Blog Archives

Something More: Kill la Cross, Madoka’s Universal Church, and Sailor Moon Mythology

Welcome to the first of our more sporadic version of Something More.  The blogosphere has been resplendent in it’s spiritual-related articles the last couple of week, regarding anime series both current and classic.

Christian symbolism runs rampant in Kill la Kill, as do opportunities to discuss Christian themes and ideas, particularly as they relate to clothing, in the series. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

The Spice and Wolf light novels paint God as malicious, but does this really to his true character? [Medieval Otaku]

Christianity plays a role, at least superficially, in countless anime series, as Eugene Woodbury states:

At the same time, in terms of theology, the suggestively Catholic Haibane Renmei can stand beside any of C.S. Lewis’s work as a powerful Christian parable. The same is true of anime such as Madoka Magica and Scrapped Princess, though you may have to look harder to see through the metaphors.

But he also goes on to suggest that the Japanese view toward the faith may rather reveal a positive view for many of the country’s feelings toward religion as compared to western ones. [Eugene’s Blog]

Speaking of Madoka, Woodbury recently explained that the series is “an exploration of the doctrine of universal reconciliation.” [2]

Is Mushi-shi a fatalistic series? Perhaps quite the contrary… [Organizational ASG]

To the tune of Christian themes, there’s more to A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd than meets the eye. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Sailor Moon draws more than merely character names from Greco-Roman mythology. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

And continuing with Sailor Moon, episode 14 of Sailor Moon Crystal emphasizes the power of prayer…even if it is to the Crystal Tower. [Geeks Under Grace]

The dividing of the girls in episode 5 of KanColle brings to mind the discomfort the early Christians must have felt as they started their mission. [2]

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 19: I Offer Devotion

What can you give to someone who’s dying?

Kousei, who’s still merely a boy, doesn’t know what he can give to Kaori – but he knows he needs to give her something.  Sometimes, he brings her a treat; on a grander scale, he delivered her hope in the form of a song in the last episode.  And yet, in episode 19 of Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso), he still wonders what he’s able to do for Kaori – in fact, Kousei doubts he’s done anything for her.

And Kousei’s father gives an interesting response to Kousei – he reaffirms what the boy feels, that he hasn’t done anything at all.  But then he quickly follows up by saying, “All you did was show devotion.”

april 19b

Devotion - what a powerful and weak thing.  It can be given by the smallest of children – perhaps presented best by them.  It can be given freely.  But it’s not quantifiable.  Sometimes it’s not even wanted.

But for Kaori, it is wanted.  And it is meaningful.

Read the rest of this entry

Annalyn’s Corner: Kuroko’s Humble Gameplay

Kuroko’s Basketball has been pretty exciting lately. We finally get to watch the Generation of Miracles go toe-to-toe with each other and with Seirin, and it is awesome. Egos inflate and deflate. Kise and Kagami greet each other with slam dunks before their much-anticipated rematch. Fans cheer, squeal, and gasp both on the bleachers and behind their screens while ships continue to sail. Sometimes, I forget why I’m so excited. And then I remember what sets this show apart: the basketball which Kuroko plays.

In season one, we learn that Kuroko isn’t happy with how the Teiko Middle School team turned out. Everyone else sees the Generation of Miracles, an unbeatable team of allstars. But Kuroko sees athletes who prize their individual abilities above teamwork, winning above friendship, or personal challenge above what’s best for the team. They are immensely talented, but they’ve lost their perspective. Kuroko seeks a team that loves basketball and works together, that knows winning isn’t everything—but will try their darndest to win, because they love the game. This is the kind of team he can support.

Maybe Kuroko can keep his perspective because of his own skill set. Unlike the rest of the Generation of Miracles and Kagami, Kuroko can’t score on his own. He doesn’t even learn to shoot until partway through his first year of high school. Instead, he specializes in passing. When his teammates pass a ball, he briefly touches it, sending the pass in a different direction than their opponents expect. Through middle school and the first part of the anime, he rarely, if ever, holds or dribbles the ball for more than a second—and that is part of the “Misdirection” foundational to his play. He already has almost no presence on the court. He appears too weak and small compared even to average players, so opponents naturally focus on the more “significant” members of the team. Add to that his calculated contact with the ball and the tricks with his eyes, and he can easily direct attention away from himself, becoming essentially invisible. By disappearing, he enhances both the individual skills and group coordination of his team. He plays as a shadow, but that only works if he can team with others.

Kuroko_ep01

In episode 1, Kuroko recognizes Kagami’s strength and promises to help him beat the Generation of Miracles.

Kuroko and Kagami join Seirin’s basketball club at the same time. Kagami is a tall, imposing athlete who has just come back to Japan after living and playing in America for several years. At first, he doesn’t understand why the pathetically-weak-looking Kuroko plays basketball. Kuroko, on the other hand, immediately recognizes Kagami’s strength and chooses to become a shadow to his light. In other words, while Kuroko does work with the entire team, he focuses on providing Kagami opportunities to shine even brighter than he could on his own.

Meanwhile, when people eventually notice Kuroko, they ask each other, “Wait a second… was number 11 on the court the entire time?”

In order to made Kagami shine and contribute to the team’s victories, Kuroko must forgo his own glory. Opponents forget he’s on the court, but they’re not the only ones. Journalists forget to interview him when they talk to the team. Fans of the Generation of Miracles forget about him… if they ever knew about him in the first place. Only people who have shared the court with him acknowledge his strength, and he’s okay with that.

Now, Kuroko’s gameplay has evolved a bit. He finally learned to shoot, and it’s a pretty incredible, unique shot, one that even Murasakibara couldn’t block. His Vanishing Drive starts to draw attention, too… and I haven’t forgotten Misdirection Overflow, in which he purposefully draws all attention to himself, away from his teammates. Kuroko isn’t just a shadow anymore. He’s spunky and competitive and not afraid to show it… If it’s also in the best interests of the team. In fact, in some matches—like the current one against Kise—it would be pointless to start with his normal disappearing act. Kise and the rest of Kaijo would see right through it. Thankfully, Kuroko’s new skills allow him to play on equal ground with the rest of the team, even when he’s not running his Misdirection.  He’s still well aware of his limitations—he’s not dunking anytime soon!—and even when he gets competitive as an individual, it’s more a matter of personal challenge than attention seeking.

Kuroko’s humble approach to basketball has me thinking about my approach to writing and school. I like my abilities to be recognized.  Read the rest of this entry

Five Reasons to Give up Anime for Lent

Today marks to beginning of the Lenten Season.  Although I’m not Catholic, and have never observed the tradition of giving up a vice or practice for Lent, I certainly understand that this custom holds significance for many (Medieval Otaku, one of our newest writers, could certainly tell you more).  There’s also an increasing trend of Protestants practicing this custom, including a number of college folks at my own church.  And on social media, a quick search reveals the idea of many perhaps giving up anime for Lent.

lent 2

Although mostly tongue in cheek, I would be surprised if many Christians weren’t sincerely thinking of doing so, especially in light of how common media and social media fasts have become.  And although we aren’t separatist in our beliefs here, instead really focusing on all the good there is to be seen in anime, both on a surface level and on a deeper, thematic level, there could be very good reason to dump anime for the next 40 days.  Here are five reasons why you might consider doing so:

1. You Feel Convicted To

Sometimes we’re compelled to take action on things in our life, often without strong rhyme or reason.  It could certainly be that the voice you’re hearing isn’t a simple back and forth in your head, but rather the Holy Spirit convicting you to do something.  Or perhaps a trusted peer had suggested to you that it might be a good idea to let anime go until Easter. Although prayer discernment is always recommended, conviction certainly plays a role in a Christian’s decision-making. Read the rest of this entry

Gaming With God: Battling Against The Creator

Hi everyone, and welcome again to my column, Gaming With God. If you missed my first post, please be sure to check it out. Also, if you have any games that came out of Japan that you would like me to highlight, be sure to mention it in the comments below! I reply and read to every single message I get, and I enjoy interacting with my readers.

This week’s post is all about Star Ocean 3: Till The End Of Time. If you’ve never heard of the Star Ocean series, it’s an obscure series that never really picked up popularity in the USA, but was very popular overseas. Yes, there are many fans, but even the first game never made it to the states and was originally released on Super Famicom in 1996 (PSP remake in 2007). The whole series was developed by Tri-Ace, and there are four entries and international versions which is like a DLC (Downloadable Content) or expansion that has extra goodies. Read the rest of this entry

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?”

Read the rest of this entry

Untangled: Why is God Silent?

In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers.   For today’s post, we received the following from a forum member through the Christian Anime Alliance forums:

Something has been bothering me a lot lately, and that is unanswered prayers. I am told that prayers either go amiss because of sins that are in ones life, but I’ve also been told that prayers do not always produce an answer immediately after praying for whatever the petition may be. I have been dealing with social anxiety which is producing a paranoid nervousness at work around people and I have been going to God about it on a continual nightly bases. The problem is, the problem seems to be more medical and psychological than anything else because despite how much I ask God for deliverance through the Lord, Savior, and Healer, Jesus Christ, I am always faced with the issue the next day, as if my prayer was in vain. I want to believe in God for deliverance, and yes, I want to acknowledge that some things are best dealt with through time and perseverance, but is there any reason in specific as to why Heaven seems to be silent concerning some prayer requests?

Thanks for question!  I know this is a personal topic, but I’m glad you shared, because there are a lot of folks that are dealing with similar struggles.  I hope they’re encouraged and helped by this response.

The question of why God is silent is one with which that men and women have long struggled.  Theologians, philosophers, and even writers like Shusaku Endo (whose classic novel, Silence, is being brought to the big screen by Martin Scorsese) have tackled the topic.  Indeed, we can go back even further, looking to the psalmists and prophets as they questioned God:

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
    you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
    Why are you silent while the wicked
    swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

- Habakkuk 1:13

Read the rest of this entry

Your Lie in April, Episode 15: Little Stories

Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) is often a splashy series.  The scenes featuring characters playing solos are big and grand, and even the humor is sometimes over-the-top (in a bleeding-from-your-cranium kind of way).  As episode 15 started, my mind was readying for another big scene, even though the story wasn’t really calling for it at this point.

april 15a

And I guess that’s why I was surprised when this entire episode spoke something completely different to me – that Your Lie in April is actually a very personal series, filled with small stories.  Here are some of those referred to in episode 15:

  • Kousei’s decision about school
  • Kousei’s continued development as a pianist
  • Emi’s hope for Kousei’s development
  • Tsubaki’s love for Kousei
  • Kaori’s worsening medical condition

Each of these would be major events in real life, but in the context of anime, where shounen series can be so epic, these are small, small stories.  They’re about big events in little lives.  They are, at surface value, of little real meaning.

Read the rest of this entry

Anime Today: The Good, the Bad, and the Bahamut

The eternal struggle between East and West, and its effect on anime.

…or at least that is the subtitle I would love to give this article if only WordPress would let me!

It’s been a while, but the holidays are over, the Christmas candy is gone (though the weight might not be), the schoolwork is piling anew, the 2015 winter anime season has kicked off, and Anime Today makes a modest triumphant return!

I can hear it now… “But wait, JP, Shingeki no Bahamut aired last season… b-baka!” (I had no idea my readers were all tsundere!)

Why, yes, thank you for so kindly pointing that out. Thanks to an article by our good friend over at Medieval Otaku, I decided to reconsider my drop of the series early on last season and was able to just recently see it through to completion… and boy am I glad I did! What a wonderful gem, especially considering it’s an adaptation from a card game!

TWWK: Huh? Isn't this supposed to be "Anime TODAY?"

TWWK: Huh? Isn’t this supposed to be “Anime TODAY?”

But enough of these trivialities. What is this article even about? What is with you (JP) and your stupid puns. I mean, really, “The Good, the Bad, and the Bahamut?” Really… b-baka…

…Ahem…

Something I’ve often struggled with as a Christian, and particularly as a Christian writer, is differentiating between the Eastern and Western influences in my media of choice. Whether it is something profoundly philosophical as Mushishi or a fun epic like Shingeki no Bahamut, the marriage of these two world views is inescapable. And this being the case, what is a Christian to do?

Read the rest of this entry

12 Days of Christmas Anime, Day 8: Karin

Characters in Santa outfits.  Check.  Romantic gift-giving.  Check.  Vampire girl who injects people with joyous blood.  Uh, check.

Karin (Chibi Vampire) was a series I’d almost completely forgotten before deciding to watch episode 19, the show’s Christmas episode.  In fact, I don’t remember if I’ve even watched the series (I know that I’ve read the manga, and I enjoyed it very much).  But I’m glad I viewed (or re-viewed) this episode – it was a nice one.

Karin and Usui continue to shyly try to progress their relationships with one another.  To do so, and at the urging of her friend Maki, who is doing the same for her crush, Karin decides to knit Usui a Christmas gift.  As she builds her courage, Karin unwittingly encourages Usui to ask his mom about his past, which was a topic he’d avoided at all costs up until now.

karin and usui christmas

In anime, Christmas episodes offer an opportunity for animators to provide a little fanservice to the viewers – fun situations, wintry costume changes, and hints of romance.  And it’s very usual for the romantic element to revolve around gifts.  Karin wants to confess as she gives her gift, and so does Maki.

In the west, of course, gift-giving has a different feel.  Read the rest of this entry

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