When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Episode 7: Making Light of Faith

I’ve watched just three minutes and 15 seconds of When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Inō-Batoru wa Nichijō-kei no Naka de) this season, but those three minutes and 15 seconds, from episode seven, were awfully good.  Found via a Tumblr post, it was of Hatoko absolutely going off on Jurai.  I don’t have much context for the rant or for the series in general, but it was enough for me to make a connection.  Hatoko, I feel, could be speaking to (or yelling at) a whole lot of us in how we treat religion.

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The other day, I exchanged emails with David, a frequenter commenter on this site, among other things he mentioned was the purpose that mangaka and anime creators have when using religious imagery in their work.  We all know that the Japanese often toss around religion for their own purposes without giving much thought to the source material.  But that doesn’t mean these illustrators don’t have good head knowledge about the religion which they’re tackling – I imagine Hideaki Anno and Kazuma Kamachi, for instance, know quite a lot about Christianity, even if their stories are far from biblical.

The creators of such anime that deal with religious themes, ideas, symbols, and terminology have some head knowledge about religion – they often just don’t have the heart for it.

I get a similar feelings from Jurai Endo.  As Hatoko complains in her explosion at Jurai, he tosses around religious (and other) terms without properly understanding them.  They sound cool to Jurai, but does he understand the seriousness and meaning behind the ideas (and powers) he’s messing with?

Christians themselves, though, are sometimes the same – and we can’t claim ignorance.  Many of us have grown up in church, have read the Bible, and attend service regularly.  As such, it becomes easy to think of ourselves as mature Christians, practically if not expressly.  It’s an issue of pride, I think, as if we could know so much about an infinite God that our minds could grasp all the richness of Him based on our own sometimes less-than-impressive study.

For me, the more I grow in my faith the more I realize how little I do know.  I sometimes read scripture, hear sermons, or read blog postings, and am blown away; I become desperate to know more out of an understanding at how little I do know.  It’s hard to imagine that at one time, I was satisfied in my knowledge.  I remember being shocked when an accountability partner of mine, who is now a pastor in Korea, insisted that I needed to dig into theology – I wasn’t sufficiently knowledgeable about my faith.

Christianity is a dynamic, moving, powerful faith.  You could study it for a lifetime and only get a glimpse of God and his grace.  I hope that your heart will accept this distance between what we know and what we could know, and that you’ll take action to learn more from others (sermons, studies, podcasts, blogs – even anime blogs) and from prayer and study.

Here’s a chance, too, to listen to the wise words of wisdom from a usually unwise anime girl.  Listen to Hatoko and treat your faith with curiosity and care.

 

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

13 thoughts on “When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Episode 7: Making Light of Faith

  1. Yeah, that part of the series is heavily contextual, so I think you would get much more out of it having seen the rest of the characters’ interactions (particularly in that episode). However, it can pretty much be summed up as “Rants Against a Chuuni”.

    Easily the most impressive 3 minutes of the series thus far, and even everything airing this season. The juxtaposition of her normal character with her breakdown makes it even more potent, and the sheer length of it is impressive.

  2. Yeah, it’s not easy, and not preferable, and not recommended to write a post about a series you haven’t watched! Still, I thought the lesson was worth sharing.

    And indeed, the monologue very, very impressive. REAL acting, there, though I wish I had seen more of the series beforehand to get some of the shock value from knowing what her character is usually like!

  3. Even if the series goes completely downhill from this point, that rant will have made it completely worth it. It even beats the anti-fanservice rant in Majestic Prince!

  4. Man, this scene was utterly fantastic on so many levels. Not just in its actual content, but the voice acting, and what it does for the characterization of Hatoko and her relationship with Jurai.

    In particular, it’s worth noting that of all the girls of the show’s Literature Club, Hatoko’s the one that knew Jurai the longest, having been friends with him since elementary school, and thus in some ways she ought to be the one that understands him the best. And yet, despite hanging out with each other so much for so long, she doesn’t understand him at all, which is especially painful for her considering that the others in the club do seem to know what Jurai is talking about.

    I think that, in addition to what you’ve mentioned, this scene shows the danger of using too much “Christianese” language, especially if you don’t really know what the things you say mean. Even something as simple as saying something is a “sin” can cause problems if we just use the term whenever and wherever. And even in church, where such language might be considered “okay”, we have to be careful, as there might be people like Hatoko, who have been in the church for a while, perhaps even having grown up in it, but who still do not really understand the faith; excessive use of such language without explanation can cause them to feel alienated and eventually leave the church.

    It would definitely be good for us to know what the various “Christianese” terms we use actually mean, and to be able to explain them when the time is right. And even then, it’s probably best to avoid Christianity’s specialized terms in everyday conversation as much as possible; it just feels more natural that way.

    1. I love it, Frank! That connection to use of Christianese is excellent, and an important lesson for Christians. God knows how many people have been turned off from church by folks, usually without a purposeful intent, using Christianese in a way that frustrates, annoys, or confuses non-Christians.

      Thanks for the comments! I’ll consider this a “mini-post” from you in the midst of your blogging hiatus. 😉

  5. Absolutely outstanding voice-acting by Hayami and by far the best scene of the show so far. I do think you would miss out on a lot of the impact without knowing what kind of person Hatoko is and how her relationship with the other characters works, though.

    As for a connection with Christianity, the “don’t quote X, speak your own words” part seems most applicable. Christianity seems to far surpass even other holy scripture religions in being a “quotation religion”. It’s as if people can get candy for sticking a Bible quote at the end of their sentences and saying “God says so too”. This bothers me because on a single-sentence level, the Bible can be used to prove anything and everything you want, some famous ridiculous examples being “pi = 3”, “God < iron chariots", "and then God killed the women and children by tossing stones at them" and the like.

    I guess I'm frustrated when a conversation switches from "I think differently" to "the Bible says something else", since that's where inter-religion dialogue tends to cut off ;_;.

    1. You point out a HUGE problem with the Christian culture – how often Christians will quote scripture as if using buzz words, without understanding context or meaning. Most of us who grew up in the church grow up in this manner – we apply bits of scripture to our lives and to other situations, and it becomes a difficult habit to break away from. But doing so is both false and disrespectful to the very God we’re quoting!

      Thanks for the comments – this actually could have led me down an entirely different path in writing this post, one in which I speak of talking about of context about a scene in a series I haven’t seen in relation to the same with the Bible! 😛

  6. The series as a whole has a good heart and the protagonist (usually) shows a good degree of empathy and understanding. In this case, of course, he’s been friends with Hatoko for so long that you can see he just treats her like part of the furniture to the point where I was more-or-less yelling at the screen to get him to look up and /see/ how he was treating her in this episode.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that that’s yet another lesson we can take from Saori-san’s impressive rant and this honestly excellent episode – that it’s all too easy to assume that people we hang around with (in church in the case of this discussion) will not only know what we are talking about but why and will just agree with us. And that they’ll continue to do so no matter what we do and no matter where our new fascinations take us.

    Not so. If you never look at or listen to someone it is really really hard to actually love them (Mt 22:35-40). You might love the person they were when you stopped listening or you might love the person you think they are because you never discovered who they are in the first place. But loving someone (or some several people) takes time and effort.

    And then she runs off and gets kidnapped at the end of the episode. I don’t think that’s specifically a lesson for us but you never know…

    1. Thanks for sharing – that’s definitely an important point to consider in our relationships with others. Do we see our loved ones, do we see them really? Are we trying to see them and what they’re struggling with? And with selfishness and pride continually clouding our hearts and empathy being a hard action to practice, it’s a wonder that maybe we don’t have more Hatoko moments ourselves!

  7. That is one of the best scenes from the series.

    And is fantastic that she tackled one of the most glaring issues with certain chuuni characters, their fascination with evil, sin, the occult, the demonic (speacially Tomoyo’s brother).

    The connection you make with the series that use Christianity as some sort of decoration, or when they include it in inadequate manners in the plot, is a good observation.

    Speaking of Hideaki Anno, I think that show was just some steps behind of being a truly good series. But things like the nudity, the weird fanservice, and the inclusion of certain religious elements in distorted manner prevented the show from reaching heights.

    I noticed that it could have been a good anti-gnostic production, even a criticism of the gnostic elements in modernity (basically Seele was forcing a process to give demiurgic and divine powers to man, plus they and Nerv succeeded in making a demiurge, that eventually went out of control. So, that makes the message more ambiguous.

    Something that reforces that interpretation, would be something mentioned in a conversation between Gendo and Fuyutsuki, about humanity trying to make a world without Original Sin.

    A coincidence? stylistic choice? or just an example of what you mention in the article.

    The other author you mention is someone that has certain level of knowledge of Christianity, although from what I’ve read, the Index series include more typical anime tropes (yuri, Churches as magical organizations, strange uses of Christian concepts, etc).

    Finally, I agree about the importance of knowing about faith.

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