Weeds, dandelions, puffballs, to gardeners of the Western world they are a menace to our lawns and the invaders of our flower beds. Though some might look cute and fluffy, in a gardeners eyes there is nothing good about a weed. At the very best (at least in North America) dandelions in puffball form are seen as whimsical floating flowers and used by children for making wishes. But in Japan these bright yellow bursts of color are known as “tanpopo” and in the Japanese language of flowers are a symbol of unshakable determination and resilience.
After all, no flower can bounce back like a tanpopo! Tread on it, snow on it, leave it in the blazing sun, this indomitable flower can weather any storm. And it will always come back with a cheerful hanabi/firecracker burst of a flower as bright as the sun. And just as indomitable as the flower, there is a group of anime and manga characters that are often attributed with these same traits. The plucky hero girl that never gives up, the steadfast boy next door the comes back from any blow with a smile, the unsinkable, un-stomp-able, ever cheerful tanpopo character!
The manga Imadoki is about a girl named Tanpopo that moves from the very rural countryside to the big city to attend a fairly elite high school. Though she’s going to a school for the wealthy, in her first few days at her new school Tanpopo notices that the flower beds are being completely neglected. So she decides to start tending them and even starts a gardening club. Though most of the students at the school avoid Tanpopo, seeing her as nothing more than a human weed, slowly Tanpopo gathers more members for her gardening club and more friends. The Manga focuses on the personal troubles that each of the gardening club members have and how Tanpopo helps them find resolutions to their problems with her optimism and resilient dandelion attitude.
The Sprites of Floria
This is an extremely short anime with only one episode about the evil Vivolian army invading Floria and forcing the floral themed sprites that live there to flee their homes and live in another country. Unfortunately, after ten years of the sprites living in hiding, the Vivolian army has caught up to them and even kidnaps one of the evacuees! The Vivolian military seems to be obsessed with attacking the sprites and sealing their power into stones. Though the anime never goes into detail about what the stones are used for and why the Vivolians have to steal the sprites powers, when the sprites lose their powers their colorful stained glass floral wings shrink and turn gray. Furthermore, it’s very difficult if not impossible for the sprites to regain their powers.
The anime opens with the forest of Floria already burning. Two sprites, Himawari and Tanpopo, are being attacked by a soldier from the Vivolian army. Though Tanpopo is injured and has her powers drained away, leaving her once radiant green wings gray and lifeless, she insists that the younger Himawari escape while she holds off the soldier. The situation seems kind of bleak for Tanpopo, thankfully it is soon revealed after a time jump that Tanpopo survived and is living happily in hiding. Like a true dandelion, she seemed to bounce back in no time!
Other Anime Characters with Tanpopo Personalities
Dragon Ball – Goku, There isn’t much that can keep this super powered alien down, both physically and emotionally. Goku always has a smile on his face and a powerful punch to keep the other alien invaders in check. No matter how hard he’s knocked down, not even death can stop him, he always gets back up!
Trigun – Vash the stampede, He’s a wanted man with a $$60 billion bounty on his head, but even having nearly a whole planet hunting him down isn’t going to put a permanent dent on his up beat and carefree attitude! Though Vash has so many people gunning for him, he usually has a smile on his face. And no matter what destruction and mayhem Vash gets himself into, he always seems to pull through with barely a scratch!
Fruits Basket – Toru, The main character of the anime Fruits Basket certainly hasn’t had a happy or carefree life. Her father died while she was still young and her mother died before she even graduated from high school. She tried living with her grandfather, but that home also quickly disappeared, so she found herself living in a tent in the woods! But none of those hardships got Toru down. She always stayed positive and kept a smile on her face to the point that her closest friends didn’t even notice something was wrong!