Category Archives: Anime
Welcome to episode 16 of The Tangles! This month, the theme of our episode is “Psychology in Anime and Fiction,” and we had the chance to interview aspiring blogger Tony Yao from Manga Therapy! This month, JP (Japesland) and Charles (TWWK) talk about how otaku media both impact the viewer and influence his or her mental state.
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!
Intro – 0:00
Announcements – 0:48
Otaku Diet – 1:05
Interview – 6:15
Main Topic: Anime and Psychology – 18:05
Listener Mail – 40:34
Closer – 48:20
Note: Below are the links mentioned in the podcast:
My wife and I are both watching Noragami right now: she’s watching season one and I’m keeping up with season two. We’re roughly around the same point of each season, around episode eight, as I glance at what my wife is viewing (basically Yukine being super spoiled and almost destroying Yato), I’m getting a good look at certain parallels and especially at Yukine’s transformation. In doing so, I’m realizing it parallels my own, and that of all who say they belong to God.
1. We’re all sinners
Yukine was soo annoying in season one. Didn’t we all just want to smack him on the head? In fact, even the ever-patient Hiyori, the kind voice of reason, mentions how Yukine has drifted so far off. He’s the unexpected and unwitting villain in the first arc. By being stubborn and spoiled and hedonistic, he nearly does his master in.
If I’m being completely honest, though, I’m not a whole lot different from Yukine. I think a lot of people like to make the comparison between earthly parents rearing unruly children to God caring for us, and that image works quite well. We’re so unruly, so prideful (like Yukine, who does what he does thinking that he knows best), so sinful. We’re in need of a Savior, for we cannot save ourselves – not the way we are in our condition. Nope, we’re not good without God – we can only be good with him.
2. We need God
One complaint I have about Noragami is that Yato as a character doesn’t completely work for me. He isn’t quite believable – how can he be both a god (infallible, as he claims) and such a goofball? Unlike with Kenshin, a similar silly-to-strong character, we see soooo much of Yato’s ridiculous side that the changes to godlike state just don’t work for me. And even further than his strength and fighting ability, which I’m okay with, is his serious and compassionate sides, particularly with his patience with Yukine.
But our God – His character rings true to me, both through scripture and through personal experience. His patience with me is explained in scripture and bears out in my life. And his perfection and love allows me to be saved from my misery. While I have issues with Yato, his sacrifice for Yukine still reminds me of Christ’s for me, of God who loved us so much that even in my misery, even in my Yukine-ness, he would be willing to go to the utmost end to save a wretch like me.
3. We respond with love
Season two’s Yukine is very different than season one’s. I was quite taken aback, actually, rewatching parts of the first season and seeing how awful Yukine was to Yato. This season, he still bickers with his master, but serves him faithfully. Yukine serves him so faithfully, in fact, that he becomes a blessed regalia, having put his life down for his master, and then later starts to grow into a role as exemplar, seeking to support Yato. Almost despite himself, he’s come to love his master.
For us, when we’ve experienced the grace of God, the only proper response is to love him in return. And that’s what the Christian faith is about. “Relationship” with God means responding to him as our great love. And love to the greatest extent means laying down our lives – both in service to God and, if need be, physically as well. And we, too, will be blessed if we do as Yukine does, submitting everything for our master.
4. But we’re still not perfect
Of course, Yukine’s relationship with Yato will never be perfect. In fact, some comedy happens when Yato thinks of selling Yukine, and Yukine thinks of “moving up” in the god world. Yukine’s allegiance isn’t perfect, and he still may blight his master in the future.
For us, we’ll never find perfection in this life either. But we’ll continue to grow in our faith if we remember our first love and do what’s needed to let the Holy Spirit reign in us as we undergo transformation, running away from the temptations of the flesh and toward the things of the spirit, seeking God’s will.
When we make the decision to do all that, to live Christlike lives, we’ll find supreme value in our life. We’ll live it out to the utmost extent. And we’ll be like this growing Yukine – an examplar and blessed regalia, though in our case, we carry titles more valuable – sons and daughters of God and his royal ambassadors.
cover art by Ｎora | reprinted w/permission
There’s always been a lot of transition at my church. We were once comprised of about 80% college students, and though there are more older folks (like me!) attending now, it’s still largely a “college church.” Because of this characteristic, year in and year out, I see students leave, finishing their four or five years, and moving on to the next part of their lives. It’s difficult to let them go and it’s draining, a bit, when you’re limited in how much you can build a relationship with someone before they’re gone.
But even more difficult is when I see (usually through Facebook) that some of these treasured friends have turned away from their faith and moved to a dark place, away from God’s truth and love.
There are so very many reasons why followers of Christ will cease to practice their faith (and in some cases, turn entirely away from it), but prime among them is one that a lot of us don’t like to admit or think of – and that’s the work of the devil and his followers.
In Noragami, we’re set in a world of humans and gods, of spirits and demons. There are lots of interesting parallels to make between a show with Shinto twists and the Christian religion, but really, only one particular element very clearly reminds me of my faith. Nora – and perhaps her “father,” are so very reminiscent of Christian demons. They blind, tempt, and entrap, and have the ability to tear down even the very strong.
Tomorrow, I’m giving a presentation on “The Theology of Death Note” in one of my classes. I was reluctant to choose Death Note, because a lot of people have already written about its connections to Christianity (including Casey here at BtT, just a couple weeks ago). I wanted to write about something new… but I also wanted to wrestle with some themes from Death Note, and I knew my classmates could benefit from wrestling with them, too. So here I am, fresh from re-watching the show. Hopefully I’ll be able to stir a few new thoughts.
There are many Christian themes and symbols throughout Death Note. But as I watch, these things seem secondary. I just keep comparing Kira, or Light, to the true God. To me, it is clear that Kira is not worthy of worship. So he gives a great opportunity to remember why God is worthy of all power, all glory, and all worship.
First, a quick summary of Death Note, in case you’re new to the anime world:
A bored teenage genius, Yagami Light, picks up a notebook that a bored shinigami (Japanese death spirit/god) dropped. He learns that he can kill anyone just by writing their name in the notebook. At first, he’s not sure what to think. But before long, he decides he could do a lot of good by killing off the evil people in the world. He sets out to create the perfect world, free of evil people. People dub him “Kira,” apparently from the English word “killer.” The world’s greatest detective, L, spearheads the investigation into Kira’s powers and identity.
Yagami Light tries to become God…
When Light first picks up the Death Note that Ryuk—a shinigami—dropped, he’s skeptical. “The human whose name is written in this notebook shall die”? That sounds about as real as those annoying chain emails. But he’s curious… so he tests it on a criminal who is holding a school hostage, and the criminal dies. Later, he tests it on another man, one who is assaulting a woman. That man dies as well.
Light struggles with the fact that he just killed two men… or at least, he struggles with it for a few minutes Read the rest of this entry
One of the (many) funny aspects of One Punch Man is the relationship between Saitama and Genos. With very different (and equally clueless) personalities, the two are quite a match. Genos adopts Saitama as his mentor early in the series, but despite their closeness, the two never seem to be on the same wavelength. In particular, Saitama struggles with figuring out how to train Genos.
It’s not easy being a sensei. I know how Saitama feels – it’s the way I’ve felt in lots of relationships, as manager to employee, discipler to disciplee, and parent to child.
In my workplace, I’ve recently added a couple new staff members. They have their quirks, as do we all, but one in particular is difficult to work with. My usual management techniques are lost on him, and I’ve had to learn to adjust. In fact, I’m still trying to adjust. I often feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.
Discipleship can also be similar. Last year, I really invested in the lives of two young men and the discipleships went really well. The two guys were hungry for God and eager to meet with me, and that encouragement helped me along in my instruction. This year, however, my duo is more challenging. It’s sometimes tough to get beneath the surface of my current disciplees, and I’ve been discouraged on multiple occ
asions. I often wonder if I know what I’m doing – and to be honest, my response is often that, really, I don’t.
But most of all, this “I have no idea” mentality shines through in parenting. Read the rest of this entry
I just watched Gangsta., one of the darker anime to air in the past year. I’ve seen a few anime that center on crime syndicates and corruption, but this is one of the most horrific—up there with Black Lagoon‘s second season. The anime’s setting, Ergastulum, seems hopelessly corrupt, and the anime refuses to sugarcoat it. There isn’t even a redemptive ending—perhaps because the manga itself is still incomplete. We’re just left with a heavy sense of evil and tragedy, with no solution offered.
And yet, even among all the pain and sin, there is compassion, love, truth. Don’t get me wrong: I would not recommend Gangsta. to very many people. If my 16-year-old self asked about it, I’d tell her to stay far away. But for me, in the place I am now, the anime provides a way to process the brokenness of the world and the pieces of goodness that are still present. Because sometimes, the world can feel a lot like Ergastulum: enslaved by sin and strangled by violence. Read the rest of this entry
Time for me to take another foray into the Leijiverse! Lupin III gave me no ideas for this week’s article, but I remembered the first episode of Galaxy Express 999 held some very important themes on mortality. Some themes in Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 cause me to wonder whether Leiji Matsumoto might indeed be a Christian. If not, he ranks as a noble pagan–along with the likes of Cicero and Lao-Tze. (And perhaps more moderns are familiar with Matsumoto than Cicero.) The two works above began serialization in the same year (1977) and share a similar theme: remembrance of death drives one to nobility while forgetfulness of death leads to corrupt morals. Christians believe the same thing, though perhaps no book spells it out as well as Budoshoshinshu, aka The Code of the Samurai, which was written as a guide for Bushido: “As long as you keep death in mind at all times, you will also fulfill the ways of loyalty and familial duty….your character will improve and your virtue will grow,” (3). In the anime Captain Harlock, forgetting death led to a population which declined to lift a finger to preserve their own lives against the invading Mazone and which drowned itself in distractions and worthless pursuits.
The moral corruption in Galaxy Express 999 is a bit more subtle. People can now plant their minds into machine bodies and so live for as long as 2,000 years. This technology is touted as increasing human flourishing, which it does in terms of increased lifespan. However, it has a dark side: the poor are unable to attain mechanical bodies, suffer destitution, and essentially live without the protection of the law. But, the poor dream of one day boarding the train Galaxy Express 999, which is rumored to take them to a planet where they can obtain mechanical bodies free of charge.
Sword Art Online began airing in 2012 . I was really excited for the show, but I wasn’t quite ready to get my hopes up after I had been so excited for Guilty Crown, which though pretty, wasn’t very good. I started watching the first episode. It was a bit slow until the climax, but I was really excited about the potential. And ultimately, Sword Art Online was amazing. I was blown away at how good the story was. Then the second story arc started, and I almost didn’t watch the second season because of it.
Sword Art Online is an anime adaption of a light novel series (it is the same universe as Accel World). The anime is currently two seasons long, and each season has two story arcs. They are Sword Art Online (SAO,) Alfheim Online (ALO,) Gun Gale Online (GGO,) and then the fourth arc that doesn’t take place in a new world.
Spoilers to follow.
The first arc, SAO, is my favorite. Basically, the main character Kirito gets stuck inside a virtual reality game that can’t be exited and will kill you if you die in it. It is all about his struggle to beat the game and help everyone return to reality. In this arc we also get to meet Asuna, who becomes Kirito wife in the game.
The second arc takes place after Kirito and Asuna defeat SAO. Kirito is released from the game, but for some unknown reason, Asuna is not. Kirito finds out via different sources that a person who looks like Asuna is being held in a game called Alfheim Online. Kirito goes into it the despite trauma from SAO and tries to beat the game and rescue her. He also works with the police to find the culprit in the real world. This is the one arc that I really do hate.
Lately, I’ve been watching an anime called “The World God Only Knows” (referred to as TWGOK from here on in). For anyone who hasn’t seen or heard of it, I’ll give a brief plot explanation, without any spoilers (or, without anything you won’t learn in episode one). The anime follows the story of a “professional dating simmer” (this guy plays dating sims all but 24/7), Keima, who has become known famously online as “the god of conquest” for his ability to “conquer any girl”. In hell, some “souls” have escaped, and a demon, Elsie, is sent to capture them. Thinking the “god of conquest” is her best chance, she invites him into a contract – he, thinking it is a game challenge, accepts. Only after she explains what the reality is does he understand what he’s agreed to.
Bound by a contract that must be completed (or they will die), they have to find these loose souls and capture them. The problem is, these loose souls hide in people – people with spaces in their hearts (in the show, all females). Those spaces have to be filled – by love – before the soul will be pushed out and can be caught. Naturally, as a guy who lives on dating sims, the main character has hardly spoken to a real woman (and prefers those in his games). Yet, he has no choice but to help complete the quest.
Perhaps it’s my brain’s ability to make weird connections to things, but watching this anime, I can’t help but be reminded of our call as Christians to save the lost, and also the reminder that we are not battling an earthly enemy, but a spiritual enemy.
In TWGOK, the souls that inhabit people with emptiness in their hearts are meant to be those of demons. If left long enough, these souls can gain strength and manifest in the world. Ironically, this is fairly similar to how demons work, as far as we can understand from the Bible. Naturally, demons have one purpose – to aid the Devil in drawing us away from God. It is far, far easier to attack someone who has an “emptiness” in their heart, than it is to attack someone who has no room for a demon to get their foot in the door of your life.