On Tuesday, 2DT, writer-extraordinaire, announced that he was discontinuing his blog. Although it’s sad to see a popular blogger move on, it’s not unusual, right? You’d think so – which is why I was surprised at the sense of melancholy I’ve felt the last few days. 2DT has been an encouragement to me, but the reason for the tinge of sadness goes beyond that – upon reflection (and digging through the many past entries on 2-D Teleidoscope which were written before I followed blogs), I realized why: never again would I read a new post by the best blogger on the Internet.
One can separate bloggers into three categories:
- Bloggers: These writers conform well to the opinionated tone of the anime blogosphere. They are the largest subset (perhaps 90%), but like all three, there are only a handful of great ones. I could break this category down further, but I’m too lazy to. -_-‘
- Academics and Reviewers: I place these two in the same category because their writing is entertaining more on an intellectual level. Their work often takes some research and isn’t often dependent on the newest, hippest trend or show. Again, there are only a few great ones.
- Authors: These writers are a pure joy to read. Each post is a tiny piece of literature – something to savor and enjoy. These are the writers whose work I try to set aside for a quiet time, so that I can read and take in every word. This is the smallest group and every member is a great one.
There are two bloggers I qualify as authors – one is on hiatus. And the other just retired.
On a less significant (and more selfish) note, Beneath the Tangles’ is the worse off for 2-D Teleidoscope’s end. I frequently linked to his blog (and he was kind enough to link to me from time to time). If one thing defines 2DT, besides the wonderful tone of his posts (compassionate? intelligent? clever? whimsical? All of the above.), it’s his willingness to write about any topic, no matter how taboo. Sometimes, that means his post are a bit not-safe-for-work, and sometimes it means he’ll tackle an issue few do in the anime blogosphere: religion.
It would be too difficult (and off-theme) for me to give a complete list of my favorite posts, but I can mention eight of my favorite 2DT posts that tackle religion and spirituality. He touches on a variety of topics, from the occult to Christianity to Buddhism. Have a read – and while you’re there, take some time to savor the writing of a man whose writing will be dearly missed in the aniblogger community:
1. The Hellsing Model of Christianity
2DT’s very first post focused on how religion was portrayed in anime, particularly in Asura Cryin’ and Hellsing – an insightful little post that was indicative of even greater things to come.
In a country like Japan where Christians are stunningly rare, let alone Catholics versus Anglicans, Hellsing and its ilk may be the only education the average Japanese fan gets about this kooky western religion.
I still don’t know whether to be fascinated or to smack my forehead and give up.
2. Forbidden Faith in To Aru Majutsu no Index
In this post, 2DT discusses the “Hidden Christians” of Japan, relating them to a religious sect in the Index series. He also mentions Silence, one of my favorite novels.
It’s a fascinating history that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention, especially in anime. The most prominent example I can think of is one episode of Samurai Champloo, which featured the historical practice of fumie: suspected Christians were forced to step on an icon of Jesus and defame the Virgin Mary.
3. Thinking about the Gods with Kannagi
Postmodern (or postcolonial?) sensibilities regarding gods and prayer are on display in that addictive little anime about crazy shrine maidens.
The goddess Nagi is rejuvenated when she develops a fan club, and her more powerful sister Zange adopts mannerisms vaguely like that of a Catholic nun, because Christianity is supposedly a stronger religion. Initially I wondered if this attitude to religion was an import from the west, or if it was possible, for example, that this was just a natural consequence of Japan’s secularization in the 20th century.
4. Unineko no Naku Koro ni and the Seals of Solomon
2DT often discussed occult practices and ideas on his blog. His first post on the topic pointed out a seal from a famed grimoire featured on the series, Unineko no Naku Koro ni.
First, an explanation: I’m a bit of a dabbler in the occult. I don’t do robes and “blood for the blood god” theatrics, but I just find things like divination, demonology and mysticism very interesting and worth studying for a non-traditional perspective.
5. Heresy and Humanity in Shikabane Hime
In a remarkable post, 2DT discusses the conflict between the Buddhist “sin” associated with desire and that same life-affirming principle.
Japanese Buddhism is a curious beast. It maintains the basic belief, as expressed by Shakyamuni Buddha, that existence is a state of suffering caused by worldly desire. But layered on top of that is a uniquely Japanese preoccupation with death and the afterlife.
6. Sora no Woto and Mudras (Failed Entry #1)
2DT educates us on mudras in a clever posts, the likes of which are why I love 2DT’s writing.
Buddhist mudras moved from India to China, and from there to Japan. In particular, ninja mythology makes great use of them, which you can see in the special moves of Naruto, and, off the top of my head, when Akira makes her first fighting appearance in Mai-HiME.
7. Ave Fabulae: Looking for the God of Anime Fandom
I admit, I was a bit excited when 2DT discussed my aniblogger and religion survey in this post, in which he finds a common ground in how both the skeptical fandom and religious types long for something to fill their souls.
Fantastic stories are the bread and butter of the fandom. Show me walking on water, and I’ll show you a bunny girl skysurfing on an electric guitar. Shows like A Certain Magical Index will even use religion for the extra flavor.
8. Our Lady of the Pink Lace: Fashion as Salvation in Madoka Magica
2DT draws a connection I think few of us saw when viewing Puella Magi Madoka Magica – between Madoka’s costume design and her role in the magical girl universe.
“Church of Madoka” jokes aside, she did essentially decide to become the patron saint and protector of magical girls. And like the blue dress of the Virgin Mother, before they die, all of them see her: The magical girl who made the ultimate sacrifice to save them, the redeemer in frills and lace, buttons and pretty bows.
Although I joined late, I’m glad to have been part of the ride (in a car jam-packed with fans) to read 2DT’s many wonderful posts (and later, to listen to the only podcast I regularly download). Good luck and God bless!