Category Archives: Anime

Rurouni Kenshin: Lay Me Down

If I’m being completely honest, part of what originally drew me to anime (and what draws many people, I think) was the intensity of violent in some series and movies.  Princess Mononoke was the first anime I watched that I knew was Japanese in origin, and the violence of it, though tame by some standards, both totally threw me off and absorbed me.  The same could be said of Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen (Trust and Betrayal), which doubly surprised me because my experience of Kenshin up to that point had been the mostly bloodless kind from sixty-odd episodes of the series.

kenshin and tomoe

Tsuiokuhen makes no qualms of how bloody it’s going to be right from the start, as a group of bandits mercilessly brutalizes a traveling slave caravan, including the young Himura.  The bandits, in turn, are dealt with in an even bloodier manner by Seijuro, who will become Himura’s teacher.

The focus on the entire Kenshin franchise is not on violence, however – at least not the lethal kind.  The emphasis is on Kenshin’s vow to save others by his sword without taking human life.  And although a few different events later in the battousai’s life have an affect on how he develops this ideology, you could save it all began in that caravan when he was protected by women whom he’d only known for perhaps a few days, or maybe even just a few hours.

Let me paint the scene, if you no longer remember it, or if you’ve never seen it.  Kenshin is a young boy at this point.  He walks alongside a group of individuals – slave traders and slaves – on the way to some destination.  When the bandits come and slay everyone in the caravan, Kenshin is left as the lone survivor, and only because of this – the women in the caravan cover Kenshin with their own bodies, pleading to the young boy that he’ll continue to survive, as they are all eventually tortured and killed before his very eyes.  Those acts of heroism buy enough time for Seijuro, who has detected the bandits’ presence, to arrive and slay the bad guys.

Kenshin, unsurprisingly, is forever changed.  All throughout the next day, he uses his two little hands to bury the dead, the women (who receive special burial), slave traders, and bandits alike.  And it’s here that Kenshin begins the path toward giving his sword for a greater cause (even if it takes another tragedy, and lots of war, for him to finally transform fully).  He gives his sword and his life as a commitment in devotion to the unnamed women who sacrificed their lives for him.

Read the rest of this entry

Terror in Resonance Episode 11: Look to the Sky

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

- I Corinthians 13:4-8a

In the west, we color love as something that’s giddy and cute; passionate and sexual; cheesy and delightful.  And it can be all those things.  But love, at its best, is moving and powerful and dynamic.  It stirs people to action, to do right, to sacrifice themselves.  It can change a country.  It can change the world.

If the final episode of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) ended 2/3 of the way through, it would have been merely beautiful, emotional, and almost perfect.  I was moved by subtlety and beauty of it all.  Nine and Twelve could live, they could survive, they could be happy.  Or even if they were arrested, they could still live and eventually be exonerated.

But that wouldn’t have been an ending of integrity.  It was an impossible ending.

terror 11a

Read the rest of this entry

The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 2

The Tangles Cover 1

You’ve read our articles! You’ve followed our social media! Well, good news, because it doesn’t have to stop there…

Welcome to episode 2 of our very own podcast entitled The Tangles (available both here AND on iTunes)! As an extension of our blog, The Tangles is another branch to help us achieve our goal of creating a meeting point between anime (along with all connected forms of media) and Christian spirituality. We hope that this will help to continue to foster an open community where Christians and non-Christians alike can engage in conversation about anime, manga, and belief.

The Tangles updates on the last Thursday of every month, and features JP (Japes/Japesland) as host, another Beneath the Tangles writer as co-host (rotating each episode), and a special guest speaker.

For our second episode, we are thrilled to have Annalyn, long-time friend of Beneath the Tangles and blogger at Annalyn’s Thoughts, as our esteemed guest, along with Kaze as co-host. During this hour-long episode, we will be discussing our personal beliefs, current-running anime, otaku introversion and consequent social issues, and plenty more!

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 – 6:20
Otaku Diet – 9:29
Current Article/Discussion – 18:34
Listener Mail – 37:48
Closer – 1:00:25
Bloopers – 1:01:45

Direct Download

Note: Below are the articles mentioned in the podcast:

Naruto and Futaba Just Don’t Care (and Neither Should We)

Is there a specific characteristic that sets great anime protagonists and heroes apart?  While there are perhaps plenty of common traits they share, one that really just out is their ability to be themselves even when being yourself isn’t cool.

naruto uzumakiNaruto Uzumaki provides us a good example of this funny trait.  The Naruto manga is nearing its end, and after a more than ten-year run, it’s hard to remember what the character of Naruto was like at the start.  He was hated by his village because of the disaster the Nine-Tails brought upon Konohagakure.  But more than that, Naruto was just weird.  And although he’s matured so much, Naruto is still weird, far different than most of the hyper-serious, ninja-ninja-ninja-everything residents of the village.

Even as Naruto grows in power and develops his “ninja way,” he retains a sense of doing what’s right, no matter the sacrifice, a trait demonstrated in many ninjas of the past (including his own mentor), but not generally of the culture, which values the village as a whole above individuals.  Naruto loves both and is unwilling to sacrifice either.

But you don’t have to just look at shonen series to see this characteristic, though.  The same is true in shoujo.  Just look at Blue Spring Ride, for instance, where Futaba learns very early on to be true to herself.  And from that point forward, she’s unable to be anything but that.  She loses her “friends,” risks another friendship by telling Yuri the truth of her love for Kou, and frequently unleashes her feelings and worry about Kou onto him.  She’s herself, even though it would be far more convenient if he stayed as she was at the series beginning – a semi-popular girl who fits right in.

I wonder if the Japanese particularly like these characters because of expectations in the country.  There’s certainly a less individualistic tone to the culture there compared to the west, and especially in the workplace, where standing out is usually something you don’t want to do.  What if we plugged Naruto into a Japanese conglomerate, or did the same with Futaba, or Kyoko (Skip Beat!), or Ichigo (Bleach)?  Havoc would ensure (and if this were an anime, the entire business would change), but one thing that wouldn’t alter is this – those characters would stay true to themselves.  They wouldn’t choose the culture over their own convictions.

Read the rest of this entry

Blue Spring Ride Episode 12: Opening Up

Episode 12 ends Blue Spring Ride without much of anything resolved.  Summer has come.  Kou doesn’t have to take summer classes.  The group of friends continue to bond.  Yuri and Futaba agree to increase their efforts for Kou’s affections.  The only major thing that’s happening is this: Kou has started to open himself up to his family and those around him.  And while there’s nothing real climactic about that change, it’s something quite significant.

Notice the impact that Kou’s change has on him throughout this episode.  He’s far more emotive than he’s been all year.  He cries and holds tightly onto Futaba at the beginning of the episode.  Near the middle, he reveals his heart to his older brother and father.  And at the end, he smiles.  All these might me par for course for most characters, but they’re out of character of Kou, demonstrating a change within.

blue spring ride 12

Read the rest of this entry

Video: Summer 2014 Anime Review & Fall 2014 Anime Preview

It always seems as if season finales sneak up on us, and summer 2014 was no different, with shows ending their runs this week.  That also means that a packed new season of anime is about to begin!  Last night, Japes and Kaze conducted our first live stream, reviewing a number of this season’s shows and previewing a ton of shows for the upcoming season.  See our recording of the live stream below:

The live stream doesn’t actually begin until 14:12 into the video, so jump there to begin.  Here’s the entire breakdown:

14:12  Live Stream Introduction
15:58  Summer 2014 Review
17:40  Ao Haru Ride
21:06  Terror in Resonance
26:40  Sword Art Online 2
37:09  Glasslip
43:51  Aldnoah.Zero
52:20  Rokujouma, Free, Hanamonogatari
57:57  Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works Discussion
01:12:23  Fall 2014 Preview
01:12:46  Grisaia no Kajitsu
01:18:15  Log Horizon
01:22:01  Sora no Method
01:25:23  Random Anime Preview
02:14:00  Wrap-up

And thanks to all who tuned in live on Saturday.  Be anticipating more live streams in the future!

Terror in Resonance Episode 10: Fine Line

One week left.  Just one week…

Episode 10 of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) continues to press this ambitious story forward at breakneck speed.  In twenty-something minutes, we get Nine’s arrest, Twelve’s rescue, Shibazaki’s confrontation of Mamiya, Five’s killing of her handler, and Five’s suicide, enough action to fill two episodes.  But somehow, Watanabe is able to keep the series clarity, and it all works to create a tone of desperation and anxiety, a literally explosive ending is on the horizon.

znt five death

What I found most interested in this episode was how the show, which has mildly asked us to ask who the villains are all along, really hits that question hard in this episode.  Some villains are clear, like Mamiya (though perhaps many will find his motive patriotic and honorable, if his actions were reprehensible).  Others are more difficult to put a finger on, like Five, who while killing without abandon and putting innocents at danger, is herself a victim of the worst kind of childhood abuse.

Read the rest of this entry

Live Streaming Summer Season Review/Fall Season Preview, Tomorrow at 9 PM ET

Tomorrow night, Beneath the Tangles hosts its first live streaming event!  Kaze and JP will be reviewing the summer 2014 anime season and previewing the fall 2014 season through Ustream, and we’ll be interacting with you through the platform.  We hope you’ll join us between 9:00 PM and 10:30 PM ET tomorrow, Saturday, the 20th!

We recommend you head over to Ustream and register now, so that you’ll be able to better interact with us and so that you’ll receive a notification for each of our events.

Now’s also your last chance to let us know which series you’d like us to review or preview.  Just comment with your suggestions below.

See you tomorrow on our Ustream channel!

Free Eternal Summer, Episode 12: Rin’s Serving Heart

Because the series almost doubled it’s main cast this season, it’s easy to forget that Free! Eternal Summer has two primary leads – Haruka and Rin.  And while Haruka’s angst has been on full display this season, Rin has mostly tended to be in the background, influencing the rest of the cast in significant ways, but playing a secondary role after getting the “starring” part in season one.  Rin is again significant in episode 12 as he gently pushes Haru toward making a decision about the future.

What’s most remarkable about Rin this year, as I’ve mentioned too many times in the past, is that he’s totally transformed, doing almost a 180 from his previous season’s angry, emotional, arrogant self.  In season two, that turnaround is marked by what is perhaps Rin’s most pointed characteristic now – his serving heart.

Rin and Haruka

Though changing your heart doesn’t mean you necessarily change your “teeth,” as it were.

Throughout season two, Rin serves those around him, most obviously through captaining his swim team, and serving as a mentor and friend to Sousuke, Aiichiro, and Momo.  In episode 12, we see this side further, as he uses an important trip back home, one that he off-handedly remarks he’ll use to secure his future plans, as a way of helping Haru.  And also within the episode, he mentions a conversation he had with Makoto – he even still tends to that friendship as well.

How did Rin come to this point?  In season one, the cantankerous redhead was shown unconditional love by the Iwatobi boys, eventually leading to his absolute brokenness and a change of heart.  What results from that is a response from the deep recesses of Rin’s soul, a response so strong that it causes a holistic change in his life.  Rin had long sought his own desires first; now, instead of receiving, he gives.

Read the rest of this entry

Free Eternal Summer, Episode 12: Taking the Plunge

With one episode remaining, Free Eternal Summer has surprised me in how good it’s become.  The first season had it’s moments, but it was mostly mediocre, and the same could be said for much of season two.  It sometimes felt like a conglomeration of tropes and ideas that, though well put-together, were very artificial.  But as the show nears it’s end, Free gets better and better, taking a turn toward significant questions about growing up through the lens of pretty boy swimmers.

While the last couple of episodes focus on Haruka, who has struggled all season to find his way, it’s Rin that compels me the most.  As I mentioned earlier this season, he’s like a born-again believer, someone who’s been transformed and now genuinely lives out his faith.  It’s easy to forget that season one’s Rin was angry and bitter and arrogant, especially in light of the kindness, patience, and leadership he’s shown all season long.

rin matsuoka

Read the rest of this entry