Ha, well… if I ever wondered what the Japanese equivalent of PBS programming looked like, I suppose I should wonder no longer.
Look, I don’t think anybody is seriously expecting me to critique folk tales with equally minimalist rendering and plotting. Would I analyze the greater complexities of “the Three Little Pigs” as a follow-up? None of these vignettes are even especially moralistic. Sure, one of Aesop’s Fables could invite some discussion of the greater human dilemmas which have been allegorically illustrated with talking animals. These, though? These are about a series of wacky circumstances that befall paragons of human virtue. “Be good and good things will happen to you” - - that’s the plain message.
(Indeed, even a toddler might question why the elderly couple in “the Old Man Who Made the Dead Trees Blossom” would continue lending things to nasty neighbors with a habit of murdering their pets and destroying their property).
Maybe there’s something about the nature of professional storytelling which can be read into “the Man Who Bought Dreams” - - but again, I’d feel silly for getting too far along in that. At the least, I’ll say that if you’ve ever been looking for an appropriate anime which you can watch with a young family member who might be curious about Japanese culture, or if you’re simply curious about more of this culture’s history yourself, then these are some perfect diversions to that end.
Myself? Well, these are just reminding me that I really should go on and read some authentic Shinto folklore someday. I feel like a large part of my viewing experience has been me just getting glimpses and reinterprations of myths that’d be more beneficial to just experience for myself.
Watch this episode, "The Old Man Who Made the Dead Tress Blossom / The Man Who Bought Dreams / The Rat Sutra" here and decide for yourself.