Author Archives: TWWK

Something More: Gaara’s Guilt, Loving Charlotte, and My Beats, Your Existentialism

The more I engage in social media, especially through Tumblr, the more I witness just how deeply connected a lot of anime fans are to their favorite characters – emotionally, physically (dakimakura), even sexually. I have my favorites, too, but besides feeling some empathy toward the characters, and occasionally shipping them, I don’t have a really strong attachment. That, too, applies to characters I most dislike – there’s no deep-seated vengeance I feel toward them. I don’t think of them very deeply at all.

However, JekoJeko makes a really good case that Christians should be thinking more about anime characters, and particularly, how we consider them in our minds. Taking criticism of Charlotte, for instance, the blogger wonders how Christians might be so quick to dismiss or even deride annoying characters (much less evil ones).

At first, I thought maybe JekoJeko was taking this a bit too seriously – this is what otaku often do, after all. But the argument is convincing and I’m now convicted. The way we approach all things in life – anime and anime characters included – is telling about our attitude toward God and others. As we’re transformed, our hearts move toward love – and why shouldn’t that reaction also apply to characters, even if it’s going to be on a more obviously surface level? For the way we react to the world is telling of the condition of our hearts.

What do y’all think? Check out JekoJeko’s post and comment there:

>> Christianime: Love Thy Characters

Our own Samuru1 hosted a panel about Christianity and anime at SuperCon and it received a warm response. [Geeks Under Grace]

Casey Covel, also of our site, had the opportunity to interview Kenneth Bright, Jr., who is developing Prince Adventures, an anime-style franchise aimed specifically at Christians. [2]

Angel Beats’ Hinata has difficulty holding onto the past – that kind of guilt can prevent us from moving foward. [Old Line Elephant]

Speaking of Angel Beats, an interesting of viewing it is as a property about life itself – not just in content, but the show’s very structure, flaws and all. [Mage in a Barrel]

Eren’s transformation into a titan (a wrong makes a right) in Attack on Titan brings about interesting contrast with the Christian’s life (God makes right from out wrong). [Lady Teresa Christina]

Gaara’s purpose and meaning for life in the original Naruto is full of selfishness and self-reliance – and it’s perhaps his the character’s guilt that belies a more significant meaning for existence. [2]

Amagi Brilliant Park takes the common anime theme of relying on your friends for support and offers something more – and something more biblical. [UEM!]

Noragami takes Shinto gods, which have become fairly commonplace in anime, and makes something quite more than common. [Ganriki]

Does the end justify the means? For the boy selling see-through photos of classmates in episode 2 of Charlotte, it does. The answer, of course, is quite different from a Christian perspective. [Christian Anime Review]

Can you find “enlightenment” through aniblogging? Perhaps, and at the very least, you might find a wonderful outlet for creative energy. [Fujinsei]

Although not anime-related, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this excellent, excellent article about Disney’s Pinocchio, which makes strong correlation between the title character and the Irenic version of the first man, Adam. [Res Studiorum et Ludorum]

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. Special thanks to Don of Zoopraxiscope Too for notifying me about the Pinocchio post!

Working!!! and Scripture: Neither as Simple as it Seems

A third of the way through season three of Working!!! (Wagnaria), and I’m super pleased – the show continues its wonderful, character-based humor (as expected) while moving along romantic relationships (not necessarily as expected). And as has been impressed upon me all along, the series confirms that it isn’t just funny – it’s a really well-made show.

I was trying to explain this point to someone last week, and it was hard for me to do so – I’m not 100% sure what makes Working!!! more than just fun.  It has a lot to do with smart source material, with its well-written gags and funny situations.  It also has plenty to do with the characters, who are loveable, well-defined, and who grow, bit by bit, through the course of the series.   And it certainly has to do with how the four panel strips, so obviously the format for the show’s source material, flow well thematically from episode to episode when animated.

In short, while the series seems simple, it’s a lot more complicated than we might give it credit for.

It took me 2+ seasons, but I've learned to like Yamada.

It took me 2+ seasons, but I’ve learned to like Yamada.

Not all of you may agree with my assertion – I may have to butt heads with some of you that see the series as relatively common.  There’s a parallel here, too, with a work I esteem much more highly – and strangely, it’s more often the choir to whom I preach the merits of that work. Read the rest of this entry

Charlotte, Episode 4: Earning It

Baseball episode!

I love baseball, and so, Little Busters notwithstanding, I really enjoy baseball episodes/series. And if you throw in the emotion of the relationship called a battery, I’m done for.

As the student council, with a new two new characters in two, finds their next subject, they turn to a baseball game to bring the pitching ace into their school.  But with supernatural powers being wielded, the contest is a farce from the start.  The opposing team’s pitcher throws a near-unhittable knuckleball through telekinesis, while in the 9th inning, the student council’s team counters with their own powers.

charlotte 4a

It’s surprising perhaps, then, that the game-winning hit depends on one not using his powers, as Yuu gives his all sincerely without using his ability.  Going into the at bat, he wonders how he could use his power, not even thinking of getting a hit in a legitimate fashion, but Nao insists that he find a way to drive two runs home on his own.

Yuu is understandably apprehensive.  He, like many of us, would rather fake it than do things legitimately and risk mediocrity, embarrassment, or failure. Read the rest of this entry

Charlotte, Episode 3: Dragging the Dead

Don’t keep dragging the dead into your life.

In episode three of Charlotte, we’re introduced to a delinquent named Sho, who is unable to let go of Misa, a recently deceased girl who takes over the consciousness of her little sister’s body. At the end of the episode, after Nao and the rest of the student council help Misa get her idol sister out of a difficult situation, the deceased girl says goodbye to her former comrade with those words I quoted above.

The episode wasn’t particularly emotional to me. I can’t help but compare Charlotte to Angel Beats!, where it’s characters suffered through traumatizing experiences (Yuri and Iwasawa come to mind), and the situations we’ve seen in the last two episodes can’t compare. But then again, I haven’t experienced the death of anyone intimately close to me, and I wonder if the episode was more meaningful to people who have, and particularly when hearing those words – “don’t keep dragging the dead into your life.”

charlotte 3a Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Wolfwood Gospel, Fairy Tail Vulnerability, and Ecchi for Christians

Ah, July…the days of summer heat, fireworks, and of course, new summer series! There’s a lot to be excited about this summer season, including some of the series talked about below, including one whose light novel is getting a translation in English!

Nicholas D. Wolfwood’s final, moving scene in Trigun gives us the story of his redemption, and the gospel message for all. [Old Line Elephant]

Humility and an understanding that in loneliness, we are not alone, can help us through challenges, as demonstrated in Sore ga Seiyuu! [UEM]

JekoJeko also jumps into the question of how Christians should approach ecchi imagery in anime, using Kill la Kill and ME!ME!ME! to illustrate. [2]

As mentioned in the article above, prayer can certainly help when deciding what anime to consume and which to skip. [Anime Revolution]

In his celebration of Seraph of the End, Medieval Otaku mentions the atheistic view of the series’ vampires. [Medieval Otaku]

Speaking of Medieval Otaku, wonder what he’s been up to lately? Read all about it, including his jump into Angel Cop, which seems to make more obvious religious analogies than most series. [2]

In Charlotte, Yuu thinks no one knows his secret…but of course, Nao knows. And such discovery happens to us all – if not publicly, then between us and One other. [Christian Anime Review]

Unclear about what the characters mean when they say things in OreGairu? You’re not the only one. Perhaps they should have taken the apostle James’ advice on communication. [2]

Cana’s story in Fairy Tail demonstrates how becoming vulnerable can lead to transformation. [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.

Patreon Drive, Final Day: Tangled Community

Today is the final day of our Patreon Drive.  Thank you to those who have supported so far – your contributions have set the stage for greater development at Beneath the Tangles as we seek to deliver stronger content to a wider audience.

Ultimately, our goal here to establish genuine community on the blog – no small feat seeing as we occupy a very niche portion of the aniblogosphere and face head-on the controversial topic of religion.  But in the years of this blog, a feeling of community has grown, and I know I see our readers – those visible and those not – as vital parts of our site, making Beneath the Tangles work.  It’s through this collective that we’ll be able to move in readers’ lives, using anime as a medium to transform thinking and how we view both what we watch and how we view faith.

If you haven’t given yet, please consider donating – we’re asking for just $2 per month.  And thank you for all your support, financial or otherwise!

Beneath the Tangles Patreon Drive

 

Patreon Drive, Day 2: Anime, Anime, Anime

When I first began Beneath the Tangles, we were 100% editorial-based – I didn’t do any episode-by-episode posts of series.  In fact, I didn’t even do my editorials on current series.  In 2010, I wasn’t keeping up with current anime.  Instead, I was writing about past shows that I had a lot of affection for, like Cowboy Bebop and Tenchi Muyo.

But as writers joined who were, frankly, far more into anime than I am, and as I got into the swing of watching new series, we began posting articles that were a lot more current.  A lot of you may have joined us, in fact, because of our weekly posts on Your Lie in April, Mekaku City Actors, Zankyou no Terror, or any of dozens of other shows we’ve blog episodically over the years.

So while our focus remains on our unique content, we remain relevant by discussing shows in the here and now.  We also provide preview posts to help you make choices in the jungle of new series each season, and break down completed series through a collection of review posts each season.

Our intent is continue to deliver content that meets our mission, but that also connects with you, the readers, and your interests each season.  Please consider helping us continue to craft great blog posts and build community by donating to our site.  We’re asking for a $2 a month commitment from you.  Check out our Patreon site and please spread the word!

Beneath the Tangles Patreon Campaign

Patreon Drive! Donate $2 to Support Beneath the Tangles

Dear Readers,

When I established Beneath the Tangles almost five years ago, it was with a singular goal in mind – to engage anime fans with a different sort of analysis, bringing in Christian concepts and ideas to how we can interpret anime. It was nothing unique – Christian Anime Alliance had long existed by this point and a number of sites had attempted to do the same in various ways, but there was certainly a gap that a consistent blog delving into this idea might thrive.

As the years have passed, the blogosphere has changed. Many of the old-time bloggers, including a throng of those that began their own aniblogs in 2010, remain (and even thrive). But there are also now a number of blogs with a similar mission to ours, establishing a community that I think is making an interesting impact on western otakudom. It’s been an encouragement to partner, officially or otherwise, with dozens of other writers and editors who are examining anime and manga from a Christian lens.

But the community goes beyond Christian anime fans – and that, too, has also been a primary goal of Beneath the Tangles. While I love discussing anime and religion with those that share my faith, I enjoy it even more when we engage people of others faiths (or not at all), and even better, when they become part of the genuine community we’re trying to establish here.  Beneath the Tangles was never meant to be a blog – it was meant to be a destination where our writers and readers can establish a most unique kind of interfaith community, one in which we bond over Japanese cartoons and matters of faith.

As we continue to push ourselves to deliver stronger content, we need you, our faithful readers, to continue to help.  This week, Beneath the Tangles will be moving forward with a Patreon drive.  Our goals are both modest and powerful – we ask that you consider donating $2 a month to us to help us improve our site and bring it to larger audiences.  We’ll use your funds in those two ways – 1) to aid in developing stronger content by making purchases related to site development and 2) to bring our message to a larger readership through active marketing.

We ask that if you’ve been blessed by our content, that you’ll strongly consider giving.  That small amount can help us greatly, and certainly anything more than that will be helpful as well (and could lead to goodies).  Please follow the link below to check out our fundraiser:

Beneath the Tangles Patreon Drive

And if you’re unable to give at this time, as I know many of you are, I hope you’ll keep us in mind in the future, and for the time being that you’ll help spread the message about this drive and our site by hitting one of those social media icons below and lettings other anime fans know that a community like ours is eager to engage with them.

Thank you!

Charles

Charlotte Episode 2: More Than Human

Episode 2 of Charlotte gives us more insight into these adolescents with special abilities.  We find that the entire school in which Yu is now enrolled is comprised of students with special abilities or with the potential to become mutants.  It’s like a Japanese version of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

Nightcrawler, Cipher, and...Psylocke?

Nightcrawler, Cipher, and…Psylocke?

We also discover that like in X-Men, the school is not only necessary for the students’ emotional well-being, but to keep them safe.  Government scientists want to experiments on these kids (reminiscent of Zankyou no Terror), and began such experimentation with Nao’s own brother.  They want to learn from and use these children because they’re not just humans – they’re something more.

The way the scientists are presented as so cold and morally bankrupt made me wonder if Japanese audiences are more likely to accept them as the enemy than American audiences are.  We have our own series with such scientists, but they are often shown as the exception, where Charlotte seems to indicate they are the rule.  Maybe this is because of the experimentation done by Japanese scientists during World War II, and especially by their allies, the Nazis, led by Josef Mengele.  Maybe Japanese audiences more readily accept the possibility that human hearts are full of deviation. Read the rest of this entry

Like Patema, Religion Can Be Inverted

Religion is wrong.  At least fanatical religion is, according to the general tone of western culture, if not outright through its statements about zealotry.  Islam is good, but when taken to the extreme, it’s bad.  Christianity is okay, but not when you tell people it’s the only way.  Buddhism is lovely precisely because of it’s openness.

Although I largely disagree with the statements above (after all, if you believe in the veracity of Christ’s words, you can be nothing less than a zealot of sorts), there’s no doubt that religion taken to an extreme can be close-minded, hypocritical, and dangerous – all these ideas expressed in Patema Inverted, where Izamura, the religious/political leader of Aiga, uses fear and religion to keep the masses under his thumb while pursuing the exposure (and destruction?) of the “inverts,” those whose gravity is the opposite of his people and who live underneath their feet.

patema inverted 1

Patema Inverted is no subtle film – the message of how religion can go terribly wrong is hammered into us from the beginning.  In fact, the first images to really hit me from the world of Aiga were those of the central tower in the city, rising like a ziggurat in the landscape, and more specifically, like the Tower of Babel, the structure the ancients built to reach to God, but which in turn led them further away from Him (and from each other).  The tower in Aiga appears to easily be the biggest structure in the city, casting a shadow over the population, and staffed by intimidating security personnel, reminding the populace that religion is king – obey the rules, avoid sin, and do what is told of you. Read the rest of this entry

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