It’s been a rough ride for Eren and his fellow Scouts, but after seventy-three chapters of black-and-blue heartache and falsified hope, he’s finally one step closer to that ever-elusive basement.
Whether due to my vivid imagination or my familiarity with the anime’s sounds, I often hear the Attack on Titan manga as clearly as I read it; chapter 73 is forebodingly silent, to be sure, with nighttime excursions led by lantern light, and only the solid sound of hoofbeats and the whine of ziplines breaking silence with the coming of dawn.
But the moment Eren steps foot on the wall and looks at his homeland for the first time in years, the sounds die completely: it’s a point of precipice—teetering between hope and despair—that allows Eren to have a god’s-eye view of everything he’s been fighting for. Understandably, Isayama dedicates a two-page spread to this single panel.
Themes of homecoming and oppression are inevitably linked in Attack on Titan: explainable, since it’s the oppression of the titans that gives way to humanity’s ultimate decision—fall into despair, or seek hope in the midst of it. It’s a vicious cycle, to be sure, and as the chapter opens, the omniscient narrator reflects on how humanity at first fell into helplessness, believing the titans would dictate their ultimate fate. The panels’ grim sights soon transform into images of hope, however, as the Scouts at long last embark on a journey to retake Wall Maria, and Eren sets foot in his homeland for the first time in years.
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
Dream Eater Merry takes place in the real world and the dream world. The dream world is inhabited by dream demons who come over to the real world by using humans as vessels while they visit the world during their sleep or by opening up a daydream.
Once a dream demon takes a vessel, they cannot return to the dream world and the human cannot be separated from them without dire consequences. This is because dream demons don’t just enter the dreams that humans experience each night but into the dreams they have about their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their future, etc. The dream demon connects to this part of the human and rests in that power.
At the start of Terra, a teenage Kotarou and his family have recently moved to Kazamatsuri. His parents work at Martel, a part of Gaia. His neighbor’s family has a very young girl by the name of Kotori (!?). His parents attended Gaia’s meetings, but Kotarou spent his time hunting UMAs, which were actually familiars. However, one day, he encounters a much stronger familiar. Just as it attacks him, he is saved by Esaka and his knights. Kotarou falls unconscious but looks for Esaka and the two become friendly. Meanwhile, Kotarou is asked to take care of a young girl named Akane (!?). Akane seems to be affiliated with Gaia while Kotori notes that she wants nothing to do with Gaia and its meetings. As Kotarou’s teenage life unfolds, he ends up running away from home and joins Esaka and Guardian. He is put in a trainee team consisting of himself, Imamiya, Touka, and Nagai. However, this is a team of “unskilled” people, the ones who ranked lowest on the initial exam. Nagai eventually quits, but Kotarou gets stronger.
Eventually, the battle of Guardian and Gaia is about to start. Although the team is ordered on stand-by, Imamiya rushes in, followed by Touka and Kotarou. On the way, he encounters Akane who is cowering in the trees. Although he saves her and attempts to help her escape, he runs into another girl…Kagari, the Key, being born into the world. It is here that Kotarou is given a very important choice: try to attack her or run away. If the reader chooses to attack her, he will nearly be killed, end up in a coma, awaken to find the beginning of the common route, and another inevitable route to humanity’s destruction. In other words, from the very beginning, this part of Terra had already happened before the common route began, which explains a number of questions the readers may have had. However, in Terra route, there is another option Kotarou can take: run away and let Kagari escape. Read the rest of this entry
After completion of the five heroine routes, the two-part true route is unlocked: Moon and Terra. Moon route takes place on the moon but at the same time, it is more than that. On the moon exists Moon Kagari, who is tirelessly working on “something.” Koutarou cannot even begin to comprehend it; in fact, when he merely looks at it, it causes his head to undergo intense pain. This is not due to things such as brightness or a similar phenomenon; it is the result of the information being laid out simply being beyond human capacity for comprehension. By simply glancing at it, the human brain is overloaded with information. What we learn is that Kagari is working with what can be described as all the timelines in existence, akin to the akashic records. As a result, the moon where they reside is not the moon as we know it but rather a plane of existence that exists outside of time itself. The so called theorem which Moon Kagari works on has the ability to contain all timelines in existence. The map branches endlessly like a tree, with each line representing a different possibility. However, each line also meets its doom, the end of humanity. In fact, the five heroine routes were also a part of this tree of possibilities, all failures leading to humanity’s destruction, and this Moon Kotarou is the accumulation of all past Kotarous into a single being. What Kagari is looking for is the one timeline in which earth and humanity can survive. She makes adjustments to each “experiment,” and watches the earth proceed from its origin, only to eventually meet another end. She can also choose when to make branches, at any point in time. With the simplest tweak, she watches the butterfly effect unfold yielding yet another failure.
This existence outside of time parallels God’s existence outside of time. He too watches not just us but all points in time at once. Furthermore, the idea of heaven existing “above” us is only symbolically. The Moon is not a place which exists in the same spatial plane; it transcends the idea of time and space. Heaven is also a place that does not exist in any defined place as we know it. It exists, together with God, in a place that is not affected by the flow of time. Moon route speaks of time, but only vaguely, because Kotarou has no ability to keep track of time. This is perhaps a perfect representation of the common arguments and theories about what actually happened during creation. Did God literally create the world in 6 days or is that a metaphor for evolution or something else entirely? The answer is, if we used Rewrite as a basis, perhaps everything. Kagari controls the creation of life, but for the most part, watches it unfold. God, too, possibly set up the necessary components for the creation of life, but otherwise watched without involving Himself too much. A day in Moon route means nothing because the concept of time does not apply to it. However, the Bible uses words like “day” because it is the best way to communicate with us, who cannot grasp the concept of God. However, by reading Moon route and how Kagari works toward the creation of life, one can come far closer to imagining how God may have worked when He created us.
Of course, all of this may seem far-fetched or incomprehensible. Read the rest of this entry
TWWK filling in for Japes today, who has been working hard at our podcast (tune in tomorrow!) and special themed posts for Holy Week next week! I’m glad to have the opportunity to write this article, as I’ve just finished catching up with Death Parade and have a lot on my mind, particularly in regards to the most recent episode, Memento Mori.
Chiyuki’s life, as illustrated in episode 11, tells us a lot about hope and it’s opposite, hopelessness. Her back story is surprising – both for how happy it begins and for how quickly it deteriorates. Chiyuki is a happy girl with a warm family, surrounded by loved ones and supported by a strong foundation of love. So when her skyrocketing career is derailed by knee problems (Chiyuki = Sada meets Kerrigan?), I assumed that she would somehow bounce back – this couldn’t possibly be leading to suicide, could it? Chiyuki is too well-grounded and happy for that!
Of course, it does turn down that path, frightfully and quickly. And not, as Chiyuki assures, because of her drive for figure skating. It’s because she feels an extreme loneliness, a disconnect from everyone else, and in that, a loss of hope. When there’s literally no hope in a person’s life, there’s no reason to live.
But it shouldn’t have been that way – not for Chiyuki. Her parents are both supportive and loving. And it’s love that provides hope. In all the struggles we go through and all the hurt we endure – some far more than others – love shows us that in the midst of it all, there’s something to which we can cling. But when signs of that love are dim, either because we’re met by so much unlove in our lives or because we’re blind to it because of the heavy fog of difficulties in our lives, we lose that hope.
Then again, some of us are more like Chiyuki, who wasn’t battered by months and years of pain. Read the rest of this entry
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, especially its second season A’s, is one of my favorite anime, and just hit its 10 year anniversary. At the least, it’s probably the anime I’ve rewatched the most number of times. The climax of the second season takes place on Christmas Eve, as the protagonists Nanoha and Fate engage in a final battle against the Book of Darkness. Among other plot revelations, the real predicament Nanoha encounters is not how to defeat her opponent, it is how to save her opponent (and this is a recurring theme throughout the series). The Book of Darkness was originally called the Tome of the Night Sky, but at some point in time, its name and purpose were forcibly changed for malicious goals. Even so, the conscious entity known as the Book of Darkness is aware of this change. Unfortunately, she believes there is nothing that can be done to stop herself from going berserk. Therefore, Nanoha desires to save and redeem her. Although the Book of Darkness has already given up on herself, Nanoha doesn’t.
In the same way, there may be times in your life that you feel you have fallen too far; you cannot be saved. However, God does not give up on you. He will continue to reach out to you until you respond. This Christmas, remember that God sacrificed his Son Jesus Christ at the cross to save all of us. No matter how far you’ve strayed from the right path, He is by your side, waiting for you to accept His help, love, and salvation.
Meanwhile, the Book of Darkness is having an inward conversation with its master Hayate, who has been absorbed by it. Although being its master is also the source of much of Hayate’s suffering and pain, she is still able to sympathize with the Book’s sadness as well. As the master, Hayate temporarily overrides the berserk program to help Nanoha. Although the Book of Darkness feels there is no hope, Hayate grants her a new name: Reinforce, and the two are separated from the malicious program.
When God chooses people to do His work in the Bible, it often comes with granting them a new name. Oftentimes these people feel no hope in themselves, that there is no reason to choose them. However, as if to reinforce the idea that they are capable of what He wants, God grants them a new name, usually with a specific meaning. Hayate bestows a name which means the opposite of what the Book of Darkness believes itself to be: one who supports and blesses others. It is clear that names hold more meaning to God than a way to call someone by, and when it comes to the meaning of names, remember that Christmas is all about the birth and name of Jesus, who saved us from sins.
And they will call him Immanuel – which means ‘God with us.’
Merry Christmas everyone!
I love Christmas. It has always been a magical time of the year for me and somehow, I always ended up cheery just because its the Christmas season.
Though, this year was the first for me where not only does it not feel like Christmas, I also haven’t been very cheery at all. I could blame that on many reasons, but that’s not important, really.
Even for the 12 Days posts this year on Beneath the Tangles, I was not very enthusiastic since most of my “fall back” Christmas anime (ones easy to write about like The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya or Toradora for example) were already taken in previous years (by me probably, haaaaaha) and I really didn’t have many other options that I thought would make good posts.
Yet, I chose Shugo Chara, a series I’ve watched and loved and have apparently forgotten since it blind-sided me with its uplifting message. How can is be that I learn more from kids shows as an adult I’ll never know. Regardless, this was something I needed and didn’t even know it.
The Christmas episodes of Shugo Chara (roughly 10-13) only vaguely touched on Christmas imagery.
Yet, the episodes focused on a bigger theme that is definitely a something many associate with Christmas: Hope.
As a crash course for those who haven’t seen Shugo Chara, it’s a magical girl anime about a girl who has “heart eggs” that are her potential selves; what she could become in the future, that she can use to transform and purify other people’s heart eggs if they become tainted.
In this Christmas episode, Harima’s quest for Tenma’s heart, the central theme of the majority of the School Rumble series, continues on. He starts off the holidays with his own personal style, dressed as Santa in a jail cell lying among a pile of manga pages he just finished.
The manga he just wrote, like everything else, revolves around Tenma. Harima means to bring it to her first and foremost in an attempt to confess his love, despite the strict time constraint he was given by the publication planning to run it.
Even with the editor’s time restraint and the anger he knew he would face with Tenma, he decides he wants to show the comic to her before doing anything else. Due to a misunderstanding, Tenma is very angry because she believes Harima is messing with her sister, Yakumo, when her sister is actually helping him with the manga. Despite knowing what he will face, he still goes.
“If I’m not careful there will be another misunderstanding, but so what? Why should I be afraid of that? Compared to the crap I lived through before this comic and before I met her, this is nothing.”
He confronts her, faces her anger, explains the misunderstanding, and lets her read his comic. After that, he rides off to the publisher across the snow on a giant curry dish using a giant wooden spoon and dodging flying frozen fish.
On several occasions in our podcast, I’ve made it clear that Bartender is one of my all-time favorite anime. Despite its technical flaws, its thematic focus through episodic directing and frequently breaking the fourth wall, all while aimed at a more mature audience (in the sense of intellect and emotions, not sexual content) culminate in something truly special. Bartender’s Christmas episode, episode ten, is a continuation of this trend.
Early on, the episode makes it quite clear that the main character of the episode, the professor, is rather the oddball. Growing up, he became fascinated with the “sparkling star” water to the point that he devoted his entire life to studying computational fluid dynamics. This resulted in his academic achievement, but inability to function socially to the degree that society normally expects. Realizing his own shortcomings and disappointment, this Christmas time is when he sees something he is unused to: a “star.”
With the imagination of his original “star,” the beauty of water, gone due to his own studies and over-analysis, this beautiful woman he passes serves as the target of his fascination that he had almost forgotten was possible. Just like in the Christmas story of the four candles that he recounts, even though his life’s peace, faith, and love might be gone, it is hope that revives him. Read the rest of this entry