Category Archives: Religion
I watch Working!!! to laugh, to get away from the world. But serious thought has a way of creeping into my activities despite my best efforts, and so here we are.
Yamada Aoi is one of the most exasperating characters in Working!!!. She came to Wagnaria, the family restaurant, as a runaway teen. She won’t tell her real name or go back to her family. The owner, Otoo-san, is a bit of a pushover, so they let her live in the attic and hire her as a trainee. Her work ethic is underdeveloped, to put it lightly, and when she does work, she breaks dishes at an alarming rate. This irritates a couple of her coworkers, but she’s managed to wriggle into their affections anyway.
She has another quirk, though: she wants a family. She insists that Otoo-san be her father. And she appoints Souma, the crafty cook, as her big brother. They don’t have a choice in the matter.
Here’s the thing: Yamada already has a family. While she’s begging Souma to play the big brother in her family fantasy, her real big brother, “Yamada Kirio,” is on the streets, passionately searching for her.
This plot thread reminds me of what real people do everyday. We have a (literally) perfectly good God. And all too often, we run away from him and prop up other people and ideas in his place. For many people, this is a lifelong denial of the One who deserves our greatest love and faithfulness. For Christians, it’s a more temporary denial. Either way, it’s a multi-level problem. Read the rest of this entry
In the last Tangles podcast, the staff pondered about Charlotte – just who is Charlotte? And where is this story going? Episode five, thankfully, starts cluing us in about the show as a whole. While there’s yet another youth who has to be caught by the student council, the focus is less on that individual than ever as other developments occur: we continue to see how Nao suffers because of her straight-forward personality; Jojiro gives Yuu some cryptic hints about his significance; and the slow decline that many of us have expected of Ayumi has begun.
Of course, even with all these clues – and maybe even because we know more after this episode – the show remains as confusing as ever. The course of the series remains blurry; we’re still in the dark as to where it’s headed.
I was reminded this week that we all have moments like this in our own lives. Just as a viewer watching Charlotte, and even more specifically like Yuu, who remains unaware of his role in all that’s happening, we’ve all been in places in our lives where we wonder, why? Christians may even find these times to be even more difficult – why would a loving God put us through hell?
When storms come or even just moments of confusion, we may be unable to decipher the reasons. Yuu is in a strange student council led by an enigmatic girl, and sometimes wonders what his role is and why he has to do this; we, too, might ask God why we’re knee deep in problems like anxiety, relationship issues, and the such.
The more I engage in social media, especially through Tumblr, the more I witness just how deeply connected a lot of anime fans are to their favorite characters – emotionally, physically (dakimakura), even sexually. I have my favorites, too, but besides feeling some empathy toward the characters, and occasionally shipping them, I don’t have a really strong attachment. That, too, applies to characters I most dislike – there’s no deep-seated vengeance I feel toward them. I don’t think of them very deeply at all.
However, JekoJeko makes a really good case that Christians should be thinking more about anime characters, and particularly, how we consider them in our minds. Taking criticism of Charlotte, for instance, the blogger wonders how Christians might be so quick to dismiss or even deride annoying characters (much less evil ones).
At first, I thought maybe JekoJeko was taking this a bit too seriously – this is what otaku often do, after all. But the argument is convincing and I’m now convicted. The way we approach all things in life – anime and anime characters included – is telling about our attitude toward God and others. As we’re transformed, our hearts move toward love – and why shouldn’t that reaction also apply to characters, even if it’s going to be on a more obviously surface level? For the way we react to the world is telling of the condition of our hearts.
What do y’all think? Check out JekoJeko’s post and comment there:
Our own Samuru1 hosted a panel about Christianity and anime at SuperCon and it received a warm response. [Geeks Under Grace]
Casey Covel, also of our site, had the opportunity to interview Kenneth Bright, Jr., who is developing Prince Adventures, an anime-style franchise aimed specifically at Christians. 
Angel Beats’ Hinata has difficulty holding onto the past – that kind of guilt can prevent us from moving foward. [Old Line Elephant]
Speaking of Angel Beats, an interesting of viewing it is as a property about life itself – not just in content, but the show’s very structure, flaws and all. [Mage in a Barrel]
Eren’s transformation into a titan (a wrong makes a right) in Attack on Titan brings about interesting contrast with the Christian’s life (God makes right from out wrong). [Lady Teresa Christina]
Gaara’s purpose and meaning for life in the original Naruto is full of selfishness and self-reliance – and it’s perhaps his the character’s guilt that belies a more significant meaning for existence. 
Amagi Brilliant Park takes the common anime theme of relying on your friends for support and offers something more – and something more biblical. [UEM!]
Noragami takes Shinto gods, which have become fairly commonplace in anime, and makes something quite more than common. [Ganriki]
Does the end justify the means? For the boy selling see-through photos of classmates in episode 2 of Charlotte, it does. The answer, of course, is quite different from a Christian perspective. [Christian Anime Review]
Can you find “enlightenment” through aniblogging? Perhaps, and at the very least, you might find a wonderful outlet for creative energy. [Fujinsei]
Although not anime-related, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this excellent, excellent article about Disney’s Pinocchio, which makes strong correlation between the title character and the Irenic version of the first man, Adam. [Res Studiorum et Ludorum]
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. Special thanks to Don of Zoopraxiscope Too for notifying me about the Pinocchio post!
Episode 12 closes out our summer series of Japan focused podcast episodes with a special Tangles panel: JP (Japes), Kaze, Jack (R86), and Daniel (Zeroe4)! All members of this month’s panel have spent varying degrees of time in Japan in very different roles with unique experiences of the country, and thus use that diversity to share and discuss the country from different perspectives! We hope you have been enjoying this summer’s series of special episodes and will tune in next month for episode 13, celebrating a full year of The Tangles Podcast!
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!
Intro – 0:00
Announcements – 2:43
Otaku Diet – 4:35
How did you get to Japan; What are you doing? – 37:40
How does life in Japan compare to slice of life anime? – 47:39
Best and worst experiences in Japan; Amusing experiences – 58:07
How have you seen God working in Japan? – 1:31:46
Closer – 1:53:39
Note: Below are the links mentioned in the podcast:
Yes, I’m returning to Kuroko’s Basketball. The power was out last night, so I couldn’t catch up on new shows, and I was forced to use a topic that I’ve been thinking about since before last season ended. Spoilers ahead.
I’ve written before about why Akashi’s approach to basketball is wrong. But there’s another aspect to it: He relies on his own strength to keep his friends close, to win games, and to continue doing what he loves. So far, that’s worked for him. But that doesn’t mean it always will, and Kuroko shows him that in the end.
“I am absolute,” Akashi repeats throughout Kurobas. Those who play against him lose, and those who follow him win. In his mind, he has the strength—and thus the right—to play basketball as a tyrant, to force weaker players to literally fall before him.
Akashi glorifies himself out of fear: fear that he’ll lose and be forced to quit basketball by his father, and fear that his teammates will surpass him, stop following him, and ultimately stop playing with him. These fears are understandable, but they are also self-centered. They come from focusing on his own concerns, rather than those of his teammates.
I’ll focus on the relational fear, since it is primary to the conflict, and because I think most of us can identify with it. In middle school, Akashi enjoyed playing with his team. But as the Generation of Miracles grew stronger, they grew apart. The team began wining for victory’s sake. In episode 73, Akashi recalls, “and around then all their individual talents started to bloom, one after another. That growth turned into the fear that I couldn’t handle them… as well as the anxiety that they would leave me behind.”
Aomine, who perhaps loved basketball more than any of them, became frustrated because “no one can beat me but me.” Without a challenging opponent, he began to lose interest in the game and stop coming to practice. Murasakibara also grew bored and threatened to stop coming. Akashi panicked and challenged him to a one-on-one match. At first, it looked like Murasakibara would win, but Akashi overcame, securing his place at the top. He explains later, “I had to stay the strongest so that I could continue to play with them.”
Most of us can empathize with Akashi’s anxiety. How many of us have felt our friends will not only surpass us, but leave us? Sometimes, I don’t want to attempt friendship, because I can already see that the other person is a high-achiever. With the friends I already have, the anxiety plays a more subtle role: my insecurity has been partially about my ability to make friends. So when close friends moved away and immediately made new friends, and I didn’t, I fought fears about not being needed as their friend—I didn’t realize that “need” had very little to do with it, that we could appreciate our friendship even if our social needs were met by others. Read the rest of this entry
A third of the way through season three of Working!!! (Wagnaria), and I’m super pleased – the show continues its wonderful, character-based humor (as expected) while moving along romantic relationships (not necessarily as expected). And as has been impressed upon me all along, the series confirms that it isn’t just funny – it’s a really well-made show.
I was trying to explain this point to someone last week, and it was hard for me to do so – I’m not 100% sure what makes Working!!! more than just fun. It has a lot to do with smart source material, with its well-written gags and funny situations. It also has plenty to do with the characters, who are loveable, well-defined, and who grow, bit by bit, through the course of the series. And it certainly has to do with how the four panel strips, so obviously the format for the show’s source material, flow well thematically from episode to episode when animated.
In short, while the series seems simple, it’s a lot more complicated than we might give it credit for.
Not all of you may agree with my assertion – I may have to butt heads with some of you that see the series as relatively common. There’s a parallel here, too, with a work I esteem much more highly – and strangely, it’s more often the choir to whom I preach the merits of that work. Read the rest of this entry
I love baseball, and so, Little Busters notwithstanding, I really enjoy baseball episodes/series. And if you throw in the emotion of the relationship called a battery, I’m done for.
As the student council, with
a new two new characters in two, finds their next subject, they turn to a baseball game to bring the pitching ace into their school. But with supernatural powers being wielded, the contest is a farce from the start. The opposing team’s pitcher throws a near-unhittable knuckleball through telekinesis, while in the 9th inning, the student council’s team counters with their own powers.
It’s surprising perhaps, then, that the game-winning hit depends on one not using his powers, as Yuu gives his all sincerely without using his ability. Going into the at bat, he wonders how he could use his power, not even thinking of getting a hit in a legitimate fashion, but Nao insists that he find a way to drive two runs home on his own.
Yuu is understandably apprehensive. He, like many of us, would rather fake it than do things legitimately and risk mediocrity, embarrassment, or failure. Read the rest of this entry
Ah, July…the days of summer heat, fireworks, and of course, new summer series! There’s a lot to be excited about this summer season, including some of the series talked about below, including one whose light novel is getting a translation in English!
Nicholas D. Wolfwood’s final, moving scene in Trigun gives us the story of his redemption, and the gospel message for all. [Old Line Elephant]
Humility and an understanding that in loneliness, we are not alone, can help us through challenges, as demonstrated in Sore ga Seiyuu! [UEM]
JekoJeko also jumps into the question of how Christians should approach ecchi imagery in anime, using Kill la Kill and ME!ME!ME! to illustrate. 
As mentioned in the article above, prayer can certainly help when deciding what anime to consume and which to skip. [Anime Revolution]
In his celebration of Seraph of the End, Medieval Otaku mentions the atheistic view of the series’ vampires. [Medieval Otaku]
Speaking of Medieval Otaku, wonder what he’s been up to lately? Read all about it, including his jump into Angel Cop, which seems to make more obvious religious analogies than most series. 
In Charlotte, Yuu thinks no one knows his secret…but of course, Nao knows. And such discovery happens to us all – if not publicly, then between us and One other. [Christian Anime Review]
Unclear about what the characters mean when they say things in OreGairu? You’re not the only one. Perhaps they should have taken the apostle James’ advice on communication. 
Cana’s story in Fairy Tail demonstrates how becoming vulnerable can lead to transformation. [Geeks Under Grace]
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.
This season, the new show that surprised me with how much I liked it is Joukamichi no Dandelion, a.k.a. Castle Town Dandelion. The premise sounds like some kind of faux-reality-TV show: nine siblings of a royal family with superpowers mingle with commoners in a normal suburb, but they have their lives monitored by cameras as the public prepares to vote one sibling to become the next king. However, instead of drama, politics, and backstabbing, the show is actually a pleasant slice-of-life comedy about family and what it’s like to try to live relatively normal life despite being part of the royal family.
It helps that I can really relate to Akane, the fourth sibling and third sister of the household. She is painfully shy, easily embarrassed, and hates being the center of attention, and the fact that her father, the king, has surveillance cameras all over town, and that her life is an in-universe reality TV show, freaks her out. She talks about how she wants to be like a dandelion (title drop!), someone that people just ignore so she can live a quiet life. She even briefly considers becoming king so she can get rid of the cameras, before realizing that just being the king would expose her even more to people’s attention.
I completely understand how she feels, because I also do not like having a lot of attention on me. It’s why I prefer to help out with behind-the-scenes work rather than go out front as a leader or as the face of an operation. I can especially imagine how uncomfortable I would feel if my family decided to star in a reality TV show (do the kids of reality TV families even get a say on the matter?), or if I was born into the President’s family or some other royal-like family, with the general public watching my life.
There is one complication, though. I might not have been born into a royal family, but when I became a Christian, I was certainly adopted into one.