Watching Chain Chronicle has proven quite fun so far. This classic fantasy provides the viewer with a bevy of strong heroes, implacable foes, beautiful warrior maidens, and a Luke Skywalker-ish hero for its viewers to engage in “egocentric castle building,” as C. S. Lewis termed it in An Experiment in Criticism. This is a fantasy fully in the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s fun, but nothing within the story thus far has struck me as uncommon.
Bruckhardt’s fall from grace counts as the most interesting event of the story thus far. From the first, my ears heard “Blackheart” when the seiyuu pronounced the knight’s name, and episode three revealed his transformation to a Blackheart indeed. The twin scourges of pride and melancholy oppressed him on account of the preferment Yuri gave to Aram. This allowed him to fall easy prey to the evil influence of the Black King’s demon. There is no faster way to hell than pride: the way Lucifer fell and the chief fault of Adam. Even the early Church Fathers wrote that pride alone suffices to send one to hell, even as humility provides the surest means to salvation among the virtues.
Bruckhardt had what St. Francis de Sales labelled Senecan virtue, after the Roman playwright and Stoic philosopher Seneca (4 BC – 65AD). St. Francis claimed Senecan virtue was the very opposite of Christian virtue, because the former bases itself on the sandy foundation of pride. (Consider that it was the crestfallen publican who went from the temple justified rather than the haughty Pharisee in Luke 18:10 – 14.) As soon as Bruckhardt finds himself mildly chastised for his prejudice towards Aram, he begins to lose confidence in himself and resorts to blaming other people for his own faults.
His shortcomings are not so much deficiencies in noble deeds as they are deficiencies in mercy—misericordia in Latin. Misericordia literally translates to “miserable heart” and denotes a heart capable of being moved by the weak and suffering. Virtue based on pride lacks the ability to feel mercy: the debasement and abjection of the incontinent and the vicious add to the vainglory of the proudly virtuous. The Senecan views weakness and sin as contemptible and finds no excuses for them.
In viewing weakness as contemptible, Bruckhardt found his own faults and weaknesses unendurable: his quick temper, hasty judgments, willfulness, and vanity. His method of dealing with his faults, blaming other people, was completely the wrong way to deal with them. What can be greater weakness than blaming others for one’s own faults? What is a greater sign of strength than picking up one’s cross daily and taking the blame for one’s faults while attributing one’s virtues and good works to God’s grace?
In the end, Bruckhardt’s pride led to an all-consuming preoccupation with himself. Preoccupation with the self rather than God and other people is a very hell. One has no doubt that a great deal of the angst felt by the young derives from this preoccupation, which is made worse by our present culture of appeasing “No. 1.” To escape this self-constructed hell in order to pursue a life of thought and usefulness, one greatly needs the grace of God. And, no better means of obtaining grace exists than showing mercy towards the faults of others as we work to overcome our own.