Blog Archives

Something More: Hello Kitty in Space, Christian Manga, and Shuffled Spiritual Stories

Erin Straza reports on a 7th grader who sent a Hello Kitty doll into space, and hopes to use her passions to stir joy in others, too. [Christ and Pop Culture]

The Cajun Samurai jumps into the harem tale of gods and demons known as Shuffle…and then wishes he hadn’t. [The Cajun Samurai]

D.M. Dutcher gives a brief rundown of Christian OEL manga, particularly those distributed by the now defunct Realbuzz Studios. [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. 

Something More: Sayaka Miki’s Body and Soul, Yui’s Idols, and Hope in Angel’s Egg

Ty-chama examines the connections to the story of Noah’s Ark and to the ideas of faith and hope in Christianity within the film, Angel’s Egg. [Watashi wa Bucho!!]

Nick Calibey continues his series of posts about Madoka Magica by examining the connection between body and soul, as expressed in the series and by St. Cyril. [A Rather Silly Blog]

Draggle examines the idea in episode 12 of Kokoro Connect that Yui’s life is meaningful because of community and love, rather than because of the former idols she has constructed. [Draggle's Anime Blog]

A student is requesting MAL users to respond to survey she is conducting on anime spirituality. [MyAnimeList forums]

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As part of the Something More series of posts (formerly Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere), 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. 

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]

Aniblogger Testimony – Dressing down while dressing up: on being a Muslim anime fan and a one-time cosplayer

In the Spring of 2011, I asked some of the anime blogosphere’s most noted writers to create posts discussing anime and their own personal faith.  Though the main phase of the project is over, I’m always eagerly looking for additional guest posts to add to the series.  Today, Hana, a wonderful blogger from the ever-popular T.H.A.T Anime Blog, gives us a wonderful addition to this series.

It wasn’t the first time that I’d been to an anime convention, but it was the first time that I’d cosplayed at one. Needless to say, it was a rather memorable experience.

Not that the M.C.M. London Expo is strictly an anime con, as it’s more like a trade fair for movies, comics, games and related pop culture. Yet, I knew from the previous two times that I’d been, that many attendees cosplayed in outfits that were just as impressive as what I’d seen in photos of American and East Asian cons.

The first time that I attended the Expo was in May 2009, I went with two friends and I dressed how I usually do, in casual trousers with a matching top and headscarf. As a moderately religious Muslim female who wears the hijab (or headscarf), I usually wear western clothes (I’m Bangladeshi by blood, but born and live in London), otherwise whatever I want, as long as I’m dressed modestly. Sometimes, I’ll wear a hat instead of a headscarf, as long as it’s roomy enough to stuff my hair into it. So, comfy outfit in place, my first con was a positive experience, mostly spent walking around with friends, staring at the cosplayers, avoiding the ‘Free Hug’-ers, buying a few anime related items, buying a tonne of Pocky, and generally feeling very cultured and weeabooish.

The second time I went was in May of last year and it was rather different, as it was more of an excuse to meet up with Ame, a fellow anime fan and blogger who I’d met online (and a couple of another ani blogger friends called Scamp and Hanners, as it turned out) and had been friends with for about a year, also around the same time that I had my one year anniversary as an anime blogger. In short, it was slightly nerve-wracking, as it was the first time I’d be meeting people face to face who I’d previously only conversed with online. However, having already shared photos with Ame and Skyped with all three meant that it wasn’t really the first time we’d met, so it wasn’t a big deal in that sense and turned out to be a lot of fun. In terms of the whole what to wear thing, I decided not to wear a headscarf and to wear one of my Bakerboy hats instead, i.e. like the one in my avatar, the same avatar I use when posting/ commenting on anime blogs and on Twitter. Thus, I wouldn’t say that this was a deliberate decision to downplay the fact that I’m a Muslim, in the highly unlikely event that anyone else’s first impression of me face to face would be that of some kind of religious nut. Rather, knowing that at least one of them had already shared pictures with me and knew me fairly well by that point, and that quite frankly all three of them are simply really nice, non-judgemental, ‘normal’ people, I just thought the hat thing would be a fun way for them to make the connection with my online persona and to help recognise me in the crowd. Read the rest of this entry

Re-Viewed: Angel Beats! Episode 03 and Choosing Your Way

For me, the height of Angel Beats! was episode 3.  Although I enjoyed most of the rest of the show, this particularly episode moved me and ended with a mystery that, unlike in many other anime of the same vein, actually made me think and wonder.

The episode is simple in nature and in fact, reflects a recurring setup – one group infiltrates while another baits Angel.  In this case, Yuri’s group, including a new recruit who insists on being called Christ, tries to enter the “most holy place,” the computer desk in Angel’s dorm room (the temple), where she meets with God.  But by the end of the episode, whatever Christian motif might have taken place all seems incidental, as discoveries are made about Angel lack of angelic power and Iwasawa becomes one with the universe, apparently by her own will.

Still, I think an important lesson was reemphasized to me while viewing Iwasawa’s story, which was my favorite in the show.  The past Iwasawa and the present are two opposites in how they approached their lives.

Girls Dead Monster

3. Iwasawa (Art by popurara)

Read the rest of this entry

Re-Viewed: Angel Beats! Episode 01 and My So Called Examined Life

When I started this blog, I brainstormed a number of series (and ideas about those series) that I wanted to blog on.  Angel Beats! was right at the top.  But until today, I’ve never blogged on the series, because I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of spiritual themes in the show and having to remember it all when I’d forgotten much of the series (aka middle portion).  But that all changed when I received the Angel Beats! complete collection in the mail.  And so I thought, “Hey, why not re-view/review the entire series?”  Along the way, I’ll include some of my favorite fanart pieces of the characters as I comment on Christian themes and ideas in the series.

Noda and Yurippe

1. Noda, whose character I don't like enough to display a solo picture of (Art by だいき)

The episode begins with a bang.  Within minutes, we see a Haruhi-type with a fancy-looking rifle aimed at young, petite girl, who ends up going T-1000 on our protagonist.  I remember watching the opening scenes with jaw nearly agape – I expected to see Clannad/Kanon/Air, and this definitely was not that.  The episode then shifts focus on Yuri, who I think is as representative of the young generation (maybe aged 12-15) as any anime character I can recall seeing.  Three things she says in the episode remind me of so many dozens of young people I’ve interacted with online and in the classroom: Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Sorting It All Out

I stumbled upon the most interesting blog today!  Authored by an animation school student, the writer (Sombra) focuses considerably on four particular topics: anime and manga, music and art, spirituality, and therianthropy.

Woh – what a range, eh?

In fact, I have to admit my ignorance – I looked up therianthropy and read through a few of Sombra’s posts to get an idea of what this is – it, too, seems to have some sort of connection with spirituality, among other things, in individuals being linked to animals.  Really interesting.  In fact, I found all her posts to be interesting, including some more lengthy musings on spirituality  (here and here).  She has some posts on anime, though it seems Sombra has mostly switched to writing about that topic (and others) on another blog, Fandom Grounds.

What originally drew me to the site was the author’s post on labels.  She’s a unique individuals, and counts herself an otaku, among other things.  Please go check out her site!

Labels and Hatred << Sombra’s “Diary”

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Early Buddhism in Japan

Jonathan Tappan, who is well-versed in Buddhism, has posted a few more interesting, short essays on the religion on FunBlog.  Each post in this series is short and interesting, and they contain pictures of wonderful historic artwork.

The first is about Early Japanese Buddhist Sects, briefly recounting their history; Jonathan also makes an interesting comment about the name of K-On! character, Ritsu.  The second post discusses Shingon Buddhism, giving background information on Koubou-daishi, an interesting and significant historic figure.

The third post focuses on the most well-known sect in the west, Zen Buddhism.  Tappan relates a most interesting letter and a great story related to this type.  The fourth discusses Nichiren Buddhism and it’s importance in Japan.  In the final post, Jonathan discusses Pure Land Buddhism and gives example of how it shows up in anime.  It’s interesting to draw parallels between this sect and Christianity, where the concept of grace can be likewise cheapened and lead to depravity.

These brief history lessons are, I think, well worth your time.  Check them out!

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Animephobia

Chelsea Machiela published an article in ViewsHound today called “Animephobia – The fear of Anime.”  It deals with the perception of anime by outsiders as something dark and unpleasant.

There are a couple of concepts that Chelsea introduces which I think are worth mentioning.  First, she discusses religion (or lack thereof) in anime.  She also seems to purpose her piece toward conservative parents, which I think is the best audience for such an article.

Please go give it a read!

ViewsHound | Animephobia – The fear of Anime.

Madoka, Homura, and a Yuri Embrace of Grace

Weeks past the tweet and blogfest that was Puella Shoujo Madoka Magica episode 12, I felt the need to add one more piece to the already-considerable pile of writings about the finale.  While I’ve already discussed Christian motifs of the episode, and others have commented extensively on its various religious aspects, I wanted to focus on one particular scene in episode 12.  It lasts only two to three minutes, but it’s likely to be remembered by most who saw the show.  Why?

Because it was awkward.

At least it was awkward in that it was unexpected.  The scene I’m talking about is the one where Madoka embraces Homura, with the two clothed in nothing but glittery shadows (you can see a shot of the scene at Ambivalence, or is it ambiguity?).

While the scene projected yuri overtones for the show and the girls’ relationship (forgive me if I’m wrong, but I understand the genre in terms of how John at AnimeNation defines it), I want to focus on the spiritual transformation that occurs within Homura in the scene.  It’s a strangely innocent and pure scene – both girls are in their natural states and it is talk of friendship that dominates, not of lovers. Read the rest of this entry