You know, its amazing how sometimes an anime can be based on a trite, fanservicey manga and yet contain a great high story. This is precisely what happened in the case of Saber Marionette J. (Don’t read the manga.) I found myself surprised at the conservative tack it took in regard to the family. As you know, the premise of this series describes a futuristic society on another planet which must survive by cloning. Unfortunately, no women survived of the original settlers, which means that all clones are men. In order to keep the memory of women alive, men make androids in the form of women, but these lack emotion–save in the case of our heroines and their opposites, anyway. How miserable to be a man in a world without women!
But, the shogun of Japoness has a plan for bringing women back into society through using the maiden circuits in Lime, Cherry, and Bloodberry. He tells Otaru very little of his overall plan save that this will be possible once their maiden circuits or hearts have grown. However, the Shogun insists that the family is mankind’s original form and that man must regain it. This view diverges greatly from a more popular science fiction anime, Crest of the Stars, which imagines that people can do without the family. But, would people really be happy without belonging to a family? Here’s what Theodore Roosevelt says about the importance of marriage, which I quote from the forward of his autobiography: “There is need to develop all the virtues that have the state for their sphere of action; but these virtues are as dust in a windy street unless back of them lie the strong and tender virtues of a family life based on the love of the one man for the one woman and on their joyous and fearless acceptance of their common obligation to the children that are theirs.” The hardships inherent in forming a good character have their reward in love. Without love, especially the nearly unconditional love found in the family, people cannot be happy.
But, most people follow the Crest of the Stars view that families are not necessary. People place economic success as the goal of life, marriage and children are accessories rather than what makes for happiness. But, happiness is an end, and work is obviously a means. One cannot find happiness in means. Because work and generating money are not the locus of happiness, Max Scheler, a famous Catholic philosopher of the turn of the twentieth century organizes the spheres of human activity thus, from least to greatest:
The term vital refers to those activities which sustain humanity, especially the family. Most thinkers nowadays refer to community and family without using the term vital, but we see the use of this term in George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, who happens to be one writer to forget that all things are not a matter of utility. Basically, modern man–or post-modern man, whichever term you think more accurate–places the economic sphere above the rest and does his best to eliminate or infringe upon the value of the rest.
The problem with such a reversal lies in that such a mindset never finds happiness. And our protagonists, poor as they are, would never be happy if it all depended on their economic situation. Instead, the people of Japoness seek happiness in community, friendship, or art. But most people would feel incomplete without families. Saber Marionette J displays this best in the case of Otaru’s sensei, who has a marionette, with whom he has fallen in love despite the fact that she doesn’t have a personality. Of course, he sees this deficiency and tricks Lime into giving up her heart. He intends to erase the data on it and install the maiden circuit into his own marionette so that they can essentially live together as husband and wife–as the two haves of humanity should. Most people need this kind of love. If this were not the case, marriage would not have been called the ordinary vocation.
And so, I shall end my remarks on the surprising conservatism of Saber Marionette J by referencing the Holy Father’s thoughts on the family. The shogun of Japoness would surely agree: “We were created to love, as a reflection of God and His Love. And in matrimonial union, the man and woman realize this vocation as a sign of reciprocity and the full and definitive communion of life.” Would that modern man learn both that happiness is the goal of life and that marriage is integral to happiness unless God has called a person to a life of service–especially as a priest or religious. No one was created for the sake of merely making money and enjoying pleasurable goods!