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.
Bullying is nothing new to this day and age, though recent suicides related to bullying have brought the topic to the forefront. I was never really bullied growing up, but I worry that my own children won’t be as lucky as I was. But beyond the simple cause and effect of one bully and his or her victim, there is a broader concern regarding bullying. As Barbara Coloroso has emphasized, a bullying culture is the kind in which genocide can occur. After all, the Holocaust was the chilling “final solution” after years of restrictions, violence, and torment.
While most of us are lucky enough to never live in a place where bullying is the norm and genocide occurs, we still might face our own individual battles, even after we’re done with schooling. Bullies are prevalent in the workplace (I’ve had a supervisor who I would deem a bully) and certainly online. I’m reminded of a popular anime forum where a moderator is a self-assured, prideful, sarcastic, bully. You can’t even escape bullying in a forum full of people you’ve never met outside of cyberspace.
Bullying, of course, can destroy a person. And unfortunately, sometimes we don’t even realize we’re bringing a person down. Yuri was trying to destroy Kanade, but without realizing who she really was; meanwhile, her army just followed along.
It took a voice of reason to change the course of events and to, in a way, save Kanade. Otonashi has wondered about her all along and particularly in this episode, which marks a shift in emphasis in the series. His grace and compassion change everything – not only for the victim of Yuri’s bullying, but eventually for all the characters.
Grace is the right choice. Bullying, even when we’re simply giving someone a hard time because, hey, they deserve it, only tears down. Grace and love build up. A certain aniblogger, who shall remain nameless, comes to mind when I think about bullying. I’ve angrily commented about his activities and thoughts before, but to whose benefit? And how did it make that individual feel? I have the power to make people feel better or worse, just by what I say (or don’t say). I hope that I’ll be careful and choose to be a man of grace, rather than one of hate.
How about you? Have you been bullied in your life? Have you been the bully yourself? If so, what changes have you made or do you plan to make?