As much as I might hate to admit it, I have often found myself thoroughly enjoying the moeblob. Every season, without fail, there is at least some airing anime that serves absolutely no purpose but to present cute girls doing cute things (I’m looking at you K-On!). And despite a severe lack of depth and mindless pandering, I still watch them. Even more than that, though… I actively enjoy them.
This season’s token moeblob is easily Is the Order a Rabbit. With enlarged heads, feminine uniforms, appearances of each female anime archetype, and even a smidgen of shoujo-ai (to some’s chagrin), it absolutely fits the bill. Now while a good discussion from here would be to investigate whether or not a moeblob is edifying for Christian consumption, that is an article for another time (though if you would like something more along those lines, check out this article that raises a similar question in regard to the sister genre of yuri). Instead, today, I would like to look into a theme that struck me in episode five of Is the Order a Rabbit.
Is it true that it is the thought that counts?
In my experience, this concept is one of the most popular themes to be found in family friendly media. Sometimes entire movies or episodes are devoted to it, but even more telling is that it is often brought up so casually as to be assumed as truth (real proof of something that is culturally engrained). With that said, I have often heard many a sermon or discussion by self-proclaimed believers, denying this “worldly truth” as nothing more than a “feel-good” proverb. “Faith without works is dead” they say*. However, is that really true? Is this denial really even worth making?
Before diving too deep into this, it is worth mentioning that something that genuinely surprised me about episode five of Is The Order a Rabbit was the center of its plot: Father’s Day. As a medium that often either ignores or removes the existence of parents, or downplays their importance to some degree, seeing an entire episode devoted to the appreciation of fathers was a bit of a shock. Even in western culture, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day have always felt to me like forgotten holidays, ones that people scramble to prepare for the week prior when they happen to glance at the calendar (Father’s Day especially, since it seems that mothers receive the majority of the attention). Combining these two factors put me in a position of deeper thought than any moeblob anime should (they are, by definition, the epitome of mindless adoration).
In this particular episode, each character attempted to determine a suitable present for her father (or father figure), to varying success. And it is through this situation that the theme of “It is the thought that counts” became most pronounced. Just as I implied by the phrase “varying success”, some characters managed better than others (most fairing on the poorer end of the spectrum). However, despite this, they all put in effort in the amount of 110%. Whether it was working part-time to replace an expensive bottle of wine or staying up late and wasting numerous pieces of fabric in order to sew a tie, the characters may have failed to put together the “ideal” gift (at least on paper), but they put their hearts and souls into its acquisition or creation.
Having established a better context, let me revisit the Christian application. “Faith Without Works is Dead.” Surely, this is correct. Although we are saved by faith in Christ alone, if our faith is not strong enough to compel us to do the accompanying works, then, surely, we have no faith at all.
Sometimes people make the erroneous assumption from this that our output is what defines our works. This is what separates faith in Christ and consequent salvation from something like the workings of a business. What separates a loving father that is concerned with the well-being of his child from a distant father that treats his child like a cog in the machine that serves no purpose but to succeed him.
Since God is often portrayed as our Heavenly Father, it seems appropriate to draw a connection to Chino’s father. Although the statement was made that, after Cocoa spent countless hours and failed attempts to make Chino’s father a necktie (with Chino’s help, of course) he always wore a bow tie. Despite this, however, the final moments of the episode show him happily wearing his new necktie (in spite of usually wearing a bot tie). His appreciation was not for the tie itself, but for the love and effort that went into crafting it. It is for this same reason that, when I made my mother sukiyaki for lunch for Mother’s Day, she was pleased. She was not pleased that she was able to have sukiyaki for lunch (I cannot imagine it was that great, considering I made it), but she was pleased that I put it all together just for her.
In the same way, it is completely impossible to live up to God’s expectations. Whether looking at this from a historical point of view with the history of the Jews and the Law, and their incapability of performing the Law to perfection (thus the arrival of Jesus on the scene), or from a personal point of view, in which we constantly fail in our pursuit for a relationship with Jesus (heck, I know I mess up on a daily basis), the fact is that it is not our final product that matters. Rather, it is the heart with which we approach our actions. Someone who fails, knowing full well what he or she is doing, without ever fully feeling sorry and repenting for it, has a heart in much poorer condition than one who fails every single day, but truly repents every single time.**
God love all of his creations, and like any loving father, he appreciates the heart and effort they put in for Him, not what they finally give Him. Indeed, faith without works is dead, but the most important part of works is working for them.
**There is a difference between saying “I’m sorry” and meaning “I’m sorry”.
Just as special inclusion for those of you who decided to read through the article in its entirety (or skipped down to the bottom :P), I decided to paste a running thread that several of the writers and I have had regarding this article:
Japes: “My latest Anime Today (going up this Wednesday) proves that MOEBLOBS CAN HAVE REDEEMABLE QUALITIES TOO!!”
TWWK: “I think it would take a moeracle.”
Kaze: “They always have redeemoeble qualities.”
TWWK: “I have a feeling that this article is going to be moervelous.”
Japes: “Oh, you guys…”
TWWK: “I always like your articles, JP. They leave me wanting moe.”
Japes: “I was really hoping for more puns, but maybe it just wasn’t moeant to be…”
Kaze: “Sorry, I’m no good at moeking puns in the moening.”
TWWK: “We should stop. We’re acting like stooges – Curly, Larry, and Moe.”