I’ve only begun Xam’d as part of a reader’s choice project here at Beneath the Tangles, but it’s already striking me as a wonderful anime. The art and tone are distinctive, and I’m enjoying the characters. Akiyuki, especially, is an interesting case – a typical male lead who in just the first few episodes has done something atypical. He’s undergone quite a change in emotion (in addition the more obvious physical metamorphasis).
When first brought upon the Zanbani, Akiyuki is difficult and aggressive. He rejects Nakiami’s instructions and is clearly frustrated. And why not? He was taken against his will to a ship where he’s basically in indentured servitude. That, and he doesn’t believe their stories about what has happened to him.
However, a change occurs at the end of episode three and into episode four, when Akiyuki realizes he really does become the Xam’d. And immediately, his attitude shifts. He does a 180, becoming quite submissive (although some bull-headedness remains).
Nakiami leads Akiyuki to Lady Tenshin for spiritual guidance, and she directs him to do what seem to be mundane tasks. I’m reminded here of a Christian life, where one is “reborn” after realizing the depths of her or her sin and accepting the salvation offered through Christ. That person undergoes sanctification and begins a new life. The baby Christian may have belief, but to grow in Christ, he or she must pray, read the Bible, and practice other disciplines.
However, we often don’t want to do these tasks. How many times have I seen people receive Christ with joy to later fall away from the faith? All situations are different, but certainly those individuals’ focus on worldly pursuits rather than spiritual ones contributed to their loss of faith. Particularly in this society, where’s there’s so much to be distracted by, it’s very important to set aside time to study the word and to pray (I say this though I’ve given very little time daily to either the last few years!). Although we might find it boring to do one or both (Akiyuki likewise doesn’t like the mail training), it’s necessary. And as we deepen our relationship with Christ, these practices can be approached and done with joy.
I think that perhaps for evangelicals, we can look toward our Catholic brethren as examples, since many are far better as disciplining themselves for a number of different practices. Or, closer to home (in a sense), we can look toward Korean Protestants, like my mom, who sometimes spent hours a day reading, praying, and singing. A friend of mine, also Korean, is a narcoleptic and struggles with a strange sleeping schedule, but still wakens himself at a time that is inconvenient to spend a long stretch of time in prayer with God.
In our interpersonal relationships, we realize that building relationships sometimes takes hard work. But for those people and things we care about, we effort and do what is necessary. And likewise, it’s worth it for Akiyuki to learn how to master his physical change. And it’s worth it for Christians, as they grow closer to Christ, the Worthy One.