The good news for Aqours is, they get a second chance to save their school. If they can raise the number of prospective students to 100 by the end of the year, the school will stay open. Considering that they only have 10 at the moment, it is a daunting task, but they are thankful they have the chance to begin with, and with the open house rescheduled, they have a great opportunity to boost registration numbers.
However, the qualifiers for the next Love Live competition are also coming up soon, and with the rule that no previously-performed songs can be performed, the group now has to write two new songs: one for the open house and one for the competition. Up until now the second years shouldered the burden of song creation: Riko had been composing all the songs, Chika wrote the lyrics, and You created the costumes, but asking them to do that for two songs within a month is too much. As such, the third years, Dia, Mari, and Kanan, who had been school idols in the past and also have song-making experience (with Ruby assisting her sister Dia in costume-making), offer to split up the work. While the second-years work on the open house song, the first- and third-years will work on the competition song.
They quickly run into an issue, though. The first-years, particularly Hanamaru and Yoshiko, want a fancy song centered around the Buddhist concept of “nothingness”, while the third-years, namely Mari and Kanan, want to go the heavy metal route, of all things. Neither side can accept the other side’s proposal, leaving them at a standstill. To make matters worse, when they try to do some bonding activities to get to know each other better, they find a greater divide: the third-years are all more physical, outdoorsy types, while the first years are more intellectual, indoorsy types. With their further individual differences, they find coming to an agreement on the new song increasingly difficult.
They get inspiration from an unusual place. While taking shelter from rain at a Buddhist temple, the roof starts leaking. The girls quickly go to work to find whatever they can to catch the leaking water: plates, bowls, cups, buckets, and more. As water drops into each of these containers at different times, they make different sounds, and while these sounds sound very different and off-rhythm, together they start making something resembling a melody. At this point, the girls realize they can use their differences together to create a unique song that reflects everyone’s individuality.
This is a somewhat interesting portrayal of a classic lesson: that our natural differences in interests and preferences can help us bring different perspectives when we work together. Yet, it is a lesson we continue to need, as while human nature pushes us towards those with similar interests–not inherently a bad thing–our sinful nature takes this opportunity to shun those whose interests differ from ours. People with outdoorsy interests mock those whose interests keep them inside most of the time, those who are not sports fans mock those who get highly into sports, and even the marketing department of a relative Japanese-centric video game feels like they can get away with saying stuff like “make the bad guys cry like an anime fan on prom night.” Even within the anime fandom, you have fans who look down on those who like a show because it’s “too mainstream”, “too moe”, or “too much boys-love” and the like.
For starters, we need to let people enjoy things. (Thanks to our own MDMRN for that article!) Let people like what they like, even if you do not understand why. I would also consider killing the world “overrated” from your vocabulary, as it is a word that specifically puts down those who like something popular/critically acclaimed by saying “you should not like this as much as people like it”. Of course, we should also avoid putting down someone for not liking something we like, and accept that some people just will not enjoy some things as much as we enjoy them. We can continue to praise what we like about what we like, or criticize what we do not like about what we do not like, but we need to separate praise and criticism of something from judgment on those who like or do not like that thing.
If our relationship is closer than “random internet stranger”, though, we can go farther. If we have to work together on something, we can take these different perspectives to create something greater than anything we can make by ourselves. One thing I love about being part of the Beneath the Tangles team is that our anime interests are very diverse. All of us like certain shows that at least one other person on the team cannot stand, and that is a good thing. Our diverse tastes allow us to bring Christian perspectives on a wide assortment of anime, which is helpful as different types of anime will oftentimes offer different types of messages. It also lets us reach out to more of the anime fandom, especially those that might be worried that Christianity “rejects” their type of anime. Similarly, the greater Christian Church benefits from having people with varying interests, allowing us to learn more about God as we share with each other how our own interests have drawn us closer to Him, and reaching out to more people and letting them feel welcome regardless of their own interests.
With performance scenes for the group coming up, I would love to hear what the third-years and first-years came up with in this episode. (Personally, I think a song that combines heavy metal and Buddhist “nothingness” would be awesome.) In the meantime, this episode was a good reminder to respect others’ tastes, and even try to learn from them. Like the sound of rain falling into a variety of different containers, our different interests in anime and more harmonize to make a stronger melody than any of us can make ourselves.
Love Live! Sunshine!! is streaming on Crunchyroll.