Monthly Archives: April 2013

God’s Pursuit in The 12 Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms is an in-depth anime that explores 12 countries in a parallel dimension to the real world filled with characters from Japanese mythology. The main character, Yoko Nakajima, is sucked into this world after a storm and, through a random series of events, becomes the leader of one of the countries, which is called Kei.

12-map
The anime really goes into the politics in the countries and explores what it means to be a good leader, the consequences of a bad leader, and the way different leadership styles shape each country. One of the most prosperous kingdoms in the parallel world, which is actually just called Twelve Kingdoms, is the kingdom of En.

That prosperity is due in large part to the kingdoms king, Shouryu, a laid-back, confident former feudal lord. Shouryu is always aware of whats happening in En, rarely loses his cool, shows mercy whenever possible and exacts justice when necessary. Out of all Shouryu’s qualities, the one I noticed the most was his desire to make a place for all of his people. Not just some, not just most, but each and every one.

After squashing a rebellion that had risen up in the kingdom, Shouryu met one man, Kouya, who was insistent on the impossibility of himself fitting into En.Young_kouya_(juuni_kokki_

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Something More: Madoka v. Jesus, Kirino Acts Like a Christian, and Christ the Stampede

It was quite a week for spiritual and religion tinged articles in the anime blogosphere, headlined by Alexander’s still on-going series entitled, Madoka > Jesus.  Here are his posts thus far:

Nick Calibey responded to Alexander’s post with his own article. [A Rather Silly Blog]

Stardf29 reviews episode 3 of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet and makes connections between the importance of “thank you” and life lived less legalistically. [A Series of Miracles]

D.M. Dutcher compares Kirino’s treatment of her otakuness in Oreimo to how Christians often treat their faith. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

In another post, he makes some great comparisons between the humorous hero, Vash the Stampede, and Christ, as well as to scenes in Trigun: Badlands Rumble and the “problem of pain. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Dutcher also advises Christians in his reviews of Aoi Sekai No Chuusin De and season one of Oreimo.

Japes, who guest-blogged for us earlier this week, is off and running on his own aniblog, beginning with an introduction of his theology. [Japesland]

Japes also brings his faith into a defense of Vocaloid as an artistic expression. [Japesland]

Medieval Otaku points out Christian theology and themes in his review of several manga, including Superior and Vinland Saga. [Medieval Otaku]

So…the Jesus and Buddha characters of Saint Young Men are now being used to market fashion merchandise.  Interesting. [Anime News Network]

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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. 

OreTsuba: Finding Something Good Beneath the Bad

I recently re-watched Oretachi ni Tsubasa ha Nai with some friends. The first time I watched, I was impressed with it, but the second time, I could really appreciate just how amazing this anime is at times. So why have so few people seen it, even fewer people enjoyed it, and even fewer recommend it? Well, because it’s an anime that’s pretty bad at first glance. And second glance, and third glance. In fact, you could watch half the episodes and still think it’s absolute trash, and for good reason. This show is filled with fan service and not just your normal amounts of fan service, but levels that make you forget there is any semblance of plot.

Wait, what plot?

If there was plot, then maybe people would put up with the absurd amounts of fan service, but a show with no plot and pure service is bound to only attract a certain kind of audience. Indeed, its reputation is overall quite negative, and I honestly can’t deny it.

OreTsuba follows the lives of 3 different male protagonists and divides the screen time between them. While slowly showing their daily lives with multiple girls, you get all kinds of fan service from panty shots to half naked girls, and an extra side of obscene sexual jokes. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is quite random and other than even more random asides that make little sense, there is little hint of any logical plot. It goes so far as to even have sex. Magic forest sex, in fact. There are no dolphins here. But don’t worry; you’ll drop it before then. Truly this show takes fan service to a whole new level (granted, it wouldn’t be the first to do so) and thus you get a show which would never be worth your time, in addition to just having content that can leave you feeling anywhere from annoyed to disgusted, depending on your tolerance.

And yet despite the obscene levels of fan service and sexual tendencies, despite the initial lack of any logical plot, despite everything that would stop someone from continuing to watch, OreTsuba, at its core, is one of the best storyboarded anime in recent times and one of the most impressive VN to anime adaptations. I can’t say anything without spoiling it, but after that second watch, I could really see how much thought was put into making this anime, and it was incredibly well done. There are a surprising number of relevant things that you would normally never notice amidst the cesspool of content and to see it all slowly come together in a way that is truly extraordinarily done made the watch worth it, at least for me.

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Something More: Madoka > Jesus?

A prime goal of this blog is to encourage open discussion about faith, using anime as medium through we can ask questions, give answers, and promote knowledge and understanding.  I’m thankful that our posts here recently had some role in encouraging Tommy of Anime Bowl to write an article about how Madoka is lacking as a Christ figure.  And inspired by Tommy’s post, our old friend Alexander, who has contributed plenty to Beneath the Tangles by bring a very different viewpoint to user comments, guest posts, and cooperative posts, is beginning a week long series focusing solely on this idea: why Madoka is a better savior than Jesus.

Interesting topic, huh?

He’ll be posting daily this week.  Please visit Ashita no Anime to read the first of his posts, and return throughout the week to comment on others:

Madoka > Jesus – Human vs God

Guest Post: Whatever You Do, Whatever You Watch

I recently connected with Japes, a commenter on our blog and a new aniblogger, through our new Facebook account.   I asked Japes to write a piece for us, a task which he graciously took on.  The result is below.  I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Japes is a full-time computer science major and follower of Christ at Liberty University. On the side, he arranges and records saxophone covers of anime/Vocaloid music through his Youtube account.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

- Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

I’ve been thinking the past few days about how people can have vastly different interests and can often be judged for how they spend their time. Many times I feel as though I am a member of that group “being judged” for having the amount of interest I have in Japanese culture, and particularly Japanese anime. However, through my personal devotions, Bible classes, and random theological discussions with friends, I believe I have reached a point in my life where I can truly appreciate ALL that I do in the name of God.

One particular thought that dawned on me was the idea of physical existence. Many religions in the world deny the physical, or regard it as “evil” (look at Hinduism and Buddhism, for instance), and many Christians do the same. Earlier in Colossians 3, Paul says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…”, but I believe that many Christians take that to the extent of denying the physical itself. If such thinking were true, then why would God have called Creation “very good” before the existence of sin? Wasn’t the world physical??

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Oreimo Season 2, Episode 03: May the Circle Be Unbroken

Though with some exceptions, one thing that Oreimo has done right from the very beginning is getting us to feel, “Hey, I’ve been there, too!”  This week did that for me better than most as Saori’s back story was animated.

Though there have been hints of this, of the friends in her circle, Saori is possibly has the largest difference between the image she shows he world and who she truly is.  She even hides from her friends, as attested by Kyousuke’s exclamation when wondering who she was!  The hiding, in this case, is connected to a sister that goes in and out her life without warning, and who upon the last time she left, took away the group that Saori had come to cherish.

Oreimo Saori Bajeena

Art by smile

I was reminded of my own such group.  Back in the days of AOL, when chatrooms were the rage, I was part of a “circle” called Witless.  Consisting of about a dozen consistent members, it was a special place for me.  I was nondescript member and might not even be remembered by some in the chatroom now, years (and approaching decades!) past, but I cherished the time deeply (I’ve written on this before).

During a couple of months one summer, I was without a computer or Internet connection.  When that was returned to me, I came back to AOL to find that Witless was gone.  Members had drifted apart and the place we created no longer existed (meaning that no one bothered creating it day in and day out).  It made me really sad, as the friendships there, which felt so mature and gratifying, had grown more important to me than most of my relationships in “RL.”

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Something More: Kenshin’s Journey Toward Mercy, Bad Catholics in Maoyu, and Dreams of a Christian Japan

This week has been full of great articles involving religion and spirituality!  Unfortunately, I may have missed a few – the move from Google Reader to Feedly has been largely snag free, until this week, when I found that their latest update has omitted the search feature.  RSS users beware.

Anyway, onto the articles!

Medieval Otaku posts his academic essay on how Kenshin’s journey in the first two OVA’s (Trust and Betrayal/Samurai X) parallel to St. Bonaventure’s steps leading to God in Journey of the Mind to God. [Medieval Otaku]

Lady Geek Girl has a real issue with how the Catholic Church is represented in some series and movies, and uses Maoyuu Maou Yuusha as an example. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Justin notes an emphasis on religion in the Attack on Titan anime as compared to the manga. [Organization Anti-Social Geniuses]

Draggle draws connections between the act of a benediction and this week’s disturbing episode of Aku no Hana. [Draggle's Anime Blog]

Zeroe4 makes a distinction between his “calling to anime” and his dream for Japan. [Zeroe4]

D.M. Dutcher offers reviews of Another and Girls Und Panzer that are directed toward Christian viewers. [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. 

Attack on Titan: Straight from the Old Testament

I’ve been totally floored by Attack on Titan, the new series this season about GIANTS.  Although our own Goldy wrote about the series’ potential, I wasn’t prepared for how riveting, exciting, and frightening this show would be.

Among other things I missed?  The connection to religion in the first two episodes (what do I do on this blog again?).

Justin, who has been comparing the manga to the anime, pointed out connections to religion in episode two, particularly.  Noteworthy is the street preacher who is entirely absent from the manga and the frightened people who call out to God as they witness the horrible events happening to their village.

The connection that stands out most though (and why shouldn’t they?) is the giants themselves.

Shingeki no Kyojin giant

Art by 大汐

Giants are the stuff of legend.  They are the enemies in fairytales (“Jack and the Beanstalk) and stuff of children’s nightmares (BFG).

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A Lesson in Longing from Blast of Tempest’s Princess

Maybe you’re like me – a sensitive (some would say oversensitive) soul.  Most of my teenage angst revolved around this one central conceit – I cared more about others than they did about me.  I spent more time thinking about my friends (and certainly girls) and put more time and effort into relationships than they did for me.  And thus, it hurt me immensely when my affections or care wasn’t returned.

The second half of Zetsuen no Tempest made me reflect on my teenage and college years.  If it had come out ten years ago, I would have identified very strongly with Hakaze, the Kursaribe princess, whose love goes unrequited throughout the last half of the series.  What’s worse is that Yoshino doesn’t choose the memory of Aika over Hakaze – he simply doesn’t think enough of Hakaze to even consider her throughout most of the season.

Yikes.  That is what must hurt more than anything to Hakaze.  She means so much less to him than he does to her.  They say that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but apathy, and in this case, that’s exactly the feeling (or lack thereof) that Hakaze is dealt.

Blast of Tempest Hazake

Art by たま

Now that I’m older, I’m still as sensitive, but I don’t feel the pain of “all give, little return” as much.  Certainly, much has to do with finding a satisfaction in marriage and maturing out of adolescence.  But much also has to do with a changing of my worldview.

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Oreimo, Season 2, Episode 02: Love Plus…Nothing

After last week’s episode of Oreimo, where I continued to emphasize my disappointment with the show, I was advised that I should quit “torturing” myself – that I should drop it.  But despite all my issues with the series, there’s one particular thing that keeps bringing me back – I really like most of the characters on this show.  This week’s episode focused on Ayase – one of the show’s most surprising characters.  She really cracks me up.

Ayase Oreimo

Art by 松竜

Ayase, who like Kirino, fronts with a “perfect girl” vibe, quickly becomes jealous when her best friend is more eager to spend time with her video game girlfriend than with her.  In turn, Kyousuke tells Ayase that she should be like the Love Plus Love Touch girl, spouting similar lines in similar ways.

Of course, Kirino finds this…creepy.  And in the end, despite Ayase’s breakdown, this is exactly the answer she wants, isn’t it?  Kirino is telling her – don’t be like this other (digital) girl – be yourself.  I love you as you.

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