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I had my attention drawn back to a post I made about how Steins;Gate has some relations to how we should look at heaven and spreading the good news. Specifically with Okabe Rintaro. Interestingly enough, it also has some relations on the walk of a person in their life without Christ. Who is the best case of showing this? Okabe again actually.
Bear with me, but I know what I’m talking about. First off there is the first time travel message. Little does he know it, but he has just set his world on a crash course to misery and sorrow. As he continues to send texts into the past messing with everything from his friends gender, to saving a friends dad. All of these things are leading to one event. The death of his best friend. As the sinister plot around him unfolds he is the only one who realizes it and it’s starting to destroy him inside. The one person who helps him out of this is his “assistant” Makise Kurisu. She keeps on helping him despite the fact that he hasn’t treated her at all well. Through everything, she is there giving him the insight, focus, and encouragement to keep on going. Then everything changes. He realizes that to save his best friend in the entire world, he must sacrifice Kurisu, since his original message back in time was one telling of Makise Kurisu’s murder. After all of the time she has spent with him, she tells him to do save his friend. Through some special time travel shenanigans, a certain familiar friend from the future comes back to save Makise. It’s only through this friend’s interference that he reaches a world where the people around him are safe. This is his heaven also known as Steins;Gate.
I could go off here about how Makise Kurisu is a Christ figure, but I won’t. Not today anyways. What I see in Okabe is the path of someone lost and alone walking down a path going to despair and destruction of all he holds dear. A road to hell. As he reaches his rock bottom, there is someone there to pick him up and push him along. In our everyday lives there is a correlation. Jesus is his name. As we accept his forgiveness and repent, its as if it never happened in the eyes of God the Father. The last step is pretty cool to. Because even though Jesus died, he was raised again. After he left his disciples, he sent another to guide them in the paths of righteousness. Thus the time travelling friend to save Kurisu. At the end of his life a Christian, a repented sinner following Christ, can look forward to a place with no dying. A place like Steins;Gate.
World Trigger is an interesting anime. I’m not sure exactly what it was that drew me to it, but I’m sooo glad it did. My enjoyment of the show is in the little the things. At first the small drawn out episodes had me wondering why the heck I was watching this show? After all I’m watching a slow moving Shonen anime with what seems to be a predictable plot line. Then they introduce Chika, a small, understated girl, who, we assume, is a shallow love interest for the main character of the show. We find however that she, and the show, are so much more than they initially pretend to be. The events of world building eventually give way to interesting, and unique battles where all of those little details are formed into one cohesive unit. The show still has an abundance of exposition, and the pacing can still be slow due to the way in which they set up the major battles. The details though make all the difference.
I like to think that though our live can seem so hectic, or boring, or full of unnecessary occurrences, God knows exactly what He’s doing. He’s building us up along with our world for something greater. He building towards the climax of the greatest story ever told. After all God sent Jesus to save us, but the climax is when Jesus comes back triumphant. When Jesus sends the devil and his servants to the lake of fire will be the final victory. God in his eternal wisdom, love, and knowledge has been building a world that is getting more and more interesting. The details make a world of difference.
So I saw the leaked trailer for X-men Apocalypse (you can view it here). I honestly was pretty excited about this movie. After all this is my favorite Superhero team we’re talking about facing a villain who’s been sorely under-utilized. However in viewing the trailer, Apocalypse says something that gave me pause, “I have been called many things over many lifetimes. Ra, Krishna… Yahweh.” I can understand referencing Christianity and Judaism. After all his entire motif comes from the book of Revelation, but to attribute the entirety of Christian belief to a villain not only by Apocalypse, but having a scientist claim the same thing was something (even associating Christians with Apocalypse worshiping cults) I was not expecting something that outright called him God. Yes he is a false God, but in this world they pretty much just came out and refuted God’s existence. I know to some it will seem like a minor event, after all this world isn’t real. To me though, this is a sign that the movie may be going places that I cannot follow. So what do you think of this trailer?
As a Christian, I found that I had to ask myself this question “What media is okay for me to consume and what isn’t?”. It wasn’t an easy answer, and it hasn’t been easy to always stick to my resolution, but it’s a necessary part of enjoying anime. The first time I remember having trouble with where to put my boundaries was actually long before I ever watched an episode of anime (other than the speed racer i watched as a kid). The issue was that I was playing a game you may have heard about, Skyrim. This game was full of things that until that point in my life, had been off limits and to be honest it became one of my favorite games consuming massive amounts of time to the point that I failed 3 classes because I’d slacked off so much. This was one of the lowest points in my life, and honestly I didn’t care. I found that my spiritual life was deteriorating fast, and honestly i was clueless as to why. I was lying to my mom’s face (something I’d never been able to do before) and losing everyones trust. I later learned that Skyrim was full of references both distant and direct to occultism, and I’d embraced them wholeheartedly in my attempt to become the “Dragon Born”. I honestly believe that my actions in a game that I loved were negatively affecting my life in more ways than just my sleeping habits. I was losing my way. Years later I found out about how real the forces I’d been playing with were, and resolved never to do it again. Around this time I started watching anime. One of the first shows I watched was Sword Art Online. While the second arc was okay at best and an atrocity at worst, I found something Kirito said wise beyond belief he said (and I’m parahphrasing) “What we do in a game affects us in real life” I looked back on my time in Skyrim, and couldn’t help but believe that his words were true. As I went on watching anime, I discovered Log Horizon (when you tell someone you like SAO this usually comes up as a suggestion) I found a scene with a pentagram in it and went on not thinking about the problem it might cause for others in my life. When I ordered the dvd of it, I’d completely forgotten about it when my Dad asked if it was “okay” for our house. This for some reason opened my eyes to something I’d never seen before about occult symbols. If you bring something in willingly that is of the devil, he has a foothold in your life. It has taken me a long time to get used to saying no to something I want to watch, play, or read because of it’s content, but as time has gone on and I stopped watching many shows because of my conscience. I’ve also felt my spiritual life coming to new heights because of it. Now here’s what I’m not saying. I’m not saying you need to follow my rules, that skyrim is inherently evil, that Log Horizon is of the devil, or you’re going to hell if you watch something with pentagrams in it. What I AM saying is that as Christians we are called to a standard pray hard about what God wants you to do about this and follow his guidance. There needs to be a limit on what we do or we will find ourselves in a world of spiritual hurt. Make some guidelines and stick to them. It won’t be easy, but the reward is definitely worth it.
Studio Ghibli is a company that shines when it asks the question “What is it that makes us human?” This is shown in all of the movies I’ve enjoyed from Ghibli. Whispers of the Heart, The Cat Returns, Porco Rosso, Lupin III Castle of Cagliostro, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s moving Castle, Grave of the Fireflies, From up on Poppy Hill, and now When Marnie was There. Each of these are stories about what it means to be human. Sometimes they make you cry. Sometimes they make you laugh. One thing that is sure about them though, they’re all unforgettable. Each story is so different from the last. When I watch a Ghibli movie, I’m usually looking for something beyond what I watch in anime. I don’t want more of the same I want something I don’t get anywhere else. A story that takes me on a journey, and after watching has made me think about whatever it is that has been told. In Howl’s Moving Castle I saw a supernatural story which was about so many things, but at the end of the day had a simple message. Resolve conflict in your life. Grave of the Fireflies showed a perspective on WWII that I’d never seen before. Whispers of the Heart struck incredibly close to home for me, and I cried in When Marnie was There. If the studio should stop producing feature length films permanently we will have lost one of the all time greatest animation studios. They will be missed.
By the way, here’s a short video I found commemorating the good, the bad, and the weird of Ghibli.
So I’m going to see When Marnie Was There this week, and in anticipation I thought I’d make 2 articles about my experiences As the title suggests I have a problem with Studio Ghibli. While I will admit that their movies are always well animated, the stories are… unusual. I’ll start off with my biggest disappointment Princess Mononoke. It wasn’t anything like what I expected the movie to be. After all it starts out by showing a great hunter defending his village from a demon and being infected. He then has to go out of his village. Seems like the setting for a pretty intense adventure story, but instead we get a commentary about how humanity should be more willing to work with nature and how humanity and their technology is evil. I also have this weird tick where when someone gives a story something like this I have issues. I feel like all you’re doing is preaching a gospel of the trees will save you and that if we would all go out and hug trees then the worlds problems would be solved. Don’t get me wrong I love nature, and am willing to do my part, but not in the way most of these movies and series suggest. This isn’t the only story to go down this road either. Castle in the Sky had this theme very heavily towards the end. So much, that I was felt the ending slightly spoiled a perfectly good movie. I honestly couldn’t get through Pom Poko I just couldn’t relate to these little raccoons who for some reason could shape change. My greatest sin, though would probably that I didn’t get through the first half hour of Nausicaä of the valley of the Wind because as me and my family put it “This is just another tree hugger movie.” My other main issue I have is that the pacing can be a bit off. For example while I enjoyed it My Neighbor Totoro felt like it needed another 10-30 minutes to wrap things up. My last complaint is a minor one. The studio uses a lot of Shinto and Buddhist imagery which being a Christian can be something that I have an issue with. I know this may sound harsh, but I’ll do another article about the things I like about Ghibli films.
This is a repost from a blog i used to do over on Blogger.com It was the only one I actually felt had something to do with what I talk about on this one.
With a title like this I’m sure that there’s one way that you’re thinking of “Fan Service.” This term is usually used to refer to girls shown in ways that can best be described as “playing to the fantasies of teenage boys”. This however, will not be the main focus of this post. The main focus is actually something much more subtle. It’s the ordinary life.
Friendship in anime is often a kind of wish fulfillment. I want you to think about the stereotypical Otaku. He/She is someone who is antisocial, lives with their parents, and spends all of their spare change on things like anime con. If this is the target audience is a bunch of people who are like this, then it would make sense that in order to make the person feel apart of something is a huge part of the appeal. I’ll give an example. In just about every Shonen anime (Kuroko’s Basketball, Fairy Tail, One Piece ect.) has a main group who supports the main character as they go through their challenges and help to bring both the main and the group to new heights. If you were to look at Japanese society, the people are often closed off to people and are a very “Buttoned Up” group. A close knit group of friends isn’t something that we usually hear about Japanese boys/young men. Instead we wind up thinking about those stories of people who are so hardcore on their gaming that they’ll play for 3 days straight or such workaholics that they will work til the late hours of the night regularly. I know that I’ve always loved shows like Fairy Tail because of the relationships, but I rarely go out of my way to cultivate a new friendship. So in some ways I find I fall into this category.
Another type of wish fulfillment is family. I can name 2 anime which focus on the relationships of a family and may actually be a form of wish fulfillment for some who watch it. The first would be Clannad After Story. Clannad After Story tells a story of multiple families. All of which have a major part in the life of Tomoya Okazaki. 2 of these seem to be the ideal life to some people. I’ll go into one here and the other in the next paragraph. The first relationship that is a sort of wish fulfillment is between Okazaki and the Furukawa family. They are willing to accept him and whatever he does with his life no matter what. The other anime I can think of is Usagi Drop. The story is about a man who takes in his grandfather’s illegitimate child after his death. He becomes a parent to her, and slowly grows to love her more and more. A simple idea, but a revolutionary one by Japanese standards. Think about it. An illegitimate child is considered a disgrace, so for someone like Daikichi, a 30 year old salesman, to take her in is nearly unheard of. This story sounds like something that the author wished for this to be something that we’d see more in his society.
Lastly, I want to talk about romance. The entire harem/ reverse harem genre as well as just about every Shojo anime out there is dedicated to the idea of romance. Clannad in particular though is where a man marries a woman and they create a family. While there are some huge struggles, Tomoya goes through so much and at the end of the day he loves his wife with all his heart. These shows often play to the person who’s watching / playing (if it’s a visual novel) …
What does it say about society (at least Japanese if not ours) if most of our stories are fantasies about how a family can stay together no matter what, or that friends would have each other’s backs? Just some food for thought.