The Strangeness of Strangeness

When Special Fire Force Company 8 is sent to a distant island to investigate a mysterious natural phenomenon, they don’t have to wait long for their first unusual encounter. As their armored truck barrels along a rocky wasteland, a giant, snake-like creature erupts from the ground and starts chasing them.

As if that wasn’t strange enough, a tiny mole is trying to make his escape right next to them, and before they know it, whoop, he sits on the back of the truck — and begs them for their help! “Save me!” the mole yells, and, for a moment, young firefighter Shinra and his colleagues totally forget about the building-sized monster on their tail. “That mole just talked!” It takes a good minute for them to pick their jaws off the floor, but once everyone gets themselves back together, the team distracts the creature and manages to flee.

After everyone has introduced themselves, the mole offers to lead them to their destination, and shortly thereafter, they bump into a friend of his — who is a talking crow, of course. It is at this point that Shinra and his company decide they need some answers before taking a single step more. “First a talking mole, now a talking crow. What the hell are you guys?”

“Good question,” the crow responds. “No idea. And to be honest, we never thought twice about it — until you humans came along and were surprised that we could speak.”

The world is full of mysteries. Some of them are stranger than even the most fantastical anime creature. Our planet, too, knows giant worms, animals that talk to each other, and crows that can outsmart little children. But actually, they’re all part of the design — and that word, “strange,” says more about us than about what we encounter.

In order for something to be strange, first, someone has to label it as such, and second, someone else must agree. A native tribe living naked in the jungle might find your habit of dressing in three layers of cloth just as odd as you and your travel group would find their lack of underpants.

The next time you encounter something you don’t understand, ask yourself: If you weren’t there to label what’s going on as strange, would anyone be bothered by what’s going on? Or would everybody go about their day as usual, for here, in this new terrain, what you believe is odd is simply everyday life?

Just because you don’t know something does not make it bizarre, and not everything that’s new is necessarily unusual. Expected the unexpected, and remember: To a group of talking animals, the most unusual event of the day might be a bunch of humans showing up and calling them unusual.