Kyoto Animation. We all have that one anime we enjoyed from Kyoto Animation. Whether it is pain or joy, Kyoto Animation has brought to life stories that can touch our emotions. For the month of August, we will be honouring Kyoto Animation and all it has done for art, storytelling, and popular culture by discussing some of our favourite Kyoto Animation series. The fire that happened at the studio is indeed a tragedy. Fires may be dangerous, but there are flames that burn within us that spark passion, hope, and belief in ourselves.OWLS prompt for August – Be sure to follow the tour with Crimson next on the 6th
I’ve certainly spoken about Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions before having reviewed it back in 2017 and it’s come up on more than a handful of Top 5 lists (including top 5 confessions and top 5 eye patch wearing characters). However, it was the title that immediately sprang to mind when I saw the prompt for the OWLS tour this month and to be honest, it is an anime that should be celebrated. It is unfortunate that the reason we turn our attention to Kyoto Animation’s many fine works this month is because of such tragic circumstances.
Of course, tragedy is more or less a link this time around. I’ve previously discussed how Chunibyo is about awakening the dreamer within but this time I plan to turn my attention to the underlying personal tragedy for Rikka Takanashi. That doesn’t mean I plan to wallow in negative emotions but rather examine how these experiences shaped Rikka into the person she became, the eye-patch wearing girl who charmed audiences with her determination, fragility, and those weird roller-shoes.
For Rikka, the death of her father was a tragic situation that she couldn’t accept. More than that, she couldn’t even begin to comprehend the event. And so she created her own interpretation for his departure and ultimately her quest to reach the Unseen Horizon began. While many will dismiss this as denial and a coping strategy of a young child, as Rikka has aged, and had time to process this calamity that changed her life, she remains stuck in what others call a delusion.
Because to Rikka, the Unseen Horizon has to be real. It isn’t that she actually believes it to be true so much as that she doesn’t know how to be Rikka anymore without believing it to be true. No evidence or rational explanation will convince her to let go from that quest because for her it is a link to her father and one she does not intend to let go of.
After playing the part for so long, dealing with emotions in what others would consider a ‘normal’ manner became almost impossible for her. Even when she tried, she would fall back on using her umbrella as a defensive shield and hide her shyness behind bizarre declarations and posturing. She found safety and comfort in the persona and reality she had crafted and retreated within it whenever challenged.
Her sister and her grandparents wouldn’t understand it. They saw her behaviour as acting out or something childish that needed to be left behind. They never tried to see the world from her point of view.
And that’s where Yuuta came in. While at first he resisted being Rikka’s friend for fear she would drag him back into his own escapist reality, he learned to translate Rikka’s weird interpretation of the world into something that made sense. Her cryptic comments would be translated by him and when she refused to understand or hear something he would phrase it in language that didn’t compromise her facade.
At the same time, he also pushed Rikka to face reality again. His first attempt was jarring and intensely scary for Rikka as he more or less insisted she let go of everything. However, the two found a balance for themselves where together they could make progress, understand one another, and enjoy being who they were.
Kyoto Animation made this story possible and presented it beautifully. I originally came across it because of an AMV on YouTube and I was enthralled by the appearance of the anime and watching it was a visual delight. However more than that, these characters connected with me.
Sometimes things are really, really hard. And sometimes reality seems too much to take. And sometimes we do feel really alone. All of these emotions were ones I could understand. Also the idea of not fitting in and wanting to walk your own path, as well as finding the strength to compromise and to let other people back into your life. It resonated with me and grabbed my heart and made me cry and smile and want to hug these characters and tell them that one day they may not have it all figured out but it would get better.
A work of fiction created by KyoAni moved my heart and made me cry. It made me want to believe that I could find myself and live in the world.
Regardless of what we learn about the tragedy at Kyoto Animation in the future, I don’t think I’ll ever really understand why things like this happen. What I hope though is that people look at this horror and reflect and I would like to believe that one day such things may not happen. It might just be a fantasy, but I’ll hold onto that for now.
supporting 100 Word Anime.
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