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For as long as I can remember I’ve loved to draw. I know it’s something which has been a hobby and a passion since I was little. I can still remember the first time I wanted to improve. I was looking at what one of my friends had done and wanted to be as good as him. I kept on drawing not even realizing how much I was improving over the years. Speed up to today and the only social media website I’ve kept up with have been Instagram. Through there I find new inspiration, which pushes me onward to improve and post my progress regularly. This may all sound normal, but here is the thing I’ve been wrestling with. Now that I have created a following, I feel a drive behind me to continue to post regularly and because others expect it of me. I find that I am worrying about if my post doesn’t hit a certain number of likes. I really don’t like this feeling. It’s something that I have struggled with in the past. Funnily enough I first struggled with this idea on a blogspot blog which I covered anime and comics. I was writing articles on issues that I didn’t care about and trying to create a following. I had to stop blogging because the pressure was something I didn’t want to work with. That’s why this blog is updated only rarely, it’s why I haven’t given this link to any friends or family. Now I’m scared something similar may happen. I love the feedback I get, but I need to find a way to stop being a slave to the Skinner Box of social media.
Ancient Magus’ Bride is widely considered the best anime of the season. It has romance, action, interesting concepts, magic, and I dropped it this last week. It wasn’t really anything the show was doing in and of itself. The content was extremely well made. The issue is that the entire series is base on real life occult happenings, rituals, and pagan beliefs in such a way I can’t bring myself to watch.
I’ve been having issues with getting myself to watch it for a while with my conscience, and if there’s one thing you need to know about me it’s that when something starts to affect my conscience I can’t watch it. There’s one rule I’ve followed as well as I’ve been able. I don’t watch shows/movies with real world magic. This means no pentagrams, summoning of familiars, or other real world rituals which people use to call upon demons. I can’t be party to that in my conscience, God hasn’t let me. As I’ve discussed over on Beneath The Tangles in their comment section this is something which can be incredibly disappointing. I’ve dropped shows like FMA:B, Tales of Zesteria, and Fairy Tail before, and they tore me up because I loved the shows, but I couldn’t bring my self to watch it.
It’s interesting though, because I’ve been reading through Paul’s writings in the Bible a lot lately, and I can’t help but feel his work is speaking to me more and more. One of Paul’s biggest admonitions is to not break your conscience, and you know what? On most of those series I knew there was something wrong with them, I watched them anyway, fell in love with them, and eventually dropped it because the burden on my heart was far too big. I understand some people may not understand why I have this stipulation, but I do have it. I also have recently been convicted about the sexual content in shows I watch and how much I monitor how that affects me because it is something which is coming in between me and God, and that is unacceptable.
I’ve been watching the show Scrapped Princess on the recommendation of an anime Youtuber. I really didn’t think much about the concept of the show at first, in fact I was rather skeptical, but I let the show grow on me slowly but surely. As of this writing, I’m at episode 21/24. While I have grown to love the characters despite their annoying tropey personalities the biggest change in me has been a new appreciation for the world. In this world there is the grand Church of Mauser, ruler of the people’s hearts and minds. This church feels like a cross between the Pharisees of the Bible and the Roman Catholic Church. The stories’ main premise is a prophecy about a young princess named Pacifica Cassul who was supposed to have been killed as a child as she would “Become the poison that will destroy the world.” She somehow survived through the machinations of her mother and was taken in by another family who raised her as their own. Thus it is that she finds herself with a brother and sister willing to lay their lives down for her. At first, I felt like the church was meant to be a commentary about how people are idiots for following religion, but instead I’ve come to see it as something far more. You see the Church of Mauser has some sinister minds behind it, deceiving all who would seek the truth. It is a lie a devil has created based in the truth of the past. As we come to see more and more I can’t help but feel a close feeling to War for Mansoul. One of the characters behind the Church has a conversation with Pacifica’s loyal brother trying to convince him his sister’s death would be best for all. During they are talking about the world and the way in which the church has turned it into a prison to which the overlord responds “Is it a prison if you don’t know it’s a prison?” As a Christian, I have to make the response a resounding “YES!” A prison no matter how beautiful is still a prison.
We see this when Christ came back. He destroyed and cast out those who were creating a religion of legalism and base on works. He sees the prison they have built for themselves and begins to tear it down. Jesus shows grace and mercy preaching the truth, and He is hated for it. Like Jesus, Pacifica has been tormented by people believing her to be a living, breathing heresy. Even someone who once loved her turns on her at one point early in the series betraying her to the church leaders. She still goes on though determined to keep on living, and even as she wishes to be free of her burden she can never bring herself to bring harm upon those she loves. No matter what she fights on, determined to bring truth to light and win freedom for all. This show isn’t without it’s flaws, but the show is a good reminder of the true prison we were saved from.
I realize this isn’t a show many have watched, and as such I’ve tried to keep this area spoiler free. If you want to watch it streaming is available on Funimation in dub and Crunchyroll in sub.
If you don’t want any spoilers for the movie LOGAN don’t read any further.
This movie moved me to tears, but not in the place you might have thought. No, instead of the crying at the end where Logan fights and dies to save his daughter Laura, I cried at the point at which he decided he was going to abandon her. I know that things worked out in the end, but to me the character of Wolverine means rising above. Wolverine means doing the right thing no matter the personal cost. He gave up his healing factor to save the world. He died encased in adamantium because he couldn’t just sit by and watch. While I know Wolverine went through hell more times than any other character in the fox universe, that’s what made him my favorite. He was strong enough to rise above the struggle and strife which had defined his life. He came to believe in something. In Logan we find a Wolverine who is contemplating suicide by adamantium bullet we find a man whose dream in life is to live on a boat for the remainder of his life. He has given up on the world. Enter Laura Kinney, X-23. This is the girl who should bring him hope. Instead he finds despair. Throughout this movie he keeps on getting beaten down and trying to come back. The issue is the world has taken it’s toll. Throughout this entire movie he is nothing more than a shadow of what he once was. Laura is the place where the audience places its hope. She is the conscience of the group. I find the legacy of the Wolverine to be tainted after this movie. I am writing this right after watching the movie. I might edit this when my thoughts are more clear, but I think this is how I really wanted the movie to end. You see, when the movie ends, he gets one last hurrah, but it’s far to late for true redemption. Laura though. She gets to live on. I wanted to see her doing something to say that she would fight the good fight. I know it’s nit picky, but what is great about the character of Logan is that no matter how far we fall we are all one decision from the right path. No matter how bad things get, we just have to decide to make the decision to do what’s right. That was the issue I had with this movie’s Wolverine. He had forgotten this. He had given it up for a false sense of security. He had forgotten that not matter how had the right way is always the best way. At least he died well. So long Logan I’ll miss you dearly.
Coming back to this post nearly a year later, I realized something. He may have forgotten the right path, but this movie was him trying to find it again. It reminds me a bit of some other media I’ve been consuming lately and so I thought I’d try talking about it.
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.