Monthly Archives: February 2011

Summer Wars and the Art of Loving Others

Thousands of people need help.  If you won’t help now, when will you?

- Sakae Jinnouchi

Summer Wars is a multi-layered film with a number of themes, including perseverance, redemption, the dangers of identity theft, family bonds, and doing what is right.  But perhaps the theme that stood out most to me was the important of placing others above oneself (spoilers below).

In the film, when the A.I. unit Love Machine is at it’s height of causing chaos, Sakae (“granny”) sits down and calls her old connections in an attempt to help others.  Sakae is helpful, but when she passes away, her most recent acts are suddenly forgotten.  The family that revered her so much is swallowed in grief: some, primarily the women, bicker and consume themselves with preparations for her wake.  Others, primarily the men, either mope or become frustrated (or both).  Meanwhile, Wabisuke, who has caused immense family drama, has taken off again.  The family has become absorbed in its own (considerable) problems, and in the midst of it, they display all the nastiest sides of themselves.

It’s not until an outsider, Kenji, stands up and champions Sakae’s values that minds begin to change.  Gradually, the men begin to take action, realizing that even in the midst of family chaos, now was the time to work together to help others.  By the end, the entire family, including the black sheep, join in to aid humanity, as their family becomes more important than in any point in their storied history.  And as they put their online lives and their trust in Natsuki and the others, the family discovers another common bond – the putting aside of everything else to help others. Read the rest of this entry

Anime and Religion Survey: Conclusions

So, after all that, what does it all mean?  I’ve given some analysis of the results in each of this week’s posts, and many of you have contributed thoughtful comments and additional breakdown.  As a whole, though, here are some of thoughts about what the survey revealed:

The Aniblogging Generation
The aniblogger sample for this survey was young and educated, and had varied backgrounds and religions.  I understand that a group of anibloggers does not serve as an accurate sample of young America at large…but then again, perhaps it can in some facets.  Drawing from my experience as a teacher, through online interactions over the past 15 years, and through other social interaction, I think I can say that the aniblogging population is similar to the thinking, leading, opinionated young people in America today.  Of course, differences abound from region to region, neighborhood to neighborhood, and across cultural and other boundaries, but still, I think you can find people that are like this population in most every high school and college.

anime computer typing

These young people largely lack an organized religion that they are connected to.  Many are, in fact, anti-religious (often a source of turmoil at home).  Read the rest of this entry

Anime and Religion Survey: Anibloggers and Christianity

While I’m open to exploring all sorts of religious connections to anime and manga on my blog, my focus is on Christian spirituality.  I’m a Christian, and so I was very interested in how anibloggers felt about the faith.  As I mentioned earlier this week, 1/4 of survey respondents identified themselves as Christian, much lower than the national average (and even compared to the world as a whole – there are approximately 2 billion Christians worldwide).  Let’s see how this mixed group responded. Read the rest of this entry

Anime and Religion Survey: Spirituality in Anime

Anime is almost never a proselytizing tool.  So, it’s no surprise that religion usually doesn’t take the forefront in anime series.  Even when religion plays a major role, it’s typically bended and used for aesthetic or plot reasons (ex. Evangelion) by the series animators.  Still, it’s ever-present in anime, as religion is deeply imbedded in the country’s culture. 

Today, we’ll look at four questions from the survey which address religion in anime. Read the rest of this entry

Anime and Religion Survey: Religion of Anibloggers

What do you believe?  Is there a God?  What is your faith?  Do you have a faith?

I wanted to know how the aniblogging community would respond to these questions.  About half of all respondents were either atheist or agnostic, with responses split exactly evenly between the two.  In other words, 49% of respondents don’t believe in a god or are unsure about a god’s existence.  If one combined the respondents who declared themselves Catholic, Christian (Protestant), Orthodox, and non-denominational Christian as one group, 35% of anibloggers believe in the Christian religion, which would be the highest percentage of all.  Within that group, most were either Protestant (20%) or Catholic (10%).  Read the rest of this entry

Anime and Religion Survey: Introduction

In mid-December, I conducted an Internet survey regarding anime and religion.  The results are in, analysis done, and conclusions drawn!  Over the next week, I’ll reveal the results and discuss some of the most interesting items from the surveys.  I hope you’ll join in the discussion and offer your own opinions, analysis, and critiques.

The first thing I want to note, and maybe the most important thing I learned in this process, is that the anime blogosphere is full of wonderful people.  I was overwhelmed with the response to the survey and the many encouraging words about it.  Connected through blogs, twitter, podcasts, forums, emails and other methods, anibloggers have formed a digital family, and it showed through your response to this beginner’s crude survey.

Thank you.

And a special, super-duper thanks to Lauren of Okatu Journalist, who along with her boyfriend, took much of their precious time to create the awesome infographics you’ll see in these posts.  I’m beyond grateful to you two!

Another thing I should note is that there were many who were unhappy with the survey – some were vocal in their dislike, while I’m sure others held back their displeasure.  I’d written up a large commentary about problems with the survey, but I think it’s better just wrapped up with a couple of words:

I’m sorry.

For any people who were angered by my wording, lack of wording, disorganization, leading questions, and so forth, I’m sorry.  Whether I intended these things to happen or not, and whether I have experience with surveys or not, I should’ve considered these issues before sending out the survey en masse.  My apologies.

Now, onto the results!  Each day this week, I’ll discuss a different aspect on the survey and give you some analysis.  Again, I encourage you to comment with your own takes.  Today, I just want to discuss demographics information from the surveys.  If you want to hear about all or most of the results, please read the Number, Numbers, Numbers section.  If you want the short of it, just skip ahead to The Skinny.  And please be sure to read my conclusion section, What It All Means, and comment on whether I missed the point entirely, if you think I need to make some additions, or otherwise how you would break down this information. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Buddhism in Anime

With such a large percentage of the Japanese population identifying themselves as Buddhist, it’s not surprise to find Buddhist terminology, themes, and religious practices in anime and manga.  These ideas sometimes go over our heads, even for those of us who have basic knowledge of the religion.  But if we learn a little bit about the religion, perhaps we can enjoy these series better, understand the importance of series in which Buddhism plays an important role, and understand others better.

Jonathan Tappan of Funblog wrote an awesome post about Buddhism and anime this week.  He discusses some of the basics of Buddhism, particularly focusing on those aspects we’ll find in our favorite entertainment medium.  Among the series he mentions are InuYasha, Bleach, Air, and Kamichu! 

Do yourself a favor and read up on Buddism in anime:

FunBlog » Blog Archive » More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Buddhism and Anime.

Swing With All Your Might! Courage, Loss, and Renewal in Ookiku Furikabutte

At the end of the first season of Oofuri, we left Coach Momoe and the ten boys on her Nishiura High baseball team savoring a hard-won victory against a stronger team in their first summer tournament. But rather than sharing responsibilities jointly with his battery-mate, Abe the catcher is more or less using Mihashi the pitcher (or really, Mihashi’s accurate throwing arm) as an extension of himself. Abe has expressly forbidden Mihashi to shake off any of his signs, and in return has promised Mihashi never to be sick or injured during their three years of playing together. While this ill-fated exchange seems to help Mihashi gain self-confidence, it cannot be healthy for the long term. Another weak point is that Nishiura’s bench is occupied by a single reserve player, Nishihiro Shintarou. While he is surely improving, Nishihiro seems a long shot for a starting position anytime soon. As if this weren’t enough, each game that Nishiura plays amounts to more data for their future opponents.

To guess that Nishiura must lose a game sometime during the second season of Oofuri neither requires much talent at guessing, nor constitutes much of a spoiler. Near the end of this losing game, after Abe has been injured after all, Nishihiro must leave the bench and join his teammates. To his horrible luck, Nishihiro comes up to bat at the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs, and his team behind by a convincing margin. Terror written all over his face, Nishihiro rises to face the opponents’ closing pitcher, as Coach Momoe gives him the signal: Omoikkiri futtekinasai! “Swing with all your might!”

Ookiku Furikabutte Nishiro

Supported by the crowds, Nishihiro gives it his all

Read the rest of this entry

Review: My Anime Girlfriend, Episode 01

I’m going to take a break for the moment from spirituality to focus on something entirely off-topic.  Atom.com is a hosting a new show titled, “My Anime Girlfriend.”  The site describes the show as follows:

Sid is getting back in the dating game, and his friend John has the perfect girl for him, Yuruki. She’s cute, fun, and extremely animated. If anything, maybe too animated. Featuring Patrick Shepherd and SNL’s Abby Elliott.

Interesting concept, right?

The first episode of the short (it’s only about three minutes long) primarily revolves around Sid’s first date with Yuruki.  She walks into a coffee shop to meet him, splattered with blood from an apparent fight with a many-tentacled octopus (which explains her tardiness).  But despite some differences, the two hit it off and Sid invites her to dinner.

Of course, the humor is in how an anime girl acts nothing like a real one would.  Her eyes sparkle as she squeals in delight, and she offers to take down Sid’s ex-girlfriend with her crystal sword.  Oh, and of course, she’s animated.  The gag never induced real laughter for me, but I smiled throughout.  It was clean and cute.

This is how my wife looks when I offer her the last piece of sushi

The short does have some major flaws, though.  Yuruki is…well, maybe I’m not familiar enough with anime, but she doesn’t seem to fit real well into any character type that I know of.  Perhaps she’s Sailor Moon-ish…I don’t know.  She seemed to jump more out of an old rpg than out of an anime.  A certain character introduced at the very end of the episode also feels more Sabrina the Teenage Witch-ish than anime-ish.  Yuruki is also drawn poorly, but that might fit well into how ridiculous the situation is.

That said, it’s well worth three minutes of your time.  And stay tuned for the “next episode” preview at the end – maybe the biggest laugh of the entire episode.

My Anime Girlfriend: Episode 1 – Blind Date

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Folklore and Mythology

Over at Mania.com, Niko Silvester presents a concise and well-written  essay on the use of mythology, often associated with religion, and folklore in anime.  The brunt of it focuses on context, including the definitions of these terms, which I find very interesting. 

I want to add that the connotation of folklore is often old and ancient – I think people standing around a campfire telling stories in days gone by.  But in reality, folklore can be very current.  For instance, if your dad told you the story of your great-uncle saving three kids from drowning, but there is no newspaper article or other account to support this tale – you have folklore.  It’s the unsupported side of history.

Silvester then discusses probably the most known intersection of folklore and mythology with anime and manga in Journey to the West.  Take a read!

Folklore and Mythology as a Source for Anime and Manga – Mania.com