I don’t know Jun Maeda’s works intimately well – not like some of the writers on our site. But I do love many of the works he had a heavy hand in, and from what I know of him, I feel that he has a unique talent at creating scenarios and work that pull real emotion out of audiences, and that he can take a commonplace storyline and turn it into something quite unconventional. That’s why hitherto, it’s been surprising for me that Charlotte, though very enjoyable, has been conventional.
But with episode six, Charlotte seems to be taking a turn toward something totally different.
One of the interesting things about this episode is that like the rest of the series, it’s playing with the audience. While the student council believes that Ayumi is the latest adolescent that demonstrates powers, the audience is meant to think that her classmate, Konishi, is actually the one with the “collapse” ability. In the final five minutes though, this run-of-the-mill episode ends with an unexpected bang – Ayumi is the one who exhibits the powers, collapsing the school building and perhaps falling to her death; Yuu, going to help his little sister, is apparently crushed by concrete – perhaps he died as well.
Depending on how the next episode turns out, this could be one of those moments in anime that really shocks you – an unexpected moment that changes the game. But right now, at this moment of time, it makes perfect sense to me, because it all too often takes moments like these to move people to change – and that, I guarantee, you’ll see from one or more of the characters in Charlotte.
Few anime possess the brilliance of Space Pirate Captain Harlock. On the night when I became inspired to write this article, I watched no fewer than seven episodes in a row. This viewing also happened to give me another, more happy topic, but the topic of death appeared more interesting. To be more precise, Captain Harlock inspired me to write about a theme in Catholic eschatology. Episode 17, “The Skeleton Hero,” was unique in focusing on the life of the Arcadia’s chief engineer, especially his relationship with his former captain, Yamanaka of the warship The Braves. (Most of the crew have amazing backstories.) What caused this reminiscence was the Arcadia receiving a distress message from Captain Yamanaka, whose ship has become stranded in the Horsehead Nebula.
Episode one of Plastic Memories had me hooked this season. With a theme and feel much like Time of Eve, one of my all-time favorite movies, and a dollop of moe, its pilot episode hit all the the right spots. Of course, the episodes following the first have yet to prove if the series will stand up to its concept, but that stands beyond the fact that it absolutely hit on a topic that is of utmost importance for Christians: finite-ness.
For those who are unaware, Plastic Memories follows a young man at a robot manufacturer’s department responsible for collecting and effectively “wiping” the memories of its old distributed models. The reason? Robots have a defined life span of 9 years, and they must be collected before they naturally and slowly progress offline. This presents a plethora of intriguing dilemmas as the robots are as close to human as one can get.
Why must humans suffer through parting with their loving companions? Why must robots operate at all, knowing that they are going to effectively “die”? What we’ve seen so far in Plastic Memories thus far is a mixture of perseverance and a loss of hope on the part of the heroine, Isla. But how does this translate into Christianity, for this is surely a relevant topic? Read the rest of this entry
After the events of last episode, Michiru apparently took an overdose of drugs in her depression. However, a few days later, she appears to be as active and normal as always. Unfortunately, the truth is that this is the “other” Michiru, and only Yuuji sees through her act. She claims that the original Michiru has fallen into a deep darkness in her heart, never to wake again.
Sachi then brings Yuuji a box that Michiru gave to her to hold onto forever. She is apparently troubled that she cannot clean the inside and there is no key available. In exchange, Yuuji “takes care” of the box for her by later “accidently” unlocking it and looking at its contents. He discovers that the other Michiru and the original Michiru had conversations via a diary in the past, and that the other Michiru surfaced as a result of a heart transplant. Michiru requested that the other her take over her body forever because she is unable to handle the sadness of the world when people die. The other her explains to Yuuji that she thinks Michiru deserves to live in the body and that she is not interested in the freedom of having a second life at the cost of Michiru. Yuuji takes this as that he can do whatever he wants to her body – by forcing her to swallow more medication to force the original Michiru’s personality to surface. He says he will do whatever she wants, and she answers that her one wish is to die. Yuuji obliges. Read the rest of this entry
Kokoro Connect continues to surprise me by how touching and involving it all is. Though not without its faults, it’s still one of my favorite series of the year. After a strange (but still compelling) fourth episode, five did was episode fives of good series often do – hit an early high point in the series.
Without going into much detail, a central theme to this episode is to do that which you have to as if there’s no tomorrow. If you could be brave enough to escape the fear of the moment, knowing that there is no fear of repercussion in the future, what would say?
And so, I’ll ask this question of you all: If you had only thirty minutes to live, what would you do or say?
Please use the comment area to tell us what’s in your heart – no names and specifics necessary, of course. I hope that perhaps, this episode and this question might persuade us to be brave ourselves and live stronger and deeper.
A while back, I had difficulty getting my son to close his eyes while I washed his face in the shower. I’d have to tell him multiple times to close his eyelids in the same shower session. One day, I just let him do what he wanted, and to his discomfort, soap ran into his eyes. He had a miserable time. But now, I never have to ask him to shut his eyes – he does it without any encouragement on my part.
Kokoro Connect demonstrated the same principle this week. At the close of the episode, Heartseed lets the gang know that he presented this awful situation to them as a way of pushing them forward – of making them do the things they needed. The pain opened them up and caused them to do what was necessary.
This push reminded me of these lyrics*:
Oh but you move me
Out of myself and into the fire
You move me
Now I’m burning with love
And with hope and desire
How you move me
These actions reminded me of God and his relationship with us. While I can’t relate Heartseed’s dishonesty or manipulation to God, a basic similarity arises. A message, oft repeated in evangelical circles (and said much more eloquently by others than I’ll paraphrase here), is this: God doesn’t mind hurting you if it helps you. Temporary pain might be necessary for eternal growth. Read the rest of this entry
Draggle, a wonderful writer who I frequently refer to (see the end of this article for links), graciously offered the following write-up as a guest post on this blog. We both felt it appropriate for this site. Enjoy!
You shall die. You speak incorrectly; say I will finish dying and you will be correct, because ever since I began living I began dying. — Francisco de Quevedo
Aquarion Evol has been a guilty pleasure of mine for the past season. For the most part, it’s all fluff: gratuitous mecha battles, thinly veiled sexual metaphors, and, of course, holes. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover the second half of episode 13 thought-provoking, and, dare I say, a downright mystical experience.
Now watch closely, everyone. I’m going to show you how to kill a god. A god of life and death. The trick is not to fear him.
– Lady Eboshi, “Princess Mononoke”
A common and compelling trope in anime is of characters challenging God. In Princess Mononoke, for instance, Lady Eboshi attempts to literally kill a god. And though more of the variety of the countless kami, the god she intends to kill is the Forest Spirit, who could represent a supreme God. In other series, like the more controversial Angel Sanctuary and Neon Genesis Evangelion, the killing of God is more directly aimed at one God and often the Christian one.
The irony is this – while these fictional characters risk everything in an attempt to kill God, the act has already been done. And it’s been accomplished by God himself. Read the rest of this entry
Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Crown Shuu with Crowns and Song, Fan Service in Church, and Rick Santorum Talks Boku no Pico
I grew up singing “Crown Him With Many Crowns,” but never a version like this! The multi-talented Emily of Altair and Vega sings Draggle’s reworked lyrics to the hymn, conveying events in Guilty Crown episode 19 that paint Shuu as a Jesus figure. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]
Abilene Christian University professor, Richard Beck, discusses what might be viewed as fan service in the church. [Experimental Theology]:
Because it seems to me that a lot of churches are so beholden to American consumerism that they are almost wholly given over to fan service, if only to attract the ‘spiritual shopper.’
Inushinde pokes a little fun at Rick Santorum and his opinions on homosexuality through a satirical piece involving the presidential candidate and Boku no Pico. [Shinde Iie Anime Blog]
Jay gets a deal on Haibane Renmei and finds the show to be full of interesting commentary on sin. [Jays’ Tee Vee]
On his personal blog, our own Zeroe4 completes his “Last Requiem” series regarding death, briefly referencing Eden of the East. [Zeroe4]
Jordan reviews the Jesus anime film, “My Last Day.” [The Otaku HQ]
And finally, though I’ve largely avoided discussion of Asura’s Wrath on this blog, I found Marlon Votta’s article about the game and it’s detractors (on religious grounds) to be interesting and worth mentioning. [INENTERTAINMENT]
As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere 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. Special thanks this week go out to Draggle, who tweeted me about Professor Beck’s post.