Two’s company. Three’s a community.
That much is apparent in Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, which begins with a twosome—Asakusa and Kanamori—adding a third member, Mizusaki. The creation of this group suddenly coalesces a loose set of dreams without a plan or goal into a determined creative force under the banner of Eizouken (film research club), which takes on and accomplishes the monumental task of creating a quality anime short.
The three girls in the series resemble a teenage otaku version of the Beatles. They are brimming with talent, each brilliant in their own ways. Asakusa is the dreamer with a mind that bursts forth into creative direction and storytelling. Kanamori is the administrator, keeping the girls on schedule and in line, thinking of the big picture and slyly enacting financial plans. Kanamori is the artist, able to conceptualize vision to output. On their own, they are talent wasted; together, the girls create something quite extraordinary, cool stuff beyond what inexperienced 15-year-olds should be able to accomplish.
That, of course, is the value of good teamwork. In every corner of the globe, consulting firms are trying to tap into the richness of this almost intangible quality, guaranteeing that their techniques will build your team and ultimately your profit margin. As they target organizations, authors look address individuals as their audience, developing an endless supply of books about the topic. Even the most distributed book of all time, the Bible, demonstrates the value of team. Though they are inspired, filled, and empowered by the Holy Spirit (How many businesses can say the same?), there’s no doubt that the apostles also accomplished much by working as a team. Paul is graciously brought into the supportive group (after a period of trust-building) and transforms from a highly talented and educated Christian jailer to the greatest Christian this side of Jesus himself. Another apostle, Peter, goes from being a man of great will but little direction to a man of wisdom and power, supported by his “teammates,” even when that occurs through valid criticism. On their own, each man is wasted talent; together, bolstered by the young church (and under the “effective” leadership of the King of Kings), they spread the love of Christ throughout the world.
It’s amazing how being on a team can transform your work. As I revisit the past on Beneath the Tangles for our tenth year commemoration, I’ve commented on how the nature of the brand has changed because we’ve added team members. Some four-dozen volunteers have helped us over the years. They’ve sharpened my leadership, helped to both focus and broaden our reach, and created a more effective site. On my own, I have a tendency in my pride to find great comfort is going my own way, sometimes towards peril. But with the support of other leaders and the rest of the team, we’re more aligned toward doing the work of loving others and sharing our passion for anime, the very mission of this blog. I’ve grown as well—I’m a better writer, story sharer, administrator, evangelist, and Christian because of the team around me. If I’m still a child in my faith now—and I still often feel that to be true—I would be a toddler or infant without the encouragement, support, and strength of those around me.
In KYHOE, each of the girls achieves greatness because of the others. Asakusa is living in her own mind, a river of imagination that doesn’t really seem to care if she ever focuses her brilliance and accomplishes anything. She could remain happy being that way, but Kanamori pushes her to become more than she is, while Mizusaki continually tosses important questions at her that heighten Asakusa’s thoughts about the direction of their anime.
Mizusaki, on the other hand, desires to create anime but has no support to do so. She is an island with parents whom she feels don’t offer her the support she needs and without a strong group of friends, since her fame creates a certain barrier from those around her. Kanamori provides her the structure to make her dreams a reality, and Asakusa provides the missing elements—the story and direction and design that Mizusaki needs to bring drawings to life.
Even Kanamori, the most driven of the girls, needs help from the others. In fact, she might need community more than they do. Since she was a child, helping her family run a convenience store, Kanamori not only had an eye for business but a keen interest in it. But how can she use her talent and skill? Anime is a vehicle for her to hone what’s within. But although she’s more organized than the other girls, there are still missteps along the way. She’s growing as they are, and learning from mistakes. One day, I imagine, the girls will look back to these experiences as each of the Beatles did at theirs and recognizes missteps, mistakes, and ways they could have done better (Mizusaki, the perfectionist, already points many of her own flaws out). Their talent is forming and will continue to do so.
But the Eizouken’s development isn’t just for the small screen. I know that I need the same in every part of my life, including in the maturing of my faith. I require a community that encourages through taking care of me, but also in holding me accountable when needed, as Paul did with Peter. Community is absolutely necessary if one wants to thrive; teamwork is essential for personal growth. The Eizouken came together during a pivotal moment in the club members’ lives—if not for the team, I don’t foresee a successful future for Mizusaki (and perhaps for Asakusa as well) in animation. For each of the Beatles, a prolific output followed even after their breakup that could not have happened had they not formed their band to achieve the success and brilliance they did. And for Christians like myself, church has the potential to be a turning point as well; a great community can lead to multiplication, an intense growth in faith that positions the believer to become a harvester of many fields rather than a farmer struggling his whole life to till just one acre.
And perhaps that’s the most incredible aspect to a great team—it not only changes the team member; it can transform all those around her as well. Strong community is powerful, alive, sacred. It is worth discomfort. It is worth grasping for. And as with Asakusa, Mizusaki, and Kanamori, it is worth battling for in all ways—against yourself at times, through conflicts within the team, and in protection from assault by others—keep your hands off my community! For it is the life extraordinary, and it is worth the fight.