in sunlight, although sunlight still harms “normal” vampires in the series’ unique reality – which is usually representative of the judgment of an Almighty. This may be attributable to a Japanese nod to Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess who represents growth and fertility, elements that seem present in Karin in her ability to pass along blood. And, consuming her blood induces fertility in what are normally sterile run-of-the-mill western-flavored vampires….
There are certainly many other elements of Karin that are rather fascinating to contemplate, including all the more common if not less-known representations in the vampire mythos, including the central theme of a vampire’s bite and feeding as intercourse and orgasm – the vampire’s true sin, which in the anime series makes becoming a vampire nothing more than an analogy for puberty. And therein lays the real themes of Karin.
But, who would like this more traditional Halloween-horrors Battle Royale?? My vote is for the vampire girl. How can you lose in a Japanese school-girl-sailor suit with those sultry Flashdance leg-warmers ? The Franken-kimono is way too limiting in terms of dexterity…and that obi looks terrible!
In a “heartfelt” connection to blood (pun intended), it seems we have on-island in Okinawa, the individual who is currently recognized (in 1994) as the Guinness Book of World Records holder who has donated more blood than anybody else. Yep, 79-year-old retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Dennis Provencher has donated well in excess of 34 recorded gallons of blood. Provencher has been regularly donating blood since arriving on Okinawa in 1961, and reached! Born in Milton, N.H., Provencher enlisted in the Air Force in 1951. Ten years later, the radio operator received orders to Okinawa. He said he fell in love with the island and its people and kept extending his assignment until he retired in 1971. He has been donating blood since his arrival. “It’s for a good cause. It’s like an oil change: They take the old blood out and make way for the new blood.”
“I challenge anyone to catch me,” Provencher said. (Stars & Stripes, 2010)
And to end this Halloween installment of the Far East Fling, I offer a special treat! A sampling of the fetish Japanese anime has for nurses! Naughty, sexy, or simply scantily-clad, I’m sure their standard of care…like their virtue…is irreproachable, and probably untouchable. Enjoy!
- Bloodsuckers and Punchlines – The Funniest Vampire Movies Ever (twcc.com)
- Oddball Vampire Films to Embrace this Halloween (twcc.com)
- Vampires – Folklore, Fantasy, and Fact (arunbabyveranakunnel.wordpress.com)
- 6 Anime to watch at Halloween (animeotakuculture.wordpress.com)