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.

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Send Us Your Suggestions for Our Live Stream Event

Our staff at Beneath the Tangles is committed to engaging our readers through interaction and great content.  As such, we continue to explore new ways to bring you our views on anime and spirituality, such as with the podcast, and to have you participate in our community here.  To that end, we’ll be having our first live stream on the night of Saturday, September 20th 9 PM EST through Ustream! We will be discussing our thoughts on the ending summer 2014 season as well as hopes and expectations for the coming fall 2014 season, with a highlight on the Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works anime. As it is a live stream, we hope you will engage in the discussion as well!

We’ll send out notifications the night of the 20th with links to the stream through our social networks, but you can get a notification straight to your mailbox by emailing us now with the subject line, “Live Stream.”  Alternatively, you can personalize your streaming experience by registering for a free Ustream account and following us there to receive notifications every time we go live. Registration will also allow us and others to distinguish your username when chatting during the live stream.

We also want some feedback from you!  While we hope for your real-time interaction, you can also help us prepare for the night, which will focus on reviewing series from summer 2014 and previewing ones from the upcoming fall season.  Which summer 2014 anime series would like to see us review?  Which fall 2014 series would you like to see us preview? 

Comment your suggestions below or tweet them to us! We hope you can make it to enjoy the night of our first (of many) Beneath the Tangles live stream event!

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.

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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.

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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!

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Something More: Hanayamata Witness, Godly Childhood Relationships, and Shinto Ritual

It’s a “Series of Miracles” kind of week here on Something More, as Frank, founder of that blog, is responsible for the majority of this week’s short list of links.  Not that I’m complaining, as he’s one of my favorite writers in the blogosphere!

Frank again looks to anime childhood relationships as he discusses a Christian’s relationship with God. [A Series of Miracles]

In reviewing episodes 5 and 6 of Hanayamata, Frank points out the responsibility Christians have in representing their faith and how one might share their faith with others. [2]

Charles Dunbar educates us about clothing and purification in regards to Shinto rituals. [Study of Anime]

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.

Mercy in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

As many Christians will tell you, mercy and grace are some of the dearest and most beautiful qualities of God. Not only does he show us mercy every day by guiding us through problems that we often bring on ourselves, but he gave everyone on earth mercy by dying on the cross so we wouldn’t have to take the consequence for our mistakes. Yet when the idea of showing such great mercy is presented to most people on earth, Christians and non-Christians alike balk at the idea. We make all sorts of excuses to avoid giving anything less than whatever we perceive as justice to those around us when they’re in the wrong, especially if it comes at a cost, despite the fact that there are few people who have never received a kindness they didn’t earn.

Mercy is also one of the main qualities of Edward Elric, the protagonist of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Unlike the majority of the characters, he actually avoids killing his enemies, for no other reason than that they are human, his definition of which is quite broad. His judgement on this is called into question several times, especially when he has to deal with Kimblee, the Crimson Alchemist.

FMA: BrotherhoodKimblee is both a fascinating and disgusting villain. Unlike Ed, he is a sociopath who places no value on human life and delights in pain and chaos. Even though Ed knows this, when the soldiers at Briggs decide to kill Kimblee and his chimera henchmen, Ed protests, and argues that they should try to capture them instead. His request is denied, and the soldiers of Briggs think his idea foolhardy and soft.

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