This'll be my first Poke'mon reference!
I was involved in a discussion recently in my summer class with a classmate and a teacher about how tests that you have to take in school are really unreliable in terms of determining whether or not someone is qualified to actually do something. My teacher as it turns out, agreed very much. You see when you have to undergo formal assessments in life like written tests, interviews, applications, probationary periods and other such things, those assessments are designed more so for the convenience of the test giver often to the disadvantage of the test takers.
The ultimate goal of formal testing is to filter out the hordes of applicants vying for some kind of position. But unfortunately, as efficient as this process is it comes at the price of not being able to accurately judge individual skill and ability and passes judgement on people based on a few general factors. Believe it or not a lot of resumes get thrown out without even being looked at because at first glance they just didn't seem interesting or special...
Anime helps encourage our psyches' when we have to face this terrible reality however. Like with the cases of Ash Ketchum. Tell me, how does Ash win a lot of his gym badges? Think about it. He won on a fluke with Brock when the sprinklers broke, Misty's sisters just gave him a badge out of gratitude, Sabrina gave Ash a badge because he made her laugh when her whole life she never even smiled, Erica gives him a badge for putting out a fire Team Rocket started even though it wasn't clear he was going to win the gym battle, and with Giovanni well I don't really remember but he got it under some bullshit circumstances...
So what the hell?! Ash won like two gym battles and yet got all eight gym badges! That's not how the system is supposed to work!
I bet he earned every one of them properly though!
I'm sure many of us have this nagging feeling that I have that we're being underestimated. It's been said that we judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, but others judge us by what we have already done. Which is damn right, and damn ridiculous because everyone of us starts life out having done absolutely nothing...then we have to prove ourselves on a pre-existing standard that is based on someone's interpretation of how skill and potential ought to be tested.
So yea, we don't really like the way we're assessed so harshly because we all know the world could be so much better than it is. Everything that should be yours could be yours would be yours if they only knew!
The world is so unfair...
Black Lagoon give another example of this with Rock being a peon who got into college a year later and got his ass kicked by his bosses on a daily basis. His only grip on sanity being the hope of rising to the top one day. But true to the arrogant nature of the system, his company throws Rocks life away to protect the special interests of the elite superiors. Rock is totally a failure of life's tests here. He obviously couldn't manage to do what his bosses did to get ahead and now his life is as good as lost. But, then something exciting happens! Rock hits his breaking point, becoming enraged at how everyone thinks they can just get their merry way at his expense. Well Rock decides he's had enough of this shit, and do you know what he does? I'll tell you...get ready if you're sure you want to know I'm about to say it...
Rock starts Acing life: After a bit of arguing with the Black Lagoon crew he manages to come up with a brilliant and insane strategy to take on a gunship that's preparing to make Swiss cheese out of the Black Lagoon and it's crew. They basically decide to charge headfirst at the enemy chopper and drive the torpedo boat right off a sunken ship turned stunt ramp to launch right up to the helicopter and blow it away with a torpedo turned surface to air missile!
About here is where I got hooked on the show.
And how could I forget Naruto. Both the titular character as well as Shikamaru both prove that even if you're not too good in school you can still kick life's ass. Naruto went into the Chuunin exams dumb, deaf, and blind. Without knowing what he was in for he insisted that he wouldn't cheat (missing the point of the first exam) and that he would move forward full throttle to the tenth question despite not having answered even one of the previous nine. As it turns out Naruto's inspirational determination was the correct answer to the tenth and only important question in the entire test. As a result Naruto and the remaining group all pass the first exam!
Now a part of me called bullshit on this whole thing, especially in light of Ibiki musing about how he passed a candidate that didn't answer a single question. But on the other hand I felt a sense that this bullshit was actually serving justice, because it was giving a foolish underdog a fair chance to succeed in life based on the merits of his determination and positive character.
My father took an entrance exam for a technical school called Chubb Institute a long time ago and he BARELY made the cut to get in...yet during his whole time there he made straight A's. My mother who did not go to college was stifled in her previous job when she was lied to about receiving a management position she was promised and had it given to someone else and then some college graduates took up the positions of manager and director of operations...mom later left that place and got her management job at a smarter place who could appreciate her ability.
So in my life I've have plenty of experience with people not getting the credit and opportunity they deserve simply because they don't meet the FORMAL BS requirements. That's why I get all warm and fuzzy inside whenever my heroes of anime can get past the failed tests and ace life itself. Even better than Naruto's example was Shikamaru who apparently only did poorly in school because it was a drag for him (I tend to agree...) but when his intelligence was tested under the guise of a game it turned out he was a genius and he proved it in the Chuunin exam battle segment! Now on that note I'd say that there's an idea they should incorporate into real world tests. Similar to how the Chuunin exams test real world ninja skills, real life tests should actually allow you to demonstrate your abilities in action rather than relying on paperwork and applications.
I say that people really need more opportunity in life to show everyone what they're capable of because we are so much more than what we are given the chance to reveal. That's the message that I think anime communicates and it's one that I want to reiterate. Give people the chance to be the best they can be, and let's find out just how far we can push the limits of life.
I like the idea of being in such a position as picture here. ;)