Saturday, September 6, 2014

Barakamon, Eps. 7-8: Share the Wisdom, Share the Love

So I talk about how Barakamon might be close to being a Christian anime, as the Gotou Islands it takes place on has a history with Japan's few Christians. I wrote that before episode 8 aired... and naturally, episode 8 was titled "Onde: Buddhist Chanting and Dancing."

This is why I shouldn't be allowed to make claims about anything being a Christian anime, right?

Well, to be fair, I probably should not be too surprised that Buddhist traditions exist in the Gotou islands culture. The islands are located right between Japan and China and likely had a significant Chinese (and thus Buddhist) population before the Japanese Christians took refuge there. What has likely happened is a mixture of different faith traditions and cultures to form the islands' current culture. And if the fact that Hiro was dragged into taking part in the onde because they were lacking people is of any indication, it's possible that the onde has become a cultural relic that is performed mainly for following tradition than out of any actual belief in the ritual itself (and hence, fewer people feel the desire to actually perform the ritual).

But that's enough hypothesizing about the show's anthropology. Let's talk about the actual content of the episodes themselves, and the Christian themes found within.

In which the show suddenly becomes tsuritama.
Spoiler warning: Nothing major this time; just the usual minor stuff.



Episode 7: A Fishing Trip of Wonders

I don't really have any unified themes to draw from episode 7, which was an overall incredible episode filled with little wonderful things. Here are some various smaller things that I took from the episode that are of particular note to Christians.

Most notable is how Seishuu is able to share what he has learned on the islands with his friends, especially Kosuke, who is still relatively inexperienced in calligraphy despite his early success. This highlights an important aspect of the "making disciples" command that Jesus has given us. It is not enough to just convert non-Christians and then leave them to try to figure out how to be followers of Christ on their own. We have to come alongside less-experienced Christians and help them out by sharing what we have learned on our own faith walk.

There's also a theme of trying different, unconventional things, too, or rather, not being too surprised when someone does something unconventional. Conventions aren't necessarily a bad thing--they do exist for a reason--but they are not to be blindly followed, and sometimes, the path that God wants us to go on is one that goes against such conventions. Of course, there's also the possibility that going against convention will just end in glorious failure (as Naru demonstrates). But hey, sometimes it's worth trying, and it can be good for a laugh afterwards.

Finally, there's a nice moment in the middle where Seishuu realizes that his father's strictness was not necessarily indicative of a lack of love for his son, but rather simply his way of helping him grow. Of course, there is such a thing as being too strict, but it's pretty safe to assume that Seishuu's father isn't like that. And all in all, it's always nice to be able to come to that place when we realize those ways our parents loved us that we could not see in the past.

Episode 8: Gathering Together

Episode 8 features two separate events: a birthday party for Naru, and a traditional Obon grave visit. In these events, what is perhaps most interesting is not so much anything Seishuu does, but how he has affected things in arriving on the island. Miwa mentions that it is thanks to Seishuu that she even thought of throwing Naru a birthday party, and before Seishuu spends the grave visit with Naru (with all the others gathering with them later), she spent the multiple hours watching the grave alone.

For a community as close-knit as these people are, it seems a bit weird that something like a birthday party or having someone accompany Naru during a grave visit would go unthought of, but sometimes it can happen, especially if a group of people has gotten into a habit of doing things a certain way. That is why, sometimes the best thing that can happen to such a group of people, especially Christians, is to welcome someone new into that group and take the time to care for that person. This is what happens to Miwa and the other villagers, as Seishuu's presence gives them all a greater reason to gather together, which in turn inspires them to think of each other more.

Even the nicest of Christian circles can grow stagnant if they do not take the time to love others outside their group. The important thing to take away here is that when it comes to receiving God's love, we are not to be buckets, but pipelines. If all we do is take God's love and keep it within ourselves, our love will not grow, and we can end up in situations where we fail to see a need for love even within our own circles. But if we take God's love and give it out to others, we can expand our own capacity for love. (To use another analogy, eating a lot of meat and doing nothing will just make us fat, but if we work out to make use of the protein we eat, that is how our muscles will grow.)

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I don't have much else to say, other than that I realize this post is somewhat late, and there's another episode of Barakamon waiting for me after I post this, which I am definitely looking forward to. This show, like all the other shows this season, is heading towards its endgame, and for a show like this, I think it will be something fantastic.

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