Love, Anime Style

Following the success of yesterday’s Topical Blend, I shall push off courageously into yet another combination today, anime and love. I could go the easy way out and give a review on romantic shoujo/fujoshi anime, but when have Topical Blends ever been about taking the easy way out? Oh no, today’s entry shall plunge far deeper into how being an otaku can teach you how to love~.

1. D.Gray-Man

Ah, my favourite anime ever, for sentimental reasons as well as its general all-around quality. It’s lucky that the first anime I ever really got into (and watched it subbed with its original voice acting) turned out to be much better than the standard fare you see in the market. I still remember all the memorable characters, such as Allen Walker and Timcanpy, but I daresay the most memorable mascot of the show would be the Earl of Millennium, him floating around with his Mary Poppins umbrella, Lero, with the flower garland on his hat and that broad smile on his face. The way he talks sounds grandfatherly and gentle. He never uses violence, and can’t even bear to poke people with Lero. And yet he is the cheerful mastermind behind the most evil schemes, the creation of Akuma.

And don’t get me started on the Ancient Family of Noah! These people are part-human but were chosen to be the children of Noah. They are just as evil as the Earl of Millennium, and are a lot more prepared than the old man to kill people. The thing about D.Gray-Man, though, is that it has a love of foreshadowing. Before a character dies, the show will always set aside 1 or 2 episodes right before the death to flesh out the character a bit more, just to make us feel more strongly about his death. This was done only in the anime, whereas the manga merely skimmed through details of the deaths without introducing the characters at all. In the anime, General Yeegar had 2 anime-only episodes where Allen and Lenalee met him and followed him around, to show that he’s a just and kind Exorcist. Suman Dark had 1 episode where he met Lenalee and we learn about his daughter, waiting for him to come back home without knowing that he had become an Exorcist to earn money to cure her illness. Daisya Barry had 3 episodes talking about his childhood and how he helped Kanda against the rampage caused by Tyki Mikk. Even Skin Bolic, before he was slain by Kanda, had an episode flashbacking how he forcibly awakened into becoming a member of the Noah, and why he is so addicted to sweets.

And I had that twinge, I had that shred of feeling, that maybe Kanda shouldn’t have bumped him off after all.

Lesson: Love everyone, no matter the kind of person they are.

Nobody was born wanting to be bad. You can argue that there’re Voldemort types being born every year, people who just have an inborn nature of evil. Even so, these people can’t help being bad, but no one would voluntarily choose to be bad for evil’s sake. Not only that, no one is completely and utterly evil or completely and utterly good (except maybe Natsume). Even evil people like Skin Bolic had a sad history, and you should’ve seen the Earl of Millennium sob over Skin and Tyki’s plights like a father crying over his kids. Tyki tried to live a double life of both good and evil, and Lulubell had a faithful and devoted maid who was irritating to us but would die for her whenever the need arose. Even bad guys have their good sides, and their reasons for turning on the “bad” side. They deserve as much love as the people on the “same” side as us.

2. Natsume Yuujinchou

Natsume, the patron saint, the role model we should all aspire to. I don’t mean it in a sarcastic sense, because while he is an undeniably good guy, he isn’t a Gary Stu like Kirito. Natsume acknowledges human weakness, but knows when to overcome it to do what he feels is right. We all have a lot to learn from him. But everybody watches the show not so much for him, but for that not-so-angelic cat by his side.

Nyanko-sensei is an anti-hero. He does good things, but his ultimate goal is for Natsume to die and to get his paws on the Yuujinchou (Book of Friends) and control all the spirits locked from there, becoming a spirit tyrant. He has no qualms about bullying lower-level spirits, or even eating them if he really wishes to. However, in the show, as he becomes more and more attached to Natsume, he also seems to acquire a conscience. He stands up against Natori when the latter suggested a pragmatic but selfish plan, saying, “we will never be as selfish as you.”

Lesson: Love can change a bad person.

It was Natsume’s overwhelming love for Nyanko-sensei, as well as all the spirits and people around him, that inspired Nyanko-sensei to gradually follow his way of thinking. Nyanko-sensei never paused in chiding Natsume for being a meddlesome idiot, but he began to understand that Natsume would never change, and also began to appreciate Natsume for being just that. Natsume never gave up on the belief that Nyanko-sensei was a good person deep inside, and his love paid off.

3. Mirai Nikki

I hate Mirai Nikki. It is an anime I never finished watching because I couldn’t stand it after the first few episodes. It had a promising premise, granted, but it was too warped and too violent and too wrong that I never found interest in it. I’m not interested in anime where the protagonists are big villains.

Out of all the characters in Mirai Nikki, the weirdest is undoubtedly Gasai Yuno. If any of you happen to read the Wikipedia entry of Mirai Nikki, it is full of spoilers, but it is of no consequence because the storyline is so convoluted that you probably wouldn’t understand a word of it anyway. Most of that is due to Yuno being a psychopathic obsessed lover to Yukiteru, the male lead. She would protect him at all costs, even if it means murdering everyone else. She would do everything Yuki told her to do. She was basically his slave, her own soul lost in order to encapsulate Yuki’s world as her own. Mirai Nikki had a good ending, but all the bad things pretty much happened directly or indirectly because of her.

Lesson: Love yourself.

It’s of course a grand and noble thing to love somebody else unconditionally, pouring forth all your emotions and hopes to wish the person better. They say loving someone is making them happy, not owning them. What they fail to mention is that to love someone properly, you’ve got to love yourself too. Otherwise your love becomes an overwhelming obsession that they cannot fully accept. Only when you love yourself do you know not only how to love, but more importantly, how to be loved.

4. Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero doesn’t seem to have much going on in the name of love. Saber loved Great Britain, but it fell to her perceived desolation and ruin. Kiritsugu loved the world and always wanted to save it, but he did everything wrong. Was there ever love in there? Well yes, some would say that the only thing that felt like love bubbling in there was the friendship between Rider and Waver. Waver was a wimp, but he had a way with making his Servant truly united under his will, that more powerful Masters never managed to do. There was some kind of affection between them, something that bonded them against all odds, even when separated by great distances.

Lesson: Love need not be expressed aloud.

Rider and Waver never told each other that they loved them. However, their everyday interactions demonstrated the goodwill that they had developed over the months. Rider was always protecting Waver from any harm, and Waver made sure to keep himself healthy and safe so that he would never need to trouble Rider. These were simple acts that look unthinking and instinctive, but they are only so because they always think of each other before themselves. And there is nothing as obvious as this to show love, even without the words.

5. Steins;Gate

I must say the romance between Okabe and Kurisu was awkward and yet endearing. It was difficult to imagine them being together, and yet they fitted each other like 2 totally asymmetrical jigsaw puzzles that filled each other’s gaps. Okabe’s devotion to bringing Kurisu back to life was touching, and his free admission of love for her after that, his nonchalant acceptance that yes, he was indeed in love, was a very mature act on his part, and reinforces the belief that Okabe is really a lot more self-aware than he may let on.

But what of Okabe and Mayuri?

Well, say fans of the game, Mayuri is a route you can pursue in place of Kurisu. You can choose to have Okabe and Mayuri be together. But I think the relationship is more than that. What I see from anime is more than a “dating sim” selection of girls (coughcoughSAOcough). Okabe and Mayuri are like siblings. They’re obviously in love with each other, but not in the same way normal people would be in love with each other. Both of them are extraordinary people — probably the most extraordinary people in the anime — and their interactions are never like normal people. And yet Okabe will go to any length to rescue Mayuri from death, even going so far as to sacrifice Kurisu for it. Is he being a two-timer? Or maybe…

Lesson: Love doesn’t need to be romantic.

I wouldn’t think of Okabe and Mayuri as siblings, because their bond is more special and closer than that. Mayuri truly understands Okabe, and to a certain extent I think he understands her most as well. In some ways, they are like 2 dynamic opposites of the same person, supporting each other as they find their shared identity. None will be able to live without the other. Their love for each other is like a love for themselves — the single human entity they both shape. No matter how puzzling and unique this love can be, the fact is that such love — and many other variations — do exist in reality. It’s not all rosy like the romantic books portray, but it can sometimes be even better than that.

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