I never thought I’d say this, not about anime, but I think I’ve questioned my outlook on life.
My sister turned me on to another show over the past two weeks, My Hero Academia, or Boku No Hero Academia, as some call it.
At first I thought, oh, it’s a cute chosen one story-line, you know, karate kid, Star Wars, Kung Fu Panda, pick almost any movie about a young boy and his mentor.
I like those stories as much as the next girl, but this show blew me out of the water by the end of the second season. If you’re into animated stuff at all, I highly recommend checking it out.
But I wasn’t expecting, even so, to actually get an epiphany from watching it. This happens to me with a lot of things I watch and read, but normally I have to dig it out. Watching this show it’s like it slapped me in the face.
The show isn’t really in your face, but it unashamedly makes its points, I think that was why I was surprised. RWBY, my other current favorite, is much more subtle and leaves you to figure out a lot of what its trying to say.
Anyway, I’m not going to review the whole thing here, I just wanted to lay the groundwork for my actual point.
One character on the show challenged me in particular, Bakugo, also called Katchan.
He starts off as a huge jerk, yet is constantly extolled as real hero material despite having obvious pride issues. (The premise of the show, if you haven’t heard of it, is a school for training young aspiring heroes in how to use their powers (quirks) well and effectively in fighting crime and rescuing people.) The teachers say that Bakugo is smart, talented, and has a grasp of what it takes to be a hero.
He’s extremely angry, especially at first, and hardly anyone likes him. I didn’t like him at all. But over time I started to see what they were getting at and how I could actually stand to learn something from it.
Bakugo always, always, wants to win. He wants to be the best, and only the best. At first he assumes this will be easy for him, eventually he realizes he’ll have to work hard at it, but he remains determined to reach for the top.
The thing is, I can’t begin to name the number of shows, books, movies, and possibly even teachings I’ve head that would tell you it’s not that important to win.
“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” “Strive for truth, not victory.” “It’s just a game.”
I always assumed that was true. But what this show and character smacked me upside the head with was the realization that thinking that way is actually ludicrous.
Yeah, I said it.
NOT about everything, mind you. I’m not some Victory maniac, and that’s not the real point of the show either.
But as the main hero of the story pointed out, in fighting for justice, you need to want to be the best, you need to always want to win, no matter how hard it is.
And I realized, he’s right.
Justice, what is right, what should be, it’s not something you can achieve if you don’t want to win.
You have to believe it’s worth winning for.
See, personal gain is not really a good motivation for winning. Or personal pride. That’s Bakugo’s weak point, but he does get that a hero has to win.
Otherwise, they may be heroic, but their heroism doesn’t do anyone any good.
Self sacrifice is a beautiful thing, but it needs to accomplish something.
If I go back to the Bible I realize that this is, shockingly, exactly what it teaches.
Jesus didn’t go through all that terrible suffering just to lose. He did it to win. the Bible literally says “Death is swallowed up in victory” and “it is finished.”
As in, mic drop. That’s it. We’re done. We win.
“If God is for us then who can be against us?” “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans)
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You…they go from strength to strength.” (Ps 84: 5-7)
Actually, any reading of either the Old or New Testament would make it hard to doubt that God intends for us to fight to win. And to expect to win.
In fact, the notion that we can let everyone win is downright dangerous. I feel like this culture expects the good people to apologize for winning.
Considering the amount of criticism leveled at the police and other public defenders constantly, it gets even more disturbing.
It’s good to be humble, but not to apologize for winning.
It’s also not necessarily wrong to want to be the best. Being the best doesn’t make you a better human being, but it can make you more able to reach people.
There is some danger in wanting glory for yourself, but not in simply trying to be the best.
I think unfortunately Christians can shame this, because we like to focus on the underdog, the people who aren’t talented. We say “God can use you anyway.”
What about those of us who are talented? Who have a shot at being the best?
I was never pushed to get better, as a kid at church. I was told I was beyond everyone else. Not too different from Bakugo.
Even in college, I’m not often pushed to improve. My teachers often try to say we don’t need to worry too much.
It might be less stressful, but I feel somewhat deflated knowing I can get by on so little. And knowing even if I did better, my reward would only be a slightly higher grade, and my grades are good enough.
Good enough. Yeah.
God can use anyone. That’s true. That includes talented people.
It’s not quite as discouraged now, with the cultural movement to realize what you’re good at and pursue it, but mediocrity is still a disease that infects way too many areas of both society and the church.
It bugs me more with the Church; of all people, we ought to be saying that Good should win. How often do we accept defeat?
And we do accept it.
“Oh you have cancer? Sorry”
“Oh, they made that legal now? Oh well…”
“Oh they’re teaching that’s okay at our school? Too bad about that, hope our kids make it out okay.”
Bakugo might be slightly crazy, but I’d put him on my team any day because he wouldn’t quit until he won. And when you’re fighting to save people and take down evil, which essentially is a Christian’s job description, then heck yeah! You need that kind of grit.
I don’t give up easy, but I don’t always fight with that kind of conviction. And I was ashamed to realize that, and challenged to do better.
So, it’s unprecedented that it took a show like this to make me see it, but I’m not sorry. What I do with this revelation is up to me. But now it’s out there.
And have to ask, what have I given up on? What should I have kept trying to win?
Well, that’s none of your business, your business is to look at your won battles and ask yourself the same thing.
Best wishes on that, until next time-Natasha.