Author Archives: Kaze

Christian Love in the Nana Fan Base

A year ago, I wrote about how God’s love could be compared to that of a yandere. This year I’d like to make another kind of comparison on the topic of love, but instead of focusing on God, I want to focus on Christians and our love for God. Our love for God is, or at least should be, the greatest emotion we can possibly offer. It is a love which drives us to worship Him, follow Him, strive to be like Him, and serve Him. Anime loves to depict similarly idealistic characters – from the main character who always has to help others to the school idol who is loved by the entire school to the deredere archetype that is just helplessly in love with another. Anime, and people in general, love the idea of love.

But in real life, these ideals often fall apart. Especially in Japan, people who reflect even a fraction of such ideals are hard to come by. It is a sad irony in that although Japanese people can be so friendly on the surface, their hearts are so disconnected from each other. But while they may fail to emulate the type of godly, unconditional love which Christians (should) have, that doesn’t mean similarities don’t exist. And while rare, such a type of love is something which the Japanese are drawn to.

Nowhere have I seen this more than among the Nana Mizuki fandom. Perhaps my view is skewed since, well, I don’t pay nearly as much attention to any other fandom, and as a whole, the otaku culture in Japan has a fascinating difference in lifestyle compared to most other Japanese (but that’s a different topic for a similar phenomenon). In my short time in Japan, with moderate interaction with other Nana fans, I have come to feel that the love fans feel for Nana is similar to the love Christians have for God. Of course, I’d be the first to admit the numerous reasons why it’s an imperfect parallel, but compared to other Japanese people, and even compared to other fan bases, there is something here that reminds me of Christian love, and there is something about Nana that draws people to her in ways that remind me of how people are drawn to God.

Nana2 Read the rest of this entry

Winter 2015 Anime Preview

As the year comes to close, so does the fall anime season. But the end of a season is also the beginning of a new one. The winter anime season begins with the new year, which is also the time of year it gets the coldest, so everyone should stay inside, drink hot coco, and watch some anime!

Like every winter season, there are many fall leftover anime that are maintaining their timeslots, so there are less new anime compared to other seasons. Even so, there are still a few that show promise. Although we won’t cover all the anime, you can see the full list over at anichart.

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Fall Anime 2014 Review (Part 2/2)

F/SN is originally an eroge

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Kaze – 8/10

As a surprise to probably no one, Unlimited Blade Works has proved to be one of the best shows of the fall season. With ufotable’s trademark animation and a near perfect faithful adaptation of the visual novel route, UBW has been a great enjoyment to watch despite already knowing the source material and in some ways, extra rewarding seeing the attention to detail ufotable puts into foreshadow. It is unfortunately not without fault, although my complaints would come not from ufotable itself but things such as source material, the fact I am only judging the first half, and that some things are just not explained as well in anime form.

Japesland – 8/10

Kaze’s remarks. Copy. Paste. Honestly, the worst thing about Unlimited Blade Works is that some elements in the source are just subpar. Great overall production thus far, though.

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Fall Anime 2014 Review (Part 1/2)

The year is almost at an end, and with it, the fall anime season. As usual, we’ll be rating the anime we watched this past season along with a short review of our thoughts. Today will just be me, Kaze, but Japes will join me for the second half tomorrow. Overall, it was a really good season. It of course had its bad and good, but the great stuff were really great and the average anime were not too terrible, making the overall quality this season quite satisfying.

Amagi Brilliant Park

Amagi Brilliant Park
Amagi Brilliant Park

5/10

KyoAni finally stopped their adaptations of questionable amateur LN contest winners and returned to an actual LN series. Although, their trolling continues as Amagi is from the same author as FMP, which a large population of people are still hopeless waiting for another season of. Anyway, it was kind of a fun watch. It had a lot of boring parts, but it did manage to make me laugh at other times. Some of the characters greatly annoyed me with their rehashed jokes, so that was probably the biggest reason I didn’t give it a 6.

Japesland: I actually watched the first few episodes of this show because, well, KyoAni. Couldn’t do it, though. I’ve seen every single show of theirs up until this point, so I don’t know what stopped me this time, but I just couldn’t do it.

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12 Days of Christmas Anime, Day 12: Nanoha A’s

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, especially its second season A’s, is one of my favorite anime, and just hit its 10 year anniversary. At the least, it’s probably the anime I’ve rewatched the most number of times. The climax of the second season takes place on Christmas Eve, as the protagonists Nanoha and Fate engage in a final battle against the Book of Darkness. Among other plot revelations, the real predicament Nanoha encounters is not how to defeat her opponent, it is how to save her opponent (and this is a recurring theme throughout the series). The Book of Darkness was originally called the Tome of the Night Sky, but at some point in time, its name and purpose were forcibly changed for malicious goals. Even so, the conscious entity known as the Book of Darkness is aware of this change. Unfortunately, she believes there is nothing that can be done to stop herself from going berserk. Therefore, Nanoha desires to save and redeem her. Although the Book of Darkness has already given up on herself, Nanoha doesn’t.

NanohaAs_1

In the same way, there may be times in your life that you feel you have fallen too far; you cannot be saved. However, God does not give up on you. He will continue to reach out to you until you respond. This Christmas, remember that God sacrificed his Son Jesus Christ at the cross to save all of us. No matter how far you’ve strayed from the right path, He is by your side, waiting for you to accept His help, love, and salvation.

Meanwhile, the Book of Darkness is having an inward conversation with its master Hayate, who has been absorbed by it. Although being its master is also the source of much of Hayate’s suffering and pain, she is still able to sympathize with the Book’s sadness as well. As the master, Hayate temporarily overrides the berserk program to help Nanoha. Although the Book of Darkness feels there is no hope, Hayate grants her a new name: Reinforce, and the two are separated from the malicious program.

NanohaAs_2

When God chooses people to do His work in the Bible, it often comes with granting them a new name. Oftentimes these people feel no hope in themselves, that there is no reason to choose them. However, as if to reinforce the idea that they are capable of what He wants, God grants them a new name, usually with a specific meaning. Hayate bestows a name which means the opposite of what the Book of Darkness believes itself to be: one who supports and blesses others. It is clear that names hold more meaning to God than a way to call someone by,  and when it comes to the meaning of names, remember that Christmas is all about the birth and name of Jesus, who saved us from sins.

And they will call him Immanuel – which means ‘God with us.’

Merry Christmas everyone!

Grisaia no Kajitsu Episodes 8&9: In Search of a Father

The episode starts with Makina “approving” Yuuji to be her father. And thus, he becomes her father. Actually, she initially offered to buy him for 70 million yen (about 700,000 USD…actually less than 600,000 now with these recent rates). Makina is from a family with great political power which is also related to Yuuji’s organization.

Uhh, yay?

Uhh, yay?

USD dollar too strong for conversion

USD dollar too strong for conversion

such family conflicts

such family conflicts

Makina’s father married into the family. However, when he realized the corruption of the family, he tried to sell them out. He was involved in an “accident,” and Makina’s little sister was replaced as the successor to the family when she developed a mental illness. Meanwhile, Makina is growing an apple tree and summer vacation begins. Yuuji explains that despite vacation, she’ll go on a morning 5 kilometer jog and do homework before breakfast every day, followed by training.

"incident," of course

“incident,” of course

I wouldn't want a father like this

I wouldn’t want a father like this

Apparently Yuuji bought something online with Yumiko’s computer. It turns out to be a sniper rifle, and he’s teaching Makina how to snipe. Amane leaves for home during the break, and Yuuji plans to visit his master’s grave in the mountains. He borrows Amane’s motorcycle and they go to visit her. He explains that after his family passed away, he lived with an “acquaintance,” who was a “villain.” His master saved Yuuji from him, and he went to America before coming back to live with Asako, his master. In some ways, she was a mother to him. In the house where Yuuji grew up in the mountains, JB left a picture of the three, and he introduces Makina to Asako. Read the rest of this entry

The Start of All Ages Visual Novel Imports?

As a sort of tangential follow up to a post I wrote months ago, I’d like to highlight recent developments in the otaku culture. I wrote a bit about this before, but here’s some repeated notions as a reminder. Like it or not, a large portion of the otaku culture is visual novels, which are nearly all sexual in content. Despite containing such R-18 material, this is not a quality which discounts the VN medium from being able to produce meaningful stories. Indeed, it can be argued that some of the best stories in VNs have the most forced, out-of-place sex, because creators are trying to appeal to the larger otaku audience. As such, VNs are arguably the hardest area to get into as a Western – and Christian – otaku because almost no one wants to have to deal with the adult content just to get what is supposedly a good story. It’s understandable, even admirable, that such people stick to their beliefs and know where to draw the line. But if you want to minister to otaku, you can’t simply ignore such a huge part of the culture. You can try to read the clean ones, and there are a few, as listed on our very own visual novel recommendations page. But there are still many more which are so great yet have certain content which immediately stops any interest – again, for good reason.

F/SN is originally an eroge

F/SN is originally an eroge

Visual novels have a very niche market in Japan, and while there are console exports which results in removal of sexual content, these were thought never to be marketed toward foreigners. Recently, the company Sekai Project announced plans to release the entire Grisaia trilogy in English. Visual novels have historically had a proportionally small market in the West; Mangagamer and JAST have released a number of popular titles, so it’s wrong to say that official VN translations and sales are unheard of. However, the issue of Christians not wanting to deal with the sexual content remained unchanged – or so I thought. Grisaia is planned to be released as the all ages version. Perhaps it is not a huge surprise they chose Grisaia; it is after all, the current best selling VN on Amazon Japan. To clarify, Grisaia is still very sexual in tone, containing a large amount of sexual jokes and language, which may very well result in people responding the same way they did to the anime despite my (now dead) hype. But there is something to be said about specifically bringing over the all ages versions – they are clearly demonstrating that they want to expand the readership to those who are offended by sexual content.

Initially, Sekai Project mentioned they would be bringing over only the first game’s all ages version. A large number of people questioned the need to remove sexual content (to be fair, partly misunderstanding that all sexual jokes would be removed, which would be quite absurd indeed; it seems only the very extreme ones will be altered) and in fact, a small number of people were outraged at losing out on sexual content (at least they’re being honest). While I as a Christian disagree wholeheartedly with such thoughts, I can sort of understand why people questioned that the all ages version is being brought over. We are talking about something from the most otaku of the otaku culture – not anime, not manga or novels or fanart, but visual novels which are made almost universally with sexual content. Is there really a need to bother with what is arguably a non-existence market of Westerners who are both 1) interested in visual novels and 2) greatly offended by sexual content? Even I don’t think so, but Sekai Project thinks otherwise.

grisaia no rakuen

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Grisaia no Kajitsu Episode 7: The Desire to Be Good

Of the last few episodes, I liked this one the most, but I’m not sure if that’s really just because I quite enjoyed Sachi’s route over the previous two. The anime honestly did an okay job (again, given the constraint of doing an entire route in 1 episode which makes my statement fairly meaningless). They changed how Sachi’s problem was “solved,” which was mandatory, and I will admit it was a good choice but once again any emotional and even logical buildup is forfeited because there was only 1 episode.

The episode begins with a short conversation between Michiru and Sachi. Sachi thinks about how Michiru and Yumiko have changed since Yuuji came. She also notes that even Amane and Makina have become attached to him, but she doesn’t feel about it. While watching TV, Makina tells Sachi they should become women who can count to 10,000 in the bath. Sachi attempts it but ends up fainting from the heat. While asleep, she calls out “Yuu-kun.”

From a full episode ago!

From a full episode ago!

That's how harems work

That’s how harems work

Not strange at all

Not strange at all

What a desirable female trait

What a desirable female trait

Where have we heard this before?

Where have we heard this before?

The next day, Sachi is fine but Yuji has taken the day off. He visits a small park and recalls a young girl who is no doubt Sachi (the actual way he remembered was infinitely more emotionally appealing). Meanwhile, Michiru is complaining about the upcoming exams and asks Sachi to get rid of it. Although Amane scolds her for it, Sachi insists that she will take care of it. Yuuji returns to find Sachi locked up in her room. Yuuji says he’ll take care of the issue. Yumiko mentions how there was a girl who set fire to a school to stop an exam from happening in the past. Sachi, on the other hand, is incessantly repeating “I have to be a good girl.” Read the rest of this entry

Grisaia no Kajitsu Episode 6: Reason for Existence

Okay, first of all, wow. The anime turned the speed up to 11, and we got an entire route in a single episode (and getting a full route next episode too!). To be kind of fair, I predicted large amount of cutting for Yumiko’s route because it was heavy on romance and related things which would cause conflicting plot points if they were included. Furthermore, I probably liked Yumiko’s route least. She’s a fake Gahara with very little personality and her route was basically a melting pot of ojou route tropes, so I really don’t care what kind of butchery they did to her. Even so, it honestly wasn’t super terrible so much as a weird choice to do a “route” like this. That said, this brings into question whether they are just making room for the highly praised (except by me) Amane route or are planning to do the 2nd game Meikyuu as well in the last 2 episodes (length wise, it is about as long as a single route). At this point, I’d be happy to get Meikyuu because then I’d get to write on some more interesting themes that I was debating how to approach should it not be aired. Anyway, let’s move on to the actual episode.

The episode begins with a flashback to when Yumiko decided to stab a schoolmate who was gossiping about her. JB is seen talking to Yumiko’s father who wants to Yumiko to be raised properly as his heir (through any means necessary). He decides to have her “attacked” by his own men.

Cutting people is a great solution

Cutting people is a great solution

Great logic runs in the family, I guess

Great logic runs in the family, I guess

Yumiko leaves the dorm by herself, and Yuuji abruptly follows her out. JB told him that he was ordered to act as her bodyguard, but lose the fight on purpose. Meanwhile, Yumiko is drawing because she says it lets her avoid talking to people. It starts raining and some suspicious men come to attack. Yuuji swiftly beats them up and runs away with Yumiko. She wonders how Yuuji can be so strong and talks about her past. Her mother was condemned for giving birth to Yumiko, a girl, instead of a male heir. They were rejected by their family, and even Yumiko’s mother regrets “if only you were a boy.” Although her father later had a male child through another woman, he died, and her father was forced to accept Yumiko as his heir. Yumiko was ridiculed by everyone because of this, and her father was only interested in raising her as an heir. As a result, Yumiko attacked her classmate, and her father decided to build the school as a birdcage for her.

Nothing, don't worry about it.

Nothing, don’t worry about it.

Not stabbing people might be a good start.

Not stabbing people might be a good start.

Punch punch wham

Punch punch wham

Because science

Because science

Rich people logic: build enormous school as a prison for daughter

Rich people logic: build enormous school as a prison for daughter

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Grisaia no Kajitsu Episode 5: Dying While Living

After the events of last episode, Michiru apparently took an overdose of drugs in her depression. However, a few days later, she appears to be as active and normal as always. Unfortunately, the truth is that this is the “other” Michiru, and only Yuuji sees through her act. She claims that the original Michiru has fallen into a deep darkness in her heart, never to wake again.

Overdosing medication is no problem.

Overdosing medication is no problem.

It's like reverse plot armor.

It’s like reverse plot armor.

Sachi then brings Yuuji a box that Michiru gave to her to hold onto forever. She is apparently troubled that she cannot clean the inside and there is no key available. In exchange, Yuuji “takes care” of the box for her by later “accidently” unlocking it and looking at its contents. He discovers that the other Michiru and the original Michiru had conversations via a diary in the past, and that the other Michiru surfaced as a result of a heart transplant. Michiru requested that the other her take over her body forever because she is unable to handle the sadness of the world when people die. The other her explains to Yuuji that she thinks Michiru deserves to live in the body and that she is not interested in the freedom of having a second life at the cost of Michiru. Yuuji takes this as that he can do whatever he wants to her body – by forcing her to swallow more medication to force the original Michiru’s personality to surface. He says he will do whatever she wants, and she answers that her one wish is to die. Yuuji obliges. Read the rest of this entry

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