Annalyn’s Corner: Akashi’s Dysfunctional Approach to Relationships

Yes, I’m returning to Kuroko’s Basketball. The power was out last night, so I couldn’t catch up on new shows, and I was forced to use a topic that I’ve been thinking about since before last season ended. Spoilers ahead.

I’ve written before about why Akashi’s approach to basketball is wrong. But there’s another aspect to it: He relies on his own strength to keep his friends close, to win games, and to continue doing what he loves. So far, that’s worked for him. But that doesn’t mean it always will, and Kuroko shows him that in the end.

“I am absolute,” Akashi repeats throughout Kurobas. Those who play against him lose, and those who follow him win. In his mind, he has the strength—and thus the right—to play basketball as a tyrant, to force weaker players to literally fall before him.

Akashi glorifies himself out of fear: fear that he’ll lose and be forced to quit basketball by his father, and fear that his teammates will surpass him, stop following him, and ultimately stop playing with him. These fears are understandable, but they are also self-centered. They come from focusing on his own concerns, rather than those of his teammates.

I’ll focus on the relational fear, since it is primary to the conflict, and because I think most of us can identify with it. In middle school, Akashi enjoyed playing with his team. But as the Generation of Miracles grew stronger, they grew apart. The team began wining for victory’s sake. In episode 73, Akashi recalls, “and around then all their individual talents started to bloom, one after another. That growth turned into the fear that I couldn’t handle them… as well as the anxiety that they would leave me behind.”

Kuroko3_23kAomine, who perhaps loved basketball more than any of them, became frustrated because “no one can beat me but me.” Without a challenging opponent, he began to lose interest in the game and stop coming to practice. Murasakibara also grew bored and threatened to stop coming. Akashi panicked and challenged him to a one-on-one match. At first, it looked like Murasakibara would win, but Akashi overcame, securing his place at the top. He explains later, “I had to stay the strongest so that I could continue to play with them.”

Most of us can empathize with Akashi’s anxiety. How many of us have felt our friends will not only surpass us, but leave us? Sometimes, I don’t want to attempt friendship, because I can already see that the other person is a high-achiever. With the friends I already have, the anxiety plays a more subtle role: my insecurity has been partially about my ability to make friends. So when close friends moved away and immediately made new friends, and I didn’t, I fought fears about not being needed as their friend—I didn’t realize that “need” had very little to do with it, that we could appreciate our friendship even if our social needs were met by others. Read the rest of this entry

Working!!! and Scripture: Neither as Simple as it Seems

A third of the way through season three of Working!!! (Wagnaria), and I’m super pleased – the show continues its wonderful, character-based humor (as expected) while moving along romantic relationships (not necessarily as expected). And as has been impressed upon me all along, the series confirms that it isn’t just funny – it’s a really well-made show.

I was trying to explain this point to someone last week, and it was hard for me to do so – I’m not 100% sure what makes Working!!! more than just fun.  It has a lot to do with smart source material, with its well-written gags and funny situations.  It also has plenty to do with the characters, who are loveable, well-defined, and who grow, bit by bit, through the course of the series.   And it certainly has to do with how the four panel strips, so obviously the format for the show’s source material, flow well thematically from episode to episode when animated.

In short, while the series seems simple, it’s a lot more complicated than we might give it credit for.

It took me 2+ seasons, but I've learned to like Yamada.

It took me 2+ seasons, but I’ve learned to like Yamada.

Not all of you may agree with my assertion – I may have to butt heads with some of you that see the series as relatively common.  There’s a parallel here, too, with a work I esteem much more highly – and strangely, it’s more often the choir to whom I preach the merits of that work. Read the rest of this entry

Charlotte, Episode 4: Earning It

Baseball episode!

I love baseball, and so, Little Busters notwithstanding, I really enjoy baseball episodes/series. And if you throw in the emotion of the relationship called a battery, I’m done for.

As the student council, with a new two new characters in two, finds their next subject, they turn to a baseball game to bring the pitching ace into their school.  But with supernatural powers being wielded, the contest is a farce from the start.  The opposing team’s pitcher throws a near-unhittable knuckleball through telekinesis, while in the 9th inning, the student council’s team counters with their own powers.

charlotte 4a

It’s surprising perhaps, then, that the game-winning hit depends on one not using his powers, as Yuu gives his all sincerely without using his ability.  Going into the at bat, he wonders how he could use his power, not even thinking of getting a hit in a legitimate fashion, but Nao insists that he find a way to drive two runs home on his own.

Yuu is understandably apprehensive.  He, like many of us, would rather fake it than do things legitimately and risk mediocrity, embarrassment, or failure. Read the rest of this entry

One Week Friends: He Hasn’t Forgotten You

I finished watching this short but sweet anime titled One Week Friends. Like most of the anime series I have been watching recently, it was recommended and reviewed here on Beneath The Tangles. The animation and character focused story hooked me immediately and I felt as if I was watching real people live life.

If you haven’t watched the show then you should check it out; it’s very touching and one of those anime that pull on your heart a little. The main concept is memory loss, since the female protagonist has trouble remembering her friends every week starting on Monday. Basically, you can be her friend and have fun together but when the week starts, she won’t have a clue who you are. This is not a real life condition, but it’s interesting to see the reactions and emotions that go through each character because of this phenomenon.

Not being able to remember something or someone precious to us can be irritating since our memories are very important to us. It got me thinking about the meaning of our thoughts, experiences and consciousness. Whenever we as people go to an event, experience something new or spend time with friends the purpose is to create a memory. Without them, pictures and videos would be worthless and so would many of the exciting places we go to. If you couldn’t recall what happened after it’s over, why even go? When we see Kaori unable to remember the places she went with Hase-kun, it makes him sad and frustrated since it seems like it was all a waste.

I started to think about that and how it relates to God’s thoughts towards us. God calls us His friends, and He thinks about us every single day. It’s not about how long you prayed, or how much money you gave to a charity or church. It’s not about all the good things you did for someone, He loves us and unconditionally. Read the rest of this entry

Throwback Thursdays: Gundam 00

The first anime I fell in love with was Code Geass, but shortly after that another show captured my attention. It is called Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (sounded out as Gundam Double Oh).

gundam 00 1Gundam 00 is in many ways a standard Gundam series. The story takes place in an alternate timeline in the future, as multiple nations/organizations are fighting each other. A super weapon appears, a princess is rescued, and madness ensues. That is where the similarities stop. Gundam 00 departs from typical Gundam tradition and tries to tell a plausible story for our future. It incorporates geo-politics with religious genocides, resource wars, Middle-East turmoil, and world powers playing against each other in proxy wars.

The show starts off with a show of force at a weapons unveil and a skirmish erupting. The pilots of the Gundams are later unveiled to be members of a secret military organization known as Celestial Being. They announce that they will perform armed interventions in military conflicts. The show then continues from that point with the Gundams being super powerful, but slowly they become less and less effective. The show is a very interesting play on the Gundam franchise as it seems to look at what Gundams in our world would be like. It is also my favorite Gundam series. I really appreciate the layers of characters from every side. They create a picture of how actions of different parties effect all the others. Most Gundam series tend to be very one sided. One nation is good, the other is bad. Gundam 00 throws this out the window and paints a picture in which no party is innocent.

Read the rest of this entry

Examining Old School Anime: As the Tree Falls

Few anime possess the brilliance of Space Pirate Captain Harlock.  On the night when I became inspired to write this article, I watched no fewer than seven episodes in a row.  This viewing also happened to give me another, more happy topic, but the topic of death appeared more interesting.  To be more precise, Captain Harlock inspired me to write about a theme in Catholic eschatology.  Episode 17, “The Skeleton Hero,” was unique in focusing on the life of the Arcadia’s chief engineer, especially his relationship with his former captain, Yamanaka of the warship The Braves.  (Most of the crew have amazing backstories.)  What caused this reminiscence was the Arcadia receiving a distress message from Captain Yamanaka, whose ship has become stranded in the Horsehead Nebula.

IMG_7157

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Gaming With God: Eastern vs Western Gamers

If you’re reading this, most likely you are on the western hemisphere of this beautiful world we call Earth. If not, then you’re on the eastern hemisphere and may or may not be in Asia. Wherever you may be, video games will be played or purchased in different ways. Loyalties to Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo differ depending on where you go, and there are many statistics done yearly to show how gaming is evolving throughout the world.

I love how big our world is, and the cultural diversity we all have. We are all the same, but given access to the same technology doesn’t always mean it will turn out the same. If you were to look at the games that are produced in Japan compared to those in the USA, you can see a striking differences. Just think about American cartoons and how different anime is from them. The same goes for gaming, and even the devices used to play them on.

Let’s go over some statistics shall we? After that, I will go over my personal perspective on the differences I see between each side.

As you can see, these are statistics for the USA only, and they are very interesting to see.

  • Most gamers are adults, and male.
  • 2 out of 5 gamers are female, so there goes that bias that video games are only for boys (take that, opinions and assumptions)
  • 65% of American households play video games.
  • Software sales for consoles are at $150+ million, while PC software sales are at $36+ million. Cry PC Master Race…cry me a river.
  • The best selling video games were all Nintendo games, though I have to point out that several of them came included with the console, so I’m not sure if that detail was figured in that stat.

Read the rest of this entry

Annalyn’s Corner: Suna’s Love Story (and Mine)

Hi there, folks! Time for some apologies. First, I’m sorry I missed last week’s post. I was really sick, and writing was out of the question. Second, I’m sorry this is several hours late. I could blame internet problems, but I honestly couldn’t have finished this before work even if my internet was working this morning. I’m afraid I got out of my blogging routine with everything that’s been going on. It’s actually harder to blog in the summer than during the school year—didn’t expect that to be the case, but it is. Thank you for your patience with me. Anyway, without further ado… here’s a post about something I’ve been mulling over a lot in the past couple months: singleness and supporting each other.

Ore Monogatari!! aka My Love Story!! might be the most surprising anime on my watching list. The fact I’m completely caught up with it is even more surprising. Sweet romance shows don’t usually keep my attention. But this one hasn’t lost me yet. It toes the line with cliches, then skips happily away. Best of all, there’s no ridiculous drama and misunderstandings, because Suna is always there to straighten the protagonists out.

At first glance, the title My Love Story!! seems to refer to Takeo’s relationship with Yamato. But I want to look at a different type of love story, a non-romantic type… because I don’t think that kind of love story gets as much attention as it should, especially in Christian circles. And, more selfishly, because my life resembles a platonic love story more than anything else right now. So, as sweet as the main couple is, let’s talk about Suna.

Suna returns to homework after helping Takeo and Yamato to get over their insecurities and confess to each other (ep 3).

Suna returns to homework after helping Takeo and Yamato to get over their insecurities and confess to each other (ep 3).

Sunakawa Makoto is the protagonist’s best friend. He keeps Takeo and Yamato from hurting each other or annoying me. Unlike many romance anime sidekicks, he’s sensible, introverted, and content being single. I can relate to him a lot… and we can all take a cue from the way he supports the main couple (and the way they support him).  Read the rest of this entry

Charlotte, Episode 3: Dragging the Dead

Don’t keep dragging the dead into your life.

In episode three of Charlotte, we’re introduced to a delinquent named Sho, who is unable to let go of Misa, a recently deceased girl who takes over the consciousness of her little sister’s body. At the end of the episode, after Nao and the rest of the student council help Misa get her idol sister out of a difficult situation, the deceased girl says goodbye to her former comrade with those words I quoted above.

The episode wasn’t particularly emotional to me. I can’t help but compare Charlotte to Angel Beats!, where it’s characters suffered through traumatizing experiences (Yuri and Iwasawa come to mind), and the situations we’ve seen in the last two episodes can’t compare. But then again, I haven’t experienced the death of anyone intimately close to me, and I wonder if the episode was more meaningful to people who have, and particularly when hearing those words – “don’t keep dragging the dead into your life.”

charlotte 3a Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Wolfwood Gospel, Fairy Tail Vulnerability, and Ecchi for Christians

Ah, July…the days of summer heat, fireworks, and of course, new summer series! There’s a lot to be excited about this summer season, including some of the series talked about below, including one whose light novel is getting a translation in English!

Nicholas D. Wolfwood’s final, moving scene in Trigun gives us the story of his redemption, and the gospel message for all. [Old Line Elephant]

Humility and an understanding that in loneliness, we are not alone, can help us through challenges, as demonstrated in Sore ga Seiyuu! [UEM]

JekoJeko also jumps into the question of how Christians should approach ecchi imagery in anime, using Kill la Kill and ME!ME!ME! to illustrate. [2]

As mentioned in the article above, prayer can certainly help when deciding what anime to consume and which to skip. [Anime Revolution]

In his celebration of Seraph of the End, Medieval Otaku mentions the atheistic view of the series’ vampires. [Medieval Otaku]

Speaking of Medieval Otaku, wonder what he’s been up to lately? Read all about it, including his jump into Angel Cop, which seems to make more obvious religious analogies than most series. [2]

In Charlotte, Yuu thinks no one knows his secret…but of course, Nao knows. And such discovery happens to us all – if not publicly, then between us and One other. [Christian Anime Review]

Unclear about what the characters mean when they say things in OreGairu? You’re not the only one. Perhaps they should have taken the apostle James’ advice on communication. [2]

Cana’s story in Fairy Tail demonstrates how becoming vulnerable can lead to transformation. [Geeks Under Grace]

As part of the Something More series of posts, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality.  If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK to be included.

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