Let’s go on a journey.
After this episode, I do believe I’m as out of breath as Kaori and Kousei are.
In episode four of Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso), our duo takes to the stage, and as expected, have troubles. Kousei again loses the ability to hear music as he overthinks, especially about his mother. But when Kaori decides to stop her performance and start again, Kousei is able to focus on her, and the two create a duel of sorts that brings the audience to it’s feet (before Kaori falls off of her’s).
Throughout the episode, the theme of a “journey” is brought forth time and time again. Kousei realizes that Kaori is bringing him somewhere. Although he was a prodigy, Kousei had never known the music he played with intimacy, instead focusing on perfecting it technically as ordered by his mom. Actually, that’s not quite true – a flashback shows that at one time, when Kousei was just beginning, he understood the beauty of music (as did his mother before her condition occurred or worsened), the magic of it – the kira kira in it. But along the way, he lost that, and music became something to master rather than to enjoy and know.
Kaori is leading Kousei on this journey as one who understands the nature of music. She has a relationship with it – something dynamic, as seen by how she approaches pieces. And though she points to music as the journey, Kaori actually functions as music itself. As Kousei comments, “This girl is the journey – [she's] freedom itself.”
Note: This article covers episode twelve of Mushishi. It approaches the episode vaguely in such a way so as to avoid spoilers, but be warned if that is something that concerns you.
Perhaps the most basic difference in Western versus Eastern thought is the view of the significance or destination of life. I’m sure you’ve heard the frames through which Buddhism and Hinduism operate, at least to some simple degree. In Hinduism, the soul (or the Atman) is trapped in the cycle of reincarnation known as Samsara. Buddhism follows some of the same conventions, though (at least from my perception) the execution is much more complicated. Instead of a single consciousness traveling through the same cycle over and over again, a sort of collective stream travels through a similar convention until one reaches Nirvana, or total annihilation.*
Judaism and Christianity (and Island, I assume, though perhaps someone can confirm this for me) operate under a different notion: that God is leading His people to a definite conclusion. Time is not in a state of perpetual repetition, but traveling decidedly forward.
However, just as Buddhism is not as simple as people like to make it out to be, often in erroneously assuming that Buddhism states that people reincarnate their consciousnesses directly a la Hinduism, when the truth is that the Buddhism proposes something much more complex, Judeo-Christianity is similarly difficult to pin down. And it is because of this that I was heavily reminded of aspects of biblical accounts and extra-biblical history surrounding it that reflect cycles in episode three of Mushishi.
Shonen heroes usually get a lot of flack, and perhaps rightfully so, for being one-dimensional, rough around the edges, and often annoying. Eren Jaeger, the primary lead of Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), fits the bill perfectly. He’s frustratingly childish in his worldview, but moves ahead and becomes heroic because of sheer determination (that and his ability to TURN INTO A TITAN).
Unlike Armin or Erwin or even Levi, Eren has not a shred of eloquence in his speech. He’s not particularly bright, and his lack of speaking ability matches his age – he is only a teenager after all. And yet, smooth words and even leadership skills don’t matter much when it comes to Eren. What matters most about him is literally what’s inside.
In this way, Eren reminds me of Moses, the great prophet who brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. Do you remember that when God commands him to go free His people, Moses replies that he can’t because of his poor speaking skills? God even assigns Moses’ brother, Aaron, to him as a spokesperson. And yet, it’s through Moses, despite all the mumbles he must’ve uttered, that the millions of Israelites became free. God used a most imperfect man to do a miracle (dozens of miracles, actually).
Isn’t it interesting that the only character in Celestial Method (Sora no Method) who’s not bitter or hurt (or both) is the one with the most tragic back story?
Episode four of Celestial Method takes us further into the backgrounds and relationships of our core group of former friends. It begins with yet another slapping of Nonoka and ends with virtually all the reasoning behind the broken friendships explained.
Ultimately, the characters are unhappy because they lost what they once had. Yuzuki is angry at having lost the specialness of Kiriya City’s culture and trust with Koharu and Sota. Koharu is sad that she’s lost her bond with Yuzuki. Sota is at a lost of what to do about his sister. And Shione, as shown in episode three, is bitter at Nonoka, a friend and a girl that she looked up to, leaving her.
All of this brokenness can be traced back to Nonoka and the calling of the saucer. Yuzuki is the only one of the group that’s vocally against the saucer, going to extreme lengths to try to build opposition to it. She’s angry at what it’s appearance has caused. Koharu is perhaps at the other end, with what appears to be her family shop thriving because of it’s saucer-related, touristy merchandise; her family uses the saucer. And Shione and Sota seem to largely ignore it, focusing their emotion and attention, rather, on relationships.
It’s interesting how each regards the saucer phenomenon. None of these postures can be maintained, however, when they come face to face with Noel, the personification of the saucer itself. They regard her as an individual. They listen to her, consider her, and even embrace her.
When you’re face to face with reality, with a real person, you often forget the ideas about the individual that have developed in your mind over time. Have you ever done that with a person? Maybe you have a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, and past bitterness or prejudices about him or her overtake your thoughts, and your brain develops a caricature of that person that’s immediately swept away when you’re reunited.
I haven’t perused other Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) posts, but my guess is that bloggings about this series, and maybe especially episode three, are full of personal accounts of anibloggers reflecting on times when they performed at musical competitions with accompaniment. I participated in recitals and such when I was young, too, and that connection is really nice to relate to in the show.
But perhaps even more relatable, and certainly more universal, is Kousei’s reason for not wanting to accompany Kaori – for not wanting to play piano at all. On a surface level, if you’re like a lot of my friends, you might remember music lessons as harsh or unenjoyable. Or striking a deeper nerve, you might remember disappointing others, like your parents. You might even recall a major failure in your life, as when Kousei broke down in the middle of a competition.
Kousei, of course, reveals in this episode another reason – fear. He’s afraid to move forward, paralyzed into resting position, as it were, and unable to keep moving forward because he fears what it will eventually lead to.
All these things that Kousei is dealing with are real problems. Just as with you and me, they are obstacles that he’ll have difficulty overcoming – if he chooses to overcome that at all.
Sometimes when you go home, you find that you don’t always feel welcome there. It might be intentional, as with how Shione treats Nonoka in episode three of Sora no Method (Celestial Method). Or it could just be that you’ve moved past it or no longer feel in sync with a place.
So, then, why go home?
That, in fact, is the question Shione asks of Nonoka. Already aggressive toward our protagonist, she takes her bitterness to a further level by slapping Nonoka in this episode as the two, along with Yuzuki and Koharu, team up on an extracurricular “orienteering” activity. Shione has obviously grown resentful over the years at Nonoka for bringing the saucer into their lives and for leaving them. It’s just like a teenager, I think, to forget about the possibility that Nonoka didn’t want to leave, but as a child who was about to lose her mom, had no other choice.
Still, why come home? Nonoka obviously moves back because her dad brings her, but is there a deeper meaning to her return?
Throughout the entirety of my Christian life, there has been one thing that holds me back more than any other. One thing that I fear one day will spell some sort of enormous failure in my spiritual walk. That thing is complacency.
Maybe that’s why I felt more sympathy and compassion for Hannes and his initial actions in Attack on Titan than disgust. At the time of the first attack, Hannes lived a life of complacency. He was a soldier, a defender of the wall, and a committed fighter against the titans. A complacent fighter, but committed nonetheless, if that makes sense. Clearly he believed in the fight against the titans as evidenced by his intention to go after them to “ settle a score.” However, when finally in the fray, he found himself…unprepared.
When we first meet Hannes, he’s drunk. Even though he and his comrades are supposed to be guarding the wall in case of an attack, they have been lulled into a false sense of security by peacetime and the monotony of guard duty.
He laughs off Eren’s scolding him for this, even making a joke that he is probably right about their unpreparedness. But he is, truthfully, convinced that things are pretty much under control and why make more effort than is necessary, right?
I feel like I do this so much in my own life. Read the rest of this entry
The fall season is in full swing! But the articles below are largely for series from seasons past (not that it’s a bad thing to reflect on shows we’ve already finished).
Frank has been commenting on Hanamayata all season long, and concludes with a post covering Christian themes in the final episodes and the season as a whole. [A Series of Miracles]
Frank also extols the virtue of servanthood, as demonstrated in episode 2 of Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai. 
Although not specifically about anime, I”d be remiss to leave out Taylor’s recent post on Legend of Korra and facets of Christian spirituality. [Taylor Ramage's Blog]
Continuing a trend of mixing anime with Buddhism, Doraemon has been painted onto an ancient Thai temple. [Kotaku]
Rob reviews season one of Aldnoah.zero, and adds in some commentary on the value of humility. [Geeks Under Grace]
As part of the Something More series of posts, each week Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.
Oh, my. I think this is the series I’ve been waiting for my whole life.
Episode two of Your Lie in April takes us past the mere introductions of episode one and shows us what the two main characters are all about. Kousei is further revealed as a damaged young man, traumatized by his mother’s death (and by her life) – and yet as someone who is intentionally kind. Kaori, the free spirit, demonstrates both her talent and personality through performance, and shows us a hidden timidity as well.
Kaori’s version draws the attention of everyone in the auditorium – in a negative way by sticklers, but in a very positive way by other judges, the audience, and her friends. Kousei is especially moved. Although he find Kaori annoying, and reminds himself of such, that isn’t the conclusion he reaches about her. Ultimately, he decides this:
She is beautiful.
Parasyte (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu) has been a provocative series. On a surface level, it weaves together grotesque, hyper-violence with humor and a gentle protagonist, while combining modern anime style with 80’s sensibility. On a deeper level, it also calls forth significant topics – in episode two, we are introduced to a heavy environmentalist theme, as well as something more philosophical.
Shinichi, as you’d expect, is having a hard time getting used to alien living on his hand. He calls it all sorts of names (other than the one it gives itself – Migi), including “demon.” But Migi has an interesting response to being called this:
Shinichi, upon researching the concept of demons, I believe that, among all life, humans are the closest thing to it.
The rest of the episode, it seems, does a lot to support Migi’s assertion.