Blog Archives

Fact Check: Aldnoah.Zero’s Sins

Created and developed far from Europe and the Americas, and conceived in a country where less than 1% of the populace is Christian, manga could hardly be called out for inaccurately portraying Christianity.  It would be silly for calling out mangaka for getting the story of Christ wrong or for presenting the Bible as “just another religion.”  Still, manga is full of religious references to God and gods, which presents a great opportunity to discuss matters of spirituality.  And that’s the idea behind this new series of posts, Fact Check, in which I’ll investigate some of the claims of anime and manga characters and weigh them against the truth of scripture.

The Claim

Today’s claim comes from that PTSD suffering soul from Aldnoah.Zero, Lt. Marito.  When speaking to Dr. Yagarai, and thinking about his past military exploits, he says the following:

Sins you’ve committed cling to your soul and haunt you forever and sins that have gone unpunished aren’t forgiven until you die.

The claim then is two-fold, about how sins affect us both now and forevermore.

Fact Check

Let’s look at the first part of the claim, that sins “cling to your soul” and, like a specter, haunt those who’ve committed them.  I think perhaps few would dispute this portion.  Those who’ve done wrong often can’t shake their deeds, with the memories of such sin affecting their mind and even their actions.  From literature, the great example is Lady Macbeth and her descent into madness after her role in regicide.  But we might also be able to look within at our sins and how they’ve guilted us and maybe in the worst case, caused us to detach from others and become something less than what we once were.

In Aldnoah.Zero, Koichiro Marito reflects his own words.  He is a shell of himself physically, unable to pilot a Terran mecha when a Kataphrakt attacks in episode five.  And though he isn’t drinking by this time, it is insinuated that Marito is an alcoholic, and probably because of his past “sins,” however he would define them.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Barakamon Christianity, Valkyria’s Salvation, and the Rapture of Tenchi Masaki

In the first two episodes of the Barakamon, Frank finds important points that all experienced Christians should probably take under consideration. [A Series of Miracles]

D.M. Dutcher finds an analogy for the rapture in Tenchi Forever, and examines why that film captures the essence of the rapture better than explicitly Christian depictions of it do. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

What does Saber Marionette J have to say about the value of family? Plenty, and even from a Catholic perspective. [Medieval Otaku]

Medieval Otaku also explores that unusual path and perplexing salvation of Valkyria in Brynhildr in the Darkness. [2]

Finally, he explores Nadia’s vanity in Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water, and discusses snobbery in a number of different groups, including that of the religious. [3]

Rocklobster reviews Rurouni Kenshin (TV), and is perhaps one of the few to really enjoy the story arc featuring Japanese Christians. [Lobster Quadrille]

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. 

Take Four – March 2014

Hanamonogatari Announcement and Promo – Kaze

hanamonogatari
Art by koflif

Hanamonogatari was announced to air as a 5 episode series after Nisekoi finishes. At 5 episodes, at least it won’t be getting the Neko Kuro treatment. This will bring a close to the adaptation of the 2nd season of the Monogatari series. The 3rd season of books is also nearing an end as the final pat of Owarimonogatari is slated to release early April, leaving only one volume left. However, if Nisio’s history with these novels is indicative of anything, we can probably expect several books, delays, and potentially even more volumes before the series really comes to a close. Regardless, the real question on all our minds is, of course, when will they give us Kizu?

kenshin and shishioShishio Revealed in New Rurouni Kenshin Live Action Film Trailers – TWWK

I’ve still yet to watch the first live-action Rurouni Kenshin film, but I couldn’t pass up mentioning that the trailers for the next two movies, opening on August 1st and September 13th, respectively, in Japan, feature that bandage villain among villains, Shishio!  I’m definitely excited to see the Kyoto Arc brought to life, as it remains my favorite shounen quest/journey/tournament arc in anime.  And judging from the positive response to the first film, there’s high hopes that these remaining ones will deliver!  Check out the trailer below:

A New Vocaloid Game… Without Miku! – Japesland

vocaloid

Art by 野々原K

If you haven’t noticed yet, I am an unabashed Vocaloid nut. While I don’t have the time (nor, sometimes, the energy) to stay up with all of the popular producers or voice banks being released, I am always excited to see new Vocaloid announcements. Additionally, I have been hyped for months about the new Project DIVA game, F 2nd (which just released last Thursday and finally arrived at my post office on Monday). Needless to say, I was not expecting another company to begin a new Vocaloid-centric rhythm game any time soon due to the competition, but lo and behold, a game featuring one of my favorite Vocaloids was announced! If you are not familiar, I recommend checking out some songs using IA’s voice, particularly those in the Kagerou Project written by one of my favorite producers, Jin (Shizen no Teki-P). Imagination Forest is a good place to start, and I hope it gets you as excited as I am for this new release!

Nanoha Series Get Blu Ray Releases – KazeNanoha BD

All 3 Nanoha seasons will finally be getting blu ray releases near the end of this year. While I do admit there are flaws with the show, I am still a huge fan of the series, so I greatly look forward to seeing this iconic series getting some nice animation upgrades. Granted, I am one of many fans who believe the movie adaptation of the first season is superior in every way, animation included; however, I will no doubt be re-watching the later 2 seasons when they become available.  Of course, I recommend people to join me, as Nanoha A’s is pretty much the pinnacle of the Mahou Shoujo genre (another reason for my dislike of the Madoka fanbase, although the crossovers were quite amusing). There’s also a new movie in the works that’s supposedly coming out this year, but not much news on that front.

Something More: Kenshin’s Journey Toward Mercy, Bad Catholics in Maoyu, and Dreams of a Christian Japan

This week has been full of great articles involving religion and spirituality!  Unfortunately, I may have missed a few – the move from Google Reader to Feedly has been largely snag free, until this week, when I found that their latest update has omitted the search feature.  RSS users beware.

Anyway, onto the articles!

Medieval Otaku posts his academic essay on how Kenshin’s journey in the first two OVA’s (Trust and Betrayal/Samurai X) parallel to St. Bonaventure’s steps leading to God in Journey of the Mind to God. [Medieval Otaku]

Lady Geek Girl has a real issue with how the Catholic Church is represented in some series and movies, and uses Maoyuu Maou Yuusha as an example. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Justin notes an emphasis on religion in the Attack on Titan anime as compared to the manga. [Organization Anti-Social Geniuses]

Draggle draws connections between the act of a benediction and this week’s disturbing episode of Aku no Hana. [Draggle's Anime Blog]

Zeroe4 makes a distinction between his “calling to anime” and his dream for Japan. [Zeroe4]

D.M. Dutcher offers reviews of Another and Girls Und Panzer that are directed 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. 

Top Blog Posts About Anime and Religion in 2012: #11-20

Last year, I gave my 12 favorite posts about anime and religion to end the year.  And though I had to leave out a number of great article to fit within that number, I was generally happy with the list.  This year, I just had to expand my list to twenty to match the volume of great content being written by anibloggers.

anime girl praying

Art by けむけむ

Yesterday, I gave numbers 1-10; here are the remaining ten, in chronological order:

11. Oh, My Pop-Culture Jesus: Christianity in Anime
5.6.2012
written by Lady Saika of Lady Geek Girl and Friends

A particularly strange case is that of Saiyuki – the story is based on a a founding myth of Mahayana Buddhism, for cripe’s sake, and the main character is a Buddhist priest, but in the anime at least, we see statues of the Virgin Mary protecting a town from demons in a way that nothing Buddhist can.

Read the entire post

Read also: Oh, My Pop-Culture Jesus: Let’s Make a Deal and Oh, My Pop-Culture Jesus: An Examination of Clergy in Anime

Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Kenshin as Christ, the Theology of Kokoro Connect, and Itadakimuasu!

Some weeks, there are no stories that focus on religion and anime, and virtually none that even mention the topic.  Then, some weeks are like this, where a number of quality posts about anime and spirituality are written!

Draggle goes theological, using Christian terminology to explain a different meaning behind death in episode 5 of Kokoro Connect, as well as Heartseed’s role in the series [Draggle's Anime Blog]:

I’d like to think of Heartseed as the tiller who is growing the kingdom of God, that is caring for the tiny seed that is taking root in Iori and friends’ hearts.

Otakuandrain finds that Keiichi’s response in chapter 287 of Oh! My Goddess! to the manimpulation he’s undergone is quite similar to that of Job. [The Cajun Samurai]

Medievalotaku compares Himura Kenshin to Jesus Christ, bringing up a number of points many viewers might miss at first glance [Medieval Otaku]:

Essentially, this is Eucharistic imagery!  Shishio, like evil, consumes those who fall prey to him; on the other hand, Kenshin is being described as food for the weak, and Christ feeds us weaklings with His body and blood each mass so that we remain in Him so “that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).  If not for Christ offering Himself as food for us, we should all fall to sin.

Lady Saika talks shinigami, examining the types of reapers presented in Bleach, Black Butler, and Death Note. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Charles Dunbar explain how  Dusk Maiden of Amnesia gives insights into how the Japanese view ghosts [Study of Anime]:

The idea of the vengeful spirit, overcome by its anger and swallowed by tremendous regret, is a powerful storytelling tool, often used to terrifying effect. But to humanize it, and give the viewer a stake in the outcome of Yuuko’s tragedy, places Dusk Maiden on a different path than a “typical” ghost story.

Sweetpea reviews “Re:Set,” a visual novel featuring demons representing the seven deadly sins. [Paper Chimes]

John explains what “itadakimasu” means and how its used, and provides information about its Buddhist origins. [Tofugu]

From Manslayer to Wanderer: Kenshin and the Spirit Fruit of Self-Control

I’ve had a lot of really bad moments in my life – times when I acted like a complete fool.  Maybe my very worst happened late one night, after a long evening of arguing on and off with my wife.  At it’s climax, I was so mad that I took her glass of water and threw it at the wall.

Except it wasn’t water – it was chocolate milk.

I literally spent days and weeks cleaning up that transgression, both literally and metaphorically.

It was a moment I’m deeply ashamed of, but it was not an action I couldn’t see coming.  Even as a kid, I would get frustrated and throw a remote across my bedroom or slam my fist into my 386 processor (so slow!).  My mom, with her broken English, would yell at me, “You need-a patience!”  But perhaps more accurately, I needed (and still need) self-control.

Himura Kenshin

A serene Kenshin - but the serenity didn't come easy (Art by たま)

Kenshin Himura is an excellent example of a character who battles similar struggles.  One of the charms for the first-time viewer of Rurouni Kenshin is in the juxtaposition of Kenshin’s silly side and his seriousness in battle.  But we as viewers don’t realize the side he’s actually hiding, until Hajime Saito comes to town, and we see what Kenshin has been trying to control all along, the Battousai – a cold-blooded, manslayer. Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Catholic Mecha, Japan’s Yokai, and the Future of Saint Young Men

This week’s look at posts and other items in the anime blogosphere related to religion and spirituality.

Comic Book Resources interviewed Thundercats writer Brandon Easton, whose graphic novel “Shadowlaw” arrives in November.  With an art style influenced by manga, the work is an interesting concept involving the Catholic church (excerpt taken from the interview):

It’s a world where the Catholic Church has become the dominant political power with an army of giant mech armors to enforce their status at the top of the food chain, battling vampires who roam freely in their own mech armor — the world of “Shadowlaw.”

Asahi.com reflects on the place of yokai in Japanese culture, tracing its evolution into modern culture, including features in manga and anime.

Reported by Lost in America, among others, the new Rurouni Kenshin anime announced a couple of months ago will be a remake of the Kyoto Arc.  I mention this news because Kenshin is among the anime I recommend for Christian viewers, with its emphasis on themes that are celebrated in Christianity.  While Kenshin fans may generally not be happy with the announcement, I think it’ll be great to see one of best anime arcs ever reanimated (the original series has aged poorly) and possibly pave the way for an OVA or series based on the Jinchu arc in the future.

In the world of manga, Saint Young Men, Hikaru Nakamura’s critically acclaimed series about Jesus and Buddha living together as roommates in modern Tokyo, will go on hiatus.  Nakamura is starting pregnancy leave (congratulations!) and will be back as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, John of AnimeNation opines on the likelihood that the manga will be animated one day and if the work will ever be published on these shores.

Also on the topic of manga, the latest from the folks at Manga Hero, Many Are Called Volume 1, is now available for purchase.

Although not necessarily spiritually-themed, TOKYOPOP founder Stu Levy’s press release for the spiritually-titled documentary, “Pray for Japan,” went out this week.  Although strangely and almost overwhelmingly self-promoting, the press release nonetheless publicizes what seems to be quite an amazing film that is in need of funding.

Finally, I can’t help but mention El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, Takeyasu Sawaki’s recently released game featuring character designs influenced by anime and a storyline influenced by the apocryphal Book of Enoch.  Reviews have been mostly very positive, with recent ones including those by PikiGeek and TIME.

Rurouni Kenshin to Finally Be Completed?

The June issue Jump Square magazine will announce that a new anime project involving Rurouni Kenshin will be developed.  I couldn’t be more excited.  The anime ended on a whimper, with a horrid third season of filler episodes that was so poorly received that the final arc of the anime was never animated, and a final depressing OVA released as well.  Neither came close to matching the series’ high points, which included the wonderfully weaved second season of the TV show and the first two OVAs, which this blogger calls the “most perfect anime ever created.”

Kenshin Himura

Image by Mui (via Pixiv)

As you might be able to tell, I’m hoping (and believing) that the new animation will complete the story told in the manga.  This final arc would follow our protagonist’s confrontation with Enishi, the younger brother of Tomoe, Kenshin’s first love.  The manga arc is an amazing read and I highly recommend it.  It also contains one of the most  heart-palpitating scenes I’ve ever read or seen – one that will shock you, particularly if you’re a fan of the series.

Rurouni Kenshin is also a series that’s full of ideas embraced by Christianity.  Though much more considered with Shinto practice and Buddhism (except for the aforementioned, painful third season, which centers around a “Christian” sect), themes like sacrifice, justice, grace, and redemption are ever-present in the series.  In other words, it would make great fodder for this blog. :P

I can hardly wait…and hopefully, the wait won’t take forever.

Source: Anime News Network

Christ Meets Kenshin: Apostle’s Sword, Chapter 4

Rurouni Kenshin TomoeHere is final chapter of  “Apostle’s Sword.”  I’ve been delighted to present this wonderful story and am sorry to see it come to an end!

Even if you didn’t read the previous installments, I beg you to give this story a shot.  There are quite a few fan fics out there related to both anime and Christian spirituality, and most are poorly written.  However, this is one is good – really good.  “Apostle’s Sword” is a retelling of the first two Rurouni Kenshin OVAs (which are stunning pieces of work, by the way) using a Christian background based in history and the Bible story of Saul’s conversion from a zealous anti-Christian to a follower of Christ.  The story is written by a freelance writer, melcon, who is amazing. It also doesn’t preach, so I highly recommend all readers out there, believer or not, to take a read. Hit the jump for the chapter 4.