Straight from reading Japesland’s views on Sunday Without God – I see some anime fans (Japesland included) dissatisfied with the relative lack of God discussed straight out in the show. But while Sunday Without God was definitely designed to be unfinished and its themes unresolved – it is but the beginning of the story, and it is crucial that Ai not know the answers to her questions at this point in time – I thought it offered plenty regarding theological musings.
The first arc opens up with the long fought question: is God’s world indeed the best world possible? Humans get an opportunity to replace some of God’s rules with those of their own… and the result is not exactly pretty. But the personal story of Humpnie is more striking here. Only when his wish gets granted does he realize it was not what he wanted to begin with. Unlike God, man does not even have a perfect understanding of what is good for him or his own true desires. It is telling that at the end of the arc, Humpnie gives himself up to the original (God’s) order of things, even if it requires him to part with his long-lost daughter.
The second arc explores a society where the undead are kept stable and coexisting harmoniously thanks to science. Is death infinitesimally similar to life through science equal to life, or can something man-made never equal a divine miracle? Real-life parallels range from anything like in vitro technology to prospective cloning tech. At the same time, we see that God’s “absence” brings about the decay of morality as a whole – Ulla asks “Is death evil? Am I evil?” and that is indeed a question without an answer in that world, because with the values of life and death in flux, concepts such as murder and manslaughter likewise lose their moral meaning.
The third arc is all about perspective. The confrontation between Ai and her blind friend stands at the core here, with Ai wanting to save her, but the girl not wanting to be saved. Sounds familiar? Before the night of the escape, Ai takes the same position God does – waiting on the other side of the door with her arms open, but unable (unwilling) to take away the free will of those inside the room, and therefore forever waiting for them to extend their own hands. The girl being blind, and Ai becoming her guiding light is not likely a coincidence, and neither is the fact that the girl considers voluntarily remaining a prisoner of the school, like man remains prisoner of his sin. That her explanation for her actions is that “she is not worthy of her parents’ love, because she only causes them trouble” is just icing on the cake – “I’m a sinner anyway, so it’s not like God could love me”, anyone?
The fourth arc is a rejection of peaceful eternity, and therefore a call for the necessity of tears, death and despair in our lives as potentially building experiences that allow us to move forward. Rejecting all of those could only come with rejecting all change and progress – like Alice’s class living unaware in their eternal loop merely to turn their eyes away from the loss of a classmate.
Again, the show intentionally choses not to give straight answers to many of the issues raised above, which us understandable. Not only is this the opening act of the story, but admitting there are no clear answers to some of those fundamental questions is a sign of worthy humility on the author’s part. Will Ai find her own answers to those questions further along her way? I certainly want to find out, which is why I hope to get my hands on the novels at some point in the future.