Judging by early previews in the anime blogosphere, not too many people were expecting much out of OreImo. But three episodes in, many of those same bloggers have proclaimed that it might be the best show of the year. I don’t disagree.
Episode 3 was excellent as the others. In brief, after a conversation with her fellow otaku, Kirino decides to tell her parents about her hobby; unfortunately, she isn’t able to on her own terms, and she is castigated by her father. But not all is lost, as big brother Kyosuke not only stands up for her, but takes the blows (literally) that come along with claiming her eroge games are his own.
Kyosuke is the brother of all brothers in this episode, and though we as an audience know it’s coming, it’s still spine-tingling to see him risk life and limb to defend Kirino against their harsh father. Although the confrontation scene is the climax of the episode, my favorite part came in the closing, as Kirino uttered a thank you to her brother, whom she called “aniki,” a term of endearment in referring to her older brother. Kyosuke is shocked by this, since Kirino has treated him as little more than trash for as long as we know. And I found Kirino’s reaction found even more startling. She’s is blushing and clearly embarassed, but instead of saying something to negate what she said, which is what I expected, Kirino stays silent. She wants Kyosuke to know that she appreciates what he did, and though it’s hard for her to admit it, she does. The change that has begun in her relationship with her brother all started because of Kyosuke’s actions. This reminds me directly of one of Jesus’ commands.
Maybe the most difficult of Jesus’ commands, and the one possibly most discussed, is to love our neighbors. Luke, the physicians, quotes Jesus (Luke 6:27-31):
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.Do to others as you would have them do to you.
As the series begins, Kyosuke and Kirino are in effect, enemies. She shows no love for him; in fact, Kirino typically shows disdain for her older brother and usually ignores him. Perhaps they’re not at each other’s throats, but beyond the physical bond that inextricably connects the two, there’s no love in their relationship. And yet, Kyosuke is a good older brother. He not only accepts Kirino’s plea for life counseling, but meets her with compassion.
It’s then that the hard part occurs. He has to “turn the other cheek.”
Kyosuke suffers through the relationship. On a physical level, he is hit hard (the episode maybe infers he gets knocked unconscious) by his father; he is also hit by an unapologetic Kirino in episode three. Mentally, he accepts Kirino’s pleas to play a game that he doesn’t want to (though he eventually seems to enjoy it). Timewise, he spends hours playing games, speaking with Kirino (sometimes in the middle of the night) and going with her to a get-together (episode 2). He sacrifices to show her love, even though she has shown little in return.
Little, that is, until saying, “arigato, aniki” at the end of episode 3.
Though perhaps not Kyosuke’s intent, his actions have led Kirino to show love to her brother. Grudgingly, Kirino says words that speak of their growing affection as brother and sister. In Luke (verse 32-36), Jesus goes on to say:
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Kyosuke’s thoughts show us that he probably did not do any of this with thought of reward. And yet, he receives one – his “reward is great.” He is beginning to develop a relationship with his sister that he would never had thought possible.
Christians are instructed to do the same as Kyosuke, yet we often don’t. It’s been said that the hardest part of the Christian life is to love our enemies. In fact, this is part of what made Christianity so radical – why would we love those who hate us? I definitely struggle with this, as it’s easier (and it sometimes even seemingly feels better) to be bitter and stay mad at those who harm us. But perhaps Christianity gets a bad wrap because Jesus’ followers don’t follow his commands; they do not love others like they should.
In Michael H. Hart‘s quick read, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential People in History, he puts Jesus third. Part of his reasoning was that Christians don’t actually follow his commands. To paraphrase, Hart says that if Christians actually loved those who hated them, it would radically change the world and Jesus would be the most influential historical figure of all time.
For Christians, I believe we can learn from this episode. Though only an anime (gasp! I shouldn’t say those words, as Kyosuke also found out), the show illustrates what Jesus taught us. Love as he loved and we’ll be rewarded. But don’t love for the reward. Love because Jesus first loved us.
What do you think? Would Christianity be more appealing if Jesus’ followers showed love, even to those who hate them? And who else is loving OreImo?