Category Archives: Anime

Dive Into the World of Rewrite

While we have decided to focus on Key this year for Easter week, we will be heavily focused on Key’s fairly recent work Rewrite. Unlike with previous works, the main writer Jun Maeda took leave and was replaced with the successful Romeo Tanaka (Cross Channel, Yume Miru Kusuri, Humanity Has Declined). Taking a very different approach to their usual tearjerker stories, Rewrite takes on a far more serious tone. However, as the story accumulates towards it true end, we see more than just Christian themes that stories tend to portray. Rather, an amazing parallel of the Christian God, His plans for us, and both the physical and spiritual meaning of our relationship with God unfolds. While we adamantly recommend reading the novel prior to this several-part analysis, we understand that our readership is very unlikely to take the time to read through such an enormous amount of text. As such, we will first summarize the five heroine routes in this post, followed by a more detailed explanation of the finale alongside Christian parallels, and finally culminate to a final post on the overarching interpretation of the story. Unfortunately, Rewrite is an incredibly complex piece of writing such that even some who have read the novel find themselves very confused. The summaries were attempted to be as informative yet concise as possible, but it simply is not possible to achieve such a perfect balance. Once again, we HIGHLY recommend reading the novel first, and truly hope you will take the time to do so but in the event that you feel you will not, read on, and hopefully, it will inspire you to take up the full novel otherwise.

As with nearly all modern visual novels, the reader first traverses the “common route,” with the reader’s choices leading to one of the story’s main heroines and her respective route… or one of the bad ends as well. Rewrite follows this convention, introducing the reader to the city of Kazamatsuri, a place run on strict environmentalist principles (which becomes a theme throughout the story, though later subverted).

It is in this part of the visual novel that Kotarou Tennouji, the main character and the perspective from which the reader reads the visual novel, is introduced as your average Japanese high school student… with the ability to “strengthen” himself to have greater-than-human physical abilities. Of course that part is downplayed for the most part, in favor mostly of building the exposition of Kotarou’s normal high school life in his very “green” place of residence.

Kotarou meets, arguably, all of the most important characters during this route, beginning with side character Yoshino. Yoshino serves as Kotarou’s “rival”/school buddy as well as primary comic relief for the most part (if you are familiar with Clannad, think Sunohara). As ridiculous of a character as Yoshino is (though rather hilarious at times), he serves an important purpose at points throughout the different routes in the story. The cast of heroines are then introduced in turn.

Kotarou first encounters Kotori in the story, the obligatory childhood friend found in nearly all galge. “Lost” and fast asleep in the woods (yay foreshadowing!), Kotarou finds her at the request of her mother and brings her back home.

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Obligatory childhood friend, Kotori.

The second heroine he encounters is Chihaya, the rich transfer student “tsundere,” who he has to help out of a tree. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start due to his accidentally seeing her unmentionables in addition to other misunderstandings.

What a way to meet someone.

What a way to meet someone.

Third, Kotarou runs into Shizuru who is acting as hall monitor, or “moral guard,” and blows her whistle at him for running in the hallway. She is then established as the twin-tailed (hair) antisocial female interest.

Twintails and an eyepatch, eh? I dig.

Twintails and an eyepatch, eh? I dig.

Fourth, Kotarou has several interactions with Lucia, another tsundere like Chihaya as well as the class president (another common VN trope). These interactions primarily include attempting to trick her to eat spicy food beyond her ability (making for some silly comedy in the cafeteria) and also trying to learn why she always wears gloves.

At least it LOOKS delicious...

At least it LOOKS delicious…

Finally, Kotarou meets the fifth heroine, Akane, the “witch” of the school and the president of the occult club. She is incredibly rich and holds enormous political power within the city (sometimes to comedic effect). She also, despite being president of the occult club, does not believe in the supernatural, causing many interactions in which Kotarou vows to prove supernatural occurrences to her.

The "witch" of the school.

The “witch” of the school.

Kotarou also meets other side characters, such as Touka, a teacher at his school and who gets along with Shizuru, Imamiya, who recognizes Kotarou but Kotarou does not, and Esaka, who Kotarou often bumps into and they engage in small talk.

During and after all of these introductions of new characters, Kotarou experiences many events that contribute to both world and character building, similar to the common route of any renowned visual novel. Most important of these, though, is his interaction with the Kagari, also known as the “Key.” Each evening, Kotarou experiences what he can only describe as a “haunting,” where he believes he sees a little girl in his room and wakes up to marks in his room and on his body.

Scary~

Spooky~

This is what leads to the most important point in the visual novel: the forming of the occult club. Inspired by these supernatural events in his room, Kotarou seeks out help from Akane in the form of charms and other magical defenses (which, at this point, it is difficult to tell whether they are real or Akane is simply messing with him). After having done so, he brings together all four of the other heroines to form the occult club. Throughout the remainder of the common route, their club activities lead to close friendships among the group, and eventually the turning point of the entire story.

The occult club managed to have some fun before... well... basically everything happened.

The occult club managed to have some fun before… well… basically everything happened.

Before that, though, earlier in the story, when being questioned in the occult room upon his first entrance, Kotarou is given a question that is fundamental in determining his interactions later on in the routes, when the situations are much more dire and Kotarou’s worldview comes to the forefront. This question is:

You have power, and you are dissatisfied with the world. Would you want to change the world? Or would you want to change yourself?

He has the following options (depending on what routes you have unlocked thus far):
1) The world
2) Myself
3) I Can’t Answer That

Each of these has enormous implications, but we will get into that later. Back to the turning point in the story.

Screenshot 2014-11-25 17.43.27

After a number of important events involving, primarily, the mysterious forest around Kazamatsuri (seriously, a plot synopsis is nearly impossible), Kotarou heads back into the forest at night. At this point, he discovers an enormous battle occurring between, seemingly, two sides represented by superhumans and monsters. Additionally, by now, Kotarou has discovered that his ability to strengthen himself also allows him to create some sort of “aurora” magical power, that he can use as a type of blade. After occurrences with several monsters (particularly some sort of dragon), the heroines that previously seemed to be innocent and ignorant, reveal some sort of secret affiliations with different beliefs or organizations that go much deeper than previously understood.

Scary baddy in the forest.

Scary baddy in the forest.

Kotarou's aurora power.

Kotarou’s aurora power.

And suddenly the slice of life drama that Key is so known for has become a serious, bloody science fiction/fantasy.

It can be said that the common route of Rewrite is much like life before becoming Christian, or religious in general. Kotarou spends his time in relative bliss, playing around with Yoshino, and making friends while investigating the occult. However, in reality, he is surrounded by supernatural. Even the friends he made were all a part of one organization or another. It is after the common route that Kotarou is thrown into the world of the undeniable supernatural.

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

KOTORI KANBE:

Kotori’s route, while probably the weakest of the five, serves primarily as an introduction to the world of Rewrite.

It turns out that all this time, Kotori has been hiding her true identity as a druid… and one of the last (if not, the last) of her kind at that. By forming a contract with mystical type of mistletoe, Kotori had generations of humanity’s memories bestowed upon her, giving her the ability to create a type of familiar out of nature, using a spring of power in Kazamatsuri’s forest. In return for this power, though, Kotori (like the druids of the past) was responsible for protecting the “Key” (known from here on out as Kagari), who has the power to end humanity depending on the situation of the earth.

The factions that were discovered to be fighting at the end of the common route are revealed to be Guardian, who want to kill Kagari and save humanity, and Gaia, who want to use Kagari to kill off humanity and save the planet. Kotori had been hiding in the forest, using the “power spot” (a spring of mystical power from the earth, a la Final Fantasy VII) to erect magical barriers and familiars for the sake of protection. However, by the end of the route, the fighting had gotten out of hand and her barriers were compromised, forcing Kotarou and Kotori to flee, ultimately having Kagari killed in front of them by none other than Shizuru.

During this ordeal, though, Kotori confessed that long ago her parents, met in person earlier in the novel, had actually died. The people acting as her parents for the previous decade or so were actually “familiars” created from their dead bodies, as well as her dog-mammoth-thing (the animal mascot of Rewrite) Chibi-Mosu actually being a familiar created from her deceased dog. In order to live with herself for all of this, she had to emotionally distance herself from these “creatures” as her familiars, but this scared her in her relationship with Kotarou.

Why?

Because, years previously, Kotori saved Kotarou’s life by using her druid powers and turning part of his body into a familiar using a part of Kagari’s ribbon. It is revealed that it is because of Kotarou carrying a part of Kagari’s ribbon in his body that she had been interacting with him during the common route. Scared that his attitude toward her (romantic at this point) was artificial, she refused to return the feelings. However, to dramatic effect, when her “parents” and Chibi-Mosu end up perishing in the ensuing events of the story, it seems as though some aspect of their original beings was retained in their familiar forms, against all logic and odds.

By the end, with the power spot gone, Kotori resorted to maintaining the contracts with her familiars with her own life force, quickly draining her life. With the subsequent deaths of her “parents” and Chibi-Mosu, though, the contract that saved Kotarou’s life years prior became the only remaining drain. Convinced by the events with her other “familiars,” Kotarou convinces her to end the contract with him to save her life, claiming that his feelings for her were not due to the magic she used on him, but from his heart. Thus, she ends the contract, returning Kotarou to the near death state he was in when he almost died years prior.

Kotori helping Kotarou in his near death state to the hospital.

Kotori helping Kotarou in his near death state to the hospital.

Kotarou miraculously lives, helped to a hospital by Kotori as he struggled near death. The story ends after his recovery, with Kotarou escaping the hospital to search for Kotori.

Although the state of the world as a whole in unknown, this is arguably the happiest ending in that humanity should be able to operate relatively normally within the lifetime of the characters and Kotarou is able to pursue a normal romance with the main heroine.

For this route, Kotarou’s answer to the crucial question in the common route is: “I can’t answer that,” reflecting how he doesn’t really have the chance to fully devote himself to a clear answer on how to change the world due to the nature of his circumstances.

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

CHIHAYA OUTORI:

After the end of the common route, Kotarou ends up taking refuge at Chihaya’s mansion, where Sakuya (Chihaya’s “butler”) can protect him, although Sakuya is hardly pleased with Kotarou, for reasons which are later revealed. It is in Chihaya’s route that more information is learned regarding the relationship between Gaia and Guardian, though particularly Gaia.

Akane, a leader of Gaia, is the one responsible for ordering Kotarou’s stay with Chihaya. Although Gaia and Guardian are bitter enemies, as revealed in Kotori’s route, much of the time spent with Chihaya is related to in-fighting within Gaia’s organization, due to the rise of different factions of different beliefs.

In this route, we also meet Pani & Gil, two fairy-esque sentient familiar… things, later revealed to be by-products of Gaia’s research underneath the school.

After a somewhat uneventful time of learning more about Gaia through interactions that include several violent fights, Chihaya and Kotarou face off with the deranged Gaia summoner, Midou, made out to be the arch-villain of the arc. After his defeat, though they choose not to kill him, he commits suicide by fire in order to mentally scar Kotarou.

The maniacal fire-wielding Midou.

The maniacal fire-wielding Midou.

Significantly after this, Akane gives Kagari, whom she had obtained prior, to Kotarou and Chihaya. After discovering the location of Kagari, Guardian attacks joined by Shizuru and Touka, both revealed to be members of Guardian and a type of superhuman. Thanks primarily to Sakuya, previously revealed as the world’s strongest familiar (due to events in the past explained in another route of the VN) and Kotarou’s incredible strengthening ability (ability to “rewrite” himself, hence the name), they come out victorious. In order to get to this point, though, Kotarou had to rewrite his very mind, inducing insanity, which Sakuya was only able to stop because Chihaya returned his full power that she had received when making her contract with him years ago.

In fact, Sakuya returned Kotarou to normal by rewriting his mind back to its place of sanity. As a result, Kotarou saw into Sakuya’s past, revealing that Sakuya was very much just like Kotarou – a human with rewriting powers who fought in a war involving the Key, failed to protect the girl he wanted to, and only survived re-evolution by rewriting himself into a familiar.

Young Chihaya meeting super familiar and butler, Sakuya.

Young Chihaya meeting super familiar and butler, Sakuya.

However, Akane goes insane and kidnaps Sakuya for her own devices. Although Kotarou and Chihaya help Akane return to sanity, Sakuya turns into a giant familiar with the power to destroy the world. Everyone joins together to stop him and Kotarou manages to get Sakuya to regain control of himself. As a consequence, Sakuya disappears from the world, but before he leaves, he engages in a final friendly fight with Kotarou. It is in this way that he finally accepts Kotarou as his successor, for Sakuya was a person who could rewrite himself just like Kotarou in the past but was unable to protect those he wished to. At the end, the remaining characters discuss about the uncertain future, and Chihaya visits the place where Sakuya died, only to see flower petals floating in the sky.

For this route, Kotarou’s answer to the crucial question in the common route is: “I can’t answer that,” reflecting how he doesn’t really have the chance to fully devote himself to a clear answer on how to change the world due to the nature of his circumstances.

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

SHIZURU NAKATSU:

In terms of gameplay, Shizuru’s route is only unlocked after completing Kotori’s route (which is significant, because Kotarou’s interest in Kotori holds him back from engaging in any sort of romantic relationship with Shizuru). Before officially branching off the common route, Kotarou learns most of the applicable background information relevant to Shizuru’s story. Shizuru is revealed to be some sort of superhuman (affiliated with Guardian) with several abilities exhibited throughout the visual novel, though primarily the ability to heal and manipulate memories. In a freak accident by Guardian, Shizuru’s family was greatly injured when she was young, and as a result her powers were discovered, and, ultimately, she accidentally wiped the memories of her from her family, leaving her essentially an orphan.

After the incident in the forest that marks the end of the common route, the story flashes forward a month, with Kotarou at a loss because of losing his memories. After a period of investigation, he discovers that Shizuru is in a coma and had wiped his memories prior to entering it. By tapping into his emotions, he is finally able to begin to remember what had happened in the past month, which initiates a flashback to just after the incident in the forest.

Kotarou lamenting Shizuru's coma.

Kotarou lamenting Shizuru’s coma.

For the month before his memory was erased, Kotarou and Shizuru ended up living together with Shizuru acting as a bodyguard to protect him from Gaia. During this time, due to his perceived helplessness, Kotarou decides to attempt to strengthen himself. This leads to a consistent use of his “rewriting” power and overexertion of his abilities. After a length period of living together, Kotarou ends up trying to prove his worth in the forest on his own, only to be attacked and gravely wounded. Shizuru manages to find him before he dies, but not in time to save him. Due to his nature as a quasi-familiar, as revealed in Kotori’s route, Shizuru is unable to heal him using her power conventionally, but is able to sacrifice herself in order to keep him alive (thus putting her in a coma). Before she falls unconscious, however, she wipes his memory so that he would not regret her decision to save him at the cost of her life.

This sacrifice, it is revealed, is not her entire life, but that her life is now fundamentally shared with Kotarou’s. After the flashback is completed, and given some time, Shizuru wakes up from her coma alive and well. However, Kotarou later discovers that she lost her hearing due to the healing she used on Kotarou to save his life.

While they are in the medical facility, Gaia attacks. After a brief conflict with Chihaya and Sakuya, Chihaya and Sakuya retreat because Chihaya does not want to fight her friends. After additional conflict with Gaia’s familiars, Kotarou, Shizuru, and Touka Nishikujou, teacher at the high school and secret member of Guardian, are forced onto the road in a bike chase as they make their way to the forest to find Kagari.

Epic bike chase and ridiculous outfit... couldn't ask for me.

Epic bike chase and ridiculous outfit… couldn’t ask for me.

They eventually make it and find Kagari, but are informed by Akane from Gaia that it is not her, and that the process for ending civilization, or “Salvation,” has already begun. In a last ditch effort to stop the process, Touka sacrifices herself in order to kill the real Kagari, but she fails. With all methods of preventing disaster exhausted, Kotarou and Shizuru flee to an area of closed space (an area outside of normal reality; these pop up throughout various routes) that has been used in previous disasters as a shelter for remaining humanity.

Before they both retreat, though, Kotarou decides to remain behind. He is able to use his rewrite abilities to return the functions that Shizuru lost when she sacrificed part of her life for him, but understanding that he is taking much of Shizuru’s life span simply by living, he remains to pass away with the world in the coming calamity.

After a tear-jerking scene and an emotionally-delivered month of journal entries by Shizuru that detail the conditions of the shelter and the survivors, they deem it safe to return to the normal world. At the close, Shizuru finds a tree that she realizes to be Kotarou in completely rewritten form.

Possibly the most emotional scene in the entire visual novel.

Possibly the most emotional scene in the entire visual novel.

For this route, Kotarou’s answer to the crucial question in the common route is: “Myself,” reflecting how Kotarou desires to protect his loved one(s) with his own hands at the cost of his own life.

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

LUCIA KONOHANA:

Unlike other routes, Lucia’s route branches earlier on as Kotarou learns about her past. Her apparent obsession with cleanliness is not because she considers others dirty but because she considers herself to be too dirty – to the extreme that if she even touches something with her bare hands, it will die of toxicity. Shortly after, Kotarou investigates an occult rumor about Haruka, who is similar to Lucia’s fears of draining the life of anything she touches. Lucia also joins Kotarous, and strange things begin to happen around them such as a blank sheet of paper being printed with eerie words and lights being broken without warning.

Lucia then encounters this mysterious Haruka who instills great fear in Lucia. Kotarou continues to investigate and is warned greatly of not awakening Haruka from her slumber…the mysterious horror of constantly wondering what is real or not is very characteristic of Ryukishi’s writing. As Kotarou continues, we see Lucia encounter Haruka again, who passes her curse to Lucia, and her hands become as dirty as she feared.

Kotarou then finds Lucia in the middle of the rain, who is apparently possessed by Haruka. The streetlamps break as they talk, and Kotarou tries to convince her it is merely coincidence. He refuses to accept the curse is real, as it is impossible for a person to be so filthy as to drain the life of those around her. Later that night, after Haruka has returned Lucia’s body to its rightful owner, Lucia breaks down in tears, convinced she can never be accepted as she is too dirty. Kotarou continues his denial until Lucia touches a flower in front of him only to have it quickly decay. Kotarou decides to hunt down the true nature of Haruka, who is revealed to be Lucia herself.

Lucia's "possession."

Lucia’s “possession.”

Kotarou hugs Lucia, who feels she is destined to be isolated for eternity, and she causes his skin to blacken and decay; however, he rewrites himself to withstand her poison. Suddenly, Touka appears and takes Kotarou to a hospital to be examined. It is revealed that both she and Lucia are a part of Guardian, fighting against Gaia. It is also explained how Lucia’s poison results from being a superhuman who was developed in experiments as a “Future Human.”

Kotarou takes Lucia on a date (so cute!) and they enjoy being a very adorable couple, as Lucia’s full weakness as a person is revealed. Kotarou confesses he has feelings more than sympathy but of love, and Lucia returns them. However, Shizuru is affected by Lucia’s poison, and Lucia is quickly quarantined as her poison is out of control. Lucia feel great despair again, questioning her own existence, and then a woman named Brenda, one of the researchers who experimented on Lucia, offers Lucia a job only she can do.

On a date!

On a date!

While Guardian searches for the missing Lucia, Kotarou bumps into her and takes her on another date. However, she explains how her powers have been amplified to kill everyone in the city, including Gaia and the Key, as a beautiful field of sunflowers quickly decays from her miasma. Kotarou rewrites himself to survive and chases after Lucia who feels this is her one purpose in life. He tries to convince her to live in hopes of a cure. Shizuru and Chihaya come to the scene and also try to convince Lucia, but Lucia ends up battling Shizuru. After several dramatic events, Kotarou explains that he will always love Lucia no matter what.

Lucia can’t help but respond to such a confession, and although she has caused the city to be ruined, Kotarou promised to still be with her. Due to Lucia’s miasma, everyone has no choice but to hide in a shelter as the city is nuked. They are forced to continue to live in a shelter, but Kotarou and Lucia are happy to be together.

A satisfying, albeit bittersweet, conclusion.

A satisfying, albeit bittersweet, conclusion.

For this route, Kotarou’s answer to the crucial question in the common route is: “I can’t answer that,” reflecting how he doesn’t really have the chance to fully devote himself to a clear answer on how to change the world due to the nature of his circumstances.

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

Image courtesy of rewrite.wikia.com

AKANE SENRI:

Akane’s route is the last to be unlocked, and rightfully so, as it builds upon information learned from all of the others. Her portion of the common route plays out much like several of the others, with minor differences in how Kotarou spends his time (such as trying to prove the existence of supernatural phenomena to her, ironically).

After the events in the forest, Kotarou retreats to the occult club room, with all members other than Akane gone. In a pit of depression, he turns to Akane for consolation, and in a rare moment of kindness (perhaps, anyway), she hires him as her bodyguard in Gaia (which, to the public, is covered as an environmental organization named Martel). It is revealed that she is a high ranking member in the Gaia hierarchy (a candidate for the revered position of “Holy Woman”).

Compared to the other heroines, Kotarou’s relationship with Akane is rather detached. After discovering that the “ghost” he was trying to prove to Akane is actually the key, Kagari, she sends him on an investigation to find it/her. All the while, Akane is completed buried in her work as a candidate for the “Holy Woman” of Gaia (currently Sakura Kashima), while also teaching Kotarou more about summoning and the internal rift between Gaia’s factions.

Sakura, the "Holy Woman."

Sakura, the “Holy Woman.”

Kotarou is finally able to find Kagari for Akane, but runs into trouble with enemies within Gaia, followed by pursuing members of Guardian. This is a turning point in Kotarou’s character, as it is the first time he is forced to murder, and thus his character is steeled following this encounter. He manages to retrieve Kagari, but not before she is shot with poison and dies. After this, it is revealed that the “Holy Woman” has been killed as well.

Fast forward a year later, and despite the adversity offered by members of Gaia, Akane has become the new “Holy Woman” and Kotarou has become a skilled member of Gaia as her bodyguard. It is around this time that he is confronted by Touka Nishikujou from Guardian as to his beliefs and the beliefs of Gaia in ending humanity. He begins to ponder this and eventually decides that he needs to stop Gaia from successfully destroying civilization, even if he loves Akane.

Akane gains much attention as the new "Holy Woman."

Akane gains much attention as the new “Holy Woman.”

Akane explains the depressing story of the “Holy Women” of Gaia and the terrible trials they endured due to persecution or lunacy caused from the healing powers they held. For someone to gain this position, the girl must undergo a type of mental transformation, and her powers lead to her ability to manipulate others as well, which bothers Akane as she has obviously begun exhibiting the appropriate characteristics.

After a lengthy series of events that are clearly the beginning of the disaster that Gaia has been trying to bring about, Kotarou finds where Akane took her followers to begin the hymn to bring about the end of the world via the key, which has been kept barely alive in tree form, the Song of Destruction. Kotarou faces off against Akane in order to stop this, dedicated to killing Kagari in order to do so. Akane’s followers summon the most powerful familiar, using up all of their life force, but Kotarou is able to kill both the dragon and Kagari. Before Akane is able to commit suicide, Kotarou forcibly stops her and takes her with him to the stone city in closed space, where people are retreating from the impending disaster that is swallowing the city via “Salvation.”

Akane's cool composure during the apocalypse.

Akane’s cool composure during the apocalypse.

Kotarou, seen saving hundreds of people during the disaster, is considered a hero in this newly formed society. After a great amount of time of living with Akane (who is not known by the people and has reverted in her depression to a point of nearly never moving nor eating) and being considered such, though, he concocts a plan in order to make Akane’s evil deeds known to the people but redeem her. In order to do so, he takes sole blame for the disaster, which tempers the reaction of the people since he was viewed as such a hero. Eventually, Akane is revealed to also be behind it and the two go on trial. After pleading guilty, they are banished to the outskirts of the closed space city, where they live together with Akane finally free of her guilt.

In the face of such adversity, they still managed to find some measure of contentedness.

In the face of such adversity, they still managed to find some measure of contentedness.

For this route, Kotarou’s answer to the crucial question in the common route is: “The World,” reflecting Akane’s desires within Gaia and also Kotarou’s lack of over-reliance on his rewriting ability as seen in the other routes.

And finally, the five routes come to a close. After completion of all of the above material, the 2-part “true” route becomes available to read, which is where the story finally comes together and where all the truly interesting analysis takes place.

Air: New in Light of the Old

This article does NOT spoil Air’s story.

If you are familiar with Air, it is probably because of Kyoto Animation’s popular anime adaptation of 2005. If you’re really a nerd like me, perhaps you even know of the Air film adaptation of the same year by Toei Animation (and its gorgeous bonus soundtrack by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra). However, I would contend that few have actually read the source that made both of these adaptations possible.

Air originally met the world in the form of a visual novel, an interesting medium that we have written on more here. While visual novel to anime adaptations are hardly a new concept, many consumers are more familiar with the manga and light novel mediums that more often receive anime adaptations. Key, the studio responsible for visual novels like Air, Kanon, Clannad, Little Busters!, and others, however, is primarily a visual novel studio. Unfortunately for the Christian reader, visual novels are a medium wrought with R-18 (i.e. usually pornographic) content.

0127As a disclaimer: Air is one of these, and thus I cannot recommend it to those readers seeking to avoid pornographic material, unless the reader is able to import an all ages version (and can read Japanese) or is able to put together various patches to the original so as to remove the undesired content.

With this aside, having viewed the anime adaptation several times, the movie once, and read the visual novel once, I was struck by biblical parallels and significance that are especially relevant considering the impending Easter occasion.

Read the rest of this entry

Holy Week 2015: Key Anime and Easter

Easter is kind of a peculiar time of year for Christians.  We celebrate it, dress up in our Sunday finest and…search for Easter eggs.  And although we talk about the commercialization of Christmas, many households across the country have made a concerted effort to at least keep that holiday holy.  Easter, on the other hand, feels almost forced as a holy day and certainly only receives a fraction of the attention that Christmas does, even though it’s our most significant holiday.

To try to keep a focus on the magnitude of the events that transpired during the week leading up to the first Easter, and that Sunday itself, we delve into one specific topic during Holy Week each year and discuss it each on the days leading up Easter.  This year, we’re focusing on a topic many of us on Beneath the Tangles adore – Key anime and visual novels.  As a sort of early kick-off to the week, JP, Sean, and Kaze co-hosted a special, extended edition of “The Tangles” last week exploring Key – I highly encourage you to check it out!

key

For our posts this week, we’ll be focusing on properties we’ve barely touched in the past. Expect posts on Air and Kanon, but most of all, we’ll be diving into another of Key’s beloved properties – I’ll save that surprise and let Kaze reveal which one on Tuesday.

In the meantime, feel free to check out some of our many past articles on Key, particularly their properties’ anime adaptations.  Here’s a selection of them:

I hope you’ll join us this week, but more importantly, I also hope that you’ll spend time this week meditating on Easter and what it means.  And my challenge to you all is this: as we approach Easter Sunday a week from now – attend a church.  Step into the doors of a sanctuary.  Go see what it’s all about, or go back if you haven’t been for some time.  Perhaps you’ll see what we writers on the blog here know – God is good.

Guest Post: Tokyo Ghoul and the Nature of Repentance in the Midst of Sin

I’m proud to present an article today on Tokyo Ghoul from KnightofCalvary, a graduating seminary student and chaplain candidate in the U.S. Army Reserves and former A.D. Vision partner through Suncoast and Anime Central.  If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, send us a pitch via email.

As a concept, I don’t typically watch anime with the level of violence and gore that Tokyo Ghoul has. However, I’m also not entirely opposed to doing so strictly on the basis of the level of violence. Rather, I’m often left with feelings of disappointment from such anime due to shortfalls in storytelling or character development. Tokyo Ghoul definitely sets itself a part in that respect. It is both heavily violent and well done in terms of storytelling and development of its characters, particularly the main character, Ken Kaneki.

Spoilers to follow.

Poorly fortuned Kaneki is turned into a human eating ghoul following what can only be described as the worst streak of bad luck ever. After surviving an encounter with a female ghoul that attempts to eat him, he ends up in the hospital following the attack and ends up with her organs being transplanted to him to save his life. This results in Kaneki becoming half-ghoul and half-human. The remainder of the first season is spent dealing with Kaneki’s newly found identity issues, integration as a ghoul, conflicts with the police enforcement agency specializing in tracking and destroying ghouls and in the middle of all of this, struggling to maintain some sort of humanity. This effort to remain true to his human half however ultimately fails due to his overwhelming desire to protect those he cares about in the season 1 finale.

Tokyo Ghoul 1

Picking up with season 2, Kaneki has fully embraced his new ghoul qualities and powers, however his desire to protect his friends leads him to something forbidden even for a ghoul which is cannibalism, that is a ghoul eating another ghoul. All this leads up to a fight at one point between Amon, an “anti-ghoul” investigator that Kaneki previously showed mercy to and himself. Now at this point in the story, Kaneki’s cannibalism has led to a rage like lack of self control and Amon says during the fight, “That’s all, right? An ordinary ghoul is all you are, right? That’s all, right?!” This snaps Kaneki out of his blind rage and after regaining his self control, he says “I…don’t want to eat anymore…”. I was left with this powerful impression of our daily and constant struggles with sin.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Your Love in April, Virtuous Violence in Akame ga Kill, and TTGL’s Megachurch

Isn’t it funny that when an anime season near its end, we seem to be less excited about finales the shows we’ve invested in than we are to the slate of new series about to arrive?  Or maybe that’s just me.  But it’s good to focus on the here and now – some of the columns below look at shows that have ended their runs in Japan or in the U.S. on Toonami.

Esdeath of Akame ga Kill reminds us that violence in anime (and life) tells us something very important about human nature, and of a need we all have. [Medieval Otaku]

The final episode of Your Lie in April has a lot to say about godly love. [Christian Anime Review]

The previous episode also demonstrates the idea of how brothers and sisters in Christ should encourage one another. [2]

In his review of Gurren Lagann’s finale, Tommy makes an interesting comparison between a devastating scene and a megachurch. [Anime Bowl]

Are you a fan of the “Ask John” column, like I am? If so, you may be interested in knowing it’s columnist has finished a light novel, which among other things is “steeped in Shinto mythology and includes extensive references to literary tradition and religious iconography along with abundant subtextual thematic depth.” [AnimeNation]

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.

The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 8 *Key Special*

For episode 8, we are excited to have Aspirety, the founder of Kazamatsuri.org, as our guest. Not only do Sean and JP dive into some interesting discussion (mostly Sean!), we are also joined by Tangles veteran, Kaze! As part of our Key-themed Easter this year, we have decided to take a look at probably the most controversial issue in Key’s medium of choice: Adult content in visual novels. While controversial, we think you’ll learn a lot about the medium and have some fun along the way!

Apologies for issues in audio quality! We are experimenting with new recording hardware and still working out the bugs.

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 – 17:16
Otaku Diet – 19:34
Current Article/Discussion – 40:57
Listener Mail – 1:22:27
Closer – 1:38:53
Bloopers – 1:39:40

Direct Download

Note: Below are the links mentioned in the podcast:

Anime Today: Death Parade and Skating Idols

TWWK filling in for Japes today, who has been working hard at our podcast (tune in tomorrow!) and special themed posts for Holy Week next week!  I’m glad to have the opportunity to write this article, as I’ve just finished catching up with Death Parade and have a lot on my mind, particularly in regards to the most recent episode, Memento Mori.

Chiyuki’s life, as illustrated in episode 11, tells us a lot about hope and it’s opposite, hopelessness.  Her back story is surprising – both for how happy it begins and for how quickly it deteriorates.  Chiyuki is a happy girl with a warm family, surrounded by loved ones and supported by a strong foundation of love.  So when her skyrocketing career is derailed by knee problems (Chiyuki = Sada meets Kerrigan?), I assumed that she would somehow bounce back – this couldn’t possibly be leading to suicide, could it?  Chiyuki is too well-grounded and happy for that!

Of course, it does turn down that path, frightfully and quickly.  And not, as Chiyuki assures, because of her drive for figure skating.  It’s because she feels an extreme loneliness, a disconnect from everyone else, and in that, a loss of hope.  When there’s literally no hope in a person’s life, there’s no reason to live.

Chiyuki Death Parade

But it shouldn’t have been that way – not for Chiyuki.  Her parents are both supportive and loving.  And it’s love that provides hope.  In all the struggles we go through and all the hurt we endure – some far more than others – love shows us that in the midst of it all, there’s something to which we can cling.  But when signs of that love are dim, either because we’re met by so much unlove in our lives or because we’re blind to it because of the heavy fog of difficulties in our lives, we lose that hope.

Then again, some of us are more like Chiyuki, who wasn’t battered by months and years of pain.  Read the rest of this entry

Untangled: Maria the Virgin Witch and Being an Ezekiel in Christian Society

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.  Today’s question/comment (revised) comes from a long-time reader of our blog:

Junketsu no Maria 7 won’t leave my mind. Here we have Ezekiel berated for the sins of love and mercy. And he (she?) does deeply regret ignoring Heaven’s orders… only he hates the idea of killing the innocent so much more!  Ezekiel pleads he cannot act because he does not understand the main character’s sin.

“I didn’t make you to think,” the archangel Michael refutes Ezekiel’s doubts. “My words are the words of Heaven.”

It is a dead-end street for Ezekiel. His mind will not dare blame the religious authority, his heart will not cast away love and mercy. What is there left for him but to blame himself for… for what?

I feel like Ezekiel’s plight perfectly reflects the tribulations moral and thinking people go through in a Christian/Catholic society. We are called upon to hate, abandon and destroy in the name of God. That’s maniacal heresy, certainly, but words of hate and division are sweet indeed, especially when spoken from a position of heavenly authority. As the poison spreads, many an Ezekiel is born. Those poor souls retained their sanity and suffer for it in solitude and silent doubt: might they be the insane ones?

The reader goes on to give examples, mentioning a priest decrying My Little Pony as satanic and the church as “spawning internal conflicts by delving into politics and dishing out the tried and true ‘you are with us or against us.'”  He concludes with this:

The will of Heavens is unfathomable, the Church will say – the end-all of any discussion, the all-answer. But wait a moment longer and you will be told exactly what the Heavens want you to think and do. “My words are the words of Heaven.” That is most unfathomable!

I think of the Ezekiel curled up silently by the riverside, and wonder what words I can offer him. And I tell him, if you do not doubt God, make sure you doubt that Archangel.

My response? Hallelujah!

Read the rest of this entry

Annalyn’s Corner: But I’m not an Anime Hero!

Everyone loves self discipline. The hard work, the daily routine of sweat and blood, the power to resist temptation, the success—all this gives a sense of satisfaction that resounds deep in our hearts. It might require pitching practice until his fingertips are bloody, running when his legs already feel exhausted, or writing at the same time every day, no matter how she feels. No matter what the exact daily challenge entails, there’s something inspiring about it.

Yes, self discipline is a great spectator sport. I enjoy the training sequences in sports and action anime almost as much as the games and fights. But actually practicing discipline on a daily basis? I’m not sure about you, but I’m not that great at it. Sure, I’ve instituted some routines for homework, but they come with a crutch: if I’m not at one of my specific study spots, the homework probably won’t get done. And what about my other goals? When people suggest I (or their audience in general) set aside time to do something every day, my instinct is to protect myself from certain failure.  For example:

“If you’re serious about writing, make time for it every day. Or at least every weekday.” —many published writers

“If you want to grow in Christ, I really recommend daily devotions.” —various pastors, writers, and other wise Christians

“But I can’t!” —me

Whoa there, “I can’t”? Hmm… focus and daily effort don’t come easily, but “I can’t” seems a little strong. And whether or not I can do something, as soon as I say “I can’t,” I really can’t. If I give up instead of persevering through something that’s difficult, if I don’t have the discipline to continue trying, then I won’t make progress.

When I watch anime, I expect the protagonists to face the impossible without backing down. Whether it means tracking down a stubborn friend, killing a Colossal Titan, or beating the Generation of Miracles, these heroes must never give up. Instead, they train hard and fight hard.

Kuroko and Kise face off in the eleventh episode of the season.

Kuroko and Kise face off in the eleventh episode of the season.

[Kurobas spoilers next paragraph only]

Right now, in Kuroko’s Basketball, the Kaijo and Seirin teams are in the final minutes of an intense game. Kaijo could have lost after Kise was subbed out. But the captain didn’t give up, and neither did the rest of the team. They played hard enough to slow down Seirin. Kise himself could have accepted his injury and his coach’s protection, but he felt responsible as the team’s ace, so he came back on the court earlier than planned. Now, Seirin must find the fortitude to maintain their lead. If they doubt themselves, then Kise will easily beat them with his Perfect Copy. But if they refuse to give up, if Kuroko finds a way to defend against Kise’s new moves, they have a chance. They just have to persevere through the next few minutes… and before this? They persevered through daily training. Without the discipline to train their bodies and minds, they wouldn’t even be at the Winter Championship.

Yes, but that’s anime logic. Read the rest of this entry

Destroying Seiichi Kinoshita: Shirobako and Murderous Words

I’ve mentioned this before, but to me, Shirobako feels like family.  There are some members that annoy me, some that I embrace, but regardless, I care about them all.  I want to know what’s happening with everyone – a week seems too long to wait to catch up with the cast.  I streamed the first cour to catch up to the second, watching an episode or two each day – and getting that much of these characters felt just about right!

Shirobako 17a

Among the characters, the one I find most interesting is the director, Seiichi Kinoshita.  Besides being hillarious, there’s a realism to him despite his over-the-top tendencies.  Most of the realism comes in the way of his faults – his procrastination, stubbornness, shyness, gluttony, and insecurity.  The last of those is most interesting to me, because like the characters he creates and the context that he develops, especially in relation to Arupin, there’s reason for the way his current self has become the way he is.

Do you remember the episode that showed Kinoshita accepting an award for his early work?  He came across as humble, energetic, happy.  The Kinoshita we know now is of course largely none of those things.  But on the back of his failed marriage and ridicule regarding his work, for which he is particularly sensitive, how could we expect him to be the same?  And personal jokes or chides at his expense are common, perhaps most hurtful when they came angrily from episode director Zaruyoshi Yakushiji in episode 18.

Shirobako 15a

Words have immense power.  My wife says that my love language is words of affirmation, and perhaps that’s true – I know that when I’m praised, I’m eager and energized to serve.  And on the other hand, words can destroy, which is what I think has happened to Kinoshita. Read the rest of this entry

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