Christianime: The ‘Revival’ of the Soul

We often wish we could know the future, but what if that was only a tool to serve others, rather than ourselves? This season’s most (deservedly) hyped show, Boku dake ga Inai Machi, is asking us to come up with answers.

~~~UH OH, SPOILER ALERT!~~~

Satoru’s ‘Revivals’ take him back before a terrible incident occurs, to put him in the position of thwarting it. Usually it’s a few minutes and a single life-threatening problem. But for the wider plot, he gets thrown back years and years in order to prevent childhood tragedies, and, in turn, his mother’s death.

He knows a terrible fate will be realised if he fails to right the wrongs of the past. But aren’t we, as Christians, in a similar situation? We are certain of having a future with Christ, and he will repay each person according to what they have done. In short, we’re in the opposite situation to Satoru; we know the future is good, and it’s therefore our goal, in thanks, to do good on Earth. Always remember that we are under grace, not law (Rom 6:14). It’s a law in Satoru’s world that a horrible history will repeat itself if he doesn’t act. It’s grace for every Christian that we are saved by our faith, and our faith alone (Eph 2:8).

With that in mind, a few other parallels to scripture appear in Boku Machi’s twisted time-warping tale of identity and mystery.

1) We are not of this world

Everything Satoru does feels out-of-place with his surroundings, and echoes how much he’s forgotten about his past. He can’t remember where he sat in class, or the rules about the hideout. On the levels of both work and play, he’s outcast from his own history, an adult’s voice and mind in a child’s body. That, combined with his knowledge of the future, makes him act differently to the rest of the pupils. Talking about homework or Dragon Quest mean nothing to him, and nothing to the plot either. Satoru has invaded his past, and is an alien likeness of himself in it.

The Christian life often feels like this. Because we know what we’re working towards, God has cast us a rope to pull us through the wandering rocks of the world that should, to us, seem pointless – more often than not, sinful. All things are permissible, but not everything is beneficial to us. Being part of God’s Kingdom, for reasons like this, means casting yourself away from distractions, lest they burden you, like discussions of video games slow down Satoru’s quest the sort out his past.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Rom 14:19), to please our neighbours for their good, to build them up (Rom 15:2). Our actions in the world, including what we immerse ourselves in and how we immerse ourselves in it, should show the fruits of our Christianity to provide a  strong witness of the power of God and the gospel that saved us. Satoru will never protect those he loves if he carries on like a normal child. We will never put our lamps on enough of a stand if we yoke ourselves with the world just as a non-believer does.

2) Look Towards The Afterlife

In his past, Saturo has been given a glimpse of a beautiful feature. Sharing meals with his mother, a simple experience he might never have again as an adult, he realises what he’s fighting for during this gargantuan Revival. The steadfastness of his mother’s love comes through strongly from the parallel between her older and younger self – not only has she barely seemed to age, but she’s never seen Satoru as anything but a son she cares dearly for; he was the last thing on her mind as she bled onto their carpet.

Our hope in Christ, and his love for us, should be even steadfast. He won’t get a knife in the back in the future; we will ascend with him to an eternity with God. Our problem therefore lies in this surety; if we become selfish, we can become complacent with the thought of never losing our salvation. But having been made new creatures (2 Cor 5:17) that to live apart from the world’s vices and distractions, we must remember that living for Christ means living for him and others. If Satoru can be a saviour to so many, compelled by his Revivals that tragedy will befall the world if he ignores his calling, can’t we do more, having been given a universal, unconditional and far more compelling call to serve?

Of course, while we put ourselves last, that still means we can consider the personal benefits of keeping our eyes on heaven. Francis Chan puts it into common sense with the help of a very long rope:

Even though we don’t know what heaven will hold for us, we can be sure that it’ll be better than whatever small, sinful pleasures we can get in our short time on Earth. We should be storing up treasures in the eternity that awaits us, unconditionally. From God’s love for us now, we are constantly catching a glimpse of what it’ll be like when he lives, in every literal sense, among us (Rev 21:3). We are revived, like Satoru, into a state of being where we can do more for the world and prepare ourselves a brighter future. The opportunity won’t take itself.

As Boku Machi continues, there’ll surely be many more callings to Scripture that the Christian can answer; these are just a couple that shine out to me so far. They may seem like simple lessons, but noticing things like these repeatedly in what you watch is a great exercise in securing it in your heart.

But what else did you find when watching yourself? Do any of these thoughts remind you of another show? Have your say in the comments below!

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Current theme music: Illenium – Afterlife

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2 thoughts on “Christianime: The ‘Revival’ of the Soul”

  1. The themes that you discussed from Boku dake ga Inai Machi heavily remind me of Angel Beats, but in a reverse sort of way. Each character in Angel Beats has already passed away and lives in the afterlife, wishing they could change their horrible pasts for the better. In contrast, Satoru from Boku dake ga Inai Machi has that chance to make not only his own past better but also those around him. It’s very cool parallelism, and I think that I will give Boku dake ga Inai Machi a try in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also think they have a lot in common! Indeed, most of the cast of Angel Beats! only strive to right the wrongs of their own past, but Otonashi is different; he wants to help everyone to move on by seeing their past and/or future in a better light. Both shows advocate that service to others is what matters most.

      Like

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