If ef began with the characters who were lost in the present, then it ended with characters who hopefully looked forward to the future. Although A Tale of Melodies is not a continuation of the stories within the first season, the two tales are tied together by Himura and Yuko and the two twin cities. In the same way Memories began with events on Christmas Eve, Melodies ends on the same holiday, but with a much different tone.
While this episode shows all the characters at some point, its focus is on the conclusion between Himura and Yuko, the two with the most bittersweet relationship of the series. Although Himura has spent the entire series repeating his claim that there is no such thing as a miracle, his reunion with Yuko can only be called a supernatural miracle. After years of living in the past, Himura finally obtains closure on one of his greatest regrets in life. As a result, he is finally able to look toward the future and live life to its fullest.
Similarly, all the other characters are shown with feelings of hope as they are no longer bound by the problems they had when they were first introduced. As they spend Christmas with their loved ones, they reminisce about their past, how they have grown, and look toward the future with hope and anticipation. They do not expect things to be go perfect; rather, they understand more trials await them. However, they have learned that they no longer have to deal with their problems alone. They are no longer the lost people who they were when they were first introduced. The episode – and the series – ends with a final reminder given by all the characters: no matter the trial, no matter the hardship, always remember there is someone who is willing to help you continue toward a happier future.
The celebration of Christmas is not just a reminder of past events but also one of the future. Christ was born, died, and rose from the dead, but He is also coming back. As Christians, we continue to anticipate the day of His return. We don’t know how long it will take, and the wait will involve an array of events from blessings to suffering. We don’t know what the future really holds for us. Simultaneously, however, our relationship with Christ Himself is what helps us move forward. As difficult as it may be at times, God is always with us. That doesn’t mean things will go as we want, but it does mean things will be a little more bearable. Thus, Christ came not only to seek the lost but also to guide us along the difficult path of life. As Christmas approaches, whatever situation your life be at, remember that Christ is right next to you. Oftentimes it may not seem like He is there; the hardships are too great and the support is too little. However, that is exactly one of the reasons to celebrate Christmas. It is to remind ourselves that Christ came for us, died for us, resurrected, and will continue to be with us forever.
Medieval Otaku refers to Wolf’s Rain as “essentially a Christian allegory,” focusing particularly on the symbolism of Kiba and Cheza as Jesus and Mary. [Medieval Otaku]
Foxy Lady Ayame digs deep into Sora no Woto, discussing ideas like the spiritual and healing aspects of a festival depicted in the series. [Anime Diet]
Regina Doman blogs about the process of writing Habemus Papam, Manga Hero’s OEL manga concerning the life of Pope Benedict XVI. [Manga Hero]
Zeroe4 discusses the “necessity of hope” on his personal blog, referring to his time in Japan. [Zeroe4]
As part of the Something More series of posts (formerly Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere), 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.
I just recently arrived in Tokyo after going to the Tohoku Prefecture for a week and a half with the organization International Hi-B.A. as part of their Gospel Team ministry. Hi-B.A. stand for Highschool Born-Againers, and is an organization that allows high schoolers to meet together and share their faith. Gospel Team (GT) is a ministry that is run by Hi.B.A. every year for two weeks in which Hi-B.A. students and staff are split into teams and sent out around Japan to minister to high school students. YWAM Tokyo partners with Hi-B.A., so all DTS students were placed on teams with high school students.
My team was sent to Tohoku after we finished three days of training camp in Chiba. Our team traveled for eight hours by van to Tagajo, which is right out side of Sendai. We stayed there for three nights as we did manual labor in Ishinomaki during the day. We worked on people’s houses. We shoveled and moved hedoro (contaminated dirt which in our case was full of petroleum and lime from the tsunami) out from under houses, so renovations could start. We also helped with bleaching the inside of the houses to kill mold and pulling up floors, in order to prepare the houses for renovations. Then, we held a barbecue at the end of the last day for the entire neighborhood. Many people showed up and we had a wonderful time meeting everyone. Read the rest of this entry
For many around my age, Neon Genesis Evangelion was an important series. Not only was it addicting, but it was breathtaking in so many different ways. For me, it sealed my love of the medium. Yet, I wasn’t terribly excited for the Rebuild of Evangelion films. The first movie was good, but instead of enjoying it, I longed for the depth of the series and became too caught up with comparisons.
Evangelion 2.0, however, is a different story.
Departing significantly from the series, Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance not only brings us new characters and situations, it also changes the tone of the series somewhat. Despite Justin Sevakis’ comments to the contrary, I found the movie to be brighter and happier than the original. What struck me was that the characters were no longer almost entirely helpless, victims of circumstance and doomed for their destiny. Perhaps this shift was no surprise, since Hideaki Anno was dealing with depression during the course of creating the classic series. Instead, he sends a message that is most unexpected – he tells us that there is hope.
Suffering. Death. Hope. Life.
These themes pervade Magica Madoka, particularly informing the final two episodes. They are also important ideas in religious traditions, namely Christianity and Buddhism. The Buddhist principals expressed in Madoka Magica are so pervasive, that I’ve started to think that the Christlike imagery I immediately saw when viewing episode 12 wasn’t at all planned by the show’s creator. After all, while the burden of sin on the Christ figure in the story is obvious (as are ideas like God living out of space and time and Madoka’s visit with Akemi resembling Jesus’ visits with the apostles and others before his ascension), other actions are harder to reconcile with Christianity. Maybe I’m just being euro centric, applying western thinking to an eastern medium.
Not that I have a problem with that – this is what I do on this blog (spoiler below). Read the rest of this entry