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

My Favorite (Anime) Things, 2013

The timing of Christmas is such that it’s a nice time to reflect upon the past years.  Applying that reflection toward anime, I’ve reworked the words to a holiday favorite, “My Favorite Things,” the last few years.  And here’s another version for 2013 (Note: there are Attack on Titan anime and Naruto manga spoilers in the lyrics):

Goro does better up on Poppy Hill;
Mizusawa with more karuta thrills;
Even if Chihaya’s arm’s in a sling;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Chihaya, Wataya, and Taichi

Art by GiantRobo (Pixiv ID 1223059)

Less creepy Kowaru in 3.0;
Genshiken’s back! Let’s get on with the show;
Mirai and Mitsuki and all the rest sing;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Kowaru Nagisa

Art by 边造-仕事募集-(´;ω;`) (Pixiv ID 39718348)

When Marco dies
And so does Petra,
And I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Petra Ral

Art by AYI (Pixiv ID 39685413)

Koko and Yana and Banri and Linda;
Sasuke becoming a new nice boy ninja;
manga and artbooks all tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Art by Gnarf1975 (Pixiv ID 38917069)

Art by Gnarf1975 (Pixiv ID 38917069)

Watching, with my wife, Clannad After Story;
Kuroneko is jealous of Ayase;
Small group on anime girls with wings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Nagisa and Ushio

Art by 茨乃 (Pixiv ID 3429365)

When Marco dies
And so does Petra,
And I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Something More: Stella Zen Academy and Grace on Kirino

After having earlier spoken of his disappointment with the series, Frank tells of the many things he enjoyed about Oreimo, focusing especially on the show’s theme of grace. [A Series of Miracles]

D.M. Dutcher gives his first impressions of Stella Girls’ Academy C3, including some discussion of Buddhism toward Christian viewers. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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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. 

Oreimo Finale: I Can’t Believe My Series End Like This (Wait…Yes I Can)

Where do I begin?

Oreimo girls

Art by 俺妹 (Pixiv)

Actually, I’ll start with this.  I watched the first episode of the final Oreimo OVA and was, well, neither surprised nor satisfied.  However, I intended to finish, especially bolstered by the opinions of a couple of friends, both Christians, who insisted the end was actually pretty good.

Well, the end was a little clever, but it didn’t change my opinion of these episodes or of the series in general.  The thing that’s most bothered me about Oreimo, besides the up-and-down quality of the storyline and the INCEST, is how almost all the characters annoyed me at certain points.  And I realized that what annoyed me each time was this: the characters acted like they were adults, even though their morals, social development, and other aspects were that of adolescents (maybe even children).

For instance, I originally planned a post entitled, “I Can’t Believe My Sister’s Friends Are This Dense,” in which I would have chastised Kirino’s friends for actually helping her get together with her brother, as if INCEST IS A GOOD IDEA.  Great job, friends!  How adult of you to accept them for who they are, even if who they are was plain and simply wrong.

True, this feels like the thought process of adolescents, though I wonder if a group of teenager in real life would act similarly.  I think they most likely would only if they though that incest was morally okay (which some might) and/or if they lacked a moral compass instilled in them by school, culture, and most importantly, family.

And there’s the point – familyRead 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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Something More: Madoka v. Jesus, Kirino Acts Like a Christian, and Christ the Stampede

It was quite a week for spiritual and religion tinged articles in the anime blogosphere, headlined by Alexander’s still on-going series entitled, Madoka > Jesus.  Here are his posts thus far:

Nick Calibey responded to Alexander’s post with his own article. [A Rather Silly Blog]

Stardf29 reviews episode 3 of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet and makes connections between the importance of “thank you” and life lived less legalistically. [A Series of Miracles]

D.M. Dutcher compares Kirino’s treatment of her otakuness in Oreimo to how Christians often treat their faith. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

In another post, he makes some great comparisons between the humorous hero, Vash the Stampede, and Christ, as well as to scenes in Trigun: Badlands Rumble and the “problem of pain. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Dutcher also advises Christians in his reviews of Aoi Sekai No Chuusin De and season one of Oreimo.

Japes, who guest-blogged for us earlier this week, is off and running on his own aniblog, beginning with an introduction of his theology. [Japesland]

Japes also brings his faith into a defense of Vocaloid as an artistic expression. [Japesland]

Medieval Otaku points out Christian theology and themes in his review of several manga, including Superior and Vinland Saga. [Medieval Otaku]

So…the Jesus and Buddha characters of Saint Young Men are now being used to market fashion merchandise.  Interesting. [Anime News Network]

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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. 

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 02: Love Plus…Nothing

After last week’s episode of Oreimo, where I continued to emphasize my disappointment with the show, I was advised that I should quit “torturing” myself – that I should drop it.  But despite all my issues with the series, there’s one particular thing that keeps bringing me back – I really like most of the characters on this show.  This week’s episode focused on Ayase – one of the show’s most surprising characters.  She really cracks me up.

Ayase Oreimo

Art by 松竜

Ayase, who like Kirino, fronts with a “perfect girl” vibe, quickly becomes jealous when her best friend is more eager to spend time with her video game girlfriend than with her.  In turn, Kyousuke tells Ayase that she should be like the Love Plus Love Touch girl, spouting similar lines in similar ways.

Of course, Kirino finds this…creepy.  And in the end, despite Ayase’s breakdown, this is exactly the answer she wants, isn’t it?  Kirino is telling her – don’t be like this other (digital) girl – be yourself.  I love you as you.

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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