Author Archives: TWWK

Giving Yukino Yukinoshita What She (Doesn’t) Deserve

After writing my last piece about episode 8 of Oregairu season 2 and the topic of grace, I thought more and more on the connections between the characters’ actions and that topic.  There was more to be said regarding what I wrote on, particularly in the words thrown between the volunteer club trio in the episode’s climax.  But I also thought of something in a little different vein.

In the moment when Hikigaya tearfully confesses his desires, I think most of us viewers were expecting some sort of breakdown in return from Yukino.  But what he gets instead is a confused Yukino who doesn’t comfort him, who doesn’t even want to accept him.

oregairu 8c

When I watched the scene, I wondered why it seemed to familiar to me.  I realized that it was because I’ve been Hikigaya in this scene many times – and maybe you have as well.

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Oregairu Season 2, Episode 8: Reaching for Grace

With each episode that passes, Oregairu continues to surprise me.  In an episode that I thought started to drift towards anime melodrama, Oregairu instead turned toward something simple and profound.  It showed us the definition of grace – and the necessity of it.

The catalyst for the final, transformative scene of episode 8 is the earlier talk that Hikigaya has with Hiratsuka.  Among the many words of wisdom she gives during their speech is this line:

Sometimes people lose out on things because they’re looking out for each other.

oregairu 8b

This, of course, is what Hikigaya has been doing – trying to protect Yui and Yukino through his actions.  But Hiratsuka is right when she expounds on this statement, saying that if you really care about each other, you will hurt each one another; in an ironic way, that hurt signals that you care.  If you stand on eggshells doing everything possible to keep someone from being hurt, you fail to develop deep bonds – the person you care about is lifted higher than they deserve while you sink lower, and when you do fail that person, you find the distance between you and s/he grows even further.

Hikigaya, realizing this and armed now with wisdom and muster, goes to Yukino and Yui to build their relationships and bring healing to the club by tearfully offering words that at first surprised me, but which make sense.  He says that what he wants is genuine relationship.

And genuine relationship can only happen by grace.

oregairu 8a

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Something More: God’s View of a Giftia Wife, Parable of the Lost Nameko, and Allah or YHWH in Arslan Senki?

Episode 7 of Nameko Families provides a striking parallel to Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep. [Old Line Elephant]

The beauty of ABe’s concept artwork for Haibane Renmei is undeniable, and begs the question of whether he was inspired by Christian paintings. [Fantastic Memes]

Medieval Otaku sees a parallel between how the Christian God is depicted like Allah by non-Christians and a scene in Arslan Senki and wonders if the creator of Space Pirate Captain Harlock has some knowledge of scripture. [Medieval Otaku]

Rob asks an interesting question in response to Plastic Memories – what would God think of a giftia spouse? [Christian Anime Review]

Along the same lines, Tsukasa’s loving actions toward Isla demonstrate St. Paul’s assertion that “love never fails.” [Geeks Under Grace]

Patlabor: The Movie is full of interesting details, including many references to Christianity and the Bible. [Prede’s Anime Reviews]

There’s a lot of depth to a favorite Japanese expression of incredulity, including the fact that it might have Zen Buddhist origins. How could you not know that, baka?! [Tofugu]

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.

 

Hachiman Hikigaya and Busting the Christian Bubble

One of the most boring things a parent has to do is attend kids’ birthday parties.  Seriously, so boring.  The only thing a parent can do there is chat with other parents, but sometimes, even that option is cut off.  Particularly, if you’re an outsider at the party, the other parents might congregate with each other and leave you out, which can either irk you if you’re the talkative type, or seclude you if you’re not.  The first time this happened to me, I was shocked, because I was attending a party full of churchgoers and pastors.  I thought it must have been some exception, but repeatedly, I’ve seen this happen again and again and again (and as recently as yesterday), and particularly and mostly around Christians.

Why does this happen?  It’s because we hate to get outside of our bubble.

In Oregairu, Hikigaya is as stuck in a bubble as much as anyone.  Years of hurt, sensitivity, and ridicule have left him in a comfort zone of one (at least at school).  He’d rather stay by himself, think, and observe than to actually interact with others.

But slowly and steadily, he’s breaking free of this bubble.  At first, it was out of necessity – Hikigaya was forced to interact with Yukino and with anyone who came to the volunteer club for assistance.  Now, Hikigaya is understanding the value of relationships and is starting to break through his self-imposed solitary life because, hey, he now has friends whom he cares about, and caring requires us to reach out despite discomfort.

oregairu 5

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OreGairu, Episode 7: Hiki Old is Not Hiki New

The tone of OreGairu has always been peculiar for a self-declared romantic comedy – sarcastic, depressing, persnickety.  But throughout most of season two, particularly the episodes since Hikigaya has been helping out “Irohas,’ the show has developed a nervous feeling to it as well.  Simultaneously as the audience is on edge about what will happen both to the service club and with the student council project, we’re made more and more aware that almost every character is changing and/or preoccupied with something uncomfortable – and all that makes us uncomfortable as well.

Even though we’re only privy to Hikigaya’s thoughts, we can especially in episode seven guess about the preoccupations of the others – Yui is worried about the club and their friendships; Yukino, perhaps, about her inability to be the person she would like to be; Iroha about her responsibility and budding feelings toward Hikigaya (the latter to an extent with Kaori); Rumi regarding her continued problems establishing friendships; and Hayato’s jealous/admiration toward our lead.  Hikigaya, we know, is dealing with how to help others, as he comes to the realization that his methods aren’t working very well.

What surprises me is that Hiki is not preoccupied with the fact that his entire way of thinking is falling apart.  He actually takes it in stride that his methods, so core to his belief system, aren’t working with practically anyone right now.  He’s more concerned with the fact that he’s not able to help those he’s come to care about.

oregairu 7a

At the beginning of season two, my guess was that, in traditional anime fashion, the cour would culminate in some grand scene in which Hikigaya would suddenly realize the error of his ways and the value both of relationships and depending on/working with others.  Some emotional climax may still happen, but subtly, ever so subtly, transformation for Hikigaya has and is already occurring.  We know it by his actions and his thoughts.

The Hikigaya from the beginning of the school year was satisfied being alone and not being involved with anyone. Even in season one, he was resolved to just do things his own way, a cold method that didn’t take others into consideration.  But this episode reveals this much – he can’t do that anymore, not just because his ways are practically flawed, but because he cares.

Hikigaya now wants something more than to prove himself right or to finish the job – he wants his friends to be happy.

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Throwback Thursday Readers Choice

Every other Thursday, Zeroe4, a long-time columnist here and real life missionary in Japan, reminiscences about some of his favorite series from yesteryear.  If you haven’t read his column yet, I highly encourage you go through his posts so far – you’ll probably either get nostalgic yourself, find a gem you missed, or both!

For one of his articles next month, he’d like to pitch it to you, the readers.  Of the following series, which would you like him to write about?

Top 5 + Guest: Best “Morally Gray” Anime

I’m often asked to give recommendations for anime I think people should watch.  While that’s a simple request, the answer is maybe a little more complicated for myself and our writers at Beneath the Tangles.  We have series that we think are beneficial for our readers to watch; those that are both beneficial and entertaining; and series that are fun, but not necessarily ones we’d recommend because we’d consider them “morally gray.”  This final group of anime are comprised of shows you generally wouldn’t see us discuss here and that many of writers might avoid because of excessive fanservice, nihilistic themes, graphic violence, themes that don’t jive with our beliefs, etc.  Still, there’s still value in many of these shows, and they might be worth the watch, which is why we’ll be giving our top five lists of morally gray anime today.  But, of course, viewer beware.

We’re blessed to have iblessall joining us as our guest today.  You know him from Mage in the Barrel, a wonderful and very active anime blog.  I highly encourage you check it out – and perhaps very germane to our discussion today, click over and see iblessall’s critique of Maria the Virgin Witch.

iblessall’s Picks

  1. Nisemonogatari
  2. Seitokai Yakuindomo
  3. White Album 2
  4. Junketsu no Maria
  5. Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere

Nisemonogatari 1For me, making a decision on whether or not to recommend a show to someone usually comes down to one particular question: do the good things about this show outweigh the bad to make it worth watching? In truth, I’m not sure any of the shows on this list are conclusively among those whose troubling elements override the good pieces (most shows like that I never even bothered to finish), but all of them certainly exist much closer to the line than my favorites do. Anyone familiar with the first two titles on my list should understand why they’re there, but the final three merit a bit more explanation. White Album 2’s ending troubles me a great deal because, although the story as a whole functions a cautionary tale, the lack of offered alternatives or even the faintest hint of possible reconciliation makes the show feel incredibly nihilistic and hopeless to me. Junketsu no Maria (on which I’ve written elsewhere and will write again) worries me with both its portrayal of Catholicism and its dangerously simplistic morality, traits that sadly compromise the quality of its likable cast. Finally, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere boasts mostly boilerplate ecchi, but it’s so copious and so egregious that I always have to pause before recommending.

Kaze’s Picks

  1. Oretachi Tsubasa wa Nai
  2. Monogatari Series
  3. Baccano
  4. Perfect Blue
  5. Shokugeki no Souma

OreTsuba 1OreTsuba is one anime I will always praise and never recommend. It’s less grey and more black, with an obscene amount of fan service, especially the uncensored version. But the storyboarding? Top notch. This is an amazing example of a really well adapted VN. The Monogatari series is perhaps plenty infamous already, but between fan service, toothbrushes, and the like, it’s tough to rec this to others. Morally grey aside, it is also extremely conversation based, and relies heavily on Japanese culture and language puns, making it even harder to rec. Baccano has a different kind of problem, with it being overall a very violent show, which some Christians may have problems with, but I rate the show very highly. Perfect Blue, like many works by Satoshi Kon, is wonderfully directed, but the content is most definitely mature and has a couple disturbing scenes. The last one you might notice only just started airing, so I might be jumping the gun, but I thoroughly enjoy the Shokugeki no Souma manga and consider to be a surprisingly well done shounen. But that fan service is really extreme. Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Owari no Family, Humble Vegeta, and Job of Angel Beats’

There are weeks on Something More where I need to dig and prod to find articles for linking.  This is not, however, one of those weeks, as the blogosphere has produced almost a dozen wonderful articles about anime and religion/spirituality.

Eugene Woodbury discusses Japanese Buddhism from a pop cultural perspective, referencing Gingitsune among other anime series. [Eugene Woodbury]

He does the same with Shinto, mentioning Noragami, Kamichu!, and other shows. [2]

It is any surprise that the actions of one of most known and best priest characters in anime, Nicholas D. Wolfwood (Trigun), would teach us theology? [Cajun Samurai]

Owari no Seraph speaks to the value of the family, ironic in a series that looks at family unconventionally and perhaps at sex in a faulty way. [Medieval Otaku]

Dragonball Z’s Vegeta may be the poster child for ego, but his actions often speak to the opposite: humility. [Geeks Under Grace]

One piece of proverbial wisdom is to seek advice from many advisers; but if your advisers are unwise, well, you get the absurd consequences of episode 3 of Plastic Memories. [2]

Dig a little into Gurren Lagann, and you might find an interpretation of Plato’s allegory of the cave and a case for divine illogic. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

Is God fair? Yuki of Angel Beats! doesn’t think so, but perhaps her backstory (and the story of Job) can teach us a little about the concept of fairness. [Old Line Elephant]

The vital importance of forgiveness – both to give and receive – is a heavy theme in Koe no Katachi. [Famous Rose]

More wisdom from Proverbs this week, as Rob tells us Hikigaya’s methods in OreGairu are ungodly and unwise. [Christian Anime Review]

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.

Volunteers in Need of Help: OreGairu and Godly Contentment

In the modern world, the term “contentment” feels so old-fashioned and out of place.  Why strive for contentment when we can have more?  And indeed, that’s what it seems our lives are often about – becoming better, richer, stronger.  But in attaining the things that make us happy, we often don’t feel the satisfaction we think we might – there’s no contentment when we seek things that won’t fulfill us.

In OreGairu, the service club has a near-perfect track record.  They help all their clients, but they can’t seem to help themselves.  All three, but especially the original two members – Hachiman and Yukino – are sure of their ways, and find success in them (as they each define success), but have no peace.  Perhaps it’s because each is seeking something that can never be fulfilling:

Yui and Approval

oregairu 2bThe first client of the club, and the third member to join, Yui has trouble establishing effective relationships because she’s afraid of showing her true self.  Yui has lived a life that basically says that she’d rather have shallow friendships than dig into something deeper that might damage them.  Yui wants the approval of others and is afraid of rejection at the start of the series; even now, she continues to battle this struggle, though Hachiman and Yukino helped her move past a significant hurdle in not worrying so much about what others think.

It’s easy to get bogged down in what others think of us.  Our relationships often drive our actions – for some more than others.  When we live that way, though, we try to take our lives into our own hands by presenting an image of ourselves in others’ eyes that isn’t real.  Living life in this manner can’t bring contentment because it will collapse – others will let go of their superficial relationships with us and we’ll fail to keep up perfect appearances.  Dwelling instead in the perfect, unchanging nature of God is what brings contentment, for He alone never fails us. Read the rest of this entry

Your Handy Dandy Anime Blog Building Guide

One of my visions for this blog that’s developed over recent years has been to develop a series of posts that help new anibloggers get going.  Developing an anime blog is fun, but it can be frustrating if you don’t know how to build an audience and how to improve as a blogger.  To compound the problem, there isn’t necessarily a go-to source on the Internet that will take you step-by-step in aniblogging building.  Unfortunately, my posts for this series are sitting in my draft folder, a ghost town of articles in various stages that never come to fruition.

But if you’re a new aniblogger, or thinking about going into anime blogging, you’re in luck!

aniblogLauren Orsini, a wonderful writer and friend to our blog, has just published an ebook entitled, Build Your Anime Blog: How to Get Started, Stand Out, and Make Money Writing About What You Love.  Lauren is a professional journalist and a wonderful aniblogger – she’s the perfect author to guide any of you that have an interest in aniblogging.

Lauren’s book provides the basic ins and outs of anime blogging – it’s a great one-stop resource.  But its value goes even deeper through the twelve interviews she conducted with other anibloggers.  And, you guessed it, she selected me among the interviewees, so if you want to know a little bit about the goings-on behind the scenes here, and the method to my madness, it might be worth a read.

I highly encourage you all to check it out and support Lauren while purchasing a terrific, terrific resource!  Build Your Anime Blog is available now through Amazon.

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