Monthly Archives: October 2012

Turn the Other Cheek, Ikari!

Neon Genesis Evangelion is full of memorable scenes.  Among those is an early one featuring Shinji and Rei on an escalator.  Shinji, full of anger toward his father, expresses his frustration.  The mostly emotionless Rei responds in a surprising way – by slapping her fellow pilot.

If Ikari had been a Christian (like Misato?), perhaps he would have literally turned the other cheek.  After all, this was instruction provided by Jesus.  Then again, maybe he would have been interpreting that instruction wrongly.  In his book, Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary, J.D. Greear posits that the cheek was symbolic of relationships to Jews in Jesus’ time.  Striking the cheek meant to break that relationship, while offering the other meant to “reoffer” the relationship.

This reminds me of another scene in Evangelion that happens just a few episodes later.  Shinji, still stung by years of neglect, begins to speak to his father again.  They visit a gravestone commemorating Shinji’s mother and have some tender words (as much as they are capable of).  It would be a monumental step toward reestablishing relationship – toward turning the other cheek – if not for the irredeemable spirit that is Gendo Ikari.

Evangelion Ikari

Art by Siv

Most of the people we come into contact with are quite unlike Gendo; though they may be full of pride, most are still willing to bend somewhat.  And when we understand the radical love that can transform our lives, and how irredeemable we ourselves are, we are able to step forward and offer the other cheek to difficult people we know.

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Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – Possibility Of A New Race

We’re starting this week out with a special treat – a guest post from a fellow aniblogger!  Kai has been aniblogging at Deluscar for over a year, and today we’re happy to present an article that Kai submitted through our guest post section.

Admin Note:  Coming from a different religious belief as that of Kai, note that the writers here at Beneath the Tangles don’t share some conclusions that Kai draws, nor some of Kai’s beliefs.  Still, we and Kai felt the topic appropriate for this blog.  Please avoid any flaming in the comments below, though intelligent and engaging commentary is certainly encouraged.

According to the creation myth, Adam and Eve are said to be the first humans to ever land on the planet. They are basically the parents of all living human beings. From then onwards, humanity has grown on an unthinkably large scale. Currently, the estimated world population is around 7 billion people. Indeed, tracing back, the first humans to land on Earth were assumably Adam and Eve, but even if it were, what happened before that? Before they even landed on Earth, the Earth itself had probably existed way long before them. Was the planet completely inhabitant at that time? What if there were some other living beings?
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Xam’d: Realizing Your Condition (and Changing It)

I’ve only begun Xam’d as part of a reader’s choice project here at Beneath the Tangles, but it’s already striking me as a wonderful anime.  The art and tone are distinctive, and I’m enjoying the characters.  Akiyuki, especially, is an interesting case – a typical male lead who in just the first few episodes has done something atypical.  He’s undergone quite a change in emotion (in addition the more obvious physical metamorphasis).

Akiyuki Takehara

Art by 磁偉倶

When first brought upon the Zanbani, Akiyuki is difficult and aggressive.  He rejects Nakiami’s instructions and is clearly frustrated.  And why not?  He was taken against his will to a ship where he’s basically in indentured servitude.  That, and he doesn’t believe their stories about what has happened to him.

However, a change occurs at the end of episode three and into episode four, when Akiyuki realizes he really does become the Xam’d.  And immediately, his attitude shifts.  He does a 180, becoming quite submissive (although some bull-headedness remains).

Nakiami leads Akiyuki to Lady Tenshin for spiritual guidance, and she directs him to do what seem to be mundane tasks.  I’m reminded here of a Christian life, where one is “reborn” after realizing the depths of her or her sin and accepting the salvation offered through Christ.  That person undergoes sanctification and begins a new life.  The baby Christian may have belief, but to grow in Christ, he or she must pray, read the Bible, and practice other disciplines.

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Battler’s Battle in Umineko: Disbelieving His Lying Eyes

With encouragement from several readers, I’ve been continuing through Umineko no Naku Koro ni. And this show certainly isn’t easy to watch, in spite of its compelling and attractive characters, unusual psychological overtones, and high quality voice acting. Not that I mind the occasional show that is hard for me to watch: I would include both Death Note and Mirai Nikki in this group. On another note, Battler indeed looks more and more like Phoenix Wright with each episode.

Witches don’t exist, therefore your argument is invalid!

When I say this show isn’t easy for me to watch, I don’t simply mean because of the violence. After all, I’ve seen Berserk in its entirety, along with Mirai Nikki more recently, and was almost able to watch Gantz. I am OK with violence if it isn’t simply gratuitous, which so far it seems to be in this show. Granted that I still have one more “course” or “act” to watch, in which it may very well come together for me. Granted also that readers are almost unanimous in suggesting that I read the visual novel instead of watching the anime, since apparently I’m missing a lot this way. And granted, last of all, that the violence certainly serves to show up Beatrice’s character: she is a witch who has become so bored even with her own power, so twisted compared to whatever humanity she might once have had, that she will even kill people, gruesomely and over and over again, just to amuse herself (and in pursuit of some status that I, as of yet, cannot imagine).

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Sword Art Online, Episode 16: Rumors of Another World

Ah, Kirito, I’d forgotten how awesome you were.

In episode 16 of Sword Art Online, Kirito enters a new game, intent on finding Asuna, who is apparently being held captive therein.  He doesn’t have much time to find her before she is forced to marry (*closes ears and ignores another silly plot point*).  Lucky for him, then, that Kirito’s awesomeness transfers from Sword Art Online to ALfheim Online (not to be confused for a game featuring a fuzzy life form from the planet Melmac).

Kirito’s new quest begins when he sees a mysterious picture of Asuna and then learns of ALfheim – a brand new video game world.

Kirito and Asuna

Art by Fransumaru

I’m reminded of a world Christians believe in, but which is invisible to the naked eye – that of Heaven.

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Something More: Hell Girl Repentance and Saint Young Men Casting

It’s been a long week; I’ve spent most of it out of town on business, while my poor girl is sick at home.  Luckily, I found at least a couple of spiritually inclined articles:

Medieval Otaku uses Hell Girl to help point out how fictional works can help us see our own sin. [Medieval Otaku]

Mirai Moriyama has been cast as Jesus and Gen Hoshino as Buddha in the upcoming Saint Young Men film. [Anime News Network]

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As part of the Something More series of posts (formerly Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere), each week, 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 email TWWK if you’d like it included. 

Readers’ Choice: Initial Impressions for Heartcatch Precure!

Umineko no Naku Koro ni.  Check.  Utena.  Check.  Xam’d.  Check.

Up next?  HeartCatch Precure!

The fourth and final anime in our Reader’s Choice series is maybe the most surprising selection.  While R86 and TWWK won’t touch the series with a stick (because of our overwhelming masculinity, of course), Goldy and Zeroe4 are happy to dive in.  In fact, Goldy even feels challenged to get TWWK to watch as well!

Art by カワサキカズヒコ

But for now, Goldy and Zero4, who’ve also previewed Xam’d, give their impressions of Heartcatch Precure below.

Goldy: Truthfully, it’s no surprise to me that HeartCatch Precure was chosen for the BtT’s staff to review. What can I say, our readers have good taste! :D  HeartCatch was a series I had started a long time ago, but never really finished. To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t continue it, but re-watching the first first episodes has renewed my love for the characters and given me the stamina I need to see it through until the end.

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Readers’ Choice: Initial Impressions for Xam’d

Two down, two to go!

The staff here have dived into the series requested by the readers.  R86 gave his impressions over Umineko no Naku Koro ni a couple of weeks ago, while Murasaki Lynna and myself gave our thoughts on the opening episodes of Revolutionary Girl Utena last week.  Today, it’s on to Xam’d, as watched by Goldy, Zeroe4, and me (TWWK).

Art by 雑狗

TWWK: Last Exile.  RahXephon.  Evangelion.  Princess Mononoke. Eureka 7.  Kurenai.  I couldn’t help but think of these shows (and a few others) while watching the first few episodes of the sci-fi anime, Xam’d.  And you know what?  I was really, really surprised at how well this series used a number of familiar elements from the above shows (which are all among my favorites), but created something wholly new.  I came into Xam’d anticipating…well, not much, despite R86′s approval of the series (I don’t think he’s let me down yet).  It’d be an understatement to say that the opening episodes far exceeded my meager expectations.

Goldy: Admittedly, along with mecha anime, I’m not a big sci-fi anime fan either. In truth, the only sci-fi I like is something more like the older, simpler styles, like The Twilight Zone or my personal favorite Invasion of the Body Snatchers (not anime, mind you, but look it up for some fun). Thus, being too accustomed to anime being more a “new”, complex style of sci-fi (full of crazy world building and complex politics. I get bored with the extra stuff.), I wasn’t expecting much from Xam’d, despite rave reviews from some good friends of mine. But boy, after the first two episodes, I was swept off my feet. I’d like to say the opening theme (OP) did it. I put a lot of stock into an anime’s OP; it’s like the first line of a novel. It needs to catch you in its magical net and never let you go. I’m still unsure what the OP’s lyrics are suppose to mean (“Run away, run away, leave your lemon drop”), but I adore it. Thus far, Xam’d has succeed well beyond my expectations. I was getting a more traditional sci-fi feeling from the elements, which warmed my heart even more. In simple terms, they have done everything “right” for a sci-fi series thus far; from the smallest details to the overall general story. There’s a compelling mystery, action, and best of all, I care about the characters!

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Sukitte Ii na yo., Episode 02: I Think I’ll Trust Him

Mei Tachibana and Yamato Kurosawa

Sukitte Ii na yo isn’t quite my type of series.  Maybe, as R86 might say, there’s a little too much kissy-face.  But what I do like about it is how well it conveys it’s lead character’s emotions.  It’s written on her face, through her actions, and in her thoughts and words.  And maybe more than anything said in episode 2 (even more than describing a kiss as being as good as deep fried chicken - surely not more than Korean style!), it was these words that said something to me:

I can’t understand him, but I think I’ll trust him.

For many Christians, I think this is the way we felt when we first came to accept Christ.

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Something More: Saint Young Men to Film Screens and Yokai in the Shadows

Charles Dunbar teaches about ambiguity and yokai, while weaving an essay that reads a bit like a scary tale itself. [Study of Anime]

Zeroe4 tells of the battles we must all face, emphasizing spiritual battle (it seems), while making comparisons to Sword Art Online. [Zeroe4]

Rocklobster’s strongly positive review of Chrono Crusade includes a lot of information about the religious setting and themes in the story. [Lobster Quadrille]

The Cajun Samurai explores Saint Young Men. [The Cajun Samurai]

Christian Anime Reviews gives a positive review of Bamboo Blade. [Christian Anime Reviews]

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As part of the Something More series of posts (formerly Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere), each week, 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 email TWWK if you’d like it included.