Of all the great Studio Ghibli works, my favorite is probably Whisper of the Heart. Smaller in scale than almost any of the others, it’s a very personal story about a young girl, a boy, and their dreams. Because most of us remember well the days we were young and had dreams as big as the skies, this little story makes the heart stir for many of us.
As you get older, first bursting into the confusing time of adolescence and then into the world of adulthood, you realize that dreams and reality don’t usually meld well together. Even for those that pursue their dream relentlessly, the results don’t always match their hopes.
For me, I’ve seen most of my childhood dreams fade away – some because of what you might deem as circumstance (though I would call it divine intervention) and some because of my personal choices. And though I admit I sometimes feel a sense of loss when I think of what might have been, I’m quickly brought back to reality – to a good type of reality, knowing that I’m meant to be where I am right now, and that I wouldn’t exchange the circumstances of my life for a chance to live the dream.
I’ve been totally floored by Attack on Titan, the new series this season about GIANTS. Although our own Goldy wrote about the series’ potential, I wasn’t prepared for how riveting, exciting, and frightening this show would be.
Among other things I missed? The connection to religion in the first two episodes (what do I do on this blog again?).
Justin, who has been comparing the manga to the anime, pointed out connections to religion in episode two, particularly. Noteworthy is the street preacher who is entirely absent from the manga and the frightened people who call out to God as they witness the horrible events happening to their village.
The connection that stands out most though (and why shouldn’t they?) is the giants themselves.
Giants are the stuff of legend. They are the enemies in fairytales (“Jack and the Beanstalk“) and stuff of children’s nightmares (BFG).
Episode 11: “Various Ways to Spend Christmas Eve”
In the spirit of Christmas, I decided to retry an anime that I dropped over a year ago, Lucky Star. Last time I tried to watch the series, I made it to only episode 4. For this project, I watched episode 11 which takes place on Christmas Eve. The biggest things to stand out in the episode were related to the Japanese understanding of Christianity and Christmas.
One of the characters in the series stated that she wasn’t sure if it was okay for her sister, who was a shrine maiden, to wear a wedding dress for her wedding. This whole idea comes from a difference of understanding in Judeo-Christian and Japanese Religions. In Christianity, the main part of the belief system is this concept of faith. For example, the concept of grace through faith or that Abraham’s faith is credited to him as righteousness. For people of the English language, we can even refer to religions as faiths or beliefs.
In Japanese, the religions of Shinto and Japanese Buddhism are based upon action and tradition, such as going to temple festivals, praying to kami at shrines, or even dedicating children at temples. Read the rest of this entry
There’s no house here anymore. Dad’s gone, too.
Episode 8 of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! continues where seven left off, with Tōka attempting to force Rikka into seeing the visible truth – their father, along with their former house, are gone. The older sister utters the words above as she tearfully pushes Rikka to face reality.
Last week, I joined Alexander in discussing similar scenes in the series for his Ashita no Anime podcast. He sees the show as an atheist allegory. Rikka chooses to believe in something unreal, oblivious to reality. Yūta, meanwhile, has thrown off the shackles of his former ways and now lives according to the truth. Alexander sees the chuunibyou ways of Dark Flame Master and the Wicked Eye as the false trappings of religion, while life without God as reality. Thus, the quote starting this post would take a deeper meaning in light of this idea.
Obviously, I disagree with Alexander’s assessment of religion, but I think his comparisons are dead on.
Rikka isn’t ready to face the truth yet; but eventually, she will be. While she may be a bit immature for her age, perhaps Tōka should forgive Rikka for her strange coping mechanism, since she’s still young.
For those of us who are older, though, we lack excuses for examining our belief. Read the rest of this entry
Laura of Heart of Manga concludes her guest posts on the Christian heroine of the manga, A Devil and Her Love Song.
Maria Kawai is the heroine from A Devil and Her Love Song. Her actions in the series profess an inner grace that she has gained through her attendance at a Catholic school. While she struggles with her faith daily, she still strives to believe in the goodness of others and the belief that even she who seems to be hurtful to others can be loved.
While singing to console herself on the first day of school, her beautiful voice attracts the attention of the two most popular boys in her class. This in turn just fuels the anger of the other girls in her class who have been bullying her. They set up an elaborate scheme to try to make it look like Maria is hurting another student. They invite her to a karaoke place after school as a welcome party. They manipulate another girl from class, Tomoyo, to play the victim to frame her and bring Maria to the party. After observing the girls call Tomoyo by an unwanted nickname, Maria confronts the girl to find out why she tolerates it. Not wanting to consider the social stigma of going against the flow, the girl panics and reactively pushes Maria down the stairs. Maria falls and sprains her ankle.
After tolerating the hatred of my classmates, I personally would have been fed up at this point. After being rejected so, I would have gone home and wallowed in self-pity. But Maria shows the patience of Christ. She turns the other cheek, and gives the girls another chance. Knowing they are probably up to no good, she decides to go to the party anyway, swollen ankle and all, and try to be friendly with the girls. Remembering that the nuns taught her not to doubt others before she gets to know them. Deciding to show grace instead of retaliating. Read the rest of this entry
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
When I watch Naruto, I’m always in awe of the unrelenting passion and drive I see in the characters, particularly in the ones from the Hidden Leaf. Passion and drive are very commonly seen in characters of that type of anime, but for me, in Naruto I also see the sincere pain, frustration and struggle that make the characters so endearing and enjoyable to watch.
These same traits can also make them very convicting to watch.
I see that passion in my own life for God’s plans and goals much less than I would like. I’ve never had passion as a distinguishing trait and I let challenges not only in my Christian walk but in other areas in my life keep me back or throw me into despair far too often. Read the rest of this entry
Accel World is totally a fantasy for the losers, the otaku, the overweight, the bullied, and the less-than-attractive. It practically throws itself at that audience, screaming, “Live vicariously through this series!” Also, the OP is terribly corny with a great song choice…for 2002.
So of course, I’m absolutely loving it.
Episode three was better than the previous two. Some backgrounds were revealed and we learned more about Haruyuki’s best friends and Kuroyukihime. And what we learned most about them is that they, too, have problems. These beautiful, popular, loved young people have issues they struggle with as well.
It reminds me of the difficulties Christians encounter in life. There’s this moment that many of us have where wejust get it. We come to see the depths of our sin and heights of God’s grace and our lives are changed.
But despite seeming to be put altogether, like Haruyuki’s friends, a Christian’s “top of the world” moment is temporary, until the high wears off and jobs, studies, financial problems, girls (or boys), depression, hurtful people, alcohol, drugs, health issues, entertainment, pornography, or any of a variety of things derail our spiritual progress. In the short term or in the longer term, many start to lose faith, in practice if not in declaration. Read the rest of this entry
In Viz Media’s most recent Cross Game release, Ko and the rest of the squad begin their tournament, edging closer to the dream of making it to Koshien. As they battle squads that are more and more superior, the team keeps responding with wins.
But strangely enough, even as they win, the team seems to have less and less control of the games. One game ends with a downpour; in another Akaishi can’t control his emotion and plays poorly; and in yet another, Ko literally has control issues, walking a multitude of hitters even though his pitches are sizzling, approaching 100 mph. Their wins even come in strange ways, with Azuma hitting pop flies (something that must be common for him, but which Adachi never otherwise illustrates) and Senda, of all players, hitting a home run.
This theme of “lack of control” runs throughout the volume. And it’s not the games that demonstrate it most, but rather the hospitalization of Akane. Read the rest of this entry
One of the most divisive series of the fall is Guilty Crown. On our site, Goldy’s comments on the series have been mostly positive; others haven’t been so kind to the show. But regardless of one’s feelings, it’s no stretch to say the show features three main characters which are memorable – the weak-willed lead, Shu Ouma; the mysterious and unemotional sex symbol, Inori Yuzuriha; and the strong, practical leader of the Funeral Parlor, Gai Tsutsugami. While first two are the types I might want to be friends with, it is the last that I find most compelling.
Gai is bold and uncompromising. He demands and receives complete obedience from the members of Funeral Parlor, maybe demonstrated most emphatically through the young girl who follows him to her death in episodes five and six. But also throughout, we see Shu as the only one defying Gai; otherwise, the rest of Funeral Parlor not only listens to Gai, but approaches his plans with a strange calmness, even in the face of danger and death.
This seemingly contradictory joining of peace with possible pain is perhaps more plausible upon further inspection. One text, in particular, stresses the outcome of peace when one has faith. Read the rest of this entry