As a quick intro to Uta Pri (short for Uta No Prince Sama), the story of the anime focuses on a male idol band, STARISH, and their composer, Nanami. The series is the story of the members following their dreams individually and together to become idols and bring joy to people through their music.
In this particular episode, a Christmas special from the end of season 2, known as “Shining Star X-Mas”, everyone in the band has part of the same day off – the afternoon before Christmas. In honor of this rare occasion, they decide to plan and throw a Christmas party all together, to celebrate both the holiday, their journey to where they are now (an idol band), and their friendship. Following the typical fashion of many Christmas specials, this episode portrays two (well, more than two, but I’ll only touch on two to avoid writing a novel) key points that are worth remembering every Christmas season…
Firstly, Christmas is one of the most well-known times for fellowship. It’s an excuse and a reason to meet up with people (I can’t speak to whether you like this or not, but I think we can all agree to its truth). This can mean family, friends, or even coworkers (if your work throws Christmas parties). Christmas is a time to cast aside differences and be in fellowship together for one common reason – the celebration of the season (whatever that may look like to each person there). STARISH definitely makes a point of recognizing this in the episode. It would have been much easier to throw a party just for their band members, but instead they go so far as to invite another band, despite arguably not always getting along with them, and some of the teachers from the school where they attend.
This brings me to my next point: the willingness of people to accept things around Christmas time. Maybe it’s just me, but I find that if you try and randomly give someone a gift on any occasion other than their birthday or Christmas (or maybe at their graduation or some similar event), they often fuss over accepting it. At Christmas, however, you’ll seldom see a gift turned down. Why? I’m not exactly sure. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a mindset where, at Christmas time, you become aware that if someone is giving you something, they made a conscious effort and choice to give you a gift, and it would feel wrong to turn down their gift. In this episode, despite the two bands not always getting along, Quartet Night (the band STARISH invites) does not turn down STARISH’s “gifts” to them – in fact, they seem to truly appreciate them. What those gifts are brings me to my final point…
The best gifts really do come from the heart. Truly. In the episode, STARISH makes a point of putting extra attention in to the details of their party to make their guests happy. They “give” Quartet Night the gift of their time and effort to prepare certain things just the way that that members of Quartet Night like them (e.g. extra sweet desserts for Camus’ sweet tooth). However, the bands’ (yes, plural bands – even Quartet Nights chips in and helps STARISH out with this one) gift to Nanami tops the rest.
See, Nanami was supposed to be attending the Christmas party, as she was supposed to have the day off like the rest of the band. However, something comes up at work, and she’s forced to stay late, causing her to miss the party altogether. She’s sad, of course, but still keeps a positive outlook as she heads back to the school dormitory. Her sadness is quickly cut off by joy, however, as she is greeted by a gift that she would arguably consider the best possible gift – her friends, together, singing for her. This gift didn’t cost any of the band members a single thing except time and effort, yet Nanami wouldn’t have traded it for anything. STARISH and Quartet Night couldn’t fix the fact that they couldn’t reschedule the party, nor could they fix the fact that Nanami was going to have to spend the evening at work. Instead of sulking, however, they found a way to give a gift with what they had available to them. They gave the gift of their time, effort, and talents (in this case, singing) – not to mention, their hearts.
So don’t get caught up in the I-have-to-buy-gifts-for-everyone mindset (I’ll resist tacking on the usual “Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, not Apple’s latest product” type spiel). Instead, take a real look at what you’re giving and why. If you really want to give a good gift, give one from the heart. Maybe that does look like something bought from a store (e.g. the necklace your mom always stops to look at when you pass it in the mall), but maybe it’s something as simple as cleaning up the house for your mom after the Christmas family dinner just so she can put her feet up instead (she’s probably been on them all day if Christmas dinner was at your place). I know it makes God happy when we use the gifts He gave us as a gift to those around us.
So, just to recap, here’s how you can be a “shining star” this Christmas, based on the fabulous examples set in Uta Pri’s “Shining Star” Christmas special:
Firstly, make an effort to be in fellowship; even if it’s hard (I’m speaking as someone highly introverted, here), Christmas is a very good reason to take the chance to spend more time getting to know those around you, because almost everyone’s somehow more agreeable to it at Christmas. You never know what sort of things you may learn, or what sort of relationships you may begin to grow, just by spending a little bit of time with someone over the holidays.
Finally, while remembering our Christmas gift (Christ), remember that, like Christ, the best Christmas gifts don’t have a minimum price or value – the best Christmas gifts are the ones that come from the heart.
featured art by あしたばてんぐ | reprinted with permission