Blog Archives

Annalyn’s Corner: Free and on a Mission

A couple weeks ago, I wrote that Christian anime fans need to consider other believers as they watch and discuss anime. But other believers only make up a fraction of those who read our comments, tweets, and feeds. Many of our followers and friends are not Christians. They don’t know Christ, very few of them have read any of the Bible, and their perspective on our Lord and our beliefs comes primarily from… us. Wherever we go, and wherever we post, we’re ambassadors for Christ. We’re on a mission we can’t run away from, a mission we signed up for the day we became Christians: to spread the Gospel in word and action, so we may glorify God as part of the growing Church. That brings another set of responsibilities, including some that, at first glance, seem different from those I wrote about before.

When you live your life differently, people start to notice, no matter what field you're in—basketball, anime fandom, or whatever else. They may decide to take on the same beliefs and root for you, as Aomine roots for Kuroko in this scene, or they may ridicule you. As Christians, our words and choices should get both reactions.

When you live your life differently, people start to notice, no matter what field you’re in—basketball, anime fandom, or whatever else. They may decide to take on the same beliefs and root for you, as Aomine roots for Kuroko in this scene, or they may ridicule you. As Christians, we should be noticed for our words and actions, and be ready for the resulting reactions, both positive and negative. (screenshot from Kurobas S3, ep 24)

In my last post, I focused on 1 Corinthians 8. Two chapters later, Paul returns to a similar topic, now focusing on what to do when presented with food sacrificed to idols. This time, he transitions with statements that relate to practicing freedom with others’ benefit in mind:

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Cor 10:23-24)

As Christians, we don’t have to follow the long list of laws from ancient and orthodox Judaism. On multiple occasions, Paul rebuked Jewish Christians who tried to enforce laws about unclean food (a different issue than food sacrificed to idols) or circumcision. And we don’t exactly have new laws, either. New expectations? Yes. A difference between sinful and righteous acts? Absolutely. That’s been around since long before the laws listed in Leviticus and Deuteronomy (most of which apply specifically to that ancient theocracy, and/or to the covenant between God and Israel… and many of which address things that were sins anyway, much like any nation’s laws do). But there are no nit-picky rules about media, diet, dancing, etc. Instead, we’re reminded to seek the good of others—related to the most important commandments, to love God and our “neighbors.”

What “neighbors” are Paul talking about? Not only Christians. Paul seems to use it in the more general sense, much as Jesus’s definition of “neighbors” crossed ethnic and neighborhood lines. And what good should we seek for them? Again, the definition is bigger than you may first think. Yes, of course, there’s their health, prosperity, and the pleasure they get when you give them the last cookie. But most of all, we must seek to point them toward God. Nothing compares to knowing, loving, and worshipping God—an eternal life where “eternal” means something much, much richer than “immortal.” That is the good we’re seeking for them. Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Godless Death Note, Virgin Mary Adventure Time, and Sinner Moon Crystal

Another season of anime has come and gone – and that quickly, a new season is upon us! But before we move too quickly ahead, let’s be reminded of the spiritual notes that rang out from some of the latter episodes of Spring 2015 series, as well as commentary about a few older anime:

Death Note provides an interesting case of the slippery slope in thought processes that can occur when God is separated from one’s worldview. [Lady Teresa Christina]

You know about the Bible anime that Osamu Tezuka created at the request of the Vatican, right? It’s kind an interesting deal. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Can religious characters be used in fiction while retaining their spirituality? Sure! Look to Saint Young Men for an example. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

The paradox of Christian love is seen in Nameko Families, where Bad Nameko does that which is purely good. [Old Line Elephant]

Episode 24 of Sailor Moon Crystal demonstrates to us the results of “sinful” decision-making. [Christian Anime Review]

As episode 6 of Re-Kan! shows, encouragement from others is a necessity – and this also holds true for a Christian’s walk. [2]

Who are we deep inside, beneath the facades? Hachiman asks that question in OreGairu, and the same should be asked in terms of spirituality. [3]

Adventure Time has, maybe for good reason, inspired artwork illustrated as Christian iconography. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

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.

 

OreGairu 2, Episode 13: Requests and Wise Words

Last night, against my better judgement, I stayed up late to catch the finale of Oregairu 2. It…wasn’t worth staying up for. A strange episode, it seemed to be hammering home the same problems from the last few episodes without offering much of a solution, while breaking Yukino down so quickly and so almost-completely that I felt it negated a lot of the slow, steady work that Oregairu has given us for two full seasons.

oregairu 13a

Then again, being an unabashed fan, I still enjoyed it, especially since we got an episode full of interaction between our main characters. Plus, we got what seemed to me an episode that was very light on concluding (it kinda gave a concluding tone, but only slightly, and didn’t give us any final glimpse of all the supporting characters we love) and heavy on “see you for another season, or at least another OVA,” particularly with Yukino giving a request that we as the audience don’t hear.

For an episode focusing on Yukino and her search for identity, the pivot point of the episode comes from airheaded Yui, who demonstrates both a sacrificial heart and a wisdom that she’s hinted at all along – a deep knowledge of who she is, faults and all, and how people think.  Yui tells Yukino that she can depend on her, but Hachiman intervenes, stating that Yukino needs to do what she’s preached all along as the president of the volunteer club – she must find her own way. But the interesting thing here is that Yui insists that she knew Hachiman would say as much, as if she arranged that situation so that Hachiman would say what he needed to say and Yukino would hear what she needed to hear.

Surprise! That's what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Surprise! That’s what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Yui, you sly dogRead the rest of this entry

The Tangles Anime Podcast: Episode 11

In episode 11, our beloved host, Charles/TWWK (wait… what?), will be interviewing JP/Japes featuring questions about Japan submitted by you, our readers and listeners! Just like last month, JP is still working in Japan, and so this episode will focus on his impressions based on his time in Kanazawa.

Thanks for listening! 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 – 0:54
Otaku Diet – 1:25
Q&A – 5:13
Closer – 1:00:36
Blooper – 1:01:25

Direct Download

And check out the pictures below from JP’s time in Japan – many match the sites he mentions in this episode:

The courtyard at my school. The school, despite being a college, looks just like the stereotypical Japanese high school!

The courtyard at my school. The school, despite being a college, looks just like the stereotypical Japanese high school!

Kenrokuen, probably the most famous tourist spot in Kanazawa!

Kenrokuen, probably the most famous tourist spot in Kanazawa!

Kanazawa Castle... or what remains of it anyway.

Kanazawa Castle… or what remains of it anyway.

Read the rest of this entry

Welcome Our Newest Writer, Casey!

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.

cutsceneaddict cosplay Large e-mail view

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

OreGairu 2 Episode 12: Change is Complicated

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.

All of their expressions...

All of their expressions…

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

Something More: Noragami Religion, Hopeless Black Butler, and Persecuting Naruto

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. [2]

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. [3]

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. [2]

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.” [3]

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.

Kenny Ackerman: the Pursuit of Fulfillment and the Power of Testimony

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**

attack on titan 5aColored 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.

“A king with so much power bowed down to someone as lowly as me. That titan left me speechless… More importantly, I felt something in me waver at that moment.”

“A king with so much power bowed down to someone as lowly as me. That titan left me speechless… More importantly, I felt something in me waver at that moment.”

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.

“They all had something they were drunk on,” he concludes.

“They all had something they were drunk on,” he concludes.

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

Anime Today: An Ode to Surprisingly Good Anime

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.

Whose lap is she in? You'll have to watch the show to find out, of course.

Not gonna lie; I nearly teared up during this scene. (From Re-kan!, episode 11)

Read the rest of this entry

Annalyn’s Corner: Christian Anime Fans and Responsible Freedom

Christians are free to watch anime rated TV-MA. Violence, swearing, portrayals of demons, and even ecchi are not, technically, off limits, and least not in a general sense. Nor are anime that convey atheistic, shinto, or Buddhist belief systems. We are free to watch everything, and we are free to do so in many ways… but that doesn’t mean that we should just dive in. I’m not just talking about our personal limits, either. We don’t usually watch and respond to anime in isolation, so we shouldn’t act like we do. Rather, we must consider the consciences of those around us. 

I love the online anime community partly because of the demographic diversity. Thirteen-year-old girls and fifty-year-old men are suddenly on the same footing, especially if they aren’t obvious about their age. On Beneath the Tangles alone, I think our youngest writers are around 21, give or take a year, and we were teens when we started aniblogging (I was seventeen when I wrote my first guest post here). Our oldest writer could be my father. We have Protestants of various denominations, and we have one Catholic. Some of us have been strong Christians for decades, or as close to two decades as we can get in our young lives. Some of us struggled with faith until just a few years ago. And that’s just our regular writers! Readers, guest writers, and the wonderful folk who contribute through comments vary even more in age and background. Then there are the anime fans we interact with from across the net… My point is this: we are a varied community. And that means that when any of us—including you, dear readers—post, comment, Tweet, reblog, update our MAL or A-P, or even make our YouTube “Liked Videos” playlists public, we could have a varied audience.

Attack on Titan is great for many reasons, but it's not for everyone. I try to remember that not everyone should watch the kind of violence in this show, so it's not something to recommend without qualifications. (Screenshot from ep 16)

Attack on Titan is great for many reasons, but it’s not for everyone. I try to remember that not everyone should watch the kind of violence in this show, so it’s not something to recommend without qualifications. (Screenshot from ep 16)

Even the Christian portion of our audience alone is varied—and that’s the portion I’m going to focus on in this post, for the sake of brevity (or the closest to brevity I can get). We watch, learn from, and mimic each other. We’re not responsibile for each other’s choices… but then again, to some extent, we are. As Christian anime fans, we navigate a subculture that some Christians dismiss as “heathen” and avoid at all costs. We’re newer to this subculture. Our pastors and evangelical leaders don’t talk or write much about it yet. So we lead each other. We recognize that we are free to watch anime of various kinds. But we must also recognize the influence each of us have—even those of us with fewer followers or internet friends—and the responsibility we have to use that influence wisely. Read the rest of this entry

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