A while ago, I decided to finish watching Silver Spoon, which I had watched during the summer, but hadn’t finished because I’d already been following the manga for several months. I already knew what was going to happen, and while the anime adaptation of Silver Spoon is good, it isn’t really any better than the manga. But there is something to be said for going over a story twice, and because circumstances change, I found that there were quite a few things that I saw differently the second time around.
In episode 8, something struck me in particular. Jachiken spent his summer working on the Mikages’ farm. All through the one month he had free from his intense work at Yezo Agricultural High School, he works equally as hard, and the Mikages appreciate his efforts. But when the summer starts to come to a close, and everything seems to be going so well, Hachiken forgets to connect a crucial tube that funnels fresh milk into a bulk cooler. Without anyone being around to notice it, the milk spills everywhere, spraying out by the litre and tumbling down the drain. When Hachiken realises just how much money he wasted, he’s understandably filled with guilt.
The Mikages would have every right to be angry with him, but instead they treat him graciously, telling him that what was done was done, and there was nothing he could do. One would think Hachiken would be a little relieved at this, but instead he only seems troubled further, and when they present him with his paycheck, he tries to refuse it.
I think sometimes rejection is our gut reaction when we’re offered something we don’t deserve, whether it’s forgiveness for a single mistake from another human or forgiveness for a multitude of mistakes from God. It’s like we think that by holding on to our guilt, we’re showing responsibility for our actions, or making amends in some way. But as natural as this is, it’s not a very reasonable response. None of us is really gain anything by holding on to our guilt, and trying to punish ourselves does nothing towards healing a wrong. The Mikages see this, and gently convince Hachiken to accept the money. He goes on to use it carefully, not taking their kindness for granted, which shows how we should respond to any kind of grace: by treasuring it. Because grace and forgiveness are worth far too much to be forsaken by our misguided guilt.
Only naive teenagers would think that their front of being in a romantic relationship could be kept up strictly outside of school. Of course, Kirisaki and Ichijou, the leads of Nisekoi, are just that – a couple of adolescnets. Their secret fake relationship has already been leaked out and they are mobbed upon their arrival at class. The faux relationship has already gotten away from the two.
But what’s further naive about the couple is that they ever thought they had control of the situation. Even before coming to school, their facade was beginning to break, in a different way. The less-than-intelligent gangsters in both families were skeptical (and obsessive Claude remains highly suspicious), and by the end of this week’s episode, Onodera knows a touch of the truth as well. Less than 24 hours from their first date and they’ve already lost almost complete control!
Most of us put up facades to some extent as well. We might display carefully constructed versions of ourselves before others or we might simply be hiding embarrassing or painful secrets. But as with Kirisaki and Ichijou, we don’t have as much control over our image as we might think.
In this week’s Kyokai no Kanata, we only saw a few glimpses of our main male character, Akihito Kanbara. He was absent in the lives of the other characters as well as in the show, skipping school, likely because he was unable to concentrate after losing control the previous night and almost killing a number of people, including some he holds dear.
Super demonic powers aside, I can certainly understand what it feels like after losing control. I’m an impatient man, and all too often I snap at my family members, who rarely, if ever, deserve it. And almost immediately, I feel guilty about my actions.
Guilt is a powerful thing – as with shame, it can lead to positive change as well as to pain and self-destruction. It’s also often associated with religion. While Christians should feel a sense of guilt after they sin, I hope that these feelings don’t act as a driving force in our lives. Instead, I hope that guilt is a reminder of grace – the penalty we were once under and the freedom we now have.
I want to hear your thoughts about guilt and how it intermixes both with religion and with your personal life.
What are your thoughts about the role guilt plays in the life of a believer, or more personally, in your own life? Is your life plagued by guilt? Has guilt driven you to do certain actions, bad or good? Has guilt had a very negative impact in your life? Have you overcome feelings of guilt?
Lately everyone seems to be talking about Urobuchi Gen and his recent works: Madoka, Fate/Zero, Psycho Pass, and most recently, Gargantia. He has become a popular name ever since Madoka. But honestly, as amazing as Madoka was with its religious themes and correlations, I consider it very overrated even though I enjoyed it greatly. I was not impressed with either Psycho Pass, despite its homage to Kara no Shoujo, or Gargantia. Fate/Zero was fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but being a prequel, a lot of the material was a foregone conclusion so it’d be misleading to attribute everything to him. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the rarely mentioned Phantom which aired not even 2 years prior to Madoka; even if it deviated from his original work, he has said he approved of the changes. However, if there is one work most often called his masterpiece, it is the very short VN Saya no Uta. While it may not be the best of the best, it is iconic in its own unique way and an interesting, albeit disturbing, read. Although it has some very questionable content, the themes Urobuchi explores with this is really fascinating.
Saya no Uta is easily the most…disturbing, disgusting, and immoral thing I’ve ever read, so as a forewarning, I will be mentioning things that readers may not feel comfortable with. Granted, it is an eroge, so some of it was inevitable, but even so, it certainly made me think, “should I really keep reading this?” at certain scenes and I probably would have stopped if not for the fast forward button. The premise of the story is that the protagonist Fuminori was recently in an accident and when he wakes up in the hospital, he finds the world appears completely different. To put it succinctly, his five senses detect everything as decaying, rotting flesh. From the walls of the hospital to the bodies and voices of everyone around him to the smell and taste of his food, everything is something straight out of a horror film. One thing I really liked about the initial set up was that Fuminori, being a medical student, was quickly able to determine that everything wrong with the world was only his perception, and as horrific as it was, he mentally recognized that the problem was with his senses. Nevertheless, the situation greatly affects his mental and physical health as he tries to continue his daily life while keeping his condition a secret. Then the heroine appears before him, a beautiful, innocent-looking girl named Saya who looks completely normal, the first human he has seen since his accident. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going on here: since Fuminori’s senses have been reversed, Saya is the real monster.
Last week, I accidentally posted the bio for Medieval Otaku, a wonderful blogger and friend to our site, in anticipation of his post this week. Rather than an error on my part, please consider it tease for this guest post!
Medieval Otaku is run by a bookworm inflamed with a desire for learning and for God. The study of foreign cultures, literature, and history eventually led to him discovering anime, which hooked him with the remarkable richness and beauty of its stories and is likely to remain a strong hobby of his for decades to come.
This morning, I took a rather pleasant break from Japanimation and a stroll down memory lane in watching The Swan Princess and The Secret of NIMH. Anime stands as my favorite medium for cartoons, but Americans have produced some truly wonderful full length feature films. The different ethos presented by the above movies was refreshing to see—in the similar way that I found serious anime refreshing in that they channeled an ethos reminiscent of ancient Rome. Watching these two films caused me to realize that I missed seeing this ethos played out in story and that I had perhaps recently started to lavish the most praise on anime bearing a more Western character.
At any rate, I should like to point out what The Swan Princess has to say about the nature of evil and ask a few questions about what the Japanese reveal about the topic. The Swan Princess saliently brings home the point that evil is built upon lies. We see this most clearly in the character of Rothbart, the evil enchanter and shape-shifter who attempted to usurp Odette’s kingdom while she was still a baby. Rothbart fails in his attempt, Odette’s father banishes him, and, when Odette turns 20, kills her father and abducts her.
I recently connected with Japes, a commenter on our blog and a new aniblogger, through our new Facebook account. I asked Japes to write a piece for us, a task which he graciously took on. The result is below. I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Japes is a full-time computer science major and follower of Christ at Liberty University. On the side, he arranges and records saxophone covers of anime/Vocaloid music through his Youtube account.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
I’ve been thinking the past few days about how people can have vastly different interests and can often be judged for how they spend their time. Many times I feel as though I am a member of that group “being judged” for having the amount of interest I have in Japanese culture, and particularly Japanese anime. However, through my personal devotions, Bible classes, and random theological discussions with friends, I believe I have reached a point in my life where I can truly appreciate ALL that I do in the name of God.
One particular thought that dawned on me was the idea of physical existence. Many religions in the world deny the physical, or regard it as “evil” (look at Hinduism and Buddhism, for instance), and many Christians do the same. Earlier in Colossians 3, Paul says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…”, but I believe that many Christians take that to the extent of denying the physical itself. If such thinking were true, then why would God have called Creation “very good” before the existence of sin? Wasn’t the world physical??
I’ve enjoyed a number of the opening episodes to this season’s new series, but perhaps none more so than Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin). The opening episode, and particularly the attack by the titans, was exciting, unsettling, and frightening. It’s every bit as compelling as Goldy mentioned it might be.
Episode one was filled with concepts that are ripe for analogizing, as the haughty and hiding villagers hid behind a wall of fall security, believing they were safe from the horrible dangers beyond. And though I’m aware that one analogy has to do with the ancient church keeping it’s people in the dark, the idea that stuck out most to me had to do with sin. As such, this post is a little bit “gloom and doom,” but hey, what would you expect after a tense episode like that?
When someone becomes a Christian, they are given a new heart, but that doesn’t mean they no longer struggle with sin. Indeed, we see the sin in our lives more obviously now and should take active steps to stop it. But sometimes, oftentimes, the reaction of a Christian might be to simply ignore personal sins. After all, it’s easier to pretend some vice isn’t there than to deal with it, particularly if it’s an addiction or something that might cause us embarrassment if revealed in the open.
I’m reminded of the villagers of Shingeki no Kyojin. Although warned by the “heretics,” they mostly feel secure within the walls and even ridicule the brave soldiers who do recon beyond it. After all, why worry with what’s out there, when everything’s fine in here?
Except, everything is not fine. Read the rest of this entry
Something More: Christmas Mass in Polar Bear Cafe, the Sins of Mirai Nikki, and Eureka 7′s Spiritual Character
Medieval Otaku compares how Mirai Nikki and Elfen Lied each demonstrate the nature of human sinfulness. [Medieval Otaku]
Nick Olson of Christ and Pop Culture includes early scenes from The Secret World of Arrietty among his 25 most memorable of 2012. [Christ and Pop Culture]
Suburban Banshee points out a scene involving Catholicism in the Christmas episode of Polar Bear Cafe. [Aliens in This World]
Among other observations, r0402 mentions how the spirituality of the William character in Eureka Seven stands in stark contrast to how it is shown through the rest of the series. [Ideas Without End]
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.
Special thanks to Don of Zoopraxiscope for passing the Polar Bear Cafe post on to me! If you’ve written such a piece or know of one, please email TWWK if you’d like it included.
Just one link this week, but it’s a good one! Nick Calibey discusses how our sin does not define us, using Inaba from Kokoro Connect as an example. [A Rather Silly Blog]
As part of the Something More series of posts (formerly Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere), 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.
For all the answers given (and questions brought up) in episode 10 of Shinsekai Yori, perhaps the most intriguing thing to me was the juxtaposition involving Shun. He, the most powerful of the main characters, has now become powerless to do anything about his fate.
It’s an interesting plot point that Shun must now suffer because he’s unable to control his immense power. I may not be able to mutate creatures or split the earth in two with my cantus, but my like Shun, I sometimes can’t help but lose control. In fact, my nature (or else the person I’ve become over the years) is one lacking in self-control.
Without Christ in my life, I would be mired in my self-destructive nature.
Shun is of course dealing with his subconscious thoughts crawling out through his ability. He tells Saki that our problems as humans is our inability to control our emotions. We are able to stop those emotions from becoming actions most of the time, unless you have telekinetic powers, in which case your innermost feelings are realized.
The characters of Shinsekai Yori try to control their cantus through hypnosis and mantras. We try to control our evil thoughts and desires in other ways. Either way, we can’t control our sinful nature perfectly.