A news just several hours ago stated that the re-run of one of the most appreciated rated-G (generally for kids) classic anime in the Philippines, Shoukoujo Sara (aka Princess Sara), will commence on October 13. It was a 1985 anime adaptation of the novel entitled A Little Princess written by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
The series had been aired locally (the name’s changed to Sarah to fit the more locally popular spelling of the name) for quite a few times since its first airing (in Filipino dub) in the country in early 1990s. It was a fairly popular after-school amusement that it inspired a live action movie adaptation in 1995 and a live action TV series in 2007. However, 1990s kids and the older people would easily recognize and relate to the anime series than the younger generation of Filipinos.
What’s behind this?
I suspected that the decision for the anime’s re-run in the local TV was because of the Princess Sarah memes going viral in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram among Filipino users. Even the TV network admitted that this rerun is, in a way, a response to the growing popularity of and heightened discussions pertaining to Princess Sarah, thanks to the memes. I think that this is quite a strategic decision that the management has come up, capitalizing on the resuscitated interest in the classic anime title. The recurring jokes are about Sarah and the peeling of potatoes. No one could exactly pinpoint where and how this memes started, but a Facebook page (created last September 20) has its huge share of witty and funny photos which, at the moment, would never run out.
Although anime memes have always been present mainly in anime communities catering the needs of the younger audiences, memes of contemporary anime were not popular enough outside the current anime enthusiasts’ circle to become viral. Princess Sarah somehow became sensational as of late because of the appreciation by the older audiences who must have watched, or at least heard of, the mentioned classic anime as it was aired on local TV channel in Tagalog dub. Because of their personal connection with the series despite the possibility that a large fraction of them are not into anime anymore, or weren’t even into anime ever since but just happened to enjoy Princess Sarah, the memes have gone viral and for the laughs. The way I see it, those who share the memes everywhere are the ones who actively, albeit subconsciously, seek emotional connection with others who can recognize the anime even with the smallest recollections one could pull off. I admit that I am not an exception.
They don’t really make sense because nothing’s really funny about peeling tomatoes. But they appear to be funny because of the sarcasm in the captions involving potatoes. It’s as if the character herself is enjoying the act of peeling potatoes, which originally served as a misplaced punishment. No matter how kind and gentle the ill-treated Sara is, she is still a princess-like girl in the end. And a “princess” peeling a potato is simply a mismatch. Since potato jokes are often miss-and-hit attempts, we can also find some memes which aren’t related to anything potatoes.
What really propelled the memes to go viral are the out-of-character, sarcastic lines of Sarah which appear as captions. This is because Sarah is well known as the epitome of a good child, showing kindness to everyone, whether he’s a friend or an antagonistic human being from the inside out. Some of these memes can be regarded by some people as offensive when one takes off the meme-appreciation glasses, but seeing them as captions of screenshots of Sarah and her gentle smile, they might as well make good, albeit shallow, jokes for a random laugh of the day. After all, a mean Sarah is as refreshing idea. For the fun.
But what has the recently internationally popular potato character to say?