Category Archives: Media Type
Yesterday, I gave numbers 6-10 on my list of the ten best Christmas anime. Today, we’ll complete our countdown!
5. Maison Ikkoku
I don’t think any anime series has ever done angst better than Maison Ikkoku, which balances that teeth-clenching feeling of “Why don’t they get together?!” with writing and character development that keeps us interested, still, one hundred episodes in. Episodes 39 and 40, one of a number of Christmas episodes in the series, is no different. Godai spends the episode tracking down an important rock (yes, rock) for Kyoko, and we see what each means to the other as the countdown to the Christmas party ticks away.
4. Chrono Crusade
I really dislike Chrono Crusade – I never made it to the end because I found it terribly boring. Episode 12, however, is an exception. While perhaps drifting into cheesy territory (though isn’t cheese acceptable during the holiday season?), the episode does a wonderful job of both being heart-warming and reminding us that not everyone feels happy this time of year, focusing on Azmaria and her sad past while demonstrating the power that we have to make the holidays special for those in need.
3. Love Hina
Without fail, I watch the Love Hina X’Mas special every year. Originally airing as a 44-minute TV special, the episode is the most romantic of the series (and quite possibly my favorite single episode of any anime), pushing past the pair of other episodes involving Naru’s confessions of love. Surely inspired by the aforementioned Maison Ikokku episode, the plight of poor Keitaro and the over-the-top pain that Naru puts him through makes the end of this episode all the more delightful.
2. Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
A melancholy episode, much like Read or Die’s, episode 35 of Macross involves pained feelings of romance against the backdrop of war during Christmastime. What sets the episode apart is how heavy it gets. As the violence of war leads to civilian casualties, there’s a poignant scene at the episode’s end in which townsfolk gather together, in an impromptu manner, to sing ”Silent Night” at a bombarded church – a surprising and emotional way to end a superb episode.
And…at number one…
1. Tokyo Godfathers
The anime that tops my list is the only one that isn’t from a series – it’s a standalone movie from masterful director (and sorely missed) Satoshi Kon. The classic follows three homeless individuals who are trying to track down an abandoned baby’s mother on Christmas Eve. Though gritty and vulgar, the movie manages to be far more meaningful than most sappy Christmas fare, presenting several redemption stories amidst the violence and suffering of the streets. If you haven’t seen the film, by all means, please check it out this Christmas season.
So that does it for my list! Here are the entire top ten:
- Tokyo Godfathers
- Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
- Love Hina
- Chrono Crusade
- Maison Ikkoku
- Read or Die
- Big O
- Kimi ni Todoke
Now it’s your turn to chime in. What did I miss? What would be your number one? Or if you’d like, just give us your entire top ten in the comments below!
Thanksgiving has past and Christmastime is now upon us. For me, that traditionally means watching Christmas shows and movies. In recent years, I’ve added Christmas anime, which have become as ubiquitous as anime beach episodes, to my regular holiday viewing list. I’ve now watched dozens and dozens of Christmas anime episodes – many are certainly terrible, but there are a plethora of good ones as well. I’ll be giving you what I believe are the ten best, starting with numbers 6-10 today, and concluding with the top five tomorrow.
Toradora has three episodes set around Christmastime (17, 18, and 19). Although there’s nothing particularly special about how Christmas is presented in them – parties, trees, presents, love – the episodes are notable for pushing forward the romantic plot of the story and developing the characters of Taiga, Minori, and Ami, sometimes through unexpected events, like Minori’s baseball/tree mishap.
I’m not a huge K-On! fan, but even I can’t deny that episode seven of the show is possibly the most popular Christmas episode of any anime. Shown largely from Ui’s perspective, the episode follows the gang as they have a mini-talent show as part of a friend-centered Christmas celebration. One of our writers, Goldy, particularly connected to sisterly connections in this episode.
Matching the sweet tone of the series, Kimi ni Todoke’s Christmas episode (22) focuses on Sawako’s pure heart. She’s been invited to a Christmas party and wants to attend to celebrate with Kazehaya and all her friends, but is conflicted because the day is very important to her family, particularly her dad. It’s a very nice episode, both heart-warming and romantic.
7. Big O
An example of a series that actually uses Christmas to further it’s plot, episode eleven of Big O hits a surprisingly cheery note for a post-apocalyptic series, and it does it in a way only Big O can: Santa is there, though he’s a bit crazed; Roger plays the role of Scrooge; there’s gift shopping, though it’s done by an android instead of a human; and the “reason for the season” is revealed in a dialogue that reminds viewers of the characters’ lost memories.
6. Read or Die
Even if you haven’t watched the series of OVAs, like me, you’ll find episode 10 of Read or Die to be an absolute treat. Focusing on the Paper Sisters, the episode subtly emphasizes the importance of the holiday through imagery and mention of Christ and Santa, while also impressing the nicely emotion story of how the sisters came together.
Come back tomorrow as we run down the rest of the list!
Nagi no Asukara is easily one of the most beautiful and simultaneously unassuming anime this season. Masquerading as a generic slice-of-life drama, Nagi no Asukara presents a wonderfully crafted world that is similar enough to our own to be relatable, yet different enough to present an intriguing mystery. And while it’s doing all of this, it teaches valuable lessons on how to treat others who are different from yourself!
Much like Gingitsune this season, Nagi no Asukara has continued to reinforce to me that Shinto-inspired settings and stories can often have extremely practical and applicable Christian values throughout (in many cases, even more so than anime that actually feature Christianity as a key plot builder). The Shinto inspiration in this case comes in the form of Uroko-sama, the “lord of the village” (who is also referred to as a god by Manaka). In another comparison to Gingitsune, particularly Gin as a herald, Urok0-sama seems to serve as a sort of deified representative for some greater god (who has yet to be fully explained as of episode seven, or the time of writing). Uroko-sama’s relationship with the villagers of Shioshishio as herald or god opens up quite a number of possibilities for Christian application.
In terms of application, as I mentioned, the end of episode seven affected me particularly (warning: minor spoilers).
At the end of this episode, Hikari and his older sister Akari are abandoning their home of Shioshishio in retaliation to the village’s rule of outcasting those who seek a relationship with a land dweller. The offender in this case is Akari, who finally decided that being with her love and acting as a mother to Miuna is worth the cost of being ostracized. Being fed up with it all, Hikari and Akari confront Uroko-sama and their father in Uroko’s shrine just before making their ascent to land. However, not content with allowing them to leave so easily (in addition to there existing some not yet revealed importance to their family in relation to the village), Uroko-sama sends a sort of underwater blizzard to freeze their surroundings (and them) and to halt their progress, keeping them within the confines of the village. All of this is done under watchful eye of their father.
That is, until he finally breaks down and pleads with Uroko-sama to let them go.
All of this results in a rather impactful and emotional scene of a father’s love for his children, but more importantly (or at least from my perspective), of a man pleading to his god.
Now, over the past semester I have had the privilege to volunteer my time through a program in my university called the Prayer Center. Here I have spent several hours a week reading through prayer requests collected through email, text, phone calls, Facebook, and in-person communication, and then interacting them. Sometimes this has come in the form of emailing the requestor with words of encouragement, writing them a card, or simply praying for them silently regarding whatever struggles they are going through. This, honestly, was quite a struggle for me, as I have always tended to be a skeptic of the tangible effects of prayer. However, I came to realize over the course of the last several months that prayer matters. The Bible exhorts us to pray and promises us that God hears our prayers and acts upon them (Mark 11:24, Philippians 4:6-7, John 14:13-14, and so, so many others). Although we ourselves are powerless compared to the omnipotent God of Christianity, the Bible teaches us that through our prayers, God will make a difference.
Getting back to my main point, Hikari’s exemplifies the desperate believer pleading, praying to God. At the end of the episode, when Hikari and Akari seem to be at the point of no return, their father requests Uroko’s mercy on his children. And he gives it.
Sadly, all analogies break down. Uroko-sama is obviously not an accurate picture of God, as he is simply a representative for some greater power, does not seem to show any semblance of omniscience or omnipotence, and is quite volatile in his position*. Also, it is unclear if Uroko’s answer to this “prayer” is actually in the best interest of all those involved. However, I still could not help but be struck by this comparison.
If you are to gain one thing from this message conveyed via Nagi no Asukara, it is that praying for others is a serious matter. It is not pointless and it is also not a sort of superpower. It is us genuinely connecting with God on a personal level and asking for mercy for those we care about, and through that, making all the difference.**
And if you are not watching Nagi no Asukara yet, I pray*** that you change that right now.
I have this fragile sort of love for Golden Time. As each episode progresses, I’m almost afraid to admit to myself how much I enjoy the show – enough to be among my favorite series – because I also see flaws that lead me to think the entire show will eventually come crashing down. The last two episodes tested me particularly, because I thought they were both pretty abyssal.
However, I’m back on the path to cautious
schoolgirl-like glee optimism. While Koko plays a minor part in this episode (perhaps that’s a good thing), character development does progress as we hear a lot more of dead Banri, who narrates a large portion of the episode. It could be confusing, but it isn’t as Banri’s former self guides us through a flashback that shows more of Linda’s feelings toward him and just how lovestruck Banri was (is?). By the end of the episode, we also find that perhaps spirit Banri can physically affect new Banri.
There’s a hint of melancholy in this and previous episodes as we dig into Banri and Linda’s past. It doesn’t hurt that Linda is the most likeable character in the series, and that she seems to be hurting as much as anyone because of Banri’s memory loss. She’s lonely, but so, too, is Banri in some fashion. He has a new girlfriend, a new best friend, and a new school, but truth be told, he barely knows any of those. Heck, he barely knows himself.
Most of us will experience this ironic sense of loneliness in life as we’re surrounded by people. When thrust into new relationships because of life changes – a move, a new job, a complete and total memory loss – we find ourselves at once excited and scared, befriended and depressed.
It’s no different for new Christians. While teaching a class at my church, I mentioned the idea to my students about how when we become new converts, we sometimes put up a wall, intentionally or otherwise, with our pre-Christian friends. We start hanging out less with them and have less to talk about. We may even become snooty toward them, further putting up a divide. At the same time, we’ve gained a church family, but a new one that doesn’t know us like our longtime friends do. It’s a strangely friendless situation in which to be.
And today, again, I thought about the anime when I was home with my family. I had put the children to bed after a tough day, one in which I was harder with my children than I should been. I immediately regretted how mean my words had been to them, as I was short on patience and self-control.
That reminded me of Tumblr, where many of those who follow me seem to think I’m a great father. Someone sent me a message saying I was a “cool dad.” I wanted to say, “No! You’ve got it all wrong! I want to be a good dad, but I fail time and time again – too many times to count!”
Luckily, my children are so much more innocent, loving, and kind than I am. Often when I lose my temper and admonish them, I’ll go back later and apologize, telling them that I shouldn’t have been so harsh. And without fail, the vocal response I get back is this:
I forgive you.
There are perhaps no stronger words in our language than these, with denote mercy and love. It’s a kind of love that’s difficult for most to give, though in children, we find the opposite to be true. In Clannad, Ushio pushes aside years of neglect and general grumpiness directed toward her to shower her full love upon Tomoya, in effect offering forgiveness to her father both readily and continually. She doesn’t even need to think about forgiving – it just is. Tomoya is her dad, and she loves him no matter what.
Two years ago I watched one of the most well known anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. I didn’t like it. It was weird. Strangely though, one of my favorite aspects of the show was Shinji Ikari. The kid who couldn’t do anything. Mocked in anime circles world wide, this kid was the only thing that grounded me to the original series.
Shinji is not your typical hero. He is definitely not the typical shōnen style hero. He is known as a coward. He is known for his complete indecisiveness and lack of motivation. He is not a hero by most peoples perspectives. However, I think he is much more like a real life hero, than a fictional and romanticized one. I do not believe Shinji is a coward, he is a compassionate hero.
When Shinji is first taken to NERV in all adaptations, he meets his Father who abandoned him, is asked to pilot a giant synthetic human, and then is faced with a beat up and barely able to stand girl and the first pilot Rei. A little overwhelming. Not to mention, he just witnessed the enemy he has to fight withstand humanities most powerful weapons, while destroying a couple major cities. And yet he still decides to pilot EVA Unit 01. He does it out of compassion for Rei. Everytime he gets in an EVA, he is risking his life. But he isn’t doing it because he wants to. He does it because if he doesn’t someone else will have to and in many cases, no one else can. Is that not a heroic quality?
To often we think of heroes as super people who do amazing things with total resolve and selflessness, but how many people do you know that have total resolve or are selfless all the time? I don’t know any. A hero is a person with character who is motivated help someone with whatever means necessary (often spontaneous and drastic.) Someone who in a moment is selfless in sacrifice and resolved in a difficult task in order to protect someone else.
I am from a culture that values heroics. I am a military brat. Ask anyone who has been in a firefight or has been through the hell called war and they won’t say they fight for their country; they don’t fight for freedom. That may be a piece of it, but they fight for the people next to them. They fight for there families and those that they love. Shinji fights for Misato, Rei, and his friends from school. Shinji is selfless, he just doesn’t know it.
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.
Coppelion is easily one of the more interesting and entertaining anime this season. Some might appreciate it for its striking art style, defined particularly by its bold outlines (which may remind many fans of other anime using the same style, such as the recent Attack on Titan). Some might enjoy the character design, especially for the the use of the highly prevalent gas mask (reminiscent of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade). Some might even just like it for the classic anime trope of school girls with guns. However, the area by which I have been most drawn in by Coppelion is its intriguing take on a post-apocalyptic setting.
From here on I will be writing on the series in a general sense having watched episodes one through six. Thus, the rest of this article may include minor spoilers.
Coppelion takes place in post-nuclear catastrophe Tokyo, following three girls who were genetically engineered to be able to withstand the uninhabitable area. While not terribly original, I have found the setting to so far be satisfying in that it is treated as a post-apocalypse only to an extent, seeing as thus far the main characters have been solely exploring this desolate area, yet it is made clear that the entire world is not this way.
In the fictional world of Coppelion, Tokyo has become an example of what human irresponsibility can do to nature, or the environment.
The Problem of Evil is an important aspect of philosophy in regard to theism, especially Christianity, and one that shows up often in innumerable anime. Below are two revised articles regarding A Certain Magical Index’s depiction of The Problem of Evil originally posted to my personal blog, edited into one more complete article. Warning, spoilers abound.
The newest chapter of Attack on Titan leaves off where the last one ended, with the aftermath of the great battle that occurred. Mikasa is taken away with broken ribs and Erwin, with one less appendage, is attended to. And while physical clean-up is occurring, humanity’s military leaders are also cleaning up behind the scenes, figuring out what all the discoveries point to.
The most important of these revelations is uncovered through poor Connie. His experience in his hometown, combined with other evidence, suggests that the titans (perhaps all titans) were once human. While the manga readers have supposed this from early on in the series, this disclosure is apparently new to Levi, Erwin, and Hanji.
All three react with pain and discomfort. The moody Levi, in a rare state, vocalizes the inference that he’s become a master murderer. Erwin seems half-crazed, and more out of character than any of the rest. And Hanji…well, Hanji’s reaction might be most interesting of all.