Blog Archives

Shirobako, Episode 19: Straight into the Future

I can’t remember the last time I watched a series that was as consistently excellent as Shirobako.  I’ve not been let down by any episode – they’re all terrific.  But this week, we might have gotten something a little better, a little more special.  There’s some Shirobako-style fanservice in episode 19, in the image of a young Marukawa, Sugie, and Ookura; the return of Yano; and new relationship dynamics, like that between Yano and Hiraoka.

More significantly, we finally get a breakthrough moment for our main character, Miyamori.  Though honestly, I was a little confused, as I wasn’t sure what the series was trying to tell us about career fulfillment for Miyamori.  Is it that if you go full steam ahead, you’ll find your dream?  Or is it that the dream is in the here and now?  Or maybe it’s that if you find something you love, like how Miyamori feels about anime because of her connections to it, you’ll learn to love it?

For someone like me, who’s already established in a career, another lesson was most striking: when things are difficult, and you don’t know the way – in the big picture or in the small – there is a reason, and as you make wise decisions, there is a good end in sight, even if you don’t know what that good end is.

shirobako 19b

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The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls: When Will My Time Come?

The new season of anime has brought another idol anime (think less heathen idols and more American Idol): specifically, another anime based on the iDOLM@STER franchise of idol-based video games. Cinderella Girls focuses on a new group of 14 girls, in particular focusing on the three newest members of the “Cinderella Project” group at 346 Productions: Uzuki, Rin, and Mio. Shortly after they are brought on board the project, they are put on the fast track to stardom as they are assigned roles as backup dancers for an established idol, and soon after that (in the most recent episode 5) are chosen to have their CD debut (along with two other members, Minami and Anastasia). This is all very exciting for these three, but not everyone is entirely happy with their success.

Miku is probably the most vocally displeased with how these three girls have gotten to have their idol debut already, when she has been with the project longer than they have. She challenges the girls to various games to try to take their place, tries to persuade the producer with her own debut proposal, and when all else fails, she “goes on strike” to make her case (and by “goes on strike”, she means blockading the company’s cafeteria). Her actions may be comical, but her frustration is very understandable: not only has she been practicing for a long time with no sign of her debut coming, but now she sees these three girls enter the project after her and get their debut before her–of course that would be disheartening.

Not to be confused with another, more electronic, idol named Miku.

Right: Anastasia. Left: Minami. Center: Miku (cat ears and sounds included).

Christians might also encounter a situation like what Miku goes through. They pray to God and seek after Him for something, whether that be a spouse, a promotion, or a special ministry opportunity, but God seems to remain silent about their request. This is discouraging enough as it is, but it only gets worse when they see their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who have been in the faith shorter than they have, get married, promoted, or enter ministry before they do. They know they should be happy for them, but instead they start to feel resentful toward their fellow Christians or toward God. Their faith starts to waver as they wonder, “When will my time come?”

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Your Lie in April, Episode 16: No Time

With the Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) manga coming to an end, the birth pains are being felt in the anime version as well.  In episode 16, more than in any other, we see how debilitating Kaori’s illness is to her, and become more assured that her disease is fatal.

In recent episodes, Kaori has been largely absent; she’s been relegated to background.  The action has been proceeding without her (even in this episode, the story development is as hurried as ever, as we find out more about Nagi’s personality and a surprise, that she’s Takeshi’s little sister) as she literally withers away.  But in this episode, Kaori retakes her place as a center of the story, and where we once saw brief hints and images of her frailty, we now see her quickly losing her motor skills, including in the image that struck me most, of Kaori dropping her bow, unable to hold her beloved instrument.

arima x kaori

I was reminded of a friend of a friend who recently and suddenly loss her husband to a heart attack.  He left behind two children with disabilities, including one has profound physical disabilities associated with a disease that will eventually take his life.  More than ever, that family has to deal with the painful message that life is short; there is no time to spare.

Certainly there’s a message to be seen here – one we encounter in plenty of different shows and movies: we don’t know how much time is left, so live life to the fullest.

kaori miyazono

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Osananajimi: Growing Up With God

First of all, many thanks to TWWK for inviting me to join this site. For my first post on here, I thought I would repost a post I made a long time ago on my own blog, A Series of Miracles. This post is a very personal subject for me, and I think it will also serve well as an introduction to me and my own history with Christ.

Osananajimi is a Japanese term that translates to “childhood friend”, and indeed means just that. In and of itself, the term has no romantic connotations and can refer to any unrelated person, male or female, with or without romantic connections, with whom a person has grown up with. From what I gather, culturally the Japanese value those whom they have grown up with as having a special connection with them, and as such, the childhood friend has been a popular character in classical fiction, including as a romantic interest.

In the world of anime and related media, though, the popularity of the osananajimi as a romantic interest largely comes from their use in dating sims and visual novels, particularly Shiori Fujisaki in Tokimeki Memorial and Akari Kamigishi in To Heart. (Also worth noting is Kanon, which likely helped popularize the “meeting with childhood friend after a long time apart” variation.) Since then, theosananajimi has been a common character in all sorts of anime, manga, and the like, with some recent examples including Rihoko Sakurai in Amagami, Chiwa Harusaki in OreShura, Manami Tamura in OreImo, and… well, the entire core cast of AnoHana.

Alt text, we found you!

Not even death can separate them… not that it didn’t try.

As for why this character is so popular, I would say it’s because they exemplify a lot of traits—faithfulness, ability to love despite imperfections, ability to be open with each other, and a deep sense of intimacy that comes from a well-developed friendship—that are very desirable in any romantic partner.

The osananajimi has been one of my favorite character types since very early in my anime-watching experience, though that is very largely in part due to one obscure, unlicensed (and probably will never be licensed) visual novel adaptation called Lamune, which even now has one of my favorite portrayals of a childhood friend romance in anime. As for why I like such characters—and their romances—so much… that is a good question. It’s not like I have any female childhood friends myself that I wish I could be with, nor do I particularly care about finding one again in the first place.

The aforementioned desirable qualities of a romantic partner could be a factor. However, after some consideration, it became clear to me why I like osananajimi characters so much.

It’s because they remind me of my relationship with God. Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Junketsu No Maria and the Church…Oh Boy…

One of the more interesting series this season is Junketsu no Maria, which I became aware of through my friend Alexander, of Ashita no Anime.  The first group of links below discuss the series’ tone toward Catholicism and the Catholic Church, and join another gaggle of terrific posts about religion from anibloggers this week.

Junketsu no Maria is stirring a lot of discussion, particularly as it relates to its anti-Catholic tone. [Mage in a Barrel]

Draggle, on the other hand, sees it a bit differently. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

The series also brings to brings this thought to the forefront – why does God let evil and pain exist? [Joeschmo’s Gears and Grounds]

Though E Minor doubts whether this series will bring any depth regarding religious discussion at all. [Moe Sucks]

Kuroshitsuji demonstrates an interesting biblical idea – that through faith, man can “defeat” demons. [Old Line Elephant]

Sensuality, food…and God? Koufuku Graffiti brings these threads together surprisingly well. [A Series of Miracles]

Assassination Classroom is part of anime’s declaration that teacher are so very important, an idea which the Bible also emphasizes. [A Series of Miracles]

Shingeki no Bahamut does many things well, including demonstrating the four kinds of love, as given by C.S. Lewis. [Medieval Otaku]

Casey Covel gives Bleach a middling review, and provides in-depth analysis for Christians as they approach the series. [Geeks Under Grace]

In somewhat of a story-like manner, Tofugu continues his chronicle of the history of Christianity in Japan. [Tofugu]

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

 

Your Lie in April, Episode 14: Choosing the Song

Much of the action in episode 14 of Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) takes place in a confined space – the bare walls of a small hospital room.  But while the action in this episode is passive, our protagonist’s thoughts are moving a mile a minute.  Two trains of thought are hurtling through Arima’s mind – the first is a fearful one, as he again worries that he’ll lose someone so dear to him.  The second, though almost overtaken by the first in this episode, remains hopeful, as Arima continues to be fully drawn toward Kaori, determining that she again lifted him up, having selected the previous piano piece specifically for him.

april 14a

As Arima explains his performance to Kaori in this episode, it seems that he hasn’t fully processed it.  The audience, though, has – we witnessed how he struggled through it and came out shining.  But we remember, maybe better than Arima, that it was a struggle, even before the recital, as haunting memories came flooding back to him (remember that Arima kept telling Kaori he didn’t want to play this piece).  But in the pain, there was meaning.

There was a reason Kaori chose this song for Arima.

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Celestial Method, Episode 9: I Did It My Way

Celestial Method (Sora no Method) has a lot going for it – cute characters, emotional storylines, and a nice OP and ED (speaking of which, see and hear our own Japes sax up the show’s end theme). But I can’t say that the series is unique in any sense.  It revisits a lot of motifs, themes, plot lines, and characterizations from other similar works, and episode nine is no different.  With Shione realizing that Noel is going to disappear after the group’s wish is granted, she does what might be expected of such a character – she sacrifices her own needs for the group, and she does so by trying to chase Nonoka away by speaking more harsh words.

Still, that’s all within the bounds of Shione’s character.  For being such a cool cat, in a lot of ways, she’s the least mature member of the group.  She has trouble making friends; she can’t let go of grudges; she internalizes all her pain; and she’s unable to take a leap forward for fear of what it might mean.

shione celestial method

And so, instead of doing what Nonoka might, and explaining to the rest what is going to occur and sharing the pain with them, Shione takes all the burden upon herself.  Feeling guilty because it was originally her wish that set these events in motion, fearful of establishing trust with her friends, and retreating into her self-imposed isolation, reflected through her constant shuttering of the outside world through her headphones and also containing a tinge of pride that says “I know how to handle this best,” Shione pushes everyone away once again.

It’s this action that shows how much Shione still has to grow.

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Come and See: Do You Need Forgiveness?

Beneath the Tangles isn’t your typical aniblog.  While we certainly discuss anime – lots of it – our purpose goes further than that, beneath the tangles of entertainment and animation.  We seek to look at what we believe are spiritual truths as demonstrated through anime.  We also want to engage our readers in discussion related to religion and spirituality, to encourage people to dig deeper into faith and question what they believe to be true.

To help accomplish this, I’ve been posting a biweekly series asking questions related to Christianity, religion, and/or spirituality.  Here is the last in this short series, and as with the others, I hope it will give you pause and maybe stir some discussion.

Today’s questions are about sin and forgiveness:

  • How do you define sin?  Do you consider yourself a sinner?
  • What standard to you follow for your morals?  Are you able to meet such standards?
  • Do you believe you’re in need of forgiveness for your sins? From whom?
  • How is forgiveness achieved?

Please comment below with your responses as we engage each other about faith.

Sword Art Online 2, Episode 6: Problematic Pain

If that bullet could also kill a player in the real world, and if you didn’t shoot them, you or someone you loved would be killed, could you still pull the trigger?

I won’t lie.  Sword Art Online 2 has kept me entertained all season long.  The Alfheim Online arc burned me so bad that I’ve lost the absolute love I once had for the series, but it’s starting to come back.  I’ve even begun to accept Kirito and Sinon in all their post-traumatic stress syndrome glory whilst just two weeks ago, I felt that the latter’s back story was too contrived.

Sinon Sword Art Online

I thought episode six, however, did an especially good job of demonstrating to us that these two characters had real fear and real pain from the past.  Their situations are more extreme than a typical person’s – they aren’t the hurts that most of us can relate to.  But they’re perhaps the kind of hurts that it might be good for us to reflect upon.

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Anime Today: The Thought That Counts

As much as I might hate to admit it, I have often found myself thoroughly enjoying the moeblob. Every season, without fail, there is at least some airing anime that serves absolutely no purpose but to present cute girls doing cute things (I’m looking at you K-On!). And despite a severe lack of depth and mindless pandering, I still watch them. Even more than that, though… I actively enjoy them.

Chino Kafu GochiUsa

Art by Syroh (Pixiv ID 43635800)

This season’s token moeblob is easily Is the Order a Rabbit. With enlarged heads, feminine uniforms, appearances of each female anime archetype, and even a smidgen of shoujo-ai (to some’s chagrin), it absolutely fits the bill. Now while a good discussion from here would be to investigate whether or not a moeblob is edifying for Christian consumption, that is an article for another time (though if you would like something more along those lines, check out this article that raises a similar question in regard to the sister genre of yuri). Instead, today, I would like to look into a theme that struck me in episode five of Is the Order a Rabbit.

Is it true that it is the thought that counts?

In my experience, this concept is one of the most popular themes to be found in family friendly media. Sometimes entire movies or episodes are devoted to it, but even more telling is that it is often brought up so casually as to be assumed as truth (real proof of something that is culturally engrained). With that said, I have often heard many a sermon or discussion by self-proclaimed believers, denying this “worldly truth” as nothing more than a “feel-good” proverb. “Faith without works is dead” they say*. However, is that really true? Is this denial really even worth making?

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