Category Archives: Japan

Anime Today: Idols in Ishinomaki

As it stands right now, anime is currently in its transition phase from the winter 2014 season to the spring 2014 season, and this in-between phase makes it difficult to analyze much of what is currently happening aside from overall series or season reviews. However, just recently I decided to pick up yet another current anime, bringing my winter 2014 anime count up to 16. And that series is Wake Up, Girls!.

While Wake Up, Girls! has been an entertaining watch, I found myself extremely happy to have waited until just the past few weeks to pick it up. If you’ve been following Beneath the Tangles or my personal blog in the recent past, you are probably aware that in early to mid-March I spent about ten days in Japan on a ministry team. Much of our time there was spent in the Sendai area, the area hardest hit by the 3/11 tsunami, and coincidentally where Wake Up, Girls! takes place.

As I just mentioned, Wake Up, Girls!, at least as far as I was as of the time of writing, has been a quite enjoyable watch. However, as with anything, having a personal connection makes it that much more fun… even nostalgic. Seeing familiar sights in Sendai has been an intriguing experience that I have had yet to feel in the context of anime, which is significant in and of itself. More than simply that, though, the personal connection goes even further and more specific, and that is all thanks to episode three and the character, Minami.

Wug Minami Katayama

Art by 馬の助 (Pixiv ID 40903644)

In order to provide a bit of context for what I am about to explain, the Miyagi prefecture, of which Sendai is the capital, was the area of Japan hardest hit by the 3/11 tsunami. Even though it has been more than three years now since the triple disaster, the damage done is still visible and affecting thousands of Japanese. In particular, the Japanese government set up numerous temporary housing units in order to provide living quarters for, especially, the elderly Japanese (especially women) whose homes were destroyed, leaving them displaced. With nowhere to live and no consistent source of income, many of these people have resigned to a lonely existence in a cramped living space with nothing to live for day to day. Having seen this in person, the situation is heartbreaking.

Read the rest of this entry

Anime Japan 2014

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Confession time. Until just recently, I had never been to an anime convention. That being said, I can now say I have. On March 22nd, I attended Anime-Japan 2014 in Odaiba, Tokyo. It was crazy. Having never been to a convention before, I was invited to go with a friend who has been to conventions in the USA and even volunteered at some. This was her first convention in Japan. She was very surprised at how normal everyone looked. There were very few cosplayers.

The entire convention was highly organized and no one was just laying about. I was just excited to be in Odaiba. We were directed completely around the convention center to the back doors, which happened to be the entrance to the event.

DSC00471There are some experiences you never forget. One is riding in a crowded subway or train in Tokyo. Another would be the experience of being pushed around inside of a Japanese convention. It was hectic for a introvert like myself, but I was amazed at the number of people who came. I traveled through the entire convention, avoiding certain sections I did not feel comfortable with. I struggled to take pictures in the crowd, but still I found many wonderful things.

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I discovered Super Heroes

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and Robot Boys

DSC00517and Mechas

DSC00522and drawings from the artists at Bones

DSC00530Sabers

DSC00557and Tachikoma

DSC00549a storyboard

DSC00493these guys

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and a robot cat.

However, the thing I discovered that was by far the best wasn’t robotic, 2D, or even popular. It was time spent with a friend on an adventure, getting confused by the trains, crushed by currents of people, and fighting lines in konbini. It was a wondrous adventure. I recommend going with someone, because even if you don’t like the madness, you can enjoy the company.

I loved seeing how much people appreciate anime, but the event itself reflected a loneliness that I have often sensed here. Thousands of people in two gigantic rooms and almost all of them looked like they felt alone. In a way, this event is about more than anime. It is about money, but it works because of a longing in people to be drawn to other people who value what they value.

If there is one thing I regret about this event, it is that I was so worried and focused on my own thing, that I forgot to look at the value of the people around me. I forgot to look at them the way God does. God loves them. I let my fear rule me for a time, but I am not supposed to live in fear. I am not supposed to feel alone, and neither is anyone else who was there. I wish now that my focus had been on the people instead of the event. Next time, I want to go to meet people instead of just seeing anime booths.

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Japesland to the Land of Japan!

Zeroe4′s not the only writer here going to Japan.

It was a just a couple of weeks ago that we gave a digital send-off to Zeroe4 as he began a long-term mission trip to Japan.  Today, instead of the biweekly Anime Today column, I’m writing this send-off for it’s writer, Japes/Japesland, on a shorter term trip to Japan.  Here’s a little bit about the mission in Japes’ own words:

We’ll be mostly in Sendai, which got the brunt of the tsunami in 2011. We’ll be doing some ministry to local surfers, helping out with local churches, doing clean-up in a fishing village that was decimated, and various other things.

I hope you’ll consider praying for his trip.  If you have any well wishes or encouraging words to say, please leave those below as well.

And on a closing note, I just had to mention this.  Ever the anime fan and Japanophile, Japes noted to me the trip is going to take place over some pretty significant days, including this one: Miku Day. :)

Take care, Japes, and god bless!

Sending Off One of Our Own: Zeroe4 in Japan

It seems like a gimme that almost every anime fan wants to visit Japan one day.  Here on Beneath the Tangles, we have one who will be going soon on a short term mission trip, and several who have already made the pilgrimage – Kaze (who’s there currently), R86, and Zeroe4.

This week, Zeroe4 returns to Japan as a full-time missionary for YWAM.  You may remember his series of posts on his first mission trip there, a couple of years back.  This time, he’ll be staying for two years.  Here’s how Zeroe4 describes his planned activities in Japan:

It is a little hard to explain all that I will be doing. Everything is constantly changing on the missions field. My goals are to travel around Japan doing evangelism and connecting with local churches, blogging about things God is doing in Japan, and using media and arts to share God’s love and truth with the Japanese.

Certainly, Zeroe4 will continue to blog here and share about his experiences.  But before he goes, I’ll open the comments below to prayers and well wishes you might like to share for Zeroe4 before he leaves.

Thanks in advance for your encouragement!

Something More: Noragami Kami, Japanese Persecution of Christians, and Break Blade Misery

Medieval Otaku compares Rygart’s suffering in Broken Blade to the misery that Christians endure. [Medieval Otaku]

Anime Commentary on the March’s writer provides insight about kami and ayakushi while examining an episode of Noragami. [Anime Commentary on the March]

Rocklobster brings up the Christian ideas of right and wrong as he reviews Death Note. [Lobster Quadrille]

Rob continues his Christian-centric reviews with a number of anime episodes this week, including Chuuniyou, Golden Time, and Gundam Build Fighters. [Christian Anime Review]

D.M. Dutcher gives a modest recommendation for Shangri-La in his series review for Christian viewers. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

And while slightly off-topic, I would be remiss to exclude two articles that Dr. Philip Jenkins of Baylor has written about Christian persecution in Japan, one providing an introductory overview and the other discussing Japanese efficiency in destroying the faith. [Patheos]

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.  Special thanks this week to my friend Don of Zoopraxiscope for the links to the Patheos articles.

Something More: V-Day Chocolates for Anime Jesus, Hell in Hoozuki no Reitetsu, and Yuri for Christians

Using Sakura Trick, Frank probes the question, “Is it good for Christians to watch yuri?” [A Series of Miracles]

Jesus of Saint Young Men places third among characters that women would give chocolates to on Valentine’s Day.  Here’s how D.M. Dutcher sees it [Cacao, put down the shovel!]:

“D-dont get me wrong Jesus,” she said, twirling her twin-tail nervously in one finger, “It’s not like I made this for you or anything…”

Dutcher also takes a look at Rescue Me, Mave-chan, from a Christian perspective. [Cacao]

In a third article, Dutcher gives Christians warnings against the trap trope. [Cacao]

John Samuel just watched Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion, and offers some great analysis, including a mention of one character circumventing free will. [Pirates of the Burley Griffin]

The Medieval Otaku looks to the gospels to help explain the character of Esdese from Akama ga Kiru. [Medieval Otaku]

Jonathan explores the mythology of Hoozuki no Reitetsu. [FunBlog]

Meanwhile, among othres, Rob reviews recent episodes of The Pilot’s Love SongChuunibyou, Nobunagun, Golden Timeand Engaged to the Unidentified.

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. 

Something More: Christ and Hikikomori, Anime as an Escape, and Christian Lessons in Senran Kagura

Kaze writes a lengthy and I think very important article for all Christian anime fans to reach about his experiences and suggestions regarding otaku and hikikomori in Japan. [Nana の Kaze]

Annalyn poses the question, “Is it okay to use anime as an escape?” from a Christian perspective. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

D.M. Dutcher finds some points Christians can take away from Senran Kagura, a surprising source for such lessons. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Dutcher also takes a look at Pokemon X from a Christian perspective, as well from that of a gamer. [Cacao]

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. 

Is Pokémon Okay for a Christian to Watch?

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I would argue that Pokémon is the single most influential anime in North America today.  I say this because I know far more people, many younger than me, who have seen or watched Pokémon and don’t otherwise watch anime. For me, my first anime was Pokémon: The First Movie. I watched it at my best friends house in 2000. So what does this show say about anime? What is it about?

(First off, I grew up in a home that did not allow anything related to Pokémon. Anime was considered bad by not just my family, but many Christians I knew. However, my best friend liked and introduced me to it at a young age. I do like Pokémon, but some Christian websites do have problems with it. I personally, find most of their problems with it unfounded.)

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Pokémon has a couple of major ideas running through out it. Many of these are very important to Japanese culture, such as dedication, hard work, adventure, friendship, evolution, mythology, and collective improvement through personal advancement.

Something More: Chuunibyou Faith, Spiral: The Bond of Salvation, and Pope Francis Manga

Due to the lack of spiritually-inclined articles as of late, I’ve skipped the “Something More” column for the past couple of weeks.  It’s time to catch up!

D.M. Dutcher examines how the Blade Children of Spiral: The Bond of Reasoning resemble humanity grasping for salvation from Christ. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Dutcher also delves into Chuunibyou, and finds an interesting connection between the chuunibyou/normal lives and Christian/atheist beliefs. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Regina Doman, author of an OEL manga about Pope Francis, will be on ETWN radio today. [Manga Hero]

Our own Zeroe4 quotes Gurren Lagann as he relates to use his Japanese mission plans. [Zeroe4]

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. 

Something More: Outbreak Company Evangelism, Shaming Kill la Kill, and Shintoism in Gingitsune

We have a couple weeks’ worth of articles to mention, so let’s get started!

Frank finds that Outbreak Company‘s “mission” offers some very important lessons for missionaries of the gospel. [A Series of Miracles]

Medievalotaku refers to the sin and sainthood, among other ideas, in his examination of how Kill la Kill approaches the idea of shame. [Medieval Otaku]

Jonathan Tappan is impressed by the authenticity of how Gingitsune shows Shintoism.  [FunBlog]

D.M. Dutcher finds that the gulf between the haves and have nots in Iris Zero manga is a good reflection of the difference between Christians and non-Christians. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Rocklobster reviews Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0: You Are [Not] Alone, which he gives his highest rating, despite reservations about the religious content. [Lobster Quadrille]

D.M. Dutcher calls Dangaizer 3 a guilty pleasure, rating it “R” in his viewing scale for Christians. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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.