But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. […] But the fruit of the Spirit is … gentleness…; against such things there is no law.
— Paul the apostle, Galatians 5:18, 22, 23
I doubt that there are very many people who like violence or enjoy fighting. But when I encounter a character in an anime that is about fighting, who stresses repeatedly that he’d rather not fight, I can’t help taking notice. Such is the case with Andromeda Shun of Saint Seiya, the character whom I like to call the “reluctant warrior.”
The original artists of this 1986 series purposely gave Shun a rather effeminate appearance, with the result that there is essentially no family resemblance to his older brother Phoenix Ikki. Although I always found this annoying, perhaps they made the decision to depict Shun in this fashion in order to stress the gentle spirit that he consistently displays, even in fighting scenes. I think if Shun expressed it in his own words, he might say something like this: “I am a reluctant warrior, but I am still a warrior. I wish to hurt or kill no one, but the chains of Andromeda bind me to my calling.” This kind of gentleness cannot be abolished, and is one of the fruits of the Spirit, these supernatural manifestations of God that empower individual believers to surpass their limits in loving and serving others. Against such things, as the apostle Paul put it, there is and can be no law.
As I watched this anime, I lost track of the number of times the Andromeda saint implores his enemies, “Please! I don’t want to kill you!” Be certain that, in spite of how he looks, Shun is not bluffing. The original artists may not have given him the physically intimidating appearance of his older brother, the mighty Phoenix saint, but one thing is certain: Shun is strong. He grieves the necessity to use physical force, but recognizes there are times when he must.
For us as Christians, it is much the same. I am reminded of Galadriel’s powerful line in The Lord of the Rings: “Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.” Loving our enemies doesn’t mean refusing to oppose them. We are involved in the great cosmic war between good and evil, the outcome of which in favor of good is already certain ever since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And although earlier I reminded us (and I really do mean “us,” that is myself included) that other humans are not our enemy in this war, this excuses us neither from fighting, nor from being as gentle as we can be in this fight, at least to our fellow humans who are also involved.
Andromeda Shun gives us some idea of how this can be done, if we are willing to learn from him. When Shun must dispatch the enemy, he does so as quickly and painlessly as possible, with overwhelming force, even while regretting his actions. I wouldn’t say he feels guilty: rather he is sorry that it has come to this. But come to this it has, and he must do his duty quickly. Some might say that it can never be a Christian’s duty to kill, and they may very well be right. In any case, it is unlikely to be my duty or your duty to kill — so what can we learn from Shun?
When we find ourselves in a confrontation in which neither side will budge and a compromise is impossible, yet one holds the position of power, nothing is wrong with appealing to one’s adversary just like Shun would: Please, let’s not fight. Is it really necessary? It is in my power to do you harm, and I don’t want to do this. If the opponent refuses to back down, then being gentle doesn’t mean folding and giving in 100%. It means doing what needs to be done quickly, with enough force to do what justice requires, and always with an attitude of love rather than spitefulness.
Gentleness does not refuse to make anyone feel bad ever, nor does it yield to every single demand no matter how unjust it may be. Gentleness opposes when it must, doesn’t mock or spite the adversary, and always, always acts in love.
No wonder the first fruit of the Spirit is love. I cannot help wondering whether all the other fruits require love in order to function. In any case, we are nearing the end of our study of the fruits of the Spirit as exemplified in certain particular anime characters. TWWK will wrap it up next week with his essay on the last of the Spirit fruits, self-control. Please be sure to check back!
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)
Goodness: Sawako Kuronuma (Kimi ni Todoke)
Faithfulness: Kamina (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann)