I was saddened to hear that Takashi Yanase, the creator of the beloved Anpanman character, passed away on Sunday. He was 94 years old. I used to watch it as a child and both my kids still watch it. He’s even made a couple appearances on the blog from time to time. For those who aren’t familiar, Anpanman is superhero whose face is made of a sweet bean bun. The self-sacrificial superhero goes around helping hungry children by giving them pieces of his face to eat. Stated differently, Anpanman’s good deeds, in turn, bring harm to himself. It’s an important underlying concept of the character – one that was born from Yanase’s military experience in the Sino-Japanese War and his encounters with hunger and starvation. Below are a few selected quotes from interviews Yanase gave.
“The idea of fighting for justice is an illusion. At any moment in time justice can reverse itself. It’s hard to believe in justice.”
– interview in the Yomiuri
“It’s incredibly difficult to perform good deeds without bringing harm to oneself.”
“Good deeds are not always rewarded. In fact, sometimes they leave scars.”
“No matter what country you are from, no matter where you stand, offering food to those who are hungry is a good deed. It is justice in the most absolute sense.”
Bonus: Last summer in Japan twitter users spotted a cloud in the sky curiously shaped like Anpanman. It’s now been reignited and is going viral in Japan.
Takashi Yanase – you’ll be missed.
(all quotes have been translated from Japanese to English by the author)