Robotech was one of the first anime programs to be released in the United States, in 1985. So I’m a little late to the party to finally be watching it, but I always wanted to when I was little, and my wife got me the series for Christmas a year ago. I was surprised by the depth of some of the worldview-level issues that were addressed in the show alongside a story of aliens vs. humans. Here, I will examine some of these worldview issues from the show from a Christian perspective. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.
Pacifism in the Face of Annihilation
One of the characters who shows up later on in the show is Lynn Kyle, is a pacifist. He believes that the army is repugnant, at best, and harbors a deep detestation for military personnel. Yet the story Robotech tells is one in which an alien race is bent on wiping out humanity. Is pacifism a moral choice in the face of annihilation?
I can’t help but think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer when I think of situations like this. Staying silent in the face of injustice is itself an act. To stand aside and let others defend oneself while there is a whole people bent on xenocide is itself an ethical decision which seems to have moral implications. I would argue those implications show that such inaction is injustice, and this is a theme found throughout Christian theology from around the time of Augustine.
Loyalty and Honor
Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes demonstrate the attributes of loyalty and honor. Rick is constantly loyal in his friendship to Minmei, as well as his loyalty to the other members of his squadron. Lisa’s honorable commitment to Rick and to her crew on board the starship is also worthy of mentioning. Together, they demonstrate virtue.
Christians have long debated what kind of ethical theory best matches up with reality. Virtue ethics is the kind in which one’s character guides behavior. Here, we can see that Rick and Lisa embody a kind of virtue ethic which can serve as a model for remaining loyal and honorable even amidst temptations.
Domestic Abuse and Leaving the Relationship
Minmei’s relationship with Kyle is clearly verbally abusive. Too often, people are counseled to stay in such abusive relationships whether with the hope of “fixing” the abusive partner or due to some sense of necessity to maintain a relationship. Thankfully, Minmei leaves the abusive relationship, though it ultimately does not end with the happiest outcome, she does get herself out of a poor situation.
Theologically, it should be impermissible to counsel someone to stay in an abusive relationship. I recommend this post on the difficulties with a theology that argues for staying in an abusive relationship.
A powerful theme in Robotech is that of cultural conversion. Minmei’s singing ultimately brings some of the Zentraedi onto the side of the humans (whom they call “micronians”). Although at times simplistic, this portrayal resonates with some pretty deep themes. What is it about music which can resonate with us? How might we engage with culture in ways that are impactful? What can we do through music to present a winsome case for Christ?
Christians have debated how conversion relates to culture and whether conversion means an abandonment of one’s own culture. Richard Twiss, for example, writes about this from the perspective of Native Americans who are followers of Christ. The power of culture to persuade is something that I think we must not lose sight of. Whether it is song, dress, or something else, cultural expressions can often be integrated into Christianity and even made sense of by Christianity. If all truth is from God, as seems to be right to affirm, then Christian engagement with the culture is a powerful tool for conversion and discussion.
What? Did I just write a worldview-level post on an anime? You better believe it. I always say that every story has a worldview (a phrase that I got from Brian Godawa, though I don’t know who coined it). Robotech was no different. I recommend watching the series and seeing what kind of worldview questions you find in it. Or, if nothing else, at least you can enjoy the giant robots.
Also see my other looks into television (scroll down for more).
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Sleep training a baby? Not the easiest thing in the world, believe it or not. I peel apart my eyelids to present to you, dear readers, this latest round of Really Recommended Posts. Topics include egalitarianism/complementarianism, the Messianic Prophecy in Deuteronomy 18, young earth creationism, and Attack on Titan (with cultural apologetics). I’d say that’s a pretty good set of links, if I do say so myself. Let me know your thoughts in the comments here, and be sure to let the authors know what you thought as well.
Confusing Equality with Sameness: A Complementarian Misconception– Often, those who argue that women should be excluded from leadership roles in the church and home argue against those of the egalitarian position by asserting that egalitarians do not allow for gender differences. Is that true?
Attack on Titan (Empires and Mangers)- Anthony Weber presents a worldview-level analysis of the anime, “Attack on Titan” along with some brief comments and definitions related to anime itself. This is a fantastic post for Christians interested in the show or anime in general, or those who would like to familiarize themselves with those categories in order to interact at a cultural apologetic level. I highly recommend you follow his site as well.
A Look at Messianic Prophecy: Who is the Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15-18? [Part One] – Hint: it’s Jesus. This three-part series offers a solid look at reasons to believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy, not Muhammad (as some Muslims claim) or some other prophet. Here’s another post arguing more specifically against the Muslim claim.
Man’s fallible opinions vs. God’s perfect Word: Who wins?– The notion that the origins debate is set up in this dichotomy is often presented by young earth creationists. Here is an insightful analysis of this argument. I highly recommend you follow “Age of Rocks” as it is an excellent site providing much analysis of the young earth position.
That’s no beaver– Young earth creationists often make claims about species being similar and so showing that they came from the Ark, or that certain fossils in the past somehow throw off the sequence of fossils demonstrating an old earth. Here, an analysis is presented of one young earth claim to this effect.