Episode 06 is a curious one. Our two protagonists (Kanade is now beginning to take the role from Yuri) spend most the episode together, either eating or locked up. Meanwhile, World War III is occurring in the school courtyard, as new student council head, Ayato Naoi, uses NPCs as human shields to wipe out the SSS. Throw in the power of hypnosis, another death story, and a change of heart so quick that Anakin Skywalker thought it strange, and you have a wild episode.
While as a viewer, I had trouble connecting with Naoi the first time I watched Angel Beats, I felt more strongly about him the second time around. The reason? I found myself focusing more intently on Naoi’s relationship with his dad.
If you remember, Naoi was one of two siblings. The other was a talented artisan and the apparent heir to the family pottery business. He died in a tragic accident, leaving Naoi to carry on the family name. But he never lived up to family expectations and his dad’s words toward him were continually harsh.
While our non-2D fathers may (generally) not have been such jerks, I think many of us can relate to a dad who doesn’t show us the love we desire. For boys, we grow up idolizing our dads. They are perfect in our eyes (notice that Naoi is always looking to gain approval from a dad who is the master of his craft). But dads, by nature, are not generally nurturers and seldom provide all the outward shows of affection we would like. As we get older and see the chinks in the armor of fatherly perfection, relationships with them can grow more distant.
It’s similar for girls, who grow up adoring their dads. I have girl friends who grew up seeking fulfillment in imperfect romantic relationships because they didn’t feel loved by their dads.
Especially for girls, this problem with fathers can translate into difficulties in a relationship with God. God the Father is part of the triune God, but for many, He’s hard to relate to. Our views of Him may already be skewed because of the difficulties we might encounter in reading and understanding the Old Testament. Add to that the fact that we’re clearly supposed to see Him as “Father,” and things can become even more difficult. I mean, how can we pour out our hearts to God the Father and trust Him when we would never do the same for our earthly dads?
It’s an interesting problem on two levels – spiritually toward God and emotionally toward dad. How do we right these relationships? Although every case is different, the general idea is the same – as with any relationship, it takes time and practice. If you open your heart and work toward righting any problems toward your two dads, in most cases, wounds will mend.
On a side note, this issue may largely not be a problem 10 or 20 years down the line. In the east and west, it seems like a new generation of kinder, more sensitive men is becoming the norm. Our relationships with our kids will probably be more nurturing. Of course, the trend raises other questions. If we’re less tough and, well, manly, how does that change the following generation’s view of God as father? What role will mom now play in how we view God? And how will children view God in the growing number of households without a father present?
But back on topic, I want to leave you with a final thought on this issue. With possibly decades of building distance from (or even resentment toward) our dads, it sometimes becomes hard for us to see their hearts beneath an outward exterior. But when I think of my heavenly Father, one story often comes to mind that shows His heart. When we think of Sodom and Gomorrah, we might think of God’s judgment raining down (literally). But I think of Abraham’s bargaining with a God that never said no to him whenever the patriarch asked for the cities to be spared, and I wonder what God would’ve said if Abraham bargained all the way down to one righteous person. My feeling is that maybe He would have relented even then, as He revealed a soft heart.
Naoi’s dad, too, in his final days revealed his true heart – of a man that really loved his son.
This is the love of a father.