Blog Archives

Working!!! and Scripture: Neither as Simple as it Seems

A third of the way through season three of Working!!! (Wagnaria), and I’m super pleased – the show continues its wonderful, character-based humor (as expected) while moving along romantic relationships (not necessarily as expected). And as has been impressed upon me all along, the series confirms that it isn’t just funny – it’s a really well-made show.

I was trying to explain this point to someone last week, and it was hard for me to do so – I’m not 100% sure what makes Working!!! more than just fun.  It has a lot to do with smart source material, with its well-written gags and funny situations.  It also has plenty to do with the characters, who are loveable, well-defined, and who grow, bit by bit, through the course of the series.   And it certainly has to do with how the four panel strips, so obviously the format for the show’s source material, flow well thematically from episode to episode when animated.

In short, while the series seems simple, it’s a lot more complicated than we might give it credit for.

It took me 2+ seasons, but I've learned to like Yamada.

It took me 2+ seasons, but I’ve learned to like Yamada.

Not all of you may agree with my assertion – I may have to butt heads with some of you that see the series as relatively common.  There’s a parallel here, too, with a work I esteem much more highly – and strangely, it’s more often the choir to whom I preach the merits of that work. Read the rest of this entry

Charlotte, Episode 4: Earning It

Baseball episode!

I love baseball, and so, Little Busters notwithstanding, I really enjoy baseball episodes/series. And if you throw in the emotion of the relationship called a battery, I’m done for.

As the student council, with a new two new characters in two, finds their next subject, they turn to a baseball game to bring the pitching ace into their school.  But with supernatural powers being wielded, the contest is a farce from the start.  The opposing team’s pitcher throws a near-unhittable knuckleball through telekinesis, while in the 9th inning, the student council’s team counters with their own powers.

charlotte 4a

It’s surprising perhaps, then, that the game-winning hit depends on one not using his powers, as Yuu gives his all sincerely without using his ability.  Going into the at bat, he wonders how he could use his power, not even thinking of getting a hit in a legitimate fashion, but Nao insists that he find a way to drive two runs home on his own.

Yuu is understandably apprehensive.  He, like many of us, would rather fake it than do things legitimately and risk mediocrity, embarrassment, or failure. Read the rest of this entry

Charlotte, Episode 3: Dragging the Dead

Don’t keep dragging the dead into your life.

In episode three of Charlotte, we’re introduced to a delinquent named Sho, who is unable to let go of Misa, a recently deceased girl who takes over the consciousness of her little sister’s body. At the end of the episode, after Nao and the rest of the student council help Misa get her idol sister out of a difficult situation, the deceased girl says goodbye to her former comrade with those words I quoted above.

The episode wasn’t particularly emotional to me. I can’t help but compare Charlotte to Angel Beats!, where it’s characters suffered through traumatizing experiences (Yuri and Iwasawa come to mind), and the situations we’ve seen in the last two episodes can’t compare. But then again, I haven’t experienced the death of anyone intimately close to me, and I wonder if the episode was more meaningful to people who have, and particularly when hearing those words – “don’t keep dragging the dead into your life.”

charlotte 3a Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Wolfwood Gospel, Fairy Tail Vulnerability, and Ecchi for Christians

Ah, July…the days of summer heat, fireworks, and of course, new summer series! There’s a lot to be excited about this summer season, including some of the series talked about below, including one whose light novel is getting a translation in English!

Nicholas D. Wolfwood’s final, moving scene in Trigun gives us the story of his redemption, and the gospel message for all. [Old Line Elephant]

Humility and an understanding that in loneliness, we are not alone, can help us through challenges, as demonstrated in Sore ga Seiyuu! [UEM]

JekoJeko also jumps into the question of how Christians should approach ecchi imagery in anime, using Kill la Kill and ME!ME!ME! to illustrate. [2]

As mentioned in the article above, prayer can certainly help when deciding what anime to consume and which to skip. [Anime Revolution]

In his celebration of Seraph of the End, Medieval Otaku mentions the atheistic view of the series’ vampires. [Medieval Otaku]

Speaking of Medieval Otaku, wonder what he’s been up to lately? Read all about it, including his jump into Angel Cop, which seems to make more obvious religious analogies than most series. [2]

In Charlotte, Yuu thinks no one knows his secret…but of course, Nao knows. And such discovery happens to us all – if not publicly, then between us and One other. [Christian Anime Review]

Unclear about what the characters mean when they say things in OreGairu? You’re not the only one. Perhaps they should have taken the apostle James’ advice on communication. [2]

Cana’s story in Fairy Tail demonstrates how becoming vulnerable can lead to transformation. [Geeks Under Grace]

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.

Patreon Drive, Final Day: Tangled Community

Today is the final day of our Patreon Drive.  Thank you to those who have supported so far – your contributions have set the stage for greater development at Beneath the Tangles as we seek to deliver stronger content to a wider audience.

Ultimately, our goal here to establish genuine community on the blog – no small feat seeing as we occupy a very niche portion of the aniblogosphere and face head-on the controversial topic of religion.  But in the years of this blog, a feeling of community has grown, and I know I see our readers – those visible and those not – as vital parts of our site, making Beneath the Tangles work.  It’s through this collective that we’ll be able to move in readers’ lives, using anime as a medium to transform thinking and how we view both what we watch and how we view faith.

If you haven’t given yet, please consider donating – we’re asking for just $2 per month.  And thank you for all your support, financial or otherwise!

Beneath the Tangles Patreon Drive

 

Anime Today: No Dandelions in God’s Castle Town

This season, the new show that surprised me with how much I liked it is Joukamichi no Dandelion, a.k.a. Castle Town Dandelion. The premise sounds like some kind of faux-reality-TV show: nine siblings of a royal family with superpowers mingle with commoners in a normal suburb, but they have their lives monitored by cameras as the public prepares to vote one sibling to become the next king. However, instead of drama, politics, and backstabbing, the show is actually a pleasant slice-of-life comedy about family and what it’s like to try to live relatively normal life despite being part of the royal family.

It helps that I can really relate to Akane, the fourth sibling and third sister of the household. She is painfully shy, easily embarrassed, and hates being the center of attention, and the fact that her father, the king, has surveillance cameras all over town, and that her life is an in-universe reality TV show, freaks her out. She talks about how she wants to be like a dandelion (title drop!), someone that people just ignore so she can live a quiet life. She even briefly considers becoming king so she can get rid of the cameras, before realizing that just being the king would expose her even more to people’s attention.

I completely understand how she feels, because I also do not like having a lot of attention on me. It’s why I prefer to help out with behind-the-scenes work rather than go out front as a leader or as the face of an operation. I can especially imagine how uncomfortable I would feel if my family decided to star in a reality TV show (do the kids of reality TV families even get a say on the matter?), or if I was born into the President’s family or some other royal-like family, with the general public watching my life.

Her superpower, for the record, is gravity manipulation. Good for simulating flight, bad for keeping people from seeing up your skirt.

When you have a news channel specifically dedicated to your family’s lives, it just makes things worse.

There is one complication, though. I might not have been born into a royal family, but when I became a Christian, I was certainly adopted into one.

Read the rest of this entry

Patreon Drive! Donate $2 to Support Beneath the Tangles

Dear Readers,

When I established Beneath the Tangles almost five years ago, it was with a singular goal in mind – to engage anime fans with a different sort of analysis, bringing in Christian concepts and ideas to how we can interpret anime. It was nothing unique – Christian Anime Alliance had long existed by this point and a number of sites had attempted to do the same in various ways, but there was certainly a gap that a consistent blog delving into this idea might thrive.

As the years have passed, the blogosphere has changed. Many of the old-time bloggers, including a throng of those that began their own aniblogs in 2010, remain (and even thrive). But there are also now a number of blogs with a similar mission to ours, establishing a community that I think is making an interesting impact on western otakudom. It’s been an encouragement to partner, officially or otherwise, with dozens of other writers and editors who are examining anime and manga from a Christian lens.

But the community goes beyond Christian anime fans – and that, too, has also been a primary goal of Beneath the Tangles. While I love discussing anime and religion with those that share my faith, I enjoy it even more when we engage people of others faiths (or not at all), and even better, when they become part of the genuine community we’re trying to establish here.  Beneath the Tangles was never meant to be a blog – it was meant to be a destination where our writers and readers can establish a most unique kind of interfaith community, one in which we bond over Japanese cartoons and matters of faith.

As we continue to push ourselves to deliver stronger content, we need you, our faithful readers, to continue to help.  This week, Beneath the Tangles will be moving forward with a Patreon drive.  Our goals are both modest and powerful – we ask that you consider donating $2 a month to us to help us improve our site and bring it to larger audiences.  We’ll use your funds in those two ways – 1) to aid in developing stronger content by making purchases related to site development and 2) to bring our message to a larger readership through active marketing.

We ask that if you’ve been blessed by our content, that you’ll strongly consider giving.  That small amount can help us greatly, and certainly anything more than that will be helpful as well (and could lead to goodies).  Please follow the link below to check out our fundraiser:

Beneath the Tangles Patreon Drive

And if you’re unable to give at this time, as I know many of you are, I hope you’ll keep us in mind in the future, and for the time being that you’ll help spread the message about this drive and our site by hitting one of those social media icons below and lettings other anime fans know that a community like ours is eager to engage with them.

Thank you!

Charles

Between the Panels: Keith Shadis’ Extra-ordinary Worth

I’m Casey, known to the cosplay and geek realm as Cutsceneaddict, and I’m the newest writer here at Beneath the Tangles. “Between the Panels” is my monthly column on manga, so I encourage you to read along with me as I draw spiritual applications from your favorite series. I assure you that if I can analyze something, I will over-analyze it, though I’ll do my best to keep things within that comfortable 1,500-word range. In any case, find a cozy couch, grab a box of Pocky, and enjoy!

divider 2

I told myself I would write about any franchise besides Attack on Titan for my first “Between the Panels” entry, primarily because my first guest post at Beneath the Tangles covered the events of chapter 69. Naruto, Your Lie in April, Kingdom Hearts, Trigun—I considered writing about any one of these franchises. But, lo and behold, that fated time of month rolled around, and with the release of a new chapter in the Attack on Titan storyline, I found myself struck with a tsunami of inspiration that I couldn’t keep bottled up.

For better or worse, here it is:

Attack on Titan spoilers below! If you haven’t “read ahead” via the manga, and only seen the anime, then please read at your own risk. Believe it or not, some characters in the series die, and they’re named here. Also, manga scans. Lots of them.

Chapter 71 is about the start of a new arc, the backstory of Keith Shadis, and the interwoven history of Grisha Yeager. But more importantly, it’s about worth—the worth we place on ourselves, the worth with which others label us, and the worth we are inherently born with.

Eren goes to his one-time, crotchety drill sergeant for answers about his father, but what he gets instead is a lengthy inferiority narrative about Shadis’ personal struggles as a military commander.

keith shadis one act of merit Read the rest of this entry

Like Patema, Religion Can Be Inverted

Religion is wrong.  At least fanatical religion is, according to the general tone of western culture, if not outright through its statements about zealotry.  Islam is good, but when taken to the extreme, it’s bad.  Christianity is okay, but not when you tell people it’s the only way.  Buddhism is lovely precisely because of it’s openness.

Although I largely disagree with the statements above (after all, if you believe in the veracity of Christ’s words, you can be nothing less than a zealot of sorts), there’s no doubt that religion taken to an extreme can be close-minded, hypocritical, and dangerous – all these ideas expressed in Patema Inverted, where Izamura, the religious/political leader of Aiga, uses fear and religion to keep the masses under his thumb while pursuing the exposure (and destruction?) of the “inverts,” those whose gravity is the opposite of his people and who live underneath their feet.

patema inverted 1

Patema Inverted is no subtle film – the message of how religion can go terribly wrong is hammered into us from the beginning.  In fact, the first images to really hit me from the world of Aiga were those of the central tower in the city, rising like a ziggurat in the landscape, and more specifically, like the Tower of Babel, the structure the ancients built to reach to God, but which in turn led them further away from Him (and from each other).  The tower in Aiga appears to easily be the biggest structure in the city, casting a shadow over the population, and staffed by intimidating security personnel, reminding the populace that religion is king – obey the rules, avoid sin, and do what is told of you. Read the rest of this entry

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

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