Class Notes: Session 3 (3.6.2016)

Thanks to everyone who came to class today. We’re off until April 4th. Until then, please review these notes today and keep in mind how you’re consuming media!

Class Discussion

Remember the reason why this class exists: as Christians, we want to look at media from a Christian perspective. If God is the center of our lives and the LORD of all, why would leave him out of our entertainment choices? And if we approach anime and other media from such a perspective, we’ll hopefully keep from drifting into those things that may cause us to sin (ex. fanservice, escapism, romanticism) while dwelling on God more.

We can approach anime on two levels, looking at surface-level allusions and symbolism and thinking about deeper meaning. Evangelion, with its pervasive pseudo-Christian symbolism, is an example of surface symbolism with little deeper meaning. On the other hand, Trigun’s gun-toting priest, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, demonstrates both: he’s a “priest” that fits a role without acting very Christian:

But his arc in the anime proves to be very profoundly theological. And these deeper thoughts are what we want to concern ourselves with, as they help us think more about God and even provide openings with which we can engage others in spiritual matters.

Summaries (taken from Wikipedia):

haibane renmei episode 5
How Nemu and Rakka imagine that God created the Haibane

Episode 5
Rakka goes to work with Nemu at the library. There she meets Sumika, a kindly, pregnant librarian who asks for Rakka’s perspective on what it was like to be born. Rakka then explores the library books for information about the world outside the walls of Glie. Sumika tells her that she, too, has made such a search and found no answers. At the end of the day, Nemu tells Rakka that she is working on a gift for Sumika involving an old, partially destroyed book they once discovered called “The Beginning of the World.” As they walk, they catch sight of Reki and witness an unfriendly encounter between her and a male Haibane named Hyoko. Nemu explains that he comes from another nest, Abandoned Factory, and that he and Reki once ran away together. As a result, they are no longer allowed into each other’s territory. The next day, Nemu shares with Rakka the gift she is working on, a rewritten version of “The Beginning of the World” with the gaps in the story filled in. Together, they finish writing it, including a possible origin for Haibane and a bit of Nemu’s own sleepy personality.

Episode 6
Rakka searches for a room of her own to move into, but most of Old Home is in disrepair. Kuu gives her a warm coat to prepare for winter, but as she leaves, Rakka is disturbed to see the halo over Kuu’s head flickering. Seeing Rakka in her new coat, Kana tells her it was the first item of clothing Kuu bought for herself, despite being too large, and that Kuu has always had a habit of trying to imitate her older companions, often with disastrous results. Returning to her search, Rakka discovers that Kuu has circled a specific room on her map. She goes there and is delighted to feel a sense of familiarity. Kuu, who has been waiting for her, explains that this is the room where Rakka was born. She then thanks Rakka for the influence she has been, and leaves. That night, a rainstorm hits, and Kuu is nowhere to be found. After Rakka sees a light in the Western Woods, Reki says that Kuu may have taken her Day of Flight and passed outside the walls. The Haibane all don raincoats and go to the woods, where they find Kuu’s halo, now cold and dim.

Video Discussion

Here’s where the episodes get real. After five episodes of introduction and world-building, the tale itself begins to unfold, and it’s darker than we might have anticipated (thought not if we were paying attention to cues). And in these two episodes – one that continues the introductions and one that leads to a surprising revelation, we also see a juxtaposition of surface and deeper-level Christian themes. Episode five, of course, gives us a “Bible” of sorts for the people and Haibane of Glie and demonstrates some similarities to Christian scripture.

Episode six, though, digs deeper and may lead us to think more deeply about faith. It was mentioned in class, for instance, that time on earth is short, that missions are critical, and that age doesn’t equal spiritual maturity. Kuu’s analogy of the cup and drops, too, brought up the idea of grace v. works and David’s writing about his cup overflowing in Psalm 23 (described by Dan Cronquist in Set Apart).

Additional Questions (taken from Set Apart)

  1. What was different about Kuu that allowed her to leave before the others?
  2. What areas of your life do you seek certainty versus accepting assurance?
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