Monthly Archives: March 2012

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Aniblogger Faith, the Number Three in Rinne no Lagrange, and Unmasking Lelouche

Jordan wrote an interesting article about the role one’s faith plays in watching anime, quoting Naru, Canne, and myself from interviews he conducted for the post. [The Otaku HQ]

Ephemeral Dreamer makes some wonderful connections between Rinne no Lagrange and various religious motifs, including those in Buddhism and Hinduism. [Ephemeral Dreamer]

Zeroe4 continues his “Under the Mask of Lies” series by examining Code Geass, reaching the conclusion that Christ can unmask us. [Zeroe4]

Also, wish Zeroe4 luck as he starts on his trip to Japan for Discipleship Training School! [Zeroe4]

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As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere 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. 

DVD Review: Broken Blade

Broken Blade DVDBroken Blade
Sentai Filmworks
Six films (2 discs)
300 minutes
Rating: 14+

In the land of Krisna, residents are born with the ability to manipulate quartz.  Thus, quartz is used there and in neighboring countries, running everything from vehicles to heavy weaponry.  But when the state becomes entangled in a war with the larger and technically superior Athens Commonwealth, Krisna’s King Hodr and Queen Sigyn turn to Rygart, a young farmer and old friend without magical ability, to help save their nation.

The setup for the Broken Blade isn’t unusual and neither are the characters terribly original.  But the execution is excellent, greatly helped by the realism the series projects.  For instance, while many of the main characters were school friends, the drama in their relationships (especially on the battlefield) isn’t played over the top – the characters are in a war and just don’t have time to dwell much on the past.  Enemies, friends, and acquaintances must all be determined quickly, or deaths will (and do) persue. Read the rest of this entry

A Year Ago on Beneath the Tangles

A year ago…I thought Sousuke Aizen was the devil

…I began the aniblogger testimony project, which brought people of all faiths together to talk about spirituality, including a certain blogger who would eventually join Beneath the Tangles…

…and I was able to interview Christian singer and confessed anime dubber, Cait Plage.

Aizen Bleach

Art by カオル

A year ago…I responded to the Angry Otaku, who wrote that what I do on this blog just doesn’t work…

…and I reviewed the Jesus short anime film for the first time.  I would do it again in 2012 and might refer to it another time around Easter of this year…

A year ago…One of the most devastating earthquakes in modern history struck Japan, and our friend, missionary (and anime fan) Yuki-Anne, was there experiencing it and then helping to aid the victims.

Image from CNN

“A Year Ago” is a regular series on Beneath the Tangles which links to posts from the site written around this date last year.

A Spirit Fruit That Cannot Be Abolished: Gentleness and Andromeda Shun

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. [...] But the fruit of the Spirit isgentleness…; against such things there is no law.

– Paul the apostle, Galatians 5:18, 22, 23

I doubt that there are very many people who like violence or enjoy fighting. But when I encounter a character in an anime that is about fighting, who stresses repeatedly that he’d rather not fight, I can’t help taking notice. Such is the case with Andromeda Shun of Saint Seiya, the character whom I like to call the “reluctant warrior.”

The original artists of this 1986 series purposely gave Shun a rather effeminate appearance, with the result that there is essentially no family resemblance to his older brother Phoenix Ikki. Although I always found this annoying, perhaps they made the decision to depict Shun in this fashion in order to stress the gentle spirit that he consistently displays, even in fighting scenes. I think if Shun expressed it in his own words, he might say something like this: “I am a reluctant warrior, but I am still a warrior. I wish to hurt or kill no one, but the chains of Andromeda bind me to my calling.” This kind of gentleness cannot be abolished, and is one of the fruits of the Spirit, these supernatural manifestations of God that empower individual believers to surpass their limits in loving and serving others. Against such things, as the apostle Paul put it, there is and can be no law.

Pink is the new blue, so I hear.

Read the rest of this entry

Broken Blade: The Path of Separation

The second installment of the Break Blade series, The Path of Separation, is in my opinion the most important episode in the series. It starts off where the first left off.

Summary:

Zess’ units once again advance on the Kingdom of Krisna’s capital city. During this initial assault on the outer defenses, we get a brief glimpse at the relationship Zess has with his brother, Loquis, who is the Secretary of War for the Commonwealth Athens. After this quick intermission, Rygart meets with Zess to try and convince him to stop fighting. Read the rest of this entry

What Anime Caught You By Surprise in How Much It Moved You?

Buddhist or Christian, Pagan or Muslim, spiritual or areligious, one thing that connects the readers of this blog is that anime is a medium that stirs something inside of us.  Here on Beneath the Tangles, we sometimes explore powerful themes that anime can have in common with Christianity and even how anime can change how we live out our faith.

Not all anime moves us so powerfully, but still, it seems as if even mundane episodes of a show stir our souls.  And sometimes, a show will catch us unexpectedly.  This is an email I received from a frequent reader, Albert:

A very nice anime that I’ve recently seen is The iDOLM@STER. When I first heard of the premise (12 girls work to get to the top of the idol industry), I figured it would be another fanservice type anime and wasn’t very interested. However, a friend told me otherwise so I decided to check it out. What I got was a heartwarming series with excellent character development and no fanservice in the slightest. I was pleasantly shocked, really. I highly recommend that you guys at least take a look at the series.

After stalling on one episode of iDOLM@STER, I’ve now decided to return to it.

What about you?

What anime caught you by surprise in how much it moved you? 

Did it warm your heart?  Did it anger you?  Did it make you go want to change the world?  Did it simply change you?

Please share with us.  Feel free to leave links if you’ve written something that gives more details about such an experience.

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Religion and Aniblogging

The Otaku HQ released a terrific post today (and not just because I was interviewed for it, hehe).  Entitled “Religion in the Anime Community,” blog editor Jordan put together excerpts from three interviews, with Naru (Muslim), Canne (Buddhist and ghost worshipper), and myself (Christian).  Jordan does a wonderful job of investigating how our faith affects our viewing of anime (or how it doesn’t), and finishes with a nice conclusion.  The post reminded me of the aniblogger testimony series we did here a year ago, in which anibloggers (including Cannes) opened up about their faith.  This post approached some of the same topics in a different way.

Read the entire post at Otaku HQ.

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Christian Manga for Earthquake Victims, Free Will in Mirai Nikki, and Happy Science Anime!

It’s been a particularly busy week in spiritual stories related to anime, specifically involving organizations.   Let’s get right to it!

Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) is beginning distribution of Risk Ride, a manga purposed to address those filled with hopelessness upon the one-year anniversary of the massive Japanese earthquake and possibly thinking of suicide.  Illustrated by a mangaka who lost her infant to SIDS in the months before last year’s quake and written by a member of CCC staff, the manga follows two motorcyclist friends on a journey.  Missionaries will distribute the manga and open conversation using the piece, which points readers toward Christ. [Christian Post]

Pluralistic Japanese religious group, Happy Science, announced plans to release an anime film, “The Mystical Laws,” in October.  Directed by Cowboy Bebop set designer, Isamu Imakake, the movie will be based upon the book by Ryuho Okawa, the religion’s founder and Messiah-figure.  The plot is interesting and certainly very anime-like, so I’ll be interested in seeing the ratio of entertainment to propoganda in this feature. [Anime News Network]

Akira mentions the prevalence of Christian schools in anime, providing historical background and drawing connections between missionary schools and the elite in Japan. [Moe Fundamentalism]

Zeroe4, one of our bloggers, continues his series “Under the Mask of Lies” on his other blog by comparing Puella Magi Madoka Magica to living the Christian life [Zeroe4]:

When someone first becomes a Christian, everything is amazing and wonderful. Their hearts are on fire, but soon after the enemy tries to wipe out that fire. They then learn to fight.

In analyzing episode 22 of Mirai Nikki, draggle discusses the heavy topics of free will, rules of the universe, and the omnipotence of God.  I was about to respond to one point in regards to omnipotence, but of course, draggle mentioned much of what I said just a little further down the page [Draggle's Anime Blog]:

The second answer (and the one I find more interesting) is that God can create a rock he can’t lift. And God can lift the rock which he can’t lift! An omnipotent God created the laws of space, time and nature, but these laws do not bind him; only his creation. So it seems plausible to assume that God also created the laws of logic, and is not bound by them either. He’s omnipotent, after all.

Draggle also continues with his neat series of posts on Guilty Crown featuring his revision of a hymn (in this week’s post, it’s “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) as sung by another blogger (this week it’s Anya).  The lyrics and his commentary analyze some of the (over-the-top? too obvious?) religious symbolism in the show. [Draggle' Anime Blog]

Wikketkrikket analyzes Absolute Boyfriend and Ai Love You, examining the nature of humanity, taking a Christian point of view. [Wikketkrikket]

Marina reflects on an episode of Natsume Yuujinchou that revolves around a Moon Splitting Festival. [Anime B&B]

Sweetpea reviews Osamu Tezuka’s masterpiece, Buddha, and comes away thinking she need to adjust her ratings of other manga a little lower. [Paper Chimes]

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As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere 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. 

Never Giving Up: Kamina and the Spirit Fruit of Faithfulness

Be warned, spoilers for Gurren Lagann are lurking here! Although, if you haven’t seen it by now, what are you waiting for?

“Believe in the me who believes in you!”

Kamina is the most faithful character in Gurren Lagann.  From the very first moment he is introduced in the show, he’s always there and always ready to give his support, especially to Simon.

This may come as somewhat of a shock for those of you who know that Kamina dies fairly early in the show.  How could he be the most faithful and loyal character in the show, and not only to Simon, but to almost every other character, when he’s not around for over half the story?

While looking up faithful in my handy dictionary, I found several different definitions listed: “steadfast in affection or allegiance : loyal”,  “firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty” and “given with strong assurance, binding (such as a faithful promise)”.

It’s easy to see that Kamina is a driving force in the first part of Gurren Lagann. He’s the one who charges into impossible ideas and convinces Simon he’s worth something—that he can do anything. First, with breaking through the surface, then getting Gurren Lagann, Kamina seemed like the firm cornerstone of Team Dai Gurren.

Then, come episode 8, he’s gone. Like that. But, the special talent Kamina had was making a larger than life impact on everyone he meets, friend or foe. One could even say he made his words and actions bigger than life on purpose, so Simon could remember them.  Despite Kamina’s reluctance not to die, I think he knew his duty to Simon and his friends, and he took it very seriously, despite his over the top attitude. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Shinto Perspectives in Spirited Away

Can you believe that it’s been 10 years since Spirited Away was released in the U.S.?  I remember going to see it in the theaters – I was the sole dissenter, deciding to view the film on my own rather than join my friends to watch The Ring.  It was certainly one of the best movie experiences I’ve ever hard.

Chihiro and Haku

Winner of "best drawing EVER" (Art by 月穂)

Much has been made about the Shinto references in the film, by a wide range of individuals, including scholars, reviewers and of course, bloggers.  Here on this blog, I interviewed Jolyon Thomas, PhD candidate at Princeton, who wrote an article about religion in Miyazaki films, including in Spirited Away.

Here are other articles discussing religion as presented in this film:

Academic

1. Shinto Perspectives in Miyazaki’s Anime Film “Spirited Away”
by James W. Boyd and Tetsuya Nishimura
The Journal of Religion and Film

This feature, plus the portrayal of various other folk beliefs and Shrine Shinto perspectives, suggests that Miyazaki is affirming some basic Japanese cultural values which can be a source of confidence and renewal for contemporary viewers.

Complete article

Read the rest of this entry