Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
– I Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is the putting of another above oneself. One interesting thing about the famous verses above is that not only do some of the given definitions indicate the character of love (kindness, hopeful, etc.), but they indicate the heart of the one who is doing the loving. It’s hard for many of us to be patient, to not envy, to put aside pride, and even to trust. So in love, we put aside all our faults and all that makes us selfish, and give everything we have (and that we didn’t know we had) to another.
Episode 9 of Sakamichi no Apollon was my favorite yet. Not only did it tug at the romantic heartstrings, but it defined love as sacrifice, just the way described above. It’s not easy to love…and that’s what makes the action so great.
Loving Someone Means Putting Others First
Jesus said that there’s no greater love than when one puts down his or her life for another (John 15:13). That spirit of self-sacrifice is made evident by two of the series’ main male characters in this episode. First, Kaoru continues to distance himself from Ritsuko, even going to a party he has no interest in just to travel a different path from the girl he loves. He’s not only thinking of her, though – he’s thinking of Sentaro’s happiness, as he tries to bring Sen and Ritsuko closer together.
In the past few episodes, Kaoru has continued to tell himself that this is for the best – a sure sign that he’s trying to convince himself of that idea, as his heart wants something totally different, and a sign that he is making a sacrifice for those he loves.
Junichi does a similar thing, but, I’d guess you’d say, in a more mature way, befitting of his older age. He tells Yurika things that may hurt her now, in hopes that she’ll be able to go on with her life instead of pining away for him. All this is because, even though Junichi is in love with her, he’s afraid that he won’t be able to support her – I imagine emotionally in addition to financially.
Lucky for Junichi, Yurika sees through his facade and her love “perseveres.”
Loving Someone Means Getting Your Hands (and Knees) Dirty
Jesus flipped the concept of master and servant by serving the very people who called Him master. In a poignant scene in the New Testament, Jesus strips down and washes the dirty feet of his disciples, as a literal servant would.
Meanwhile, Sentaro and Yurika get dirty, too, in showing love to their friends. Sentaro bows on the floor before Yurika, not only putting himself in a subservient position, but also putting aside his considerable pride, all because he dreads hurting someone so dear to him.
Yurika also does something beneath her as a wealthy young lady, pulling back her sleeves and digging right into the garbage to aid Ritsuko in her search for her knitting.
Who knew that dirty love could be so sweet?
Love Means Being Brave
Like a crescendo, this episode built up to a powerful ending, which was punctuated by two actions, both brave. Yurika refuses to let things lye and goes to the train station to question Junichi, who in his own show of bravery makes a life-changing decision at the last possible moment. And the second action is by Ritsuko, who after days of indecision, makes a move every bit as brave as Kaoru’s when he admitted his love to her.
It takes guts to start a relationship, but it also takes courage in times thereafter. It takes bravery to make decisions to love the other person. Sometimes this means letting go and sometimes it might mean pushing through difficulties, as for Junichi and Yurika, or in a marriage that has been plagued by years of silence. Sometimes, it may mean doing something very uncomfortable for you to help your spouse. Either way, it’s in these moments that we test our muster and make that decision – do we love this person enough to do that which is painful for us?
As Sakamichi no Apollon accels toward its conclusion, I’m totally captivated. Recently, some have revealed their dissatisfaction with the series. At the very least, I think most are surprised by how much the show has focused on romance. I’m more than okay with that because it’s being done precisely, tenderly, warmly, and with an emphasis on actions that set apart real love from infatuation.
Now…here’s hoping we’ll see a happy ending.
- Kids on the Slope: Catholic Anime Content! [Aliens in This World]