I just watched episode sixteen of Ore Monogatari, and I was hit yet again by Takeo’s love for Yamato. It is passionate, spontaneous, and faithful.
Everything she does makes his heart exclaim, “I love you!”
She blows on her food longer than anyone else. “I love you!”
She presents food she made and says tada! “I love you!”
The repetition is a little comic, but it’s also touching. They’ve been in a relationship for months now, and Takeo’s passion for Yamato only grows stronger. It’s only natural for him to sprint to see her, to remain loyal, to spontaneously (albeit only mentally) shout his love.
Isn’t that what passionate love for the Lord is like? Read the rest of this entry
Alright. Didn’t expect that to happen.
Feeling like X-Men more than ever, most of episode nine of Charlotte treats us to a flashback of Yuu’s former life, which turns out to be an incarceration, along with Ayumi, in a facility such as that which once contained Nao’s brother. The episode was storytelling at it’s best in the series, fast-paced yet carefully bringing the viewer along, even as it introduced new, major characters and gave primary roles to others with smaller ones thus far.
Part of what was so exciting in this episode, too, was how the audience kept gaining new insights into the show and the characters’ histories, even as Yuu was learning the same. Not until the end of episode nine, and not even then fully, could Yuu see all that was happening and all that had occurred. In fact, the episode used a lot of eye symbolism throughout (Shuu must see to be able to time leap; Yuu is unable to “see” the events of his past; and Shuu’s sight is gone in the modern time – as is Sala’s). That make me think about how for a creature which is often proud of its vision (see technology today and yesterday, cough, Tower of Babel, cough), we’re very limited in what God lets us view.
I have the worst habit of writing quickly, proofreading more quickly (or not at all), and turning in work as fast as possible. All through my youth, I raced to be the first one done in anything school-related. It’s not a good compulsion, and it shows with my blog posts sometimes, as I often forget to make points vital to my main idea.
This rings true for my last two posts about Charlotte, and so I want to take the opportunity to revisit episodes seven and eight and emphasize a couple of points I missed the first time around.
Addendum: She and HE Can Relate
When Yuu draws near the point of no return (taking drugs is considered super taboo in Japanese culture, as explained by Kaze), there’s only one person that can talk him out of it. Nao is physically able to challenge Yuu, mentally able to trick him, and, as evidenced by Yuu later remembering her words of guilt, emotionally able to connect to him as well. There’s no one else who is able to remotely reach him – not a family member, other student council members, violent thugs, or his past crush. Only Nao.
When we drown in our sins – whether in the dregs of depression or the heights of hallow hedonism – we might feel that God is remote. Without having a dynamic relationship with Him, it’s easy to imagine Him as such. Why turn to God when He’s so distant? And if He’s holy as the Bible says, how much more should we hide away? Like a harsh, upright father, God would never understand or have compassion on an unruly son.
But scripture says otherwise:
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
– Hebrews 4:15
With the recent episode of Charlotte, a point was brought to my attention that reminded me just how much Westerners miss out on things related to Japanese culture. While I have a different post I wanted to write, it in fact connects to this. When I previously described things lost in translation, I also mentioned cultural differences. My guess is that these cultural differences usually do not play a significant role in the plot or story. A lot of them often go over our heads as we don’t even realize we missed something. But sometimes we notice them; we notice them and interpret them according to our culture rather than Japan’s.
Episode 7 of Charlotte focuses on Yuu’s descent into madness as he is overcome with grief at the death of Ayumi. He starts off simply holed up in his apartment, eating nothing but delicious cup ramen. He escapes the school, takes an unhealthy amount of joy in a videogame, and then begins abusing his powers to win street fights. Finally, just as he is about to turn to drugs, Nao kicks some sense into him, literally. There are a lot of ways to interpret this scene but most likely there are no Westerners who reacted the way it was written to be. How bad are drugs, really? Conservatives might view the scene in agreement: drugs are very dangerous and cross a line which should not be crossed. Others don’t see it as that bad: drugs are not inherently such an evil depending on the circumstances and what kind of drug, so maybe this was a circumstantial implication. Still others don’t see how it’s so much worse than his previous state: Yuu was already stabbing people, causing serious bodily harm and enjoying it; didn’t he already cross a big line? But it’s hard to remember when thinking about this scene that you are painting the scene with your idea on drugs. And it’s harder to realize that a culture exists with a completely different view because even if your ideas are based on facts, they aren’t based on relevant facts – the relevancy here being Japanese culture.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on how drugs work in Japan, but I feel I am knowledgeable enough to shed some light and make people rethink this scene from a different viewpoint. Basically, drugs are a huge taboo in Japan. No one wants anything to do with drugs, the yakuza wouldn’t touch drugs with a ten kilometer pole, and if anyone found out you used drugs, they would probably turn you in and never want to speak to you again. You can very realistically lose your job and place in society once people find out you use drugs; they are simply viewed as that horrible. It is probably nothing like how it is in your country and culture. When Yuu is about to take drugs, it is a very clear depiction that he is about to cross a line that should never be crossed. This is understood and felt by the Japanese audience because it’s a real reflection of their culture and upbringing. Even if you agree with or accept this depiction, it will fail to invoke the same level of feelings or reactions as it would from a Japanese viewer.
A lot of things can drive us away from God. Most are subtle, as we replace God in our lives with money, success, lifestyle, relationships, or usually a combination of many things. And sometimes, an event pushes us away from God, as we purposely, in full realization, run away from our maker.
In episode seven of Charlotte, Yuu makes a run for it, hiding away from the world, from his life, from truth, from pain, but most purposely, from Nao.
I don’t think any of us probably watched this episode thinking that what Yuu was doing was fantastic or absurd. We realize how difficult the time is for him, and how hard it is to bounce back from a tragedy like he endured. Those with anxiety or other difficulties and illnesses probably understand Yuu’s condition even more deeply – once you’ve been pushed over the edge, it feels like an impossible task to do what people are telling Yuu to do – to move on with life.
And so, Yuu runs. He runs away from Nao and the student council, so that they won’t bring him back to the heavy weight of reality. And he runs to a place where he can simply satisfy his basic animal desires, to indulge in things that will keep him from the reality of life. In this way, Yuu reminds me of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32); though some tragedy didn’t push the prodigal to rebel, he did squander the money given him and breathed in “wild living.”
In the end, the prodigal returned to the father – not necessarily out of humility, but just for a place to go. Yuu is still running at the end of the episode, but knowing that he’s never likely to return, his “god” has to meet him more quickly than God met the prodigal.
In the last Tangles podcast, the staff pondered about Charlotte – just who is Charlotte? And where is this story going? Episode five, thankfully, starts cluing us in about the show as a whole. While there’s yet another youth who has to be caught by the student council, the focus is less on that individual than ever as other developments occur: we continue to see how Nao suffers because of her straight-forward personality; Jojiro gives Yuu some cryptic hints about his significance; and the slow decline that many of us have expected of Ayumi has begun.
Of course, even with all these clues – and maybe even because we know more after this episode – the show remains as confusing as ever. The course of the series remains blurry; we’re still in the dark as to where it’s headed.
I was reminded this week that we all have moments like this in our own lives. Just as a viewer watching Charlotte, and even more specifically like Yuu, who remains unaware of his role in all that’s happening, we’ve all been in places in our lives where we wonder, why? Christians may even find these times to be even more difficult – why would a loving God put us through hell?
When storms come or even just moments of confusion, we may be unable to decipher the reasons. Yuu is in a strange student council led by an enigmatic girl, and sometimes wonders what his role is and why he has to do this; we, too, might ask God why we’re knee deep in problems like anxiety, relationship issues, and the such.
A third of the way through season three of Working!!! (Wagnaria), and I’m super pleased – the show continues its wonderful, character-based humor (as expected) while moving along romantic relationships (not necessarily as expected). And as has been impressed upon me all along, the series confirms that it isn’t just funny – it’s a really well-made show.
I was trying to explain this point to someone last week, and it was hard for me to do so – I’m not 100% sure what makes Working!!! more than just fun. It has a lot to do with smart source material, with its well-written gags and funny situations. It also has plenty to do with the characters, who are loveable, well-defined, and who grow, bit by bit, through the course of the series. And it certainly has to do with how the four panel strips, so obviously the format for the show’s source material, flow well thematically from episode to episode when animated.
In short, while the series seems simple, it’s a lot more complicated than we might give it credit for.
Not all of you may agree with my assertion – I may have to butt heads with some of you that see the series as relatively common. There’s a parallel here, too, with a work I esteem much more highly – and strangely, it’s more often the choir to whom I preach the merits of that work. Read the rest of this entry
I love baseball, and so, Little Busters notwithstanding, I really enjoy baseball episodes/series. And if you throw in the emotion of the relationship called a battery, I’m done for.
As the student council, with
a new two new characters in two, finds their next subject, they turn to a baseball game to bring the pitching ace into their school. But with supernatural powers being wielded, the contest is a farce from the start. The opposing team’s pitcher throws a near-unhittable knuckleball through telekinesis, while in the 9th inning, the student council’s team counters with their own powers.
It’s surprising perhaps, then, that the game-winning hit depends on one not using his powers, as Yuu gives his all sincerely without using his ability. Going into the at bat, he wonders how he could use his power, not even thinking of getting a hit in a legitimate fashion, but Nao insists that he find a way to drive two runs home on his own.
Yuu is understandably apprehensive. He, like many of us, would rather fake it than do things legitimately and risk mediocrity, embarrassment, or failure. Read the rest of this entry
I finished watching this short but sweet anime titled One Week Friends. Like most of the anime series I have been watching recently, it was recommended and reviewed here on Beneath The Tangles. The animation and character focused story hooked me immediately and I felt as if I was watching real people live life.
If you haven’t watched the show then you should check it out; it’s very touching and one of those anime that pull on your heart a little. The main concept is memory loss, since the female protagonist has trouble remembering her friends every week starting on Monday. Basically, you can be her friend and have fun together but when the week starts, she won’t have a clue who you are. This is not a real life condition, but it’s interesting to see the reactions and emotions that go through each character because of this phenomenon.
Not being able to remember something or someone precious to us can be irritating since our memories are very important to us. It got me thinking about the meaning of our thoughts, experiences and consciousness. Whenever we as people go to an event, experience something new or spend time with friends the purpose is to create a memory. Without them, pictures and videos would be worthless and so would many of the exciting places we go to. If you couldn’t recall what happened after it’s over, why even go? When we see Kaori unable to remember the places she went with Hase-kun, it makes him sad and frustrated since it seems like it was all a waste.
I started to think about that and how it relates to God’s thoughts towards us. God calls us His friends, and He thinks about us every single day. It’s not about how long you prayed, or how much money you gave to a charity or church. It’s not about all the good things you did for someone, He loves us and unconditionally. Read the rest of this entry