Untangled: What Series Should We Be Watching?

From out ask the staff mailbox, we received this email from Tsurugiarashix of KaminariAnime:

Since I am nowhere near a proper computer, I thought I would write in from my phone to ask if anyone on the team has watched Uta Kata? I recently seen the series before leaving on my trip and absolutely loved the coming-of-age/mahou shojou template, but also has some nice religious subtext and allegory mixed in. Really great for older viewers such as myself.

This is no Modaka, but I am undoubtedly sure you will find its connections to not only Christianity, but also other walks of spiritual living, coming-of-age ceremonies, and ideas. (I.E: process of liminality, etc) .  I was planning on releasing my post and review for it before I left home, but did not happen, so I will gladly like to hear what the Untangled team thinks about it.

While none of us have yet seen Uta Kata, because of Tsurugiarashix, it is now on our radar (and I do plan to watch it as soon as I can).

Are there other anime or manga with strong Christian themes that we haven’t blogged about yet?  What other series should we be watching?

Let us know in the comments below!

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About TWWK

TWWK, known to outlaws and lawmen alike as Charles, lives deep in the heart of Texas, where he drives cattle and boot scoots (not really - though he does sport a pair of rattlesnake boots). Somehow in this frontier, he also finds time for his wife, children, and church. Oh, and anime, too.

Posted on 07.26.2012, in Anime, Christianity and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. While you do have one post about it, I would say Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. It’s a great series in and of itself, but I think it would have some interesting posts to it. I also think Planetes would be a fantastic series.

    • Yeah, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a great pick. Mike from Anime Diet, who is an awesome writer, did a great post about the series from a Christian point of view as well. That post actually influenced my decision to watch the show.

      Planetes is an interesting pick – I know nothing about that series.

  2. Not an anime or a manga, but a visual novel. Umineko No Naku Koro Ni. Though the art is bad (gotta wait for PS3 patch), it’s a really interesting read. Really long. Mystery/Fantasy hybrid, but there are some very important underlying themes to understand while you go through it.

    • Ah, the visual novel. I was recommended another one, too, around the time that Katawa Shoujo came out.

      That’s definitely a unique pick – thanks for the rec!

      • IIRC, Umineko’s total word count is about the same as all 7 Harry Potter books combined. It’s that long. However, like neobowman said, this court-action-drama-in-limbo/purgatory does contain many important themes that can be valuable inputs to Christians. They are quite a handfuIl, don’t know where to begin :D

        Well, one of them is that the novel is basically a giant liar game. You know the classic:
        - A: B & C are liars
        - B: C is telling the truth
        - C: A is lying
        With the astronomical word count, not that easy. Oh, and if your conclusion for the above is simply “A is lying” … think again :D

        Other stuffs worth mentioning are:
        - “Without love, it can not be seen.” Facts alone won’t lead you to “the truth”.
        - Different witness, different stories. (Have you seen Courage Under Fire?)
        - How one perceive “reality”, and also an interesting depiction of “Power of God” (really late in the story).
        - Multiple planes of existence.
        - Your usual Stuffs of Anime Awesomeness are there: beam sabers, antique rifles, magic barrier, teleporting demons, tsunderes, and many more! :D

        BTW, were I a cell group leader at church, I’ll probably make this murder mystery a mandatory read to be discussed at weekly meeting. This could serve as an alternative exercise for the mind to be vigilant, especially in this information age where the truth is more often buried under avalanche of noises.

        PS: There are some cons about Umineko, though. First, it could benefit from better editing – I found many scenes here & there that could work better if they were shorter or even removed entirely. Second, the gruesome murder, although not visually depicted, might be too much for the more sensitive audience (it’s more of Se7en than Hostel/ Lionsgate horror, I think). Third, …. did I tell you that it is long? ^^

        • Thanks for the thorough breakdown – I have much better grip on the VN now. it sounds really interesting, though I’m not likely willing to invest the time needed for it. I wouldn’t mind if someone wanted to guest write one or more posts on the series… :)

          You also brought up an interesting concept about using this in a cell group. I wonder if there are any churches out there using manga, anime, or VNs as small group material. This is something I should look into. I have a study on Haibane Renmei that I think would make excellent material for the right cell group, also.

          • From what I’ve seen so far, there aren’t many clergymen/ church activist who are well-versed in anime/ videogames. “Oh, I know Doraemon! Haruhi? Madoka who?”

            The ones who connect the dots between them & the faith are even fewer.

            If I had enough resources to do a well-presented post for the Umineko, I would do that. Maybe one of these days… ;)

            • I think you’re right, though I will note that the administration of “The Anime Review” website is a great exception – he’s a full time pastor!

        • By the way, I realized what Umineko was shortly after these comments (I’ve always known it by the English name). I’ve read quite a bit of the manga, and I agree, it’s ripe with great points for conversation in regards to spiritual themes.

          • Ah, yes. I forgot about the manga. Unlike the anime, the manga adaption is welcomed by the fans. I believe that it is the most efficient way (time-wise) if you want to follow Umineko. :)

            Not sure when the manga will reach the conslusion, though; the scans I found are only up to chapter 4 – halfway of the story. But you can always jump into the visual novel if you feel interested enough.

            P.S. But Beatrice’s lack-of-elegance-laugh is definitely something. I have a 10 second clip from Ep#14, looped for whenever I need a quick laugh ^^

  3. My recommendations are:
    Wolf’s Rain – Set in a cold and dying world, wolves are thought to be extinct, but live on by hiding among humans. A group of four wolves gather together to search for the paradise that it is said only wolves can find. This story is slow but thoughtful, and uses its settings to create strong spiritual undertones and make some striking points about humanity. Give this show your full attention, because it’s very difficult to piece together, but well worth the effort.
    Revolutionary Girl Utena – An oldie but a goodie, this show is an absolute must for anyone who loved Madoka Magica or Princess Tutu. It’s one of the most complex and fulfilling coming-of-age stories out there, filled to the brim with complex characters and concepts. This is a very strange story where everything is more than it seems.
    Planetes – A personal favorite, this is a slice-of-life science fiction work in the same vein as Time of Eve. This series follows the adventures of a series of astronauts who collect jettisoned waste in space, which has become a major hazard to space travelers. Don’t be put off by the story’s quirkiness, it has much to say about humanity and the future we’re moving toward.

    • Another vote for Planetes? Interesting – I may have to bump this up my list, especially if you recommend it by saying its in the same vein as Time of Eve, one of my favorites.

      The other two are great recommendations. I only made it through several episodes of Wolf’s Rain (I couldn’t really get into it), but I’m willing to give it another shot. Even in brevity, I could see there were some great themes to explore. And Revolutionary Girl Utena is among the very top shows on my “to watch” list, especially after having watched (and loved) Mawaru Penguindrum last year.

      • I make the Time of Eve comparison because it and Planetes are two of the most plausible science fiction anime I’ve ever seen, and focus very heavily on the human element.

        As for Wolf’s Rain, this is admittedly a rather hit-or-miss series, and some people find it boring, but I think it’s something of an acquired taste; the character development and themes are very subtle. On the plus side, it also has what I consider to be one of the best endings in any anime. It’s rather infamous for having four consecutive recap episodes (15-18) due to a schedule slip by the production studio, so skip those episodes if you watch it.

      • Yes, you should watch Planetes. And apparently I need to watch Time of Eve. :)

    • I once even heard Utena compared to Norwegian Mythology, which makes me want to watch it again (I watched it, about…7 or 8 years ago, I think). But I will agree it’s definitely a series full of thoughtful elements.
      Though, I personally prefer its successors, Star Driver and Penguindrum. =D

      • Star Driver and Penguindrum are both much less dated, but Star Driver got quite a bit weaker in the second half and ended up disappointing (in my opinion). As for Penguindrum… I need to rewatch it now that I’ve researched the events that the show referenced, but I will say that it didn’t give me the “this is the best thing ever” feeling Utena did. Not saying I didn’t love it, but referencing events that are relatively obscure outside of Japan takes away from the “timelessness” factor… or maybe I’m being too harsh, I definitely need to rewatch the show. Regardless, let me just say that Utena is a mastepiece.

        • If you rewatch it Mawaru Penguindrum, consider referring to the colloquium pieces on the series over at Altair and Vega – they did a wonderful job of taking apart each episode.

        • No complaints there; Utena is and will remain very much a fantastic anime that defined many other series after it (not quite a masterpiece in my book, but then again, I’ve only ever given one anime that honor in all the series that I’ve watched).
          My personal preference just went more towards Star Driver since I found it more enjoyable. ^_^

  4. I feel like you might get something out of Guin Saga. While I can’t say that the series itself is amazing or anything, it’s got some great fights and a very entertaining spectacle. But I think you’d be more interested in the ideas of faith and religion in there. They play a pretty big part in things (and yes, it’s all fantasy, so Pagan, religion, though there are parallels, I suppose). I don’t know if you’d find anything you’d appreciate from those particular elements, but if anyone could, it’s you guys.

    • Thanks, man. I don’t know if I’ve heard of Guin Saga before, so at the very least, it’s on my radar now. Thanks!

  5. Have you watched Simoun and Mouryou no Hako? I think you’ll love them, tons of religious themes.

    • I’ve tried Simoun – I might return to it one day. I had never heard of Mouryou no Hako – after reading about it, I’m definitely intrigued.

      Thanks for the recs!

  6. Heartcatch Precure! has a lot of Christians values on it. It’s a girly (I mean, really girly) mahou shoujo anime and it’s episodic (just like M.D. House, where the formula is “5 minutes presenting new patient, 30 minutes of diagnosis errors, 5 minutes of House’s brilliant ideas”, here we get “10 minutes of main characters meeting one troubled/sad person + bad guy transforming this person into a monster, 5 minutes of henshin and fight, 5 minutes of conclusion (troubled person untroubled)).
    It’s definitely not an anime to watch non-stop or even frequently because it may get boring to watch, but since every episode shows us an unique problem (from a not-so-glamorous model life to a girl struggle because of her dead mother) after every episode you end up with a feeling of peace/calmness in your heart.

    Precure! Open My Heart!

    • Hmm…interesting pick! We have at least one Precure fan “on staff” here, so I wonder if she’s seen this series.

      Thanks for the rec – I might do as you say and check out an episode or two of the series at a time. :)

    • Heartcatch is one of the best series of the Precure franchise. (Though, Smile! still has a chance to shine brighter!)
      I regret to say I still haven’t finished it, though. Better get on that; but I wouldn’t want to discourage the rest of our blogging staff to not watch it either!
      We should all watch it together and get a group post going, but I don’t think everyone *coughR86cough* would be up for watching cute magical girls saving the world. XD

  7. Mind you, I’m only 3 episodes into it, but I’m looking forward to your take on Space Brothers. I THINK one of the characters is Christian but I should probably watch more to see whether or not that’s really confirmed. Regardless, it’s one of the most promising series I’ve started in a long time.

    • Gosh, yeah, I’ve heard so many good things about Space Brothers. Yet another show to check out – thanks for the info!

  8. Will of the Wisps

    I am going to go on another rant about Someday’s Dreamers Summer Day, but I think you know of my love for it already.

    • That’s a great recommendation. I’ve seen much of the series, and they generally treat the faith very well. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the show too much and dropped it, despite hearing that the end is really a treat.

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