Sometimes it’s easy to forget that anime isn’t created for American consumption, that we’re at best a secondary market, and sometimes it becomes blindingly obvious so. What causes this disconnect in the viewer is normally bits of real Japanese culture that are included but sometimes it’s bits of things that once were normal to see in American culture that has become exceedingly rare today. One example of the latter is to see a character in an anime smoking. It’s a legal activity in the United States but heavily frowned upon to the point that it’s hardily shown outside of PG-13/R movies and TV series aimed at adults.
Another example of the latter is seeing any overt display of Christianity in an anime. As a Roman Catholic, I belong to a religion whose official language is Latin and yet I never hear it used at all. (Now Hungarian is a different story; for much of my childhood I belonged to a Hungarian-American parish that had a priest who escaped from behind the Iron Curtain and I always went to the Hungarian language Mass because it fit my schedule better – even though I didn’t know a lick of Hungarian.) So I always find it so exceedingly weird when an anime includes Latin, either spoken or chanted, because that’s the last place I should hear it. Not that I’m complaining; it always sounds so cool in anime.
I bring all this up because I could never have guessed that an anime, Sakamichi no Apollon, would finish with one of it’s characters becoming a Roman Catholic priest. This astounding and splendid outcome is today’s moment. I personally know so many great priests that I loved to finally see a positive portrayal of being a Catholic priest. (Not that the negative portrayals are unjustified – it truly is a problem – but the unfairly lopsided coverage tarnishes the good name of the many blameless others and covers up places like the public schools where these kinds of problems are actually much more prevalent.)
So, to pick up from yesterday:
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a love powered mecha.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a wake up call.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a unique form of culture shock.
Tune in tomorrow to see what’s next.