Author Archives: Kaze

Grisaia no Meikyuu: As One Who Suffers

I know most people didn’t manage to get through Grisaia no Kajitsu, and that’s fine since it was a lot worse than I was hoping. Regardless, the sequel has begun, and this is where the overall theme starts coming together. In the first season, in what may appear to be a relatively standard harem, Yuuji saves all the girls from their different problems, giving them reasons to live for the future without being dragged down by their pasts. Some have argued he was depicted as a perfect protagonist – someone who could apparently do anything that was required to help the girls, even in the most absurd situations. And a protagonist with no apparent faults is indeed a common problem in anime. But as Meikyuu reveals and Rakuen will expand on, Yuuji is hardly a perfect protagonist. In fact, he is as broken and hurting as much as the heroines, if not more.

Yuuji was unluckily born as the younger brother of his sister Kazuki, an absolute genius. Always being compared to her, nothing he did was ever approved of, and his parents ignored him in favor of Kazuki. Although Kazuki, who treated him as her precious brother, was his only source of comfort and happiness, she soon dies in an accident, leaving him alone. Because of the expectations in Kazuki to bring them money, his father becomes a violent drunk, and his timid mother does nothing but apologize. Eventually, he runs away together with his mother, and the two build a simple life of solitude away. One day, his father tracks him down and begins to rape the mother, demanding she produce another genius like Kazuki in his madness and greed. In response, Yuuji slams a bottle of alcohol onto his head, killing him. His mother sends him to run away, saying she’ll follow shortly; however, he eventually returns and finds she has committed suicide instead.

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Mentally broken, Yuuji is adopted by one of his father’s acquaintances Oslo. It is here that Yuuji’s life truly takes a turn for the worse. Oslo is all kinds of messed up, partly because he is in fact a terrorist. He begins by forcing Yuuji to crossdress like a doll and sexually harasses him. One of Oslo’s men also physically abuses him until eventually Yuuji snaps and kills him. Oslo, however, is pleased to find Yuuji is a killer and enrolls Yuuji in his personal child terrorist training facility. Here, he learns how to be a cold blooded killer and many related skills. Furthermore, the children are all given drugs to “help” their focus on murder. After completion of the training, Yuuji moves on to become a tool of Oslo’s who assassinates people for the sake of financial or political gains. At this point in his life, Yuuji cannot be said to even have his own will. Between feeling he is the cause of his parents’ deaths after seeing his mother’s suicide, being forced into kill or be killed situations, and having no reason to continue living yet no reason to die either, he is merely an empty shell who does as he is dictated. Read the rest of this entry

Winter Anime 2015 Review (Part 3/3): Death Parade

For the final part of our winter anime 2015 review, we’ll be changing the format to highlight a particular show: Death Parade!

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Death Parade
Death Parade

Japesland – 7/10

I picked up Death Parade a little late, and only because of Sean’s (our podcast’s co-host) recommendation, and when I was starting it I found myself pleasantly surprised as I recognized the setting and character’s of the short film, Death Billiards. I had no idea the productions were related (and I think Kaze is the only other person I knew who had even seen Death Billiards, except for maybe Sean). After the series finally kicked off its first few episodes I was thoroughly enjoying it and reasonably engrossed. I’m an absolute sucker for something episodic that tickles your philosophical funny bone, hence why I love Mushishi, and Death Parade scratched that itch enough to earn an 8/10 (I score I rarely give, I might add!). I finally had to drop it down a point, though, because the end just did not manage to maintain the atmosphere I had learned to love throughout the show, operating on some rather strange character transformations and assuming some development that did not actually occur. Had it ended on a cliffhanger, much like Death Billiards, I think I might have liked it more. That said, it’s still a worthwhile watch.

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Winter Anime 2015 Review (Part 2/3)

Today we continue our review of the winter 2015 anime season with reviews of Aldnoah.zero 2, Junketsu no Maria, Drrrx2, Dog Days”, Parasyte, and The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella GirlsAnd tune in tomorrow for a finale that we’re approaching a little differently!

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The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls

stardf29 – 8/10

The original iDOLM@STER anime started off slow but ended up really good; Cinderella Girls keeps up the quality of the original while having a stronger start. The first seven episodes are especially strong, with a good plot line that explores a lot of both the excitement and disappointments of entering the entertainment industry (as well as providing me with plenty of blog material). The character focus episodes that followed were all very solid, too, if not as strong as the show’s first quarter. The development of the producer character is yet another strong point that this show has inherited from its predecessor. Overall, this show looks to be every bit as good as, if not better than, the original iM@S anime and I am definitely looking forward to the second half this summer.

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Winter Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

It’s that time again, where the season’s anime comes to a close and the anticipation of the new one begins. With so many new writers here at Beneath the Tangles, this time we’ll be giving a far more diverse set of reviews than usual!  Up today are Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!, Koufuku Graffiti, Your Lie in April, Shirobako, Rolling Girls, and Ace of Diamond.

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Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!
Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!

Annalyn – 5/10

I like to have at least one ridiculous anime on my watching list at all times, one that guarantees laughter. I need something I don’t care about, don’t plan to blog about, and won’t procrastinate on. Cute High fulfilled that need. It’s a parody of magical girl anime, which means it takes a genre already filled with cheese and makes it cheesier. There are times when I considered giving it less than 2.5/5 stars, but I had too much fun laughing at the magical boys, their exaggerated conflict, the ridiculous enemies, and the cheesy English names for their “love”-powered moves. Oh, and the writer knew exactly how ridiculous the English was. They weren’t even trying to be grammatically correct with the “More Better Love Shower,” let alone Yumoto’s end-of-fight catchphrase, “Love is over!” They milked the tropes for all they were worth, but they managed to surprise me, too, including a plot twist in the last episode. There were a couple annoying instances of suggestive humor, but overall, this was a fun, brainless view.

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Rewrite Part 4: The Meaning of Salvation

After several years, the Earth has become survivable again, and Kotarou and Kagari have grown into an enormous tree in the short time, very reminiscent of Sakuya’s end. The five heroines come together again, this time as people who are no longer carrying the emotional baggage that resulted from the war 10 years prior to the start of the common route.  This is a factor in the difference between Terra and the other routes that hits far closer to home than the near abstract idea of humanity’s survival. When Kotarou follows the true route, much like when we walk the path that God lays before us, the emotional baggage that ties down the heroines is gone. It does not leave them; it is never there to begin with. This is very much like how God’s forgiveness of our sins, our burdensome weight of guilt, is forgiven. Jesus died for us in the past but his sacrifice then was enough to wipe all sins of the past, present, and in our case, future. It is like we never sinned in the first place. Unfortunately, we did sin, and we continue to sin. As sinful people, we continue to jump back and forth between following God and following our own desires. However, at the end of the path of detours and sin, when we reach heaven to be with God, that is when our sin will be permanently gone, because God cannot coexist with sin. Thus, we will be like the Rewrite heroines, who are completely free of the emotional baggage that they are not even aware of exists; our sin will be gone because Jesus’ sacrifice (Kotarou’s sacrifice) wiped them away before we even knew about it.

Rewrite-menu

The heroines summon Kotarou from the tree, and he appears before them much like he normally did. Note that this is largely Kotori’s influence as her selfishness (and love) causes him to take the form of how she imagines him to be. They demand he obeys him, expecting him to be their familiar much like Sakuya was to Chihaya (in this timeline, Chihaya never made a contract with Sakuya); however, he does not listen to them and instead takes them to the Moon, where they find a small sapling growing amongst the regolith, which is the slow but sure rebirth of Moon Kagari, completing Kotarou’s wish to see her again. Kotarou’s refusal to listen to the heroines is much like a common relationship with God. Christians sometimes expect God to grant them their desires or only turn to Him when they are in trouble. However, God has His own plans for us, and drags us along for the ride – it is only at the end of the ride that we realize just how superior it was to our own plans. Read the rest of this entry

Rewrite Part 3: Terra, the Path of Salvation

At the start of Terra, a teenage Kotarou and his family have recently moved to Kazamatsuri. His parents work at Martel, a part of Gaia. His neighbor’s family has a very young girl by the name of Kotori (!?). His parents attended Gaia’s meetings, but Kotarou spent his time hunting UMAs, which were actually familiars. However, one day, he encounters a much stronger familiar. Just as it attacks him, he is saved by Esaka and his knights. Kotarou falls unconscious but looks for Esaka and the two become friendly. Meanwhile, Kotarou is asked to take care of a young girl named Akane (!?). Akane seems to be affiliated with Gaia while Kotori notes that she wants nothing to do with Gaia and its meetings. As Kotarou’s teenage life unfolds, he ends up running away from home and joins Esaka and Guardian. He is put in a trainee team consisting of himself, Imamiya, Touka, and Nagai. However, this is a team of “unskilled” people, the ones who ranked lowest on the initial exam. Nagai eventually quits, but Kotarou gets stronger.

Eventually, the battle of Guardian and Gaia is about to start. Although the team is ordered on stand-by, Imamiya rushes in, followed by Touka and Kotarou. On the way, he encounters Akane who is cowering in the trees. Although he saves her and attempts to help her escape, he runs into another girl…Kagari, the Key, being born into the world. It is here that Kotarou is given a very important choice: try to attack her or run away. If the reader chooses to attack her, he will nearly be killed, end up in a coma, awaken to find the beginning of the common route, and another inevitable route to humanity’s destruction. In other words, from the very beginning, this part of Terra had already happened before the common route began, which explains a number of questions the readers may have had. However, in Terra route, there is another option Kotarou can take: run away and let Kagari escape. Read the rest of this entry

Rewrite Part 2: The Moon of Possibilities

After completion of the five heroine routes, the two-part true route is unlocked: Moon and Terra. Moon route takes place on the moon but at the same time, it is more than that. On the moon exists Moon Kagari, who is tirelessly working on “something.” Koutarou cannot even begin to comprehend it; in fact, when he merely looks at it, it causes his head to undergo intense pain. This is not due to things such as brightness or a similar phenomenon; it is the result of the information being laid out simply being beyond human capacity for comprehension. By simply glancing at it, the human brain is overloaded with information. What we learn is that Kagari is working with what can be described as all the timelines in existence, akin to the akashic records. As a result, the moon where they reside is not the moon as we know it but rather a plane of existence that exists outside of time itself. The so called theorem which Moon Kagari works on has the ability to contain all timelines in existence. The map branches endlessly like a tree, with each line representing a different possibility. However, each line also meets its doom, the end of humanity. In fact, the five heroine routes were also a part of this tree of possibilities, all failures leading to humanity’s destruction, and this Moon Kotarou is the accumulation of all past Kotarous into a single being. What Kagari is looking for is the one timeline in which earth and humanity can survive. She makes adjustments to each “experiment,” and watches the earth proceed from its origin, only to eventually meet another end. She can also choose when to make branches, at any point in time. With the simplest tweak, she watches the butterfly effect unfold yielding yet another failure.

Moon  Kagari systematically working through each and every "route" of humanity

Moon Kagari systematically working through each and every “route” of humanity

This existence outside of time parallels God’s existence outside of time. He too watches not just us but all points in time at once. Furthermore, the idea of heaven existing “above” us is only symbolically. The Moon is not a place which exists in the same spatial plane; it transcends the idea of time and space. Heaven is also a place that does not exist in any defined place as we know it. It exists, together with God, in a place that is not affected by the flow of time. Moon route speaks of time, but only vaguely, because Kotarou has no ability to keep track of time. This is perhaps a perfect representation of the common arguments and theories about what actually happened during creation. Did God literally create the world in 6 days or is that a metaphor for evolution or something else entirely? The answer is, if we used Rewrite as a basis, perhaps everything. Kagari controls the creation of life, but for the most part, watches it unfold. God, too, possibly set up the necessary components for the creation of life, but otherwise watched without involving Himself too much. A day in Moon route means nothing because the concept of time does not apply to it. However, the Bible uses words like “day” because it is the best way to communicate with us, who cannot grasp the concept of God. However, by reading Moon route and how Kagari works toward the creation of life, one can come far closer to imagining how God may have worked when He created us.

Of course, all of this may seem far-fetched or incomprehensible. Read the rest of this entry

Dive Into the World of Rewrite

While we have decided to focus on Key this year for Easter week, we will be heavily focused on Key’s fairly recent work Rewrite. Unlike with previous works, the main writer Jun Maeda took leave and was replaced with the successful Romeo Tanaka (Cross Channel, Yume Miru Kusuri, Humanity Has Declined). Taking a very different approach to their usual tearjerker stories, Rewrite takes on a far more serious tone. However, as the story accumulates towards it true end, we see more than just Christian themes that stories tend to portray. Rather, an amazing parallel of the Christian God, His plans for us, and both the physical and spiritual meaning of our relationship with God unfolds. While we adamantly recommend reading the novel prior to this several-part analysis, we understand that our readership is very unlikely to take the time to read through such an enormous amount of text. As such, we will first summarize the five heroine routes in this post, followed by a more detailed explanation of the finale alongside Christian parallels, and finally culminate to a final post on the overarching interpretation of the story. Unfortunately, Rewrite is an incredibly complex piece of writing such that even some who have read the novel find themselves very confused. The summaries were attempted to be as informative yet concise as possible, but it simply is not possible to achieve such a perfect balance. Once again, we HIGHLY recommend reading the novel first, and truly hope you will take the time to do so but in the event that you feel you will not, read on, and hopefully, it will inspire you to take up the full novel otherwise.

As with nearly all modern visual novels, the reader first traverses the “common route,” with the reader’s choices leading to one of the story’s main heroines and her respective route… or one of the bad ends as well. Rewrite follows this convention, introducing the reader to the city of Kazamatsuri, a place run on strict environmentalist principles (which becomes a theme throughout the story, though later subverted).

It is in this part of the visual novel that Kotarou Tennouji, the main character and the perspective from which the reader reads the visual novel, is introduced as your average Japanese high school student… with the ability to “strengthen” himself to have greater-than-human physical abilities. Of course that part is downplayed for the most part, in favor mostly of building the exposition of Kotarou’s normal high school life in his very “green” place of residence.

Kotarou meets, arguably, all of the most important characters during this route, beginning with side character Yoshino. Yoshino serves as Kotarou’s “rival”/school buddy as well as primary comic relief for the most part (if you are familiar with Clannad, think Sunohara). As ridiculous of a character as Yoshino is (though rather hilarious at times), he serves an important purpose at points throughout the different routes in the story. The cast of heroines are then introduced in turn.

Kotarou first encounters Kotori in the story, the obligatory childhood friend found in nearly all galge. “Lost” and fast asleep in the woods (yay foreshadowing!), Kotarou finds her at the request of her mother and brings her back home.

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Obligatory childhood friend, Kotori.

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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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