Based on your votes, Twwk is spending the upcoming weeks watching BNA: Brand New Animal, Mob Psycho 100, and A Place Further Than the Universe, three series he’d never picked up or barely started, and continuing with one show he made it a third of the way into before stalling, Vinland Saga. He’ll watch several episodes at a time and blog on them, but at any point, could drop a series and may end up finishing just one or two (or none at all!).
Let’s get started! Er, let’s raise the roof!
A Place Further Than the Universe (Yorimoi) works in part because the main characters all act like kids. Though they display varying levels of maturity, the girls all still see the world through teenage eyes: They get discouraged easily, sometimes fail to see the big picture, and most importantly, dare to dream big. Go to Antarctica? Why not?! It’s enough to make you want to go yourself (Don’t tell me you haven’t googled “Antarctica trips” if you’ve watched this show).
But perhaps the most childish among the travelers is Mari. Bright, energetic, and irresponsible, she just oozes childlike qualities. There’s nothing about her that’s adult, which is precisely why Megumi, her best friend, has always been attracted to her. She sees in Mari someone who can depend on her and her wisdom, rationality, and worldliness. But leading up to episode five, Megumi has been giving her friend the stink eye and continually saying discouraging things. Finding that her words don’t have the power they once did, the “mature” Megumi does the unthinkable—she begins to spread hurtful rumors about Mari out of spite and in an attempt to drive her back under her wings.
I hate to say it, but I was like Megumi when I was in high school, and even well into my adulthood. I was very manipulative, knowing that I could turn relationships toward the directions I wanted them to be, which usually meant toward my advantage. I had one particular friend who was very naive, like Mari, and I tried to convince her of a great many things. She would agree with me but then follow her own ways, and I would get mad. Although I wouldn’t spread rumors like Megumi did, I would basically throw a hissy fit. Looking back, how I wish I had been less like myself and more like my friend—a bit more innocent, a bit more like a child.
The Bible, of course, speaks highly of children—particularly, Christ talks of his love for them. In one passage, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). But what exactly does Jesus mean by “become like little children”? Does he mean us to be innocent? Loving? Trusting? I’ll let theologians dig further into the specifics, though I wonder if we really even need an extended explanation. I bet you’re like me, implicitly understanding exactly what Jesus means. The statement infers that we as adults are not like little children—we lack those qualities in our adulthood. These are the characteristics that we lost along the day, that we wish could have retained, that we wish we still had.
In episode 5 of Yorimoi, each of the four girls are letting go of the things they’d relied on. They’re moving on, in a sense, from childhood (though all but Mari seem to have been thrust out of that stage life already and too early). And yet, Mari faces this transition into adulthood much as a child would—with fear and courage, with anticipation, with excitement. She’s retaining her inner child as her experiences and everything else move her toward the next phase of life. I think that’s a good example of how an adult can be like a child. Those same characteristics help us trust God completely, dream and do great things for the kingdom, and love others fully and completely, even when they break our hearts.
In the final scenes of episode 5, Megumi admits her wrongdoing and gives an assertion that she’s ending their friendship. After all, she’s already broken it by her deeds.
She’s done two every adult things—one in a terrible way, hurting Mari, and one in a responsible way, owning up to her actions, and in turn, it would be very adult for her friend to end their relationship. But instead, Mari responds, “Break-up denied!” through tears and hugs. She doesn’t choose the mature, “adult” response. Mari acts like a child, instead. And in doing so, shares a powerful, life-changing love—and one that helps her friend grow, too.
And if that childlike exuberance and goodwill doesn’t demonstrate the godly love of children, I’m not sure what else would.
Series: A Place Further Than the Universe, episodes 5 and 6
Episode grade: A- and B+
Likelihood for completion (1-5): 5 (no change)
A Place Further Than the Universe can be streamed on Crunchyroll.
The rest of the series…
Series: BNA, Episode 5
Episode grades: C+
Likelihood for completion: DROPPED
As much as I appreciated the artistry of the series, it ultimately just wasn’t for me. It felt like BNA was trying to be lot of different things, but in doing so, ended up achieving nothing (at least through five episodes). It wasn’t deep enough, funny enough, clever enough, or warm enough. I was just left with a show whose episodic nature didn’t capture me with a larger story that I didn’t care about, either. And with these other three shows being simply better, in addition to others I’m watching as well. this was frankly a pretty easy drop.
BNA: Brand New Animal is available for streaming on Netflix.
Series: Mob Psycho 100, Episodes 6-12
Episode grades: A
Likelihood for completion: COMPLETE
Quite the opposite of BNA, MP100 had me glued to my screen. What an amazing season—an almost perfect mix of comedy, action, and heart. I also loved how well it was set up for Reigen to play a vital role in the final couple of episodes in a way so true to his character. He, along with Mob, are now among my favorite characters in all anime, though I’m starting to like so many of the others as well. I would trade a hundred episodes of this series for BNHA. Alas, the second season will have to do.
Mob Psycho 100 can be streamed on Crunchyroll.
Series: Vinland Saga, Episodes 14, 15, 16, and 17
Episode grades: B+, B+, A-, A-
Likelihood for completion (1-5): 4 (+1.5)
Vinland Saga is such a slow burn, but it feels necessary to tell a story with so many moving pieces. I am glad, though, that it finally seems we’re past the initial, contextual parts of the series and onto more significant things. A lot happens in these several episodes—the slaughter of a village, the reveal of Canute’s background and of his status in the kingdom, Ragnar’s death, the mutiny against Askeladd, and Thorkell’s arrival. I have to lot to discuss from these episodes—I already wrote one full post, but may sit on it a bit to see how the rest of the series pans out (and how that could potentially add to what I’ve already written).
Vinland Saga can be streamed on Amazon Prime.