In a season where everyone was talking about Hero Academia and Attack on Titan, the actual best anime of the season goes unnoticed by many. Planet With is an anime written by none other than Mizukami Satoshi, the author who penned the legendary manga Hoshi no Samidare. Anyone who was around back then will remember the countless threads and memes about how we will never get a Samidare anime. Finally, after all these years, we have gotten the closest thing to a Samidare anime. Mizukami is one of the best mangaka of our time, with his stories being full of amazing action, whacky but loveable characters, powerful messages, and what is sorely lacking the most in manga: satisfying endings. Planet With has all of that in anime form, and it has only made me wish even more for his works to get an anime.
Like all Mizukami works, the fight scenes make for great entertainment, but it’s really the message of the story that sets the plot apart from others. In the universe of Planet With, humans have been marked as a species which is evolving too quickly and heading down a path of destruction. Since they are unlikely to choose the path of love, Nebula wishes to seal humanity away in dreams of happiness. However, one person (cat) in Nebula wishes to watch over humanity peacefully with the optimism that they will choose the path of love. He partners with the sole survivor of Sirius, a planet which chose destruction over love, to protect the Earth and show the potential of love that humans have.
For a 1 cour anime, its plot is difficult to summarize succinctly, and I have left out a lot of important details. Even so, I think the major point is conveyed – Planet With is a story about choosing love and forgiveness over hate and destruction and the trials that come with it. It is difficult to believe in the potential for love of those who are filled with hate, and it is even more difficult to forgive those who performed acts of hatred and violence. At what point should you draw the line and stop people from acting out their evil desires? If a group of people is consistently producing violence, is it justified to punish the entire group, including those who have yet to commit any faults? Nebula believes in stopping a species from evolving if they show signs of danger. In contrast, the protagonists want to keep believing that humanity will choose the path of love.
Planet With’s story applies to Christians in the way we could view ourselves. Christians are capable of so much good, but it would be foolish to ignore all the evils we have committed and continue to commit in the name of God. Recently, I have become more and more disappointed with “Christians.” It was not long ago that I argued the ones atheists always complain about were the small minority who gave Christians a bad name. You could find recent blog posts I wrote only a few years ago that said that. Yet it is becoming increasingly clear to me that such hateful Christians are far from a minority. Maybe the ones who need to be sealed away are Christians…is what crossed my mind as I watched certain characters in the story think the same of their own species. But Planet With is a story of hope, love, and forgiveness. Despite so many characters wanting to seal away humanity, they eventually come together and hope for a better future. Even so, you cannot forgive others without first acknowledging the sins they commit. Like my own self only a few years ago, it’s clear that one of the biggest problems with Christianity now is not only those who corrupt its name but also all of us who passively let those around us continue evil and immoral acts. Even some of the most loving, respectable Christians I know will only acknowledge the Pharisees of today in closed circles and call for prayer that they see the error of their ways. However, this has only served to make the problem fester and the corruption of Christianity from the inside has blossomed thanks to all of us who tried to downplay the problems. I, too, am part of the problem.
Today, the Republican “party of Christian values,” supported by millions of conservative Christians, have come out defending pedophilia, Nazis, murderers, rapists, concentration camps, calling the media the enemy of the people, and other horrors that Christians should be directly against; or, basically what every fascist dictatorship looks like in both fiction and reality. After a lot of thinking and reading about how this insanity came about, I think the biggest problem has been because Christians so rarely speak out against each other. In Planet With, Nebula is the organization of those who chose the path of love. Yet, when one of their own performs his own idea of justice, they banish him. Christians are called to judge not those outside the Church but those inside the Church so that we are not corrupted from the inside out. We have absolutely failed in that regard.
Even the most liberal pastors I respect speak of the changes in society’s culture and the spread of immorality as reasons why people are fleeing Christianity. I think it is clear that the biggest issue is not the immorality of today’s society but the immorality of today’s Christianity. Christians around me are quick to pray for fellow Christians that they might see why they are wrong, but they aren’t willing to speak out against them, even in today’s climate. So while there are large numbers who actively support neo-Nazis, violence, and racist hatred, there are millions more who passively support it by “avoiding politics” because they either won’t confront those who do or they don’t even realize it is happening. Even worse are the ones who verbally disagree with what’s happening then go on to vote for “Christian” Republicans who will *intentionally* make the situation even worse. The culture of staying away from politics has resulted in millions of Christians who simple wonder how things are so bad when this is exactly what all those critical atheists have been trying to warn us about for decades. What’s happening is not new; it has been festering for years and years and been conveniently ignored under the guise of politics. We have developed a culture that doesn’t discuss politics because it so easily brings out the worst in us. Yet isn’t it because we are so reluctant to witness the worst in others that things like racism, murders, and terrorism can be supported by people we otherwise thought to be good Christians? If the debate of forcibly removing children from parents and locking them up in cages is a political issue, then what isn’t political? We’re now at the point where Christian leadership is no longer just hypocritical, but many leaders are outright lying with messages of hate and fear, and effectively building cults rather than communities for the sake of power and money.
As recent news has revealed, Christian churches and leadership, among many other organizations, have been targeted for infiltration and manipulation for nefarious purposes over the last several decades in what is likely the most sophisticated and coordinated propaganda attack modern society has experienced (and continues to experience). Through extremely slow but methodical influences, Christianity has been corrupted from the inside. What might have started as affirming disgruntled Christians regarding illegal immigration can, over the course of 30+ years of constant lies and fear-mongering, become a justification for concentration camps and eventually genocide. And throughout this time, Christians such as me have done little other than saying that such people are a tiny minority. But this is not just a few people who don’t misunderstand a couple tenants of Christianity; this is a deliberate, malicious, and extremely successful attack on Christianity that has come to fruition, and nobody seems to be able to accept this. Of course, I’m just being a paranoid alarmist here; I’m sure those who warned German citizens about Nazis were just alarmists too. What pains me most is when so many of my Christian friends call it a spiritual problem and pray for it but do nothing else. Yes, there is a spiritual aspect, but it is by and large a physical problem that can be countered by real actions. Prayer is great, but it is also the easy way out rather than confronting those who continue to make the problem worse. After all, what good is faith without works?
With the advent of the internet and social media, there is so much propaganda fanning the flames of hate or at best, frustration at “both sides,” among us, without Christians ever recognizing that it is an intentional, human act to sow discord, hatred, and perhaps even worse, apathy and exhaustion. Republicans of today only care for power and are manipulating the country with massive amounts of propaganda and blatant lies to maintain that power, with a particular reliance on the Christian communities to remain ignorant, fearful, and uneducated, or at least, uninvolved in politics. The calls for fear and hatred of immigrants and “others” is exactly what you would see in every fascist’s rise to power. It is now, when so many Christians view so much of the world as enemies, that the story of the Good Samaritan and who are neighbors are is most poignant. If Christians do not speak out now, when we currently have calls for white supremacy nationalism and stochastic terrorism from many of the Republican leaders, who are supported by millions of “Christians,” then when will we speak out against such evils? To every person who still does not acknowledge this truth yet: you are exactly how things like the Holocaust happen without anyone stopping it – a lot of propaganda and refusal to admit things are as bad as they are until it’s too late.
To tie all of this back into my original point: large portions of Christianity are on a clear path of immorality due to corruption from the inside. We are so busy looking to non-believers and spreading the Gospel to those who have never heard it, that we have neglected nurturing those who claim they have heard it but are now misguided in ways that cannot be rectified easily. I no longer have any words to refute those who think Christianity should be sealed away and removed from society because for better or worse, I am finally being exposed to just how hateful, cruel, and numerous so-called “Christians” can be while invoking God’s name and the countless others who turn a blind eye to it. But Planet With is a story of love and forgiveness. Rather than choosing hatred and revenge, the characters choose to forgive; however, that does not mean a lack of punishment. While the big bad villain is forgiven, he is also properly punished, and it is through facing a punishment that lacks hatred that he finds peace. It is an optimistically hopeful end that I’m sure many feel is too unrealistic to happen in today’s environment. Nonetheless, I want to continue hoping and believing in the best that people and Christianity have to offer. As tempting as it might be to seal away Christianity from society’s culture, I hope that people will mete out just punishment and go no further and keep believing in the potential of Christianity’s intended values and its path of love. But even then, I have no choice but to admit such a dream will be a long and arduous path.