Category Archives: Anime

Dealing with Doubt in Kotoura-san

Faith is a funny thing. It seems so easy to keep right up until the moment it is tested. It’s fine and dandy to trust when things are going good and I know exactly what is happening, but I always surprise myself by how quickly that faith can wobble when things get a little tough.

Kotoura goes through something similar with Manabe during one of their summer breaks when she does not know what he is doing. While Kotoura is used to rejection, she is not accustomed to not knowing what’s going on. Her psychic abilities allow her to hear the thoughts of everyone around her as if they were being spoken out loud.

Throughout her life, people have avoided and hated her for expressing their thoughts out loud. Even her parents reject her after her power causes trouble at school and she exposes that each of them is being unfaithful to the other.

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Annalyn’s Corner: Baby Steps and Believing in… Yourself?

The opening theme song in Baby Steps (both this season and last) includes three English words: “Believe in yourself.” Last year, I didn’t pay close attention to those words. In this season, the phrase “Believe in yourself” becomes more important than it did before. It’s a trite phrase, one we often repeat to each other, but I think it’s worth reconsidering, especially as a Christian.

Last season, Maruo Eiichiro started playing tennis because he needed the exercise. By the end of the first 25 episodes, he decided that he loved tennis enough to become a pro player. His parents were a little uncertain about the decision, so he agreed that if he didn’t win the next All Japan Junior tournament, he’d give up the dream and focus on studies. To that end, his coaches arranged for him to train in America for two weeks. Baby Steps 2 begins with his first days at the training facility.

Ei-chan (as his crush and I both prefer to call him) has been playing tennis for less than two years, and he’s already training alongside new pros and players who have been aiming for pro since before he started playing. It’s not easy. As he starts playing against all these excellent players, he settles into a “losing habit” that he can’t seem to break. In the second episode, a young pro, Alex, gives him the advice “believe in yourself.”

Ei-chan’s game starts to improve after his chat with Alex. By the fourth episode, he’s expanded on the advice:

“Believe in myself. I’ve come this far.”

“Believe in myself. And trust my instincts!”

The idea is that his training and talent will yield results if he believes in himself. He’s not totally wrong. If he believes he’ll lose, he probably will. Believing in his ability to win is crucial. But that’s not telling the whole story.

Ei-chan faces Alex in episode 4 of Baby Steps 2.

Ei-chan trusts his instincts as he faces Alex in Baby Steps 2 ep 4.

Now, I don’t think Ei-chan has a stupid level of self-confidence; he’s teachable, humble enough to see his need to grow, and can gracefully admit defeat. Still, I think it’s worth it to step back and reconsider the true place of self-confidence in the big picture. Read the rest of this entry

Volunteers in Need of Help: OreGairu and Godly Contentment

In the modern world, the term “contentment” feels so old-fashioned and out of place.  Why strive for contentment when we can have more?  And indeed, that’s what it seems our lives are often about – becoming better, richer, stronger.  But in attaining the things that make us happy, we often don’t feel the satisfaction we think we might – there’s no contentment when we seek things that won’t fulfill us.

In OreGairu, the service club has a near-perfect track record.  They help all their clients, but they can’t seem to help themselves.  All three, but especially the original two members – Hachiman and Yukino – are sure of their ways, and find success in them (as they each define success), but have no peace.  Perhaps it’s because each is seeking something that can never be fulfilling:

Yui and Approval

oregairu 2bThe first client of the club, and the third member to join, Yui has trouble establishing effective relationships because she’s afraid of showing her true self.  Yui has lived a life that basically says that she’d rather have shallow friendships than dig into something deeper that might damage them.  Yui wants the approval of others and is afraid of rejection at the start of the series; even now, she continues to battle this struggle, though Hachiman and Yukino helped her move past a significant hurdle in not worrying so much about what others think.

It’s easy to get bogged down in what others think of us.  Our relationships often drive our actions – for some more than others.  When we live that way, though, we try to take our lives into our own hands by presenting an image of ourselves in others’ eyes that isn’t real.  Living life in this manner can’t bring contentment because it will collapse – others will let go of their superficial relationships with us and we’ll fail to keep up perfect appearances.  Dwelling instead in the perfect, unchanging nature of God is what brings contentment, for He alone never fails us. Read the rest of this entry

Throwback Thursdays: Code Geass

Code Geass is in my book a classic anime. Not classic in the sense it is old, but classic in the sense that it was popular and at the same time polarized the people watching it. I loved the show. This was the first anime that I was ever hooked on, and it quickly became one of my favorites. Never before had I seen such a complex story mixed with beautiful and intense design. To this day, I love how the main characters and their relationship pushed and at times pulled the story along. Nothing felt wasted, nothing seemed to fanciful.

code geass 2

Code Geass starts in an alternate world. In this world, the Roman Empire failed in their conquest of The British Isles. This was because of mysterious powers known as Geass. Our story takes place at what would be modern day Tokyo. Britainia has conquered the Americas and is now based out of the USA (only it never became the USA.) About seven years before this story, Britania invades Japan and colonizes it and re-names it Area 11. However, in the past a Prince and Princess of Britania were traded to Japan and become stranded after the war. They are known to be dead, but aren’t really. They are in hiding. The prince, Lelouch, gains the power of Geass and thus begins his war of vengeance against Britania. His every move though is checked by his old friend and bitter rival Suzaku, who is fighting to change the system from the inside. What ensues is basically Death Note fused together with Gundam 00.

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The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 9

For episode 9, we are excited to have Alexander (pseudonym: Lord Marlin), the administrator of Anime of Tomorrow and Affinity for Anime, as our guest. While a professing humanist or atheist, Alex has had an outstanding relationship with Beneath the Tangles and our staff. In order to capitalize on our unique guest for this month, we have changed our normal formula and, for this month only, the entire episode will be treated as a Q&A a la the normal “Listener Mail” portion of the podcast. We cover a variety of topics that I think you will all enjoy!

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 – 12:01
Q1: Favorite Anime of Spring 2015 – 15:58
Q2: Religious Symbols – 36:38
Q3: Biblical Interpretation – 1:03:17
Q4: Stretching Religious Observation – 1:29:28
Q5: Good Portrayals of Atheists – 1:33:33
Q6: Stories that Portray Religion Positively – 1:42:22
Conclusion – 1:51:23
Closer – 1:58:53

Direct Download

Note: Below are the links mentioned in the podcast:

Examining Old School Anime: Yoko Shiraki’s Imitation of Mary

Greetings to our dear readers!  Having accepted TWWK’s invitation to write for Beneath the Tangles, we decided that blogging about old school anime (anime produced in the 80’s and in prior decades) would make for an interesting addition to the blog and introduce fans to some great old series.  This column shall point out and discuss themes in old school anime from a Catholic viewpoint.  Hopefully, the articles will both encourage you to explore older anime and provide ideas which will enrich your meditations on the Faith.

I skipped writing this column a fortnight ago because a break from blogging and anime felt necessary.  I thought that I would need two months, but two weeks proved more than enough of a refrigerium.  I am taking this opportunity to write my last article on Ashita no Joe before I turn my attention to Space Pirate Captain Harlock.  (The famous Crispin Freeman referred to this show in an interview as his favorite anime when he grew up.)  Your humble blogger is unsure whether this show will generate as many ideas as Ashita no Joe, but two episodes have already started the gears turning in my head, which is a promising start.

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But, let me proceed to the present article.  In Ashita no Joe, one notices that all the women in Joe Yabuki’s life look the same.  One wonders why the the world the mangaka would do such a thing: can he draw beautiful young women no other way or does he mean to make a point by it?  He even goes out of his way to highlight this similarity by Joe thinking that he sees Yoko in each one of them.

Yoko Shiraki Noriko Yuri

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Annalyn’s Corner: The Importance of “We”

Friendship fascinates and amazes me at every stage. Actually, most types of relationships fascinate me, because I don’t completely understand them. Still, I understand at least two things better than the Generation of Miracles: First, relationships should never be purely utilitarian. Even if we’re on a team with specific goal—whether in a sport or at work—we must recognize each other as human beings, not tools. Second, the “strong” often need the “weak” at least as much as the “weak” need the “strong.”

The Teiko Middle School basketball team near the beginning of ep 15, when Aomine is still somewhat receptive to encouragement.

The Teiko Middle School basketball team near the beginning of S3 ep 15, when Aomine is still somewhat receptive to encouragement.

Over the past 65 episodes of Kuroko’s Basketball, we’ve met Kuroko’s former teammates, powerful athletes who lost perspective about they game they love and the teammates they play with. In the current flashback arc, we watch these young teens transform from eager team players to prideful, despondent, solo players. The Teiko Middle School basketball team falls apart. Their friendships are damaged in the process.

This season’s fifteenth episode is titled “‘We’ no Longer,” and it’s one of the most painful episodes so far. The main five athletes, the ones known as the Generation of Miracles, are too strong. No opponent provides good competition, and no teammate outside those five (and occasionally Kuroko) can keep up with them. These kids are only twelve or thirteen years old; this kind of power is a lot to handle. To make it worse, the new head coach doesn’t have the guts to stand up to the administration and put his athletes’ overall development above their winning streak. As a result, they develop a utilitarian approach to their team: so long as they win, nothing else matters.

Aomine is the first affected. Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Plastic Religious Memories, Steins;gate Heaven, and Sinful Pokemon

A new season of anime is upon us!  And it’s been…underwhelming?  Still, there are interesting series here and there, and a few that provide us with something a little deeper to think about as well.

Jimmy Kudo’s transformation into Detective Conan teaches us about humility and servant leadership. [Kendall Lyons]

The Steins;gate of that named series makes an interesting metaphor for Heaven. [Famous Rose]

Yuri of Angel Beats! declares her hate for God, but underneath, is she looking for the hope that God provides? [Old Line Elephant]

Medieval Otaku is taking a hiatus from blogging (including from here on Beneath the Tangles), but unsurprisingly, leaves us with some Christian wisdom in a post that discusses Ashita no Joe, Maria the Virgin Witch, and Gokukoku no Brynhildr.

The Japanese’ pragmatic and syncretic approach to religion applies to in anime as well as in real life, with Devilman and Evangelion shining as examples. [Ogiue Maniax]

Draggle wasn’t impressed with the theology expressed in Maria the Virgin Witch. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

Dee mentions Buddhist themes among those that complicate Plastic Memories. [The Josei Next Door]

Plastic Memories can also be approached through a Christian perspective, particularly in light of what scripture tells us about giving love. [Geeks Under Grace]

The opening episode of Re-Kan! provides a example of faith can be. [Christian Anime Review]

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the flap this week in which a site claimed that the much-derided Creflo Dollar (he of the “my congregation should buy me a new jet”) espoused the evils of Pokemon in a sermon.  Although a number of outlets picked up on the story and had fun with it, the source article never links to such a sermon. [Christnews]

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.

Inadequate Sacrifices in Fatal Frame

People are drawn to the horror game genre for different reasons. For me, I enjoy the challenge of desperate survival in an eerie atmosphere and satisfying that “Why is something like this happening?” curiosity.

Fatal Frame is one of my favorite horror series because it creates that tense atmosphere and puts plenty of story behind even the minor ghosts in the game. It doesn’t overly rely on blood, gore, and shock value and it uses a camera as the main weapon adding the horror element of having to look through a lens for much of the time.

FFIII_Miku_Camera_obscura

Many Fatal Frame games revolve around some ancient religious ritual that remained very secretive over the years and required some sort of human sacrifice. The purpose of the sacrifice generally relates to hell or the other side. Closing the gate to hell, keeping something from coming out of the other side, appeasing something from hell, etc. The sacrifice goes wrong because of the actions or feelings of the person being sacrificed and terrible consequences ensue.

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Anime Today: Dealing with the Finite

Episode one of Plastic Memories had me hooked this season. With a theme and feel much like Time of Eve, one of my all-time favorite movies, and a dollop of moe, its pilot episode hit all the the right spots. Of course, the episodes following the first have yet to prove if the series will stand up to its concept, but that stands beyond the fact that it absolutely hit on a topic that is of utmost importance for Christians: finite-ness.

plastic memories 1

For those who are unaware, Plastic Memories follows a young man at a robot manufacturer’s department responsible for collecting and effectively “wiping” the memories of its old distributed models. The reason? Robots have a defined life span of 9 years, and they must be collected before they naturally and slowly progress offline. This presents a plethora of intriguing dilemmas as the robots are as close to human as one can get.

Why must humans suffer through parting with their loving companions? Why must robots operate at all, knowing that they are going to effectively “die”? What we’ve seen so far in Plastic Memories thus far is a mixture of perseverance and a loss of hope on the part of the heroine, Isla. But how does this translate into Christianity, for this is surely a relevant topic? Read the rest of this entry

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