The selection of anime available on Netflix has been excellent and is growing as they embrace the fandom and bring fans more content. Some of my personal favorites have been Neon Genesis Evangelion (which I hadn’t seen previously—I totally enjoyed it), Seven Deadly Sins, Kakegurui, and several movies as well. One that recently interested me is Studio TRIGGER’s BNA.
At the center of the story is Michiru Kagemori, who has transformed into beast girl (tanuki to be exact), though she isn’t sure how or why it happened. She sneaks her way into Anima City, a haven for any beast people to live. Regardless of where they come from, all are welcome to this place, so Michiru leaves her parents home without notice and finds a way to get smuggled in. She almost loses her life on the way there to some people who hate beastmen, but she does make it!
Her hopes are that it’s an accepting place and where she can be herself, a utopia for beastmen. Her first impression is of emptiness, as there’s no one on the streets and everything is dark. Suddenly, all the citizens come forward and begin to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the city and a huge festival begins. She is overjoyed to see all the smiling faces, festivities, and excitement.
Michiru bumps into a wolf that is crying tears of joy, who tells her to take in the celebration they have been waiting to have for 1,000 years. So long? Have beastmen been around for 1,000 years? Maybe later on that gets answered, but I haven’t figured it out yet as I haven’t finished the series.
Trouble happens shortly after that. Not only does Michiru get her wallet stolen by a monkey, she sees a wolf-man plant some kind of device on a large structure, which of course explodes and causes chaos. People are running for their lives, while she is blamed for the destruction by the other wolf whom she saw crying. She explains that it wasn’t her, and they both end up chasing the perpetrator.
Once they find him, a fight ensues with the wolfman which ends with more destruction and a better understanding of how much humans hate the beastmen. This small group of mercenaries were hired to disrupt the beastmen festival since there is heavy racism towards their kind from humans.
This episode reminded me of the reason why Michiru went to Anima City in the first place. She was looking for a safe haven from the confusing nature of being a beastmen (beastwoman?) since she knew about the misunderstandings that it would cause. When she arrived, she thought it was amazing! A party was happening, everyone was having a blast, and she was able to fit in without anyone looking down on her.
Then reality hit, and she found out that there are real problems even in paradise. I thought of the verses that say:
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10
Like Abraham, Michiru was looking forward to the city that she hoped would be a refuge from the human world, even though she wasn’t sure how it would be. With the challenges all around us, and maybe particularly this year, its a common refrain to want to escape the lives we are living and find somewhere else that is better.
Most of you reading this are likely anime fans, gamers, otaku, or whichever term you would like to call yourself. Myself, I fit the anime fan / gamer role, but mostly as the latter. I love to play videogames and explore worlds, imagine I am part of them and just forget the troubles of this life while I game. But I can’t imagine forgetting that I am not actually in that place, that the life that matters is in the game and not my real one.
Living in this reality means that I can’t pretend that life will just suddenly fix itself, people will all be nice and loving, or that all my problems will disappear when I play a videogame or if I watch an anime (which I enjoy doing). Michiru thought that Anima City had the acceptance she was looking for, which it did actually! She just didn’t know that this city has it’s own issues, especially really dangerous ones as you continue to watch the series. This city is going through a lot, which nobody told her about when she decided to move there. And she wasn’t going to suddenly be without problems just by moving there.
Another relation I can give to this is when someone gives their life to Christ and decides to follow Him. We go from living in the flesh to living for the spirit (Galatians 5:17), and then we often look for others who we can relate to (going to church, small group, online Christian groups, etc).
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
When I gave my life to Christ at 17 years of age, I knew nothing about the bible, church, Christians, or this whole Christian culture that does exist in America. I didn’t know there was a huge market of books, music, clothing—basically a Christian version of everything! Over the years, as I became more entrenched into faith culture, I thought everyone was just in love with Christ and wanting to follow Him wholeheartedly. I was very mistaken!
Just like people outside the church, there are many in the church that have personal agendas and motivations that drive them, rather than being driven by a desire to seek God. I had to learn the hard way (another story for another post) that life isn’t perfect in the church, even though at first I thought it was. Like Michiru, I found out that the grass isn’t greener on the other side (or better on the next island over), and that there are problems in the body of Christ as well.
There’s no perfect group and no perfect city or place to live. Everywhere and everyone has issues. Sure, without a doubt, some places are better to live in than others. But to pretend that any places, any group, or any church is perfect and without faults is foolish.
Like Michiru, I hope that wherever you are, whether it’s a great place or a not so great place, you can make it a little better. What we do impacts others, so let’s bring some positive change to our schools, workplaces, homes, communities, being who we are and expressing our God given talents. God can use you to be a blessing to others—you just have to be obedient to what He is asking of you and look for opportunities to help.
BNA: Brand New Animal is available for streaming on Netflix.