Neil Gaiman once wrote in one of his countless essays about reading and writing that there are no bad books for children. ‘They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories,’ he said and finished the paragraph with a realization that many people, especially fans, find hard to accept, ‘… not everyone has the same taste as you.’
I believe the same applies to anime as well. There are no bad anime, no matter how hard self-proclaimed guardians and anime-gurus want to demote certain titles – see Berserk. There are only anime we like and anime we don’t like. Anime we agree and anime we disagree with. Is taste objective? Most probably not.
Why the rant? Because, like the title of the episode suggests, I felt a resonance with Episode 6 of Fune wo Amu, a sympathetic vibration that I have felt with very few anime in the last years. And if this review is going to be lost among countless others, let it be known that here writes not a critic, but a lover of anime and words.
Japanese Title: 共振
What does a normal human being do when he musters the courage to give a love letter to the person he has feelings for? He goes to his living room and waits for her answer until morning. And when he finally has the chance to talk to that person, he runs in fear and ends up at work hours before his usual time. Normal stuff. The pressure was real, and Majime just couldn’t handle it.
At work, Nishioka reveals to the team that he is going to be transferred to the PR department in spring. And that’s the same moment that the episode’s theme is set into motion. Matsumoto-sensei, who I think is moonlighting as a Jedi master, starts talking about Genkai, the great dictionary, and the concept of karma and destiny. The calling that some people feel towards the completion of a goal. A higher calling that translates to someone’s life work. The inevitable transfer and the conversation about destiny have the same effect to both Nishioka and Majime. Nishioka is flabbergasted by his feelings. A few months ago he wouldn’t have minded transferring to the PR department. After all, PR is more his thing. But after meeting Majime he started feeling a purpose in his current work. That feeling intensifies when Araki reveals to the two coworkers that they were thinking of having Nishioka focus on the PR side of the job while Majime focused on the practical work. That would have been ideal. Each to his strengths, as they say. Nishioka doesn’t want to leave any more, and Majime doesn’t want him to leave. They complement each other. Majime is terrified at the thought that he will have to negotiate and talk and do all the stuff Nishioka used to do.
That anxiety, that black, terrifying anxiety, is signified by the Ferris wheel scene. Majime feels helpless under the terrible weight that comes with feelings of anxiety. The sea of words returns, but this time it’s not just a sea. It’s a menacing quicksand that drags him down. Nishioka is leaving, Kaguya hasn’t answered his letter… He is crumbling…
Eventually, he finds peace in meditation. Meditation is a magical thing. Try it if you haven’t. It has the power to quiet your mind and give you a clarity you might have never felt before. Strangely enough, Majime and I share the same kind of meditation technique: we surround ourselves in books, walk among them looking at the titles and touching the jackets with the tip of our fingers. Eventually, his focused mind brings him straight to the answer he seeks: a copy of Genkai and the clarity he desperately needed.
Words are alive. They change with the times. There are some that even disappear. In that sense, Genkai might not be a dictionary for our modern world. But, the care and thought that was poured into it…
He asks Kaguya for an answer to his love letter. Hearing the words, Kaguya runs to her room. Majime is hurt and alone and broken and a man can only hold his tears for so long. I thought that Kaguya hadn’t read the letter, and Majime thought he was rejected, but the truth was far from both. Kaguya had read the letter, but it was so difficult to understand that she wasn’t sure that she was reading a love letter. She needed Majime to confirm it. She needed the necessary point of view from which Majime’s words could make absolute sense. Words do not belong to the person who wrote them. Words and their meaning belong to the person who reads them. And Kaguya was able to read the letter for what it really was, a confession of love and admiration.
Luckily, she feels the same.
Mmm? Majime’s reaction to Kaguya’s answer was so sweet.
Majime: So you…
Majime: I like you
Majime: What does mmm mean?
Synonyms: When Majime curses himself for not being able to stay when Kaguya was obviously eager to ask him something, he uses a lot of synonyms for the word ‘idiot.’ Incredible little linguistic detail that gave Majime more credibility as a word lover.
Themes & Trivia
Word of the Episode: きょうーしん 「共振」
Resonance, sympathetic vibration
Genkai: The legendary Japanese dictionary was referenced many times during the episode. I first included it in the Themes and Trivia section of Episode 1. Genkai (言海) literally means ‘sea of words’ and it was modeled in part on Western monolingual dictionaries. Genkai gave not only basic information about words—their representations in kana and kanji and their definitions in Japanese—but also pronunciations and etymologies and citations of their use. It was truly the first modern dictionary of the Japanese language. No wonder the little dictionaries of おしえてじしょたんず , the sweet half-episode dictionary special, were so awed by his visit.
Destiny: I probably have already mentioned this too many times during my recap analysis. The title of the episode, resonance, refers to Majime’s relationship with Kaguye and his calling to create a dictionary. Karma, destiny, fate, call it however you wish, is a bitch. The people who find a strong urge to create something, be it art, change, or both, have a unique sense of purpose that gives them a unpreceded sense of tranquility. They are drawn to the calling. They are defined by it. They are molded by it. And then, they live through it, forever.
Fune wo Amu. The Great Passage. The English title decided to go with the name of the dictionary instead with a literal translation, which arguably wouldn’t have sounded half as good. But in my eyes, the titles complement each other. Fune wo Amu speaks of a boat that is going to provide passage through a sea of words…The Great Passage.
Majime’s story is very real, very sweet, and very important. I can’t wait to see how Nishioka is going to remain in the department, because he will. There can’t be a happy ending without everyone working for the dictionary.
I wanted to end this review with the same title as the episode. I felt a strange kind of resonance with this episode, with Nishioka, with Majime, with the team. I am very glad that we have half a season ahead of us.
Did you like the latest episode of Fune wo Amu? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic reviews!
NEXT TIME: Trust (信頼)
Fune wo Amu (The Great Passage)
Official Website: http://www.funewoamu.com/