The Great Passage is about a group of people giving their all to bring a new dictionary into the world. The concept of the dictionary, and its name, Daitokai, implies a journey across the ocean of words together, towards the destination of peace and mutual understanding. The key concept here is togetherness, as every member of the crew must work in tandem to sail across the wide, open sea.
No matter what task one faces themselves with, in order to view the whole picture, one needs to always step back and view things objectively. This was basically the theme of my previous article on The Great Passage. Yet sometimes that is not enough. Bear with me, as this will be another article of philosophizing and ruminating on the nature of humans and how to approach modern life. But you see, that is what The Great Passage does: with each episode, it makes you reconsider how you are going about your decisions, where you are heading, how, and who with.
Last time I focused on the character of Majime. Majime is a hardworking, no-nonsense guy. However, he is not exactly blessed with social dexterity. In fact, he is quite the introvert, resulting in his frequent freak-outs when meeting strangers, and of course the constant panic attacks in front of the beautiful Kaguya. Though he is impossibly gifted with a unique sense of observation which makes him perfect for the job of putting together the new dictionary for the modern world, he lacks the skills necessary to make his way through that very world without some assistance.
Enter Nishioka. He is in many ways the exact opposite of Majime. While Majime is committed to doing his job to the best of his ability, Nishioka prefers to procrastinate and take as many breaks as possible. Majime is rigid and formal, Nishioka is lax and casual. Majime is quiet and meek, Nishioka is loud and brash. Majime worries and stresses, but Nishioka laughs it all off and lets whatever happens, happen.
This is not a unique pairing in storytelling, certainly. Opposing character archetypes have often come together for the purposes of entertainment. Here, it is no exception, of course. However, there is an added factor to their juxtaposition within this narrative–the idea that, by extension, we all need someone who can provide the opposite viewpoint.
On the surface, we may have had a negative first impression of Nishioka as a complaining, lazy bum who never gets any work done. Add to that his apparent arrogance in the way he talks down to Majime upon their first encounter, and you are left with a rather off-putting brash attitude. He seems more focused on partying and drinking, instead of the tasks at hand.
Nevertheless, Majime does not feel put off by him. Instead of being discouraged by Nishioka and his loud personality, in the end, Majime realizes he needs him. He needs Nishioka to show him the path to becoming a better version of himself. He needs advice to muster up the courage to talk to Kaguya, and hopefully kick things off with her. He wants to absorb some of Nishioka’s outgoing attitudes. He asks for help from Nishioka, a natural extrovert–a yin to his yang.
Even the other members of the team putting together the Daitokai are dependent on Nishioka. They have accepted his quirks and rely upon him for his contributions, whether it be making reservations at restaurants or simply boosting morale.
Nishioka, on the other hand, says he respects Majime—though not directly to him. Speaking to his girlfriend over a couple of beers, we can see that his attitude towards Majime has changed. He now looks up at Majime and his concentration and ambition, and we are left with the sense that Nishioka wishes he could perhaps emulate him in some way. Majime may not want to be like Nishioka exactly, but he certainly wants to at least incorporate some aspect of his thought into his life, in order to grow as a person.
Both of these people are starting to grow on each other, and as they do, they are completing each other (as cheesy as that may sound!). They are realizing that what one lacks, the other exudes naturally. The are trying to get some of that to rub off on each other.
When we look at the world, we are constantly doing so from our own perspective. Even if we try to look at various facts, study absolute truths, and research all the data available, our interpretation of all of that information hinges on our way of thinking at the time.
Daitokai, “The Great Passage,” is supposed to be a new dictionary for a new world. It has to be a cross-section of modern society, and all the complexities within. How can one person collect not only all the facts and hard data, but also all the ideologies borne from them?
They simply can’t. Which is the entire point. Once you consider another’s perspective, you begin to see the “truth” in a whole new light. If you can understand more than one outlook, you are closer to seeing the full picture.
It is a good life lesson; learning to be influenced so that you can understand the differences in opinion will undoubtedly help in dealing with controversial topics. Many of us are taught to “be yourself,” but sometimes, we need to be reminded that to construct our “self,” we always need reflections of others within us. The Great Passage continues to head into very deep waters, and it is evermore inspiring as it sails on.
The Great Passage is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.