Author Archives: Goldy

12 Days of Christmas Anime, Day 11: Shugo Chara and Hope

I love Christmas. It has always been a magical time of the year for me and somehow, I always ended up cheery just because its the Christmas season.

Though, this year was the first for me where not only does it not feel like Christmas, I also haven’t been very cheery at all. I could blame that on many reasons, but that’s not important, really.

Even for the 12 Days posts this year on Beneath the Tangles, I was not very enthusiastic since most of my “fall back” Christmas anime (ones easy to write about like The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya or Toradora for example) were already taken in previous years (by me probably, haaaaaha) and I really didn’t have many other options that I thought would make good posts.

Yet, I chose Shugo Chara, a series I’ve watched and loved and have apparently forgotten since it blind-sided me with its uplifting message. How can is be that I learn more from kids shows as an adult I’ll never know. Regardless, this was something I needed and didn’t even know it.

The Christmas episodes of Shugo Chara (roughly 10-13) only vaguely touched on Christmas imagery.

shugo-chara-christmas
Yet, the episodes focused on a bigger theme that is definitely a something many associate with Christmas: Hope.
As a crash course for those who haven’t seen Shugo Chara, it’s a magical girl anime about a girl who has “heart eggs” that are her potential selves; what she could become in the future, that she can use to transform and purify other people’s heart eggs if they become tainted.

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Untangled: Christianity Forbids Jojo Part 3’s Tarot Cards?

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.   For today’s post, an anonymous reader sent the following:

The question that I wanted to ask concerns the series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. I know that several people have given it positive reviews here, but I can’t help feel that I’m sinning by watching it, seeing as in Part 3 the stands are named after tarot cards, which are forbidden by Christianity. I know the series has nothing really to do with the occult, and there’s actually quite a lot of really good moral elements in the series, but that part just makes me worried. I was just wondering you guys thoughts on this?

Hello! I’m glad you enjoy our articles and thanks for your excellent question!

Interestingly enough, Part 3 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the more well known story lines and its conversion into anime is most likely what has caused it the whole series get more attention in the past year. As you know, unlike Part 1 and Part 2 of Jojo, Part 3 uses the structure of tarot cards as an element to the story; each card is assigned to a main character’s Stand, both for the good guys and the bad guys. Plus, there is a character who does fill the role of “fortune teller”, yet the topic of occult is not dealt with very much despite that.  Plus, the use of the tarot card types assigned to character types is not a new thing in anime and video games, which may also be another reason Part 3 is more well known.

jojo 1a

As far as I’ve read in the Old Testament in several places, divination is a sin, and the modern day use of tarot cards are used for that purpose. Though, the cards themselves are just cards, nothing is at all magical about them. Read the rest of this entry

Anime Movie Review: Hal

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from funimation.com

The anime movie Hal, a lovely piece from Wit Studio and Production IG, aired just one year ago in June 2013. Thus, it was a pleasant and refreshing surprise when I learned that Funimation had picked up the rights to dub and will be releasing the film in the US! Especially since I don’t believe too many people knew about this film prior to Funi picking it up.

Hal is a story about loss and dealing with grief. But it’s also about the hope of rebuilding.

I’ll be keeping this review spoiler free! So have no fear as you read and make sure you pick up a copy of the official Funimation release (scheduled for September 2nd)!

The story begins in a quiet village in Japan, with a curious robot named Kyuichi, trying to catch fish in a stream. Soon, the tranquility is broken by a commercial airplane bursting into flames in the sky overhead.

Then, we are introduced to a couple, Hal and Kurumi. Boyfriend and girlfriend who were untimely separated as Hal was killed on that airplane explosion. Kurumi falls into seclusion: not eating, not sleeping, not venturing out of her house anymore. Thus, she is sent a “Hal” robot (by direction of a local doctor in her community) to help her through her grief and keep her through her grief. At first, things don’t go too well. Plus, Robo-Hal (as we can fondly call him) isn’t the best at comforting anyone and can barely cook. But, as time goes on, he learns more about Kurumi and his persistence proves to be his most valuable attribute. But Robo-Hal is not without aid in helping Kurumi. The local doctor is there to give him encouragement, of course, as well as a group of old ladies in the local retirement home give him advice to help Kurumi. But more importantly, he finds a Rubik’s cube in Kurumi’s house, ready to be solved. And each side that is solved reveals a message, a wish of Kurumi. The more sides he solves, the closer Robo-Hal can get to helping Kurumi open her heart once again.

Just as things start going well, we learn that the situation isn’t exactly as it seems and the past cannot be so easily escaped.

But no spoilers for the ending! I did promise, after all. But I can’t guarantee the comments will be spoiler free, so beware!

The animation of Hal was stunning and gorgeous to look at. Could be a bit too shiny in some places, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching it all.

The story telling was simple, but expertly woven as to not drag on too long in places where it didn’t need to. At some times it felt a bit slow, but soon picked up, especially when we came closer to the climax of the story. The pacing was well timed and nothing seemed too rushed or too slow.

The use of plot devices made Hal all the more whimsical in some ways, from Rubik’s cubes to buttons to stuffed animals and to especially a glowing red button. It gave the story a other worldly feel, which fit with the story, interestingly enough.

Hal is rated PG-13 for more mature ideas (like death, etc.), but cursing is minimal and there is no sexual or violent content.

I always take a chance with most anime movies, especially originally created ones. Sometimes they do well and sometimes they don’t. Hal is a movie that did things well. It is a beautifully constructed story that ponders life and death and the reality that while all life must come to an end, we can still move forward with the memories of the ones we love.

I gave Hal a 9/10 on myanimelist, and even after watching it several times over after that, I still stay pretty firm in that rating. It’s definitely a film I would recommend in a heartbeat.

Rating: A

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Finding Strength in Your Flaws

The second season (and part 3) of Jojo is upon us and going strong! And my spirits have been renewed by the news that Crunchyroll is streaming all the episodes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure!
Now everyone can watch it with no fear or guilt! jojo-battle-tendency

Check it out here: Watch JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure at Crunchyroll

Since I’m pumped with excitement about Jojo, it’s time for me to catch up on my Jojo posts and talk about Part 2 (here’s Part 1), which is the last 17 episodes of the first season.

In Part 2, we meet a new Jojo; and with a new Jojo, comes a whole new feel to the story. With our beloved Jonathan Joestar, gentlemen of all gentlemen, gone; we remember his sacrifice fondly only to be greeted with his short tempered and sometimes ridiculous grandson, Joseph Joestar.
Maybe it was just me, but I remember not liking Joseph at first because he wasn’t like his grandfather at all. Plus, I was still sad over Jonathan’s death to be amused by Joseph’s cheeky attitude and clever tricks (granted, using Ripple powers to fire the cap off a soda bottle to break someone’s fingers is pretty impressive).

Like Jonathan, Joseph realized he has Ripple powers, though he had not had any proper training with them. Since the disappearance of Dio, there weren’t too many vampires around, so the power of the sun (the Ripple) wasn’t really needed.

That is, until the Pillar Men are awakened.

Pillar men Jojo

The fourth Pillar Man, Santviento/Santana not pictured because no one loves him. ;.;

Read the rest of this entry

Inari Konkon Koi Iroha and Accepting Who You Are

Digging deep (but not too deep!) into my past, I remember wanting to be like someone else constantly. Because to me, I was dorky, not pretty, and not interesting at all. It was not that I wanted to be like a particular someone, but more like “popular like this inariperson”, “friendly like that person”, or “have red hair so the guy I like will like me back”, etc.

Granted, while this is more of a teenager problem, I think it can still haunt some of us older people who try to call ourselves grown-ups.

In Inari Konkon Koi Iroha, which finished early this past week (and I’m glad I was encouraged to stick with it), Inari struggled with accepting herself as she was. She wanted to be someone else. So thus, she wished to change. And while we in the real world can’t wish away our own appearances, her wish actually came true! But it had disastrous consequences that caused more trouble than it was worth. And even when Inari had the power to change into any person she wished, all her problems were still very far from being solved.

In the end, her answer was staring her right in the face, she just had to see it.

What was her answer? Accepting herself like she accepts others. Inari was always willing to look for the best in everyone but herself. And while the power she was given didn’t make her life any better, it did help her see the big picture and gain confidence in being herself and no one else.

For a short series of 10 episodes, Inari Konkon was a heart warming and fun story. And while it’s something most of us hear all the time, it’s always good to be reminded that it’s okay that you are you.

You are you and that’s awesome.

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Mid-season review: The winter anime is not as terrible as the weather has been.

Stop; take a breath. We’re just past the halfway mark of the winter anime season. I can feel the warm breezes of spring coming (along with Jojo part 3! \o.o/).

With the crazy snowstorms behind us and the feeling a bit of a chilly winter still nipping at our noses (or not, if you’re living someplace warm; if you do, please send me your sunshine.), let’s review on some of the titles this season had to offer.

I started out the season watching at least one episode of everything airing, aside from a few selected ones, but soon whittled it down to a somewhat manageable list. In my choices, I’ve noticed that we have a lot of romantic comedies this season as well as a bunch of the supernatural genre. PLUS, supernatural romcoms! What more could you want?  Nisekoi

Nisekoi

I remember picking up a copy of JUMP and being confused by seeing a romantic comedy looking manga on the cover. This was Nisekoi (“fake love”) and I soon found out that while it does have its share of love story drama, it has strong characterization and well, violence as well. >_> Thus, when I found out there was going to be an anime made by SHAFT no less of this series, I definitely had to jump on board. So far, I have not been disappointed. And while the love triangle drama can seem a bit overwhelming (especially as we farther in the story), it’s a story where you can’t really decide what the OTP should be, and I like things that way.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

This one had me nervous, to be honest. I enjoyed the first season of Chuu2, but I was skeptical on how Kyoto Animation would be able to handle the story now that Rikka and Yuuta were together, but it turns out KyoAni has not lost their ability to tell any story well. The show thus far earns a solid “adorable” from me and shows that not all relationships are made alike.

Tonari no Seki-kun

As a break from the romcom (or perhaps not!), there’s the short series of Tonari no Seki-kun to give us 7 minutes to kill time, like Seki does each class period much to the dismay (and sometimes enjoyment) of his classmate who sits by him, Rumi.

The more I watch of this, the more I really like it. While I still share in Rumi’s frustration over Seki not paying attention in class, I also find myself enjoying his creative imagination like Rumi eventually does. Their relationship with one another started with one annoying the other, but it’s slowly turning into partners in crime.

Noragami

Now, onto the supernatural. Noragami (loosely translated to “stray god”) is probably the most interesting and blogging worthy show of the season, I think. Depending how it ends up and if I can beat my dreadful procrastination, I’d love to write a post about it. 58139l

But, what makes this show interesting? While heavily influenced with Shinto, I’m finding some Christian elements springing up, especially when it comes to the effects of sin on a person and how it can affect the people around you. If you’ll grant me a bit more musing on this, there’s a concept called a “spiral of sin” that came to my mind when seeing the phantom storms brew in Noragami and many phantoms use temptations towards humans to corrupt their hearts by “easy” ways out of their troubles.

Basically, it’s a cool show about deep stuff that’s interesting. After this most recent episode, I’m both excited and scared to see where this show is going.

Space Dandy

Neither a romcom nor supernatural, the light sci-fi of Space Dandy is probably one the best and more questionable choices in anime I’ve made (second only to Medaka Box, Kill la Kill, and Revolutionary Girl Utena).

I don’t like high sci-fi (aka: massive world building sci-fi), but I do enjoy some nonsensical sci-fi that gives you some fun social commentary with a side of aliens, zombies, and exploding planets. Think Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy, mix in a bit of the jazzy-ness of Cowboy Bebop and the flare of Redline and you may have something close to Space Dandy.

So, it’s a super fun ride so far. Space-Dandy

As a far warning and probably the reason that, last I checked, none of the rest of the Tangles’ writers were watching Space Dandy was because of a rather blatant and reoccurring fanservice joke.

The main restaurant that Space Dandy likes to go to is called “Boobies” (parody of Hooters, I imagine), which speaks far too much for itself, sadly. And while not an overwhelming element of the show, it’s there enough to be noticeable.

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

(Engaged to the Unidentified)

This series is probably the biggest surprise to me this season, The premise sounded, well, not promising. Underwater-Mikakunin-de-Shinkoukei-Engaged-to-the-Unidentified-03-720p-99ED4F9C.mkv_snapshot_03.59_2014.01.23_23.06.57-1024x576

“Yonomi Kobeni, an ordinary girl, finds out on her 16th birthday that she is betrothed to Mitsumine Hakuya, a boy the same age as her. Hakuya moves in from the countryside and starts living with her, bringing his younger sister who is still a primary school student with him. Also added is her older sister who is already living with Kobeni and is two years older.” – myanimelist description

Somehow, it has turned out to be a series I look forward to each week. At this point though, I don’t know what to expect from this series since it keeps me guessing each week. But beyond the creepy sister loving tendencies of the elder sister, all the characters are interesting and great in their own way. And, again with the romantic comedy, this one has a different take on a relationship between two people who don’t know each other very well, but both make an effort to understand one another despite the crazy circumstances.

Inari Konkon Koi Iroha

I’m on the fence about this one, I really am. In fact, I may be ready to drop it because it’s not living up to whatever expectations I put on it(which was not much) and because the anime doesn’t seem like it knows what kind of story it wants to be. But while it does seem to be slipping into boring story land, it does have a few things going for it.

First off, this is a less extreme take on a magical girl story. The main girl, Inari, by making a wish to the gods to become a girl she admires, actually turns into that girl and thus gets herself into a whole bunch of trouble and can’t change back. Luckily, the god of the shrine (Uka) grants Inari some of her powers in order to change back to the way Inari was. The catch? Inari becomes somewhat of a mini-god with these newly found powers of being able to change into anyone.

af59e09035792f8c3381052f079626f51380747381_fullThis part of the plot is curious since it seems like this is not a good thing overall, for Inari to have these powers, that is. And the affects are mainly on the god Uka, but it is uncertain how bad this is.

Secondly, this story shows a very important lesson about life. While Inari gets into the habit of solving her problems with just changing into someone else, she starts learning this is not the answer and that, in fact, she has power to help others by just being herself.

Only time will tell if this series will shape into anything meaningful, though.

BONUS:

Kill la Kill

As a carry over from last season, I’m still watching Kill la Kill. In case anyone wanted to know if this was going somewhere, finally in episode 18, it all comes to light. url

Not to say the past 17 episodes weren’t great, but finally we know where they were leading. Many jaws were dropped when episode 18 rolled along.

So, we’ve gotten to the final stretch and it’s all uphill from here to the final battle against the clothing apocalypse.

Yes, I do wish I was joking.

But all things considered, the show has been a awkward, strange, and thought provoking ride so far. I can’t wait to see where this ends up.

And there’s still some other series that I haven’t been watching (if only I had that kind of time XD). What all have you been watching?  What’s good, what’s bad, and are we far enough to determine the best anime of the season yet, or is it still too early?

A Look Back at the Anime of 2013: The Good, The Bad, and The Titans

attack-on-titanThere is a certain melancholy feeling I get when I look back on a year. It’s all flown by so fast and somehow didn’t go how I expected.

Goodness, remember all the anime I recommended for the beginning of the year (Spring Anime 2013)? I didn’t end up following any of them. One or two episodes was as far as I got on most of them.

I didn’t even watch the now popular Attack on Titan.

So what did I watch?

For the spring season, as mentioned, a lot of one episode hit and runs from “the Hentai Prince and Stony Cat” (blow up doll sacrifice to a tree….yeeeeah) to “Uta-Pri 2000%” (doki doki 4ever) to “Dansei Bunri no Crime Edge” (scissors!) and Valvrave the Liberator (vampire mechs). Somehow, none of them were holding my interest. Maybe I’m getting too picky in my old age, but even the first episode of Attack on Titan was too much for my nerves. I have watched some rather graphic and violent stuff in the past, but somehow seeing a human eaten was too disturbing for a poor college kid trying to stay upbeat and happy during her last semester.

So I watched happy things, like Hataraku Maou-sama! and My Teen Romantic Comedy Is Wrong as I Expected (aka: SNAFU).

Pic1aHataraku Maou-sama! ended up being better than many of us expected. The idea of a great dark demon lord becoming a part timer at a fast food place seems more absurd than interesting, but the show turns into something heartwarming and fun for all the characters. It makes heroes and villain rethink their motivation and be able to, for once, make their own decisions in life.

SNAFU was appealing not because it was an outstanding anime, but because it had great characters, a great plot, and a solid drive to keep it going. The show was clever and fun, yet it also addressed relationships, mainly friendships, and how to make them work in a setting where perfect friendships are impossible.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet was another series I checked out, but it was a mixed bag for me. The characters were interesting, the story was good, but it didn’t strike a chord with me until the ending episodes. The end was great, but I somehow wished we had gotten there somewhat earlier. XD

For summer, there were quite a few unexpectedly good series. And no, I’m not talking about that swimming anime (I mean, it was good to, but er…). The summer of 2013 brought us Uchouten Kazoku, Servant X Service, and Kitaku-bu Katsudou Kiroku.

29071-Uchoten-Kazoku-01Uchouten Kazoku was translated by Crunchyroll to “Eccentric Family”, and while not an accurate translation of “uchouten” (which means literally “ecstasy”), I think it captures the show rather well. The kanji for uchouten (有頂天) literally breaks down to “possessing the heavens on your head”. Thus it could be said that a family who possess something like that will probably be a bit eccentric or even idiots (as they do call themselves) that take pride in able to living to their fullest potential, even as tanuki. I would even go so far as to rank this the top anime of 2013 for me.

Servant X Service had a slow and rocky start, even as a light romantic comedy. Granted, it had a tough act to follow from the fans who are still wishing for a Working! Season 3. I actually dropped it for a while because the behaviors of one of the characters in particular irked me too much. But, after hearing it did improve, I picked it up again and found the show develop into a charming and sweet story about people learning about what’s really important in life. Though the stuffed bunny manager may still need some time to sort his own issues out, at least the main characters find some resolution.

Now, for an anime I’m sure I’m the only one who watched, Kitaku-bu Katsudou Kiroku (known as “The Chronicles of the Going Home Club”). This was a fun comedy that referenced everything from “Star Wars” to “Saw” to various other anime, including Giant Robo at one time. The plot was simple, a group of high school girls who formed a “going home club” (a term used in Japanese for someone who is not part of a club), where they address the important issues of life like feeding pigeons, playing video games, and figuring out how to make their anime not canceled. 51a53ea8c166c4466b4b10df83670c111371267420_full

It was a fun ride and something to follow the fun times that the GJ-bu anime gave me last year.

The summer season would not be complete without KyoAni’s swimming anime Free! that left anime fans everywhere in tears of joy (or sadness). And that’s before we even knew what the anime was about! Free! was like a fun summer; full of pools and swimming kids, sunshine and barbeques. But like every season, summer has to end. It’s sad to see it go, but you know it will be back next year. Or so the rumors say…

And finally, here we are, at the tail end of the chilly fall season, where I’ve actually fallen a bit behind in my watching because of the big months of November and December are always busy for me. But don’t worry, I’ll catch up in January when I have nothing else to do (besides the new winter anime!). XD

But here’s a preview of what I have been trying to keep up with.

1387889889_kyoukai_no_kanataKyoukai no Kanata: KyoAni revives after a long summer of boys in swimsuits to bring us a fantasy series with a blood wielding girl in glasses. One thing I will give KyoAni, no matter the setting, they can still make great story full of friendship, happiness, sadness, love and really pretty animation. While not the best KyoAni show by far, it made me happy to see a supernatural setting again (see: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) as well as a hopeful and happy ending.

I’m a sucker for happy endings.

Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~: According to some friends, I really need to catch up on this one. I believe this is a reboot of sorts to an older series of the same name, but I’m finding this one much more exciting and thrilling. It has action, drama, and just enough mystery to keep the plot interesting and moving forward at a steady, quick pace. It’s about a town where humans and youkai (spirit monsters) exist in peace. Our main characters have the job of helping to maintain this peace, but there are currently unknown forces trying to disrupt this peace. Our heroes must find out who’s behind it and quickly.

Gingitsune: I’m watching this more for the calm feel and interesting characters. While not as lovely as Natsume Yuujinchou, the day to day adventures that a girl and a shrine herald come across are heartwarming in a way.

Kill la Kill: I feel like my morals are questioned every time I watch a new episode of this show. Undoubtedly created by a studio containing Gainax members that worked on shows like Gurren Lagann, Trigger debuts a full length series that is much different than their kick-starter, Little Witch Academia.tumblr_mmje5edfpD1rw9b6io1_1280

Once this show is over, I hope I’ll be able to put all the pieces together and find some deep meaning in this show. It feels like it’s trying to tell me something, but all the fanservice seems to be burying any important meaning. Granted, Medaka Box still somehow shined even through it’s fanservice.

But overall, Kill la Kill is about breaking out of a mold, living your own life, never giving up and of course, the power of friendship.

Or it could all a conflict of whether clothes are important in life or not. Only time will tell.

So what about you? What were the hit and misses of 2013? What anime did you enjoy this year? Did you have any anime that surprised you? 

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Two Brothers

The most well known and common struggle humanity faces; Good versus Evil. We see it in fiction, non-fiction, fan fiction and beyond.

Cutting through all the choices we make in our lives, it can boil down to this choice; our very human nature reflects this.

This is a pretty deep topic that millions of blog posts couldn’t even cover, I think. So, why am I talking about it? Due to the recent announcement of Part 3 of the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure anime in the works (no date yet, though. ;o; ), I found myself pondering the first two parts, which were animated excellently this past year.

For various reasons, Jojo is not terribly popular in the US yet (because of licensing trouble, which has to do with 80s bands’ names as villains. No, I’m not kidding), but because of its long running manga and the apparent immortality, both in his work and his age, Hirohiko Araki is well known in Japan as well as places all over the world (even France, where much of his manga was translated due to him having an exhibition one year at the Louvre).

But back to human nature, I recall being told that this was the main theme of the epic and still ongoing manga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure by one of my friends, who is an avid fan.

Despite being a devoted One Piece fan myself, Jojo seemed a tad long for me to just start on. So ignoring the prodding of my friends who were Jojo fans, I kept putting off starting the manga.

Then, the anime came out and I found my opportunity to experience this story finally. jojo poster

Long story short and 9 episodes later (the end of Part 1), I can safely say this series is one of the best I’ve seen. Granted, it had great source material (I started reading the manga shortly after watching the anime). But since trying to cover the whole first season, which has part 1 and part 2, would be way too long, I’ll devote this post to the grand Introduction of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure in Part 1; where it all starts and where the pieces are set into a wheel of fate for two brothers.

Truthfully, the two main leads in part 1 are not really brothers by blood, Jonathan Joestar (known fondly as Jojo) and Dio Brando come from very different walks of life. The former raised as a rich man’s son on a grand estate and in some ways, he was spoiled, while the latter had a deadbeat father and had to live his life in a world of poverty, trickery, lies, and selfishness just to survive.

Read the rest of this entry

Locked and Loaded and Ready to Advance.

52125lOf all the places I expected to find some interesting thoughts about life and my relationship with God, Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3, aka: the cute girls playing airsoft anime, was not one of them.

But while my eyes are still sparkling too much over Free! and my mind is still trying to sort out all the symbolism in Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family), Stella C3 offered an unexpected and interesting outlook on someone trying to change, but realizing that there’s more to changing yourself than just getting into the right circumstances and hoping for the best; it was something I could relate to pretty easily, actually (as with most of my blog posts, it seems. They do tell you to write what you know!).

The main character of Stella C3 is Yura Yamato, an introverted girl who hopes that her debut at the high school of her dreams will be one full of social circles and fun high school life things.

maybe I can finally change

Problem is, she’s not very good at talking to people nor is she very confident in herself. Thus, as expected, she fails within the first few minutes of arriving at her new, palace-like school as she sees everyone around her making friends instantly, but she remains left in the background and ignored.

Already in the first episode, my high school life was flashing before my eyes, it was horrifying. But that aside, even in her mopey-ness, Yura seemed more lost than reluctant to change. She wanted to change herself and be within the social crowd (cue Cinderella parallels), but she had no idea how to start. Thus, I wanted to root for her since she didn’t seem like a total lost cause yet.

Then she finds a gun under her room mate’s pillow and it all goes from there.

Long story short, due to a series of events that include cake, Rambo, and using an anatomical model as a decoy, Yura joins the C3 club (girls who play airsoft survival games!) and starts to feel as if she is changing already from her shy self.

Though when under pressure, true natures are revealed. Soon after Yura joining the C3 club, they all participate in a high school airsoft tournament. While things go great for a while, Yura resorts back to her lack of confidence in her abilities and ends up surrendering to a rival team instead of going down fighting like the rest of her team mates.

Being scolded by her teammates leads her to mull over her actions and finally realize she needs to take bigger steps in changing herself.

hair cut

A haircut can make you feel like a new person!

But this still seems off the mark from the ultimate goal.

I had been pondering over this post for a while now, but hit a speed bump when the most recent episode came out just a few days ago. The recent episode dives into a spiritual realm of some classic Shintoism that, while interesting, left me pondering if the show was still worth as much to me as it had been previously. It threw a wrench in my thoughts of the show up until then and left me dazed.

So how did I come to a connection between this spiritual journey Yura was taken on (and she was…through an airsoft gun, no less) and my own relationship with God?

Both are quests to “find oneself”, I think. Now, that sounds really new age-y, but don’t run away yet because there’s a pretty big contrast between the two as well. Shintoism and Christianity are two very different sets of beliefs at their cores, least we be confused.

A interesting quote mentioned to Yura in episode 4 by Sonora (the captain of the airsoft club, as well as Yura’s room mate and someone she looks up to) is making airsoft “your own airsoft” in your life. Find your reason for enjoying it, grasp that as a support, and move forward.

find your own airsoft

So Yura goes through this spiritual journey, saves a 15 year old warrior, changes history, and ends up being able to hit the dead center of a 5 yen coin. All very fantastical.

In the end, instead of trying to change herself completely, she learns to accept herself and not be self conscious about what she can and cannot do, but just keep advancing with something driving her forward (in this case, a special airsoft gun).

Even Christians feel lost sometimes, though. Just because you are in the “correct” circumstances doesn’t mean you will change magically and know your purpose in life and never stumble. A relationship with God is not as easy as joining an airsoft club, though.

In the show, Yura finds a guiding light in the Škorpion vz. 61, but in the end, it’s only a gun.

Yet having Christ as a support in your life and finding yourself through Him requires much more trust. But since it’s a relationship of grace and love, having Him as your support has a lot more power to drive you forward in life without fear.

One Piece and Waiting for the Sake of the Adventure

As a recent college graduate, I’ve had a lot on my mind; about the future, about finally being down with this part of my life and ready to move onto the next adventure, and about the uncertainties of where to go from here. One might even venture to say that I’m heading off to a New World.

Waiting is something we all do in our lives and to some (like me), it can be quite insufferable at times. In fact, many Christians find themselves in a constant struggle with God over wanting to do things now instead of having to wait. Or rather, we don’t see why we have to wait.

As someone who has been reading/watching One Piece since I was 10 years old, I find that a lot of elements in the series will come back and relate to my life somehow or teach me some lesson (as a lot of anime will). Despite its Shounen genre feel of “Never give up and achieve your dreams, yeah!” which is greatly uplifting, things are not always great for the StrawHat crew in the series and like in life, there are painful loses.

luffyllorandoO_O

There is a point about 500 episodes into the series that One Piece fans refer to as the Time Skip. It’s a period of two years where the main character, Luffy, confident in his abilities to always win, finds himself out of options; his crew separated across the ocean, someone dear to him dead, and a battle and many other lives lost. He cannot move forward the way he is now, as much as he wants to. Therefore, he is offered a proposition by Silvers Rayleigh (former first mate to Gol D. Roger and really the old mentor type of character) to pause his adventure and train for two years; become stronger, and then meet up with the rest of his crew to continue on to the next leg of their journey; a sea appropriately called “The New World”.

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