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small image Gifts and Talents in Anime

May 11, 2012 9:00 am by small image

Alongside YumeState.com, time-to-time I write on a blog focused on my personal life. As a firm believer of Christianity and after visiting TWWK’s http://beneaththetangles.wordpress.com/ blog, I found there’s definitely an interesting medium between anime and personal life. Note: religion is not the focus of this post, so please continue to read on even if you’re someone who dislikes discussing spirituality.

In this post, I want to discuss what are gifts and talents, how are they used in anime, and how they relate to our lives. I believe even though these are two very basic concepts and are universally understood by the general community, they are not explored enough outside the anime medium.

Part of the attraction in watching anime is that it is animated. Series are sometimes deliberately portrayed as unreal or out of the ordinary in order to give the audience something unique and different from their normal lives. It can be argued that many watch anime because they do not want to see an actor or actress play their favourite character, though this has been done before to some degree of success with series such as Kimi ni Todoke, Nodame Cantabile, and Honey and Clover.

However, as bizarre and far-fetched anime can be, we can see many elements that relate to the audience in some way; themes regarding friendship, angst, drama; stories highlighting coming-of-age, pure pressure, confidence-building; characters demonstrating sacrifice, love, and fear; these are all very popular categories of anime that attract viewers.

As stated before, anime tries to bring something new and different to the table, but it also wants to attract as many viewers as possible. That’s when I noticed a reoccurring theme while writing on my other blog regarding gifts and talents. As human beings, each of us have been given a series of gifts and/or talents that make us unique. Whether that’s being adept at artistry, designing a program or software, or being physically capable of running a 10km marathon, we all have something that another may not have, or we may be able to do it more efficiently and effectively.

In anime, we often see characters having the ability to something out of the ordinary, such as the Okabe having the Reading Steiner which allows him to retain his memories after time-travel, or Edward Elric having the ability to transmute without the need for a transmutation circle. As you may know, both of these abilities are vital in the story of their respective anime, and without ruining too much, you will see just how important they are in correcting a lot of the mistakes that they make as well.

Gifts and talents are something that we should be thankful for, as we did not ask for them, but we were given then anyway. It’s understandable that many are confused or uncertain what their gifts are, or why they were given them. Again, anime does a great job in portraying those cases as well. A few examples come to mind, such as Fate/Stay Night’s Emiya Shirou and his Trace ability, which allows him to see the circuits and underlying structure of any object, or Ichiban Daimaou’s Sai Akuto and his Demon Awakening, which allows him to control and use Demonic powers.

How do we deal with gifts and talents that don’t seem to fit with who we are, or what we want? A tough question, and possibly one that doesn’t have a precise response.

I feel regardless of what our gifts and talents are, we should be certain in what we know, not what we will know. There’s a difference; we can influence some aspects of how the future will turn out, but it is ultimately out of our hands as we can not predict or reverse time. What this means is that with what we know, we should be confident in using and relying on that first. Just as Emiya Shirou asked himself what was the point of having the Trace ability when all he could was just repair broken appliances, we see that he becomes much more than that in the end.

Responsibility with gifts and talents is yet another reoccurring theme in anime, and rightly so as we see that without responsibility, those talents become a waste and ultimately lead to a tragedy. There comes a time however, after determining that we should be responsible, a certain sense of expectation becomes a factor of liability for many. They feel that because they have a gift, they must fulfill it entirely without question.

It’s often hard to be confident in one’s gifts, as they see it as something that drives their lives, not something that supports it. Fate/Zero’s Saber plays into this role perfectly, as she does not see herself as a person anymore, but rather a King that devotes itself entirely to the people. The King of Conquerors, Rider, and King of Kings, Archer, both hint at the illusion that clouds the mind of Saber.

I believe that this is not something where a specific solution is needed, but more that one understands there is some form of hesitation when we perform something out of our comfort zone. Being uncomfortable is not out of the ordinary, and I believe a certain level of uncomfortableness is warranted. With Saber and her gift of being a leader and bastion of light for her people, she is simply too focused on not failing, when sometimes failing is a necessity to pick oneself up after.

It should be noted that sometimes it’s hard to say one has a gift because people may look at them differently. They are labeled and put into a position that reflects what they said. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagan’s Simon, who is known as the hero of the underworld, must meet not only his own expectations, but the entire population that he fights for.

There is much more that I can talk about, regarding strengths and weaknesses in knowing ones gifts and talents, but I feel we can leave that up for discussion: do we each need room for reflection on our strengths and weaknesses? How important is feedback in determining our path?

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. There’s a lot more to explore with Gifts and Talents, so feel free to leave your comments and suggestions regarding our topic.