I live on the West coast of the US, and not surprisingly as October comes to a close, we don’t just see Halloween decorations festooned on every doorway and nook, but also the glittery skulls and colorful skeletons celebrating the Day of the Dead. I recently found out that the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead isn’t just one day but rather a trilogy! I’m not an expert on Mexican traditions nor culture and this is just what I’ve observed locally and I’m sure celebrations and traditions vary by location. What I’ve learned is that the festivities kick off on November first with the Day of the Children or El Dia de Los Inocentes. This day is celebrated with lots of candy, paper crafts, and kid friendly activities. The Day of the Children is followed on November second with the Day of the Adults which starts at the stroke of midnight. Not surprisingly, the Day of the Adults features things a bit less kid friendly and a lot more boozy! And then the celebration comes to an end with the Day of the Dead later on November second. This celebration is more like the Japanese Obon festival and often includes a parade, memorial ceremonies, the cleaning or tending of graves, the creation of alters for loved ones that have passed, and leaving offerings of food and drinks for loved ones that have passed away. And of course, what Days of the Dead celebration would be complete without some anime! According to my expat neighbors, anime and cosplaying is quite popular in Mexico, so hopefully these anime would be just the right addition to these special days!
El Dia de Los Inocentes (Day of the Children Nov. 1st)
What could be more appropriate for the celebration of children than an anime about angels. This gentle slice of life anime starts with Rakka, a teen aged girl falling through the sky in a dream. When she wakes up she finds herself in the quiet little village of Glie surrounded by friendly winged and haloed girls of different ages called Haibane. Like all of the Haibane that came to the village before her, Rakka has no memories of her life before appearing in the village, save for the memory of her dream. She soon gets wings and a halo too, and slowly learns about the new world she has been born into. Though the villagers are kind and the other Haibane are friendly, not everything in this place is carefree and lighthearted. There’s a huge wall surrounding the village that the Haibane are forbidden from approaching. The Haibane also can’t own anything new nor can they use money even though all of the older ones are expected to have a job. These rules are enforced by the Haibane Renmei, a secret society that watches over the Haibane.
A sweet girl with some heavenly assistance helps to defend a daycare from gangsters in the anime Kobato. This is an adorable anime about the clumsy and sincere Kobato working at a daycare center, while secretly solving peoples problems, healing their hearts, and collecting tiny candies so she can have her wish granted. To help her with this task is her stuffed animal/drill Sargent Ioryogi. He’s as fierce as he is cute and has the form of a blue puppy plushy. Even with Kobato’s unsinkable cheerfulness, not everything is sunshine and roses for her. The story starts out with her and her puppy boss being homeless and living in a park! Slowly with her can-do attitude and a beautiful song, she gets a job, is offered an apartment, and makes a lot of friends along the way. Though the mystery of who Kobato is and where she came from is kept secret to the very last episode (so you have to watch the whole series to find out!) there is quite a few hints along the way if you are familiar with Clamp anime.
El Dia Los Difuntos (Day of the Adults Nov. 2nd midnight)
In my mind, being an adult is about being over trying to be serious, having fun when you can, forgiving the foolishness of those younger than you, and acknowledging the mistakes you’ve made in the past and taking responsibility for them. So what better representative for adulthood then Vash the Stampede? In the anime Trigun is a sci-fi western about a wanted man named Vash the Stampede. He’s personally responsible for the destruction of a whole city, many smaller towns, and even blowing a chunk out of the moon! There’s a good reason there’s a $$60 Billion bounty on his head, he’s one bad guy! Except, that he really isn’t. Though everyone on the desert planet of Gun Smoke is gunning (literally) to get Vash, he doesn’t hold anything against the humans that crash landed and then settled on the hot, lifeless planet. In fact, he’s a big softy that has spent his many years, drifting from town to town doing what he could to make sure people didn’t die. But with so many bounty hunters after his head, keeping the collateral damage down could be pretty tough!
El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead Nov. 2nd)
Cowboy Bebop the Movie
Cowboy Bebop is a space opera, western, sci-fi detective noir, cyberpunk anime about a former special forces/detective turned bounty hunter, a former mafia member turned bounty hunter, a former con-artist and gambler turned part-time bounty hunter, a child genius turned hacker, and a former science experiment turned pet dog. All of which live on the spaceship Bebop and take on different bounties to earn money, but they barely scrape by. In the Cowboy Bebop movie, Fay (the gambler) takes on a job that’s a little over her head. A terrorist is planning to release a poisonous gas into the crowds at a Halloween parade and the Bebop crew needs to step in to make sure that doesn’t happen.