If I were to quiz you on what Acetobacter aceti does, would you remember what we learned from Moyashimon? What about Aspergillus sojae? Instead, what if I provided a picture of one of our characterized microbe friends, or perhaps a short video clip demonstrating its voice and personality? Would you remember then?
The fact that we continue to see these distinguished microbes in combination with their name, processes, and effects is done purposefully. It allows us to link everything together so we can expand our microbial knowledge which is the central theme of Moyashimon Returns. Microbiology is a vast, complex, and difficult science, so by having the microbes illustrated in this manner, in junction with their role in the anime, we can understand what’s happening in Moyashimon Returns better and we can understand and appreciate it more. This is why we continue to see the microbes in this exemplified manner, even when Sawaki is not even present despite the fact he’s the only one who can see the microbes in this way.
Imagine, instead, a Moyashimon without all these cuddly characterized microbes floating around the environment. The anime would still have the same characters, same events, same everything, except the microbes were depicted by tiny, amorphous unicellular organisms. Visually, you’d be unable to differentiate them in this manner unless the characters presently discussed them or if the animators were generous enough to provide a nametag. Though the anime would be closer to the real world in this approach, it would cause confusion by its ambiguity. The fact that these microbes are given specific shapes, attributes, and personalities allows us to immediately recognize and distinguish the microbes that we see. Though we understand that only Sawaki can see them in this form, the anime presents most examples of microbes like this to us so that we can differentiate our prokaryotes from our eukaryotes and so on and so forth.
The visual aids that are these humanoid microbes go beyond simply helping us recognize each microbe, too. An additional effect of these characters is that it helps us connect fundamental concepts of Moyashimon together in the form of an image. Thus far, including the first season, we’ve covered many models of fermentation, brewing, and other microbial processes. Each time one of these examples is used, we usually have the relevant microbes involved, both shown visually along with their name, and then have everything explained so that we understand what’s happening. By merging everything together at one time, we can understand the events happening in Moyashimon Returns better as well as see how the microbiology affects the situation or makes it entirely possible. Even without Sawaki present, the anime chooses to visualize the microbes in this way for this reason. If we can see the microbes and get their names and learn about the process, we can understand and retain this information better than without these pieces. Simply speaking, Moyashimon realizes how valuable the characterize microbes are for teaching moments like these and uses them to enrich the Moyashimon experience.
Now, the nature of this anime is not to build us a foundation of microbial knowledge for which to impress collegiate professors (though I’m sure they’d be delighted to hear your interest in microbiology and immediately sign you up to start autoclaving petri dishes). Moyashimon Returns doesn’t expect us to know the functions of microbes simply name or even a picture like the quiz in the introduction proposed. Instead, the subject of this post is to bring attention to why the anime continues to show the microbes in this fashion and suggest how it helps us recognize themes, processes, and other occurrences in the anime. The quiz was there to simply highlight the role of how the visual representation of microbes affects Moyashimon.
These microbes are visual aids to us, characters to help us differentiate between the overabundance of microbes and to link various essential concepts together. Beyond that, the characters have other features, too, such as being the adorable mascots of the series and the personal friends of Sawaki. Their roles are multifunctional and fundamental to Moyashimon. And in order to appreciate these characters for what they mean to Moyashimon, the microbes are given these appearances for which to visualize, improve, and enhance Moyashimon as an anime. The next time you see a microbe, remember how important its current form is to the anime.
Hazuki Oikawa, arguably the lead female in the series, has seen her role expanded in this young second season of Moyashimon. Whereas her role in the first season was important, Oikawa has seen more of a central role around Sawaki and been given the most screentime of any character thus far. Her position in the anime is significant, too, and she has a positive personality which steadily advances dialogue and scenes. Her romantic interests with Sawaki are also a reason why she’s seen an augmented role this season, though that hasn’t really been a point of significant interest or time thus far. And this increase in time has had an effect on the rest of the cast, too, seeing their prominence and screen-time reduced as a direct result. Hasegawa, Kaoru, and Takuma have all had minimal roles in these first two episodes despite being three of the most dominant characters by this point in the first season. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic shifts as the season progresses, whether it will continue more in Oikawa’s favor or allow the others a chance to play their parts in the story. Judging by the opening sequence and the developments in this episode, I suppose we’ll learn more about Hasegawa’s role in the anime shortly, but at whose expense? I suppose we shall find out.