Monthly Archives: February 2012

Fruits of the Spirit: The Patience of ARIA’s Alicia Florence

As we continue our series on anime and manga characters that embody the Fruits of the Spirit, Murasaki Lynna writes a post on patience as seen through a young woman who definitely fits that descriptor, from one of the calmest series ever created.

Patience, or long-suffering, comes in different forms. On one end of the spectrum, Patience can refer enduring through hard times with patience, believing that a better time will come again. From a Christian perspective, we can have patience while we wait for God to fulfil his promises to us. In the Old Testament, the Israelites had to wait a long time for things that God had promised would happen to happen: being freed from Egypt, entering the Promise land, returning to Jerusalem, etc. Even though it could sometimes take generations, God would always end up fulfilling his promises (Of course, sometimes the promises were delayed because they disobeyed God, but I digress). Likewise, Christians often have to trust God to take care of them when things get rough. Non-Christians, too, will also have to be patient when things are hard, because hard times are always coming and going.

In anime, this type of patience isn’t uncommon. In order for a plot to keep going, the characters can never completely give up (or if they do, something has to force them to keep going); otherwise, there would be no story. And unless this is a slice-of-life, bad things generally happen.

A good example of this type of patience can be found in Romeo x Juliet, where there are long periods of time where the characters had  to be patient and wait quietly and secretly in order to fulfil their goals, particularly when Romeo and Juliet had to spend so much time apart when they wanted to be together the most. Even though it hurt them, they didn’t give up.

The other side of the spectrum is being patient with other people- not getting angry when they do something wrong, or when they get angry at you. It is also necessary to be patient when others are deliberately being mean- to respond with kindness rather than to be angry. Patience is forgiving, and, well, being patient. We all make mistakes, we all are slow at times, we all have trouble understanding each other, and unfortunately, many people (myself included) have trouble waiting and being kind to others during their daily setbacks.

Patience in everyday life is sometimes the hardest- it’s so easy to snap at someone, to complain about their slowness, and to point out their mistakes, without even realizing that we’re not being patient, or even potentially doing harm to others. In the anime/ manga world, there is no better example for Patience I can think of than Alicia Florence from ARIA.

ARIA

Art by NTAKE

Read the rest of this entry

Welcome Our New Blogger, Zeroe4!

Last fall, I was blessed enough to have three wonderful writers accept the challenge to make this site a better blog.  Months later, one of my best friends and among the most gifted people I know, R86; amazing writer and all-around encouraging and beautiful person, Goldy; and the young one, the ever-cheerful and wise Murasaki Lynna, have indeed changed the blog.  It’s of higher quality and is so much more interesting than when only this old man was writing for it.

Mashiro

Zeroe4's all-time favorite character is Mashiro, so this is panel is oh so very appropriate

As such, I was happy to keep our writer count at four.  But sometimes, a serendipitous turn of events occurs; well, in accordance to what this blog is all about, it’s more like a blessed intervention.  A fellow Christian blogger who I’ve closely followed over the past year (and who guest blogged here once) has accepted an invitation to join.  As I said, I didn’t intend to add another writer, but everything just felt right, and again I was blessed when Zeroe4 agreed to join Beneath the Tangles.  He’ll be dabbing a bit into episodic blogging, but will mostly be doing editorials – and we also have a wonderful series of posts in the works that he’ll be authoring in the future.

Please welcome him!  And get to know him as well, as I grill him below on his faith, his taste in anime, and his…bankai. :P Read the rest of this entry

Ano Natsu de Matteru and Strangers from a Distant Shore

With the exception of Nisemonogatari (which after episode 8 has now maybe hit that point of crossing the line for me), there was no series I was looking forward to more this season than Ano Natsu de Matteru (Waiting in the Summer).  But I was let down by the first episode and dropped the show.  After recently reading two wonderful posts (“That Summer, I Waited” and “The Childhood Friendzone“) by the incomparable Mike Huang, I decided to give it another shot.  The verdict is still out, but at the very least, the show has given me pause for thought.

The main female character in the show is Ichika Takatsuki, a life form from another planet.  She immediately starts school and finds her niche, but her life outside of school is abnormal.  She camps out in a temporary shelter and gladly accepts the hospitality Kaito and his sister.  More akin to Tenchi Muyo’s Ryoko and Ayeka than, say, a humanoid interface like Yuki Nagato, Ichika is an alien that has no permanent home on earth.

She’s a stranger from a distant shore.*

Ano Natsu de Matteru

Just passing through. (Art by r*nine)

Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Gundam and Questions of Life and Death

There are only a couple of links this week, but they’re good ones:

Last week, I mentioned that Zeroe4 was beginning a series musing on death from a Christian perspective and in association with anime.  His post in the series sets up context, giving his feelings about life and death.  His next post in the series is really terrific, using anime like Code Geass, Death Note and particularly Gundam series to talk about war and more emphatically, the “war for our lives.” [Zeroe4]

Landon’s post about Samurai Pizza Cats is really a lament about college, including a section on an “evangelical atheist” professor who not only drove him crazy, but challenged his beliefs. [Mecha Guignol]

__

As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogsophere series of posts, each week, 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 if you’d like it included. 

The Art of Being an Anime Girl (or Boy) in a Hospital Bed

Sekirei Chiho

No hairbrushing in my room…or giant dog costumes. (Image from Sekirei Wiki)

Since we know that everything we see in anime accurately represents Japanese culture, I can make this statement with confidence: long hospitalizations are far more common in Japanese health institutions than in those in America.  I bet most anime fans can count off the number of shows featuring characters who are on bed rest in hospitals.  In America, though, we generally try to get people out of hospitals and back home, unless they’re in critical condition.

The thing is, this trope is quite charming.  Bedpans, IVs, and injections be darned – there’s nothing more pleasant than a teenage girl or boy quietly reading a book in a hospital with visitors in tow.

Of course, it’s a little different when you’re the one in that situation. Read the rest of this entry

Princess Mononoke: Ashitaka and the Fruit of Peace

平和. 평화. שלום.

Heiwa. Pyonghwa. Shalom.

Peace is a beautiful word, but an agonizing one as well. It’s something we desire, something we feel should be, but like Mayuri Shiina reaching up toward the sky, it’s impossibly out of reach. World peace is a dream. Inner peace may be, too, but that doesn’t stop many of the world religions from making this a (or the) focus of their faiths.

However, peace doesn’t instantly come to mind when thinking of some religions. Islam carries the weight of a violent connotation associated with its religion. I’m reading a book (when I say reading, I mean I’ve read about a chapter a year for the last 7 years) about how Islam is really a peaceful religion; the fact that such books even have to be written tells us something about how nonbelievers feel. The same can be said of Christianity, which has been forever stained with violent events like the Crusades and the Inquisition.

Nonetheless, the actions of people in the name of religion often tell us more about them and their society than about their faith. And in that vein, I’m here to say that in a significant way, Christianity is all about peace – within ourselves, with other people, and most of all (and all trickling downward from), peace with God.

When I think about peace in terms of anime, one character rises in my mind above all – Ashitaka, the noble prince from Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, Princess Mononoke. In his journey, Ashitaka makes peace in each of the three ways mentioned above.  Hit the jump to read more about the third fruit in our “Fruits of the Spirit” series: peace.

Ashitaka

Ashitaka's calm exterior hid inner pains (Art by レンキ@ついった)

Read the rest of this entry

Pain, Prayers, and Posts

I was hoping to put the finishing touches on the latest post in the Fruits of the Spirit series, which was supposed to go up today. But lying here in a hospital bed, I’m thinking the series may have to wait until next week to be continued.

Without going into too much detail, a lingering problem led me to get an MRI, which revealed something unexpected and alarming. For the short term, I’m avoiding a risky surgery, but I remain hospitalized. I do expect to go home tonight, after about two days in the hospital.

To those readers of the blog who are Christian, I solicit your prayers in the following areas:

  • Pray that my family finds peace during this time. My wife is stressed out and my two children are very young.
  • Pray that God may heal my body (I have an artery issue in my neck).
  • Pray that our family will be able to weather the expenses of this visit financially. Medical costs are very expensive and to top it off, we just paid for major repairs on my car.
  • Pray for strength and resolve on my part. Besides physical strength, I feel the burden of lost work time, family support, and aforementioned finances. And on a lesser note, I’ll be giving myself injections for the next week and frankly, that freaks me out.

I’m thankful for the kind readership of this blog and I know your thoughts and prayers are with me. I expect my life (and the blog along with it) to return to normal, more or less, in the next week or two.

How Catholic and Protestant Reviewers Scored The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty

Anime movies in U.S. theaters are typically released on so few screens that most major movie critics don’t review them.  However, Studio Ghibli films, released by Disney and bolstered by Hayao Miyazaki’s 2002 Oscar win for Spirited Away, buck that trend.  With a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the Ghibli film, The Secret World of Arrietty, has been held in higher regard than even a number of movies nominated for “Best Picture” at next week’s Academy Awards.  On that note, I’m going to say it here – I believe Arrietty will receive a nomination for “Best Animated Picture” at next year’s Oscar’s.

With major reviewers having to sit up and notice Arrietty, an interesting subset of movie reviewers has likewise done the same: Christian/Catholic film critics.  Not only do these critics focus on the quality of movies, many also discuss the moral implications of films – in fact, some emphasize the latter over the earlier.  Last Friday, when Arrietty was released, I wrote a post on how Christianity Today gave the film a very positive rating, not something entirely expected.  Don of Zoopraxiscope offered links to a few other reviews and with these in hand, I decided to select five major “Christian” review outlets and three “Catholic” ones, to see how they scored The Secret World of Arrietty. Read the rest of this entry

When Our Opinions Run Counter to the Culture (Otherwise Titled: K-On! and Hunger Games Suck)

Whenever an anime or other piece becomes enormously popular, there’s generally a reaction against it.  In the case of mediocre or poor works (is it too easy to use Twilight as an example?), the backlash can be overwhelming.  In the anime community, there’s inevitably at least one strong blogging or reviewing voice speaking out against almost every popular show.  And possibly no show had as many vocal detractors (and fans) in recent years as a certain group of musical girls.

Cool K-On

Art by Stephie915

K-On! is Really, Really Awful…

At least that’s what many viewers think.  As for myself, I simply found the show boring, though I loved the music and animation (re-watching the Christmas episode was an absolute chore).  But I wonder if those that speak so strongly against this really, really inoffensive show are fighting more against the phenomenon of K-On! rather than the show itself. Read the rest of this entry

Christianity Today Reviewer Calls Arrietty a “Beautiful, Wondrous Film”

Today, Studio Ghibli’s latest release, The Secret World of Arrietty, hits American shores.  Disney is giving it a surprisingly wide release; as with Ponyo, I was delighted to see commercials for the movie during regular (and popular) programming on television.  As such, it’s being reviewed as any typical U.S. studio created animated film might be.

Secret World of Arrietty

Art by 矢毒蛙

Todd Hertz of Christianity Today is among the film’s reviewers and like the majority (92% at Rotten Tomatoes), enjoys the film:

The Secret World of Arrietty is a celebration of the vibrant life surging all around us—a declaration of the countless stories being told all at once.

Hertz admires the film’s lush artwork, but also raves about the story, particularly the relationships reflected within it.

One of my favorite publications, Christianity Today reviews aren’t as conservative in their viewpoints as some other outlets.  Yet, the publication remains focused on issues important to American Christians, such as the importance of family:

But overall, it’s hard to find many family films so authentic, so earnest, so supportive of family, and so honest about life’s joys and hardships.

I’m very glad to see a positive review of an anime film from such an important online Christian medium – it’s just another sign that Christianity nowadays doesn’t necessarily fit that prickly stereotype that many have of the faith and its practitioners.

Read the entire article at Christianity Today.