Author Archives: TWWK

Blue Spring Ride, Episode 11: What We Do With Our Time

Episode eleven of Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) begins with a very heavy hand, as in the opening few minutes we finally see why Kou has become the way he has.  Not only do we now see the pain he went through with his mother’s illness (from lung cancer, it turns out) and death, but we also see why Kou pushes back so hard against academic studies.  When his mother was well, she would ask Kou to simply spend time with her watching television, but Kou would refuse, saying he needed to focus on studies in order to eventually make good money, apparently through which he could support his single mother.  Kou was single-minded in his determination.  Studies, at that point of his life, superseded everything, even relationships with family.

And being driven isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  A close family member of mine, a really smart guy, had planned out his young life.  He was going to return to school, open a business, and make a lot of money.  He had the energy and will and smarts to do it all.  But then, tragedy hit.  My family member’s best friend was murdered, and suddenly, all those seemingly worthy goals meant so little.  Since that time, he’s focused much more on the “little things” in life, more absorbed by family than by riches.

Kou’s story is similar, though his motivation is perhaps more pure.  He doesn’t want to make money for himself – he wants to support his mom.  It seems a worthy goal.  But the pain that life sometimes brings gets in the way, and the time that Kou took for granted went away in the blink of an eye (six months).  As Kou remembers his mom’s pleading to spend time with her, the thoughts that run through his mind are transparent – I wish I would have spent more time with her and less time hitting the books.

Ao Haru Ride

Truth told, we don’t know how much time we have in the world.  But one thing I think is true is that no matter how much time we have, it’s never enough.  Time is really so short, and unfortunately it’s usually only through tragedies that we evaluate how precious life really is.

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Blue Spring Ride, Episode 11: Guilt and Despair

My mom moved around from church to church quite often as I was growing up.  I of course, hated that, because as soon as I would establish myself among a group of friends, it seemed, I would be uprooted.  Once, when I was in fourth grade, my church friends and I were working hard for the Christmas pageant we would act in just a few days later.  My Sunday School teacher sternly reminded us, “Makes sure you show up for the pageant!”

It was that day that my mom told me we were leaving that church.  I tried to explain my case, but to no avail.  I was very distraught.  Even today, occasionally, I wonder if they missed me and how it all went (probably fine, as missing Shepherd #2 usually doesn’t effect a Christmas play too much).

That event was something I could nothing about; yet, I felt guilty about it for a long time.  Most of us probably have similar stories – some much more painful than mine.  In episode 11 of Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride), Kou reveals one such story.  As his mother holes up in the hospital with cancer, he receives a call from his brother.  But instead of finding solace with family, Kou can only feel guilt and despair, recalling his brother’s final words before leaving some time earlier – to take care of their mother.  And although Kou has no godly ability to shoo away cancer, nor should he for any rational reason feel guilty, he still does.  He can’t help it.

ao haru ride kou

Guilt is strong. But grace is all the stronger…

For Christians, guilt is a feeling that seems to be part and parcel of the religion.  I think that many outside of Christianity might say as much, seeing guilt as factor in forcing people to make changes in their morality.  And within, many of us may feel guilty falling to a specific sin or to many.

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Something More: Catholicism in Baby Steps, Religion of Eureka Seven, and Idolizing K-On!

What a week for spiritual articles in the blogosphere!  Check out the abundance of posts linked below, a number from bloggers and writers who don’t usually write about religion:

Josiah Harrist beautifully weaves his experiences as the child of missionaries with his viewings of many Studio Ghibli classics. [Christ and Pop Culture]

M.S. O’Brien looks into the Catholic character of Ogata from Baby Steps! [Aliens in This World]

Frank continues to analyze Barakamon from a Christian perspective, finding a number of such themes in episodes seven and eight. [A Series of Miracles]

Frank also looks a yuri-slanted friendships in anime and considers them comparable to the “heavenly friendship” between David and Jonathan of the Old Testament. [2]

R042 dives into the ideas about religion in the world of Eureka Seven in analysis of episode 40. [Ideas Without End]

Medieval Otaku finds the simplicity, tenacity, joy, and dependence of Jinbee in Mushibugyo a model of sainthood. [Medieval Otaku]

Rob uses a picture of a K-On! figma collection to ask questions about idolatry and hobby collecting. [Geeks Under Grace]

Annalyn looks to Fruits Basket, Kuroko’s Basketball, One Week Friends, and Dear Boys for examples of characters who demonstrates a selfless, biblical love. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

Ogiue Maniax looks to a religious example to illustrate the arrogance of the Orbital Knights in Aldnoah.zero. [Ogiue Maniax]

As part of the Something More 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.

Terror in Resonance Episode 9: Two-Way Gospel

The rules and structure of the early episodes of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) have long been forgotten.  We’re now on a tense, thrilling ride to the end, where uncovering of the truth and simply guessing what will happen next leads to breathtaking moments as much as the action sequences.

Episode nine of Terror in Resonance follows our three heroes, who only a couple of episodes ago were briefly brought together, as they go separate ways.  Nine speeds up Sphinx’s ultimate plan; Shibazaki finds out the horrible truth; and Twelves dives into a trap to rescue Lisa.

zankyo no terror

First, let’s talk Shibazaki, whose heroics continue to enthrall.  Though his storyline could be mundane and boring, Shinichiro Watanabe uses his character well to uncover the past of Five, Nine, Twelve, and the other children (who we now know did not survive).  It’s a wonderful plot device, as we grow to root for another character whose journey garners our interest, when more conventional anime storytelling would have just revealed the entire background in flashback sequences.

Shibazaki’s investigation in this episode also further reveals the deep, troublesome questions at the heart of the series – the depths of evil that humanity is capable of.  Indeed, the comparison is made to the awful experiments that the Nazis conducted on undesirables, which fits more than just at a surface level.  The older gentleman that Shibazaki and his partner question seems quite reasonable, and indeed, he tries to subtly shift blame for his activities.  But Shibazaki directs a question to him, and to the audience as well – at what point are we complicit, where standing idly by, or just following directions, makes us culpable in wrong?  The depravity of humanity is such that too many people, both in the past (particularly during World War II) and today, cross that line and never turn back.

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Fact Check: Claymore Teresa’s Only Thing to Live For

Created and developed far from Europe and the Americas, and conceived in a country where less than 1% of the populace is Christian, manga could hardly be called out for inaccurately portraying Christianity.  It would be silly for calling out mangaka for getting the story of Christ wrong or for presenting the Bible as “just another religion.”  Still, manga is full of religious references to God and gods, which presents a great opportunity to discuss matters of spirituality.  And that’s the idea behind this new series of posts, Fact Check, in which I’ll investigate some of the claims of anime and manga characters and weigh them against the truth of scripture.

Warning: Today’s post is part of a HUGE spoiler from recent chapters of Claymore.

The Claim

Today’s claim comes from Teresa, Claymore extraordinaire and perhaps the greatest of all her type (until her shocking demise).  In chapter 150, Teresa has returned as someone transforming from within Clare, and during these sequences, she has a conversation with former protege:

Teresa of the Faint Smile

So, the claim is this: If God exists, in Teresa’s view, she has only one thing for which to be thankful. Read the rest of this entry

Blue Spring Ride Episode 10: Realization and Confession

The more I watch Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride), the more I see myself in Futaba.  And that’s unsettling, not because of her faults, but lately because of her strengths, which are more on display in episode ten than in any of the others to date.

This episode begins where the last left off, with the group of five new friends continuing to study at Kou’s residence, though now, Futuba is unable to concentrate as the envy bug has bitten her.  In the last episode, it was Yuri who felt envy at the special relationship between Kou and Futuba, but now it’s the other girl’s turn to feel the same as she wonders what the “nothing” is that the her friend and ex share.  It eats her up inside and, as is her character, Futaba is so consumed with it that she goes back to Kou’s house, after everyone has left, to confront him.  And there she discovers the secret that Yuri had stepped into – Kou’s mother is deceased, and this is the reason for his change in personality.

Ao haru ride

So sly, Futuba, with eyes not looking at the study material. So sly.

This sequence of events is probably something most of us can relate to.  We think one thing of a person and later find out that we failed to realize something else.  For instance, we might honk at a car in front of us who’s driving far below the speed limit, only to pass it and find an elderly person behind the wheel (though to be honest, we might’ve honked even knowing that).  Or we might get mad at a friend who’s late for dinner, only to later discover it wasn’t her fault.

In my life, this episode was timely, as I had just finished having an episode of my own with my wife.  Our fights sometimes work along these lines – one person gets mad at the other for being inconsiderate or not supportive enough, only to find that the other person has a burden of his or her own and just didn’t have enough left to give.  And per usual, once this comes out, understanding abounds and both sides pour out love and forgiveness.

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Send Us Your Suggestions for Our Live Stream Event

Our staff at Beneath the Tangles is committed to engaging our readers through interaction and great content.  As such, we continue to explore new ways to bring you our views on anime and spirituality, such as with the podcast, and to have you participate in our community here.  To that end, we’ll be having our first live stream on the night of Saturday, September 20th 9 PM EST through Ustream! We will be discussing our thoughts on the ending summer 2014 season as well as hopes and expectations for the coming fall 2014 season, with a highlight on the Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works anime. As it is a live stream, we hope you will engage in the discussion as well!

We’ll send out notifications the night of the 20th with links to the stream through our social networks, but you can get a notification straight to your mailbox by emailing us now with the subject line, “Live Stream.”  Alternatively, you can personalize your streaming experience by registering for a free Ustream account and following us there to receive notifications every time we go live. Registration will also allow us and others to distinguish your username when chatting during the live stream.

We also want some feedback from you!  While we hope for your real-time interaction, you can also help us prepare for the night, which will focus on reviewing series from summer 2014 and previewing ones from the upcoming fall season.  Which summer 2014 anime series would like to see us review?  Which fall 2014 series would you like to see us preview? 

Comment your suggestions below or tweet them to us! We hope you can make it to enjoy the night of our first (of many) Beneath the Tangles live stream event!

Something More: Jesusmonogatari, GGO’s False Prophet, and Christian Writers on Ghibli

School is back in session for most students, which means that summer is coming to a close.  That means the fall season of anime is just around the corner.  Can you believe it?  But writers continue to blog wonderful articles for the shows coming to a close for the summer season, including those below.

Medieval writes that Nisemonogatari “wished to scoff at a central tenet of Christianity,” as he describes allusions in the series to Christ and the Virgin Mary. [Medieval Otaku]

Frank continues to find excellent lessons for Christian living in Hanayamata, this time looking at episodes 7 and 8 and at lessons in discouragement and transformation [A Series of Miracles]

D.M. Dutcher finds in Yurika of Rokujyoma?! a character who shares similar struggles to evangelizing Christians. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

In reviewing episode eight of Sword Art Online 2, Rob warns of “false prophets” as he describes symbolic gestures by Death Gun. [Christian Anime Review]

The writers at Christ and Pop Culture show their appreciation for Studio Ghibli in reminiscing about some of their favorite films from the studio. [Christ and Pop Culture]

As part of the Something More 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.

Terror in Resonance Episode 8: Orphans

 And now we’re grown up orphans
And never knew their names
We don’t belong to no one
That’s a shame
But you could hide beside me
Maybe for a while
And I won’t tell no one your name
And I won’t tell ‘em your name

After the thrilling action in the last episode of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror), episode eight tunes down the action, while still keeping the tone nervous and tense.  Five discovers the apartment at which Nine, Twelve, and Lisa are staying and blows it up.  And though the group relocates, a guilty Lisa leaves the guys, and in the process gets herself captured.

zankyou no terror episode 8

Meanwhile, Shibazaki, now effectively forced from being a detective, continues his investigation, and finds out what the audience had likely guessed, that all this can be traced back to experimentation on “gifted” orphans – namely Five, Nine, and Twelve among a host of others taken from orphanages.

The vileness of the actions against these kids, seven years ago, is obvious, but maybe expected.  This is, after all, what crooked politicians do in anime and movies – immoral things to advance their goals without thinking about how it destroys others.  Their tinkering has come back to haunt them, of course, in the forms both of Sphinx and of Five, a monster they’ve unleashed.

Their target made sense – after all, who would miss a group of orphans?  That must have been the officials’ pattern of thought as they took children away from churches andp other institutions.  They experimented on them, hurt them, and stripped the children of their identities, so much so that they didn’t even keep their names, hence the numbers by which they know one another.

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Free! Eternal Summer Episode 10: And Make Disciples of All Swimmers

I’m not a terribly big fan of Free!  I really don’t remember season one too well, and two has been meh for me as well.  But beginning with the last episode, the series has really picked up, and in episode ten, it does something really unexpected – it takes all the build up from this season and a lot from the last and makes it pay off in a way that doesn’t feel pushy or unnatural.  In that way, episode ten felt, well, kinda free.

In this week’s episode, the focus lands squarely upon Sousuke, as he finally gets a chance to shine.  As the emphasis of the lesser subplot this season, Sousuke doesn’t get a super thorough back story, but the few minutes spent on it in this episode were enough.  We view Rin through Sousuke’s eyes, and see how Rin’s actions and thoughts through the years impacted him and ultimately helped turn him into a better person, one who once approached swimming selfishly, but now did it purely for friendship, even through physical pain.

Sousuke Yamazaki

…together as a team – a total change in the “why”

But note this – Sousuke doesn’t take that final step toward making change in his life until he sees Rin compete in the relay with Makoto, Nagisa, and Haru.  In that moment, the climax of season one, Rin became a “true believer.”  And in that moment, Rin and the Iwatoba team served as witnesses to Sousuke, who would eventually transform as well.

Notice the way the personal transformation in this series works.  Through demonstrating love toward Rin, the Iwatoba boys help push Rin toward change.  By demonstrating a loving coaching style toward his team, his teammates do the same.  And by showing love for one another, Sousuke is pushed toward change.  All this transformation is almost infectious.

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