What is family? It’s a weird question to ask, but it’s one that Nyanbo! unintentionally answers throughout the series.
The Nyanbo are a group of box-shaped anthropomorphic cats. The series takes a lot of interesting turns in its short-form silliness, but throughout the series we find the Nyanbo constantly coming back together to unite as a group.
In Episode 22 of Nyanbo!, Shiro thinks she’s going on a date with Tora. She’s not. She finds out that the private picnic was actually a picnic with all their friends. As all the other Nyanbo have a fun time playing and eating, Shiro ends up alone with Tora who shows her his UFO which is starting to work! When it eventually fails, he pledges to finish it up to return to their homeworld. They all do not seem to know where their homeworld is, but Tora wants to return there. At this point, as he has been the only one caring about the UFO, Tora assumes he’ll be going alone. Instead we see Shiro and eventually all the remaining Nyanbo in this close group coming together saying they want to stick together. They all want to head to space together.
We see this idea of togetherness throughout the series. We see it when they come together to help Kotora in some of her silly misadventures. We see it when Mike has personal issues and stress, needing his friends to come to his aid. We see it again here as the group come together to support their friend Tora. What we see is the actions of a family.
Family, you ask? How can I call this disparate group of strange creatures a family? It comes back to my initial question – who or what is your family? When we think of family, we often think of Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters, cousins. Each of these are tangible family relationships we can see. Can friendship also be family? From a Biblical and Christian perspective the answer is “Yes.”
In the Gospel of Matthew, the author relays a story in Chapter 12 where Jesus is confronted by His family. At the time apart from His mother, none of the His family believed He was who He said He was. Christ then said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?…[while stretching out His hand toward His disciples and followers]…here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother (Matthew 12:46-50).” As Christians, our friends in the faith are our family and we work together for each other’s good, and the good of God’s kingdom (Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 4:16). Christ’s bonds in His church are stronger than blood family ties. Kinship can be closer than family and Christian kinship, if approached in a Biblical way, becomes your family.
The Bible sometimes paint the picture of adoption as how we are all one family in Christ Jesus. As a brother of five adopted siblings, I think this is a wonderful picture. It has been said by others that biology is the least of what makes family. I understand the sentiment, but let’s take it a step further. Biology is not the only thing that makes us a family. We are what makes us a family.
We are given the impression that Tora and Kotora are related. Apart from their implied connection, there are no other related Nyanbo on the show. Yet, as we watch the group grow closer with each new misadventure, we watch them become a family.
Our lives are filled with people who are not like us. Many of these people will become our friends. In the end, they too may be our brothers and our sisters, sometimes more so than the ones we were born with.