We all have certain tropes or genres or characters or whatever in anime and manga that we really enjoy. For me, I really like when a protagonist has a crush on someone who at first, apparently doesn’t even know he or she exists. Inevitably, the object of affection begins to notice the protagonist, either because they become friendly (think Ryuuji and Minori in Toradora!) or because they knew who the other person was all along (think Sadako and Kazehaya in Kimi ni Todoke). Then, when a relationship buds (if it does), it’s just that much sweeter.
But that’s just the beginning of the sugary relationship building!
It becomes even sweeter (whipped cream sweetness) when the viewer discovers that the object of affection had eyes for the protagonist all along, or,with cherry-on-top sweetness, the hitherto almost-untouchable one feels like the shy/awkward/unpopular protagonist is a savior of sorts.
Oh man, that’s the kind of story that gets me.
But none of these types of tales would leave an impact if it weren’t for the primary characters’ humility. True or not, these men and women feel that they are lesser than those on whom they have a crush. And so the fulfillment of their wishes is not only powerful because we want these characters to get together, but because in one fell swoop, the protagonist also moves from being lowest rung on the ladder to the very top.
In anime, humility often helps in getting the boy or the girl.
Though neither related to anime nor to “crushing,” I’m reminded of a direct message I didn’t send on Twitter a few weeks ago. I meant to compliment someone, but suddenly wondered if this “rock star” among bloggers would even remember me among a sea of other anime fans/tweeters/bloggers. So, I resisted and did not send the message. Later, this same person tweeted me and mentioned a personal detail I’d briefly related a long time ago, and I suddenly felt like I’d jumped from the bottom rung to the top.
Jesus gives an interesting piece of advice relating to this. He says that at a dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Instead, take a lesser position so that the host will honor you by asking you to move up, rather than make you feel foolish by having you move down. This is all related to his teaching of humility and the idea that the lesser will be greater.
But I don’t think the point of the story is to degrade oneself. If we come to understand that we aren’t the be-all and end-all, we may respond by living a lifestyle of humility. And perhaps sometimes, without expecting it, there’s a surprising payoff for laying low: it’s in the one who recognizes you and lifts you high, and who, in your heart, counts most of all.