I was bored last Sunday night so I dusted off my old recorded-off-of-TV copy of Star Trek: Generations which I hadn't see in ages. It's been such a long time since I'd seen that movie I couldn't even remember exactly what happened in it. The scene that will always stick out in my mind would have to be the one where Picard is telling Troi about the death of his brother and nephew. If there was any doubt about Patrick Stewart's acting ability, and I'm sure there was none, that scene vanquished it.
Anyways, that's not what I wanted to talk about. I want to talk about what was previously on the tape before it got recorded over with Generations. A long time ago, I must have been around 5 or 6 at the time, a great aunt or some other distant relative whom I'd never really met gave me a stack of VHS tapes. Most of them were Looney Tunes cartoons, which are consistently awesome, but then there was this one tape of animated bible stories. The animation, however, didn't really look like anything I'd ever seen before, and now I know that it's because it was anime.
A Christian anime you ask? Yes indeed. It was called The Flying House (or タイム教室トンデラハウスの大冒険) and was produced in Japan starting in 1982. What really puzzles me is that Japan and Christianity tend to not get along to terribly well, right? So this show is really an oddity.
The main characters in the show are brother and sister Angie and Corkey Roberts, their friend Justin Casey, the gender confused robot* SIR (Solar Ion Robot), and the mastermind who created the flying house, Professor Humphrey Bumble. As the theme song states, the three children were playing hide and seek when, apparently out of nowhere, a summer storm appeared. Corkey was frightened by the storm and the trio started to run. Eventually they came upon a house a decided to take shelter within. Meanwhile, Professor Bumble was trying to recreate Benjamin Franklin's famous lightning experiment. Why? I have no idea. Somehow SIR's personality changes during the experiment, short-circuits the house, or something, and sends it hurtling into the past to the time of Jesus Christ.
Professor Bumble looks on in terror as his robot servant sends him and the children on a collision course with religiousness!
Now, I'm no expert on time travel but I know from watching the Back to the Future trilogy and Star Trek religiously that messing around with the time line isn't cool. Also, I don't pretend to know too much about the bible, but I'm pretty sure that there is little to no mention of children with a bumbling robotic companion living in a flying house from the future visiting Jesus and his disciples on a regular basis.
Good Lord! It's Anime Jesus!
The show needs work. Some of the story lines, even though they are presumably lifted straight from the Bible, lack narrative coherence. Also, English dubs of anime are notorious for their awfulness, and this one is no exception. However, the badness is amusing, and that's why the show is worth watching. The dubs are so bad, and some of the character's actions are so unexplained that you can't help but LOL. The theme song is so catchy it's awfully awesome. As I mentioned earlier, it basically gets the audience up to speed as to how the hell these children traveled back in time inside of a flying house.
Obviously the show's goal is to spread the word of Jesus Christ, so every episode has a moral or lesson learned at the end. But the only thing that I learned from this show was that you shouldn't go running into strange houses in the middle of the forest. You might end up 2000 years in the past.
I'm glad that I found a few episodes of this show at the end of that tape as I was starting to doubt my vague memories that it actually even existed. This could very well have been the very first anime I had ever seen.
DOWNLOAD THAT ROCKIN' FLYING HOUSE THEME SONG IN THE MEDIA SECTION!
*As referenced in the episode, "The Greatest", where SIR is asked if he's a boy and does not know.