This Week: Lunn Flies into the Wind (Lunn wa Kaze no Naka).
Osamu Tezuka directs a short film about crushing depression, adolescent coping mechanisms, and loving pretty inanimate objects.
Tezuka had his hand in many things, and his seemingly unstoppable engine to produce manga and anime content paved the groundwork for a lot of what the industry is today. Which, given, some may reflect had its quite negative impacts as well (though this would be the scope of an entirely different article).
In his career though, while he had plenty of long running television series and manga, he did also direct a number of experimental animation shorts and create short manga specials. While some of them were very much cinema buff and art circuit fare, such as Pictures at an Exhibition (Tenrankai no E), others were far more consumer oriented. One such project would be the Lion Books series, a manga series running from 1956 – 1957 of short stories and single volume tales. None of these works were directly connected to each other in narrative, merely sharing the same publication banner. After eleven such books, the series folded, only to be revived again by Tezuka in 1971 via Lion Books II. These continued on for another two years, closing out at twenty four additional volumes.
With the developing home video market of the 1980’s however, the opportunity to revive the format of the series for a third time but as tales told by OVA tapes was seen and seized upon. With six releases over a decade’s time (1983-1993), it is by far the most sparsely populated of the three Lion Books lines.
But, that does not mean they lack for subjects to watch and write about.
Lunn Flies into the Wind is the third entry of this animated series, seeing release in 1985. While one can imagine I would be inclined to write about all the video shorts eventually, should the blog sustain itself long enough, the synopsis of this particular one jumped off the screen and grabbed me as remaining so harshly relevant even thirty years later.
Akira, a teenage boy feeling alone and bullied at school, falls in love with the image of a girl on an advertisement.
It is an interesting subject to poke at, especially so many decades ago, as one can read direct lines regarding even current anime fandom or the like.
Fundamentally, Akira’s fascination becomes what in modern internet parlance would be considered a “waifu,” but would be identifiable to any age as an escapist fantasy all the same.
The viewer does see quite a lot of the kind of duress Akira goes through, and so the framing of Akira’s attachment to the picture of a girl in a coffee brand poster is one that makes some of his actions understandable. He finds the poster on the wall under an overpass, so it has not seen the sun much and by extension would be quite a vibrant sight. Likewise, he is in a rather dark place personally when he stumbles upon it, and that he rapidly begins to see a fondness in the bright and cheery manner portrayed by the girl is again something of a sympathetic place. A keen point of commercial media ment to sell high volume product (such as coffee) is to be appealing and approachable. Something one wants to considering bringing home with them. Though that is often intended for the item being marketed, and not for one to steal the poster itself.
“Lunn” (who gains her name through rejiggering the L/R pronunciation of part of the coffee slogan phrase “5-nin irun desu” [So, “there are five of us”]) then is not one Akira considers to only admire from afar or in passing. She is ripped from her wall and taken to his bedroom, though not without protesting greatly despite her inability to physically stop him. There is this exercise of power, by one who considers themselves to have little on another who has even less by virtue of being an inanimate object.
And so begins the line walking of how much of Akira’s actions through this short are understandable passings of youth made more horrific through merely giving voice to the poster, and how much he may be psychological scars.
To be sure, Lunn Flies into the Wind is not an experience of fence sitting and wishy-washiness regarding what situations it is willing to dredge up.
The bullying at school by students and teachers. Akira taking Lunn out for rides in a boat. “Lunn’s” idea to take her to school, because then she would get to both be with Akira and see lots of people, which has a fractured quality to it considering the implicit acknowledgment Lunn is an advertisement. She would be having a hard time fulfilling her purpose in a single boy’s bedroom, and Akira on some mental level needing to know that to facilitate such a conversation with Lunn. He is hit by his father. School is skipped on multiple occasions. People who dress up as Lunn in real life to fake him out and mock him.
It is a surprisingly harsh and desparate work, even with its glimpses of positivity and the means by which the film decides to conclude.
While melodramatic and more than a little tight on space, moving through months as it does in a short running time, to say that there was parts that shocked me would be something of an understatement.
And in the interest of being even handed, there are situational positives for Akira’s life.
Having something of nearly any sort to see as a beacon of hope or goodness would be helpful to many a person in a dark place, for one thing. Even more directly, Akira does begin to work out more as a result of his time with Lunn and how some of the conversations between them end up going, as running and boxing begin to be featured. Exercise is still considered an excellent option for working into a mental health routine, as it impacts everything from self image to choice bodily functions like greater endorphin production. Certainly some people today have picked up things like running habits through experiences like the Katawa Shoujo visual novel or the like, and the idea that one acquires a beneficial habit can in some ways be seen to be a plus regardless of origin.
I get the sense however that some of the more positive provisions, especially near the end, may be present to provide less overall bleakness rather than some actual attempt at portraying Akira’s situation as somewhere in the middle. Coffee is after all a beverage which on a core level is often defined by its bitterness. It is also capable of stimulating short term boosts of energy, though fleeting and time dependent.
The kind of imagery and symbolism there seems far too on point to have been accidental, even if the fateful meeting between Akira and Lunn very much was.
Mothballs is a weekly write-up of already completed anime I have either removed from my backlog or have recently revisited. A crash space for my immediate thoughts and personal processing, these are not intended as full reviews.