Category Archives: Personal

Kuroko’s Basketball and Imitating Christ

Hi there, folks! I feel like I should say something to properly introduce myself in my first official post as a BtT writer. But formalities aren’t exactly my forte, so I’ll just dive in. 

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I’m a bit of a Kuroko’s Basketball fangirl. The show’s been on my mind almost constantly since the third season began airing. It’s prompted a lot of fist-pumping, squealing, and cheering—plus some convicting thoughts about the Christian walk. For example, Kise’s recent game against Haizaki has me thinking about imitation’s role in the Christian life.

— Spoiler warning for the third episode of Kurobas 3. —

First, a recap on this character: Kise Ryouta is a sports prodigy. He tried other sports before basketball, but he wasn’t challenged enough. His athletic ability, combined with his knack for imitation, allowed him to surpass teammates and rivals with ease. He finally started basketball partway through middle school, after he discovered how powerful the team was. Finally, a challenge!

Kise quickly joined the ranks of Teiko Middle School’s “Generation of Miracles,” but surpassing them would take a little longer. The rest of the team had developed personalized skills that matched their physiques and personalities. Kise wasn’t good enough to imitate their moves, let alone counter them.

Fastforward to the Winter Cup, Kise’s first year of high school. Kise is pitted against Haizaki, a nasty fellow who was kicked off the Teiko Middle School team just before Kise became a regular. Haizaki, too, is an imitator, but with a twist: he corrupts whatever skill he steals. This messes with his opponent’s rhythm, making it impossible for him to use the skill he used to call his own. Back in middle school, Kise could never beat him. Now, in high school, things look grim. Kise and the rest of the Kaijo team keep the gap from getting too wide, but Haizaki is dominating. Finally, in the last five minutes, Kise brings out the newest and most powerful weapons in his arsenal: skills he’s copied from the Generation of Miracles. He starts with Midoriama’s precise, high-arcing three-pointer. And he makes it from the other side of the half-court line. (Cue fangirling)

Kise can copy the Generation of Miracles. Okay, he's scary now. I don't even know how scary, because that pink aura there is Akashi,  and the only skill I've seen him use is his Alpha Dog commanding  aura, which is scary, but probably not imitable.

Kise can copy the Generation of Miracles. Okay, he’s scary now. I don’t even know how scary, because that pink aura there is Akashi, and the only special “skill” I’ve seen him use is his Alpha Dog control, which is scary, but probably not imitable.

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Judgment in Death Parade

Death Parade presents its own attempt in answering the always interesting question of “what happens after death?” Recently deceased characters wind up in a bar called Quindecim where they are told to play a game they must stake their lives on and are judged during the game on whether their soul will go to heaven (reincarnation) or hell (the void).

The judges in this situation are called arbiters and judge souls based on their memories and the parts of their character that manifest themselves during the life or death game. The winner of the game is not relevant.

The first episode follows a pair of newlyweds. During the game, we learn that the wife, Machiko, was unfaithful and lied and the husband, Takashi, is a bit of a coward and can have a violent temper. At the end of the game, he is sent to be reincarnated and she is sent to the void.

dp5

One of the more disturbing aspects about the anime is the way sins are weighed. According to this particular arbiter, Decim, adultery and deception are weightier than violent rage. Because Machiko cheated and lied about loving Takashi she is sent to the void. Takashi simply flew into a rage and attempted to attack Machiko after the game.

dp 2dp6

Not nearly as bad. He gets to go up.

What makes it even worse is we learn in the second episode that Machiko lied to protect Takashi. The head of the arbiters, Nona, even suggests Decim may have mistakenly sent her to the void. The situation is smoothed over with a simple “everyone makes mistakes” and an encouragement to take the situation to heart.

Whoops, sent a soul to hell on accident. Oh, well…

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Celestial Method Episode 5: Hardened Hearts

I have the same routine each week.  I watch an episode of Celestial Method (Sora no Method), and for 90% of the episode, I tell myself that I should drop the show.  I’m not particularly attached to any of the characters.  I find some of them annoying.  And there’s nothing particularly unique about the series.  And then, in the last few minutes, the show does something to keep me hanging on for another episode.  And in this one, I got two for one – a nice ending and one that alleviated one my my biggest frustrations – Yuzuki’s stubbornness.

And yet, it’s that ridiculous, annoying, irrational pride that Yuzuki has which has really made me think about my own heart.  I try to place her attitude (and Shione’s) as typical middle-school angst.  And that it is – but it also probably reflects us better than we think.

sora 5a

Is there anyone in your life that you’re on bad terms with?  Is there any irrational anger you have toward someone or something?  Have you resolved these issues?  I bet if you think hard enough, you’ll be able to find an example that you may not be proud of.

And so, we’re sometimes more like middle schoolers than we admit.

Read the rest of this entry

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!

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.

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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

I wanna be like you, Tohru!

Throughout anime, there are themes that reflect Christian values. You can see themes of loyalty, service, peacemaking, patience, love and acceptance just to name a few. Out of all the characters in all of the anime I have seen, the one I felt has come closest to what a Christian is supposed to be, or maybe the one I want to be like most, is Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket.

Tohru-honda

From her gratefulness, to her constant service mindset, to her unconditional love and acceptance of those around her, whenever I watch Fruits Basket I find myself wishing I would handle situations the way she handles them. It takes a certain amount of bravery and strength to approach life the way Tohru does.

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Anime Today: Sharing Anime with Family

If there is one anime that I have been most looking forward to this season, it is absolutely the newest season of Mushi-shi. And I can say confidently that my unrealistically high expectations for the season have been… met, actually. Possibly even exceeded, even!

Ginko

Art by 猫屋敷 (Pixiv ID 43383288)

It is rare to find an anime that is beautifully animated, intelligently written, and also has little to no inappropriate content (the only other anime that I can immediately think of that fit these criteria are the likes of Now and Then, Here and There, Haibane Renmei, and Nichijou, though I’m sure there are many others). All of this together is what has made it possible to share Mushi-shi with my father, one decidedly uninterested in anime and the like as well as a former pastor. However, it didn’t take long to get him hooked.

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The Power of Words in xxxHolic

“Living beings can be bound by so many different things… …But did you know there is only one chain humans can wield themselves?” – Yuko

Talking is such a natural part of everyday life that it’s easy to forget how much our words can affect everything around us, for better or for worse. In xxxHolic, Yuko refers to words as literally living things. As the only naturally occurring “chain” in life that humans can control. In that episode, a girl was chained down by her own words as she constantly spoke and lived out negative, self-fulfilling prophecies. She would talk about failing and it would happen, no matter how likely  she was to succeed before she spoke.

Untitled

I know, in my own life, I can often get trapped in this same situation. I talk….a lot…. and I tend to be a pessimistic person. If I’m not careful, I can create my own complaining mantras that will leave me completely immobilized.  Read the rest of this entry

Readers’ Response: What Are You Thankful For?

Happy Thanksgiving, all!  I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday!

Art by 嵐空

Art by 嵐空

There are many things I’m thankful for, but I want to emphasize particularly how thankful I am to you, the readers of this blog.  For much of this year, I’ve shifted much of the time I usually use for this blog and moved it toward developing my Tumblr page.  Even so, readers still come here and many of you comment – thank you.  And a special thank you to all those that are consistent readers of Beneath the Tangles, both anonymous and those known to me.

And with this year of transition, I’m grateful, more than ever, to my writers:

  • Goldy, who is simply one of the most creative people I’ve ever known
  • Hansha, whose energy and intelligence are electric
  • Japes, whose friendship I greatly treasure
  • Kaze, who challenges me think about my own faith as he writes posts here
  • Lynna, who is gracious, graceful, and kind
  • R86, who is simply one of my best friends
  • and Zeroe4, who inspires me by his faith

And how about you all?  Would you share with us one or two things you’re thankful for this year?

Natsume Yujin-cho and a Search for a Home

Natsume Yujin-cho 3

One year ago, I was back in Ishinomki doing humanitarian work with some very good friends. Since coming back to the US, I have really struggled with fitting in. The best way I can explain it, is I am the Natsume of my own little world, and monsters are chasing me but no one sees. They can’t see the burden I’ve picked up. They can’t see the pain I carry, however this is not how the story ends.

If you have watched Natsume Yujin-cho, then you may understand what I am trying to say. Natsume Yujin-cho along with it’s sequels are some of my favorite anime. The series was recommended to me by Annalyn who is a friend of this blog and is the blogger at Annalyn’s Thoughts. If you haven’t seen the show, Natsume Yujin-cho is about an orphan boy who is passed from family member to family member. He can see also see spirits, which causes him to live between two worlds belonging to neither, but not being able to ignore either. The manga and anime, which are very faithful, start his story when Natsume moves in with the Fujiwara’s and finally finds a family that doesn’t want to get rid of him. He doesn’t tell them he can see spirits, because he doesn’t want to scare the or cause them to get rid of him. However, Natsume is being crushed by the burdens of his past and the Yujin-cho, “The Book of Friends,” his grandmother left behind when she died. The Book of Friends is a book that contains the names of many spirits, which would allow someone to control the spirits. These names were ill gotten and never used. Now the spirits want there names back and Natsume is target number one. Protected only by Madara aka Nyanko-sensei, a powerful spirit shaped like a clay cat, Natsume embarks on a journey that forces him to rely on others and teaches him quite a lot.

Natsume Yujin-cho

In many ways, I am very much like Natsume and I can really understand were he is coming from. Read the rest of this entry

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