Lately I’ve been playing Tap my Katamari on my cell phone, with a lot of help from my kids. The game is literally called an “Idle Clicker,” because you are idly tapping on the screen to get the game going. What’s the plot? The King of All Cosmos has once again destroyed the stars so the Prince is responsible for taking a katamari, grabbing random stuff, and making it into a star. The Prince, however, has a problem. He can’t do it alone. He can’t roll the ball fast enough to make things happen, so he needs some help. As time progresses, you can summon more and more of the Prince’s cousins to help him move the katamari. The Prince needs help, he needs friends to get through.
Without friends, the Prince would fail and would never be able to re-create the stars. His friends/cousins are the ones who actually make the speed increase. They are the ones who help him raise the “coins” to be able to upgrade his equipment. They are the ones who help move him forward, help him grow, and provide the support he needs. Even in a simple tapping game, friendship is still presented as a thing which matters. We also see this theme in anime.
In Haikyuu, the friendship of the team is emphasized over and over again. Without teamwork, without being able to deal with each other, nothing would get accomplished. Each member acts as individual cogs in a greater machine that is the team. But, if the cogs do not work in sync, they will fail. They rise together and they fall together. We see this throughout the series as the individual members grow together and strengthen the entire team. We see it in the growth of Kageyama as he is more willing to listen and work with others. We see it as Hinata recognizes his limitations and plays off the other members of the team making up where he lacks. All the members also work together to fill in where the others lack, knowing their friends well enough to know their strengths and weaknesses. United as a team in friendship, they are able to accomplish things they cannot as individuals. They also encourage and support each other, praising each other to raise them up to do their best. Encouragement matters.
This same theme is present in Crane Game Girls. I already described the nonsense that is this series. That said, the teamwork they display is admirable. Together they are able to unite to save the world. As individuals, their powers are weak. Yet, together they are strong. They support and help each other learn. They encourage one another to move together. Alone they are just three silly girls, yet together they are capable of preventing asteroids from striking Earth and annihilating life as we know it through their skills at crane games. Yea, crazy premise, I know. Yet, the girls’ synchronized play style is what saves the day. Together, united in purpose, they save the day. United in the closeness of friendship they are able to accomplish that which they cannot on their own.
But there is more to friendship than merely getting things done together. There is love in friendship. One Week Friends is a 12 episode anime series about a high school girl (Kaori) whose memory of her friends is reset every Monday. As such, she has very few friends. Yuki decides to befriend her, in small part because of a crush. Yet, in the end, his love and friendship shifts from the romantic crush to real sacrificial love. He loves her and wants to be her friend for her benefit, not his own. He wants to see his friend grow, gain more friends, grow her social circle, and become a more complete person. He encourages her to branch out, he encourages her to go beyond her comfort zone. He is doing things for her benefit, even if it does not help him in the end. That is an important part of friendship – sacrificial love.
In the Bible we have a number of examples of friendship. One of the most commonly discussed is that between Jonathan and David. David was the man who was promised to be King by God and the prophet Samuel. Jonathan was the son of the current king. Jonathan had every earthly claim to the throne imaginable, yet he deferred to David even over his own father. As Saul, (Jonathan’s father), descended into madness, we see Jonathan put his life on the line to protect his friend. He puts his friend’s best interests first, even before his own life. It’s a sacrificial friendship we are not always as willing to do ourselves.
We see the Apostles in the book of Acts and through the spread of the New Testament letters showing examples of friendship. We see them sharing all their belongings to ensure all of them have the bare essentials in life. We see them all working together to accomplish their tasks (saving souls). We see them providing prayer and financial support to each other. We see them put their own interests aside to help others. Paul is a great example of this type of act.
Paul was a Jew and raised strictly adhering to the law. Upon finding Christ, he changed in many ways. One of the most interesting ones was his willingness to adapt to the different people he met. He went out of his way to not offend people culturally. To a Jew, he would avoid eating pork, shellfish, and would abide by their rules to ensure they knew he loved them and was not trying to get them to betray their own conscience. Around those who were drunk, he avoided drinks. Around those who believed that sacrifices to false idols had true, deep meaning based on their past, he avoided eating anything sacrificed to an idol. He allowed himself to be “a Greek to the Greeks and a Jew to the Jews.” He let his own identity fall to the side as he did what was in the best interest of those he loved, his friends. Paul also provides that encouragement to the church as a whole. In his many letters to the churches, he encourages the people to remain strong in the faith (Examples: Ephesians 6:11). He encourages and thanks them for all they are currently doing for the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:4-9, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, Philippians 1:3-11). In his specific. personal letters to Timothy, he calls to his friend reminding him to remain unashamed of his youth and to embrace the gifts the Lord provided to him (1 Timothy 4:11-16).
In the Biblical, anime, and video game examples we see friendship emphasized. We see unity of purpose. We sacrificial love. We see strong encouragement. What we need to do now is look in our own friendships for such encouragement, love, unity, and sacrifice. If it’s not there – ask whether you are the one bringing these to the table. If you are not, then you may need to change and love your friend more boldly.