Blog Archives

Something More: Death in Totoro, Pokemon Preaching, and Kirito’s Treasure

I’m always happy to link to aniblog posts that touch on spirituality, but sometimes this column is just chock full of amazing articles. I hope you’ll dig into the links below – they’re worth your read, starting with Matthew Newman’s post on Hare Kon and marriage.

For those unfamiliar (which included me until I read Matthew’s article), Hare Kon is a manga about a young lady who marries into a polygamous marriage. A really interesting concept, right? The post’s focus in on the marriage ceremony, in which the presiding pastor mentions the following with regret:

…God is weeping. Though God is lenient, He may not recognize this marriage…still times are changing…at least those of us who are here shall approve this.

This idea that the marriage occurring in the church in this manga is municipally-approved, but not necessarily God-approved, reminded me of the idea that Christians often fall into a hypocrisy they don’t realize, saying that God is the authority for all matters while forming a lifestyle that ultimately places a morality they’ve formed as a mix of culture, religion, family, etc. as the backbone of their lives. For instance, many will will protest about gay marriage, but I think for many that’s more a problem with their feelings of disgust toward homosexuality rather than reverence toward God’s word. After all, a state-mandated union is, well, mandated by the state; it doesn’t mean it’s a marriage in God’s eyes (and the same would certainly go for many – perhaps most – “traditional” marriages as well).

If the Bible is the inspired word of God, and is God is who he says he is and you’ve submitted to him as the ultimate king and authority in your life, let the Bible guide you. Dig into it. Treasure it. And study it – don’t let surface level readings determine your theology, but respect the word of God as something dynamic, deep, and multi-faceted that should humble you as you realize that it, and God, are far more complex than you had imagined.

Read Matthew’s thoughts on Hare Kon:

>> Manga and Theology: Unholy Matrimony

Here are other articles from around the blogosphere:

You’ve heard the theory that My Neighbor Totoro is about death, right? The writers at Lady Geek Girl investigate the claim in detail, looking at how this interpretation relates to the Shinto aspects of the story. [Lady Geek Girl]

We live like we play video games, seeking treasure to store here during our short time on earth. Maybe we should live like Sword Art Online’s Kirito, with a different treasure and different destination in mind. [UEM!]

If you’ll remember, when Pokemon was all the rage, many Christians pastors starting preaching against it as the work of the devil. However, Kelly Bornstedt, who very personally experienced such a sermon, instead finds a lot of Christ-affirming ideas in the franchise. [Geeks Under Grace]

Kiryu’s story in Classroom Crisis brings to mind that of Joseph, the boy with the many-colored coat who would become a commander over Egypt. [2]

Aniblogger Lazarinth replies to a blogger award with a rant on the silliness of faith (warning: contains foul language). [Fantasy and Anime]

Chagum puts his faith in Balsa to protect him in Moriboto, while we, too, have a guardian – but this once infallible and invincible. [Lady Teresa Christina]

Very initial planning for a “Christian Anime Con” is in the works. [Anime Revolution]

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. 

Anime and the Digital Church

More and more, ministries are streaming their services online or making websites where Christians (or people of other faiths) can watch, donate or be a part of the community. Facebook and other social media networks have become the place where hundreds, even thousands, come to share their life, struggles and ask for prayer. Even here at Beneath The Tangles, though it’s not a church or ministry with a pastor, many people read our articles and learn more about our Creator. This may not sound like the typical way church is done*, but it’s a trend that is growing rapidly every year.

There are actually several anime that highlight this format, and the two (there are more!) that I would like to mention are .hack//Sign and Sword Art Online. Each one is about people who log on to a server where they play an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and build community with one another. Each player has an avatar that looks like a person, or sometimes part human and part animal that they can use to talk with each other, fight, and even romance. Each episode shows the dynamics of the game actually start to affect the characters emotions and spill out into the real world.

screenshot-12_22_2012-2_34_12-pm

For example, Kirigaya Kazuto and Yūki Asuna, whose avatars are famously named Kirito and Asuna, fall in love through the playing of the game and become romantically involved in real life. Their digital life affected their real lives, which can be also said for people who were in comas or died because of the game in both series.

.hack//Sign main characters Subaru and Tsukasa deal with real life situations that are sometimes resolved online or vice-versa, plan strategies or literally hack servers to stop people from going into comas induced by the games headgear. They even become very close friends and talk about their IRL (In Real Life) problems and get advice on them as well, just like many of us do online. This not only makes you feel for the character and the player, but often times as you watch the anime you forget that the avatars are being controlled by people outside the game. This can happen to us on social media or games, where we might blend the two aspects together and forget that these are real people we are talking to, not just text.

Hack-todos

The .hack//Sign team all together!

Now, being part of a digital community of fellow believers isn’t a bad thing but there will always be that need to physically be a part of a group that share the same faith. Let’s face it, there are things that you would not share online nor are you accountable to anyone either. You can post lots of Christian posts, messages or verses but who is checking up on you when you are alone or going through life? Are you obliged to report to someone or at least have a one-on-one with an admin online?

Not at all. Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 + Guest: 5 Best Popular Anime Series

There’s a not-so-invisible chasm on the Internet between folks who tend to mostly watch popular series – such as those that air on American television – and viewers who watch a wider slate of shows.  Unfortunately, I think the latter group sometimes comes off as snobby (oh, your favorite series is Naruto, huh?), even though both sides are equally avid about their hobby.  Further, there are a lot of anime that are both popular and excellent.  And that’s what we’re focused on today – popular anime series that we also consider to be very, very good.

Our guest for today’s column is Anime Reporter, who over the past year and a half has developed a terrific aniblog with a huge index of anime reviews covering series old and new, popular and niche.  Check out his site – the Anime Reporter puts a lot of work into his excellent reviews!  And he also put a lot of work into his contribution below – one much lengthier than those we normally post from guests, but it’s worth the read (and maybe somehow appropriate when we’re talking about some series that have 10+ seasons in the books!).

Anime Reporter’s Picks

  1. Death Note
  2. One Piece
  3. Pokémon
  4. Attack on Titan
  5. Naruto

death note 1For me, a good anime is a good story, or at least one that resonates with the viewer personally. While each of my choices on this list were chosen primarily as top examples of popular anime series, each of them also ranks highly on my overall list of anime. Here’s why: Death Note is the immediate go-to when I want to draw a non-anime fan into the wonderful world of Japanese animation. Death Note is dark and driven, it’s twisted and tragic and it has exactly the right mix of psychological thriller and supernatural suspense to draw in viewers who are used to seeing the likes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead on Western television. Death Note is the top of this list because it’s not only a phenomenal example of a popular anime, but an exemplary piece of storytelling. Full stop.

One Piece is next on my list because it’s a great piece of anime in exactly the areas that Death Note isn’t. In all respects, it meets the criteria to be a pretty traditional Shonen. It’s got the virtuous, though not too bright hero, the seemingly impossible quest that makes up his life-goal and a series of intense, escalating battles. What sets it apart from other series is the blend of sheer hilarity, dysfunctional but deeply likeable characters and an acute awareness of exactly how and when to take itself seriously. The One Piece story spans years, even decades and it’s still very much the simple tale it was at its beginning but its characters and their goals have been allowed to grow and develop without dragging the story back. Good clean fun and a story that grows over the years, what more could you want?

Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 + Guest: Most Overrated Anime

There are a lot of really great anime out there.  There are a lot of really bad series, too.  And then there’s that subset of anime that are held in high esteem, but don’t deserve all the praise or popularity that they receive.  For our Top 5 + Guest post this month, we’re tackling those series that get a lot of love, but maybe deserve to get a little more hate.

Joining us today is Tommy of Anime Bowl.  A long-time aniblogger, Tommy’s unique site combines his passions of anime and sports.  He’s recently started a Toonami podcast and has just finished up his annual March Madness character tournament (I was defending champion in the pick ’em, but came in dead last this year).

And as always, tell us below how we messed up and what shows would make your list!

Tommy’s Picks

  1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  2. Attack on Titan
  3. Sword Art Online (I)
  4. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
  5. Durarara!!

fma 4All my picks are incredibly popular shows which have appeared on Toonami/Adult Swim recently; shows that are household names amongst otaku, yet ultimately missing something that causes them to fall into mediocrity. The top choice is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which failed to live up to the reputation of its predecessor due to a reliance on deus ex machina – which will be a recurring theme amongst my choices. Over and over again, Edward Elric, who was a very well-developed character in the first series, ends up in Brotherhood somehow always magically making the right choice no matter what, making him as close to a Gary Stu as you can get. And while I love how Brotherhood ends – I rank its final episode second only to Cowboy Bebop’s “The Real Folk Blues” – the major conflict is resolved by a dose of deus ex machina reminiscent of Frozen (just “love,” Elsa!). Next are Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online, which are two peas in a pod. Both suffer from a never-wrong shonen lead (like Edward Elric, to an extent), and both never live up to the over-the-top hype they received upon airing. Both make heavy uses of deus ex machina – in particular SAO. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a tough one to criticize; it’s got lots to like, and it has some really strong characters. However, if your bar is set at “Evangelion,” anything short of “masterpiece” is to fall short. (Plus my heart was ripped out in the finale. NIA!!!) Finally, Durarara!! doesn’t really fit anywhere amongst these, but I can’t figure out why everyone else loves this one. I watch it asking, “am I just watching people chat in chatrooms? How is this entertaining?” So while I do enjoy all these series, they ultimately fall short of the hype. Except Durarara!! – I can’t enjoy that. Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Crucifixion in Anime, Wolfwood’s Tithing, and Religion in Pokemon

Christmas is just under a week away? In terms of aniblogging, that means lots and lots of reflective posts – and a good number of them involving religion.  This is likely the last post in this column until next year, so enjoy your quota of terrific articles about anime and spirituality!

Trigun’s traveling preacher, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, provides us a lesson about tithing and the heart of giving. [Old Line Elephant]

Christmas Eve deaths in Log Horizon symbolize the dark before the dawn. [A Series of Miracles]

Check out the comments on a Reddit board discussion about anime and religion this past week. [TrueAnime]

The Pokemon games and religion go hand in hand – did you know? [Did You Know Gaming?]

Among the many symbols anime has adopted from Christianity is use of the cross, specifically in crucifixion scenes. In the mood for a review of such scenes? Be warned, you might find it offensive, or really funny, or both. [Isn’t It Electrifying?]

D.M. Dutcher is through with visual novel-based anime, in large part because of how Christians should view suffering as entertainment. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Though explicitly mentioned religion seldomly, Angel Beats is full of theology from various religions. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Kit ruminates on a number of titles for a series of reflective posts, including one on the Shinto-inspired Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. [Study of Anime]

Actions of the cast of the new arc of Sword Art Online resemble Christian thought of keeping the eyes on the prize. [Christian Anime Review]

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.  Thanks to Seasons for pointing us toward the Reddit article and to Alexander for the Pokemon one.

Something More: Magi Love, Christian Lessons from Naruto, and Kill La Kill Buddhism

While shows like Your Lie in April and Wolf Girl and Black Prince continue to give great material for spiritual discussion, it’s interesting that some series with big moves on the horizon – Naruto with a final movie upcoming and Digimon with a return of it’s season one characters – also provide opportunities to discuss religion in posts this past week.

Magi’s Mogamett is a complex character, not least of which because the love he demonstrates isn’t in line with an active, kind love, as discussed in Paul’s famous writing about the topic in I Corinthians 13. [Anime Monographia]

Buddhist principles of breaking cycles of suffering and power can be found in Kill la Kill. [Anime Commentary on the March]

Takayama Ukon, who was a Japanese general some 400 years ago (and who has been featured as a character in several anime), could be up for beatification next year. [Aliens in This World]

Kit reports that her Shinto panel at Nekocon went well, and that the inaugural issue of Kotoshiro, a Shinto journal, is accepting submissions. [Fox of Hearts]

The folks at Geeks Under Grace reflect upon Naruto, whose manga run just recently ended, and the Christian lessons it helped instill in them. [Geeks Under Grace]

Cooper finds scant religious content to expound upon in his review of Digimon Adventure, which “failed to meet some of [his] expectations but exceeded in others.” [2]

The reveal of Princess Serenity in Sailor Moon Crystal speaks of an individual’s awakening to their own sin in light of grace. [3]

Kousei’s faith in Kaori might mirror a Christian’s faith in Christ. [4]

Meanwhile, his lament about the piano in episode five of Your Lie in April reminds us of the importance of each gift we’re given. [Christian Anime Review]

Erika and Sata’s relationship in Wolf Girl and Black Prince brings to mind the Parable of the Sower. [2]

How does “honor your mother and father work” when they’ve stepped over some boundary, as with Asuna defying her mother in episode 19 of Sword Art Online 2? [3]

Christian disciplines, along with marathoning Daily Lives of High School Boys and Meganebu!, are among the things Annalyn does for refreshment. [Annalyn’s Thoughts]

In the Answerman column, Justin Sevakis rants about how many rally against voice actors, convention guests, and others, with Vic Mignogna (well known for his “conservative Christian” stances and thoughts) as the prime example. [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.  Thanks to Medieval Otaku this week – it’s through his blog that I found the Kill la Kill article]

Something More: Your Pursuit in April, SAO’s New Earth, and Eureka Seven’s Messiah

Baby, it’s coooold outside! A perfect opportunity, I think, to watch anime and read about it!

Edward Elric knows he’s missing something in human transmutation equations – he just doesn’t know it’s the soul. [Old Line Elephant]

There’s plenty of comparison to be made to both the Christian and Buddhist religions with relationship to deities among the major themes Eureka Seven, episode 41. [Ideas Without End]

In Akatsuki no Yona,  Woo-Won claims to have done justice, but in doing so, is he rejecting the will of heaven? [Medieval Otaku]

When Kirito and Asuna try to reclaim their former lives in a way, in episode 18 of Sword Art Online 2, it reminds Rob of Christians who might walk away from their own second chance at life. [Christian Anime Review]

The rebirth of Jötunheimr in SAO 2 brings forth analogies of the restoration/creation of a new earth. [Geeks Under Grace]

The ferociousness at which Kaori pursues Kousei, demonstrated in Your Lie in April, is reminiscent of God’s own pursuit of us. [2]

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: Christians in Manga, Father God in Hanayamata, and SAO’s Garden of Eden

As the new season moves forward, it looks a bit top-heavy, with Unlimited Blade Works, Mushishi and a few others already being raved about.  Frank talks about Mushishi below, though most of the rest of these weeks’ links point to shows of yesteryear (or at least last season).

In the new season of Mushishi, Frank see lessons in how Christians should feel secure, even though not at “home.” [A Series of Miracles]

Hanayamata provides an opportunity for Medieval Otaku to discuss the inaccurate view so many have of God as Father. [Medieval Otaku]

In Amakusa 1637, D.M. Dutcher finds a manga focusing on Japanese Christians and providing a fair and accurate depiction of them. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

He also provides his review of the opening episode of Gonna Be the Twin-Tails!! for Christian viewers. [2]

Rob finds allusions to the Garden of Eden in episode 15 of Sword Art Online. [Christian Anime Review]

Casey review episodes 14-25 of Attack on Titan for Christian viewers. [Geeks Under Grace]

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: Good Librarians and the Good Shepherd, SAO Friendship, and Moe Buddhist Girl Figures

A new season of anime is here!  Although it may be too early to judge it, at the very least, there’s a lot of excitement in the air for new shows, with fewer sequels and more originals this season, including one that Frank talks about below in our lead-off article this week:

Frank finds a lesson of how Christians should imitate the Good Shepherd in the opening episode of Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai. [A Series of Miracles]

Rob finds that episode 14 of Sword Art Online provides some insight into friendship from a Christian perspective. [Christian Anime Review]

He also looks at the roles of the church body as he reviews episode six of Sailor Moon Crystal. [2]

D.M. Dutcher calls Canon “an interesting shoujo manga with some Christian-friendly themes.” [Cacao, put down he shovel!]

Casey dives into volume one of the Attack on Titan manga, providing a review that’s helpful for discerning Christians. [Geeks Under Grace]

And finally, I forgot to post a link to this article a few weeks ago, but it’s still worth sharing – the moe temple is now selling figures of moe Buddhist anime girls. Yep. [RocketNews24]

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: Faustus Metal Alchemist, Hopeful Anime Heroes, and Anime as Bible Study

A great thing about being an anime fan is that four times a year, we can get excited about a slate of new series!  While we wait on most of these to begin, a number of bloggers reflect on the final episodes of summer 2014 anime and on series older than those.

Draggle digs into his approach to bible study as he explains how to critically approach anime. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

Michael lists five anime character he considers “hopeful,” and explains why. [Gaming and God]

D.M. Dutcher finds that Star Light Woman, available through Crunchyroll’s manga service, speaks to the hopelessness of a world without God. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Frank compare’s the Holy Spirit’s guidance to a search for inspiration in Barakamon. [A Series of Miracles]

Annalyn is surprised by the knowledge Japanese storytellers display about Christian legends through series like Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Butler. [Watching, Thinking, Writing]e

Rob catches up on Sword Art Online, finding Christians themes in recent episodes:

Episodes 10 [Geeks Under Grace] and 11 [2]

Episodes 12 [Christian Anime Review] and 13 [2]

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.

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