The general feeling about Eren Jaeger is that, like countless leads before him in other anime series, critical viewers of Shingeki no Kyojin find this lead to be annoying and less-than-likeable. Me, on the other hand – I’ve liked Eren relatively well, though that could be because I’m deep down in love with SNK. And so, I’m willing to overlook his many negative qualities and chalk it up to “Well, if I was in that situation…”
That is, until this episode.
For the first time in the series, I’ve found myself feeling rage toward Eren, as he watched his comrades die and his remaining family fly toward certain death because he’s unwilling to fight a turncoat who he knows to be have betrayed and killed his friends and fellow soldiers.
Of course, I changed my tune a little when I thought about how much of myself and other Christians I saw in the Eren of episode 24.
Watching anime has almost always been a solo activity for me, but occasionally, I’ll get a family member or friend to join along. My family has long been charmed by Studio Ghilbi fare, but recently, I’ve also watched a couple of other series with my wife – first, Kids on the Slope (if you didn’t know, this show is one of my favorites), and now, Clannad.
One the reasons why I enjoy Clannad (and in fact, this rewatching now has me moving it up on my list of favorite series) is that I feel there’s so much to take away from it. It feels as if the story is providing us life lessons, to which we should hearken. Besides the strong emphasis on family and parenting in the series, it also emphasizes the role we can play in loving others. Another lesson I noticed this time around is this: we need to be careful about the decisions we make, because they can end up defining us and our relationships with those we love.
In Kotomi’s arc, we find out about the pains and happiness in her childhood, mostly in regards to how she feels about her parents and their work. Though the young Kotomi is resentful, the audience is likely to chalk that up to her youthful desires rather than to a real issue regarding parenting. And in fact, Kotomi’s parents seem almost perfect – they have the best of both worlds, doing groundbreaking work in their careers while lovingly attending to their daughter.
Of course, none of this is so simple in real life. Working moms have to deal with finding balance and the guilt that may come with being away from their children; stay at home moms, on the other hand, have to push away their own desires and deal feelings of worthlessness. Those that try to split the difference, working part-time, deal with a combination of these challenger. From my family’s experience, there is no easy answer.
This isn’t only true of parents. We must all make difficult decisions that involve choices. Read the rest of this entry
stardf29 continues his miniseries on the theme of adoption:
Last time, I talked about Bunny Drop and how, as an adoption story, it exemplifies the beauty in how we Christians are adopted by God to be His children, to be heir to His blessings. Another show that displays the beauty of adoption is Listen To Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! (Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai!, or PapaKiki for short).
The premise of this show is that 19-year-old college student Yuuta is asked by his older sister to look after her three daughters—Sora, age 14, Miu, age 10, and Hina, age 3, Sora and Miu being from her husband’s previous marriages—while she and her husband go on a trip. However, when their plane crashes and the two go missing, the girls are left with no one to care for them (Sora’s mother is dead, and Miu’s mother’s whearabouts are completely unknown). Yuuta, then, remembering how his sister took care of him when their parents died, decides to adopt the girls into his care.
While this show shares the adoption premise with Bunny Drop, PapaKiki differs in a rather significant way—a way that is a warning to anyone who still thinks that the “inheritance” we get when we are adopted into God’s family is earthly wealth.
For week three of our Haibane Renmei small group study, we delved into episodes four and five of the series. In episode four, Rakka joins Kana at her job in the clock tower, while in episode four she spends time with Nemu in the library. The latter episode, especially, contained some of the more obvious connections to Christianity in the series.
Here are some of the highlights of our discussion:
- The creation story in Nemu’s book shared similarities to the Christian one, particularly in the first few lines.
- The God in “The Beginning of the World” shares some similarities to the Christian God, particularly in terms of mercy and power; on the other hand, dissimilarities included laziness and ability to make mistakes
- We discussed Kana’s conclusion that the crows need to become less dependent on humans, while we, too, must become less dependent on our own comfort zones.
- The group reflected on which senior haibane each of us most closely associated with.
- We discussed how, because of the structure created by the haibane renmei and the townsfolk, the haibane must lived by faith, and how Old Home compared to some real life institutions in this aspect (ex. monasteries and dormitories).
We also discussed a number of other topics and shared about our weeks. If you’re interested in possibly joining us sometime during this summer, leave a comment below, entering your email when prompted.
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