Newman’s Nook: Sanrio Self Loathing

Sanrio Boys (Sanrio Danshi) is an anime series based on the manga of the same name about a group of high school boys who are into the cuteness of Sanrio products. We’ve got Kouta all into Pompompurin. We’ve got Yuu who loves My Melody. Shunsuke who’s a huge Hello Kitty fan. Seiichiro who’s in love with Cinnamoroll (just like my 6 year old daughter!). And we have Ryo who loves Little Twin Stars.The characters struggle at times with the fact that their personal fandom and passion are considered by others to be…well, weird. It’s called gross, effeminate, awful, or just plain strange by others to their faces. When Kouta was a child he had a plush Pompompurin his grandmother gave him. He was mocked by his friends as he got older for clinging to the plushie. When it was damaged and his grandmother offered to repair it, he lashed out and said some awful things to her about how he hated it. He lived with that regret as that was some of the last things he said to his grandmother. He retained a resentment of the toy and Sanrio products after this moment for a long while.

Ryo is much the same way when we first meet him. He sees Kouta, Yuu, and Shunsuke speaking boldly and publicly about their love of Sanrio items. He spits insult after insult at them. He’s furious they would be so bold as to talk about enjoying Sanrio products. He is furious. Ryo has been teased for a long time for being a pretty boy with feminine features. He hates being called cute and the teasing he constantly receives from others, including his older sisters. It created a hatred in him for all things cute, including Sanrio, within him.

In both cases, the resentment of cute objects turned into a hatred of self, as Kouta and Ryo hated the fact that they liked cute things. This was not a hatred of bad behavior, nor of the fact that they were doing illegal things. This was not even a hatred of past cruel actions to others. This was mere hatred of the true self, the self that accepts what their interests are and are open to acknowledging them.

Self-loathing is unhealthy and dangerous. It can lead to depression, outbursts, bitterness, and numerous other issues in life. It makes it harder for us to open up with others and psychologically speaking, can prevent us from ever being happy or content.Self-hatred is also very bad from a theological perspective. While the Bible warns about boasting, it also tells us we are each uniquely created in the image of God. Often we can remember that when it comes to loving others like our family, friends, and neighbors. We sometimes like to chastise others using this same mentality to get them to be more loving to their enemies, yet we sometimes forget that this piece of information is also true about us.

You are made in the image of God. I am too. We are image bearers of the Lord. We should respect and love that image. Should we embrace when we do wrong? Of course not. But if we find ourselves happening to enjoy media others find weird—who cares? In the end, as long as it is not sinful or harmful to others, to love something that others find silly is irrelevant. Admit it to yourself and you will find a world of strength you did not expect.

Being firm and knowing who you are is a huge thing. In the Bible we see examples of Stefan, who embraced his faith even in the face of death. We see it in the form of David who knew that the Lord was on his side, even when he was up against unspeakable odds. We also see those who wavered and were uncertain about themselves, including Moses and Elijah, who each doubted their own strengths and at certain points asked God to let them die because they could no longer handle their lives. They persevered by embracing themselves and the roles the Lord had for them.

I strive to do the same myself. I try to be as bold as I can about who I am not shying in the face of it even if embracing what I enjoy makes me look silly. So I will now in this moment of admitting to what we like say that I enjoy the Kilala Princess manga. Kilala Princess is a shojo manga about a young girl who finds herself pulled into different Disney world settings to help a lost prince find a missing princess. That princess is clearly her. I originally checked it out from the library with my kids thinking my daughters would like it. I mean, I have three daughters who love them some Disney princesses. No interest. So, I read it. And then checked out volume two from the library to read myself soon thereafter. It’s aimed at children, it’s simplistic, and every plot point is super obvious and cliche. I still am enjoying it. I don’t care if it makes me seem silly or trite.

Kouta and Ryo take some time to come around and embrace themselves. It takes his old Pompompurin being thrown out for Kouta to finally realize who he is and embrace his love of Sanrio products. It takes a a lot of conversation and realization of his mistakes for Ryo to embrace it too. It is hard and societal gender roles tend to downplay male enjoyment of cute things. Yet, who cares what others think? The Sanrio Boys finally stopped caring and embraced the truth about themselves. What about you?

Sanrio Boys (Sanrio Danshi) is available for streaming at Crunchyroll.

Kilala Princess is published by TokyoPop.


6 thoughts on “Newman’s Nook: Sanrio Self Loathing

  1. Luminas here! 😀 I have some interesting comments on this subject, as somebody who wrestles with what’s probably an undiagnosed anxiety disorder and significant self-loathing. So…

    (1). What happens when that which you love is indeed sinful, but your actual actions in response to that love aren’t exactly suggestive of sin? This is the case for me, the vast majority of gay people of whatever sort, and likely those who have an inherent, childlike lust for battle (as an example, the real-life crazy bastard who took a two-handed sword into WWII and no one attacked him because no one wanted to *know* what kind of person did that XD). That is, there are people who, as some core aspect of who they are, love something sinful or otherwise abhorrent. Yet this isn’t lust: about half the time, sexual desire isn’t exactly the first thing on this person’s mind. It’s genuine, unabashed, unconditional love. The only actual sin involved is literally the sin *of loving something,* as these lead to other forms of sin at about the same rate as more ordinary pleasures do. And somebody in this position, chances are, doesn’t quite know what to do about it. The love seems entirely independent of anything planned or logical or “This happened because of this.” In fact, it can even perpetuate if they’re *aware* that there’s something deeply unsettling about it. It’s not an issue of not knowing something’s sinful or bad for you.

    (2). Social conventions are actually swinging in such a way in America, anyway, that men loving cute things made for women is seen as generally fine, if a bit childish. Whole subcultures have been created among those men who do not feel comfortable in traditional masculinity. But that’s…not really the case for young women, or those who are nonbinary. *Anything* we love is wielded against us by, ironically, the very same men who themselves are finding traditional masculinity too constraining and absurd. I think…it can’t just be a matter of not hating yourself for it, but that we must not judge *others* for what they love, either. We can’t afford to make assumptions ourselves about either the men who love My Little Pony or Sanrio or Power Rangers, or the women who obsess over Star Wars or Disney movies even Twilight (*bleck* on that last one personally though :p).

    (3). To come to love ourselves, we must first reject the narratives we’ve heard (from our teachers, our parents, and our lovers sometimes) that paint our very natures as personal flaws, and must reject our reflex to judge those natures in others. We must love our arbitrary attraction to Kilala Princess (;] ), and in a way I think we must also love our substandard housekeeping, or our weird mannerisms, or even our quick temper. No one ever overcomes a personal flaw by being shamed into it, or by being compliant to the will of others. They must first accept that God loves them with all these warts, and respect themselves, and then decide to be better for themselves. Not for the jeers of others.

    1. Howdy Luminas! You always have interesting things to say about…everything.

      (1.) Of course, the nature of this article isn’t to condone sin or sinful/evil desires. Desiring to beat someone or to sleep with every person on Earth falls into that category. However, inherently loving something isn’t sinful – even someone. It’s the lust, as you said, where the sin lies. We carry over from thinking, “Hmm, this is cool or beautiful…” to the “This is something I need and desire about all else including God,” there’s the problem. There’s a line and it’s hard to know where the line is for each of us. You will also find disagreement among those who all claim Christ about this very topic!

      (2.) Yes and no. There have been more men in the United States openly embracing cuteness. Bronycon brought in a whole lot of people annually to Baltimore and the majority are males embracing cute things that are outside of what is normally considered masculine. Yet, at the same time, that is still not the norm and is sometimes mocked by others. While there is a growing stigma with this mockery, it still strikes those who are not into it as odd or strange. As you said – we should not make assumptions about people based on one aspect of what they enjoy. I like Kilala Princess. But I also like professional football, engineering, math, and helping out with my school’s PTA. We’re not just one thing and if you define yourself by the one thing – that becomes problematic in a whole different way.

      As you said, though, the opposite of women and those who do not fall within the binary gender scale enjoying that which is traditionally “masculine” purview is still viewed strangely. The “FAKE GEEK GIRL” battle rages on as men try to prove they know more about geekery than women. It’s stupid. Enjoying Star Wars or anime or football has nothing to do with your gender and everything to do what you happen to like. Trying to force others to prove themselves because of what they happen to like is a fool’s game and awful.

      (3.) We do need to love ourselves, but man – I need to get better about tidiness in our house! 😛

  2. Yeah, I don’t care what people think of me, because you shouldn’t care what other people think of you, right?

  3. Well, let´s go with an unpopular objection. I´ll start by saying that I love a lot of really strange, mediocre, childish or primarily girl-oriented stuff (Lain, Nichijou, Brotherhood, Erased, Princess Tutu and Ore Monogatari are all in my current top 15, and The Idolm@ster and Fruits Basket are close, I found Lizzie McGuire to be an amusing absurd comedy with interesting moral questions, and I love Jane Austen novels), and I´m perfectly OK with that, even if others are not. To defy standarized peer pressure, look farther and open new ways is valuable, and self-loathing must be combated. I think I can understand were you are coming from. Yet, I cannot totally share what you´re saying. I would say that your current tastes are only a part of who you are, and that to embrace or cultivate them in one way or another is a more complicated decision. Specially as regards to maturity, masculinity-femininity, morality and life with God.

    Fiction is in some ways like C.S Lewis Wood between the Worlds, a way of building a personal world of referents which opens a lot of new doors for you to explore and helps you growing in every aspect, and this world can be richer or poorer, help or not help your everyday life, isolate you or lead you to open up, lead to melancholy or depression or give you signs and icons of hope, strenghten your faith or make you lose your faith. There is an ongoing auto-education in taste and feelings, and discipline and conscious long-term decisions are an important part of it. Your tastes are part of this equation and you cannot work without taking them into account (it would be like the high schooler with 8th grade syndrome forcing himself to jump from Fanta to black coffee and from Harry Potter to the Divine Comedy and saying to himself that he is having a good, “adult” time: I´ll confess I did this with Mozart and pop-rock for a thankfully short time at 15-16). But your psychological wounds, your quirks, your needs and your less noble desires are also present in your tastes, and you can actively cultivate them, moderate them, correct them or put them in context without negating them, in an organic way so they help you up instead of being a weight or a temptation to self-closure, or superficial.

    And well, in the context of this auto-education, there are often values interiorized in the social mores, traditions, narratives and constructions which must not be overlooked. For example, about masculinity. If I want to be a husband and a father someday, carrying this title which calls to Our Father and will influence how they see Him, If I want to be reliable, and a point of reference for those around me, there are certainly some aspects of me and my interior world that I have to actively cultivate, moderate, correct or put in context, about how I see girls, about how I confront my own responsibilities, about work, about how to integrate the child and the adult, about opening to other people or matters which didn´t interest me previously and build community… And stories and tastes have influence. The Robin Hood or John Wayne traditional constructions of masculinity, whatever its excesses, points to a kind of man who develops his own strenght and puts it at the service of others, specially the girl, rejecting the abuses of the unjust. It´s only a particular embodiement of these values, and I can take instead more of a humble Harry Potter, of a broken Batman, of a Fogg gentleman, of a Spiderman, of a sarcastic Hikki, of a reformed Edmund Pevensie, even of a man with a liking for cute things, if I find them more helpful and close as companions in this road to manhood. Not if the model who I admire consistently rejects responsibility or is a Casanova, unless my attention is in other noble aspects or I´m not looking to the character as a model. I´ll never thank you all enough for how valuable has been Beneath the Tangles and its individual bloggers for me in this respect.

    I´m not saying that the way of self-growth is the same for everyone: just as “the line” about what is acceptable is always different from person to person and from time to time, but the principles are the same (lust is bad in every context, but not everybody is tempted to lust by the same things), “the path” is always different, but you can go up or down. Aside from what crosses “the line”, you can very well say: “hey, I´m going too much into mere escapism, let´s learn to approach some harder stories about suffering”. Or maybe you´re a doctor in Africa and reality is enough for this. Or “I´m becoming too used to fast-paced stories, let´s learn to be patient”, or maybe that way you simply don´t enjoy anything, or not yet. Or “let´s try now with a new thing, a mecha, a meta thing, a sports anime”, or, why not, “I´m watching too much girl-oriented stuff, let´s find also a male character whose specific masculinity I can admire”, or “I´m stuck in stories about kids and high school stuff and it´s becoming a comfort zone for me, let´s try to watch an After Story or a Shirobako”… You can fast of something for a time, or limite it, or change the way you view it, or say, “Black Mirror is fascinating, but I´m gonna end up depressed”. I remeber that in “Surprised by Joy”, Lewis reaches the conclusion that his teen liking of power fantasy sport stories and Roman stuff were kind of unhealthy for him.

    I don´t share the taste of cute things, but I suppose it could be an Edenic liking of primal peace and harmony, or remind someone of his own childhood just as Disney or Grimm tales do, or be aesthetically pleasing as jewellry or a garden, or be funny, or recall a particular valuable memory, or be sort of a bond with one´s own children and their logic and tastes, and these are all valuable things that only those who don´t understand will critize. Tenderness is not necessarily separated of masculinity. I certainly wouldn´t have started McGuire, to speak of the most out-of-character of all my likings, were not for my sisters, and it still speaks me of them. But I know also a friend for whom a taste like this was indicative of an interiorized refusal to growing up in other aspects which are putting him in a very dangerous position now. And I have seen how both infantile and feminine may have the role of comfort shell that feminine stuff has for Ritsu Sohma in Fruits Basket. It really depends on the person. I admired The Idolm@aster´s Makoto resolution to be more girly, as a development she wanted to achieve and something she felt she needed even when her habits, education and artistic career seemed to point overwhelmingly in the opposite direction, and I would admire the same resolution in a guy.

    Of course, God loves us the way we are now, wether we are healthy or unhealthy, messy or composed, more loving or less loving, wise or dumb, and we need to do the same: it´s not from any achievement on this fields from where we should derive our sense of self-worth, as this would be futile. Yet, we need to walk and grow. So I would call for discernment about what we embrace and how we embrace it: the same way we must separe the sin and the sinner, or a sign of God from the particular person or circunstances in which it was given, we should also consider our tastes and appetites as being only a part of what we are, important, of course, and unique, and worthy, but not defining, unchangeable or perfect. And discern from the inside, in each one´s unique way, how we will walk and grow with them in a world of which masculinity, femininity, beauty, truth, mental health or our relationships with others and with God are also neccesary to calculate the route…

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