Category Archives: Manga

Letter from the Editor: Bleach, Church Retreats, and Powering Up

Dear Readers,

Have you been keeping up with the happenings in Bleach?

The manga has become fairly intense, and after all this time, the story’s become exciting again.  I haven’t been a fan of the series since early in the arc involving Aizen, but I just can’t help but to consume the manga in chunks every half a year or so just to keep up with the characters I once followed so closely.  Right now, the world (as the Soul Reapers know it) is coming to an end after the death of one specific character.  But never to fear, because of course, Ichigo is here!

And as is the tradition for a shounen, fight ’em series, he comes to maybe probably certainly save the day after having done some training.  Rukia and Renji have done the same. Maybe Chad and Orihime, too, though to be honest, I’m not clear on their storylines.

Rukia and Renji

It’s no surprise that we see this type of storyline again and again in anime and manga – whether it be for physical breakthroughs, as in Dragonball Z or Naruto, or more emotional ones, as you might see in “training camp” retreats in series like Oofuri or Bamboo Blade.  The opportunity to get away from the world leads one to cut out distractions and focus on a specific task at hand.

For Christians, there’s an added element.  Not only can you cut out the noise, but in the quiet and stillness of a retreat – both from the environment outside and in one’s heart, you can perhaps hear God.  What is he saying to you?  What does he want you to do?  And how will you respond?

Read the rest of this entry

Fact Check: Mikasa’s Cruel World

Anime is full of references to religion, which presents a great opportunity to discuss matters of spirituality.  And that’s the idea behind this column, Fact Check, in which I’ll investigate some of the claims of anime and manga characters and weigh them against the truth of scripture.

The Claim

Today’s claim comes from Mikasa Ackerman during a flashback scene in episode six of Attack on Titan, “The World She Saw.”  Perhaps the most famous quote from the popular series (well, except for Levi’s interesting remark about trees), these words arise during Mikasa’s fight for survival against a band of bandits when she was young:

The world is cruel, but also very beautiful.

The claim is very straightforward: this world is both painful and stunning.

snk 2a

Fact Check

Attack on Titan is sometimes difficult to follow, partially because we’re introduced to so many significant characters early on and are encouraged to root for them without getting to know them.  Among the main characters, the Shiganshina trio – Eren, Mikasa, and Armin – it’s Mikasa that we know least about in the first half of season one.  Not until episode six do we learn her back story.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Pandora Sins, Avatar Religion, and Your Friendship in April

Christmas is less than two weeks away!  I can hardly wait!  On Beneath the Tangles, we’ll be doing the special series of posts we do every year, and I hope that the anime blogosphere will deliver some thoughtful posts about the season as well.  Until then, visit the great trio of wonderful articles linked below:

The very existence of Oz Vessalius, as told to him in Pandora Hearts, tells us about the nature of sin. [Old Line Elephant]

The last of three Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel trilogies, The Rift, explores the question of ancient tradition in a modern world. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Episode 6 of Your Lie in April demonstrates the special friendship between Tsubaki and Kousei, one that reflects the sacrifical call of loving friendships in the Bible. [Christian Anime Review]

As part of the Something More series of posts, each week 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 if you’d like it included.

Review: Power Bible Book 1

power bible 1Power Bible 1
Art by Shin-joong Kim
Green Egg Media
208 pages

Let’s face it – the Bible is a difficult read for many people, even for faithful Christians.  Engaging with God’s word is even more of a challenge for children, too many of whom from a young age decide that the Bible is boring.  How to do you captivate young people with the Bible without straying from scripture?

The answer might be the Power Bible, a comic book series produced in book format.  Originally published in Korea, Green Egg Media has released the series, featuring chibi versions of Biblical characters, in the U.S.  And it’s a surprising triumph.

Volume one of ten-book series, which spans from creation to Revelation, focuses on the book of Genesis.  Developed with loving care, this first comic is wide-ranging in it’s content – Adam and Eve, Noah, and the patriarchs are all there.  Even lesser known individuals, like Methuselah and Lamech, make appearances.

The comic sticks closely to the Bible, which means that, especially in Genesis, there are plenty of passages that are very adult in nature, featuring violence, slavery, and other troubling subject matter.  But the strength of the Power Bible is that it chooses to remain scriptural, illustrating even difficult passages, albeit with children in mind (ex. deaths happen off the page).  There’s this dichotomy that occurs which is wondrous – the power of God’s word is continually emphasized in every page of the book, but humor and cute illustrations soften this version of the bible for grade school children.

Adults may enjoy it, too. I found certain passages particularly captivating, including the very beginning of the comic, which illustrates the creation story in a majestic and powerful way.  The quality of the illustrations, writing, and editing are all very high, and I especially liked the beautifully done chapter breaks.

Book One also reads well as one cohesive account.  Transitions between individual tales in this Genesis account are keenly done; it’s clear that you’re reading one large tale with many parts, rather than a disjointed story.  This cohesiveness, though, also points out my one key issue with the book.  Many recent children’s bibles and devotionals mention Jesus throughout Old Testament narratives, pointing out the significance of these stories in relation to God’s ultimate redemptive plan.  This more straight-forward telling of the Bible does not.

Still, what the Power Bible does do is extraordinary – it appeals to the visual senses without dumbing down scripture.  A comic book that does this has been sorely needed.  The Manga Bible has received excellent reviews, but it’s not for young children.  Another manga bible, simply titled The Bible, is not only aimed at older audiences, but was obviously created by those who don’t treasure the word.  It’s worth pointing out again that the staff that created and edited the Power Bible obviously has much love for the material, and for children, who will enjoy it.

But don’t take my word for it – here’s my six-year-old son’s review after reading Book One:

Dad's translation: I like the Power Bible 1. My favorite story is the meeting with the brothers. My second favorite story is "The Older Shall Serve the Younger."

Dad’s translation: I like the Power Bible 1. My favorite story is the meeting with the brothers [story of Joseph]. My second favorite story is “The Older Shall Serve the Younger.”

If you can teach kids to love the word of God – not a commentary, not a devotional, but scripture itself – you’ve done something mighty.  You’ve created an important work that going to change children’s lives – now and for eternity.

I have a critical eye for Christian work, especially that aimed at children, but as you can see in my review above, I highly recommend the Power BibleIf you’d like to purchase it, Green Egg Media has been kind of enough to offer a special promotion for Beneath the Tangles readers.  When checking out, type in the code TANGLES50 to receive 50% off volume one, or TANGLESSET for 30% off the complete set of OT and NT comics.

Naruto Chapter 700: The Gospel of Sasuke Uchiha

700 chapters.  All it took was 700 chapters and some 15 years to see our heroes achieve their ultimate aims – Naruto becomes hokage, Sakura marries Sasuke (not necessarily a bad thing), and Sasuke…well Sasuke finds love, which as he admits in chapter 699, is probably what he and Naruto wanted all along.  Strange that Sasuke set out with vengeance in mind only to find that love was the answer.  But perhaps that’s not unusual after all.

In our own lives, we all have certain aims, which are usually apart from love (and certainly apart from love of God, for which we were made).  We may not want to destroy an entire village out of a need to avenge our clan, but our goals may still be wayward – success, luxury, comfort, sex, wealth.  But unlike Sasuke, for most, the story doesn’t end on a note or redemption, at least not one connected to grace.  But if we can take a manga as example, there’s hope for all of us, even if takes many years for our story to turn into one of salvation.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

– 2 Peter 3:9

Path of Destruction

Sasuke’s road throughout the entirety of the series has been one of violence.  As a child, he violently puts off any attempts from others to befriend and love him, and of course, as he grows, he commits heinous acts – some would say (and some have said) those that have put him past the point of redemption.  Murder and death are only the prime examples of the many evil things Sasuke did to attain his goals; he also hurt those closest to him (Sakura especially).  Our lives follow similar paths without Christ – where we leave broken hearts and bitterness in our pursuit of whatever fills our heart, sometimes to the pain of others, and often toward the destruction of our own selves. Read the rest of this entry

Naruto Chapter 698: A Farewell to Arms

Yep, you guessed it.  I made this post just so that I could use that subtitle.

Well, not wholly.  Hang on with me a minute – I have something deeper than that to get to.

Most of the 698th chapter of Naruto is spent with our titular character and Sasuke lying next to each other, bleeding to death, going in an out of consciousness.  And in this gloomy setting, we get what might could finally be Sasuke’s surrender, not just in the final fight to Naruto, but of his will to Naruto, giving in to his friend’s way and finding a measure of peace (only time, the final chapters, and the last movie, though, will tell if he’s reached really that point).

At the very least, Sasuke has found that he cannot accomplish his own will, his way of becoming hokage.  Although he sees it as right and merciful, we know that Sasuke’s method is twisted, resembling a dictator willing to go to any means to accomplish goals that would otherwise be laudable.  From a superficial sense, though, it seems that both Naruto and Sasuke have equally reasonable methods.  They’ve both chosen their way to become hokage.  So what makes Naruto’s way better than Sasuke’s?  If we must ultimately choose our own paths, how can we dismiss Sasuke’s but praise Naruto’s?

The answer is that Naruto’s way reflects a truth, which is this: love is the right way.  Although the culture may tell us that your way is your truth, I disagree.  I believe there are certain truths that stand above others, and among those is that love trumps all.

Naruto does what he does out of love for his friends, village, family, and all people in the ninja world.  For Sasuke, Naruto will go to the same lengths as with anyone else – he is willing to die if it means saving them.  And as he lays bleeding to death at the end of chapter 698, with his right hand missing, Naruto demonstrates as much – that love knows no bounds.

naruto and sasuke missing arms hands

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Blue Exorcist Pluralism, Jesus in Planetarian, and More Godoka

Happy Halloween, all!  This is probably a good place to mention that the writers here at Beneath the Tangles are NOT the type to tell you avoid Halloween festivities because of pagan stuff blah blah blah.  Enjoy your night – but be safe!!  

Unfortunately, no spooky posts below…though maybe the first one, regarding a popular series about exorcism, is an appropriate place to begin on this holiday!

Matthew points out the error of a Buddhist group in the Blue Exorcist manga stating that Christianity and Buddhism are fundamentally the same. [Old Line Elephant]

In episode one of the Kazamatsuri.org podcast, the hosts dig into an interpretation of a forum member’s interpretation of the Planetarian visual novel from a Christian perspective and are very impressed by it.  That same forum user, James, later completed his ideas and guest posted them on our blog. If you’re interested, the discussion begins at 1:57:00 on the podcast. [Kazamatsuri]

Frank rejoices over Crunchyroll’s licensing of the remaining Encouragement of Climb episodes while digging into episode two and how Aoi’s climb up Mt. Fuji reminds us of a young Christian’s journey in faith. [A Series of Miracles]

He also wraps up his series of posts on Barakamon by pointing at a number of significant lessons for Christians in episodes 11 and 12 of the series. [2]

Moe discusses Madoka’s god form frequently while analyzing an important theme of Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Rebellion Story. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

In his analysis of episode 8 of Sailor Moon Crystal, Rob finds an interesting parallel between battle in the episode and the cosmic battle of Christianity. [Christian Anime Review]

Rob also discusses Sailor Moon’s claim of one committing and unforgivable sin in episode 7 of the same series. [2]

And he reminds Christians of where they should place their true value and worth while digging into episode 1 of Your Lie in April. [3]

As part of the Something More series of posts, each week 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 if you’d like it included.

 

 

Something More: Christians in Manga, Father God in Hanayamata, and SAO’s Garden of Eden

As the new season moves forward, it looks a bit top-heavy, with Unlimited Blade Works, Mushishi and a few others already being raved about.  Frank talks about Mushishi below, though most of the rest of these weeks’ links point to shows of yesteryear (or at least last season).

In the new season of Mushishi, Frank see lessons in how Christians should feel secure, even though not at “home.” [A Series of Miracles]

Hanayamata provides an opportunity for Medieval Otaku to discuss the inaccurate view so many have of God as Father. [Medieval Otaku]

In Amakusa 1637, D.M. Dutcher finds a manga focusing on Japanese Christians and providing a fair and accurate depiction of them. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

He also provides his review of the opening episode of Gonna Be the Twin-Tails!! for Christian viewers. [2]

Rob finds allusions to the Garden of Eden in episode 15 of Sword Art Online. [Christian Anime Review]

Casey review episodes 14-25 of Attack on Titan for Christian viewers. [Geeks Under Grace]

As part of the Something More series of posts, each week 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 if you’d like it included.

Claymore, Final Chapter (155): The Gospel According to Teresa

It’s here – the end is nigh!  A wonderful, amazing, long-running manga has finally come to a close.

No, not that one.  No, I’m writing about Claymore.

At the end of September, and after a 13-year-run, Claymore finally concluded.  So obviously, it took me almost two weeks to finally get around to reading the last chapter.  But I must say, though the last entire half of Claymore hasn’t nearly lived up to the first half, the final few chapters were very, very good.

But maybe I’m just saying that because I feel they reflect something even greater than the manga itself.

If you’ve been reading the last few months, you’ll notice that Teresa of the Faint Smile, whose shocking death brought notoriety to Claymore many years ago, has returned.  Clare has transformed into her mentor, and Teresa, the strongest claymore to have ever lived, is the only one powerful enough to finally destroy Priscilla.

teresa of the faint smile claymore form

Teresa, sounding quite godly

But is it really Teresa who is victorious?  Well, it is and it isn’t.  In an internal dialogue, Teresa explains that she appeared because Clare’s wishes for and about her, and because of all that Clare had done – improving herself and building community with those around her.  Because of all this, Teresa was able to reappear.  And though Teresa’s physical embodiment will now disappear completely, she’ll remain with Clare in spirit, continuing to be with her.  And as Clare embraces her mentor – indeed, her mother figure – she knows this to be true – Teresa will always be with her.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Faustus Metal Alchemist, Hopeful Anime Heroes, and Anime as Bible Study

A great thing about being an anime fan is that four times a year, we can get excited about a slate of new series!  While we wait on most of these to begin, a number of bloggers reflect on the final episodes of summer 2014 anime and on series older than those.

Draggle digs into his approach to bible study as he explains how to critically approach anime. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

Michael lists five anime character he considers “hopeful,” and explains why. [Gaming and God]

D.M. Dutcher finds that Star Light Woman, available through Crunchyroll’s manga service, speaks to the hopelessness of a world without God. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Frank compare’s the Holy Spirit’s guidance to a search for inspiration in Barakamon. [A Series of Miracles]

Annalyn is surprised by the knowledge Japanese storytellers display about Christian legends through series like Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Butler. [Watching, Thinking, Writing]e

Rob catches up on Sword Art Online, finding Christians themes in recent episodes:

Episodes 10 [Geeks Under Grace] and 11 [2]

Episodes 12 [Christian Anime Review] and 13 [2]

As part of the Something More series of posts, each week 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 if you’d like it included.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,886 other followers