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The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 1

The Tangles Cover 1

You’ve read our articles! You’ve followed our social media! Well, good news, because it doesn’t have to stop there… or at least not anymore!

We are ecstatic to introduce to you the newest addition to the Beneath the Tangles site, our very own podcast entitled The Tangles (available both here AND on iTunes)! As an extension of our blog, The Tangles is another branch to help us achieve our goal of creating a meeting point between anime (along with all connected forms of media) and Christian spirituality. We hope that this will help to continue to foster an open community where Christians and non-Christians alike can engage in conversation about anime, manga, and belief.

The Tangles will update on the last Thursday of every month, and will feature JP (Japes/Japesland) as host, another Beneath the Tangles writer as co-host (rotating each episode), and a special guest speaker.

For our first episode, we are thrilled to have Lauren Orsini, prolific writer and founder of Otaku Journalist, as our esteemed guest, along with Charles/TWWK as co-host. During this hour-long episode, we will be discussing our personal beliefs, current-running anime, Lauren’s new book, Otaku Journalism, and plenty more!

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!

Oh, and if you’ve already listened, click here for the video of JP’s blue-haired antics.

Time Stamps:
Intro – 0:00
Announcements – 7:49
Otaku Diet – 8:40
Current Article/Discussion – 23:02
Listener Mail – 51:56
Closer – 1:05:36

Direct Download

Note: Lauren mentions her new association with Anime News Network during the podcast; you’ll be able to find her on ANN within the next several days.

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. 

Madoka Magica Trilogy Coming to Theatres!

News:  Anime News Network, among other outlets, is reporting that the December issue of Newtype is revealing that three Puella Magi Madoka Magica films are going to be released to theaters.  Production should begin on the first of the films soon.  The first two movies will be compilation films and the third will contain all-new material.

Comments:  I’m very excited about the movies!  Besides being a clever and create series, Madoka Magica contains quite a bit of religious symbolism (Christian included), and I’m emphasized the Christian themes in the show in the past.  I’ve also included it as one of the series I recommend to Christians.

While it’s disappointing that the first two films will only basically be summaries of the television series, these compilation-type movies are sometimes very good, showing that anime shows are often well suited to be movies.  The recent Evangelion movies come to mind, though those are reimagined versions of the originals, which it doesn’t seem the Madoka films will be.

The final film will obviously be the most anticipated.  Atsuhiro Urobuchi wants the subtitle of that movie to be “Incubator no Gyakushū,” which means “Incubator Strikes Back” or “Incubator’s Counterattack.”  Reminiscent of a Star Wars movie…I’m fine with that.

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Diving into Japanese Ghost Stories

In this week’s Brain Diving column on the Anime News Network site, Brian Ruh (a fellow Austinite who literally works just a few blocks away from me) discusses A Gathering of Spirits: Japan’s Ghost Story Tradition: From Folklore and Kabuki to Anime and Manga, a self-published book by Patrick Drazen.  Ruh reviews the book, giving largely positive reviews.  After reading the column, I’m looking forward to picking up the work.

One criticism Ruh mentions, however, is in how Drazen depicts the religious lives of the Japanese.  The columnist infers a very important idea – the Japanese people are largely spiritual, but not religious.

Please go check out the column – Ruh’s a terrific writer and if you’re like me, his discussion might cause you to gain an interest in reading A Gathering of Spirits.

The Ghost with the Most – Brain Diving

Rurouni Kenshin to Finally Be Completed?

The June issue Jump Square magazine will announce that a new anime project involving Rurouni Kenshin will be developed.  I couldn’t be more excited.  The anime ended on a whimper, with a horrid third season of filler episodes that was so poorly received that the final arc of the anime was never animated, and a final depressing OVA released as well.  Neither came close to matching the series’ high points, which included the wonderfully weaved second season of the TV show and the first two OVAs, which this blogger calls the “most perfect anime ever created.”

Kenshin Himura

Image by Mui (via Pixiv)

As you might be able to tell, I’m hoping (and believing) that the new animation will complete the story told in the manga.  This final arc would follow our protagonist’s confrontation with Enishi, the younger brother of Tomoe, Kenshin’s first love.  The manga arc is an amazing read and I highly recommend it.  It also contains one of the most  heart-palpitating scenes I’ve ever read or seen – one that will shock you, particularly if you’re a fan of the series.

Rurouni Kenshin is also a series that’s full of ideas embraced by Christianity.  Though much more considered with Shinto practice and Buddhism (except for the aforementioned, painful third season, which centers around a “Christian” sect), themes like sacrifice, justice, grace, and redemption are ever-present in the series.  In other words, it would make great fodder for this blog. :P

I can hardly wait…and hopefully, the wait won’t take forever.

Source: Anime News Network

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Buddha and Religious Criticism

Today in his House of 1000 Manga column at Anime News Network, Jason Thompson describes Osamu Tezuka‘s epic work, Buddha.  As one who rarely watches anime or reads manga created earlier than the 1990s, I know Tezuka only by reputation and not by experiencing any of his works.  As such, and I think this may be true for many of us, I didn’t know about this manga.  Thompson does a wonderful job of describing it, as usual.  The manga sounds very interesting – not what one would expect out of a religious story.  I was also pleased to see Thompson’s mention of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha in the column, since I’ve read the novel (though admittedly, I admire it rather than enjoy it).

On thing that catches my attention in the column that, as with his discussion on the manga Jesus, Thompson’s criticisms of the manga come across as criticisms of a religion:

From the perspective of a nonbeliever like myself, it can sometimes seem like a depressing religion; after all, one of the core teachings is that life is suffering (“Kill or be killed! That’s the world! That’s life!” says Devadatta), and that Nirvana isn’t heaven or paradise but nonexistence, an end to it all.

Thompson’s language isn’t offensive – in fact, in both of the columns discussing religious manga, he approached the subjects with tact and respect.  But when it comes to faith, one can quickly and easily become defensive (Christians moreso, I think, than Buddhists). 

My first reaction was that Thompson should’ve avoided any criticism of religion at all, no matter how mild in tone.  But…that would make me a hypocrite.  After all, my faith embraces the idea that there is only one God, and that all other gods or faiths are, bluntly put, wrong.  When push comes to shove, defending my belief criticizes others.

What do you think?  Are you skittish when critizing religion?  Are you defensive of your own (or lack of)?

Read the entire column: Jason Thompson’s House of 1000 Manga Episode XXXIX: Buddha

Roger Ebert: Critic, Pundit, Skeptic, and Friend to Anime

Not long ago, I posted a beautiful anime-style short.  Following a trail from Twitter, I was led to the site where it was featured, and to my surprise, it was Rober Ebert’s website.  But, I was only surprised for a second – after all, the nation’s leading film critic (and the first to ever win the Pulitzer Prize) has championed anime for many years and Anime News Network has described him as a closet otaku.  He even wrote an article entitled “The Beauty of Anime.”  In fact, aside from John Lasseter, there’s likely no more powerful voice for anime in U.S. mainstream culture.

Source: Upvery.com

Roger Ebert should be familiar to most of you.  Forbes called him American’s #1 pundit (and in the Internet age, that designation is no small feat).  Then again, maybe I recognize him better than most because I religiously watched “At the Movies” as a child, wanting to weekly see him duke it out with his first partner, Gene Siskel.  Later, I continued to watch (and then read) because I realized: a) I agreed with him much more than not; b) even when I didn’t agree, I learned something from his reviews; and c) his writing is clear, calculated and wonderful.  Even if you’re not familiar with Ebert, you certainly are with his (official) trademark of the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down,” regarding movie recommendations.

When Ebert discusses anime films, he comes at it as an admirer of the form, as when he reviewed Ghost in the Shell or selected Akira as a “video pick of the week.”  The Great Movies section of his web site, which itself has become widely admired, includes both My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies on this list.  Think of that – two anime among a U.S. movie’s critics best movies of all time.  Read how he ends the Grave of the Fireflies review: Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Nerd Religions

One blog that I’ve followed religiously in recent years is Topless Robot, run by Rob Bricken.  Timely and often hilarious, Bricken’s site discusses all forms of nerdery, including anime on occasion, as Bricken was editor of Anime Insider magazine and wrote for Anime News Network for a time.  Religion is only very occasionally discussed, though never deeply. 

Today, James Daniels posted an entry on the site about the world’s nerdiest religions.  Keep reading…

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Manga Jesus is Just…Man

For the past couple of months, I’ve really been enjoying “Jason Thompson’s House of 1000 Manga,” a new column at Anime News Network.  This week, he’s featuring a manga many Christians might either rejoice about or dislike: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s Jesus.

His conclusion is that the manga doesn’t take a stance on Jesus’ divinity (or even leans away from it), and Thompson correctly concludes that some Christians will be offended by exactly that. Keep reading…

Love Your Neighbors…Even ANN

Splitter of Chocolate Syrupy Waffles just released a scathing open letter to Anime News Network addressing the company’s leak of episode two of Oreimo one day before it even aired in Japan.  The comments following the letter have been equally vicious.  The letter made some very strong points.

Now, I didn’t pay for ANN’s streaming service.  I’m not familiar with the criticisms levied at ANN.  And I have no history with the higher ups at the organization.  To sum it up, I’m ignorant and thus a very non-expert – an outsider who learned much from Splitter’s letter.

However, I am an expert in grace.  After all, I’m among the worst people I know, and I’m still loved. Keep reading…