Author Archives: TWWK

OreGairu 2, Episode 13: Requests and Wise Words

Last night, against my better judgement, I stayed up late to catch the finale of Oregairu 2. It…wasn’t worth staying up for. A strange episode, it seemed to be hammering home the same problems from the last few episodes without offering much of a solution, while breaking Yukino down so quickly and so almost-completely that I felt it negated a lot of the slow, steady work that Oregairu has given us for two full seasons.

oregairu 13a

Then again, being an unabashed fan, I still enjoyed it, especially since we got an episode full of interaction between our main characters. Plus, we got what seemed to me an episode that was very light on concluding (it kinda gave a concluding tone, but only slightly, and didn’t give us any final glimpse of all the supporting characters we love) and heavy on “see you for another season, or at least another OVA,” particularly with Yukino giving a request that we as the audience don’t hear.

For an episode focusing on Yukino and her search for identity, the pivot point of the episode comes from airheaded Yui, who demonstrates both a sacrificial heart and a wisdom that she’s hinted at all along – a deep knowledge of who she is, faults and all, and how people think.  Yui tells Yukino that she can depend on her, but Hachiman intervenes, stating that Yukino needs to do what she’s preached all along as the president of the volunteer club – she must find her own way. But the interesting thing here is that Yui insists that she knew Hachiman would say as much, as if she arranged that situation so that Hachiman would say what he needed to say and Yukino would hear what she needed to hear.

Surprise! That's what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Surprise! That’s what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Yui, you sly dogRead the rest of this entry

Welcome Our Newest Writer, Casey!

Do you know the saying, “God works in mysterious ways?”  I really felt that to be true a few weeks ago when Casey Covel (Geeks Under Grace) and I started chatting about her taking a role with Beneath the Tangles.  What I haven’t told anyone until now was that her work was at the forefront of my mind the days before she reached out to me, and I wondered if I should invite her to join even before we spoke.  Coincidence, possibly, but I think of it as something more divinely arranged.

In short, Casey has joined our staff here at Beneath the Tangles, and we are thrilled!  Check out our interview below and please welcome her to the community!

TWWK: How did you become a fan of anime and manga?

Casey: Growing up, anime influenced a lot of the media I enjoyed, primarily my video games, many of which had anime-inspired art styles (Fire Emblem, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Ace Attorney, etc.). I always found the anime art style attractive because it captured… something… that American cartoons did not–emotions, drama, original designs, bold storytelling, and other assorted wonders I couldn’t put a name on back then. When I was a child, I began watching Pokemon, but was quickly told not to by my parents (this was back when churches were cracking down on the Pokemon craze, and my parents were likely being cautious). It wasn’t until several years later that I actually began watching anime again, and to be honest I’m grateful that I waited that long. I believe anime is a beautiful medium of entertainment and art, but I don’t think I was spiritually mature enough to enjoy it until a few years ago.

cutsceneaddict cosplay Large e-mail view

TWWK: What are your favorite types or genres of anime/manga? How about favorite series?

Casey: I’m a bit of a psychology/philosophy buff, so I particularly enjoy anime that challenges me to think differently or to question my values. Watching anime that asks hard questions or acts as an animated microcosm for a social issue is like consuming a delicious tray of assorted sushi to me. Death Note–despite its storytelling flaws–is my absolute favorite series thus far. I also enjoyed the examination of dark issues in Attack on Titan and the bittersweet, poetic charm of Your Lie in April. Currently, I’m going on adventures with Vash in Trigun… and developing a craving for doughnuts for some reason. Read the rest of this entry

Help Requested: We Need Your Questions for Japes in Japan

As you may know from last month’s The Tangles, Japes is currently in Japan working on a summer internship. For a forthcoming podcast, I’ll be asking Japes questions about his experiences, and we’d love for you to join in as well!  Please comment below with questions you might like Japes to answer.  Here are some ideas:

  • Personal: Ask Japes about why and what’s doing in the land of the rising sun
  • Culture and People: Ask about Japes experiences with the Japanese
  • True or False: Does Japan live up to the ideas we may have about the country here in the west?
  • Anime: What is anime and anime fandom like in Japan?
  • Religion: What is it like being a Christian in a non-Christian nation?

Add to that anything else you’d like to know!  Thank you in advance – we appreciate your participation!

Edit: We’re all set now, so we’re closed for further questions. Thanks for your questions, all!

OreGairu 2 Episode 12: Change is Complicated

So…are we back to square one?

No, but it feels a little like that, as Hiki, Yukino, and Yui face another obstacles on their path toward finding themselves in growing their relationships with one another.

Episode 12 of OreGairu 2 (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO) starts out innocuous enough with everyone preparing for Valentine’s Day. Hayato is unwilling to accept chocolates from anyone, so the idea is hatched that the student council will host an event in which Yukino will teach students how to make homemade chocolates; Hayato will attend and get to taste the creations, thereby accepting chocolates from Iroha and Yumiko.

All of their expressions...

All of their expressions…

But tensions seethe beneath the surface for our trio.  Even though there’s been some progress, their “genuine bond” hasn’t truly formed.  Hachiman knows as much and it’s intimated that Yui and Yukino feel the same.  Shizuka, in her always surprising wisdom, points it out as well.  But of course, it comes erupting forward through Haruno’s sharp words, who declares that the group is not “genuine” – and that becoming genuine may not even be possible.

Indeed, the problem is that each member of the volunteer club continues to deal with the same struggles they did before Hachiman’s speech: Yui doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, and is willing to be deceitful to others and herself to preserve happiness; Hachiman is becoming open to being honest and establishing meaningful relationships, but only bit by bit; and Yukino remains trapped between the expectations of her and finding who she really is.

How can they all still not get it? Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Noragami Religion, Hopeless Black Butler, and Persecuting Naruto

The past two weeks have been overwhelming in terms of just how many articles have been posted relating to anime and religion/spirituality.  There’s so much to dig into – I hope you have as much fun reading through these articles as I did!

Are you headed to SuperCon at the end of this month?  If so, check out our own Samuru’s panel, “Finding God in Anime and Video Games.” [Gaming and God]

Part of what makes Noragami a fascinating series is how it tells us quite a bit about modern religion in Japan. [Fantastic Memes]

In times of weakness and pain, there we can find strength in something (or hopefully, someone) greater. Just see Iwasawa from Angel Beats as an example. [Old Line Elephant]

Speaking of Angel Beats, the most direct reference to God in the show is from Takeyama, who wants people to call him “Christ.”  Mmm…not so fast. [2]

Ciel from Black Butler believes that some people are beyond redemption…but the Bible and many examples from within (like Job) and without (St. Augustine) prove otherwise. [3]

The complete story of Oscar, as presented in Rose of Versailles, reminds us of the value of life itself. [Mage in a Barrel]

In response to Anime Reporter’s essay on homosexuality and the referendum for marriage quality in Ireland, aniblogger JekoJeko takes the question from a Christian point of view [Unnecessary Exclamation Mark!]

D.M. Dutcher offers some advice for Christian speculative fiction writers using Bubblegum Crisis as a basis. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

For Christians who feel persecution, they might find an odd bedfellow in Naruto. [Lady Teresa Christina]

The world of Haibane Renmei without a doubt shares some ideologies with Christianity. [Kidd’s Anime Blog]

I’m a month late on this article, but it’s more than worth linking to

Oregairu’s Hayato as Satan? In a sense… [Christian Anime Review]

Wiseman from Sailor Moon perhaps has some similarities to 2 Thessalonians’ man of lawlessness. [2]

Episode 3 of Re-Kan! gives us that common anime scene of a character who refuses to cry, then breaks down.  But why the resistance?  After all, “Jesus wept.” [3]

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.

Silver Spoon: The Importance of a Different Perspective

I had lunch with a friend last week, with whom I talked about how hard it is to shake loose your cultural upbringing as it relates to religion and really focus on the real message of the gospel.  I mentioned how helpful it is to hear perspectives from others whose upbringings were very different from our own.  I know that for me, even though I frequently take a step back and try to see things from others’ points of view, I still struggle to understand how others think (or to be honest, how they could possibly think what they do).

One of my favorite manga is Silver Spoon, a series I recently picked up after watching the anime with my wife.  There are a lot of strong themes running through the series, but perhaps none more strongly than the idea that when we open ourselves up to other points of view, we’re able to grow.  Hachiken, the distressed city boy, experiences change almost immediately as he adjusts to life at an agricultural high school.  By the end of the anime run and into where the manga is now, he’s transformed even further.  By embracing different perspectives, he’s found himself.

The series also gives many asides from minor characters who comment on how Hachiken has changed them, too.

Hachiken's mom talks to a vendor about the importance of a different voice

Hachiken’s mom talks to a vendor about the importance of a different voice

It’s not so much Hachiken’s experience, though, that moves the student body toward transformation – it’s Hachiken himself.  His earnestness, intelligence, and compassion leads his friends and staff and others to think outside the box.  The greatest example is Mikage, who is given the courage to stand up for her dream and is motivated to put in the seemingly impossible task of working toward it.

Perhaps Christianity could learn a lesson from this manga.  For a religion that began with a Messiah whose every word was outside the box, it’s distressing how rule-centered and confined Christianity has become in the west.  As a reaction, perhaps, against easy beliefism and wrong theology, many of us have unwittingly become modern-day Pharisees who miss the forest for the trees.  We speak of mercy, but show ungrace.  The hypocrisy can sometimes be unbearable. Read the rest of this entry

Kenny Ackerman: the Pursuit of Fulfillment and the Power of Testimony

Note: This is a guest post from Casey Covel, whose work we’ve featured here a number of times through our Something More column.  She’s editor-in-chief at Geeks Under Grace and goes by cutsceneaddict in the cosplay world.  I hope you enjoy her submission…it’s the first of many from Casey that you’ll be seeing here on Beneath the Tangles.

If you’re like me, you couldn’t wait until 2016 for the second season of Attack on Titan and scooped up the manga ASAP to pursue the story. If you’re not like me, and you have the patience of Job to wait on that elusive second season, then I suggest you avoid this article for the time being, as there are some rather titan-sized spoilers within.

**In case you didn’t get that, I’ll say it again: huge spoilers below**

attack on titan 5aColored by AnimeFanNo1

As I impatiently awaited this month’s new chapter, I found myself reflecting back on the landslide of storyline from Attack on Titan chapter 69. Amidst such plot-relevant giants as the revelation of Levi’s childhood, the crowning of Queen Historia, and death of a certain ornery uncle, Kenny’s relationship with Uri is nearly forgotten. Admittedly, though, it’s perhaps the one reveal in the chapter that haunted me long after reading. As a Christian, I can only say that’s because it resonated with my faith so frighteningly well.

In chapter 69, it’s revealed that Kenny, having discovered Uri’s identity as true king of the human race, tried to kill him, but Uri initiated his titan form and caught his would-be assassinator off-guard, capturing him in a deadly fist. Despite Rod’s demands that Uri crush Kenny then and there, however, Uri released him and—even as Kenny pierced the king through the wrist with his blade—bowed hands-and-knees to his attacker, asking Kenny for forgiveness for the genocide of the Ackerman line.

This act of humility so affected Kenny that he found himself unable to end his enemy’s life, even with Uri face-down on the ground and his finger ready on the trigger.

“A king with so much power bowed down to someone as lowly as me. That titan left me speechless… More importantly, I felt something in me waver at that moment.”

“A king with so much power bowed down to someone as lowly as me. That titan left me speechless… More importantly, I felt something in me waver at that moment.”

Kenny and Uri went on to form an inseparable bond of friendship. All the while, Kenny’s insatiable curiosity for Uri’s unique ideology continued to grow. By the time of Uri’s death, Kenny had not yet unlocked the mystery of his friend’s inner strength, but—determined to achieve it for himself—went about seeking fulfillment in other ways in order to acquire Uri’s “power.” Gaining notoriety as a serial killer to preserve his family, raising his deceased sister’s child, earning a captain’s rank within the Military Police, striving to attain the power of a titan shifter and, thus, a god—all these routes Kenny pursued, and all of them left him unsatisfactorily empty.

Flashing forward to the present, Levi comes across a wounded Kenny—now burned and bleeding beyond saving—following his encounter with Rod Reiss. The two hold a final conversation, in which Kenny ponders the motivations of those he’s met throughout his life.

“They all had something they were drunk on,” he concludes.

“They all had something they were drunk on,” he concludes.

I find it fascinating that this word drunk is specifically used here because it means to be “dominated by an intense feeling” to the point of “behaving in an unusual or improper way.” Furthermore, I think it’s a highly-appropriate word to describe the state of our world today, outside of Christ.

We live in a restless world—one that seeks to attain peace and fulfillment through a variety of outlets. Human beings are born with an instinct to worship—to fully dedicate themselves to something or someone, even if it is ultimately their own selves. Until we come to Christ, we carry a God-shaped hole in our beings—one that cannot be filled by anything else, and yet one that we continuously try to fill with worldly things (which can only satisfy us for a short amount of time). Read the rest of this entry

Behind the Convention: Voice actors are people too.

Note: This article was written by Goldy, and is being posted here on her behalf.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about my experience staffing my local anime convention, but every year before never seemed right until this year.

I will give the disclaimer than I am volunteer staff and also a self taught manager of guest relations for 6 years (started out as a mere guest liaison, but that’s when I did the job by myself, the con was smaller, and I didn’t have massive lines of fans trying to trample me to hug their favorite voice actor). At present, I have a staff of 3-5 people, but always need more. Good help is hard to find because guest (and fan) wrangling is no easy task.

I won’t be naming names because even though I’ve never had to sign any contract to maintain secrecy or anything, I think it’s stupid to share information that a person was kind enough to share with you in trust. And really, I think it’s brave to trust someone you barely know with your well being for a weekend. You are trusting a person to keep you safe from people who are too excited at hearing your voice to think straight and won’t stop to say, “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t try to rush at this voice actor I like after their panel and try to hug them and shove random gifts at them when they are probably really tired and need food. After all, there are times and places for autographs and chats” and instead come rushing at you like you’re made of gold or something.

Because let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying than that lack of security. Even if you are a repeat guest, you are in a strange place, with strange people, with only your beautiful voice keeping you alive, but it’s also the cause of your stress at times because people love it too much.

Not to say that voice actors (VAs) dislike hugs or gifts or talking to their fans. In fact, a majority of them appreciate their fans more than most famous people out there and looooove to talk with them and sign stuff for them. But it’s always nice for fans to keep their heads when they’re around someone famous and be considerate of the fact that they are human too.

Granted, many VAs are also too nice most of the time. That’s why I have to be the mean person or, on my good days, a diplomat who has to explain to a crying girl why I can’t just call up their favorite VA to get a hug and an autograph because she missed all the sessions earlier. On rare occasions, at the request of the guests, I’ll sometimes do these things, but if you start giving someone an inch, 70 more people will grab that mile from you.

So that’s my job, roughly. To protect, serve, take a bullet for, and cause diversions (I once told a dumb joke to let a guest sneakily escape through the back at the end of their panel. I’m pretty sure those fans are after my head now) for the many VA guests we have the honor of bringing to our humble convention. It’s truly a learning process for me, which can be fairly frustrating for various reasons, but does improve slowly but surely every year.

The convention growing at a fast rate each year is my biggest challenge. We get big guests more often, but we still don’t act like a big con. Massive autograph lines are a new thing to us. Having guests charge for autographs are even more of a foreign idea. I remember when a guest looked at me weird when I said we didn’t have a green room (we do now, but aren’t used to it, yet). Admittedly, I have gotten better at dodging and weaving through over-excited fans with my guest(s) in tow, trying to get to an elevator or stairs (sometimes I hate the 12th floor). It still breaks my heart to cap autograph lines and turn people away, but I have to do it unless someone really wants a 5 hour autograph line.

I get lucky usually, though. Or blessed. Most of the guests we have are easy going, fun, and are able to dodge situations easily if they get too caught up with swarming fans. I would like to give credit to our con-goers as well, who, for the most part, aren’t too insane with obsession over their favorite VA.

Read the rest of this entry

OreGairu 2 Episode 11: Holding on Too Long

Thematically, all season long, OreGairu 2 (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!) has focused on the need people have for bonds of friendship.  Through much of the season, of course, we had the crisis of relationship within the volunteer club, which reached some resolution once Hachiman was able to break through his own feelings and then, along with Yui, break through to Yukino.  Bookending this season, however, is another story about bonds.  The season began with Hina and Hayato trying to preserve their group’s ties against teen hormonal urges, and now toward the end Hayato feels the pressure of doing the same.

oregairu 11

Episode 11 of OreGairu 2 gives Yumiko a major role for the first time, as she breaks down crying with a request to the club.  Wanting to stay close to Hayato, and further to preserve the togetherness of their clique, she asks that the club find out which career path Hayato will choose – the sciences or liberal arts.  Hachiman decides to ask Hayato himself, but he gets a rude response (Hayato seems to only be able to take out his frustrations or Hachiman, or else it’s only with him that he can be his real self – or maybe both).  Ultimately, Hayato reveals that he will be doing liberal arts, but only through weird logic in which he tells Hachiman it is the only decision he could make that it his own, though the final conversation between the two (and Yumiko’s response in the post-credits scene) tell us that the soccer star remains trapped as “Everybody’s Hayato.”

So at this point, it appears that the popular clique will remain together – the same as the volunteer club.  The latter really seems to need these bonds to continue in their personal growth; for them, it’s only been several weeks since they broke through shallowness and came to start understanding each other on that “genuine level.”  But for Hayato’s group, it seems they need the opposite – they need to let go. Read the rest of this entry

OreGairu 2, Episode 10: You Change, I Change

So many thing happened in episode 10 of OreGairu 2 – the conclusion of one long arc and a transition into another.  Too much happened, frankly – I had to rewatch it to absorb it all.  And for an episode where so many plotlines moved along, it’s interesting to note that character development did occur, perhaps most of all for Iroha.

As Hachiman, Yui, Yukino, and Iroha ride home after the theme park get-together, the underclassmen lays out her heart to Hiki.  And here she notes that the catalyst for her confession to Hayato was Hachiman himself.  She overheard his literal cry for genuine relationship when speaking with Yui and Yukino, and decided that she, too, wanted that.  And so, she made a move – something very unlike Iroha, who crows a lot but is often unwilling to put herself on the line.

oregairu 10c

Take responsibility, senpai.

 

Hachiman is surprised that Iroha overheard his tearful plea, and maybe also that she reacted to his words at all.  But he shouldn’t be – after all, words and actions from those we respect or trust have the power to give us courage.  In fact, the actions don’t even need to come from a place of respect – something those actions give us the power to put ourselves on the line, no matter from whom they come.

Read the rest of this entry

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