Monthly Archives: March 2013

An Easter Invitation

Why are Christians compelled to worship God?  Why do we believe in the face of scrutiny and increasing skepticism and ridicule?

The answer is in this day.  It’s in Easter and in our belief and our hope that despite who we are and what we’ve done, there is forgiveness.  There is hope, demonstrated through a sacrifice so deep, so costly, so pure, and so valuable, that we are moved heart and soul by a love that’s greater than anything else we’ll ever experience.

I hope that all you readers out there will find a church to attend today, even if you don’t usually attend.  And if you are not Christian, I encourage you to step through the doors of a church and open yourself to the possibilities of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Trust me, it won’t hurt you to go to a church service.

And if you need it, here’s further motivation, in the form of an anime:

Have a wonderful Easter, everyone!

Magical Girls and Good Friday

It’s Good Friday – the day we memorialize the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

For anime fans, and particularly those not of the Christian faith, it’s particularly of note that on Good Friday two years ago, the finale of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, as much a “classic” as any recent anime, aired.

The two are of course not unconnected.  Spoilers follow.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Art by あぶだら13

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Something More: No. 6 Relationships, Inoffensive Saint Young Men, and More Religion Data Girl

Medieval Otaku discusses homosexuality in terms of nature v. nurture as he investigates No. 6. [Medieval Otaku]

Guardian Enzo analyzes Shinto and Shugendou elements of RDG: Red Data Girl in his review of episode 2 of the series. [Lost in America]

D.M. Dutcher uses an example from Little Busters in his plea for mention of the sacred in media as something good and normal. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Mr. A finds the Saint Young Men OVA to be humorous and inoffensive. [Deremoe]

When Have You Been Humbled?

I’m on a huge social media kick lately, trying to bring Beneath the Tangles to varied and larger audiences.  One platform I’ve joined is Tumblr – a unique place for sure, and one that can be very addicting.

Yesterday, my post on Kirito as Jesus was reblogged and commented on by user, James:

This argument largely falls apart when you realize the miracle kirito performed (surpassing the system) is performed by Asuna 3 seconds before him. And several episodes previously (LN spoiler: Asuna rescuing kirito from kuradeel is also breaking the system.). As we learn later, this is the beginning of the incarnate system, using pure strength of will to alter the seed environment. As we’re shown later in Underworld (also based on the SAO seed) almost any one with a strong soul can use the incarnate system.

Also, kirito doesn’t die. You’re told point blank by kyaba that death in any world is death, and that he created your “heaven” to talk to asuna and kirito one last time. Meaning as such he kept their nervegear from frying their brains when their avatars die because they showed him something as amazing as surpassing the system was possible. The only one of the three that dies is Kyaba himself, who dies with Aincrad.

When you take away the singularity of kirito’s “miracle” and his death and rebirth, the Christ analogy falls rather flat.

Um, well, yeah!  So…um…yeah…you’re pretty much absolutely correct, Tumblr Person.  This is what happens when you try to write a post over an episode you barely remember and didn’t bother rewatching. -_-’

It’s not easy to take bite of humble pie, but its something we all need sometimes (and since we’re imperfect, it’s something that happens to all of us).

What about you?  When’s a time when you’ve been given a heavy dose of humility, on the Internet or otherwise? 

Feel free to share in the comments below or chime in on our Facebook page!

The Invisible God in Sword Art Online

Easter, the most holy of Christian celebrations, is only a few days away.  And so, in light of that, I thought it would be very appropriate to talk Sword Art Online.

That’s right – Sword Art Online.

Sword Art Online

Artist: うさこ@ついった (Pixiv)

Kirito, SAO‘s lead character, plays the role of a savior, and as such, it’s not much of a stretch to compare him to Jesus Christ. Comparing an anime lead to Jesus is nothing knew (think Goku of Dragonball Z), but still, Kirito stands out among a crowded field of shonen saviors for a number of reasons (SPOILERS AHEAD):

Kirito Performs Miracles (Including the Greatest One)

As the first season ends, Kirito fights the “villain” Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of the Sword Art Online game. As he is about to die, Kirito re-materializes and instead becomes victorious. He miraculously breaks the programmed rules of the game. A “miracle” is the breaking of rules of nature, and Kirito does the same within the rules of SAO.

The larger miracle comes afterward, though, when Kirito rises from the dead. This is nothing new to anime, but it’s particularly emphasized here. Kirito and Kayaba both die, and they find themselves in what appears to be SAO Heaven. This is a really interesting parallel with Kirito now in “Heaven,” because the title of the previous episode, where Kirito encounters the enemy, is “The Depths of Hell.” He’s gone from hell to Heaven, reflecting the belief by some that Jesus descended into hell following His death. And further, and more significantly, Kirito wakes up from SAO in real life, although he shouldn’t have according to the rules of the game. He has risen from the dead.

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Spring 2013 Anime Preview

Spring is a season of new beginnings! As an upcoming college graduate this spring, a new beginning is definitely coming for me as I become an functional member of society (I hope). It’s also the time of year when everyone is coming out of their caves to taste the sunshine and hear the birds sing and see the flowers bloom in glorious colors! And also time for some new anime!

In anime, the Spring season is not always one of the strongest, but we, the anime viewers, always hope there will be a series or two to help us through the pesky spring fever.

I don’t go over all the upcoming series for this coming season, just the ones that look hopeful. To see the full chart, head over to @animucharts on twitter.

While I tend to check out at least the first episode of mostly all the new anime each season, these are a few of the titles that have me more interested:

RDG: Red Data Girl 8512232306_523f8d2f47_o

This was the first series to catch my eye, though the jury is still out whether this series will develop into something worth watching, even after I watched the pre-air of the first episode over at Nico-Nico Douga.

The set up does present a few opportunities for success, though. The main girl seems to possess some sort of weird powers (that eventually causes her to shut down all the school’s computers on accident during a simple school assignment), and by living in a shrine almost all her life and being sheltered for most of it, really has little understanding of life outside of what has been dictated to her. Her friends try to encourage her to be more “normal” and others ridicule her for being weird.

Though, even in her small attempt to change (by cutting her bangs, which, actually is a really big deal in her situation. Hair is srs bsns in Shintoism.), it’s revealed that her life and the life of a boy she knew when she was younger are being controlled in order for to fulfill some grand and rather idealistic destiny woven together by people who are not very present in the lives of these two kids.

But neither the main girl or the guy want anything to do with it and in all honesty, the story is already taking an eerie tone concerning this (it’s hard to explain unless you see it, though).

As a side note, I did some searching and the only connection with the title and real life Japan is that a Red Data Book is a record made of endangered species, animals, usually, in Japan.

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Something More: Shinto Shinkai, Moe Jesus, and Religion Data Girl

TheSubtleDoctor believes Makoto Shinkai is offering some criticism of certain aspects of eastern religion in his film, Children Who Chase Lost Voices. [rayout]

Vivi really enjoyed the Saint Young Men OVA, though offering the manga as even better. [Sekijitsu]

D.M. Dutcher offers recommendations to Christians in his dissection of the “community over individual” theme in Onani Master Kurosawa and Koe no Katachi. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

In his first impressions of RDG: Red Data Girl, Guardian Enzo gives some context about the Shugendou religion, which plays a role in the series. [Lost in America]

Guardian Enzo also talks a bit of religion in his review of episode 21 of Psycho Pass as he wonders how the series will end. [Lost in America]

Stilts introduces the idea of free market Christianity in his article on episode 10 of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha. [Random Curiosity]

Finally, if there are by chance any New Yorkers who frequent our blog, you might consider attending a discussion about religion in anime hosted by Baruch College’s anime club. [Baruch College]

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As part of the Something More series of posts, 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. 

Idolization in Anime Culture: Seiyuu and Maintaining a Godly Life

“Thou shall have no other gods before me,” a simple and obvious rule to not just Christianity, but to any monotheistic religion. Today, it is accepted that the sin of idolatry can take many forms from material possessions, activities, and even to other humans. Be it the Hollywood stars of America, the K-pop singers of Korea, or the girl groups like AKB48 of Japan, idolatry of celebrities is a growing and arguably dangerous problem in today’s society. Within the realm of anime culture, too, the idolization of the seiyuu cannot be denied.

Mitsuketaa! She's only 37. I mean 17.

Mitsuketaa! She’s only 37. I mean 17.

Tamura Yukari, for example, is one of the most talented voices in the industry, truly a god-tiered seiyuu. The White Devil, the Strategist, the Courageous Yuusha, Yukarin has done such a wide array of voices, I cannot even begin to comprehend her talent. Thanks to that, in addition to her personality and having found the secret to eternal youth as a forever 17 year old, she has quite the strong and loyal fan base. Her talent is undeniable. Her fan base is…a bit extreme at times. The most hardcore of fans certainly revere her as a goddess, which I can’t say is unique to her fans. The Japanese voice acting industry is brimming with talent and popularity with names like Sugita, Yui Horie, Sakamoto, and an endless list that I cannot even begin to do justice. Then you have the type-casted voices like KugiRie and Hanakana who rarely show any deviation in their voice acting yet have such large fan bases due to that single, specific voice that for some inexplicable reason everyone loves. If you aren’t a fan, you know how tiring it can be to hear that voice over and over.

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Welcome Our Newest Co-Blogger, Kaze!

I’m really proud of the group of writers we have here on Beneath the Tangles.  Of varied backgrounds and experiences, they represent the blog well and are better writers than I am.  And although I was actively looking to a new blogger to the group, I connected with Kaze and it seemed clear to both of us that he was meant to join our ranks.  Please welcome him!  You’ll get a taste of his unique perspective on Wednesday, when he’ll be sharing his first post, a very personal one.

In the meantime, get to know Kaze a little more through the Q&A below:

TWWK:   How did you become a fan of anime?

Kaze:  I originally watched childhood classics such as DBZ, CCS, Kenshin, and Gundam Wing. The first Japanese-dubbed anime I saw was probably Love Hina, and from there I moved onto very standard gateway anime: FMA and the big 3, and I really enjoyed them so I looked for more; before I knew it, I was keeping up with anime that was currently airing and here I am now.

TWWK:  What are your favorite types or genres of anime? How about favorite shows?

Kaze:  I’m willing to watch almost anything as long as it is legitimately good, but as far as favorite genre, it’s definitely romance. ef~A Tale of Memories and its sequel is still one of my favorite shows. Bungaku Shoujo is another one of my favorites, and I’m sad to see it only get a movie and a few OVAs. Other favorites include Nanoha, Katanagatari, and Hunter x Hunter.

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Something More: Can You Spare a Christian Anime, Brother?

Omo does a wonderful job of analyzing the spiritual themes in Sasami-san@ganbaranai. [Omonomono]

Jay asks the question, “Are there any Christian anime?” [Jays' Tee Vee]

D.M. Dutcher provides advice for Christian viewers in his review of Otoboku: Maidens Are Falling for Me! [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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As part of the Something More series of posts, 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.