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Even these tapes cost something

  Superbook - The First Christmas
 
1981 | Tatsunoko/CBN
SuperBook Vol 8 The Life of Jesus Bagster

Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas! A festive gift from the Anime Bargain Bin to all its readers. It is a religious gift though, so I hope you won't be too disappointed...

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The detailed origins of SuperBook have already been covered in SuperBook Volume 13: Special Easter Volume. Warning: It involves Pat Robertson.

This volume, titled 'The Life of Jesus' was released in the UK by a small, outfit based in Hampshire, England, called Bagster Video.

The company was set up in 1984 by the Managing Director of Samuel Bagster Publishing, as an independent television and video company, specialising in Christian works. A number of their acquisitions saw wider release under the Trinity Video label, in fact only a very small number of videos were released by Bagster themselves, none after the 1984 Video Recordings Act (see Frankenstein for more info on that).

In 1990 Bagster was bought by Word (UK), an ABC company.

 
 
 

There are three tales on this one tape, but we're only concerned with one of them, since it's Christmas. Well, that and the fact that there's only so much animated religion I can take. I may be able to sit through dross like Ninja the Wonderboy and Return of the Dinosaurs, but, honestly, I think three SuperBooks in a row might well finish me off!

SuperBook Episode 12: "The First Christmas" (Uma Goya Monogatari)

Matthew 1-2; Luke 2, if you are reading along at home.

"It was the day before Christmas, and all through the town, lots of people were shopping as the snowflakes fell down.

The spirit of giving so filled every mind that all gloom and despair were left far behind.
Oh, the bright lights and tinsel and gay [not in that way, this is christian remember] coloured toys brought big smiles to the faces of all girls and boys.

But in front of the church, with its own little fence, stood a beautiful tree that was surely immense.
And right there to admire it, no need to pretend, was our Christopher Peeper and his little friend."

After wishing the previously mentioned tree a Merry Christmas, Chris runs off home to find out what his crazy inventor dad is up to. "I'm home!" calls the boy cheerfully on his return. "So?" comes the cold reply from his father. With such paternal disinterest and a permanently absent mother, maybe it's no surprise that little Chris believes he regularly disappears inside an old magic book.

SuperBook The Life of Jesus The First Christmas

Showing further disinterest in his own son, on this most festive of days, Chris gives up on his father and runs upstairs to make Christmas decorations with his dog. The young boy grows more and more uptight at his pet's inability to be creative (come on, she can't even hold the scissors). Maybe he would have had better luck with his human friend Joy, but before he can even hand her the paper the attention seeking book in the corner decides there are better things for them to do and begins to glow.

The book opens on the story of the first christmas, but what's this? The picture shows a dark skinned couple in the stable with baby Jesus! Reality in the Christian Religion? Don't worry, Mary and Joesph are soon back to their white washed selves by the time they make their first animated appearance.

SuperBook The Life of Jesus The First Christmas

The children and Gizmo the robot are whisked away to biblical times once more. Lost in a dusty, baren landscape their paths cross with a young couple. Jesus, Mary and Joesph!! Well, only Mary and Joesph, really. The gang rest and relax together. Mary reveals to the juvenile time travelers that she is pregnant with a little boy and that he will be born soon. Considering how far through the pregnancy she is, you can't even make out the bump. Maybe immaculate conception presents differently to real ones. She recalls the day a robotic voiced hermaphrodite angel appeared to her and informed her that she was carrying God's child despite never having "been intimate with a man". Apparently an angel also appeared to Joeseph to give him the news, to paraphrase; "Your girlfriend's pregnant with another man's baby and God demands you marry her". These were the days before Jerry Springer, or even Rikki Lake, so he is happy to comply.

SuperBook The Life of Jesus The First Christmas

At some point, between scenes, the kids manage to loose track of Mary and Joseph on the way to bethlehem. While searching the packed town they also attempt to book a room for the night but are no more successful than the the pair they were following. By night time a trio of kindly Shepherds allow the youngsters and their robot to sleep in their shelter, leaving the old timers out in the cold field overnight. Why don't they just search all the local stables for the central couple? Having exclaimed that "Everyone knows the story of the first Christmas" at the start of this tale, Chris sure doesn't seem to remember how it goes. Lucky SuperBook is there to maintain his religious education.

That night, guess what? Mary gives birth to baby Jesus in a stable! The robo-hermaphro-angel decends upon the Shepherds and bathes them in gobbledy-bible-code-speak, announcing the birth. All this excitement wakes the unaccompanied minors who rush over to hear the news. The old men agree to travel to pay their respects to the "Holy Babe". I don't know who they expect to find but there aren't any babes involved in this story. It's the bible, after all.

SuperBook The Life of Jesus The First Christmas

While everyone basks in the wonder of the Holy Babe, the viewers are treated to a highlights reel of some of adult Jesus' greatest hits. There's all your favourites, healing the sick, walking on water, being beaten with a whip and, of course, returning from the dead in a non-zombie form. Oh, sorry, I should have tagged that; "Spoiler Alert".

SuperBook The Life of Jesus The First Christmas
SuperBook The Life of Jesus The First Christmas

But, of course, the story doesn't end there. The three wise men see a star but, unlike in the School Nativity version, they don't go straight to the manger, first they visit King Herod. The self styled King of the Jews™ is secretly annoyed at the news of Jesus' arrival. He doesn't like competition or the idea of a Title Fight so he sends two of his royal goons to follow the supossedly 'Wise' men, on a mission to... take out Baby Jesus!

Reaching the fabled stable the trio slip up once more... they hand over expensive gifts to the new born baby. If they were wise they would know that riches are derided in the eyes of Christ! Although nobody actually says anything, you can tell they've made a real deity faux pas. Later that night Chris spots Herod's hitmen and warns Joseph but, wouldn't you know it, he's had another of his 'angel dreams' and already knows of the King's plans. The couple decide to go on holiday in Egypt with the baby until this whole thing blows over. The kids wave them off and Joy reveals that she believes this SuperBook adventure to be the best Christmas present she ever got and Chris agrees. The both of them obviously never got a Scalekstric with a loop-the-loop in the middle and a bit that goes up the wall and cars with working lights. Or an Optimus Prime.

SuperBook The Life of Jesus The First Christmas

SuperBook finally deems it time for the kids to be returned to their own time, so their parents don't get worried and start asking questions. Downstairs Dad seems to be feeling a little remorseful for his earlier indifference to his son and is attempting to win him back with a decorated tree and a Christmas cake. He still can't get his wife to come back home from her sister's for the holidays though. Maybe if he put more effort into his AA meetings and less in his inventing...

So, on the surface at least, the Peeper household has a Merry Christmas. As they tuck into a Wedding Cake for dinner, with a knife and fork, the Japanese animators prove they have a solid grasp on Western culture.

SuperBook The Life of Jesus The First Christmas

(In the closing zoom-out of the Peeper's house it looks like there's a body face down in their pond)

SuperBook Christmas

(Maybe the strain of their broken-home got too much for the house keeper?)

The following episodes are #13 "The Miracles of Love" (Lesu no Kiseki Monogatari) a clip-show in which adult-form Jesus performs all his most popular tricks, and #14 "The Best News Yet" (Karappo no Haka Monogatari) - which you've probably already read about in SuperBook Volume 13.

Well, I'm sorry for the lame present, and thanks for putting on a pleased face, it means a lot to me. I've only got a very narrow criteria for finding a Christmas themed video, you know. And I've already done Little Women. Darn, if only I'd thought of that one sooner, I would have put a link to it at the top! That way you could have skipped all this and re-read that instead.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all!

 
Missing videos

Jesus Christ: The Birth
Anime Baby Jesus! Holy crap!

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