Sunday Without God: Empathy for the Undead

Management: While my opinion of the show is positive overall, this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes. While this piece will reference other parts of the show, this essay will primarily break down the events of Episodes 1-3, which cover the Valley of Death Arc, Episode 3-6, which cover the Ortus Arc, and Episode 9, “Where Gravekeepers Are Born.”

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I wrote a piece some time ago about Kino’s Journey and the importance of approaching the different countries in the show visited by Kino and, by proxy, the audience through the anthropological lens of cultural relativism. What may be seen within a culture, different from our own, as an illogical lifestyle and a barbaric morality to the foreign observer looking from without may be a completely reasonable lifestyle and acceptable morality to the native participant engaging from within. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t ultimately disagree and reject lifestyles and moralities different from our own. However, trying to make sense of a culture or a person without temporarily suspending our own ethnocentric impulses and prejudices kills attempts at creating empathy and shuts down productive discussion. You’re not going to understand the worldview of someone if the only conversation you can have with that someone is “Whose worldview is better than the other’s?”

In the spirit of cultural relativism, Sunday Without God presents two remarkable back-to-back arcs that approach the universe’s cultural understanding of death and the undead in opposite ways. The latter arc is a thematic reaction to the first arc. Encompassing Episodes 1-3 is the first arc of the show, Valley of Death. Encompassing Episodes 4-6 is the second arc, Ortus. Within these arcs is the main character and observer constant, Ai Astin, whose views about death and the undead evolve over the course of the places she visits and the people she meets.

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[Award] Liebster Award Questionaire, or A Great Excuse to Tease Matcha

Management: Apparently I’m popular enough that anibloggers are consigning me to more blog work. Anyway, if you’ve either yet to read or entirely forgot the opening lines of my last self-reflection questionnaire post, I’ve set myself up to do these kinds of super editorializing posts in a super editorializing manner. These kinds of posts are a lot less formal, polite, and reserved than my usual Management content. I’ve subsequently labeled their style and persona as Non-Management.

Liebster 1

Liebster 2

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Of Anthropological Perspectives: Kino’s Journey and the Importance of Cultural Relativism

Management: While my overall opinion of Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World, is quite positive, this essay is, by no means, meant to be a comprehensive review of the series, but rather, an articulation and analysis of what I feel are its most integral and interesting themes. Much of this essay draws reference to Franz Boaz’s work in anthropology. This is not, however, meant to be a total affirmation of everything he believes.

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“The world is not beautiful; therefore it is.”

It’s an iconic quote from Kino’s Journey, probably its most iconic, and rather fitting with the latter part of the show’s title: The Beautiful World. Just watching the show, though, following Kino and Hermes on their travels, it becomes evident that there are many things in this world that are not beautiful in the traditional sense. Miserable snowpacked drifts, windswept desert wastelands, ruined husks of cities. In addition, the countries she visits aren’t the most hospitable places ever, and many of the people she meets are not the most decent lot.

The cultures she observes aren’t literally representative of the real world. They’re, rather, more akin to the “what if” scenarios The Twilight Zone would make the setting of their episodes with. Kino’s Journey, however, isn’t mainly interested in exploring the world as it is interested in the human condition, us, one facet at a time, through these “what ifs.” Exploring our bad points and our good points, our best points as well as our worst elucidating whenever we face adversity.

It is because of this that Kino’s Journey regards vapid optimism with little beauty. Looking at the world within Kino’s Journey and the world without, suffering is not too hard to come by. But the show says its because of humanity’s seemingly permanent ties to pain and hardship, etched on landscapes and people’s faces, in the attempts of these cultures to deal with pain and hardship through belief and practice, that that the world is beautiful.

Beautiful despite suffering, in spite suffering, in defiance of suffering, or even because of suffering.

So it is crucial that, in order to see the beautiful underneath the ugly, that we, the audience, engage the show with an open and critical mind, the mind of an anthropologist, the mind of a traveler.

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