Category Archives: Anime

Faith’s Power in Dream Eater Merry

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

Dream Eater Merry takes place in the real world and the dream world. The dream world is inhabited by dream demons who come over to the real world by using humans as vessels while they visit the world during their sleep or by opening up a daydream.

Once a dream demon takes a vessel, they cannot return to the dream world and the human cannot be separated from them without dire consequences. This is because dream demons don’t just enter the dreams that humans experience each night but into the dreams they have about their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their future, etc. The dream demon connects to this part of the human and rests in that power.

de 1 Read the rest of this entry

OreGairu 2, Episode 13: Requests and Wise Words

Last night, against my better judgement, I stayed up late to catch the finale of Oregairu 2. It…wasn’t worth staying up for. A strange episode, it seemed to be hammering home the same problems from the last few episodes without offering much of a solution, while breaking Yukino down so quickly and so almost-completely that I felt it negated a lot of the slow, steady work that Oregairu has given us for two full seasons.

oregairu 13a

Then again, being an unabashed fan, I still enjoyed it, especially since we got an episode full of interaction between our main characters. Plus, we got what seemed to me an episode that was very light on concluding (it kinda gave a concluding tone, but only slightly, and didn’t give us any final glimpse of all the supporting characters we love) and heavy on “see you for another season, or at least another OVA,” particularly with Yukino giving a request that we as the audience don’t hear.

For an episode focusing on Yukino and her search for identity, the pivot point of the episode comes from airheaded Yui, who demonstrates both a sacrificial heart and a wisdom that she’s hinted at all along – a deep knowledge of who she is, faults and all, and how people think.  Yui tells Yukino that she can depend on her, but Hachiman intervenes, stating that Yukino needs to do what she’s preached all along as the president of the volunteer club – she must find her own way. But the interesting thing here is that Yui insists that she knew Hachiman would say as much, as if she arranged that situation so that Hachiman would say what he needed to say and Yukino would hear what she needed to hear.

Surprise! That's what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Surprise! That’s what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Yui, you sly dogRead the rest of this entry

Anime and the Digital Church

More and more, ministries are streaming their services online or making websites where Christians (or people of other faiths) can watch, donate or be a part of the community. Facebook and other social media networks have become the place where hundreds, even thousands, come to share their life, struggles and ask for prayer. Even here at Beneath The Tangles, though it’s not a church or ministry with a pastor, many people read our articles and learn more about our Creator. This may not sound like the typical way church is done*, but it’s a trend that is growing rapidly every year.

There are actually several anime that highlight this format, and the two (there are more!) that I would like to mention are .hack//Sign and Sword Art Online. Each one is about people who log on to a server where they play an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and build community with one another. Each player has an avatar that looks like a person, or sometimes part human and part animal that they can use to talk with each other, fight, and even romance. Each episode shows the dynamics of the game actually start to affect the characters emotions and spill out into the real world.

screenshot-12_22_2012-2_34_12-pm

For example, Kirigaya Kazuto and Yūki Asuna, whose avatars are famously named Kirito and Asuna, fall in love through the playing of the game and become romantically involved in real life. Their digital life affected their real lives, which can be also said for people who were in comas or died because of the game in both series.

.hack//Sign main characters Subaru and Tsukasa deal with real life situations that are sometimes resolved online or vice-versa, plan strategies or literally hack servers to stop people from going into comas induced by the games headgear. They even become very close friends and talk about their IRL (In Real Life) problems and get advice on them as well, just like many of us do online. This not only makes you feel for the character and the player, but often times as you watch the anime you forget that the avatars are being controlled by people outside the game. This can happen to us on social media or games, where we might blend the two aspects together and forget that these are real people we are talking to, not just text.

Hack-todos

The .hack//Sign team all together!

Now, being part of a digital community of fellow believers isn’t a bad thing but there will always be that need to physically be a part of a group that share the same faith. Let’s face it, there are things that you would not share online nor are you accountable to anyone either. You can post lots of Christian posts, messages or verses but who is checking up on you when you are alone or going through life? Are you obliged to report to someone or at least have a one-on-one with an admin online?

Not at all. Read the rest of this entry

Throwback Thursdays: Cowboy Bebop

After receiving numerous recommendations over the years, I finally sat down and watched Cowboy Bebop. After finishing the show, I decided it was necessary to review the show as soon as possible. I should also point out Charles is a huge fan of this show (E/N: I am most definitely a huge fan of it!). His picture on the Authors page is of the main character after all.

You could say my life revolves around defending Cowboy Bebop as earning every bit of praise its received, and you wouldn’t be inaccurate.

Cowboy Bebop is basically it’s own genre. It has lots of science fiction elements, western elements, and noir elements all interwoven. The story follows the bounty hunter crew on the spaceship known as Bebop. They travel through space hunting for criminals and confronting their own pasts. Each person on the ship has an amount of depth driven from their own past and backstory. All these stories end up being integral in the direction the show takes.

TWWK: I own this amazing box set of the series

TWWK: I own this amazing box set of the series

Part of the story’s uniqueness is in how it’s incredibly episodic – I think I count only 5 episodes that deal directly with the main character’s (Spike) story – and yet it weaves together into this awesome tapestry of cohesive…awesomeness.

When I sat down to watch the show, I had some preset expectations. First, the show looks like a western; I have a large amount of disdain for westerns. Second, the music is jazz. I am not a huge fan of jazz. Third, the spaceships looked cool, but the art looked moody. Well, my fears for the western style feel quickly wore off. The western theme is more of a facade to explain the bounty hunting and culture, than an actual plot driving tool. The music is wonderful. It is a bit strange, but it is very iconic and hearing it makes me reminisce about the show. And finally, the moody art style is gorgeous. The ships are really well designed. The anime was made in 1999, but it doesn’t feel dated; it has aged nicely.

You’re absolutely right in saying that the animation ages well.  I’ve tried picking up a lot of series from yesteryear, but of my favorites, I think only Cowboy Bebop and Trigun stand the test of time when it comes to animation quality.  And the music, of course, is the stuff of legends – Yoko Kanno’s brilliance is undeniable, as even a middling fan of the show like Hailey can appreciate:

courtesy of shorty-cake.tumblr.com

courtesy of shorty-cake.tumblr.com

My initial surprise with the show, is how quickly I was hooked. Almost right away, I wanted to watch episode after episode. Even after finishing the show, I want to go back and re-watch it. I really appreciate the attention and detail that was put into the characters and plot. I also thoroughly enjoy the moodiness and quiet epic quality the show took on. It carries itself like a classical heroic tragedy, and at the same time bridges on the dark and gritty noir feel. The show isn’t all dark and bleak, but it does feel quite dark at times. Oh, and the ending, which I won’t go spoil, is amazing and frustrating.

As you mentioned earlier, the show’s so hard to categorize because it does a bit of everything, and it does it so well.  And oh, that ending!  Classic.

All around, Cowboy Bebop broke my expectations and built itself in to a show like nothing I have ever seen. I can’t think of a single anime or even a show that isn’t anime, that pulled off a feeling like this one gives off. Artistically, this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. Overall, this isn’t one of my favorites, but is one that I will look on favorably. I just felt too unsettled by the time I finished to call it amazing. I do however, know that this show has a massive appeal and some people will absolutely love it. It just isn’t my metaphorical cup of tea. I will however be stealing concepts from the show for my own stories, as any author would do.

My Final Recommendation: Go for it, you will most likely enjoy it. I did.

Absolutely. It’s a classic of anime – if you don’t watch it, you’re gonna carry that weight.

The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 11

In episode 11, our beloved host, Charles/TWWK (wait… what?), will be interviewing JP/Japes featuring questions about Japan submitted by you, our readers and listeners! Just like last month, JP is still working in Japan, and so this episode will focus on his impressions based on his time in Kanazawa.

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!

Time Stamps:
Intro – 0:00
Announcements – 0:54
Otaku Diet – 1:25
Q&A – 5:13
Closer – 1:00:36
Blooper – 1:01:25

Direct Download

And check out the pictures below from JP’s time in Japan – many match the sites he mentions in this episode:

The courtyard at my school. The school, despite being a college, looks just like the stereotypical Japanese high school!

The courtyard at my school. The school, despite being a college, looks just like the stereotypical Japanese high school!

Kenrokuen, probably the most famous tourist spot in Kanazawa!

Kenrokuen, probably the most famous tourist spot in Kanazawa!

Kanazawa Castle... or what remains of it anyway.

Kanazawa Castle… or what remains of it anyway.

Read the rest of this entry

OreGairu 2 Episode 12: Change is Complicated

So…are we back to square one?

No, but it feels a little like that, as Hiki, Yukino, and Yui face another obstacles on their path toward finding themselves in growing their relationships with one another.

Episode 12 of OreGairu 2 (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO) starts out innocuous enough with everyone preparing for Valentine’s Day. Hayato is unwilling to accept chocolates from anyone, so the idea is hatched that the student council will host an event in which Yukino will teach students how to make homemade chocolates; Hayato will attend and get to taste the creations, thereby accepting chocolates from Iroha and Yumiko.

All of their expressions...

All of their expressions…

But tensions seethe beneath the surface for our trio.  Even though there’s been some progress, their “genuine bond” hasn’t truly formed.  Hachiman knows as much and it’s intimated that Yui and Yukino feel the same.  Shizuka, in her always surprising wisdom, points it out as well.  But of course, it comes erupting forward through Haruno’s sharp words, who declares that the group is not “genuine” – and that becoming genuine may not even be possible.

Indeed, the problem is that each member of the volunteer club continues to deal with the same struggles they did before Hachiman’s speech: Yui doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, and is willing to be deceitful to others and herself to preserve happiness; Hachiman is becoming open to being honest and establishing meaningful relationships, but only bit by bit; and Yukino remains trapped between the expectations of her and finding who she really is.

How can they all still not get it? Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Noragami Religion, Hopeless Black Butler, and Persecuting Naruto

The past two weeks have been overwhelming in terms of just how many articles have been posted relating to anime and religion/spirituality.  There’s so much to dig into – I hope you have as much fun reading through these articles as I did!

Are you headed to SuperCon at the end of this month?  If so, check out our own Samuru’s panel, “Finding God in Anime and Video Games.” [Gaming and God]

Part of what makes Noragami a fascinating series is how it tells us quite a bit about modern religion in Japan. [Fantastic Memes]

In times of weakness and pain, there we can find strength in something (or hopefully, someone) greater. Just see Iwasawa from Angel Beats as an example. [Old Line Elephant]

Speaking of Angel Beats, the most direct reference to God in the show is from Takeyama, who wants people to call him “Christ.”  Mmm…not so fast. [2]

Ciel from Black Butler believes that some people are beyond redemption…but the Bible and many examples from within (like Job) and without (St. Augustine) prove otherwise. [3]

The complete story of Oscar, as presented in Rose of Versailles, reminds us of the value of life itself. [Mage in a Barrel]

In response to Anime Reporter’s essay on homosexuality and the referendum for marriage quality in Ireland, aniblogger JekoJeko takes the question from a Christian point of view [Unnecessary Exclamation Mark!]

D.M. Dutcher offers some advice for Christian speculative fiction writers using Bubblegum Crisis as a basis. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

For Christians who feel persecution, they might find an odd bedfellow in Naruto. [Lady Teresa Christina]

The world of Haibane Renmei without a doubt shares some ideologies with Christianity. [Kidd’s Anime Blog]

I’m a month late on this article, but it’s more than worth linking to

Oregairu’s Hayato as Satan? In a sense… [Christian Anime Review]

Wiseman from Sailor Moon perhaps has some similarities to 2 Thessalonians’ man of lawlessness. [2]

Episode 3 of Re-Kan! gives us that common anime scene of a character who refuses to cry, then breaks down.  But why the resistance?  After all, “Jesus wept.” [3]

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.

Anime Today: An Ode to Surprisingly Good Anime

If I had to describe the Spring 2015 season of anime in one word, it’d be “surprises”. A number of shows I knew I would love from the start—the sequels to Kinmoza, Oregairu, and Baby Steps, plus Sound! Euphonium and My Love Story—but what I was surprised by was how many other shows I followed this season surpassed my expectations. I will inevitably talk about some of those shows in more detail in the Spring 2015 reviews, but for now I would like to pay a little tribute to the pleasant surprises of Spring 2015, and of anime in general.

I would categorize “surprise” anime into two general types. The first type is the “breakout hit”, in which a show has a premise that sounds dumb or unappealing, but once you start it up, you find that the show is actually really good. For me, the best example of a breakout hit is Show by Rock. As a tie-in anime to a mobile game developed by Sanrio (of Hello Kitty fame), I was not expecting much more than cute girls playing music, but the opening episode was a rollercoaster of insanity with some hard rock to it, and it completely drew me in. Some past shows that fall into this category include Humanity Has Declined, AKB0048, Kotoura-san, and Inari Kon Kon.

The second type is the “late bloomer hit”, referring to shows improve significantly over time. A lot of shows this season have been like this to some degree, and there’s quite a lot of variation with the specifics. Some shows start out only okay but end up being rather enjoyable, while others start out already very solid but grow into amazing, top-tier shows. Some shows improve gradually, while others improve drastically thanks to one incredible episode. And, of course, some shows bloom earlier rather than later, and for some shows like this, the quality of the show still varies from episode to episode, but my overall opinion of the show has gone up over time.

For late bloomer shows from this season: Re-kan! already started off as a solid slice-of-life comedy about the spirit world, with some good emotional moments, and as it developed those emotional moments more, it has since become one of my favorites this season, with episode 6 being the real blooming point. Likewise, I had always enjoyed The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan for its alternative exploration of characters from the Haruhi franchise, but episode 10 brought the show to a whole new level of awesomeness. On the other hand, Wish Upon the Pleiades and Mikagura School Suite are both more gradual bloomers, slowly winning me over with their charm over time. As for some past shows in this category, there’s Outbreak Company, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Log Horizon, and Invaders of the Rokujyouma.

Whose lap is she in? You'll have to watch the show to find out, of course.

Not gonna lie; I nearly teared up during this scene. (From Re-kan!, episode 11)

Read the rest of this entry

Annalyn’s Corner: Christian Anime Fans and Responsible Freedom

Christians are free to watch anime rated TV-MA. Violence, swearing, portrayals of demons, and even ecchi are not, technically, off limits, and least not in a general sense. Nor are anime that convey atheistic, shinto, or Buddhist belief systems. We are free to watch everything, and we are free to do so in many ways… but that doesn’t mean that we should just dive in. I’m not just talking about our personal limits, either. We don’t usually watch and respond to anime in isolation, so we shouldn’t act like we do. Rather, we must consider the consciences of those around us. 

I love the online anime community partly because of the demographic diversity. Thirteen-year-old girls and fifty-year-old men are suddenly on the same footing, especially if they aren’t obvious about their age. On Beneath the Tangles alone, I think our youngest writers are around 21, give or take a year, and we were teens when we started aniblogging (I was seventeen when I wrote my first guest post here). Our oldest writer could be my father. We have Protestants of various denominations, and we have one Catholic. Some of us have been strong Christians for decades, or as close to two decades as we can get in our young lives. Some of us struggled with faith until just a few years ago. And that’s just our regular writers! Readers, guest writers, and the wonderful folk who contribute through comments vary even more in age and background. Then there are the anime fans we interact with from across the net… My point is this: we are a varied community. And that means that when any of us—including you, dear readers—post, comment, Tweet, reblog, update our MAL or A-P, or even make our YouTube “Liked Videos” playlists public, we could have a varied audience.

Attack on Titan is great for many reasons, but it's not for everyone. I try to remember that not everyone should watch the kind of violence in this show, so it's not something to recommend without qualifications. (Screenshot from ep 16)

Attack on Titan is great for many reasons, but it’s not for everyone. I try to remember that not everyone should watch the kind of violence in this show, so it’s not something to recommend without qualifications. (Screenshot from ep 16)

Even the Christian portion of our audience alone is varied—and that’s the portion I’m going to focus on in this post, for the sake of brevity (or the closest to brevity I can get). We watch, learn from, and mimic each other. We’re not responsibile for each other’s choices… but then again, to some extent, we are. As Christian anime fans, we navigate a subculture that some Christians dismiss as “heathen” and avoid at all costs. We’re newer to this subculture. Our pastors and evangelical leaders don’t talk or write much about it yet. So we lead each other. We recognize that we are free to watch anime of various kinds. But we must also recognize the influence each of us have—even those of us with fewer followers or internet friends—and the responsibility we have to use that influence wisely. Read the rest of this entry

OreGairu 2 Episode 11: Holding on Too Long

Thematically, all season long, OreGairu 2 (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Too!) has focused on the need people have for bonds of friendship.  Through much of the season, of course, we had the crisis of relationship within the volunteer club, which reached some resolution once Hachiman was able to break through his own feelings and then, along with Yui, break through to Yukino.  Bookending this season, however, is another story about bonds.  The season began with Hina and Hayato trying to preserve their group’s ties against teen hormonal urges, and now toward the end Hayato feels the pressure of doing the same.

oregairu 11

Episode 11 of OreGairu 2 gives Yumiko a major role for the first time, as she breaks down crying with a request to the club.  Wanting to stay close to Hayato, and further to preserve the togetherness of their clique, she asks that the club find out which career path Hayato will choose – the sciences or liberal arts.  Hachiman decides to ask Hayato himself, but he gets a rude response (Hayato seems to only be able to take out his frustrations or Hachiman, or else it’s only with him that he can be his real self – or maybe both).  Ultimately, Hayato reveals that he will be doing liberal arts, but only through weird logic in which he tells Hachiman it is the only decision he could make that it his own, though the final conversation between the two (and Yumiko’s response in the post-credits scene) tell us that the soccer star remains trapped as “Everybody’s Hayato.”

So at this point, it appears that the popular clique will remain together – the same as the volunteer club.  The latter really seems to need these bonds to continue in their personal growth; for them, it’s only been several weeks since they broke through shallowness and came to start understanding each other on that “genuine level.”  But for Hayato’s group, it seems they need the opposite – they need to let go. Read the rest of this entry

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