Draggle, a wonderful writer who I frequently refer to (see the end of this article for links), graciously offered the following write-up as a guest post on this blog. We both felt it appropriate for this site. Enjoy!
You shall die. You speak incorrectly; say I will finish dying and you will be correct, because ever since I began living I began dying. — Francisco de Quevedo
Aquarion Evol has been a guilty pleasure of mine for the past season. For the most part, it’s all fluff: gratuitous mecha battles, thinly veiled sexual metaphors, and, of course, holes. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover the second half of episode 13 thought-provoking, and, dare I say, a downright mystical experience.
The scene begins when, after the dead are buried, Andy is asked to dig holes. When he finishes his work, the commander makes a startling proclamation to the students: they will be buried. Why?
The students are all shackled by their lives. I would reword this slightly: the thing that ties them down the most is the limit placed on their lives: death, and specifically, the fear of death. The students don’t want to die. To overcome this fear, they spend their lives engaged in pursuits to bolster their feelings of self-worth, such as piloting Aquarion and participating in Unions, to bring their thoughts far from the waiting, open grave.
Attachment, wickedness, (possessive) love, stubbornness, hatred: all of these stem from the fear of death, from a desire to construct a worldview that puts us above others and as far from death as possible.
The sting of Death is sin — 1 Corinthians 15:56
In the Christian narrative, these selfish, vain desires are called sin. In the story of the Garden of Eden, sin brings death. But death also brings in sin. They are two sides of a coin.
At Jin’s funeral, the students come face to face with death and confront their fear. Shrade has lived his entire life in the shadow of death. Amata and Zessica fear they will be abandoned to die alone and unloved. Mikono fears her friends will die and leave her behind. Yunoha is afraid to live in a world without Jin. Mix, Andy, Cayenne and the rest all fear the grave, where their body will rot and be eaten by worms.
Note the symbols that flash throughout this sequence: we have the ravens, worms, and the decaying carcass of an insect. Each of these points to the fear of death which the students must confront. Indeed, to generalize, most of the things we consider disgusting are the objects that remind us the most of our own mortality.
In the darkness of the grave, the students bury their idols. They remember that they are dust, and to dust they shall return. Their self-esteem, their knowledge, their power, their possessions, their girlfriends and boyfriends: all are worthless in the face of death.
In order to defeat death and the power of sin, the Christian must likewise die.
Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. — Romans 6:3-7
Anyone who has died has been set free from sin. This is ultimately the purpose behind the commander’s burial: to free the students from their sin so they are free to love one another (so that they can perform better Unions and fight better… he is not exactly free from sin himself).
Mikono plays the role of Jesus, and tells the dead that they have been freed from the power of sin and death (in very Christ-like language, of course). Mikono’s power connects the students and leads them to love one another. When the dead rise, Aquarion Evol comes to the same conclusion as scripture:
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. — 1 John 3:14
To conquer death, the Christian dies, breaks the chains of sin and becomes free to love.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. — 1 John 4:18
Freed from the fear of death and the power of sin, the students experience the perfect union. Perfect love casts out fear.
For further, in depth discussion of the biblical aspects of this discussion, see Richard Beck‘s series of posts on the Slavery of Death.