Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Faith of Yasuhiro Nightow

As Wolfwood Week continues on Beneath the Tangles, I felt it would be appropriate to discuss the mangaka responsible for creating this multi-faceted character – the creator of Trigun, Yasuhiro Nightow.  While Nicholas Wolfwood obviously has many connections to Christian spirituality, as demonstrated through the posts this week, Trigun itself is full of themes and ideas that could also be called “Christian.”  Perhaps this is because Nightow is generally known as one of the few successful mangaka who believes in Christ.  He is Catholic.

Or is he?

It’s long been considered general knowledge that Nightow is Catholic.  Wikipedia once referenced that he grew up Buddhist, but studied Catholicism and converted to it, while retaining Buddhist principals.  However, that reference to his faith was removed when the citation for it, which was to his U.S. website, became a dead link.

Read the rest of this entry

Aniblogger Testimony: Orthodoxy, Anime, & Me

This is the fifth in a series of Aniblogger Testimony posts, where select writers will discuss their personal faith.  Today’s post is by Ed of Manga Out Loud.  The previous posts in this series were written by Lauren Orisini, R86, Nikko, and Arianna.

Hi, my name is Ed Sizemore and I’m member of the Orthodox Church of America.  I’m also a manga reviewer for MangaWorthReading.com and co-host of the podcast MangaOutLoud.com. I’ve been a Christian for 25 years, an anime fan for about 12 years, and a reviewer for 3 years.

(Note: For the sake of brevity, when I say anime in this piece, I mean both anime and manga. It’s just awkward to keep repeating that phrase.)

First, a confession. I’m not a great representative of Christianity. Lord knows, my sins and my struggles are many. This is not to avoid responsibility for the bad choices I’ve made, but to own up to the fact that I read and watch things I shouldn’t have. I can’t claim that my particular approach to anime fandom is a model for other Christians. I offer it is both a suggestion to the sons and daughters of Easter. (I stole that phrase from Karen Bradley.) Read the rest of this entry

While I Was Yet Lost: Wolfwood Meets Grace

As we continue to approach Easter with Wolfwood Week here on Beneath the Tangles, I’m proud to present “While I Was Yet Lost.”  This is a short and wonderful fanfiction piece written by Celesma, a gifted writer.  The story has Christian overtones, but even if you’re adverse to Christianity, I encourage you to read it – it doesn’t hit you over the head with religion and it’s only the second piece of fanfiction (the first being the “Apostle’s Sword” series about Kenshin Himura) relating to Christianity that I’ve really enjoyed reading.

I also want to mention that in her notes (at the bottom of this post), Celesma mentions that in writing her story, she was influenced by Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace?  That particularly book has been a major influence in my own life and is one of my very favorites – it’s a compelling and, well, grace-filled read.  I recommend it to Christians and non-believers alike.

The story is reproduced in its entirety below, with permission.  You can also access it through the Fanfiction.net website.  While there, I encourage you to read Celesma’s other stories.  Also, please visit her Live Journal, which contains other bits of her writing. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: The Gospel According to Wolfwood

Nicholas D. Wolfwood is a man of many vices…but does that make him a bad man?  And how do those vices reveal the Gospel message?  Azalea of Liz-Jen.com explored the spirituality of Trigun in a couple of short essays, including the one linked below.  She begins with interesting comparisons of Wolfwood to several biblical characters.  She then provides some great insight on Wolfwood’s vices, which she claims aren’t necessarily contrary to Christianity, as well as really interesting commentary about his punisher, his night with Millie, and the episode, Paradise.

Please have a read:

Wild Man in the Desert: The Gospel According to Wolfwood

Rurouni Kenshin to Finally Be Completed?

The June issue Jump Square magazine will announce that a new anime project involving Rurouni Kenshin will be developed.  I couldn’t be more excited.  The anime ended on a whimper, with a horrid third season of filler episodes that was so poorly received that the final arc of the anime was never animated, and a final depressing OVA released as well.  Neither came close to matching the series’ high points, which included the wonderfully weaved second season of the TV show and the first two OVAs, which this blogger calls the “most perfect anime ever created.”

Kenshin Himura

Image by Mui (via Pixiv)

As you might be able to tell, I’m hoping (and believing) that the new animation will complete the story told in the manga.  This final arc would follow our protagonist’s confrontation with Enishi, the younger brother of Tomoe, Kenshin’s first love.  The manga arc is an amazing read and I highly recommend it.  It also contains one of the most  heart-palpitating scenes I’ve ever read or seen – one that will shock you, particularly if you’re a fan of the series.

Rurouni Kenshin is also a series that’s full of ideas embraced by Christianity.  Though much more considered with Shinto practice and Buddhism (except for the aforementioned, painful third season, which centers around a “Christian” sect), themes like sacrifice, justice, grace, and redemption are ever-present in the series.  In other words, it would make great fodder for this blog. :P

I can hardly wait…and hopefully, the wait won’t take forever.

Source: Anime News Network

Nothing Like God: Redeeming Nicholas D. Wolfwood

We’re nothing like God. Not only do we have limited powers, we sometimes are driven to become the Devil himself.

- Chapel the Evergreen, Trigun, Episode 23: Paradise

Nicholas D. Wolfwood has long been a fan favorite, and why not?  He’s possibly the coolest character in Trigun, a series long popular in the U.S.; he’s a gun-toting priest; and the cross he carries is both “full of mercy” and full of weapons.  But more than that, I think people connect with his humanity – he is frail, violent, and has a foul mouth.  Through it all, though, he tries to do what is right.

Nicholas Wolfwood Trigun

Note: The rest of the post is full of spoilers. Read the rest of this entry

Nicholas D. Wolfwood/Rez Week on Beneath the Tangles

Easter is upon is – in one week, Christians the world over will celebrate the day Jesus was resurrected.  It’s a joyous time for believers, and though its weight is sometimes lost in extraneous elements like Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, the holiday is the most meaningful one for Christians.

As I did in celebrating Christmas, I wanted to do something of note during the week leading up to Easter.  As a college student, I loved going to activities on my campus – it was a time when Christians from all denominations and levels of faith joined together to worship, hear awesome presentations, and pray.  While I won’t extend an invitation like that, I thought it would be a great time to write about one of the most famous Christian characters in anime – Nicholas D. Wolfwood of Trigun.

This week, we’ll talk about all about Wolfwood’s spirituality.  For instance, did you know that he may have been an Episcopalian priest (according to a commenter at TV Tropes, at least)?  But there’s more!  Here’s the line-up for the week:

  • Nothing Like God: Redeeming Nicholas D. Wolfwood (Monday)
  • Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: The Gospel According to Wolfwood (Tuesday)
  • While I Was Yet Lost: Wolfwood Meets Grace (Wednesday)
  • Aniblogger Testimony: Orthodoxy, Anime & Me (Thursday)
  • The Faith of Yasuhiro Nightow (Friday)
  • Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Violence, Grace and Redemption in Trigun (Saturday)
  • The Invisible God…in Trigun (Easter Sunday)

Note that we’ll also discuss Trigun in some posts that aren’t directly related to Wolfwood as well.  We’ll also take a break on Thursday for our weekly post in the Aniblogger Testimony series.

On a final note, I want to encourage those of you who will be going to church this Sunday (but typically don’t) to open yourself to the message.  Most of us become close-minded to certain ideas over time – it’s a natural process – and religion is certainly no different.  While some are searching for answers, many are actively not or have already decided on their beliefs.  Even if you don’t believe in Christ, I hope that you’ll listen to the message with an open mind and open heart.  Instead of being cynical, perhaps challenge God: “If you exist, God, show yourself to me.”  Let the possibility of the Easter story infuse you and challenge what you believe to be true.  Then, if you have questions, I’m here if you want them answered (well…I’ll at least try).

Have a wonderful week, everyone, and I hope you enjoy the series!

Aniblogger Testimony: Faceplanting into Religion

This is the fourth in a series of Aniblogger Testimony posts, where select writers will discuss their personal faith.  Today’s post is by Arianna of Otaku Life.  The previous posts in this series were written by Lauren Orisini, R86, and Nikko.

I was not a religious person. I really had no intention of being a religious person. Sure, I had friends who were, and I didn’t mind or anything, but for me…to be honest, religion scared me. When I was younger (think five—eight range) I’d been stuck going to my grandmother’s church, a Mormon church. Now don’t get me wrong; I have no problem with Mormons. But that church was solemn and quiet and it seemed like if you dared to breathe during the sermon, there would be some old lady glaring at you. Even the kid-time, whatever it was called, post-sermon was somehow terrifying. Once I didn’t have to go anymore, I basically ran from religion for a long time.

Years went by, I settled myself firmly into otaku-dom and was entirely removed from anything religious. Heck, I found my way to being a yaoi fangirl, so religion clearly wasn’t one of the top things on my mind. Then, in the summer between seventh and eighth grade, one of my best friends invited me to a festival for a radio station—a religious radio station. Read the rest of this entry

Review: My Last Day

As all anime fans know, animation is a medium than can convey emotions and events in a powerful way.  In fact, animation can capture certain imagery in a way live action can’t.  And so, some stories with immense emotional impact seem to be meant for animation.  Such is the case with the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which is presented in anime style in the new short work, My Last Day.

Created by the people behind the JESUS film, an evangelistic movie seen by untold millions around the world, My Last Day portrays the death of Christ through the eyes of one of the thieves crucified next to Him.  It was animated by former Disney animator Barry Cooke and STUDIO4°C, which also produced The Animatrix and Detroit Metal City.

My Last Day

Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: From Manga to Eastern Orthodoxy

As Kermit the Frog so famously put it, “It’s not easy being green.”  Likewise, it’s not easy being a Christian who likes anime.  I’m not saying at all that Christian anime fans endure any type of suffering – that’s both shallow and ignorant.  However, many Christians struggle with joining their love of the medium with a belief that often runs counter to the ideas expressed in it.

At the same time, anime in manga can express spiritual truths, whether or not those were the intentions.  This blog provides ample support for that.  Spiritual ideals can be found in just about anything.  I have a friend (currently attending seminary) who claims to have found God through Metallica; he is especially proud of this point.

Likewise, I ran across a most interesting post, dated 2009, written by Ed Sizemore of Manga Out Loud, who moved from the Evangelical tradition to the Eastern Orthodox one.  His assertion is that anime and manga helped change his thinking.  Take a look at his entry, which not only bridges anime with spirituality, but makes some very interesting, yet sensitive, critiques about modern Evangelical practice and culture.

An Eddy of Thought: How Anime & Manga Helped Me Become Eastern Orthodox.