Angel Beats!: An Anime About The Afterlife Influenced By Different Religions

Angel Beats! Title CardAs I continue brooding about life and true happiness, I can’t help but think about the anime series Angel Beats! After re-watching the show for the eighth time, I realized just how often the characters’ thoughts about religion (and the afterlife) affect what happens in the plot. While the story occurs in a world considered the afterlife, how they choose to pass on (or stay in limbo) is affected greatly on different belief systems. From Buddhism to Christianity, the characters believe in different icons or principles from these religions and make a lot of assumptions about this world because of their beliefs.

Spoilers after the jump! Continue reading

Such Potential…: A Review of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium DVD CoverIt was only a few years ago that my local Blockbuster was having their “going out of business” sale. I was taking the chance to buy a few movies with what little money I had, when I stumbled upon the film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The case art alone was interesting. It showed four men in white suits surrounding a mirror that showed a landscape resembling Candy Land. On the back of the box, it mentioned that the movie showed Heath Ledger in his last film role. Considering the movie was only $3, I didn’t see a reason why I shouldn’t buy it. To this day it stands as one of my favorite movies, not because of the movie itself, but for the potential the story had.

Spoilers after the jump. Continue reading

The Road So Far: Supernatural Season Eight Premiere


The boys are back in town and ready to hunt some monsters and save the day. Well, they might be. Dean’s got a new monster pal, Sam’s got a dog, and Cas is trapped in Purgatory. Hmmm… the way things are shaping up you might actually want to go to Kevin Tran to solve your monster problems.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk Supernatural!

As those of you who have read my past Supernatural reviews know, I wasn’t overly found of season seven. Certain episodes were good, but the overall plot and lackluster villain was just uninteresting. Despite that, after hearing more about the season eight plot from SDCC interviews I was actually pretty excited about season eight.

So what do I think about the premiere? Well, I’ll tell you.


Continue reading

Manga Mondays: Death Note

If you were given the power to kill anyone you wanted, in any way you wanted, leaving no evidence, what would you do?

Death Note is an exercise in philosophy, a detective thriller, a crime drama, and a shounen tournament-style story all rolled into one, and that description doesn’t do it justice by any means.

So here’s how it goes: When the aforementioned power over life and death falls into the hands of Yagami Light, a justice-obssessed genius college student with access to the world’s criminal records, he decides to cleanse the world of all wrongdoing (by killing all the wrongdoers). The ‘power’ itself comes in the form of the Death Note, a death god/grim reaper/shinigami’s tool for reaping lives: all you have to do is write down a person’s name, and they’ll die of a heart attack. Be more specific if you want—time of death, manner of death, circumstances of death—just add that info and it will come true.

When the world realizes what is going on, L, the world’s foremost detective, is called in to catch the killer that the world has dubbed ‘Kira’. (In Japanese, ‘killer’ is written ‘kira’ in katakana.) Dramatic genius-versus-genius cat-and-mouse hijinks progress from there. (What, I’m not gonna post spoilers!)

The cast of characters is full of interesting and weird and nuanced characters, although pretty much the entire female cast exists for Light to deceive or manipulate to his own ends. It’s also jarring that the story is told from Light’s point of view, since we as readers tend to sympathize with the main character, and Light’s sociopathy is, well, difficult to get behind. It creates a sort of irony—you’re rooting for the main character to lose, but you know everything he’s doing and therefore know that he has the upper hand.

The art is the cherry on top of Death Note. You may have read my rhapsodic review of Hikaru no Go several months ago—this manga was illustrated by the same artist.

To be fair, the ending of the story is rather weak, in my opinion, because they introduce several other detective-type characters who want to help bring down Kira. In this, I actually prefer the live-action movie adaptation, which keeps the drama specifically between Light and L without changing too much of the story or how it ends.

I’d still say this is worth a read, though, both as a classic of the manga world, and as an impressive example of how to write an action-oriented story with a heavily philosophical plot without overwhelming it with the philosophy. Go check out Death Note!

Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus!

This may surprise you, dear reader, but Jesus, he’s in your house! Wait, don’t freak out. I meant, he’s on your TV and not just on EWTN or the 700 Club—I don’t think Jesus would participate in the 700 Club anyway.

Religion is everywhere. Oh, we might like to fool ourselves into thinking we have our entertainment in a separate sphere from our religion, but any author, director, or actor will tell you that they bring something of themselves and their own beliefs to the story.

Even TV shows, movies, and books that seem like they have no religion in them usually have some sort of philosophy they are trying to impart, and those philosophies often have their roots in some kind of religious tradition. Even books like the Golden Compass which supports atheistic values still says something about religion.

I think it’s time that we sat down and really take a look at what our pop culture is trying to say about religion, because they say a lot more than you probably realize.

First, let me say something about my own social location. I have a Bachelor’s in theology, particularly Catholic theology, though I also have some background in Protestantism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. I know some things about Islam, Shintoism, and Taoism but have never been formally educated in them. I tend to be a more progressive Catholic and even have certain views that I would not say are very Catholic at all, so I guess I’m still finding my path, but on the way I have learned quite a bit.

Why am I telling you this? Well, to make completely clear as to what I’m most knowledgeable about and where my own notions of spirituality and religion derive.

That being said, a large portion of this series will be focused on the Christian religion, not just because that’s the religion I know the most about, but because it’s the religion that the large majority of Americans follow, so that is the one that shows up the most in pop-culture. However, special consideration is going to be taken to write about other religions as well. No fair leaving anyone out, is there?

So tune in next week and find some religion!


Web Crush Wednesdays: The Geek Ideologies

It’s Web Crush Wednesdays and it’s time to talk about our latest web crush!

The Geek Ideologies is a relatively new website of tumblr sporting this tag line:

“We are geeks. We are family. We are a culture. We are everywhere and everyone. We Are Mighty!!”

This site promotes love, equality, acceptance, and the philosophies of the geek community by posting a new ideology everyday. And while the geek community may not always follow these ideologies there is no harm in continuing to promote and encourage such ideology within our community.

Here are some ideologies posted so far:

“The He-Man Women Haters Club is history.  Women are geeks as well, welcome them with kindness and openness, not with some sort of prerequisites.”

“‘Sometimes you have to roll the hard six.’  It takes dedication to see your idea become something larger.”

“A comic convention is sanctuary.  Treat it as such.  Respect everyone.  Have fun.”

“Bullying has always been a dark part of the geek and nerd culture.  However, bullying transcends all borders.  Please, if you are a parent, teach you children well.  Teach them to show respect to others.  And for us adults, try to be a bit more sensitive about things.  Bullying for some of us was a coming of age experience.  For the new generation, it has gotten so harsh that lives are ending far too soon.  We have the power to not only stop bullying, but also to heal the wounds.”

“Independent creators (musicians, artists, writers, bloggers, podcasters) do what they do because they love it.  When you pay for a mp3 download, book, or print, remember that the money you pay goes to help out pay the bills.  Unless they are giving you something for free, don’t steal.  And if you see them at a show or convention, thank them for what they do.”

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Web Crush now go check out The Geek Ideologies!