Say “I Love You” ?

Today, I want to talk a little more about a show I mentioned in my last post about anime in general.

“Say I Love You.”

This story is about two people, Mei and Yamato, who run into each other at highschool and somehow end up kissing and starting a relationship (it makes more sense in context).

It was a cute first few episodes.

Then the show does what anime does, and adds drama. Drama, drama, drama. Cue the AJR song.

Yamato is one of the better male anime leads I’ve seen, in that, he comes off as a real person, not one of those bland, too perfect anime boys who has a harem for some reason.

Often anime boys, for the sake of plot, are spineless and pathetically uncolorful. They just aren’t human.

Or you get your Naruto’s, bright, sunny, very human, but selfish and self absorbed to the point where they can never learn from their mistakes.

Yamato is just the right mix of traits to where he was painfully believable as a character. I’m sure some of the girls watching the show knew guys like this, I am sure I’ve met them but never been close enough to know that about them.

Yamato is insecure, easily jealous, and a push over to the point where he sleeps with a girl out of pity because she manipulates his need to be needed. (Which is something often that girls do for guys, but it was odd to see it on the other side, yet I’m sure it happens more than people acknowledge.)

Yamato has a classic White Knight complex, not the Nice Guy Syndrome one, or the cute chivalrous one, but the “he can’t say no if anyone starts acting needy and he just had to be the hero” one.

Mei, on the other hand, is the kind of girl who is afraid to trust anyone. She got used by people as a scapegoat in her past, and she is now very defensive, but also shy and quiet. She has a caring heart, she loves helping wounded animals, and later she learned to like helping people too, but she pulls back from intimacy a lot. She is also so realistic, it hurts to watch.

Mei and Yamato seem like a good match in a way. Mei never tries to use him and exploit his weakness to manipulation. Yamato tries to take care of her and make himself trustworthy, not blaming her for anything, and appreciating her softer side. They even like some of the same things, like cats, it’s pretty cute.

But…

The anime took an interesting approach to their issues, because time and time again, the real problem wasn’t actually ticking each other off, but that the other people in their lives kept getting in the way, and Yamato could never say no, and Mei would not stand up for herself.

They learn a little eventually, but like many anime, the ending is not that good at showing that they truly learned why they are the way they are.

They apologize for their mistakes, but it never occurs to Yamato what his real problem is. It never occurs to Mei why she needs to confront him on that. Even though her friends tell her she should, she chickens out of really telling him all of it.

While the anime did convince me their relationship was not a terrible idea, it didn’t convince me it would ever end up very strong, because they just couldn’t say what was really wrong.

The point of the title is that Mei needs to learn to trust enough to “say ‘I love you'” to Yamato. And she does, at the very end, sort of (it was a little hard to tell if she was thinking it or saying it.)

The hard thing is that, what they really need to say is the truth.

Mei and Yamato are an all too real depiction of how people get into a relationship, and some of them, with the best of intentions, think they will be able to heal the other person.

Yamato thinks that, but we find out, he thinks that about everyone. He feels it’s his job to make all the pain better, we do learn that this is because he had a habit of not helping people in the past, and he feels guilty about that.

It’s beautiful when your significant other really wants to help you heal, instead of just wanting you to heal them, I hope I can have that attitude with my husband.

But it’s never enough.

Mei and Yamato hit that roadblock and the show ends because, it just doesn’t have anywhere else to go. I heard the Manga went further, but I doubt it really changed a lot, it was too much of a pattern. I learned from Naruto the hard way that if something starts off not finishing it’s character development, it tends to end that way too.

I’ve been rereading John and Stasi Eldredge’s “Love and War” book about marriage (’cause if you ain’t got it, you read about it, as Family Matters put it) and it describes the problem with fictional relationships to a tee.

In fact, I notice that the best fictional relationships are often ones that ignore something.

I love the ones where the two people understand each other so well that they aren’t bothered by the other person’s temper, because they know exactly what they mean by it, they never get offended by something that’s said because they’ve come to understand them so well, and they know just what to say to make them feel better — #goals.

Yeah… but, it’s not real.

Even friendship is portrayed that way on anime and kids shows a lot, and while I think it’s okay to aspire to be that kind of friend, you really can’t expect people to never get offended.

In a perfect world, we would understand each other that well. We’d never need to worry about offending anyone because everyone would be whole and confident, and impossible to offend.

I’m  not too easy to offend with just words, I like kids, so I have to have a sense of humor about what people say to me, it’s easier with kids, because we don’t see them as the verdict on us, so if they insult us, we don’t take it seriously. At least, good childcare workers don’t.

But people are broken, they are a hot mess, and we can’t help but get hurt by what others say and do, it’s infuriating when we know better, we know this person would not try to hurt us, yet we get hurt anyway, and get mad at them. We can’t seem to help it.

I had the story of living with someone who actually did want to hurt me on purpose, which has given me a sense of insecurity about really being sure that other people never want to hurt me on purpose. I feel that they could become spiteful at any moment if I push them far enough.

Add to that that I am a naturally bold person who likes to start conflict if it’s for a good reason, and I end up creating situations for myself that would bring out people’s spiteful/defensive side if they had one.

I’d rather just know the truth.

The reason for that is, the person I lived with who spitefully hurt me on purpose, would lie about loving me, say it was out of love, and say they would not do it again, anthing to get out of the hot seat.

I developed a real hatred for bullcrap (real or imagined), and now I like to make people reveal their “true” colors, and prove they are only being fake with me.

I’m catching onto this habit more and more lately, and trying to control it, but I know perfectly well that I will not be able to every time. I will get triggered. I will react poorly.

I want to get healed enough so that that will be a rare occurrence, and I’ll realize it quickly and repent when it does happen,

but it turns out my biggest obstacle is no realizing I’m wrong, but accepting that I need help, and I need love, despite being wrong.

My dad put me on a very destructive cycle. He set me up to fail (and if I gave you details, you’d see just how very openly he did it) and then blamed me for failing when I could never have won. Giving me both self worth issues, and issues with giving people a fair chance, issues that feed into each other in such a perfectly evil way, that it is only by God’s grace that I am not swallowed by them.

The thing is, I am not my issues. I have them, and the trip me up, but it’s popular now to let them define you.

They don’t have to.

You can know you have a problem with Self Pity, but not live your life defined by self pity parties. You can actually be a sympathetic person, and still know self pity is a weakness of yours, it may have just turned into you strength.

You can know you have a temper, but let that make you more self controlled and slow to anger so that it doesn’t dominate your life.

And you have other traits. I may have issues with self worth, but I do not treat myself like I have no worth.  I have tried hard to share my desires with people, to show I respect myself by how I dress, how I act, how I talk about myself. You won’t hear me use self deprecating humor too often. People may think I don’t talk bad about myself because my parents were super supportive, that would be a lie.

My mom had a rule about now saying negative things about yourself, but I know people who had a similar rule, but still lapsed into that whenever they weren’t around their parents.

My parents did not praise me that much, and often when they did, it was manipulation, which adds to the sense of worthlessness.

It’s been a choice not to fall into talking about myself like I’m worthless. Or thinking about myself that way, you know, that Inner Critic that gets all over your case.

I still have it, but I shut it down pretty quickly when it pipes up.

This is what I mean, I am not free from insecurities, but I am not nothing but insecurities. It’s a mistake to see yourself that way, but it’s encouraged by our culture, in some parts of the world, not being that way is seen as arrogant.

But the Bible would not say so. David said “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and praised God for making him skilled in battle so that he could “bend a bow of bronze” (unless that was the other psalmist, but I think the point still stands).

The Bible is not into self deprecation.

In summary , we are messed up, we can’t fix each other, but that’s no reason to hate ourselves.

Until next time–Natasha.

And if you want to check out a different kind of my writing, I have an anime fanfic story on WattPad that has lots of relationships, and some adventure/sci-fi stuff too:

https://www.wattpad.com/user/worldwalkerdj

Arrival at UA by worldwalkerdj

#1 vs the Greatest Hero.

So, Season 4 of MHA finished last week.

I’m not going to review it in detail because I know a lot of people still haven’t seen it, no spoilers here.

I just want to talk about the show’s themes a little bit. I generally prefer to focus on the character’s themselves, but the overall theme MHA has become pretty interesting.

It was my first anime, so the normal kids gets powers against all odds took me off guard. I had not seen Sky High yet, and it didn’t strike me as a Spiderman type of story, so I thought it would be more like the usually Western Underdog film. The Karate Kid type, if you will. Kid goes form useless to boss in a short time under a great mentor.

Which is the story, but with a superpower instead of great training, because if we’re honest, All Might’s training is acceptable at best until season 4, it got a little better there.

 

The theme of MHA started as “What does it mean to really be a hero?”

In season 1, that meant just acting to save people and being brave, that’s your usual anime fare I now know.

But in season 2 it started to diverge. Post Festival arc, we were introduced to Hero Killer Stain, and the news that many people are unhappy with hero society’s hero worship.

The hero worship of the world of MHA, which is slightly futuristic, but otherwise just like our world, only with superheros instead of pop stars and athletes, is accepted as either an annoyance or a perk by the pro heroes, from EraserHead to Mt Lady to the lesser known ones who aren’t named.

By the villains, it’s called out as disgusting, perverting the true meaning of heroism, though their standards are kind of arbitrary. One, Spinner, says “As soon as a hero accepts payment, they are not a real hero.” Another, Dabi, seems to feel heroes are irresponsible in their personal lives (there’s theories about him.) While Shigaraki just  hates All Might, and feels society is lazy and happy because heroes are always pretending everything is okay.

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Deku, our protagonist, is typically, unable to answer any of these criticisms with anything other than “try harder”.

 

But the other heroes, the supporting or secondary MCs actually have some thoughts on these issues.

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Todoroki, personally and painfully aware of the lack of personal responsibility in a hero’s home life, is tempted to see the system as flawed. He also questions authority more than any of the other students.

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Bakugo, who went from being my least favorite to my top favorite male character in season 3, and onward (power of fan made stuff) calls out the idea that heroes can just be outwardly nice, and emphasizes that grit and determination are the key component between a hero and a weakling with good intentions, even if he does this in a very abrasive way. Bakugo demands that people be real with him, even if it means they are less nice that way, in his own way agreeing with Todoroki’s disgust with fake good PR. (Maybe that’s why they don’t hate each other even though they don’t get along.)

Practical Typing | My Hero Academia: Eijiro Kirishima (ESFP)

Kirishima declares he won’t even feel like  a man, let alone a hero, if he cannot take action himself. While one could argue the situation was beyond him, its notable that Bakugo would not have been rescued without his help, while the show doesn’t exactly say this, it does not wholly condemn the kids, as All Might commends Deku for his plan. Kirishima’s point that not just a hero, but any person, should want to help their friend is a good counter to the idea that only heroes are allowed to be brave in a society where you can be arrested for helping just because you are not a certified professional.

People will defend the idea that only professionals should step in, and it works fine if pros are around and functioning, but the hard truth is in Real Life, emergencies specifically tend to happen where there is no professional help, why else would they be emergencies. Many people’s lives have been saved by common sense, a little First Aid knowledge, or the guts to take a risk that was illogical. That is what heroics are made of. Professionals are just doing a job, an important job, but heroism implies it was unusual for the person to do what they did. Therefore it cannot really be a job, or else, it was an unforeseen element of the job, like risking a new medical procedure, that they would not have been prepared for.

Heroes traditionally are at odds with society, which is why t he problem of MHA’s world is really that society is attempting to control heroes, thereby rendering the term meaningless.

The world defines Heroes as people who save people, but the word has many more connotations than that.

It’s actually a problem not just in anime, but in the surplus of superheros we have now, in the MCU and DCU, there’s just too many. The idea that they are unusual, or different from the regular law, is hard to buy.

IF heroes are like anyone else, just with powers, then, as The Incredibles points out “no one will be (special).”

The point of the Incredibles is not that being exceptional because of DNA is inherently preferable, but that if you are exceptional, you should be able to use those gifts freely without conforming to the norm. That can apply to morality, one line in the movie’s opening newsreel goes “Average citizens, average heroes, quietly and anonymously, trying to make the world a better place.”

How can a hero be average? That’s the real point of the movie. Whether its because they do the right thing even if it gets them in trouble, or because they can break cars or run on water, you can’t expect a hero to be like everyone else, and if you try to make everyone a hero, you take any and all meaning from the word.

Like that stupid saying “Everyone is the hero of their own story.”

IT’s meant to hype people up, like, you can libe our life in a big way.

And you can, most certainly, you may well get to be a hero.

But you are not the hero of your own story, newsflash: Life is not about you. If your life is about you, it’s pretty pathetically small, because that’s just one person.

MHA does not go that far, and it makes a lot of good points, but there’s one question that’s haunting the fans right now (those who are interested in this theme that is.)

Deku is supposed to become the greatest hero, but Heroes, as a whole, are not all that great. They fit a mold. they are fine as people, but when we try to hold them up as examples, even All Might, the ex-number one, has plenty of short-sightedness that makes him a  good hero publically, but more of a trying-really-hard private one.

What makes a hero Great?

All Might says it’s both compassion and grit. That’s probably true.

But a third thing that makes the difference between a hero and a soldier is the ability to see things clearly.

We’ve seen many problems with the hero world, and it parallels our world in a lot of ways. We can sacrifice true excellence for just the show of it. True compassion for just outward altruism. We don’t want to know what’s behind it all.

As Todoroki and Momo both mention at one point, being able to judge a situation accurately is key to being a hero, something both Deku and Bakugo, the two halves of the same coin according to the show, lack in compared to those two.

rt your anime/manga OTPs 💕 on Twitter: "Shouto Todoroki and Momo ...

Wisdom is rarely the most popular thing in the culture, but to be a real hero, you have to have it, at least a little. One act of heroism, you might get by on guts and innovation, but to be the Greatest, you have to be able to see solutions to problems.

And you have to have the courage to tell people, even people in authority, that they are doing it wrong.

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Not to point fingers, but anime has a serious kissing-up to authority problem, even if the authority is clearly wrong, they can never be called out for it. (I’ve seen a few exceptions, but they were light.)

It’s creeping into American media too, much more than I like.

It used to be a given that a hero had to challenge the system, now the message is to work with it.

Well, if you can, but as CA: Civil War put it “Compromise where you can, and where you can’t…stand your ground, and tell them ‘no, you move.'” (Best part of the film.)

I guess I’m rebel at heart, I heard the line that I shouldn’t question authority too much growing up, and then I realized that that was just an excuse to keep allowing the same crap as before.

Of course, change is scary. It’s risky. What would everyone think?

People say, it doesn’t matter what others think of you. It’s true, in a way. But may I remind you, that you can lose your life in many places for being different, thinking different, or criticizing authority. You can lose your job, your reputation, your friends, and your family.

So, yes, it does matter. But we have a responsibility to dot he right thing regardless of that, and anyone who does not, most certainly can be labeled a coward.

The courage to be a good citizen is nonexistent, usually, but the courage to be a hero, that’s uncommon.

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There’s a difference between being Number One, i. e. most popular and most effective (in a way) and the Greatest, which reflects on your true character.

With that, I think this is over for now, until next time–Natasha.

 

 

1000+ images about Deku trending on We Heart It

 

Anime won’t Fix-it!

Let’s talk about anime again. That’s a cheerful subject.

I’ve watched quite a few since last year, when I really started to get into it. I started with RWBY, which is no exactly anime, but it modeled after it, then I moved to MHA.

I got spoiled on MHA because it’s so much better than most of the other ones I’ve seen. I  think the two best ones next to it were Love is War, and Lovely Complex.

I’d have to give some honorable mentions to the SOL Animes “The Great Passage” “Kabukibu”, “Library War” (more of a futuristic one), which were fun even if they were not as involved. They are also trope exceptions often enough to the foibles of Shonen and Romance anime.

Shonen anime really has a problem, I notice, with how it tends to end. I think too many of them go on for too long, and strangely have a habit of ending without resolving all the threads like the relationships, or even some major plot points. Or they will build something up for 3 seasons, and then make it really anticlimactic when they reveal it. Err.

But aside from more petty complaints, I’ve been noticing a fundamental difference between anime and American Medias approach to difficulties within story.

In America, problems are usually introduced in a story with the intention to deal with them. Remove the sources of the problem, find a way to overcome it, or fix yourself. It’s in the cheesiest tropes like the make-over montage.

I’m so used to that, I never considered someone might write a story where that wasn’t the goal.

But I began to notice anime are not written that way.

If a problem is introduced in an anime that is not simple an tough opponent needing to go down (which is so basic a kid could figure it out in 2 seconds) the problem is generally not resolved.

If it is resolved, it is almost never by removing the cause of it.

Case in point:

In the hot mess that is Naruto, the main problem of the show is getting Sasuke back, and convincing him not to be evil anymore. Though it often feels like no one on his team cares that much whether he’s evil so long as he’s with them (Sakura literally offers to go join a psychopath’s weird cult if it means she can go with Sasuke.)

In the end the problem is “resolved” by Sasuke deciding not to kill every leader of the villages, and Naruto himself, you know, like any generous person would. Sasuke then accepts Naruto’s friendship, allegedly, but leaves the village anyway. Naruto does not stop him, despite this being the very thing he was trying to avoid all this time. Sasuke’s many flaws are never called out, nor is his selfishness. Sasuke himself seems to conclude there is just nothing for him in Leaf Village, and he’s probably right.

At no point was Sasuke confronted on why his choices were evil, why he was a fool for making them, and how he needed to choose to accept love because it was the only way for him to truly find peace. Instead, that last one is implied, the other two are never, ever even suggested by the other characters, or any character.

It was the same with other villains on the show too. The show acted like nothing was wrong with what they did, except they didn’t have the right goal…not that they were evil or anything…yeah…

Sai, my boy, was about the only one who ever bothered to try to point out the many irrational ideas of the characters, and Temari, best girl, was the only one who confronted people on their crap. They both get ignored most of the time.

But Naruto was not the only show that did this:

I just got done with an anime called “Say I love You.” It had enjoyable characters, plenty of cute moments, and nice animation.

It started out pretty good. Shy, isolated girl meets popular but kind boy, they connect. She has to learn to trust, etc.

But, this anime (realistically) portrayed a lot of immaturity in the relationships. I was okay with that, that’s highschool right? But I thought, they’ll grow, right? They’ll realize why they should not act this way.

Wrong.

While some stuff was called out, it was the minor stuff. The real problem was that the male character was a pushover, a terrible judge of character, and a Classic White Knight to the point where he would do the stupidest stuff because he wanted to rescue the person, even when it hurt him and his girlfriend to do it. He was also kind of possessive.

The girl, on the other hand, would never tell him he was being a jackass. Or call him out on his crap excuses, and demand more respect. She didn’t learn much from episode 1-13.

It was real stuff, and stuff people need to work through if they want to be in a committed relationship. Otherwise you bet it would lead to affairs and miscommunication.

On any number of other anime I’ve seen, if a character has an issue, they resolve to try harder, to become stronger to overcome it. It’s never that they just need to get rid of the problem. That if they removed that poisonous, cursed power they got, they might not *gasp* be corrupted by it. (Duh!)

Or if they just told this toxic person to stay the flip away from them, they might not have to deal with their crap anymore.

It’s like anime can’t say someone is just bad, that an idea or power is just evil, they have to give a reason for it so that the person can be redeemed.

I love redeemed villains, but anime has made me develop a distaste for it, because very often they do not actually redeem the villains by calling them out on their evil, and having them repent. They just sort of decide to accept friendship, and that’s it. No one ever has PTSD from all the terrible things they did. Heck, you can even ship one of the characters they beat the crap out of with them (I’ve seen this more than once.)

Forgiveness is beautiful, but it should not be cheap. I’d like to see some characters struggle with it (points MHA for Todoroki being more realistic about that. Please don’t ruin it.)

Why does anime do this? Why not just resolve things?

I have to wonder, if it’s a Cultural thing.

Not to profile. But I could see a reason for it. I live in America, my country got foudned by the attitude if something is wrong, you get rid of it, or you change it. Throw the tea in the harbor, kick the British out, make slavery illegal. That’s also a European attitude.

Unsurprisingly, Christiantiy has been the dominant religion of Europe and American, and Christianity clearly teaches if there’s an evil, get rid of it. Or make it better. But don’t accept it and try to conform to a corrupt society.

In Asia, on the other hand, you have Buddhism and Hinduism. The point of those religions is to get above your circumstances mentally, by choosing to think of higher things…but not to actually do anything about it, because things proceed as they should. I do not think that means that Asians do not change things, I think they do, but the attitude is in their art, and ideology, whether they realize it or not.

Actually, anime would suggest they struggle with it, as it is usually hard for the main characters to accept that things will  not change, and they must just keep doing their best no matter what.

It’s common for Chinese and Japanese students to commit suicide if they fail academically, if you cannot rise above your circumstances by meeting government exceptions, why even bother? (Sorry, not to be insensitive, I just think grades are a stupid thing to base your value on.)

Anime present highly corrupt worlds for our consideration, but often it does not change them, it just tells us to keep striving for excellence…even if excellence in such a system could not really be said to be a success.

To go back to Naruto, he tries to get the village’s recognition and become Hokage, because that’s how you show you are worth something in that world. But the village is increasingly shown to be ignorant, cruel, and stubborn to a fault. They don’t value people based on character, but on flashy abilities, and then they try to kill those same people when they become too dangerous. Why on earth would you want the approval of such hacks? Also, what is being Hokage worth when all the previous Hokages created this mess?

Why do you need to be recognized by others in order to be content?

All very good questions you won’t see the show even attempt to answer. Let alone Naruto.

It would take me a whole study paper’s worth to talk about every example I’ve seen, if you watch anime, you probably get it.

It’s no wonder the industry has so many fan fiction writers, people want proper endings.

I still enjoy the shows, but expecting them to be profound is starting to feel like a vain hope.

My point obviously is we need answers. I know some would argue that, that anime is more realistic, to them I would say, your attitude contradicts every major historical movement of the world ever. If you think we don’t need real solutions, you think we don’t need freedom, also. Freedom is a solution.

If you think you cannot change your life, I feel sorry for you, please believe me, you can. I have.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Restoration Principle.

Hi, Followers, it’s the end of the year. What better time to talk about fixing problems?

Specifically how fiction chooses to do it, and how it just might be a key to real life.

I wrote a post a few months back about The Resurrection Arc, in fiction, and how it works and how it can be used well.  (link here: https://wordpress.com/post/drybonestruth.wordpress.com/16361)

One thing I said in that post was that: “Resurrection means restoration.”

I’ve been thinking since finishing that too-oft-named Anime, Naruto, that Restoration is actually a big part of anime, and other shows too.

Also, it’s not just fiction, G. K. Chesterton said that:

In history there is no Revolution that is not a Restoration... all the men in history who have really done anything with the future have had their eyes fixed upon the past.”

                                         groundhog_day

Restoration, it’s used a lot in Church, many people might just associate the word with what you do to an old building, or an original version of a movie. (My mom wishes they’d restore the original Star Wars movies to the pre-CGI versions.)

Here’s a dictionary.com definition of Restoration:

noun

Renewal, revival, reestablishing.

If you go by what Christianity, and a myriad of other religions, teaches, then anything Mankind does right would have to be a return to its original state.

Deep down, human beings feel this longing to return to former glory, sometimes we call it Nostalgia. A wish to return to innocence. Innocence is glory.

We also feel a desire for new things, but new things tend to be just old things in a different form.

All Revolution calls for a new thing, but an honest look at the past would reveal that the new thing is something people did long ago.

The American Government was supposedly new, but it was based on both Roman and Hebrew systems, one found in the Bible quite clearly. The Biblical Law was one of the earliest known to not have a king or ruler in charge of the people. Until they demanded it later. (A tale as old as the hills, historically speaking.)

Chesterton also had the thought that Human Beings, have grown older than God our Father, we grow tired of doing the same things, and that is why we have to package Goodness into so many new forms. We don’t like to play the same game, hear the same song, over and over again without a new change of pace.

But it is possible God does not get tired of Good Things. And those things are, in the end, what we keep coming back to.

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In the Bible, when someone strays from the path then turns from their wicked ways, it is always called a Return.

Notably, in fiction there’s a common thread that the way to fix things is to go back to a state of being. In Modern Fiction, the Ideal tends to be a normal human society, not a robot, or communist, or barbaric society. While in older fiction, the ideal was more likely to be a heavenly society of some sort, something higher and purer than just ordinary people’s interactions.

We’ve all seen the story-lines where the MC has to return some special item to some spot, and that will restore the land, the proper power, the true heir to the throne, etc. Sometimes the item has to be destroyed to restore because it is cursed.

Whether the answer is destroying or returning, the end result is always a restoration.

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Can you think of happy ending that did not include a Restoration? Go ahead, try, I’ll wait…

Anime is rife with this theme of Restoration. Usually it is through defeating the Big Bad at the end of the arc, and the land will magically heal. I watched the Naruto Movie: The Stone of Gelel today (It had the best boys in it, so I thought why not?), and it had the same thing, the trope where the land is healed all at once.

The Lion King has it too, though its over several months in that one.

I know I have readers from outside America, I may not know them, but you’ve definitely already got stories in mind that end this way. Every culture does.

In fact, it’s been noted that there is really only one basic plot in writing, even in nonfiction writing.

A problem is introduced, and a way to fix it, to restore us back to some ideal.

C. S. Lewis’s Pilgrim’s Regress is actually based entirely on the idea that any going forward, morally, is a going back. In it John, the Pilgrim, travels his land in search of an Island that ends up being the back of a mountain by his home. He comes full circle.

That is what the Eastern idea of Cyclical time is really about, that everything returns to its initial state, (we just disagree about what that state is.)

The important thing to understanding what the Restoration was is to keep in mind it can be either a symbolic physical act in the story, or it can be an emotional restoration, even a spiritual one.

Some stories will have a healing, where someone will have a physical problem fixed. Breaking Curses, undoing creepy science experiments, remedying a plague, all that falls under this category.

Other times the restoration will com in the form of finding a family member, finding a homeland, finding a title or position.

It’s more widespread for it to be an emotional restoration. From romances to kids shows, that restoration has to happen. Someone finds true love, remembers what’s important, learns what it is like to be human, learns the power of a certain virtue. And it restores them to who they are meant to be. Often who they once were, at the beginning of the tale, before the bad events took it from them.

Isn’t that what we all want in our lives, some of us want to be able to want it again.

All of us have an idea of a good life that we once had, or could have had, and we feel we missed it.

We’ve been told that the good life is in the present, yet we want to go back still. Be young again, be married again, have kids again, have that job again, like that thing again.

Like constellations imploding in the night; everything is turning, everything is turning, And the shapes that you drew may change beneath a different light, and everything you thought you knew will fall apart, but you’ll be all right“–The OH HELLOS, Constellations.

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Today is the last day of 2019, how often have we thought that this year? Or in previous year’s. Maybe we had a good year, but even in happiness there is often a nostalgic feeling, at least for me. Like “Ah yes, this is how I used to feel.”

But when I was a kid, I wasn’t often happy. The nostalgia is an illusion. I am really wanting to go back even further. To a different time, one before I was even born.

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But those ages had trouble too. I’ve read enough to know they felt the same.

We have to go back further still, before the Fall.

Stories communicate that in their own way, by settling on one disaster that really changed it all for the worse, and must be undone. On Naruto, it was the battle of two friends, and two brothers, that begun the whole freaking mess. Supposedly it is undone by Naruto and Sasuke coming to peace. Rather like Cain and Abel.

In real life, people rarely narrow it down to one thing that’s wrong with the world–or their lives. You could list a half a dozen right now, if I asked.

As Rich Mullins sang “Everybody’s always saying they need just one thing, but what they really mean is they need just one thing more.”

In stories, a value like love, friendship, courage, or honor, tends to be the One Thing we MUST NOT LOSE EVER, AT ALL COSTS.

I’d like more things to be good in the world, and my life, sure. But I’m with Mullins. God is my One Thing.

To wrap this up, I guess my final point is that at the end of the year, the end of the story, the real question is: What is that One thing you need restored to you? Or maybe you need to be restored to it.

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To find a new thing is to find an old thing.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this send-off post, it’s been an interesting year for me, and I wish you the best in 2020. Happy New Year everyone⌚⌛☺–until then, Natasha.

An honest look at Sakura Haruno.

I felt like committing weeboo treason today…

Nah, kidding.

This is just an anime fan post, so I don’t expect that many people to read it, but there is one thing I’d like to discuss that applies in real life to everybody.

Sakura, if you don’t know, is one of the Main Characters of Naruto. She has the privilege of being one of the most hated characters in popular anime that I know of.

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I’m here to look at the question honestly: Does Sakura really deserve it?

I’m going to make the case that Sakura as a character does indeed deserve to be hated, but it’s for a reason almost no one talks about, and it’s not the reason she gets dumped on by the fans the most for.

The charges leveled against Sakura are as follows:

  1. She never does anything.
  2. She never does anything and is useless
  3. She never does anything and is annoying
  4. She never does anything but smack Naruto around
  5. …..Uh…what other character traits does she have?
  6. Oh, yeah, being obsessed with Sasuke. The hands-down worst person on the show.

You get the idea.

According to my sister, the author himself was puzzled by the fan-hate toward Sakura after the initial seasons of the show were released, and decided to give her more things to do. Allegedly.

But his idea of fixing the problem was having Sakura begin hating on herself for being helpless, making a couple attempts to defend herself that ultimately ended in her still needing to be rescued; become a medical ninja, but still staying out of any plot relevant battles until the final season; and going from hating Naruto to loving but still treating him unfairly.

Sakura annoyed me and I usually try to like female leads. The females tend to bring more skills I can relate to to the table, like book knowledge, science, or emotional intelligence.

When Sakura was pitched to the audience, via the teachers, as a smarter character, I was down for that. I don’t think all team members need to be boss fighters to be cool. S

However, Sakura is not very helpful in the intelligence department. She has a few moments here and there, but I can’t say she ever came up with a plan, or did more than give a few helpful tips.

So, the tech support role was out for her. (She might have done better in a show with more technology based battles.)

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The next option is usually emotional intelligence. The character who keeps everyone at peace and sane.

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The show pitched Sakura as this also, but she has a short temper and is not paitent, so the role never really took hold.

It felt like Kishimoto was trying to figure out what the heck to do with her, and kept trying one plan after another

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Finally, he had as stroke of genius–at least he clearly thought so–why not the healer? Everyone loves the healer characters!

Give Sakura some cool life-saving moments through medical science, and people will finally quite hating on her, right?

Wrong.

As a professed fan and analyst of sorts, I recognize what my sister refers to as “illogical salt” when I see it.

I have to say, I never liked Sakura except briefly in Shippunden between major plot point, but dang it, if I’m going to bear with her for the whole show, I’m not gonna hate on every little thing she does.

Since I’m taking a honest look at he character, it’s only fair to say she doesn’t deserve a lot of the hate she gets for the reasons I mentioned above.

An all fairness, Sakura is not useless. That charge is the biggest one, and one I said myself without even knowing it was what everyone else said, back in season 1 of the OG show. (Yeah, I’m not one of those people who states things other fans have said as if it’s my original idea, I just pick up on patterns really quickly.)

Sakura was useless a lot, but I don’t discount small contributions. Since I tend to like characters who get less screen time anyway, I’ve learned to appreciate little gestures, and my guess is Sakura’s supporters (there are a surprising amount) are the same kind of fans. There’s traits that come with characters who don’t get attention as much, and if you prefer those, you’ll prefer those characters, it’s just how it works.

One such fan commented under one of the episodes a lengthy defense of Sakura, I shortened it for this post and took out some rude jabs at the haters:

“.. have you forgotten she’s also a part of team 7 or team kakashi? have you forgotten that she stood up to those sound village ninjas when naruto and sasuke were passed tf out? have you forgotten that she herself dislikes how useless she’s been and therefore trained hard to be a medical ninja so that she can also be of use and not just stand in the way? have you forgotten that sasuke also considered her as a friend which is why he said “thank you” to her as a parting gift? have you forgotten that she’s long grown since hating on naruto and finding him annoying to actually admiring and caring for him?… like she isn’t supposed to represent a more casual ninja without all the sad and tragic backstory and dead parents, seriously what did you expect of her? girlie has hardly experienced any pain and yet she’s trained and worked hard to better herself.”

All this is fair, and what the show claimed it was doing with her. Some fans choose to accept the clumsy execution of these ideas.

I am annoyed that they never did it well, but I appreciate the attempt.

However, it would have been wiser to have her grow out of the traits that people hated the most. And that is where I think the author simply did not care enough to really give Sakura the kind of attention she needed to grow.

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While characters complain about Sakura’s flaws, they never challenge her on them. In fact her teammates and teachers are always telling her to sit a fight out, and keeping her in the background. When challenged, she rises to the occasion, but you can count the times she’s challenged on one hand, and it’s never by her friends. Except Ino…yeah…that’s almost more painful. (I do like their friendship okay, but their fights are a joke.)

She’s never held accountable for her short temper so that she might have to learn to control it.

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And unfortunately, that’s not even her biggest problem.

All this would render her annoying, but likable, if passes off the right way. There were a few arcs they succeeded in making her dynamic with the others work. One of the better ones is Guren and Yuukimaru.

I could forgive Sakura a lot, if she was a good person I could admire.

But I don’t think tenacity itself is admirable without a reason behind it, and that makes me a tough anime fan to please, if you’re intent on using willpower itself as a good thing.

To will is to do, but not necessarily to do right. You will to do evil too.

Sakura’s tenacity falls all on the side of not giving up on trying to get better, but never on learning more about people and life in general.

To be blunt: She begins the series as a fool, and she ends the series as a fool…and she continues into the next series as a fool.

Sakura may be brave, she has visitations of kindness and compassion, she’s not useless…but she lacks wisdom.

I said before that a show needs wisdom in order to be good. So does a character.

Sakura is not a bad character if you take bad to mean unrealistic, she’s very real.

She exemplifies real problems many women have.

She’s obsessed with someone who abuses her.

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WHYYYY?

Sakura supposedly loves Sasuke because she can’t help it. She is like Nancy from Oliver Twist. Nancy recognizes she’s with a bad man, but tells her friend that she cannot leave him anyway, she supposes its a judgement on her for being a prostitute. In the end, Sikes kills Nancy in a cruel way, Charles Dickens loved his tragic deaths for female (and male) characters. It’ll make you cry, really.

Well, Sakura doesn’t die, obviously. But Sasuke does attempt to kill her, on record, at least twice, could be more times, and puts her under a genjutsu that looks like it will kill her at first.

Sakura, surprisingly shakes this off in a matter of hours, and goes back to daydreaming about Sasuke.

Well…I really blame bad writing for that.

Sakura also has a counterpart, Karin, who likes Sasuke and displays the same traits, but she admits that they are abusive, in a sense, she can’t seem to help herself. However, Karin initially liked Sasuke because he saved her life when he didn’t have to. She admitted later that he was different, and appeared to be over him, but she wasn’t allowed to be because the author just hated to let any girl not be hot for Sasuke.

Anyway, Sakura later acknowledges her love for Sasuke makes little sense, but she just can’t help it.

What does not happen, however, is an acknowledgement that this is abusive. I found fans who said it was, but not that many.

And this is my real complaint against Sakura as a character.

(SPOILER ALERT):

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She later marries Sasuke, and they have a kid. Sasuke is not around much for either of them, due to some dumb reason like guilt.

The message sent by this is that it’s okay to marry someone who neglects you, has always treated you like dirt, and has tried to harm you multiple times.

Sakura and Sasuke are never equals, as she can never make him listen to her, or do anything she says. There’s no give and take in their relationship, even early on before it was abusive.

Sasuke never encouraged Sakura during most of the show, so it was more of her doing it to herself, but at the end he eventually does, and it’s played off as romantic.

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But it really is Sasuke treating her like a convenience who has to wait on his whim if he should happen to want attention. Whether the defense can be made that he feels this is better for her over all or not, I don’t really care, because neither option is a good relationship.

Perhaps is was never meant to be an example, but given that it’s one of the two main ships on the show, and given a lot of attention, far more than Hinata and Naruto’s is, and not called out for the issues it does have, it’s kind of like saying that’s okay.

And that’s a terrible message to little girls. I’m concerned about all the people who like the ship.

And believe me, I get it, emotional abuse is a real pain.

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Having experienced emotional and physical abuse myself, in different levels, I understand how it gets into your brain.

You just can’t believe a person close to you would do such a thing, and you try to come up with a reason.

Sakura does this when she says she made Sasuke hate her initially, and that she is always too weak to stop him.

And you try to believe they are better than that. That they have to care about you more than that, maybe they could snap out of it. Maybe they would stop if you met their demands.

The demands are always impossible to meet.

Sakura does this when she offers to go with Sasuke on his revenge quest. To join an evil maniac’s organization, if it means she can be with Sasuke. Sasuke is quite reasonable to turn down this offer, as he never wanted it anyway.

At this point, he really wasn’t abusive on purpose, as I said. But he was a jerk to her.

You try to forget each incident after it passes and focus on what you like about them, or, if they are complete jerks, you make stuff up.

Sakura does this a lot, she even calls Sasuke a kind person at one point…this is the guy who dumped her on a street, tried to kill his best friend, intends to wipe out her village, and can’t be bothered to even show remorse for any of this. To name some of what he’s done.

Sasuke is not kind. He’s barely human by the middle of Shippuden…and not really human by the end, he and Naruto both become demigods.

Finally, in abuse, you feel helpless, that’s why you pretend it’s not real. You don’t tell anyone about it. You don’t let anyone question the person you’re with.

Check and check for Sakura.

Abuse also comes with an obsession. You can’t stop living around the person.

Sakura’s whole life is trying to get to Sasuke. She and Naruto even discuss how they cannot stop thinking of him, hoping it’ll work. One of the myriad of times she fed Naruto’s own unhealthy obsession.

All this, and Sasuke didn’t even want it, and when he does finally go along with it, we’re supposed to be happy.

Ugh, gag me with the script.

Naruto, the anime that tells kids abusive relationships are true loyalty…yay!

All this is the real reason to dislike Sakura. Her personality doesn’t matter in the least, if her whole purpose in the show is deeply skewed, and it’s lying to the audience to tell them she should be admired for loving Sasuke.

Eventually, they attempt to make her seem less abused, because she tries to stop Sasuke in order to stop him from making himself worse.

However, as she fails before even making a move, and never tries to again, and doesn’t bother to make him pay any sort of price for it.

In the end, Sakura doesn’t change, just like the other two, she is stagnant.

Some might argue that doesn’t make her dislikable, and perhaps for them, it doesn’t. I won’t even say that’s wrong. But it is wrong to support such an example of toxicity.

That’s my honest look at Sakura, or Hot Take, as I think they call it now. She’s an ordinary girl, who shouldn’t be hailed as any kind of role model, but shouldn’t be hated as especially bad. She just is.

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Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

 

The Element of Kindness.

Happy Day-After-Christmas, peeps.

Hope you had a good one, I spent most of mine bingeing The Dragon Prince first 2 1/2 seasons. (Not a recommendation, though it’s okay.) I was with family, my siblings and I had been wanting to watch it.

I was checking my stats today, and I have one post that’s had a total of 130+ views, including my own. (Why do blogs count your own views on your post?)

It’s A Strong Mind and a Soft Heart. (Link here: https://drybonestruth.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/a-strong-mind-and-a-soft-heart/)

I never expected it to be so popular, I based the title on a song by Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-cVRxhnrY0)

It’s a bit rough, but the post is mainly about kindness and reason being blended together in our actions. The heart and the head not being separated, and how it is bad when they are.

I also said that even someone with a mental handicap might understand this better than a genius, and be wiser.

I still think that its true, in fact, I think it is more true now. Intelligence might be measured by IQ, but thank the Lord, Wisdom is not.

There is something I thought of after writing my Naruto review, it actually hit my before I finished the OG show, I talked about it with my sisters and they agreed. It’s kindness.

If you’ve seen the show, or a similar one, you’d probably agree. The characters themselves begin pointing it out after a certain season.

The Ninja world is highly cruel, and according to my mom, that’s a pretty accurate depiction of what real ninjas were like. In fact, the show’s portrayal is almost too real. One of the things that makes Naruto more than just an average Shonen anime is that it’s based on something that existed. Ninja and Samurai were both tools of the empire in Japan, used differently, and against each other. Ninjas used dark arts; secret ways;  things like that.

Of course it gets ridiculous on the show, but the disturbing element is that some of it, or most of it, isn’t all that much of an exaggeration.

It would be nice if I could say Japan was the only country that was like this (though not to Japan) but I can’t.

Every country is like this. Cruelty, if you look at human history, is not the exception but the rule of human dynasties, small societies, and everything in between.

No matter how you slice it, cruelty is nonsensical. People often speak and write of senseless cruelty, as if there was a cruelty that made sense; but if it makes sense, we’ll always find in the end, it was not cruelty.

It makes sense to use triage in a war or crisis, some people think of this as cruel, but in the end, it can save more lives than trying to treat everyone would. (Triage is a rating system that determines who gets treated first when there’s limited medical supplies and staff, which there always are, even in hospitals.)

It seems cruel to the addict to deny them their substance, but that is kinder than enabling them is.

What’s astonishing about Naruto’s version of it is how blatantly stupid the cruelty was. Yet, there are times and places where even what was shown there would be less than what was really happening in real life in history.

The cruelty shown on anime tends to be either neglect, direct abuse, emotional abuse, molesting (usually implied, not shown or said outright), mass killing, and torture for the fun of it. Also bullying is common, as well as people being ostracized for being different, sometimes in almost non-existant ways.

It’s awful how most of the time that cruelty is directed toward children.

Naruto‘s reached the point of being a sickness with the whole show, and it became a major talking point of all the villains on it, in the end the main villains all wanted to remake the world into their image of a kinder, softer place where everyone would be happy.

I’ve run into that idea countless times, from The Left Behind series to YA dystopian fiction (movies, I don’t read them.) Heck, if it’s not the big finale of whatever super hero/special abilities show or movies series you’re watching… I doubt you’re watching them(*cough Endgame *cough.)

I began to wonder what could have possessed Kishimoto to write such a dark show that aired, I may remind you, on Nickelodeon (I think, or Cartoon Network, or both.)

I always wonder that about these writers, even in more Americanized anime.

Perhaps there’s a hint to their thinking in what Torchwick from RWBY tells Ruby before he gets eaten by a monster “The real world is cold, the real world doesn’t care about spirit.”

Why are ninja so cruel? They are taught to be, because they are taught with the assumption that enemies are everywhere, that no one can be trusted, that even your closest friend may be ordered to kill you if you go against the village, and therefore, it is better to not have many friends.

This is, ostensibly, the idea Naruto himself rebels against and changes, however it does not work, because Sasuke’s crimes were not against a village’s martial law, but against the Laws of Life itself and what is Good in general.

What I hated most about this show was how little it bothered to be honest about human beings. The world was portrayed in the worst possible light, everywhere you turn there’s a massacre, a genocide, a child being abused into being a monster, a friend stabbing another in the back… but nowhere were there ordinary people just living their lives, doing small acts of kindness, camaraderie, and unselfishness. If we got perhaps a minute or two of it, the focus never lasted long enough for it to make a point.

I do not exaggerate when I say the only times the show highlighted people living ordinary, happy lives was right before a disaster so that we’d feel like it meant something, the rest of the time ordinary people were portrayed as jerks to the main characters.

It was so exhausting and unfair. I discovered that besides Wisdom, there is another element a story must be written with in order for it to work properly: Kindness.

Kindness is so basic to older literature and shows, to the point of being overly cheesy, that I took it for granted. I never thought of it as necessary writing element, and you won’t find it in a trope discussion, or writing class. I daresay, next to myself, only fiction writers of the old fashioned happy story brand will even mention it. (Check out J. R. R. Tolkien’s views on the Happy Ending sometime.)

But even if a story is not happy, it needs to have kindness in it somewhere, or it will only depress people. Romeo and Juliet is an infamous tragedy, but it’s built around the kindness of two young people who are able to look past their family’s feud and really see each other. Juliet more so. (I never like Romeo.) Without that element, the tragedy would mean absolutely nothing.

Sadness has this particular quality, it really can only exist where there has been kindness. Who really mourns the death of a tyrant or miser or witch?

I commented to my sisters in the middle of one important Naruto arc that the darkness on the show didn’t really stick with me after watching, because it was innocuous. We wonder why, eventually we concluded it was because there was just so much, and it was just so over the top, that it was impossible to believe it. There’s always the insane cases, but they are not every case, and not nearly as frequent as this show made out.

But even more so, there wasn’t enough kindness to make us regret the destruction of the characters that much. None of the places that got wiped out had good or happy people in them, usually. We never got to see the simplicity of everyday life being played out. Heck, Fairy Tail showed more in its Edolas arc with the talking cat society than this show ever did with human beings.

You may find it morbid of me to say Sadness only exists because of Kindness; but nowhere in the Bible, or in the study of human psychology, does it say that Sadness is a bad emotion. Women make themselves sad on purpose to relieve stress. Depression is bad, but depression and sadness are not the same thing. (Inside Out, anyone?)

Naruto ultimately lessened the impact of its own point about cruelty by never showing any other options in the main plot. By the end of the show no one has the faintest idea how to rebuild the world except the Sand Siblings, Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro, who have spent 3 years working on spreading kinder customs in their own village. Only they seem in the least prepared to take on the revamping of Ninja society. They begin new customs between the villages and hold them accountable to it. Once, Temari purposely reminded the Leaf that they need their allies and they can’t go back to the old ways of mistrust, turning her natural fierceness into a protective thing instead of an intimidating one.

However, the Sand gets zero credit for basically being the only reason the world didn’t end, and it all goes to Naruto, who has no clue what he needs to do. As he himself admits.

In the end the whole point falls flat. The viewer doesn’t really know how they will do it, we are just told to believe they will…even though we have no concrete proof to believe in.

I need to see you be kind if I’m to believe you can make a difference.

It was the simplest thing, a child could have pointed it out, heck, some of them did…yet it was like the show was allergic to it.

But, what scares me is not that Naruto was so bad at it, for that’s just one author, but that it;s not all the a different from at least 90% of the adult and kids shows that air on our TV networks here.

From Soap Operas, to Sitcoms, to whatever the heck the Disney channel and Cartoon Network are, there’s a theme that’s been going on since the 80s at least… no kindness.

I like sarcasm fine, but when that’s all your show is, (and stupidity,) then there’s just not much about the human beings to like.

I remember watching The Cosby Show and thinking it was way different in that way (I know what happened, but the show itself was really cute.)

I was lucky to grow up on The Chronicles of Narnia, and similar stories, which are full of wonder, quirkiness, wisdom…and kindness, it was everywhere, hiding in the corners or out in the open. Kindness that needed no explanation, no motivation, beyond that kindness was natural and right, and it was the people who lack it who are unusual.

I said cruelty is senseless, without exception, and that is because it never benefits anyone to be cruel. C. S. Lewis observes in The Screwtape Letters that some men have been twisted to enjoy cruelty, it is true. But enjoyment of the wrong thing cannot be said to be a benefit, unless you’re crazy enough to defend drugs on that account…oh yeah, pot got legalized with that as an excuse…my country is crazy…Well, oh well.

Kindness is defended even by skeptics as a necessary evolutionary instinct. That theory doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny, but if even godless men feel the need to defend kindness, it is because kindness is reasonable.

I find what’s godly is always reasonable.

That said, cruel stories are never rational. Naruto proved it to me, if I was ever in doubt, but I’ve seen many movies and shows, and a handful of books, that would confirm the theory. the worst was Ender’s Shadow, please never read that.

And that is where I am going to conclude for today, whew, I could get material out of this show for months…until next time–Natasha.