Japanese anime and live action adaptations. My goodness do I learn a lot from re-visiting old friends, and discovering new ones. The reason I watch stories is to learn from those who are far better set on their path than I am. Maybe they have the advantage of having an author.
Stories I gravitate to reflect my own values, wants and desires. I discover things about myself when I read or watch characters who can make me laugh and cry. For as long as I remember I’ve always resonated with the silly, light-hearted characters of anime. I know growing up that was never the popular choice, since people back then were already conscious of wanting to be more than just the cheerful ‘airhead’ character. Most girls I knew back in high school despised Miaka, despite the fact that they loved the men who loved her. They had a lot of reasonable, valid reasons. I for one just couldn’t understand why they reacted so violently towards a perfectly cheerful character. They said it’s because she always got what she wanted, and that she’s worthless and always had someone ‘saving’ her. I wondered why they didn’t care for the fact that she saved her friends too. Maybe it’s just because the men all loved her despite not being ‘as intelligent,’ ‘as wise,’ ‘as beautiful,’ ‘as strategic’ as they thought she should be. Or maybe she acted too differently from how they themselves would’ve acted.
I always remember liking characters who are simple, kind-hearted and spirited. Maybe because I never thought of myself as particularly smart or intelligent in the conventional sense. I mean, I suck at academic work even now.
I got carried away. I guess I’m writing to remind myself that it’s okay to like the things that I do. Most of the time I tell people that it’s okay to be themselves, to like what they like, to not take themselves too seriously once in awhile, to live light-heartedly; and then I realize that I’m not too forgiving about my likes, dislikes and decisions. All too often I get caught up in the values and opinions of others, that I forget my own. And when I forget what’s important to me, I lose my sense of self. I let other people’s actions dictate how I feel, think and react.
Values. It all comes down to values. We will walk the same path with people who value the same things we do. I have to accept that those who don’t understand each other, who refuse to yield, will simply drift apart. We take care of what is most precious to us and we do everything we can to make it work. We do what we can to make it easy. We don’t give up on people who are hurting, but are still willing to ‘open the door’ so to speak. We let go of people who are too caught up in themselves to make a sound.
I bawled my eyes out re-watching another series that is as dear to me as Hana Yori Dango: Hana Kimi. While Hana Yori Dango was all about one girl being loved and protected, being special to a few, Hana Kimi is about one girl loving and encouraging everyone, not giving up on someone, and being loved by many. It led me to do research on Japanese values, since I noticed that many anime themes revolve around not just love, but friendship and cooperation. I found this entry from Wikipedia that made me smile:
Whereas Americans attempt to cultivate a self that is unique, most Japanese place greater emphasis on cultivating “a self that can feel human in the company of others,” according to David W. Plath. Maturity means both continuing to care about what others are thinking and feeling confident in one’s ability to judge and act effectively, acknowledging social norms while remaining true to self.
It has always been a puzzle for me; how a country with such a severe and violent reputation can have such beautiful messages in their every day literary and creative outputs. And then it dawned to me that everything in this world is part and parcel of each other… two sides of a coin… yin and yang. The strength of each culture has its corresponding downside. It’s like the healthy and unhealthy levels of the enneagram, a personality test that’s dear to my heart.
So from now on, I’ll remember to say “Welcome back” when someone dear to me comes back, and to always say the equivalent of gambatte ne in Tagalog. Because if there’s one thing I’m sure of, the characters I’ve usually connect with are always loving, kind, spirited, and never mean-tempered. I will never look at my softness as a weakness. I will still get mad, emotional, and affected — I’m not a monk, or a zen master after all. But I will accept the part of me who’s always cheerful, happy, and hopeful. I may not be a lot of other things, but I know I’m that. My challenge is not to forget that, and to reflect what I value in my actions and words, despite the situations with people that tempt me to be an unhealthy version of myself.