This season, the new show that surprised me with how much I liked it is Joukamichi no Dandelion, a.k.a. Castle Town Dandelion. The premise sounds like some kind of faux-reality-TV show: nine siblings of a royal family with superpowers mingle with commoners in a normal suburb, but they have their lives monitored by cameras as the public prepares to vote one sibling to become the next king. However, instead of drama, politics, and backstabbing, the show is actually a pleasant slice-of-life comedy about family and what it’s like to try to live relatively normal life despite being part of the royal family.
It helps that I can really relate to Akane, the fourth sibling and third sister of the household. She is painfully shy, easily embarrassed, and hates being the center of attention, and the fact that her father, the king, has surveillance cameras all over town, and that her life is an in-universe reality TV show, freaks her out. She talks about how she wants to be like a dandelion (title drop!), someone that people just ignore so she can live a quiet life. She even briefly considers becoming king so she can get rid of the cameras, before realizing that just being the king would expose her even more to people’s attention.
I completely understand how she feels, because I also do not like having a lot of attention on me. It’s why I prefer to help out with behind-the-scenes work rather than go out front as a leader or as the face of an operation. I can especially imagine how uncomfortable I would feel if my family decided to star in a reality TV show (do the kids of reality TV families even get a say on the matter?), or if I was born into the President’s family or some other royal-like family, with the general public watching my life.
There is one complication, though. I might not have been born into a royal family, but when I became a Christian, I was certainly adopted into one.
The Church is frequently described as a kingdom, with God as the King, and Christians as His sons and daughters. We still live relatively normal lives, but with the additional awareness of our new identity as a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). And for better or for worse, the public is very aware of us. The recent federal legalization of same-sex marriage provides a great example, as a large portion of media coverage focused on reactions of various professed Christian figures and communities, who have long voiced their opposition to such a decision. For those Christians that love engaging with others and getting involved in activism, they welcome the attention from the public, but for those that would rather avoid attention, the situation can be very uncomfortable.
Even outside of large-scale media coverage, non-Christians are quite aware of the Christians among them. They will take notice when our actions seem un-Christian-like, but at the same time, they will also take notice when we do something so against the way of the world, that they can only conclude it is the way of the royal family of God. One way or another, it is difficult to be a “dandelion” in God’s kingdom.
And in the end, that may be for the best.
As children of God’s royal family, we have a special privilege to represent the kingdom of God and all that it stands for. As the “royal priesthood”, we serve as a connection between God and non-Christians, helping to show them who God is and why joining His kingdom is a Good Thing. Following this calling of ours can draw more attention to us than we are comfortable with, but God never called us to be comfortable (or else He would be out of a job as our Comforter).
To Akane’s credit, she does not always hide away from cameras or from other people herself. She chose to be a class representative when no one else wanted to do it, because she realized how she could help her class thanks to her royal experience with being considerate to others. And when she encountered a thief, she wasted no time pursuing him and bringing him to superpower-assisted justice. She may dislike the attention these actions bring to her, but her desire to help others is so much stronger that she will take that extra step, even if it means exposing herself more than she would like.
In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, He talks about how we are the “light of the world”:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, ESV)
In a way, it is impossible to be a “dandelion” in the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit will continually push us toward good works, taking the light out from under our basket and shining it so bright that everyone in the towns at the bottom of the hill will notice it. That is a good thing, though, as we can then point those who see us toward the source of the light: our God, the one true King.
This does not mean that shyness is a bad thing. In fact, it can even be a blessing in disguise; after all, if people know you are not the type to seek out attention for yourself, when you do step into the spotlight to do good deeds, they will know that you are not doing it for yourself, but for God. Some people will struggle with the opposite problem: not stealing the spotlight from God! Whether you are reserved or outgoing, it is important to recognize that our light-shining’s true purpose is bringing glory to our King, and let that encourage us to put aside either our personal pride or our personal discomfort.
To that end, I am definitely looking forward to see if Akane can grow past being the dandelion of the Sakurada royal family and bloom into a flower people will take notice of. She will probably never like being on camera, and that is fine; as long as she continues to cultivate that heart of hers that recognizes the good she can do as a member of the royal family, I’m sure there will be many citizens of the castle town who will vote for that shy, red-haired girl who pushes herself to step out and help people despite her embarrassment.
As Akane’s father, the King, says at the end of the first episode, being part of the royal family means being more in the public eye than normal, and sometimes, that can hurt. However, as children of the royal family, they are also symbols of hope for the country, and that makes it even more important not to hide from the public. Likewise, as Christians, we are symbols of the hope God offers to humanity, and that means we may have to endure some scorn and embarrassment from the public that watches us. But we should not be discouraged, as that exposure is also our opportunity to shine God’s light onto the world.