Kisara’s Revenge: Right or Wrong?

Here’s one last article on Black Bullet and the Spring season of 2014.  Like most of you, Kisara’s utter obliteration of her treacherous brother took me by surprise.  I thought that she would let him off with the loss of his legs, but I suppose cutting off a limb is always the prelude to giving the killing stroke–whether one is considering Japanese or Western martial arts.  Anyway, the parricidal villain got what he deserved.


Or did he?  Kisara laughs maniacally after his death and claims that she is evil and that only evil can eradicate evil.  These two claims strike one as shocking, especially for someone from a culture where filial piety is so esteemed.  (And no, evil cannot eradicate evil.  Only justice and mercy can.)  When one takes that into account along with the traditional belief that the victims of murder will not rest in peace until they have been avenged, I’d say that most Japanese would think badly of her had she not killed Kazumitsu Tendo.


So, whence arises the idea that she did wrong?  I am tempted to think Kisara’s words as purely rooted in the emotion of the moment.  To a person of integrity, killing is always ugly and painful even if justified.  Or does she feel that she ought to have left Kazumitsu’s punishment to the authorities?  But, one has already seen the degree of corruption in both the police and the government, and Kisara no doubt took this into account when she undertook extralegal means to avenge her parents.  Using a duel to execute a murderer is hardly ideal, but neither is Black Bullet‘s society.


I’m pretty sure this did not enter into Kisara’s mind at all, but in the spirit of this blog let’s ask this question: was it unchristian to kill her brother?  The Faith does recommend mercy.  Kisara could have stopped short of killing him at least, right?  But, four things must be taken into account when judging this matter: 1) Kazumitsu thinks nothing of taking human life–even the lives of his parents; 2) merely maiming him does not prevent him from continuing to use his political power or influence to cause grave harm; 3) the corrupt government might acquit in a trial, thus allowing him to continue to take human lives or endanger society for his own ends; and 4) Kazumitsu would no doubt be using his power to eliminate witnesses should he be arraigned.  I think that there exists a hierarchy of compassion in Christianity and prudence partially governs how mercy is given.  As the Glossa Interlinearis, a 12th century Biblical gloss by Anselm of Laon, states: “Justice and mercy are so united that one ought to be mingled with the other; justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice profusion…” (Gloss to Matt. 5:7).  Permitting Kazumitsu to live in society places the life of a murderer above his potential victims.  To have compassion on the murderer in this case is to lack compassion for the innocent.  Giving the lethal blow to Kazumitsu falls more under Katsujinken (“the life giving sword”) than Satsujinken (“the murdering sword”).

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h50m41s25 vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h51m21s188

If anything could have rendered Kazumitsu’s death a moral wrong, it would be if Kisara had arranged the duel in the belief that she was doing wrong.  It is possible to render something objectively right evil by having the wrong intention.  For example, giving money to the poor in order to be praised by others or telling truth for the purpose of delighting in another’s pain on hearing it.  The ugliness of the deed certainly struck her after the fact, but she did not have any doubts about whether she should fight Kazumitsu beforehand.  The preparations before the duel evince her sense of righteous indignation.  But, if there be any truth to Kisara’s belief that she’s evil for avenging her parents, it could only be because she undertook the revenge believing that she was doing wrong.


You couldn’t be more wrong, Kisara.


Nevermind, you could be.

But, what do my dear readers think?  Was Kisara’s action laudable filial piety?  The only way to stop a dangerous malefactor?  Erroneous vigilantism?  Or wrong because Kisara acted against her conscience from the beginning?


The Necessity of Virtue Ethics


An excellent article which points out how modern philosophers have never come up with a better system of ethics than Aristotle. The article also points out how St. Thomas improved on Aristotle by pointing out that mankind was destined for eternal beatitude, which is the end of all our desires.

Originally posted on Contemplans Profundes:

There are times when we seek things which we so desperately desire, only to realize that we what we truly wanted we had the whole time but took it for granted.

This is our unfortunate situation as it occurs to the philosophy of ethics. We threw away the shackles of the virtue ethics established by Aristotle only to be left with a muddled confusion as to what ethics and morality even mean. Our modern ethics are essentially utilitarian – where things are only good if they serve for utility rather than being goods in of themselves, or deontological – basing morality on an abstract notion of human reasonableness.

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Drinking in Early 19th Century America

I have a couple of comments on my recent article On Vanity about the per capita drinking rate of early nineteenth century America.  According to their calculations, people would only be drinking three ounces of pure alcohol per diem if the per capita rate of drinking were 18 gallons of pure alcohol.  And if everyone from the age of fifteen onwards only drank only three ounces of alcohol per diem, it strikes one as crazy that any sort of Temperance movement would start.

But yes, many temperance ladies were crazy anyway.

But yes, many temperance ladies were crazy anyway.

So, I decided to examine how 18 gallons of pure alcohol would translate across the spectrum of beer, wine, and hard liquor (most probably rye whiskey, rum, or gin at that time) in terms of bottles and cases.  Now, look closely at my math and see whether I’m correct in my calculations.  My specialty is Classical languages after all, not mathematics.  But if I am right, early Americans must really have been having a good time!


Standards of Measurement

Bottle of liquor = 750 ml or .75 liters

Bottle of wine = 750 ml or .75 liters

Bottle of beer = 12 fl. oz.

Case of beer = 24 bottles

ABV of liquor = 40%

ABV of wine = 12%

ABV of beer = 5%

How Many Bottles of Liquor are Needed to Reach 18 Gallons of Pure Alcohol?

Let’s start with the proportion 40/100 = 18/X.  The part on the left, 40/100, refers to the average ABV of 40% we see on most bottles of liquor.  The number 18 on the right refers to the eighteen gallons of pure alcohol which make up 40% of the volume of liquor in gallons.  The variable x denotes the total volume of liquor.  Here are the following steps I take:

40/100 = 18/x is cross-multiplied in order to get:

40x = 1800.  Then divide both sides by 40 to get the value of x:

x = 45 gallons of rye whiskey (let’s call it rye whiskey)

Yet, rye whiskey is presently served in .75 l bottles.  So, let’s convert 45 gallons to liters, which this site tells me is 170.34 liters.  How many bottles is that?  To get the answer, we need to divide this number by .75.

170.34/.75 = 227 bottles of rye whiskey

That sounds like a ton doesn’t it?  At the time, people were often given bottles of liquor instead of money in payment for their labor.  And how many bottles does this translate to per week?

227/52 = 4.37 bottles of rye whiskey per week.

You can be sure that many Americans were basically downing a bottle a day!  But, most tended to spread out their drinking: restorative doses during the day, to celebrate meeting new people, to conclude business deals, aperitif, digestif, and nightcap before bed.  That all adds up!

If this article starts making you thirsty, he's a recommendation I have for you.  Could you imagine drinking 4 1/3 bottles of this per week?

If this article starts making you thirsty, he’s a recommendation I have for you. Could you imagine drinking 4 1/3 bottles of this per week? Nevermind, it’s 95 proof instead of 80, so more like three and a half bottles per week, but still!

How Many Bottles of Wine Are Needed to Reach 18 Gallons of Pure Alcohol?

In the early nineteenth century America, liquor and beer were more popular than wine, but for the sake of curiosity, let’s apply the same calculations to wine.

12/100 = 18/x

12x = 1800

x = 150 gallons of wine

150 gallons of wine = 567.81 liters of wine

567.81/.75 = 757 bottles of wine

757/52 = 14 1/2 bottles per week or two bottles a day!

An American wine with a rather American grape.  Ravenswood makes Zinfandel worthy of being considered a work of art--or a good table wine depending on how much you spend.

An American wine with a rather American grape. Ravenswood makes Zinfandel worthy of being considered a work of art–or a good table wine depending on how much you spend.

How Many Bottles of Beer Needed to Reach 18 Gallons of Pure Alcohol?

At this point in time, people would regularly drink beer for breakfast.  I will not need to convert my figures to the metric system because bottles are usually sold in 12 oz. bottles, unless they are imported from Europe.  (Curiously, European brewers use larger tall bottles (25.4 fl. oz vs. 24 or 22 fl. oz.) and smaller regular bottles (11.2 fl. vs. 12 fl. oz.) than American brewers.  Go figure.)  Here are my calculations:

5/100 = 18/x

5x = 1800

x = 360 gallons of beer (That’s almost a gallon of beer per day!!!)

Now, to get how many fluid ounces of beer, we need to multiply 360 by 128, since a gallon holds 128 fluid ounces.

360 x 128 = 46, 080 fluid ounces of beer

46, 080/12 = 3,840 bottles of beer or 160 cases

160/52 = 3.08 cases per week

Here's one especially for my European readers.  One of the best tripels I've ever had.  not impossible to find in the United States, though.

Here’s one especially for my European readers. One of the best tripels I’ve ever had, not impossible to find in the United States, though.

While these figures can be admired, I suggest that none of my dear reader try to imitate an early 19th century American in this regard or they won’t reading my blog anymore–or anything besides liquor labels for that matter!  Once again, check my calculations and tell me if I erred in any way.  By the way, the current per capita drinking rate for Americans (taken from people 21 years or age or older) is 8.6 liters or 2.27 gallons of pure alcohol per capita.  A much more healthy amount!

Not A Taste Test


A very interesting article on Christianity and good taste, which makes references to C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton.

Originally posted on Cacao, put down the shovel!:

220px-CokePepsiChallenge TWWK at Beneath the Tangles pointed out this article at Christ and Pop Culture as something I might be interested in. I am, but I had to think about my reaction to it some. While I’m in sympathy, I can’t really agree with the article for several reasons.

The first area of disagreement would be in the title. Most of my beef with Christian culture is not that we have poor taste overall. I don’t like Left Behind, for sure, but I also didn’t like The Da Vinci Code, and How I Met Your Mother makes me physically ill. Yes, Christian pop culture is a lot of bonnet and grandmother books, but it’s not a matter of poor taste to like them, or good taste to reject them. It’s more that my dislike of them comes from them being omnipresent and all other genres being ignored. It’s not a matter…

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Izumi Nase and Bearing Too Many Burdens

Having recently finished Kyoukai no Kanata, the character of Izumi Nase stands out to me as the most interesting character.  She heads the Nase clan of Dreamshade slayers (Dreamshade being the favored translation of youmu), which makes her responsible for all supernatural phenomena in the city where she resides and its environs.  Her younger brother and sister also have major parts to play in the story, but they do not bear the same burdens as Izumi Nase.  In essence, they get to lead normal high school lives; yet, they are not unwilling to involve themselves in dangerous situations for the sake of their friends.  *Spoiler Alert in effect from this point on.*  Izumi would have done well to involve them more thoroughly in her struggles, for one suspects she would have made fewer errors of judgment.  For two of which, Izumi Nase loses the respect of her brother and enters a self-imposed exile.


Though I refer to Izumi’s deeds as errors of judgment, one would be hard pressed not to consider her a villain.  Despite us seeing several Dreamshades who strike us as rather human, she considers all Dreamshades as crops to be harvested or game to be bagged.  (In her defense, most Dreamshade hunters hold to this attitude.)  Also, she orchestrates the worst obstacles our heroes need to overcome.  Hiring Kuriyama to assassinate Akihito, causing Akihito to lose control of the Dreamshade inside him, and necessitating Akihito to rescue Kuriyama from a sealed world effectively peg her as the main villain.

Fire Illumination

Yet, one cannot help but see good intentions in these dark deeds.  Her intense sense of duty as the head of the Nase family leads her to act in the way she does.  But, she places too much responsibility on her own shoulders.  One is reminded of Kenshin Himura.  However, a crucial difference between the two lies in Kenshin separating himself from his dear friends in order to prevent them from coming to harm, while Izumi has no qualms about risking even family members for the sake of what she deems to be the greater good.

(Couldn’t resist adding this clip from Hot Fuzz.  A spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie.)

That duty has an excess might strike one as surprising, especially if one has the same mind as Robert E. Lee: “Duty is the most sublime word in the English language.”  But, perhaps the best example of the misdeeds caused from an excessive sense of duty might be one of Lee’s most famous opponents, John Brown.  The evils of slavery gnawed at Brown’s soul.  His frustration with the seeming permanence of the institution led him to move from legitimate actions like influencing public opinion against slavery and aiding the Underground Railroad to the crimes of murder and fomenting an unsuccessful slave revolt.

Akihito, like most people in this awesome show, is quite an oddball.

Akihito, like most people in this awesome show, is quite an oddball.

In a similar way, Izumi sees the danger posed by the Dreamshade residing in Akihito’s soul.  As a Dreamshade living in her town, taking care of this monster falls under her jurisdiction, and inaction never appears as an option for her.  The Dreamshade must be destroyed to prevent it from emerging one day and wreaking havoc upon humanity.  If it Akihito should one day lose control of it, the destruction it causes will lie on her head!  She deems merely keeping a close eye on Akihito and sealing back the Dreamshade when necessary too dangerous.  Although, Akihito neither has done anything deserving of capital punishment nor wishes to unleash his Dreamshade on the world, Izumi’s lack of faith in others and divine Providence impels her to ensure the destruction of Akihito and the Dreamshade at all costs.  (Of course, the anime never mentions Providence, but people who worry too much forget that not even a single hair falls from our head without God’s knowledge.)  Like John Brown, her sense of responsibility spills into hubris.


On the other hand, what saved Kenshin from using unjust means–resorting to his manslayer self–during his battle with Shishio?  Other people.  Without his friends telling him not to turn over to the dark side for an illusory strength, he would have fallen to the temptation.  Izumi, on the other hand, stands tragically alone.  She does not delegate authority in such a way as to give people freedom of action nor does she confide in others about her plans.  Therefore, she herself turns to the dark side in both taking in a Dreamshade into her own body and resorting to assassination to solve problems.

Izumi's last stand

Yet, her very misguidedness calls for forgiveness.  The world we live in does not forgive weakness, which leads to people falling into the trap of relying on themselves too much.  As a matter of fact, that her own brother rejects Izumi at the end almost corroborates her notion that she rises or falls on her own strength.  A brother should be more inclined to forgive a sibling than disown them!  One can only hope that Izumi discovers that she cannot rely entirely upon herself in her exile.

On Vanity

Though the Lincoln Island episodes (I love the nod to Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island) of Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water stand as some of the most ridiculous and boring episodes of anime (John Samuel even advised me to spare myself the pain of watching them), they at least inspired the present article on vanity.  You see, Nadia has an absurd attachment to her vegetarian and technophobic ways.  Now, there is nothing wrong with with either declining to eat meat or preferring low tech or archaic things.  These are personal choices, the first perhaps makes for a healthier lifestyle and the latter less slavery to technology.  Problems arise, however, when the person ceases to believe that these things are personal choices, but rather the only correct choices for everybody.  In the anime, we see Nadia calling Jean a bad person for eating meat and exclaiming that Marie is on her way to fiery damnation for her carnivorous ways.

nadia angry

It sometimes surprises me that Nadia can be so likable with all her vanity and pride, but elevating one’s personal preferences to the objectively best manner of thinking is a common fault.  In the Gospels, we see the Pharisees do this when they complain of the Apostles eating with unwashed hands as if they have committed a terrible transgression.  In our own time, we can point to various snobs who vaunt their peculiarities over the erring ways of the rest of humanity: vegans, vegetarians, non-smokers, teetotalers, hybrid car drivers, anti-hunters, anti-gunners, literary snobs, wine snobs, health fanatics, exercise fanatics, tea connoisseurs, fountain pen connoisseurs, art enthusiasts, classical music enthusiasts, people who use organic foods only, cigar snobs, cosmopolitans, nationalists, intellectuals, otaku, lengthy anime series haters, popular anime series haters, and the list might go on forever.  All the above are personal inclinations–no more that that.  If someone tries to argue that these choices are clearly superior to other choices, intelligent people can easily peg them as a snob.  Why does following a particular fad or predilection so easily make people believe they are superior to people following different fads or predilections?

Captain Nemo

But, my favorite feature of human vanity is the anti-snobbery snob.  This occurs when a person develops opposite habits to those whom he perceives to be snobs in order to further disassociate with them: eating red meat with every meal, never buying organic products, having one beer a day, owning a gas guzzling truck, having animal trophies in every room, refusing to read literature, never touching wine, etc.  Avoiding the arrogance of the snobs often causes one to become a snob oneself–and occasionally to one’s detriment.  When I advised one person to use a glass mug with his craft beer, he deliberately picked up a plastic mug and would not change his mind!  Why?  What pleasure is there in putting one’s lips to a plastic mug rather than a glass one except whatever pleasure anti-beer connoisseur snobbery affords?

Samson playing house

In the case of reverse snobbery, I confess myself to have fallen into such concerning alcohol.  The only creature worse than a wine snob is a teetotaling snob: the wine snob is superior to you because his tastes are more refined; the teetotaling snob claims moral superiority over his fellows.  Reading about the Temperance movement birthed this anti-snobbery.  After all, we see that people in the Temperance movement resorted to violence in order to further their goals, founded religions with teetotalism as a fundamental tenet, lied to influence the passage of Prohibition, and made clearly exaggerated claims against drinkers–such as that drinking was un-American.  (Those German and Irish immigrants were terrible drunks, you know!  But, I don’t think the per capita consumption of 18 gallons of pure alcohol at the beginning of the 19th century can be laid entirely on Germans and Irish.)  Meeting and listening to people whose teetotalism was infected by moral superiority helped my prejudice along.  Only in the last three years have I softened my discrimination against non-drinkers as I met people whose teetotalism was unmixed with hauteur.


However, perhaps the worst forms of snobbery and anti-snobbery find themselves in the realm of religion.  The groups having members most likely to be guilty of this are atheists, militant agnostics, Catholics, fundamentalist Protestants, Anglicans, and Western followers of Eastern religions.  Of course, believers and proponents of these systems can wrongly be perceived as arrogant merely because they believe their ideas are true–especially with the plague of relativism affecting the modern world.  But, some proponents of these worldviews go further than that.  They despise people of other backgrounds as backwards, uneducated, unthinking, unintelligent, unsophisticated, or morally defective.  They say to themselves, “If those people were not so stupid, stubborn, or wicked, surely they would believe what I believe!”  The worst thing about the arrogance of these people is that they drive away people who would otherwise be interested in the Faith.  (For obvious reasons, I am not as concerned about arrogant atheists or agnostics.)  When the stench of arrogance surrounds anything, people not inclined to examine it–whether it be Bordeaux or dogma.

Valkyria’s Limited Experience of Goodness & Invicible Ignorance

St. Thomas Aquinas’ fourth proof for the existence of God has always struck me as his weakest.  The fourth way of the Quinque Via states that we see various degrees of perfection in created beings.  These perfections must have a highest exemplar from which they gain all their perfections, and this highest exemplar with every perfection must be God.  However, the argument already assumes the existence of God: because we know that God is the greatest thing which can be thought, he must also be the highest exemplar of every perfection we find in creatures.  But, one cannot reason for the existence of God from such an argument.  You’re free to dispute this point if you like.

It's hard to tell who was the greater genius, St. Thomas Aquinas or Aristotle.

To use an example from Gokukoku no Brynhildr, Valkyria cannot reason from the beauty of the sunset, the tender kindness of Kuroneko, or the courageous rescue by Chisato to the infinitely beautiful, infinitely loving, and saving God.  Part of the reason Valkyria cannot reason thus lies in her being trapped in a world of evil: Vingulf’s laboratory which experiments on and tortures human beings until they expire or displease their superiors.  The belief that human beings hold intrinsic value stands as a moot point.  Chisato even frankly admits that all lives are not equal.

Valkyria intro

This causes a big problem for Valkyria.  Valkyria’s experience of goodness seems limited to Chisato and Kuroneko for the most part.  She loves Kuroneko because Kuroneko’s almost an exact clone of her, and she looks at Chisato as her god.  Instead of a God who calls every creature good and created human beings as the very image of himself, Valkyria believes in Chisato, who sees everyone and everything as either useless or potentially useless–except for his dead sister anyway.  Valkyria believes Chisato can do no wrong and follows him blindly.

A happy Valkyria

Her obedience even extends to killing Kuroneko, her other self.  She does attempt several times to dissuade Chisato from demanding Kuroneko’s death; but, when push comes to shove, she’s willing even to kill her twin for Chisato’s sake.  Thus, her limited perception of the good constricts to a solitary and morally corrupt individual.  Though, Kuroneko escapes death, Kuroneko might as well be an infidel with a fatwa on her head at that point.

Kuroneko vs Valkyria

However, a pivotal moment occurs when Chisato dies while saving Valkyria one more time.  (The spark of divine goodness reignited in him at the end.)  Valkyria decides to annihilate the entire city and everyone in it at that point.  In her mind, the present situation is none other than Nietzsche’s proclamation on the theological state of the world–though with a slight twist: “God is dead…And you have killed him!”  Valkyria believes that Chisato was the sole good in her life.  Without him, she wants to destroy the entire worthless world.  Fortunately, Kuroneko defeats her, which leads to one of the most perplexing scenes in the manga.

Destroy the World

Upon her death, Valkyria sees Chisato one more time and pronounces his name before disappearing.   Are we to understand this as Valkyria’s salvation at the end?  (Elfen Lied, Okamoto’s prior manga, is patently Christian, and the same ethos is present in Gokukoku no Brynhildr, though more hidden.)  One wonders if it is really Chisato she sees–having been granted salvation though doing the greatest good one friend can do for another–or is it in fact Jesus Christ?  When we think of the genus savior, Jesus Christ stands at the pinnacle.  But, the only example of salvation Valkyria knew was of Chisato; hence, at the brink of eternal damnation, she could only recognize the Savior, who desires to rescue all souls from eternal death, as Chisato.  In light of the ultimate Goodness, the last movement of her soul is toward repentance for her evils–which must appear truly detestable in the full light of God–and toward love of God.  Thus, she is saved.

Salvation perhaps

Would this movement of soul would be enough for salvation?  Love of the good which God placed in Chisato and which Valkyria could only recognize as Chisato?  As a Catholic, even if this were enough, I cannot but believe that her crimes would keep Valkyria in purgatory until the end of the world.  Though, the abyss of ignorance Valkyria has concerning God and goodness might indeed be invincible enough for Valkyria to escape the full penalty for her crimes.  May we all be so excused from our sins!

What I’ll be Watching for Summer 2014

After watching many first episodes and reading many blog articles, I have decided on eleven shows from the Summer 2014 season to watch.  Medieval Otaku is mainly a blog for opinions and deep analysis on certain threads and themes found in anime, especially religious themes.  But, my dear readers might be curious to know which shows I’ll be enjoying and on which they’ll likely see some commentary.  Here is the list of shows with minimal commentary:


1) Akame ga Kiru

I’ll confess that I’m one of those crazed, die-hard Esdese is mai waifu Akame Ga Kiru fans you’ve heard about.  The story has some hard-hitting action, likable characters, and interesting moral dilemmas and other shades of grey.  It’s fun to see the manga animated.  May the pacing and plot be better executed than Gokukoku no Brynhildr, the other manga about whose anime release I had been enthusiastic.

2) Girls und Panzer OVA

3) Aldnoah.Zero

From the same mind that gave us Majestic Prince, it also feels much like that show.  If it can be as good, I’ll be very happy.

4) Psycho-Pass Restart

Only a true Psycho-Pass junkie would wish to see the first season retold with a few additional details.  That pretty much describes me.


5) Sabagebu

What’s not to like about girls and guns?  This show has some great humor, awesomely detailed weapons, and fun action sequences (even if they are imaginary).

6) Rail Wars

7) Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun


It was great seeing Yomi again--especially as one of the good guys.

It was great seeing Yomi again–especially as one of the good guys.

9) Tokyo ESP

That this show occurs in the same universe as Ga-Rei Zero came as a complete surprise to me.  The first episode is a little slow, and Tokyo ESP has much to live up to in order to be a worthy successor of Ga-Rei Zero.  Anyone else catch the Ryougi Shiki look-alike?

vlcsnap-2014-07-13-01h31m04s86 Ryougi Shiki

10) Hanayamata

I don’t know how this show wound up on my list.  But, I found episode one endearing.  Let’s see how long it lasts.

11) Zankyou no Terror

Haven’t seen episode one of this, so I can’t claim enthusiasm.  Though from what I’ve read, it could be one of this season’s biggest hits.

Captain Earth may or may not be added to this list depending on the quality of the finale episodes.  To tell you the truth, I am rather shocked by how strong the summer season is.  Hopefully, a few shows will be good enough to be considered classics.  Also, I’m still watching El Cazador de la Bruja (I confess to stalling a little on that show) and am struggling through the Lincoln Island episodes of Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water.  May this summer’s anime be ten times more enjoyable than the spring’s!

Saber Marionette J and the Family

You know, its amazing how sometimes an anime can be based on a trite, fanservicey manga and yet contain a great high story.  This is precisely what happened in the case of Saber Marionette J.  (Don’t read the manga.)  I found myself surprised at the conservative tack it took in regard to the family.  As you know, the premise of this series describes a futuristic society on another planet which must survive by cloning.  Unfortunately, no women survived of the original settlers, which means that all clones are men.  In order to keep the memory of women alive, men make androids in the form of women, but these lack emotion–save in the case of our heroines and their opposites, anyway.  How miserable to be a man in a world without women!

A picture of our heroines' opponents for a change.

A picture of our heroines’ opponents for a change.

But, the shogun of Japoness has a plan for bringing women back into society through using the maiden circuits in Lime, Cherry, and Bloodberry.  He tells Otaru very little of his overall plan save that this will be possible once their maiden circuits or hearts have grown.  However, the Shogun insists that the family is mankind’s original form and that man must regain it.  This view diverges greatly from a more popular science fiction anime, Crest of the Stars, which imagines that people can do without the family.  But, would people really be happy without belonging to a family?  Here’s what Theodore Roosevelt says about the importance of marriage, which I quote from the forward of his autobiography: “There is need to develop all the virtues that have the state for their sphere of action; but these virtues are as dust in a windy street unless back of them lie the strong and tender virtues of a family life based on the love of the one man for the one woman and on their joyous and fearless acceptance of their common obligation to the children that are theirs.”  The hardships inherent in forming a good character have their reward in love.  Without love, especially the nearly unconditional love found in the family, people cannot be happy.

Cherry, the most domestic of Otaru's harem.

Cherry, the most domestic of Otaru’s harem.

But, most people follow the Crest of the Stars view that families are not necessary.  People place economic success as the goal of life, marriage and children are accessories rather than what makes for happiness.  But, happiness is an end, and work is obviously a means.  One cannot find happiness in means.  Because work and generating money are not the locus of happiness, Max Scheler, a famous Catholic philosopher of the turn of the twentieth century organizes the spheres of human activity thus, from least to greatest:

  1. Economic
  2. Vital
  3. Aesthetic
  4. Spiritual

The term vital refers to those activities which sustain humanity, especially the family.  Most thinkers nowadays refer to community and family without using the term vital, but we see the use of this term in George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, who happens to be one writer to forget that all things are not a matter of utility.  Basically, modern man–or post-modern man, whichever term you think more accurate–places the economic sphere above the rest and does his best to eliminate or infringe upon the value of the rest.

Faust, actually does make the mistake of placing utility over personality--creating a monster android because it is better at battle than his original marionettes.

Faust (pictured in the upper left), actually does make the mistake of placing utility over personality–creating a monster android because it is better at battle than his original marionettes.

The problem with such a reversal lies in that such a mindset never finds happiness.  And our protagonists, poor as they are, would never be happy if it all depended on their economic situation.  Instead, the people of Japoness seek happiness in community, friendship, or art.  But most people would feel incomplete without families.  Saber Marionette J displays this best in the case of Otaru’s sensei, who has a marionette, with whom he has fallen in love despite the fact that she doesn’t have a personality.  Of course, he sees this deficiency and tricks Lime into giving up her heart.  He intends to erase the data on it and install the maiden circuit into his own marionette so that they can essentially live together as husband and wife–as the two haves of humanity should.  Most people need this kind of love.  If this were not the case, marriage would not have been called the ordinary vocation.

SMJ the gang

And so, I shall end my remarks on the surprising conservatism of Saber Marionette J by referencing the Holy Father’s thoughts on the family.  The shogun of Japoness would surely agree: “We were created to love, as a reflection of God and His Love.  And in matrimonial union, the man and woman realize this vocation as a sign of reciprocity and the full and definitive communion of life.”  Would that modern man learn both that happiness is the goal of life and that marriage is integral to happiness unless God has called a person to a life of service–especially as a priest or religious.  No one was created for the sake of merely making money and enjoying pleasurable goods!

Weird Anime Of The Day: Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat In Space


D. M. Dutcher knows some great and unusual anime and cartoons from other foreign nations. This one, featuring a punk cat in space, takes the cake!

Originally posted on Cacao, put down the shovel!:

tamala More like weird anime of the decade. This anime is insane.

Tamala is a young cat who gets bored with living in Meguro City on Cat Earth. She hops into her spaceship to check out Orion, but crashlands on a place called Planet Q. On there the dogs and cats hate each other, and she soon falls in with a cat named Michaelangelo in Hate City.

It gets weirder.

You see, Tamala has a connection with the shady megacorporation Catty Corp. It’s a connection that will lead to her death. Somehow she is linked to a giant feline robot named Tatla, and beyond that to the goddess Minerva herself. Somehow Tamala has existed for thousands of years, and her constant death and rebirth serves Catty Corps needs. But she doesn’t mind, as long as she can smoke, swear like a sailor, and spin kick unsuspecting people.

Oh, did I mention…

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