Friday, August 22, 2014

Hanayamata, Eps. 5-6: Live Like A Main Character

With Tami now part of the Yosakoi club, all Hana and Naru need to do to make the club official is to get Yaya to join the club (even if only in name), and then get Sally-sensei to be their advisor. Of course, that is exactly what happens, and before they know it, the Yosakoi club is officially a thing, and suddenly everyone is seriously practicing and thinking of logos and going to public yosakoi performances for inspiration.

Also, confusing their fathers with their sudden cheerfulness.
First of all, I should mention that I love it when others blog about the shows I love, such as this show, especially when other Christian anibloggers talk about the Christian themes in these shows. After all, I do not intend these posts to be comprehensive looks at every Christian theme in these shows, and there are certainly themes that I've missed. Alternatively, they save me some of the work of writing these posts if they cover an episode I haven't covered already, which is a good thing, right? Anyway, if you haven't already, do check out Japesland's post on Hanayamata (specifically episode 5) over at Beneath the Tangles.

Before I talk more about these episodes myself, I guess I'll use this part where I make my normal spiel about being careful of spoilers after the jump, and mention that now I will be noting just how spoilerrific the post will be. Spoiler Warning: The very end of this post will have a fairly major spoiler, so stop at the second picture if you don't want to see it. Otherwise, just the usual minor spoilers are after the jump.

Being the Main Character

In episode 5, as the girls of the club watch some yosakoi performances and remember the reasons why they joined the Yosakoi club, Naru in particular says to the others how through yosakoi she wants to write a story where the four of them (for now) are the main characters. It sounds awfully prideful and selfish, but what Naru's wish reflects is the human fear that we never really accomplish anything with our lives, as if we were just side characters in the greater story of life. As such, doing something like yosakoi is a reasonable way to do something memorable, at least.

Becoming a Christian can also be a wonderful opportunity to make a mark on life, and some new Christians may have joined the faith specifically to find some meaning to their life so that they do not feel like secondary characters. Make no mistake, if we decide to follow God, we are choosing to take a part in the greatest story of all time: the story of how God, with the help of His followers, bring life back to a dying world. Now, it is easy to think that, because God is ultimately in control and His will will be done regardless of how His people mess up, that we are just secondary characters in His story. However, God wants us to play an active role in His story, taking responsibility for helping Him realize His will on Earth. In that way, we are all individually main characters: we drive the plot of God's story forward.

This is not something to take lightly. Side characters can sit by and watch the plot pass by, but main characters cannot stay on the sidelines for long. For some people who prefer to stay in the background (like myself, admittedly) or would rather not leave their comfortable lives (like Naru at the start of the show), this call to action can be frightening. Furthermore, there is no room for pride, as we realize that we are ultimately powerless without the guiding pen of the Author, and ultimately all glory will go to Him. But if we accept our role and the responsibilities therein, we can find that fulfilling life that so many people look for, like how Naru finds it in accepting the challenge of yosakoi.

Show, Then Tell

Episode 6 features the group's first yosakoi performance, an impromptu demonstration given to show the other girls in the class what yosakoi is like. It is very rough and incomplete, but it still draws a crowd, and convinces their advisor Sally-sensei that they are serious about yosakoi. It is a wonderful moment that gives us a taste of the joy of yosakoi as the show heads into even bigger performances.

As Christians, one of our missions is to share our faith with non-believers to possibly help bring them to Christ. However, such a mission can be a very scary thing for many believers for many reasons. In particular, new Christians will often face a particular insecurity in sharing the Gospel: the fear that their unfamiliarity with the faith will cause them to mess up and give a testimony that is incomplete, incorrect, or otherwise ineffective. As such, some new Christians will shy away from sharing the Gospel, preferring to leave it to the "experts". (For that matter, experienced Christians can feel this way, too, if they feel they are not good at putting their knowledge of the Gospel into words.)

In this case, sometimes the best thing to do is to live out the faith first. There are two advantages of this. First, sometimes it is easier to get others to see what Christianity is like and how it can change you for the better by demonstrating it to them. Like how an unpolished yosakoi performance drew more attention than the club's attempts to simply advertise yosakoi through flyers, so seeing our faith in action can be a greater witness than just telling people about it.

The second advantage, though, is that after living it out, it can be easier to tell people about our faith verbally, as the experience allows for a concrete example to draw from. There's a common saying among Christian circles that goes "Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words." It's a saying that highlights how important it is to live faithful lives instead of just talking about them, but it can be a bit of a stumbler for those who think it's an excuse to never share the gospel verbally. Perhaps a better saying would be "Preach the gospel at all times, and then use words." It's important for future Christians to hear the Gospel laid out in words, since words are the foundation of our language and thus our understanding of things. But if the words aren't coming out, by all means, put on a demonstrative dance and see if that helps.

(It is also helpful to realize that, ultimately, God is in charge of bringing an unbeliever's heart around to Him, so we are not responsible for anyone's actual salvation; as such, we can be less fearful of failure.)

Of course, in Naru's case, as episode 5 showed, she already has a way with the flowery, poetic words that inspire her fellow club members, so now that she has had the chance to actually dance in front of people, her yosakoi testimony is now full of power.

If Aika from the Aria series were here, she would go nuts from all the sappy lines.

Going forward, the Yosakoi club has a small performance at a department store event to practice for. However, in the meantime, Yaya gets some harsh news, finding out that her band failed their audition. What does this mean for Yaya, who had mainly devoted herself to her band and had kept the Yosakoi club at arms' length? Whatever the case, things will certainly get interesting in the next episodes.

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