Anime Today: In the Minority

Fellow Beneath the Tangles writer, Kaze, and I share many things in common, but one always immediately comes to mind: We are both hopelessly critical of what we consume. I think nothing illustrates this more clearly recently than the general reception of Charlotte. I think I can say with relative certainty, albeit having not consulted Kaze before penning this article, that the two of us are unabashed Visual Art’s Key and, by extension, Jun Maeda (the primary writer of the studio) fans. This studio is responsible for bringing some of the world’s best visual novels to us, such as Little Busters! and Rewrite, as well as some of the most well-received anime, like Clannad (a visual novel adaptation) and Angel Beats. Thus, it comes as no surprise that a new original anime (Charlotte) from the esteemed Jun Maeda had us, or at least me, chugging steadily along on the hype train up until it began this summer.

Expectations were high.

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And from this point, while I think the two of use more or less agree, I can only confidently speak for myself. And I have been grossly disappointed.

However, while much of the conflict I feel with Charlotte is internal and framed around my high expectations, I find that much of the remaining conflict I feel stems not entirely from the inside, but from profound differences in judgment between myself and the Internet population at large.* It feels that for every negative reaction I feel, be it an undeveloped cast, horrendous directorial timing, and plot points that seem to rise and fall willy-nilly, I can find many directly opposing views. Even our own founder and editor, Charles/TWWK, seems to have a much more positive opinion of the series than I do in his episode-by-episode series.

But the point of this article is not to make the case that Charlotte is not as good as it’s cracked up to be. I’ve noticed something much more important than what score is appropriate for an anime. I’ve noticed just how it feels to disagree so fundamentally with a large group of people on something you feel passionate about.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I currently (though not for much longer) have the privilege of attending Liberty University (the version of me from just a few years ago would be surprised to read that statement!). And if you have been keeping up with American politics recently, you’ve probably seen the influx of articles and Facebook trends on LU’s recent convocation speaker: Bernie Sanders.

As the “evangelical stronghold” of Christian academia, Bernie Sanders, the current Democratic presidential candidate front-runner and self-identified democratic socialist, is far from the first public speaker one would assume to see at Liberty. While a seemingly upright figure and honest, down-to-earth politician who fights for morality, his views sharply diverge from the popular conservatism on key issues like gay marriage, abortion, welfare, and the degree of free market capitalism to be desired. If you would like to see his speech, check it out here:

It was a wonderful speech, regardless of whether or not you agree with his views (“In my view!”). But I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve brought up Bernie Sanders, a topic perhaps as far away from a new anime as possible. And this is where it connects:

While most students seemed to be either dreading Bernie Sanders’ impending arrival, or maybe felt indifferent, I was excited. More than excited, even. It was my most anticipated convocation of the year (and we have these things three times a week!). While I still don’t agree with all of his views, I was excited for something different. Something that Christians who can easily retract into their own world don’t normally see, or expose themselves to. And after Bernie Sanders finished, I felt content.

But just as I feel in the minority in regard to Charlotte, I was also in the minority at LU.** But you know what? That’s okay. And that’s what I want to leave you with this week.

I often feel as though I’m put in this precarious position where it’s easy to be pushed into angry, spoon-throwing, shouting matches (that’s right, I throw spoons when I’m angry!). I want to respect the people around me, but I feel so strongly about a topic upon which we disagree that it’s hard. But just as Charles wrote this week in regard to gender dysphoria, that is no excuse to show a lack of love. Whether it’s something as insignificant as a difference of opinion on anime (inconsequential), or something debatably more important like politics (consquential because of the effect of government on many), exhibiting difference is fine, but realize that those people with whom you disagree are no less human and no less deserving of your love and respect (and, similarly, no less broken and undeserving of love and respect).

As Bernie Sanders said, and Jesus long before, treat others the way you want to be treated.

Notes:

*To be fair, I think some large Internet communities, like Reddit, are beginning to judge Charlotte in a negative light as well.

**Don’t get me wrong. The students were respectful, and, in fact, I’m very proud of how respectful the student body was to someone with whom they so starkly disagreed. But the fact remains that they were not excited.

16 thoughts on “Anime Today: In the Minority

  1. I think reddit has been pretty critical of Charlotte for a while now. And it’s only really shifted from calling it “episodic power of the week” to criticizing the dramatic shift that effectively came out of nowhere. Or maybe I’m just biased in the posts I read…who knows?

    As for Bernie Sanders, I’d say I probably don’t know enough about politics to properly judge him as a candidate, but I certainly look forward to what he can bring to the conversation. He just seems more “relevant” to me than…pretty much every other candidate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think I recall Kaze mentioning that reddit had more or less moved that direction several episodes ago. I was reminded of this topic primarily because the bulk of the kazamatsuri.org community (an awesome international Key fan site) has been pretty negative about the series for even longer, and seemed to be in the minority at the time. I could be be wrong, but that is how it has felt anyway.

      Man, I loved the Bernie Sanders convocation. Regardless of views (I disagree with every single candidate, simply in different ways), it’s awesome to hear from an intellectual and constructive disagreement with the majority (the “majority” in this case, at Liberty University, being political conservatism). It really forces you to think and understand why you believe what you believe, and maybe challenge it!

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      1. So you’re not the first person that I’ve seen say something to the effect of “I disagree with every candidate”. I’ve never fully understood why people felt it necessary to say this…just seems unnecessarily edgy. Are you saying that you wouldn’t like a candidate unless they shared every single one of your views? What happens when you reach the polls? If you don’t choose one, you’re leaving the decision up to people who are likely less informed. Wouldn’t it be more of a contribution to talk about the candidate that you find least objectionable?

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        1. Sorry, I didn’t mean to insinuate I don’t have a favorite candidate, if that is how it sounded. There just isn’t a candidate that I agree with on every important issue.

          Contrary to the people I think you’re referring to, I’ve been doing a lot of research to find the one I disagree with the least, that way I will be an informed vote come election time. It’s the responsible thing to do as an American citizen ^_^

          I don’t really want to get into a political discussion here, because it’s beyond the purpose of this article, so I’m not going to say who I’m rooting for right now.

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        2. Nah…I wasn’t trying to be hostile or anything. I didn’t mean to say “YOU MUST CHOOSE NOW” or anything like that. It’s just that the statement of “I disagree with all candidates” has started to seem like the hipster/edgy thing to say these days and it just feels like it’s just not contributing anything.

          That being said, I would like the point out that I personally would be shocked to find a candidate who agreed with me on every issue I thought was important…

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          1. Haha, gotcha.

            I actually haven’t really heard anyone else use that phrase, but I can see where you’re coming from. I can assure you I didn’t mean it in that way. I just meant what I think you implied in your last statement: There’s no perfect candidate out there.

            Anyway, thanks for reading and thanks for your feedback. ^_^

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  2. I sense that Beneath the Tangles is shifting, the same way America has shifted over the past 10 years. There’s nothing wrong with conversation, but just be careful when it comes to the foundation you’re building on. It really seems as if the shifting sands of American culture are taking even this blog along with it. I think you need to be careful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Tommy, thanks for reading (as always!).

      I hope I didn’t put you off by anything I said in the article. I tried to steer clear of absolutely supporting one view or another (bringing up politics is dangerous!), so I’m curious as to what kind of shift you’re referring to. We definitely don’t want to compromise any of our core beliefs!

      And as a general disclaimer, my don’t speak for the rest of the staff at large when it comes to tertiary doctrine.

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  3. I definitely agree that people need and deserve to be loved and treated with compassion and dignity even if we do not or cannot agree with everything they say or do. Some people might even pose a physical danger to others and need to be stopped by force. Those people are still human beings.

    The mention of being in the minority basically made me think of how, unlike a lot of people I’ve heard talk on and on about the show, I had a very poor initial impression of Sword Art Online (there’s no way trained agents could have taken the game runner into custody without endangering the lives of the people trapped within the simulation? Never mind that the MMO itself seemed heavily cliche) despite its popularity. Life goes on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I was reminded of that as well! I seem to fit into that “minority,” too, so you are among friends! Several years ago, just after it had aired, I made a big deal about my negative opinions on it, and do you know what it did for me?

      Absolutely nothing, except for maybe add a little unnecessary tension to a couple of friendships. Definitely not worth it! As you said, life goes on! ^^

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  4. “Whether it’s something as insignificant as a difference of opinion on anime (inconsequential), or something debatably more important like politics (consquential because of the effect of government on many), exhibiting difference is fine, but realize that those people with whom you disagree are no less human and no less deserving of your love and respect (and, similarly, no less broken and undeserving of love and respect).”

    I agree with Japes here. I don’t feel, unlike possibly one of the commenters, that respecting those you disagree with goes against Christian values. In fact, the whole reason I keep coming on here is because I might be the least Christian person alive, (Next to being….I dunno….a strawman feminist gay atheist? XD ) but engaging with Christian writers and thinkers about the subject I love most helps me work out what I myself think. :]

    I think we’ve entered this culture in America where we demean, insult, and wound those we disagree with just because they disagree with us….And I always thought that was really stupid. :/ Granted, maybe it was always like that…and it is I who is too young to remember the political hatred of yesteryear.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Luminas! I like to think that we provide an atmosphere here that challenges Christians and non-Christians to engage in civil discourse (or at least pick their brains, since comments can only go so far in creating conversation).

      And, while I can’t say this authoritatively, I think that the kind of hate you’re talking about has always been around, it’s just the people doing the hating and being hated that changes. But then again, I’m probably in the same generation as you and don’t really have much experience with past generations anyway!

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      1. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind about the hate is that the internet has provided a powerful outlet for people to anonymously express their voice, and this has led to, maybe not necessarily an increase in hate in and of itself, but a definite increase in how much hate is expressed and especially heard. Perceived changes in culture in the last ~20 years are very skewed and biased as a result of the internet, and it is hard to judge whether these changes are a result of actual shifts in society’s mentality or merely that the availability of information is only now allowing a much more accurate view. Of course, like all things, the answer is probably somewhere in between.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome to see Liberty mentioned on here, I’m a freshman there! Didn’t know any writers on here went to Liberty. I also thought the Bernie Sanders convo was quite interesting; I was in the indifferent crew beforehand (I don’t like politics :P). I obviously don’t agree with him on a lot of things but I though he did a good job speaking. P.S. Going out on a limb here, but my friend recently informed me that there’s an anime club in Demoss on Monday nights–you know anything about that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah! I used to attend when I was an underclassman, but my work schedule conflicts with it now. Last year (or was it two years ago..) Charles was actually guest speaker for one of the meetings!

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