Do you have a tiger mom?
My mother isn’t quite of the sort, though I certainly received more discipline and was forced to focus on academics more than most any of my schoolmates. But she wasn’t a tiger mother to the extent that many of my friends’ mothers were. You can often tell which had them by the kids’ accomplishments – excellent grades, perfect SAT scores, excellence at musical instruments, polite to a fault – all signs that you had a tiger mother.
Of course, like another Asian concept, yin and yang, growing up this way isn’t all roses, though it may look so on the outside. Where perfection (at least in the eyes of parents) reigns, the child may be troubled by feelings of disappointment and lack of love, and may end up becoming overly cold or hot and arrogant or self-conscious.
Enter Yukino Yukinoshita.
The beautiful and frigid (matching her name) character for OreGairu can easily be pegged as the result of such parenting from her outward characteristics – all those around her are in awe or envy of her perfection. But we know something further, too – that she’s been oppressed by her mother, whom both her and sister vivacious sister, Haruno, fear. And while worldly success is withing easy reach for the sisters, the more we know of them, the more we see how flawed they are, with the author pointing toward their mother as the instigator of these problems Read the rest of this entry
As expected, Charlotte is rushing toward a surely emotional end. This 13-episode series has no time for long arcs and episode-long resolutions, so in quick order we see Yuu’s recovery (physically and emotionally) and Misa’s finale. But in the midst, we also have a plot point far more significant – that of Yuu’s decision to save everyone.
It’s no surprise that the proposal comes from Tomori, even if she only half-seriously suggests it. And while the suggestion of how to save given to a Christ figure from one I’ll later describe as more representative of humanity doesn’t fit the Jesus allusion, much of the proceeding portion of the episode does, especially when it clicks with us what Yuu plans to do, what it means, and what the ultimate conclusion will be.
What Yuu is Doing
As the strongest mutant, Yuu is perhaps the strongest person on earth, the “best human.” In scripture, Christ is the second Adam, a demonstration of perfect humanity (and perfect godliness). Indeed, while Christ is perfect in every way, Yuu is representative of different people in different parts of the story – the needful, condemned human in the first part of Charlotte and now the powerful savior in the second.
And in that way, it shows Yuu to be the fulfillment of humanity. For Christians, the Bible demonstrates as much – the Old Testament showing our sin and prophesying of the Christ who is to come, and the New telling of Christ’s saving grace. In this show, Yuu is that testament – showing the depths of humanity in his early selfishness, his need for a savior to save him from his sins, and now, like the New Testament, as the Christ who will take on the sins of the world to redeem it.
Which brings up point two:
I don’t watch many comedies anymore – whether on TV, at the movies, of through anime streaming. But I can never resist Working!!!, which is such a joyful show. It just does so many things right, including giving the audience that feeling that we, too, want to work at Wagnaria. And besides the assuredly low pay, why wouldn’t we? It seems like so much fun!
There’s a camaraderie among all the employees built on genuine love and caring for one another. Those who’ve worked in the food service industry know that it’s critical to have genuine friendships in the kitchen if you want a good working environment – it makes a stressful job easier to handle. It also helps to have caring supervisors like Kyouko (in her own way) and Otoo. In fact, bad managers is why so many of us quit our jobs.
Have you ever had a manager that treats you like you’re less than? As if you’re not their equal, as if you’re just someone to be used for his benefit or the company’s?
And it doesn’t have to be a supervisor – co-workers can treat you the same way. Someone very close to me, who works in education, is frustrated at being treated like a second-class citizen by the teachers around her, as she isn’t credentialed like they are.
Or…are you the person who treats others this way?
Whether the cause is pride, stress, or something else, poor treatment in the workplace is a miserable thing. And it runs deep – the way we treat people denotes the way we feel about them. While there’s hierarchy in the workplace, there shouldn’t be hierarchy in humanity. We’re all on equal footing. But when one treats a co-worker or subordinate in a dismissive or condescending way, he or she is basically saying, “You’re not my equal. You’re less than me.” And when we take equality away, we’re stripping away someone’s humanity. We’re treating them like animals.
I finally beat him! After a few hours of overcoming eight robot masters, hundreds of enemies and going through a huge castle with skull décor, Dr. Wily was defeated. I breathe a sigh of relief and thankfulness, knowing that it’s over and done. The two hardest parts were fighting the exact same bosses again before having to battle multiple forms of a giant machine (armed with wheels, more skulls, and blasters!).
As I watch the ending of the current Mega Man game (Rock Man in Japan) I’m playing, I know for a fact Dr. Wily will be back. At the same time, I wonder how he escapes? What kind of cheap jail do they keep putting him in? On top of that, why doesn’t Mega Man just blast him and be done with it. Sure, that would go against his morals, but at least threaten him a little? In every single game, he shows up again to do some damage or make Mega Man’s life just that much more difficult.
This shouldn’t be something new if you’ve played any video game series. Haven’t you noticed it’s always the same scenario but the setting is different? The same baddie is loose and the same protagonist must save us all, before it’s too late! It might be in space, a jungle, cave or city, but it’s the same story. Mega Man doesn’t seem to get tired of it, and he refuses to take a day off.
Why doesn’t Mega Man just end his troubles and not let his nemesis escape again. Nobody will blame Mega Man for doing it! Yet he never does, and I think I figured out why…
It’s grace, and the hope that it will grow in Wily’s heart and change him.
What is grace? It’s our second chance, the slap on the wrist, that time when you should’ve got fired but you weren’t. Remember when you messed up and got caught, but they said, “this time is the last time, don’t ever do that again!”.
Yup, that’s grace.
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
Sound! Euphonium could very well be one of my new favorite anime shows of all time. Not only does it have Kyoto Animation, one of my favorite animation studios, bringing its usual high standards of quality to the table, but it also features a topic that is personally very nostalgic to me: the school concert band. I played alto saxophone from late elementary school all the way through college, and that time has given me some of my best memories of my school life, in part because of how much music means to me. And among other things, Sound! Euphonium is absolutely nailing the high school concert band experience, especially as it explores the different motivations (or lack thereof) of the various characters for being in the band.
As for what are the “other things” this show is nailing, one is definitely the character relationships, particularly between protagonist Kumiko, a euphonium player, and Reina, a trumpet player and bandmate from middle school that has inexplicably followed Kumiko into a high school with a low-reputation band, despite Reina herself being one of the most passionate people about the band that Kumiko has met. In the opening scene, we see her crying after their middle school regional performance, because they failed to make nationals even though they earned the gold award. It’s at this moment that Kumiko said something rather insensitive to her, asking her if she seriously thought their band would actually make nationals. While Kumiko does not feel like what she said was wrong, she does realize that it probably burned a relational bridge between the two, something that comes back to haunt her when the two end up in the same band again in high school. It’s a very different sort of relational dynamic than just your normal estranged friends or two people who dislike each other but have to put up with each other for the team’s sake.
A good portion of the rest of the show involves Kumiko trying to make things up with Reina somehow, with some surprising moments throughout. First of all, it seems like Reina did not take Kumiko’s words back then as badly as Kumiko worried that she did. Overall, it seems that the bridge between the two was not really burned, with only Kumiko’s own worries making it look that way. All this leads up to episode 8, when Kumiko ends up going to a summer festival with Reina for reasons… which ends up turning into what can only be called a divine encounter. Be warned that there are spoilers after the jump—not particularly heavy ones, but still significant enough to point out—so if you have not seen episode 8 yet, you may want to catch up before continuing.
But if you are ready, continue on to take a look at just how subtly powerful Kumiko’s meeting with Reina was that evening… and how similar it is to a Christian’s encounter with God.
After writing my last piece about episode 8 of Oregairu season 2 and the topic of grace, I thought more and more on the connections between the characters’ actions and that topic. There was more to be said regarding what I wrote on, particularly in the words thrown between the volunteer club trio in the episode’s climax. But I also thought of something in a little different vein.
In the moment when Hikigaya tearfully confesses his desires, I think most of us viewers were expecting some sort of breakdown in return from Yukino. But what he gets instead is a confused Yukino who doesn’t comfort him, who doesn’t even want to accept him.
When I watched the scene, I wondered why it seemed to familiar to me. I realized that it was because I’ve been Hikigaya in this scene many times – and maybe you have as well.
With each episode that passes, Oregairu continues to surprise me. In an episode that I thought started to drift towards anime melodrama, Oregairu instead turned toward something simple and profound. It showed us the definition of grace – and the necessity of it.
The catalyst for the final, transformative scene of episode 8 is the earlier talk that Hikigaya has with Hiratsuka. Among the many words of wisdom she gives during their speech is this line:
Sometimes people lose out on things because they’re looking out for each other.
This, of course, is what Hikigaya has been doing – trying to protect Yui and Yukino through his actions. But Hiratsuka is right when she expounds on this statement, saying that if you really care about each other, you will hurt each one another; in an ironic way, that hurt signals that you care. If you stand on eggshells doing everything possible to keep someone from being hurt, you fail to develop deep bonds – the person you care about is lifted higher than they deserve while you sink lower, and when you do fail that person, you find the distance between you and s/he grows even further.
Hikigaya, realizing this and armed now with wisdom and muster, goes to Yukino and Yui to build their relationships and bring healing to the club by tearfully offering words that at first surprised me, but which make sense. He says that what he wants is genuine relationship.
And genuine relationship can only happen by grace.
One of my most popular posts on this site was for a personal piece I wrote regarding Clannad After Story and fatherhood. I revisited the post recently, and it struck me both how much time has passed, as the article marked a time – now seemingly long ago – when my kids were practically babies, and how the challenges remain the same. In the article, I mention how being a parent is so very hard. It can be very lonely and painful when you want to do the best for your child but can’t, either because it’s out of your control or because you’re out of control.
But as I read the essay, I was reminded of how Clannad demonstrates God’s love for us through the relationships involving fathers. The comparisons are remarkable:
- Tomoya’s dad sacrificed his life for his son in terms of career and motivation and energy. We’re like Tomoya, who didn’t realize what his dad had done for him, and what sacrifice he gave for one who didn’t comprehend that love.
- Tomoya is like a prodigal father, aided by Ushio, who helps him see that even though he left what should have been precious to him because of his own demons and desires, there is a childlike forgiveness available. A grown-up Ushio maybe wouldn’t forgive a dad who only reluctantly tried to reinsert himself into her life, but the little girl loves him tenderly and shows such affection that Tomoya’s heart is changed. He realizes the awfulness in what he did in abandoning her, and changes his life to be the father he should have been all along.
The Father’s love is without borders. We are never at the point of no return. Today is Good Friday, a time to think upon how Christ took the penalty we deservedm just as how Tomoya didn’t deserve forgiveness from Ushio, and laid down his life, just as Tomoya’s dad sacrifices his to raise him, so that we could live. I hope you’ll think about this awesome love today, especially, and if you haven’t surrendered to that love, consider doing so, for your story isn’t over yet. Your “after” story can be one, too, filled with grace and a heart changed forever.
To read my original article, visit the link below: