Last December, as I prepared a series on Christmas anime, I knew that I would finally have to watch Tokyo Godfathers, something I’d put off for a long time. Of course, I was glad that I did watch the movie, which immediately became a favorite. While there were oh so many wonderful scenes, characters, and themes that shined in the film, one that’s stayed with me was how it portrayed the difficult life for homeless men and women. While most of us live in cozy houses, condos, or apartments, every city has a population of individuals who don’t have a place to call home. And whatever the situation was that led them to such circumstances, the reality is that their lives can be struggles, physically as well as in other ways.
In my small group this past spring, we read an engaging book that encouraged many of us to grow more deeply in our relationships with Christ. One chapter was specifically focused on the homeless, and it immediately nudged both my wife and I to make changes in how we approach those begging for money on street corners. Since that time, we’ve done little things like say “hi” or make eye contact, in an effort to treat them as they should be treated – as human.
A few weeks ago, we took another step. Joining together with several college kids at our church, we made care packages to pass out to the homeless. A wonderful project, it allowed us to show love to the homeless by providing just a few necessities. The bags had an impact beyond their small price, as the recipients seemed to genuinely be taken aback by our gesture and the hearts of the givers were thawed just a bit.
I encourage you to considering doing this little project as well – either with family, friends, a social group (your anime club?), or even by yourself. Here are some of the items you might want to include – I’ve put asterisks next to the items we included in our packages: Read the rest of this entry
One the most interesting things about religion in Japan is how seemingly contradictory cultural expressions can find their way into religious institutions. In the past, I’ve mentioned the veneration of Thomas Edison in the country and the temple that is using an anime character as their mascot. Now, add another interesting combination to the mix, as Mikikazu Komatsu of Crunchyroll writes about a Pretty Cure live show being put on at Bukkoji Buddhist temple, along with other anime-related events as part of the institution’s anniversary celebration and to raise money for earthquake relief.
Check out Komatsu’s post for more information:
For many around my age, Neon Genesis Evangelion was an important series. Not only was it addicting, but it was breathtaking in so many different ways. For me, it sealed my love of the medium. Yet, I wasn’t terribly excited for the Rebuild of Evangelion films. The first movie was good, but instead of enjoying it, I longed for the depth of the series and became too caught up with comparisons.
Evangelion 2.0, however, is a different story.
Departing significantly from the series, Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance not only brings us new characters and situations, it also changes the tone of the series somewhat. Despite Justin Sevakis’ comments to the contrary, I found the movie to be brighter and happier than the original. What struck me was that the characters were no longer almost entirely helpless, victims of circumstance and doomed for their destiny. Perhaps this shift was no surprise, since Hideaki Anno was dealing with depression during the course of creating the classic series. Instead, he sends a message that is most unexpected – he tells us that there is hope.
AnimeAid is among the latest groups in the U.S. otaku community that are playing a visible role in raising funds for the Japanese earthquake victims. A joint venture between major conventions in the Washington DC area, AnimeAid seeks to commit “to the task of assisting fan based support initiatives throughout the area to maximize the impact in assisting the people of Japan.” The group’s activities include:
- aiding organizations in sharing their plans with others
- helping to consolidate activities to allow for effective outreach
- and mitigating the costs involved in charitable efforts
The AnimeAid website provides further details, including contact information and details about campaigns and initiaitives the organization is supporting. If you’re interested in working with AnimeAid, please visit the site.
Thanks to Lauren Orsini for informing me about this wonderful venture.
Yuki-Anne, a guest blogger here on Beneath the Tangles, is a missionary in Japan (read her previous entry here). She was there last week when the devastating earthquakes struck the country.
So there I was, clinging to the door frame, praying, “God, please make it stop, please protect us, please make it stop, please protect us.”
Yoko-san came out of the other room and told me we needed to go downstairs. I didn’t need to be told twice. We poured out of the building and waited for the shaking to stop. It seemed to stop, but everytime we would go back inside, the shaking would start again. Even now, we still experience aftershocks.
I’m sure you’ve been reading the news. You don’t need me to tell you about the climbing death toll, the sheer loss of human life. And so in the middle of this, I’m having to ask myself a question: Can I trust God? Read the rest of this entry
Oh, the ire this hashtag has caused! Atheists jumping on believers for praying to a god they don’t believe exists when money is what is needed; Christians angrily defending their God when there are people dying from this powerful earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.
Whatever we believe about God and about prayer, the fact of the matter is this: many people have died, many are missing, and many need help. WE need to be the ones to help them. Donate $100; donate $50; donate $10. Seriously…all you college kids, just skip Wendy’s and Chipotle for a couple of days, and give that money to people who really need it.
For atheists, I think I’m preaching to a choir. Strangely enough, I get the feeling I need to preach to the Christians more. While God will do miraculous things through prayer, prayer is almost never the end – it’s the beginning. God uses prayer, often, to convict us to do something. Remember that James said that faith without prayer is dead; you might as well replace faith with prayer and keep that mantra in mind. God does miracles, but time and time again, He’s shown that He usually works through His people. No surprise there if we see Him as a relational God.
If you’re looking to donate directly to Japan, there will certainly be a number of programs set up today. The Red Cross is accepting funds, though past criticisms of their financial managment have made me wary. I know little about Global Giving, but they’ve quickly set up a donation page and may be the best charity to give to at this time.
Please pray. Then…please give.
Edit: The Huffington Post has a page listing a number of different charities to give to.
Thousands of people need help. If you won’t help now, when will you?
- Sakae Jinnouchi
Summer Wars is a multi-layered film with a number of themes, including perseverance, redemption, the dangers of identity theft, family bonds, and doing what is right. But perhaps the theme that stood out most to me was the important of placing others above oneself (spoilers below).
In the film, when the A.I. unit Love Machine is at it’s height of causing chaos, Sakae (“granny”) sits down and calls her old connections in an attempt to help others. Sakae is helpful, but when she passes away, her most recent acts are suddenly forgotten. The family that revered her so much is swallowed in grief: some, primarily the women, bicker and consume themselves with preparations for her wake. Others, primarily the men, either mope or become frustrated (or both). Meanwhile, Wabisuke, who has caused immense family drama, has taken off again. The family has become absorbed in its own (considerable) problems, and in the midst of it, they display all the nastiest sides of themselves.
It’s not until an outsider, Kenji, stands up and champions Sakae’s values that minds begin to change. Gradually, the men begin to take action, realizing that even in the midst of family chaos, now was the time to work together to help others. By the end, the entire family, including the black sheep, join in to aid humanity, as their family becomes more important than in any point in their storied history. And as they put their online lives and their trust in Natsuki and the others, the family discovers another common bond – the putting aside of everything else to help others. Read the rest of this entry
I was browsing a thread about Clannad After Story on the My Anime List boards, and there was a particularly great response to a comment I made. I thought I’d share it. By the way, it contains spoilers galore for Clannad and After Story. Merushi writes:
Since I myself don’t really have much in common with Tomoya, I was curious how someone who did would feel after seeing Clannad (especially After Story).
You’re absolutely right about Clannad playing with all sorts of emotion. Though I don’t have kids yet, I still feel the story has changed the way I think and feel about things in life.
Still being in college and living ‘under mama’s wings’ you don’t have to deal with the real hard thing life is.
When Tomoya seemed to fall from one hard and sad moment in the next one, I thought you’ve got to be kidding me (I really said that out loud when Ushio died), no one has that much misfortune (I know he’s not Mr. Perfect himself, but everyone has his flaws).
I already knew life wasn’t going to be easy, but at that moment I realized things like this happen everyday around the world. To many people have this much misfortune and sadly they don’t wake up like it was all a dream.
Though you might think it’s easy for me to say, but I really do think this anime has given me a small lesson about life, a warning, but also a ‘getting to know myself better’ kinda feeling. It made me think of how I look at ‘life’ myself, and it made me feel like I’m a small step closer to ‘becoming a man’ like people discribe it.
I know I still got a long way to go, ‘real life’ has yet to begin and the hardest parts of life are still ahead of me. But I’m sure this story will always be in my mind, remembering me life isn’t easy and everyone has to overcome his problems.
Though this story is only fiction, you’ve got to admit it felt damn real, whatever your background is.
That the true power of this story. Because everone can write a slice of life (or in this case a rather big slice), but can you put this kind of message in it, can you put in this much real emotion? If you can, you’re either Jun Maeda or some other genius.^^
Anime isn’t just another form of entertainment for most of us. It often produces a deeply personal connection within us, whether or not we’ve been through an experience anything like our protagonists’. And some works will move us to become a better person. To me, the movies and anime that I value most make a connection in me emotionally, and if a piece does that, it’s likely to change me in some way. That’s why I count Dead Man Walking, United 93, and The Passion of the Christ among my favorite movies, though all three can be hard to watch.
As I mentioned in my Anime of a Diary Lived post, Clannad goes to a place that view series go to and takes us through difficult scenarios that, though they may unlikely, are still everyday situations. Tomoya’s life is more difficult than most of ours’, even before his life falls apart. I think it’s wise to think on his story and put our stories in perspective. We sometimes get dramatic about relatively small things in our lives – a teacher who gets on our cases or an argument with a boyfriend or girlfriend. But we can make it through these difficulties (I would add a wonderful way is by relying on the Anchor, Jesus Christ). Part of that is by looking at what others are going through in less-fortunate places in which people haven’t even heard of anime, much less have access to it.
The holiday season is around the corner (and if you count Halloween, it’s already started). It’s a chance to put things in perspective and to reach out to others – to think about orphans whose parents have died in war, little kids and women who are virtual slaves in sex trafficking operations, and boys and girls in third world nations who have never received a Christmas gift. I hope you’ll consider volunteering, donating, or otherwise helping others this holiday season. You could start with some of my favorite charities and organizations. You could choose a different one aiming at a worldwide issue. Or you can even focus locally, where abuse, neglect, homelessness, terminal disease and all sorts other tragedies occur daily. Just do something.
John of the AnimeNation Anime News Blog is among the most interesting and knowledgeable writers about anime that I’ve read. Today, he posted a reaction to the recent OreImo leak, and though not about spirituality, his comments bring up some interesting ideas regarding the hearts of anime fans, and really, all of us. Read the rest of this entry
This week, my wife went Christmas shopping. She gathered lots of goodies for three packages full of presents, like magnifying glasses, crayons and clothes. We excitedly wrapped the presents while watching Glee, and explained to our toddler son that these presents are not for him. They are for children like Gina:
Gina is 12. Her father left when she was young and her stepfather has recently died from cancer. She and her mother, Natasha live in a tiny flat in Belarus. Working as a seamstress, Natasha constantly struggles to earn a living. When Gina opened her shoebox she could not believe her eyes. For there, amongst the brightly coloured gifts was a calculator – something she had often dreamed of owning but never been able to afford. She also found a moving letter that we were able to read out to her. Gina sings in her church and likes playing volleyball and table tennis at the church youth club. Her face shone when she exclaimed, “I like everything in the shoebox – thank you!”
(Story taken from the UK OCC site)
Gina is one of thousands of children who will get Christmas presents this year when they may not expect any. In fact, through Operation Christmas Child, thousands of children will receive Christmas presents for the very first time. Some have never even heard of Christmas before. Operation Christmas Child is a program through Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity, in which children receive both presents and learn about the meaning of Christmas.
Today is Blog Action Day, when bloggers ask their readers to take action for a cause. While it may be a bit early to think about Christmas, now is the time to shop for this charity if you’re interested. It takes time to process the gifts so that they may arrive around the world by Christmas Day. For $15 or so, you can put a huge smile on a child’s face.
I recommend that you think about the price of the next anime-related product you’re going to buy, and instead use that money for one, two or more shoeboxes. We do one for each family member. For me, I’ve decided to skip out on buying volume 2 of Toradora!, instead using that money for this campagin. And this project need not be expensive – Wal-Mart, Target and even dollar stores have wonderful, inexpensive items that children will love. We also include hygienic items…and maybe a little candy. The OOC site gives a list of items for packing and other important processing information.
I’m also using this post as a way to launch my new Resources section, which includes charitable organizations, along with a FAQ page and a Christian anime sites page.
Even if you don’t participate in this ministry, I hope that you’ll remember the world and those suffering in this holiday season that’s upcoming. The world is bigger than us; it’s bigger than our developed countries. It’s time we spend some money helping others than on that collectible item. It’s time we reach out to the world with a big hug…and some Christmas presents.