Zankyou no Terror and Following the Handbook

Zankyou no Terror stood as the best thriller this summer.  (I suppose Aldnoah.Zero could be considered its only competitor.  Perhaps, Tokyo Ghoul as well?)  I very much enjoyed watching it, and rated it three and a half stars.  This might seem low to some, and it took a while to place my finger on why a higher rating did not square with my impression of the show.  At last, I hit upon the reason: Zankyou no Terror rates three and a half stars or 7/10 because it was perfect and no more than that.

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You see, my dear readers, the modern world has reduced story writing to a science with much more precision than Aristotle accomplished in his Poetics.  Visit your local Barnes & Noble, and you can discover manifold handbooks on how to write a good story lining the shelves.  Follow their instructions, and, with a little practice, you too can create a polished story like Zankyou no Terror!  No exaggeration!  Of course, if you refrain from placing your own uniqueness into the work, the story will in nowise rate 7/10.  Placing his own unique vision and artistry into Zankyou no Terror is precisely how Shinichiro Watanabe guaranteed a story at least that good.

Odd Ball Terrorists

Not to say that following the handbook is a bad thing: the reason handbooks give the advice they do is because successful stories exhibit common features.  Yet, the knowledge that one is following a universally accepted framework forces one to add much more originality into a work in order to immerse people like me into the story.  For example, the first three novels of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files exhibit such a framework.  Yet, Jim Butcher adds loads of originality to his work by creating an inimitable mixture of thriller, horror, hard-boiled, and fantasy which hold the reader spellbound.  Zankyou no Terror restricted itself solely to the material modern world; yet, it did add a nice dose of originality with its inclusion of the Oedipus legend, 70’s vibe (70’s movies often featured the villains being the good guys or the villain winning in the end), chess metaphors, and terrorist teenagers trying to expose government corruption.  But, this was not enough for me to rate it higher.

Anyone else see this one coming a mile away?

Anyone else see this one coming a mile away?

Clarence obviously never studied famous gun fighters.  Wild Bill Hickok was killed in about the same way: someone shot him from under the card table.

Clarence obviously never studied famous gun fighters. Wild Bill Hickok was killed in about the same way: someone shot him from under the card table.

Once again, I liked Zankyou no Terror.  All the same, I wish it exhibited more originality–even originality which was patently flawed.  (After all, originality derives from our individuality, which itself is flawed.)  For example, Cowboy Bebop has many flaws, and the story-telling is no where near as tight; but it’s a classic.  People will remember and want to watch Cowboy Bebop again decades from now, but one cannot say the same about Zankyou no Terror.  But, Zankyou no Terror really does nothing wrong, which is an odd critique to make against it.  And, in its defense, thrillers are particularly beholden to the recipes in the handbook in order to ensure that tension does not drop.  And so, the show is very good but not great.

Shibazaki was by far my favorite character in the series.

Shibazaki was by far my favorite character in the series.

Well, I wrote an opinion that probably only a fellow fiction writer would agree with; but, do any of my dear readers think the same way I do about Zankyou no Terror?

The emotional demands of binge-watching Zankyou no Terror as opposed to Tokyo Ghoul

Originally posted on gaikokumaniakku:

Far too many anime stories lack seriousness.

The biggest offender is the desire to write a story that can be continued indefinitely in serial publication. This leads to a subtle form of “status quo is God.”

The desire for a plot that never ends makes most writers wallow in pretty appearances while neglecting substance. When a writer is not willing to burn bridges, but he tries to build continuity, the result is pabulum.

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The Pearl-Poet’s Saint Erkenwald

medievalotaku:

Here’s an article on a work of the Pearl-Poet’s called St. Erkenwald. This poem uses a legend associated with St. Gregory the Great but within a scenario set in England. A rather interesting piece which ponders how the dead before the time of Christ receive God’s mercy.

Originally posted on Aquila et Infans:

Pardon my long delay in writing about this poem.  It had nothing to do with the poem itself, which is the shortest and perhaps the most uplifting.  It’s theme squares completely with the theology of Pearl, and draws from the legends of the Church Fathers.  In the poem, a body of a long deceased person is discovered incorrupt.  Bishop Erkenwald of London–the successor of Bishop Wine (what a name!)–arrives on the scene to investigate the miracle.  Yet another miracle occurs when the soul comes back to the body for a short time in order to explain his story.

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The translator of this work, Casey Finch, has an excellent introduction, where he rightly notes that a similar story concerning St. Gregory the Great forms the basis for this poem.  Essentially, St. Gregory remembers the many virtues of the Emperor Trajan and sheds tears over the fact that he died…

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A Character as Loco as Esdeath: A Theory on the Inspiration behind Akame ga Kiru’s Most Beloved Character

As my dear readers know, drawing connections between anime and other works–whether it be Arpeggio of Blue Steel and the Bible or Beowulf and Grendel with Shiki–stands as one of my favorite hobbies.  But, anime more often references itself, and part of the joy of watching anime is discerning various allusions and appropriations within the medium, e.g. Kill la Kill and Blazing Transfer Student.  Rather than destroying creativity, such borrowing can add to the intellectual pleasure one gleans from a story by creating another perspective.  Classical authors, for example, did this all the time–even in fashions which would be thought of as plagiarism nowadays–and were admired for it.  No one is going to toss aside a copy of Virgil’s Aeneid, complaining that Virgil borrows too much from Homer!  What is considered most original is often just a refreshing combination of old ideas.

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This understanding of creativity applies very well to the character Esdeath, who combines various traits which may be seen as contradictory.  While musing about Esdeath’s character, I pondered whether she had any equivalents in anime.  I found various similarities in other characters: Erza Scarlet (overwhelming power), Shishio (Social Darwinism), and Maestro Delphine (contempt for the weak and poor).  However, these all have one or two similarities to Esdeath rather than approximate personalities.  Esdeath may still be considered sui generis.

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However, I have hit upon a character who shares many similarities to Esdeath.  She has so many parallels to her that the direct contrasts in their characters just further highlight their connection.  I’ve kept my dear readers in suspense long enough!  This character is Koko Hekmatyar of Jormungand.

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Of course, the first thing one notes is the similarity of their features: pale complexion, blue eyes, and frost-colored hair.  (A quick google search shows that I’m not the first to notice this, but I don’t think anyone’s written a proper article on the two yet.)  Koko hails from Sweden, and Esdeath was born in the northern climes of the empire.  Both lead a squad of highly trained soldiers and become very attached to males younger than they are–though, it must be confessed that Koko’s passion for a child soldier is more creepy.  They are also highly attached to their subordinates–even when they discover that their subordinates have failed or betrayed them.

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With those similarities out of the way, the real fun begins.  Koko, a merchant of death, sells weapons for the sake of world peace.  Esdeath, a suppressor of rebellion, uses her office to incite the whole empire to war.  Both have no qualms about using insane methods to achieve their goals, as the lives of unknown human beings mean nothing to them.  This disregard for the value of human life drives both Tatsumi and Jonah away from their love interests–and it remains a question whether the former shall escape his love interest’s madness.

Jonah

Into their respective plans, however, a wrench named Cupid is thrown.  Love threatens to undermine both their schemes and worldviews, and the conflict revolves around whether they shall suppress love for the sake of their misguided goals or shall amor omnia vincit?  Both seem unbending, yet Koko bent to the desire of her beloved.  Will Esdeath do the same or is her heart too hard?

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Well, you need to read the manga in order to find out!  At any rate, do you think that I make a good case for Esdeath being based on Koko?

My Experience with the Anime of Summer 2014

As you know, I wrote that I would try to marathon the anime which I stalled this season.  Having watched straight through episodes 8 – 12 of Aldnoah.Zero, I’ll be able to add my assessment of it to this post–making for a total of five anime.  Expect the reviews of the others to be published singly or in pairs.  Let me start with the two anime which I’m unable to rate due to their series not being finished.

One of the most beautiful images of the season of one of its most charming ladies.

One of the most beautiful images of the season with one of its most charming ladies.

1) Aldnoah.Zero – no rating

Quel finale!  If they had not promised to return for the winter season of 2015, I would have rated it 3 1/2 stars just for crushing the audience’s souls at the end!  (And before the last few minutes and finding out that it would get a second half, I thought about giving it 4 1/2 stars!)  The action sequences were truly awesome, the animation beautiful, and the plot compelling.  The characters were nothing to write home about, but Slaine and Inaho made for great protagonists and even the princess started to grow on me.

I cannot but confess that I found this takedown very cool.

I cannot but confess that I found this takedown very cool.

Disarm 2 Disarm 3 Disarm 4 Disarm 5 Disarm 6

As others have noted, certain parts of the anime evinced bad writing.  A few of the characters’ decisions made little sense, especially *MAJOR SPOILER* Rayet killing the princess.  But, that might play into the theme of envy and hatred being motivators for war.  I know Inaho disagreed, saying that there were always other main causes for war.  But, anger and hatred make war especially bitter and often increase the destruction of war and the willingness of nations to begin them.  Just think of Great Britain and France.

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FUTURE POST ALERT: How envy influences Martian politics lines up nicely with a book I’m reading titled Leftism by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn.  So, the role of envy in modern politics and how envy squelches liberty and diversity will certainly feature as a post in the future.

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2) Akame ga Kiru – no rating

Akame ga Kiru got off to a slow start, but I feel that the second half of this season was much more exciting than the first–just as the case was in the manga.  I must confess that the manga does several things better; but, the way that the show handled the presentation of Esdeath’s character was rather adroit.  (I still prefer the fan translation name, Esdese.  That seems more like a girl’s name than that of an allegorical character, doesn’t it?)  Some of the fights could have been better, but episodes 6 and 11 more than made up for them.  You also need to love Akame ga Kiru‘s style.  It exudes a Renaissance setting, but a million anachronisms fill its scenes–especially the modern style of the clothing and the presence of modern firearms.

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Despite certain flaws in presentation, the adaptation made the pages of the manga come alive.  The voice actors in particular were very well chosen.  I look forward to the second season!

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FUTURE POST ALERT: Also, despite Esdeath being a unique character, I believe that I have discovered the base for her character.  Be sure to look out for my post on which character appears to have been the inspiration for Esdeath!

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3) Rail Wars! – ★★★

The likability of the characters save this show from being rated 2 1/2 stars.  In some respects, especially the tsundere, Aoi Sakurai, many of the characters fall into tried and true character types.  Yet, each character feels unique, e.g. the hoplophile ways of Aoi or Naoto’s obsession with trains.  As a matter of fact, even though Naoto feels like a the weak willed protagonist of a harem anime, he shows guts when the occasion demands them of him, which was another good point to this show.  The character relationships were also done quite well, even if those episodes which focused on this facet of the show tended to be rather fanservicey.

Rail Wars

Though the series can’t be called action-packed, episodes 10 and 11 stand out for the excellence of the fights, and who can forget the train ride from hell in the seventh and eighth episodes?  On the other hand, the final episode annoyed me quite a bit: in a 12 episode series, who needs an episode dedicated to saying good-bye to the characters?  At least, it had more to do with trains than many of the prior episodes.

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In case you were wondering, yes, I would certainly watch this again!

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4) Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – ★★★★

A well-deserved four stars for this comedy!  I loved how closely the manga covered the process and struggles of writing good manga.  Like Rail Wars!, it boasts a great host of characters who are oddballs in one fashion or another.  As iblessall writes, this show’s ability to tag different people as tsukomi each episode stands as one of its salient features: each person has a turn at playing the straight man as others act ridiculous around them.  Though, Sakura seems to hold this position more than most of the other characters.  A truly great comedy!

Seo

I’ll also admit that I fell for Seo.  Watching her blunt honesty and inability to adjust to the feelings of others was a trip!

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5) Sabagebu! – ★★★★★

I bet you were not expecting me to grant Sabagebu! five stars and a place on my top fifty list!  Yet, it does so many things to make it the most brilliant comedy this year.  Unlike Nozaki-kun, this is a black comedy; so, I can’t recommend it to people who want nothing atrocious to happen to characters.  One needs to be able to laugh at characters who suffer everything from other characters shamelessly using them to shooting them dead in amusing ways.  (Fans of Looney Tunes are sure to love this kind of comedy.)  Our lead character, Sonokawa, in particular has no qualms about using others as stepping stones on her road to victory.  Fortunately, the violence and death only occurs in the characters’ imaginations–most of it anyway.

Sabagebu Sonokawa

But, this show could not have reached five stars had it not been for the excellence of the gun fights and its ability to parody 80’s action movies.  (The parodies of Predator and Mad Max made for some of my favorite scenarios.)  Episode twelve presents a mind-blowing finale to the show.  I must add that Miou was my favorite character; though, Sonokawa’s vengeful deeds are very fun to watch!

sabagebu winter gear

Those are my thoughts for these five shows!  Stay tuned for more!  What was your favorite show this season?

A Brave New World and Its Consequences

medievalotaku:

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but Nami has started to blog regularly again! Be sure to check out her blog. Right now, she’s managing to fit one post per week into her busy schedule. I hope that we shall be treated to more like this one.

Originally posted on The Budding Philosopher:

I’m writing a post about some pop music that (like much music today) objectifies not only women but human beings, and lauds them as simply sexual objects. That led to this little brainstorm here.

As I have come to see again and again, morality is not a set of arbitrary rules one must follow. It is about the way things are, and the consequences of our actions stemming from these realities. Some things are the way they are: blue is blue, red is red, water is the liquid form of H2O and ice is the solid form. Blue is never going to be red, or red blue, and ice is never going to be a liquid nor water a solid.

Or say you’re trying to lose weight and you allow yourself one sweet thing a day; and if you eat that cookie before dinner, you can’t have the cake for…

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“Stop spinning my maid without my permission”: Thoughts on GJ-bu

Ever since reading Marow’s opinion on GJ-bu, my interest in watching this show has been aroused.  Having finished it, I find myself in the curious situation of having loved this show but not knowing how to praise it.  Taking a lighthearted look at the foibles of human nature stands as the show’s best point.  After all, the club does not have a goal besides hanging out.  Shion plays online chess, Megumi makes tea and cake, Kirara eats meat, Tama waits for food which never makes her gain weight, and Kyoro–the only male in the club–reads manga as he awaits the president to bully him–or bite him for that matter.

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My predilections lean toward shows rich in character, and GJ-bu excels at making interesting and memorable characters even if they don’t do much.  (As you note, I only forgot one character’s name, and that’s because everyone is always calling her bucho, i.e. president.)  Teasing each other, especially Kyoro, stands as their main hobby.  They force him to brush their hair, doll him up, and compell him to transform to “Ore-otoko,” where he pretends to be a tough guy for a short time, sending shivers of delight up the girls’ spines.  Not sure if that sounds interesting to you.  In my own case, a room full of people teasing each other sounds like home.  It also helped that Shion’s chess junkie ways and Megumi’s tea connoisseurship made me identify with these two characters very easily.  But, watch episode one and see what you think.

No, Shion.  Q-K1 and then QxQ checkmate.  Don't be lazy when playing against yourself!

No, Shion. Q-K1 and then QxQ checkmate. Don’t be lazy when playing against yourself!

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As a side note, it pleased me that all of the characters had siblings–even large families.  (Shion has at least eight brothers for example–perhaps more!)  As you know, Japan has a declining population, and this seems reflected in so many characters being only children or even just living alone.  So, it is nice to see a show where family was of such importance, especially in much of the comedy.

Kirara's sister is probably the cutest of the characters' siblings, especially how she delivers these lines in English.

Kirara’s sister is probably the cutest of the characters’ siblings, especially how she delivers these lines in English.

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Anyway, I’m finished describing–or, rather, attempting to describe–the joys of GJ-buGJ-bu is a show to be experienced and enjoyed rather than read and written about.  Do yourself the pleasure of picking up this show on a rainy day.

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Can't not include a picture of the only male in the cast!

Can’t not include a picture of the only male in the cast!

Fall 2014 Anime to Try Out

It is that time of the year when people across the aniblogosphere write about which new anime excite them most.  I myself thoroughly enjoyed the present season–despite feeling the need to prune my watch list–and hope that the next season produces an equally enjoyable a crop of anime.  Many bloggers seem to be disappointed with the current season in general, but the fault seems to lie in certain shows not meeting the expectations the bloggers placed in them.  What I mean to say is that the majority of shows still being quite good in themselves, just not so great in the minds of the critics.  (But, I will say that I feel very sorry for the people that slogged through Glasslip.)  Shortly, I even hope to pick up all the summer 2014 shows I stalled and finish them by way of marathoning them–the most enjoyable way to watch any show.

Tokyo ESP is at the top of my list for that marathon.

Tokyo ESP is at the top of my list for that marathon.

At any rate, hence follows the list of shows I intend to try out next season along with a brief description of why.  To my mind, the list looks a little weaker than the one for the summer season.  Of course, some of these anime might hold some latent excellence.  Since this list concerns the shows I am not already sold on, I shall not include Hitsugi no Chaika 2 and Psycho-Pass 2.  How could I not watch the sequels to my favorite show of 2013 and my favorite show of the prior season?  Whether the sequels prove to be delightful or disappointing, I’m certain to watch through them both.  If they do prove disappointing, I hope that my complaints and vexation may at least prove enjoyable for you!

Sekai Trigger

1) World Trigger

Sounds like Freezing without the fanservice.  Fighting off giant alien invaders always sounds like an interesting premise for me, so I must give it a shot.

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2) Nanatsu no Taizai (aka The Seven Deadly Sins)

While perusing the aisles of Kinokuniya in New York City (the best Japanese bookstore on the east coast since the demise of Sasuga–yet another reason to hate the current recession), I came across this manga among the “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” award winners.  With that endorsement, I purchased the volume one.  Though I have not yet gotten around to reading this Japanese edition yet, the artwork looks rather amazing and the action intense–big pluses in my book.  For the above reasons, I’m giving the anime a shot.  I really need to read volume one before it premiers.

3) Amagi Brilliant Park

Here’s an addition whose inclusion owes much to Caraniel’s excellent season preview post.  Before reading this post, I had not known that the author of Full Metal Panic was behind this series.  That’s all the endorsement a series needs in my book.  Though, I hope the dark and twisted psychological influences present in Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid are utterly, completely, and absolutely gone, lost, abandoned, forsaken, and anathematized from this new series!

4) Denki-gai Honya-san

Another comedy, this series of shorts involves the workers in a manga bookstore.  Can’t hurt to give it a shot.

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5) Akatsuki no Yona

The manga version has the honor of being dropped by yours truly.  At a certain point, the plot and characters ceased to hold interest for me.  This does not exclude the anime version from outdoing the manga–as, exempli gratia, is shown in the cases of Knights of Sidonia and Saber Marionette J.  Especially as the scenario is rather interesting (though Rolan the Forgotten King executes a similar idea better), I am willing to give this story another shot.

6) Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis

Can’t be worse than that other Shingeki anime, can it?  (I jest.)  The preview boasts cool swordplay in a dark fantasy setting.  Worth a shot just for that.

7) Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Another show I wish to check out just because of its fantasy setting.  It must be confessed that this anime almost failed to make the list.  But, this preview promises the possibility of a fun show.  It could turn out to be another Blade and Soul, i.e. atrociously fanservicey and dull; but, one can’t know for sure until one tries it.

Garoo

8) Garo: Honoo no Kokuin

If you haven’t perceived it ere now, I’m a sucker for fantasy settings.  This one seems to have a good story.  A mix of Scrapped Princess and Chronicles of Lodoss War perhaps?

9) Inou Battle Within Everyday Life

Solely because Trigger is behind it.

10) Terra Formars

The plot sounds like a combination of the movies Starship Troopers and Mimic.  (I had no idea those came out in the same year.)  What’s not to love about a show about soldiers fighting giant man-eating cockroaches on Mars?  In any case, man-eating cockroaches are eminently preferable to man-eating monsters in human form–at least, to me.

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11) I don’t Understand What My Husband is Saying

My line-up this season is devoid of comedy except for Denki-gai Honya-san, so I feel compelled to give this show a shot.  Besides, few anime I know focus on married couples, so this should be interesting.

12) Whatever You Like

As long as my list is this long, I might as well add a twelfth show, right?  No, that’s not the name of an anime coming out next season.  Rather I’d like to invite my dear readers to recommend a series for me that’s not listed above.  Whatever most people tell me I should watch by October 1st, I shall watch!

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I need to find time to watch the second season of Hamatora.

Within the first two weeks of the season, this long list shall be pruned by two-thirds, which means I’ll shoot for a total of six shows this season.  (I include Hitsugi no Chaika and Psycho-Pass in that sum.)  How does my list of shows to sample compare with yours?

On the Medieval Poem Pearl

medievalotaku:

I’m doing a series on the Pearl-poet on another blog of mine. These poems are very theological, and so I cannot help but think that they are also relevant to this blog. I hope that you find my little article interesting.

Originally posted on Aquila et Infans:

This 14th century poem written by an anonymous author from the West Midlands region of England traverses 1212 lines of exquisite verse, describing the anguish of a bereaved father and a vision of his daughter in heaven.  As far as I know, no other poem employs theology so well in its verses, and few are as well constructed.  The first and last lines of each stanza repeat one topical word until a new canto begins.  There are twenty cantos with five stanzas each, adding up to the perfect number of 100.  Each stanza contains twelve lines, and the whole poem numbers 1212 lines.  (Pretty neat, I think.)  This Middle English verse is heavily rooted in the Old English alliterative tradition–similar to Piers Plowman by William Langland; however, its Middle English is substantially more difficult.  I soon stopped trying to read the original West Midlands dialect, and Casey Finch does a…

View original 521 more words

Jinbee Tsukishima as a Model of Sainthood

The more I read the Mushibugyo manga and watch the anime based on it the more fond of it I become. One of its greatest moments occurs in chapter 33 of the manga–covered within episode 8 of the anime. Our hero, Jinbee, discovers that Mitsuki has abducted Haru, his love interest, in order to draw him into a trap. Once Mitsuki has him inside a cavern crawling with giant bugs and lined with debris and buildings from a destroyed village, Haru finds a way to escape her bounds. But, Mitsuki still intends to crush both of them by bringing down the house on them–literally dropping houses from the cavern’s ceiling! Rather than lament his predicament, Jinbee quickly hits upon the plan of using the houses as a means to ascend to the top and escape! Not only does he not utter a single lamentation for his situation, but he even excuses Mitsuki of any wrongdoing–claiming that she must be being manipulated somehow!

Falling House

How many lessons this short chapter holds for a Christian! Those of you familiar with the series know that Jinbee and Haru are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, but their very simplicity allows them to act without hesitation. Curiously, intelligence can actually produce barriers to right action. Dostoyevsky’s underground man states that a truly intelligent man would never do anything. A man of action must be stupid. Why? The intelligent man tends to overanalyze and complain because their very intelligence allows them to see more difficulties. The knowledge of these difficulties stymies action. In Jinbee’s case, on the other hand, he seizes upon what he considers the best course of action and follows it without hesitation.

Great Idea

Some of the best Christian saints were also some of the simplest people. Sure, Christ has need of intelligent people, and the ranks of the Doctors of the Church are filled with them. Also, few religions have placed the same emphasis on learning as Christianity. However, when God needs something done, he often turns to the simplest individuals. Once God showed St. Francis of Assisi a room filled with thousands of swords and spears, and told him that he should win as many swords for God. The next day, St. Francis immediately bought some armor and set about to raise a company of soldiers for the Crusades! Fortunately, another dream that evening described that St. Francis would be responsible for raising spiritual warriors rather than Crusaders to the Holy Land. Like the good and single-hearted man St. Francis was, he returned to Assisi and set about creating the foundations for the Order of Friars Minor.

Happiness in Struggle

Neither St. Francis nor Jinbee allowed the struggles to daunt them from achieving their purpose. Haru also immediately consents to the plan of house climbing. If we take houses to symbolize temptations and difficulties, should not their ascent indicate walking the royal road to paradise? Temptations and obstacles ought to be met with cheer because overcoming them causes growth and sanctification. God permits temptations and obstacles in our lives so that we can triumph over them. As much as it may appear to the contrary, God would never permit temptations so great that we could never overcome them. We have no reason to be angry with God for the difficulties in our lives–though God is understanding of our frustration.

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For that matter, we should avoid becoming angry at the people who place stumbling blocks and temptations before us. As Mitsuki sends houses crashing down on him and giant bugs after him, Jinbee claims that she must be being forced against her will. Flabbergasted by these excuses and the cheerful attitude of Haru and Jinbee–they essentially treat the attempts to kill them as a game, she vehemently asserts her malevolence, which produces more resolute denials of her wickedness from Jinbee. In a like fashion, Christians should make excuses for the people that wrong them and remember both that Christ died for that person and that their enemies possess the spark of divinity as creatures made in the image and likeness of God.

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Lastly, we cannot ascend to heaven on our own strength. No one is saved alone. At times, we must like Haru accept help; at other times, we must like Jinbee help others for the increase of our charity. John Donne puts it very well in his seventeenth Meditation:

…for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath afflicion enough, that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction…Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction, digs out, and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger, I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

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But, other people and our own efforts can only help us along so far. Our good deeds and patient suffering increase our merit and fortify our good will, but God Himself must draw us up to heaven as heaven is so far above our deserts. We often sin and must have recourse to God in straightening out our crookedness or indeed even infusing supernatural charity back in our souls after we do a grave wrong. And, we might say that that ever-present need of God’s salvation is symbolized by Jinbee’s associates breaking into that chasm to rescue Jinbee and Haru from Mitsuki, who would surely have killed them had not the warriors of Mushibugyo dropped in at the right time.

To the Rescue

Sometimes, samurai anime can be remarkably fruitful for contemplation!