While We Were Enemies – How Unconditional Love Ultimately Wins

This post is very last minute and considering I did not write a post for March, so I am trying to make up for it by writing one for this month. Since Easter Sunday has already come and gone, I thought it best to reflect on what I have learned through Lent which I decided take an active part in for the first time. For Lent, I decided to give up binge watching Crunchyroll and Funimation as well Netflix (unless I watching it with my Mom) and in turn would give the time over to developing consistency in reading my Bible or other activities that didn’t involve watching a screen. It worked to a degree, however I ended up substituting my craving for video entertainment with Youtube which did have an impact on my intended purpose for Lent. Regardless it still was step in right direction and I learned a few things as I read through my Lent and Easter Reading Plan that I was able to access via BibleGateway.com.

As I read through various scripture passages about the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice, I could not help but compare what I had seen in My Hero Academia. There was a scene that stood out to me as I was watching the first season back the summer of last year which involved the main character Izuku Midoriya and his classmate Katsuki Bakugou. It’s shown to the audience that Bakugou has been bullying and belittling Midoriya for years nicknaming him Deku, an alternate reading of his first name which literally means “one who can’t do anything.” We see that he puts down Midoriya every chance he gets and mocks the very idea that he could ever become a professional hero.

This builds to the moment in the second episode where Midoriya sees Bakugou in the clutches of the fluid villain that All Might rescued him from earlier. When he recognizes that his classmate is in danger, Midoriya’s first instinct was to run in and try to save him. In that instant the insults did not matter, the vandalism of his hero observation notebook did not matter, even the years of verbal and emotional abuse did not matter. What mattered was that Katsuki Bakugou’s life was in the balance and that he had to do something. Izuku Midoriya best illustrates this when he says, “Kacchan, I couldn’t just stand there and watch you die.”

Even though  he had every right to hate Bakugou for terrible things that he did, Midoriya did not want to see him die. In the same way God couldn’t just stand by and watch us die in permanent separation from Him, even if we are at fault. Romans 5:6-8 describes this best:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Like Katsuki Bakugou, we think we were powerful and that we can make it on our own. However, the truth is we are powerless because we are trapped by the suffocating power of sin which also makes us enemies with God. Like Izuku Midoriya, Jesus Christ was willing sacrifice himself so we could be saved from the power of sin if we accept the gift of life that He gives us. That is agape, that is unconditional love.

Quirks VS Mutants – How My Hero Academia Differs From X-Men

I have written a review for season 1 of My Hero Academia on Fandom Factory, but I also wanted to write the supplementary piece on how the world of My Hero Academia is differs from the world of X-Men. On the surface they appear the same, genetically super-powered individuals that fight to save the world and have special schools to help train the next generation how to use their powers. However there are 2 differences that have a major impact on how the world views these superhumans.

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The first difference is the number of people who have powers. Mutants are in the extreme minority; I mean they are minority of minorities. Time to take a page from MatPat’s Film Theory to show just how few mutants there are in the X-Men universe. While very little is mentioned in the comics, cartoons or movies about their population, I was able to get a rough estimation thanks to the numbers mentioned in Sentinel Massacre of the mutant population of Genosha in Earth 616 which was estimated to be between 16 to 17 million. Since the source stated that more than half of the world known mutant population died in the massacre, I calculated that the mutant population at its height should have been at minimum 32 to 34 million.

While this may seem a big number just remember the population of United States alone as of this year (2016) is about 323 million. And when the calculations are all said and done out of the current world population of 7 billion, the mean of the known mutant population of Earth 616 is five hundredths of a percent (0.05%) when rounded up. In contrast in the very first episode of My Hero Academia we are told that quirk users make up 80% of the world’s population; that means 5 to 6 billion people are quirk users. That is a huge majority, in fact with those statistics it is more likely to be quick user in My Hero Academia than it is to be a mutant in X-Men.

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The second difference involves the average age in which an individual whether mutant or quirk user “receives” their powers. Mutants manifest their power during puberty (starting at age 13 or 14); it also can present at birth especially if their mutation has a physical effect on their bodies. Now there has been the stereotype that teenagers are impulsive and rebellious; combine that with superhuman abilities you have a recipe for prejudice and hatred. Teenagers are going through a lot already since they are transitioning to adulthood, but add superhuman abilities, which they don’t fully understand themselves and people persecuting them out of fear of what they could do, let’s just say they got more than they bargained for. The term mutant itself derives a negative connotation have towards individuals that have inhuman abilities (not to be confused with Marvel’s Inhumans…they are completely different from mutants). Needless to say it is not easy being a teenaged mutant in the world of X-Men.

In My Hero Academia it is a totally different story. The average age that a quirk user manifests their quirk is 4 years old or it can be present at birth like with mutants. People are less likely to view a young child with fear (unless they have paedophobia…trust me it’s a real phobia), plus with an 80% chance of them or someone they know developing a superhuman ability, they are not going to look at anyone as a threat much less themselves. Even the term they use to refer to their powers, quirks, signifies the causal acceptance of these unique traits that just so happen to be superpowers. Plus discovering that ability at such a young age gives more time for them to learn more about their quirks and to control them better by the time they reach adolescence.

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In the end those despite the differences that create a world that rejects superhumans and one that embraces them, both worlds still have discrimination. In X-Men, the prejudice is directed towards mutants because they are different from the norm and are feared because the power they have. This much is obvious and very familiar from the ardent comic book reader to the causal moviegoer. However, in My Hero Academia it is those without a quirk or the quirkless, as they are sometimes called, who are viewed in the negative light.

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Based on my observations from the first season, I gathered the main character Izuku Midoriya was teased and bullied in the classroom of a public Japanese middle school just because he didn’t have quirk. While we see no cases outside of Midoriya, from we do see the bullying he experiences by his classmate Katsuki Bakugou goes unchallenged by the other students and more importantly the teachers. Now this could be an isolated occurrence, but even so it gives the impression that bullying of people who are quirkless is condoned at Midoriya’s middle school. Or it could insecure teenagers picking other insecure teenager but instead of picking on them for their height or braces they’re picked on for not having a quirk.

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Whatever the case maybe, no should be treated any lesser just because they are different. As a Christians we are called to love everyone regardless of their appearance or background and there are a number of passages in the Bible that address this. In James 2:1-5, it explains why no one should exhibit favoritism:

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

It is so easy to discriminate, whether be it race, gender, status, weight, height…you name it there is a prejudice for it. It’s because as fallen individuals we feel to need to put others down to make ourselves feel better. We judge people from the outside and forget what is inside. But this is not how God sees the world and this thought elaborated in the Old Testament passage in I Samuel 16:7:

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height for I have rejected them. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ”

Regardless what’s visible on the outside, what ultimately matters in is our hearts. What do our hearts reflect? Is it hatred towards those who we deem different from us, or is it love towards our fellow human beings?