Category Archives: Post Type

Anime Today: Life is a Cycle

Note: This article covers episode twelve of Mushishi. It approaches the episode vaguely in such a way so as to avoid spoilers, but be warned if that is something that concerns you.

Perhaps the most basic difference in Western versus Eastern thought is the view of the significance or destination of life. I’m sure you’ve heard the frames through which Buddhism and Hinduism operate, at least to some simple degree. In Hinduism, the soul (or the Atman) is trapped in the cycle of reincarnation known as Samsara. Buddhism follows some of the same conventions, though (at least from my perception) the execution is much more complicated. Instead of a single consciousness traveling through the same cycle over and over again, a sort of collective stream travels through a similar convention until one reaches Nirvana, or total annihilation.*

Judaism and Christianity (and Island, I assume, though perhaps someone can confirm this for me) operate under a different notion: that God is leading His people to a definite conclusion. Time is not in a state of perpetual repetition, but traveling decidedly forward.

However, just as Buddhism is not as simple as people like to make it out to be, often in erroneously assuming that Buddhism states that people reincarnate their consciousnesses directly a la Hinduism, when the truth is that the Buddhism proposes something much more complex, Judeo-Christianity is similarly difficult to pin down. And it is because of this that I was heavily reminded of aspects of biblical accounts and extra-biblical history surrounding it that reflect cycles in episode three of Mushishi.

mushishi 2a

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Come and See: Do You Evangelize?

Beneath the Tangles isn’t your typical aniblog.  While we certainly discuss anime – lots of it – our purpose goes further than that, “beneath the tangles” of entertainment and animation.  We seek to look at what we believe are spiritual truths as they are demonstrated through anime.  We also want to engage our readers in discussion related to religion and spirituality, to encourage people to dig deeper into faith and question what they believe to be true.

To help accomplish as much, I’ll be doing a biweekly series asking questions related to Christianity, religion, and/or spirituality.  Through November, I’ll post every other Wednesday, posting questions that I hope will give you pause and maybe stir some discussion.

Today’s questions are about evangelism:

  • What are your thoughts on evangelism.  Do you find it necessary?  Annoying?  Improper?
  • What does your faith, if you have one, teach you about evangelism?
  • Do you practice evangelism yourself? How so?

Please comment below with your responses as we engage each other about faith.

 

1,000 Posts!

Well…this milestone snuck up on me.

This post is our 1,000th here on Beneath the Tangles!

A little over four years ago, I began Beneath the Tangles as a way of bringing Christian conversation into the anime community.  The blog was obviously quite different at the time – less personal in tone and more overtly religious.  My very first post was dated September 12th, 2010: My So-Called Virtual Life.

That first year was really about finding my way with the blog.  I did several columns (none of which we now continue), engaged anibloggers in a large survey (from which we received some very positive and very negative response), and grew relationships with readers, mostly within that blogging community.

However, over the years, the tone of the blog changed as we found our voice and reached out to a more general audience of anime fans.  I say “we” because the biggest change of all was the addition of co-bloggers, who have now really taken ownership of the blog – developing their own columns, media projects, and generally making their own way.  Here are the my co-bloggers, with their join dates (because I think they’ll get a kick out of seeing those):

1. R86 (October 10, 2011): A friend before he was a co-blogger, R86 is actually the only one of the writers here I’ve met in person (a few of the others have met each other though).  He remains one of my closest friends, and someone who I can go to for advice, about anime or life in general.

1. Goldy (October 10, 2011): Joining at the same time as R86, Goldy brings a lot of anime-related experience to the blog and has a tone to her writing that I really admire – wise, calming, engaging.  I’ve counted on her to really carry the blog a number of times through the years.

3. Murasaki Lynna (October 18, 2011): Lynna joined shortly after our first two additions.  I was glad to have her join because she’s a wonderful writer and her interests reach out to a different audience than the rest of us.  What I found out later is that she’s also a real sparkplug, adding an exciting energy to our group.

4. Zeroe4 (February 28, 2012): Through the years, a little community of Christian anibloggers has developed – and it may have started with us and with Zeroe4, who was doing “Christian aniblogging,” if that’s a category, for a long while before he ended up crossing over to the dark side our blog.  Very sincere and very helpful, I’ve long counted on Zeroe4 to do a variety of projects/posts for us.

5. Hansha (June 14, 2012): Probably no one convicts me as much as Hansha does through her posts.  I depend on her greatly not only for her writing expertise, but also the content she writes and for the sincerity and honesty in which she delivers it (and in which she lives)

6. Kaze (March 18, 2013): What can I say about Kaze? He’s living the life of an otaku – he’s the best source I know for anime-related news. He also brings a unique viewpoint to our blog, one that I think forces us to think outside of our cozy little Christianese ways.

7. Japesland (September 18, 2013): If you started following our the blog over the last year, it might surprise you to find out that this isn’t Japes’ personal blog for how much he writes!  We’ve grown in a lot of ways through the past 12 months, in large part because of Japes’ energy and dedication.  And oh yes, he’s a good friend, too!

On the other side of the screen, there is you, the audience.  Thank you so much for reading along, whether you’re a recent convert or if you’re among the handful that’s been here since near the beginning.  Ultimately, we’re writing for readers – not for ourselves.  We want to engage you in good discussion, whether it’s encouraging you think about these topics we write about on your own or in public through the comments.  I hope we’ve done well the past four years, and that we’ll continue to deliver thought-provoking content for many more posts to come!

Top 5 + Guest: Our Favorite Sports Anime

It looks as if sports anime are in a revival these days.  Yowamushi Pedal, Free, Haikyuu!, Baby Steps, and Ping Pong are among very recent (and very well-reviewed) sports series, and though very different in tone from past classics, continue with some of the same addicting elements that draw people to these shows, like the ideas/themes of the underdog, growth through pain, the value of teamwork, and of course, the feel of victory!

Below are some of our writers’ picks for their favorite sports anime.  We’re also joined by a real enthusiast of the genre, Annalyn of Annalyn’s Thoughts.  Maybe you’ll find a gem or two below to try out!

R86’s Top 5

  1. Oofuri / Haikyuu! (tie)
  2. Aoki Densetsu Shoot!
  3. Kuroko no Basuke
  4. Major
  5. Plawres Sanshirou

haikyuu 1It’s to no one’s surprise that Oofuri tops my list, with its story about a startup boys’ high school baseball club, covering everything from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat and a lot more besides. Much more surprising was the speed with which recent volleyball anime Haikyuu!! rocketed up my list. And while anime viewers will be familiar with the rapid-paced, almost violently colorful Kuroko’s Basketball, it’s likely that fewer will have heard of soccer anime Aoki Densetsu Shoot! which, like Cross Game, deals with heartbreaking loss as well as striving for excellence. And even fewer will know about Plawres Sanshirou, a 1983 series about a boy who wants only to build the best miniature fighting robot in the world. And Major is unusual among baseball anime for its length, both in the sense of being some 150 episodes long, and in the sense of covering about 30 years of the lead character’s life.

Kaze’s Top 5

  1. Chihayafuru
  2. Daiya no Ace
  3. Ashita no Joe
  4. Ginban Kaleidoscope
  5. One Outs

chihayafuru 1I honestly have not seen many sports anime, so this is closer to a list of sports anime I have seen. At least I can give myself credit for having watched one of the biggest anime classics of all time Ashita no Joe, which is arguably the biggest influence on all modern sports manga/anime. Ginban Kaleidoscope is much closer to romance than a traditional sports anime, which is no doubt why it made my list but where else are you going to get an anime about figure skating? 

TWWK’s Top 5

  1. Cross Game
  2. Oofuri
  3. Bamboo Blade
  4. Free!
  5. Suzuka

cross game 6In anime as well as live action, baseball lends itself to making great drama.  My top two titles are baseball series (and if I added a sixth and seventh, they both would have been a baseball series, too – Taishou Baseball Girls and Touch).  At the very top is Cross Game, which walked the line between being a light-hearted sports series and a sensitive show about loss – it’s a wonderful anime (and even better manga) that I highly recommend.

Annalyn’s Top 5:

  1. Kuroko’s Basketball
  2. Oofuri (Big Windup!)
  3. Cross Game
  4. Haikyuu!!
  5. Daiya no Ace

kuroko 1This list was a product of much deliberation, and the rankings will probably change again within a month. Kuroko’s Basketball had a big boost from its animation. I could watch the characters’ smooth, elegant movements all day long. Kurobas’s studio, Production I.G., also had its hand in Haikyuu!!, Daiya no Ace, and a surprisingly close runner-up, Prince of Tennis. The fact that I remember the studio’s name shows how impressed I am—those details are hard for me to remember.

And with much consternation, I’ll present Japes’ list…

Japesland’s Top 5

  1. Free!
  2. Free!
  3. Free!
  4. Free!
  5. Free!

free anime teamAfter consulting my somewhat monstrous anime list, I discovered that I have actually only seen one sports anime: Free!. I definitely like Free!. I don’t think I love it, but it is easily the best sports anime I’ve ever seen. Hah. Hah. Hah. I also noticed that Redline is apparently categorized as a sports anime. As much as I adore that movie, I hardly think it counts. I’ve also seen two episodes of Yawara and Dan Doh!!, but again I’m left with the issue that Free! is the only sports anime I’ve actually completed. Sad day for Japesland. Sad day…

Now that you’re free from Japes’ list (bwahahahah!) and the others, it’s your turn.  What are some recommendations you have for sports anime, whether from our lists above or those we might have missed?

Hannes’ Complacency

Throughout the entirety of my Christian life, there has been one thing that holds me back more than any other. One thing that I fear one day will spell some sort of enormous failure in my spiritual walk. That thing is complacency.

Maybe that’s why I felt more sympathy and compassion for Hannes and his initial actions in Attack on Titan than disgust. At the time of the first attack, Hannes lived a life of complacency. He was a soldier, a defender of the wall, and a committed fighter against the titans. A complacent fighter, but committed nonetheless, if that makes sense. Clearly he believed in the fight against the titans as evidenced by his intention to go after them to “ settle a score.” However, when finally in the fray, he found himself…unprepared.

When we first meet Hannes, he’s drunk. Even though he and his comrades are supposed to be guarding the wall in case of an attack, they have been lulled into a false sense of security by peacetime and the monotony of guard duty.

aot

He laughs off Eren’s scolding him for this, even making a joke that he is probably right about their unpreparedness. But he is, truthfully, convinced that things are pretty much under control and why make more effort than is necessary, right?

I feel like I do this so much in my own life. Read the rest of this entry

Fact Check: Migi’s Claim of Humans as Demons

Parasyte (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu) has been a provocative series.  On a surface level, it weaves together grotesque, hyper-violence with humor and a gentle protagonist, while combining modern anime style with 80’s sensibility.  On a deeper level, it also calls forth significant topics – in episode two, we are introduced to a heavy environmentalist theme, as well as something more philosophical.

The Claim

Shinichi, as you’d expect, is having a hard time getting used to alien living on his hand.  He calls it all sorts of names (other than the one it gives itself – Migi), including “demon.”  But Migi has an interesting response to being called this:

Shinichi, upon researching the concept of demons, I believe that, among all life, humans are the closest thing to it.

The rest of the episode, it seems, does a lot to support Migi’s assertion.

Kiseijuu Migi

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Anime Today: Jealous Love??

I’m no expert when it comes to the shoujo genre, but Wolf Girl and Black Prince seems to be about as shoujo as shoujo gets.

High school setting? Check.
Unlucky but romantically desperate female lead? Check.
Cold, but attractive and desirable male romantic interest? Check.
Ensuing love triangles? We’ll see, but it basically seems so.

17121-q1bzqbkl4sHowever, what has intrigued me most about this series thus far is not its use of the vast array of established shoujo tropes (who would that interest, anyway?), but how it depicts romance and the wiliness of a “maiden’s heart.” I’ve written before on the topic of love, particularly pertaining to Chuunibyou a number of months ago, focusing namely on the fickleness of love as portrayed in media. But that silly, unrealistic, “lovey-dovey” portrayal is not what interests me here. Rather, I was brought back to an article written by Kaze almost a year ago entitled, “The Greatest Love of All… Is a Yandere?

Let’s back up just a moment to the series in question. Erika Shinohara, being the (apparently) pathological liar she is, in order to impress her “friends” lies about having an impressive boyfriend. As it would turn out, the boy she lies about dating ends up being the school “prince” in another class, Kyouya Sata. Being the kindhearted gem he is, when chaos ensues he decides to play along with her game and pretends to be her boyfriend… only for Erika to discover that he is really a relentless sadist. He blackmails her into continuing the fake relationship as his “dog” by threatening to expose her lies, all in the name of “entertainment.”

The most outrageous part of this setup, though, is that she willingly goes along with it and ends up falling in love with him.

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Untangled: Facing Opposition for Your Faith

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.  Here’s an email that brideofdracula recently sent us:

First of all I love your blog! I think it’s awesome how you connect anime and religion.

My question to you is kinda personal: recently, I moved to America from a muslim country. I am a practicing Muslim and I currently am enrolled in a liberal arts college. My problem, is I face alot of criticism from atheists. They see me, see my hijab, and start criticizing me, my religion, my Holy Book. I don’t have a problem with atheists,  but I HATE it when they start mocking me. I’m asking you this because as Christians, you must have faced such opposition.  What should I do? Should I stop wearing my hijab?

Please answer. I don’t think I can stand any more girls stuffing The God Delusion in my face. (Sorry about my English. It’s not my native language.) Thanks.

Thank you, first of all, for reaching out to us even though we’re of a different faith than you.  We definitely want our community here to cross religious boundaries, and some of that can occur when find common ground, such as criticism or persecution.

I think it must definitely be harder for you as a Muslim than for most Christians because through you hijab, you make your faith much more visible than others might.  Besides wearing, say, a cross necklace, Christians don’t usually express their faith by the clothing they wear.  Maybe that’s why when I attended a liberal arts university in a very liberal city, I never went through what you’ve had to endure.

I think that the best advice I could give you is this: make your everyday actions based on the bigger picture on what you most believe in life.  Sometimes, we have an idea of what we value most, but when suffering comes along and we’re tested by fire, we get to know where we really stand on those tenants we hold most closely to our hearts.  When you meditate on the bigger picture, it’ll help you determine the choices you make for issues like whether to continue wearing your hijab.  For example, if I were in your shoes, I would hope that I would be able to use a hurtful situation and turn it around, demonstrating the kindness, love, and grace that Jesus demonstrated to me through the gospel, which is at the core of my life.

I’d like to also open this up to our readers – do you have any recommendations for our brideofdracula?

Untangled: Manga Recommendations for Christians?

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.  Here’s an email that Stephen recently sent us:

I just stumbled across your site while looking for Christian manga reviews. I like what you’ve got here: Do you also do manga as well as anime?

We do, Stephen!  Though to be honest, we don’t touch on manga nearly as much as we should, probably because only a few of us read manga as actively as we watch anime.

One thing we are working on is a “Manga Recommendations” section for Christians to go along with other such sections, accessible through our toolbar.

Stephen went on to recommend two manga series to us:

1) Holyland: There’s just enough subtle symbolism to make this series powerful but not preachy. One of the main characters receives a cross in a church at one point, and later on, at a critical moment, grabs the cross and cries out (apparently to God), “Tell me what to do!” Lots of violence (it’s about martial arts after all), and maybe four scenes in the whole series with very brief nudity. For a mature reader, I think it’s well worth the read.

2) Hikaru no go: Perhaps the only manga I’ve read with absolutely nothing inappropriate, apart from the occasional swear word. One of the themes that crops up periodically is Sai, the ghost, meditating on why God has him remain on earth and appear to Hikaru, rather than going immediately to the next stage of the after life. Both Sai and Hikaru learn lessons, making Sai’s experience a sort of Purgatory. The emotional movements of this series are excellent, at least through the first story arc.

Thanks for sharing those titles with us, Stephen!  And now, I want to open this up to our readers – are there manga you specifically recommend for Christians?  Why?

Anime Today: When Narrative Breaks Down

As the summer 2014 season winds down, I’ve recently been reflecting on my thoughts over the last few months of anime. Although this season has been one of the more enjoyable of the past year or so, it seems to have also been one of the most disappointing. But how can that be?

The answer is simple, and it comes down to let down expectations. If you’ve been following Anime Today, you are probably aware of how excited I was to see everything pan out this season. However, if you have been following Anime Today or listened to episode one of our podcast, you are also probably aware of how few of these entries have lived up to my artificially-raised expectations.

Without getting into too much detail (that’s what our live stream is for this Saturday!), between the overall poor production of Persona 4 The Golden Animation, Sword Art Online, Aldnoah Zero, and Captain Earth, to name a few, each week has been a question of how I am going to be let down. Why could I be so disappointed in these entries that originally excited me? With the exception of the possibility that I had simply misappropriated my preconceptions above and beyond what I should have expected, I place the majority of my blame on an inconsistency in writing and other production.

Aldnoah Zero is a prime example of this. With Gen Urobuchi at the writing helm (responsible for renowned shows such as Fate/Zero and Puella Magi Madoka Magica), expectations were high. And to be quite frank, expectations were met. Aldnoah Zero absolutely, wonderfully delivered.

Slaine Troyard

And then Urobuchi departed from the writing staff, and the fall into mediocrity commenced (this is not to say that Aldnoah Zero has been bad, per se, as much as it has just been closer to average than originally anticipated). The narrative shifted from what was an original, well-produced, thrilling, and thought-provoking exposition, to nothing more than an average mecha with a few interesting plot twists.

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