Manabi: The Real God Girl

You know the episode is good if you can squeeze 2 or more posts out of it :3 And I didn’t even have to try.

High as a Kite

Haruhi Suzumiya appeals to the earthly notion of God: someone who is powerful to craft reality through sheer power.

But the God I serve works it much more like Manami Amamiya, who makes miracles by putting people together–from friends to buddies–to do things that only buddies can accomplish. Manabi lives in a reality that is a fulfilled future, and she brings her prophetic “vision” of how things could be to inspire and bring people together. This is really what is so “heartful” about Manabi Straight.

What’s probably a little disingenuous is how apparent it all is in the show. They really make it clear with the whole seeing thing. To some end I derive a lot of joy out of watching Manabi Straight just out of my personal perspective alone. And nonetheless I think a fair look at episode 11 would suggest that the animation quality, while isn’t jaw-droppingly gorgeous as Haruhi Suzumiya 12, is well thought-out and fluid when it is necessary. The rocking out scene, to me, was better done because the body movements felt more natural, sans the strange synchronousness of the band. Granted, in a real live people tend NOT to move around as much, but I guess they had to do it to satisfy some notion of “good animation” by serving it up to the fans.

And it’s a dekkai zettai ryouiki jamboree, for real.

Seeing reality for more than what it is–beyond flesh and blood and the physical–is part of the human experience. People relate to each other, and that’s the foundation of society and meaningful human existence. Merely puppeting your surrounding to amuse yourself may be a lot of fun, but it’s a hollow thing at the end. No matter how much of a god Haruhi is she can’t meet her internal, mental, and psychological needs with just her powers alone. In fact her search for aliens and espers and time travelers goes to show that those are the sort of things we look for to fill our needs.

Granted, looking to Mikan to fill your needs is not that different than looking to Kyon to do the same, so well, there’s plenty of reasons to like both shows :)

14 Responses to “Manabi: The Real God Girl”

  • Mike

    Wow. You just suddenly made this seminary student need to go back and watch Manabi Straight again. I wasn’t that impressed with episode 1 and hadn’t bothered continuing…but wow. You sure know how to speak my language! :) (The description of how God works through the unity of others is pretty much the expression of the Body of Christ.)

    And it just gave me an idea for a whole possible post on the theology of Haruhi Suzumiya as a capricious Gnostic Demiurge. Thanks!

  • CherylHew

    Wow, great post here! I didn’t like Suzumiya Haruhi because she dominated people like it was no one’s business. God or not, I found her pretty stuck up. I’m glad to see that Manabi, who was compared to Haruhi at first manages to deviate from that and go into a deeper level. Well done!

  • hashihime

    Yeah, great post. I’ve loved this show from episode one, mainly for Manabi’s ability to create heartful bonds among people. And bring tears to my eyes with it, to be honest. And for the look and animation. Both your and Mike’s theological takes on both this and Suzumiya Haruhi make sense. But personally, I like the gnostic demiurge, too, and definitely will not put down that show. One thing I see in both is the doubt creeping in to the god/man figure. Manabi suppresses it less well, but I think both she and Haruhi appear to feel it sometimes.

  • omo

    Mike: And it just gave me an idea for a whole possible post on the theology of Haruhi Suzumiya as a capricious Gnostic Demiurge. Thanks!

    Glad to help–isn’t that what this post was all about? :) Now, seminary students who watch anime, wow.

    The God schtick in Suzumiya Haruhi is just a hook, really. The amazing thing about it is that even if we can talk about that hook as a message about the demiurge, that attracts the right kinds of people who will enjoy all the other stuff about the show (which admittedly, thanks to high production value, is generally accepted). The flip side about Manabi Straight is that all this heartful stuff is the hook and what’s truly enjoyable about the show. They don’t make any pretenses, but they don’t play it up that much and hide the ball.

  • TheBigN

    Make way for Manabiism now?

  • RahRah

    I don’t think the world is ready for another “ism” yet,N. I mean, we still aren’t done with haruhiism yet :p.

  • omo

    The world is probably never going to be ready for Manabi-ism. That’s sort of the point why she’s precious. And Haruhi-ism is a wholely different kind of thing.

  • DrmChsr0

    You mean person empowered by the power of God to perform miracles.

    I reiterate, the only instance of a divine being made flesh happened over 2000 years ago. What we see here is a human, blessed and empowered by the Divine, pulling together friends and strangers for the betterment of mankind. That’s what it really is.

    While the power of the human will is nothing to be scoffed at, well, when not empowered by God, bad things happen. I’ll let recent human history be my examples.

    So what if that Suzu0000 Ha0000 can warp reality using her own will alone? All she does is boss people around, blackmail and manipulate others against their will. And she never really did learn her lesson, did she?

  • dm

    A friend used, for years, the following signature: “God can move mountains. Bring a shovel.”

  • Danny Choo

    I’m not usually into Loli but after watching the first episode I was hooked.

  • omo

    I hope you’re “hooked” not into the loli and into the other stuff.

  • Terramex

    I see some similarities between Manabi Straight and Lucky Star too in the sense that the opening of the anime is the ending. Lucky Star ends with the girls about to perform the choreography that we see in the opening. Likewise, Manabi Straight final scenes are the girls spray painting the school, what we see in every opening.

    Of course both animes are of two different kinds. Lucky Star is a comedy about daly life, while Manabi Straight talks about life as a whole, as a collection of days and the things we do during each of those days.

    And last, but maybe the starting point: another link between Manabi Straight and Lucky Star and Haruhi Suzumiya is Aya Hirano. I think her presence in the anime as the voice of Mei, and of course, the similarities that really exist, is what make us look into those 3 animes and see the uniquenes and greatness of manabi straight, besides its relative simplicity compared to the other two.

  • omo

    Superficial similarities, at least when I think about them.

  • Terramex

    Yes they are superficial. But what I mean is that they make us remind first of haruhi and lucky star first instead of trying to compare manabi with other animes first.

    Of cource, the overall message in manabi exist and is the same even if those similarities exist or not. But they direct us to compare manabi with two of the most commercial successful of the newer animes (i say successful in terms of $$).

    Manabi is remarkable because it invites its viewers to make things, make friends, to interact with the world, contrary to what we usually see in animes and other media too, where the content consummer aptitude is the norm. And let us remind that this aptitude is a lifestyle adopted by many in the anime community, but of course it’s not anime related only, it is also the norm for the society as a whole.

    Maybe the reason Manabi Street leaves us with a hertfelt warm feeling after watching is because it transcends all of that consummerism. Manabi comes with a simple, yet captivating visual and story, and leaves a message. It’s not worried about selling things or merchandize, like other animes. It’s the anime for the anime – like some other animes too – but with a revolutionary message in the end.

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