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Anime Today: The Holy Grail and Other Treasures

Hi, everyone!  It’s Charles, here, taking over JP’s Anime Today column.  Just for one week, though, I promise!

When I think of villains, anime and otherwise, what usually comes to mind isn’t just the antagonist, but his or her goal.  These aims are usually something that occupies, consumes, and transforms them.  Aizen from Bleach is a good example – he transforms physically as he comes nearer his goal.  A more recent example is of Sasuke Uchiha, whose entire demeanor and personality is created because of his goal, vengeance (which I would further argue remains his goal in some odd, tangential way, even when he’s somewhat reformed in the final few chapters of Naruto).

This season, I’m looking to Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works for more of the same.  Having forgotten (purposefully?) the first Fate/stay night television series, I’m being surprised by the reveals of the masters and heroes as we go along.  I’m eager to see who they are and what their motivations are.  If it’s anything like Fate/Zero, what drives each of these individuals is part of the fantastic, over-the-top fun part of the series.

But it’s not just antagonists that have some internal drive that we might consider wrong, sinful, or even just “off the mark.”  In Unlimited Blade Works, we have two masters as protagonists, and neither are coming from some perfect place.  Tohsaka seems confused – she’s clouded by her lifelong desire to honor her dad by making her entire identity hinge on being a mage, but she can’t shake her heart’s desire to do good.  Emiya, on the other hand, as Kaze has pointed out to me, is blinded by what should be a good thing – his desire to help everyone.

fate 2b

As viewers, we probably better identify with these protagonist’s struggles than with the villains’.  The good guys aren’t trying to destroy people or conquer the world – they’re dealing with modest stuff: Tohsaka is working through family and self issues and Emiya is naive and overly optimistic.  In the middle of a fantastic war, these two characters feel like real people, and they have significant goals that they treasure.

Read the rest of this entry

Anime Japan 2014


Confession time. Until just recently, I had never been to an anime convention. That being said, I can now say I have. On March 22nd, I attended Anime-Japan 2014 in Odaiba, Tokyo. It was crazy. Having never been to a convention before, I was invited to go with a friend who has been to conventions in the USA and even volunteered at some. This was her first convention in Japan. She was very surprised at how normal everyone looked. There were very few cosplayers.

The entire convention was highly organized and no one was just laying about. I was just excited to be in Odaiba. We were directed completely around the convention center to the back doors, which happened to be the entrance to the event.

DSC00471There are some experiences you never forget. One is riding in a crowded subway or train in Tokyo. Another would be the experience of being pushed around inside of a Japanese convention. It was hectic for a introvert like myself, but I was amazed at the number of people who came. I traveled through the entire convention, avoiding certain sections I did not feel comfortable with. I struggled to take pictures in the crowd, but still I found many wonderful things.


I discovered Super Heroes


and Robot Boys

DSC00517and Mechas

DSC00522and drawings from the artists at Bones


DSC00557and Tachikoma

DSC00549a storyboard

DSC00493these guys


and a robot cat.

However, the thing I discovered that was by far the best wasn’t robotic, 2D, or even popular. It was time spent with a friend on an adventure, getting confused by the trains, crushed by currents of people, and fighting lines in konbini. It was a wondrous adventure. I recommend going with someone, because even if you don’t like the madness, you can enjoy the company.

I loved seeing how much people appreciate anime, but the event itself reflected a loneliness that I have often sensed here. Thousands of people in two gigantic rooms and almost all of them looked like they felt alone. In a way, this event is about more than anime. It is about money, but it works because of a longing in people to be drawn to other people who value what they value.

If there is one thing I regret about this event, it is that I was so worried and focused on my own thing, that I forgot to look at the value of the people around me. I forgot to look at them the way God does. God loves them. I let my fear rule me for a time, but I am not supposed to live in fear. I am not supposed to feel alone, and neither is anyone else who was there. I wish now that my focus had been on the people instead of the event. Next time, I want to go to meet people instead of just seeing anime booths.


A Year Ago on Beneath the Tangles

A year ago…Hana of T.H.A.T. Anime Blog guest posted about how her religion affects her cosplaying…

…and I guest posted at Anime Instrumentality about Fractale and Japan’s love for Irish music.

Kanba and Shouma reindeer

A year ago…I wished everyone a Merry Christmas by analyzing the finale of Mawaru Penguindrum

…and a Happy New Year by discussing Gilles de Rais of Fate/zero.

A year ago…Goldy talked about Guilty Crown and being yourself…

…and “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” and getting out of one’s comfort zone.

A year ago…I visited my first con…haruhi-movie-182

…where I sat down for a second interview with Caitlin Glass.

A year ago…I scattered thoughts about the Toradora OVA episode…

made a judgment about our reasons for going to church (according to Hourou Musuko)…

saw four “faces” of God in Chihayafuru

…and gave thanks for Don and others for their various gifts.

Wandering Son

My Favorite Things (2012)

Love ’em or hate ’em, Christmas songs are ubiquitous during the holiday season.  In my household, we have Michael Bublé, Martina McBride, Andrea Bocelli, and MercyMe playing constantly.  The music of the season has become part of the holiday tradition for many families.  A lesser tradition here on this blog is my rewording of a song that has become a holiday classic – “My Favorite Things.”

Chihaya is only a few weeks away;
Anime tropes even if they’re cliche;
Saber rises above the other kings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Art by スロウス@ついったは住み家

Art by スロウス@ついったは住み家

Mawaru Penguindrum
coming on Blu-Ray;
Kiritsugu finally fights against Kirei;
Rikka to Yuta with a pinky clings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Yuta and Rikka

Art by 鳩

Read the rest of this entry

TWWK’s Top Anime of 2012

2012 is ending in a whimper, at least for me, as there are few series I’m absolutely loving this fall.  That seems to apply to the year as whole.  Looking back at my list of best anime from 2011, there were a number of series that jumped into select company among my very favorites, including Hourou Musuko, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Usagi Drop, and Mawaru Penguindrum.  I had yet to see Steins;gate or the first season of Fate/Zero at the time of that posting, but they would have been included in the group as well.

Because of the lack of great series this year, I’m not giving as many shows on the following list.  I dropped dozens of series this year, too; they didn’t interest me enough to continue watching, failed to keep my interest for the entire season (ex. Accel World and Eureka Seven Ao), or were dropped for other reasons.  I also want to note that didn’t see a number of critically acclaimed series this year, skipping out the likes of Space Brothers, Jorgumand, Kimi to Boku and the latest Natsume Yuujinchou,and stalling on Psycho Pass.

And because I didn’t complete too many shows in 2012, this end-of-year list functions more to show my favorites than those I judge the best.  Let me know your favorites in the comment section below.

Merely Okay: 3 to 4 Stars

Little Busters

First, the bad: the series has been, well, boring.  It also has way too many girls who act like they have some psychological condition.  Luckily, the show has been trending upward lately, and I’m eagerly anticipating the second season.  There are also some fun characters (mostly male). Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Tsuritama’s Hindu Conch, Tokyo Cathedral Cafe, and Destined to be a Shuu

Mira unpacks the Hindu and Buddhist implications of the conch shell in Tsuritama. [Hachimitsu]

Lacybacula tells us all about a cafe in Tokyo with a unique spin – it’s designed to resemble a Catholic Church [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Zeroe4 calls us the “Shuu’s of the world” as he muses on God-given destinies, including his own  while in Japan. [Zeroe4]

A Day Without Me provides background on the Angra Mainyu from the Zoroastrian religion in her breakdown of Fate/zero, episode 25. [GAR GAR Stegosaurus]

Jason Morehead appreciates the themes in Haibane Renmei as a meaningful series full of spiritual content. [Christ and Pop Culture]


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. 

A Heart Matter: Fate/Zero’s Grail and Prometheus’ Black Ooze

For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

–   Genesis 3:5

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Prometheus and Fate/Zero (through episode 24)

Even if you’re like me and knew little of the context heading into Fate/Zero, it was portended right from the beginning of the series that the Holy Grail was going to come with strings attached.  And what a string it is – Angra Mainyu, the “destructive spirit,” is contained within the grail.

In episode 24, Kiritsugu, coming to understand the rules of the Grail as well as the evil spirit lying within, chooses to reject it.  In trying to bring peace to the world, he would instead bring destruction to it.

Fate/Zero Holy Grail

Tainted Grail (art by ちご)

The analogy between the Grail and another sacred symbol, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, must be made.  Eve took of the tree and shared with her husband, the two eating from it to become like gods.  Kiritsugu, too, seeks that power – to know the way and create a way to do something godly. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Mathematical God of GitS, Religion in Gundam, and the Good Shepherd in Fate/Zero

Aelysium examines Ghost in the Shell and takes apart a Tachikoma’s theory of mathematics and God. [Anime Elysium]

Rocklobster approves of how religion is portrayed in Gundam oo. [Lobster Quadrille]

Tommy thanks God (more than once) for a great Colossalcon, as he shifts the direction of his blog more toward convention talk. [Anime Bowl]

I believe GAR GAR Stegosaurus is the only blog to really mention the reading of Psalms 23 at the end of episode 23 of Fate/Zero. [GAR GAR Stegosaurus]

Ghostlightning continues his revisit of Cowboy Bebop, detailing why episode 23, involving a religious cult based on Heaven’s Gate, is similar and superior to the Cowboy Bebop film. [We Remember Love]


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. 

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Christians as Black Rock Shooters, Kiritsugu’s Wish in a Sinful World, and a Religion of No Underpants

Zeroe4 elegantly compares to the world of Black★Rock Shooter to ours and calls us all “Black Rock Shooters of sorts.” [Zeroe4]

John predicts the new Bible manga will be useful for some, but lacking for others. [AnimeNation]

Katherine discusses the idea of humanity, free will, and choosing evil in examining the result of Kiritsugu’s wish, if it comes true. [GAR GAR Stegosaurus]

Bianca Montes of UT-Arlington’s student newspaper gives us some family background (including that she is “rocking a few tattoos as a Christian”) to contextualize the idea of openness and tolerance she identified in her first visit to an anime convention. [The Shorthorn]

And finally, something would be amiss if I didn’t mention Draggle and friends’ thoughtful study and theories about…the lack of underpants and religious practice in Queen’s Blade society.  Here are some particularly delightful snippets from the collaborative effort [Draggle’s Anime Blog]:

Much like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness of Canaan were forbidden from worshipping idols after they repeatedly tried to do so, the religion of Queen’s Blade actively forbade pants as blasphemous and idolatrous after women, possessed by demons, began to wear them. Clearly, the god of Queen’s Blade is a pervert. There will be no virgin birth in this world.


As the series has shown us, males are inherently unholy creatures. They are unable to partake in the worship of god and wear pants (a mark of the unclean) shamelessly.


In a society concerned primarily with fertility and the worship thereof, it makes sense that pants would be eschewed. After all, pants get in the way of both the sexual act of fertilizing the egg, and the worship of the sacred bearer of fertility.

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Tattoos of Psalms and Spike Spiegel, Pride of Fate/zero Mages, and a Holy Light on Gon

I discovered a new blog this week, and strangely not through the Aniblog Tourney.  Lady Geek Girl and Friends examines geek culture, but adds to that with discussion of religion, feminism, and other ideas.  In one post, for instance, Lady Saika dishes about the portrayal of Christianity in anime, realistic and otherwise. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

A documentary was just premiered which examines the depths of tattoo culture.  Interestingly enough, one of the doc’s featured individuals is a young woman who has tattoos inspired by both Cowboy Bebop and her Christian faith, including one of Spike Spiegel. [South Florida Sun-Sentinal]

In his post on episode 18 of Fate/zero, Draggle discusses Kiritsugu’s father and the sin of pride. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

Bitmap discusses the “mysterious bhavacakra” featured in the OP for Mysterious Girlfriend X. [The Untold Story of Altair and Vega]

Shimaru starts his analysis on episode 30 of Hunter x Hunter by saying how much Gon resembles Jesus in a scene from that episode. [UNMEI KAIHEN]


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. 


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