Earth Maiden Arjuna
(Chikyū Shōjo Arujuna)
|Genre||Science fantasy, Magical girl|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Shoji Kawamori|
|Network||Animax, TV Tokyo|
|Original run||January 9, 2001 – March 27, 2001|
Arjuna (地球少女アルジュナ Chikyū Shōjo Arujuna?, lit. "Earth Maiden Arjuna") is a Japanese animated television series created by Shoji Kawamori. The series follows Juna Ariyoshi, a high school girl chosen to be the "Avatar of Time" and entrusted with saving the dying Earth.
"Arjuna" refers to the legendary archer Arjuna from the Hindu epic Mahābhārata, which explains why Juna's weapon against the Raaja is a bow.
Arjuna aired on TV Tokyo from January 9, 2001 to March 27, 2001, totaling 13 episodes. The DVD release ("Arjuna: Director's Cut") featured remastered video and sound, and a previously unbroadcast "Chapter 9". Subsequent re-runs of the series on Animax include the DVD-only episode.
The story opens with Juna telling her boyfriend Tokio she feels too cramped in the city, and deciding to take a trip to the Sea of Japan. On the drive, they get in an accident caused by an invisible worm-like creature and Juna dies. As her spirit leaves her body, Juna sees the dying Earth. The planet's suffering is visualized by worm-like creatures similar to the one that caused the accident that killed her. Known as the Raaja, they vary in size, from microscopic bacteria to those entwining the planet. A young boy named Chris appears before Juna and offers to save her life if she will help the planet. She reluctantly agrees and is resurrected.
Supported by Chris, Tokio and SEED, an international organization that monitors the environment and confronts the Raaja, Juna must use her new powers to stop the Raaja from destroying Earth through humankind's destruction of the environmental systems of the planet, and Chris can only hope that she can fully awaken her powers in time to save the world.
- Juna Ariyoshi (有吉 樹奈 Ariyoshi Juna?)
Juna is a girl in the tenth grade, who is recognised by Chris to be the "Avatar of Time", to save the planet. A magatama bead embedded in her forehead symbolizes her powers. Besides possessing powers due to her "Earth sympathy", she is an ordinary teenage girl. She has a difficult time understanding her purpose, and is unsure how she is supposed to help the planet. Her personal life is also distressed, both with her mother and sister, and especially in her uncertain relationship with Tokio, whose thoughts she cannot figure out, and who similarly never manages to understand her feelings. While she attempts to succeed in her job, she cannot understand the message Chris is trying to explain until the very end, when she realizes the meaning of "becoming one with the target" that she repeats from the beginning of the series.
- Chris Hawken (クリス·ホーケン Kurisu Hōken?)
Chris is a powerful entity who appears in the body of a young boy. His efforts to revive Juna left him crippled, but he can still leave his body when the situation demands it. He is unerringly kind and patient with everyone, including Juna, despite her misunderstanding his words. He repeatedly admonishes Juna for trying to fight the Raaja ("Why do you kill?"), claiming he never asked her to do so.
- Cindy Klein (シンディ·クライン Shindi Kurain?)
Cindy is a young orphan whom Chris rescued, leading to her unwavering devotion to him. She is a telepath who acts as Chris' translator. She seems to take an immediate dislike to Juna; she is arrogant and rude towards her and says negative things about her even when she's not around. This is presumably because she feels that Chris's crippled condition is Juna's fault.
- Tokio Oshima (大島 時夫 Ōshima Tokio?)
Tokio is a normal teenage boy, addicted to video games and fast food. He is greatly concerned with Juna's safety, not realizing he is powerless against the forces she must face. Though Tokio is witness to Juna's tribulations, he cannot fathom what she is going through. Though he doesn't understand Juna's situation, he is very patient and does his best to help and protect her, even in the face of a Raaja attack.
- Sayuri Shirakawa (白河 さゆり Shirakawa Sayuri?)
Sayuri is a classmate and friend to Juna and Tokio. She knows nothing of Juna's role as savior, but tries to help her deal with what she sees as nothing more than emotions from her confusing personal life. Although she never says it directly, it is very obvious that Sayuri is greatly infatuated with Tokio, even though Juna, her best friend, is dating Tokio. She tries to fight her own feelings, swinging between pushing Tokio away by setting him and Juna up, and raging at Juna for not appreciating his kindness. With Juna absent off fighting Raaja, Saiyuri can't help herself from moving in on Tokio, but Tokio's response to her is minimal.
As is clear from the title, Arjuna, the series is highly influenced by Hinduism, as well as Indian culture in general. The story was inspired by the Bhagavad Gita, most notably in the character of Chris, who is modeled after Krishna. Note that the series is set in a pantheistic vision in which it emphasizes the connection between all elements of the Earth. In episode two, Chris's chakras are shown on the monitor screen which are also adapted from the Hindu concept of 7 chakras inside the human body. The antagonistic "Raaja" (while mispronounced in the anime) refer to "Roga" the 'disease' caused by the wound on earth itself. Arjuna's bow, "Gandiva," is the real name of bow used in Mahabharata by Arjun and her mechanical guardian "Ashura" is based on the "Asura" powerful lords in Rgveda.
The setting for the show, Kobe, was chosen by creator Shoji Kawamori for his personal fondness of it, and the city itself plays a prominent role, with famous buildings such as the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel and nearby Ferris wheel showing up as common backdrops. The idea of living in a city is a main theme, with both Juna and the Raaja rebelling against how removed from nature modern life is.
An idea which Kawamori presents, although in a problematic and sometimes contradictory form, is natural farming. Not to be confused with the mere absence of chemicals that is often meant by "organic farming", natural farming involves letting nature grow as it will, not removing weeds or bugs, or using any fertilizer. The old man Juna encounters in episode four explains the need for this return to nature in order to sustain life in the long term, a sentiment matured by the creator during his Asian journeys (not only India, but Nepal and other countries as well).
Another theme of the show is that of the disconnect between emotions, thoughts, words, and actions. The author himself introduced the work, back in the late year 2000, by declaring in an interview "[...we] live fragmented lifestyles that eat away at our future. That is why I created a character that can truly see the world as it is." In episode seven, "Invisible Words", Juna is able to read the words in the minds of everyone around her, yet still cannot understand their intentions. She sees in Tokio's mind that he has been asking Saiyuri about a ring, and assumes that he has been cheating on her, when in fact the ring had been for her. Juna and Tokio's feelings never reach each other successfully. In episode eight, while talking on the phone, Juna finds her spirit in the room with Tokio. But despite her even embracing him, he has no understanding when she tries to say that she is with him. At the same time, Tokio actually says he loves Juna for the first time, even though he is at the same moment not feeling her love at all. This idea is later visualized in episode 10, when Tokio is having an argument with his father. Juna is able to "see" their angered thoughts flying at each other, and entirely missing, neither of them hearing or understanding the other.
|01||"The Drop of Time"
"Toki no shizuku" (時のしずく)
|02||"The Blue Light"
"Aoi hikari" (青い光)
|03||"Tears of the Forest"
"Mori no namida" (森の涙)
"Tensei rinne" (転生輪廻)
|05||"The Small Voices"
"Chisaki mono no koe" (小さきものの声)
|06||"The First One"
"Hajime no hitori" (はじめの一人)
|07||"The Invisible Words"
"Mienai kotoba" (見えない言葉)
|08||"The Distant Rain"
"Toi ame" (とおい雨)
"Umareru mae kara" (生れる前から)
(DVD Volume 4)
|10||"The Flickering Genes"
"Yuragu idenshi" (ゆらぐ遺伝子)
|11||"The Day of No Return"
"Kaerazaru hi" (かえらざる日)
|12||"The Death of a Nation"
"Kuni horobite" (国ほろびて)
|13||"The Here and Now"
The anime's score was composed by Yoko Kanno. Director Shoji Kawamori says he instructed Kanno that the music was supposed to sound feminine, despite some of its use in action scenes. She used Indian music as a partial inspiration which matched that of the show. Other tracks are more experimental and otherwordly. The vocals were done by Gabriela Robin, Maaya Sakamoto, and Chinatsu Yamamoto. The soundtrack was released on the CD's Arjuna: into the another world and Onna no Minato.
- Hidetaka Tenjin interviews Shōji Kawamori about the genesis, the production process and the themes of Chikyū Shōjo Arjuna (Four parts). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdl1Bwat_FE&list=PL64EE848D51B371EA.
- Ken Iyadomi, producer (2002), Interview with Shoji Kawamori, Bandai Entertainment