What I get from watching Asian series

I marathon-ed Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge–an anime based on a manga of the same title–back to back with the live action version starring Kamenashi Kazuya and Oomasa Aya.

I first saw this anime during the early days of the newly reprogrammed TV5. I never got to finish it from start to end, only catching a few episodes from time to time, but I was hooked. There’s something about the ugly Sunako (and when you add bu to Sunako it becomes busunako, which means ugly–getit?) and the dazzling (mabushi!) Kyohei that caught my attention.

This post is not about my comments on the series itself (saving that for a different post soon!) but for the lessons I’ve learned after watching both the anime and the live action.

It was a week (or two) ago when I heard Ravi Zacharias on the radio. He talked about the longings that we encounter whenever we are exposed to media: romance novels, television dramas, music–sweet, melodious music. He said it is not what is exactly written in the books, not what is seen in the tv, nor the lyrics of the song itself that we long for, but the things which are beyond this world. A kind of longing for something more. Always something more.

While our longing for something more, something different, and something better speaks to us of what should be, we often allow our longings to lead us beyond our present moment.

Margaret Manning

Also remarkable was the similar observation that C.S. Lewis pointed out in his book (which is a personal favorite) Mere Christianity:

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

– C.S. Lewis

We always have this unquenchable thirst for something more. It’s not dissatisfaction or discontent, but something higher. Even the richest, nicest, Christian guy in the planet can never say enough is enough. We know in ourselves that there’s an empty feeling and, whatever we do, no matter how much we try, we can never fill the gap.

Because the reality is, only God can do that.

Only God can fill the void. But even if you come to know God, you will still feel the thirst. It’s because God doesn’t want you to be satisfied with this earth. He wants you to fervently look forward to the new heaven and the new earth. There, our longings will no longer exist. Because there and then we will truly be satisfied. Finally satisfied.

But we’re still here. On earth. And while we’re here, we need to recognize these longings. So we can come closer to God. These thirsts lead us to God. Danielle DuRant further pointed out:

Conversely, our blindness to them actually directs us away from God, for if we cannot see what it is we seek, how will we know if we’ve stumbled upon it?

It has been my experience that for the follower of Christ, our blindness to what it is that we want, and ultimately, what it is that satisfies, is rooted either in fear or in submerging our persistent longings under the temporarily tranquil waters of “godly contentment.”

This is where my anime/series buddy comes in. You see, four of the main characters of Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (for convenience, let’s shorten it to YNSH), the four flower boys if you will–Kyohei, Yuki, Takenaga and Ranmaru–are all perfect-looking from the outset. They have their own charm. It is even exaggerated that these fellas captivate every girl’s heart, literally. Everyone except Sunako.

Takenaga, Kyohei, Yuki, Ranmaru

They may be perfect outside, but we all know no one’s perfect completely–even Chris Tiu–right? (Pardon the very irrelevant mention of this fine fellow; I just can’t get this inside joke out of my system haha)

They all have their own complexes. Kyohei was abadoned by his parents because of his perfect face–it distracted their peaceful life. Girls would constantly knock at their door, call their phone, and send him endless gifts. They were crazy for him. And his mother hated him for that. Because she isn’t as dazzling as him.

Yuki has always been the cute, adorable one. He’s always protected like a little kid. Sure, he is cute, but he never wanted to stay cute. He wants to be manly, to be able to protect, be trusted. He wants to be dependable, but his cutesy image always gets in the way.

Takenaga fears rejection, so in every way possible, he avoids involvement and commitment. He doesn’t want to enter something that is uncertain, only to be left behind in the end. So instead of getting himself involved with people, he hides behind his books.

Ranmaru is in a sense similar to Takenaga. He’s a playboy, alright, but he has his reasons. He was once rejected by his first love. From that time on, he never entered a serious relationship, always jumping from one girl to another.

Even our heroine, Sunako, has her own complex: she became a horror-girl after her first love called her ugly. Since then, she has always isolated herself, never having to do anything with dazzling creatures of the day.

All their complexes had to do with fear. Fear of rejection, specifically. Oh, hey, how coincidental–that’s my greatest fear too! How compatible.

But this series also offered a solution to dealing with fear: face it. The world’s telling me something, ain’t it? Face it, Jee, face it. Face your fears. Face them because there won’t be anyone else facing it for you.

Shinichi, the cafe master in the live action series, talked to Kyohei about fear:

 Fear is something you blow out of proportion yourself.

And even Sunako knew how to deal with fear because she has been dealing with it ever since that encounter with her first love:

If you stop seeing the visible, you’ll finally start understanding the invisible

Ever since she stopped looking at what she looks like, she started liking who she is, with all the flaws and insecurities. It’s not that she doesn’t care about the rest of the world–okay, maybe a little bit–but she doesn’t care about what they say or think about her anymore. Sure, she’s unlady-like, but she sure knows how to accept herself. And this is what the flower boys learned ever since living with her. At first it was just about the free rent once they change her into a lady. But as they come to know her more, they all agreed there’s nothing wrong about her. She may be antisocial, but when she cares, she cares sincerely. She has a pure heart.

It’s crazy I never thought about that. Facing your fear, I mean. All this time all I wanted was to fear no more, but I never acted upon it. I never even tried facing it. Until yesterday/today. All of that has changed.

And I can say I love myself more now. Even with all the cracks showing.

You know what? I think facing your fear is also equal to loving. And then I look at the title of this blog and I say: OH. Jee, how can you forget? There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Simplest formula, but not easiest formula. Everyone knows it’s so hard to truly love, unconditionally. But that’s it. That’s how all the fear will disappear. When you face the uncertain. When you embrace the uncertain.

When you love the uncertain.

Well, oh, well. This is the reason why I watch so many Asian series. The values that I pick from them are priceless. They’re also worth the time spent. Still a lot of them to be watched on my list, though, so I’m going to try my very best to watch as many of them as possible before school starts.

I thank God that He’s using these shows to teach me so much. He’s allowing me to encounter these longings so I can look to Him. So that in Him I can find what my heart’s been truly looking for all this time. :’)

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