After receiving numerous recommendations over the years, I finally sat down and watched Cowboy Bebop. After finishing the show, I decided it was necessary to review the show as soon as possible. I should also point out Charles is a huge fan of this show (E/N: I am most definitely a huge fan of it!). His picture on the Authors page is of the main character after all.
You could say my life revolves around defending Cowboy Bebop as earning every bit of praise its received, and you wouldn’t be inaccurate.
Cowboy Bebop is basically it’s own genre. It has lots of science fiction elements, western elements, and noir elements all interwoven. The story follows the bounty hunter crew on the spaceship known as Bebop. They travel through space hunting for criminals and confronting their own pasts. Each person on the ship has an amount of depth driven from their own past and backstory. All these stories end up being integral in the direction the show takes.
Part of the story’s uniqueness is in how it’s incredibly episodic – I think I count only 5 episodes that deal directly with the main character’s (Spike) story – and yet it weaves together into this awesome tapestry of cohesive…awesomeness.
When I sat down to watch the show, I had some preset expectations. First, the show looks like a western; I have a large amount of disdain for westerns. Second, the music is jazz. I am not a huge fan of jazz. Third, the spaceships looked cool, but the art looked moody. Well, my fears for the western style feel quickly wore off. The western theme is more of a facade to explain the bounty hunting and culture, than an actual plot driving tool. The music is wonderful. It is a bit strange, but it is very iconic and hearing it makes me reminisce about the show. And finally, the moody art style is gorgeous. The ships are really well designed. The anime was made in 1999, but it doesn’t feel dated; it has aged nicely.
You’re absolutely right in saying that the animation ages well. I’ve tried picking up a lot of series from yesteryear, but of my favorites, I think only Cowboy Bebop and Trigun stand the test of time when it comes to animation quality. And the music, of course, is the stuff of legends – Yoko Kanno’s brilliance is undeniable, as even a middling fan of the show like Hailey can appreciate:
My initial surprise with the show, is how quickly I was hooked. Almost right away, I wanted to watch episode after episode. Even after finishing the show, I want to go back and re-watch it. I really appreciate the attention and detail that was put into the characters and plot. I also thoroughly enjoy the moodiness and quiet epic quality the show took on. It carries itself like a classical heroic tragedy, and at the same time bridges on the dark and gritty noir feel. The show isn’t all dark and bleak, but it does feel quite dark at times. Oh, and the ending, which I won’t go spoil, is amazing and frustrating.
As you mentioned earlier, the show’s so hard to categorize because it does a bit of everything, and it does it so well. And oh, that ending! Classic.
All around, Cowboy Bebop broke my expectations and built itself in to a show like nothing I have ever seen. I can’t think of a single anime or even a show that isn’t anime, that pulled off a feeling like this one gives off. Artistically, this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. Overall, this isn’t one of my favorites, but is one that I will look on favorably. I just felt too unsettled by the time I finished to call it amazing. I do however, know that this show has a massive appeal and some people will absolutely love it. It just isn’t my metaphorical cup of tea. I will however be stealing concepts from the show for my own stories, as any author would do.
My Final Recommendation: Go for it, you will most likely enjoy it. I did.
Absolutely. It’s a classic of anime – if you don’t watch it, you’re gonna carry that weight.
Do you know the saying, “God works in mysterious ways?” I really felt that to be true a few weeks ago when Casey Covel (Geeks Under Grace) and I started chatting about her taking a role with Beneath the Tangles. What I haven’t told anyone until now was that her work was at the forefront of my mind the days before she reached out to me, and I wondered if I should invite her to join even before we spoke. Coincidence, possibly, but I think of it as something more divinely arranged.
In short, Casey has joined our staff here at Beneath the Tangles, and we are thrilled! Check out our interview below and please welcome her to the community!
TWWK: How did you become a fan of anime and manga?
Casey: Growing up, anime influenced a lot of the media I enjoyed, primarily my video games, many of which had anime-inspired art styles (Fire Emblem, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Ace Attorney, etc.). I always found the anime art style attractive because it captured… something… that American cartoons did not–emotions, drama, original designs, bold storytelling, and other assorted wonders I couldn’t put a name on back then. When I was a child, I began watching Pokemon, but was quickly told not to by my parents (this was back when churches were cracking down on the Pokemon craze, and my parents were likely being cautious). It wasn’t until several years later that I actually began watching anime again, and to be honest I’m grateful that I waited that long. I believe anime is a beautiful medium of entertainment and art, but I don’t think I was spiritually mature enough to enjoy it until a few years ago.
TWWK: What are your favorite types or genres of anime/manga? How about favorite series?
Casey: I’m a bit of a psychology/philosophy buff, so I particularly enjoy anime that challenges me to think differently or to question my values. Watching anime that asks hard questions or acts as an animated microcosm for a social issue is like consuming a delicious tray of assorted sushi to me. Death Note–despite its storytelling flaws–is my absolute favorite series thus far. I also enjoyed the examination of dark issues in Attack on Titan and the bittersweet, poetic charm of Your Lie in April. Currently, I’m going on adventures with Vash in Trigun… and developing a craving for doughnuts for some reason. Read the rest of this entry
One of the greatest games of all time has been the Kingdom Hearts series. Disney and Square Enix came together to create with themes of light and darkness, finding your purpose, and the bond of friendship, which have never been more prevalent than in this series. The title in this series that I will be highlighting is the lesser known Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days. It came out on the Nintendo DS and is now available as part of the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix collection, so I was finally able to get my hands on it. The downside is that the game is completely done in cut-scenes so you can’t play it, but with the HD graphics and story line didn’t disappoint.
The interaction between Axel, Roxas and Xion (the main characters) is such a touching yet sad story that every Kingdom Heart fan must experience. Learning about trust, friendship and why we are here are topics that are highlighted throughout. For those that are unfamiliar with these characters and the game, let me give you the details.
Sora, the protagonist of the series, has fallen into a deep sleep to recover his power and strength. During that time, his memory has become Roxas who looks very much like Sora. Xion is what Sora remembers of his friend Kairi and Roxas is Sora’s personal memories, so they are both just representations of Sora. The antagonists, Organization XIII, created Xion to absorb and copy Sora’s power by being close to Roxas. In this way, they would be able to gain the power of the Keyblade which is the ultimate weapon in the Kingdom Hearts world.
Instead of going exactly as Organization XIII planned, Xion ended up developing her own memories and became friends with Roxas and Axel, members of the organization. Together they would eat sea salt ice cream at the top of a tower and relax, watching the sun set over the town. Little by little, Xion began taking away power from Roxas and they were both confused as to what was happening. They would be in and out of deep sleep and would have flashbacks of Sora’s own memories, not knowing who he was or why they were having these dreams.
As anyone would, they began seeking answers as to who they really were, what Organization XIII’s plans are, and who Sora truly is. Xion decided to leave and find Namine, the witch who was protecting Sora during his recovery process. Namine and Riku, Sora’s close friend, revealed individually to Xion what was happening to her and how she needed to become one with Sora once again so he can awaken. Not knowing what was the right decision to make, she leaves to face Axel who was pursuing her but eventually gives up her life and her memories are released back to Sora.
Xion reminded me of every human being searching, seeking, and desiring to know their reason for living. The most widely sought out question in humanity is why am I here. God has an answer though, and we find it in changing the way we think. Read the rest of this entry
As you may know from last month’s The Tangles, Japes is currently in Japan working on a summer internship. For a forthcoming podcast, I’ll be asking Japes questions about his experiences, and we’d love for you to join in as well! Please comment below with questions you might like Japes to answer. Here are some ideas:
- Personal: Ask Japes about why and what’s doing in the land of the rising sun
- Culture and People: Ask about Japes experiences with the Japanese
- True or False: Does Japan live up to the ideas we may have about the country here in the west?
- Anime: What is anime and anime fandom like in Japan?
- Religion: What is it like being a Christian in a non-Christian nation?
Add to that anything else you’d like to know! Thank you in advance – we appreciate your participation!
Edit: We’re all set now, so we’re closed for further questions. Thanks for your questions, all!
So…are we back to square one?
No, but it feels a little like that, as Hiki, Yukino, and Yui face another obstacles on their path toward finding themselves in growing their relationships with one another.
Episode 12 of OreGairu 2 (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO) starts out innocuous enough with everyone preparing for Valentine’s Day. Hayato is unwilling to accept chocolates from anyone, so the idea is hatched that the student council will host an event in which Yukino will teach students how to make homemade chocolates; Hayato will attend and get to taste the creations, thereby accepting chocolates from Iroha and Yumiko.
But tensions seethe beneath the surface for our trio. Even though there’s been some progress, their “genuine bond” hasn’t truly formed. Hachiman knows as much and it’s intimated that Yui and Yukino feel the same. Shizuka, in her always surprising wisdom, points it out as well. But of course, it comes erupting forward through Haruno’s sharp words, who declares that the group is not “genuine” – and that becoming genuine may not even be possible.
Indeed, the problem is that each member of the volunteer club continues to deal with the same struggles they did before Hachiman’s speech: Yui doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, and is willing to be deceitful to others and herself to preserve happiness; Hachiman is becoming open to being honest and establishing meaningful relationships, but only bit by bit; and Yukino remains trapped between the expectations of her and finding who she really is.
How can they all still not get it? Read the rest of this entry
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.” 
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.
I had lunch with a friend last week, with whom I talked about how hard it is to shake loose your cultural upbringing as it relates to religion and really focus on the real message of the gospel. I mentioned how helpful it is to hear perspectives from others whose upbringings were very different from our own. I know that for me, even though I frequently take a step back and try to see things from others’ points of view, I still struggle to understand how others think (or to be honest, how they could possibly think what they do).
One of my favorite manga is Silver Spoon, a series I recently picked up after watching the anime with my wife. There are a lot of strong themes running through the series, but perhaps none more strongly than the idea that when we open ourselves up to other points of view, we’re able to grow. Hachiken, the distressed city boy, experiences change almost immediately as he adjusts to life at an agricultural high school. By the end of the anime run and into where the manga is now, he’s transformed even further. By embracing different perspectives, he’s found himself.
The series also gives many asides from minor characters who comment on how Hachiken has changed them, too.
It’s not so much Hachiken’s experience, though, that moves the student body toward transformation – it’s Hachiken himself. His earnestness, intelligence, and compassion leads his friends and staff and others to think outside the box. The greatest example is Mikage, who is given the courage to stand up for her dream and is motivated to put in the seemingly impossible task of working toward it.
Perhaps Christianity could learn a lesson from this manga. For a religion that began with a Messiah whose every word was outside the box, it’s distressing how rule-centered and confined Christianity has become in the west. As a reaction, perhaps, against easy beliefism and wrong theology, many of us have unwittingly become modern-day Pharisees who miss the forest for the trees. We speak of mercy, but show ungrace. The hypocrisy can sometimes be unbearable. Read the rest of this entry
Note: This is a guest post from Casey Covel, whose work we’ve featured here a number of times through our Something More column. She’s editor-in-chief at Geeks Under Grace and goes by cutsceneaddict in the cosplay world. I hope you enjoy her submission…it’s the first of many from Casey that you’ll be seeing here on Beneath the Tangles.
If you’re like me, you couldn’t wait until 2016 for the second season of Attack on Titan and scooped up the manga ASAP to pursue the story. If you’re not like me, and you have the patience of Job to wait on that elusive second season, then I suggest you avoid this article for the time being, as there are some rather titan-sized spoilers within.
**In case you didn’t get that, I’ll say it again: huge spoilers below**
Colored by AnimeFanNo1
As I impatiently awaited this month’s new chapter, I found myself reflecting back on the landslide of storyline from Attack on Titan chapter 69. Amidst such plot-relevant giants as the revelation of Levi’s childhood, the crowning of Queen Historia, and death of a certain ornery uncle, Kenny’s relationship with Uri is nearly forgotten. Admittedly, though, it’s perhaps the one reveal in the chapter that haunted me long after reading. As a Christian, I can only say that’s because it resonated with my faith so frighteningly well.
In chapter 69, it’s revealed that Kenny, having discovered Uri’s identity as true king of the human race, tried to kill him, but Uri initiated his titan form and caught his would-be assassinator off-guard, capturing him in a deadly fist. Despite Rod’s demands that Uri crush Kenny then and there, however, Uri released him and—even as Kenny pierced the king through the wrist with his blade—bowed hands-and-knees to his attacker, asking Kenny for forgiveness for the genocide of the Ackerman line.
This act of humility so affected Kenny that he found himself unable to end his enemy’s life, even with Uri face-down on the ground and his finger ready on the trigger.
Kenny and Uri went on to form an inseparable bond of friendship. All the while, Kenny’s insatiable curiosity for Uri’s unique ideology continued to grow. By the time of Uri’s death, Kenny had not yet unlocked the mystery of his friend’s inner strength, but—determined to achieve it for himself—went about seeking fulfillment in other ways in order to acquire Uri’s “power.” Gaining notoriety as a serial killer to preserve his family, raising his deceased sister’s child, earning a captain’s rank within the Military Police, striving to attain the power of a titan shifter and, thus, a god—all these routes Kenny pursued, and all of them left him unsatisfactorily empty.
Flashing forward to the present, Levi comes across a wounded Kenny—now burned and bleeding beyond saving—following his encounter with Rod Reiss. The two hold a final conversation, in which Kenny ponders the motivations of those he’s met throughout his life.
I find it fascinating that this word drunk is specifically used here because it means to be “dominated by an intense feeling” to the point of “behaving in an unusual or improper way.” Furthermore, I think it’s a highly-appropriate word to describe the state of our world today, outside of Christ.
We live in a restless world—one that seeks to attain peace and fulfillment through a variety of outlets. Human beings are born with an instinct to worship—to fully dedicate themselves to something or someone, even if it is ultimately their own selves. Until we come to Christ, we carry a God-shaped hole in our beings—one that cannot be filled by anything else, and yet one that we continuously try to fill with worldly things (which can only satisfy us for a short amount of time). Read the rest of this entry
If I had to describe the Spring 2015 season of anime in one word, it’d be “surprises”. A number of shows I knew I would love from the start—the sequels to Kinmoza, Oregairu, and Baby Steps, plus Sound! Euphonium and My Love Story—but what I was surprised by was how many other shows I followed this season surpassed my expectations. I will inevitably talk about some of those shows in more detail in the Spring 2015 reviews, but for now I would like to pay a little tribute to the pleasant surprises of Spring 2015, and of anime in general.
I would categorize “surprise” anime into two general types. The first type is the “breakout hit”, in which a show has a premise that sounds dumb or unappealing, but once you start it up, you find that the show is actually really good. For me, the best example of a breakout hit is Show by Rock. As a tie-in anime to a mobile game developed by Sanrio (of Hello Kitty fame), I was not expecting much more than cute girls playing music, but the opening episode was a rollercoaster of insanity with some hard rock to it, and it completely drew me in. Some past shows that fall into this category include Humanity Has Declined, AKB0048, Kotoura-san, and Inari Kon Kon.
The second type is the “late bloomer hit”, referring to shows improve significantly over time. A lot of shows this season have been like this to some degree, and there’s quite a lot of variation with the specifics. Some shows start out only okay but end up being rather enjoyable, while others start out already very solid but grow into amazing, top-tier shows. Some shows improve gradually, while others improve drastically thanks to one incredible episode. And, of course, some shows bloom earlier rather than later, and for some shows like this, the quality of the show still varies from episode to episode, but my overall opinion of the show has gone up over time.
For late bloomer shows from this season: Re-kan! already started off as a solid slice-of-life comedy about the spirit world, with some good emotional moments, and as it developed those emotional moments more, it has since become one of my favorites this season, with episode 6 being the real blooming point. Likewise, I had always enjoyed The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan for its alternative exploration of characters from the Haruhi franchise, but episode 10 brought the show to a whole new level of awesomeness. On the other hand, Wish Upon the Pleiades and Mikagura School Suite are both more gradual bloomers, slowly winning me over with their charm over time. As for some past shows in this category, there’s Outbreak Company, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Log Horizon, and Invaders of the Rokujyouma.
Note: This article was written by Goldy, and is being posted here on her behalf.
I’ve been meaning to write a post about my experience staffing my local anime convention, but every year before never seemed right until this year.
I will give the disclaimer than I am volunteer staff and also a self taught manager of guest relations for 6 years (started out as a mere guest liaison, but that’s when I did the job by myself, the con was smaller, and I didn’t have massive lines of fans trying to trample me to hug their favorite voice actor). At present, I have a staff of 3-5 people, but always need more. Good help is hard to find because guest (and fan) wrangling is no easy task.
I won’t be naming names because even though I’ve never had to sign any contract to maintain secrecy or anything, I think it’s stupid to share information that a person was kind enough to share with you in trust. And really, I think it’s brave to trust someone you barely know with your well being for a weekend. You are trusting a person to keep you safe from people who are too excited at hearing your voice to think straight and won’t stop to say, “Hey, maybe I shouldn’t try to rush at this voice actor I like after their panel and try to hug them and shove random gifts at them when they are probably really tired and need food. After all, there are times and places for autographs and chats” and instead come rushing at you like you’re made of gold or something.
Because let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying than that lack of security. Even if you are a repeat guest, you are in a strange place, with strange people, with only your beautiful voice keeping you alive, but it’s also the cause of your stress at times because people love it too much.
Not to say that voice actors (VAs) dislike hugs or gifts or talking to their fans. In fact, a majority of them appreciate their fans more than most famous people out there and looooove to talk with them and sign stuff for them. But it’s always nice for fans to keep their heads when they’re around someone famous and be considerate of the fact that they are human too.
Granted, many VAs are also too nice most of the time. That’s why I have to be the mean person or, on my good days, a diplomat who has to explain to a crying girl why I can’t just call up their favorite VA to get a hug and an autograph because she missed all the sessions earlier. On rare occasions, at the request of the guests, I’ll sometimes do these things, but if you start giving someone an inch, 70 more people will grab that mile from you.
So that’s my job, roughly. To protect, serve, take a bullet for, and cause diversions (I once told a dumb joke to let a guest sneakily escape through the back at the end of their panel. I’m pretty sure those fans are after my head now) for the many VA guests we have the honor of bringing to our humble convention. It’s truly a learning process for me, which can be fairly frustrating for various reasons, but does improve slowly but surely every year.
The convention growing at a fast rate each year is my biggest challenge. We get big guests more often, but we still don’t act like a big con. Massive autograph lines are a new thing to us. Having guests charge for autographs are even more of a foreign idea. I remember when a guest looked at me weird when I said we didn’t have a green room (we do now, but aren’t used to it, yet). Admittedly, I have gotten better at dodging and weaving through over-excited fans with my guest(s) in tow, trying to get to an elevator or stairs (sometimes I hate the 12th floor). It still breaks my heart to cap autograph lines and turn people away, but I have to do it unless someone really wants a 5 hour autograph line.
I get lucky usually, though. Or blessed. Most of the guests we have are easy going, fun, and are able to dodge situations easily if they get too caught up with swarming fans. I would like to give credit to our con-goers as well, who, for the most part, aren’t too insane with obsession over their favorite VA.