Category Archives: Personal

Readers’ Response: What Are You Thankful For?

Happy Thanksgiving, all!  I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday!

Art by 嵐空

Art by 嵐空

There are many things I’m thankful for, but I want to emphasize particularly how thankful I am to you, the readers of this blog.  For much of this year, I’ve shifted much of the time I usually use for this blog and moved it toward developing my Tumblr page.  Even so, readers still come here and many of you comment – thank you.  And a special thank you to all those that are consistent readers of Beneath the Tangles, both anonymous and those known to me.

And with this year of transition, I’m grateful, more than ever, to my writers:

  • Goldy, who is simply one of the most creative people I’ve ever known
  • Hansha, whose energy and intelligence are electric
  • Japes, whose friendship I greatly treasure
  • Kaze, who challenges me think about my own faith as he writes posts here
  • Lynna, who is gracious, graceful, and kind
  • R86, who is simply one of my best friends
  • and Zeroe4, who inspires me by his faith

And how about you all?  Would you share with us one or two things you’re thankful for this year?

Natsume Yujin-cho and a Search for a Home

Natsume Yujin-cho 3

One year ago, I was back in Ishinomki doing humanitarian work with some very good friends. Since coming back to the US, I have really struggled with fitting in. The best way I can explain it, is I am the Natsume of my own little world, and monsters are chasing me but no one sees. They can’t see the burden I’ve picked up. They can’t see the pain I carry, however this is not how the story ends.

If you have watched Natsume Yujin-cho, then you may understand what I am trying to say. Natsume Yujin-cho along with it’s sequels are some of my favorite anime. The series was recommended to me by Annalyn who is a friend of this blog and is the blogger at Annalyn’s Thoughts. If you haven’t seen the show, Natsume Yujin-cho is about an orphan boy who is passed from family member to family member. He can see also see spirits, which causes him to live between two worlds belonging to neither, but not being able to ignore either. The manga and anime, which are very faithful, start his story when Natsume moves in with the Fujiwara’s and finally finds a family that doesn’t want to get rid of him. He doesn’t tell them he can see spirits, because he doesn’t want to scare the or cause them to get rid of him. However, Natsume is being crushed by the burdens of his past and the Yujin-cho, “The Book of Friends,” his grandmother left behind when she died. The Book of Friends is a book that contains the names of many spirits, which would allow someone to control the spirits. These names were ill gotten and never used. Now the spirits want there names back and Natsume is target number one. Protected only by Madara aka Nyanko-sensei, a powerful spirit shaped like a clay cat, Natsume embarks on a journey that forces him to rely on others and teaches him quite a lot.

Natsume Yujin-cho

In many ways, I am very much like Natsume and I can really understand were he is coming from. Read the rest of this entry

Wasting My Life Away, Looking for Some Anime, Ohhh Me…

At my church retreat this past weekend, I gave a testimony in front of the body.  While I mostly spoke about my need for control (and a clear lack of control in my life), I could have talked about a lot of different ways God has worked in me.  One on-going challenge for me is to stop wasting so much time.  I think with the advent of the Internet, and so many entertainment options, this is as big a concern as ever.

In college, I was particularly bad with time management.  I could waste an entire day doing basically nothing.  I’d spend hours watching anime, reading fanfics about anime, tuning into anime music videos, and doing other endless fandom-related activities.

It must be worse today for college students with so much anime readily available.

When I graduated college, our church had a send-off for my senior class.  After our dinner and presentation (the skit concerning me was entitled “Great Teacher Chuckie,” Chuckie being my nickname), we each offered some advice for the younger students.  Mine was primarily this: don’t waste your life.

anime computer

And while I’m not saying we should ditch all media and anime in an effort to manage time wisely, I hope you won’t waste your life being entertained.  Ultimately, watching Youtube and Crunchyroll all day is meaningless.  And when we realize what we can do to help others, care for the needy, and bring awareness to the suffering, all the time and resources we waste on entertainment is more than wasteful – it’s cold, uncaring, and selfish.

So watch your Zetsuen no Tempest, but then consider my advice, and go do something.  After all, it makes no difference how many cool gifs we posted on our Tumblrs, but it does make a difference when we reach out and offer someone a little bit of love.

My Identity: Guest Post on Study of Anime

What is fandom to you?

This is the question Charles Dunbar, a friend of this site (I interviewed him once and he also gave us his aniblogger testimony), asked a number of friends and colleagues associated with anime.  I was lucky enough to get an invitation to join in his Identity Project.  Here’s how he explained the project:

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate to gather essays and ruminations from bloggers and fans about what fandom means to them. (I’m still accepting them, by the way.) Each one of the writers involved has chosen one aspect of their fandom and written about how it has fused itself into their lives. Hopefully, this will lead to more discussion about the changing nature of fandom, and provide some ideas on where it is going.

No surprise, I connected fandom to my faith.  You might want to pop in and take a read, as I give a little bit of context as to why I do what I do on Beneath the Tangles:

ID project, round 3: Tangles

Untangled: What Are Your Thoughts on Watching a Series That is Censored?

On Beneath the Tangles, we invite readers to ask questions of the staff.  We’d love to hear your concerns and questions, and maybe give you our feedback.

A couple of weeks ago, VW, a Catholic Christian and anime fan, dropped in with a question.  For the sake of space, I’ll just present you bits and pieces of her email:

Let’s take a series like Mashiro-iro Symphony. I found myself really enjoying it! It was a really sweet and endearing series, with positive views on friendship and relationships.
However, Crunchyroll aired the censored version. Apparently (and I’ve looked this up specifically to see exactly what it entailed), the uncensored version (BD release) has nudity. This is something that I really don’t like in my anime, and almost always sets me on edge or makes me feel guilty.

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

Read the rest of this entry

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

The Blogger Interrogation Game Strikes Back!

Although I previously posted my answers to the wonderful Aniblogger Interrogation game that’s going around, I’ve been tagged back as well, by both Cajun Samurai and Alexander.  So, here we go…again!

The game was created by Iso and his rules are as follows:

Introduction

  • Each person is supposed to follow the rule of fives. You are allowed to ask 5 questions, after which you can tag up to 5 bloggers by hyper-linking to their blog; 5 questions because it’s not too many to flood another blogger and occupy too much of his/her time, but yet a large enough number to ask your most important questions, and 5 bloggers to avoid spamming. Hence, prioritize your questions, and who you wish to ask!
  • Those tagged are obliged to answer the questions in a blog post, and after which, they are entitled to create their own 5 questions and tag 5 other bloggers, so on and so fourth. You should answer your own 5 questions as well. You are allowed to tag the person that tagged you in the first place. Also, copy and paste this section on your blog so others can understand how the game goes.
  • In the case where a blogger strongly refuses to answer a question, he/she must instead post a nice anime image, wallpaper or cosplay picture, et cetera in response to that question.
  • To make things interesting, a blogger can include wildcards in his/her 5 questions by placing an asterisk, (*), after which those tagged are obliged to reveal something interesting about themselves that others did not previously know. There is no limit to the number of asterisks one can place (which means there can be up to 5 wildcard questions).
  • Anyone can feel free to start the game; you don’t necessarily need someone to tag you. Just create your 5 questions and tag your 5 people of choice. However, the catch is that you must answer your own 5 questions as well.
  • To potentially prevent an endless game, this round of games will end on the 8th September 2012, 12pm JST (GMT +9). After which, no more bloggers can tag others to answer their questions.

Read the rest of this entry

Blogger Interrogation Game!

I really enjoy these chain letter type posts, where a blogger answers a bunch of anime-related questions about themselves.  A blog carnival one has been making the rounds, and I also like the survey-style one Yumeka created.  But I almost never participate because I don’t feel the content fits will with this blog.

Lucky for me, Sushi GoKart tagged me in another such series that I think does fit a little better with BtT, and I’m more than happy to participate (Marina has already started).  The game was created by Iso and his rules are as follows:

Introduction

  • Each person is supposed to follow the rule of fives. You are allowed to ask 5 questions, after which you can tag up to 5 bloggers by hyper-linking to their blog; 5 questions because it’s not too many to flood another blogger and occupy too much of his/her time, but yet a large enough number to ask your most important questions, and 5 bloggers to avoid spamming. Hence, prioritize your questions, and who you wish to ask!
  • Those tagged are obliged to answer the questions in a blog post, and after which, they are entitled to create their own 5 questions and tag 5 other bloggers, so on and so fourth. You should answer your own 5 questions as well. You are allowed to tag the person that tagged you in the first place. Also, copy and paste this section on your blog so others can understand how the game goes.
  • In the case where a blogger strongly refuses to answer a question, he/she must instead post a nice anime image, wallpaper or cosplay picture, et cetera in response to that question.
  • To make things interesting, a blogger can include wildcards in his/her 5 questions by placing an asterisk, (*), after which those tagged are obliged to reveal something interesting about themselves that others did not previously know. There is no limit to the number of asterisks one can place (which means there can be up to 5 wildcard questions).
  • Anyone can feel free to start the game; you don’t necessarily need someone to tag you. Just create your 5 questions and tag your 5 people of choice. However, the catch is that you must answer your own 5 questions as well.
  • To potentially prevent an endless game, this round of games will end on the 8th September 2012, 12pm JST (GMT +9). After which, no more bloggers can tag others to answer their questions.

My Responses

And here are my responses to the questions from Sushi GoKart:

Read the rest of this entry

I Like Your Blog Post! And Your Facebook Comment. And Your Tweet. And…

Ty-chama’s recent post about her desire to see more comments on her blog made me reevaluate the communal interactions here on Beneath the Tangles.  I’m very happy with how readers chime in with their own opinions, stories, and additions.  Like a call-in radio show, this blog is strengthened by the reader interaction.

It’s not like I REALLY like your post, baka!

Even further, I’ve noticed a definite trend here the last few months.  It’s something I’ve seen on other blogs as well (though I don’t know if it’s been consistent in sites other than my own) – the heavy use of the Like button.

There are a lot of reasons why someone might hit “Like.”  First and foremost, a reader might, well, like your post (fancy that).  Readers might also want to connect with you in some way, but could be too shy to enter a comment.  Or they might not really have anything substantial to say, but want to provide some input.

When I look at my own “like” habits, and I’m an habitual liker, I often press the magic button to let bloggers know that I read your article, even if I didn’t have the time to comment.

Of course, some readers hit “like” because they want you to follow them.  WordPress users, at least, know this to be true.  We get a “like” from someone out of left field and visit their page to find that it has a gazillion followers.

But my favorite reason for liking a post is as a source of encouragement.

It’s the same with a Facebook comment or making someone’s tweet a favorite – we’re giving our stamp of approval.  That might not mean much in terms of authority, but it does tell the writer, “Hey, I really like what you wrote here” and sometimes by inference, “Hey I like what you do.  I like YOU.”

On blogs and social media, where oftentimes our communication is judgmental and harsh (even by those of us claiming to follow Christ), a simple click offers affirmation and warmth.  So go ahead and do it, even if it seems lazy and impersonal.  Go let someone know you enjoy their writing.   They might just like it.

Note: John Sato wrote a related piece recently on the purpose of blogrolls.