Quick Thought: Under the Dog

I’ve heard of this anime. Jusuchin gives an excellent review of this episode length OVA. It sounds pretty cool overall, and I hope that they manage to make a series out of it–though, I doubt that it comes close to being like Ghost in the Shell.

A Journey Through Life

The result of a crowd-funded campaign, Under the Dog was originally envisioned as a 26 episode series with an animation style hearkening back to shows like Ghost in the Shell. The plot follows an UN-sanctioned assassination group called Flowers, made up of young teenage girls who have special abilities formed after a massive terrorist attack occurred during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Failure of a mission means death for the agent, as well as family and close friends through the use of implanted bombs.

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Sancte Pio, Ora pro nobis!

I mentioned Padre Pio in my last post. We fortunately have many quotes and stories about him because he’s a very recent saint (d. 1968). Many people who knew him are still alive! Here is a collection of twenty-five quotes of his. All are very encouraging.

St. Padre Pio — His Wisdom in 25 Quotations

St. Padre Pio

St. Pio of  Pietrelcina was a humble friar whose holiness and patient suffering won many souls for Christ. Pope Benedict XVI said he “‘prolonged’ the work of Christ: announcing the Gospel, remitting sins and healing the sick in body and spirit”. Here are twenty-five quotations from this much beloved saint illustrating his wisdom, humanity and deep spiritual insight.

In the uproar of the passions and of reverses of fortune, we are upheld by the comforting hope of God’s inexhaustible mercy. 

***

Jesus is with you even when you don’t feel His presence. He is never so close to you as He is during your spiritual battles. He is always there, close to you, encouraging you to fight your battle courageously. He is there to ward off the enemy’s blows so that you may not be hurt.

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God leaves you in that…

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Quick Takes: Turkish-style Coffee and Other Things

sven-with-coffee

Welcome to a suitably random series of quick takes, as you can tell from the first topic.  Those who wish to read a random assortment of things about yours truly are encouraged to continue.  Which reminds me, there are two award posts I should do in the near future from Josh W and Lynlynsays.  Look forward to them!

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I’ve determined that my favorite method of brewing coffee is the Turkish method: stirring very fine coffee grinds into some water, simmering it for five minutes (I try to keep it between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit), and then stirring before pouring it into a cup.  My grandmother uses this method, though I never employed it myself until the past month.  One interesting thing about this method is how one can stir up the grinds on the bottom of one’s cup to heighten the flavor.  The end result is very strong–especially with the Death Wish Coffee (the most caffeinated coffee in the world) I’m using now.

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Mercy in a Berserk World

While watching Berserk (2016), one cannot but be struck by how much evil exists in that world.  In that way, it imitates our own world, where every depravity has been committed at least a thousand times over.  Most figures in the story strike one as villains or mindless drones.  Few are like Guts in taking a stand against the forces of evil.  Decent people are mostly powerless against evil, and the majority only want to save their own skin–even at the expense of another’s life or hundreds of other lives.  This anime provides as bleak a picture of humanity.  Even death does not provide rest, as souls swallowed by demons remain trapped in their anger, hatred, and despair.

guts-preparing-to-strike

But, I repeat that this world is much like ours: there is even the presence of grace though characters deny the efficacy of prayer and claim that only deeds count.  The concepts of grace and providence apply more to Nina than any other character.  Her surviving merciless soldiers, monstrous executioners, a fall of several stories, an ogreish inquisitor, and an army of infernal blob demons can only be considered providential and gracious.  Did she deserve it?  No, all her actions are selfish and call for punishment, from her clinging to life at all costs and participation at Satanic orgies to her consistent betrayal of associates and friends.

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The Importance of a Personal Philosophy

The latest episode of 91 Days inspires this topic, especially in light of what happened at the end of that episode.  Angelo has lived without purpose for the seven years following the murder of his family.  He exists in a cheap apartment with no signs of individuality and makes a living through theft.  He constantly thinks about his one great treasure, his deceased family, and has no desire to really live.  This makes him easy to manipulate as Angelo becomes embroiled in the power struggle within the Vanetti mob.  While he shows himself resolute, resourceful, and tough, he soon becomes a pawn barely able to exercise his own will.

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The above shows the importance of having a personal philosophy and of being true to oneself.  Indeed, one cannot ever be true to oneself without some personal philosophy.  The most warped mindset is that of relativism, and the relativist stands as the most miserable of all men, because his stance changes with the zeitgeist.  In terms of mindset, a racist imperialist is superior to a relativist.  Sure, it’s an awful thing to judge other men purely on external characteristics and to support a program of conquest for the benefit of the fatherland.  But, the relativist can morph from a classical liberal to a socialist to a monarchist to a democrat depending on what the majority prefers.  In England, the relativist abhors female circumcision; in Indonesia, he deems it a cultural practice worthy of toleration.  Contention and ostracism are feared above all.  At least, the racist imperialist has objective standards which he is willing to fight for.  Also, because he has objective standards, the racist imperialist can be convinced that his objective standards are not true and be brought closer to the truth.  The relativist blows with the winds of expediency.

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The Project Itoh Anime Movies and Reading Foreign SF

Here’s a great endorsement of the Project Itoh novels, while at the same time detailing why the Harmony anime falls short of the novel.

The Null Set

This summer hasn’t been kind enough to leave me with as much time as I’d like to watch/read/write about anime – with the passing of Labor Day and the gathering momentum towards winter, I’m not complaining, just explaining why it’s taking me almost two months to respond to a piece one of my favorite blogs wrote. The blog – Medieval Otaku – wrote back on July 25 this post: “Interest in Project Itoh: Empire of Corpses, Harmony, and Genocidal Organ”.  In it, he links to a very enlightening Youtube video and asks if anyone was interested in the noitaminA produced animated movies of Project Itoh’s books.

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Quick Takes from Anime Summer 2016

Of late, I’ve been hankering to write a less formal blog post than the essays posted recently.  I’m not sure how many of my dear readers remember Nami, but she’s the blogger who introduced me to Quick Takes, where one simply rambles on seven things which are on their mind.  You can count this as a mid-season review if you will, though I’ll be talking about a 90’s anime as well.  Without further ado, let’s proceed!

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The new anime adaptation of Berserk surprised me by not revolting me from episode one.  (The manga succeeded in doing that by the time I reached the halfway mark of volume one.)  This series is causing me to modify my opinion that only the Golden Age arc was worth an anime adaptation.  Still, I find myself skipping the most unsavory parts of the anime.  (Similar to how I read Akame ga Kiru.)

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UEM! is Now on Patreon!

Jeko Jeko has written some insightful articles over the past year, and so I’m happy to see that UEM! is growing. Be sure to subscribe, even if you can’t donate.

UEM!

When I started this blog, back in the summer of 2015, it was an offbeat idea I had to keep myself busy with something other than the revision I should have been doing. It was my first real venture into the many communities of anime lovers online. Over the year-and-bit that’s passed, I’ve made many friends, and annoyed a few more people than I should have with my endless rambling about why we need to question what makes anime, and all art, ‘good’. I’ve made so much progress as a blogger, and it’s all thanks to you guys.

Among the readers I’ve picked up, some fantastic conversations have been made. Some of the best have come from more recent articles, posts that are more than just elaborations of opinions. I’ve been tapping into wider reading and research, into theories about art and how we appreciate it, old and new, to…

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New Page: Anime for Christians

With Cross

Well, I finally have my list of anime recommendations for Christians up.  I expect to continue working and updating this page over the months and years, but plenty of great anime are posted there.  You’ll find this new page as a sub page of “About Me and This Blog.”  Feel free to recommend more anime which you feel might belong up there or if you want to contest the way any anime has been categorized.  (You’ll see what I mean when you read it.)

Anime for Christians

Examining Light Novels: On Relationship

Here is the first post for my new column on Beneath the Tangles.  The next eight posts will be covering the rest of the Spice and Wolf light novels.  This first article initiates the reader into what the main theme of the series is alongside my commentary on it.  I can’t recommend Spice and Wolf enough.  The only downside is the sour view Isuna Hasekura takes on monotheism; but I can forgive a Shintoist that, and it should make for some interesting articles later on.

I hope you like this article, which is linked to below.

Examining Light Novels: On Relationship

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Questions from MIBIH

MIB of the blog MIB’s Instant Headache won the Liebster Award some time ago and kindly nominated me for the same award.  Be sure to check out his reviews of foreign films, classics, and anime, since all his reviews are brimming with detail and amusing observations.  The Liebster Award includes some questions for the award winner to answer, and then he is allowed to ask his nominees eleven questions in return.  While I felt that I must decline his nomination, answering MIB’s eleven questions sounded like they would make an amusing post.  Here they are below!

Flynn

MIB’s Questions
  1. If you could direct a film and cast any actor or actress, living or dead, who would it be?

Errol Flynn.  I’d cast him in a swashbuckling adventure with plenty of swordplay.

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The Fragmented Heart of Mytho

Prin T

I’ve known about Princess Tutu since around 2004, but have only just decided to watch it due to Josh W’s influence.  One does not expect a fantasy show revolving around ballet to be this good, and part of the entertainment lies in how little of the plot is straightforward.  In the city where the tale takes place, storybook characters can enter the real world.  Prince Mytho stands as one such person and so is his antagonist, the Raven.  According to the book, written by an eccentric named Drosselmeyer, the Prince sealed the Raven’s power through shattering his own heart.  Though Mytho succeeded in his object, he has become the shell of a human being.  The heroine, Duck, is approached by Drosselmeyer and given the power to transform into Princess Tutu so that she might restore Mytho’s heart to its proper condition.  However, restoring Mytho’s heart brings him pain and sorrow which he would never experience without a heart.  Also, the advent of the Raven’s release from his imprisonment is simultaneously advanced by the restoration of Mytho’s heart.

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On the Athanatos Christian Arts and Apologetics Festival

Over one week has passed since I’ve written a proper blog.  (See “Examining Old School Anime: The Saints Point to Christ“)  I still need to comment on the new season among other things, but this post will be on my trip to Greenwood, Wisconsin in order to attend the Athanatos Christian Arts and Apologetics Festival.  Placing third in their short story contest of 2009, being a semi-finalist of the 2015 Novel Contest, and counting as a great friend of one of the contest judges ensured my invitation to the event.  Part of the idea behind the festival was that attendees would camp on site, but my friend (the blogger of Dusty Thanes) and I declined this opportunity in exchange for a comfy hotel room.  At a high of 81°F, the weather was appreciably cooler than here in Alabama, for which I was grateful.

Martha and Mary

Besides enjoying a reunion with my friend and his delightful family, the contest brought me in contact with several fiction writers and thinkers.  The most interesting of the bunch were Joseph Courtemanche, Robert Cely, Paul J. Bennett, David Zach, Bernard Bull, and Jamie Greening.  (I’m afraid that I skipped the apologetics part of this festival and focused more on the fiction writing aspect of it.)  Courtemanche, a former member of Navy Intelligence and a former police officer, stood out as the largest personality and person there; but, a deep humility made him very approachable.  Meeting the author of Assault on St. Agnes, whom my friend coached for countless hours on how to improve his novel, was a great honor.  (The preliminary judges act as editors after the initial cut before submitting their final recommendations to the deciding judge and founder of Athanatos Christian Ministries, Anthony Horvath.)  Assault on St. Agnes concerns a main character who is essentially a fictional version of the author: a “polyglot Rambo” called Bobby Kurtz.  Kurtz prevents Jihadists from committing a massacre in a church and soon finds himself enlisted again in the ranks of the U.S. military in order to prevent a bloodier attack from taking place.  Courtemanche’s experience makes for a very accurate and exciting novel, and I find myself enjoying every minute of it.

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Thoughts on Spice and Wolf Volume Eight

This volume of the light novels vindicates my hope that the series would improve after the preceding two volumes.  The eighth volumes covers the first part of “The Town of Strife” story arc.  Our heroes become plunged into a vortex of intrigue involving the church, pagan relics, a horn of immortality, rival guilds, and Eve, the femme fatale who almost cost Lawrence his life in addition to his money.  This novel manifests all the reasons people love Spice and Wolf, and I am looking forward to the next book and this story’s thrilling conclusion.

SW volume 8

Of note, the banter between Lawrence and Holo has lessened compared to the previous novels, and most of their conversations tend to be serious.  This novel is the most plot-centered of the series thus far.  Much of the dialogue is between Lawrence, Eve, and particular guild heads as he tries to work out a safe and profitable position for himself.  I greatly enjoyed this focus on the plot, especially after the last two novels.  But, don’t worry: Holo and Col still get plenty of print too.

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Interest in Project Itoh: Empire of Corpses, Harmony, and Genocidal Organ

I’m writing this simply to see whether anyone else is interested in Project Itoh.  Of the blogs I follow, only Beatslars of Konnichiwa Anime no Yuujin has delved into both Harmony and Empire of Corpsesand Genki Jason has mentioned the two works here and here.  Those two works and Genocidal Organ have their origins as light novels, apparently written by the only fan to ever understand Hideo Kojima’s video games.  The story behind the novels, especially how the author wrote them from his hospital bed as he lay dying of cancer, is fascinating:

Curiously, Genocidal Organ (still a work in progress) is the last of the three light novels to receive an anime adaptation, even though it was the first novel of them to be written.  Harmony, with its investigation into the nature of happiness and free-will, strikes me as the most interesting.  But, all three seem to delve into philosophical questions, even though Empire of Corpses sounds mostly like a zombie-slaying adventure.  Besides the philosophical aspect, the world building in these movies, either the steam punk 19th century suffering a zombie apocalypse of Empire of Corpses or the dystopian future where everyone’s minds are controlled in Harmony, strikes me as the sort which makes anime worth watching.

Here are a couple of short articles on Harmony:

Fantasia 2016 Review: “Harmony”

Book Review: Harmony

So, are any of my dear readers also interested in these works?  I certainly want to find time for them!

Examining Old School Anime: The Effects of Tribulation

Ikki Phoenix

Below is a link to the latest post for my column on Beneath the Tangles.  It ponders the question of why tribulations drives some to greater goodness and others to become more evil.  The question might be even more complex than suggested by Gen. Joshua Chamberlain’s assertion: “War makes good men great and bad men worse.”  At any rate, I hope that you enjoy the article!

Examining Old School Anime: The Effects of Tribulation

On the Danger of Flying Witch and Its Ilk

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Here is the article I promised on magic in anime, which will especially focus on Flying Witch.  My arguements proceed from several premises, developed from Catholic theology and my years reading fantasy fiction, which I shall list here:

  1. All occult magic–i.e. not the kind resorting to deception or sleight of hand–in the real world is evil.
  2. Magic in the real world is evil because it involves the diabolic.
  3. To encourage or to support magic or the occult is always wrong.
  4. In fiction, there can exist types of magic not associated with the diabolic because the rules of fictional world and settings are not those of the real world.
  5. The decision to approve or condemn a fictional work’s portrayal of magic depends upon its similarity to the occult and whether it presents the magic as positive or negative.

Reaction to Ostrich Ferns

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