Otaku Culture

A Look at: Cherry Blossoms in Manga & Anime

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Cherry blossoms, aka sakura petals are a big part of Japanese culture in both manga and anime. Watching them fall on screen or in-between the pages of a manga has more context then you’d assume. The blossoms themselves happen during early spring, and spring as we all know has the representation of rebirth and life. It’s quite the beautiful sight to see, especially given how the process works and how short it is.

The white into coral petals process happens very quickly, only giving you a week or two to see this happen. There is even a celebration that revolves around this process called hanami. It focuses on the peak of the blooming process, a moment where people come and have picnics and hang out with the people they love.

This season, known as sakura season is also the symbol of first love and the beauty we find within nature. Both of these ideologies are plagued with a sense of shortness. First love happens within minutes and can be unraveled within minutes. Additionally, the beauty of youth and spring are only there for a such a limited amount of time. These ideas make seeing the sakura petals on a page or screen a motif for these romantical ideals.

But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine, Japanese culture’s mythology looks at cherry blossoms as symbolism for death. The legend tells that the flowers were originally white, and then once a body is buried underneath it, the petals then turned pink.

We can see this in manga and anime with the way the scenes are wholly dedicated to the petal, with a body that is put underneath a cherry blossom and then they turn red. In other passages, where you’ll see a character underneath the sakura petals, it is a moment of contemplation of life and what’s going on.

This can be seen in the anime “5 Centimeters Per Second,” which is an anime written around the idea that every five seconds, a sakura petal falls to the ground, thus giving us the impression of reflecting on both life and death. Regardless of which way we look at it, it is communicating the fragile cycle of life.

But even so, it’s easy to smile when looking at the scene of anime, in which graduation is happening and there is a storm of cherry blossoms fluttering in the air, representing new part of one’s life unfolding. So the next time you see sakura petals scattered in your anime or manga, consider what it means.

5 Centimeters Per Second - Anime - Screenshot