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Everything Becomes Death: Imperfectly Inside Secret Sin

In episode five of Everything Becomes F: The Perfect Insider (Subete ga F ni Naru), the director’s wife serves tea and cookies to Sohei, Moe, and the associate director, during which time Moe subjects the woman to tough questions. Even though the widower says she’s trying to keep herself from thinking about her husband’s murder, she just doesn’t seem that broken up. He died mere hours before via a knife to the back of the neck, but eh, she’s mostly fine.

Denial, or is she feeling justice has been served?

I wonder if the director’s wife knows what’s now been revealed to the audience, that the director, Shiki’s uncle (or “uncle”), had an affair with his niece when she was underage. Maybe she also knows that her husband (possibly) had some role in the deaths of Shiki’s parents.

And in the end, perhaps the director’s wife is relieved at this comeuppance. He got was what coming to him.

seiji and shiki

Hidden from the view of the world (with the possible exception of a few intimate people who may have had knowledge of it, as I suggest above) is this affair between Seiji and Shiki. But even in secret, Seiji, who though he was being manipulated was still absolutely at fault for committing such acts outside of his marriage with an minor, paid the price. He was destroyed by his sin.

The sins we commit, and often particularly the “big” ones (which happen to be those we usually hide) can destroy us. They beget sin after sin as we hid the original one, and they prevent us from reconciling with God and thus from strengthening our relationship with him. And as we effectively sever that relationship, it’s no surprise that such sins might destroy us.

I’ve come close to such an experience myself.

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Noragami Aragoto, Episode 6: The Pain of Being Human

Noragami Aragoto isn’t a graphically violent anime, but in episodes five and six, gruesome events are occurring (though off screen). In episode five, these horrible deaths are affecting Bishamon; in episode six, they affect us.

While one of Kugaha’s phantoms is being fought off by Yato after the god of calamity attacks the doctor, the other phantom continues to run amok among Bishamon’s regalias, devouring them and chasing a band of survivors into a holy spring, where they seek refuge.Two young female regalias are the last to arrive in the safe haven, but before getting there, they have a conversation that felt very real to the moment. The younger girl has lost all hope as the carnage continues, knowing that her friends have been torn apart and feeling that her master, her god, is about to die. She is brought back to her senses by the older regalia, who reminds the other that Bishamon gave them a name.

Their god loves them – she’s shown it through her words and deeds. And for her, they must carry on.

noragami 6a

Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

– John 12:27

Violent scenes are commonplace in anime – in fact, they’re much of what anime is known for among the general public. But for some reason, the scenes tonight, though cast in shadow and covered with screams rather than blood and guts, stood out to me. I think it’s because the episode hammered home the relationship between the humans and the gods of Noragami – they each were suffering seeing the other in pain and near (or in) death.  Bishamon’s suffering we’ve known of since she’s gone through this before, and it reminds me a bit of how God might feel in his love and patience, “not wishing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9).

But in episode six, continuing from the scene with the two regalia, we see see the opposite more clearly – the humans’ relationship toward their god.

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – The Real Size and Nature of Evil

I’m proud to present an article today on Tokyo Ghoul from KnightofCalvary, a graduating seminary student and chaplain candidate in the U.S. Army Reserves and former A.D. Vision partner through Suncoast and Anime Central.  If you’re interested in submitting a guest post, send us a pitch via email.

It might be cliche to write and talk about Fullmetal Alchemist, one of the most successful manga and anime series to date, but isn’t that really only because it’s so incredibly well written and executed from a technical aspect? In fact it was so well received that an entire additional series which followed the manga storyline more closely called, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, was commissioned and released. Like most FMA fans, I liked the original, but loved Brotherhood. It’s edgy, rough, and messy. Which brings me to the topic of conversation today, the real size and nature of evil.

The world that we live in is ugly, broken, and full of so much mess. Perhaps it will be a school shooting this week or another report of ISIS killing and beheading women and children. There is an abundance of evil in the world and it seems to know no end. So what does this all have to do with FMA: Brotherhood? In what is perhaps the greatest sequence of events on the power of forgiveness and the nature of evil, FMA: Brotherhood episode 54 and Mustang’s battle against Envy, offers an unparalleled look into the human soul and it’s struggle against the bitterness, anger, and hatred that plague our hearts in world filled with so much evil. Now of course if you’ve never seen either of the FMA series, this would be a good time to stop reading.


“Is that what you want to be Colonel, another monster?!”, Edward Elric screams at the rage filled Roy Mustang as he is finally about to exact his revenge against the homunculus known as Envy for killing his best friend and honestly one of the shows most beloved characters, Maes Hughes. After arguing amongst themselves and convincing Roy to stand down, Envy goes on a rant about how this is the perfect opportunity for them to get revenge for killing their friend, but they still refuse. In fact Edward makes a point of pitying Envy for they way it responds. In the end, the kindness shown to Envy leads Envy to commit suicide and kill itself. There are simply layers upon layers of deep biblical connections and truths to draw from in this scene. There are two major points that I would like to address. The first is the power of actioned forgiveness. The verse for that which stuck out most in my mind was Romans 12:19-21

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

– Romans 12:19-21

fma 5

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Kenshin and Saito: A Balance Between Grace and Judgment

I revisited the Rurouni Kenshin TV series a few years ago, and found myself disappointing by the show. I had purchased the series volume by volume and had tremendous nostalgia for it, but now found that the show had aged badly. The animation didn’t hold up well and the tone was so dated.  Perhaps this is why the “new” Kenshin project from a few years ago ended up being a reworking of the Kyoto arc, maybe developed as an update for a new generation.

Still, as attested by the recent live-action movies and the enduring popularity of the franchise (and the manga, especially, which feels dateless), there’s so much good stuff that can be culled from Kenshin. For all the problems I know see in it, the series does so much right; there’s so much worth emulating. The characters and plot are now classic, and the themes contain an almost universal quality, laying out ideas like grace, compassion, vengeance, humility, karma, and repentance.

We also get to see themes arise in the substance of the characters themselves, which can be seen in the juxtaposition between Himura Kenshin and Saito Hajime, warriors who were enemies during the rebellion, but find themselves allies during the Kyoto Arc. They have very different fighting styles and opposing personalites. And, most significant thematically, they stand for different things, at least during the postwar years: Kenshin is about peace, life, and reconciliation, while Saito’s focus continues to be on the Shinsengumi code, Aku Soku Zan (Swift Death to Evil).

The characters fall dramatically to their ends of the spectrum – Kenshin is so caught up in non-violence that he actually devalues his own life. I would argue this is the result of the repentance he tries to build through his double-edged sword, not simply because of a promise he made after his time with Tomoe, but because he can’t get rid of the blood on his hands. But he tries by saving others and keeping a commitment to shed no blood, almost in a death wish sort of manner. Strangely enough, that takes something away from his sacrifice, since he (at least earlier in the series) doesn’t seem to value his life as he should.

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Godly Parenting and Yukinon’s Tiger Mom

Do you have a tiger mom?

My mother isn’t quite of the sort, though I certainly received more discipline and was forced to focus on academics more than most any of my schoolmates. But she wasn’t a tiger mother to the extent that many of my friends’ mothers were. You can often tell which had them by the kids’ accomplishments – excellent grades, perfect SAT scores, excellence at musical instruments, polite to a fault – all signs that you had a tiger mother.

Of course, like another Asian concept, yin and yang, growing up this way isn’t all roses, though it may look so on the outside. Where perfection (at least in the eyes of parents) reigns, the child may be troubled by feelings of disappointment and lack of love, and may end up becoming overly cold or hot and arrogant or self-conscious.

Enter Yukino Yukinoshita.

Enter the Tiger Mom

And enter the tiger mom

The beautiful and frigid (matching her name) character for OreGairu can easily be pegged as the result of such parenting from her outward characteristics – all those around her are in awe or envy of her perfection. But we know something further, too – that she’s been oppressed by her mother, whom both her and sister vivacious sister, Haruno, fear. And while worldly success is withing easy reach for the sisters, the more we know of them, the more we see how flawed they are, with the author pointing toward their mother as the instigator of these problems Read the rest of this entry

Charlotte Episode 12: Without a Promise

As expected, Charlotte is rushing toward a surely emotional end. This 13-episode series has no time for long arcs and episode-long resolutions, so in quick order we see Yuu’s recovery (physically and emotionally) and Misa’s finale. But in the midst, we also have a plot point far more significant – that of Yuu’s decision to save everyone.

It’s no surprise that the proposal comes from Tomori, even if she only half-seriously suggests it. And while the suggestion of how to save given to a Christ figure from one I’ll later describe as more representative of humanity doesn’t fit the Jesus allusion, much of the proceeding portion of the episode does, especially when it clicks with us what Yuu plans to do, what it means, and what the ultimate conclusion will be.

charlotte 12a

What Yuu is Doing

As the strongest mutant, Yuu is perhaps the strongest person on earth, the “best human.” In scripture, Christ is the second Adam, a demonstration of perfect humanity (and perfect godliness).  Indeed, while Christ is perfect in every way, Yuu is representative of different people in different parts of the story – the needful, condemned human in the first part of Charlotte and now the powerful savior in the second.

And in that way, it shows Yuu to be the fulfillment of humanity. For Christians, the Bible demonstrates as much – the Old Testament showing our sin and prophesying of the Christ who is to come, and the New telling of Christ’s saving grace. In this show, Yuu is that testament – showing the depths of humanity in his early selfishness, his need for a savior to save him from his sins, and now, like the New Testament, as the Christ who will take on the sins of the world to redeem it.

Which brings up point two:

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Working!!! the Humanity Out of Your Staff

I don’t watch many comedies anymore – whether on TV, at the movies, of through anime streaming. But I can never resist Working!!!, which is such a joyful show. It just does so many things right, including giving the audience that feeling that we, too, want to work at Wagnaria. And besides the assuredly low pay, why wouldn’t we? It seems like so much fun!

There’s a camaraderie among all the employees built on genuine love and caring for one another. Those who’ve worked in the food service industry know that it’s critical to have genuine friendships in the kitchen if you want a good working environment – it makes a stressful job easier to handle. It also helps to have caring supervisors like Kyouko (in her own way) and Otoo. In fact, bad managers is why so many of us quit our jobs.

Have you ever had a manager that treats you like you’re less than? As if you’re not their equal, as if you’re just someone to be used for his benefit or the company’s?

And it doesn’t have to be a supervisor – co-workers can treat you the same way. Someone very close to me, who works in education, is frustrated at being treated like a second-class citizen by the teachers around her, as she isn’t credentialed like they are.

Or…are you the person who treats others this way?

working 2b

Whether the cause is pride, stress, or something else, poor treatment in the workplace is a miserable thing. And it runs deep – the way we treat people denotes the way we feel about them. While there’s hierarchy in the workplace, there shouldn’t be hierarchy in humanity. We’re all on equal footing. But when one treats a co-worker or subordinate in a dismissive or condescending way, he or she is basically saying, “You’re not my equal. You’re less than me.” And when we take equality away, we’re stripping away someone’s humanity. We’re treating them like animals.

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Gaming With God: Why Mega Man Will Never Win

I finally beat him! After a few hours of overcoming eight robot masters, hundreds of enemies and going through a huge castle with skull décor, Dr. Wily was defeated. I breathe a sigh of relief and thankfulness, knowing that it’s over and done. The two hardest parts were fighting the exact same bosses again before having to battle multiple forms of a giant machine (armed with wheels, more skulls, and blasters!).


Dr. Wily plotting to conquer the world….again.

As I watch the ending of the current Mega Man game (Rock Man in Japan) I’m playing, I know for a fact Dr. Wily will be back. At the same time, I wonder how he escapes? What kind of cheap jail do they keep putting him in? On top of that, why doesn’t Mega Man just blast him and be done with it. Sure, that would go against his morals, but at least threaten him a little? In every single game, he shows up again to do some damage or make Mega Man’s life just that much more difficult.

This shouldn’t be something new if you’ve played any video game series. Haven’t you noticed it’s always the same scenario but the setting is different? The same baddie is loose and the same protagonist must save us all, before it’s too late! It might be in space, a jungle, cave or city, but it’s the same story. Mega Man doesn’t seem to get tired of it, and he refuses to take a day off.


Why doesn’t Mega Man just end his troubles and not let his nemesis escape again. Nobody will blame Mega Man for doing it! Yet he never does, and I think I figured out why…

It’s grace, and the hope that it will grow in Wily’s heart and change him.

What is grace? It’s our second chance, the slap on the wrist, that time when you should’ve got fired but you weren’t. Remember when you messed up and got caught, but they said, “this time is the last time, don’t ever do that again!”.

Yup, that’s grace.

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Because Nao Tomori Has Been There, Yuu, and Because There’s No Other Response

I have the worst habit of writing quickly, proofreading more quickly (or not at all), and turning in work as fast as possible. All through my youth, I raced to be the first one done in anything school-related. It’s not a good compulsion, and it shows with my blog posts sometimes, as I often forget to make points vital to my main idea.

This rings true for my last two posts about Charlotte, and so I want to take the opportunity to revisit episodes seven and eight and emphasize a couple of points I missed the first time around.

> Charlotte, Episode 7: Ends of the Earth

Addendum: She and HE Can Relate

When Yuu draws near the point of no return (taking drugs is considered super taboo in Japanese culture, as explained by Kaze), there’s only one person that can talk him out of it. Nao is physically able to challenge Yuu, mentally able to trick him, and, as evidenced by Yuu later remembering her words of guilt, emotionally able to connect to him as well. There’s no one else who is able to remotely reach him – not a family member, other student council members, violent thugs, or his past crush. Only Nao.

charlotte 7b

When we drown in our sins – whether in the dregs of depression or the heights of hallow hedonism – we might feel that God is remote. Without having a dynamic relationship with Him, it’s easy to imagine Him as such. Why turn to God when He’s so distant? And if He’s holy as the Bible says, how much more should we hide away? Like a harsh, upright father, God would never understand or have compassion on an unruly son.

But scripture says otherwise:

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

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Like Patema, Religion Can Be Inverted

Religion is wrong.  At least fanatical religion is, according to the general tone of western culture, if not outright through its statements about zealotry.  Islam is good, but when taken to the extreme, it’s bad.  Christianity is okay, but not when you tell people it’s the only way.  Buddhism is lovely precisely because of it’s openness.

Although I largely disagree with the statements above (after all, if you believe in the veracity of Christ’s words, you can be nothing less than a zealot of sorts), there’s no doubt that religion taken to an extreme can be close-minded, hypocritical, and dangerous – all these ideas expressed in Patema Inverted, where Izamura, the religious/political leader of Aiga, uses fear and religion to keep the masses under his thumb while pursuing the exposure (and destruction?) of the “inverts,” those whose gravity is the opposite of his people and who live underneath their feet.

patema inverted 1

Patema Inverted is no subtle film – the message of how religion can go terribly wrong is hammered into us from the beginning.  In fact, the first images to really hit me from the world of Aiga were those of the central tower in the city, rising like a ziggurat in the landscape, and more specifically, like the Tower of Babel, the structure the ancients built to reach to God, but which in turn led them further away from Him (and from each other).  The tower in Aiga appears to easily be the biggest structure in the city, casting a shadow over the population, and staffed by intimidating security personnel, reminding the populace that religion is king – obey the rules, avoid sin, and do what is told of you. Read the rest of this entry


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