A long-running project of mine is to get my wife to become an anime fan. It started when we were dating and I got her to fall in love with Studio Ghibli. Over the years, I’ve shown her a number of series, too, and they’ve been a hit (mostly): Clannad, Kids on the Slope,
Attack on Titan (I went for the jugular and FAIL), Kimi ni Todoke, and now, Honey and Clover.
Each character in Honey and Clover is wonderful, but my very favorite is Ayumi Yamada. For whatever reason, I connected with her best, and felt as much empathy for her struggles as with any of the others. Also, clay. Ayumi’s talent is my favorite among the cast’s.
There’s something soothing and beautiful about pottery making, isn’t there? The idea of a sole person turning a block of clay into something smooth and beautiful and useful with just hands and wheel is idyllic. The same imagery wasn’t lost on the Bible writers, who made frequent comparison of God to the potter:
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
The comparisons between God and a potter are plentiful:
- God cares. As the potter must carefully and skillfully manipulate the clay to stay from ruining it, God is gentle with us. His patient and grace are abundant with a people that are far more stubborn than clay.
- God is creator. The potter and clay metaphor brings to mind the creation story. As clay comes from the earth, Genesis explains that humans, too, come from the dust of the earth. God breaths life into humanity, as the pottery shapes life into pottery.
- God shapes us. Ten potters can be handed the same size and type of clay, and each create some wholly different piece. But the similarity is that the potter guides the entire process to make the clay into something more than it was.
And it’s that last point that most presses upon me. Today, I was reminded what a sinner I am, how vicious I can be, and how inhuman (or perhaps how very human) I am at my worst. At my lowest, I turn to God, because who else can I turn to? Friends and family don’t have the power to change me, and I’ve found that I don’t have the power within to transform myself. But the Holy Spirit can empower us to change and to become far more than we are – nearer to image of Christ.
And in that sense, when we feel like clay – something buried in the earth, lower even than dirt – we know that we are being shaped, molded into the image of Christ. And in that sense, there’s nothing else better to be.
Every three months, the anime blogosphere becomes filled with anime viewing guides for the upcoming season. It’s an exciting time for anime fans, as anticipation is at its highest and not yet sullied by disappointing series. It’s also the time where instead of creating my own guide, I do something which I think would much more handier – create a guide to the guides! Below are some of my favorite winter 2010/2011 anime preview guides.
- T.H.A.T. Anime Blog
Without fail, the writers at T.H.A.T. Anime Blog deliever excellent previews each season, including information like trailers, summaries, genres, and nifty additional details. The shining spot, though, is the quick series of one-liners given underneath each listed series, which are often funny and written by some of the best and most knowledgable bloggers in the anime blogosphere.
Grade A for great info and great fun
- Random Curiosity
This site provides a unique experience among preview guides. In addition to giving necessary information about every series, it’s all the extras that make this guide stand out. Divine includes additional season information (ex. how the disaster in Japan is effecting the schedule) and categorization and commentary about the shows in the concluding section. Most importantly, the page features a table that shows when each show will air, and one for release dates of OVAs and movies.
Grade A for being tabletastic and full of insightful and interesting reading
- Emory Anime Club
While the information about each show in this preview is no different from other sites, what stands out here is the commentary about each. Tsuki and Steve write plenty about each show, providing the potential (given in percentages) for each, as well as other information, including comparisons to other series.
Grade A for one-stop shopping and expert analysis
The writers for this blog are energetic. It’s fun to read their commentary about each show. But maybe even better than that is how pleasing the preview is to the eye – the page is really attractive and each series is accompanied by a nicely-designed picture/information cube. The bloggers are also smart in hiding the long commentary and trailers, which only show up when clicked.
Grade A for design and blogger moeness
The above-linked guides were each mostly created by multiple bloggers. I also appreciate the in-depth guides made, heart and soul, by singular bloggers. Blogs that fit in this category (check them out!) include Otaku Life, Hashihime, Yuri no Boke, and Banana Muffin.
Charts and Other Preview-related Sites
- The Cart Driver
I’m not sure if Scamp was the first to create an “anime season preview chart,” but his may be the most prolific. Frequently linked to and resposted, Scamp’s charts provide the basics of each show for the upcoming season in a clean and attractive format.
Moetron’s visual guide is very stylish and contains information about each series, as well as this spring’s OVAs and movies. The site also gives a great TV listing schedule.
- Countdown Anime
This fun site provides countdowns for each of the new anime this winter. It’s a neat way to get even more excited about the upcoming season.
What I’m Looking Forward To
It’s always fun to look back and see what we planned to watch and how it turned out. Last season, I mentioned that I was looking forward to Hourou Musuko and Fractale. I’m still enjoying the first greatly, while I dropped the latter after just two episodes. Instead, I picked up Infinite Stratos (for better or worse).
Typically, I only want to watch about two series each season, but this spring, I’m looking foward to four. I’ve been waiting for Moshidora ever since I first heard about the concept last year – if nothing else, it should be fun and interesting. Nichijou is the type of series that is usually hit-or-miss with me, but it’s director’s association with Key productions means I’ve got to give it a shot. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai has a storyline that captivates me and again, the director, who did work on Honey and Clover and Toradora!, two of my favorites, has me intrigued. Finally, I want to check out Sket Dance, since I’ve nearly started on the manga a half-dozen times.
Enough of me, though. What are you looking forward to this spring?
I couldn’t resist including just one more anime episode (from one of my favorite series). Enjoy!
The Christmas Story
The episode begins with reminiscing – Takumi thinks about Rika, and Rika and Shuji think about their past time together. Hagu, meanwhile, is feeling pressure to succeed in her art and becomes ill. Yuta helps her and finds out she’s been physically ailing lately because of the stress. Later, Shinobu, dressed as Santa, deliver invitations to a party on Christmas Eve. Yuta and Hagu go out to shop for the party, and he relates to her that he doesn’t like Christmas much, as he spent many of them in the hospital with him mom, a nurse. At the party, Takumi arrives late and speaks to Shuji about Rika, who is visiting her husband’s grave. After the party ends, Shuji takes the girls home, Takumi and Shinobu have a drink, and Yuta sleeps, dreaming of being young and celebrating Christmas with Hagu.
For all the Santas I mentioned in these series of posts, might favorite is probably the mysterious (and hilarious) Shinobu Santa. There are also decorations, a Christmas cake, and a Christmas party. Oh yeah, and evil demonic Christmas trees that haunt Yuta’s mind. Yikes.
The true meaning of Christmas is…
Finding a bit of happiness in the hardships of life. I mentioned in my post about Toradora! that it’s Christmas shows helped me think of those who weren’t having a Merry Christmas – Honey and Clover goes even further. Their characters are suffering from illness, heavy expectations, broken hearts, unrequited love, death of loved ones and the effects of growing up in a single parent household. Honey and Clover is about as realistic as anime gets, and that’s part of why it’s just so good. If you’re one of those without a happy home life, I hope that at least you had a bit of joy around Christmas. There is hope, and it’s found in the reason for the season.
On the day after Christmas, anime gave to me:
Keitaro on crutches,
Santa Urd shining shoes,
a bloody day and silent night,
Broken hearts and ornaments,
Mio’s darling dresses,
Chiyo’s dad as Santa,
a blonde Santa Claus,
a Christmas tree comet,
Paper Sisters birthday,
and Sakura knitting a nerdy dollie.