Category Archives: Buddhism

The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 12

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!

Time Stamps:
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

Direct Download

Note: Below are the links mentioned in the podcast:

Something More: Noragami Religion, Hopeless Black Butler, and Persecuting Naruto

The past two weeks have been overwhelming in terms of just how many articles have been posted relating to anime and religion/spirituality.  There’s so much to dig into – I hope you have as much fun reading through these articles as I did!

Are you headed to SuperCon at the end of this month?  If so, check out our own Samuru’s panel, “Finding God in Anime and Video Games.” [Gaming and God]

Part of what makes Noragami a fascinating series is how it tells us quite a bit about modern religion in Japan. [Fantastic Memes]

In times of weakness and pain, there we can find strength in something (or hopefully, someone) greater. Just see Iwasawa from Angel Beats as an example. [Old Line Elephant]

Speaking of Angel Beats, the most direct reference to God in the show is from Takeyama, who wants people to call him “Christ.”  Mmm…not so fast. [2]

Ciel from Black Butler believes that some people are beyond redemption…but the Bible and many examples from within (like Job) and without (St. Augustine) prove otherwise. [3]

The complete story of Oscar, as presented in Rose of Versailles, reminds us of the value of life itself. [Mage in a Barrel]

In response to Anime Reporter’s essay on homosexuality and the referendum for marriage quality in Ireland, aniblogger JekoJeko takes the question from a Christian point of view [Unnecessary Exclamation Mark!]

D.M. Dutcher offers some advice for Christian speculative fiction writers using Bubblegum Crisis as a basis. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

For Christians who feel persecution, they might find an odd bedfellow in Naruto. [Lady Teresa Christina]

The world of Haibane Renmei without a doubt shares some ideologies with Christianity. [Kidd’s Anime Blog]

I’m a month late on this article, but it’s more than worth linking to

Oregairu’s Hayato as Satan? In a sense… [Christian Anime Review]

Wiseman from Sailor Moon perhaps has some similarities to 2 Thessalonians’ man of lawlessness. [2]

Episode 3 of Re-Kan! gives us that common anime scene of a character who refuses to cry, then breaks down.  But why the resistance?  After all, “Jesus wept.” [3]

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.

TBT Readers Choice Winner: Natsume Yuujin-Cho

A month ago, TWWK offered all of the readers on this blog the opportunity to decide what anime you wanted me to review. I am stunned at the result. I never imagined that Natsume Yuujin-Cho would win, especially against Sword Art Online. Well anyway, prepare yourselves as I am about to begin.

Natsume Yuujin-Cho (aka Natsume’s Book of Friends) is a series I have watched twice and read four times. The story revolves around an orphaned boy named Natsume Takashi who has basically spent his entire childhood being passed from one family member to the next over and over again. He has spent his life being rejected and living in fear, when suddenly he is invited to stay with the Fujiwara’s. The Fujiwara’s are a childless older couple with distant family relation who choose to take Natsume in and want to care for him.

Natsume Yujin-cho 2


Natsume, however, tries to keep them at a distance as he fears that if they find out about his ability, they will get rid of him. Natsume’s ability is to see and be able to interact socially with yokai (or spirits.) This also means that they can interact with him and since he has such spiritual ability they perceive him as being tasty to eat. This causes lots of problems as other people can’t see the very real threats he deals with and describing them makes Natsume seem crazy. Then on top of all of this, there are a number of yokai out for revenge against him. Natsume comes to find out, after releasing the super powerful yokai named Madara, that he has inherited a book from his grandmother, who could also see yokai, in which she wrote down the names of the yokai she deceived. She wrote down their names and basically enslaved them. She however died very young, and Natsume inherited her book and her powers. Instead of using the names to control yokai, he with the help of Madara (aka Nyanko-sensei) give the names back. Natsume must do all of this while trying not to be eaten and not draw suspicion from his school friends and the Fujiwara’s.

I originally decided upon watching Natsume Yuujin-Cho after reading a review of one of the anime seasons written by Annalyn in 2012. I remember being really intrigued by her review, so I decided to give it a shot. The series did not disappoint. The show is slower than many other shows that I like, but in the case of Natsume Yuujin-Cho, it helps the audience learn about the characters and feel the effects of Natsume’s personal struggle. The muted art style allows for an almost poetic feeling of harmony, while the action sequences contrast the art and create a stronger effect without having to be flashy. The show flows smoothly between episodes and stories, but there is also a large amount of emotional tension. This tension is the driving force that keeps the audience engaged, waiting for whatever may be coming, like the flow of tension and release in a symphony piece. Natsume Yuujin-Cho remains one of my favorite anime because of the depth of character each character possess and the extraordinary amount of character growth through both personal and interpersonal ways. The story is really well written, and it carries the feel of a redeemable tragedy, that is leading into something more hopeful.

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Untangled: How Should a Christian React at a Japanese Shrine?

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.  Today’s question/comes courtesy of Hannah, who dives into anime, animation, and writing on her site, Lady Hannah Beth:

I take the martial art aikido in California at a Christian dojo, however, I am moving to Hawaii very soon and I would like to keep doing my aikido. I’ve looked at pictures of the new dojo in Hawaii on Facebook and my current Sensi says that the have a shinto shrine in the room where they practice. I heard Japes on the last podcast as he passed many shrines and buddhist graveyards on his walk while in Japan. My question is, as Christians, what should our reaction be when we come face to face with a shrine or we feel we are in a situation that seams spiritually off?

Japes seems to be the appropriate person to respond to this query – here’s what he had to say:

Hi Hannah,

This is a very common problem for many Christians who either have an interest in Japan, or end up going there for some other reason. I may, perhaps, be a bit on the liberal end of the spectrum in my answer, so take it with a grain of salt, but I can offer a bit of what my experiences have led me to believe.

When I visit these places, shrines (Shinto) and temples (Buddhist) in particular, I narrow down my response to two main influences:

  1. Am I compromising my beliefs?
  2. Am I compromising my community?

In answering the first question, everyone is a bit different. I’ve met Christians who believe that they feel a demonic presence at, for instance, Shinto shrines, and refuse to walk through the torii (the iconic Japanese gates) for fear of demonic influence. It is beyond the scope of this post and beyond my personal ability to judge whether or not these feelings are “accurate,” but I know that I feel differently. I personally LOVE visiting Shinto shrines for much the same reason I like visiting parks or gardens: they are purposefully placed in beautiful locations and kept to maintain some sense of that natural beauty. When I visit, I feel that I can thank God for the beautiful nature that He has created. Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Owari no Family, Humble Vegeta, and Job of Angel Beats’

There are weeks on Something More where I need to dig and prod to find articles for linking.  This is not, however, one of those weeks, as the blogosphere has produced almost a dozen wonderful articles about anime and religion/spirituality.

Eugene Woodbury discusses Japanese Buddhism from a pop cultural perspective, referencing Gingitsune among other anime series. [Eugene Woodbury]

He does the same with Shinto, mentioning Noragami, Kamichu!, and other shows. [2]

It is any surprise that the actions of one of most known and best priest characters in anime, Nicholas D. Wolfwood (Trigun), would teach us theology? [Cajun Samurai]

Owari no Seraph speaks to the value of the family, ironic in a series that looks at family unconventionally and perhaps at sex in a faulty way. [Medieval Otaku]

Dragonball Z’s Vegeta may be the poster child for ego, but his actions often speak to the opposite: humility. [Geeks Under Grace]

One piece of proverbial wisdom is to seek advice from many advisers; but if your advisers are unwise, well, you get the absurd consequences of episode 3 of Plastic Memories. [2]

Dig a little into Gurren Lagann, and you might find an interpretation of Plato’s allegory of the cave and a case for divine illogic. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

Is God fair? Yuki of Angel Beats! doesn’t think so, but perhaps her backstory (and the story of Job) can teach us a little about the concept of fairness. [Old Line Elephant]

The vital importance of forgiveness – both to give and receive – is a heavy theme in Koe no Katachi. [Famous Rose]

More wisdom from Proverbs this week, as Rob tells us Hikigaya’s methods in OreGairu are ungodly and unwise. [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.  If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK to be included.

Something More: Plastic Religious Memories, Steins;gate Heaven, and Sinful Pokemon

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.

Something More: Kill la Cross, Madoka’s Universal Church, and Sailor Moon Mythology

Welcome to the first of our more sporadic version of Something More.  The blogosphere has been resplendent in it’s spiritual-related articles the last couple of week, regarding anime series both current and classic.

Christian symbolism runs rampant in Kill la Kill, as do opportunities to discuss Christian themes and ideas, particularly as they relate to clothing, in the series. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

The Spice and Wolf light novels paint God as malicious, but does this really to his true character? [Medieval Otaku]

Christianity plays a role, at least superficially, in countless anime series, as Eugene Woodbury states:

At the same time, in terms of theology, the suggestively Catholic Haibane Renmei can stand beside any of C.S. Lewis’s work as a powerful Christian parable. The same is true of anime such as Madoka Magica and Scrapped Princess, though you may have to look harder to see through the metaphors.

But he also goes on to suggest that the Japanese view toward the faith may rather reveal a positive view for many of the country’s feelings toward religion as compared to western ones. [Eugene’s Blog]

Speaking of Madoka, Woodbury recently explained that the series is “an exploration of the doctrine of universal reconciliation.” [2]

Is Mushi-shi a fatalistic series? Perhaps quite the contrary… [Organizational ASG]

To the tune of Christian themes, there’s more to A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd than meets the eye. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Sailor Moon draws more than merely character names from Greco-Roman mythology. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

And continuing with Sailor Moon, episode 14 of Sailor Moon Crystal emphasizes the power of prayer…even if it is to the Crystal Tower. [Geeks Under Grace]

The dividing of the girls in episode 5 of KanColle brings to mind the discomfort the early Christians must have felt as they started their mission. [2]

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.

Something More: Religion at Katsucon, Hinduism in Death Parade, and Heaven in Wolf’s Rain

Truth be told, this week’s post was intended to be the last regular column of Something More.  I felt that especially with an umber of the writers we feature here having recently joined our site, the column had outlived its usefulness.  That was still my thought this morning, until I realized just how many spirituality-related articles were posted in the aniblogosphere this week.  And so, we continue forward, though it should be noted that Something More may post on more a biweekly schedule from this point forward.

And now, onto this week’s articles!

At Katsucon this weekend? Then you’ll no doubt want to check out Charles Dunbar’s panels on Japan and religion. [Study of Anime]

If you’ve noticed the religious allusions in Death Parade, you’re not the only one – it’s chock full of Buddhist, Shinto, and especially Hindu imagery, and may also have something to tell us in alignment with the last of those three religious philosophies. [Isn’t it Electrifying?]

The first episode of Super Sonico demonstrates to us how fanservice can reveal adulterous desires. [Old Line Elephant]

The concepts of sin and repentance surprisingly find themselves instilled in an ecchi game, Criminal Girls, Invite Only. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

She’ll spend an upcoming post on religion, but even this week’s post regarding queerness, the first in a series on Kill la Kill, makes some mention of Christian imagery and ideas. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

The wolves in Wolf’s Rain seek a literal paradise, but is that what they need? And how does that compare to what otaku seek? [Black Strawberry]

Episode 3 of KanColle demonstrates to us a principle recorded in the Book of James: tomorrow is not guaranteed. [Geeks Under Grace]

Could a solution to the way women are represented in games be found in the understanding of sinful nature? [2]

Adam Ledford completes his series on the history of Christianity in Japan by discussing the Shimabara Rebellion and the faith in Japan following the failed rebellion. [Tofugu]

As part of the Something More series of posts, each week 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 if you’d like it included.

Something More: Islam and Anime, KanColle Christians, and Dying Shinto Trees

Could this be called a world report version of Something More? This week, we have stories from Japan, of course, but also from Indonesia and, why not, we can say that a KonColle article is international, too!  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

In Indonesia, Muslim otaku reconcile their faith and anime, perhaps surprisingly even accepting fujoshi members among them. [The Indonesian Anime Times]

Arima’s feelings about his mother in Your Lie in April bring to mind how Christians have the presence of Christ within them. [Geeks Under Grace]

Christians, too, should carry one another’s burdens, as the girls do in KanColle. [Christian Anime Review]

Look who joined Beneath the Tangles! Medieval Otaku will bring his unique perspective here, while continuing the work on his own excellent site. [Medieval Otaku]

And finally, though not directly anime related, suburbanbanshee has a number of interesting posts this week regarding religion in Japan:

  • Japanese Docetism Central [Aliens in This World]
  • Japan’s Meiji Period Persecution of Buddhists [2]
  • Someone is Killing the Shinto Trees of Japan [3]

As part of the Something More series of posts, each week 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 if you’d like it included.  Thank you to Lauren Orsini, whose Otaku Links column provided me with the story about otaku in Indonesia.


Secret Santa: Mouryou no Hako

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.

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