Blog Archives

Holy Week: Yukine and Matters of the Heart

As a Christian, I’ve found that one of the hardest things to explain to non-Christians is about the seriousness of sin.  Without comprehending this, the gospel story makes little sense and thus there’s little to compel one to be open to the religion.  One of the roadblocks in trying to help others understand the gravity of sin is that we’ve grown up with varied definitions of the phrase, and it’s become perhaps defined best in our culture as “doing something bad,” rather than as rebelling against God.  Add to that other cultures’ and religions’ uses of the word, as expressed in Noragami and other anime, and it becomes a word that’s loaded with meaning that isn’t necessarily Christian, and becomes a confusing path to explore.

Another roadblock is in understanding that sin doesn’t have to be something we physically commit.  This comes into play with Yukine and Yato in Noragami.  Even though Yato warns his shinki that even when Yukine simply thinks sinful thoughts, Yato suffers, Yukine continues to do so.  Perhaps he just wants to cause Yato displeasure – no surprise for an adolescent with a holder as annoying as Yato.  Or maybe Yukine just can’t accept the fact that he could sin by simply coveting.  After all, Yukine resists stealing items on a couple of occasions, as if trying to stop himself from crossing that boundary.  Moving from thinking to doing is, apparently to Yukine, the bridge between sin and not.

For Yato, there is no difference.  Coveting and giving into mindful temptation is the same as physically giving in – they both cause Yato harm in the form of a blight that eventually consumes most of the kami’s body, particularly taking over once Yukine indulges completely in sinful desire.  And so, not only is thinking sinfully considered a sin, but it becomes a root desire that helps beget the physical detrimental actions.

Yukine Noragami

Art by 謖 (Pixiv ID 41940946)

These ideas are very much in line with Christianity.  From the Old Testament, the Bible makes it clear that God is concerned with our heart and mind, even above physical actions:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

- I Samuel 16:7

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Sword Art Online, Shingu, and Second Halves

Although I start each season watching about a dozen series, I ultimately end up completing only two or three.  This season, I’m watching Golden Time, Noragami and Nisekoi.  Three is about the most I can keep up with, even though I’d like to watch more.  So you can imagine how aggravated I feel when a series I’m enjoying ends up having a terrible second half.  I feel like I wasted a precious slot that I could have used for another series!

Even worse is when a series starts out so good that you think you may have found a new favorite.  This happened to me with Shingu.  I was totally charmed by the character design, tone, and music from the series, that I was almost ready to go purchase it.  Then the show devolved into a boring, generic sci-fi series.

shingu secret of the stellar wars

Oh, what might have been! (Art by ちゃん☆みり/Pixiv ID 2820537)

Another such show for me was Sword Art Online – and maybe it’s the best recent example for many.  I absolutely loved the first half.  Despite its issues, I was totally gripped.  But the second cour stunk to high heaven.  It did almost everything wrong.

Our lives are the same way.  The start doesn’t matter as much as the ending.  Even if we have a wonderful childhood, adolescence, and college experience, it’s all for naught if we ultimately end up living selfish, rotten lives.  What good was the start if our finish was so weak?

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Guest Post: The Helix Fossil, Bird Jesus & the False Prophet: The Newfound Triviality of Christianity

Today’s article is from Tommy, a great friend of the blog and a long time aniblogger.  He runs Anime Bowl, where he blogs about the latest episodes airing on Toonami, anime conventions, and Green Bay Packers football.

Only a few hours after America lapsed into the month of March, the worldwide phenomenon known as “Twitch Plays Pokémon” came to a conclusion, as the Aussies and whoever was left awake in the U.S. pushed Red past the Elite Four and Blue to a Pokémon League championship. After 16 days of democracy, anarchy and random button-mashing, the journey was complete1.

In case you’re not aware, “Twitch Plays Pokémon” was a “social experiment” conducted by an Australian who programmed a Game Boy emulation of Pokémon Red into the streaming service Twitch, making it so that anyone could type a command into the chat, and have the game respond to it. Thus “up” made the character go up, “Start” made the Start menu come up, and so on.

Of course, with the entire world able to play the game, chaos ensued. The main character Red would do bizarre things over and over again as tens of thousands of people (and bots) typed in commands. Progress in the game was made very slowly, if at all, because of the long list of commands coming through, not to mention the lag the video had with the chat. To tell the story of how the game was actually beaten would be far too long. This YouTube channel tells the story through video, while this Google document gives the facts in a different fashion.

But what made “Twitch Plays Pokémon” more than just a video game was its “religion” of sorts that its players created out of the events of the game. It began through the fact that Red kept on checking the Helix Fossil by mistake. This led to a joke that the Helix Fossil was a “god,” and the religious references spiraled out from there. Eventually it led to a full-blown narrative where nearly every major figure in Christianity was being referenced by the game players. Omanyte was “God,” Pidgeot was “Bird Jesus,” Zapdos was “Battery Jesus,” Gastly was the “Holy Spirit,” even Flareon was the “False Prophet.”

Twitch Plays Pokemon

Art by PurpleKecleon (Pixiv ID 41900018)

This isn’t a condemnation of those who came up with these ideas. Many of them were clever, and certainly quite a few of them brought quite a chuckle out of me (although of all the memes that “Twitch Plays Pokémon” produced, my favorite was the constant plea that “we need to beat Misty,” no matter how far in the game Red was).

The question I pose is quite different: has Christianity become this trivial in today’s society? We all remember how a small cartoon of Muhammad and a bomb caused such an uproar amongst Muslims, so much that even a book written all about the cartoon failed to include the actual cartoon itself, presumably due to the writer’s fear of backlash.

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Anime Today: Kill la Kill – Money is the root of all evil… right?

I will be blatantly honest. Kill la Kill is my least favorite anime to air in the past few years, and by quite a large margin as well. And yet, despite that, I continue to watch it. Blame its popularity, or blame my inability to drop a series (just ask Charles), but regardless of the “why,” I have been sticking through it. However, perhaps the underlying purpose of my watching this show despite it being what I consider to be an amalgam of mediocrity, has been to relate it to Anime Today. If that is so, then that purpose will be fulfilled today in this article.*

Normally, I would make some sort of statement claiming that I would do my best to stay unbiased and not to let my opinion of the show reflect my writing any further, but I think I’ve gone and jolly well proven that that is simply not going to be the case here. Regardless… I will do my best.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil.” Whether or not you actually believe that phrase, it is no question that society, or at least western society, both worships money while simultaneously reviling it in its idealism. Episode 15 of Kill la Kill attempts to do something rather interesting, or perhaps only interesting in comparison to what the rest of the series has had to offer thus far, and that is use that mindset as a framework for the combat skills of the newly-introduced character, Kaneo Takarada. Takarada, a ridiculously (and hilariously) wealthy and powerful figure in Osaka, centers all of his combat abilities around money. This ranges from literally using money as a physical weapon to using money in the more conventional sense as a bribery tool to cause others to do his bidding.

Kaneo Takarada

Art by 脱ぐ (Pixiv ID #41296798)

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Anime Today: Witchcraft Works – Reaction to the Overreaction

Speaking (or writing, rather) as someone who has both grown up an area of heavy Christian fundamentalism, and also currently resides in an area of Christian fundamentalism, I am absolutely no stranger to the distastes of the concept of witchcraft and magic. Dungeons and Dragons, Harry Potter, and Oujia boards were all equally condemned, though condemned in different contexts by different people.

The reason these topics have been brought to my mind, and consequently to paper, as of late comes in the form of the currently-airing series entitled, you guessed it, Witchcraft Works. Although it is still too early to tell what sort of quality the series will ultimately show itself to be, I have been constantly reminded of the “demonic” content that it includes that tends to drive Christians away from what is an otherwise entertaining romp in high school romance and fantasy. All of this culminates in this article today.

Ayaka Kagari

Art by 水薙竜 (Pixiv ID 31337502)

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Something More: Madoka > Jesus?

A prime goal of this blog is to encourage open discussion about faith, using anime as medium through we can ask questions, give answers, and promote knowledge and understanding.  I’m thankful that our posts here recently had some role in encouraging Tommy of Anime Bowl to write an article about how Madoka is lacking as a Christ figure.  And inspired by Tommy’s post, our old friend Alexander, who has contributed plenty to Beneath the Tangles by bring a very different viewpoint to user comments, guest posts, and cooperative posts, is beginning a week long series focusing solely on this idea: why Madoka is a better savior than Jesus.

Interesting topic, huh?

He’ll be posting daily this week.  Please visit Ashita no Anime to read the first of his posts, and return throughout the week to comment on others:

Madoka > Jesus – Human vs God

Something More: AnoHana and the Holy Spirit, God Using Bakuman, and Nausicaa as Jesus

Lady Saika discusses Haiyore! Nyarko-san in her examination of the elder God, Cthulu. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Tsunderin and MadameAce point out the Jesus allusion in a very critical review of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Guardian Enzo mentions a number of religious connects in episode four of Red Data Girl. [Lost in America]

The Medieval Otaku, frequently featured in this column, celebrated both his 100th post and one year blogging anniversarythis past week.  Congratulations! [Medieval Otaku]

There were a number of reviews posted this week that contained ratings and other information directed at Christian viewers:

Also, a little something more to something more – I missed a couple of articles (and maybe a lot more) the last few weeks as I’ve started to learn the ins and outs of Feedly versus Google Reader.  Here are a couple good ones I missed out on:

Our own Zeroe4 comments on his personal experience, specifically discussing how his own relationship with the Holy Spirit relates to his viewing of AnoHana and Jintan’s experiences. [Zeroe4]

Kokoro Hane tells how God motivated her through Bakuman to work on storyboards. [Kokoro no Uta]

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As part of the Something More 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. 

 

Something More: Faith is a 3-D Girl, Saint Young Men Movie Trailer, and Madoka is Not Jesus

D.M. Dutcher mentions Please Save My Earth in his article about the realness of Christ and his time on earth [Cacao, put down the shovel!]:

To end with an anime analogy. as much as it would be easier to be, our faith isn’t a 2-D girl. It’s always 3-D, with all the same issues and all the same joys.

In another article, D.M. Dutcher gives Haganai an NC-17 rating according to his movie rating scale for Christians. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

Medievalotaku asks questions about prayer and atheism in his review of Banner of the Stars II. [Medieval Otaku]

The full trailer for the Saint Young Men movie posted this week. [Anime News Network]

And finally, in case you missed it in my Wednesday post, Tommy explains why the comparison between Madoka and Jesus may not be a terribly fitting. [Anime Bowl]

An Easter Invitation

Why are Christians compelled to worship God?  Why do we believe in the face of scrutiny and increasing skepticism and ridicule?

The answer is in this day.  It’s in Easter and in our belief and our hope that despite who we are and what we’ve done, there is forgiveness.  There is hope, demonstrated through a sacrifice so deep, so costly, so pure, and so valuable, that we are moved heart and soul by a love that’s greater than anything else we’ll ever experience.

I hope that all you readers out there will find a church to attend today, even if you don’t usually attend.  And if you are not Christian, I encourage you to step through the doors of a church and open yourself to the possibilities of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Trust me, it won’t hurt you to go to a church service.

And if you need it, here’s further motivation, in the form of an anime:

Have a wonderful Easter, everyone!

Reader Feedback: Kotoura-San and Unclean Mouths – What Words Have Crushed Your Spirit?

I should never have given birth to you.

As quoted by Highway of Sushi Go Kart, this horribly hurtful phrase spoken to Haruka by her mom in episode one of Kotouro-san begins a spiral downward for the previously kind and bubbly girl.  There are few things more hurtful than condemning words from a parent, and particularly an exclamation as full of venom as this.

Our words are painful, and as Manabe infers, those who say such things or act in such ways were probably rotten to begin with.  Jesus states something similar:

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’

- Matthew 15:18 (NIV)

I’d like you, the readers, to use the comment area below as you’d like – as a confession, a discussion, a release, or in any other way.  If willing, tell us a painful utterance you’ve muttered, or one directed toward you that’s been painful – whether from a parent or anyone else.  Feel free to comment anonymously if it’s more comfortable.

And thank you for sharing!