Hi everyone, it’s been a while, but this month I am participating in an OWLS blog tour! If you aren’t aware, OWLS is a group of otaku bloggers whose goal is to use anime to spread acceptance to everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
Every month, the members of OWLS are given a new prompt to follow. Before you read my post, please check out the previous post in this blog tour “For the Love of Adventure” by Jack the Aniwriter.
For February 2019, this tour’s prompt was:
In February, we will be exploring love and romance. The word selected is “adore” because it has two main connotations: to be loved and respected or to feel worshiped. We will analyze characters that give us a feeling of admiration and explain why we love those characters. We will also be exploring different forms of love (familial, friendship, and even self-love) and how those types of love influence our lives. Happy Valentine’s Day!
When I hear the word “adore,” one image comes to my mind: my pets. I have two guinea pigs and a dog, and the amount of love I feel for them is beyond comprehension. I love them SO MUCH, and I am the happiest person alive when I spend time with them.
So, for this post, I’m going to explore the relationship between pets and humans via the anime How to Keep a Mummy. This series premiered in 2018 and follows the story of Sora, a normal high schooler. His father is an eccentric archaeologist and one day, he sends Sora a real, live mummy.
But instead of being some grotesque, undead monster, the mummy is… adorable! It’s small, shy, and wimpy, and you can’t help but love him. At first, Sora is apprehensive, but over time, Sora starts to love the mummy and even names him Mii-kun. As the series goes on, Sora’s friends also get their own supernatural buddies, creating a little mythical menagerie.
There are a lot of anime that have cute creatures as mascots – Cardcaptor Sakura, Tenchi Muyo, Sailor Moon. However, there aren’t many anime series that depict a pet/human relationship in depth, at least in my knowledge (correct me if I’m wrong!). You could argue that Pokemon does that, but the games and anime focus more on battles and friendship – it’s not strictly a caretaker vs. a dependent pet relationship.
How To Keep a Mummy, on the other hand, is entirely about humans and the bond they share with their pets. It shows how the humans nurture and interact with their companion on a daily basis. There are no battles or side gimmicks.
Here are the cute and cuddly characters of How To Keep A Mummy:
As mentioned, Mii-kun is teeny tiny mummy. He’s so small, he can fit in the palm of your hand. Because of his size, he’s weak in terms of strength and needs help doing certain things. He’s also a crybaby; the littlest thing will make him shed little mummy tears. But he’s very appreciative of Sora and tries to help out when he can.
Although I love all the creatures in this show, Conny is my personal favorite. He is small oni child (demon) who has a big attitude and a knack for trouble. He is very mischievous, which is always irritating his owner Tazuki, who can be very cold. But in the end, Conny and Tazuki both open up to each other.
Isao is a small dragon that belongs to Sora’s friend Asa and looks like a miniature Dragonite. Unlike Mii-kun or Conny, Isao is very dependable and becomes somewhat of a reliable older sibling to the other creatures. Though, like most pets, Isao still wants love and attention.
Mukumuku has the greatest name ever. He is a baku, which is a creature from Japanese folklore that eats dreams. If you look up artwork of baku, they are not very cute (I believe the Pokemon Drowzee is supposed to be a baku). But Mikumuku is incredibly cute: he looks like a big, blue guinea pig. Compared to the other pets, we don’t see as much of Mukumuku since he shows up later in the series. Still, we see enough of him to know that he’s adorable and, not to mention, very helpful – his owner, Daichi, has very bad nightmares, and Mukumuku gladly eats them.
No matter which character is your favorite, you can’t help but adore them all. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that “adore” and “adorable” are derived from the same root word.
And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that me and many other viewers think they’re all lovable. In a way, all of these characters represent different kinds of human children. Mii-kun is like a helpless newborn, Conny is like a rambunctious toddler, Isao is like a more mature sibling, and Mukumuku is… Mukumuku. I’m not sure if this was the original mangaka’s intention, but that’s how it seems to me. The creatures are also more human-like than most regular animals. For example, although they can’t talk, they learn how to write.
Being human-like is part of why they’re so freaking cute. According to Konrad Lorenz and several research studies, there’s a scientific reason why humans find baby animals (or in this case, baby monsters) so heart-melting. It stems from our DNA – as a species, when we see babies or young children, we want to take care of them and protect them.
And it turns out, people feel the same way about baby animals. When we see animals with characteristics similar to human children, we feel the same endearment. These characteristics include big eyes, a round face, a small nose, a large forehead, a retreating chin, and a plump, small body (BBC). When we see these traits, we can’t help but go “Awwwwww!!!”
Take a good look. Mii-kun, Conny, Isao, and Mukumuku have some of these traits (I find Conny’s swollen belly button especially adorable).
And they act like babies or children. Top this off with their fun and quirky personalities, and it’s the perfect formula for cuteness. The human characters in the show agree; they all love and want to care for their cute companions. And their reaction is natural. According to BCC, “our empathy with young animals allows us to better bond with them.” It’s no wonder all of the pet/parent duos become so close by the end of the anime.
Before I wrap up this post, there’s one more thing I want to point out. Yes, the kawaii-ness and certain physical feature makes the human characters (and anime watchers) go crazy over Mii-kun and the others. I mean, LOOK HOW CUTE THEY ARE.
But there’s another reason humans love pets so much. Pets make you happier. It’s a scientific fact. Studies from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that pet owners usually have better self-esteem and feel less lonely or depressed. This is because pets can “provide meaningful support for [their] owners” (Psychology Today). Your pet can also make you calmer and happier because playing with them helps release stress-reducing chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin and dopamine (Humana).
These positive effects are shown in How To Keep a Mummy’s human characters. Over the course of the anime, Sora becomes more cheerful, and he already had a cheerful personality to begin with. Takuzi stops being such a wet blanket and even becomes more empathetic. Daichi has the most noticeable change, though. Before Mukumuku, he was sleep deprived and not mentally stable. After Mukumuku gets rid of this nightmares, Daichi can sleep and becomes noticeably happier and nicer. He also makes new friends (Sora and the others) since he has a supernatural pet.
Of course, pets or animals are not a magical cure for better mental health. They can provide support, but if you are very depressed or anxious, you should seek out professional help. And there are rare cases where pets can ever cause distress.
But overall, pets usually make most people happy. And if they make you happier, how can you not adore them?
When it comes to people, you can show your feelings in several different ways. When it’s a pet or animal, you show them your love by taking care of them. It’s in our nature. The adoration for furry friends is very strong in How To Keep A Mummy. Even though these little monsters are fictional and we can’t physically interact with them, as a viewer, I felt a happiness that was similar to the kind I feel when I’m with my own pets.
Production-wise, How To Keep A Mummy has some issues, like some episode when there animation quality greatly drops. However, it’s heart is in the right place. This anime is so cute, warm, and fuzzy, you can’t help but feel happy when you watch it – and that’s why it was one of my favorites from 2018. It also shows how pets can have a positive impact on your life, which is why people so many people adore their pets.
If you can look past some of the flaws, I think almost anyone can enjoy How To Keep A Mummy, whether or not they have pets.
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Humana. Why Pets Make You Happy. Retrieved from https://www.humana.com/prevention-and-care/healthy-living-and-prevention/emotional-health/pets
BCC. Why Are Baby Animals So Cute? Retrieved fromhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zc8bgk7
Bell, B. (2014, June 29). Aww-some animals: Why do baby mammals melt our hearts? Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-28036667
McConell, A. (2011, July 11). Friends with Benefits: Pets Make Us Happier, Healthier. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-social-self/201107/friends-benefits-pets-make-us-happier-healthier