Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You Have A Salty, Sour Pickled Plum On Your Back

First, SM Blooding interviewed me over at her blog. It might sound egotistical, but I highly recommend checking this one out, especially if want to know more about how I got my agent, how I survived querying, and how publishing is like a cat.

Onigiri: A rice ball wrapped with seaweed and often filled with something salty or sour or both. A common on-the-go meal in Japan.

So I've been watching (and reading the manga, too) this anime called Fruits Basket. It's funny and different and even a bit romantic, but what's surprised me the most is this exploration of how people work, how they see themselves and others.

In one episode (#7), there's an onigiri analogy I can't seem to get out of my head. As you can see from the picture above, onigiri can look pretty plain and uniform. But on the back they sometimes have a surprise:

Look! Umeboshi! Umeboshi are these intensely salty, sour pickled "plums." Though they aren't really plums, they're ume, which is in the plum family but is more like an apricot.

So on the front onigiri all look the same, but on the back there could be a plum or a ball of salmon or some toasted sesame seeds, etc.

The main character in Fruits Basket, Tohru, begins to notice how two certain boys envy each other's good qualities, while totally ignoring their own. They are so hung up on what they don't have, that they are blind to their own awesomeness.

Tohru compared them to onigiri. All they can see is their white, boring rice front, but they keep seeing the umeboshi in others when they turn around. Little do they know that they have a plum on their back, too. That they are just as special.

This, of course, got me thinking about writers. Admittedly, sometimes it's really hard to see all the amazing writers out there—some of them my own friends—who have these special umeboshi or whatever else on their backs. Sometimes I get discouraged, thinking all I am is this boring, white rice ball with nothing to offer. It's hard to believe there's something special on my back when I can't see it.

But Tohru was right—we all have salty, sour pickled plums on our backs (best compliment ever, right?). I see them all the time, and my friends often remind me that mine's there too. So there's no need to compare or to feel sad about someone else's skills. Even if we can't always see our own talents, they are there and other people see them all the time.


  1. YAY for Fruits Basket. I love that manga. I have them all >.> Tohru is such the eternal optimist, seeing the good in everyone.

  2. Haha, what a great analogy! And you know, usually people's favorite foods are the simplest: mac and cheese, beef noodle soup, apple pie. There's no NEED to get all fancy in order to be loved and savored.

  3. Fruits Basket is so charming! We have the DVDs. They make me feel optimistic and happy.


  4. I always loved when Fruits Basket got philosophical. One of my favorite mangas of all time - I have all of them, too (that's what, $230 dollars worth of manga?) and I reread them often. The story stays with you.

    I've always wanted to try onigiri...

  5. Aw what a great post! I've read the manga; it's wonderful.

  6. Fruits Basket is the go to anime for me after a bad day. You cannot watch it without smiling at the end. I just wish there was another season!!

  7. Seen 'em all (anime), read 'em all (manga) - I completely get what you're saying.

    Lot of thinking in that silly little story.

  8. I LOVE Fruits Basket. That's such a great show. And before you even mentioned it, when you posted the pic of the onigiri, I thought of that show. :)

    I'm currently watching Clannad...that's one strange anime. Cool, but strange.

  9. Cool analogy. I'm reading the Fruits Basket manga right now; it's awesome.

  10. YES! I almost did a fist-pump when I saw your post title. It's like my dream come true!

    But seriously, thank you for this post :)

  11. Love Fruits Basket. Love Onigiri. Love your analogy. Great post!

  12. Not the biggest fan of onigiri (Omurisu or katsukare any day) but I love this analogy!

    Might have to start watching Fruits Basket!

  13. I totally bathe in sour pickled plums every day. All I need is a giant rice ball...

  14. Nice analogy and enjoyed the interview! So glad I followed Nathan's link :)

  15. You love Fruits Basket, I love Fruits Basket. Guess this means I'll be reading your books :)

    Now I have a craving for Onigiri.