Anime is a young girl’s game — a moekko’s game to be exact. This is especially true now as, once a year, otakus decide that the number of crumpled tissues in the waste basket no longer suffice as a metric to accurately measure ‘HNNNGH-ness.’ Thus, we march to the tournament brackets!
But let’s face it — I’m not here to talk about moe tournaments. I’m not here to debate which 2-D anime girl gets to be mai waifu. Instead, I want to HNNNGH over the wonderful ladies who don’t often get HNNNGH’d at: obaa-chans. Welcome to the first “Better Know an Obaa-chan” where, each week, we visit a strong female presence in anime whose greatness inspire us to lift tissues to our eyes instead.
First up, Jinnouchi Sakae-san, the respected matriarch of the critically acclaimed Summer Wars.
Don’t let my lukewarm reception of the film or Sakae’s toothy grin fool you. None of the film’s problems had to do with the grandmother. Instead, Sakae shines as a woman ready to kick ass and take charge even after 90 strong years on the planet. While her family are ever ready to bicker and argue at the drop of a hat, Sakae rises above the nonsense.
Although many moekkos can brandish their panties at the drop of a hat, how many of them can speak softly and carry a big stick?
Does this look like a woman who’s afraid of barnacles? When the obstinate Wabisuke stirs up trouble at a family gathering, Sakae doesn’t just sit idly by. But make no mistake — Sakae’s strengths goes beyond the ability to handle a melee weapon and blushing. When disaster strikes and panic ensues, I assure you Sakae isn’t in danger of falling out of a window nor does she accidentally wear non-matching socks. She stays calm and assumes leadership at the drop of the hat.
Who provides encouragement to others in need? Who can connect with both adults and children? Only someone of Sakae’s experience and age.
Ultimately, Sakae saves the day in the anime. Look beyond Natsuki’s corny mahou shoujo transformation and Kenji’s nerd pandering and you’ll see a powerful matriarch who continues to embrace and bind the large family together. The Jinnouchi’s ability to work as a family only came after reading Sakae’s letter and adopting her traits. The letter both begs for compassion toward Wabisuke without being patronizing to those who have shunned him.
At the end of the anime, although the kids get their day in the spotlight, Sakae is the true heroine of Summer Wars.
How do we celebrate the greatness of obaa-chans like Jinnouchi Sakae?
No, no, you can take the birthday cake away from the warm glow of your LCD monitor. Just a salute to you, Jinnouchi Sakae, for being a strong anime female.