Monthly Archives: August 2011

Japanese Missions: Catching Up with Yuki-Anne and the Mikoskis

I’ve been blessed to have featured the words of two wonderful missionaries to Japan here on the blog.  Yuki-Anne has reflected on her first days in Japan, as well as on the days following the last Spring’s devastating earthquake.  Michelle Mikoski has spent time in Japan as a missionary with her husband and two young sons; she graciously gave an interview for the blog a while back.

Here are the latest happenings for Yuki-Anne and the Mikoskis, in their own words: Read the rest of this entry

Re-Viewed: Angel Beats! Episode 01 and My So Called Examined Life

When I started this blog, I brainstormed a number of series (and ideas about those series) that I wanted to blog on.  Angel Beats! was right at the top.  But until today, I’ve never blogged on the series, because I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of spiritual themes in the show and having to remember it all when I’d forgotten much of the series (aka middle portion).  But that all changed when I received the Angel Beats! complete collection in the mail.  And so I thought, “Hey, why not re-view/review the entire series?”  Along the way, I’ll include some of my favorite fanart pieces of the characters as I comment on Christian themes and ideas in the series.

Noda and Yurippe

1. Noda, whose character I don't like enough to display a solo picture of (Art by だいき)

The episode begins with a bang.  Within minutes, we see a Haruhi-type with a fancy-looking rifle aimed at young, petite girl, who ends up going T-1000 on our protagonist.  I remember watching the opening scenes with jaw nearly agape – I expected to see Clannad/Kanon/Air, and this definitely was not that.  The episode then shifts focus on Yuri, who I think is as representative of the young generation (maybe aged 12-15) as any anime character I can recall seeing.  Three things she says in the episode remind me of so many dozens of young people I’ve interacted with online and in the classroom: Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Catholic Mecha, Japan’s Yokai, and the Future of Saint Young Men

This week’s look at posts and other items in the anime blogosphere related to religion and spirituality.

Comic Book Resources interviewed Thundercats writer Brandon Easton, whose graphic novel “Shadowlaw” arrives in November.  With an art style influenced by manga, the work is an interesting concept involving the Catholic church (excerpt taken from the interview):

It’s a world where the Catholic Church has become the dominant political power with an army of giant mech armors to enforce their status at the top of the food chain, battling vampires who roam freely in their own mech armor — the world of “Shadowlaw.”

Asahi.com reflects on the place of yokai in Japanese culture, tracing its evolution into modern culture, including features in manga and anime.

Reported by Lost in America, among others, the new Rurouni Kenshin anime announced a couple of months ago will be a remake of the Kyoto Arc.  I mention this news because Kenshin is among the anime I recommend for Christian viewers, with its emphasis on themes that are celebrated in Christianity.  While Kenshin fans may generally not be happy with the announcement, I think it’ll be great to see one of best anime arcs ever reanimated (the original series has aged poorly) and possibly pave the way for an OVA or series based on the Jinchu arc in the future.

In the world of manga, Saint Young Men, Hikaru Nakamura’s critically acclaimed series about Jesus and Buddha living together as roommates in modern Tokyo, will go on hiatus.  Nakamura is starting pregnancy leave (congratulations!) and will be back as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, John of AnimeNation opines on the likelihood that the manga will be animated one day and if the work will ever be published on these shores.

Also on the topic of manga, the latest from the folks at Manga Hero, Many Are Called Volume 1, is now available for purchase.

Although not necessarily spiritually-themed, TOKYOPOP founder Stu Levy’s press release for the spiritually-titled documentary, “Pray for Japan,” went out this week.  Although strangely and almost overwhelmingly self-promoting, the press release nonetheless publicizes what seems to be quite an amazing film that is in need of funding.

Finally, I can’t help but mention El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, Takeyasu Sawaki’s recently released game featuring character designs influenced by anime and a storyline influenced by the apocryphal Book of Enoch.  Reviews have been mostly very positive, with recent ones including those by PikiGeek and TIME.

Interview with Caitlin Glass, FUNimation Voice Actress

Among the best known actresses in her profession, Caitlin Glass has voiced some of anime’s most popular characters, including Haruhi of Ouran High School Host Club and Winry Rockbell of Fullmetal Alchemist.  She’s also directed for FUNinmation, and is back in the booth after spending time out of the country.  Little less known is that Caitlin is a Christian and is open about her faith.  We were blessed that she took the time to answer a few questions with us regarding her work (part 1) and her belief in Christ (part 2).

TWWK:  Hi, Caitlin!  Thank you for agreeing to the interview, and welcome back to the states!  You were out of the country for quite some time – could you tell us why you went abroad and where you visited?

Caitlin: Thanks so much for the opportunity. Yes, I was living abroad for almost a year and a half. My husband and I love to travel and were seeking a way to do it more long term. We decided to go to Spain and study for a TEFL certificate, to be able to teach English as a foreign language. We liked it in Spain so much that we stayed! We also had the chance to visit friends and family in other European countries like Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

TWWK: What was one of your favorite experiences overseas?

Caitlin: Hands down my favorite experience was Spain’s victory in the World Cup. I can’t say I was a football (soccer) fan before living there but I definitely am now! We watched every game and went to the victory parade. It was electrifying!

TWWK: Now that you’re back in Texas, are you working again at Funimation?  What projects are you working on?

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Touch and the Life Extraordinary

“Will you give it your best shot?”

“Yeah…if I’m in the mood.”

These words end a short, but important exchange in episode five of Touch, the long-running anime adaptation of the hit manga series by Mitsuru Adachi.  Recently, I revisited Cross Game anime and read the lastest Viz Media release of that series, which led me to take on the challenge of the 100+ episode Touch series created by the same mangaka.  Challenge might be too heavy of a word, though, since I love Cross Game and enjoyed pulling different ideas from it.  Touch, I knew, had major similarities, but so far (note: I wrote this post six episodes into the series. I’ve now finished the first season.) the show is more different than I thought it’d be.

Art by 堀桐秋生 (Pixiv)

For one, Tatsuya is presented as much more of a slacker than Ko is (perhaps this is because Ko takes on a role that might be a melding of Kazuya and Takuya), as expressed in the exchange with his twin brother given above.  And though the relay race they’re discussing doesn’t go totally according to plan, Tatsuya still shows his inner ability and talent.  He doesn’t get the glory, but he still lives out a pretty extraordinary existence – athletically gifted and with beautiful girls having some (maybe great) interest in him.

It’s a normal life that isn’t.

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Review: Eden of the East – Paradise Lost

Eden of East – Paradise Lost
Funimation Entertainment
82 minutes
Rating: M

Summary
With Mononobe turning up the stakes in the game to determine the final seleção left standing, Takizawa returns to Japan to face public scrutiny as a terrorist, as well as the widowed wife of the man who is apparently his father.  Meanwhile, the East of Eden group goes to work to assist him, with Saki going on possibly the most important mission of all – the one to find Takizawa’s mother.

Review
If there’s one continually and consistently disappointing aspect of anime, it’s this: series seldom end satisfactorily.  Even a good series can have an average ending.  There are exceptions to the rule (Cowboy Bebop comes instantly to mind), and Paradise Lost is one that can be added to this list.

The second original movie in the series begins where the last (King of Eden) left off, with Takizawa and Saki about to return to Japan.  The situation isn’t happy – although he is returning as a hero to some, the government views him as a terrorist.  Add to that an angry widower of the ex-prime minister’s, the ever-conniving Mononobe, and a heavily-monitored East of Eden group, and the finale of the series begins right where George Lucas said it should – the characters are in the worst situation possible and must now work out of it.

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Mitsuru Adachi’s Touch: She Had it Coming

Have you ever loved someone so much that you’ve become violent toward them?  That sounds strange, an oxymoron even.  But it happens all the time – and even if you don’t have a spouse or kids, perhaps you have some hidden shamefulness in your past toward a family member, a friend, or a pet.

In our culture today, commentary on rape and other violence toward women often includes a minority voice that says, “she had it coming to her,” particularly if a woman dresses a certain way or has a history of disreputable character.  Most of us scoff as such commentary, but perhaps many of us at least consider this possibility.  One small thought might wisp through our mind – “well, if she hadn’t been out at 4am in that part of town…”

Tatsuya and Minami

Come on, Tatsuya - what are you thinking?!

Though it’s not on the level of a full assault, I thought a bit about this idea while recently watching Touch, the anime adaptation of Mitsuru Adachi‘s classic manga.  Early in the series, Tatsuya slaps Minami in a fit of rage.  He feels terrible (though stubborn as he is, he finds it hard to admit his fault) and the reaction against him by the rest of the school body is predictably angry.  Minami, however, claims that she “deserved” the slap.  I guess we’re supposed to appreciate Minami’s strength in seeing the other side of the coin and accepting a hit like she’s one of the boys.

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Finding the Invisible God in…Eden of the East (Part 4)

From the impression given by its title through to the very end of the series (at least thus far), Eden of the East conveys strong Christian symbolism.  Months after I drew allusions between three of the Seleção in the series and Biblical individuals (Shiratori and the adulterous woman, Mononobe and Lucifer, and Takizawa and Christ), Funimation’s recent stateside release of the third Eden of the East movie, Paradise Lost, leads to one final strong parallel – that of heroine Saki and Christian believers, particularly those who knew Jesus in 1st century Palestine.

Air King

Art by *けかん

To examine how Saki is similar to Christian believers as a whole, it’s imperative that we discuss whom they (and she) believe in – Christ and Takizawa (Note: Plentiful spoilers for the movie abound in this post).  Although I compared the two before, as mentioned above, this movie emphasizes the similarities between the Humble Savior and the crazed genius that is Takizawa.

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Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Chiba Converts

In episode 4 of the Hourou Musuko anime, the somewhat volatile character, Chiba, goes to church.  She hasn’t been there in quite some time, but she feels the necessity to lift up a prayer to God, asking for God to place her opposite Nitori in their gender-bender play.  The whole scene was unexpected, as was perhaps my reaction to her selfish prayer.

The anime begins well in advance of the manga, the first volume of which was recently released in the U.S.  I haven’t read it yet, and though I abhor spoilers, I couldn’t help but read a recent post about Chiba and her actions in volume one.  Alex of Manga Widget focuses not only on Chiba’s stormy personality, but also on her conversion to Christianity as presented in the volume, while posing questions about how it may affect the other characters down the line.  It’s a very interesting read, particularly if you’re a fan of character, as I am:

Wandering Son’s Chiba | Manga Widget

Aniblogger Testimony: Why Am I Catholic?

Although the main phase of the Aniblogger Testimony series has come to an end, I always welcome further additions.  Recently, Renato Barros Ezquerro submitted a post for this series.  The only problem?

He’s not a blogger.

Still, I’d be glad to call this post an “Otaku Testimony” if it meant I could fit in his writing.  I hope you’ll read it – I wanted to include it, especially, because it provides the point of view from someone whose native tongue is not English (I implore you to read through it, despite some grammar and word choice issues) and presents a Catholic point of view, one that hasn’t been expressed in the series.  He also addresses some questions I used to have about the Catholic faith and, on a more minor note, writes a little about Ef ~ A Tale of Memories, a series I’ve always wanted to post on. :)

Enjoy.

—-

First of all, I’ll answer you one question I had to answer myself first:

Why am I catholic?

Read the rest of this entry