Author Archives: TWWK

Charlotte, Episode 9: When Eyes Can’t See

Alright. Didn’t expect that to happen.

Feeling like X-Men more than ever, most of episode nine of Charlotte treats us to a flashback of Yuu’s former life, which turns out to be an incarceration, along with Ayumi, in a facility such as that which once contained Nao’s brother. The episode was storytelling at it’s best in the series, fast-paced yet carefully bringing the viewer along, even as it introduced new, major characters and gave primary roles to others with smaller ones thus far.

charlotte 9a

Part of what was so exciting in this episode, too, was how the audience kept gaining new insights into the show and the characters’ histories, even as Yuu was learning the same. Not until the end of episode nine, and not even then fully, could Yuu see all that was happening and all that had occurred. In fact, the episode used a lot of eye symbolism throughout (Shuu must see to be able to time leap; Yuu is unable to “see” the events of his past; and Shuu’s sight is gone in the modern time – as is Sala’s). That make me think about how for a creature which is often proud of its vision (see technology today and yesterday, cough, Tower of Babel, cough), we’re very limited in what God lets us view.

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Because Nao Tomori Has Been There, Yuu, and Because There’s No Other Response

I have the worst habit of writing quickly, proofreading more quickly (or not at all), and turning in work as fast as possible. All through my youth, I raced to be the first one done in anything school-related. It’s not a good compulsion, and it shows with my blog posts sometimes, as I often forget to make points vital to my main idea.

This rings true for my last two posts about Charlotte, and so I want to take the opportunity to revisit episodes seven and eight and emphasize a couple of points I missed the first time around.

> Charlotte, Episode 7: Ends of the Earth

Addendum: She and HE Can Relate

When Yuu draws near the point of no return (taking drugs is considered super taboo in Japanese culture, as explained by Kaze), there’s only one person that can talk him out of it. Nao is physically able to challenge Yuu, mentally able to trick him, and, as evidenced by Yuu later remembering her words of guilt, emotionally able to connect to him as well. There’s no one else who is able to remotely reach him – not a family member, other student council members, violent thugs, or his past crush. Only Nao.

charlotte 7b

When we drown in our sins – whether in the dregs of depression or the heights of hallow hedonism – we might feel that God is remote. Without having a dynamic relationship with Him, it’s easy to imagine Him as such. Why turn to God when He’s so distant? And if He’s holy as the Bible says, how much more should we hide away? Like a harsh, upright father, God would never understand or have compassion on an unruly son.

But scripture says otherwise:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

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Something More: Death in Totoro, Pokemon Preaching, and Kirito’s Treasure

I’m always happy to link to aniblog posts that touch on spirituality, but sometimes this column is just chock full of amazing articles. I hope you’ll dig into the links below – they’re worth your read, starting with Matthew Newman’s post on Hare Kon and marriage.

For those unfamiliar (which included me until I read Matthew’s article), Hare Kon is a manga about a young lady who marries into a polygamous marriage. A really interesting concept, right? The post’s focus in on the marriage ceremony, in which the presiding pastor mentions the following with regret:

…God is weeping. Though God is lenient, He may not recognize this marriage…still times are changing…at least those of us who are here shall approve this.

This idea that the marriage occurring in the church in this manga is municipally-approved, but not necessarily God-approved, reminded me of the idea that Christians often fall into a hypocrisy they don’t realize, saying that God is the authority for all matters while forming a lifestyle that ultimately places a morality they’ve formed as a mix of culture, religion, family, etc. as the backbone of their lives. For instance, many will will protest about gay marriage, but I think for many that’s more a problem with their feelings of disgust toward homosexuality rather than reverence toward God’s word. After all, a state-mandated union is, well, mandated by the state; it doesn’t mean it’s a marriage in God’s eyes (and the same would certainly go for many – perhaps most – “traditional” marriages as well).

If the Bible is the inspired word of God, and is God is who he says he is and you’ve submitted to him as the ultimate king and authority in your life, let the Bible guide you. Dig into it. Treasure it. And study it – don’t let surface level readings determine your theology, but respect the word of God as something dynamic, deep, and multi-faceted that should humble you as you realize that it, and God, are far more complex than you had imagined.

Read Matthew’s thoughts on Hare Kon:

>> Manga and Theology: Unholy Matrimony

Here are other articles from around the blogosphere:

You’ve heard the theory that My Neighbor Totoro is about death, right? The writers at Lady Geek Girl investigate the claim in detail, looking at how this interpretation relates to the Shinto aspects of the story. [Lady Geek Girl]

We live like we play video games, seeking treasure to store here during our short time on earth. Maybe we should live like Sword Art Online’s Kirito, with a different treasure and different destination in mind. [UEM!]

If you’ll remember, when Pokemon was all the rage, many Christians pastors starting preaching against it as the work of the devil. However, Kelly Bornstedt, who very personally experienced such a sermon, instead finds a lot of Christ-affirming ideas in the franchise. [Geeks Under Grace]

Kiryu’s story in Classroom Crisis brings to mind that of Joseph, the boy with the many-colored coat who would become a commander over Egypt. [2]

Aniblogger Lazarinth replies to a blogger award with a rant on the silliness of faith (warning: contains foul language). [Fantasy and Anime]

Chagum puts his faith in Balsa to protect him in Moriboto, while we, too, have a guardian – but this once infallible and invincible. [Lady Teresa Christina]

Very initial planning for a “Christian Anime Con” is in the works. [Anime Revolution]

As part of the Something More series of posts, 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 to be included. 

Call for New Staff

Beneath the Tangles is looking to add three key positions to our staff. While we understand there is continued interest from potential writers out there, there are no current writing positions available. Instead, we’re looking for individuals who can help us grow our presence on the web.  Here are the positions we are seeking:

  1. Social Media Coordinator: This individual will run day-to-day operations of our social media outlets, particularly our Twitter and Facebook accounts. He or she will have a wide latitude to develop these accounts and will work with TWWK to use funds for account advertising. Applicants should have experience leading or co-leading successful Twitter and FB accounts. Applicants must submit a cover letter outlining his/her interest in the position, experience (including links to social media accounts), and statement of faith.
  2. Web Administrator: In the coming months, Beneath the Tangles plans a site redesign. This individual will redevelop the site as it moves to wordpress.org. He or she will work closely with TWWK in creating a strong functional design for the site, and after the move, will continue upkeep and updates to the site. The applicant will have extensive experience in web or blog design, be comfortable doing coding and other tasks associated with web design, and may have experience with wordpress.org. Applicants must submit a cover letter outlining his/her interest in the position, experience (including links to work), and statement of faith.
  3. Illustrator: The illustrator will develop banners and other original artwork for use with the site. The illustrator is expected to develop a banner for the site move (discussed above) and occasional new banners periodically; icons and other less intensive art for the site; and 2-3 fanart sketches per month. Applicants must be excellent artists with extensive experience creating artwork in anime/manga style. Applicants must submit a cover letter outlining his/her interest in the position and statement of faith, as well as links to a portfolio, deviantArt account, or other illustration site.

We’re seeking individuals who are obviously very talented, and whose faith and commitment matches our own. These are intended to be long-term volunteer positions with our site, and we would rather leave these positions open permanently than add staff without a commitment to the site or to our faith. Still, we hope to add some wonderful individuals to our team! Please send all submission addressed “Beneath the Tangles Application” to TWWK to begin conversation about possibly joining our team.

Charlotte, Episode 8: Response

Episode eight of Charlotte was full of emotion, music, and responses. Almost every thing a character did in the episode was a response to something else. Yuu responds to Sala’s rambling. Sala responds to Yuu’s kindness. Charlotte responds to Yuu’s phone call. Kazuki responds to Sala’s voice.

One after another, events transpire as a result of responses.

charlotte 8a

Life can be a seen as a series of responses, too. I think for those in the working world, we see this very clearly – we respond to our boss’ demands, and if we have people working under us, they respond to what we require.

But on a grander level, we all live life in response to something (or a number of things). We might be reacting to the draw of money or pleasures. We might live according to principles driven into us by incidents or by people with whom we’re intimate. Or – and if we’re willing to admit it, many of us fit this category – we might be like a reed swaying in the wind, moving as the culture dictates.

Of all the responses in this episode of Charlotte, one is on that larger scale, and it’s been in motion ever since episode one, and maybe most fully expressed here. It’s of Yuu’s reply to truth – the truth of his selfishness, the uncovering of his powers, and the kindness shown by Nao.

And in particular, Yuu has learned something significant. He has learned what love really is.

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Patreon: Thank You for Your Donations!

Last month, we conducted our first ever Patreon Drive for Beneath the Tangles to raise funds in further developing the site and increasing awareness of the blog. We’re currently in the planning process for these projects with some expected transitions and fund expenditures to occur later in 2015.

In the meantime, we would appreciate it if your readers would consider becoming a patron of our blog.  We’re asking for a contribution of $2 a month, which seems small but makes a sizable impact on what we’re able to do with our blog.  We of course welcome larger donations as well.  Please visit the link below to find out more information regarding donations:

Support Beneath the Tangles

We’d also like to thank those who have already given!  Please consider visiting our patrons’ sites and accounts:

Tier 2 Partners

Tier 1 Partners

To be listed among our giving partners, please contribute a monthly gift through Patreon.

Charlotte, Episode 7: Ends of the Earth

A lot of things can drive us away from God. Most are subtle, as we replace God in our lives with money, success, lifestyle, relationships, or usually a combination of many things. And sometimes, an event pushes us away from God, as we purposely, in full realization, run away from our maker.

In episode seven of Charlotte, Yuu makes a run for it, hiding away from the world, from his life, from truth, from pain, but most purposely, from Nao.

Angel Beats is not going to make you feel any better, Yuu...

Angel Beats is not going to make you feel any better, Yuu…

I don’t think any of us probably watched this episode thinking that what Yuu was doing was fantastic or absurd. We realize how difficult the time is for him, and how hard it is to bounce back from a tragedy like he endured. Those with anxiety or other difficulties and illnesses probably understand Yuu’s condition even more deeply – once you’ve been pushed over the edge, it feels like an impossible task to do what people are telling Yuu to do – to move on with life.

And so, Yuu runs. He runs away from Nao and the student council, so that they won’t bring him back to the heavy weight of reality. And he runs to a place where he can simply satisfy his basic animal desires, to indulge in things that will keep him from the reality of life. In this way, Yuu reminds me of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32); though some tragedy didn’t push the prodigal to rebel, he did squander the money given him and breathed in “wild living.”

In the end, the prodigal returned to the father – not necessarily out of humility, but just for a place to go. Yuu is still running at the end of the episode, but knowing that he’s never likely to return, his “god” has to meet him more quickly than God met the prodigal.

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Something More: Christian Yo-Kai Watch, Turning Nao’s Cheek, and The Cat Returns (with Purpose)

I think one of the hardest things for a Christian aniblogger to do is to write to a general Christian audience rather than straight to Christian geeks. The level of acceptance and openness in the latter group can be diverse, but the spectrum is much, much wider with the more universal population. In her informative article about Yo-Kai Watch this week, Casey Covel (who also writes for us!) describes the franchise and details items that might be of concern for this more general audience of Christians.

When our bloggers give recommendations or write general information articles, as we did this past week with our manga recommendations, we’re also looking at a broader audience. But I think a further goal is this – we’re trying to educate and bring some Christians along who either are just discovering anime or have a very set-in-stone view about anime and other media that espouses cultural or religious ideas that are counter to Christian ones. And really good articles about media, like Casey’s or those in Christianity Today, accomplish as much, and in doing so, help break down some of the legalistic walls we might have in our hearts.

Check out Casey’s article:

>> What Christians need to know about Yo-Kai Watch

Here are other articles regarding anime/manga and spirituality from around the blogosphere:

The Cat Returns supports the scriptural principle that each of us has purpose and meaning in our lives. [Lady Teresa Christina]

Adding more fuel to the fire that today’s Christian praise isn’t all that great is this song from Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny, which could be argued gives better praise than many songs sung in today’s churches. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

What should Charlotte’s Nao do when getting slapped in the face by her classmates? Turn the other cheek, of course. [Christian Anime Review]

The abandonment by many students of A-TEC in episode three of Classroom Crisis recounts a piece of proverbial wisdom. [2]

Rob notes that Nagi no Asukara might be a good anime for Christians parents to show their children. [Geeks Under Grace]

As part of the Something More series of posts, 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 to be included. 

Manga Recommendations for Christian Readers

Fruits Basket

While our aim is to reach out to readers of all faiths (or none at all) with articles about anime and Japanese culture that spark discussion about spiritual issues, we also want to serve as a resource particularly for Christian audiences.  As such, we’ve developed recommendations pages for Christians interested in anime series and movies and in visual novels.  And today, we’re proud to launch a new page providing manga recommendations for Christian readers:

Manga Recommendations

As always, our recommendations are not based on series that explicitly talk about the Christian faith, feature Christian characters, or even wholly support Christian values.  We applaud series that point readers toward scriptural truths, even as they are presented apart from a Christian context.  As such, these series feature topics like grace, sacrificial love, and humility.  And with an understanding that many Christians are not as willing to dive into all sorts of manga as our writers are, we’re also cognizant of content that some may find offensive in this material, which helped guide our choices (and which we note in our recs).

Take a look at our page if you’re looking for recommendations, and please join in the discussion by mentioning your own recs for Christian readers in the comments section for future visitors to peruse through as well.

Saving Lives: The Impact of Truth on Charlotte’s Nao Tomori

I had a conversation with a college guy from my church this past week.  We talked about how important it is to be straight with people inside and outside of the congregation.  Too often with the latter, we’re guilty of “playing church,” rather than truly loving our brothers and sisters in Christ with the harshness that love sometimes demands.  I think similar things could be said in a lot of different contexts – we would rather skirt around issues than really dive into difficult territory, even as we claim to love those that might be sinking in the troubles of life or in sin.  But why would our simple discomfort keep us from loving people to our utmost?

The answer in some situations – and specifically with church – might be that we’re just not convinced enough, either of the truth of the situation, the need someone has, or even of our love for others.

In Charlotte, Nao Tomori is none of these things.  She’s convinced a) of the truth that these students with special abilities are in danger; b) that they are in need of assistance only she and her student council members can provide; and c) that despite their faults, none of them deserve to go through what her brother did.

charlotte 3b

That last point about her brother in the one that certainly seems to be the motivating factor that’s moved her forward. She was a witness of what occurred – maybe not of the experimentation itself, but of what her brother was once like and how he changed afterward. She is utterly convinced of what these scientists are going to do to other students with powers. Nao has no doubt that her rescue attempts must be done.  Even when other students assault her because of her bluntness, even when she is almost killed by those she wishes to help, Nao continues to do her work because she must.

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