I have been thinking about it. I really have. Sadly, I still haven’t found anything better than Nowltsume… I’ll keep working on it.
Have you been following the OWLS tours this year? We’ve had a lot of new members. It really is a completely different group from when I started a year ago. I’m starting to feel like an old foggy with all these fresh faces around. But you know what? I don’t hate that feeling. The year is coming to an end and bringing a promise of renewal for 2019 and that’s why we have all these new people!
For December the theme is “Miracles”:
“Tis the season where miracles happen. For December’s theme, we will be exploring faith in anime and pop culture. We will discuss some of the miracles that enter a character’s life during their darkest moments. Some of their questions we will explore is how does a “miracle” change a person’s life? How do we define miracles? Can miracles only happen due to a legend or a mystical being? Or do miracles happen every day, but we just don’t see it? We hope that you enjoy this holiday season! Happy Holidays! – the OWLS Team <3
Examples: Clannad, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Your Name”
How fortunate that just as I decide to dedicate my OWLS posts to Natsume’s Book of Friends, they happen to pick a theme that overflows throughout the series. It’s such a serendipitous coincidence. A surprising yet very lucky turn of events… Ok, I’ll stop.
Like I just said, Natsume’s Book of Friends is basically a series of miracles packed on the back of more miracles. So much so in fact that both we, the audience, and Natsume himself stop noticing them. It’s the story of an orphaned boy who sees Yokai and constantly gets saved by unexpected friends at the last minute or takes part in events that should be impossible.
Natsume lives in a world of dragons, gods and flying beast guardians. Everyday his world expands to make room for yet another wonder he would never have dreamed of. His is a life of pure fantasy. And none of that is what matters today, or for Natsume in fact.
For you see, the story has always been pretty explicit that the miracles contained within Natsume’s world aren’t the supernatural inhabitants of the extraordinary events, it’s the quite ordinary ones that are truly special.
Natsume was a kind but occasionally troubled little boy. In many respects, a perfectly average child. Which is a wonderful thing. But all children need certain basic elements. They need love, understanding, guidance as well as a sense of security. When any one of these simple things is missing, they tend to have a void that affects them for a long time. For Natsume, all of those were taken away at a very young age and he had to also contend with being different and alone in a world full of danger. Anyone would have been traumatized. Most people would not have gotten over it.
Natsume was pretty much on the edge. He had withdrawn within himself to the point of making even the simplest human interaction nearly impossible. And at the last possible minute, he found the Fujiwaras. Or rather, he was found by them. Out of the blue, he suddenly had a family that would give him all those things he was missing and more.
Now that seems like magic in and of itself but it goes much deeper. The snatching from the hands of despair is just the first step. Rebuilding trust is a long and arduous process. The Fujiwaras aren’t merely a family willing to give a lost boy a chance, they are the perfect family for Natsume. Quiet and unassuming enough to leave the young man room to grow. They pry only when they need to and discipline him just enough.
Because of Natsume’s peculiar circumstances, parents that would have wanted to find out everything about him and have been very present, would have pushed him away. He would have naturally isolated himself to keep them out of danger. On the other hand, if they had left him to his own devices, asking nothing from the boy, he would have continued to spiral into loneliness, making future connections all the more difficult, if possible at all.
The balance had to be perfect. Without having any of the required information, Touko and Shigerou had to decide just how far to push and exactly when to stop. That’s impossible! And yet, it happens in every single episode, and every single day of Natsume’s life.
And what’s more, it happens with everyone else as well. Kitamoto and Satoru are just boys themselves. The likelihood that they would even meet is one in a billion. And yet, not only did they randomly decide to give a strange little transfer student a chance, they happened to be there at exactly the right place and time to open his heart and mind to the possibility of friendship.
I could go on…I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that this series is just a string of miracles wrought together. But here’s the point I’m trying to get to. The word miracle sounds grand. It evokes images of huge, undeniable events. Cataclysms that rock people’s lives in profound ways and leave them changed forever. But the true miracles happen when you don’t expect them. They sneak in and if you’re not paying attention, go unnoticed.
In a wide world full of people and innumerable possibilities, having the universe conspire to bring you together with people with who you can share a true connection is statistically ridiculous. Being put in circumstances where everything comes together is ludicrous. Having something as fragile and fleeting as a sense of happiness and contentment just fall in your lap should be impossible. And yet, we see it every day. And if we’re not careful, we stop noticing.
If we chase after fairies, ghosts and yokai, we may miss the true magic that’s in front of our very eyes! So, this holiday season, if you happen to find the perfect gift for someone you truly care about, just take a second to enjoy that miracle. These are moments that we could not manufacture with all the knowledge and resources of the world. And they exist just for you. Because you’re special and deserve them. Now you only need to notice them!