I never really liked Tom and Jerry.
I know that’s a weird thing to say in an article about anime and faith entitled, getting away with it, but hear me out. Something always bugged me about Tom and Jerry. As a kid, I was unable to pinpoint what exactly I had against the show. As an adult, I figured it out. Tom and Jerry at its core is a story about how if you’re cute enough, it’s perfectly fine for you to get away with theft and we should cheer you on. Enter Nyanbo.
Nyanbo is a partially animated partially live action Japanese short-form series about a group of anthropomorphic cardboard box cats based on the character Danbo from the manga Yotsuba&!. That’s a lot to say it’s a show about tiny anthropomorphic cardboard box cats. The cats believe they’re aliens and are trying to build a UFO to get themselves back to their home planet. They do not seem to remember where that is, but that’s besides the point. Most of the time they are just being silly living their lives being tiny anthropomorphic cardboard box cats.
One episode, our two lead female box kitties Kotora and Shiro end up running into the Nyanbo Angels, two Nyanbo (Sabatora and Kijitora) who want to become idols. Enjoying the song they were singing, Kotora and Shiro want to join the Nyanbo Angels and become idols too.
What did they sing? “I’m self centered and spoiled…I’m cute, so I can get away with it!” Watching the episode with my kids I laughed at the lyrics. The lyrics were ridiculous and, frankly, reminded me why I did not like Tom and Jerry.
Self-centered and spoiled? Focused on yourself and ignoring those around you? Making yourself the center of your universe? These things aren’t healthy. They also aren’t Biblical. The Bible clearly calls Christians to action to put others first, far before themselves. When the Nyanbo Angels are focusing on themselves and putting themselves first, they are ignoring an important tenets of our faith to love others more than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4).
What I find interesting is that the Nyanbo Angels seem to acknowledge that what they are doing is wrong. How so? The verse immediately after acknowledging the fact that they love themselves first is that they’re cute, so they can get away with it. There’s a big problem with this statement…they’re right.
Studies have shown that good looking people are literally more likely to get away with murder. The world is easier for the better looking as people are more likely to be kind, punish them less, or let them get away with things they should not. This is a problem.
Christians have been commanded throughout the Biblical narrative to be impartial to others (Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 1:17, James 2:8-9). We are not to treat others with differently merely because they are white, black, male, female, tall, short, good looking, ugly, fat, skinny, etc. We are to love others as ourselves. We are to be respectful. We are to be fair in our treatment and if we are in a position of power, we are to arbitrate fairly. This means – stop letting the cute get away with things they are not supposed to do. Tell them when they do wrong, respectfully.
It is difficult as a parent sometimes. My kids can be adorable, even when they do the wrong thing. Yet, I still need to discipline them for their mistakes. I can not let them get away with it because they’re cute.
The Nyanbo touched on a cultural truth we try to ignore. It is a bad cultural truth, but a truth nonetheless. It is a truth that can only be changed by changing our heart and how we interact with others.