Category Archives: Music

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: A New Beginning

It’s been awhile since my last post, and that is largely because I have moved to Japan to study at none other than Tokyo University. It’s an exciting new start in my life, and I definitely feel God put me here for more than just studying, or indulging myself in otaku culture motherland. I look forward to see what sort of plans He has for me but for now it’s still a chore trying not to get lost. As such, I wanted to write something to reflect a new beginning and nothing comes to mind more than Nanoha.

Art by でーぜる

Art by でーぜる

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha, as one might be able to guess from the title, is a magical girl anime, and it’s one of the best in the genre. While its first season debuted in 2004, the series still maintains enormous popularity in Japan 9 years later, with 3 seasons, 2 movies, plus three different ongoing manga stories, and more on the way, along with plenty of other merchandise. It’s definitely one of the stranger works in that an anime so popular in Japan is relatively unknown to Western anime fans despite being fairly recent. While the series begins with a very clichéd magical girl story, it is highlighted by Seven Arcs’ impressive animated battles and heartwarming stories of friendship. What distinguishes the main heroine Nanoha from so many other protagonists is her perfect middle ground between the hot-headed fighter and the reluctant pacifist. While she will always prefer to settle things peacefully through talking and mutual understanding, she does not hesitate to pick up her magical staff and ruthlessly blast her opponents with her full strength. It is lucky then, that the official description of Nanoha-universe magic includes being non-lethal despite destroying everything else.

One of the major themes in Nanoha is the idea of starting your life over. With every encounter, Nanoha engages her opponents with the desire to understand them. As the story progresses, the antagonists’ circumstances come to light, and they reach an understanding with Nanoha despite the various battles and crimes they have committed.  By the end, they find themselves an ally of Nanoha with the desire to start over again on the right path. This closely parallels how it is to start a new life as a Christian.  The series emphasizes the ability to have a fresh start on a more correct path.  When we accept Jesus into our hearts, it is described as being born again. We start our lives over again as followers of Christ instead of followers of the world.

Fate_1st Movie

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My Favorite Things (2012)

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Christmas songs are ubiquitous during the holiday season.  In my household, we have Michael Bublé, Martina McBride, Andrea Bocelli, and MercyMe playing constantly.  The music of the season has become part of the holiday tradition for many families.  A lesser tradition here on this blog is my rewording of a song that has become a holiday classic – “My Favorite Things.”

Chihaya is only a few weeks away;
Anime tropes even if they’re cliche;
Saber rises above the other kings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Art by スロウス@ついったは住み家

Art by スロウス@ついったは住み家


Mawaru Penguindrum
coming on Blu-Ray;
Kiritsugu finally fights against Kirei;
Rikka to Yuta with a pinky clings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Yuta and Rikka

Art by 鳩

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Meant to Live For So Much More

A couple of weeks back, my family and I saw Switchfoot, in concert.  I was very excited, as Switchfoot is very possibly my favorite band, and I hadn’t been to one of their concerts since I was in college. Back then, I was so crazy for the band.  I have pictures of myself with the band members, autographs from all of them (including one on the drummer’s drumstick), and I talked my way into going backstage once to get Jon Foreman to sign a CD.

They were great this time around as well, and to boot, Jon Foreman roamed through the stadium and came within a few rows of us.

Jon Foreman Austin

They of course sang their most famous song, Meant to Live, which was released at the height of their popularity several years ago.

Fumbling his confidence
And wondering why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he’s meant for more than arguments
And failed attempts to fly, fly

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

I’m person who responds to those stories where a normal individual (or even one who is below average) is transformed into something more.  Although these characters might be affected by some supernatural event, their growth is usually the result of a response to something – whether positive or negative.

Naruto is a good example.  Read the rest of this entry

Fly Me to the Moon: A Child’s Lullabye

I love to sing.

I’m practically tone deaf, but that hasn’t stopped me from singing dozens of songs each day, out loud, to the horror delight of my wife and kids.  And as we rear our children, I frequently sing with them, as we join together to bellow out everything from kid’s Bible music to Beyonce (complete with finger-wagging as we declare that “if you liked it, you shoulda put a ring on it”).

Most of all, all this singing carries over into the night.  My children, and my son especially, had a lot of difficulties sleeping and napping as infants.  To help them along, and to keep my sanity, I would sometimes begin singing marathons that would last up to half an hour.

Doing all this singing made me realize that there are very few songs for which I know all the lyrics (How can I declare the Goo Goo Dolls once of my favorite bands when I only know 30% of the words to “Slide”?!).  But one song that I do know well is “Fly Me to the Moon,” and not just the chorus-only versions.  As I pushed a stroller or gently patted a baby, I would sing the Utada Hikaru version – complete with her inflections.  Cause I’m just that cool.

Evangelion song

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These Little Moments

I’ve been on a Genshiken high lately.  I’ve been enjoying the adventures of the new club members (and old) in Genshiken Naidame.  I’ve also been revisiting the anime series regularly.

Genshiken Puyo Pop

Screencap from Unmei Kaihen

Each episode of Genshiken ends with a shot in the clubroom during the closing credits.  The member’s actions are a little different each time.  Episode six has Kasukabe and Sasahara playing Puyo Pop.  That specific ending, along with the lyrics to the closing song, “Biidama” by Saori Atsumi, are very nostalgic for me.  They remind me of doing the same with friends when I was a teenager playing Street Fighter 2 at the house of my pastor’s son.

We took no detours or shortcuts
And we weren’t afraid of what tomorrow would bring
As we kept walking down Inogashira Street late at night
Only vivid dreams extended deep into the shadows

I love these small moments between friends.  Read the rest of this entry

Kokoro Connect, Episode 04: Just As I Am

In episode four of Kokoro Connect, Inaba, the serious, controlling member of the group, has an epiphany of sorts. She realizes that she can be herself among the friends, even if that self is ungracious and mistrustful. I guess it’s supposed to be a feel good moment, but the message left me irked. It’s all warm and fuzzy and nice that her friends accept her, but how can they do that and not push her to be a better person – to be more than she is? To overcome her mistrust and learn to love more?

If we love someone, shouldn’t we love them for who they are, but still encourage them to grow?

Kokoro Connect Inaba

Art by いいんちょ

I was reminded, though, of a favorite hymn as a child – one we frequently closed service with and one Billy Graham always used for invitations in his “crusades”:

Just as I am, without one plea
But that thy blood was shed for me
And that thou bidst me come to thee
Oh Lamb of God, I come, I come

It’s a beautiful image that we come to God just as we are. And for sure, like Inaba’s friend, we are loved for who we are, flaws and all. But the truth of the matter is this – when we come to God, we aren’t quite the same person we were before our conversion; and certainly after accepting Christ, we are different as well. It’s the same with Inaba – even as she tells her friends of her flaws, she’s already different, and in one way especially.

Inaba has become humble.

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Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: iDOLM@STER Theology, Tamaki’s War Angels, and Hidamarimpermanent Sketch

A_Libellule discusses the idea of mono no aware and the related Buddhist principal of impermanence in relation to Hidamari Sketch. [The Untold Story of Altair and Vega]

Sean Gaffney wasn’t overly impressed by volume one of Nozomu Tamaki’s work, Angel Para Bellum, which focuses on an apocalyptic battle between the angels of Heaven and demons of Hell. [A Case Suitable for Treatment]

Pete Zaitcev presents some unexpected lyrics from iDOLM@STER, including several lines in which Haruka Amani tells why she believes in God. [Ani-Nouto]

A Day Without Me gives her entertaining take on Superfortress Romanesque Samy: Missing 99, “one of those sad 80′s-era OAVs that is pretty bad, but not bad enough to be entertaining,” and contains just a bit of religious dialogue. [GAR GAR Stegosaurus]

EVE reviews volume four of A Devil and Her Love Song, which features the Catholic protagonist, Maria Kawai. [Anime Radius]

And finally, I hope those of you who attended Otakon got a chance to check out Charles Dunbar’s panels! [Study of Anime]

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As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere 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. 

Persona 4′s “Key Plus Words”: Searching for Truth

Alexander of Ashita no Anime often provides me with thoughtful perspectives on things we’re both passionate about – particularly anime and religion.  Our discussions are interesting because we generally have diverging opinions.  For instance, Alexander is establishing a reputation as the alternative voice in episode reviews (he was disappointed in Sakamichi no Apollon before it was popular to feel this way), while I’m about as mainstream as they come.  Our religious beliefs are similarly disparate – though we both have Christian backgrounds, I’ve clung strongly to my faith while Alexander is now an atheist.

A few weeks ago, Alexander sent me a link to lyrics from “Key Plus Words,” the song used in the ED for episodes 13 through 22 of Persona 4.  I don’t think he’ll mind if I quote something he wrote about it:

This song is very powerful for me because it nearly perfectly mirrors the transition in my life from a confused Christian to a logical atheist.

The lyrics do certainly seem to mirror the journey many might take from starting as a Christian to discovering the truth that, as they might see it, Christianity is false. Read the rest of this entry

Guest Post at Anime Instrumentality: Fractale and Japan’s Link to Ireland

ZZeroparticle at Anime Instrumentality was so kind as to let me write a guest post for his amazing blog.  For months, I’ve wanted to write about the fondness the Japanese feel toward Irish music, using one of my favorite EDs, Fractale‘s, as an example.  Please go have a read:

Fractale’s ED and Japan’s Nostalgic Drive Toward Irish Music

I hope you enjoy the post – it was a chance for me to write something a little more academic in tone.  And while you’re there, please look around the rest of the blog – it’s one of the best-loved in the anime blogosphere for good reason.

While we don’t write about music much on the blog, we do have a smattering of music-related posts, so take a look if you’re in the mood.

Top Blog Posts About Anime and Religion in 2011: #7-12

Yesterday, I gave numbers one through six on my list of the years top posts regarding anime and spirituality.  It’s been difficult selecting the top posts of the year, though I’ve found again and again, they’re written by my favorite writers in the blogosphere.  These wonderful bloggers seem to be adept at writing about a variety of subjects, religion included.

Art by 泉水真琴

Below are the remaining six of the year, listed in chronological order:

7. Apples and Devil’s Deals: A Religious Analysis of the Apple Scene in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
7.13.2011
written by A Day Without Me

Kyouko herself gains knowledge, too, and likewise comes to unhappiness, although unlike her father she is capable of adapting. But she herself takes on the guise of the Snake, at least as things develop, for she offers a literal apple to Sayaka while also holding forth an apple of knowledge as well. Sayaka’s already dealt with one Snake in the grass, and made the mistake of taking the apple from Kyuubey, but tosses the apple back at the second she encounters.

Read the entire post

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