Blog Archives

Gaming With God: The Devil’s Eden

I’m an RPG fanatic, especially since I was very young. I enjoy reading books, so these kinds of games would take me on a journey that I couldn’t experience with other genres. One of my favorite series of all time has been Breath of Fire, especially part III. I have a deep hatred for part V (BoF Dragon Quarter) because of how terrible of a game it was, but that’s for another post.

Spoilers ahead for Breath of Fire IIIBofFIIILogo

BoF III is possibly my favorite of the five games (part six is currently in the works!) because of its plot, characters, realistic situations and humor. You play as the protagonist Ryu, a member of the Brood (Dragon Clan) who doesn’t say a word (typical RPG cliché) and his friends Nina, Teepo and Rei. The game starts off with them as kids going through various adventures, meeting new party members that become friends. They find out that Ryu’s clan of the Brood was eliminated centuries ago by order of the Goddess Myria. One of Ryu’s party members was part of a group of Guardians that killed off his clan and now wants to finish him off as well. He fails and the party goes their own ways for a time.

Free Will

The game jumps a few years and we find Ryu is now a teenager who joins back with his team and they go on a quest to find out why the Goddess decided to wipe out the ancient Dragon Clan. When they finally arrive and begin to question her, she explains that the Brood were a danger to the world and had to be destroyed before they unleashed their power. Since she was defeated by the Dragon Clan in Breath of Fire I, she already has hatred towards them and that’s why she committed genocide. She knows how powerful Ryu already is so instead of fighting him, she offers him a choice.

Give up your free will and live peacefully in her makeshift Garden of Eden or fight.

Myria_Bed

The Goddess Myria in her human form speaking to Ryu in his sleep.

Read the rest of this entry

Volunteers in Need of Help: OreGairu and Godly Contentment

In the modern world, the term “contentment” feels so old-fashioned and out of place.  Why strive for contentment when we can have more?  And indeed, that’s what it seems our lives are often about – becoming better, richer, stronger.  But in attaining the things that make us happy, we often don’t feel the satisfaction we think we might – there’s no contentment when we seek things that won’t fulfill us.

In OreGairu, the service club has a near-perfect track record.  They help all their clients, but they can’t seem to help themselves.  All three, but especially the original two members – Hachiman and Yukino – are sure of their ways, and find success in them (as they each define success), but have no peace.  Perhaps it’s because each is seeking something that can never be fulfilling:

Yui and Approval

oregairu 2bThe first client of the club, and the third member to join, Yui has trouble establishing effective relationships because she’s afraid of showing her true self.  Yui has lived a life that basically says that she’d rather have shallow friendships than dig into something deeper that might damage them.  Yui wants the approval of others and is afraid of rejection at the start of the series; even now, she continues to battle this struggle, though Hachiman and Yukino helped her move past a significant hurdle in not worrying so much about what others think.

It’s easy to get bogged down in what others think of us.  Our relationships often drive our actions – for some more than others.  When we live that way, though, we try to take our lives into our own hands by presenting an image of ourselves in others’ eyes that isn’t real.  Living life in this manner can’t bring contentment because it will collapse – others will let go of their superficial relationships with us and we’ll fail to keep up perfect appearances.  Dwelling instead in the perfect, unchanging nature of God is what brings contentment, for He alone never fails us. Read the rest of this entry

Gaming With God: Overdosing On Entertainment

This post is going to be a little different than what I’ve previously written. There is so much that goes into the video game industry, player experiences and games themselves that I have plenty of topics I could cover. This time I would like to talk about gaming overdose. Something that many gamers don’t like talking about is how many hours they actually spend playing. There have been many times I have played for 3-5 hours non-stop except for bathroom or snack breaks. Nowadays, I don’t have that kind of time to dedicate solely to my console, but if I did I know I still could! When you finally get that great game you’ve been waiting to play for months, it’s no wonder we won’t put down the controller.

rei-and-asuka-playing-video-games

Imagine when that movie that’s been hyped about finally gets released and your sitting in the theater. Even if it’s a 3 hour film you won’t move from your chair because your so into the film. People tend not to understand what’s so fascinating about gaming, but that’s because they haven’t experienced it themselves or it’s just not their cup of tea. Some people would rather watch a football game or some other activity, but for us gamers we enjoy our video games. There comes a point though, when too much is too much. There needs to be balance in our lives, and if we have a hobby/past time that is taking up much of our time then we need to take a step back. We often don’t notice how quickly time can pass between loading, boss battles, dungeon grinding or side quests but before you know it you have to go to bed! Read the rest of this entry

Anime Today: Dealing with the Finite

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.

plastic memories 1

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

Grisaia no Meikyuu: As One Who Suffers

I know most people didn’t manage to get through Grisaia no Kajitsu, and that’s fine since it was a lot worse than I was hoping. Regardless, the sequel has begun, and this is where the overall theme starts coming together. In the first season, in what may appear to be a relatively standard harem, Yuuji saves all the girls from their different problems, giving them reasons to live for the future without being dragged down by their pasts. Some have argued he was depicted as a perfect protagonist – someone who could apparently do anything that was required to help the girls, even in the most absurd situations. And a protagonist with no apparent faults is indeed a common problem in anime. But as Meikyuu reveals and Rakuen will expand on, Yuuji is hardly a perfect protagonist. In fact, he is as broken and hurting as much as the heroines, if not more.

Yuuji was unluckily born as the younger brother of his sister Kazuki, an absolute genius. Always being compared to her, nothing he did was ever approved of, and his parents ignored him in favor of Kazuki. Although Kazuki, who treated him as her precious brother, was his only source of comfort and happiness, she soon dies in an accident, leaving him alone. Because of the expectations in Kazuki to bring them money, his father becomes a violent drunk, and his timid mother does nothing but apologize. Eventually, he runs away together with his mother, and the two build a simple life of solitude away. One day, his father tracks him down and begins to rape the mother, demanding she produce another genius like Kazuki in his madness and greed. In response, Yuuji slams a bottle of alcohol onto his head, killing him. His mother sends him to run away, saying she’ll follow shortly; however, he eventually returns and finds she has committed suicide instead.

Meikyuu1

Mentally broken, Yuuji is adopted by one of his father’s acquaintances Oslo. It is here that Yuuji’s life truly takes a turn for the worse. Oslo is all kinds of messed up, partly because he is in fact a terrorist. He begins by forcing Yuuji to crossdress like a doll and sexually harasses him. One of Oslo’s men also physically abuses him until eventually Yuuji snaps and kills him. Oslo, however, is pleased to find Yuuji is a killer and enrolls Yuuji in his personal child terrorist training facility. Here, he learns how to be a cold blooded killer and many related skills. Furthermore, the children are all given drugs to “help” their focus on murder. After completion of the training, Yuuji moves on to become a tool of Oslo’s who assassinates people for the sake of financial or political gains. At this point in his life, Yuuji cannot be said to even have his own will. Between feeling he is the cause of his parents’ deaths after seeing his mother’s suicide, being forced into kill or be killed situations, and having no reason to continue living yet no reason to die either, he is merely an empty shell who does as he is dictated. Read the rest of this entry

Revisiting Clannad and Fathers

One of my most popular posts on this site was for a personal piece I wrote regarding Clannad After Story and fatherhood.  I revisited the post recently, and it struck me both how much time has passed, as the article marked a time – now seemingly long ago – when my kids were practically babies, and how the challenges remain the same.  In the article, I mention how being a parent is so very hard.  It can be very lonely and painful when you want to do the best for your child but can’t, either because it’s out of your control or because you’re out of control.

But as I read the essay, I was reminded of how Clannad demonstrates God’s love for us through the relationships involving fathers.  The comparisons are remarkable:

  • Tomoya’s dad sacrificed his life for his son in terms of career and motivation and energy.  We’re like Tomoya, who didn’t realize what his dad had done for him, and what sacrifice he gave for one who didn’t comprehend that love.
  • Tomoya is like a prodigal father, aided by Ushio, who helps him see that even though he left what should have been precious to him because of his own demons and desires, there is a childlike forgiveness available.  A grown-up Ushio maybe wouldn’t forgive a dad who only reluctantly tried to reinsert himself into her life, but the little girl loves him tenderly and shows such affection that Tomoya’s heart is changed.  He realizes the awfulness in what he did in abandoning her, and changes his life to be the father he should have been all along.

ushio

The Father’s love is without borders.  We are never at the point of no return.  Today is Good Friday, a time to think upon how Christ took the penalty we deservedm just as how Tomoya didn’t deserve forgiveness from Ushio, and laid down his life, just as Tomoya’s dad sacrifices his to raise him, so that we could live.  I hope you’ll think about this awesome love today, especially, and if you haven’t surrendered to that love, consider doing so, for your story isn’t over yet.  Your “after” story can be one, too, filled with grace and a heart changed forever.

To read my original article, visit the link below:

Diary of an Anime Lived: The Selfless/Selfish Daddy

Rewrite Part 2: The Moon of Possibilities

After completion of the five heroine routes, the two-part true route is unlocked: Moon and Terra. Moon route takes place on the moon but at the same time, it is more than that. On the moon exists Moon Kagari, who is tirelessly working on “something.” Koutarou cannot even begin to comprehend it; in fact, when he merely looks at it, it causes his head to undergo intense pain. This is not due to things such as brightness or a similar phenomenon; it is the result of the information being laid out simply being beyond human capacity for comprehension. By simply glancing at it, the human brain is overloaded with information. What we learn is that Kagari is working with what can be described as all the timelines in existence, akin to the akashic records. As a result, the moon where they reside is not the moon as we know it but rather a plane of existence that exists outside of time itself. The so called theorem which Moon Kagari works on has the ability to contain all timelines in existence. The map branches endlessly like a tree, with each line representing a different possibility. However, each line also meets its doom, the end of humanity. In fact, the five heroine routes were also a part of this tree of possibilities, all failures leading to humanity’s destruction, and this Moon Kotarou is the accumulation of all past Kotarous into a single being. What Kagari is looking for is the one timeline in which earth and humanity can survive. She makes adjustments to each “experiment,” and watches the earth proceed from its origin, only to eventually meet another end. She can also choose when to make branches, at any point in time. With the simplest tweak, she watches the butterfly effect unfold yielding yet another failure.

Moon  Kagari systematically working through each and every "route" of humanity

Moon Kagari systematically working through each and every “route” of humanity

This existence outside of time parallels God’s existence outside of time. He too watches not just us but all points in time at once. Furthermore, the idea of heaven existing “above” us is only symbolically. The Moon is not a place which exists in the same spatial plane; it transcends the idea of time and space. Heaven is also a place that does not exist in any defined place as we know it. It exists, together with God, in a place that is not affected by the flow of time. Moon route speaks of time, but only vaguely, because Kotarou has no ability to keep track of time. This is perhaps a perfect representation of the common arguments and theories about what actually happened during creation. Did God literally create the world in 6 days or is that a metaphor for evolution or something else entirely? The answer is, if we used Rewrite as a basis, perhaps everything. Kagari controls the creation of life, but for the most part, watches it unfold. God, too, possibly set up the necessary components for the creation of life, but otherwise watched without involving Himself too much. A day in Moon route means nothing because the concept of time does not apply to it. However, the Bible uses words like “day” because it is the best way to communicate with us, who cannot grasp the concept of God. However, by reading Moon route and how Kagari works toward the creation of life, one can come far closer to imagining how God may have worked when He created us.

Of course, all of this may seem far-fetched or incomprehensible. Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Your Love in April, Virtuous Violence in Akame ga Kill, and TTGL’s Megachurch

Isn’t it funny that when an anime season near its end, we seem to be less excited about finales the shows we’ve invested in than we are to the slate of new series about to arrive?  Or maybe that’s just me.  But it’s good to focus on the here and now – some of the columns below look at shows that have ended their runs in Japan or in the U.S. on Toonami.

Esdeath of Akame ga Kill reminds us that violence in anime (and life) tells us something very important about human nature, and of a need we all have. [Medieval Otaku]

The final episode of Your Lie in April has a lot to say about godly love. [Christian Anime Review]

The previous episode also demonstrates the idea of how brothers and sisters in Christ should encourage one another. [2]

In his review of Gurren Lagann’s finale, Tommy makes an interesting comparison between a devastating scene and a megachurch. [Anime Bowl]

Are you a fan of the “Ask John” column, like I am? If so, you may be interested in knowing it’s columnist has finished a light novel, which among other things is “steeped in Shinto mythology and includes extensive references to literary tradition and religious iconography along with abundant subtextual thematic depth.” [AnimeNation]

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.

Your Lie in April, Episode 22: Why Look to the Sky?

Warning – plenty of spoilers ahead.  Please watch episode 22 of Your Lie in April before reading this article.

The final episode was Your Lie in April was wonderful – a heartwarming, moving second half joined together with a beautifully animated, wonderfully musical first half to create a memorable finale.  Indeed, it was a tale of two halves, with that inevitable event separating them.  I’ll wax more on the second half in a follow-up post, but first, let’s talk about the first 12 minutes of episode 22.

As Kousei performs his piece, putting all his heart into the performance, he imagines Kaori playing next to him.  It’s a wonderful, happy scene, as we get to see Kaori’s frenetic playing for the first time in many episodes – many months for us as an audience – accompanying an emotional Kousei, who is optimistic that he will play with Kaori once again.

april 22c

But in the midst of the performance, as he stares at the image of Kaori in his head, Kousei realizes that she will not survive.  In some “red string of fate” way, he even feels their connection severed, as if Kaori literally died on the surgery table with doctors working over her while Kousei (probably) wins the recital as he plays over the piano keys.  Kaori completes her playing and she slowly fades away into oblivion, as Kousei can do nothing but break down and cry as he finishes his own piece.

Kaori is gone.  The series plays her death in a beautiful, symbolic way with their final song together – a duet instead of a solo and accompaniment.  But perhaps this tender way of letting Kaori go tells us something more.  Maybe it tells us that Kousei must go on, that he will go on, and that Kaori has prepared him so. Read the rest of this entry

Gaming With God – Discrimination And Video Games

Thank for checking out my column here on Beneath The Tangles. Every week I will do my best to highlight different games of Japanese origin or deal with common gamer issues. Please let me know in the comments what you would like me to write about, as I am very attentive to every word my readers share. God bless, and let me know what you thought below.

Prejudice

This time I will be tackling a sensitive topic that is evident throughout the world, but not found often in video games. There are a few games that talk about it, but personally I believe Valkyria Chronicles (Senjō no Varukyuria) brought prejudice to light in a good way. If you have never played this game, it was released on Playstation 3 in 2008 (also on PC in November, 2014) and is part of the war/strategy genre. The game was received well by many video game publications and has two sequels (as of this writing), a manga and an anime! It’s not common to find a game that an anime is made from, it’s usually the opposite.

Valkyria_Chronicles_manga_cover

Valkyria Chronicles Manga Cover

There are quite a few topics I could pull from Valkyria Chronicles, from the power of friendship and being part of a team to knowing how to be a leader. Instead, I wrote about discrimination because it’s highlighted well in this game. I will try not to spoil too much of the game, but basically the Valkyrians (a race of beings in the game) won a war against the Darcens (another race of people) and had them be used as slave labor. Their last names were removed and they lost their jobs and property. Not all are slaves, as some have gone on to have better lives and live amongst the regular race of humans. Read the rest of this entry

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