Monthly Archives: May 2012

Light Invades Darkness – Japan: Life In Tokyo

Being here in Japan is amazing. I have said this so many times. Living here is almost surreal. I can say that Japan is very different from my home in Alaska. I have also changed a significant amount: my relationship with God is so much closer, I have learned to love other people more, and I am learning how to war against the enemy. When I say war, I mean spiritual warfare. Most of the battle takes place internally.

DTS is one of the most intense activities that I have been apart of. Here, there is a constant challenge and opportunity to go deeper in our relationships with God and with each other. For example: I am living in the same house with nine guys, we are constantly in situations that challenge and strengthen our faith, we spend much of our time investing in getting to know God and investing time and support to the local church.

One of my personal favourite activities is called one-on-ones. This is basically where a staff member and a student hangout once a week. Every student has a staff one-on-one. Sometimes, a different staff member will hangout with a student for an unofficial one-on-one. My one-on-one is a wonderful person, who like me is very artistic, adventurous, and a total romantic. We go different places every week. We have walked around, gone to Denny’s, gone to coffee, hung out near a river, and even went to an island in Tokyo Harbor, at Toyosu Station. Not sure where I am taking him next week, though. Read the rest of this entry

Atypical Dating, Day 2: Kimi ni Todoke and the Myth of Chemistry

I am an awkward guy if you’ve ever met one.  I know how to speak well, but my brain doesn’t quite connect fast enough to my tongue when I’m speaking to people.  Case in point: my involvement in 2DT’s first podcast (tune in to laugh at my awkward speaking, stay all the way through to hear the romantic love story).

I was even awkward with my wife, especially when we first became friends, and even well into dating.  While she’s the type to feel comfortable speaking to complete strangers (and engages such people daily for fun), I’m the opposite.  I’ll avoid you if I can – “email me, don’t call” is my motto!

Sawako Kuronuma

Isn’t she awkward, isn’t she wonderful… (Art by あけのこ)

But such awkwardness can make it hard to date.  I’m reminded of Kimi no Todoke and the most awkward of characters, Sawako.  Easily embarrassed around Kazehaya, oblivious of many social conventions, and not prone to talking in front of people, she’s painful to watch.  The popular Kazehaya isn’t much better, at least around Sawako, because he lu-uves hers.

In anime and manga, the interactions between the would-be couple is cute.  In real life, many of us would say this: “there’s no chemistry.”

Chemistry?  WHAT?!

I hate when people talk about chemistry in a relationship.  Do you know what relationship chemistry is?  It’s basically a mixture of A) literal body chemicals (attraction) with B) personalities that click and possibly C) some similarities in likes and dislikes.  Basically, it’s all superficial.

Chemistry is a wonderful thing at the beginning of a relationship, because it makes you feel really good about it and about yourself.  It paints a dumb smile on your face, causes butterflies to invade your stomach, and forces you to breath happy sighs. 

Sighhhhhh.

In the long-run, however, it means almost nothing. Read the rest of this entry

Eureka Seven Ao and Generation Celebrity

I recently tweeted this:

The problem with Eureka Seven Ao is that there are too many fun characters. Oh, wait…that’s not a problem.

Obviously, I’m really digging the show.

Besides the wonderful action pieces and terrific animation, it’s the characters that have me absorbed.  And in particular, many of these interesting players are part of Generation Bleu.

Just as with Gekkostate in its predecessor, the pilots and leaders of Generation Bleu are rock stars in this alternate world.  They are do-gooders (as far as we know at this point) who also manage to be celebrities.

Generation Bleu

I update my blog all the time, too! Now, if I could only procure an IFO… (Art by えねりっく)

Isn’t it strange that in both Eureka Seven series, people fighting to do good (even in a rebellious manner) are society’s heroes?  I guess maybe it’s not so weird in the context of history, throughout much of which the scientists, religious leaders, philosophers, politicians, and other “good people” (if at least in that guise) were worshiped, sometimes literally, by the people.

Sometime in the 20th century, things shifted.  Suddenly, those who gave us entertainment became the objects of our admiration. Read the rest of this entry

Clannad Family Sharing Time

It’s now been several years since Clannad completed its run, and even longer since the visual novel was released.  Yet the series remains popular, largely because of the memorable characters, pretty visuals, popularity of the parent source, and the depth of the story.

Possibly the most important theme of the series is connected to its title* and relates to the significance of family.  Apparently, Jun Maeda misinterpreted the word “clannad,” which is a portmanteau created by the Irish band of that same name.  One part of the portmanteau is “clann,” which is specifically connected to kinship groups sharing a surname (Wikipedia).

The series demonstrates an important reality – families come in all different forms.  Nagisa’s family is fairly traditional and very tightly knit (as is Tomoyo’s similar group).  Later, the family formed by Tomoya, Ushio, and the in-laws is only slightly less traditional and it remains full of love.  Tomoya also has another family – that of the friends he builds in the first part of the series, which is instrumental in changing his life for the better.

dango

Art by ペィ・ページ例大祭つー25b

In my life, I have multiple families – my blood-related one, my church family, and my friends, including the community developed here on the blog and through the connections I’ve made in the blogosphere.

The first family in that list is the most obvious and one I’ve written about before.

The second has to do both with bonds of friendship and with the community of believers  – the idea that all Christians are part of a universal (catholic with a small “c”) church.  I’ve often complained about a lack of that bond in my own church, though I’ve certainly seen my community respond to our needs in the times when we need them most.

The last group is an unexpected one that I’ve developed over the past two years.  But as part of my “family” now, I feel I should share with you a blessing in my life that I’ve already shared with the first two clans. Read the rest of this entry

Can’t Touch This: Awkwardness, Envy, and Forgiveness in Kimi to Boku S2 ep8

From what I can gather, the comedy slice-of-high-school-life anime Kimi to Boku (“You and I”) generates few neutral responses. I can understand that as I have yet to find an anime series that suits everyone. Some find the plot of Kimi to Boku too slow, or too frustrating, or too rife with (shall I say) “undercurrents.” Yet I went into the first season with low expectations, only to find this show both surprising and heartwarming.

And when a second season was announced, I looked forward as only a true fan could to more hilarity and antics involving the overly serious yet somehow kindhearted Asaba twins Yuuta and Yuuki, the longsuffering Matsuoka Shun (who, once I got to know him, I thought unjustly accused of being effeminate, even if he did somehow find himself wearing girls’ clothes on occasion), the enthusiastic if none-too-bright Tachibana Chizuru, and Tsukahara Kaname, whose picture you will likely find in your dictionary under the heading “tsundere boy.” Maybe there was something about the four high school boys who had known each other since kindergarten, and who expanded their group to include Chizuru as a fifth member when he transferred to their school, that reminded me of myself at that age, or of other boys I’d known. Either way, I bought into this charming show immediately.

And then. (Don’t you just hate when that happens?)
Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Medaka Jesus Box, Liturgical IFOs, and Kami in the Legend of Zelda

Draggle compares two characters from Medaka Box to God the Father and Jesus Christ, pointing out ideas like perfection, brokenness, and one’s place before a perfect God. [Draggle's Anime Blog]

JoeAnimated examines the meanings of names in Eureka Seven Ao, including IFO names, which are all connected to Catholicism. [We Remember Love]

The latest attempt to present Christianity in a manga version is “The Bible: A Japanese Manga Rendition,” of which Ken gives a middling review. [Sequential Ink]

On her Manga Mondays column, Lady Saika invites us to check out the “Trinity Blood” manga, mentioning, among other things, the series’ religious aspects. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

One of our co-bloggers, Zeroe4, informs us about what he’s been doing in Tokyo for DTS (Discipleship Training School). [Zeroe4]

And though not directly related to anime or manga, I thought I’d end with Djinn’s analysis of the kami nature of Jabu-Jabu in Link’s “Ocarina of Time” adventures. [Zelda Dungeon]

Yuki-Anne in Japan: Call for Support

One old man I talked to had been trapped for three days in the top floor of the Sendai Airport. I was glad to meet him, because I remembered seeing that airport on the news and praying for the people trapped inside.

From time to time, missionary (and avid anime fan), Yuki-Anne, gives us an update on her experiences in Japan, including remembrances about her arrival in the country and discussion about her work following last year’s earthquake.

Yuki-Anne continues to remain there, working to spread the gospel and loving the Japanese people.  I encourage you to read Yuki-Anne’s short May newsletter, which relates her recent experiences, particularly in working with young people.  I also encourage you to give financially, if possible, to support her continuing work with JEMS.

Anne’s Prayer and Newsletter

Atypical Dating, Day 1: Women Who Can’t Cook and Reversing Expectations

I don’t pronounce myself an expert on dating, but as a married man and father of two, I feel I have some wisdom to share.  I also believe anime, with all its quirks and make-believe scenarios, can teach us something about relationships.  With this in mind, I’ll be sharing a bit about relationships over the next three Wednesdays, presenting points that may be considered unusual by western standards. But my hope is that you’ll consider these principals as you engage in or seek romantic relationships.

Cooking Is for Ladies

Any of us could probably easily list a dozen or more scenarios, symbols, or other items that pop up time and time again in anime.  One trait that’s common is for a show to feature a female character who tries to cook something for a boy, but fails miserably.

She can’t cook, even though she’s a woman.  Get it?  It’s hilarious. -_-‘

Toradora Taiga

She doesn’t cook, clean, do dishes, or do laundry. YOU do it, Ryuuji. (Art by Mokako)

Okay, maybe it’s funnier from an eastern perspective, where the traditional “wife in the kitchen” role is stronger (although I admit I personally find the trope humorous).  But I was reminded of the trait when my wife (who luckily doesn’t read my blog!) cooked pho the other day.  She’s actually quite a good cook, but an inexperienced one, so it was no surprise when everything in her dish turned out quite tasty, but the overcooked noodles sucked up all the soup and turned the dish into mush.

My wife complained about the quality of the soup.  I pointed out that we were all enjoying it: “Pho-get about it!”

But later, as I was cleaning the pot, I did complain about having to clean up the mess.  She replied that it was my fault.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because,” she replied, “You said ‘I do.’” Read the rest of this entry

Hell Girl: Red String Situations

Hell Girl is a dark, psychologically stirring anime that explores the desire for and consequences of revenge. In each episode, Ai Enma, A.K.A. Hell Girl, presents a black straw doll with a red string around its neck to those who contact her in search of revenge. If they pull the string, their enemy of choice is sent to hell. However…in exchange, they forfeit their own soul to hell at the end of their life to pay for their enemy’s trip.

I think similar “red string situations” come up constantly in everyone’s life. Now, the concept of being able to send each other to hell is silly and the situations usually aren’t as dramatic as sending someone/being sent to hell,  but when we decide to get angry, to lash out and respond with rage instead of forgiveness we make a choice that hurts us just as much, if not more, than the person the rage is aimed at.

A friend says something insensitive, a customer gets snotty with you, a random stranger cuts you off, someone betrays you and a black straw doll falls into your hands. You can choose to respond kindly and let it slide, or you can pull the string and unleash you rage on the offender. I’ve pulled the string 1,000 times over, and I can’t think of one time that I don’t want to take back. What Ai says is true…

“There always has to be a price…” Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Happy Science Anime, Mission: Otaku, and What’s in a Name?

Ammtoday has begun a blog similar to ours, examining Christianity through anime.  A post this past week compares a scene in the manga, From Far Away, to Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, and encourages us to find power in weakness. [Anime and Manga Industries Today]

Ben Ettinger gives a very thorough review of the Happy Science-created film, Hermes, Wings of Love, which he calls “repugnant but beautiful.” [AniPages]

One of our bloggers, Zeroe4, compares himself to Bakuman‘s Mashiro, while mentioning his faith. [Zeroe4]

Zeroe4 also explained how anime figured into his decision to participate in DTS. [Zeroe4]

And for the trifecta, Zeroe4 rephrases a famous Pauline writing to reflect his mission to otaku. [Zeroe4]

Tsunderin revisits Saint Tale and includes some discussion of the manga’s religious setting. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Myst analyzes the meanings of character names in Eureka Seven Ao and mentions that several are connected with religion. [Frozen Anime Blog]

Koji has new found confidence, similar to that which he experienced when he thought he’d “found god” a number of years ago. [Maschera]

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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.