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The View from the Bottom: Weakness in Kekkei Sensen} ?> I try to hold back tears when I’m emotional, because I don’t want to seem weak. I often don’t let myself cry even in private, hoping that holding back will make me stronger. Society frowns upon weakness and I feel like people will think less of me if they see me in a vulnerable position. However, I’ve learned the hard way that shoving down my sadness does more harm than good, and even scientific studies have confirmed this.
In the anime Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront), Riel is a dimensional alien that Leonardo Watch and Sonic Speed Monkey befriend in Hellsalem’s Lot (formerly New York City). Riel is fragile and an easy target for bullies. He hates himself the way he is because he feels like a crybaby who others ridicule. He wishes he was stronger because that would mean his problems would disappear.
“If only I wasn’t so frail. If only I were bigger and stronger I wouldn’t have to deal with this terrible stuff,” says Riel.
Like Riel, I often find myself wishing that I could power through my problems. I look at other people and envy how strong they seem in a situation and then am hard on myself because I can’t handle something as well as they can.
Riel encounters a bacterial terrorist named Gimnimo, who’s even smaller than a flea. He appears to empathize with Riel and offers him what he wants: to be strong. He offers Riel enough power to become a danger to Hellsalem’s Lot.
“Power is the only thing that matters in this world. So many people get trampled into the ground and for what? Just so the powerful can pile them up and stand on their broken backs to enjoy a better view. Don’t you want to enjoy the view from the top?” Gimnimo asks.
Gimnimo installs a microbe into Riel that creates rapid tissue and skeletal growth so Riel grows from a stick-thin alien into a muscled behemoth. Riel uses this new “intoxicating power” to get revenge on the bullies who hurt him. With every hit Riel takes, he grows larger and larger, until he becomes the biggest living being on earth. He achieves his dream of being strong and then some, but instead of feeling happy, he feels horrible; he lost the thing that gave him joy in life: relational connection with people like Leo and Sonic.
“Your view from the top is horrible. I can’t see anyone. I can’t even hear them. The only thing you’ve given me is loneliness,” Riel says to Gimnimo.
In trying to be strong, I’ve alienated people I’ve cared about. I’ve tried to put on a mask of indifference, but vulnerability is what creates connections between people. If I don’t let myself be weak, I can disconnect myself from my loved ones. I may feel invulnerable to my “weakness,” but if I don’t let anyone see the real me, warts and all, then I can’t connect to friends and family as deeply as I could otherwise. I can’t be perfect and strong all the time. Attempting to be so only hurts me.
Riel realizes that he was happier when he was weak. As he cries tears as big as elephants, he pleads for Gimnimo to return him to his original size, but the evil terrorist refuses. Leo and Sonic find a way to stop Riel from destroying the city, but Riel falls into an abyss abutting the city and they think he’s gone. Five days later, while Leo is walking in the park that Riel and he spent so much time in, he actually steps on Riel. Riel has shrunk to only a few inches tall!
In this time, Riel has thought about what had happened to him and he’s come to accept that he’s okay with this new size.
Riel: “The view from here really puts the world in perspective.”
Leo: “Riel, I think you’ve grown.”
It’s okay to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is often what helps me heal and lets others know I’m a human being, not a robot (or an alien). I may not be strong all the time, but I can still enjoy the view from down there.
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