I am a senior in high school, and I’m itching to go to college already. I want away from all the immaturity and dumb jokes and teasing of these three boys in my physics and Government classes about the fact that I actually like Naruto. At my first high school on the mainland, anime was a thing that you didn’t talk about, because it was weird. In Hawaii, (Probably because there is a very present Japanese influence here) anime isn’t as weird or worthy of being shunned. Almost everyone watches it low key from time to time. That was a LOVELY surprise when I came to school here, but I very quickly because the labeled as the anime girl even thought I’m really not as committed of a watcher as others are n my school. “Anime girl” on the mainland is a very different kind of person then on an island.
I have been put in an interesting position. I’m a senior, top dog, I’m one of those cool people who drive to school! (In high school that’s something that matters in the social class situation, remember?) I understand that because I’m one of the oldest in the school, people look up to me. I have a wide influence, but I am specifically influence the anime community on campus. That group does tend to look down on themselves. They call themselves “anime trash” with pride, but deep down, I don’t think they like that kind of talk. I was called anime trash today, in a joking manor, and it was quite the experience.
There’s a girl who refuses to believe that anime is cool. She loves anime, but will not talk about it with other people. At seeing so many different perspectives on where anime is on the “cool” scale, I’m not sure what to think. On the blogsphere, I’ve found people I’d like to call the “Anime Academics”. They’ve moves past debating how cool or weird anime is socially, and gotten right to the point of the author’s story. They care about what truly matters in the story, the morals, the characters, the tears. That’s why we all like anime! Stop labeling people as “less cool” because they watch anime.
One theme that specifically pulled me into this universe, is the them of the mentor. From stories and mythology all over the world, the mentor’s figure in the story is vital to the completion of the goal. The relationship the hero has with his mentor is one of my favorite relationships to see in stories and anime. I’ve even written my own personal cartoon series for fun based off of this relationship.
Why is the mentor such a vital role in the story? You can think of the obvious mentors from movie culture like Obi Wan from Star Wars, Dumbledore from Harry Potter, or Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings. But the mentors I see in anime, like Jiraiya, or really any number of characters in Naruto, that really fascinate me.
The most vital part of being the mentor is leaving the hero so the hero can leave the nest on his own. This usually means the mentor has to die. When he dies, the hero not only has to start fending for himself, he has to go through a period of immense emotional growth. Usually people are most interested with how strong the hero will become, or what he’ll inherit from the mentor, but what I find most interesting is the emotional fight the hero has to go through every day after the death of his hero, the mentor.
We all have a mentor in real life, someone who lived long ago. Even Jesus’s life follows the archetype formula of the hero’s journey, the same formula we see in most battle anime and mythology. The interesting thing about Jesus’s story, is that he is both the mentor and the hero. He is humanity’s hero, and humanity’s mentor.
It’s very difficult for some people to accept this, not as a story, but as a reality. It wasn’t difficult for Naruto to submit himself to Jiraiya’s authority since Naruto had been longing for a father figure his whole life. Jiraiya the mentor was physically there with Naruto encouraging him on. Jesus did physically come down to earth and live a human life, but like the formula tells, he had to leave. The first time he died, the second time he ascended to heaven. He can’t be here with us they way we would probably like. That’s something all Christians understand and accept, the same as every hero. We know that the mentor isn’t there to pat us on the back the way he used to, but we will be reunited someday.
There are people on earth however who mentor us in the way Jesus did. There have been many important people in my life who have mentored me in an area that made me feel like the hero of my personal story. Two of them are strong women who I’ve gotten my pen name from, and I honor then by using it while I write. God can defiantly work through other people who are physically there to pat us on the back. Pastors, teachers, friends can all be used by the Great Mentor to mentor someone else. Being asked by someone, or God to be a mentor to someone is a great honor. Accepting that position however isn’t about sharing your wisdom, it’s about pointing the person to God.
Naruto recovered from the sadness of his mentor’s death by deciding to become a mentor himself. Shikamaru helped him realized it was his turn to step up and inspire the next generation.
Someday you’ll be the one to treat others to ramen. And you’ll be called master Naruto. We can’t stay kids forever. Like Asuma and Jiraiya… I wanna be as cool as them. – Shikamaru Nara
We aren’t kids anymore, and as graduation comes closer, I’m starting to feel pressured into believing that. I have SUCH a long way to go before I feel like I could be a Jiraiya type but, when I take a step back, I see that perhaps I have a small role like the mentor as the oldest anime fan on campus. It’s a small and funny thing, but I want to use whatever position or influence I have to encourage the underclassmen to look for God. Maybe this means talking about similar themes in the Bible and Anime. Maybe it’s discussing why an anime might not be appropriate. We’ll see. I’ll try to be a good Jiraiya where I’m at right now, and I think even Christian should look for their chance to be one too.