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.