A while back, I enjoyed the distinct pleasure of watching the highly imaginative story produced by the noitaminA studio named No. 6. Whether another yaoi will ever grab me in this way, I highly doubt. Then again, the homosexuality of the characters was toned down to two kisses and a beautiful friendship–if only it had only remained the latter! The heroes struck me as a modern Orestes and Pylades. (Please read a little Aschylus or Euripides if that reference went over your head. You won’t regret it, especially Euripides: Ten Plays, translated by Paul Roche.)
But, I digress. Since many reviews of this show have already been posted across the blogosphere and watching the first episode should be enough to convince most any otaku of good taste to watch it, I intend to to focus on the peculiarities of the relationship between the two protagonists, Nezumi and Shion, juxtaposed to that of Shion and Safu. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, Shion lives a cozy life in one of the six remaining major cities to have survived an apocalyptic event. He is enrolled in a program for gifted children, where he meets Safu, a precocious young girl who becomes his childhood friend. (I must confess to have been shipping for this relationship to win out, but was sadly and morally disappointed.) Around Shion’s twelfth birthday, he takes a fugitive of the same age into his home for medical treatment. Unfortunately, the authorities discover this and punish Shion and his mother by removing them from their cushy lifestyle and suspending their privileges. (No matter. His mother seems happier as a baker anyway. On the balance of the scales, a career as a baker must always be prefered to practically any high paying job with its workplace politics, stress, and long hours.)
Shion and Safu do not separate as they grow into adulthood. Yet, a very odd mood adheres to this relationship. Shion possesses a very logical, Spock-like air about her or, to be more precise, she may be considered a tactless, female Spock. Twice, she emotionless requests Shion’s sperm, which is very odd for a girl who’s otherwise perfectly okay to take home to mother. This rationality about male-female relationships, while being endearing on some level, overly de-romanticizes their relationship. I think that the show might go so far as to claim that love between men and women is dull and ordinary–a matter of course like death and taxes. Nothing energizes the relationship between Shion and Safu; though, one can’t deny some latent passion between the two of them, which becomes apparent as the series progresses.
On the other hand, the friendship between Shion and Nezumi is dynamic, fun, and full of surprises. (Why couldn’t they just stay good friends?) When Nezumi meets Shion again after growing up, we discover that he forms part of a resistance group operating in a slum outside of the city of No. 6, is more well-read than you or I will ever be, and performs in theatrical productions. (In the case portrayed in the anime, he stars as a woman, which would be okay if the theatrical situation was as in Shakesperian or Ancient Atheinian times, but not so much here.) On the other hand, Shion proves to be tougher and more resourceful than Nezumi thought possible. Contrast that with the mundane relationship between Shion and Safu!
But are these facts enough to lay the ground for a romantic relationship between members of the same sex? I mean, some hold the opinion that all friendships are latently sexual, but that opinion appears rather hare-brained to me and anyone else with real friends. What is certain about the writer for No. 6 is that they deny that people have a set sexuality given from birth. Somehow, one’s sexuality is formed by experience, a view which most people refuse to hold. After all, most arguments as to why people should tolerate homosexuals and attempt to accomodate their lifestyle rely on the idea that homosexuals derive their sexual orientation from their nature; therefore, are neither responsible for it nor capable of changing. The situation presented in No. 6 avers that we wish to become most intimate with those we find most engaging and that full intimacy involves engaging them on a romantic level.
An interesting thought, but most friendships don’t turn down the road of homosexuality–no matter how boring the same people might find their spouses or lovers in comparison to their friends. Men in particular seem to be placed in situations where they can develop intensely close relationships to one another: going camping, military service, fishing, hunting, sports, cigar smoking, and a host of other activities from which their womenfolk tend to be excluded. Can sexual orientation really be the result of conditioning as the show purports?
I would argue against the notion that sexuality is conditioned. The nature of heterosexual relationships allows for it to continuously evolve and become more interesting in a way that homosexual love cannot. Love constantly needs to grow. The means by which married love (the proper end of heterosexual relationships) grows is through the nurturing and education of children. The bond between the couple becomes stronger through watching their children’s struggles, seeing how their spouse interacts with each child, and seeing different reflections of themselves and their spouses in their children. This is something denied to homosexual couples–even in the case of adoption. Their love cannot evolve in the same way because they cannot generate children. This leads to a stagnation and loss of love–something which plagues heterosexual couples badly enough–and must even be worse in the case of homosexual couples. Hence, God, in his infinite wisdom, created each side of humanity with a specific nature, and the respective ends of this nature are clearly pictured at the end of Genesis chapter 2.