Saber Marionette J and the Family

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!

A picture of our heroines' opponents for a change.

A picture of our heroines’ opponents for a change.

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.

Cherry, the most domestic of Otaru's harem.

Cherry, the most domestic of Otaru’s harem.

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:

  1. Economic
  2. Vital
  3. Aesthetic
  4. Spiritual

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.

Faust, actually does make the mistake of placing utility over personality--creating a monster android because it is better at battle than his original marionettes.

Faust (pictured in the upper left), actually does make the mistake of placing utility over personality–creating a monster android because it is better at battle than his original marionettes.

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.

SMJ the gang

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!

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El Cazador de la Bruja and the Spirit of the World vs. the Spirit of Christ

Today, I started pondering why so many people become atheists, agnostics, and deists in their early twenties. I concluded that they must have been deceived by the spirit of the world—the most dangerous of our three foes. I wish to illustrate exactly how the spirit of the world conflicts the spirit of Christ through using episode eleven of El Cazador de la Bruja.

Nadie

This episode features a con artist who poses as a witch to deceive people into giving donations to a phony religion. *Spoilers ahead, but only pertaining to this episode.* Our heroines, Nadie and Ellis, enter the town when the witch is placed in a bind.  Fortunately for her, Ellis releases her power in such a manner as for the witch to use it to protect her hold over the villagers.  In gratitude, the witch allows them to stay a few days at her place. Once inside the house, the witch confesses that she had been a con artist in her younger days, but that she does have one real power: reading people’s memories—not very lucrative. After Ellis and Nadie leave, she reports Ellis to the government, hoping to gain some money from the government as well as protection for all three of them. She honestly believes that she can work out a deal such that all three of them can live in a house in Beverly Hills! However, some shady individuals murder her for placing the call.

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From my description of the episode, it is apparent that the witch places the highest value on money. Authors like George Bernard Shaw reveal that the spirit of the world might be known from how it quantifies everything. Nothing can be enjoyed for its own sake. Rather worldliness looks at things on a scale of how they benefit us. It can even infect the way our relationship with friends, family, and oneself such that we become incapable of enjoying them.

A picture of George Bernard Shaw.  Sinister looking, isn't he?

A picture of George Bernard Shaw.

The reason that worldliness afflicts the spirit especially around the age of twenty lies in the fact that people start to be evaluated for the marketplace and desire to impress other people. It is important to earn a living, but the market operates strictly on the principle of efficiency. People are weighed and often found wanting. They discover that worldly people are considered cool, and try to lift their status by befriending them. Realization of the benefits of money drive people to seek money and compare people on the basis of their possessions and earnings.

decrease surplus population

But, the great problem with the spirit of the world lies in that this manner of quantifying everything and entering into relationships for what another person can offer rather than for their own sake.  This is counter to the spirit of Christ. How can a system of weights and measures comprehend an infinite God? And so, Matthew 6:24 states: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” After all, what can we give God that he does not already have? Someone might say that we can serve Him by good works and supporting the cause of religion. Well and good: God has seven billion people who can do it better. Sure, God-fearing people are God’s instruments for spreading His reign, but His alone is the grace that actually converts hearts. He could turn a stone into a child of Abraham and spread the gospel more effectively with this instrument than any of us!

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As much as other people find us weighted and wanting, how much more easily might God do the same when every sin has infinite consequences. We are all infinitely unworthy of salvation and infinitely worthy of the wrath of God. For a Christian of a spiritual mind, this possesses no problem; but, it depresses the mind of a worldly Christian. This realization of one’s uselessness and culpability in the sight of God can allow such bitterness to enter into devotion that the crucifix turns from being a sign of hope and reconciliation to a sign of condemnation. The bitterness of God’s justice chokes the sweetness of devotion. A wrathful God takes the place of a loving God in his imagination. Then, he looks at the evils in the world and finds fault with God. Bitter toward God and suffused with an ideology of weights and measures, he decides that God is a figment of the imagination: the seed of faith sown among thorns has choked.

most-interesting-man_02

Yet, the desire for love never quits a human being—however warped his understanding of love becomes. Even as the witch I mentioned earlier desires her two friends to be kept safe from harm in the same breath as she hopes for riches. Another sharp difference between the spirit of the world and the spirit of Christ lies in that worldliness desires to have while the Spirit of Christ desires to give. While the worldly man sees himself as furthest from God and the cross as a reproach, Christ is cut to the quick for this lonely and isolated soul. Christ cries “I thirst!” for the soul of this man so that he might not thirst eternally in hell. Does the soul proceed to lead others away from Christ and heap up sins upon itself? Christ fights ever more desperately for a soul in proportion to its misery and sins. Then, you say, God is unhappy because He does not have our love—that solves the problem of what God gets out of saving us! No! “These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). God’s happiness is unchanging and eternal, but He is happy in making us happy! Moreover, He does not wish to be happy without us being happy too! All our sins and sufferings Christ bore both on the cross and throughout his life so that He might share our miseries completely. Christ did not measure the blood He shed but emptied Himself so that He might be an ocean of mercy for poor sinners.

sacredheartjesus

In the final moments of the El Cazador de la Bruja episode to which I alluded, my heart ached to watch the final moments of the witch alone in her house. Happiness seems to have eluded her for her entire life: she grew up knowing little save the pursuit of money, this pursuit prevented her from pursuing her individuality, and she had just tasted a few drops of love before having her life cruelly extinguished. Why does God allow such cruelty? Especially perhaps the cruelest joke that her pursuit of money brought no happiness at all? One can only hope that God will say to such people who are so spiritually impoverished along with Lazarus: “…and Lazarus [received] in like manner evil things; but he is comforted here…” (Luke 16:25). For without love, no amount of possessions can make someone happy. One might ask: “Would God really care about the welfare of a soul which spent itself in the pursuit of money?” Well, would you take care of a weeping child who appeared on your doorstep? Then, how much more would God take care of one of His weeping children no matter how wayward!