Plans for November and New Article Ideas

This morning, I was reminded of the fact that inventing topics often exceeds the difficulty of writing them.  And so, I forced myself to come up with thirty-one topics—ten for each of my other two blogs and an eleventh sneaked into this one.  The eleven pertaining to this blog I shall post below.  Please feel free to comment on them, especially which strike you as the most interesting.  (If any strike you as dull as a game of croquet, hold your tongue and see what I do with them! :) )

November approaches.  That month where I each year strive and fail to post once per diem in order to participate in National Blog Posting Month.  Expect many reblogs unless my skill in time management and vigor far surpass the last two years!  As of yet, I have never succeeded in reaching my goal of posting every day.  We’ll see if that changes.

In addition, I shall be participating in NaNoWriMo, though not exactly in the way that most people will.  You see, I wrote out the story which I shall be typing up on paper, but ended up losing the first two-thirds of it—Vae! O nigra dies!  Alright, enough mourning its loss: I knew I had to write a better manuscript anyway.  And, Mr. Sean Bishop also wants a screenplay from me by October 30th.  The slave driver! (I jest. I practically begged him to set a deadline so that I would feel motivated to type out that which I have written.)  And so, I doubt that I shall get to my novel until All Saints’ Day, which means that I might as well join the NaNoWriMo festivities and finish the book by the end of November.

The thought that one reason behind my inability to devise articles ideas for this blog—besides fear of boring my dear readers and laziness—derives from my inability to keep up with my fellow bloggers’ articles, who would no doubt provide a wealth of ideas.  (For example, I had wished to write a commentary on this well-written and controversial blog of Aquagaze’s; but, so much time has passed that it would seem too late.)  I once wrote that my articles are usually written to specific persons or groups.  Without this salient feature, my articles tend to be insipid.  And so, if any of my fellow bloggers feel that I have not visited their blogs for a long time or think that I should check out their blog, shoot me a comment.

I imagine she's saying "I'm curious!" in that shot.

I imagine she’s saying “I’m curious!” in that shot.

Here is the list of topics which came to my mind. May some be of interest to you!

1) Which shows I’ll be keeping from this season
2) My history with the Japanese language and my opinion of it
3) My history with foreign languages and what motivates me to learn foreign tongues
4) An article on tea covering how to become a connoisseur like yours truly

Tea Expert Megumi
5) Nozaki-kun’s slavish reliance on the lives of real people for his characters
6) New manga reviews; specifically, Cerberus, Koe no Kitachi, Koko ga Uwasa no El Palacio (perhaps my oddest choice in a while), Witch Craft Works (yes, I cannot get enough of those characters), and perhaps others
7) Getting back into Go
8) Politics of Envy and Aldnoah.Zero
9) A brief memoir of an anime fan
10) Guilt over the Kara no Kyoukai trilogy
11) How to connect anime and religion


Hanayamata and God the Father

My liking for Hanayamata came as a surprise to me, as the show falls very solidly in the slice-of-life genre.  I often find that I enjoy shoujo more than slice-of-life!  However, like GJ-bu, the characters were endearing, which made me feel a genuine interest for their ordinary struggles, especially the difficulties within their own families.  As an added bonus, the last episode of the series struck me with the inspiration to write this article on how many people hold a distorted vision of God the Father.  Curiously, it was Hana’s mother who drew my thoughts to Our Father with her going halfway around the world to meet her child and her statement: “Who will listen to their child’s selfishness if not their parent?”  How a mother becomes an icon pointing to God the Father reminds me of how God’s love is often compared to a mother’s for her children, whether one reads Scripture or the lives of certain saints.


But, I should like to focus my meditation on three Fathers: Tami’s, Naru’s, and Hana’s.  Everyone acknowledges that one’s father has a great influence as to how they view Our Father in heaven.  Sometimes, one’s father is an excellent image for Our Father, other times imperfect, and rarely it is necessary to completely discard the idea of father imparted by our earthly fathers.  (But, usually the father must be a total villain for that to be necessary.)  So, how might we expect Tami, Naru, and Hana to imagine God the Father based on their relationships to their fathers?  Might any of us be like them?


I wish to group Tami’s father and Naru’s dad together for the purpose of discussion.  “What?” you say.  “How can you compare that strict, rigid, and aloof father of Tami to the gentle, solicitous, and understanding father of Naru?  Naru’s father might even be called the anime dad of the year!”  (I saw that last bit as a comment on Crunchyroll.)  I compare them through their daughter’s perception of them.  For all the secrecy and diffidence with which Naru treats her father, we might imagine that she thinks of her dad as if he were like Tami’s father!  She keeps secrets from him because she thinks that he will only approve of her if she adheres to a specific path and group of interests.  Any deviation will meet with his frown.


In a similar way, most people believe that God is strict, aloof, and uncaring.  They see God’s demand for our perfect moral goodness juxtaposed to our lack of virtue as calling down His just anger.  We often might believe that God does not care how we suffer or even sends us sufferings from a sense of vindictiveness.  Our dreams lie fallow, and we believe that God cares not a fig to aid us.  Some souls imagine that God is like Tami’s father, who sets a stifling way of life as a duty and for whom love seems conditional.  This duty is impossible to meet, and so God not only does not love them but may never be pleased.  Is it any wonder that so many souls run away from their sole Salvation and perish despite God’s infinite mercy and love?

God is no Machi after all!

God is no Machi after all!

But, the fact of the matter is that souls with the legalistic image of God do not know God as He really is.

But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
    and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance.
For you love all things that are
    and loathe nothing that you have made;
    for you would not fashion what you hate.
How could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
    or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
But you spare all things, because they are yours,
    O Ruler and Lover of souls,
for your imperishable spirit is in all things! (Wisdom 11:23-26)


Who is it that restores people’s understanding of God and removes their fear of approaching Him except God Himself?  It may be something as simple as Naru’s father saying “Where are you going?” in episode 12.  Naru becomes nervous–perhaps as fearful as Eve when she heard the words “Where are you?” in the garden–and joins her explanation of her involvement with the yosakoi club to an apology for not practicing iaido as much as she should, fearing that her father would be upset.  Might she not be compared to a soul which neglects Mass and saying its prayers?  Instead of condemnation, Naru finds that her father is pleased that she is expanding her world and wishes to see her dance.  In a fit of joy, Naru realizes that her father’s love is unconditional, and she embraces him in a fit of joy.

Naru's Otosan

Or kind of embraces him. I don’t know what the proper term for that gesture of affection is.

In the same way, our sins and way of life do not diminish the love of God for us.  In the first case, there have been as many ways of life as there are persons.  Of each of the saints, it will be said “there is not another like him/her.”  (I forgot the Latin expression I’ve seen used for this.  Oh, well.)  And, God’s mercy is abundantly seen when one reads the Scriptures or the Lives of the Saints.  God is ever ready to forgive as long as we come to Him.  After all, which child wrenches his father’s heart more: a son who commits a crime and gets locked up for it or a son who believes his father’s love has ceased with the commission of the crime?  Obviously the latter!  And yet people are so willing to believe that the love of God ceases when we commit grave sin.  Perhaps, a father like Tami’s just might, but not the Father of fathers!  St. John Vianney even told of a soul who willingly committed suicide and yet was saved in the very act!

Tami's reaction to being accused of having an Electra complex is priceless.

Tami’s reaction to being accused of having an Electra complex is priceless.

Actually, might not God be much more like Hana’s father, though with more dignity?  Hana’s father is overjoyed merely to see his daughter happy.  Does not God desire our happiness above all things?  What else is our salvation and perfection?  We ourselves are the causes of our own unhappiness as we deviate away from these things, which is the Will of God.  That God wills for us to be happy is often a shock to some souls, especially those who have experienced or are experiencing suffering and evil.  But, God promises happiness: “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

Need to include another picture of Hana Fountainstand somewhere!

Need to include another picture of Hana Fountainstand somewhere!

But, so many things militate against a soul realizing the goodness of God.  We must keep in mind that all our efforts must be adduced to the attainment of heaven.  Then, when perfect love has driven out all fear, we shall see the Merciful Father as He really is and wonder why we ever doubted Him.

How Tokyo ESP Reminds me of Chivalric Literature

A while back, I finished watching Tokyo ESP.  That the author of the manga is responsible for Ga-Rei Zero–an indisputable masterpiece–greatly excited me.  However, the very first episode planted the seeds of doubt in me that such genius would not strike twice.  While a fun show with an amusing X-men vibe, the subsequent episodes proved my doubts correct.  Though the characters are inherently likable, parts of the plot and writing could have been better.  I must also mention that the final fight between Minami and Rinka almost bored me.  Minami’s poor technique made it seem like she never wished to kill Rinka!  For example, the fight should have ended right here:

Certain Death for RinkaFew anime character know how to exploit having a sword in each hand.  By pulling back with a draw cut at Rinka’s neck with her right and aiming a cut to the legs with her left, Minami could have placed Rinka in an difficult position.  Parrying the cut to her neck, Rinka might obscure her vision of the low cut.  With her arms crossed like that (that’s an ugly parry, isn’t it?), she cannot parry a low cut, which means that she would need to retreat backwards in order to evade and then would no doubt need to immediately deal with a thrust.  But, Minami does not see this simple combination:

Minami temporarily forgets the sword in her left hand, I guess?

Minami temporarily forgets the sword in her left hand, I guess?

Isn't that position just begging for Minami to aim a strike to Rinka's legs?

Isn’t that position just begging for Minami to aim a strike to Rinka’s legs?

My dear readers might be asking at this point: “Is poor swordsmanship the link to chivalric literature?”  No, chivalric literature never really describes techniques.  The knights double or redouble their strokes and hack through certain points of the body; but no author ever describes their technique–or at least, there are so few examples that none comes to mind.  The connection which I was thinking of revolves around how the protagonist goes from this:

Rinka badly beatenTo this:


And yes, I find Rinka a puella forma pulcherimma!

Puella forma pulcherimma!

Such happy restorations of one’s good looks after the beatings Rinka took are not possible!  Have you ever seen a pugilist’s face?  They usually show signs of the beatings they take.  As pure and beautiful as Rinka’s heart is, her visage should not match.  I cringed every time Rinka was beat down.  And, I just want to point out something curious about that last picture: See the cuts on Rinka’s elbow?  This is almost the animator’s nod to the fact that Rinka’s body would not escape unscarred from her experiences.

I love the shirt. :)

I love the shirt. :)

My favorite character in the show.

My favorite character in the show.

The same phenomenon occurs in chivalric literature: a knight goes through dozens of battles, which involve several severe blows to the helm and body, causing blood and chain mail to fly off him.  Yet, ladies always find these knights very handsome and fawn over them each feast, exclaiming how handsome they are!

Kobushi Kuroi was perhaps my favorite character in the anime.

Wait, we have that here, too!

In real life, warriors are often not so handsome if they served through many campaigns.  The author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, states in writing his masterpiece: “…my only desire has been to make men hate those false, absurd histories in books of chivalry, which thanks to the exploits of my real Don Quixote are even now tottering, and without any doubt will soon tumble to the ground.”  One of the ways in which he shows chivalric literature’s lack of reality is by detailing Don Quixote’s wounds.  Those of you who’ve read the book know that Don Quixote undergoes several beating which mar his frame.  Most famously, a Basque squire chops off half of his left ear!  Needless to say, Don Quixote does not present a pretty picture to behold!

Nunchaku girl is too awesome for me not to show a couple of pictures of her.

Nunchaku girl is too awesome for me not to show a couple of pictures of her.

Two Down

Of course, I am happy that Rinka’s countenance does not feature a permanently swollen lip, cauliflower ears, one eye slit smaller than the other, and a crooked nose after all those beatings.  But, that’s how she’d really look!  That she still retains her beauty reveals that the impulse in chivalric literature of having heroes go through ridiculously terrific beatings without a permanently marred countenance still exists.  Though, I must note here that the same rule does not apply to middle aged men: all of the fathers in this anime have scars.  Just another interesting thing to note!

Dad with SwordsIn any event, I generously give Tokyo ESP three and a half stars for the pure, visceral pleasure it provided in the viewing.  I’m looking forward to Hajime Segawa’s next work!

How Something Slightly Vexatious to Me May Turn to Your Advantage

Those of you who’ve read my twitter feed know that I have submitted an entry to Athanatos Christian Ministries 2015 Novel Contest.  With the deadline at 12 PM today, I ardently burned the midnight oil in finishing off my novel and submitted it with around an hour to spare.  I might have used that time to make more adjustments, but my brain felt and still feels rather fuzzy after only two hours of sleep.  And so, after returning from a half-day at work, I was speaking to a friend of mine who made the comment that I had until the 20th to make improvements to my novel.  At first, I did not understand him; but, checking out the website again, it now indicates that the deadline has been extended to October 20, 2014!  I could have had another fortnight to write the book!

Shippou on Inuyasha's Head

In a way, it affords me the opportunity to advertise the contest, and the extension itself indicates that the organizers would like more submissions.  I had felt guilty for not doing so after my friend reminded me of it through a Facebook post on October 1st, but I felt five days was not enough time unless someone–like me–was nearing the completion of his novel.  But, with a fortnight, a very gung-ho individual could write an entire novel.  Their suggested length is 40,000 to 90,000 words, which means one would have to write 2,900 words per diem.  Though rather high, such an output is possible for certain people.  I invite those of my dear readers would hold to the Christian faith and have a novel in progress to submit their work.  Even people outside of the United States may submit an entry as long as the story is written in good English.

Dog x Scissors

I mentioned that I felt guilty for not mentioning the contest sooner.  That is because Athanatos Christian Ministries began the contest with a very laudable goal: to offer talented Christian writers an avenue to publish their work.  The best stories these days seem to be written by people with secular humanistic beliefs, and this has a discernible influence on American culture.  We need more people who adhere to the principles of Christian culture to not only teach doctrine, but to also help people see the nobility of Christian ethics and beliefs through story.  Few mediums are capable of influencing the heart and mind as deeply as story.

A picture of the master himself.

A picture of the master himself.

Though, I have a few caveats for those who are now interested in entering the contest.  First, your essential goal should be to write a story, not to preach.  The values you hold in your heart will be apparent in the story.  No need to belabor the truths of the Faith to the detriment of telling a good tale.  The organizers say that a work like Tolkien’s would be acceptable.  The Christianity in his works is hidden very well, but this does not change the fact that its foundation is Christian.  Whatever you do, don’t bore the judges!

May you have good luck and much fortitude in writing!

Is it Possible to Love Indiscriminately?

I was watching Mike Wallace’s 1959 interview of Ayn Rand recently.  Concerning government and economics, I find myself in much agreement with Rand’s philosophy, but many of her views on love and selflessness are intolerable.  Yet, she makes an interesting point in this section of the interview: it is impossible to love indiscriminately.  To love without standards, for her, would be a meaningless kind of love.  In particular, those without virtue cannot be loved.  Her interviewer, Wallace, found this view problematic because, human nature being what it is, only very few people would deserve to be loved.

Jesus teaches the People

Of course, such a view neglects that most people–probably all people in reality–are loved in spite of their defects.  What causes one person to love another is often rather mysterious, isn’t it?  But, Rand was onto something when she said that loving indiscriminately is impossible.  You see, love requires the lover at least to know his beloved.  Also, of the many kinds of sympathies, love is unique that it can only exist where there is intimacy and knowledge of a person’s individuality.  Max Scheler (whose work I connected to Attack on Titan) classifies five kinds of sympathy:

  1. Identification
  2. Vicarious
  3. Fellow-Feeling
  4. Benevolence
  5. Love

Max Scheler

The other four kinds of sympathy or affection don’t require knowledge of someone’s individuality.  One can identify with someone merely through their humanity, vicariously place oneself in another’s shoes with whom one’s never spoken, have a degree of fellow-feeling in regard to people who’ve experienced similar events, and it is perfectly possible to feel benevolent toward a Mongolian shepherd, though one has no intention of ever meeting a Mongolian let alone visiting Mongolia.  No one can love that Mongolian shepherd unless they meet him or become pen pals or something.  Some kind of self-revelation is necessary in order to love a distinct personality!

Can't say that I love him, but owning a tame eagle is pretty cool.

Can’t say that I love him, but owning a tame eagle is pretty cool.

How can we square this with Christ’s command in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  You can be sure that Christ did not only mean that we should love people we know personally: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matt. 5:46)  Of course, you can say that Christ wished for us to love one another on the order of benevolence–“willing the good” for one another.  Often, the word charity is treated as a kind of love based on action or willing the good.  But, in the Greek version of the above texts, the verb αγαπαω is employed, from which the word agape is derived in English.  I have seen the word agape defined as the love of God for man and the love each Christian should have for one another.  Having a great goodwill is essential to the concept of agape, but this kind of love goes beyond willing and doing good for them.  So, how can we αγαπωμεν all men?


The solution lies in meditating on the nature of the Word–or rather, Christ’s two natures, human and divine, united in His Person–and the nature of mankind.  Each human being is created in the divine image and likeness.  Each one of us reflects God in our own unique way.  If a soul is lost and falls into hell, a singular and never again to be created reflection of God is lost forever.  But, what can we say about the humanity of Christ, which is so perfectly united to his divinity?  What sort of human being is not only the image and likeness of the divine, but divinity itself?  O divine humanity!  Jesus Christ perforce has all the perfections of mankind within Himself and is the very source and foundation of our own goodness.

Since Jesus Christ has whatever goodness we find in ourselves in Himself, we are led to the inescapable conclusion that we find ourselves–our true selves–in Christ.  Apart from Christ, we shall never find our true originality.  But extension, we cannot perceive the true individuality of others unless we see them in Christ.

Jesus on Trial

Now, you see the solution to how to love all men unconditionally: to love Christ in loving His brothers and sisters–all mankind.  An individual’s personality may be unknown to us, but we can see the person as God, whom we love in loving that person.  Even people who irritate us or do us harm may be loved in this way.  And who knows but that by loving the naturally unlovable, they may become great human beings?  St. Stephen loved the people who stoned him to death because he loved Christ who desired their salvation.  St. Stephen’s prayer “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60) perhaps gained for St. Paul the gift of his conversion on the road to Damascus.

So, in order to love all mankind, we must love one individual: Jesus Christ.  One need not stop short at a general feeling of goodwill toward all men, but we may love them all as we love Christ.  So, in a curious way, I agree with Ayn Rand that we cannot love indiscriminately; yet, this proves no obstacle to loving all in Christ, that unique individual who united all mankind within Himself.

Rurouni Kenshin: Lay Me Down


A great article by TWWK, who uses the example of how the opening of Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal recalls how Christ sacrificed His life for us so that we might become living sacrifices to God.

Originally posted on :

If I’m being completely honest, part of what originally drew me to anime (and what draws many people, I think) was the intensity of violence in some series and movies.  Princess Mononoke was the first anime I watched that I knew was Japanese in origin, and the violence of it, though tame by some standards, both totally threw me off and absorbed me.  The same could be said of Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen(Trust and Betrayal), which doubly surprised me because my experience of Kenshin up to that point had been the mostly bloodless kind from sixty-odd episodes of the series.

kenshin and tomoe

Tsuiokuhen makes no qualms of how bloody it’s going to be right from the start, as a group of bandits mercilessly brutalizes a traveling slave caravan, including the young Himura.  The bandits, in turn, are dealt with in an even bloodier manner by Seijuro, who will become Himura’s teacher.


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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.

Sono Serifu

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


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.


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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