It wasn’t work that I’d kept pending for the weekend that cast a pall over my Sunday (for a change) – it was the prospect of finishing the anime I’d been re-watching the last couple of weeks. As the end of the queue of the YouTube playlist where I’d been watching this early 2000s anime came into view, the gloom intensified.
Over the last three months, my interest in consuming media – be it my regular K-dramas – or new shows on Netflix or Amazon had dwindled to the point where I was looking for something to watch, but I couldn’t bring myself to click on anything. My regular routine involved perusing the titles on Netflix in the account where I set it to all Korean, decipher the titles of shows, consider that “language practice” for the day, and go back to sighing into the void.
I know folks re-watch shows and movies and do so to the point where they’ve memorised entire stretches, but I haven’t been a big re-watcher. However, about two weeks ago, in my quest to muster enough interest in something, I watched one episode of this anime I had watched in middle school on Animax called UFO Baby. And then I watched another, and another, until I found myself at the end of the weekend having watched 27 episodes of the show.
It had become my daily staple since then, finishing work (whenever that happened to be) and immersing myself in the world of this shoujo anime.
UFO Baby, or Daa Daa Daa in the original Japanese, is an anime about two middle schoolers whose parents leave them to fend for themselves because Miyu’s (the female lead’s) parents are off to NASA to fulfil their dreams and Kanata’s (the male lead’s) Dad is off to India and Nepal to train further as a monk.
The day this happens, a flying alien baby with psychic powers called Ruu, and his baby-sitter, a shape-shifting cat “sitter-pet” called Wanya, fall through an inter-dimensional wormhole while talking a walk on their native planet Otto and land in the temple that makes Kanata (and Miyu’s) home.
Ruu, being a baby, mistakes Miyu and Kanata for his mum dad and begins calling them Mama and Papa. When Miyu calls up her mum to find out more about aliens (she was in NASA after all), much to her consternation, her Mum tells her she’s heard about a project to dissect aliens.
The pair decide they have to take on Wanya and Ruu till they can get back to their planet, and so they begin a life of complicated domesticity – with aliens from a nearer planet finding their way to the temple from time to time, an evil gang ala Team Rocket that keep trying to kidnap Ruu, a rotating cast of school friends and love rivals, and quite a few scrapes the gang fall into because of Wanya’s obsession with mitarashi dango (which I’m also now obsessed with wanting to try).
The series is so well-written that I think I would have liked it even without the massive nostalgia factor because of which I started re-watching it. The characters and plotlines are (here, literally) outlandish but there’s so much heart in them and how they are portrayed, with how Kanata and Miyu come to care for Ruu and Wanya as their own family (the found family trope is excellently done), as well as the slow and sweet romance between Kanata and Miyu.
And so, in pandemic times, and all the uncertainty that comes with them, I find myself really calmed by watching Daa Daa Daa again. Kanata and Miyu’s gang of friends witness increasingly bizarre scenes unfold in front of them – from a floating man whose head is a foot tall, to being transported through to different eras, watching the flying baby, but who are pacified with the weak stories the pair sell them as explanations. What a luxury to be able to believe something that’s told to you, and simply accept it, as bizarre it is. I think I envy them that.