We continue our Holy Week series on anime and disability with a guest post from Sorincha, one of our followers who is supporting our mission by being our voice to individuals with disabilities who would like to chat on Twitter, and joining with Tonie who is doing the same with our Facebook account. Feel free to reach out to either with questions you might have about faith!
Everyone faces challenges throughout their lives, and some have more than others.
I have cerebral palsy, a birth defect, which resulted after I was born nine weeks early, and I also suffered from Hyaline Membrane Disease (now known as Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome) four days after I was born. I am able to walk, though I can’t use my right arm and hand too well, and I wear a plastic brace on my right leg. As I was growing up, I needed physical therapy to help keep my muscles limber. Now I swim and do other forms of exercise, so I don’t need the physical therapy anymore.
When I was in grades 4-6, I was teased mercilessly because I was “different,” the worst being when one of my classmates in 6th grade told me,”Hey! We don’t want ANY cripples in the classroom!” Well, you can imagine how THAT made me feel.
Fortunately, my Mom found Cotting School, a place for children who have physical challenges. I went there from grades 7-12. I was SO much happier going there, and I remember that first day I went, EVERYBODY, even people I didn’t know, said “Hi” to me and made me feel welcome. It was a blessing for me to attend Cotting.
The first time I started watching anime, I watched Battle Of The Planets every morning as I was getting ready for school. A lot of the times, I’d be paying more attention to the show than actually getting ready, much to my Mom’s chagrin! After that, I really didn’t start watching anime again until when Pokemon became popular. I started watching that, along with all the shows airing on Toonami (Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing, Tenchi Muyo!, Outlaw Star, etc.), and my love of anime kept growing and growing.
When Fullmetal Alchemist started airing on Cartoon Network, I read the synopsis and I thought to myself “Oh WOW!! A series where I can relate to a character who also has a physical challenge!!” This was the first series I watched where there was a character like that.
Fullmetal Alchemist features two brother, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are learning to manipulate matter through energy. One day after finding their mother on the floor, passed away from an illness, the brothers decide to bring her back to life using alchemy. However, the use of alchemy to bring a human being back to life is strictly forbidden. During the process, Ed loses an arm and a leg, and Alphonse loses his entire body, though his brother is able to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor. They then go in search of an artifact known as the Philosopher’s Stone to return their bodies back to the way they once were.
As I watched this series, I felt ALOT of emotions throughout: sadness, laughter, hope, redemption, and forgiveness, to name a few.
I could feel how Edward felt when he had so many challenges to face, to help him and his brother both to restore their bodies, how horrible Edward felt from the results of what happened to them from using alchemy in the hopes of bringing their mother back to life… In one of the songs in the series, “Bratja”, from these lyrics, you can see how sorry Edward was for what he did:
“Forgive me, little brother
I am so sorry before you.
It’s forbidden to try to return
One taken by the earth….
I tempted you
With the wonderful hope
Of returning our home.
My brother, it’s all my fault.”
Further along in the song, Alphonse DOES forgive Ed:
“Don’t cry, don’t be sad, big brother.
You’re not the only guilty one.
There’s only one road before us,
We will purge our sins completely.
I cannot blame you,
I am not hurt at all.
Well, we sinned
By wanting to be stronger than everyone else.”
As I’m reading Alphonse’s part, he has forgiven Ed, just as Jesus taught: ” “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
In one of the episodes, Winry Rockbell had said to Ed that she didn’t want him to be handicapped forever. For some reason that line bothered/hit a nerve in me in a way. I think it is because many people, like myself, do have physical challenges that are with them all througout their lives, and that while in some cases their physical disabilities DO improve over time and they live the best they can with them, and some overcome them completely, but in other cases, they could potentially become worse and people might not be able to overcome them. I was thinking in my mind at the time that Winry had a sense of potential false hope that perhaps he WOULD overcome his physical challenges (I, of course, had these thoughts before getting to the end of the series).
Of course, in the end, Ed and Alphonse’s bodies are restored.
It’s a beautiful ending but one that I have mixed feelings about. I myself feel that I could never see myself as not having a physical challenge, as that’s what I’ve known my whole life. I DO know that, I am very blessed to have overcome various challenges and have gotten know and love so many wonderful friends that I’ve made over the years. I have also found that people see me for who the person I am, they don’t see my having cerebral palsy, and I am loved by them. Also, when I came to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior last year, I know He loves me for who I am, too. I am very happy to have Him by my side.
As we go throughout our lives, we’ll see that some people do things a bit differently than others. Don’t be afraid if you see people who need to use crutches to walk with, or if someone has spastic muscle movements. Feel free to go up to them and start a conversation with them. You’ll see they’re just like everyone else, they just go about their daily lives in their own unique ways. Don’t be quick to judge others just because they are “different”.
I found this on Twitter, from the account Jesus Saves. It says:
“Don’t judge others. God likes variety and we’ve all got our own little brand of ‘strangeness.'”
He does, and when you come to know Him, you will know and feel that beautiful love. Never be afraid to do anything and everything you want in life, even if that means you may need to do it in your own special way. Plus, when you have Him in your life, He will ALWAYS be there with you, and he will help you when you call out His name.
And though physical restoration may not come in this life, like it does to Ed and Al, the hope we have a deeper, fuller restoration one day in Heaven. But until then, living with disabilities or not, we have the opportunity to love one another and live a life that glorifies God, no matter—and even because—of our limitations.
You can find Sorincha on Twitter, where she’s open to speaking with you about matters of faith, and is especially available for other individuals with disabilities.
Featured illustration art by 9水 (reprinted w/permission)