Blog Archives

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.

Anime’s Common Grace

Note: This article was originally intended for publication elsewhere.  Read The Life and Death of an Anime Article on an Evangelical Website for the whole story.  This post contains spoilers for Haibane Renmei, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Trigun, and Death Note.

InceptionBlack SwanThe Matrix. These Hollywood hits have a common thread—each was heavily influenced by Japanese animation, aka anime.

Anime has settled in as a permanent part of American entertainment. Besides serving as inspiration for filmmakers, some anime movies—particularly those by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli (Ponyo, My Neighbor Totoro, The Secret World of Arrietty, and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away)—have found a Western audience. Still, it would a stretch to say that Americans have embraced anime. It remains an oddity—a medium filled with large-eyed characters and unfamiliar cultural references.

As with many adults, when I first watched anime as a child, I didn’t know about its Japanese origins. Dubbed versions of Speed Racer and Voltron stood side-by-side with Disney, Looney Tunes, and Hanna-Barbera cartoons as favorites. Years later, in college, I rediscovered anime and became gripped by the medium’s mature themes, fanciful artwork, and yes, the foreignness of it all. Younger Americans, meanwhile, have grown up with anime, from kiddie fare like Pokemon to action series like Naruto.

Many viewers are drawn toward anime’s storylines, which are far different from those in typical American animation. Despite a growing trend to the contrary, American toons are still typically aimed at children. In Japan, animation is produced for both children and adults. Anime films are routinely among Japan’s highest grossing and most adored movies, while most anime TV programming airs during primetime or late at night. Because it is often made for older audiences, the animation, storylines, and dialogue are typically more mature than in western counterparts, often including heavy doses of violence and fanservice (a term usually used to describe the animation of scantily dressed characters). In America, there’s a certain shock value to seeing something like the hyperviolent anime sequence in Quentin Tarentino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1, because it remains an exception.

Anime also frequently portrays Shinto and Buddhist practices, reflecting the habits of the majority of Japan, where only 1-2 percent identify as Christian. Not unlike American media, it’s more typical to find a vampire-hunting priest or an irreligious Catholic schoolgirl in a show than a Christian character simply living out his or her faith.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Shinto Anime Everywhere, 2-D Love for Christians, and the Warrior Priests of Anime

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted this column.  My negligence A busy holiday schedule is to blame!

And without further to do, here are some of my favorite religion/spirituality-themed anime articles from this week (and from the past month!):

Emily describes the charm of Noragami‘s first episode, while also commenting on the nature of the Shinto gods and their relationship with “believers.” [Atelier Emily]

Charles Dunbar talks Sasami-san@ganbaranai, The Eccentric Family, and Gingitsune in describing 2013 as “a wonderful year for the people who take the time to familiarize themselves with Japanese beliefs, customs, and legends.” [Study of Anime]

In what I think is a very important article for many Christian otakus, D.M. Dutcher answers the question “Can 2-D be better than 3-D for a Christian?”  As he states, the answer is surprisingly complex. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Medieval Otaku does a remarkable job in describing Arpeggio of Blue Steel as a “Christian fairytale.” [Medieval Otaku]

Lady Saika cites Trigun, Hellsing, and Fullmetal Alchemist as she explores that ironic idea of warrior priests and priestly armies. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Jonathan enjoyed Gingitsune, particularly how the show approached religion. [FunBlog]

Annalyn continues to pursue a number of goals, which has become a theme of her aniblog this past year. [Annalyn’s Thoughts]

Aniblogger Tommy vents about Christmas and what it’s become. [Anime Bowl]

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: 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]


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: Medieval Maoyuu Maou Yuusha Church, The Last Temptation of Madoka, and Samurai Deeper Christ

Nami dives into the themes of redemption and Christ symbolism in Trigun. [The Budding Philosopher]

Medieval Otaku compares Demon Eyes Kyo to Christ and examines some Christian themes and symbols in Samurai Deeper Kyo. [Medieval Otaku]

D.M. Dutcher of the Cacao, put down the shovel blog continues “A Christian’s Guide to Anime and Manga,” posts providing information and recommendations, with a series of articles detailing:

  • specific anime-related definitions [Part 2]
  • the definitions and warnings for “moe” and “lolicon” [Part 3]
  • how Christians should consider approaching anime and manga [Part 4]

JoeAnimated compares monasticism and the Middle Ages to the church guarding knowledge in episode 3 of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha.  [Anime Audiolog]

Usny also mentions the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages in relation to Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, and in an aside, gives thoughts about the rise of fall of the Church’s influence [Desu ex Machina]

Jay notes a scene reminiscent of the temptation of Christ in his review of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. [Jay’s Tee Vee]


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. 

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Wisdom of Heartseed, Ghibli in Catholic Magazine, and Christianity in Evangelion, Trigun, and FMA: Brotherhood

Draggle continues to examine Kokoro Connect with Christian language, finding the kids caught up in a battle between flesh and Spirit, and Heartseed as similar to Ecclesiastes’ teacher. [Draggle’s Anime Blog]

Sarah Greydanus, the teenage daughter of reviewer Steven D. Greydanus, reviews Whisper of the Heart. [National Catholic Register]

After finally finishing Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sweetpea provides her overview of the series, including some commentary on the use of religion in the show. [Going in Blindly]

Rocklobster review a classic, Trigun, and includes examination of Vash as a stand-in for Christ and of Wolfwood’s portrayal as a priest. [Lobster Quadrille]

Annalyn is rewatching FMA: Brotherhood, and notes some commentary about religion in the show. [Annalyn’s Thoughts]

On a more somber note, Annalyn also reflects on the death of a young man she knew. [Annalyn’s Thoughts]

A Year Ago on Beneath the Tangles


Art by 梅田いるか

A year ago…we celebrated passion week with a series on everyone’s favorite cross-gun-wielding priest, Nicholas D. Wolfwood, examining his role versus Vash’s, diving into a terrific fanfic exploring his faith, and pondering about Yasuhiro Nightow’s personal faith.

A year ago…guest writers graciously continued to contribute to the Aniblogger Testimony project, including a blogger whose personal belief involves ghost worship, Buddhism, and science

…a manga reviewer who is an Orthodox Christian

…a Christian who has suffered through many personal struggles

…and an atheist.

Chihiro and Haku

Art by hitsu

A year agoPuella Magi Madoka Magica came to its conclusion, and we linked to the plethora of posts mentioning the spiritual elements of the finale and to 2DT’s in particular.  I also wrote about Christian connections in the show, specifically in episode 7 and the final one.

A year ago…I interviewed a graduate student in Harvard who has written extensively on spirituality in Miyazaki films

…and also a pastor whose anime review site has become an imminent one on the Internet.

A year ago…a frequent contributor (now co-blogger) posted one of his best writings, a piece on Saint Seiya

…and I posted one of our most popular ones, on AnoHana.

AnoHana Menma

Art by のぞみ

“A Year Ago” is a regular series on Beneath the Tangles which links to posts from the site written around this date last year.

Fruits of the Spirit: The Kindness of Vash the Stampede

It’s your kindness, Lord
That leads us to repentance
Your favor Lord, is our desire
It’s your beauty, Lord
That makes us stand in silence
Your love
Your love
Is better than life

“Kindness” (Chris Tomlin)

As we continue with our Fruits of the Spirit series, this week I get to ruminate on what is perhaps the most easily understood fruit – kindness.  We’re all intimate with this action, through our demonstration of it, through reception of it, and sometimes through lack of experiencing it.

When we act in kindness, we’re showing love to another.  But the word carries an additional connotation; it seems to be intertwined with the idea of grace.  Kindness is loving another, whether or not they deserve it.  In fact, kindness is so moving, sometimes, because it’s unexpected.

There are many anime characters that demonstrate kindness, but one stands above the rest.  In a harsh world whose violence resembles the wild west as much as the garb of it’s citizens, lives one who is unnaturally kind.  The man in red, Vash the Stampede, first appeals to us through his goofy humor and superhuman abilities.  But as Trigun wears on, we come to love the show’s hero because, without fail, he always tries to act for the good of others.


Art by syuku@ツイッタ自重しる

Vash’s kindness is unusually strong.  This defining characteristic becomes ingrained in him because of a model in his youth.  Rem, the older sister figure in his young life, taught him by example to love without borders, without regard for how others treat you, and in fact, to show kindness in all circumstances – even in the face of death. Read the rest of this entry

Review of Trigun: Badlands Rumble

Trigun DVDTrigun: Badlands Rumble
Funimation Entertainment
120 minutes

Set well before the finale of the television series, Trigun: Badlands Rumble is a feature length film based on an extended exploit involving everyone’s favorite donut-chomping bounty head, Vash the Stampede.  His “peace and love” meddling twenty years prior has returned to haunt him in the form of Gasback, a notorious robber who has set his sites on a particular town where Vash and a host of bounty hunters lie in wait.

Badlands Rumble is a nostalgia train rumbling full speed at the audience.  It’s a love letter to fans of the original television series, bringing back all of our main characters.  As in the Cowboy Bebop film, the series is able to resuscitate a dead character by setting the action before the death occurred, leading to a movie that is more the “extended episode” type rather than a film that adds anything significant to the series as a whole.

Continuing along that “love letter” theme, the movie takes the tone of the series and cranks it up several notches. Read the rest of this entry

Jumping Into…Chrono Crusade

Many of us have a list of anime we’d like to watch one day.  Within my own list is a smaller one consisting of anime that I particularly want to watch because of Christian themes, symbols, or characters contained within.  I’ve avoided that list for a while, but now I’m digging in.  I decided to start with Chrono Crusade, specifically because Kristin Bomba has recommended the series in the past.

Art by 茶柱

I may post about the series from time to time as I view it, but at the very least, I’ll end with a review (I’m also planning to include this series in my Christmas posts this year).  In the meantime, here are some my impressions after watching the first episode: Read the rest of this entry


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