We have to remember that since the Angelic way of thinking is so different from ours, so is their quality of choosing. We are often influenced by passions, circumstances, incomplete knowledge, conflicting motivations, and so on; we can reevaluate our choices and reasoning, alter our conclusions, and even repent of our malice. But, angelic malice is of a different order. The choice the angels made was not influenced by emotions, conditioned by circumstances, fostered by bad education, or formed in partial knowledge of the consequences of the choice. Their will is unchanging; and so is their decision to rebel.
-From His Angels at Our Side by Fr. John Horgan
The above passage from a book on the angels was on my mind as I thought about two harem anime. Well, one is a proper harem anime, The Familiar of Zero F, and the other, Meiji Tokyo Renka, stands as a reverse harem. The Familiar of Zero (aka Zero no Tsukaima) franchise began to be animated back in 2006, when I instantly fell in love with just how funny it was. (E.g. I nearly died laughing when Saito thought custom demanded that he French kiss Princess Henrietta.) At the same time, I also fell in love with the whole harem genre and the amusing depiction of the vacillating ways of the human–particularly, the male–heart.
With harem shows, part of the hilarity is driven off of the fact that the audience tends to know the girl who will eventually place first in the hero’s affections. There are exceptions to this rule. The famous progenitor of the harem genre, Tenchi Muyo, allows the audience to boil down the choice between two serious contenders, Ryoko Hakubi and Princess Ayeka Jurai, and no further. The hapless Tenchi is fought over by many and various women from across the galaxy and never makes a solid choice.
However, this is sloppy. Part of the humor of a good harem show lies in watching the pain, distress, and vexation of heroine as one woman after another pops up to steal the hero from her. All these women, no matter how much better endowed they are than the heroine, are essentially distractions. With Zero no Tsukaima, Louise is shorter and notoriously less buxom than the other female characters who compete for Saito’s affection. Thus, Saito’s attention constantly strays towards Tabitha, Henrietta, Kirche, Tiffania, Jessica, Siesta, and others–moving Louise to exclaim “Stupid dog!” (“Baka inu!”) and to send an explosion in Saito’s vicinity. Despite all of this harsh treatment, Saito’s affections always returns to Louise, and the success of their romance excludes all doubt by the events of The Familiar of Zero F.
When it comes to the path of sanctification, many Christians act like stupid dogs. We free the reins of our passions when we should keep them taut. We either indulge too much in the things of this world or harvest forbidden fruits. We incline towards pride, wrath, lust, and gluttony when we ought to practice humility, patience, modesty, and temperance. We feed our egos and starve our souls. We act as if we were going to live forever on this earth. How many Christians are only turned to true piety by the onset of old age with the concomitant weakening of the passions and reminder of death?
But, if we wait so long, we will never be able to say “In heaven” like St. Louis Martin, the father of St. Therese of Lisieux, said these words in his declining years. St. Louis had lived his whole life with heaven as his goal so that even while mentally and physically depleted and dying, he could offer his family consolation by saying those two words. His faith and virtue made the Kingdom of Heaven that much more palpable to those around him.
I have not yet spoken at all about Meiji Tokyo Renka, have I? Some curious similarities between the hero of this reverse harem anime, Mori Ogai, and Christ struck me as I pondered this anime. Ogai possesses a mansion with many rooms (John 14:2), would eventually hold the rank of Surgeon General of the Japanese Army–like how Christ is the Chief Healer of the Church Militant, displays a distinct jealousy for Mei while at the same time giving her plenty of freedom and showing great tolerance. Our God is jealous for our love while also permitting us freedom and tolerating our erring ways. Also, like how Christ acts towards most Christian souls, Ogai places her under his protection, enriches her, and affiances her while she is lost, helpless, and poor. Nor has she yet agreed to this of her own volition–as is the case in infant baptism.
Mei herself may easily be compared to a good though not fervent Christian soul in treating everyone with charity, enjoying everything without being owned by things, and loving her affianced while wanting to enjoy good things. In this, she is yet an imperfect fiancée. She causes Ogai worry when she rushes headlong into serious dangers, and excites his jealousy by cultivating friendships with other men. She creates possible openings for other suitors to steal her heart. This is like how–as is often the case–Christians immerse themselves in business, entertainment, study, worldly friendships, and daily life without referring these things to Christ. It is our duty to baptize everything we do for the love of Christ, because nothing encourages sin to enter our daily lives like treating religion as a separate sphere of activity.
Unlike as in the case of a human lover, Christ is always with us. There is no such thing as an indifferent human act (pace Melanchthon): we are always doing good or evil. So, why not dedicate our rising, meals, work, recreation, rest, and all human interactions to Christ? God created all these things for our salvation, and, if one acts in this manner, Christ will soon become not only the first, but the only thing in your heart. While Christ is merely first, there is ever the risk of some idol supplanting Him and leading us to sin.
Thankfully, we are not angels: our willing is not perfect and irrevocable. We can repent of acting like baka inu for every pretty face or exchanging our relationship with the Persons of the Trinity for the company of our fellow men. By constant repentance, we will at last, like St. Louis Martin, be able to place all of our hopes, dreams, and desires into those two words “In heaven.”