The various beings of the Aspergillus oryzae and the Aspergillus sojae species never seem to leave Sawaki’s side and are abundant in whatever environment he is in. Given Sawaki’s history, his family runs a successful yeast shop, it comes as no surprise to see he has a resilient relationship with his microbiological buddies. But is it amiable? Friendly? Even pleasant or polite? No, the microbes that pose as Sawaki’s ‘invisible’ friends are actually quite the opposite, ranging from rude to disparaging to even malicious and generally all-around negative.
Perhaps it’s best to illustrate this idea with a few examples, specifically from the seventh episode. A prime example was when Sawaki was preparing his suitcase before departing for Paris. The microbes floating around his bedroom, a mixture of the two aforementioned species, began pestering Sawaki about forgoing miso and soy sauce for a handful of days. Trying to prove his worth, Sawaki denied the prospect of bringing the byproducts of these yeast with him across the globe, a reasonable argument given the time and distance involved with his trip. But the fungi would have none of this and resorted to belittling Sawaki, an all too familiar approach as evident from previous encounters with these malicious microbes. In previous episodes, we’ve seen them pressure Sawaki into disclosing his secret to Oikawa and generally making jokes at Sawaki’s expense. Though their friendship has endured, these microbes are still being dicks to him. What’s amusing is how these two species of yeast different from the ones being researched (and abandoned) by Hasegawa.
The idea for this topic came based on the interactions we’ve seen from the selected and studied yeasts that Hasegawa has stored in the test tubes at her desk. These trapped, and likely starving yeasts, are concerned about Hasegawa despite not being able to communicate to her. They desire to see their owner return, to perform more studies on each other, and see how well they’re developing in her absence. These microbes show a weakened and depressing emotion regarding the disappearance of Hasegawa, something that’d never be seen with those self-centered Aspergillus fungi. Instead, these microbes showed compassion and attachment to their human friend and even sought help on trying to return her back home. This mutual relationship between Hasegawa and her experimental yeast, compared to that of Sawaki and his molds, showcase a diversity and extreme variability in relationships between humans and microbes.
So why is it that the entire genus of Aspergillus fungi treat Sawaki so poorly despite their durable friendship? Perhaps the reason is because these yeasts are naturally like this, as seen by the various clips when the microbes were being disciplined by a drill sergeant before they began fermentation. Furthermore, it’s not like they’re intending to be mean, often acting in the best interests of Sawaki, looking out for his well-being in a rather underhanded way. Or maybe, because of the nature of their relationship and Sawaki’s lack of assertiveness, the microbes have fulfilled the role of mentor and supervisor to Sawaki, concerning themselves of him and his life and how they’d be of assistance. In their style of helping Sawaki is dominated by a ‘tough love’ approach where they expect him to advance based on his own merit and motivations. But whatever the reason, these microbes could still be friendlier and more pleasant around Sawaki. He often appears unhappy and sometimes angry at how his microbial friends are treating him, so it’s no wonder why he loses his ability to see microbes from time to time.
Seeing the various glimpses and activities of a tourist in Paris reminds me of my quick stay in the city back in 2002. From the cuisine, to the sights, to the architecture, and even to the atmosphere, memories of my stay in Paris came hastily rushing back. As I was watching Sawaki, Misato, and Kawahama enjoy their first meal in France, I immediately recalled the same, eating a large steak with hundreds of French fries in a café in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe (and the television indoors was showing sumo wrestling, go figure the Japan connection there). I remember planning out times and visits to see the various museums (I guess I’m more a Misato than Kawahama) and using the subway, the Paris Metro, to travel around the metropolis. It’s a rather outstanding job Moyashimon did of showcasing the tourist lifestyle in the great City of Light, leading me to have a mix of emotions of both longing for a return to Paris, relation to the activities and interactions in the anime, and enjoyment for watching an anime that knows how to make me smile. Well done, Moyashimon Returns, well done indeed.