Monthly Archives: September 2011

Mawaru Penguindrum 12: Brief Analysis of the Christian Symbols

Kamba, Shoma, and Himari

Art by mg

Episode 12 was rich in Christian symbolism.  As Shoma told his tale of the bunnies, the goddess, and Mary and the three lambs, it was immediately obvious that much of the story’s inspiration was from the Garden of Eden (among other stories – Draggle mentions Prometheus).  Shoma’s tale, of course, was also very different.  Still, certain symbols kept their same meaning, while others contain meaning when seen through a Christian lens.  Here’s a brief rundown on these symbols:

The Tree

The most obvious symbol in the story was of the tree.  It was the only tree in the world and brought light into it.  Neither of this is true of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but both are nonetheless mysterious trees connected with life and power.  Both are also symbolized by apples – in Mawaru Penguindrum, throughout the series as a steady symbol, and for the Genesis account tree, in art and popular culture.

Both trees are connected to death – Mary’s tree wilts and eventually leads to another death, while the Genesis tree leads to original sin and the death of all mankind.  Notice that in both cases, the “sinners” realize that they are doing bad.  Mary at first refuses to go along with the bunnies, while Adam and Eve hide their shame.  Deaths occur later, not immediately, as a result of the sins. Read the rest of this entry

Sermon of the Penguins, Why Madoka Isn’t All That, and a New Jesus Anime

Draggle presents an awesome analysis of episode 11 of Mawaru Penguindrum, including a discussion of fate (with some mentioning of Christianity).

Speaking of Mawaru Penguindrum, Landon comments on the ritualistic nature of the series, which he compares to Sunday sermons, with somewhat unfavorable views on both (caution: lots of foul language).

Patrick Woodward, the (uncredited?) author of The Manga Jesus and The Manga Bible, talks about the press’ reactions to Jesus in manga form, manga’s theme of conflict resolution, and the potential of his recent project to realize The Manga Jesus as an anime.

Chad thinks Madoka Magica is overrated, and among other things, doesn’t buy into those that see Christian overtones in the series (like me, me and her), instead thinking that the Buddhist interpretations are more accurate (which, to be fair, is true after all).

Christina asks for prayers for her soldier friend and muses on our everyday complaints.

2DT discusses the modern myth of Belldandy.

If you’re like me and haven’t been paying attention to Blue Exorcist (and even if you are), I think the talk about Satan’s babies and the Pope ordering bombings in episode 23 will be good for a chuckle.

Finally, a reminder that Christmas is coming up (it’s only like…80-something days away!) in the form of that Japanese tradition of Christmas cakes, and in these cases, featuring Evangelion and K-On!

A Lesson in Forgiveness in Koko Ni Iru Yo!

If you frequent my blog, you might have noticed that I mostly talk anime and generally ignore manga.  My tendencies are something like 95/5 when it comes to anime and manga.  But I’ll say this – when I read manga that grips me, I become addicted – and series like Claymore, Genshiken, and Fullmetal Alchemist drew me in like few anime have – even the ones based on those manga.

Based on an answer by Keiko in a recent interview here, I decided to check out Koko Ni Iru Yo! (I Am Here!) and for me, it became one of those series.  I couldn’t stop reading.

If you don’t know the story, it follows Hikage, a “plain” girl who is ignored by seemingly everyone at school.  She finds solace in her personal blog (cute point!), through which she’s developed friendships with two young men who comment on it.  Things begin to change when one of the most popular boys in her school lets Hikage know that he does, indeed, notice her.

"I Am Here!" Hikage Sumino

Art by IceMilk (Pixiv)

The material in the series is rich for application (and I may revisit it in the future).  So I found it strange when I began to key in on one relatively small point in the series.  As the story progresses, we find out about the long friendship between the two popular boys, Hinata and Teru.  We also see the friendship between the two begin to break apart.  But in the end, the friendship survives, despite difficulties that would try any relationship.

I’ll say it now – I think God spoke to me through this manga. Read the rest of this entry

Re-Viewed: Angel Beats! Episode 04 and Friends in Need

Of all the interesting characters in Angel Beats!, my favorite is one who is one of the most normal – Hinata.  Episode four of the series deals with a baseball game, as we get a glimpse into the former high school baseball player’s past, one in which a simple error cost his team a chance at Koshien and led him to experiment with (and maybe later die from) drugs.

Hideki Hinata Angel Beats

4. Hinata (Art by 妃杈)

Hinata reminds me a lot of a friend I had in middle school.  He was older than me, cooler than me, more popular than me, and more mature than me.  In spite of it all, this friend not only spent time with me – he actively sought me out, day after day, and watched out for me.  He was also the first young person I knew who not only claimed to be Christian, but who lived a life largely free of hypocrisy.  Read the rest of this entry

Manga-Style Pope Shirts, Christians Who Hate Otaku, and St. Peter and the Penguins

Pope Benedict XVI…in manga style…on a t-shirt or hoody…need I say more?

Seinime waxes nostalgia, with some talk about faith and prayer, in his narrative-driven post about Usagi Drop.

Taylor concludes her series on Christian symbolism and themes in My Little Pony.

A youtube response to an troll? otaku-hatin’ Christian.

Zeroe4 reminisces about his grandfather’s death and his conversion experience after watching Sket Dance.

And a few weeks late, the beautiful couple of The Untold Story of Altair & Vega discuss the St. Peter figure in episode nine of Mawaru Penguindrum.

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: My Little (Christian) Pony

I’ve been waiting months to link to the this three part series about Christian symbolism in My Little Pony.  Taylor Ramage, who once did a guest post about Haruhi Suzumiya for this site, has written some thorough and interesting essays about the recent hit series.  Though not anime related, the series has certainly garnered attention in the American animation arena, and Taylor herself generally writes about anime and manga.  She’s a terrific blogger, and I hope you’ll check out her work.

In the first post, Taylor writes about two characters – Celestia and Luna.  She comments on the dualist and Christian natures of their story and really digs into this analysis.

Taylor’s second post in this series focuses on the character, Pinkie Pie.  She discusses the ways in which that pony fits the characteristics of a Christian, including the grace-filled way a Christian should act and the negative and fear-mongering way many Christians have acted throughout history.  Taylor also puts her own spin on what is apparently an already much-discussed aspect on an episode, in which faith and science take the forefront.

The final essay, posted last week, focuses on the idea of “Cutie Marks.”  Taylor argues that these marks not only symbolize physical maturity, but a spiritual mile marker as well.  Following along ideas reminiscent of those in Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life, Taylor writes about how Apple Bloom finding her purpose is similar to a Christian’s own path.

I hope you’ll check out these posts.  And while there, read some of Taylor’s other terrific work!

Revision: Links have been fixed.

Beyond Mere Talent: The Weak Shaming the Strong in Kin’iro no Corda

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.

– Paul the apostle, I Cor 1:27 (NASB)

When I started watching La Corda D’Oro or Kin’iro no Corda (“The Golden String”) at the suggestion of none other than our gracious host, I didn’t know whether this show would offer me anything redeeming in its plot. Admittedly, a masterpiece it isn’t, but this show does drive home one important point, if sometimes awkwardly. It is that the most gifted musician whose devotion to his art is incomplete, can yet be somehow upstaged by a lackluster but heartfelt performance. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the show, apart from its surprising and commendable restraint (there is almost no fanservice), is the effect the heroine, whose musical ability is minimal, has on each of her much more talented co-stars.

Kin’iro no Corda

Sparkly boys! Sparkly boys!... And the occasional sparkly girl too!

Read the rest of this entry

Madoka Surgical Girl and Pre-Op Usagi Drop

Yesterday, I woke up at 5:45 in the morning.  I took a shower and went through my morning ritual.  I then got into my car and proceeded to drive to a surgical hospital on the west side of town.  I was scheduled to have a minor surgery at 7:00am to remove a cyst on my neck.

I’d had a slightly more major surgery (elective) last year, so I wasn’t terribly concerned about this one.  But the preparation for this surgery was more thorough, and I became more on edge as the time passed by.  IV fluids (two pricks were necessary because first one didn’t take, BLAH), open gowns, and simple waiting all increased my nervousness.  As I waited, I prayed (I do this before, during, and after any major ordeal [at least major for my life]), mostly to the tune of “God, please let this surgery be as minor as it’s supposed to be.”

Madoka Magica

Madoka is confident that I'll make it through alright (Art by Aちき@あちきに固定)

I also looked at the two patients opposite me – both children.  One was a precious baby boy (maybe about one in age) with his mom and dad.  The other was a cute little blond girl with her mother.  You know what I thought?  Usagi Drop.  Cute kids.

I was also encouraged.  These two children were also undergoing minor procedures and they and their parents must’ve been frightened.  Yet, the kids were doing very well, especially for early in the morning in a cold, scary environment.  (Note: the two ended up coming out of surgery before me and were fine).

When everything was read, a nurse came to take me to the OR.  As the gurney rolled toward the surgery room, I felt like I was in ER or Grey’s Anatomy – kind of surreal. Read the rest of this entry

Looking for One Good Co-Blogger

After weathering several storms, including my transition to a busier job, taking care of two young children, and my habit of, well, being a quitter, Beneath the Tangles continues to put out posts as regularly as it ever has.  And though I’m sure everyone loves my writing (hmmm…), I’m eager to add a new voice to this blog.  I’m opening up a position as a co-blogger.

What would you get out of it?  Beneath the Tangles can’t (and never will) have a large readership, but it does have a consistent one and has etched a space into the anime blogosphere.  Your posts would be read by a variety of individuals and you would have the opportunity to partner in what I believe is a ministry.  You’ll also have the opportunity to eventually shape the direction of this blog.  Read the About page for more information on what I do here.

My co-blogger will need to Christian – your denomination or church does not matter, as long as you share some basic beliefs with me (included in the application form below).  I require a blogger who is beyond reproach (with an understanding that we all goof up) in his or her actions.  Also note that I don’t use foul language, avoid talk about sexual topics, and usually try to avoid judgment and unjust criticism on this blog, as well as other online social outlets.

Content-wise, I want a writer who is good.  I’m aware that I’m not a terrific writer, which is why I’m looking for a co-blogger who can add umph to this blog by his or her skills.  Grammar, mechanics, and sentence structure are lower level concerns that can be proofread and corrected, so don’t worry if you aren’t, say, a perfect speller.  But I am asking for a writer who understands higher order concerns like introductions and conclusions, main ideas, content development, word usage, and organization.  We’re all developing as writers, though, so take this all with a grain of salt – even if you’re not the bees’ knees (<– Geico – ha!), experience will help you develop.

You can apply for either of these positions: Read the rest of this entry

Re-Viewed: Angel Beats! Episode 03 and Choosing Your Way

For me, the height of Angel Beats! was episode 3.  Although I enjoyed most of the rest of the show, this particularly episode moved me and ended with a mystery that, unlike in many other anime of the same vein, actually made me think and wonder.

The episode is simple in nature and in fact, reflects a recurring setup – one group infiltrates while another baits Angel.  In this case, Yuri’s group, including a new recruit who insists on being called Christ, tries to enter the “most holy place,” the computer desk in Angel’s dorm room (the temple), where she meets with God.  But by the end of the episode, whatever Christian motif might have taken place all seems incidental, as discoveries are made about Angel lack of angelic power and Iwasawa becomes one with the universe, apparently by her own will.

Still, I think an important lesson was reemphasized to me while viewing Iwasawa’s story, which was my favorite in the show.  The past Iwasawa and the present are two opposites in how they approached their lives.

Girls Dead Monster

3. Iwasawa (Art by popurara)

Read the rest of this entry