Something More: Fullmetal Anti-Semitist, Re:Samaritan, and Ultimate (Idolatrous) “Harmony”

Anime, especially in the dark fantasy/dystopian genre, thrives on the concept of freewill. Death Note shows the futility of forcing the world into a mold to which it cannot conform. Kiznaiver reveals that shared adversity and duty-driven empathy aren’t enough to keep people (or the peace) together. Psycho-Pass… well… you get the picture. At least as far as anime is concerned, any time freewill is taken from an individual, a society follows suit, and an apocalyptic future lurks just around the corner.

In one of my favorite articles of the month, Alex G. tackles the anime film, Harmony, from which–despite generally negative reviews–he manages to dig up a goldmine of spiritual, philosophical, and ethical discussion points. As you read his well-articulated analysis, consider your own stances on the value of life, the value of freedom, and the value of individuality (and to whom or what you hold their worth accountable).

Read Alex’s full article at The Study of Everything:

>> Harmony and the Battle of Ultimate Terms

And now for a plethora of ponderous posts:

Fullmetal Alchemist doesn’t shy away from the dark side of doctrine, paralleling both the Holocaust and the Crusades; but in exploring religious discrimination, it misses one crucial angle. [Lady Geek Girl]

Is Noragami an elaborate, how-to illustration for curing mental illness? At the very least, the spirit and body must be equally considered in the healing process. [Above the Veil]

At first glance, “pure” might not seem like an appropriate descriptor of Love Live’s Nozomi Tojo, but a deeper look at her spiritual and emotional sides might convince you otherwise. [Apartment 507]

Arguably Zelda’s darkest game, Majora’s Mask challenges players to ask themselves: “How do the masks I wear each day affect my relationships with others (and God)?” [Christ and Pop Culture]

>> If you’re subscribed to CaPC’s monthly magazine, don’t miss their article on Fullmetal Alchemist and the dangers of playing God. (The cover art features a certain trauma-inducing chimera…) [2]

Maybe there’s not a magical kingdom of beasts hidden underneath our noses (a la The Boy and the Beast), but with the wrong perspectives we could just as easily miss out on the larger-than-life realities around us. [Geekdom House]

Satella’s selflessness in Re:Zero doubles as a fantastical re-telling of a famed biblical parable. [Neighborhood Otaku]

Bakugo has a lot to learn about self-identity and pride in My Hero Academia… and maybe Christians can learn a thing or two from him. [Unsheathed]

Annalyn continues her analysis of anime and religion with a look at the role experience, culture, ideology, and spirituality play in viewing and interpreting the medium. [My Anime List]

Kenneth Bright Jr., creator of Christian anime series, Prince Adventures, recently announced several other projects in the works, including a three-part comic series based on the anime, a video game, and a live action film. [Geeks Under Grace]

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 contact us to be included.

7 thoughts on “Something More: Fullmetal Anti-Semitist, Re:Samaritan, and Ultimate (Idolatrous) “Harmony”

  1. Thank you so much for including my essay! I’m flattered by the glowing introduction.

    Thanks, also, for continuing this feature. Several of these links look intriguing, especially the Geekdom House article. I’d been considering giving ‘The Boy and the Beast’ a watch for some time, and now I think I shall.

    It’s also very exciting to see the Tangles’ MAL column continue. Here’s hoping it generates some buzz for the site!

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    1. It’s well-earned, I assure you. Your style of writing is professional and fluid, and your level of analysis impressive; definitely a style I am striving to emulate in my own writing. Thank you for sharing that with me (and please send any future pieces my way–I’ll be more than happy to feature them).

      Geekdom House publishes a couple of anime articles per month and their writers are very talented (they also have a cool magazine, Area of Effect, which I highly recommend subscribing to: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/magazine/911774). I think the author did an incredible job capturing the intent and feel that Hosada wanted to convey through the film. While I didn’t enjoy the film itself as much as I did Summer Wars, I’m eager to re-watch it with this “hidden” perspective in mind. I think it will grant me a greater appreciation.

      Annalyn does a phenomenal job with our column over at MAL, and I’m forever impressed by the way she meaningfully conveys things. Thank you for following our work there! Equally hoping it gets conversation started and perhaps even brings some readers our way.

      I look forward to writing Something More each month. I’m glad that you have found it equally profitable to read 🙂

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  2. Alex G., your article is *fantastic* and gives me a lot to think about! 😀 Your flowing prose actually encourages me to see this movie, even if from a pacing standpoint it appears to be something of a disaster. Shin Sekai Yori is another dystopia by the way that, despite the glut of dystopias in the media, manages to say something truly interesting.

    The argument that’s being posited in this movie has a kind of…personal significance to me, I suppose. ….It reminds me of something that’s been bothering me. See, on occasion, the villains of a story (Ironically, particularly the more….Devil-ish…they get…) have literally no intention of ruining the Earth or making it ‘worse’— They actually want to save it. They want to make everyone substantially happier. But they want to do that by removing free will, agency, and choice. Basically, the villains are paternalistic in character and it’s abundantly clear that they….want to be God. Not just as in power and omnipotence, but in ALL ways—- And that’s where the moral arguments suddenly get a lot more interesting.

    Because…I think….then you’re getting to what the real heart of the problem is, rather than clouding it with propaganda. And you have to really think about WHY creating a utopian world without choices, but with individual experience, “qualia” (Because eliminating the ability to choose wouldn’t necessarily eliminate one’s own experience of the event) Is evil.

    So…Thanks for saying a lot on a complex topic. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the comment! It delights me that someone found my writing thought-provoking.

      I hope my criticisms don’t discourage you from seeing ‘Harmony’ if you get a chance. In fact, I fear I may have overemphasized the storytelling flaws in my review. It’s really not a bad film; if nothing else, it’s certainly hypnotic and fascinating (and absolutely gorgeous) even if it isn’t always completely engaging.

      I would’ve liked to go into more detail about what you’re talking about here – about the actual ethical dimensions of that kind of utopian villainy, that paternal act of “playing God” – but I suppose it was a little beyond the scope of the piece (and, frankly, beyond my skill level to talk about to any great extent). But I’m glad you appreciated what little I did manage to include. One thing I really liked about ‘Harmony’ is that it forced me to stop and consider what, exactly, is so evil about a world devoid of individual choice. I wouldn’t say that it’s changed my views, but it’s unsettled many of my comfortable assumptions, and that’s about the best thing a piece of art can do, I think. Maybe it will do the same for you.

      In any case, thanks again for the feedback!

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      1. Heh, I might go after it in fact because it brings up these kinds of questions. I watch anime in part because anime brings up these kinds of questions a lot more often than the mainstream American media does, and often in an abstract, interesting societal way that’s easier to digest for me. Basically, I can tell what the characters are feeling easily (Easier than I can read real people, really) without the content being dumbed down.

        “One thing I really liked about ‘Harmony’ is that it forced me to stop and consider what, exactly, is so evil about a world devoid of individual choice.”

        You could say that that’s literally the question Someone once posited to me. It was sort of like this: “If I were to take utter control of the world, knowing everything I know about your race, and make better choices for you than the ones you have been making, creating a world without human-inflicted pain and suffering…what would be your objection? Is free will really so important to you that you would inflict the full weight of that choice on yourselves?” The weight, meaning…torture, murder, hatred, enslavement, addiction, sexual abuse, self-destructive behavior.

        MedievalOtaku responded by stating that without free will we’d be “robots,” and our actions wouldn’t matter. I’m not so sure I agree— A world without the ability to make the wrong choice, but with consciousness intact, is literally how Heaven IS ultimately supposed to work, at the end of it. Our actions wouldn’t matter, but we’d definitely be human in a certain sense.

        I’m still figuring out what I think of the whole thing, and I can’t say I have an answer. But thanks for engaging with me on this complicated topic—- Keep writing excellent stuff from a Christian perspective. 🙂

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