This Summer 2014 season, we are blessed with a trio of shows that not only should be an absolute joy for slice-of-life iyashikei fans, but also provide nice--and rather complementary--parallels on the Christian life. These three shows are Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb) Second Season, Hanayamata, and Barakamon. Taking the first two characters of each title and putting them together, I have come up with YamaHanaBara to refer to the three of them collectively. (The order isn't really significant, so I may randomly refer to it as BaraYamaHana or some other order sometimes.)
Yama no Susume, I already introduced in my last post as a story of a girl, Aoi, who, despite her fear of heights, starts getting into mountain climbing along with her friend Hinata. As the second season starts, she's already climbed a smaller mountain and is looking forward to challenging some taller peaks.
Hanayamata features a girl, Naru Sekiya, who's convinced that she's an average girl with no special talents. She spends a lot of time reading fairy tales and hoping that one day a fairy will come and whisk her away to a new world. She then encounters Hana, a transfer student from America who is passionate about Yosakoi dance, and through a series of events, ends up joining her Yosakoi dance club.
Barakamon is a bit of an odd duck in that, instead of being about a high school girl, it is actually about a 23-year-old man. Seishuu Handa is an aspiring calligrapher who, after an incident where he punches an important figure in the calligraphy world, is forced to live on an island for some time to cool his head, and perhaps learn to understand why his "textbook" calligraphy is considered dull. In the process, he gets acquainted with the locals, including the resident rascal, a young, rambunctious girl called Naru. (Try not to confuse her with the Naru from Hanayamata.)
Each of these three shows are great in and of themselves, but what makes them great together is that they can each represent a different part of a Christian's walk of faith.
taking in some spiritual "milk", she is ready to move on to some solid food. The trials that await her will be harder than what she faced before, but with the help of her friends, she is ready to take them on.
Christians can probably identify with at least one of these three stages in their current walk of faith, and even if you are not at one of those stages right now, it is still good to understand all the stages, as we could get to know people that are in other stages. (Also, Seishuu's stage is one we can and will run into in our walk... multiple times, even.)
In upcoming posts, I will look at the opening episodes of each of these shows and look at what they say about that show's particular stage of faith. Throughout the season, I will revisit these shows for anything else they have to say about the walk of faith. It will be quite the endeavor, but I believe these three shows are definitely worth the time--and your time, if you decide to watch them.
Hanayamata and Yama no Susume (i.e. Encouragement of Climb) are available on Crunchyroll. Barakamon is licensed by Funimation and should be available on their streaming site sooner or later...