Category Archives: Shintoism

Something More: Baby Steps Christian Coaching, One Week Friends’ Bible, and Divinity of the Japanese Language

I’ve skipped posting this column for the last several weeks – apologies!  Thankfully, we’re returning this week with a number of very engaging articles and reviews:

Frank makes some wonderful connections between Kaori’s journal in One Week Friends and the most significant book for Christians, the Bible. [A Series of Miracles]

In Hunter x Hunter‘s moral ambiguity, Annalyn sees an analogy to postmodernist views of right and wrong. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

D.M. Dutcher has a problem with Baby Steps, suggesting that a coach could serve Ei-chan well, which isn’t a whole lot different from what Christians also need. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

The Oxford Dictionaries blog delves into the Japanese idea of kotodama, a divinity of the country’s language. [OxfordWords Blog]

Rob reviews recent episodes of a number of shows, including The World Is Still Beautiful [1], The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Moral Behavior [2], and One Week Friends [3]. [Christian Anime Review]

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: The Trinity in Lagrange and Season End Reviews

With the anime season coming to an end, it’s the usual time for wrap-up posts on the series we’ve been watching the last three months.  Most of our links this week are to reviews of full series or of recent episodes:

Jonathan provides his usual insightful commentary as he reviews Noragami, including some notes on Shinto religion. [FunBlog]

D.M. Dutcher watches Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne, and is surprised to find “even minor Christian themes in what looked to be a disposable robot anime.” [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Rob continues his anime reviews from a Christian focus, with posts on recent episodes of Engaged to the Unidentified [Christian Anime Review], Chuu2 [Christian], and The Pilot’s Love Song [Christian].

Manga Hero put together a good list of links to help discerning viewers decide whether or not to watch the new Noah film. [Manga Hero]

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: Cain and Abel in Shiki, Anime in the Christian Life, and 7 Unholy Priests

I didn’t post a column last week, and what a week to skip – there were a number of provocative articles regarding anime and spirituality.  But that just means that this column, I’m including twice as much goodness!

Frank tells how Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha paints a picture of the Christian relationship with God, despite it being structured in a Shinto world. [A Series of Miracles]

Medieval Otaku explores the Cain and Abel story as given in Shiki. [Medieval Otaku]

Jay gives his thoughts on the e-book, “Teenager Today – Anime Fanaticism: Is it Spiritually Harmful?” [Deremoe]

Rob talks about conforming to the things of the world (especially anime), and gives advice about conforming to thing above. [Christian Anime Review]

Last week, Lynzee Lamb gave “7 Unholy Priests” in her column, “The List.”  Was there anyone you would have included that Lynzee did not? [Anime News Network]

Katie reviews Neon Genesis Evangelion from a Christian perspective. [Breaking Metal Windows]

I don’t know if this counts as “spiritual,” but it is fun: D.M. Dutcher counts down the five best moments from anime apocalypses. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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. 

Hayao Miyazaki’s Common Grace

Legendary animator, Hayao Miyazaki, has long been teased for his habit of retiring and then returning to work shortly thereafter.  But last September, when he again announced his retirement, the buzz felt a little different.  The then 72-year-old admitted that his hands, the critical tools of an animator, could no longer function like they once did.  Further, his most recent film, the historically-tinged The Wind Rises, seemed like a fitting epilogue to the filmmaker’s illustrious career.

Miyazaki’s films, mostly produced through his Studio Ghibli animation company, have garnered extensive honors, including the Academy Award for Best Animated Film (for 2002’s Spirited Away).  The Wind Rises is currently up for that same award this year (and opens widely in the U.S. tomorrow).  But while his movies have generated massive box office returns in Miyazaki’s home country (The Wind Rises was Japan’s top grossing film in 2013), Studio Ghibli films have made only modest inroads in the U.S. market.

Why have his movies, acclaimed by filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and John Lasseter, and serving as inspiration for Disney animators, failed to gain traction in the U.S.?  The answer may lie in the unfamiliar cultural references in Miyazaki’s films.  Japanese animation (aka anime) embraces that country’s religious practices, and as such, many of Miyazaki’s films feature a heavy dose of Shinto spirituality.

But even in a movie like Princess Mononoke, set in a world populated by anthropomorphic animal gods, familiar themes emerge.  Taking place in the ancient past, Princess Mononoke features the young prince Ashitaka, who is searching for a cure to a curse placed upon him by a dying god.  His travels lead him to an iron-smelting town established by the enigmatic Lady Eboshi, whose wood-burning venture has angered the many Shinto gods of the forest, including vengeful boars, spooky primates, and the regal wolves who are family to the titular princess.  Abandoned as a baby and reared in the forest, the princess (also known as San) has made it her mission to assassinate Eboshi.  Soon, a war breaks out between humans and gods.

Ashitaka finds himself in the midst of this conflict as he seeks out the Forest Spirit, a deer-like creature who may be able to heal him.  Ashitaka is honest, patient, and kind, but the forest and its denizens reject him at every turn.  San and the wolves openly revile Ashitaka, while the Forest Spirit itself only heals a bullet wound the prince acquired, instead of also curing his terminal sickness.

San and her wolf brothers (Source: Pixiv, ID 874607904)

San and her wolf brothers (Source: Pixiv, ID 874607904)

Though he hides it well, Ashitaka is full of anger at the catastrophic turn in his life.  He has struggled with his curse, both physically and emotionally, and has even maimed and killed others while on his quest (the movie is not for the faint of heart).  The Forest Spirit, on the other hand, places life as its utmost concern.  Ashitaka is the Forest Spirit’s enemy.

The young prince’s situation mirrors that of all mankind – those who once did and those who still live in sinful rebellion as enemies of God (Romans 5:10).  Just as converts agree to lay down their lives to God when coming to faith, Ashitaka decides to set aside his own personal mission, seeking instead a way to bring peace to both sides of the struggle between gods and men.  In the process of doing so, he is himself miraculously cured.  Ashitaka has found peace with the spirits of the forest and may now live, just as our struggle with God concludes when we surrender before the cross, finding that by Christ’s wounds, we are healed.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Noragami Kami, Japanese Persecution of Christians, and Break Blade Misery

Medieval Otaku compares Rygart’s suffering in Broken Blade to the misery that Christians endure. [Medieval Otaku]

Anime Commentary on the March’s writer provides insight about kami and ayakushi while examining an episode of Noragami. [Anime Commentary on the March]

Rocklobster brings up the Christian ideas of right and wrong as he reviews Death Note. [Lobster Quadrille]

Rob continues his Christian-centric reviews with a number of anime episodes this week, including Chuuniyou, Golden Time, and Gundam Build Fighters. [Christian Anime Review]

D.M. Dutcher gives a modest recommendation for Shangri-La in his series review for Christian viewers. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

And while slightly off-topic, I would be remiss to exclude two articles that Dr. Philip Jenkins of Baylor has written about Christian persecution in Japan, one providing an introductory overview and the other discussing Japanese efficiency in destroying the faith. [Patheos]

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.  Special thanks this week to my friend Don of Zoopraxiscope for the links to the Patheos articles.

Holy Noragami, Treating Jesus Like Kami

In recent years, Japanese animators have had their fun with their various religious figures, from Jesus and Buddha to the host of kami in Shintoism.  Noragami continues this trend of poking fun at the supernatural.  Though it’s become a bit more serious in recent episodes, the show still continually makes fun of it’s hero, the Shinto god of war, Yato.

Art by Mimi N (Pixiv ID 41251088)

Art by Mimi N (Pixiv ID 41251088)

In America, certain groups would be at an uproar if a show featured Christ as a main character and continually made laughs at his expense.  It’s far different in Japan, where Yato is a fictional character meant to stand among many other kami.  Religion in Japan is far different than that in America – not are there many Shinto gods, but the majority of Japanese identify as Buddhist in addition to Shinto practitioners.  Most are also atheist.

But despite these differences in culture, I would argue that Christians often treat God as the characters in Noragami do Yato.  While we may not be so brazen in how we disrespect Christ, it’s in our actions that we relegate Him as something less than He is.  Our language, our values, our goals, our time, our money – do these reflect an obedience to Christ, and thus, a strong faith in Him?

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: V-Day Chocolates for Anime Jesus, Hell in Hoozuki no Reitetsu, and Yuri for Christians

Using Sakura Trick, Frank probes the question, “Is it good for Christians to watch yuri?” [A Series of Miracles]

Jesus of Saint Young Men places third among characters that women would give chocolates to on Valentine’s Day.  Here’s how D.M. Dutcher sees it [Cacao, put down the shovel!]:

“D-dont get me wrong Jesus,” she said, twirling her twin-tail nervously in one finger, “It’s not like I made this for you or anything…”

Dutcher also takes a look at Rescue Me, Mave-chan, from a Christian perspective. [Cacao]

In a third article, Dutcher gives Christians warnings against the trap trope. [Cacao]

John Samuel just watched Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion, and offers some great analysis, including a mention of one character circumventing free will. [Pirates of the Burley Griffin]

The Medieval Otaku looks to the gospels to help explain the character of Esdese from Akama ga Kiru. [Medieval Otaku]

Jonathan explores the mythology of Hoozuki no Reitetsu. [FunBlog]

Meanwhile, among othres, Rob reviews recent episodes of The Pilot’s Love SongChuunibyou, Nobunagun, Golden Timeand Engaged to the Unidentified.

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: Pupa for Christians, Religion in Inari Konkon Koi Iroha, and Adventure Time at the Sisteen Chapel

Rob has taken the mantle of “Christian anime reviewer” and run with it, posting lots of episode reviews on his new site, with recommendations specific for Christians.  Among the reviews this week are Pupa (Episode 1), Nobunagun (Episode 4), and Magical Warfare (Episode 1). [Christian Anime Review]

D.M. Dutcher reviews Fortune Arterial, with some notes for Christians. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

He does the same for Freezing. [Cacao]

Annoying Dragon reviews the OEL manga, White Devil: The Life and Legend of Hudson Taylor, based upon the life of the famed Chinese missionary. [Living. Loving. Learning.]

The always entertaining Monsieur LaMoe breaks down Inari Konkon Koi Iroha, including some information about Buddhism, Shintoism, and even Aum Shinrikyo! [Anime Diet]

And though it’s not anime-related, I just had to link to Taylor’s awesome post discussing how a piece of Adventure Time fanart based on “The Creation of Adam” has some real spiritual depth to it. [Taylor Ramage's Blog]

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: Shinto Anime Everywhere, 2-D Love for Christians, and the Warrior Priests of Anime

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted this column.  My negligence A busy holiday schedule is to blame!

And without further to do, here are some of my favorite religion/spirituality-themed anime articles from this week (and from the past month!):

Emily describes the charm of Noragami‘s first episode, while also commenting on the nature of the Shinto gods and their relationship with “believers.” [Atelier Emily]

Charles Dunbar talks Sasami-san@ganbaranai, The Eccentric Family, and Gingitsune in describing 2013 as “a wonderful year for the people who take the time to familiarize themselves with Japanese beliefs, customs, and legends.” [Study of Anime]

In what I think is a very important article for many Christian otakus, D.M. Dutcher answers the question “Can 2-D be better than 3-D for a Christian?”  As he states, the answer is surprisingly complex. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Medieval Otaku does a remarkable job in describing Arpeggio of Blue Steel as a “Christian fairytale.” [Medieval Otaku]

Lady Saika cites Trigun, Hellsing, and Fullmetal Alchemist as she explores that ironic idea of warrior priests and priestly armies. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Jonathan enjoyed Gingitsune, particularly how the show approached religion. [FunBlog]

Annalyn continues to pursue a number of goals, which has become a theme of her aniblog this past year. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

Aniblogger Tommy vents about Christmas and what it’s become. [Anime Bowl]

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: Outbreak Company Evangelism, Shaming Kill la Kill, and Shintoism in Gingitsune

We have a couple weeks’ worth of articles to mention, so let’s get started!

Frank finds that Outbreak Company‘s “mission” offers some very important lessons for missionaries of the gospel. [A Series of Miracles]

Medievalotaku refers to the sin and sainthood, among other ideas, in his examination of how Kill la Kill approaches the idea of shame. [Medieval Otaku]

Jonathan Tappan is impressed by the authenticity of how Gingitsune shows Shintoism.  [FunBlog]

D.M. Dutcher finds that the gulf between the haves and have nots in Iris Zero manga is a good reflection of the difference between Christians and non-Christians. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Rocklobster reviews Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0: You Are [Not] Alone, which he gives his highest rating, despite reservations about the religious content. [Lobster Quadrille]

D.M. Dutcher calls Dangaizer 3 a guilty pleasure, rating it “R” in his viewing scale for Christians. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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.