Blog Archives

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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Charlotte Episode 11: Meaning in Sacrifice

Sometimes when we make the decision to do the right thing, to make the noble sacrifice, to be gracious, it doesn’t always feel like it was right, especially when everything turns out rotten and worse than if we did nothing at all.

Yuu and Shun must feel as much after their plan, which in their minds was foolproof (just leap back in time!), led to Yuu’s serious injuries and Kumagami’s death. Nothing turned out as they hoped – an important ally and friend is dead, a vital ability paralyzed, Nao possibly also be injured, and though the Syndicate doesn’t know it, at least one more enemy unaccounted for.

This isn’t what’s supposed to happen when we sacrifice ourselves to help others.

charlotte 11b

Of course, episode 11 of Charlotte demonstrates the truth that, despite our noblest intentions, things don’t always turn out. When that happens in our own lives, we might feel utterly defeated.

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Something More: Shuu’s Sacrifice, Muslim Manga, and ISIS-chan’s Mission

While Charlotte hasn’t broken any new ground or done anything to make us feel it might become a classic like associated previous series and visual novels, it has been entertaining. Recent episodes have especially been good, including the last couple which have been surprisingly intense. In episode ten, we get to see Shun’s sacrifice through his time travels, as well as Yuu’s plundering of that power to go back and save Ayumi.

Rob of Christian Anime Review points out the sacrifices that Shuu made. He had to endure pain and hardship as well as the eventual loss of his eyesight. Rob also points out something interesting, that though the sacrifices are powerful, they can’t live up to that done by Christ. I wondered why this is true? Why are Shun’s sacrifices – fictional as they are – less powerful than Christ’s?

I think that, besides the truth of the gospel message and the fact that God himself did it, the impact of it boils down to whom the sacrifice was for. Yuu going back to for Ayumi is fulfilling for the viewers, but not because of anything moving on Yuu’s part – it’s because Ayumi has been drawn as a very loveable character. We want to see her return. Shuu’s efforts are a little more praiseworthy because, as Rob points out, he’s doing what he’s doing not just for his family, but for so many others as well.

Christ goes further than that – his sacrifice was for all mankind. And moreso, while Shuu certainly knows many of the people he’s saving, Christ knows us more intimately than any person ever could, more than we often know ourselves. He knows our pains, struggles, imperfections – the way we hurt others and the vileness hidden in our hearts.

And still he chose to die for us. That’s the power of the gospel – the perfect one dying for imperfect us.

Check out Rob’s article to read more on his thoughts:

>> Review: Charlotte, Episode 10: Looting

Visit these links to read more insights about anime/manga and religion/spirituality:

Kill la Kill gives us some insight into Christian eschatology, especially the idea that the kingdom of God is both here and yet to come. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

Himouto! Umaru-chan presents a very familiar, and very secular, version of what Christmas is apparently all about. [Old Line Elephant]

Religion will be a key element at the center of the new Ace Attorney 6 game. [Anime News Network]

The Muslim Manga Project seeks to engage both practitioners of the faith and those who simply want to learn more about Islam. [MuslimMatters]

Have you heard of ISIS-chan, the melon-loving anime character who was created to digitally combat ISIS (while respecting Islamic religion)? [DW]

The summoning of Shiva in Final Fantasy games begs the question of whether the inaccuracy in which the Hindu deity is presented is problematic. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

As part of the Something More series of posts, 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 to be included. 

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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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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Yo-Kai Watch and Contextual Demons

August has been a month for discussing context here at Beneath the Tangles, and I highly recommend looking at both articles recently written on this subject: Annalyn’s article about historical/cultural context, and Kaze’s article about man’s context VS God’s context. Here, I’ll be adding my humble contribution and completing the proverbial “Context Trinity.”

divider 2

Growing up in the 90s, while attending a private/Christian school, I received my first taste of franchise demonizing. The school faculty sent out word that anything Pokémon—be that lunchboxes, trading cards, action figures, or even roleplaying during recess—would henceforth be banned at the school on account of the series’ demonic influence and focus on evolution.

Fifteen years later, I’m witnessing the advent of Yo-Kai Watch, a game-turned-anime-and-manga franchise about a boy with the ability to see and tame yokai with the help of a magical Yokai Watch. The new series has already overtaken Japanese audiences (and surpassed Pokémon—its spiritual predecessor—in popularity), with an official Western release scheduled for the games and anime next year.


Recently, I saw a post on my Facebook feed that I couldn’t scroll past. A fellow Christian acquaintance had posted about Yo-Kai Watch, warning other Christians that it was demonic and that children should stay away from it. They referenced an article written by Gamesradar+, which stated, “There’s a real playfulness to each of the [yokai’s] designs, most of which are based on Japanese folklore demons, otherwise known as yokai.”

That terrible word “demon” is like a red flag to Christians. I can understand why reading this single article about the series might raise serious concerns in someone’s mind, but this particular Christian was mistaken in that they assumed the word “demon” was cross-cultural—that Eastern and Western demons were compatible entities.

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Charlotte, Episode 7: Ends of the Earth

A lot of things can drive us away from God. Most are subtle, as we replace God in our lives with money, success, lifestyle, relationships, or usually a combination of many things. And sometimes, an event pushes us away from God, as we purposely, in full realization, run away from our maker.

In episode seven of Charlotte, Yuu makes a run for it, hiding away from the world, from his life, from truth, from pain, but most purposely, from Nao.

Angel Beats is not going to make you feel any better, Yuu...

Angel Beats is not going to make you feel any better, Yuu…

I don’t think any of us probably watched this episode thinking that what Yuu was doing was fantastic or absurd. We realize how difficult the time is for him, and how hard it is to bounce back from a tragedy like he endured. Those with anxiety or other difficulties and illnesses probably understand Yuu’s condition even more deeply – once you’ve been pushed over the edge, it feels like an impossible task to do what people are telling Yuu to do – to move on with life.

And so, Yuu runs. He runs away from Nao and the student council, so that they won’t bring him back to the heavy weight of reality. And he runs to a place where he can simply satisfy his basic animal desires, to indulge in things that will keep him from the reality of life. In this way, Yuu reminds me of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32); though some tragedy didn’t push the prodigal to rebel, he did squander the money given him and breathed in “wild living.”

In the end, the prodigal returned to the father – not necessarily out of humility, but just for a place to go. Yuu is still running at the end of the episode, but knowing that he’s never likely to return, his “god” has to meet him more quickly than God met the prodigal.

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Between the Panels: Your Lie in Legalism

Don’t let that big word scare you. Legalism is just a formal word for “excessive adherence to law or formula.” In other words: following every jot and tittle of the rulebook.

In addition to countless 1st-place medals for his peerless piano playing (try saying that five times fast), Kousei Arima would likely be a candidate for “most legalistic of the year” if such an achievement existed. His uncompromising adherence to every note, rhythm, and annotation of his sheet music eventually leads his rivals to call him “robotic,”—a “mirror” who perfectly reflects the original intensions of a piece.

This might be a complement if not for the dark story behind Kousei’s formulaic performance. It’s revealed that the protégé pianist’s mother drove him to painful lengths in order to ensure his abilities, even restricting his sleep, food, and freedom. Due to his mother’s terminal disease, however, Kousei dutifully endured her abuse with the mindset that performing well would heal her.


But with each performance, Kousei made a mistake—one small enough for only his mother to notice—and eventually, after a particularly bad presentation, his mother publicly beat him, Kousei spoke to her in hatred, and whatever remnants of a relationship they possessed began to dissolve.

Even when his mother dies shortly afterwards, however, her influence on Kousei lingers. Unable to live up to his mother’s perfect expectations—her demands that every note be flawless and every performance identical to the composer’s original intent—Kousei loses his ability to hear his own playing and finds himself irrevocably bound by his mother’s standards whenever he makes an attempt.

Music, once a joy in Kousei’s life, becomes tainted with the oxygen-masked face of his mother’s ghostly visage.

This hopeless quest to gain perfection through following a system of rules is legalism at its finest, and it’s a trap that the protagonist of Your Lie in April metaphorically falls into. It’s the same trap that many Christians find themselves ensnared in—including yours truly.

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Something More: Godless Death Note, Virgin Mary Adventure Time, and Sinner Moon Crystal

Another season of anime has come and gone – and that quickly, a new season is upon us! But before we move too quickly ahead, let’s be reminded of the spiritual notes that rang out from some of the latter episodes of Spring 2015 series, as well as commentary about a few older anime:

Death Note provides an interesting case of the slippery slope in thought processes that can occur when God is separated from one’s worldview. [Lady Teresa Christina]

You know about the Bible anime that Osamu Tezuka created at the request of the Vatican, right? It’s kind an interesting deal. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Can religious characters be used in fiction while retaining their spirituality? Sure! Look to Saint Young Men for an example. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

The paradox of Christian love is seen in Nameko Families, where Bad Nameko does that which is purely good. [Old Line Elephant]

Episode 24 of Sailor Moon Crystal demonstrates to us the results of “sinful” decision-making. [Christian Anime Review]

As episode 6 of Re-Kan! shows, encouragement from others is a necessity – and this also holds true for a Christian’s walk. [2]

Who are we deep inside, beneath the facades? Hachiman asks that question in OreGairu, and the same should be asked in terms of spirituality. [3]

Adventure Time has, maybe for good reason, inspired artwork illustrated as Christian iconography. [Taylor Ramage’s Blog]

As part of the Something More series of posts, 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 to be included.


Anime and the Digital Church

More and more, ministries are streaming their services online or making websites where Christians (or people of other faiths) can watch, donate or be a part of the community. Facebook and other social media networks have become the place where hundreds, even thousands, come to share their life, struggles and ask for prayer. Even here at Beneath The Tangles, though it’s not a church or ministry with a pastor, many people read our articles and learn more about our Creator. This may not sound like the typical way church is done*, but it’s a trend that is growing rapidly every year.

There are actually several anime that highlight this format, and the two (there are more!) that I would like to mention are .hack//Sign and Sword Art Online. Each one is about people who log on to a server where they play an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and build community with one another. Each player has an avatar that looks like a person, or sometimes part human and part animal that they can use to talk with each other, fight, and even romance. Each episode shows the dynamics of the game actually start to affect the characters emotions and spill out into the real world.


For example, Kirigaya Kazuto and Yūki Asuna, whose avatars are famously named Kirito and Asuna, fall in love through the playing of the game and become romantically involved in real life. Their digital life affected their real lives, which can be also said for people who were in comas or died because of the game in both series.

.hack//Sign main characters Subaru and Tsukasa deal with real life situations that are sometimes resolved online or vice-versa, plan strategies or literally hack servers to stop people from going into comas induced by the games headgear. They even become very close friends and talk about their IRL (In Real Life) problems and get advice on them as well, just like many of us do online. This not only makes you feel for the character and the player, but often times as you watch the anime you forget that the avatars are being controlled by people outside the game. This can happen to us on social media or games, where we might blend the two aspects together and forget that these are real people we are talking to, not just text.


The .hack//Sign team all together!

Now, being part of a digital community of fellow believers isn’t a bad thing but there will always be that need to physically be a part of a group that share the same faith. Let’s face it, there are things that you would not share online nor are you accountable to anyone either. You can post lots of Christian posts, messages or verses but who is checking up on you when you are alone or going through life? Are you obliged to report to someone or at least have a one-on-one with an admin online?

Not at all. Read the rest of this entry


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