I have a friend who describes himself as “young at heart.” Even though I feel the same, I do see a generation gap, even between myself and those just a few years younger. Most of this gap has to do with how technology has affected us. With all the means in the world at our literal fingertips, we can do so many things so easily. But when challenges come my way, I don’t fight through them as strongly as those older than me would. And I’m going to make a generalization and say it’s even worse for those that are younger.
But I can’t really blame Generation Z. Challenges are painful, after all. They’re hard. They’re uncomfortable. And why would I put myself through that when I can just laze around watching videos on my phone, or else challenge myself in a fun way like through video games?
And that was the question that came to the front of my mind while watching Kabukibu! If you’re unfamiliar, the series features a kabuki-crazed character named Kurusu who desperately wants to form a club dedicated to that theater art, but finds challenges at every turn: a denial by teaching staff for his plans, a lack of funds, a disinterested student body, unknowledgeable members, and the absence of a mentor. But Kurusu is determined and won’t let any of these setbacks prevent him from reaching his goal.
I asked myself, why doesn’t he just watch kabuki on his tablet or phone and give up on the club idea? It’s a lot less work that way. And besides, as everyone has been telling you, your kabuki club is probably going to suck anyway.
What I realized about Kurusu is that for him, the pain is worth it. And maybe this is a very east Asian way of thinking, but the pain is also part of the process. It’s expected and to a certain extent, embraced. My generation and the one just proceeding me hates pain. None of us like it, but we young people (I’m still young!!) abhor it and avoid pain, discomfort, boredom at all costs. And via our phones, we can get away from the all those terrible things, just as Kurusu could if he wanted.
But Kurisu chooses not to; he dives headlong into difficulties to achieve what he desires. He knows what we all do, too: pain is sometimes a really good thing. We know that it gives us the chance to grow, because through dedication and even failure (especially failure), we learn so much. But also as Kurusu demonstrates, when we face challenges we learn about ourselves, grow relationships with others, and, as I’m assuming will happen in this series, we might even succeed and receive something that we value.
So remember Kurusu the next time you’re tempted to avoid pain and “just watch it on YouTube,” and if you must, strike a woodblock and chant to yourself in phonetic rhythm: pa-in is go-od for me. Yoo-ooooooh!
Kabukibu! is available to stream via an Anime Strike subscription.