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Kenshou of Solopsism (excerpt)

August 15, 2010

Kenshou of Solopsism

-xi: Unseen-

Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more – more unseen forms become manifest to him. Jalal ad-Din Rumi

In this world, there is the level of the seen, the unseen and then the world which stretches beyond the scope and the imagination of the eyes. Mankind, in its ever expanding search to find meaning in life, has desired to create contact in new lands yet to be explored. It reached out to new continents, and then, attempted to conquer space. Inwards to the atom and outwards to the stars, man explores and masters in an endless, elusive quest.

Even if he were to reach the worlds of the unseen, would he understand? Would he still feel as though his soul stands alone?


Landing in the world of blues, greens, grays, blacks and whites – the lines which spread to infinity – calm eyes watch the data streams run crazily up and down. These numbers of zeroes and ones rise up to an unseen sky forming windowless blocks of information. Buildings, sky scrapers – some as impenetrable as stone, others as translucent as gel. Experience taught one about the intricacies of penetration – of plumbing the crusts of some, the gel of others to reach the hidden information inevitably inside. Before him, it all gave way – eventually – and so, he carried the keys to the most valuable treasure.

Everyone knows it: Information, is all.

But he must walk this shadow world to find the truth he sought and his only guideline – his only clues – were the half-formed images shared with that other mind linked to him in such a way that no amount of machinery could explain. A paradox even for the most well-ordered mind, indeed.

He surveyed the land around him, the heavily ingrained habit of a soldier and hunter. But nothing had changed from the last time – at least, no important alterations leaped to the eye.

As usual, he stood alone. No one had penetrated this land in such a way before. For many, the absolute silence, the lack of any living thing and the alien nature of this existence would be daunting.

But this is far from my first exploration, he assured the other. It was an empty land then… as it is now…
You have come here before?
Yes.
Why?
It was an experiment – which I let them believe had failed… but it became an escape during those long moments of boredom – and pain – during the… operations and such-like…
You were lucky.
Luck had nothing to do with it – ability did.

Then he moved forward – walking would not adequately describe the movement one can make through this world of information. Rather, one flowed with the streams, or flew through the strands. Standing on the horizontal flat pieces of data which represented the earth – as though the satellites were mirrors of data, the world stretched before them, limited only by the amount of information Samurai could access.
And you are King…
Hardly.

The DataCity gave away to barren lands – information relayed through the powerful sensors of cameras, satellites and other images harvested in by the second. The land was not so heavily populated here – spotted by large farm-factories and greenhouses – and then the sea coast drew close. It was a formless black, unpredictable even for most data – and beyond it – lay nothingness.

For a moment, he stood there on the edge of the impenetrable void, gazing into the darkness – until, with a little thought, he gathered enough information.

What is this? The Other asked.
The Sea, he replied. That which is unforeseeable – data here has no meaning. Such is the changeability of the waves.
How will you span it? Can you span it?
With the mind, of course, was the simple reply. Here, data is all.

At that, from within his own formless (yet formed) body – and from without – data swirled into new byte-streams. New extensions into the dataworld. Widening from silver threads outward – increasing in width – as though a bridge, the data rose up. A foot, then another, were set on the first steps upward – confidently as though riding air was an easy feat.

Incredible!
Indeed?
Something out of nothing!
Such is the power of creativity, was the dry response.
I didn’t think you were skilled in creation.
But of course, how else may a person solve problems as they arise? Only creativity may aid one in surmounting the insurmountable.
I don’t know if it’s just being here – but you sound more insufferable in here than usual!

Samurai did not respond. Focus was now needed to maintain this bridge. As the bridge reached out, the slender figure of the data explorer also rose. But even as the kilometers sped past them, the void revealed nothing, giving naught from its depths.

The bridge now a slender line seemed almost fairy like, giving off a faint glow which resonated with things far below in the depths.
There’s something in the sea! Look! See! There and there!

A pause, then, as Samurai turned to look into the abysses of the dark. And sure enough, the glimmers which had caught his peripheral vision was indeed glancing off of faint edges of glowing data far below. In the ocean. It was not living, nor was it in operation. Rather, it was the indifferent eyes of the world’s machine observers which had caught these still solid unshakeable facts.
The ocean floor, more than likely, he said.
But doesn’t it look strange to you? Do you remember these – these are ships – from… my time… I recognize them!

Samurai cocked his head.
The data is insufficient to fully identify these objects as ships or anything like that. In some of the more securely locked information blocks of the government, perhaps, we can find the truth – but I doubt it. Still, let us draw closer so that I might be able to record the existence of this underwater object… it does not resemble a ship that I am familiar with. And underneath it, looks more like an older styled group of buildings.

After a while, they drew further up and out in hopes of finding the land which Hime had called home. But there was nothing to be found. Nothing revealed itself to the eye of data.

Samurai shook his head.
Whatever we seek is not to be found here.

The bridge began to retract then, pulling back like a hand to the safety of the main data streams. There was an awful sensation then in the link between them. It could not find voice or shape in that world of zeroes and ones – but it faded, that unsettling sensation. When it finally disappeared, he found himself alone.

Before he closed his eyes to terminate his own data tether, Samurai cast one look around his silent refuge. He was – as he had been before – alone.

—-

This is an excerpt from a novel I’ve been working on for some time.

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Darby O’Death

August 14, 2010

Written for my Grade 5 class after the creation of the evil leprechaun now better known as Darby O’Death. Name courtesy of my friend and coworker, Emi.

Darby O’Death

A long time ago in a far away land lurked the Darby O’Death. Have you ever heard of the Darby O’Death? I am sure you must have – because he is the most famous for his wickedly mischievous deeds.

You know how parents would tell their children: “See a skeleton hat a night – run away in fright!” Or, sometimes parents would tell their naughty children: “If you aren’t good, the Darby O’Death will snatch you away!”

Everyone was on the lookout for the Darby O’Death. They said he was a magnificent man all coloured in wacky greens with the shape of a skeleton plastered to his leprechaun’s hat. One of his jacket’s arms has the depiction of a screaming victim and on his legs are graphic renditions of those long gone.

What everyone didn’t know was that Darby O’Death was more or less happy to be left alone in his favourite haunt: The Graveyard. It was there that he lurked – feeding off of the energies of the Dead. If some poor soul were to chance upon him, Darby O’Death would offer to fulfill their wishes.

“I would like a wife,” one widower had said – and remained single and alone for the rest of his long life.

“I want this new toy I saw at a store,” a kid would wish – and his family would suddenly find themselves destitute – with creditors pounding at the door.

One day in the late fall, the village priest bumped into Darby O’Death (the graveyard was next door to the church, you see).

“Oh, it’s you again,” said the old man.

“LET ME GRANT YOU A WISH!” howled Darby O’Death.

The priest knew Darby O’Death would not let him be – so the wise old man said with a sigh, “I wish I could be left alone.”

Darby O’Death cackled and cracking open the skulls of the dearly departed granted the man’s mirror wish. A large group of people found themselves suddenly trouping off to the church dutifully. The priest went off to deal with them.

Darby O’Death was left alone once more to contemplate the gravestones – and the foolishness of humanity. He had resided there for many years – unvanquished – unmovable. Powerful and mighty in his ancient strength.

Along came a bunch of cool dudes, who wanted to have a bit of fun pushing over gravestones and smoking cigarettes illegally.

“AHA!” said the Darby O’Death spring out. “WHAT IS YOUR WISH?”

“What the -” said one of the teens incoherently.

“WHAT IS YOUR WISH, INCOMPETENT FOOL?” roared Darby O’Death impatiently.

“I want you to get lost, freak!” said the gang leader.

“AS YOU WISH,” said the Darby O’Death, and suddenly the teens found themselves lost in the jungles of Columbia, which as you know, is the country of organized crime and illegal drug production.

Darby O’Death thought the day was shaping up quite nicely. Not that he could feel happiness – but, there was some sort of sick satisfaction from work well done.

But little did Darby know – his destiny was coming down the road. It was Suzy from Little Corners come with her mother (who was there to decorate the church altar). Suzy was a very cute five year old child with blonde hair, large blue eyes and the finest, most pink dress ever. In her arms was her favourite plushie better known as Teddy.

“Go run and play,” her mom said, knowing Suzy was a smart girl and would never misbehave in church.

So Suzy went out and decided to go for a walk in the graveyard. She had heard stories from Jimmy-at-school and was curious.

“LET ME GRANT YOUR WISH!” screamed the Darby O’Death jumping out from behind a gravestone.

The little girl squeaked – but held her tongue – suddenly remembering her mother’s stories. For a long moment, she was silent – deep in thought. Then she said: “I wish for a super rainy day with really BIG grey clouds,” said the precocious little girl.

“GAHHHH!” Darby O’Death gargled – as the mirror wish was fulfilled in a super fine fall day complete with blue skies and puffy white clouds. “YOU… YOU… YOU…”

And the Darby O’Death deflated and shrunk down to his original tiny form – and disappeared into the horizon.

Where is he gone, I cannot tell you,

Will he be back, I cannot say.

But if you are ever to meet Darby O’Death

Just wish for a very bad day.



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Poetry: Rebirth

August 30, 2008

Rebirth

Dedicated to ASAGI

There is that voice on the edge of the world –
on a sea of sand, on a bright green lea.
Hands outstretched like wings to fly –
to give a heart, to find a dream,
to break the fetters of the mind –

to free.

Wings burst forth to break the shell –
to endless realms, a morning sky.
And we ride on the flight of song –
to find new worlds and visions birthed.
Within we find new melodies –

and fly.

———-

This poem was written in dedication to ASAGI, the vocalist of the Jrock band D. Turning 34, ASAGI’s operatic voice continues to uphold the perfect ensemble of intelligent lyrics and high quality music. I wish him the best in the upcoming year and hope that he never ends his quest on the narrow path to truth.

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Place of My Own

August 25, 2008

So odd… Now that my large family has gone off on vacations, I am left alone rather forlorn in our large, run-down but comfortable house.

At any rate, now that they are gone, I am rather nonplussed. Not just by the silences – although the dog has taken to mournfully howling… But also, the fact that I have to cook for my 2 sisters and myself. It’s good for me to practice – nevertheless, awkward. Maybe because nothing is properly stocked (Mom took alot with her). The fridge is more like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. Since I’m already a rather… bad cook, it’s worse when I can’t find good ingredients to cook with. What I have found that I can use:

bacon
pre-made, boilable porogies
french fries
potato cream mix
tomato soup cans
1 cream of mushroom can
pasta
pasta sauce
canned sliced pineapples (also two crushed pineapple cans)
oatmeal

No kettle to put tea in (we have to use the coffee maker glassware)… Ah well.

So here I am trailing around, listening to my music and humming tunelessly as I clean up, do dishes of my own volition, clean the stove top, thinking up crazy cooking ideas…

*has Musuo Hana’s first line stuck in her head now*

And I realize that I have gotten proprietary in a way that I have never felt before. Maybe it’s because I know that I will be owning my own apartment for the first time in my life. Or maybe it’s because my mother is gone, and with her, all her powers over this house.

A while back, two women told me two seperate things, with a space of several months (or more) in between. Although seemingly unrelated, perhaps, their statements have more relativity towards my life than I thought – at least, more than ever before, this must be true.

Quote 1:
“You must be nesting,” the one told me.
“Nesting?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “You need your own space now – and you’re getting ready to leave. That’s why everything you own is only in your bedroom.”

Quote 2:
“A kitchen can only belong to one woman,” the other said wisely, nodding her head.

So true.

I look forward to the fruition of these feelings – perhaps it will blossom into something mature and beautiful.

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Poetry: Japanese vs. Old English

July 10, 2008

Japanese vs. Old English

A student at Mac was afflicted
Because her two courses conflicted.
Her ‘t’s became ‘が’s*,
And her ‘は’s** became ‘ða’s***.
Old Engrish was thusly いぇfreめd****.

* ‘ka’ (phonetic symbol in Japanese Hirigana)
** ‘ha’ (another phonetic symbol from the Japanese Hirigana writing system, often used as a topic marker after the subject of the sentence)
*** ‘tha’ (Old English for ‘the’, in this declension, it is ‘nominative’, that is, a subject marker, similar to the topic marker of the Japanese)
**** This is the a mixing of the two languages. Romanized, the word reads “iefremed” – which is the pronunciation of the Old English word “gefremed” – which means “performed”.

—–

This past school year, I made the mistake of taking Japanese and Old English at the same time. Some confusion started to happen in my lecture notes (especially when I got sleepy in the hot room of Old English). Nevertheless, this limerick began when the prof in Old English challenged us to write a quick limerick. This took me 2 days to iron out the details… but still, it’s a tricky little rhyme and takes a double reading to figure it out, I think…

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Poetry: Memories in Bottles

July 10, 2008

Memories in Bottles

there is something
to be said for a cold Jones Soda.
it brings you back to ye olde days
where the cafe was so bright –
with flashing juke boxes and black-white checkerboard linoleum
clashing with pink edging –
and waitresses brought your burger
on rollerskates.

—–

Wrote this one at work – where rollerskates AREN’T allowed.

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Emo And Anime Culture

July 3, 2008

I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the youtube video these people dug up – or the inappropriate, generalized, biased, totally unfounded descriptions of anime and emo culture.

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How do your kids deal with emotions?

Emo anime:

Anime is a style of animation which originated from Japan. It is still a great deal centered in Japan. The word anime came from the American word animation. The anime is typically characters with large, sad eyes with hairstyles that are colorful.(1) The drawings are exactly depicting the sadness in an emo face.(2) Mostly Japanese anime illustrators are fans of emo punk. (3) Emo anime then can be said to portray emo punk attributes. (4) The emo anime episodes said of spurned love, learning life’s lessons the hard way or experiencing through music. (5) But Naruto anime talks about being born an emo, born to say creepy things, born to kill, born with no eyebrows and born with a sexy love tattoo.(6) This anime has that attribute born to kill which is likened to being cut. (7) Remember some emo people are wrists cutters.

When emo is scruffy or unkempt appearance often over dramatic while making very loud expressions, and obsessed with anime t-shirts, you are looking at an anime emu. (8) Sometime they have crazy outfits with crazy hair and do crazy actions. (9) An anime t-shirt displays the heroine on a tee with baby blue capped short sleeves. She is considered more emo then anime by some people. (10) But an anime emo is completely obsessed with anime.(11) The anime emo have even formed a group which accepted members who are true loners and nobody pays attention to them. They have forums which especially created for these people to express their own feelings of sadness and love deprivation.(12)

The anime’s can have a lasting influence on would be emo.(13) The anime’s made them emo. As well as some ero-games turned emo anime.(14) This depicts sorrow through a car accident and the lady loses her boyfriend and her best friend all in one. Cannot help but feel sorry for this tragedy. Another emo anime portray family break ups and then you can never be close to anyone. Indeed, very emo. And there is the anime which tells of a girl who has a year to live. It has some string pulling moments. Crying has always been the effecting results with these emo anime.(15) But probably the most heart tugging emo anime is when momije admitted that his mother did not even acknowledge him as her child. The emo said they get their money’s worth in this emo anime. These are the stuff an emo dreams are made of.(16)

Click on the following link to view more emo pictures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M734Fm_-ODo&feature=related

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My feelings about this article cannot be expressed very well – however, unlike the unknown author of this little piece of work, I hope to refute with academic, textual and factual evidence that more than half of this article is quite erroneous.

1. To say that all of anime characters are drawn with large expressive eyes is like saying that all elves are blonde, or all wizards have wooden staffs like Gandalf (Lord of the Rings). Large expressive eyes were the hallmark of anime – but as time has gone on, and styles have branched out to include other various types of characters such as:

Vash the Stampede
Re-al Mayer

2. I don’t think this sentence even warrants an argument… Is it possible that a “sad face” is an “emo face”??? What about this?

3. Although stating that anime illustrators are interested in emo punk, this writer does not give any examples, nor do they discuss why this might be so.

4. This statement is based (somehow) on the previous statement concerning the interests of mangaka. It also links the idea of “emo anime” to “emo punk”. What this sentence fails to do is make a further notice about anime in general. Anime is a very general word covering a large amount of media types. To say “anime” is similar to saying “film”. If the sentence were something like “emo film has emo punk attributes”, one’s response is two fold. First, one can’t help but state that the sentence is rather obvious. Secondly, one must note that “emo” is only one type of subculture which may (or may not) be closely tied to other subcultures. As a whole then, this sentence, within the context of the paragraph, gives the reader the idea that ALL mangaka like emo culture and that anime in general lends itself to emo.

5. First of all, this sentence is grammatically incorrect. Secondly, there are MANY classic western stories that are about “spurned love, learning life’s lessons the hard way or experiencing through music”. Although one must ask “experiencing what?”, I can’t help but think that emo culture, then, must be as old as the hills. Consider the songs of troubadours during the Middle Ages, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Charles Dicken’s novels (Oliver Twist is a good one), Shakespeare’s plays (Hamlet) or the more recent movie Finding Neverland. The great hymn, “Oh Love, That Will Not Let Me Go”, was written by a blind man who had been left by his fiancee due to his blindness. Was his outpouring of grief to God (and the resulting celebration of thankfulness), an emo act? To label those literature and media archetypes as being “emo” is doing these authors a great disservice, and, to my mind, shows little understanding of human behavior and culture as a whole.

6. Finally we get an anime actually listed! But it certainly is an interesting choice. Of all the anime out there, Naruto is definitely NOT the ultimate emo show. There are many characters who have very sad lives – but the ultimate lesson of Naruto is not supportive of an emo culture. Naruto is about acceptance and working with others to create a better world so that people DON’T BECOME EMOS. No person can say that a person is “born to be emo”, anymore than Dawson’s Creek says that you are “born to be preppy”. Most media is about change of one state to another – whether it is the mind, the character, the physical body or an outside situation, whether that is political, social or economical. So while some Naruto characters could be said to have some characteristics of being emo, there is no stasis of character. Most people when coming into contact with the main character, Naruto, CHANGE. This statement shows a gross misreading of what is actually a fairly simplistic text. In fact, if there’s anything to criticize Naruto for, it is the extreme cheesiness of how everyone learns to forgive, forget and get along…

7. Not only is this sentence making no sense grammatically it is intimating that Naruto (and by implication, all anime) is all about being born to kill and is therefore linked to cutting. Saying something general, once again, like this is comparable to saying, “Lord of the Rings has an attribute of magic and is therefore likened to Wiccan philosophy and Satanism”. How “being born to kill” is linked to cutting, I don’t know. What I do know is that realistically – those who kill and keep their sanity, rarely cut. Because they know what life really means. Considering how many people die at the hands of say the two Pevensie boys in Chronicles of Narnia, would we then say they were born to kill and therefore are examples of possible cutters? Edmund the Emo… I think I can see that… Or maybe not – since the issue of killing/”being born to kill” has no real link to the issue of cutting – other than the basic fact that both spill blood.

8. Once again, bad sentence structure… and… if one looks at the EMO culture, fashion wasn’t important until the past few years. According to Wikipedia, Emo culture is identified by a very smart type of fashion, which although arguably androgynous, is well-groomed.

Knotmag [Warning: Some language] – Blog discussion of Emo
Incendiary Mag [Warning: Language] – Another discussion of the evolution of Emo

Label It Description

Therefore, this description of a person who is an emo AND is interested in anime is basically a generalized stereotype which borders on a slur. It reminds me of those really bad APBs put out on criminals… In fact, it almost makes these people sound mentally handicapped…

9. Crazy outfits, crazy hair, crazy actions… hey… I know what that describes! Star Trekkies, Tibetans, Muslims, Goths, those old men who drive motorcycles and have long frizzy grey hair… Me in the morning… Emos, believe it or not, are one small bunch of people in a very large, crazy world. Ambiguous descriptions like this could apply to any number of groups who don’t act the same as you. Now if this article was on goth culture and anime, this kind of statement would be more believable…

10. I’m not sure what they are trying to argue here…

11. “An anime emo is obsessed with anime.” Well, that is fairly obvious. I don’t know why this person didn’t also just make a statement saying, “An anime person is obsessed with anime”, because, after all, otaku (the correct word for this kind of person) come in all ages, colors, classes, shapes and sizes. But what is disturbing about this sentence is that it seems to imply that anime emos are particularly obsessive… Which is not true, in the least. Many emos aren’t even into anime. So this is yet another annoying misnomer.

12. Now this is true. There are forums and blogs and journals and facebook groups for tons of people to come together over a perceived cause or interest and form an “us vs. them” sort of feeling. So while mentioning (possible) emo otaku forming forums to bond over their depressing feelings, I feel that, to set the record, we should also remind the internet audience that there are other scarier groups forming on the internet who talk about worse things. The question that I have to ask is why we as Christians aren’t finding ways to reach out to these (perceived) emos who are feeling depressed?

13. Anime can have impact anyone, not just the emo. But for the sake of the argument, since this article is about the emo group of people, WHICH anime would do that? Certainly not all of it… And once again, the sentence is grammatically incorrect.

14. I am not sure how anime makes a person emo. In fact, it is more possible for Weezer and James Blunt to make you feel emo than anime. Anime makes you SAD, it can make you CRY… but that is not being emo. Imbalanced people could watch anime and try to model their life after Sasuke from Naruto (Lord forbid) – but equally, they could obsess over Chronicles of Narnia and look for a wardrobe that leads to Aslan. Although it is arguable that anime is often conveying worldly philosophies, the reader has agency to disagree or decide on another course of life. In other words, both the media and the person have the power to cause oneself to become emo. This kind of inside-outside influence dialogue can be seen in the Augustinian vs. Manicheaen discussion on the nature of evil, for example. At any rate, this statement (however questionable it may be), leads then into a discussion of ero-games.

ERO-GAMES: Past, Present and Future
Eroge (Wikipedia)
History of Ero-Games (mentioning of ‘crying games’ and a list (until 2005) of around 35 games made into anime – OVAs or series)

In these articles, there appears to be no mention of the huge impact of emo on the hentai gaming industry – although there is an ongoing process of selling ero-games for their story more or less, and going easy on the sex. There is some mention of how this impacts anime culture as a whole – but one would do well to note that the eroge genre of gaming is only one part of anime. Eroge to anime is what conventions is to Star Trekkies.

Also, while there are scenes of “emo”ness in these games, which are supposed to appeal to the player – one cannot help but assume that they are no different than films in the Western Hemisphere (in reference to emotional impact) although the media style is different.

15. All of the scenes described here are very sad and depressing, but that would then put anything written, composed or filmed in the tragedy, romantic tragedy, drama category as being emo as well. Movies such as Finding Neverland, Kingdom of Heaven, A Walk to Remember, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Little Mermaid (or anything by Hans Christian Anderson). The idea that anime has a subgenre for emo is a little bit of an overstatement. I could see emo being depicted in anime, explored in anime – but the effect of North American culture has yet to be made itself more felt on the anime industry. Emo, being a mainly North American phenomenon, might affect anime stylistically, but it has as yet to change the anime subculture into something labeled as whiny and depressing.

16. Once again, there is a clear reference to a specific anime here. Fruits Basket. Fruits Basket is close to emo in the sense that there is a more complex exploration of human relationships and emotions – since it IS a shoujo title. However, the message of Fruits Basket isn’t about the depressing state of loneliness – although it is addressed. Rather, Fruits Basket is one of the more positive anime stories out there.

Momiji: The Face of Emo Anime (the one with blonde hair)
Momiji’s Sad Story Part 1
Momiji’s Sad Story Part 2
The Point of Fruits Basket

In other words, Momiji’s story in particular discusses the importance of holding onto memory and overcoming the negativity of some memories. As a whole the story is about how a girl’s positivity (although one wonders where it comes from) changes an entire family’s life. Momiji is one of those many people. Once again, this writer is only looking at superficial similarities and not really digging deeper and reading in context the story as a whole.

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, I was both shocked and amused when I found this obviously amateur piece on the emo and anime culture on the Freedom Village website. While it was no doubt written with good intentions in mind, it is dangerous to perpetuate false assumptions about emo and anime culture together or separately. Both cultures have many issues since neither originated with Biblical principles. Not everything within anime is good, pure and lovely – but neither is it a breeding ground for emos.

I think the stance of Christians on emo and anime should be one of critical, unbiased thought – attempting to measure up the messages of both cultures against God’s Word – and then finding avenues to use the media promoted within both cultures as a tool to spread His Love.