Nana Concerts and What That Even Means

I’m not dead! I haven’t actually written anything in forever, again. This seems to be a recurring problem. To be fair, I did participate in NaNoWriMo (and failed, naturally), and then I’m always lazy in December, and then I went on vacation to Japan yay, and now it’s February, wait, March.  The main reason I went to Japan was of course to attend Nana Mizuki’s Live Gate concert! This time, with 7 days at Budokan, of which I went to 4 of them (+the birthday live streaming at a theater). I no longer have the patience to write out a report for every concert I go to, but I’ll say it was once again one of the best times of my life. The best part was probably finally getting to hear Brave Phoenix live after all these years of waiting and always missing the ones where she did perform it. Then there were all the special guests and duets that I would probably regret not hearing if I didn’t go to all of those concerts. I’m already sad I missed the duets at the concerts I didn’t attend.

As I told people about my trip and 4 (5) concerts I went to, everyone always asked if the concerts were the same. Because going to the same concert isn’t worth it, right? Then I have to explain how Nana changes a few of the songs, but there’s a core setlist. I get different kinds of reactions to that. Even if it was their favorite artist, people wouldn’t go to the exact same concert multiple times in such a short period of time. Who does that? I kind of felt like people weren’t really as big fans of whomever they said they were. Then again, I’m a crazy person who flies to the other side of the world to see Nana. I’m definitely the anomaly here; I’m fully aware of that much.

But eventually I finally realized a major difference in perception. Probably, when most people think of going to concerts or listening to singers, they think of enjoying the music. You go to the concert to enjoy music you like and the experience of hearing it live. Going multiple times, especially if you have to pay money each time, isn’t exactly as appealing as the first time. You might want to hear different songs, but the same set list would certainly be less alluring. But I realized I don’t go to Nana Mizuki concerts for the music. It’s definitely a high priority, but in reality, when I think of Nana concerts, I think of spending time with Nana. Being in the same place as her, listening to her talk, and interacting with her through all the wotagei, all of this is what makes her concerts so fun for me. Spending time with Nana and building a stronger connection with her as a fan is what I really care about. Especially with her MCs, where she always has something different to say, and being able to hear her thoughts on the concert or just her daily happenings is really important to me. In the end, as a fan, I just want to spend as much time with Nana as possible and the music is second to that. There is just a completely different interpretation and understanding of why someone would go to a concert. Indeed, for other artists, I would go to listen to a select few songs I want to hear live and after that, I wouldn’t want to go again so soon. But for Nana my motivation, expectations, and hopes are different.

And that difference in perspective is similar to the difference in understanding what Christianity is about. Christianity is supposed to be about a relationship with God through Jesus. It is about mutual love and wanting to love others because of a love for God. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t view it this way. They view it as being forced to live a lifestyle without fun or being under the rule of a man in the sky, among plenty of other twisted misunderstandings. Even Christians often misunderstand it as a religion where you must follow a set of laws or a relationship based on fear of being sent to hell. But that’s not what it’s supposed to be about, and that’s not what many Christians think of when they think of their relationship with God.

It all comes down to understanding this difference in perspective, and in another way, a difference in definitions based on that perspective. Lately, I have found myself plagued more and more by people simply using and defining words or ideas in completely different ways than I understand them. It makes communication nearly impossible, and it is arguably a dangerous thing to think we are speaking the same language, when in reality, we really aren’t. When I talk about a Nana concert, there is a disconnect between what I think of and what others think of. Of course, that’s natural because I’m a crazy Nana fan and others aren’t, and that influences how I think of a concert. In the same way, people have vastly different experiences and understandings about religion, Christianity, and God. Christians may truly have a beautiful and desirable relationship with God, but we’re still the crazy ones. In fact, even trying to explain Christianity as a mutual relationship can fail because people do not all view relationships the same way. Some people have very negative experiences with relationships or some people view them as mutually taking advantage of each other. I have found even explaining Christianity as love can backfire as people view love as a fleeting, fickle emotion no better than infatuation. I have argued before that Biblical love is far greater and amazing than how we as a society view it today, and that surely has an effect on trying to explain God’s love to others, as oftentimes arguments arise from a difference in what it means to be loved by God.

So what is the solution to this problem in perspective? Well, I don’t have one per se. There are probably a hundred different methods you could try and get a hundred different results with a hundred different people. However, the one commonality to any solution is to first understand the depth of this problem. This is something that does not only help in explaining your perspective on Christianity to others, but it helps in having empathy for others as a whole. The fact that a person’s experiences can so largely affect how a person views not just life but also ideas and the very definition of words is something that is lost on pretty much anyone who doesn’t think about the limitations of language. When we consider that Christianity is such an abstract and spiritual topic, it’s no wonder that it is understood so differently by many kinds of people all around the world. Before we even consider if it’s true, there is the problem of establishing a consistent and mutual understanding of what it even is.

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Dies irae: Acta est Fabula

I already wrote a post on Dies irae, but I have so much to say about it that I couldn’t help but write another. However, while my previous post was different from the norm with its play on the chuuni genre and making outlandish claims about the true intention behind the story, this time I will go back to what I, and probably my readers, are used to. If you haven’t read my previous post on the story, then that might actually be a good thing because it spoiled all of the biggest plot twists. Instead, I will kind of spoil everything else but leave the biggest and final twists alone.

As you may know, Dies irae is about Ren, an ordinary protagonist who gets caught up in a supernatural battle with some Nazis in modern day Japan. He partners with the mysterious girl Marie to protect those he holds dear and stop them from sacrificing the entire town to resurrect their leader, so to speak. With the progression of each route, the stakes get exponentially larger and the truth behind the madness begins to unravel. However, while each route ends while arguably “stopping the big bad from coming back,” none of the routes other than the finale give a true satisfaction of victory. Kasumi’s route alone might as well be a bad end considering the sacrifices Ren has to make to stop them. Although Marie’s route can give off the impression of victory and the defeat of the most powerful enemies, the reader can’t help but shake the feeling that something is off. Mercurius, the mastermind pulling all the strings from behind the scenes, is defeated, yet the truth is that such defeat was his plan all along. Thus even in the “best case scenario” of Marie’s route, the characters did nothing but get played like fiddle. It is only in the finale of Rea’s route that things go off course from the puppet master’s plan. It is only in this route that things truly go as the characters hope for.

What, then, is so different about Rea’s route that it manages to undermine the plans of a man who manipulated people since WW2 and has the power of foreknowledge on his side? The answer is Rea, which was obvious because it’s her route. What does that entail exactly? In the previous 3 routes, Rea was closer to a bystander. Sure, she played her role and made certain choices, but she was never willing to throw everything away to achieve her goals. She was never willing to face the truth and move forward. More specifically, she was never willing to speak or act out against that which she knew was wrong. In her route, she constantly refers to how she always knew something was off with the church she grew up in. But she closed her eyes. She shut her mouth. She blocked her ears. She wanted to believe it was just her imagination, that she was just thinking too much. But the truth was that the church she knew as home was an existence far more sinister than she ever wanted to acknowledge.

However, when Rea chooses to speak out, to act, and to walk down an unknown path fraught with danger and arguably foolishness, the play which Mercurius so carefully laid out begins to distort. It is not a flashy wrench in his plans but more of a tiny snowball that grows with each successive coincidence. Rea does not hide from the truth, and thus, she paves the route to an ending which is far from the expectations of the one who commands foreknowledge.

Rea reminds me a lot of, well, myself. Similar to Rea, I grew up in a Christian home. To the average person, this says a lot about my childhood. When I tell other Christians this, they immediately assume so many things, as if they understand where I’m coming from. Because usually, they assume that my childhood was like theirs too. We both grew up in a Christian home, so we both grew up with similar childhoods. It makes it so much easier on me because I don’t have to give any detailed stories about how I became a Christian or why I go to church. I’m not lying, and people are just assuming, and the societal harmony is maintained. This meaningless exchange is no different than the Japanese 和 which insists on giving on the expected answers rather than the true ones. But the truth is so much grayer, and the Christian home I grew up is so much different than what people like to assume, though it was by no means as extreme as Rea’s case.

I did grow up in a Christian home, but there were still a number of times where I questioned what was going on and what was being said. Like Rea, I tried to believe that I was just misunderstanding. I was only a young child, so it must be the fault of my age; indeed, this is what I was told. But as I grew older, I found those doubts I had to be more legitimate and my suspicions to be more than just naïve questions. For example, the fact that my family would change churches so often. For example, deflecting any questions I had with being told to honor my parents. For example, and the most memorable conversation that has stayed with me to this day, when I was told how Mexicans should all be beheaded and the border should be lined with their heads to scare away illegal immigrants. I was told I would understand these things when I’m older. I still don’t.

There were a lot of things about my childhood that just felt off. But I did grow up in a Christian home. My parents are Christian. I learned to say my prayers and read my Bible. I learned about sin, God’s mercy, Jesus’ sacrifice, and grace and love that all Christians should exhibit. Yes, my childhood was filled with all the good things a Christian home should be filled with. But something was not exactly right. Even so, I closed my eyes; I shut my mouth; I blocked my ears.

Perhaps my experience is actually not too different from many other Christians who “grew up in a Christian home.” No one is perfect and all Christian parents will get things wrong sometimes. Regardless, the point I wish to make is it is very much against the nature of the Church to condemn each other for holding different viewpoints. At worst, we part ways and let each other do our own thing. The countless denominations are but one example of how this plays out. If we all believe in Jesus Christ, then that’s fine, right? To an extent, most definitely, but there should also be a limit. At some point, Christians need to stop passively disagreeing with other Christians and voice their issues with hypocritical beliefs .

Today, I see “Christians” advocating for genocide, blindly hating those they have never met or spoken to, and proudly stating themselves to be superior to others based off the color of their skin. I hear of atheists who have been deeply wounded by Christian words or actions or of Christian parents who drove their children away from God by hypocritical example. I and many around me will say something like “I’m sorry, but not all Christians are like that,” and the criticism stops there. Yes, I am dangerously towing the line of politics, but it is far too relevant to what I want to say, and I have personally been far too affected by current events to stay silent. At some point, Christians need to take real action to denounce “Christians” who are behaving exactly the opposite of how Jesus taught us to.

Dies was a silly but entertaining chuuni story about fighting against gods and superpowers that could redefine the very laws of the universe. To quote myself, it was a story immersed in philosophy yet meaningless in its delivery. But I resonated with Rea in her route so much. The regrets she had about not acknowledging the strangeness about her church. The doubts she silently buried deep within her heart. When she lived as a bystander, Ren could not overcome the power of foreknowledge. He could not fight against the strings of the puppet master. Other than having the blood of the Beast run through her veins, Rea was just a single, powerless human. She had no superpowers to speak of. Logically, her actions should not have such influential effects on the story. All she did was speak out. All she did was follow her heart. Yet this was enough to change the minds and souls of the people around her, of the people who had the power to do something about the hopeless situation of the Ghetto.

I think Christians desperately need to learn from Rea. Not just from what she did right but also from what she did wrong. The multiple routes of a visual novel make this analysis far more fruitful than a linear Christian parallel of typical stories. Through Rea, we see the full consequences of staying silent as well as the miracle she birthed by speaking out. Look at the current political environment of our country: a “leader” who actively works to divide up its citizens in any way he can, supported largely by “Christians.” People who claim to have the same religious beliefs as I are openly advocating for murder and praising Nazis (how fitting, that Rea’s “Catholic” family were actually Nazis), judging others based on their ethnic background. These are modern day Pharisees, who Jesus actively spoke out against and criticized, though with more love than I could possibly conceive. I know so many Christians who agree with my opinion but still choose to take the role of a bystander. Sadly, I would argue it is exactly because of this passive stance Christians have taken over many decades that this chasm formed between people who all identify as following the same religion. Rea’s decision to stop being a bystander inspired those around her to change, and she has even inspired me to change. It’s time to put an end to this farce of a play and actively work against those who are twisting Christianity to something that is practically its opposite. I’m well aware of the near impossible logistics with deciding where the line should be drawn, how exactly to go about it, etc. but maintaining this status quo will only worsen the situation for everyone. I am not advocating anything beyond this: to be more like Rea. Be someone who speaks up when she has doubts about the church and its members, for it is better to be mistaken than to bury those questions away from the light of the truth.

The Importance of Your Most Mundane Choices

This post will heavily spoil the content of the visual novel Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi. You have been warned.

She seems innocent enough…

Regardless of how much you know about what makes the visual novel Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi as interesting as it is, one of the main heroines Aoi immediately begins the story by talking about how they are in a game. Thus, the lurking suspicion of whether she is just being a denpa girl or actually breaking the 4th wall is there from the onset. However, no matter what she says about being a fictional character, or about how the game CGs or the “god” of the outer world, it is never clear which of the two it is. At least for the first third/route of the game, which features the cute childhood friend Miyuki. However, after you complete her route and begin Aoi’s, things slowly get weirder as you interact with the denpa girl. The natural conclusion is that she’s just crazy with her talk about god and needing sex to maintain her existence. Then the game reaches a climactic scene just after you’ve fulfilled her obsession for sex. Miyuki crawls out from under the bed (and now the Nitroplus horror begins) where you just did the deed, straight up murders Aoi and breaks the protagonist’s limbs with her baseball bat, accusing him of betraying her. But this is a VN, and on the Aoi route, you never got together with Miyuki. Yes, but she’s not talking about THIS route, and she’s not talking to the protagonist. She’s talking about the previous route, and she’s talking to the YOU behind the monitor screen, playing this game.

And thus the 4th wall is shattered as you enter the final leg of the story that challenges everything you thought you knew about this game. The game is actually forcefully closed and rebooted. The new loading game screen looks like some 8-bit game out of the 80s. You can try to load your old saves but they no longer exist. Yes, the game literally deletes all your save files. You start a new game that appears to be the same as before. However, if you click the wrong choice, you end up in an inescapable loop. You close the game because there is no way to exit the loop. The game will not close. There is literally no way to close the game other than doing a forced shutdown (at least, I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe there’s some gimmick). You reboot the game. Instead of what you expect, Miyuki appears and asks “do you understand how this world works now?” You are no longer playing a game. You are playing against Miyuki, and she knows exactly what you are doing and can control the game as she pleases.

怖怖怖怖怖怖

The rest of the game basically consists of trying to outwit Miyuki, in a loop of satisfying Miyuki’s yandere lust for you all while the game remembers every action and choice you’ve taken. Even when you think you’ve outwitted Miyuki, she still knows because she is the game. The final climax involves YOU the player, not the protagonist, choosing which girl you truly love. After the credits roll, you will find you cannot go back to replay anything. The only way is to completely uninstall the game and reinstall anew. In this way, the game’s story and message has a direct effect on the real world. In the end, what the game asks of you is that even though you are playing a game, to truly consider the meaning of the choices you make and care for the characters you interact with. While it comes off as an amusing and hilarious trick that makes for a memorable game, it is nevertheless something that is very interesting to consider on a deeper level.

How much do you really think about the choices you make in life? I’m not talking about the big ones like where to go for college, whether to buy a house, or whether to take that job on the other side of the world. But how much do you think about the small choices; do you even think at all? How much do you think about the daily conversation you have with your coworker, or about the momentary interaction with a stranger on the street? There is a natural inclination to care less about the decisions you make when it comes to people you are not too invested in or are not a big part of your life. After all, there’s nothing wrong with going through the motions that society expects of you for a person you may never interact with again. Who cares if it’s thoughtless when your paths will never cross again? Yet, this VN challenges that very inclination through fictional characters – people who are not people; characters who are purely programmed by a script.

Christians always speak of “planting seeds,” but seem to easily glance over the fact that everyone is always planting seeds. The question is what kind of seeds are you planting? What sort of effects are you going to have on others with your words and actions, for everything you say and do can be seen as the act of planting seeds. If Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi can teach you to treat fictional girls with even the smallest extra degree of respect, love, and thoughtfulness, then how much better should you treat the real people around you? When you start a new game in a VN, the characters do not remember what you did in previous game. It’s your chance to start fresh and try a new route to see a different part of the story. But the girls in this game remember what you’ve done and said. Your actions have left a permanent mark in their lives. In the same way, your actions can leave lasting impressions on people no matter how little you may think they do. While people may not remember all of their experiences in life, those experiences are still a part of what makes up who they are and who they become.

We don’t know the situations of those around us; even our close friends have personal thoughts and feelings that they do not share on a regular basis. Thus, our actions and words can play far larger roles in people’s lives than we realize, even if they are strangers. This is not about helping others, reaching out to them, or trying to save anyone, per se. What Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi wishes to convey is only that you be fully considerate of the decisions you make and the effects of those decisions on those around you.  Is this not right in line with living our lives out as followers of Christ? Being loving and thoughtful towards others is not something to be done when it suits us but rather incessantly throughout our lives. You don’t know what effects your decisions will have on the strangers around you, but at the very least, you should act with the awareness that you are an ambassador to Christ, and every action you make is representative of your beliefs. Strangers aren’t NPCs in a game, and in the real world, there are no re-dos.

 

Tamura Yukari and Life with Depression

Tamura Yukari aka Yukarin is one of the most popular seiyuu of our time and for good reason. In terms of sheer voice acting talent, she is one of the best, able to do everything from a cute innocent schoolgirl to a haughty femme fatale. Be it her acting, her singing, or her forever 17 looks, she is loved by anyone who knows anything about anime voice acting. Yet, I would wager a guess that these celebrity features fail to properly convey the real reason why some of her biggest fans love her.  When it comes down to it, Yukarin is human just like the rest of us, but she shows it far more than your usual celebrity. I wonder if part of it is that she entered the industry and fame at just the right time. She isn’t a far back veteran from the 80s/90s when seiyuu never really got the spotlight as pop culture media. Yet, she’s also old enough that she hasn’t been a victim of this recent trend of idolizing seiyuu and selling them based on looks, personality, etc. rather than talent. This generation of seiyuu is very interesting to follow, both during the early 2000s and in the context of the uprising newer generation; however, for me, Yukarin takes the spotlight when it comes to the hardest things in life.

Following celebrities, there is always some kind of wall between their stage personality and lifestyle versus their real personality and lifestyle. Especially in Japan, where the paparazzi exists at a much lower tier of obsession (even more so when it comes to the anime world, where there’s hardly any money to made gossiping about seiyuu. Unless you’re seiyuu A *coughMinorincough*), it is not uncommon for fans to be in the dark about their favorite actors’ lives. Take for example marriages and childbirth which are usually announced after they happen or shortly before, respectively, and come as a big surprise to everyone. Conversely, with the whole culture of radio shows and social media in Japan, we actually get an interesting and informative peek into their lives. It’s a strange balance, but I do think the anime culture that’s been fostered has helped fans be fans of people rather than actors.

As such, when it comes to seiyuu like Tamura Yukari, it’s really hard for me to say my favorite thing about her is her talent or voice. Instead, what I’m drawn most to is her real personality and how human and relatable she can be. Unlike most of her fellow seiyuu, Yukarin tends to be a lot more pessimistic about things. It’s pretty common for her to berate herself and comment on how she isn’t doing a good enough job. Moreover, on both her blog and twitter, she often says a lot of things that make it clear that she suffers from depression, even if she has never outright stated it. This, above all else, is fascinating, heart-breaking, and alluring simultaneously.

Nendoroid Yukarin

It is counterintuitive to the cultural expectations of society, especially Japanese society, that someone with depression could be so loved and admired. In fact, it seems counterintuitive that someone so loved and admired could even have depression. Yet, I think the phenomenon of Yukarin reveals a crucial truth about depression as a mental illness. In Yukarin is the embodiment of the fact that depression is not logical. As someone who suffers from depression myself, I know it tries to be logical when it can. A lot of the times, the lies I tell myself make a lot of sense, so naturally, I should be depressed. But other times, it makes absolutely no sense. Sometimes I will just be depressed and I can’t even figure out an excuse, true or false, as to why I feel the way I do. I just do. Yukarin is someone who is loved by thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands if we go by her 600k+ twitter followers, yet she’ll still talk of feeling sad, lonely, and worthless. Even someone as cute, cheerful, lovely, and popular as her can sometimes have these negative feelings and suffer from an illness that goes beyond all reason.

And that, I think, is exactly what makes her so appealing. Because if someone like Yukarin can feel that way, then it’s perfectly reasonable for a regular person to feel similar, negative things. This is not to say that being depressed and thinking negative thoughts is a good thing; however, it is reassuring for people to remember it is also a legitimate part of life. Particularly in the Japanese culture which has a difficult time even admitting mental illness is a real problem but rather blames such feelings on weakness, I suspect being able to relate to a celebrity who gets depressed and lonely is something that is very meaningful to many Japanese fans. Even for me, listening to Yukarin’s complaints and thinking about them in the context of how popular and “successful” her life is can be a much needed support. It really helps me to know that I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. It’s not a justification that depression is A-okay (though surely some might end up that way), but it certainly alleviates the idea that there is something wrong with me for feeling the way I do. Rather than becoming more depressed for being depressed, I can take a little bit of solace by remembering that even someone like Yukarin sometimes feels the same. Surely, many other fans feel similarly; our love for Yukarin is bolstered not by her successes in life but by her failures.

Anime Yukarin

Christians often cite depression and suicide as a major problem with Japan and a critical reason why the country is so in need of God. But I think Christians are often so concerned with fixing the problem that they don’t see some of the solutions that the culture has unintentionally discovered. As the responses to Yukarin’s own solitary actions show, there’s something about one’s own shortcomings that resonates with a lot of people. And while Christians try to do this too, they seem to forget about the powerful factor anonymity provides people, especially the Japanese who are so culturally fearful of drawing attention to themselves, or the importance of forming a meaningful connection. In some ways, Yukarin has done more for Japan than the average Christian missionary; in some ways, she has done more for me than the average fellow Christian. She is amazing precisely because she is not amazing, and that is a quality I think a lot of Christians can learn and grow from, not just individually but also in interacting with the people of Japan.

 

Utawarerumono and God

The following is a guest post by my good friend and fellow VN enthusiast Japesland of Beneath the Tangles. When it comes to seeing Christianity in eroge, he is as weird as I am, so I hope you find his thoughts on the topic interesting. Utawarerumono is currently being localized, with the first 2 games already released and the final game scheduled for release this September. Naturally, the post will contain spoilers for the games, so you have been warned.

One of the craziest things about being a Christian is seeing Christianity in everything. I’m no psychologist. In fact, having only taken the most basic of psychology courses in college, I’m sure I know less about psychology than many with at least a basic college education. I’ve also been surrounded by Christianity and Christians for more or less my entire life. Those with more than my aforementioned level of psychology education could probably point out a physiological reason for why I constantly see the story of God and Israel all around me, and I could hardly refute that line of reasoning. However, that does not change the fact that I continue to see God no matter where I look, no matter how much I do or do not want to acknowledge it.

The most recent instance of this comes from finishing one of my favorite, in a guilty pleasure sort of way, video game series of all time: Utawarerumono.

Looking at the history of the series and its most basic premise would seem to indicate anything but a relation to Christianity. The series began almost twenty years ago exclusively on PC as an eroge with light strategic role playing game elements (notably, like some of its peers, the series has picked up some degree of popularity, so it no longer has to rely on porn as a selling point). The story essentially takes place in a fantasy Yayoi period, perfect for chuunibyo and nearly all characters feature animal tails and ears, making it appear marketed particularly toward a fetish-driven audience.

Yet in spite of all this, now that the series has come to its three-game conclusion spread over nearly two decades, I couldn’t help but be moved to my very core at not only an emotional, but a spiritual level.

The first game of the series has you playing an amnesiac human who has awoken in an unfamiliar world filled with unfamiliar creatures. Throughout the course of the game, you ultimately discover that this world is a post apocalyptic earth, and your character has only survived and awoken at this point because of his existence as a sort of god (the explanation is far too complex to explain here). By the end of the game, the climax has you sacrificing yourself, sealing yourself away with your more or less evil half in order to save the whole of society as it has managed to exist to this point.At this point the story is hardly Christian in nature. In fact, the concept of yin and yang is far more prevalent, necessitating that the good and evil halves of this deity be sealed away indefinitely.

Then enter the final two entries in the series.

In these two games you play as a human in the true sense of the word. Unlike the first game, you not only think you’re a human, you know you’re a human. There is nothing to indicate otherwise in the whole of the narrative. However, like the first game, you end up concluding the series by sacrificing yourself and ultimately sealing yourself away in a climatic conclusion that results in being killed by a great evil, returning temporarily from the afterlife, then returning to the afterlife as an exchange of sorts with the sealed main character from the first game (it’s worth noting that these games follow the first game by nearly 20 years, both in real life and in the context of the story. That’s a long time to wait for players and characters alike, and makes a more significant impact than my simple explanation does it justice).

Much more happens in the plot than this, but the Gospel connection that I just can’t forget, despite its analogous inconsistencies, comes down to matching each character with a Bible element. The main character from the original game is God as he interacts directly with his people, perhaps referred to best as the Holy Spirit. The main character of the second and third entries is the human element of God: Jesus. Both characters have similar, yet fundamentally different existences, in some ways analogous to the relationship of these two facets of the Christian God.

In Utawarerumono, the first game’s protagonist, Hakuoro, leads his people much like the people of Israel, through hardship and strife, enduring great loss, but ultimately into prosperity, then necessarily departing from their presence for a limited period of time (still there in spirit, but no longer leading in the direct fashion that he once had). Many years later, the protagonist of the final entries, Haku, leads a different group in a much different and more personal way, resulting finally in his own necessitated death. However, in spite of this death, he returns to life shortly after to “finish the job,” after which he returns to his afterlife state, exchanging places with Hakuoro, finally returning Hakuoro to direct contact with the people he led, now increased many fold.

Anyone with passing knowledge of the Biblical narrative, whether or not you call it “history” will see the connections here. Israel’s God once led the nation tangibly and directly before an extended period of several hundred years of basically “radio silence” following the last of the prophets. Then entered Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself for all, returning to life physically and as a human for a short time before returning to Heaven. At this point, in his place, He sends the Holy Spirit to lead the people, much like God had allegedly led Israel in ages past.

So am I crazy?

If you haven’t played the games yourself, it’s obviously hard to say, as my account is colored by my Christian faith in every way fathomable. But rather than claiming that these flawed connections between a dumb game and the Bible are evidence of God, I think it’s significant to note that this interpretation can exist at all. Did God influence the writer to include these distant allusions, or am I merely seeing what I want to see because it is what I believe?

Ultimately, I don’t think the answer to that question matters, because either way it is evidence to me not that there is a God or that Christianity is true, but that if God exists and Christianity are true, He and it can truly use anything to strengthen faith and understanding. Even Utawarerumono.