Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bittersweet Nabari no Ou: Depression and Friendship

Yoite and Miharu
[Warning: Spoilers ahead]

Throughout Nabari no Ou, one fact rings clear to me: Yoite is depressed. I ache for him as he wishes to be erased from the world. He does not consider himself alive or dead. He does not feel wanted or loved. He doesn’t want to die, but he doesn’t want to live either. 

Hattori, chief of the Kairoshu, exploits Yoite’s depression. Instead of encouraging the youth to live, he promises a brand of “disappearance” - death by use of kira. The kid needs help, and not the kind of “help” that drains his life, but Hattori doesn’t care.

Others do care. First Yukimi and his sister, then Miharo, then Gau and Kaito and others. They begin to watch over Yoite and care deeply for him, but he is too deep in his depression to see it until Miharo spells it out for him in the last episode. Only then does he choose to live out the time he has left.

That is what people need when they are depressed. Whether they are suicidal or simply want to wish life away, they need people to care about them, and for that care to be made clear. Repeatedly and honestly. They need people who will be patient and stand by them, who will not give them an excuse to wallow in depression, but a hand to climb out of it, however long it may take. 

I know this from my own struggles. When you’re depressed, your thinking becomes twisted. You don’t see things in perspective. I never considered taking my own life, likely because, unlike Yoite, I had a foundation of love and trust to stand on. But I did wish I didn’t have to live. I wouldn’t have minded simply being erased. That wasn’t an option, so I stumbled along, holding tight to God’s love and to my parents’ hands, to my “Miharu”s, and to the promise that somehow my troubles would be used for good. 

There was good on the other side. It was a slow process to get there, but it was good. I wouldn’t trade any part of my journey, even if I’d be more successful in life without it. Like Yoite says, “It’s because of my past that I am who I am now.” Our pasts make us who we are to ourselves and to those around us. We might be ashamed of our pasts, and the consequences may haunt us, but who would we be without them?

I know that my past struggles with anxiety and depression, struggles that I’m still on the alert for in case they come back, made me more compassionate. I look at the world differently, with more understanding, and my sharp tongue is a little softer than before. Further, if I didn’t encounter the depression cycle in high school, I’d probably encounter it later in life, when I have more responsibilities. Now, I know the signs, and hopefully I can avoid the spiral.

Part of avoiding the depression spiral is to surround myself with the right people. A few years ago, I’d have said that the right people meant no people; I just needed my computer and the lock on my door. But I’ve discovered that, sometimes, friends are just what I need to keep my melancholy mood from becoming something more. They keep me from wishing the world away again, much as Miharu helps Yoite embrace his life.

Yoite is dying because he used kira, and he has blood on his hands because of the kira, too. But he won’t trade it in. Ironically, the very thing that was meant to make him disappear, the thing Hattori would use for his twisted plans, was used to give Yoite friends. Ultimately, the kira technique obtained because of depression brought him out of depression. It was used for good. I applaud the mangaka for that.

And I applaud my Lord, the Mangaka of my life, for the beautiful work He is using my struggles for. I barely see bits and pieces of it, but what I see fills my heart with praise. The pain brought on by sinful, broken flesh is being used for good, just like Romans 8:28 says.

Painful memories are used to create something good; that’s a theme in Nabari no Ou, stated in various ways in the last episode. What is bitter somehow becomes sweet. 

I was drawn to this show first because of the action, then the humor in character interactions. I don’t know how deeply I felt it the first time I watched, over three years ago, but now, it feels like I’m saying goodbye to Yoite for the first time. There was so much bitterness in Yoite’s past - in most of the characters’ pasts, really - yet by the end, it is sweet. Depression becomes peace and joy, even in the sadness of an ending life. 

It is a transition made possible by friendship. The theme can seem overdone when you’ve watched a lot of anime (or shows from any country, really). But as Nabari no Ou demonstrates, the connections between people are serious... serious, and beautiful, and, sometimes, what stands between life and death. 

We were not made to live life alone. Remember that. If you are feeling down, whether or not you think it’s diagnosable depression, or if the feelings that I described resonate within you, find someone to be with or talk to: a friend, relative, counselor - you can even drop me a comment or a tweet. And if you see someone feeling down, say hello. Offer a smile, a hug, or whatever is needed. Ask if you don’t know. Take suicide signs seriously (Google those if in doubt - I’m not an expert on it). 

As Yoite, Miharu, and the rest of the cast of Nabari no Ou illustrate so well, together, we can take the pain and bitterness and make something sweet.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I want to comment but I can't read it because I haven't watched the anime >.<
    I guess i'll settle for a Thank You for being and first comment on my blog and add Nabari no Ou to my "To Watch" list ^_^

    1. Your welcome! Actually, you're the first person to comment on this blog since February (I guess my regulars stopped waiting for me during my break from blogging). So thank YOU. ^_^


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