Monthly Archives: July 2012

Manga of a Young Girl: Anne Frank in Japan

There are hundreds of Holocaust organizations in the United States and perhaps thousands worldwide.  Through my job, I stay in contact with many.  Still, I was surprised to see a mailing at work for the Holocaust Education Center, Japan (HEC), headquartered in Fukuyama-city.  I was even more surprised to read one of their newsletter stories, revolving around an Anne Frank manga:

HEC has presented 1,200 copies of the comic book, “Anne Frank” to schools in the three prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima of the [2011 earthquake] area…Anne Frank wrote in her diary about her desire towards peace, and wishes for a long life, and also the wish for working for the mankind.  HEC hopes that children in those areas will receive hope and courage through this book.

A very small illustration was included, which I unfortunately couldn’t find in better quality online.  From what I gather, the manga was originally published by Shueisha in the late 90s, but an updated version was released in 2011 with more contemporary images than the original (below).

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Kokoro Connect, Episode 04: Just As I Am

In episode four of Kokoro Connect, Inaba, the serious, controlling member of the group, has an epiphany of sorts. She realizes that she can be herself among the friends, even if that self is ungracious and mistrustful. I guess it’s supposed to be a feel good moment, but the message left me irked. It’s all warm and fuzzy and nice that her friends accept her, but how can they do that and not push her to be a better person – to be more than she is? To overcome her mistrust and learn to love more?

If we love someone, shouldn’t we love them for who they are, but still encourage them to grow?

Kokoro Connect Inaba

Art by いいんちょ

I was reminded, though, of a favorite hymn as a child – one we frequently closed service with and one Billy Graham always used for invitations in his “crusades”:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bidst me come to thee
Oh Lamb of God, I come, I come

It’s a beautiful image that we come to God just as we are. And for sure, like Inaba’s friend, we are loved for who we are, flaws and all. But the truth of the matter is this – when we come to God, we aren’t quite the same person we were before our conversion; and certainly after accepting Christ, we are different as well. It’s the same with Inaba – even as she tells her friends of her flaws, she’s already different, and in one way especially.

Inaba has become humble.

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Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: iDOLM@STER Theology, Tamaki’s War Angels, and Hidamarimpermanent Sketch

A_Libellule discusses the idea of mono no aware and the related Buddhist principal of impermanence in relation to Hidamari Sketch. [The Untold Story of Altair and Vega]

Sean Gaffney wasn’t overly impressed by volume one of Nozomu Tamaki’s work, Angel Para Bellum, which focuses on an apocalyptic battle between the angels of Heaven and demons of Hell. [A Case Suitable for Treatment]

Pete Zaitcev presents some unexpected lyrics from iDOLM@STER, including several lines in which Haruka Amani tells why she believes in God. [Ani-Nouto]

A Day Without Me gives her entertaining take on Superfortress Romanesque Samy: Missing 99, “one of those sad 80′s-era OAVs that is pretty bad, but not bad enough to be entertaining,” and contains just a bit of religious dialogue. [GAR GAR Stegosaurus]

EVE reviews volume four of A Devil and Her Love Song, which features the Catholic protagonist, Maria Kawai. [Anime Radius]

And finally, I hope those of you who attended Otakon got a chance to check out Charles Dunbar’s panels! [Study of Anime]

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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. 

Untangled: What Series Should We Be Watching?

From out ask the staff mailbox, we received this email from Tsurugiarashix of KaminariAnime:

Since I am nowhere near a proper computer, I thought I would write in from my phone to ask if anyone on the team has watched Uta Kata? I recently seen the series before leaving on my trip and absolutely loved the coming-of-age/mahou shojou template, but also has some nice religious subtext and allegory mixed in. Really great for older viewers such as myself.

This is no Modaka, but I am undoubtedly sure you will find its connections to not only Christianity, but also other walks of spiritual living, coming-of-age ceremonies, and ideas. (I.E: process of liminality, etc) .  I was planning on releasing my post and review for it before I left home, but did not happen, so I will gladly like to hear what the Untangled team thinks about it.

While none of us have yet seen Uta Kata, because of Tsurugiarashix, it is now on our radar (and I do plan to watch it as soon as I can).

Are there other anime or manga with strong Christian themes that we haven’t blogged about yet?  What other series should we be watching?

Let us know in the comments below!

Mileposts: Claymore Prophet and Letting Go of Faye Valentine

Periodically, I like point back to some of the nearly 500 posts we’ve written here on Beneath the Tangles.  Besides the “A Year Ago” series I began several months ago, I plan to occasionally post about blogging milestones – those little breakthroughs when posts hit certain numbers of significance in terms of hits.  Three posts recently hit such mileposts:

Finding the Invisible God in…Claymore
Milepost: 10,000 Hits

Part of my “Invisible God” series, I compared the indomitable claymore, Teresa, to the great prophet, John the Baptist:

John is born to “prepare the way” for the Christ.  Teresa, meanwhile, prepares the way, unwittingly, for Clare.  Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of the law and the central figure of the Bible.  Clare, certainly, is the heroine of Claymore, and as her power and abilities grow (or rather unveil themselves), the manga is setting the stage for her possible role as the claymore that will change everything.

My second post ever, this one remains dear to me because I do believe the connection I argue for is strong.  It has also consistently brought in hits (and hopefully a few conversions, borrowing both a blogging and religious term) due to the image I used of Teresa.

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Maria Kawai’s Amazing Grace – Part II

Laura of Heart of Manga concludes her guest posts on the Christian heroine of the manga, A Devil and Her Love Song.

Maria Kawai

Maria Kawai is the heroine from A Devil and Her Love Song. Her actions in the series profess an inner grace that she has gained through her attendance at a Catholic school. While she struggles with her faith daily, she still strives to believe in the goodness of others and the belief that even she who seems to be hurtful to others can be loved.

While singing to console herself on the first day of school, her beautiful voice attracts the attention of the two most popular boys in her class. This in turn just fuels the anger of the other girls in her class who have been bullying her. They set up an elaborate scheme to try to make it look like Maria is hurting another student. They invite her to a karaoke place after school as a welcome party.  They manipulate another girl from class, Tomoyo, to play the victim to frame her and bring Maria to the party. After observing the girls call Tomoyo by an unwanted nickname, Maria confronts the girl to find out why she tolerates it. Not wanting to consider the social stigma of going against the flow, the girl panics and reactively pushes Maria down the stairs. Maria falls and sprains her ankle.

After tolerating the hatred of my classmates, I personally would have been fed up at this point. After being rejected so, I would have gone home and wallowed in self-pity. But Maria shows the patience of Christ. She turns the other cheek, and gives the girls another chance. Knowing they are probably up to no good, she decides to go to the party anyway, swollen ankle and all, and try to be friendly with the girls. Remembering that the nuns taught her not to doubt others before she gets to know them. Deciding to show grace instead of retaliating. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Yugen Iki Uta Koi, Superbook Employment, and the Soul of Kokoro Connect

Do you remember the Christian anime series, Superbook?  For many kids, it was their first exposure to anime.  The Christian Broadcasting Network, which rebooted the series in 2009, is looking for an art director to work on the new episodes. [CBN]

Zeroe4 returned to Japan from his time in the Philippines, where he and the rest of the mission team were challenged. [Zeroe4]

Tsurugiarashix examines the ideas of yugen and iki, principals present in Buddhism, in Uta Koi. [KaminariAnime]

Draggle quotes the Gospel of Thomas in writing about the discussion of the soul’s nature in episode two of Kokoro Connect. [Draggle's Anime Blog]

Cholisose also mentions some of the religious implications of that episode of Kokoro Connect. [Sea Slugs!]

Liberal Muffin believes that the Jesus anime short may reach across cultural borders. [liberalmuffin]

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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. 

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita: Lessons from the decline of humans.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita (translated: “Humanity has Declined”) is about fairies. And chickens, factories, sweets, processed foods, and the desires of humans for power, food, manga, and longer hair.

And that’s only three episodes in.

In spite of the title, I jumped right into watching Jinrui because of the lovely looking animation style and the mention of fairies gets me a bit excited.

The anime is somewhat presented like a children’s book; it’s covered with pastel colors and set in a cozy little village with its bright and happy inhabitants. But unfortunately, the villagers don’t have much to be happy about; they have a food shortage. So, while the men have been sent out into the forest to hunt, the UN representative (who has not been named, but she’s our representative for relations between humans and fairies) is sent to help the women and girls of the village create meat from chickens.

This is the UN Representative after she grew her hair back! (long story that we don’t know yet)

Though, this proves to be a rather daunting task since no one really knows how to get delicious chicken from a live one with feathers that screeches at you. Read the rest of this entry

Stepping Out in Love in Inu X Boku SS

I just finished watching Inu x Boku SS and, I have to say, aside from the fanservice and mediocre storyline, I really enjoyed watching the growth in the main character Ririchiyo Shirakiin.

Inu X Boku SS is a 12-episode anime about a group of humans with youkai ancestors that live together in an upscale apartment complex called Ayakashi. Each member is assigned a Secret Service agent to protect them from various baddies from Japanese legend. Ririchiyo is a “throwback,” which means she received a large amount of youkai blood. As a result,  she has been treated her whole life as more of a good luck charm than a person. This is because the throwback is believed to be the key to the mysterious wealth gained by families with youkai blood. The status makes her a person either used or envied by those around her.

At the beginning of the show, Ririchiyo’s life, although filled with luxury, has left her lonely and exceedingly guarded. It has caused her to form this bad habit when interacting with others where she puts on an air of superiority and rudely speaks to anyone reaching out to her, regardless of whether they are reaching out in kindness or meanness. She even has difficulties letting down her guard with her agent, Sōshi, who freely, genuinely and excessively compliments and serves her in a kind of obsessive manner.

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Nihon e ikimashou!

On Monday, July 30, I will be leaving for a two-week vacation in Japan. It will be my first time in Asia, though not my first overseas trip. Since I believe there are already some who plan on living this experience vicariously through me, I thought it might be a good idea to post a few of my thoughts both before and after the trip.

My primary reason for going is my interest in the Japanese language, and to some extent their culture. However, I would have gained neither of these interests were it not for anime. So I would say that another important reason for my trip has to do with all the scenes and people I’ve seen in the anime I’ve watched so far. What is this real country really like, out of which this phenomenon called anime arose some 60 years ago? What are the real people really like? Can I say anything in Japanese to a native without getting arrested? Questions such as these are on my mind.

Ready or not, this will be me shortly. Except I’m flying Delta.

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