Category Archives: Christianity

The Wheat and the Weeds in Psycho Pass

Psycho Pass follows Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division in a futuristic Japan. The most notable thing about this futuristic world is how most things in a person’s life are determined by the program SIBYL and the person’s psycho pass, meaning basically their mental state. A bad psycho pass with a “crime coefficient” that is too high can land someone in jail or at a facility with no options, labeled as a ” latent criminal.”

One latent criminal’s life, Shusei Kagari, was over at 5 years old when the system labeled him as such.

pp

The way the system is set up made me think of the parable of the wheat and the weeds and how it is sometimes interpreted in real life. In the parable, a man is growing a field of wheat when his enemy comes and scatters seeds of weeds throughout the field. When the weeds start growing, the man tells his servants to leave them with the wheat until the harvest. After they are collected and separated, one goes in the storehouse and one goes in the fire. The wheat and weeds of course symbolizing good and bad people. Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Catholicism in Baby Steps, Religion of Eureka Seven, and Idolizing K-On!

What a week for spiritual articles in the blogosphere!  Check out the abundance of posts linked below, a number from bloggers and writers who don’t usually write about religion:

Josiah Harrist beautifully weaves his experiences as the child of missionaries with his viewings of many Studio Ghibli classics. [Christ and Pop Culture]

M.S. O’Brien looks into the Catholic character of Ogata from Baby Steps! [Aliens in This World]

Frank continues to analyze Barakamon from a Christian perspective, finding a number of such themes in episodes seven and eight. [A Series of Miracles]

Frank also looks a yuri-slanted friendships in anime and considers them comparable to the “heavenly friendship” between David and Jonathan of the Old Testament. [2]

R042 dives into the ideas about religion in the world of Eureka Seven in analysis of episode 40. [Ideas Without End]

Medieval Otaku finds the simplicity, tenacity, joy, and dependence of Jinbee in Mushibugyo a model of sainthood. [Medieval Otaku]

Rob uses a picture of a K-On! figma collection to ask questions about idolatry and hobby collecting. [Geeks Under Grace]

Annalyn looks to Fruits Basket, Kuroko’s Basketball, One Week Friends, and Dear Boys for examples of characters who demonstrates a selfless, biblical love. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

Ogiue Maniax looks to a religious example to illustrate the arrogance of the Orbital Knights in Aldnoah.zero. [Ogiue Maniax]

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.

Terror in Resonance Episode 9: Two-Way Gospel

The rules and structure of the early episodes of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) have long been forgotten.  We’re now on a tense, thrilling ride to the end, where uncovering of the truth and simply guessing what will happen next leads to breathtaking moments as much as the action sequences.

Episode nine of Terror in Resonance follows our three heroes, who only a couple of episodes ago were briefly brought together, as they go separate ways.  Nine speeds up Sphinx’s ultimate plan; Shibazaki finds out the horrible truth; and Twelves dives into a trap to rescue Lisa.

zankyo no terror

First, let’s talk Shibazaki, whose heroics continue to enthrall.  Though his storyline could be mundane and boring, Shinichiro Watanabe uses his character well to uncover the past of Five, Nine, Twelve, and the other children (who we now know did not survive).  It’s a wonderful plot device, as we grow to root for another character whose journey garners our interest, when more conventional anime storytelling would have just revealed the entire background in flashback sequences.

Shibazaki’s investigation in this episode also further reveals the deep, troublesome questions at the heart of the series – the depths of evil that humanity is capable of.  Indeed, the comparison is made to the awful experiments that the Nazis conducted on undesirables, which fits more than just at a surface level.  The older gentleman that Shibazaki and his partner question seems quite reasonable, and indeed, he tries to subtly shift blame for his activities.  But Shibazaki directs a question to him, and to the audience as well – at what point are we complicit, where standing idly by, or just following directions, makes us culpable in wrong?  The depravity of humanity is such that too many people, both in the past (particularly during World War II) and today, cross that line and never turn back.

Read the rest of this entry

Fact Check: Claymore Teresa’s Only Thing to Live For

Created and developed far from Europe and the Americas, and conceived in a country where less than 1% of the populace is Christian, manga could hardly be called out for inaccurately portraying Christianity.  It would be silly for calling out mangaka for getting the story of Christ wrong or for presenting the Bible as “just another religion.”  Still, manga is full of religious references to God and gods, which presents a great opportunity to discuss matters of spirituality.  And that’s the idea behind this new series of posts, Fact Check, in which I’ll investigate some of the claims of anime and manga characters and weigh them against the truth of scripture.

Warning: Today’s post is part of a HUGE spoiler from recent chapters of Claymore.

The Claim

Today’s claim comes from Teresa, Claymore extraordinaire and perhaps the greatest of all her type (until her shocking demise).  In chapter 150, Teresa has returned as someone transforming from within Clare, and during these sequences, she has a conversation with former protege:

Teresa of the Faint Smile

So, the claim is this: If God exists, in Teresa’s view, she has only one thing for which to be thankful. Read the rest of this entry

Blue Spring Ride Episode 10: Realization and Confession

The more I watch Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride), the more I see myself in Futaba.  And that’s unsettling, not because of her faults, but lately because of her strengths, which are more on display in episode ten than in any of the others to date.

This episode begins where the last left off, with the group of five new friends continuing to study at Kou’s residence, though now, Futuba is unable to concentrate as the envy bug has bitten her.  In the last episode, it was Yuri who felt envy at the special relationship between Kou and Futuba, but now it’s the other girl’s turn to feel the same as she wonders what the “nothing” is that the her friend and ex share.  It eats her up inside and, as is her character, Futaba is so consumed with it that she goes back to Kou’s house, after everyone has left, to confront him.  And there she discovers the secret that Yuri had stepped into – Kou’s mother is deceased, and this is the reason for his change in personality.

Ao haru ride

So sly, Futuba, with eyes not looking at the study material. So sly.

This sequence of events is probably something most of us can relate to.  We think one thing of a person and later find out that we failed to realize something else.  For instance, we might honk at a car in front of us who’s driving far below the speed limit, only to pass it and find an elderly person behind the wheel (though to be honest, we might’ve honked even knowing that).  Or we might get mad at a friend who’s late for dinner, only to later discover it wasn’t her fault.

In my life, this episode was timely, as I had just finished having an episode of my own with my wife.  Our fights sometimes work along these lines – one person gets mad at the other for being inconsiderate or not supportive enough, only to find that the other person has a burden of his or her own and just didn’t have enough left to give.  And per usual, once this comes out, understanding abounds and both sides pour out love and forgiveness.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Jesusmonogatari, GGO’s False Prophet, and Christian Writers on Ghibli

School is back in session for most students, which means that summer is coming to a close.  That means the fall season of anime is just around the corner.  Can you believe it?  But writers continue to blog wonderful articles for the shows coming to a close for the summer season, including those below.

Medieval writes that Nisemonogatari “wished to scoff at a central tenet of Christianity,” as he describes allusions in the series to Christ and the Virgin Mary. [Medieval Otaku]

Frank continues to find excellent lessons for Christian living in Hanayamata, this time looking at episodes 7 and 8 and at lessons in discouragement and transformation [A Series of Miracles]

D.M. Dutcher finds in Yurika of Rokujyoma?! a character who shares similar struggles to evangelizing Christians. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

In reviewing episode eight of Sword Art Online 2, Rob warns of “false prophets” as he describes symbolic gestures by Death Gun. [Christian Anime Review]

The writers at Christ and Pop Culture show their appreciation for Studio Ghibli in reminiscing about some of their favorite films from the studio. [Christ and Pop Culture]

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.

Terror in Resonance Episode 8: Orphans

 And now we’re grown up orphans
And never knew their names
We don’t belong to no one
That’s a shame
But you could hide beside me
Maybe for a while
And I won’t tell no one your name
And I won’t tell ‘em your name

After the thrilling action in the last episode of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror), episode eight tunes down the action, while still keeping the tone nervous and tense.  Five discovers the apartment at which Nine, Twelve, and Lisa are staying and blows it up.  And though the group relocates, a guilty Lisa leaves the guys, and in the process gets herself captured.

zankyou no terror episode 8

Meanwhile, Shibazaki, now effectively forced from being a detective, continues his investigation, and finds out what the audience had likely guessed, that all this can be traced back to experimentation on “gifted” orphans – namely Five, Nine, and Twelve among a host of others taken from orphanages.

The vileness of the actions against these kids, seven years ago, is obvious, but maybe expected.  This is, after all, what crooked politicians do in anime and movies – immoral things to advance their goals without thinking about how it destroys others.  Their tinkering has come back to haunt them, of course, in the forms both of Sphinx and of Five, a monster they’ve unleashed.

Their target made sense – after all, who would miss a group of orphans?  That must have been the officials’ pattern of thought as they took children away from churches andp other institutions.  They experimented on them, hurt them, and stripped the children of their identities, so much so that they didn’t even keep their names, hence the numbers by which they know one another.

Read the rest of this entry

Free! Eternal Summer Episode 10: And Make Disciples of All Swimmers

I’m not a terribly big fan of Free!  I really don’t remember season one too well, and two has been meh for me as well.  But beginning with the last episode, the series has really picked up, and in episode ten, it does something really unexpected – it takes all the build up from this season and a lot from the last and makes it pay off in a way that doesn’t feel pushy or unnatural.  In that way, episode ten felt, well, kinda free.

In this week’s episode, the focus lands squarely upon Sousuke, as he finally gets a chance to shine.  As the emphasis of the lesser subplot this season, Sousuke doesn’t get a super thorough back story, but the few minutes spent on it in this episode were enough.  We view Rin through Sousuke’s eyes, and see how Rin’s actions and thoughts through the years impacted him and ultimately helped turn him into a better person, one who once approached swimming selfishly, but now did it purely for friendship, even through physical pain.

Sousuke Yamazaki

…together as a team – a total change in the “why”

But note this – Sousuke doesn’t take that final step toward making change in his life until he sees Rin compete in the relay with Makoto, Nagisa, and Haru.  In that moment, the climax of season one, Rin became a “true believer.”  And in that moment, Rin and the Iwatoba team served as witnesses to Sousuke, who would eventually transform as well.

Notice the way the personal transformation in this series works.  Through demonstrating love toward Rin, the Iwatoba boys help push Rin toward change.  By demonstrating a loving coaching style toward his team, his teammates do the same.  And by showing love for one another, Sousuke is pushed toward change.  All this transformation is almost infectious.

Read the rest of this entry

Anime Today: Post-Modern Monogatari

*Note: This article has been written in such a way to be completely SPOILER-FREE. Read without fear of spoilers!*

Christianity has, in the past few decades, had a confusing relationship with the post-modern movement and its refutation of objectivity. On one hand, many Christians agree with post-modernism’s skepticism of modern culture, skepticism of everything really, and acknowledge the possibility of many different existences or ideas. However, on the other hand, many Christians simultaneously disagree with these same notions that nix the possibility of one true objective belief and one true objective God. A sticky situation (and one that I’m sure most post-modernists would love to discuss for that reason!).

My goal here today is not to sway you one way or the other, but rather to reflect some of my appreciation for the healthy dose of skepticism and reliance upon symbolism and metaphor that post-modernism has either caused, or at least brought to society’s (relatively) recent attention.

In the scheme of anime and otaku culture, the recent release of Hanamonogatari, the latest entry in the Monogatari (or 物語, literally meaning “Story”) series well-known for its “off-the-beaten-path” directing style, reminded me of this modern skepticism that pervades today’s culture. In no other series will you find the same kind of dialogue, story-writing, art direction, and cinematography together in one piece of media. In fact, Shaft (the studio responsible for the series) has turned the Monogatari series into something of a trademark of theirs, to the extent that any other work of theirs, even from before the first entry in the Monogatari series, Bakemonogatari, can be traced to it in some fashion.

And what word best describes this inimitable (though oft-attempted) style?

Symbolism.

hanamonogatari 1

Not actually faceless, yet they are still represented as such.

Though perhaps not as overt as it is in the Monogatari series, symbolism is something that forms the very basis of the works that we collectively refer to as “classics.” Literature like Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, The Lord of the Rings… the list goes on. Although symbolism is still employed in modern works, it is perhaps less of a lost art (though it seems to me that it sees less attention in modern writing than it once did) as much as it has lost appreciation, or maybe simply an audience interested in appreciating it.

And thus I draw a comparison between biblical imagery and Hanamonogatari.

Read the rest of this entry

Blue Spring Ride, Episode 9: Friends and Lovers

As Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) progresses, so, too, do the relationships in the show.  Unlike other series, Ao Haru Ride throws five characters together who are fairly new to each other.  There is some history there, but none of these people have been in any others’ social group before.  We’re getting to see a quick evolution of a group of friends, and for some, a growth into something further.

Much of the continued emphasis in episode nine is on the love triangle between Kou, Futuba, and Yuri.  The familiarity between Kou and Futuba remains, and this worries a jealous Yuri, who thinks that Kou might already be in love with his former crush.  So in turn, Yuri tries to get closer to Kou, and perhaps does in some way, though both Futuba and the audience is left in suspense as to what (and what did not) occur.

But even with an emphasis on romantic relationships, the friendships are still an important part of the plot in this series.  In this episode, Kominato’s deepening friendship with Kou is on full display, as he aggressively defends his friend when some arrogant former classmates of Kou’s harangue him over a perceived lack of intelligence.

Kou Mabuchi and Kominato

Kou is taken aback by Kominato standing up for him (as much as the “stoic” Kou can be).  It’s a powerful witness when someone stands up for you, taking on the potential blame, insult, punishment, and pain to help you.  We’ve probably all been in a situation where someone has acted in that way on our behalf; how great it feels to have someone else put themselves on the line for us!

Read the rest of this entry