Ohayo gozaimas! This past weekend I was recovering from Thanksgiving by browsing through Crunchyroll on my Wii U (the best way to recover from just about anything), and as I flipped through the alphabetical section I stumbled across an anime called “Break Ups”. Given my love for sad songs, sad stories, and sad songs that tell sad stories, breakup stories have often made their way across my various music playlists over the course of time, so I decided to give it a got just for the heck of it.
One 15-minute short later, I was pleasantly surprised.
Unlike most anime, Break Ups didn’t originate in Japan, but rather hails from South Korea; the spoken language and the art style kind of give it away in that regard. Nonetheless, it was surprisingly good.
The story centers on a couple stuck in a cycle of breaking up, reconciling, and then breaking up again. We meet them just as they break up for the 6th time, and as they bicker we are introduced to Ji-Sik and Ye-Mean as they discuss their parting of ways at the beach. Upon high tide, they discover a large white ring that is labeled as a “Break-Up Device”, and they activate it in hopes of breaking up for good.
Using the device.
Upon activation, the machine shows them various points in their relationship, from the perspective of a bystander. Similar to how Scrooge sees his life as presented by the ghosts in A Christmas Carol, the couple sees their relationships from a perspective that shows both sides of their conflict, rather than their own individual sides. And as the story proegresses, we learn that they don’t truly hate one another. They’re simply trying to hide their pain by pushing each other out. The clearest example of this is seen when the Device takes them to the site of their first breakup, a concert where Ye-Mean left Ji-Sik for the first time.
At first, they had both walked away angry and sad at the actions of the other. But as they watched the reactions of the other person immediately after the split, they learned that they had been very, very wrong in their assumptions about their individual motives.
Ye-Mean had wanted Ji-Sik to love her, but he never explicitly told her. She wanted to know that she had a place in his life, that he valued her. She wanted to trust him fully and to feel safe with him. But without that assurance, she felt that he didn’t think she was worth it, and so she left in order to cut her losses.
Ye-Mean realizes what the past Ji-Sik was going to do.
Ji-Sik, on the other hand, had a more reserved way of showing his love. But at the concert, he had planned to surprise her by asking the band to play a special, self-composed song for Ye-Mean. He even planned to propose to her that same night, before she left. And when she left him, he felt that she never truly loved him, and that she had been stringing him along the entire time.
The entire situation struck me as a perfect example of what a lack of communication does to a relationship. By not revealing their desires to the other person, by allowing their feelings to hold sway without even consulting the other half of their relationship, they fell apart. Their emotion alone couldn’t hold the relationship together, neither could the love that they both had for one another.
They needed to express that love to each other. Everyone has a different way of giving/receiving love, and one of the most important aspects of a relationship is learning how others perceive love.
As Christians, this is especially evident in our relationship with Christ. His love for us bridged that gap that sin created, so that we can have deep and personal relationships with Him. Such relationships aren’t always easy: when we’re weighed down by past sin or pain, when life seems to crash in around us, when it looks like there is no hope, it’s often hard to see where Christ’s love is. But what makes Christ our great Mediator and love is that He meets us where we are in the way that fits us perfectly. But we can only truly understand that love when we actively seek it. When we were opposed to Christ and dead in our sins, the love of Christ was nothing but blinding and confusing. When the Holy Spirit illuminates our eyes and shows us what love is, and we learn to love Him as well, we can experience the peace and joy that comes with this love.
Love is a two-way street; love requires input from both sides in order for each person to experience the others’ love fully. Ye-Mean and Ji-Sik experience this near the end of the short, where they decide to put away their past pain and truly understand one another. And as Christians, we too can experience this with both our relationships with Christ and those around us. Communication is the key. Healthy communication leads to understanding, and understanding paves the way for love to enter and begin the process of deepening the relationship. And with Christ’s love in us, we can learn to truly love one another.