From Me to You: Sawako and the Spirit Fruit of Goodness

Goodness is one of those words which we know intimately, but which is hard to define.  Go ahead and try – define “goodness” without using the word “good”

Hard, huh?

I’ll give it a try: goodness is the state of consistently doing what’s right and what’s loving.  I think those latter two parts of the equation are necessary – you can’t do good if you’re doing something wrong; likewise, being good involves some action that helps, rather than hinders.

Sometimes, the “doing right” part of goodness goes along with the “loving” part in difficult circumstances.  One displays goodness when loving another person even if that person reciprocates in an unlike manner, because it is the right thing to do.  And because of these connections, the word is inextricably connected to relationship, flowing from one person to another.

When I tried to think of an anime character that does right, showing love consistently even in the face of hatred, one figure popped right into my head – the lovely, weird, and unique, Sawako Kuronuma.

Art by ekake

Although not everyone likes her, I immediately took to Sawako while marathoning Kimi ni Todoke.  Strange and hilarious, she kept me interested through the entire series.  But more than that, her loving personality was also easy to like.

Early in the show, Ayane and Chizuru were the victims of gossip, first spread apparently from Sawako’s lips.  But already knowing her character, they never had more than slight doubt at their new friend’s innocence.  And even though the rumors almost destroyed Sawako’s friendships and the beginnings of her acceptance among the student body, she responds to the real perpetrator, Kurumi, with love.  Sawako’s goodness is overwhelming.

Art by うこっけい

Although it’s easy to chalk up Sawako’s personality to naivete, I think her optimism and quick-to-forgive actions are more the result of her goodness than her innocence.  We as the audience are privy to her thoughts, which time and time again focus on others first rather then herself.  Being good means truly loving others, and without putting them ahead of ourselves, we can’t really be fully loving.

For some of us (I’m particularly thinking of myself), we show this loving goodness with a “but” statement at the end:

“I forgive you, but…you better not do this again.”

“I’ll sacrifice for you, but…you should show appreciation.”

“I’ll bite my tongue, but…in my heart, I really hate you.”

True goodness is a response of love, and it’s difficult to consistently live a lifestyle of goodness without knowing Christ and understanding the gospel message.  In a way, we can see this gospel message through Sawako.  She starts to really respond in goodness after receiving kindness from Kazehaya.  Before then, she felt ashamed at her own loneliness and inability to grow friendships with others.  But the unconditional acceptance from the boy encouraged her to step out and love others.

In our own shame – whether it’s because of sin, like pornography or fits of anger, or because of sin inflicted on us, like abuse – we may feel unable or unwilling to be good to others.  But in Christ there is acceptance – He loves us just the way we are, broken and all.  And in understanding His love, we are set free from shame and now able to show goodness to others from pure motivations, without the “but” strings attached.

It all starts with relationship and it all ends that way, too – from you and God to you and others.

In other words…from Him to me…

and From Me to You.

Other Posts in the Fruits of the Spirit Series:

Love: Honda Tohru (Fruits Basket)
Joy: Sasami Jurai (Tenchi Muyo!)
Peace: Ashitaka (Princess Mononoke)
Patience
: Alicia Florence (ARIA)
Kindness:  Vash the Stampede (Trigun)

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

12 thoughts on “From Me to You: Sawako and the Spirit Fruit of Goodness

  1. Kimi Ni Todoke is one of the few Shoujo anime I really got into. It’s just so heartwarming to see how Sawako grows and affects those around her. Not much else I can say about it. Great post.

    1. Thanks! Yes, it’s a terrific anime and Sawako is an amazing character – she’s particularly the reason I enjoyed Kimi ni Todoke also.

  2. Not just Sawako is good: so is Kazehaya. You might be interested in something I wrote about that back when the show was airing. Kazehaya is not only a nice guy, he’s actually good in ways that few anime male leads are. His goodness leads him to be proactively kind.

    And both Sawako and Kazehaya are not only examples of goodness but also purity of heart, and far more than in the narrow “sexual” way too many Christians read that verse.

    1. Great point. While Sawako is a terrific character, Kazehaya is a more surprising one. I kept waiting to see him not quite be who we all thought he was. But in the end, he ended up being a good guy who’s also flawed – a very real and very likeable character.

  3. This was an excellent entry! I LOVE Kimi ni Todoke (am a huge fan of the manga, still need to finish the anime) and you’re right; Sawako’s character does show a lot of goodness. Despite how people treat her, she still tries to be friendly towards them. Even if she receives hate, she doesn’t return hate back. Instead she tries to return love, kindness, or understanding. I like how her motto is to do one good deed everyday. Also, Kazehaya’s character shows how a little kindness can go a long way. His smile, and just saying “good morning”, treating her like a normal human being, gave Sawako confidence, and she was able to step out of her shell. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this series!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! The series certainly is terrific, in large part because each major character is likeable and each is surprising. Sawako certainly isn’t what you would expect in a lead, for instance, and Kazehaya comes across as genuine, nice, and a bit atypical.

  4. Sawako is a really great character because she’s genuinely kind and giving without being saccharine because we see her insecurities, as well as her quirks (like her creepy smiles). It’s really hard not to relate to her feelings of wanting to be liked, yet she never expects anything from others and always takes their feelings into consideration.

    1. There series is full of lesson for young people, if they really look at it. Sawako is ignored and bullied because she’s awkward (not unlike lots of young people), but once a few people get to know her, they can’t help but become friends with her, despite peer pressure to the contrary. She’s such a wonderful person, too, that her friends are all affected by her in positive ways – a lesson for those who might befriend an awkward individual or for anyone who wants to be a better person.

  5. You should write about Kurumi someday. She developed -particularly in the manga- in a pretty amazing and inspiration way thanks to Sawako’s unconditional love toward her despite her faults and past sins.

    1. I agree that a post about Kurumi might be a good idea – I haven’t read the manga, however. I’ve always wanted to read it, though!

Leave a Reply