Blog Archives

Something More: Cain and Abel in Shiki, Anime in the Christian Life, and 7 Unholy Priests

I didn’t post a column last week, and what a week to skip – there were a number of provocative articles regarding anime and spirituality.  But that just means that this column, I’m including twice as much goodness!

Frank tells how Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha paints a picture of the Christian relationship with God, despite it being structured in a Shinto world. [A Series of Miracles]

Medieval Otaku explores the Cain and Abel story as given in Shiki. [Medieval Otaku]

Jay gives his thoughts on the e-book, “Teenager Today – Anime Fanaticism: Is it Spiritually Harmful?” [Deremoe]

Rob talks about conforming to the things of the world (especially anime), and gives advice about conforming to thing above. [Christian Anime Review]

Last week, Lynzee Lamb gave “7 Unholy Priests” in her column, “The List.”  Was there anyone you would have included that Lynzee did not? [Anime News Network]

Katie reviews Neon Genesis Evangelion from a Christian perspective. [Breaking Metal Windows]

I don’t know if this counts as “spiritual,” but it is fun: D.M. Dutcher counts down the five best moments from anime apocalypses. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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. 

Nobunagun and Evangelion, Response and Choice

While the idea of historic prodigies genetically inhabiting the bodies of our protagonists presents a unique plot, the structure of Nobunagun, one of the new series I’ve been following this season, is not new.  The first episode confuses us with significant, but as of yet unexplained plot points, while trying to overwhelm the audience with big action scenes.  Episode two only takes a few minutes to wrap up the commotion from the opening, spending the bulk of the episode exploring the protagonist’s conflicted decision about whether or not to become a heroine.

Sound familiar?  If you’ve been watching anime long enough, it should be.  It’s pretty much the exact same structure as Evangelion and similar to a number of other series.  It’s also perhaps not all that different from a number of superhero films, particularly those that are origin stories.

Shio Ogura

Art by しれい (Pixiv ID 40332724)

I don’t mind rehashed storylines – after all, that’s what most anime is – but I wish the decision would have had some more weight to it.  Shio doesn’t really seem to have anything going for her, and she really enjoyed becoming (or inhabiting, or being inhabited by?) Nobunagun, so for the audience, there doesn’t seem to be much of a conflict here.  As for Asao, she’s supposed to function as the guiding light toward the ultimate decision, but I didn’t find her works particularly deep or impactful.  I guess there’s not really much to say, after all.

What I do like, though, about Shio’s choice was that it was a choice.  She made the conscious decision, after much thought and advice, to fight for humanity.

Read the rest of this entry

Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Hero Named Shinji

EVA Unit 01Two years ago I watched one of the most well known anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. I didn’t like it. It was weird. Strangely though, one of my favorite aspects of the show was Shinji Ikari. The kid who couldn’t do anything. Mocked in anime circles world wide, this kid was the only thing that grounded me to the original series.

Shinji is not your typical hero. He is definitely not the typical shōnen style hero. He is known as a coward. He is known for his complete indecisiveness and lack of motivation. He is not a hero by most peoples perspectives. However, I think he is much more like a real life hero, than a fictional and romanticized one. I do not believe Shinji is a coward, he is a compassionate hero.

When Shinji is first taken to NERV in all adaptations, he meets his Father who abandoned him, is asked to pilot a giant synthetic human, and then is faced with a beat up and barely able to stand girl and the first pilot Rei. A little overwhelming. Not to mention, he just witnessed the enemy he has to fight withstand humanities most powerful weapons, while destroying a couple major cities. And yet he still decides to pilot EVA Unit 01. He does it out of compassion for Rei. Everytime he gets in an EVA, he is risking his life. But he isn’t doing it because he wants to. He does it because if he doesn’t someone else will have to and in many cases, no one else can. Is that not a heroic quality?

To often we think of heroes as super people who do amazing things with total resolve and selflessness, but how many people do you know that have total resolve or are selfless all the time? I don’t know any. A hero is a person with character who is motivated help someone with whatever means necessary (often spontaneous and drastic.) Someone who in a moment is selfless in sacrifice and resolved in a difficult task in order to protect someone else.

I am from a culture that values heroics. I am a military brat. Ask anyone who has been in a firefight or has been through the hell called war and they won’t say they fight for their country; they don’t fight for freedom. That may be a piece of it, but they fight for the people next to them. They fight for there families and those that they love. Shinji fights for Misato, Rei, and his friends from school. Shinji is selfless, he just doesn’t know it.

Read the rest of this entry

Something More: Heaven in Saiyuki and Haibanem Renmei Religion

Josh W. provides some short thoughts on Haibane Renmei, including a significant and insightful one about the religious allusions in the show. [Res Studiorum et Ludorum]

Lady Saika uses Saiyuki‘s depiction as an example of how Heaven is portrayed in series and film. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Rocklobster points out the problems that the religious may have with Evangelion in his positive review of the series. [Lobster Quadrille]

D.M. Dutcher gives advice to Christian viewers in his review of Linebarrels of Iron. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]

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Special thanks to Don of Zoopraxiscope for the link to the Haibane Renmei post!

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: Jesus and Buddha Talk Evangelion, Buddhism in Paprika, and Haibane Renmei’s Purgatory

I took a break last week from Something More, so today’s links are for articles posted over the last fortnight.  Enjoy!

Nami gives her thoughts on Trigun, including how Vash and Wolfwood’s beliefs mirror or disagree with her own Christian ones. [BookLoversUnite]

Rocklobster gives Haibane Renmei a 10/10 and in his review, mentions the possible Christian allusions in the series. [Lobster Quadrille]

In his Secret Santa post, dliessmgg closes by mentioning the possible Buddhist ideas underlying Paprika. [Inflating the Tokidoki Balloon]

Hervé St-Louis gives an unfavorable review of the Happy Science anime film, The Mystical Laws. [ComicBookBin]

Teaser trailers for the Saint Young Men film are up and apparently satire Evangelion (someone fill me in?). [Anime News Network]

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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. 

Turn the Other Cheek, Ikari!

Neon Genesis Evangelion is full of memorable scenes.  Among those is an early one featuring Shinji and Rei on an escalator.  Shinji, full of anger toward his father, expresses his frustration.  The mostly emotionless Rei responds in a surprising way – by slapping her fellow pilot.

If Ikari had been a Christian (like Misato?), perhaps he would have literally turned the other cheek.  After all, this was instruction provided by Jesus.  Then again, maybe he would have been interpreting that instruction wrongly.  In his book, Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary, J.D. Greear posits that the cheek was symbolic of relationships to Jews in Jesus’ time.  Striking the cheek meant to break that relationship, while offering the other meant to “reoffer” the relationship.

This reminds me of another scene in Evangelion that happens just a few episodes later.  Shinji, still stung by years of neglect, begins to speak to his father again.  They visit a gravestone commemorating Shinji’s mother and have some tender words (as much as they are capable of).  It would be a monumental step toward reestablishing relationship – toward turning the other cheek – if not for the irredeemable spirit that is Gendo Ikari.

Evangelion Ikari

Art by Siv

Most of the people we come into contact with are quite unlike Gendo; though they may be full of pride, most are still willing to bend somewhat.  And when we understand the radical love that can transform our lives, and how irredeemable we ourselves are, we are able to step forward and offer the other cheek to difficult people we know.

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Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Kokoro Community, Fairies Invent Religion, and Exorcising Anime Demons

Draggle continues his fabulous series of posts on Kokoro Connect, defining community and showing how various characters contributed to being part of one in episode eight, before tying it all together with biblical teachings. [Draggle's Anime Blog]

Processr compares episode nine of Humanity Has Declined to Gulliver’s Travels, complete with criticism of religion. [Anipulse]

Lady Saika examines demon possession in Supernatural and Blue Exorcist, and invites readers to give other examples. [Lady Geek Girl and Friends]

Mira mentions the spiritual journey in The Wings of Honneamise in her collaboration post with Cholisose. [Cholisose!]

Sweetpea finishes her Evangelion posts with End of Evangelion, and closes with some discussion of the characters’ attempts at creating a god. [Going in Blindly]

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Wisdom of Heartseed, Ghibli in Catholic Magazine, and Christianity in Evangelion, Trigun, and FMA: Brotherhood

Draggle continues to examine Kokoro Connect with Christian language, finding the kids caught up in a battle between flesh and Spirit, and Heartseed as similar to Ecclesiastes’ teacher. [Draggle's Anime Blog]

Sarah Greydanus, the teenage daughter of reviewer Steven D. Greydanus, reviews Whisper of the Heart. [National Catholic Register]

After finally finishing Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sweetpea provides her overview of the series, including some commentary on the use of religion in the show. [Going in Blindly]

Rocklobster review a classic, Trigun, and includes examination of Vash as a stand-in for Christ and of Wolfwood’s portrayal as a priest. [Lobster Quadrille]

Annalyn is rewatching FMA: Brotherhood, and notes some commentary about religion in the show. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

On a more somber note, Annalyn also reflects on the death of a young man she knew. [Annalyn's Thoughts]

Shinji and Me: Up and Down and Up Again

I relate to Shinji Ikari more than I’d like to admit.

A friend of mine is diving into Neon Genesis Evangelion for the first time, and I’m sure she’s discovering what I saw in my first viewing, that Shinji Ikari has great highs and great lows, and not necessarily with the latter first and earlier last.  His experience does not lead to linear growth in character building.

Such is me.

Art: “Beautiful World” by はち@ついった

A few months ago, I shared how I’d grown a lot spiritually during my time in the hospital.  And for days and weeks afterward, I was a new person.  Unfortunately, that lifestyle hasn’t lasted.  Like a high school kid at a church retreat, I’d lost my momentum and returned to my normal self – my often grumpy, generally impatient, and usually hypocritical self.

Like Shinji, who receives praise after annihilating an angel, even after reaching a high, I still find a way to sink low.  This, even knowing that becoming a better person is within reach.

I guess that’s human nature. Read the rest of this entry

Passion Week, Day 4: Loving You for Who You Are – Kaji and Misato

Neon Genesis Evangelion, the first series I ever owned on DVD, introduced me to the idea of “shipping.”  I didn’t know that term back then, but I did know I was interested in certain couples becoming items.

But I didn’t just focus on the obvious in the Eva pilot love triangle.  I also liked the coupling of Misato and Kaji, who remain my two favorite characters from the series.

Evangelion Misato

Art: "【EVA】The Dawn" by C.T.魚餅子

The early episodes with Kaji largely portray him as smug and a womanizer.  And early on, Misato seems completely in control in any and every situation.  However, as the series progresses, the two depictions change – Kaji is more heroic and loving and Misato is more lost and unsure.

The truth is, neither character is what they seem at first.  Certainly, Misato’s is the one who suffers the most from the change in characterization.  But in terms of the world depicted in the show, Kaji knows from the beginning who Misato really is.  He knows her struggles, her past, and her insecurities.

And he loves her anyway. Read the rest of this entry