Category Archives: Christianity

Dealing with Doubt in Kotoura-san

Faith is a funny thing. It seems so easy to keep right up until the moment it is tested. It’s fine and dandy to trust when things are going good and I know exactly what is happening, but I always surprise myself by how quickly that faith can wobble when things get a little tough.

Kotoura goes through something similar with Manabe during one of their summer breaks when she does not know what he is doing. While Kotoura is used to rejection, she is not accustomed to not knowing what’s going on. Her psychic abilities allow her to hear the thoughts of everyone around her as if they were being spoken out loud.

Throughout her life, people have avoided and hated her for expressing their thoughts out loud. Even her parents reject her after her power causes trouble at school and she exposes that each of them is being unfaithful to the other.

k3

Read the rest of this entry

Annalyn’s Corner: Baby Steps and Believing in… Yourself?

The opening theme song in Baby Steps (both this season and last) includes three English words: “Believe in yourself.” Last year, I didn’t pay close attention to those words. In this season, the phrase “Believe in yourself” becomes more important than it did before. It’s a trite phrase, one we often repeat to each other, but I think it’s worth reconsidering, especially as a Christian.

Last season, Maruo Eiichiro started playing tennis because he needed the exercise. By the end of the first 25 episodes, he decided that he loved tennis enough to become a pro player. His parents were a little uncertain about the decision, so he agreed that if he didn’t win the next All Japan Junior tournament, he’d give up the dream and focus on studies. To that end, his coaches arranged for him to train in America for two weeks. Baby Steps 2 begins with his first days at the training facility.

Ei-chan (as his crush and I both prefer to call him) has been playing tennis for less than two years, and he’s already training alongside new pros and players who have been aiming for pro since before he started playing. It’s not easy. As he starts playing against all these excellent players, he settles into a “losing habit” that he can’t seem to break. In the second episode, a young pro, Alex, gives him the advice “believe in yourself.”

Ei-chan’s game starts to improve after his chat with Alex. By the fourth episode, he’s expanded on the advice:

“Believe in myself. I’ve come this far.”

“Believe in myself. And trust my instincts!”

The idea is that his training and talent will yield results if he believes in himself. He’s not totally wrong. If he believes he’ll lose, he probably will. Believing in his ability to win is crucial. But that’s not telling the whole story.

Ei-chan faces Alex in episode 4 of Baby Steps 2.

Ei-chan trusts his instincts as he faces Alex in Baby Steps 2 ep 4.

Now, I don’t think Ei-chan has a stupid level of self-confidence; he’s teachable, humble enough to see his need to grow, and can gracefully admit defeat. Still, I think it’s worth it to step back and reconsider the true place of self-confidence in the big picture. Read the rest of this entry

The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 9

For episode 9, we are excited to have Alexander (pseudonym: Lord Marlin), the administrator of Anime of Tomorrow and Affinity for Anime, as our guest. While a professing humanist or atheist, Alex has had an outstanding relationship with Beneath the Tangles and our staff. In order to capitalize on our unique guest for this month, we have changed our normal formula and, for this month only, the entire episode will be treated as a Q&A a la the normal “Listener Mail” portion of the podcast. We cover a variety of topics that I think you will all enjoy!

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 – 12:01
Q1: Favorite Anime of Spring 2015 – 15:58
Q2: Religious Symbols – 36:38
Q3: Biblical Interpretation – 1:03:17
Q4: Stretching Religious Observation – 1:29:28
Q5: Good Portrayals of Atheists – 1:33:33
Q6: Stories that Portray Religion Positively – 1:42:22
Conclusion – 1:51:23
Closer – 1:58:53

Direct Download

Note: Below are the links mentioned in the podcast:

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.

Inadequate Sacrifices in Fatal Frame

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.

FFIII_Miku_Camera_obscura

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Wolfwood and Vash: A Contrast in Faith

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.

Vash and Wolfwood

Reprinted with permission [http://bit.ly/1FQJW89]

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Nausicaä + Jazz = …Jesus?!

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.

…Anyway…

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!).

Read the rest of this entry

Gaming With God: Cloud Strife Finds Forgiveness

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.

Aerith-and-Zack

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.

tumblr_inline_njzw7gnI5O1qh6wo2

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

Annalyn’s Corner: Hollow Fulfillment in 2D and 3D Realities

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.

Uh... "Kami onii-sama"? You're looking more like an addict than a kami right now.

Uh… “Kami onii-sama”? You’re looking more like an addict than a kami right now.

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

Celestial Method: The End and a New Beginning

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…

This show was written by the writer of the Kanon 2006 anime, so it kind of goes with Key week, right?

…and if you’re watching along, you might want some tissues.

Warning: some… astronomical spoilers are coming. 

Read the rest of this entry

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,863 other followers