Blog Archives

Mileposts: Kirito x Asuna, Karuta God, and I Can’t Believe This Got a Thousand Hits

Periodically, I like point back to some of the more than 900 posts we’ve written here on Beneath the Tangles.  “Mileposts” is about blogging milestones – those little breakthroughs when posts hit certain numbers of significance in terms of hits.  Three articles recently hit such mileposts.

kirito x asuna

Happily ever after.

Sword Art Online, Episode 10: You Complete Me
Milepost:
40,000 Hits

While a new season of SAO brings up it’s own set of interesting spiritual themes, the first season had me writing episode after episode, including this post, in which I spoke of the relationship between Kirito and Asuna and a little bit of my own marriage:

And note Asuna’s words; she will protect Kirito “forever.”  The completeness of marriage is not only in two becoming one; it is also in the contract that is born – one that is meant to last.  Kirito will stay with Asuna “until the end.”  Asuna will stay with Kirito “forever.”  They will create a whole and complete marriage.

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Oreimo Finale: I Can’t Believe My Series End Like This (Wait…Yes I Can)
Milepost: 5,000 Hits Read the rest of this entry

Ayase v. Kuroneko: Two Ways to Love

Oreimo is best when the focus shifts away from Kirino and the creepy main storyline and toward the supporting characters.  Thus, it’s unsurprising that this past week’s episode was among the best, I think, of the entire series run.  It was also a piece of fanservice for me, getting to see two of my favorite characters in the show really interact for the first time – and in a pretty extended sequence, to boot.

Ayase arrives at Kyousuke’s apartment to give him a knife (a nice yandere twist) as a housewarming gift (and because she likes him – otherwise, why not wait until the party?).  Sparks (and jealousies) fly when Kuroneko also shows up.  The follow-through is gold, as each girl vies for Kyousuke’s attention in their own particular way, while the duo’s exaggerated personalities clash (there’s no way the two could get along even without Kyousuke in the picture).

Oreimo Ayase Kuroneko

Sparks were definitely flying (Art by **モンブラン**)

At one point in their argument, Ayase and Kuroneko temporarily forget Kyousuke and instead focus on their friendships with Kirino.  Each claim her as their best friend, with Kuroneko bringing up her reasoning for, apparently, why she loves Kirino more.  For you see, she’ll support any choice Kirino makes, with no regard to morality.  Ayase represents an opposite point of view – she’s shown that she wants Kirino to retain the perfect image she shows at school, going to desperate means, sometimes, to meet her goal.

I’m reminded of two similarly disparate viewpoints in modern society.  There are some individuals who find the highest fulfillment of love in acceptance.  Be who you are, no matter what that means.  Of course, most people have reasonable limitations, but some do not.  Websites that exist to give how-to instructions on self-harm, for instance, would be at the very edge of this kind of thinking.

Oreimo Ayase

Yandere Ayase? Very scary. (Art by イツ)

On the other hand, Ayase reminds me much of conservative Christian culture.  Sometimes it’s pharisaical (correction: A LOT OF TIMES), as the picture of morality must be maintained, even if it means achieving actions through underhanded and hateful means.  The outside becomes more important than the inside, running contrary to Jesus’ message:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

- Matthew 23: 25-26

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Oreimo Season 2, Episode 03: May the Circle Be Unbroken

Though with some exceptions, one thing that Oreimo has done right from the very beginning is getting us to feel, “Hey, I’ve been there, too!”  This week did that for me better than most as Saori’s back story was animated.

Though there have been hints of this, of the friends in her circle, Saori is possibly has the largest difference between the image she shows he world and who she truly is.  She even hides from her friends, as attested by Kyousuke’s exclamation when wondering who she was!  The hiding, in this case, is connected to a sister that goes in and out her life without warning, and who upon the last time she left, took away the group that Saori had come to cherish.

Oreimo Saori Bajeena

Art by smile

I was reminded of my own such group.  Back in the days of AOL, when chatrooms were the rage, I was part of a “circle” called Witless.  Consisting of about a dozen consistent members, it was a special place for me.  I was nondescript member and might not even be remembered by some in the chatroom now, years (and approaching decades!) past, but I cherished the time deeply (I’ve written on this before).

During a couple of months one summer, I was without a computer or Internet connection.  When that was returned to me, I came back to AOL to find that Witless was gone.  Members had drifted apart and the place we created no longer existed (meaning that no one bothered creating it day in and day out).  It made me really sad, as the friendships there, which felt so mature and gratifying, had grown more important to me than most of my relationships in “RL.”

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Oreimo Season 2, Episode 01: Where Is Your Heart (and Pocketbook)?

Each season, I jot down a little list of series I intend to check out.  They’re usually in two categories: “Definitely” and “Maybe,” indicating how likely I am to watch these series from beginning to end.  And although at one point I declared myself finished with the first season of OreImo (not to mention the rapidly degrading quality of the series through season one and my apathy toward the extra episodes), it was the only series to make my “Definitely” list this season.

Episode one confirmed that…I probably should drop this show.  An entire episode dedicated to transition, nothing much was emphasized except for Kyosuke’s continued obsession over his sister and the crush he’s developed for Kuroneko.

Oreimo Kirino

Oh, also, Kirino isn’t a natural blonde. SHOCKER! (Artist: 松竜)

Kirino is in fine form, as well.  I had a lot more patience with her than many other viewers, but her treatment of Kyosuke in this episode even had me disliking her character.  Even more so, I didn’t find her spending spree to be especially funny – instead, it just made me dislike Kirino even more for being so spoiled (on a side note, I think the series does a surprisingly good job of establishing why Kirino is the way she is, largely because of the parents – present in this series when it most others they may not be – and particularly because of the way the father is both a bully and one who spoils his daughter).   Contrast Genshiken, where the members spend their money on goods almost like a disease and sometimes in a self-loathing manner.

By the end of the episode, Kirino’s friends mention that her shopping would help her return to herself.  You see, it was necessary to spend thousands of dollars of anime-related goods so that she could feel at home.

I suppose this fits into who Kirino is – she worships at the foot of eroge and otaku culture.  Not doubt her spending habits would reflect her greatest love.

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Belldandy, Nagisa, and What it Means to Be Pure

Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess: The Movie, 2000

Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess: The Movie, 2000 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was dusting out blog drafts, and found this completed entry among them.  I don’t know if I would’ve written it today…but nonetheless, here it is!

Several years ago, while I was still in college and unmarried, a group of close guy friends and I had a conversation about “animated women.”  My friend blogged about our tastes, and so I so reminiscently looked through his old entries and found our selections.  One for Belle (Beauty and the Beast), one for Jasmine (Aladdin), one for Ariel (The Little Mermaid)and one for Belldandy (Oh! My Goddess!).

Belldandy.  She of the great divide – loved by many and hated by others.  One of the most popular anime/manga characters of all time, Belldandy exudes grace, innocence and quiet strength to some, and backwards subservience to others.  I would gather all of her positive attributes into one word: purity.  What sets Belldandy apart for many and what is attractive about her (her much-discussed sexuality aside) is purity. Read the rest of this entry

OreImo Episode 07 and “The Line”

As I watched the 7th episode of OreImo (Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai) the other day, I felt a sort of uneasiness throughout.  The episode was just as good as others so far.  But…I just couldn’t get comfortable enough ti simply enjoy the show.  I tried not to think too much as I watched and it wasn’t until the end of the episode that the reason for my discomfort hit me on the head.

Episode seven was flirting with crossing the line.

You know, the line.  That invisible mark where one turns off their television or computer.  The place where one sighs and leaves a series behind.  The imaginary point where we move on to another series, like I did after the bloodbath episode of Code Geass.

Kirino OreImo

Source: Pixiv Member 14563677

The line is where we decide a show is no longer worthy of our attention.  And I’m not talking about the quality of a show.  I’m strictly discussing the point in which our morals, sensibilities, values, beliefs, conscience, religion – whatever it is – takes over and tells us that we won’t take anymore.

Truth be told, nothing in this episode was repugnant.  In fact, some of you right now are thinking, “Why the heck would this guy stop watching OreImo because of this episode?”  Well, first of all, I haven’t decided if the show has crossed that line for me yet – you see, lines are often blurry and not always straight-edged and bold.  And secondly, I might stop watching because this was the first episode for me where the point was clearly to establish the beginning of a romantic relationship between Kyousuke and Kirino. Read the rest of this entry

OreImo Episode 04: Here We Go…or No?

Everybody and their momma has been commenting on episode four of Ore no Imoto ga Konna ni Kawaii wake ga Nai (OreImo), with many making judgment that the series is now becoming what everyone thought it would become.  Some like where it’s headed (Seanver has been tweeting all day about it).  Others, not so much.  A number of bloggers and others have commented on Kyousuke’s irrational subservient attitude.  Some see the grope scene as more a blip on the radar of gooey goodness.  Shin felt the episode was misogynistic.

Oreimo characters

Stock picture of that crazy cast...

For me, I’m still enjoying it.  Is there a hypocrisy between my faith and enjoying this series?  Perhaps – I’ve been known to be a hyprocrite.  I have a line drawn in the sand…but as with many lines, it’s subject to shifting with the wind and it’s not clear exactly where that line is.  With each week, OreImo draws closer to the line, but it’s still far away.

Here are my thoughts on that “boy falls on girl and gropes her” scene and on the possibly impending siscon relationship in the series: Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: John Addresses the OreImo Leak

John of the AnimeNation Anime News Blog is among the most interesting and knowledgeable writers about anime that I’ve read.  Today, he posted a reaction to the recent OreImo leak, and though not about spirituality, his comments bring up some interesting ideas regarding the hearts of anime fans, and really, all of us.  Read the rest of this entry