Episode four of Cardcaptor Sakura is basically a lesson in how to be Asian. Especially within the first five minutes, we get scene after scene of characters putting on a face, acting strong, as if they’re fine with a situation when inside, they’re really not. Okay, granted, that’s not just an Asian thing, but it is very common in many Asian cultures. It’s also something that I think I would do regardless of my background, and strangely enough, find myself doing more and more as I deepen my relationships with others.
In CCS, the characters are put on faces with those they have meaningful relationships with, too. Unlike what you might see or experience in the west, Sakura doesn’t whine or put up a fight when she’s reminded that she can’t go on a planned outing with Tomoyo because she had already agreed to do chores; instead, she smiles and accepts her fate before sighing behind closed doors.
The act continues when she calls Tomoyo to cancel on her. Tomoyo say that it’s okay, but she sighs, too, after hanging up. Sakura’s dad even joyfully asks his daughter if she needs help, even though he’s stressed out about an important presentation (which shows when he frantically calls Sakura later in the episode). The only who’s being completely real – and no surprise here – is Sakura’s grumpy brother, Toya.
I’ve been railing on the blog lately about the need for authenticity in relationships. It’s a theme that might carry Beneath the Tangles through the rest of the year – maybe beyond – so you’d think I’d very much be tsk tsk about what’s going with the Kinomotos (+ friends). But like I mentioned earlier…I sometimes exhibit this same behavior in my own life. When plans change or unexpected trouble occurs, I often act calm and forgiving though I’m really frustrated and agitated.
Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. But maybe it’s also just me trying to be the person I want to be. I want to be loving when someone cancels on me at the last minute. I want to be strong when the other person is falling apart. I want to be cool when the situation is getting hot. Putting on a face gives me an opportunity to take a step toward being that way; it also shows the receiver (who in these cases is sometimes also the perpetrator) love. Think of Tomoyo – she could have become very upset at Sakura for cancelling their plans because of forgetfulness, and she would have been justified. But her forgiving tone helps bring Sakura a measure of peace and undoubtedly helps to bind their friendship closer together.
There are times when I put on a face for prideful reasons, for spite, for selfishness. It’s the very opposite of sincerity; the act is artificial, fake, and manipulative. But when I’m doing it for the right reasons, there’s sacrifice there, forgiveness, kindness, mercy even. And if not exactly authentic toward the other person, it is being authentic toward oneself, as it forces me to dig hard and be better than the person I plainly am. By acting what I’m not, I am faced with the real me – and challenged by the person I want to be.
New Cardcaptor Sakura episodes premiere early in 2018! Catch up by streaming the classic episodes on Crunchyroll.
2 thoughts on “Sakura’s Authentic Face”
So interesting! As you often post some interesting thoughts about being authentic, which is a theme very often if not always explored in great anime works, I was kinda expecting something like this: the dilemma of being authentic, but loving at the same time.
I´ve yet to see Cardcaptor Sakura, but the bare fact is, in OreGairu terms, that I usually feel more like Hachiman or Yukino that Yui, and yet, I like Yui best, I admire her. Shu Matsutani, Yuko Aioi, Minori Kushieda or Kenya Kobayashi are some of my favorite characters ever, but I often feel more like Edward Elric, Hachiman or Kaoru Nishimi. I had some of their rather rigid and no-nonsense interior attitude in the past (sometimes even bordering the infamous “8th grade syndrome”), but then University happened, with drama club and debate club among other things, and my relationship with God grew stronger. Now I know that the fight is to be the best “me” I can right now, that without denying to myself what is there or pretending when something isn´t there. Just as you say, the guideline is going consciously from who I am as I am to who I am not yet, allied with the good, fighting the bad, asking for help and with hope in God. And yet, there´s this shift.
Unless you have the courage of show yourself as the wounded, strange, maybe bitter or childish but surely unique human being you are, nothing interesting is ever achieved. You may fool everyone, even yourself or fail to do so, and that´s it. On the other hand, to define yourself as such and such and close the door is foolish: we are to play a role in the story of those around us, we need them, they need us, be that role parent, teacher, brother, son, friend, guide, spouse, stranger or casual companion in the way. And we´re called to fight there for that sort of love which is patient, kind, not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude, not selfish, not quick-tempered, not vengeful, not ill-intentioned, joyful, which bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all thing and never fails. We are to humbly try to be heroes with the help of God, and it´s important, because we´re right in the place He has put us in. Erased or the Rewrite VN gave me this feeling, sort of, and I love them for that. There is still the shift, yet.
The difference may be that we have that loving, heroic self we are to be imprinted in us as a call. When we fight to give the right sign, it´s not like an external, alien role dictated by Shakespeare. We´re created by God, and called to live in Christ: therefore, as we get nearer, we are at the same time more like who we really are and more like heroes. So we don´t have to live in someone´s head, not even in our head, but in God´s good world. You feel such and such, can and cannot do such and such, and the situation is this… Sort of like a vitral: if you let the light pass throught you more and more, it will give you your true shape and your own disctint, unique, blazing colors. Yet, a vitral is not a lamp, and it doesn´t shine with its own light.
Ah, that was beautiful! Thank you for so eloquently explaining these ideas about authenticity, loving others, and becoming who we’re meant to be.