Episode eight of Charlotte was full of emotion, music, and responses. Almost every thing a character did in the episode was a response to something else. Yuu responds to Sala’s rambling. Sala responds to Yuu’s kindness. Charlotte responds to Yuu’s phone call. Kazuki responds to Sala’s voice.
One after another, events transpire as a result of responses.
Life can be a seen as a series of responses, too. I think for those in the working world, we see this very clearly – we respond to our boss’ demands, and if we have people working under us, they respond to what we require.
But on a grander level, we all live life in response to something (or a number of things). We might be reacting to the draw of money or pleasures. We might live according to principles driven into us by incidents or by people with whom we’re intimate. Or – and if we’re willing to admit it, many of us fit this category – we might be like a reed swaying in the wind, moving as the culture dictates.
Of all the responses in this episode of Charlotte, one is on that larger scale, and it’s been in motion ever since episode one, and maybe most fully expressed here. It’s of Yuu’s reply to truth – the truth of his selfishness, the uncovering of his powers, and the kindness shown by Nao.
And in particular, Yuu has learned something significant. He has learned what love really is.
In anime, where atonement is such a recurring theme (even in this episode it comes up when Sala discusses her mysterious background – and I do believe this will all come back again by the series end), it’s not atonement or penance that causes Yuu to do what he does for Nao. Such ideas are ultimately about self, because they lead the seeker to meet a gift of love or forgiveness by his or her own power. Instead, Yuu helps Nao and her brother because he appreciates what she did, because he’s amazed at the grace she showed him, and because she demonstrated to him the power of love and sacrifice.
Yuu didn’t deserve Nao’s saving power when he was about to cross the line. In fact, he did nothing to deserve being saved by her originally in episode one, or selected by her for the student council. There’s nothing in him that called for that kind of treatment. Quite the contrary, his attitude and lack of character called for the opposite – in episode one, Nao could have kicked him to the curb and abandoned him and we would have cheered, for that was what he deserved.
But she doesn’t give Yuu what he deserved. Instead, she shows him love.
Does this sound at all familiar?
You and I don’t deserve grace in our lives, either. If we look deep inside and what we’re made of – not sugar and spice, but selfishness, pride, greed, and all sorts of vices – we see that we don’t deserve for others to sacrifice on our behalf. But grace means that Christ did so anyway – he gave it all just because he loved us.
Yuu goes beyond expectations in doing what he does for Kazuki. No one would have blamed him or felt poorly toward him for not bringing Sala to Nao’s brother. But he does it anyway purely because he’s experienced a gracious love and wants to do the same. Purely out of a response from his heart, giving to the one who gave him so much.
Yuu’s story is yours – from sinner to grace to salvation. Now what’s left is living life itself. What’s left is our transformation. What’s left is response.
And what will your response to Him be?