Blog Archives

Something More: Concrete Revolutio’s Moral Relativism, Evangelion’s Atheistic Approach, and SAO’s Virtually Christian Worldview

This past week, Sam, who recently started an aniblog after moving over from doing the same sort of blogging on Google+, wrote a series of articles about how the “family” in Gakkou Gurashi resembles the family of Christ. It reminded me of something that’s oft been on my mind these days – how believers are to take Christ on as a model for how we approach life:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’

– Matthew 16:24

We also imitate Christ’s relationships. As Christ is to the church, so should I be toward my wife; as Christ cares for his disciples, so should I look out for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ; as God lovingly parents us, I should shower grace and love upon my children.

A newcomer to scripture, or many of those just unfamiliar with the text, expect to see a book full of rules and may question why the Bible doesn’t tell us how to approach certain situations in life, even those that are most common or critical. But as the Spirit leads, and as we spend more time in the word, we see how complex and dynamic scripture is, and how it does hold the keys to how we live life, no matter the situation, oftentimes expressed through how we see life modeled by the heroes of scripture, and most of all through Christ.

Sam’s article points out some of the ways in which we should act – sacrificially (Kurumi), faithfully (Rii), and joyfully (Yuki). All of these things, of course, come along we develop our relationships with Christ once we turn to him in faith and surrender.

Sam’s article are concise, excellent reads – I would suggest you take a look at his blog as a whole, and especially at this series of articles!  Start with the first in the series:

>> Exploring Family with Gakkou Gurashi (Part 1)

And now, onto the multitude of excellent articles from across the blogosphere the last several weeks!

The opening song to Concrete Revolutio speaks to moral relativism and nihilism, approaches that are very much at odds with a Christian worldview. [Medieval Otaku]

Inuyashiki presents the idea that the “soul” is what makes us human, not the physical, which may present a problem to those who don’t believe in a God. [Ricochet]

The idea of the “hero’s journey” is found in many stories, including anime, and often contain a supernatural element (including those that can allude to the Bible), with InuYasha and Hunter x Hunter serving as examples. [Lady Teresa Christina]

The kindness that Anna finds in Marnie in When Marnie Was There is that which lonely and hurting Christians need from fellow believers, and that which they can find in God. [2]

Neon Genesis Evangelion is often ridiculed for lacking in true substance, but does it really set up a confrontation between scientific and religious mindsets? [The Artifice]

Episode 2 of Young Black Jack demonstrates a Christian idea of sacrifice in an un-Christian circumstance. [Christian Anime Review]

Princess Kudelia wants to experience what it’s like to be among the orphans in G-Tekketsu, analogous to Christ as man. [3]

Yuu continues to press forward, despite terrible circumstances, in the last episode of Charlotte – Christians, too, have reason (better reason!) to do the same. [2]

Speaking of Charlotte, perhaps another reason Yuu was able to do what he did was because of that universal need for redemption. [Unsheathed]

The virtual world of Sword Art Online, and how the characters react to it, perhaps mirror how Christians and non-Christians approach life. [2]

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. Special thanks to Don of Zoopraxiscope Too for notifying me about the Inuyashiki post!

Gendo Ikari: Yui Give and Take Away

Gendo Ikari is one of anime’s great villains. Some 15 years after Evangelion originally aired, he remains hated, the very picture of a vile father willing to sacrifice his son (and the entire world, even) for his obsession.

But even Gendo has a tender side. Even Gendo was once in love.

In the following portion of the Evangelion manga, Gendo makes some interesting statements about love and about God. He claims that God gave him Yui, and then after she is absorbed, questions why God gives and takes away.


The question Gendo poses is one that countless others have asked, and that Christians frequently posit as well, even if we might “know” the answers to it in our heads.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

– Job 1:21

Gendo doesn’t explain what he believes the answer was to his question, “If he was going to take her away, why did he give Yui to me?” But he does make a decision – like so many villains before and after him, Gendo determines to become God.

The answer to Gendo’s question, though, is quite contrary to what he resolves to do. Near the ending of Job, throughout which the title character has struggled with the loss of all he held dear, God lets him and his “friends” know that, well, He is God. We can’t always know the answers, for we are not.

And in that seeming insecurity we peculiarly can find hope. For in all the pain and loss in this world, God holds true. His love is true. His promises are true. And when those people and things dear to us disappear, we can cling onto God, for He’s proven that He when all is gone, He will remain. And there’s nothing more assured than that.

Something More: Plastic Religious Memories, Steins;gate Heaven, and Sinful Pokemon

A new season of anime is upon us!  And it’s been…underwhelming?  Still, there are interesting series here and there, and a few that provide us with something a little deeper to think about as well.

Jimmy Kudo’s transformation into Detective Conan teaches us about humility and servant leadership. [Kendall Lyons]

The Steins;gate of that named series makes an interesting metaphor for Heaven. [Famous Rose]

Yuri of Angel Beats! declares her hate for God, but underneath, is she looking for the hope that God provides? [Old Line Elephant]

Medieval Otaku is taking a hiatus from blogging (including from here on Beneath the Tangles), but unsurprisingly, leaves us with some Christian wisdom in a post that discusses Ashita no Joe, Maria the Virgin Witch, and Gokukoku no Brynhildr.

The Japanese’ pragmatic and syncretic approach to religion applies to in anime as well as in real life, with Devilman and Evangelion shining as examples. [Ogiue Maniax]

Draggle wasn’t impressed with the theology expressed in Maria the Virgin Witch. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

Dee mentions Buddhist themes among those that complicate Plastic Memories. [The Josei Next Door]

Plastic Memories can also be approached through a Christian perspective, particularly in light of what scripture tells us about giving love. [Geeks Under Grace]

The opening episode of Re-Kan! provides a example of faith can be. [Christian Anime Review]

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the flap this week in which a site claimed that the much-derided Creflo Dollar (he of the “my congregation should buy me a new jet”) espoused the evils of Pokemon in a sermon.  Although a number of outlets picked up on the story and had fun with it, the source article never links to such a sermon. [Christnews]

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.

Something More: Cain and Abel in Shiki, Anime in the Christian Life, and 7 Unholy Priests

I didn’t post a column last week, and what a week to skip – there were a number of provocative articles regarding anime and spirituality.  But that just means that this column, I’m including twice as much goodness!

Frank tells how Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha paints a picture of the Christian relationship with God, despite it being structured in a Shinto world. [A Series of Miracles]

Medieval Otaku explores the Cain and Abel story as given in Shiki. [Medieval Otaku]

Jay gives his thoughts on the e-book, “Teenager Today – Anime Fanaticism: Is it Spiritually Harmful?” [Deremoe]

Rob talks about conforming to the things of the world (especially anime), and gives advice about conforming to thing above. [Christian Anime Review]

Last week, Lynzee Lamb gave “7 Unholy Priests” in her column, “The List.”  Was there anyone you would have included that Lynzee did not? [Anime News Network]

Katie reviews Neon Genesis Evangelion from a Christian perspective. [Breaking Metal Windows]

I don’t know if this counts as “spiritual,” but it is fun: D.M. Dutcher counts down the five best moments from anime apocalypses. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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. 

Nobunagun and Evangelion, Response and Choice

While the idea of historic prodigies genetically inhabiting the bodies of our protagonists presents a unique plot, the structure of Nobunagun, one of the new series I’ve been following this season, is not new.  The first episode confuses us with significant, but as of yet unexplained plot points, while trying to overwhelm the audience with big action scenes.  Episode two only takes a few minutes to wrap up the commotion from the opening, spending the bulk of the episode exploring the protagonist’s conflicted decision about whether or not to become a heroine.

Sound familiar?  If you’ve been watching anime long enough, it should be.  It’s pretty much the exact same structure as Evangelion and similar to a number of other series.  It’s also perhaps not all that different from a number of superhero films, particularly those that are origin stories.

Shio Ogura

Art by しれい (Pixiv ID 40332724)

I don’t mind rehashed storylines – after all, that’s what most anime is – but I wish the decision would have had some more weight to it.  Shio doesn’t really seem to have anything going for her, and she really enjoyed becoming (or inhabiting, or being inhabited by?) Nobunagun, so for the audience, there doesn’t seem to be much of a conflict here.  As for Asao, she’s supposed to function as the guiding light toward the ultimate decision, but I didn’t find her works particularly deep or impactful.  I guess there’s not really much to say, after all.

What I do like, though, about Shio’s choice was that it was a choice.  She made the conscious decision, after much thought and advice, to fight for humanity.

Read the rest of this entry

Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Hero Named Shinji

EVA Unit 01Two years ago I watched one of the most well known anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. I didn’t like it. It was weird. Strangely though, one of my favorite aspects of the show was Shinji Ikari. The kid who couldn’t do anything. Mocked in anime circles world wide, this kid was the only thing that grounded me to the original series.

Shinji is not your typical hero. He is definitely not the typical shōnen style hero. He is known as a coward. He is known for his complete indecisiveness and lack of motivation. He is not a hero by most peoples perspectives. However, I think he is much more like a real life hero, than a fictional and romanticized one. I do not believe Shinji is a coward, he is a compassionate hero.

When Shinji is first taken to NERV in all adaptations, he meets his Father who abandoned him, is asked to pilot a giant synthetic human, and then is faced with a beat up and barely able to stand girl and the first pilot Rei. A little overwhelming. Not to mention, he just witnessed the enemy he has to fight withstand humanities most powerful weapons, while destroying a couple major cities. And yet he still decides to pilot EVA Unit 01. He does it out of compassion for Rei. Everytime he gets in an EVA, he is risking his life. But he isn’t doing it because he wants to. He does it because if he doesn’t someone else will have to and in many cases, no one else can. Is that not a heroic quality?

To often we think of heroes as super people who do amazing things with total resolve and selflessness, but how many people do you know that have total resolve or are selfless all the time? I don’t know any. A hero is a person with character who is motivated help someone with whatever means necessary (often spontaneous and drastic.) Someone who in a moment is selfless in sacrifice and resolved in a difficult task in order to protect someone else.

I am from a culture that values heroics. I am a military brat. Ask anyone who has been in a firefight or has been through the hell called war and they won’t say they fight for their country; they don’t fight for freedom. That may be a piece of it, but they fight for the people next to them. They fight for there families and those that they love. Shinji fights for Misato, Rei, and his friends from school. Shinji is selfless, he just doesn’t know it.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Heaven in Saiyuki and Haibanem Renmei Religion

Josh W. provides some short thoughts on Haibane Renmei, including a significant and insightful one about the religious allusions in the show. [Res Studiorum et Ludorum]

Lady Saika uses Saiyuki‘s depiction as an example of how Heaven is portrayed in series and film. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Rocklobster points out the problems that the religious may have with Evangelion in his positive review of the series. [Lobster Quadrille]

D.M. Dutcher gives advice to Christian viewers in his review of Linebarrels of Iron. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]


Special thanks to Don of Zoopraxiscope for the link to the Haibane Renmei post!

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. 

Something More: Jesus and Buddha Talk Evangelion, Buddhism in Paprika, and Haibane Renmei’s Purgatory

I took a break last week from Something More, so today’s links are for articles posted over the last fortnight.  Enjoy!

Nami gives her thoughts on Trigun, including how Vash and Wolfwood’s beliefs mirror or disagree with her own Christian ones. [BookLoversUnite]

Rocklobster gives Haibane Renmei a 10/10 and in his review, mentions the possible Christian allusions in the series. [Lobster Quadrille]

In his Secret Santa post, dliessmgg closes by mentioning the possible Buddhist ideas underlying Paprika. [Inflating the Tokidoki Balloon]

Hervé St-Louis gives an unfavorable review of the Happy Science anime film, The Mystical Laws. [ComicBookBin]

Teaser trailers for the Saint Young Men film are up and apparently satire Evangelion (someone fill me in?). [Anime News Network]


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. 

Turn the Other Cheek, Ikari!

Neon Genesis Evangelion is full of memorable scenes.  Among those is an early one featuring Shinji and Rei on an escalator.  Shinji, full of anger toward his father, expresses his frustration.  The mostly emotionless Rei responds in a surprising way – by slapping her fellow pilot.

If Ikari had been a Christian (like Misato?), perhaps he would have literally turned the other cheek.  After all, this was instruction provided by Jesus.  Then again, maybe he would have been interpreting that instruction wrongly.  In his book, Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary, J.D. Greear posits that the cheek was symbolic of relationships to Jews in Jesus’ time.  Striking the cheek meant to break that relationship, while offering the other meant to “reoffer” the relationship.

This reminds me of another scene in Evangelion that happens just a few episodes later.  Shinji, still stung by years of neglect, begins to speak to his father again.  They visit a gravestone commemorating Shinji’s mother and have some tender words (as much as they are capable of).  It would be a monumental step toward reestablishing relationship – toward turning the other cheek – if not for the irredeemable spirit that is Gendo Ikari.

Evangelion Ikari

Art by Siv

Most of the people we come into contact with are quite unlike Gendo; though they may be full of pride, most are still willing to bend somewhat.  And when we understand the radical love that can transform our lives, and how irredeemable we ourselves are, we are able to step forward and offer the other cheek to difficult people we know.

Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Kokoro Community, Fairies Invent Religion, and Exorcising Anime Demons

Draggle continues his fabulous series of posts on Kokoro Connect, defining community and showing how various characters contributed to being part of one in episode eight, before tying it all together with biblical teachings. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

Processr compares episode nine of Humanity Has Declined to Gulliver’s Travels, complete with criticism of religion. [Anipulse]

Lady Saika examines demon possession in Supernatural and Blue Exorcist, and invites readers to give other examples. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Mira mentions the spiritual journey in The Wings of Honneamise in her collaboration post with Cholisose. [Cholisose!]

Sweetpea finishes her Evangelion posts with End of Evangelion, and closes with some discussion of the characters’ attempts at creating a god. [Going in Blindly]


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