As you may have noticed from our recent Narcissu giveaway, Narcissu Zero is the newest release of the Narcissu series. This time, while the story returns to the 7th floor, it instead takes us back to the very origins of the 7th floor. It is a fairly simple story and one that was more romantic than I would have expected from a Narcissu tale. But perhaps the powerful feelings of love were needed to motivate an average teenager to become a doctor and create a place of rest for the terminally ill.
Narcissu Zero centers around two main protagonists: Hiro, whose family runs a sort of senior citizens home, and Youko, one of Hiro’s classmates. The two become friends as the only two students who were held back a year – Hiro for skipping too much school and Youko for being too sick to attend. Given this is Narcissu, I’m sure you know where this is heading. I’ll spare you the details as you can read it yourself if you haven’t already, but eventually Hiro leaves their small town to become a doctor. Youko, on the other hand, uses the opportunity to disappear from his life due to her terminal illness. Years later, she is transferred to a hospital affiliated with the now-doctor Hiro. After making up, they spend the rest of Youko’s short life together, thinking up ways to help the terminally ill and eventually founding the hospice that is the 7th floor in the Narcissu series.
To quietly leave without anyone noticing, leaving no trace…or perhaps, to leave behind some proof of having lived.
Youko was the latter. No, more accurately, she was originally the former who became the latter. Despite originally giving up and choosing to quietly fade away, leaving no proof of her existence, Youko ends up creating something that lasts generations. And although Youko barely even mentions God in passing, unlike previous heroines, she does explore the process of facing death in a more interesting way. The previous heroines largely struggled with personal problems, and while Youko is no different in that regard, what she left behind was something greater than herself. In the same way, what do we as Christians want to leave behind? Or will we choose to quietly disappear without doing anything of significance?
Of course, everyone can “easily” answer that we want to leave behind proof of our existence – that proof being spreading the good news of Christ. It’s an easy thing to say but not an easy thing to do. We go through the motions of life, always too busy to really dedicate our lives to Christ, and before we know it, we are one step away from death. It’s hard to live your life to the fullest in the moment because it feels as if we have so much time. “I’ll do it later,” is the common excuse. But when is later? The later should be now. For the residents of the 7th floor, there is no later, because they never know whether the end is tomorrow or not.
As Christians, there is more than one way to interpret the “end.” It could be the end of our lives, and the end of our chance to share the Gospel. It could be the end times, and the second coming of Jesus. Or it could even be the end of someone else’s life, and their chance at being saved. However, even though any one of these ends may come at us with only a moment’s notice, it is too easy to pretend that we have all the time in the world. For some reason, we do not truly consider the weight of what it means for the end to come.
People probably first realize they’re alive when they become aware of their own death.
This line by Youko reminds me of Romans 6:11, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
I think Christians can interpret Narcissu’s lines in a very different manner than intended but with similar results. It is only when we fully realize what it means to be dead in sin that we can understand what it means to be alive in Christ. But even more so, we can understand the need to save others from sin. If we truly understand that and truly believe in the weight of sinfulness, then how can we just quietly live out our lives as Christians? Will we be like the Youko who ran away from leaving behind any proof of her existence, or will we be like the Youko who decided to leave behind something of value? Youko created the rules of the 7th floor, and decades later, they continued to be passed down by the residents. Even if we only bring Christianity to a single person, that person may go on and save many others, who in turn save many others. Even if later generations may not remember us, their lives would no doubt be impacted by our existences. The end will come with but a single moment’s notice. As Christians, we should be fully aware of just how serious this is and how important it is to act now rather than “later.” Time is short. We never know when the end will come, but it always does. So then, will you leave this life quietly? Or will you leave behind proof of your existence? And will that be proof of your life as a follower of Christ?