I don’t watch much anime anymore, but when I heard there was a recent series about the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I had to give it a try. I’ve known a few diplomats in my time, and I was curious whether I could learn anything about the way they think. After finishing the series, I can’t say whether I’ve levelled up in diplomatic mind-reading skills, but I did find a surprising Catholic connection that I wanted to write about here. Beware: spoilers ahead!
The series is called 正解するカド, or Kado: The Right Answer, and the basic premise is that MOFA has to negotiate with aliens. Specifically, an ‘anisotropic being,’ Yaha-kui zaShunina, lands his giant cube in Tokyo and begins offering mankind fantastic devices from beyond the universe with the ability to alter time and space.
As the series goes on, it becomes clear that zaShunina’s motive is, more or less, boredom–he feels that he knows it all, and resents this. Through his contact with humans, however, he begins to develop more of an emotional side to balance out his intellectual side. He falls in love, his love is not reciprocated, and he gets irritable and tries to impose his will by force.
Opposite zaShunina is Shindo Kojiro, a former MOFA diplomat who quits his job to become a negotiator for ‘the anisotropic.’ Shindo projects an aura of invincibility, displaying almost no emotion, which causes the codependent characters in the story (of which there are more than a few) to desperately seek his validation in the form of romantic attention. Shindo identifies strongly with his mission as a negotiator, following the basic rule of “both sides getting something they want.” As the series goes on and it becomes clear that zaShunina’s motives are not altruistic, Shindo considers the best outcome for humanity, while still trying to give each side something it wants.
And this is where things get Catholic. After unsatisfying attempts to clone Shindo, zaShunina realizes that human beings are more than just ‘information’–they have a soul which can’t be copied or replaced. What zaShunina really wants is for Shindo to ‘come back to the anisotropic’ with him, but Shindo refuses, and zaShunina realizes that to interfere with a human being’s free will is to make him something less than he is. In other words, he cannot obtain love through force. Frustrated, he decides if he can’t win Shindo’s love, he will kill him instead.
Shindo, who for all his lack of emotion shows a surprising capacity for self-sacrifice, first risks his life to protect Saraka Tsukai, the MOFA diplomat in charge of negotiations with the anisotropic. Faced with the opportunity to destroy zaShunina, Shindo chooses instead–much to Tsukai’s consternation–to give zaShunina something he wants. Not to return to the anisotropic with him, but to solve his real problem–his existential boredom–by knocking him off his high horse, solving his God complex, and proving to him there are a lot of things in the universe he doesn’t understand and can’t control. In the end, zaShunina kills Shindo, who dies in his arms, both seeming to accept with sadness that Shindo’s ultimate motive was love and the growth of zaShunina’s soul (and by the end, it certainly appears that he has one).
I’ve necessarily left a lot of threads in the story untouched, but it seems to me that the ultimate message was that humanity will not be saved by technology or by merely human love. It must be saved by God–by a selfless love that seeks the good of the other. That good is to be drawn out of the myopic, mistaken little worlds we have trapped ourselves in, into the freedom of truth. The truth is that none of us are God, and the humility to recognize that is the first step toward happiness.
And that, my friends, is about as Catholic as you can get.