Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Japanese Don’t Believe in God

This probably isn’t news to you if you’re any type of Japanophile, but a recent study by the University of Chicago reveals that out of 30 countries surveyed, Japan had the least number of “strong believers” in God (and it’s on the decrease).  Only 4.3% of respondents believed strongly in a God, compared to 60.6% in the United States.  The Huffington Post gives a short summary and provides a table of responses used to determine the belief one has in God.

Anime reflects this lack of belief in God or any higher power.  While religious practice is strongly emphasized in anime, worship of God is lacking (this season’s Sakamichi no Apollon standing as an exception).  The Japanese are what Ian Reader cleverly calls “practically religious.” Their religion is a part of everyday life, an imbedded cultural aspect.  Going to shrines on New Year’s or saying “itadakimasu” before eating is more a reflection of culture and etiquette than it is faith for the Japanese.

Japan Happy New Year

Image by Art Jam

Still, from a Christian perspective, I wonder which percentage God is more concerned about – the Japanese one or the Christian one.  While the Japanese don’t even pretend to claim to believe in God, the majority of Americans still proclaim their unwavering belief that God exists.  But I think that a typical non-believer might think as I do, that there aren’t that enough Christians in the U.S. that follow God’s second greatest commandment, to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Read the rest of this entry

Anime Teachers Are Better Than Real Ones (Sometimes)

Tomorrow is May 1.  When I think of May, I think “graduation.”

Our church emphasizes graduation by a tradition of “sending off” graduating seniors through a wonderful night for the seniors, with each class of students preparing something for the evening (a nice dinner, skit/video, etc.).  The seniors sit at the lead table and get embarrassed as adulation flows from the excitable underclassmen.

On my night, years ago, the freshman class presented a skit for each senior.  For me, their skit was entitled “Great Teacher Chuckie.”  That’s right – Great Teacher Onizuka meets me (Charles), the soon-to-be-teacher.  The premise made the whole audience burst out laughing.

It was an evening I’ll always treasure.

I never watched that anime, so I’m not sure exactly how great of a teacher Onizuka is, but I can say this firmly: I was most certainly not a great teacher.  I struggled with self-control, particularly.  But I can say this – I loved the kids enough that somehow, through all my faults, I was able to touch the lives of a number of my students.

This reminds me of Yukari from Azumanga Daioh; for all her laziness and tardiness, she manages to truly invest in her students’ lives.

Azumanga Daioh teacher

I driver better than Yukari…slightly. (Art by あつろう)

Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: In the Garden of Yuri, the Significance of Jesus Cosplay, and Hindu Anime Cola

Ray wonders what would have happened to him if anime had never come into the picture, and ponders about the connection between his Christian faith and that medium. [Anime Diet]

Also on Anime Diet, Monsieur LaMoe laments the lack of nun characters this season, as he graphically explains why is moe for Christian girls, while more seriously explaining a bit about missional schools in Japan [Anime Diet]:

Guilty pleasure is the most sinful! Virgin Mary now becomes a symbol of yuri! If I’m a girl, I would be definitely worshiping our Lady!

Charles Dunbar’s recent post is a fascinating piece comparing religious gatherings and conventions and includes a very interesting story about an Easter service and an individual cosplaying as Jesus. [Study of Anime]

Dliessmgg shares matter of personal faith while emphasizing how anime can be a religious experience. [Inflating the Tokidoki Balloon]

Suburbanbanshee provides some context for the Catholic imagery in episode 2 of Sakamichi no Apollon. [Over the Rhine and Into the Tiber]

Draggle also gives his feedback on episode 2 of Sakamichi no Apollon, including some thoughts on the introduction of Christianity into the plot. [Draggle's Anime Blog]

Bitmap examines some of the mysteries of Mysterious Girlfriend X, episode 2, including a cola can that references Hindu astrology. [The Untold Story of Altair and Vega]

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As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere 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. 

Not So Fast, My Friends: Fasting from Anime and Other Concerns

One of bloggers here, Zeroe4, recently completed a “media fast” in which he abstained from the Internet and other carriers of media for a week.  It’s an interesting concept.  After doing some research, I found others who’ve fasted from media and more specifically, anime.

Art by poo

Fasting is especially topical in light of Easter, when many Catholics and others broke their Lenten fast.  The idea of the fast is obviously not limited to Christianity and is practiced to some extent by all major religions.  There are also a variety of reasons for fasting, though a main spiritual one is this: to purify oneself, possibly from a distraction or something otherwise harmful for an individual, so as to better focus on some other goal.

I don’t feel the need to have an anime fast at this point in my life, but I do understand addiction. Read the rest of this entry

Light Invades Darkness – Japan: The Start of My Journey

Hello everyone. I am writing this blog post at a Pause Cafe in Ikebukero, Tokyo. I am in Tokyo as part of a Discipleship Training School (DTS) run by Youth With A Mission (YWAM.)

I left Anchorage, Alaska on the morning of the 29th of March. I flew to SEA/TAC (Seattle Tacoma International Airport). Then I flew to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). After a night in LA, I flew for twelve hours to Narita Tokyo International Airport. Then I took a two and a half hour train ride to Edogawabashi Station, which is the closest station to our house. Our house is definitely an example of missionary living, ten guys, one house, one bathroom, and one awesome God holding things together. All of us here have gone through some radical transformation in our hearts. One of the girls broke her foot last week, and God healed all the bones in three days. Read the rest of this entry

Iota Soul: Manga for Orphans

Two week ago, among the booths and busyness of the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC), one vendor’s artwork stood in contrast to the rest.  While the OEL manga he promoted featured beautiful artwork, like you’d expect to be displayed at a con, it was the piece’s purpose that was surprising.  Tony Bradshaw’s manga, Iota Soul, is being developed to bring awareness to the millions of orphans around the globe.

The manga’s story focuses on Kyle and Alex, orphaned brothers struggling to survive.  Their predicament grows more dangerous as an organization that conducts dark experiments on “forgotten children” sets their sights on the two, who must escape or risk certain death.

Alpha, one of Iota Soul's protagonists

The project originally began about three years ago, when Bradshaw, who works with noted radio host and financial expert Dave Ramsey, was looking for a way to double his income so that he could give it away.  “Many times you hear people say do something you are passionate about, so I came up with 2 ideas. Cars and Anime.”  He started with the earlier, but had an experience which shifted his focus:

One night as I sat on the couch watching TV and working on my automotive community site, I felt as if the Lord was telling me, “Pssst. Not this project.” It was pretty surreal. I packed up my files and deleted all my work. Then I began working on Iota Soul. That was July 2009.

Read the rest of this entry

Accel World 03: It Ain’t All Roses (or Drifting Away from the Faith)

Accel World is totally a fantasy for the losers, the otaku, the overweight, the bullied, and the less-than-attractive.  It practically throws itself at that audience, screaming, “Live vicariously through this series!”  Also, the OP is terribly corny with a great song choice…for 2002.

So of course, I’m absolutely loving it.

Episode three was better than the previous two.  Some backgrounds were revealed and we learned more about Haruyuki’s best friends and Kuroyukihime.  And what we learned most about them is that they, too, have problems.  These beautiful, popular, loved young people have issues they struggle with as well.

Accel World

Art by しんそ

It reminds me of the difficulties Christians encounter in life.  There’s this moment that many of us have where wejust get it.  We come to see the depths of our sin and heights of God’s grace and our lives are changed.

But despite seeming to be put altogether, like Haruyuki’s friends, a Christian’s “top of the world” moment is temporary, until the high wears off and jobs, studies, financial problems, girls (or boys), depression, hurtful people, alcohol, drugs, health issues, entertainment, pornography, or any of a variety of things derail our spiritual progress.  In the short term or in the longer term, many start to lose faith, in practice if not in declaration.  Read the rest of this entry

Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere: Jazzy Christians, the Religious Context in Tsuritama, and Holy Spit!

Anime Kritik takes an unusual approach to the spit-filled first episode of Mysterious Girlfriend X, taking about, among other things, Biblical ideas regarding spit (and other bodily fluids) and the freedom of the New Covenant. [Kritik der Animationskraft]

Mira does an amazing job of unraveling the religious symbolism, including Hindu, Buddhist, and Shinto elements,  connected to the opening myth (and therefore the locale) presented in episode one of Tsuritama. [Hachimitsu]

This week revealed that Christianity may play a significant role in the new anime, Sakamichi no Apollon.  A number of bloggers mentioned this, with Tsuki giving more thoughts than most. [Emory Anime Club]

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As part of the Spirituality in the Anime Blogosphere 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. 

Cross Game Vol. 7 and a Lack of Institutional Control

In Viz Media’s most recent Cross Game release, Ko and the rest of the squad begin their tournament, edging closer to the dream of making it to Koshien.  As they battle squads that are more and more superior, the team keeps responding with wins.

But strangely enough, even as they win, the team seems to have less and less control of the games.  One game ends with a downpour; in another Akaishi can’t control his emotion and plays poorly; and in yet another, Ko literally has control issues, walking a multitude of hitters even though his pitches are sizzling, approaching 100 mph.  Their wins even come in strange ways, with Azuma hitting pop flies (something that must be common for him, but which Adachi never otherwise illustrates) and Senda, of all players, hitting a home run.

Aobo Tsukishima clover

The clover motif plays a large part in this volume. Remember, luck implies that something is out of one's hands.

This theme of “lack of control” runs throughout the volume.  And it’s not the games that demonstrate it most, but rather the hospitalization of Akane.  Read the rest of this entry

Hello, Aniblog Tourney! Goodbye, Pride!

Man, I love tournaments.  I fondly remember the Street Fighter 2 tournaments I played in as a kid against the other Korean kids at church (and subsequently lost in the first round – Dhaslim, why must you always let me down!) and in college, playing in Madden tournaments (and getting blown out).  And every year, I fill out brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament and…do really badly.

Hmm…is there a pattern developing here?

Despite my poor track record, my thoughts when it came to the Aniblog Tourney were quite…optimistic:

  • Maybe we’ll get a high seed!
  • We should make it through the first round easily (note: this was before the brackets were released)
  • Maybe we can be this tourney’s Listless Ink and go deep into the tourney
  • We’ll be getting a bunch of new subscribers!

And this is from someone who just wrote about being humble. -_-’

It's okay, little blogger - after all, how could you expect to compete with psgels? (Art by 黒子と白子)

Read the rest of this entry