My children really enjoy Yo-Kai Watch. Specifically, they enjoy watching it on Disney XD because, you know, it’s in English and it’s easily accessible to them. While watching it with them the other day, an episode really caught my attention centering on Jibanyan.
Jibanyan is a cat Yo-Kai whose story goes that he was at one point a real cat who died in traffic with his master and was turned into a Yo-Kai. He seeks revenge upon the car that ran him over, supposedly, and is currently friends with our main character. In one episode, evil Yo-Kai sisters named Kin and Gin give Jibanyan a chance to return back to his old master before he died and became a Yo-Kai. He re-lives his life with Amy/Emi feeling the love of being someone’s pet house cat. He then gets to the point where he was about to die and that’s when he remembered the truth about his death – he had died trying to save Amy/Emi, his master. He had jumped into traffic pushing her just enough so the truck missed her, but struck him. Now, Kin and Gin pull him outside of time to give him a choice – you can remain a cat or you can let yourself die and return to your life as a Yo-Kai. On the one path is a saved life as a cat. On the other path is an eternal life as a Yo-Kai filled with potential misfortune where few know you exist. But, on that second path – Amy/Emi is alive. On the first, he knows she may not survive the vehicle crash. Jibanyan is at a cross-roads. Choose life or choose death. Choose to save his friend or his own skin.
We have seen this choice in anime and manga before. We saw it in the life and eventual death of Otonashi from Angel Beats, who willingly chose to take fewer rations and not be treated for all his injuries to ensure others are kept safe. Even though this, in the end, cost him his life. We saw it in Maes Hughes in Fullmetal Alchemist, who willingly let died in order to help the Elric Brothers. We see it in Blue Exorcist, when we see Father Fujimoto willingly giving his life to prevent Satan from entering the world and killing Rin Okumura. We even see it with the Sega Hard Girls in the last episode of Hi-sCoool! Seha Girls. In each of those cases, these however were last minute decisions. These were decisions from people of good character who made the decision to save others in place of self. But, what if they were given a second chance? What if they went into the situation before anything happened knowing exactly how it would play out, knowing they would die, knowing they could prevent it – would they make the same decision? This is where Jibanyan finds himself in Yo-Kai watch. It’s also a place Christ found Himself on Good Friday.
He knew the outcome. He knew the people He was sacrificing His life for. He knew many would not appreciate it. He knew many would not accept it. Christ was faced with the choice where He, being divine, knew the outcome ahead of time. He knew full well what would happen – the pain He would suffer, the torment He would suffer, the humiliation. His life for the lives of many yet unborn and unappreciative people. Christ was given a choice and, in the garden, we see His human side asking if there as another way (Luke 22:42). Yet, in the end, he makes the same decision – He choses others over Himself. He willingly chose to die, knowing He could stop it – knowing He could prevent it. He chose the cross, He chose pain over His own freedom. But, now we ask – what was Jibanyan’s choice in a similar situation.
When Jibanyan was placed in this path by Kin and Gin, he knew what was happening. He re-watched himself die. He knew he could prevent it and live instead. He remembered the joy of being a cat. He remembered life. Yet, even with all that – even with how good life was for him, he chose death. He remembered his love of Amy/Emi and chose love over his own life. He chose pain over living a normal life as a cat. He followed a Christ-like path and willingly died for another.
In John 15:13, Christ said that there is no greater love than to lay down ones life for a friend. In that regard, Jibanyan displayed for my kids the greatest love of all and I’m all the more thankful he did.