Monthly Archives: March 2011

Aniblogger Testimonies: Confessions of a Middle-Aged Otaku: Discovering Christian Messages In Anime

This is the second in a series of Aniblogger Testimony posts, where select writers will discuss their personal faith.  Today’s post is by R86, frequent contributor on Beneath the Tangles.  The previous post in this series was written by Lauren Orisini.

In this column, I intend to focus on my experience of anime as a Christian adult who discovered anime relatively late in life. It is probably enough to say of myself that I am an American male of vaguely European descent, in my early 40s, with a Ph.D. from a major Midwestern university in a physical science, and an educator by way of career.

I stumbled upon anime only within the last 5-6 years, and that mainly because I knew so many young people my students’ age were watching it. What I found at first was sometimes appalling (I was unprepared for the violence in Akira, for example, thinking I would be getting “just cartoons”), often silly, and usually entertaining. Mostly I wondered how I could so easily accept these strange depictions they call “anime characters” as replacements for live flesh-and-blood actors. Clearly I was in contact with something as different from American cartoons as one could imagine. And given my lifelong fascination with foreign languages, with one as different from English as Japanese being a slam dunk for capturing my interest, you will see why I was hooked before I knew it. Read the rest of this entry

More Like a Tin Roof Sundae

Are Christianity and anime two forms that are so different, they can’t be successfully combined?  Should one even try?  In a post that largely focuses on the anime and religion survey conducted here a while back, The Angry Otaku writes that it’s like putting soy sauce on ice cream – the two just don’t taste right together. 

By かもしかやしゃもじ (Pixiv) - Ice cream AND a Christian anime character - see what I did here?

The Angry Otaku’s post is really thoughtful and intelligent.  But even with his excellent post, I think there’s more to be said on the subject.  Well, of course I do – my whole blog is about the convergence of anime and Christian spirituality! Read the rest of this entry

Christian Fanart: Digital Art of Japanese Woodblock Style

The deviantART community is home to a large group of Christian arts whose work is influence by anime.  Some of the most talented have graciously allowed me to feature pieces of their art, including Beau Soir, sA-oHime, pancake-waddle and Genevieve GT.  Today, I’m featuring another amazing artist: ShouYume.  She has many wonderful pieces, including several with Christian themes.  The one below was particularly striking to me with its Japanese woodblock style.  It is entitled, Simon Peter, do you love me?

Simon Peter Jesus anime

Artist Reflections:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”

He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

John 21:15-17, NIV

We hear the Lord’s command; how many of us keep it? How many of us as Christians-that is, followers of Christ-offer others the opportunity to know the Lord through our testimony?

On a side note, this is my first attempt at a digital rendition of a Japanese woodblock style. Oh well, at least I tried! ^_^ Enjoy! =3

Yeshuah and Simon Peter. =3

This kinda took a good bit of like all day. I fail. Textures, as usual, come from [link] .

For more art from ShouYume, please visit her DeviantART page.

A Guide to the Guides: Spring 2011 Anime Series

Every three months, the anime blogosphere becomes filled with anime viewing guides for the upcoming season.  It’s an exciting time for anime fans, as anticipation is at its highest and not yet sullied by disappointing series.  It’s also the time where instead of creating my own guide, I do something which I think would much more handier – create a guide to the guides!  Below are some of my favorite winter 2010/2011 anime preview guides.

Preview Guides

  • T.H.A.T. Anime Blog
    Without fail, the writers at T.H.A.T. Anime Blog deliever excellent previews each season, including information like trailers, summaries, genres, and nifty additional details.  The shining spot, though, is the quick series of one-liners given underneath each listed series, which are often funny and written by some of the best and most knowledgable bloggers in the anime blogosphere.
    Grade A for great info and great fun
  • Random Curiosity
    This site provides a unique experience among preview guides.  In addition to giving necessary information about every series, it’s all the extras that make this guide stand out.  Divine includes additional season information (ex. how the disaster in Japan is effecting the schedule) and categorization and commentary about the shows in the concluding section.  Most importantly, the page features a table that shows when each show will air, and one for release dates of OVAs and movies.
    Grade A for being tabletastic and full of insightful and interesting reading
  • Emory Anime Club
    While the information about each show in this preview is no different from other sites, what stands out here is the commentary about each.  Tsuki and Steve write plenty about each show, providing the potential (given in percentages) for each, as well as other information, including comparisons to other series.
    Grade A for one-stop shopping and expert analysis
  • Sekijitsu
    The writers for this blog are energetic.  It’s fun to read their commentary about each show.  But maybe even better than that is how pleasing the preview is to the eye – the page is really attractive and each series is accompanied by a nicely-designed picture/information cube.  The bloggers are also smart in hiding the long commentary and trailers, which only show up when clicked.
    Grade A for design and blogger moeness

The above-linked guides were each mostly created by multiple bloggers.  I also appreciate the in-depth guides made, heart and soul, by singular bloggers.  Blogs that fit in this category (check them out!) include Otaku Life, Hashihime, Yuri no Boke, and Banana Muffin.

Charts and Other Preview-related Sites

  • The Cart Driver
    I’m not sure if Scamp was the first to create an “anime season preview chart,” but his may be the most prolific.  Frequently linked to and resposted, Scamp’s charts provide the basics of each show for the upcoming season in a clean and attractive format.
  • Moetron
    Moetron’s visual guide is very stylish and contains information about each series, as well as this spring’s OVAs and movies.  The site also gives a great TV listing schedule.
  • Countdown Anime
    This fun site provides countdowns for each of the new anime this winter.  It’s a neat way to get even more excited about the upcoming season.

Notes

I’m also looking forward to previews by Rabbit Poets and Major Arcana.  Each has excelled with their past previews, but I’m unsure if either or both will create such posts this year.

What I’m Looking Forward To

It’s always fun to look back and see what we planned to watch and how it turned out.  Last season, I mentioned that I was looking forward to Hourou Musuko and Fractale.  I’m still enjoying the first greatly, while I dropped the latter after just two episodes.  Instead, I picked up Infinite Stratos (for better or worse).

Typically, I only want to watch about two series each season, but this spring, I’m looking foward to four.  I’ve been waiting for Moshidora ever since I first heard about the concept last year – if nothing else, it should be fun and interesting.  Nichijou is the type of series that is usually hit-or-miss with me, but it’s director’s association with Key productions means I’ve got to give it a shot.  Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai has a storyline that captivates me and again, the director, who did work on Honey and Clover and Toradora!, two of my favorites, has me intrigued.  Finally, I want to check out Sket Dance, since I’ve nearly started on the manga a half-dozen times.

Enough of me, though.  What are you looking forward to this spring?

Aniblogger Testimony: Can Anime and Religion Coexist Peacefully?

This is the first in a series of Aniblogger Testimony posts, where select writers will discuss their personal faith.  This post is by the always-amazing Lauren Rae Orsini of Otaku Journalist.

When I think about the intersection between anime and religion, my thoughts always turn to Katsucon 2010. For those who weren’t there, this was the weekend that both Katsucon and Family Life’s Christian Values Summit were held at the Gaylord. 

Now, you’ll hear a lot of fantastic stories from convention attendees about crazy culture clashes that supposedly happened there, but my favorite wrap-up of the weekend came from a Vienna, VA woman who was attending the summit with her husband. She wrote:

As you can imagine, some of our fellow W2R attendees were not only confused, but horrified. Not understanding this culture, and what was going on created a disconcerting feeling in your gut. And now that I’ve done further research, I have to say I better understand the appeal, but remain concerned.

As for the staff of Family Life, you may be surprised to learn that Dennis Rainey & his wife (who founded FL) encouraged the W2R attendees to engage with these kids, ask what’s going on, & show them love, rather than judgmental looks. After all, they are the generation of the future!?

While it’s unfortunate that this particular Christian woman’s first brush with anime involved more Elfen Lied than anyone should have to experience, her reaction was exactly what anime fans often fear. The Christian group did their best not to be judgemental, but as you can see from her account, it was pretty difficult for them to be accepting. Imagine what they must have thought of Katsucon’s several Jesus cosplayers! Read the rest of this entry

Music Review: All We Have Is Now by Cait Plage

All We Have Is NowAll We Have is Now
Cait Plage
EP
Release Date: 3.29.11













Review
On her website, Cait Plage says, “My one goal in life is to share God’s love with you. My days, hours, and moments are numbered and I want to make them count.  All I really have is now!”

This theme is ever-present on Plage’s newest release, aptly titled All We Have Is Now.  Her second major release, the five-track EP conveys Plage’s heart through honest lyrics and messages that God wants her to convey.  What does this have to do with anime or manga?  Well, in addition to being a music artist, Cait Plage also was an amateur voice actor.  But it couldn’t be clearer that her true calling is in music.

The title track of the EP is a melodic pop tune that asks the listener if their “lifetime was only a day” would they “take it or waste it?”  She likewise asks us to live life to the fullest in “Live Love Loud,” which wisely instructs us to “just be who you are and not who they tell you.”

But Plage isn’t afraid to explore darker themes.  Her new single, “Pieces,” is about the frustration of falling romantically for a person who’s wrong for you.  “In Your Arms” explores a relationship that’s grown cold.  And in “Loaded Gun,” Plage opines, “I’m tired of the faking/presenting everyone’s happy that everything’s fine.”  In our Monday interview with Cait, she told us a bit about the emotional experience of writing that song, which about being disobedient to God – “It came 100% from my heart and 0% from my head… and I cried, a lot, as I wrote it.”

Plage’s messages are accessible and relevant, whether listeners are Christian or not.  Like a number of Christian artists, she avoids lyrics directly referencing God and Jesus.  And in a way, the songs are all the more powerful because of that decision – listeners can relate to and be inspired by without feeling preached to (similar Switchfoot’s Beautiful Letdown).

The album has a pop feel, but the tone is different on some tracks, coming across as contemporary folk.  It’s a nice juxtaposition that made it hard to pin down similar artists – her work is as varied as that of Sara Groves, Taylor Swift, and Nickel Creek.  Regardless, both styles fit Plage’s beautiful voice nicely.

Cait Plage is a wonderful singer and has crafted a catchy EP.  But more than that, All We Have Is Now is full of thoughtful and timely messages that I think will strike at the hearts of any who are willing to hear.

Rating: A

You can purchase Cait’s EP through iTunes or Amazon on March 29.

Cait Plage Album Promo

Check out the video below, which is an album promo for musician and voice actress Cait Plage’s new EP, All We Have Is Now, which comes out on March 29.  I’ll be posting a review of the EP tomorrow.

Interview with Singer and Voice Actress Cait Plage

On March 29, artist, songwriter, and worship leader Cait Plage is releasing All We Have is Now, her new EP.  The release “shares what God has placed openly on her heart.”  Cait describes herself as a bubble-tea-sipping singer-songwriter who once voiced Japanese anime and loves a good seaweed salad.”  I was blessed to have an opportunity to correspond with her about music, faith, and anime.

Cait and one of her favorites, Yuna

Cons Join Together to Create AnimeAid

AnimeAid is among the latest groups in the U.S. otaku community that are playing a visible role in raising funds for the Japanese earthquake victims.  A joint venture between major conventions in the Washington DC area, AnimeAid seeks to commit “to the task of assisting fan based support initiatives throughout the area to maximize the impact  in assisting the people of Japan.”  The group’s activities include:

  • aiding organizations in sharing their plans with others
  • helping to  consolidate activities to allow for effective outreach
  • and mitigating the costs involved in charitable efforts

The AnimeAid website provides further details, including contact information and details about campaigns and initiaitives the organization is supporting.  If you’re interested in working with AnimeAid, please visit the site.

Thanks to Lauren Orsini for informing me about this wonderful venture.

Where (Again and Again) Alexandra Wallace Got it Wrong

Another off-topic post (perhaps I’m doing too many personal ones these days), but I felt the need to write.  And so, here’s how Alexandra Wallace got it wrong, point by point (without nitpicking grammar). Read the rest of this entry