Ano Natsu de Matteru and Strangers from a Distant Shore
With the exception of Nisemonogatari (which after episode 8 has now maybe hit that point of crossing the line for me), there was no series I was looking forward to more this season than Ano Natsu de Matteru (Waiting in the Summer). But I was let down by the first episode and dropped the show. After recently reading two wonderful posts (“That Summer, I Waited” and “The Childhood Friendzone“) by the incomparable Mike Huang, I decided to give it another shot. The verdict is still out, but at the very least, the show has given me pause for thought.
The main female character in the show is Ichika Takatsuki, a life form from another planet. She immediately starts school and finds her niche, but her life outside of school is abnormal. She camps out in a temporary shelter and gladly accepts the hospitality Kaito and his sister. More akin to Tenchi Muyo’s Ryoko and Ayeka than, say, a humanoid interface like Yuki Nagato, Ichika is an alien that has no permanent home on earth.
She’s a stranger from a distant shore.*
The comparability to Christian life is quite obvious, as we, too, are aliens:
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
– 2 Peter 2:11
Christians are often criticized for their criticisms of many things secular. This is perhaps a fair condemnation of the culture, particularly in light of those who rail on and on about morality, seemingly forgetting about the planks in their own eyes (a certain Georgian named Newt comes to mind). But more than that, I think it provides an insight into why we are the way we are.
Christians have a foot each in different worlds. While these worlds are one both physically and in terms of how we live our lives (we are Christian no matter the situation and our faith should inform all that we do and all that we are), they are also separate in this way: our lives in this world are part of journey – they are not the destination. We are sojourners traveling this life on the way to our homes.
As a temporary part of life, we often abstain from the culture around us, because sometimes it is not part of who we are (or else it influences us to be something we are not). We might absorb, enjoy, and partake in much of what the world offers (anime certainly included), but we also don’t fully embrace it all.
If you’re a Christian, thinking in terms of being an alien is a good frame of mind to be in (I certainly lack this point of view most of the time). If you’re not a Christian, perhaps this will help you understand the limits we sometimes put on ourselves.
Like Ichika, Christians only set up temporary quarters here, with a mind to eventually continue on. This culture, this life, is not home. It’s the journey.
If we seem strange, there’s a reason. We are strangers.
*I took this line from the significant and groundbreaking work on Asian Americans, Ronald Takaki’s book of the same name. It is a major part of the reason I became a historian.