Category Archives: Media Type

Something More: Hanayamata Witness, Godly Childhood Relationships, and Shinto Ritual

It’s a “Series of Miracles” kind of week here on Something More, as Frank, founder of that blog, is responsible for the majority of this week’s short list of links.  Not that I’m complaining, as he’s one of my favorite writers in the blogosphere!

Frank again looks to anime childhood relationships as he discusses a Christian’s relationship with God. [A Series of Miracles]

In reviewing episodes 5 and 6 of Hanayamata, Frank points out the responsibility Christians have in representing their faith and how one might share their faith with others. [2]

Charles Dunbar educates us about clothing and purification in regards to Shinto rituals. [Study of Anime]

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.

Mercy in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

As many Christians will tell you, mercy and grace are some of the dearest and most beautiful qualities of God. Not only does he show us mercy every day by guiding us through problems that we often bring on ourselves, but he gave everyone on earth mercy by dying on the cross so we wouldn’t have to take the consequence for our mistakes. Yet when the idea of showing such great mercy is presented to most people on earth, Christians and non-Christians alike balk at the idea. We make all sorts of excuses to avoid giving anything less than whatever we perceive as justice to those around us when they’re in the wrong, especially if it comes at a cost, despite the fact that there are few people who have never received a kindness they didn’t earn.

Mercy is also one of the main qualities of Edward Elric, the protagonist of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Unlike the majority of the characters, he actually avoids killing his enemies, for no other reason than that they are human, his definition of which is quite broad. His judgement on this is called into question several times, especially when he has to deal with Kimblee, the Crimson Alchemist.

FMA: BrotherhoodKimblee is both a fascinating and disgusting villain. Unlike Ed, he is a sociopath who places no value on human life and delights in pain and chaos. Even though Ed knows this, when the soldiers at Briggs decide to kill Kimblee and his chimera henchmen, Ed protests, and argues that they should try to capture them instead. His request is denied, and the soldiers of Briggs think his idea foolhardy and soft.

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Free! Eternal Summer Episode 9: Free to Succeed…or Not

The tension in Free! has slowly risen all season long, with the stress involving Makoto’s and Haru’s futures even more pressing than the races the show focuses on.  It all came to a head in episode nine as Haru has a meltdown, both in the pool and out, as he literally stops in the middle of the race and stands up in his lane, and then yells at Rin afterward.

Haru apparently has no parents, but he’s still felt pressure about his future all season long.  Episode nine emphasizes through both current-day dialogue and dream sequences that almost everyone around Haru is reminding him that scouts are watching his swimming, and that he’d better swim well to impress them and secure his future.  Haru doesn’t want any of that (or maybe isn’t sure if he does), and succumbs to the pressure of it all.

Rin Matsuoka

Rin = Mean Asian Dad

The episode made me think about my own children and how I parent them.  I never intended to be a typical Asian father, expecting straight A’s (or A+’s, rather) and perfect obedience from my kids, but I’ve had to realize that even at a young age, I’ve put a lot of pressure upon them.  And for what reason?  Basically so that they can have the world at their fingertips, even though that’s precisely what I don’t want for them.

And so, I’ve tried to change my parenting – to be gracious and kind when they don’t accomplish what I hope they will and to really mean it when I say that their “personal best” is more than enough.  Even so, it’s difficult, because my experience has taught me that doing your best in school does matter.  And frankly, because I’m selfish and prideful, and it’s hard for me to understand that my feelings and thoughts aren’t necessarily God’s way, the right way.

And so, I’m working on achieving some sort of balance in answering the question, how hard should I push my children to succeed?

But as this entire season has shown, there isn’t always an easy answer to this question, though one thing I know is this: however we parent, we must approach our children with a love that’s focused on them and not on what we want of them.

And who knows? Maybe episodes ten and eleven will surprise me and give me an answer.  And if it does, I swear, I’ll start telling people that I “only parent freestyle.”

Blue Spring Ride Episode 8: The Thought That Counts

I was just about ready to give up on Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) – or at least blogging it.  But then came along episode eight, hitting me right in the feels.  Nicely done.

After getting so down on Futuba the past two weeks for her selfish thoughts (though I count myself as nearer her than a more perfect shoujo heroine), I was glad to see her thoughts this week turn toward Yuuri.  Futuba was reminded of how important Yuuri is to her, through personal flashbacks and by Shuko (who in this episode made two big steps out of her shell by spending time with the girls and by sharing her crush with them).  Out of respect for their friendship, Futuba tells Yuuri the truth – a hard admission, as Shuko points out.

Yuuri’s response is surprising to Futuba, and was a relief to me (the series has stressed me out the last few weeks), as she takes it relatively in stride.  Though she cries in the privacy of a bathroom, Yuuri confirms to her friends that she’ll remain true to her friendship with Futuba, even as the two both pursue Kou.

Yuuri Makita

Sometimes, love hurts

Though Yuuri’s words are admirable, I’ve found myself dwelling more upon Futuba’s thoughts and actions.  The latter has two real conflicting thoughts going through her head – her own desire for what she wants and a more altruistic hope that she won’t hurt a friend.  And though more than once, Futuba mentions that she might lose a friend, I don’t think that line of thinking weight on her as heavily as her want to keep Yuuri from pain, as this episode demonstrates how much she really cares for her friend.

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Something More: Forgiving Kirito’s Sin, Real Barakamon Church, and Hamatora’s Anti-Christ

The summer season has passed it’s mid-point, and bloggers continue to find great spiritual connections in current series, joining a number of other excellent articles about some more classic ones that posted this week.

Frank finds perhaps an intentional connection to Christianity and Japan’s Hidden Christians in Barakamon. [A Series of Miracles]

Annalyn looks into humanism and Christianity reactions to it and she jumps back into Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

In his continuing investigation into Hamatora, Medieval Otaku finds comparisons between Moral and the anti-Christ. [Medieval Otaku]

Casey Covel gives a high score to volume three of the Death Note manga in her Christian-centered review. [Geeks Under Grace]

Rob sees lessons of forgiveness and healing in episode seven of Sword Art Online. [Christian Anime Review]

Rob also finds an interesting lesson to be learned from Kirito’s treatment of Sinon in episode six of Sword Art Online. [2]

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.

The Purpose of Trials in Fruits Basket

I have a tendency to shirk away from challenge. Complacency is a hole I feel I constantly find myself climbing out of. If I can avoid it or procrastinate, I usually do. It’s much easier to shove something into a metaphorical box and go watch Youtube videos then actually work through it.

Spiritually in my life, this is something God will tolerate for only so long. As always, God cares much more about me than I do about myself and wants me to have life in abundance, even if that means significant challenge.

There is one scene in Fruits Basket between Kyo and his master/father figure Kazuma that made me think about how sometimes God’s plan for my life and my desire to not deal with challenge, ever, come to a head.

As the cat of the zodiac, Kyo is the most cursed of all of the Sohmas. As part of his curse, he turns into a horrific beast if he doesn’t wear a set of beads and will be confined to a place on the Sohma estate for the rest of his life after high school. He copes with this situation by focusing all of his hurt and frustration on Yuki the rat, the most privileged of the zodiac that was said to have tricked the cat long ago, and keeping almost everyone is his life at a distance.

Kazuma confronts him about this one night.


Kazuma: Is this the way you intend to go on living for the rest of your days? Ears plugged, eyes closed, hiding behind your hatred for Yuki? Read the rest of this entry

Terror in Resonance Episode 7: When Terrorists Are Saviors

Episode seven of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) was the payoff episode I didn’t know I was waiting for.

Each succeeding week of Watanabe’s bordering-on-classic series has ratcheted up the tension with our once invincible duo getting closer and closer to having their plans derailed.  The police force started as totally inept, but when Shibazaki came on board, Twelve and Nine had an adversary to nearly matched them, but even he was mostly being used by the terrorists in their plans.  But with Five, we have a character who equals Nine in intelligence, and maybe bests him.

Throughout the episode, Five plays a game of chess, apparently a former favorite between her and Nine, with the boys, but she surprises them by showing the final move is the delivery point of the bomb, which is on an empty plane headed toward them.  No problem, since Nine has switched up security footage and made his way to Five, holding her at gunpoint, right?

Nine and Five Terror in Resonance

Checkmate (sorta)

Wrong, since the suspense further builds with Lisa Mishima in the mix.  Having established her both as an innocent and as loveable (now the moe-building in the previous episodes, which I originally decried, make sense!), the audience is held at baited breath when she’s trapped on the plane holding the bomb.

But with all this intense action happening – and it was indeed great – what excited me the most was seeing Shibazaki and Nine finally interacting in real time.  Though they’re clearly on separate sides of the law, Shibazaki understands that neither wants people hurt here, and he agrees to work with the terrorist.  Already a loose canon of sorts, Shibazaki isn’t afraid to run counter the the culture established within the police department in order to do the right thing.

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A Christian Guide to Comiket

Summer Comiket 86 has come and gone. While for last Comiket, I wrote a personalized post about my first experience, this time I decided to take a more streamlined and general approach. Comiket, as most of you probably know, is the largest otaku convention in Japan, and subsequently, the world. With roughly 170,000 people attending each of the 3 days at the convention center Tokyo Big Sight, it makes Anime Expo and Otakon look small in comparison, with its lines, lines, and more lines. As such, it can be a daunting experience for a foreigner to try out, especially when one does not even speak the language. So if you are at all interested in eventually attending, here are some things to consider.

Tokyo Big Sight

Tokyo Big Sight

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Anime Today: Confessions of an Exclusivist, Christian Otaku

For as long as I can remember, back even to my elementary school days, I recall always desiring to be different or unique. I can even remember my public school teachers all hammering that message into my and my classmates’ collective heads. “Be yourself” seemed to be the key phrase (and considering my years of work in IT for public education, and consequent time spent in public schools, seems to still be the key phrase) tossed around like an inflatable volleyball on the beach, for it floats easily and just seems to fit the setting.

Now before I continue on any further, I must qualify the rest of this article by saying that I do not disagree with this statement in the slightest. While it should perhaps not be taken at face value (some happy medium must exist behind the conservative convention that being oneself gives way to a lack of moral objectivity and consequent slippery slope of moral degradation and the liberal convention that moral subjectivity declares being oneself the path to defining morals themselves), there is redeemable value in those simple words, “be yourself.”

blue spring ride futaba

Ao Haru Ride has been, in part, about learning to be oneself

And with that explained, I would like to delve deeper into my personal experience with this concept of individuality.

As I mentioned in sentence one of this article, my personality has always been one governed by popular opinion. Governed not in that I blend in with society’s trends, but rather the opposite, that I purposefully have gravitated toward that which is not popular. This is a part of myself that I have determined through reflecting on past decisions, from decisions as minor as deciding a video game class based on looking up polls on which ones were used, and selecting the least popular, to decisions as major as choosing not to share some of my interests in fear of accidentally making them more popular and thus removing myself from the category of “unique.” This latter example is where I would like to spend the majority of my time today.

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Blue Spring Ride, Episode 7: Honesty

After getting so down on Futaba last week, I was really glad to see an entire episode dealing with her dilemma and her real desire to tell Yuuri the truth.  But further, episode seven of Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) continue to showed Futaba’s shortcomings, which are the same we all have.

The show opens as episode six left off, with Kou having stepped off the train to be with Futuba, who has come to terms with her “love” for him.  He notices the scent of her hair.  She falls even more for him and decides she must tell Yuuri that she, too, loves Kou.

But in between, something interesting happens.  Futuba runs into her best friend from middle school.  If you remember back in episode one, Futuba compared herself to Yuuri, having been ostracized during middle school as Yuuri was during high school.  Futuba’s middle school friend had been her only companion, but eventually abandoned her, too, and here we find out it’s because she thought they both liked the same guy.  Futuba makes the connection with Yuuri and Kou and becomes more distressed, wondering what effect all of this will have on their relationships.

ao haru ride

What Futuba fails to realize is that her lack of honesty is already having ripple effects.  Yuuri is worried about Futuba, and so hidden feelings are having an outward impact.  And what if Futuba failed to tell Yuuri about her feelings for Kou until they exploded out into the open?  What kind of effect would secrets revealed have then?

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