Anime is full of references to religion, which presents a great opportunity to discuss matters of spirituality. And that’s the idea behind this column, Fact Check, in which I’ll investigate some of the claims of anime and manga characters and weigh them against the truth of scripture.
Today’s claim comes from Mikasa Ackerman during a flashback scene in episode six of Attack on Titan, “The World She Saw.” Perhaps the most famous quote from the popular series (well, except for Levi’s interesting remark about trees), these words arise during Mikasa’s fight for survival against a band of bandits when she was young:
The world is cruel, but also very beautiful.
The claim is very straightforward: this world is both painful and stunning.
Attack on Titan is sometimes difficult to follow, partially because we’re introduced to so many significant characters early on and are encouraged to root for them without getting to know them. Among the main characters, the Shiganshina trio – Eren, Mikasa, and Armin – it’s Mikasa that we know least about in the first half of season one. Not until episode six do we learn her back story.
The phrase we’re investigating is almost an understatement; the words are uttered while young Mikasa and Eren struggle for their lives, trying to fight back and kill the robbers who murdered Mikasa’s parents and who plan to sell her. In a moment of clarity, just before she somehow transforms into the superhero-strong character we later know, Mikasa thinks back upon some scenes from her childhood, including the death of an insect and her father bringing home fowl after hunting. Death, in all it’s unfairness, cruelty, and pain, was set before her then and is again before her now.
But even so, the world is beautiful. Life is worth fighting for.
In a series not particularly known for deep affirmations, Mikasa’s words ring with surprising truth and clarity. On the surface, without context, the statement is truthful – “mother nature” is breathtaking both in it’s beauty and cruelty, in life and death.
The Christian, too, would say the same, and maybe have special insight to the meaning behind the quote. Mikasa, of course, is thinking about life and death – the amazing joys that life has to offer, and the sadness in how it can be robbed without meaning and with impudence. Mikasa and her family were innocent, and now her parents were dead and she, too, was about to die. How unfair! But such is life – and still, it remains something worth grasping.
Christians understand the imperfections of the world – natural and of the human heart – as having to do with sin. Because of mankind’s wrong, the world was infected. For now, the world is not holy and perfect – the Bible, in fact, tells us that the earth is the devil’s domain, where he reigns.
Even so, we still see glimpses of beauty on earth – they are all around us. Nature sings out the holiness of God, the beauty of a creator who designed a world that presents us with sights that are feasts for our eyes and, within humans, a capacity to love that outshines anything else. And in this we can see our creator’s love for us and know also that there is something else, something remarkable and perfect awaiting once we pass from this world.
Mikasa’s assertion receives a 10 out of 10. Simple and concise, her words reflect the condition of our world, both at it’s best and it’s worst.
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