D.M. Dutcher shares about Tomo, and out of print OEL manga. [Cacao, put down the shovel!]
Medieval Otaku touches on the theme of providence in Tokyo Godfathers. [Medieval Otaku]
He also explores religion in Wings of Honneamise. [Medieval Otaku]
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.
Yesterday, I gave numbers 6-10 on my list of the ten best Christmas anime. Today, we’ll complete our countdown!
5. Maison Ikkoku
I don’t think any anime series has ever done angst better than Maison Ikkoku, which balances that teeth-clenching feeling of “Why don’t they get together?!” with writing and character development that keeps us interested, still, one hundred episodes in. Episodes 39 and 40, one of a number of Christmas episodes in the series, is no different. Godai spends the episode tracking down an important rock (yes, rock) for Kyoko, and we see what each means to the other as the countdown to the Christmas party ticks away.
4. Chrono Crusade
I really dislike Chrono Crusade – I never made it to the end because I found it terribly boring. Episode 12, however, is an exception. While perhaps drifting into cheesy territory (though isn’t cheese acceptable during the holiday season?), the episode does a wonderful job of both being heart-warming and reminding us that not everyone feels happy this time of year, focusing on Azmaria and her sad past while demonstrating the power that we have to make the holidays special for those in need.
3. Love Hina
Without fail, I watch the Love Hina X’Mas special every year. Originally airing as a 44-minute TV special, the episode is the most romantic of the series (and quite possibly my favorite single episode of any anime), pushing past the pair of other episodes involving Naru’s confessions of love. Surely inspired by the aforementioned Maison Ikokku episode, the plight of poor Keitaro and the over-the-top pain that Naru puts him through makes the end of this episode all the more delightful.
2. Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
A melancholy episode, much like Read or Die’s, episode 35 of Macross involves pained feelings of romance against the backdrop of war during Christmastime. What sets the episode apart is how heavy it gets. As the violence of war leads to civilian casualties, there’s a poignant scene at the episode’s end in which townsfolk gather together, in an impromptu manner, to sing “Silent Night” at a bombarded church – a surprising and emotional way to end a superb episode.
And…at number one…
1. Tokyo Godfathers
The anime that tops my list is the only one that isn’t from a series – it’s a standalone movie from masterful director (and sorely missed) Satoshi Kon. The classic follows three homeless individuals who are trying to track down an abandoned baby’s mother on Christmas Eve. Though gritty and vulgar, the movie manages to be far more meaningful than most sappy Christmas fare, presenting several redemption stories amidst the violence and suffering of the streets. If you haven’t seen the film, by all means, please check it out this Christmas season.
So that does it for my list! Here are the entire top ten:
- Tokyo Godfathers
- Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
- Love Hina
- Chrono Crusade
- Maison Ikkoku
- Read or Die
- Big O
- Kimi ni Todoke
Now it’s your turn to chime in. What did I miss? What would be your number one? Or if you’d like, just give us your entire top ten in the comments below!
Tokyo Godfathers is a movie that follows three homeless individuals that find a baby in the trash around Christmas time and try to find the child’s parents. When I first heard the plot if the movie, I wasn’t really excited to watch it, but it’s a lot better than the basic plot sounds. The movie delves into ideas of shame, forgiveness, acceptance and belonging.
One interesting thing about this anime is the way Satoshi Kon used Christian elements. Kon really seemed to have a better understanding than most anime creators about Christianity. Instead of using random crosses as decoration here and there or a vampire fighting priest, he actually uses a sermon to set up the storyline that the characters hear while attending a dinner/sermon for the homeless.
“Jesus was born to offer those alone a place in which to be alive.”
And there were not many more alone in Japan than the three main characters. One is an alcoholic man running from debts, Gin, another is a transsexual, Hana, and the third a teenage runaway, Miyuki. Through the adventure of finding the baby’s parents, whom they name Kiyoko meaning ‘pure child,’ they each are forced to confront the reason they wound up on the streets.
They all have a different reason for leaving home, but the reasons are connected by feelings of shame and hopelessness. Each has done something they are ashamed of and are sure their actions mean they can never be accepted back home. I was particularly moved by the scenes with Miyuki, as she sits sobbing after confessing what she did to her father before running away saying that she can never return because of it and her breakdown after trying to call her parents and not being able to speak. Despite telling Gin and Hana she can return home whenever she feels like it, after her confession she says what she truly believes. Read the rest of this entry
Last December, as I prepared a series on Christmas anime, I knew that I would finally have to watch Tokyo Godfathers, something I’d put off for a long time. Of course, I was glad that I did watch the movie, which immediately became a favorite. While there were oh so many wonderful scenes, characters, and themes that shined in the film, one that’s stayed with me was how it portrayed the difficult life for homeless men and women. While most of us live in cozy houses, condos, or apartments, every city has a population of individuals who don’t have a place to call home. And whatever the situation was that led them to such circumstances, the reality is that their lives can be struggles, physically as well as in other ways.
In my small group this past spring, we read an engaging book that encouraged many of us to grow more deeply in our relationships with Christ. One chapter was specifically focused on the homeless, and it immediately nudged both my wife and I to make changes in how we approach those begging for money on street corners. Since that time, we’ve done little things like say “hi” or make eye contact, in an effort to treat them as they should be treated – as human.
A few weeks ago, we took another step. Joining together with several college kids at our church, we made care packages to pass out to the homeless. A wonderful project, it allowed us to show love to the homeless by providing just a few necessities. The bags had an impact beyond their small price, as the recipients seemed to genuinely be taken aback by our gesture and the hearts of the givers were thawed just a bit.
I encourage you to considering doing this little project as well – either with family, friends, a social group (your anime club?), or even by yourself. Here are some of the items you might want to include – I’ve put asterisks next to the items we included in our packages: Read the rest of this entry
Directed by Satoshi Kon
The Christmas Story
As the film begins, a Christmas Eve church service/dinner is being held for a group of homeless in Tokyo. Among them are alcoholic Gin, drag queen Hana, and teenage girl Miyuki. The three find an abandoned baby girl in the trash. Naming her Kiyoko, the three set out on a journey to find her mother. Along the way, the group will separate and come together again as they resolve and quit and resolve again to find the mother. Yakuza, hitmen, and ruthless young men are among the dangerous characters they encounter, as each of three experience miracles of their own as they seek to reunite mother and child.
I’ve seen little of Satoshi Kon’s work, having been turned off long ago by Perfect Blue, which fell into the “appreciated but not liked” category for me. Ironically, the master director’s death impressed a sort of urgency upon me to watch his films. I started with this one, which surprised me not so much in its technical merit (which is considerable), but in how it stirred my heart. Read the rest of this entry
Isn’t there a rule that says tearjerkers are reserved only for the last episodes of an anime series? Because Chihayafuru isn’t following that rule. Episode 3 hit four or five waterworks moments – a really beautiful episode.
In one of these moments, near the episode’s end, Arata says something to the effect that the three friends will likely never see each other again. We as the audience know this isn’t true. Chihaya and Taichi reunited in the anime’s first episode and we can be certain that Arata will meet up with them as well. But certainly at the time that Arata spoke, his prediction seemed probable.
Though the time in which these friends bonded was short, the impact was certainly long-lasting. Because of the odd nature of the group’s friendships and the forces that suddenly tore them apart, there’s feeling that fate or destiny is in control. For Christians, we might apply the Christianese phrase, “divine appointment,” to the situation. There was a reason why the group came together – it was meant to be. Read the rest of this entry