Category Archives: Religion
A new season of anime is upon us! And it’s been…underwhelming? Still, there are interesting series here and there, and a few that provide us with something a little deeper to think about as well.
Jimmy Kudo’s transformation into Detective Conan teaches us about humility and servant leadership. [Kendall Lyons]
The Steins;gate of that named series makes an interesting metaphor for Heaven. [Famous Rose]
Yuri of Angel Beats! declares her hate for God, but underneath, is she looking for the hope that God provides? [Old Line Elephant]
Medieval Otaku is taking a hiatus from blogging (including from here on Beneath the Tangles), but unsurprisingly, leaves us with some Christian wisdom in a post that discusses Ashita no Joe, Maria the Virgin Witch, and Gokukoku no Brynhildr.
The Japanese’ pragmatic and syncretic approach to religion applies to in anime as well as in real life, with Devilman and Evangelion shining as examples. [Ogiue Maniax]
Draggle wasn’t impressed with the theology expressed in Maria the Virgin Witch. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]
Dee mentions Buddhist themes among those that complicate Plastic Memories. [The Josei Next Door]
Plastic Memories can also be approached through a Christian perspective, particularly in light of what scripture tells us about giving love. [Geeks Under Grace]
The opening episode of Re-Kan! provides a example of faith can be. [Christian Anime Review]
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the flap this week in which a site claimed that the much-derided Creflo Dollar (he of the “my congregation should buy me a new jet”) espoused the evils of Pokemon in a sermon. Although a number of outlets picked up on the story and had fun with it, the source article never links to such a sermon. [Christnews]
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.
People are drawn to the horror game genre for different reasons. For me, I enjoy the challenge of desperate survival in an eerie atmosphere and satisfying that “Why is something like this happening?” curiosity.
Fatal Frame is one of my favorite horror series because it creates that tense atmosphere and puts plenty of story behind even the minor ghosts in the game. It doesn’t overly rely on blood, gore, and shock value and it uses a camera as the main weapon adding the horror element of having to look through a lens for much of the time.
Many Fatal Frame games revolve around some ancient religious ritual that remained very secretive over the years and required some sort of human sacrifice. The purpose of the sacrifice generally relates to hell or the other side. Closing the gate to hell, keeping something from coming out of the other side, appeasing something from hell, etc. The sacrifice goes wrong because of the actions or feelings of the person being sacrificed and terrible consequences ensue.
There’s a distinction between a Christian in name only and one in practice. You don’t have to proclaim yourself a Christian to know as much – those outside the faith can see the actions of, say, the Westboro Baptist Church and without much knowledge still firmly state that these folks are not practicing the faith as Jesus taught it. It’s only a skip and a beat to Christian characters in anime, who aren’t there to preach the gospel to a nation that’s 99% non-Christian, but rather to color a series by bringing in a background that might provide for interesting storytelling. And so when you see a priest character, like Nicholas D. Wolfwood of Trigun, you understand as a viewer that this character is probably developed as a Christian in name, not in spirit.
What’s interesting about Trigun, though, is that Wolfwood is saved spiritually in part through the words of an unbelieving plant. And even more surprising is this – that “plant,” Vash the Stampede, is a better example of faith than his seemingly spiritual counterpart.As we delve into the topic of faith, it’s probably a good idea to get a good definition of it. The writer of Hebrews defines it as such:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
– Hebrews 11:1
This definition is significant in a variety of ways. Since many might focus on the idea that we “do not see” when it comes to faith, one could easily make the assumption that having “faith,” in a Christian sense, means that you believe blindly. That’s an easy conclusion to make, but it would be a wrong one. Not being able to see doesn’t mean making irrational jumps based on emotion and upbringing and whatever else leads one blindly to religion – it means trusting in one’s belief even if you can’t see it right now. Even when the road is difficult and you’re in despair, a strong faith will lead you to lean on your belief even when you can’t see it played out in action.
Ask any of my close friends what my favorite genre of music is. Seriously, ask anyone. If they don’t say jazz, please tell me. I will promptly cut all ties with that person and move on with my life as a happier individual, having removed one more false friendship.
When I say this, I am kidding of course. I would also accept J-Pop and progressive rock.
As an avid listener of jazz and watcher of anime, I am always excited to stumble across an avenue where I can mix both of these interests. Most recently, this avenue came in the form of Western jazz group, Rasmus Faber. As few and far between as anime jazz groups are these days, they are still popular enough (and becoming more so) so as to not come as an enormous surprise. However, when listening to Rasmus Faber’s “Platina Jazz ~Anime Standards Vol.3~”, I was amazed to find a third passion of mine enflamed: theology.
I have often contended that Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (「風の谷のナウシカ」) provides one of anime’s greatest examples of Jesus Christ as portrayed in holistic Christianity. However, before I spoil the rest of the article for you, valued readers, I would like to show you what exactly mixed theology, jazz, and anime (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind).
Below I have included a video to a live performance of “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (from “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”)” from “Platina Jazz ~Anime Standards Vol.3~” as well as my own transcription of the lyrics. Take a listen (and a read!).
Personally, I loved the CGI movie, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and felt it was one of the best video game movies ever made (we don’t have much to work with). This is not a review of the movie itself, though I might write one; this is about a scene that I noticed while watching it. There are a little bit of spoilers ahead, but if you honestly have never played Final Fantasy VII then it’s no big deal.
The scenes that I want to highlight are around the end (see video below). Cloud is being dropped into a baptismal pool in the middle of a church and he is healed of the Geostigma after being infected. While he is in the water, he has a vision of Aerith and Zack who were his friends that have passed on. Cloud struggled with not being able to forgive himself because of the death of Aerith (the girl that speaks to him in the vision) that he felt was his fault.
With his eyes closed and several hands on him, he wakes up to see several children in the water with him who also has been healed. He begs with his hand for Denzel (one of the main children of the movie) to come in and be healed. He takes the water and dips it over his head as the Geostigma washes away, as if he was being baptized. It’s so interesting to see the spiritual implications here from the water being used for healing to the baptism being done in the middle of a church.
Cloud accepts Aerith’s death and receives forgiveness in his soul as she departs out the church’s doors with Zach. He sees them leave, but he knows he is at peace now. Read the rest of this entry
I just re-watched the last couple episodes of The World God Only Knows, aka Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai, most easily called KamiNomi (season 1). This time, I noticed the fulfillment Keima seems to find in his obsessive approach to dating sims, and the pride he takes in it. I think many otaku, including me, have felt similarly about our habits… sometimes to our detriment.
Quick Summary: This anime centers around Katsuragi Keima, a gamer who specializes in dating sims—in fact, he’s so good at these, he’s called the “Capturing God,” and otaku look up to him. Even the “demons” have heard of Keima’s expertise. One such demon, Elsie, misunderstands his reputation. She recruits him for a very important task: capturing Lost Souls. This task, much to Keima’s dismay, requires him to woo and rescue girls in real life, which takes a lot of time away from his gaming.
A Note on Religion: When I first heard of KamiNomi, I was suspicious. “The World God Only Knows“? Isn’t that a little… blasphemous? But God, as in the God, isn’t really talked about, and His power isn’t so much questioned as ignored, as in most anime. And the demons? We’re not talking about Satan’s crew, I assure you, though a couple elements of Christian tradition are incorporated. There’s some Buddhist imagery, too, when after-images of Keima’s arms make him look like a certain bodhisattva. In sequel seasons, Greek and Roman mythology is incorporated. This collection of religion and myth is not meant to be taken seriously—it’s a comedy.
Okay, housekeeping over. Let’s dive into the part of the post that makes me squirm:
Keima avoids interacting with the real world as much as possible. He proudly devotes every waking minute to dating sims—he’ll even play them while he’s running in gym class. Most people consider his lifestyle unhealthy, but he claims it’s fulfilling.
Keima’s obsession with his games is most fully shown in the last episode, when he finally gets a decent-length break from capturing Lost Souls. It’s not like he was completely cut off from gaming during the last eleven episodes, but he didn’t get enough. Apparently, like many long-time addicts, he needs higher doses of his drug for full effect.
It’s natural to spend a lot of time doing something you love. Others don’t always understand it. As a result, many of us are used to waving off their concerned comments about our anime-watching, gaming, etc. Read the rest of this entry
Opinions are fairly divided on this show, but I personally enjoyed Celestial Method (a.k.a. Sora no Method) a lot. And since the show did get some regular coverage before TWWK could no longer cover the show, I thought I would go ahead and close up the show with a look at its final arc. As it turns out, that final arc actually has some connections to the Easter story, and Easter was not that long ago, so let us see just what the end of Celestial Method has for us…
Warning: some… astronomical spoilers are coming.
It’s that time of the year again when new anime come out to play! We’ve got one post on a new series below, and number about shows that have completed their runs.
Taylor zeroes in on Satsuki of Kill la Kill as a divine figure. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]
Medieval Otaku dives into the medievalness of Maria the Virgin Witch, discussing how accurate the series was to that historic time, including how the show portrayed “heretics.” [Medieval Otaku]
Romance is discussed often in the bible, the absurdities of which are on full display in Urusei Yatsura. 
Nameko Families, an anime about anthropomorphic mushrooms, can tell us a lot about Christian love and forgiveness in a marriage. [Old Line Elephant]
A Christian newspaper in Japan is featuring a religious slice-of-life manga, whose protagonist is named Pyuuri-tan. [Kotaku]
Did you catch the St. Augustine quote in the first episode of Gunslinger Stratos? [Aliens in This World]
iblessall saves her lowest rating of the 2015 winter anime season for Maria the Virgin Witch, largely for it’s misrepresentation of Christianity. [Mage in a Barrel]
The finale for KanColle evokes teachings about the body of Christ. [Christian Anime Review]
As part of the Something More series of posts, Beneath the Tangles links to writings about anime and manga that involve religion and spirituality. Thanks to Laura of Heart of Manga for pointing me toward the Pyuuri-tan news! If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK to be included.
Have you ever heard this one? Three Christians and an atheist walk into a…
Oh wait. That’s actually not a joke – it’s our next podcast episode. At the end of this month, I’ll be joining The Tangles’ hosts, Japes and Sean, and a special guest as we talk about anime, religion, and the intersection between the two.
This is where you come in. We need your questions to help stimulate discussion for the podcast. Please leave one or two (or more) below. Here’s what we’re looking for:
- Questions about Christianity, atheism, or anything else related to religion – feel free to get personal if you’d like.
- Questions religion in anime, whether superficially or thematically
Thanks in advance, all!
As anime grows increasingly popular and etches its place in popular culture, more and more individuals and groups have focused on what we do here – finding an intersection between anime and Christianity. Besides the multitude of blogs that now explore this arena, artists, writers, and entrepreneurs are developing products that bring together anime and faith, crossing creativity with a mission mindset. Inside Surrendering is one such venture, offering “entertaining and purposeful products, art and stories that best represent what the true Gospel is all about: Love, Grace, and Truth.”
I recently interviewed Tim and Yavanna, the company’s founders:
Tim: We originally came up with the idea for Inside Surrendering back in October of 2013. Yavanna and I had met earlier that year in April, and we almost immediately knew we wanted to do ministry together – we just weren’t sure what kind of ministry it would be. I myself was very familiar with the anime convention scene and already had a desire to one day start a convention ministry. Once I learned about Yavanna’s own desire to minister to people through her art, it just made sense to start something like this.
Yavanna: Tim and I originally had a lot of ideas of how we wanted to go into ministry. We were kind of all over the place, and maybe a little too ambitious about wanting to reach EVERYBODY in the world. We even had the idea of starting a church at one point. In the end, what it came down to was focusing on what gifts we had, and who we could reach with those gifts. We love Jesus, but we’re also huge nerds, and combining those two passions is what led us to wanting to go into a ministry of reaching out to fellow nerds, geeks and otaku.
TWWK: Did you have any hesitation about diving into this venture?
Tim: I wouldn’t say that there was much hesitation in the beginning, but there was a lot of doubt. Christianity is very misunderstood among our fellow young people today, maybe even more so in the otaku community. So we weren’t sure how to go about presenting the Gospel to them, or how well it might be received, if at all.
Yavanna: There was a little bit of hesitation. I mean, personally, I questioned and doubted myself a lot. I wasn’t sure if I could bring glory to Jesus with my art, if it was good enough, or if it would even help people. And there were quite a few times where Tim and I were discouraged by the world we live in, and wondered if we could even make a difference. But, thankfully, Jesus has always been there to pull us through.