Love Chocolate February 15, 2010Posted by bjw in Essay, Life, Miscellaneous.
Tags: Essay, Valentine's Day
Ah yes, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. A holiday where bubbles and sparkles accompany the background of each and every couple, thus stagnating the air with love and infecting any single onlookers with diabetes or rage. Valentine’s Day is quite possibly one of the most scrutinized holidays celebrated in not just America, but around the entire world (or at least, those who criticize Valentine’s Day are really, really loud). This is especially obvious on the internet. Bloggers, for whatever reason, always seem to feel compelled to express their extreme dislike for the holiday. Those who find themselves on forums or other various online communities also seem to find the need to offer their own account of why Valentine’s Day is one of the worst ideas conceived by man. For many, it serves as a reminder that you’re single. For others, it perpetuates the importance of socioeconomic status or, more generally, the size of your wallet and the role of capitalism in the modern world.
However, there’s no question about it. Whether you take a negative or positive stance on the topic of Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it’s most certainly a holiday controlled by those damn Hallmark Cards and chocolate companies. It’s a day that summons a black hole right at the very core of your wallet. It’s a day that causes incalculable stress in trying to impress that certain special someone. It’s a day that many wish never existed in the first place.
But it’s not that bad. Yeah, I’m single. I don’t have to spend any money on Valentine’s Day. Yet, I don’t seclude myself in the corner while lamenting my lack of a 2D waifu that magically crawls out of my LCD girlfriend either.
I’m realistic. Therefore, I can be cynical and pessimistic. Conversely, I’m hopeful. I aim for things. I have goals that I may or may not be able to complete. There is a path that I’ve chosen to walk along, and although it’s a bit foggy, my life ultimately has some form of direction. And it’s a scenic path at that; I can be as optimistic as the next person. I can recognize the beauty in the world, and I am in tune with its flaws. Feel free to disagree, but I believe that most people fall into this category. It also happens to be an ideal location: one that understands life’s limitations, but at the same time, reaches outward to go above and beyond.
Such a definition is surprisingly characteristic in anime. After all, who hasn’t watched a scene that’s unrealistically happy or care free? Or perhaps, unimaginably painful. Maybe even both back-to-back: a possibly messy and most peculiar juxtaposition. Modern media in general plays around with these foundations in order to form characters or stories that, in the end, purport a message or set of morals. Getting across these messages doesn’t necessarily require a deep set of characters or a multifaceted plot. Characters don’t even need to remotely resemble what real people are capable of. Nagisa Furukawa (Clannad) is impossibly sweet. Kamina (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) is impossibly determined. Touma Kamijou (Toaru Majutsu no Index) is impossibly stubborn. And Makoto Itou (School Days)? Well, he’s impossibly retarded.
And in the spirit of the holidays, this aforementioned concept comes into play in the form of specific, theme-based episodes. Yeah, while you’ve got your Sports Festival and onsen episodes, you also have episodes detailing Christmas and Valentine’s Day (as well as the Japan-exclusive White Day). Such episodes are almost always shown in a positive light. They promote themes that can hype up and further your anticipation for whatever upcoming holiday is next in line. The best part of it all? Oftentimes, the gifts are very simple. It’s most literally adaptation after adaptation of the phrase “it’s the thought that counts.” Sweaters, plush toys, homemade cookies, you name it. In the case of Valentine’s Day, love shouldn’t be fueled by materialistic desires, but rather, presents that are capable of conveying feelings and emotion. What’s funny is that despite being such a widely known interpretation of gift-giving holidays, this idea is essentially thrown away and forgotten when the time finally arrives. These holiday centric episodes in particular happen to serve as a much needed reminder of what these special days are all about.
They’re special because we make them special. Big business has nothing to do with it.
Valentine’s Day? Well, to paraphrase a certain dense blue-haired butler, Valentine’s Day is the day when you try just a little bit harder than usual in order to see the smile of someone dear to you; or, the day when you do things you usually can’t muster the willpower and courage to do.
It’s about happiness. It’s just as much about making yourself happy as it is making others happy.
For Valentine’s Day, you might not have had a significant other to share your time with, but chances are, you had something or someone else that made the day special in its own way. Maybe you hung out with your friends and ate dinner with them. Or maybe you spent your time on a forum discussing your holiday woes with others that share similar opinions.
No matter what it was, there was probably something to look forward to, and a day later, something to smile back on.
I don’t know about you, but that’s surely enough for me.