Mekaku City Actors is pretty much all I ask for from an anime – it’s engaging, stylish, fun, has a plethora of terrific characters, and features some connections to religion, too. The story of the monster, which began as a bookended theatrical piece for early episodes and was later revealed to be a significant part of the plot, demonstrates these religious ideas most significantly. But it’s the not the symbolism, overdone in anime, that stuck out to me – it was the projection of how people have historically gone on witch hunts in the name of religion.
In college, one of my history courses focused on the witch hunt in Europe. They of course occurred in the U.S. as well. Recent episodes of Mekaku City Actors made me wonder if they happened in Japan, too. Certainly, they occurred there for individuals other than witches (persecution of Christians comes to minds), as they did in the U.S.
Although the Christian community in the U.S. thankfully doesn’t harangue and persecute individuals with the same religious historic religious fervor (barring a few notable exceptions), we do still attack others with words, dirty looks, and protests. Who are the witches of today – the workers at Planned Parenthood? Homosexual and transgender advocates? Some other groups?
Whatever the group is, they all have this commonality – the individuals within these camps are often dehumanized by Christians and others. As with those in Mekaku City Actors who physically hunted Azami, and later Shion and Marry, we have a tendency to categorize people and see them solely by characteristics that we use to define them. We forget that each of us is unique – that we have different circumstances and experiences, and that people are more than a caricature. They are not part of that group; they are real people with real stories. Read the rest of this entry →
I claim that this blog covers anime and manga, but in reality, we do little of the latter – mostly because I don’t read much manga. But yesterday, my attention was drawn to a captivating gif on Tumblr for a manga that I just had to check out. Entitled Koe no Katachi, the one shot focuses on a middle school transfer student with a hearing disability through the eyes of the class bully.
On the opening pages, the side editorial claims that there was a lot of discussion about whether or not the manga would be published because of its controversial subject matter. We east Asians are prone to exaggeration, and I assumed this to be the case in this instance, but…no. The 61 pages were full of painful moments – the kind of cringe-worthy pain only middle schoolers can cause to each other.
But in the midst of suffering, Nishimiya, the transfer student, stands as a beacon. Throughout all the bullying she faces, she remains almost impossibly kind, even to her greatest tormenter, Ishida. He breaks her heart (and her hearing aid) by his utter ruthlessness. But he’s simply the leader; all of Nishimiya’s classmates join in the tormenting.
Without giving too much away, the climax of the tale occurs when we realize just how patient and loving Nishimiya has been all this time, even after she has been removed from the story. The climactic gesture she makes is not over-the-top (surprise!), but it’s powerful in as a sign of sacrifice and selflessness.
In my high school, there were no “otaku kids” – at least none that I knew of. I was about two years away from discovering the goodness of Card Captor Sakura, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Tenchi Muyo! Some of my friends were addicted to Dragonball Z, but were certainly better classified as DBZ fans than as anime fans. And because of lack of experience (and having experienced just a little bullying myself), I don’t understand the difficulties many young anime fans and cosplayers go through these days.
But I do know what it takes to stop bullying in its tracks.
Kotoura-san, besides being very funny, has some depth to it. The first two episodes emphasize bullying a lot, as Kotoura is bullied relentlessly by old classmates and then by new because of her gift (or curse). It becomes particularly tough for her after she vomits following a fortune-telling session with Hiyori, and the entire school it seems, led by Hiyori and her friends, make school life as miserable for Kotoura as it’s ever been.
But as it is in any case where someone is being victimized – from bullying to genocide – the power to make change lies with the individual. Manabe doesn’t hesitate to stand up and defend Kotoura. He is an upstander – a person who stands up and fights for what is right – the opposite of a bystander.
A little exchange between the optometrist and myself has become an unintentional annual tradition for me. He or she (it occurs no matter who is examining my eyes) will tell me to open my eyes wide, which I do. Then the optometrist asks the same question again, as if I wasn’t listening, and I reply, “This is as big as they get.”
I have the anti-anime-eye syndrome – small, slanty eyes, befitting my Asian background. But even among Koreans, my eyes are particularly closed tight. Not quite “Brock eyes,” but close.
Growing up, I got teased about this and otherwise for being Asian, and even assaulted. But don’t feel bad for me – I didn’t get it so bad, and certainly less so than many others (further, I was a bully myself during middle school). Still, many of these instances left a mark on me.
My post on Anime Amino regarding bullying and otaku continues to gather responses, and a trend I’ve noticed has to do with racist comments. The utterance, “ching chong,” is still apparently going strong (even though it’s sooo
1980s 1890s), and now used when making fun of otaku, often by that person’s “friends.” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that racist comments are thrown around with such abandonment, but hey, we are human. This is not an excuse – it’s a reason why we sin.
Certainly, the instigators are young and immature – though to be sure, ignorant youngsters may mature with time, but they may still also grow into ignorant adults.
I’m reminded of the lead characters (especially males) we see in media. Read the rest of this entry →
I recently uploaded an app called “Anime Amino.” It’s a social community for anime fans – mostly teens and mostly those who enjoy Black Butler, Fairy Tail, Naruto, and the like. To engage the community, I asked this question in the discussion section:
Have you ever been bullied for being an otaku?
I didn’t intend to share the results anywhere in particular (you’ll note that the responses and questions aren’t really set up survey-style), but the response was so great that I thought I’d share. Part my work has to do with bullying, as well, and I believe the topic of bullying has an important association with Christian life.
As of the writing of this post, 101 individuals responded to the question posed. Most (90) were teenagers, with a few younger than 13 and a few older than 19. About 2/3 were female.
When I posted this question, I was hoping for a smattering of soulful responses. Instead, I got way more responses than I anticipated, but only a few serious, detailed ones, which was perhaps more in line with what I should have expected. Still, it was great to get so much feedback – about half of the respondents, 49, said they had been bullied. I determined that of those, 20 were almost certainly bullied, according to the definition of the term; 2 were not and 27 were undetermined.
Up until this point in the series, Yuri’s plans have only yielded moderate results and were, for the most part, a bit silly. This episode seems to follow along that similar pattern and 3/4 of the way through, carries a comedic tone as Yuri’s minions try to distract Kanade while Takeyama switches out her exams with ones full of wrong answers.
By the end of the episode, Kanade has failed all of her exams and is forced out of her position as student council president. Yuri has succeeded in her mission of rocking Kanade’s world and getting ever closer to the mystery of God.
But really, all that Yuri has done is led a group of people in mass bullying of Kanade. Read the rest of this entry →