Spring Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

As the summer season is nearly upon us, it is time for our spring anime review of 2015! This season we have a ton of anime to review by our diverse writers, so do look forward to seeing most of the season’s anime getting reviewed (though we certainly missed some nonetheless!).

Kiniro-Mosaic

Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic

Japesland – 7/10

I actually didn’t start the season with this show. I had seen the first season, and though I liked it, it really wasn’t anything spectacular considering all of the other 4-koma schoolgirl comedies out there. But I changed my mind a few episode in and decided to catch up. If you know anything about my rating system, a 7/10 is nothing to sniff at, and with that in mind, I quite enjoyed this second season of Kiniro Mosaic. The hilarious use of the Japanese language, and many cultural nods (but accurate and not) give it a bit of a feeling similar to classics like Azumanga Daioh, and while I don’t think Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic will be making many “best of” lists, it’s definitely one to consider checking out if you enjoy the genre.

Read the rest of this entry

Faith’s Power in Dream Eater Merry

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

Dream Eater Merry takes place in the real world and the dream world. The dream world is inhabited by dream demons who come over to the real world by using humans as vessels while they visit the world during their sleep or by opening up a daydream.

Once a dream demon takes a vessel, they cannot return to the dream world and the human cannot be separated from them without dire consequences. This is because dream demons don’t just enter the dreams that humans experience each night but into the dreams they have about their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their future, etc. The dream demon connects to this part of the human and rests in that power.

de 1 Read the rest of this entry

OreGairu 2, Episode 13: Requests and Wise Words

Last night, against my better judgement, I stayed up late to catch the finale of Oregairu 2. It…wasn’t worth staying up for. A strange episode, it seemed to be hammering home the same problems from the last few episodes without offering much of a solution, while breaking Yukino down so quickly and so almost-completely that I felt it negated a lot of the slow, steady work that Oregairu has given us for two full seasons.

oregairu 13a

Then again, being an unabashed fan, I still enjoyed it, especially since we got an episode full of interaction between our main characters. Plus, we got what seemed to me an episode that was very light on concluding (it kinda gave a concluding tone, but only slightly, and didn’t give us any final glimpse of all the supporting characters we love) and heavy on “see you for another season, or at least another OVA,” particularly with Yukino giving a request that we as the audience don’t hear.

For an episode focusing on Yukino and her search for identity, the pivot point of the episode comes from airheaded Yui, who demonstrates both a sacrificial heart and a wisdom that she’s hinted at all along – a deep knowledge of who she is, faults and all, and how people think.  Yui tells Yukino that she can depend on her, but Hachiman intervenes, stating that Yukino needs to do what she’s preached all along as the president of the volunteer club – she must find her own way. But the interesting thing here is that Yui insists that she knew Hachiman would say as much, as if she arranged that situation so that Hachiman would say what he needed to say and Yukino would hear what she needed to hear.

Surprise! That's what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Surprise! That’s what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Yui, you sly dogRead the rest of this entry

Examining Old School Anime: How a Mazone Shows the Importance of Mental Prayer

Episode 15 of Space Pirate Captain Harlock features, after Queen Lafresia, the most interesting Mazone we’ve yet met.  Aurora been posted inside an ice palace at the North Pole, where she waits for Captain Harlock to investigate the curious pattern produced by an aurora borealis.  Her only purpose in life is to kill Captain Harlock, and Aurora has meditated on him and their fateful meeting for years.  However, her long contemplation has brought home to her how good Captain Harlock is, and she quite naturally falls in love with him.  (What woman can resist the manly bearing of Captain Harlock?)  Unfortunately for Aurora, she tries to trap Captain Harlock inside the palace and picks a fight with Miime, an alien woman who owes her life to Captain Harlock.  The Mazone’s attack is cast back on herself and brings about her demise.

Miime, surprisingly powerful for a soft-spoken woman

Miime, surprisingly powerful for a soft-spoken woman

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Anime and the Digital Church

More and more, ministries are streaming their services online or making websites where Christians (or people of other faiths) can watch, donate or be a part of the community. Facebook and other social media networks have become the place where hundreds, even thousands, come to share their life, struggles and ask for prayer. Even here at Beneath The Tangles, though it’s not a church or ministry with a pastor, many people read our articles and learn more about our Creator. This may not sound like the typical way church is done*, but it’s a trend that is growing rapidly every year.

There are actually several anime that highlight this format, and the two (there are more!) that I would like to mention are .hack//Sign and Sword Art Online. Each one is about people who log on to a server where they play an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and build community with one another. Each player has an avatar that looks like a person, or sometimes part human and part animal that they can use to talk with each other, fight, and even romance. Each episode shows the dynamics of the game actually start to affect the characters emotions and spill out into the real world.

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For example, Kirigaya Kazuto and Yūki Asuna, whose avatars are famously named Kirito and Asuna, fall in love through the playing of the game and become romantically involved in real life. Their digital life affected their real lives, which can be also said for people who were in comas or died because of the game in both series.

.hack//Sign main characters Subaru and Tsukasa deal with real life situations that are sometimes resolved online or vice-versa, plan strategies or literally hack servers to stop people from going into comas induced by the games headgear. They even become very close friends and talk about their IRL (In Real Life) problems and get advice on them as well, just like many of us do online. This not only makes you feel for the character and the player, but often times as you watch the anime you forget that the avatars are being controlled by people outside the game. This can happen to us on social media or games, where we might blend the two aspects together and forget that these are real people we are talking to, not just text.

Hack-todos

The .hack//Sign team all together!

Now, being part of a digital community of fellow believers isn’t a bad thing but there will always be that need to physically be a part of a group that share the same faith. Let’s face it, there are things that you would not share online nor are you accountable to anyone either. You can post lots of Christian posts, messages or verses but who is checking up on you when you are alone or going through life? Are you obliged to report to someone or at least have a one-on-one with an admin online?

Not at all. Read the rest of this entry

Throwback Thursdays: Cowboy Bebop

After receiving numerous recommendations over the years, I finally sat down and watched Cowboy Bebop. After finishing the show, I decided it was necessary to review the show as soon as possible. I should also point out Charles is a huge fan of this show (E/N: I am most definitely a huge fan of it!). His picture on the Authors page is of the main character after all.

You could say my life revolves around defending Cowboy Bebop as earning every bit of praise its received, and you wouldn’t be inaccurate.

Cowboy Bebop is basically it’s own genre. It has lots of science fiction elements, western elements, and noir elements all interwoven. The story follows the bounty hunter crew on the spaceship known as Bebop. They travel through space hunting for criminals and confronting their own pasts. Each person on the ship has an amount of depth driven from their own past and backstory. All these stories end up being integral in the direction the show takes.

TWWK: I own this amazing box set of the series

TWWK: I own this amazing box set of the series

Part of the story’s uniqueness is in how it’s incredibly episodic – I think I count only 5 episodes that deal directly with the main character’s (Spike) story – and yet it weaves together into this awesome tapestry of cohesive…awesomeness.

When I sat down to watch the show, I had some preset expectations. First, the show looks like a western; I have a large amount of disdain for westerns. Second, the music is jazz. I am not a huge fan of jazz. Third, the spaceships looked cool, but the art looked moody. Well, my fears for the western style feel quickly wore off. The western theme is more of a facade to explain the bounty hunting and culture, than an actual plot driving tool. The music is wonderful. It is a bit strange, but it is very iconic and hearing it makes me reminisce about the show. And finally, the moody art style is gorgeous. The ships are really well designed. The anime was made in 1999, but it doesn’t feel dated; it has aged nicely.

You’re absolutely right in saying that the animation ages well.  I’ve tried picking up a lot of series from yesteryear, but of my favorites, I think only Cowboy Bebop and Trigun stand the test of time when it comes to animation quality.  And the music, of course, is the stuff of legends – Yoko Kanno’s brilliance is undeniable, as even a middling fan of the show like Hailey can appreciate:

courtesy of shorty-cake.tumblr.com

courtesy of shorty-cake.tumblr.com

My initial surprise with the show, is how quickly I was hooked. Almost right away, I wanted to watch episode after episode. Even after finishing the show, I want to go back and re-watch it. I really appreciate the attention and detail that was put into the characters and plot. I also thoroughly enjoy the moodiness and quiet epic quality the show took on. It carries itself like a classical heroic tragedy, and at the same time bridges on the dark and gritty noir feel. The show isn’t all dark and bleak, but it does feel quite dark at times. Oh, and the ending, which I won’t go spoil, is amazing and frustrating.

As you mentioned earlier, the show’s so hard to categorize because it does a bit of everything, and it does it so well.  And oh, that ending!  Classic.

All around, Cowboy Bebop broke my expectations and built itself in to a show like nothing I have ever seen. I can’t think of a single anime or even a show that isn’t anime, that pulled off a feeling like this one gives off. Artistically, this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. Overall, this isn’t one of my favorites, but is one that I will look on favorably. I just felt too unsettled by the time I finished to call it amazing. I do however, know that this show has a massive appeal and some people will absolutely love it. It just isn’t my metaphorical cup of tea. I will however be stealing concepts from the show for my own stories, as any author would do.

My Final Recommendation: Go for it, you will most likely enjoy it. I did.

Absolutely. It’s a classic of anime – if you don’t watch it, you’re gonna carry that weight.

Welcome Our Newest Writer, Casey!

Do you know the saying, “God works in mysterious ways?”  I really felt that to be true a few weeks ago when Casey Covel (Geeks Under Grace) and I started chatting about her taking a role with Beneath the Tangles.  What I haven’t told anyone until now was that her work was at the forefront of my mind the days before she reached out to me, and I wondered if I should invite her to join even before we spoke.  Coincidence, possibly, but I think of it as something more divinely arranged.

In short, Casey has joined our staff here at Beneath the Tangles, and we are thrilled!  Check out our interview below and please welcome her to the community!

TWWK: How did you become a fan of anime and manga?

Casey: Growing up, anime influenced a lot of the media I enjoyed, primarily my video games, many of which had anime-inspired art styles (Fire Emblem, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Ace Attorney, etc.). I always found the anime art style attractive because it captured… something… that American cartoons did not–emotions, drama, original designs, bold storytelling, and other assorted wonders I couldn’t put a name on back then. When I was a child, I began watching Pokemon, but was quickly told not to by my parents (this was back when churches were cracking down on the Pokemon craze, and my parents were likely being cautious). It wasn’t until several years later that I actually began watching anime again, and to be honest I’m grateful that I waited that long. I believe anime is a beautiful medium of entertainment and art, but I don’t think I was spiritually mature enough to enjoy it until a few years ago.

cutsceneaddict cosplay Large e-mail view

TWWK: What are your favorite types or genres of anime/manga? How about favorite series?

Casey: I’m a bit of a psychology/philosophy buff, so I particularly enjoy anime that challenges me to think differently or to question my values. Watching anime that asks hard questions or acts as an animated microcosm for a social issue is like consuming a delicious tray of assorted sushi to me. Death Note–despite its storytelling flaws–is my absolute favorite series thus far. I also enjoyed the examination of dark issues in Attack on Titan and the bittersweet, poetic charm of Your Lie in April. Currently, I’m going on adventures with Vash in Trigun… and developing a craving for doughnuts for some reason. Read the rest of this entry

Gaming With God: The Kingdom Of Hearts

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Xion, Roxas and Axel (from left to right). The whole gang enjoying the sunset.

One of the greatest games of all time has been the Kingdom Hearts series. Disney and Square Enix came together to create with themes of light and darkness, finding your purpose, and the bond of friendship, which have never been more prevalent than in this series. The title in this series that I will be highlighting is the lesser known Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days. It came out on the Nintendo DS and is now available as part of the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix collection, so I was finally able to get my hands on it. The downside is that the game is completely done in cut-scenes so you can’t play it, but with the HD graphics and story line didn’t disappoint.

The interaction between Axel, Roxas and Xion (the main characters) is such a touching yet sad story that every Kingdom Heart fan must experience. Learning about trust, friendship and why we are here are topics that are highlighted throughout. For those that are unfamiliar with these characters and the game, let me give you the details.

Sora, the protagonist of the series, has fallen into a deep sleep to recover his power and strength. During that time, his memory has become Roxas who looks very much like Sora. Xion is what Sora remembers of his friend Kairi and Roxas is Sora’s personal memories, so they are both just representations of Sora. The antagonists, Organization XIII, created Xion to absorb and copy Sora’s power by being close to Roxas. In this way, they would be able to gain the power of the Keyblade which is the ultimate weapon in the Kingdom Hearts world.

Instead of going exactly as Organization XIII planned, Xion ended up developing her own memories and became friends with Roxas and Axel, members of the organization. Together they would eat sea salt ice cream at the top of a tower and relax, watching the sun set over the town. Little by little, Xion began taking away power from Roxas and they were both confused as to what was happening. They would be in and out of deep sleep and would have flashbacks of Sora’s own memories, not knowing who he was or why they were having these dreams.

As anyone would, they began seeking answers as to who they really were, what Organization XIII’s plans are, and who Sora truly is. Xion decided to leave and find Namine, the witch who was protecting Sora during his recovery process. Namine and Riku, Sora’s close friend, revealed individually to Xion what was happening to her and how she needed to become one with Sora once again so he can awaken. Not knowing what was the right decision to make, she leaves to face Axel who was pursuing her but eventually gives up her life and her memories are released back to Sora.

Xion reminded me of every human being searching, seeking, and desiring to know their reason for living. The most widely sought out question in humanity is why am I here. God has an answer though, and we find it in changing the way we think. Read the rest of this entry

Help Requested: We Need Your Questions for Japes in Japan

As you may know from last month’s The Tangles, Japes is currently in Japan working on a summer internship. For a forthcoming podcast, I’ll be asking Japes questions about his experiences, and we’d love for you to join in as well!  Please comment below with questions you might like Japes to answer.  Here are some ideas:

  • Personal: Ask Japes about why and what’s doing in the land of the rising sun
  • Culture and People: Ask about Japes experiences with the Japanese
  • True or False: Does Japan live up to the ideas we may have about the country here in the west?
  • Anime: What is anime and anime fandom like in Japan?
  • Religion: What is it like being a Christian in a non-Christian nation?

Add to that anything else you’d like to know!  Thank you in advance – we appreciate your participation!

Edit: We’re all set now, so we’re closed for further questions. Thanks for your questions, all!

OreGairu 2 Episode 12: Change is Complicated

So…are we back to square one?

No, but it feels a little like that, as Hiki, Yukino, and Yui face another obstacles on their path toward finding themselves in growing their relationships with one another.

Episode 12 of OreGairu 2 (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO) starts out innocuous enough with everyone preparing for Valentine’s Day. Hayato is unwilling to accept chocolates from anyone, so the idea is hatched that the student council will host an event in which Yukino will teach students how to make homemade chocolates; Hayato will attend and get to taste the creations, thereby accepting chocolates from Iroha and Yumiko.

All of their expressions...

All of their expressions…

But tensions seethe beneath the surface for our trio.  Even though there’s been some progress, their “genuine bond” hasn’t truly formed.  Hachiman knows as much and it’s intimated that Yui and Yukino feel the same.  Shizuka, in her always surprising wisdom, points it out as well.  But of course, it comes erupting forward through Haruno’s sharp words, who declares that the group is not “genuine” – and that becoming genuine may not even be possible.

Indeed, the problem is that each member of the volunteer club continues to deal with the same struggles they did before Hachiman’s speech: Yui doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, and is willing to be deceitful to others and herself to preserve happiness; Hachiman is becoming open to being honest and establishing meaningful relationships, but only bit by bit; and Yukino remains trapped between the expectations of her and finding who she really is.

How can they all still not get it? Read the rest of this entry

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