Kure-nai, Haibane Renmei, and the Weight of Sin

Usagi Drop, done.  Aishiteruze Baby, done.  Now, I only had one more anime to complete in my slice-of-life, young-man-ends-up-caring-for-young-girl trifecta – Kure-nai.

Or so I thought.

I had no idea that I was about to enter into an anime that was more Moriboto than Bunny Drop, featuring fists-for-hire, supernatural powers, and a family of assassins.

Actually, scratch that last trait.  It should be “family descended from assassins.”  Yuno, the protagonist’s love interest, is part of the Hozuki family, whose command of martial arts and mysterious power enabled them to work as killers for generations.  They no longer partake in the murderous art, but Yuno still feels the weight of her family’s history on her shoulders, conversed about in episode five.

Kurenai Yuno
Art by ハルナツアキフユ

The weight of sin – generational or not – can be very heavy.  The residents of Old Home in Haibane Renmei, another critically acclaimed series, know this too well [Spoilers ahead].  All are born into Glie with some unresolved issue (which is partially why the setting is frequently compared to purgatory) weighing on their hearts.  The issues can be interpreted as sin, and certainly if one believes all the Haibane committed suicide (I do not) in their previous lives.

At the very least, the Haibane are weighed down by failures; to overcome, they fight to come to terms with their pasts, receive their real names, and take flight.

Sin can become a heavy burden for us real people as well.  アレクザンダー, who co-wrote a mini-debate with me before, once told me something to the effect that Christianity was a very negative faith.  And to be sure, guilt can tear people apart.  The significant question is, of course, does the weight of sin is really carry the evil that the Bible says it does?  Are our sins really that bad?  A pastor’s son who moved away from God thinks so.  So does a murderer (<– this is obviously a more…obvious case).

And to be sure, sin can become so heavy that we are limited in our movement, even to the point where we are unable to advance at all.  This could be said of both Reki and Rakka, and maybe even of the Communicator, who has been hypothesized as a Haibane who didn’t achieve flight.

But sin isn’t a terminal condition.  Forgiveness, a word like a jackhammer, is able to obliterate the heavy stone on one’s back.

A close friend once shared with me about an experience he had where he felt the physical weight of God’s glory on him.  “God’s glory is so heavy,” he repeatedly told me.  But instead of a painful event, it was an empowering experience for him.  God showed His strength – nothing, not even festering sin, is stronger.  Or bigger.  Or heavier.

Grace is an ally that is both heavier and lighter than sin.  In the end, as was noted in a favorite series, you’re gonna carry that weight, but it’s you that decidesfor how long.

3 thoughts on “Kure-nai, Haibane Renmei, and the Weight of Sin

  1. After we’d watched Ashiteruze Baby and Kure-nai, my daughter said how much she liked the aspect of “caretaker for a young child” in them both. This is what actually lead me to read Usagi Drop – trying to find more things like that for her.

    Regarding the “weight of glory”, I’ve been taught that that’s what ‘glory’ literally means (cf: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/05/27/glory-of-god-the-weight-of-glory/, though I believed I learned this tidbit from R.C. Sproul’s “Renewing Your Mind” program). If you’ve ever “felt the glory of God in the room”, it’s kind of like an intoxicating ambient pressure. To say it is “intoxicating” is, of course, by no means accurate, but I don’t think “euphoric” quite fits either, and the former is closer than the latter.

    Murasaki is one of my favorite characters in anime, for her blend of innocence and arrogance, and the growth she goes through in the series.

    1. That’s an interesting reaction your daughter had, Adam…thanks for sharing it. I occasionally think about what anime I’ll share with my kids as they grow and wonder how they’ll react.

      And thanks for the link and information about the “weight of glory.” I’m uninformed about the idea, really. I just used my friend’s anecdote to present the dichotomy between sin and God.

      It’s funny, because that’s the second article I’d read by Kevin DeYoung in the last month or so, when I’d never read his blog previously.

      Murasaki is definitely a terrific character. It’s natural for us to connect with characters that grow – they’re interesting and they sometimes reflect us (or else teach us). I thought all three girls in these series, with a few exceptions (especially Murasaki’s sudden wisdom at the end of Kure-nai), were surprisingly accurate depictions of young girls – certainly as far as one would expect out of anime.

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