Category Archives: Japan

The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 13

Congratulations to The Tangles for its 13th episode and one entire year of podcasting! We’re very excited to share our first year anniversary episode with all of you, and we hope you enjoy the new format we have developed for it!

Episode 13, mentioned above, is the first episode of our new, streamlined format. The theme of this episode is “The Year in Review,” and we had the chance to have Lauren Orsini back on the show for an interview that investigates her last year’s accomplishments! For this month’s panel, JP, Sean, and Charles discuss some of the “otaku media” that have consumed and how it has affected their lives in meaningful ways.

Thanks for listening! Feel free to stream the episode below, subscribe on iTunes, or check out our RSS feed! Also, be sure to email us with any questions you would like included in our “Listener Mail” portion, including the name you would like stated in the podcast and your website or blog for us to share!

Time Stamps:
Intro – 0:00
Announcements – 0:56
Otaku Diet – 1:39
Lauren Orsini Interview – 11:09
Main Topic: The Year in Review – 27:50
Listener Mail – 52:47
Closer – 1:02:42
Bloopers – 1:03:30

Direct Download

Note: Below are the links mentioned in the podcast:

Lost in Translation: Charlotte’s Cultural Differences

With the recent episode of Charlotte, a point was brought to my attention that reminded me just how much Westerners miss out on things related to Japanese culture. While I have a different post I wanted to write, it in fact connects to this. When I previously described things lost in translation, I also mentioned cultural differences. My guess is that these cultural differences usually do not play a significant role in the plot or story. A lot of them often go over our heads as we don’t even realize we missed something. But sometimes we notice them; we notice them and interpret them according to our culture rather than Japan’s.

Episode 7 of Charlotte focuses on Yuu’s descent into madness as he is overcome with grief at the death of Ayumi. He starts off simply holed up in his apartment, eating nothing but delicious cup ramen. He escapes the school, takes an unhealthy amount of joy in a videogame, and then begins abusing his powers to win street fights. Finally, just as he is about to turn to drugs, Nao kicks some sense into him, literally. There are a lot of ways to interpret this scene but most likely there are no Westerners who reacted the way it was written to be. How bad are drugs, really? Conservatives might view the scene in agreement: drugs are very dangerous and cross a line which should not be crossed. Others don’t see it as that bad: drugs are not inherently such an evil depending on the circumstances and what kind of drug, so maybe this was a circumstantial implication. Still others don’t see how it’s so much worse than his previous state: Yuu was already stabbing people, causing serious bodily harm and enjoying it; didn’t he already cross a big line? But it’s hard to remember when thinking about this scene that you are painting the scene with your idea on drugs. And it’s harder to realize that a culture exists with a completely different view because even if your ideas are based on facts, they aren’t based on relevant facts – the relevancy here being Japanese culture.

Yuu_drugs

I won’t pretend to be an expert on how drugs work in Japan, but I feel I am knowledgeable enough to shed some light and make people rethink this scene from a different viewpoint. Basically, drugs are a huge taboo in Japan. No one wants anything to do with drugs, the yakuza wouldn’t touch drugs with a ten kilometer pole, and if anyone found out you used drugs, they would probably turn you in and never want to speak to you again. You can very realistically lose your job and place in society once people find out you use drugs; they are simply viewed as that horrible. It is probably nothing like how it is in your country and culture. When Yuu is about to take drugs, it is a very clear depiction that he is about to cross a line that should never be crossed. This is understood and felt by the Japanese audience because it’s a real reflection of their culture and upbringing. Even if you agree with or accept this depiction, it will fail to invoke the same level of feelings or reactions as it would from a Japanese viewer.

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The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 12

Episode 12 closes out our summer series of Japan focused podcast episodes with a special Tangles panel: JP (Japes), Kaze, Jack (R86), and Daniel (Zeroe4)! All members of this month’s panel have spent varying degrees of time in Japan in very different roles with unique experiences of the country, and thus use that diversity to share and discuss the country from different perspectives! We hope you have been enjoying this summer’s series of special episodes and will tune in next month for episode 13, celebrating a full year of The Tangles Podcast!

Thanks for listening! Feel free to stream the episode below, subscribe on iTunes, or check out our RSS feed! Also, be sure to email us with any questions you would like included in our “Listener Mail” portion, including the name you would like stated in the podcast and your website or blog for us to share!

Time Stamps:
Intro – 0:00
Announcements – 2:43
Otaku Diet – 4:35
How did you get to Japan; What are you doing? – 37:40
How does life in Japan compare to slice of life anime? – 47:39
Best and worst experiences in Japan; Amusing experiences – 58:07
How have you seen God working in Japan? – 1:31:46
Closer – 1:53:39

Direct Download

Note: Below are the links mentioned in the podcast:

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!

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.

 

Anime Today: Experiencing Context

If you listened to our latest episode of The Tangles Podcast, you probably know that I am soon headed to the land of Japan. Actually, within 24 hours of this article going live, I will be on a plane crossing the Pacific (God willing).

On a somewhat disconnected note (I promise it will make sense soon), I’ve also recently noticed a trend in my viewing habits this season: 6 of the 8 anime I am currently following follow Japanese school life. In fact, as I’ve perused my MyAnimeList profile, I’ve noted that many of my favorites come from this genre.

Kiniro 1

Now how do these previous two paragraphs connect? Quite simply, actually. For the three months I will be in Japan, I will be working as an intern for a Japanese university, assisting in English instruction, among many other things. The thing that I most love about school life anime, namely the the reflection of genuine Japanese culture (sugar coated and fictionalized, to be sure), is exactly what I will be experiencing firsthand.

Obviously I’ve been granted a somewhat rare opportunity to gain this experience, and definitely not one that many of our readers will experience, so how does this relate to you? This upcoming experience has brought me to the conclusion that for someone to have a true passion, that must have the passion to develop a holistic understanding of whatever the object of that passion is. For my roommate this past academic year, one of those passions was Star Wars, thus he was highly engrossed in many products of the Star Wars expanded universe. For me, that passion is Japanese culture, and one natural consequence of this is my desire to experience life in Japan as I shall be this summer.

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Something More: Maria the Inaccurate Witch, Guslinger Augustine, and the Divine Satsuki

It’s that time of the year again when new anime come out to play!  We’ve got one post on a new series below, and number about shows that have completed their runs.

Taylor zeroes in on Satsuki of Kill la Kill as a divine figure. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

Medieval Otaku dives into the medievalness of Maria the Virgin Witch, discussing how accurate the series was to that historic time, including how the show portrayed “heretics.” [Medieval Otaku]

Romance is discussed often in the bible, the absurdities of which are on full display in Urusei Yatsura. [2]

Nameko Families, an anime about anthropomorphic mushrooms, can tell us a lot about Christian love and forgiveness in a marriage. [Old Line Elephant]

A Christian newspaper in Japan is featuring a religious slice-of-life manga, whose protagonist is named Pyuuri-tan. [Kotaku]

Did you catch the St. Augustine quote in the first episode of Gunslinger Stratos? [Aliens in This World]

iblessall saves her lowest rating of the 2015 winter anime season for Maria the Virgin Witch, largely for it’s misrepresentation of Christianity. [Mage in a Barrel]

The finale for KanColle evokes teachings about the body of Christ. [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.  Thanks to Laura of Heart of Manga for pointing me toward the Pyuuri-tan news!  If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK to be included.

 

Something More: Kill la Cross, Madoka’s Universal Church, and Sailor Moon Mythology

Welcome to the first of our more sporadic version of Something More.  The blogosphere has been resplendent in it’s spiritual-related articles the last couple of week, regarding anime series both current and classic.

Christian symbolism runs rampant in Kill la Kill, as do opportunities to discuss Christian themes and ideas, particularly as they relate to clothing, in the series. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

The Spice and Wolf light novels paint God as malicious, but does this really to his true character? [Medieval Otaku]

Christianity plays a role, at least superficially, in countless anime series, as Eugene Woodbury states:

At the same time, in terms of theology, the suggestively Catholic Haibane Renmei can stand beside any of C.S. Lewis’s work as a powerful Christian parable. The same is true of anime such as Madoka Magica and Scrapped Princess, though you may have to look harder to see through the metaphors.

But he also goes on to suggest that the Japanese view toward the faith may rather reveal a positive view for many of the country’s feelings toward religion as compared to western ones. [Eugene’s Blog]

Speaking of Madoka, Woodbury recently explained that the series is “an exploration of the doctrine of universal reconciliation.” [2]

Is Mushi-shi a fatalistic series? Perhaps quite the contrary… [Organizational ASG]

To the tune of Christian themes, there’s more to A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd than meets the eye. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Sailor Moon draws more than merely character names from Greco-Roman mythology. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

And continuing with Sailor Moon, episode 14 of Sailor Moon Crystal emphasizes the power of prayer…even if it is to the Crystal Tower. [Geeks Under Grace]

The dividing of the girls in episode 5 of KanColle brings to mind the discomfort the early Christians must have felt as they started their mission. [2]

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.

Christian Love in the Nana Fan Base

A year ago, I wrote about how God’s love could be compared to that of a yandere. This year I’d like to make another kind of comparison on the topic of love, but instead of focusing on God, I want to focus on Christians and our love for God. Our love for God is, or at least should be, the greatest emotion we can possibly offer. It is a love which drives us to worship Him, follow Him, strive to be like Him, and serve Him. Anime loves to depict similarly idealistic characters – from the main character who always has to help others to the school idol who is loved by the entire school to the deredere archetype that is just helplessly in love with another. Anime, and people in general, love the idea of love.

But in real life, these ideals often fall apart. Especially in Japan, people who reflect even a fraction of such ideals are hard to come by. It is a sad irony in that although Japanese people can be so friendly on the surface, their hearts are so disconnected from each other. But while they may fail to emulate the type of godly, unconditional love which Christians (should) have, that doesn’t mean similarities don’t exist. And while rare, such a type of love is something which the Japanese are drawn to.

Nowhere have I seen this more than among the Nana Mizuki fandom. Perhaps my view is skewed since, well, I don’t pay nearly as much attention to any other fandom, and as a whole, the otaku culture in Japan has a fascinating difference in lifestyle compared to most other Japanese (but that’s a different topic for a similar phenomenon). In my short time in Japan, with moderate interaction with other Nana fans, I have come to feel that the love fans feel for Nana is similar to the love Christians have for God. Of course, I’d be the first to admit the numerous reasons why it’s an imperfect parallel, but compared to other Japanese people, and even compared to other fan bases, there is something here that reminds me of Christian love, and there is something about Nana that draws people to her in ways that remind me of how people are drawn to God.

Nana2 Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Religion at Katsucon, Hinduism in Death Parade, and Heaven in Wolf’s Rain

Truth be told, this week’s post was intended to be the last regular column of Something More.  I felt that especially with an umber of the writers we feature here having recently joined our site, the column had outlived its usefulness.  That was still my thought this morning, until I realized just how many spirituality-related articles were posted in the aniblogosphere this week.  And so, we continue forward, though it should be noted that Something More may post on more a biweekly schedule from this point forward.

And now, onto this week’s articles!

At Katsucon this weekend? Then you’ll no doubt want to check out Charles Dunbar’s panels on Japan and religion. [Study of Anime]

If you’ve noticed the religious allusions in Death Parade, you’re not the only one – it’s chock full of Buddhist, Shinto, and especially Hindu imagery, and may also have something to tell us in alignment with the last of those three religious philosophies. [Isn’t it Electrifying?]

The first episode of Super Sonico demonstrates to us how fanservice can reveal adulterous desires. [Old Line Elephant]

The concepts of sin and repentance surprisingly find themselves instilled in an ecchi game, Criminal Girls, Invite Only. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

She’ll spend an upcoming post on religion, but even this week’s post regarding queerness, the first in a series on Kill la Kill, makes some mention of Christian imagery and ideas. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

The wolves in Wolf’s Rain seek a literal paradise, but is that what they need? And how does that compare to what otaku seek? [Black Strawberry]

Episode 3 of KanColle demonstrates to us a principle recorded in the Book of James: tomorrow is not guaranteed. [Geeks Under Grace]

Could a solution to the way women are represented in games be found in the understanding of sinful nature? [2]

Adam Ledford completes his series on the history of Christianity in Japan by discussing the Shimabara Rebellion and the faith in Japan following the failed rebellion. [Tofugu]

As part of the Something More series of posts, each week Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality.  If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.

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