Category Archives: Christmas
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, especially its second season A’s, is one of my favorite anime, and just hit its 10 year anniversary. At the least, it’s probably the anime I’ve rewatched the most number of times. The climax of the second season takes place on Christmas Eve, as the protagonists Nanoha and Fate engage in a final battle against the Book of Darkness. Among other plot revelations, the real predicament Nanoha encounters is not how to defeat her opponent, it is how to save her opponent (and this is a recurring theme throughout the series). The Book of Darkness was originally called the Tome of the Night Sky, but at some point in time, its name and purpose were forcibly changed for malicious goals. Even so, the conscious entity known as the Book of Darkness is aware of this change. Unfortunately, she believes there is nothing that can be done to stop herself from going berserk. Therefore, Nanoha desires to save and redeem her. Although the Book of Darkness has already given up on herself, Nanoha doesn’t.
In the same way, there may be times in your life that you feel you have fallen too far; you cannot be saved. However, God does not give up on you. He will continue to reach out to you until you respond. This Christmas, remember that God sacrificed his Son Jesus Christ at the cross to save all of us. No matter how far you’ve strayed from the right path, He is by your side, waiting for you to accept His help, love, and salvation.
Meanwhile, the Book of Darkness is having an inward conversation with its master Hayate, who has been absorbed by it. Although being its master is also the source of much of Hayate’s suffering and pain, she is still able to sympathize with the Book’s sadness as well. As the master, Hayate temporarily overrides the berserk program to help Nanoha. Although the Book of Darkness feels there is no hope, Hayate grants her a new name: Reinforce, and the two are separated from the malicious program.
When God chooses people to do His work in the Bible, it often comes with granting them a new name. Oftentimes these people feel no hope in themselves, that there is no reason to choose them. However, as if to reinforce the idea that they are capable of what He wants, God grants them a new name, usually with a specific meaning. Hayate bestows a name which means the opposite of what the Book of Darkness believes itself to be: one who supports and blesses others. It is clear that names hold more meaning to God than a way to call someone by, and when it comes to the meaning of names, remember that Christmas is all about the birth and name of Jesus, who saved us from sins.
And they will call him Immanuel – which means ‘God with us.’
Merry Christmas everyone!
Hi, everyone! I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas. In the midst of gift-giving, feasts, and family, or even if you’re having a cold of more difficult holiday, I hope that you’ll consider what the holiday is all about. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ – the humble birth of Jesus into the world, foreshadowing his humility is loving us by serving us, to the point of death on the cross. What a way for the King of Kings to come into the world.
I love Christmas. It has always been a magical time of the year for me and somehow, I always ended up cheery just because its the Christmas season.
Though, this year was the first for me where not only does it not feel like Christmas, I also haven’t been very cheery at all. I could blame that on many reasons, but that’s not important, really.
Even for the 12 Days posts this year on Beneath the Tangles, I was not very enthusiastic since most of my “fall back” Christmas anime (ones easy to write about like The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya or Toradora for example) were already taken in previous years (by me probably, haaaaaha) and I really didn’t have many other options that I thought would make good posts.
Yet, I chose Shugo Chara, a series I’ve watched and loved and have apparently forgotten since it blind-sided me with its uplifting message. How can is be that I learn more from kids shows as an adult I’ll never know. Regardless, this was something I needed and didn’t even know it.
The Christmas episodes of Shugo Chara (roughly 10-13) only vaguely touched on Christmas imagery.
Yet, the episodes focused on a bigger theme that is definitely a something many associate with Christmas: Hope.
As a crash course for those who haven’t seen Shugo Chara, it’s a magical girl anime about a girl who has “heart eggs” that are her potential selves; what she could become in the future, that she can use to transform and purify other people’s heart eggs if they become tainted.
I must preface this brief Secret Santa review with this statement:
None of the Secret Santa recommendations I received this year match my tastes (with the exception of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, but I’ve already seen that one, thus I received an additional entry as an exception).
With that in mind, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, through all of its positives and negatives, and though I enjoyed it to an extent, is simply not my cup of tea. As an action/thriller, my watching reminded me much of my experience with shows like Death Note and Monster, two other highly-acclaimed series that I also did not care for as much as most. If you’d like to read a bit of the exposition and what the general anime-consuming population thinks of the show, I recommend checking out its entry on MyAnimeList. Otherwise, I will be giving my honest, brief opinion below.
Tl;dr included at the bottom.
My anime watching experience is fairly wide, having been watching the medium for a fair of number of years now. But it’s also more shallow than I’d like to admit. Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa project helps bring depth to my anime list, as I’m always given series that I feel I should have watched and sometimes, as was the case this year, very good series that I’d never even heard of.
Of the three selections provided by my Secret Santa, I was immediately drawn to Mouryou no Hako, and I stuck with it, not that watching the series through was hard to do. I generally really enjoyed the show, which often kept me in suspense and almost always caused me to really think both about what was happening in the series, and the deeper themes and meanings being given.
Mouryou no Hako is a supernatural detective series following, almost equally, a wide net of characters who become involved in the near-death and disappearance of one young lady and the dismemberment of a host of other individuals. Spirituality, science, and secrets converge in the plot, which is presented in an often non-linear manner and frequently through the current happenings and by providing parts of novels written by a character portrayed in the series.
When I was a kid, I always imagined that as an adult I would go to holiday parties with lots of food, dancing, and so forth. But in my twenties, I never really lived that kind of lifestyle, and now that I’m married with children, I find myself attending a different kind of Christmas party every year, one with other parents and people around my age – one not too different from the party in episode 39 of Naruto: Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals.
In this episode of the series, Rock Lee, Naruto, and the others compete to pick from the stash of presents, the picking of which is the culmination of the party. They face some interesting obstacles on the way, including doting dads, lonely bachelors, and cruel senseis. Ultimately, the final two competitors – Rock Lee and Naruto – decide to end their competition and finish the race peacefully, together.
At my annual party, we have a present exchange, too – a white elephant one. Most years, I don’t participate, because I absolutely hate it. This is why: someone always ends up getting hurt. The exaggerated groans that people give when receiving a present they don’t want makes me cringe, because somewhere the giver is displeased, and sometimes, hurt. What’s supposed to be a fun, joyous event can lead to bitterness or sadness.
I often think that, like Naruto and Rock Lee, my group of friends has missed the point.
I hope that this season, you’ll think upon the reason that words like peace, hope, and joy displayed all around us. Those feelings aren’t manufactured by us through holiday events or gift giving – they are presents to us: a hope for the future, a peace that comes with knowing we’ll weather storms, and a joy that arises even when there’s no reason for it. And it’s all because of the humble birth of a baby some 2,000 years ago.
In my household this year, we’ve had so much conversation about how to really emphasize Christ in the season. As I mentioned yesterday, we do the whole Santa thing with our kids (I actually feel like I’m the only parent at my church that does!), but in spite of that, I think we keep a worshipful focus on the holidays – at least I hope we do.
More this Christmastime than ever, I’ve been reflecting on the humility of Christ’s birth: what it means, why it had to be the way, and how we should respond to it. The answers become intensely personal, as I ponder on God’s grace on me, and remarkably unconstrained, as I think about my role in a larger worldview. And I begin, too, to realize how countercultural the Bible’s message of Christmas really is – both against the popular culture in the west and the “War Against Christmas” crusaders’ culture as well.
Tommy, our friend at Anime Bowl, wrote a nice reflection on some similar themes yesterday on his post about a seasonal anime, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. In his usual way, Tommy doesn’t mince words, and the connections he makes and conclusions he draws are very aptly done.
I highly recommend you check out his article:
When did you stop believing in Santa Claus? Did you ever believe in Santa?
Among many other things, episode 12 of the first season of Minami-Ke explores Chiaki’s belief in Santa. She’s doubted in his existence since the previous year, but Kana’s plan this year restores her belief in him. It’s an almost-sweet story in an episode that is as silly as any other in the series, also featuring Toma’s brothers arguing about what gift to get her, Fujioka bestowing a gift of ham upon the girls, and a stuffed bear having his way with a Grizzly before being called upon by Santa.
But it’s that first story about Chiaki that gave me thought. I’ve reared my kids to believe in Santa, and I spent some time this season thinking about whether that was the right thing and how my son is going to feel when he finds out the truth.
I was kind of old, I think, when I discovered there was no Santa. In fourth grade, my teacher read us what became my favorite book of childhood, Superfudge by Judy Blume. There’s a chapter in the story in which Fudge, a five-year-old, tells how he knows there’s no Santa Claus. I came home to ask my mom if it was true, and she admitted as much. The final nail in the coffin was when I found all my presents before Christmas.
Ultimately, Santa is a fairy tale – a nice one, with some basis on a real man, but still, a fairy tale. Many say the same about that other Christmas figure, Jesus Christ, which leads me to ask the same questions I did at the beginning of the post, but in relation to Him:
When did you stop believing in Jesus? Did you ever believe in Jesus?
Christmas is a good time – maybe the perfect time – to contemplate Christ, to consider His claims and His life, to test scripture and measure the veracity of Jesus’ words. You may feel that church has pulled a fast one – as with parents and Santa, they’ve spread a fairy tail that just isn’t true.
But then again, you might find otherwise. And if Christ is real…that changes everything.
Characters in Santa outfits. Check. Romantic gift-giving. Check. Vampire girl who injects people with joyous blood. Uh, check.
Karin (Chibi Vampire) was a series I’d almost completely forgotten before deciding to watch episode 19, the show’s Christmas episode. In fact, I don’t remember if I’ve even watched the series (I know that I’ve read the manga, and I enjoyed it very much). But I’m glad I viewed (or re-viewed) this episode – it was a nice one.
Karin and Usui continue to shyly try to progress their relationships with one another. To do so, and at the urging of her friend Maki, who is doing the same for her crush, Karin decides to knit Usui a Christmas gift. As she builds her courage, Karin unwittingly encourages Usui to ask his mom about his past, which was a topic he’d avoided at all costs up until now.
In anime, Christmas episodes offer an opportunity for animators to provide a little fanservice to the viewers – fun situations, wintry costume changes, and hints of romance. And it’s very usual for the romantic element to revolve around gifts. Karin wants to confess as she gives her gift, and so does Maki.
In the west, of course, gift-giving has a different feel. Read the rest of this entry
The Christmas episode for Kimi ni Todoke is simple, but sweet. Unlike most anime Christmas episodes, it focuses more on family than romance or even friendship, which is not a common thing to see. This difference is largely because the main character, Sawako, is socially awkward, and hasn’t had very many friends in the past, so every year she’s celebrated Christmas with her family.
This year is different, though. She’s finally made friends, Ayane, Chizu, and Kazehaya, and they’re planning a Christmas party with their class. Sawako is filled with anticipation at the idea of belonging and being included for once, and desperately wants to go. But even though her crush, Kazehaya, encourages her to come, she knows her family will want her to be with them and she dreads disappointing them.
Later, as she tries to work up her courage to ask her family for permission to go to the party, her father tells the story of how she was supposed to be born on Christmas day, but didn’t end up being born until New Year’s, and how relieved they were that she was delivered safely, and that, in her father’s mind, had been a true Christmas gift. Overwhelmed by her parents’ love for her, Sawako decides not to go to the Christmas party for their sake. Her friends are disappointed, but they try to console her.