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Terror in Resonance, Episode 3: Unforgiven

In Episode 3, Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) continues barrel forward, presenting a third bomb (and third riddle) in as many weeks.  But action takes a backseat as director Shinichiro Watanabe spends much of the episode unfolding pasts and presenting some half-answers to building questions as the plot unfolds.

Perhaps the most identifiable character of the series, and the certainly the one whom the audience can most relate on a moral level, is Shibasaki.  We already knew that he was formerly a detective, and a clever one, having cracked the previous riddle, but now we get to know his background a bit as well.  Because he refused to back down from a politically charged investigation, and rather delved deeper and deeper into one, Shibasaki was removed from his post and relegated to no man’s land.  But according to his supervisor, Shibasaki has never let that go.

zankyou no terror

And here’s the moral compass for our tale…

But the episode seems to place more importance on another part of the detective’s past as a motivating factor: his childhood in Hiroshima.  He spent his summers there (at the very least), and remembers well a town populated by elderly atomic bomb survivors.  The summer was a lonely, quiet time for Shibasaki, and the residents refused to go outside, the insinuation being that they were still dealing with the painful memories of the bomb, which dropped in the summer of 1945.  Shibasaki takes this hurt and used it as fuel to help him stop Nine and Twelve.  His tirade at the end of his message to the terrorists suggest that the pain of the past and the moral fortitude rising from his memories are an utmost part his character.

Nine, too, is dealing with tragedy from the past.  Ironically, it’s the more impulsive 12 that tries to soothe 9 as he deals with flashbacks of the experiments conducted on the two and with even younger children (Emily makes an apt comparison of this, along with Lisa’s predicament, to the Child Broiler of Mawaru Penguindrum).  Most pressing on Nine’s mind is a white-haired boy who was unable to escape with them, seemingly perishing in the intense heat of self-immolation.  Nine can’t shake these images, and it’s these children and the abuse they suffered that drive him.

And so, two of the main components of the series – Sphinx and the police force – are rolling with an unstoppable momentum, both motivated by the same concepts – revenge and justice.

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Blue Spring Ride, Episode 3: The Past is (Ir)Relevant

Can I just say, I’m absolutely loving Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride)?

Though it still contains some doom and gloom, episode three moves us largely past that tone and toward a more hopeful one as a new school year begins.  The main cast is now all in the same classroom, with Futuba and Kou joined by Toma, Yuri, and Shuko.  And by episode’s end, the characters have all volunteered to become either class or event representatives.

The closing scene in which the five main characters of Blue Spring Ride take their place in leadership, is more than a convenient plot development – it’s thematically important.  For at least four of them, it seems (I’m not yet sure about Toma), it represents a moving forward from pasts that burdened them: Futuba from her playing at friends; Yuri from the hate that’s followed her; Shuko from a bitter school year; and Kou from family issues, though his, it seems, will be the most difficult transition.

Ao Haru Ride

At least Kou has a supportive brother…

It’s ironic, then, that Kou has now told Futuba several times that their past is irrelevant, when it seems that he’s the character who is most hanging on to it.  While encouraging Futuba, in his own buttheaded way, to make change, he himself can’t rise above whatever issues have haunted him during the past several years.  He’s quite the opposite of the former (and current?) object of his affection, who quite easily pursues change by making some brave gestures in leaving her “friends” behind and volunteering to be class president.

The truth of the matter is, the past is both relevant and it isn’t.  For Futuba, she sees Kou’s point in starting anew.  She thinks the following to herself:

If you lose it, just build it again.

Moving forward is like rebuilding a city following a flood.  The damage of the past can be wiped away and a new city can rise.

But just the same, when the devastation is massive or whole, it’s not always easy to rebuild.  It’s sometimes near impossible.

While Futuba embraces Kou’s words, her’s is a relatively easy past to overcome.  Kou’s is more difficult, and the problem may be that instead of simply forgetting and moving forward, he needs to come to grips with his past before he can do so.  For Kou, the past is very relevant.  And without knowing how far he’s come, and seeing what the future can offer, Kou won’t be able to “build it again.”

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Terror in Resonance, Episode 2: You Reap What You Sow

While the first episode of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) introduced us to and focused on the terrorists, Nine and Twelve, along with their new accomplice, Lisa, episode two largely moves the focus toward the police.  It’s an interesting shift, especially with the terrorists playing good bad guys and the police playing the role of bad good guys.

Little by littke, Shinichiro Watanabe begins to unravel a story while burdening the audience with evermore questions, particularly as they have to do with Nine and Twelve’s pasts – who are they?  What was done to them?  Why?  Who were all involved?

And whatever “VON” is, it’s quite shady, judging from the terrified looks on the faces of various characters in-the-know.  They’ve done something mightily wrong.  And this episode is all about showing that the police – and perhaps larger forces involved – have it coming to them.  The variation of the Riddle of the Sphinx emphasizes the judgment the guilty must pay, ultimately ending in judgement upon the police at the end of the episode.

Toji Hisami 12

I spy a favorite trope – awful things done to little kids. (Art by みずのえ@スタンプ, Pixiv ID 44726975)

These ideas of justice, revenge, and karma are found in heavy doses in Watanabe’s works (think of almost all the episodes involving Spike and Vicious in Cowboy Bebop).  In fact, they figure prominently in many anime – no surprise seeing how deeply ingrained these ideas are in Japanese culture, history, and religion.  Of course the bad guys must pay for their evil deeds at the hands (or on behalf) of those that suffer.  That’s justice.

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Something More: Redemption x Redemption, Freedom of Mardock Scramble, and Defective Christian Marionette J

The Medieval Otaku points to the character development of Rune Balot of Mardock Scramble as an example of how obligation can lead to freedom, particularly in biblical context. [Medieval Otaku]

He also tells us that as with Lime in Saber Marionette J, we have reason to rejoice in our defectiveness. [Medieval Otaku]

Annalyn investigates a heavy need for redemption in Hunter x Hunter. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

Rob reviews recent anime episodes, including those for One Week Friends [1] and The World Is Still Beautiful [2]. [Christian Anime Review]

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. 

Holy Week: Patient Yato, Patient Yahweh

If you were to describe Yato, what words would you use? Lazy? Easy-going? Self-centered?

What about…patient?

Patience, in fact, is one of Yato’s most defining characteristics in the Noragami anime.  It’s best demonstrated in how Yato faithfully waits for Yukine, trusting in him to make the right decision and remaining steadfast even as he lays dying.  It’s in serious qualities such as this where an anime kami resembles the living Christ.  He, too, demonstrated a loving patience for mankind, remaining obedient to the Father unto death.  As Yato struggles from his blight and refuses to kill Yukine, Christ is tortured on the cross, refusing to call down legions of angels to pull him off and destroy his enemies, knowing that his death and resurrection would lead to the possibility of redemption for all.

God sees something in us, even as the Bible declared us His enemies, and provides a path to salvation.  Yato saw something in Yukine as well.  Even as Yukine heads further and further down the path of sin and self-destruction, Yato remains patient and graciously loves his shinki.  He even refuses to replace him with Nora, a former shinki who wants to return to Yato.

Nora (Noragami)

Art by Kane (Pixiv ID 42863109)

But it’s also through Nora that we see that Yato’s patience isn’t infinite.  He is gracious and kind to Yukine, a lost soul in several definitions of the phrase, but has shut the door on Nora.  And why does he do so?  Those of us who haven’t read the manga don’t know the details, but the anime does give some hint.  Yato rejects Nora because she first rejected him in whatever way she acted. This is demonstrated by how Nora refuses to take Yato’s name, an evil thing in sight of the kami.  It’s a sign of disrespect.

God acts similarly.  Read the rest of this entry

Holy Week: Noragami and a Saving Grace

The world of Noragami reflects the pantheon of kami in Japanese religion.  There’s an unraveling uniqueness to Yato, but from the beginning, Noragami also emphasizes the truth of Shintoism, that he is just one of many gods.  And without a shrine, Yato is a minor one at that.

The presence of many kami in Shinto religion is just one of many differences between that system and Christianity.  Yet, Noragami demonstrates to us a very Christian idea through Yato, one god who offers a similar gift as the One God.

Yato, Hiyori, and Yukine

Art by 砂糖イルノ (Pixiv ID 42444617)

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Holy Week: Noragami and Treating God as a Genie, Part 1

Near the end of the Noragami series, an anime-only antagonist is introduced.  Like Yato, Rabo is a god of calamity, and the series does it’s best to make him seem a match for our laid-back (but occasionally awesome) hero.

Apparently, Rabo has returned after centuries of absence, but in just a short time, he has made his presence felt among the general populace.  One of Hiyori’s friends, Yamashita, mentions that invoking his name in attempt to off somebody is a fad, I guess akin to writing down someone’s name in a Death Note notebook you purchased on eBay.

In this same discussion, the girls have a quick, but meaningful discussion characterizing the gods.  Yamashita tells of all her wishes to the kami, to which Hiyori chastises that she shouldn’t burden the gods with too many wishes.  Yamashita responds, “But that’s what gods are for!”

Yato and Rabo

Art by mime6 (Pixiv ID 41703179)

Although it’s played for comedy, Yamashita’s words reveal how many of us treat God in deeds, if not also in words.  Our head knowledge might know God to be a living spirit who is dynamic and loving and full of life.  But our words indicate that he’s static and idol-like, something to go to when we’re in need.

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Gin no Saji and Accepting Grace

A while ago, I decided to finish watching Silver Spoon, which I had watched during the summer, but hadn’t finished because I’d already been following the manga for several months. I already knew what was going to happen, and while the anime adaptation of Silver Spoon is good, it isn’t really any better than the manga. But there is something to be said for going over a story twice, and because circumstances change, I found that there were quite a few things that I saw differently the second time around.

Yūgo Hachiken

Art by 茶漉し (Pixiv ID 41064116)

In episode 8, something struck me in particular. Jachiken spent his summer working on the Mikages’ farm. All through the one month he had free from his intense work at Yezo Agricultural High School, he works equally as hard, and the Mikages appreciate his efforts. But when the summer starts to come to a close, and everything seems to be going so well, Hachiken forgets to connect a crucial tube that funnels fresh milk into a bulk cooler. Without anyone being around to notice it, the milk spills everywhere, spraying out by the litre and tumbling down the drain. When Hachiken realises just how much money he wasted, he’s understandably filled with guilt.

The Mikages would have every right to be angry with him, but instead they treat him graciously, telling him that what was done was done, and there was nothing he could do. One would think Hachiken would be a little relieved at this, but instead he only seems troubled further, and when they present him with his paycheck, he tries to refuse it.

I think sometimes rejection is our gut reaction when we’re offered something we don’t deserve, whether it’s forgiveness for a single mistake from another human or forgiveness for a multitude of mistakes from God. It’s like we think that by holding on to our guilt, we’re showing responsibility for our actions, or making amends in some way. But as natural as this is, it’s not a very reasonable response. None of us is really gain anything by holding on to our guilt, and trying to punish ourselves does nothing towards healing a wrong. The Mikages see this, and gently convince Hachiken to accept the money. He goes on to use it carefully, not taking their kindness for granted, which shows how we should respond to any kind of grace: by treasuring it. Because grace and forgiveness are worth far too much to be forsaken by our misguided guilt.

Something More: Stella Zen Academy and Grace on Kirino

After having earlier spoken of his disappointment with the series, Frank tells of the many things he enjoyed about Oreimo, focusing especially on the show’s theme of grace. [A Series of Miracles]

D.M. Dutcher gives his first impressions of Stella Girls’ Academy C3, including some discussion of Buddhism toward Christian viewers. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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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. 

WataMote: Wata We Are Is Wata We Do

I made it through four episodes of WataMote before dropping it.  I genuinely liked the series, Tomoko is a riot, and unlike Richard Eisenbeis, I don’t think the series is mean-spirited, but it’s just a little too discomforting for me to continue to spend time following it.

Some of that discomfort has to do with seeing myself and others in Tomoko.  WataMote‘s lead character is delusional, thinking herself only a step or two away from attaining popularity.  But even in these early episodes, Tomoko seems to realize that she’s not an “easy fix.”  She understands that there are many deep-rooted issues keeping her from being a “normal,” popular girl, and it isn’t as easy to treat as 1-2-3.

Still, she can’t or won’t make that connection into a lasting one.  Tomoko doesn’t quite get it.  Most of the time, she thinks of herself in one way, even though her actions show someone else entirely.  There are plenty of examples of this, but one that sticks out to me is Tomoko’s judgmental attitude.  She throws around the word “slut” frequently (in her mind at least) – this even though her best friend would more than fit into her definition of the term (and even though Tomoko tries to emulate these girls).

Tomoko Kuroki

Art by トライフル2杯 (Pixiv)

When I was growing up, and even still, I found myself heaping judgment down on people – frequently and heavily.  I judged the way people acted, how they dressed, and what they did and believed.  I might have been slightly more socially adept than Tomoko, but I was just as twisted – and I was even worse, because I called myself a Christian.

I know I wasn’t alone in this.  After all, the picture of an evangelical Christian in America may be one of two things – the genial and uncool Ned Flanders or the judgmental, hypocritical right-winger.  We’ve done well to cultivate this hateful image, even if our “Lord” was anything but.

So why don’t we just flip the switch and turn the judgement off?  Well, it’s not as easy as that, especially for a heart resisting change.  As with Tomoko, a few attempts to change actions won’t really change anything.

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