Dec. 12, 2009
This City Needs You Now
One of the things waiting for me upon my return to America was a CD that I have been anxiously anticipating for nearly two years: The Protomen, Act II. The first act of The Protomen‘s epic Megaman-based rock opera was something that enthralled me a couple years ago while I was still in San Luis Obispo, so I’d been waiting to hear the next chapter. This one was a prelude: the story of Drs. Thomas Light and Albert Wily as they develop their robots. If you are interested in this CD, this whole article will be a bunch of spoilers, so I urge caution. Go listen to the CD, first.
This CD is filled with emotion. Anger is there: that’s what rock music communicates really well, after all. Also the passion to change the world. And the sad pitifulness of a society living for comfort and brainwashed by media.
At the end of Father of Death, Albert comes into Dr. Light’s apartment and finds Emily leaving a letter for her lover. This is, to me, one of the most passionate scenes.
“What are you doing here?” – Emily
“Let me take you away.” Wily wants her for himself.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“He will be nothing when this runs its course.”
“He will be everything that a man is supposed to be.” Rebuking Wily’s dismissal of her love, Emily belts out:
“If a shadow blots out the sun… THERE WILL BE LIGHT.
“If it stays till the sun it set… THERE WILL BE LIGHT.
“If the sun never shows its face again… THERE WILL BE LIGHT.
“No matter how dark this city gets…”
Dr. Wily orders his robot to kill her.
Aside from the passion of the music, this is powerful to me because it is something that all men desire deeply, I think. They desire a woman who will have absolute faith in them, no matter what. And that’s what Emily did. The phrase “There will be Light” is a play on words. She could be talking about light in the general sense, but she’s also saying, “No matter what, you can’t get rid of my love, Dr. Light.” She had incredible fidelity to sacrifice her life rather than betraying her love by going with Wily.
Upon finding her dead, Dr. Light grabs her final letter and runs from the police as he is framed for her murder. Without Emily, he falls into a deep depression and is eventually exiled from the city, leaving it to Wily.
The Sleeping City
The CD’s constant references to “This City” also contain a strange power and, whether the Protomen realize it or not, a deep understanding of our society. After Wily’s takeover, he makes an army of robots to take over the labor of the city. Mankind retires to a pleasant lifestyle of leisure, and Wily controls the media and uses it to brainwash them and pacify them with how good life is in this new world.
Basically, it’s how Satan is at work in the American church. We sleep. We are content with our comforts and riches, not realizing that the Devil is tightening his grip on society all around us. Yet we do not fight. We play. It’s not that leisure is the problem, it’s that we worship it.
I listened to the demo track of Breaking Out from this CD months ago (a leak on the Internet). I see America in it, but it describes Japan perfectly. Everything is quiet and people think that the city is fine, running perfectly, but it is slowly dying. It was eerie once as I listened to it riding on the central train line in Tokyo and then wrote a poem along the same lines.
There is such power in that music. Our minds are slowly being transformed and controlled by the media and society around us, and we don’t even realize it. We do not live out our true identities in Christ as warriors. As a friend of mine put it today, “When I hang out with my church friends, we’re Christians, so we don’t do things like go out drinking, look at porn, or talk about sex, but no one says, ‘Hey, let’s study the Bible,’ or ‘Why don’t we pray?’”
I think that one of the sentences from the Breaking Out narrative sums up this and American society very well: “But the familiar sound of the telescreens reached even here. Joe stood watching the face on the screen. It babbled incessantly, but said nothing.”
Such is how many of us spend hours every day. TV doesn’t say anything. It just babbles. Entertainment, advertising, even news… it’s usually mindless. And slowly but surely, it creates a strong tide of turning our hearts (note that I do not say “minds,” which it bypasses) to the world’s way of thinking. And sadly, immersed in it, we do not even realize it.
The Last Song
Skip to the last song: Here Comes the Arm. Joe has died in front of Dr. Light, and Wily’s army of evil robots is coming out to make order by force. All of Light’s plans have failed, and as he prepares to die, he says that he will stand against this thing, but that it will overwhelm him and he will die without making a difference at all. And then he finally opens Emily’s last letter:
“Thomas, please don’t cry for me… I love you completely… He could never cage the world… and soon the darkness will pass. I want so much to be with you but in my heart I know, this city needs you now. This city needs you now.”
And the music explodes to life suddenly: “THIS CITY! THIS CITY!”
To me, this is my call to Japan, a thoroughly urbanized society. This city, this city. Images of Tokyo, nearly 30 million strong, flash to my mind. Trains and subways and towers to the heavens… When I hear those words, “This city needs you now,” I feel that I will return to Japan and to my destiny. Especially with the last line of the CD:
“Joe, if you see Emily, tell her to wait for me. ‘Cause I still have work to do…”
Again, we men (or maybe just me) long for this kind of woman who is capable of so encouraging us that even 20 years after her death, a letter from her makes all the difference. At the point of Light’s surrender, Emily’s last letter turns him around and makes him realize that he has a mission to do. I long for love like this, love that is not about making one another mutually happy in our complacency and uselessness for the kingdom. No, rather it is about spurring one another on in a way that no other human can to fulfill God’s call in our lives.
To me, it’s about far more than a girl who will make me happy. It’s about finding one who expresses absolute confidence and love and thereby enables me to be the man that God has made me to be. And it’s about someone for whom I will do that, just as much as she does it for me. Together we will form an unstoppable team and save the world from Wily’s army of evil robots… or evangelize Japan. Something like that.