Saturday, 28 January 2017, was Chinese New Year and I got to thinking about this anime I used to watch when I was seeing this girl who was like really into anime.
I remember there being a 13th character in the show, a cat and I forgot all about why or what happened to the cat and I figured this might be an apt time.
Roughly the story goes as follows:
The Great Race
The Jade Emperor of Heaven decided as a way to celebrate his birthday he would invent time. He decided on a 12 year cycle, based on Jupiter’s orbit and for festivities he summoned all the animals and announced that he wanted to hold a race and the first 12 animals to cross the finish line will have a year named after them.
Just before the finish line was a river. The Cat and the Rat reached the river first but neither could swim. Along came the Ox who could swim and, being a nice person, em offered the Cat and the Rat a ride on it’s back. Just as they were reaching the shore, the rat pushed the Cat off the Ox’s back and jumped for the shore and won first place. The Ox was a close second.
The Tiger, who also swam, arrived third and explained to The Jade Emperor that em would have arrived sooner but despite em’s strong swimming skill, the current kept pushing em down delaying arrival.
From up the river bank came a pad-pad-padding, the rabbit was hopping down the river bank. The Emperor asked “How did you cross the river?” the Rabbit answered “I found a set of hopping stones.” The Rabbit is granted fourth place.
Down comes flying the Dragon and The Emperor is very surprised that the Dragon, who has the ability to fly, did not get first place. The Dragon explains em self “on my way here, there was a village on fire, so I brought them rain then while flying over the river I saw Rabbit slip on a log crossing the river and gave em a helping claw.” The Emperor was very pleased and granted the Dragon fifth place.
From down the bank, again comes a funny noise. This time it’s a clop-colp-clopping of the Horse’s hooves, confidently striding towards the finish line when the Snake drops off the front hoof of the horse giving the Horse a great fright, for the Horse did not know the snake was hitching a ride, causing the Horse to loose sixth by a nose.
Down the river comes a raft with the Goat, the Monkey, and the Rooster. They explained to The Emperor that they could not but worked together to secure a raft and crossed the river together. The Emperor is pleased and grants them eighth, ninth, and tenth respectively.
The dog comes swimming ashore and The Emperor is again surprised, why should the dog who is the strongest swimmer finish so late? The Dog explains that em was having such a good time playing that em wasn’t ready to call it yet. The Dog is given eleventh.
Lastly comes the Pig trotting down, looking fully satisfied regardless of being so late. The Pig starts to go on about all the food em found on the way, which gave everyone a hearty chuckle.
The Emperor declares the race over and the victors named. When the soaking wet, half drowned cat washes up ashore the only one to notice was the Cat’s former friend, the Rat. The Cat made a revenge promise which is why cat’s chase rats today.
All this talk about a thirteenth sign reminds me about this thing I heard about on the radio originally, back in 2009 some time around the time The Prince of PoP’s reign ended, something about a thirteenth zodiac sign. I never investigated it much until now but apparently this idea isn’t new and originally popped up in the with the book “The Thirteen Signs of the Zodiac” by Walter Berg in 1995. The book was a best seller in Japan in 1996 and influenced some popular video games at the time such as Final Fantasy IX.
The symbol for Ophiuchus (pronounced “o-few-cus”) is the Rod of Asclepius symbol, wielded by Asclepius a Greek hero and god in medicidne, commonly confused with the Caduceus symbol, wielded by Hermes.
Anyway it’s now the year of the Rooster. Happy Chinese New Year!