Ayase v. Kuroneko: Two Ways to Love

Oreimo is best when the focus shifts away from Kirino and the creepy main storyline and toward the supporting characters.  Thus, it’s unsurprising that this past week’s episode was among the best, I think, of the entire series run.  It was also a piece of fanservice for me, getting to see two of my favorite characters in the show really interact for the first time – and in a pretty extended sequence, to boot.

Ayase arrives at Kyousuke’s apartment to give him a knife (a nice yandere twist) as a housewarming gift (and because she likes him – otherwise, why not wait until the party?).  Sparks (and jealousies) fly when Kuroneko also shows up.  The follow-through is gold, as each girl vies for Kyousuke’s attention in their own particular way, while the duo’s exaggerated personalities clash (there’s no way the two could get along even without Kyousuke in the picture).

Oreimo Ayase Kuroneko
Sparks were definitely flying (Art by **モンブラン**)

At one point in their argument, Ayase and Kuroneko temporarily forget Kyousuke and instead focus on their friendships with Kirino.  Each claim her as their best friend, with Kuroneko bringing up her reasoning for, apparently, why she loves Kirino more.  For you see, she’ll support any choice Kirino makes, with no regard to morality.  Ayase represents an opposite point of view – she’s shown that she wants Kirino to retain the perfect image she shows at school, going to desperate means, sometimes, to meet her goal.

I’m reminded of two similarly disparate viewpoints in modern society.  There are some individuals who find the highest fulfillment of love in acceptance.  Be who you are, no matter what that means.  Of course, most people have reasonable limitations, but some do not.  Websites that exist to give how-to instructions on self-harm, for instance, would be at the very edge of this kind of thinking.

Oreimo Ayase
Yandere Ayase? Very scary. (Art by イツ)

On the other hand, Ayase reminds me much of conservative Christian culture.  Sometimes it’s pharisaical (correction: A LOT OF TIMES), as the picture of morality must be maintained, even if it means achieving actions through underhanded and hateful means.  The outside becomes more important than the inside, running contrary to Jesus’ message:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

– Matthew 23: 25-26

Morality is important, but not because it’s a way to maintain a front.  Moral law is established by God and we as believers try to follow because, as such, it is right.  We also follow out of love and devotion to God.

Acceptance is important, too.  Christians who avoid people who are different from them – and most of us do this to some extent – are picking and choosing who to love.  And that’s terribly wrong.

But there’s an important blending of these types of love.  Accepting others as they are doesn’t mean we should accept what they’re doing.  Here, Kuroneko is wrong.  For instance, we wouldn’t say self-harm is fine and dandy for someone close to us, so why would we do the same for sin?  Or to use Kuroneko’s example – her discussion of incest is funny because it’s outrageous and crosses an obvious line.

In life, many ideas are blurred when it comes to right and wrong, but others are clearer.  And it’s important to note that crossing these lines leads to sin – not so that we can condemn and puff our own egos up, but so that people know what love is – that which is in Christ, who came to rescue us from our own misdeeds, accepting us in spite of who we are.

22 thoughts on “Ayase v. Kuroneko: Two Ways to Love

  1. Ritualistic self-harm isn’t that rare around the world though, is it? It was quite popular as a form of asceticism with Christianity at one point, too. As for incest, well, if we all come from Adam and Eve…

    “Acceptance, but not of what is obviously morally wrong” is a respectable attitude, but it is not free from the issue that the judgement of what is “obviously morally wrong” still rests with the observer. As with the example above, those standards change drastically over time even within a single culture, not to mention the inter-cultural differences.

    Since I’m in the apparent minority of people who have yet to go around reading OreImo spoilers, I reserve my judgement of all relationships and moral statements in the show until the curtain closes. But regardless of all that, I found the episode one of the funnier ones in the second season.

    1. There’s definitely a shifting line in what’s right, from culture to culture and time period to time period. This could lead to obvious conclusion that morals are relativistic. I agree that there are many points of “acceptance” that depend on culture – obviously – but I also believe in certain moral principles. I think most of us are likely to accept this to be true – murder is not right in ALMOST any culture, for instance. But as a believer in Christ, I also accept biblical moral principles as true, as well, no matter the time or place.

      1. I do believe it necessary for every individual to make a choice of what moral principles they consider right and binding, Christian values being one viable choice. But there is no guarantee that our neighbour will make the same choice we did when faced with the decision, and no way to prove our choice is “superior”. As long as we keep that in mind, firm beliefs become a virtue.

        While this is tangential to the discussion, I’m afraid even murder was seen as perfectly justified during the holy crusades, and continues to be justified in a similar manner with other contemporary religions :/. The approach to justifying murder has most often been about it being all right to kill THEM, and wrong to kill your own people. But if the Spartans did indeed get rid of weak newborns for the sake of society, it would seem there are no barriers man has failed to cross. (Suicide is also frowned upon in almost all cultures, but of course we had customs like the Japanese seppuku.)

        1. That’s right – humanity has crossed every and all lines. It’s amazing the evil we’re capable of. For instance, taking a look at Germany – Germans are no different than others in their capacity to love, show compassion, think, etc. But so many Germans were either directly involved or otherwise complicit in genocide. It goes to show the depths of depravity and how each of us can do great evil. One thing of note is that the Bible presents us with an unchanging morality that doesn’t shift with situation and culture.

          1. That unchanging morality includes sending the children of Israel an assassin when necessary. With all respect, I cannot see how the Bible presents unchanging morality. If you take what’s written literally, a lot of what people do with God’s blessing is so barbaric there is no way a contemporary society could allow it. If you do not opt for a literal interpretation but rather point to the Bible as showing only either fundamental principles or metaphoric presentations of the desired morality, then the element of interpretation will necessarily add constant change to the system in practice. That is what is actually happening, too. I am sure it is not difficult to notice the doctrinal changes in the church over the last 50 years (not to mention previous centuries), and I am quite sure the doctrines of 50 years in the future will bring equally significant change. In the ever-changing whirl of moral reality, people will always claim to have just gained an even deeper understanding of the Bible as they introduce new adjustments to the moral code.

            (Btw, if I may ask, which Christian denomination do you belong to?)

            1. Well, discussion of literal interpretation v. metaphorical can’t be done on a wholesale level. It’s a work of literature (if a divinely inspired one), history, etc., and has to be taken in context. Levitical laws, cultural constraints, etc. are all contained within the Bible and have their place, time, purpose, meaning, etc. That doesn’t change the moral law contained within the Ten Commandments, for instance, or within Christ’s teaching.

              I understand church doctrine changes. America, certainly, is undergoing rapid change right now in it’s culture and churches are responding in a variety of ways. The Bible allows for and encourages different approaches according to different times and cultures. Where Christians need to be wary is in interpreting the Bible differently based on their personally shifting beliefs. Sin is sin. Grace is grace. Jesus is God.

              I prefer to just identify as Christian – I am conservative in theology, however, and would call myself evangelical, even if that’s become a dirty term. 😛

              1. I think you can see how I would hesitate to call that ever-changing morality unchanging. But I respect your belief that the primary principles at least are unchanging so I will leave it at that.

  2. “judgement of what is “obviously morally wrong” still rests with the observe”

    Exactly. If it is good enough for Izanagi and Izanami, Tony and Gina Montana, Luke and Leia, it’s good enough for the rest of us. All they want is equality, man. Don’t be closed minded like those Christians. There is no morality. Right or wrong. Everything is relative.

    Well, at least we haven’t gotten to the point of accepting those damn furries yet.

    1. As mentioned before, the Bible contains plenty of interbreeding of this kind.

      Moral relativity is a fact of life we should learn to deal with. Society first comes to be when a group agrees on a set of shared moral standards. There is a large variety of those sets that were cohesive enough to create successful societies in the contemporary world. You can’t kill everybody, so you’ll have to accept some of them at some point.

      People who follow a strict “furry-only” policy are likely to die out on their own because of their inability to leave offspring, so I think you needn’t worry about them too much ;).

      1. “Contains” does not mean “approves.” The laws against incest in the Bible are quite extensive. Um, and perhaps those involving “furries” as well. -_-‘

    2. Bwahaha…I’m not sure if it was alright with Luke and Leia, who didn’t know. Perhaps we should replace that example with Cersei and Jaime. 😛

  3. An awesome post. I feel this analogy is perfect (though I don’t think I would have ever caught it myself). As you said there is always a happy medium.

    (I’d like to add to the morality discussion happening here in the comments, but I think that it would end up getting too off-topic.)

    1. Please, add to it! I’d love to have further discussion about morality – and I think you’re better off conducting it than I am.

      1. I think the best way to put how I view morality is that morality itself is objective (some things are simply right while other things are simply wrong, even when considering context), but our take on what we believe to be objective morality is subjective. Some things are independent of morality, but things that are not are either right or they are wrong. Just because one person thinks something is right does not make it right and just because one person thinks something is wrong does not make it wrong, thus our view of said morality is entirely subjective. However, our subjective view does not make the object of our view subjective (people can look at a rubix cube from different sides and think that it has a different overall pattern, but regardless of whether they are right or wrong, the rubix cube still has a single pattern at any given time). I think perhaps my blog post explains my position a bit better in more depth: https://japesland.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/gargantia-objectivism-vs-relativism/

  4. Good points. Did they ever explain why Ayase is so yandere? Kuroneko’s friendship is explained more as “iron sharpens iron,” but Ayase seems to have some issues that I didn’t recall getting addressed in the series. I didn’t see the first set of OVA’s though.

    1. I don’t remember if they do or not…and though I’ve read some in-depth synopses of the light novels, I don’t recall anything there either.

      I like the “iron sharpens iron” application to Kuroneko and Kirino!

    2. Ayase hardly gets enough time in the books to maintain attention, let alone an actual back story, so we simply accept her personality as is. Either way, Ayase provides best entertainment so enjoy the greatness of next episode.

        1. but they cut out the entire latter half of the novel which had some of the best scenes! I am sad. OVAs are my last hope haha.

  5. Interesting perspective on all of this.

    I’ve heard of these “two ways to love” before as “grace” and “truth”. Kuroneko represents “grace”, where we accept and love the other person without regards to what they have done, while Ayase represents “truth” where we point out the parts of their lives that are not in line with God’s ways.

    A good relationship should have both. I like to think of “grace” as the roots of a plant that form a solid foundation from which it will not be uprooted due to shame, and “truth” as the leaves that allow it to photosynthesize and actually grow. Truth without grace will get blown away by the wind, and grace without truth will never produce any fruit.

    While it is easy enough to provide too much of one and not enough of the other, I do think there are times when a relationship calls for more of one without forgoing the other. Looking at a new friendship, for example, if the new friend has had a past filled with guilt and shame over various things, it might be best to start by just pouring a lot of grace into his life so that you build his trust–and only when that trust is built, do you start carefully providing truth to him. On the other hand, if the new friend was spoiled by his parents and just does whatever he wants because he doesn’t know any better, it might be best to just give him a wake-up call and let him know just how his actions are affecting others.

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