So, I’ve been watching a rather strange anime called Gintama. It’s like… the opening of closed-state Japan 1853, only instead of America sailing in with battleships, it was aliens that sailed in with spaceships. But the rest is basically the same: unfair treaties, Japan being ashamed, samurai losing their privilages, sword ban, etc.
It’s funny, because you have all kinds of modern technology (TVs, etc) and space age technology, all set in a bizzarre 1870s Japan, complete with disgraced samurai.
Anyways, there’s some interesting cultural stuff that’s a part of it. In the third episide (you can watch these legally and free, right here), a brother and sister continue trying to run a beat-up dojo that no one goes to, even though it’s ruining them financially. Why? Because their dead father wanted it. Did I mention that he died 15 years ago?
In Japan, something you promise a dead relative or something a dead relative wants is just as binding as if they were still alive. So, if you promised your mother that you’d be a good Buddhist for the rest of your life, then suddenly you realize that Christianity is true and good…. what do you do? Well, respect your dead mother, of course, and keep your promise to her, and never become a Christian. Even going to hell would be the right decision to make, because that’s where your mother is. This is actually a true story that a missionary friend told me.
Truth? Righteousness? No, filial piety is higher value to many Japanese.
I’m so over living.
I also sense a certain level of despair in this anime. It was made in the disillusioned 2000s, after all, even if it is set in the 1870s. When you have disgraced samurai who have lost everything because the government has changed, I think it reflects the attitudes of young people today. Life seems meaningless, and Nihilism is strong in Japan.
In response to these changes, the main character’s idea is this: “Well, I’ll make my own code of honor and protect those around me” (this is very anime-main-characterish). But that is not a strong enough philosophy to combat the seeming pointlessness of life, in my opinion.
No, only Christianity can take disgraced samurai, high-school dropouts, neeters, freeters, parasite singles, and all the other despairing young people of Japan, and give them something meaningful to live for. Perhaps this is why in the real 1870s, a lot of samurai became Christians! In addition to Christians starting educational facilities where many of them got saved, perhaps their wounded honor at their lost social position brought them to the foot of the cross.
There is no hope in living to please your deceased parents. Our true Father is in Heaven, and we must live to please Him. He’s the one we can’t afford to be unfaithful to. And He will give us hope and honor and purpose. Only He can truly restore such things to our lives.
Finally, here’s today’s vocabulary list:
爆音 – Bakuon – An explosion (specifically, the sound of one)
時限 – Jigen – Time limit/period of time
時限爆弾 – Jigen bakudan – TIME BOMB
再放送 – Saihousou -Reruns
Anime is great for learning Japanese, ne?