Wow, I’ve been gone for a long time.
That’s a separate post for a separate day, but for now, I’m gonna try and ease myself back into the groove of writing something by doing some Lost in Translation, this time coming from Episode 35 of March Comes in Like a Lion.
Education and Formation
First, we’ll talk about a line mentioned by Mr. Kokubu when he bemoans the fact that his life as head teacher involves not only having to teach children in the intellectual sense; rather, it involves rearing them up as members of society as a whole. He expresses this by playing around with the Japanese word for education, kyôiku (教育), which is made up of two characters: 教 meaning “to teach” (教える, “oshi(eru)”) and 育 meaning “to raise/bring up” (育てる, “soda(teru)”). In his little soliloquy, Mr. Kokubu spells out the irony of education from a semantic perspective — that it being a process that involves both the functional aspect of a formal education, while at the same time involving a more nebulous ideal of “rearing” someone as an individual. The latter is something that is presumably the function of one’s parents, but modern societal norms dictate that that isn’t necessarily the case.
And even in the succeeding segments of this episode, we’re introduced to this whole concept of “rearing” outside of the confines of the formal educational institution. Miho is made to undergo “rehabilitation” by means of animal therapy (something I’m actually very passionate about and am currently working on) and occupational therapy. It’s a strange thing to see, really, since Miho is made to look like her activities are far more rooted in what is practical, as far as the implications of living in society are concerned — to the point that she seems, for all intents and purposes, much more an adult than she is a middle school student. She plants food, feeds animals, helps in preparing foodstuffs for the local community — all outside of the context of the formal educational institution.
But this isn’t meant to undermine the goal of formal education as a whole. If anything, it highlights the divide in education as a process that forms young individuals both intellectually and (by extension) emotionally. And I bring this up quite deliberately, because I quite like the term 教育 as it extols education as something that is both instructive (教 – teach) and formative (育 – raise). It’s a masterful little play on words that highlights March Comes in Like a Lion as acutely in tune with the perils of bullying in schools, and the commendable attitude that teachers like Mr. Kokubu have in trying to address it.
Face the Sun
To round off this entry for Lost in Translation, I’d like to focus on the second half of this episode entitled In the sun. The original Japanese title is 日向, which when said out loud is, surprise — “Hinata”. This is obviously an intentional pun that works in many ways beyond Rei’s “visual hallucinations” that Hina is supposedly “glowing”. Of course, her triumph over her emotional perils is reflected in the sort of aura that she brings with her; but her name, itself, is interesting in that it literally means “to face the sun”.
And much of the second half of this episode actually focuses on what it means to “face the sun”. In Hina’s context, it means learning to “forgive others”, despite having said in the first half that she couldn’t find it in her to do so — that that decision left her in the looming shadow of grief admixed with feelings of frustration, manifested by clenched fists and a fight against tears seemingly ready to flow. And yet after reading Miho’s letter inviting her to become friends with her once more, Hina felt the warm glow of forgiveness. At least in Hina’s mind, she felt that Miho harbored feelings of resentment against her after being forced to leave her school. And yet after she finally worked her way back to being functional in the world again, Miho, of all people, initiated the steady road towards rebuilding relationships by inviting Hina over for the summer.
Being “in the sun” for Hina was about baking cookies and enjoying the company of people she used to look at as enemies. It was about enlightenment — the clearance of the clouds and the beaming radiance of the joy of forgiveness.
But Rei is a person who has lived much of his life in the darkness of depression and self-persecution. It’s obvious when he immediately questions the role he’s had in Hina’s epiphany, and yet it is also a reflection of his own deep-seated insecurities: what does it mean for me to be happy, and do I even have a right to be happy? And so Hina has to spell it out for him — yes, you do have the right to be happy. You have the right to look at the sun and enjoy the warmth of it’s embrace; you have the right to be forgiven.
And there you have it! A little insightful peace on March Comes in Like a Lion from some phrases and terms that might have been Lost in Translation. If you don’t already know, I’m really, really loving this show, and I have plans on writing up a little bit on the incidental romance that Rei and Hina are having. I kinda called it out early on in the show’s lifespan, and boy am I really happy with how it’s turning out.
Have you seen anything in animeland that you think might have been lost in translation? Do feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time, ciao!