Earth Girl Arjuna is a relatively new Anime and not yet very popular. But after having seen the first five or six episodes, it is already among my TOP 5 anime. So what is great about Earth Girl Arjuna (Chikyuu Shôjo Arujyuna)?
Juna Ariyoshi suffers the fate of any Magical Girl in Anime. Well, almost. Being just an ordinary Japanese Highschool Girl (you know the deal), she lives a happy, undisturbed life. She even has a nice boyfriend, Tokio. But then, one fine day, her life changes. She doesn't find a magic amulet or meet talking cats. No, Juna dies in a crash with Tokio's motorcycle. She finds herself floating above her dead body, and then farther away from earth.
Then suddenly she starts to have visions about everything that is wrong with the earth: burning woods, suffering animals, pollution, humanity. She sees beings like giant worms, or dragons, the Raaja, which seem to consume the earth. The scared girl then meets another floating soal: Chris. The strange boy with blonde hair tells her that she could return to her life, if she helps the earth. Juna hesitates. She doesn't want to fight. But then she hears her mother and her boyfriend crying over her dead body. She agrees. Her body jumps awake again and she runs away from the hospital. The last thing her boyfriend sees of her is Juna, jumping into an army helicopter.
Then, Juna meets the real Chris: a boy in a wheelchair, half dead. He gives her a small blue gem, the 'Drop of Time' that melts into her forehead. From then on, Juna turns into Arjuna, a warrior to save the dying earth. She has superpowers and a magical bow named Gandiva. She can even conjure a giant named Ashura. But whenever she tries to kill the Raaja, Chris appears and tells her not to do. She is confused.
But things get worse. She is put into the wilderness to survive on her own, but almost dies because she is a child of the city. Step by step, Juna realises how alienated from nature she really is. She learns about the circle of life, how even insects contribute to the great whole that is nature. She realises the beauty of nature.
But when she returns to her home in the city, life does not become normal again. Juna can not eat normal food, because there have animals suffered to produce it. She cannot bear normal lessons in school, because they are so cold and sterile. She learns that life with an environmental conscience isn't easy...
Earth Girl Arjuna manages to give you a strong sense for the beauty of nature. It does not demonise culture and civilisation, but it shows the problems that come with the modern 'comfort'. The show also offers alternatives, like the old man living alone in the mountainside, completely in harmony with nature. Havinf seen Arjuna, one cannot easily eat Hamburgers anymore. The show is beautiful, a really encouraging thing, for those who already have developed an environmental conscience. But to all the others, it will be difficult.
Can one watch it and ignore its message?
Can we continue like before?
While the environmental problems stand in the center of the show, it also hints at other problems of modern society. Juna's parents are divorced, her sister Kaine obviously has problems, too. Her maths teacher Mr.Sakurai is a total wreck. Juna finds out that actually he would be a wonderful teacher, loving his subject and wanting his students to learn with their hearts, to really understand the universal meaning of it. But this is what society expects of a maths teacher. 'Everyone has to change. Then the great whole will change, too,' Juna realises. 'But the one who changes first will not be accepted by society,' Tokio answers her.
Said maths teacher also critises how everyone always wants everything to go the easy way, so they wont have to think about it.
From her strange mentor Chris, Juna learns that words can create misunderstandings, and that words and thoughts can be ties to our minds.
One of the great things of this show is that it doesn't just say: 'This is good' 'That is bad'. The people that teach Juna are not idealised heroes. The old man in the mountains is neither nice, nor handsome, nor very easy to be around. The maths teacher Sakurai is a gaunt, scary and disturbing person. Chris is a weak and ill little boy who is often very mean to confused Juna. It doesn't say that nature is good, but that it is beautiful. That makes it easier to accept the many morals this show confronts us with.
The Indian Mythology behind Arjuna
What first captured my attention about the show was the name 'Arjuna' in the title. I was always interested in India, and have read a lot about its many Gods and Epics. One of these epics is the 'Mâhabhârata'. It is about five brothers, princes, who have to struggle a lot with their rivals to finally get their own kingdom. One of the brothers, the second oldest, is the great hero Arjuna. He fights with a bow he got from the Gods: the holy Gandiva. His teacher, best friend and companion in battle is the incarnation of the great God Vishnu, Krishna.
Now guess by what Earth Girl Arjuna was inspired? Of course. Juna changes into the mythical warrior of Time, Arjuna. Her weapon is Gandiva, she fights the Raaja (raja means 'king' in Indian, I think.) That is official, you can read it on other pages as well.
Now, what I could find nowhere, is a note about Chris. Chris sounds a lot like Krishna. It could be a coincidence, of course. But wouldn't it make sense? He has great psychic powers. The god Krishna had, too. He shows Arjuna visions. Krishna did, too.