Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The 12 Days of Christmas

Amidst the hustle'n'bustle of getting ready for Christmas and the happiness, joy, and good cheer that infuse the season, I am often reminded of the true, root reason for this season. It's not good enough to stop at Jesus is the reason or that He was born. Why was He born? Because He was going to sacrifice Himself to save our souls. Why would He do that? Because He loves us. So, the reason for the season is that He loves us to the point that He was willing to die for us so that we could be saved.

In the spirit of this, I wanted to pick a moment from anime for today that echoed this depth of love. Love enough to sacrifice one's life for another. The problem with picking one is that I'll pass over many others from this year. Instead, I'm picking three.

The first is the most recent. Valvrave the Liberator has been racking up the body count of late; but, the one that really struck me was Marie and her fall. To those not watching this anime, the super powered mechs feed off of runes - essentially a person's memories. When a person's supply of runes is exhausted they die. I wish the creators had built up Marie's character in the episodes beforehand, instead of waiting for the last moment, like what Gurren Lagann did with Kittan before he sacrificed his life to save humanity. Quibbles aside, Marie had only memories of the past few years for *reasons* so she should not have become a pilot without first living many more years to give her a cache of memories to work with. Instead, she wanted to protect her friends and never stopped fighting to the very end, even as the memories of her friends were lost to feed her mech. Rarely do I feel a burning desire for the villains of a show to get punished - most shows just aren't that good - but I will be very, very upset if Valvrave ends without seeing the villains die hopefully painful deaths.

The second comes from Suisei no Gargantia. Viewers of this anime probably know who I'm going to mention but for the others this anime featured AI controlled mechs that were programmed to assist in any way possible to maximize the human pilot's ability to fight and kill an alien menace. After our main character crashes on a strangely altered Earth, his mech's AI, named Chamber, continues to support his pilot though the type of support changes to match the circumstances. At the end of series our main character has to face an adversary that threatens to eliminate everyone he has befriended since coming to Earth. He is willing to do whatever it takes and Chamber knows this; so, before he can sacrifice himself, Chamber ejects the main character from the cockpit and sacrifices himself to end the threat. It's probably because I grew up reading Asimov's Robots stories and empathize with ease but it always hits me hard when I see an artificial being like Chamber display one of the most exemplary human actions possible. And don't get me started on the Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

The third comes from the criminally under-watched gem Space Battleship Yamato 2199. In this anime humanity faces extinction from an empire that spans multiple galaxies. We have a single ray of hope, a device of innumerable power; but it has to be brought back to Earth within a year. By the eighth episode we've had the chance to meet all the big players in this galactic empire. The main race is a blue-skinned humanoid race and amongst it's second class citizens are a humanoid race that looks like humans. For this episode we meet a ship crewed by these human-looking aliens who are looked down upon even though they're twice as loyal to the emperor then the blue-skinned race. They are ordered to stop the Yamato but are not a match for our heroes. This leads them to a decision - continue trying to stop the Yamato, which means death, or give-up and live. They choose to continue fighting and die protecting their empire. With our omnipotent camera we, the viewers, know this empire is not a good thing, nor is the emperor a good person; but there are many good people in this empire. After this episode, I put the emperor on the list of people I want to see get taken care of and I have to say I was satisfied later on.

Even choosing three, I'm sure I've forgotten others from this year, just like I've missed mentioning so many other great moments from the year. If so inclined, I'd love to read what your favorite moments of anime from 2013 were.

One final time - so, to pick up from yesterday:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the reason for the season.

On the day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: discovering humanity in the most unlikely places.

On the day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: winning the Animusic Tournament Bracket Contest.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: someone who understands me.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the best thing Bones ever did.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: pearls from amongst the swine.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the freedom to go with the flow.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: anime to get buzzed from.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: that final musical montage.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: discovered gems of the Animusic Tournament.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: the Time of Eve Kickstarter.

On the of Christmas, my true love gave to me: that publicity picture.

Nearly forgot, Merry Christmas! everyone.
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