Anime Today: Undignified in Hanayamata

14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

2 Samuel 6:14-23

Well this is the first time I’ve used such a long passage of Scripture in Anime Today, much less right off the bat!* However, at the risk of falling into the camp of “stereotypical evangelical writer,” it seems to fit well today, as well as make for a nice change of pace in regard to the more regular composition of Anime Today.

Hana SekiyaIf you have been watching Hanayamata lately, then you know that it is nothing if not a normal moe anime about dancing (or to be more specific, Yosakoi)… but if you have ALSO been reading Anime Today, then you know that I am a sucker for exactly that! Regardless of my personal tastes, though, it is always a joy for me when I come across a way to connect one of my more outlandish pleasures with my faith. And in that light, as I reflected on the latest episode of Hanayamata (episode five), I realized that the main characters shared one particularly distinguishing trait with the ancient king of Israel, King David: being undignified.

 

First, what exactly does it mean to be undignified? Simple language study puts together the prefix “un” (not) with the word root of “dignity”. Without dignity. Thus, undignified essentially means shameless. In the context of the biblical passage, King David was so overjoyed for the ark’s (one of the most, if not the most, significant single object in Hebrew’s history, regarding as acting as the “seat of God”) coming to Jerusalem** that he stripped to be nearly naked and danced in front of his subjects completely full of sheer joy.

The king of Israel. Danced. (Nearly) naked.

In front of his subjects.

Even today, the thought of that is humorous if not appalling, but think about the significance of such an event thousands of years ago when monarchies, theocracies, and other governments that more highly regarded honor and standing were more prevalent. The most accurate word for this display would be “ridiculous”!

But does ridiculous mean bad? Of course not! In many cases like this, it merely represents an extreme example of someone’s passion, which aimed in the right direction (in this case, David’s God), is actually a good thing!

The parallel that drew me to Hanamayata was, of course, the action of dance to the point of “ridiculous”ness. While Hana exhibits amazing enthusiasm, the actions and interests of the other characters (though eventually drawn in) show just how crazy many of their peers believed their dancing, Yosakoi, to be.*** Yet despite their hesitation, and the strange looks or even downright disapproval from others, Hana pursued her dream of expression through Yosakoi with great passion (even roping some of her friends into it as well thanks to her enthusiasm!).

I think this is a good lesson for all people, beyond just Christians, that some things are worth being undignified, or shameless, for. In the case of King David, as well as modern Christians, the most important of those “things” is God. But even those who don’t believe in a God at all can learn from the lesson that, often, the opinions of other people should not shape your passion. Seeking wise counsel is good, don’t get me wrong, but shaping your life to conform to those around you?

This life is too short to NOT dance half-naked for the sake of God… or to dance Yosakoi with your friends for that matter.

 

Notes:

*I would have cut some out, but I hate proof texting, and I feel that the beginning and end of the passage are equally important.

**I would love to provide more history and explain the significance of this event, but that is beyond the scope of this article. Wikipedia does an excellent job. 😉

***Just for clarification, Yosakoi is a relatively modern form of Japanese dance that combines modern music with traditional dress, and otherwise mixing modern and traditional elements. Read more about it here.

10 thoughts on “Anime Today: Undignified in Hanayamata

  1. When between two middle school girls you get the conclusion that the point of dancing/yosakoi is “unity in love”, your allusion to dance as an expression of piety doesn’t even sound that far off xD. Shinto-influenced festivities are aimed directly at expressing the joy of life, and if you believe life to be a gift directly from God, the celebration itself becomes a form of thanksgiving.

    1. I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that most religions share a number of the same ideas, and thus, contain content that can be used to help teach in others. That is the primary reason I believe this site is even able to exit!

      Thanks for your input, I always enjoy reading what you have to say!

  2. I am also surprised that I like this show so much. And your point is spot on: being overly concerned with what other people think only holds one back. In particular, one can hardly be a Christian these days if one wishes to please secular society.

    1. It’s hard to draw the line between being true to yourself, and also following the will of God, or more generally, simply acting morally (which is what I struggled most with when writing this post). However, that said, what you said is exactly true. When it comes down to it, society as a whole should not be responsible for determining your actions.

  3. Great post! I honestly have never watched that anime, but going to check it out. Love finding good stuff here 🙂 I agree, in just being free and dancing like King David danced. In my church, we lean towards the pentacostal/charismatic/Holy Ghost fire church, so dancing is no big deal! I love going crazy for Jesus! My favorite praise music is from Planetshakers, they can jam!! But yeah, don’t be ashamed to just be full of joy and excitement because our God is so great, powerful, awesome, always has the victory in Jesus name! I’m excited because He is amazing, and has given me all that I have in my life.

  4. Well, that saves me one thing I have to blog about when I cover this (and the next) episode on my blog. 😛

    Seriously, though, great post! I’ve mentioned on my blog how this show reminds me of the life of a new Christian, and there are definitely many new Christians who are so on fire for God that they get very undignified right off the bat (kind of like Hana is right now). Others (like Naru) are more reserved at first but eventually accept that their new faith is something of an undignified thing. Unfortunately, I think it is all too easy to suppress that fire, either intentionally (my mom pretty much forbade me from dancing during worship) or unintentionally (the church just doesn’t have any hands-raisers).

    As for the show itself, if my multiple blog posts on the show haven’t made it obvious, I am absolutely loving it. It is easily one of my favorites of the season and quite possibly one of my favorites of the whole year. I think it is something more than just a cute-girls-doing-cute-things show; it is also a great coming-of-age story with character development and relational development.

    Also, I now have Matt Redman’s “Undignified” stuck in my head.

  5. I started watching Hanayamata recently and as soon as I saw the first episode I wondered if it was an allegory for Christianity! I’m really glad to see I’m not alone in this. 🙂

    1. I quite enjoyed it when it aired! I wouldn’t call it particularly more edifying than its peers in the scheme of anime, but I definitely got a lot out of it! Much of that, I believe, comes from your worldview and your desire to look for its application.

      Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think of Hanayamata when you finish it! 😀

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