A quick reflection on life and anime

whitehatazn-48.jpgBeing a psuedo-student of Catholic theology back in college (I say psuedo-student because perusing a minor undergraduate concentration doesn’t make you a full student), one of courses I decided to take senior year was a course on “Death and Dying”. The course was taught by the theology department chair and he certainly expected plenty from us in the course. What I liked about the class was the comprehensive nature of the course content. We covered things like the psychology of the death and the study of death in a comparative religion aspect. And while we did end up covering death in a Christian context, it was the comprehensive nature of the course that kept me interested. It was one of the few courses outside my major where I still remember most of the concepts off the top of my head. Unfortunately, it was also during that semester where I learned the most about death outside of class.

On April 7th, 2007 (Holy Saturday 2007), my cousin committed suicide. His mother found him on that day hanging from the ceiling. One of those images vividly stick out in my head. I can clearly remember seeing the cold body of cousin laying there in the emergency room on that day. That week was one of the hardest weeks in my life as I came to the realization that someone of my age close to me is no longer here. This weekend I revisited those memories as my family gathers for the 1 year memorial.

I truly hold the belief that “knowledge is power” and “with great power comes great responsibility”. What was tough week became one of the toughest months in my life. Along with semester finals and commencement exercises approaching, I was faced with answering the questions that come with being a fairly enlightened religious person. Everyone wanted answers to their questions and it was hard telling them that sometimes there were no answers. And while questions came from every direction in every form, not only did others want the answers, I also wanted to know them for myself. This was one of the largest tests of faith I had to endure.

To relate this back to anime, I am an academic just as much as I am an engineer by occupation and psuedo-theologian. I love learning and I value any opportunity to learn something new. Anime has grown to not only be a form of entertainment but a solid medium for the exploration of thought. I sincerely believe that most anime become great when they teach you something new about the world.

So I’m asking today for some suggestions on anime that reflect on life and/or death. I already have a show lined up when I have the free time and that show is Bokurano. I’m not being picky in what is suggested just as long as it reflects somewhat on one of those two ideas and possibly provides me with another way to view them.

I’ll end off with this: About a week before commencement, I had the opportunity to sit down with theology department head in his office and talked to him about various things including the events of that week. And out of that interesting discussion was a reminder about the core theme of his “Death and Dying” course: “To think about death is to think more about life.” After reflecting on these events, I would like to believe that I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the life. I hope that you, the reader, take this reflection and gain a greater appreciation for life as well.

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8 Responses to A quick reflection on life and anime

  1. Asuka says:

    Not sure if you’ve seen this series or not, but Noein is very good. It deals with parallel universe and differing destinies, and towards the middle-end-ish there are themes of death.

    I was also gonna recommend Mushishi, but you probably watched the series already (there’s a tag under the tag list).

  2. Cardcaptor says:

    I’d recommend Blood+.

  3. Impz says:

    If you have not watched Kino’s travels, it is a good time to start. In addition, to understand the meaning of life, you might want to try Someday’s dreamers. It might be a good touch for you.

  4. TheBigN says:

    I’d say check out the recently ended Shigofumi, as it prevents various responses and reflections on death, though it wasn’t quite as thought-provoking as I would have liked. It’s still a solid show.

  5. Onlooker says:

    If anything, Haibane Renmei is a good series and an enjoyable one at that. Though it takes time to find the deeper meanings behind the different aspects of the series. (At least for me anyways…)

  6. koneko-chan says:

    Asuka: A number of people keep suggesting Noein. I’ll eventually get around to that one. I saw the first volume of Mushishi and it is interesting. Although, it is a bit over my head and boring for me since I don’t understand eastern spirituality as much as my brother. I need to be in the right mindset to get the most out of Mushishi.

    Cardcaptor: I watched about a third of Blood+ and it is entertaining. But, a lot goes on in the show and the life/death complex kinda takes a backseat. A number of other shows would probably focus on this better.

    Impz: Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll try to take a look at those when I get the chance.

    TheBigN: Bro watched that and he loved it. I’ll try to take a look at that one as well.

    Onlooker: I like the parts of Haibane Renmei I’ve seen. The problem is that I saw it with my college anime club at the time and my fellow anime club members destroyed the atmosphere. I’d like to pick it up again. However, it is another show where I need to get into the right mindset.

    To everyone: Thank you for reading this emotional rant. The suggestions are greatly appreciated.

  7. iniksbane says:

    You know… I’m going to suggest Baccano! If only because I really like the idea of immortality and what happens when you don’t need death any more.

    Another one would be Gantz. What happens when the afterlife is controlled by a black ball with mysterious intentions.

    Shana, even though a lot of people were less than thrilled with it. What happens when you already know you’re dead but no one else does.

    And of course Lain. What happens when you never really existed in the first place.

  8. Owen S says:

    My condolences on your loss.

    As far as death goes, Mushishi features this quite some, although what you’ll be getting most of the time is a quiet transience, the knowledge that the only permanent is impermanence. I’m halfway through it, but the way in which it’s handled its subject material soberly and with dignity is something I’ve found to have attracted me to the series so far.

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