Author Archives: Kaze

Lost in Translation: Charlotte’s Cultural Differences

With the recent episode of Charlotte, a point was brought to my attention that reminded me just how much Westerners miss out on things related to Japanese culture. While I have a different post I wanted to write, it in fact connects to this. When I previously described things lost in translation, I also mentioned cultural differences. My guess is that these cultural differences usually do not play a significant role in the plot or story. A lot of them often go over our heads as we don’t even realize we missed something. But sometimes we notice them; we notice them and interpret them according to our culture rather than Japan’s.

Episode 7 of Charlotte focuses on Yuu’s descent into madness as he is overcome with grief at the death of Ayumi. He starts off simply holed up in his apartment, eating nothing but delicious cup ramen. He escapes the school, takes an unhealthy amount of joy in a videogame, and then begins abusing his powers to win street fights. Finally, just as he is about to turn to drugs, Nao kicks some sense into him, literally. There are a lot of ways to interpret this scene but most likely there are no Westerners who reacted the way it was written to be. How bad are drugs, really? Conservatives might view the scene in agreement: drugs are very dangerous and cross a line which should not be crossed. Others don’t see it as that bad: drugs are not inherently such an evil depending on the circumstances and what kind of drug, so maybe this was a circumstantial implication. Still others don’t see how it’s so much worse than his previous state: Yuu was already stabbing people, causing serious bodily harm and enjoying it; didn’t he already cross a big line? But it’s hard to remember when thinking about this scene that you are painting the scene with your idea on drugs. And it’s harder to realize that a culture exists with a completely different view because even if your ideas are based on facts, they aren’t based on relevant facts – the relevancy here being Japanese culture.

Yuu_drugs

I won’t pretend to be an expert on how drugs work in Japan, but I feel I am knowledgeable enough to shed some light and make people rethink this scene from a different viewpoint. Basically, drugs are a huge taboo in Japan. No one wants anything to do with drugs, the yakuza wouldn’t touch drugs with a ten kilometer pole, and if anyone found out you used drugs, they would probably turn you in and never want to speak to you again. You can very realistically lose your job and place in society once people find out you use drugs; they are simply viewed as that horrible. It is probably nothing like how it is in your country and culture. When Yuu is about to take drugs, it is a very clear depiction that he is about to cross a line that should never be crossed. This is understood and felt by the Japanese audience because it’s a real reflection of their culture and upbringing. Even if you agree with or accept this depiction, it will fail to invoke the same level of feelings or reactions as it would from a Japanese viewer.

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Spring Anime 2015 Review (Part 3/3)

Did you enjoy yesterday’s review? Here’s another packed post reviewing this past season’s anime!

Euphonium

Sound! Euphonium
Hibike! Euphonium

stardf29 – 10/10

Yes, you read that right; I am giving this show a perfect score. And this show most definitely deserves it. This show has everything I could ask for in a concert band-themed anime. The characters are all very strong, as both main and side characters get great development individually and relationally, coming off as very realistic and multidimensional. The overall storyline does a great job of exploring the concert band experience, and many times I could really relate to the show because it reminded me so much of my own school concert band experience. At the same time, the concepts of participating in an activity seriously or not, and being inspired by and having to compete with others pursuing a shared goal, are things anyone can relate to. Kyoto Animation brings incredible production values to the show as expected, with the music being an especially strong point as the band sounds very authentic, even when they are not playing very well. Though when they do play well, it is some of the best music I have ever heard in anime. Oh, and there’s plenty of great comedy amidst all the drama, too! Any flaws with this show are just nitpicks that are up to personal preference, and the only “problem” with this show is that I want more than just the thirteen episodes we got. This show has definitely earned its spot among my all-time favorite anime (my 5th favorite, specifically), and it is a show I would wholeheartedly recommend to any anime fan.

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Spring Anime 2015 Review (Part 2/3)

Did you enjoy yesterday’s review? Here’s another packed post reviewing this past season’s anime!

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Kilroy–I mean, Hestia–was here!

Is it Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in the Dungeon?
Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou Ka

Medieval Otaku – 6/10

The main problem with Danmachi lies in that the essentially RPG fantasy setting is overused these days.  Otherwise, one can’t deny that this is a fun fantasy romp.  People complain of the fanservice, but I don’t think of it as that bad in comparison to other shows.  The female characters are all quite interesting; though, Bell still strikes me as a bland harem lead.  What more might I say?  The animation was well done, the action engrossing, and the humor quite amusing—especially in regard to the many women in the hero’s life.  A good show, but it still leaves something to be desired.

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Spring Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

As the summer season is nearly upon us, it is time for our spring anime review of 2015! This season we have a ton of anime to review by our diverse writers, so do look forward to seeing most of the season’s anime getting reviewed (though we certainly missed some nonetheless!).

Kiniro-Mosaic

Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic

Japesland – 7/10

I actually didn’t start the season with this show. I had seen the first season, and though I liked it, it really wasn’t anything spectacular considering all of the other 4-koma schoolgirl comedies out there. But I changed my mind a few episode in and decided to catch up. If you know anything about my rating system, a 7/10 is nothing to sniff at, and with that in mind, I quite enjoyed this second season of Kiniro Mosaic. The hilarious use of the Japanese language, and many cultural nods (but accurate and not) give it a bit of a feeling similar to classics like Azumanga Daioh, and while I don’t think Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic will be making many “best of” lists, it’s definitely one to consider checking out if you enjoy the genre.

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Digimon Adventure: The Skullgreymon in the Room

I recently watched the Digimon live stream of the entire first season. It was a pretty fun, nostalgic watch, especially reading all the live comments from other fans made for a more interesting experience. I realized several things about Digimon that ran counter to my thoughts based on a mixture of nostalgia, realism, and incorrect memories. I initially recall Digimon being slowly paced, but its pacing is actually pretty darn good. While suffering the syndrome of “monster of the week,” each episode provides necessary growth of the characters (in this case, literal digivolving). When you think about it, they put in 5 arcs into 54 episodes, which made for little downtime.

A fun fact I realized is the battle in the real world takes place in Odaiba, and the famous Tokyo Big Sight is featured several times. Since the time period was also early August, this further meant the battle occurred just prior to summer Comiket! The chat had some fun joking that Digimon was really about saving Comiket. Also, apparently the soundtrack abused Bolero a lot more than I recall. Sometimes it didn’t even make sense to be playing such a song but there it was, playing in the background. Aside from obvious usage of stock footage, I also realized Digimon is quite poorly animated at times. Abrupt scene transitions and points where a couple seconds were very clearly cut indicates that there were some production issues, or possibly simply due to episode time constraints and not caring how bad the results looked. There were numerous places I couldn’t help but admit “yeah, this is some really bad animation quality,” but hey it’s Digimon, one of my most nostalgic childhood shows, so whatever.

Skullgreymon

One of the most impactful moments in Digimon to me as a child was the digivolution of Greymon into Skullgreymon. Rewatching it was…well a lot less exciting than I recall. Instead, a statement later on is made that I must have forgotten. I recalled Taichi’s forced methods as a cause of Greymon’s incorrect evolution. However, the reason was slightly different in that it was an incorrect display of courage – but technically courage nonetheless. Taichi does display a form of courage, what his crest resembles, but it was one where he purposely put himself in danger for the sake of power. It was not the forceful actions but rather a twisted form of courage which gave birth to Skullgreymon.

Christianity is known for many things today, oftentimes bad things. There are too many outspoken people who call themselves Christians while spewing hate and slander towards others. It is amazing that these people can claim to love Jesus and God while wishing death upon others. It is perhaps an extreme, modern example of the Pharisees, except these people today do not even necessarily hold positions of power or education. They are merely people who put others down to raise themselves up, at least in their own minds. This cannot even be called a twisted form of love – it is malice, plain and simple.

But what about more “normal,” everyday Christians? There are plenty of examples of Christians who don’t condemn others. Some might not be able to help judging, but they do have enough self-control to stop themselves from acting on those thoughts. In fact, some Christians are so inclined to avoid conflict, they won’t even bring up these issues with their fellow Christians. And this avoidance is the opposite problem of condemning people who aren’t Christians. It is a problem that probably crosses the mind of most Christians at some point in time, but very few will actually bring the topic up, perhaps afraid of confrontation. Those who do are often quickly shut down with excuses like “it’s not a big deal.” And I’m not necessarily referring to extreme problems like murder but smaller, everyday sins that, while understandable, are nonetheless wrong.

Allowing such actions by fellow Christians to occur right in front of us might be called a form of love for them – we are willing to accept them despite their flaws, forget their struggles with sin, and focus only on loving them for who they are. But in reality, like Taichi’s twisted form of courage, this is a twisted form of love. Read the rest of this entry

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.

Meikyuu1

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!

death parade 2

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!

idol 2

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.

CuteHighPromotional

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

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