Category Archives: Anime
I recently had a discussion with an old friend over Facebook. He’s a person I dearly care about and who I once discipled, but who has since left the faith largely because of his debelief in the miracles in (and writings of) the Bible.
Are we in a more skeptical day and age than ever before? I think probably we are. But the faithful Christian must not forget that God is God and not everything can be explained.
Our own Medieval Otaku, on his self-named blog, dives into the miraculous a bit as he compares the character Amami from Re-Kan to a prayerful Catholic. He dives into the topic of saints and angels and how we might connect to them through prayer. Amami, like a Christian, is open to the unseen when others may be skeptical or downright hostile. As Medieval Otaku states, “Anything touching upon the supernatural, whether souls, ghosts, miracles, the saints, the sacraments, or even God, is usually treated with distrust or contempt.”
I’m reminded of a lunch I had a week or two ago with a friend. We discussed how one should approach Genesis, and in the midst of all our talk, I had to reiterate this: while it’s important to approach the Bible with intellectual honesty and to examine it carefully, we’ve also all been convicted by the unseen God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and are being transformed as we commune with God. In our rush to dismiss mysticism that might intrude on our faith, we can’t forget that God is God, and things impossible with man are possible with Him. We cannot limit God because we’re limited – doing so ultimately negates the grace of God and our faith entirely:
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.
– 1 Corinthians 15:12-14
Read Medieval Otaku’s wax more eloquently on the topic (and in a different direction than I have) at his site:
Naoi’s painful childhood as show in Angel Beats! reminds of poor fathering by Isaac in the Bible, and our model for perfection through the story of the Prodigal Son. [Old Line Elephant]
In the same episode, Naoi declares himself God, reminding us of how we, too, develop idols in our controlling, imperfect manner. 
In the next episode, we find Otonashi’s life had revolved around a different kind of “idol worship” – that in which we worked for temporary things of this world. 
The way Utena loves Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena reminds us God’s concern for “the other,” with the other also representing all of us. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]
The blurred lines between humanity and the inhuman in Attack on Titan and XenoBlade Chronicles points toward the way we often dehumanize others, and what the cost of doing so is. [Geekdom House]
Finally, I would be negligent to not mention that one of our dear friends, Tommy, has opened a Patreon account. If you enjoy his critical analysis (particularly of Toonami series), please pledge to support him! [Anime Bowl]
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.
One of my favorite anime antagonists is Shishio, the evildoer from the Kyoto Arc of Rurouni Kenshin. Shishio looks like a mummy, replaced Kenshin as the battousai, is never really bested by Kenshin with the sword, and in the dubbed version of the show, he’s voiced by always-awesome Steven Blum. What’s not to love (or hate)?
As Kenshin goes on a journey to defeat Shishio, the hero realizes early on that he’s not strong enough as is to defeat him. To gain the necessary skills to stop Shishio, Kenshin returns to his old master, Seijuro, to learn an ultimate skill. His sensei ultimately presses him into developing the technique, Amakakeru Ryū no Hirameki (episode 43). But the most interesting thing isn’t the technique itself – it’s how the disciple learns it. Ultimately, it must be learned by using it on one’s teacher in an attempt to break the sensei’s otherwise unbreakable defense. And in doing so, the learner kills his master.
Seijuro lays down his life to teach the technique to Kenshin.
This teaching seems a bit extreme – but this is anime after all. Reminiscent of Unohana’s teaching of Kenpachi in Bleach, there has to be great sacrifice for the result that’s received. And although Seijuro doesn’t actually die – Kenshin is using his reverse blade, after all – is there any question that this noble and hard man wouldn’t be willing to die in this situation, having determined, finally, that Kenshin is worthy of learning it?
Do you have a tiger mom?
My mother isn’t quite of the sort, though I certainly received more discipline and was forced to focus on academics more than most any of my schoolmates. But she wasn’t a tiger mother to the extent that many of my friends’ mothers were. You can often tell which had them by the kids’ accomplishments – excellent grades, perfect SAT scores, excellence at musical instruments, polite to a fault – all signs that you had a tiger mother.
Of course, like another Asian concept, yin and yang, growing up this way isn’t all roses, though it may look so on the outside. Where perfection (at least in the eyes of parents) reigns, the child may be troubled by feelings of disappointment and lack of love, and may end up becoming overly cold or hot and arrogant or self-conscious.
Enter Yukino Yukinoshita.
The beautiful and frigid (matching her name) character for OreGairu can easily be pegged as the result of such parenting from her outward characteristics – all those around her are in awe or envy of her perfection. But we know something further, too – that she’s been oppressed by her mother, whom both her and sister vivacious sister, Haruno, fear. And while worldly success is withing easy reach for the sisters, the more we know of them, the more we see how flawed they are, with the author pointing toward their mother as the instigator of these problems Read the rest of this entry
In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers. Today’s submission comes from Michael:
Hello I have some questions about clannad. 1 would you recommend this title? 2 which version of clannad should I read/play first to get the whole story, from start to finish? (VN, LN, anime, manga). Thank you for providing a place where people can go to to get Biblically based advice.
Thanks for your kind words, Michael!
The first part is easiest – I would absolutely recommend it. In fact, Clannad is on the very short list of anime series we specifically recommend. The show is a lot of fun to watch, but more than that, in the second half it goes in a direction very unexpected from an anime series, a place both real and fantastic. And as After Story moves a long, the series brings in themes that are of utmost importance to Christians. If you do watch the show, I hope you’ll dig through our Clannad posts and see what we’ve written about it (but not before – these writings are full of spoilers!)
The second question is a little more intricate. I went to our resident Key experts here, Japes and Kaze, to get their advice. Their consensus was to just go watch the anime because A) it’s a great adaptation and B) the visual novel is very long. They do mention, though, that the anime doesn’t tell the “WHOLE story,” so if you’re willing to invest time in the VN, that would be best (and a localization of it is coming out next month).
Also, as a final note, Kaze had this to add:
Also movie is bad; don’t watch the movie.
So there ya go! YES to Clannad. YES to the anime (and to the VN, if you have time). A big NO to the movie. ;)
If you’d like be part of the Untangled feature, please submit a question to us. While we may not post a response on the blog, we will read your message and try to respond in some fashion.
A new season of Haikyuu!! started this weekend. This volleyball anime hails from Production I.G, the same studio that brought us Kuroko’s Basketball, and it’s equally pleasing to watch. Hinata Shoyo never fails to put a smile on my face—even comedy anime rarely lighten my heart the way this kid does. But this week, his teammate Kageyama Tobio draws my attention. Kageyama is the highly-driven character I instinctively avoid in real life… and also the lonely, socially clumsy character I deeply relate to.
Kageyama is a gifted setter, but teamwork doesn’t come so easily for him. In middle school, his fast tosses and competitive nature made him difficult to work with. His teammates started calling him “King of the Court”—not, as you might assume, because his gift dominated the other team, but because he was a tyrant. He expected his teammates to adapt their spikes to his tosses, instead of the other way around. Eventually, they quit spiking his tosses at all.
When Kageyama enters Karasuno High, he is still arrogant, perfectionistic, judgmental, and fiercely competitive… and still hurt by his former teammates’ rejection. Honestly, he’s the type of person that scares me in real life. Whenever I meet a highly-driven individual, my instinct is to avoid them, lest they demand too much of me, or judge me for not coming close to their standards of successful life. I respond to their suggestions with poorly-masked defensiveness. I interact with them cautiously, watching them from the sidelines, and occasionally fleeing the area when I hear them approach. Basically, I’m a skittish cat until they’ve proven I can trust them with my weakness. My instinct is defense, not love. And that’s how I would have responded to Kageyama. Read the rest of this entry
I previously likened God to a yandere. This time I am likening Christians to a tsundere, a real tsundere, or at least an actually well-written tsundere. I previously alluded to “real” tsunderes being far better than the average achetype we get nowadays, but let’s go a bit more in depth as we explore this comparsion. While not a requirement to the archetype, many tsundere start off with a bad relationship. Like people who do not yet know God or have had bad experiences, they reject everything about their partner and refuse to acknowledge them as equals let alone as potential love interests. However, the comparison only begins once people become interested in Christianity and forming a relationship with God. It is here that people reach an unfamiliar territory and struggle with how to approach this new relationship. From a mixture of pride and embarrassment, tsundere find it hard to admit their true feelings. In a similar way, it is hard for us to acknowledge that we are not in control of our lives, and that we must follow God completely. It is important to remember here and throughout that this is a comparison of Christian believers. Non-Christians are not tsundere for God (though you could make an argument for that based on the “new definition” of tsundere), and thus it is important to keep this analogy in reference to yourself and not impose it on others.
A tsundere is most well known for her abuse of the person she actually likes. It is repetitive to the point of annoyance and no matter how much she apologizes for it, she always seems to fall back into the same habits. While the abuse can vary from simply ignoring the person to something as absurd as violent rampaging that you would only ever see in anime, this repetition can grow to be quite annoying to viewers and is no doubt a reason for the archetype’s negative image. But as you might have already guessed by now, this repetition of hurting the one you claim to love is very reminiscent of how Christians treat God. Even though we have chosen to follow God, there is no one who ceases to sin. We continue to sin again and again; no matter how much time passes, we seem to only be able to stumble yet again. It’s a very repetitive and tiresome process. This constant sinning against God despite claiming that we regret and don’t want to is very similar to the tsundere who always reacts so cruelly despite being in love.
One thing to understand, however, is that while a tsundere constantly hurts the target of her affection, a tsundere also constantly hates herself for this. This is so important and one of the most misunderstood aspects (or rather, most skipped over aspects in writing) of a tsundere because a true tsundere is able to acknowledge her true feelings but is unable to act in accordance with it. More than a cycle of repetitive actions as a result of bad writing, a well written tsundere expresses frustration at herself for this very characteristic. She seeks to overcome her own selfishness and harshness and act according to her true feelings, but for some reason it never goes right and the cycle repeats. The frustration at herself for harming the person she likes is indeed just like how we treat God. This is the same repetitive and sometimes frustrating cycle of the life of a tsundere.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. – Romans 7:15
Here’s our final part of the summer anime 2015 review! We’ve saved the best for last (or did we?)
Medieval Otaku – 9/10
Arslan Senki is one of those shows which just misses a certain something–je ne sais quoi–to render it a masterpiece. I love the massed battles, compelling and unique characters, and the torrent of schemes and traps Arslan and his champions must dodge. Though the setting is reminiscent of the Persian Empire, they bring in weapons and armor relating more to the Middle Ages–perhaps to give it more of a fantasy atmosphere. (Persians did not have long swords or maces tailor made for Sauron.) In particular, I loved the inclusion of chain mail through CG, though its proportions are cut to the size of the haubergeon–the smaller version of the coat of mail which became popular during the Age of Plate. At any rate, the show delighted the medievalist and fantasy lover in me and fully deserves the above rating–as one might expect from one of Hiromu Arakawa’s works.
Here’s part 2 of 3 of our summer anime 2015 review!
Baby Steps 2
Baby Steps 2
Annalyn – 8/10
In the Spring anime review, I gave Baby Steps 2 a 7/10. Now that I’ve finished it, I decided to give it an 8/10. I admit, it’s a little difficult to defend the score change. The visuals didn’t get much better. Most of the characters squeak by with minimal, unremarkable development, and very little about the conflict matters to Ei-chan’s life off-court. So what’s changed? This season, Baby Steps convinced me that tennis-related conflict is plenty—partially because the character himself is so absorbed in the sport, his growth as a person is attached to his growth as an athlete. He is introspective, and while he does enjoy and learn from his friends and mentors, I can’t expect the same relationship-oriented themes that are so prevalent in team sports anime. Instead, themes arise in how he approaches his sport and, by extension, his life. This season, he learns a lot about balance. Off the court, that means balancing rest, romance, eating habits, and practice. On the court, he learns to balance instinct, reason, and emotion. As he sorts through these lessons, a bigger pressure hangs over his head: he has to make it to the All-Japan Junior and win in order for his parents to support his tennis career. Before, I thought that wasn’t sufficient. I’ve changed my mind. Tennis is Ei-chan’s life, and losing it would completely change his future. I’m invested in his goals now, and I’m fascinated by his internal conflict and how it plays out on the court. I hope a third season of Baby Steps comes along soon!
As students head back to school, it’s time for our summer anime review! We have plenty of great (and not so great) anime to review, and these review posts will be featuring the most diverse set of voices from the Beneath the Tangles staff to date, so look forward to them.
My Love Story!!
Japesland – 8/10
I’ve written on Ore Monogatari numerous times as it has aired, which says something about my opinion of the series. If you’ve read those articles, then you know that I praise what it’s done to break the shoujo mold, while still holding to some of the tropes that make it what it is (utilizing without subverting, in contrast to shows like Now and Then, Here and There or Madoka Magica, which are entirely subversive). Unlike your traditional shoujo, conflicts created by teenage misunderstandings are actually resolved, and the male lead is neither a slender hunk nor egotistical. It’s a wholesome break from the mold that I appreciate for that reason, but it is by no means perfect. As much as I personally enjoyed it, I have to acknowledge the common complaints that even arose from many of our staff here at Beneath the Tangles, particularly revolving around the lack of satisfying conflict and resolutions often falling back on the male lead being a ridiculously nice guy. Regardless, I still have to praise the show for focusing on characters with moral compasses stronger than perhaps any I’ve seen before in the genre. I can’t recommend this show enough for anyone looking for a romance with less anime angst.
“If I was born to die, then what was my reason for existing in this world?” —Konno Yuuki, SAO II.
Sword Art Online II has many faults, and some folks can’t take it seriously as a result. That’s a shame, because SAO deals with big issues that warrant serious discussion. The characters’ conversations in the last episode, especially, demanded my attention, though I decided to wait until it aired on Toonami to write about it.
First, some background (and spoilers):
Konno Yuuki and her mother contracted HIV in the events surrounded her traumatic birth, thanks to an infected blood transfusion. Before they realized what had happened, her father and sister were infected, too. She was able to live normally at first, but in fourth grade, her immune system began to fail. By the time we meet her in SAO, she has lost her entire family to AIDS, and she herself has been hospitalized for years. Virtual reality equipment allows her to escape from her pain and her hospital bed, into ALfheim Online. She is the best swordsman around—partially because she pretty much lives in ALO, and she gets plenty of practice. She appears to be a cheerful, happy girl.
Asuna befriends Yuuki in the game, and they become close, although Yuuki tries to push her away at first. Eventually, Asuna helps Yuuki experience as much of the outside world as possible from her hospital bed. In return, Yuuki encourages her to have a candid talk with her mother.
Yet Yuuki is still dying. In the end, surrounded by her friends in virtual reality, she says this:
“If I was born to die, then what was my reason for existing in this world? Without creating anything, or giving anything to anyone. Wasting so much machinery and medicine, causing the people around me trouble. Suffering, worrying… and if I were just going to disappear in the end, it would be better to die right now. I thought that so many times. “Why am I alive?” I wondered for so long, but… but I finally feel like I’ve found the answer. Even if there’s no reason, it’s okay for me to be alive. Because my last moments are of such fulfillment. I can end my journey surrounded by so many people, in the arms of the person I love.”
So, it’s okay to be alive because… you’re loved and feel fulfilled? Sorry, I’m not satisfied with that. Read the rest of this entry