Of great area or extent; immense
“The vastness of the ocean”
[Fune wo Amu: The Great Passage – Episode 1]
I failed really badly once. Or, rather, I didn’t try very hard for a really long time, and it came to bite me in the ass. I was in 12th grade, and I didn’t get into college.
Well, that’s a bit wrong. I did get into a school, but I couldn’t afford to go, because I didn’t get into my safety school, which I could have afforded. I tried for a while, attending one school for a semester, recklessly hoping my parents would figure something out. We didn’t, and I came back for community college – the only thing we could afford.
Do you know that look Majime had, in the first episode? Of sort of just stumbling around in a daze? Not…depressed. More…disengaged? Like he’s the sidekick in his own life, passively watching the giant world fly by around him. Standing before a giant sea, he’s just standing at the coast, just…watching.
I was like that a lot. I was pretty shocked by how I ended high school, and I was in a funk for months, if not years. In community college, I was kind of coasting by, trying to figure out what to do. And this was still true when I finally transferred out, into a university nearby. My high school friends were running on ahead, and I felt like I couldn’t do better than a light walk. It didn’t feel right to be running, because I wasn’t sure what I was running towards. I didn’t even know how to run anymore. I felt bizarrely content with just watching.
To meet without expecting or intending to
“I encountered hardship after wandering around”
[Fune wo Amu: The Great Passage – Episode 2]
I think that what can save people most isn’t someone pulling them up. Obviously, when a man is drowning, one should pull them out when they cannot save themselves. But often, when we’re just sinking, I think the most meaningful way to save someone is to give them a lifeline – a chance to grasp at an out.
I was given a chance out of the blue, in my junior year of university. I got the chance to start a little rocket team that eventually won a little competition, and now we’re not so little anymore, and we’re going up against some people who definitely aren’t little.
Some people have told me I made that chance for myself. I don’t believe them. If it were not for the people before me, and the advisors I had, and the two colleagues I had met the previous year, and the two new colleagues I met that year, that chance would not have existed. If I had not had the experiences I did, and meet the people that I did, then none of it would have been possible. My chance was just that, chance. A hand from other people.
That chance was the chance to make something to devote myself to. And the sheer joy at having the possibility to devote myself to something that suited me – to know you were needed to make something happen – is a joy that you just don’t understand until it happens to you. I saw that face Majime made when Araki asked for him, specifically, to help him create The Great Passage.
A chance encounter and scolding by Nishioka at a bookstore before that, and a random comment from Nishioka to his boss, and fate was in motion. From Majime’s perspective, though, it must have been a gift, a wellspring of opportunity from out of nowhere that would unfold before him so long as he accepted it.
And so he took a dive.
A feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
“He fell in love and his heart ached for the first time”
[Fune wo Amu: The Great Passage – Episode 3]
Do you know what it’s like to stay up late, thinking about something and you just can’t stop? When it’s 3 am, and you have an assignment due the next day, and you need the sleep. But you don’t, because you’re staying up thinking about the object of your affection, the center of your thoughts?
I think we all have. I know in the past, when I was a young man and thought about my crushes, I was stricken with endless thoughts and fantasies about what could be, or what could have been.
I don’t really have that going on right now, but the weird desire to stare but not at your crush is something we all understand. Stay strong, Majime! You’ll get Kaguya-san to notice you yet!
To move forward step by step
“I will make steady progress despite difficulty”
[Fune wo Amu: The Great Passage – Episode 4]
Fune wo Amu has one of those stereotypical scenes where the opening theme plays over a montage of the cast working hard (the tweet below has a video of it.) You know the one I’m talking about – it’s disgustingly cheery, everyone is working their best, constant progress is being made and you can palpably feel the story coming alive. Every series about a team of people working on something has it. It’s cliche as heck.
I love it.
I’ve had moments like that. One time, in a story we love repeating, two members of my rocket team and I locked ourselves into the multimillion dollar space science research center for 52 continuous hours and cranked out a lot of work. I built our autonomous rover in a 38 hour burst of activity that I look back on fondly and vow to never put myself through again. Two others worked on building the modifications to the airframe that were needed to get it flight ready and fully operational (specifically, the hatches to access the internal cable system that keeps the nosecone from releasing before apogee.) We spread our crap across two conference rooms and a lab, broke into a workshop we werent technically allowed into because it was for researchers only, and pissed off several grad students who were at their workstations trying to crank out their paper submission. We watched the dawn rise for two days in a row, both times bleery and sleep deprived. If you set it to a song, it was a scene straight from an anime.
That feeling of making steady progress is lovely. It’s addicting. And when you make some progress, it makes you keep coming back for more, even when you know it’s unlikely you’ll make progress so easily again. Every bit of progress opens up a new avenue for more.
To weave or sway unsteadily to and fro
“My heart wavered like a boat lost at sea”
[Fune wo Amu: The Great Passage – Episode 5]
We all worry that we aren’t good enough. When people depend on us, we wonder whether that faith is warranted. It’s natural, and I would even hazard to to say expected. If someone told me they didn’t worry when someone puts all their faith into them, I would consider them a liar or a fool (and probably both.)
Majime is now the main force behind The Great Passage. With his boss retiring, and his co-worker and co-conspirator forced to change departments, it is only him and a temporary worker. This means that it is all on him. The dream of the The Great Passage can only be made reality by his hands. It is a great responsibility.
To create a harmony with another person
“They had a strong resonance with each other”
[Fune wo Amu: The Great Passage – Episode 6]
Fune wo Amu captures a lot of common things about all of us in Majime Mitsuya. The fear, the boredom, the passion, the joy – I think all of us experience things like them. And it is this journey of Majime’s as he pursues The Great Passage that resonates so strongly with me. And I hope that you will watch this series, so that it can resonate with you, too.