Profile: Children’s Literature, Fantasy
One of the appealing aspects of Japanese culture is their thoughtful treatment of children’s issues; really, the issues of any age group. Japanese pop culture and fiction explore and confront the unpleasant realities of their society, from topics as widespread as divorce, to the unique Hikikomori phenomenon, to the potentially disastrous aging of the nation’s workforce. Brave Story addresses the first of these topics in the framework of a fantastic adventure. While the story and the setting may seem fanciful, for a novel aimed at 5th and 6th graders, the book is shockingly frank in its descriptions of a family torn apart by adultery and divorce. It also places the burden of adaptation and healing on the shoulders of the young protagonist, a stance that similar western tales shy away from.