Rating the Anime of Winter 2019, pt. 1

Here begins the first part of a long set of reviews–at least, of what I call reviews.  I tend to describe the facets of each show which I found enjoyable or deplorable.  After all, the other anime reviewers have covered all the technical points by now, and I’d likely only be repeating myself.

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The following six out of the eleven anime watched in Winter 2019 rate from 2 1/2 to 3 stars.  For me, two and a half stars refers to a mediocre anime which disappointed me, but not enough for me to consider it to have been a waste of my time.  Three stars designates a decent anime which I enjoyed but will not watch again.  Three and a half star anime are good enough to be worth watching again in the future and contain aspects which make them memorable.  I’m inclined to be generous with that last rating.  Thankfully, I did not run into any anime I’d rate two stars or less this season, which are all levels of poor quality.

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Let’s begin, shall we?  Spoilers ahead!

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7th Anniversary of Medieval Otaku

Wow!  Seven years of blogging!  It’s been fun getting to know all of you out there and hearing about how my posts piqued your interest.  Thank you for your support and your interest!  It seems like I have not really done enough with the present winter season, but I have finished watching all the shows I set out to watch.  You should see a couple of posts soon where I review all eleven shows in two parts.

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Eleven?  That’s right.  I added one more show to my watch list: Karakuri Circus.  This show does not seem to have gotten that much attention, but it’s a very well done shonen.  It excels in both action and characters, making even certain minor characters compelling.  Perhaps the oddest thing about Karakuri Circus, however, is just how much of the action takes place in the past.  I can’t remember the last anime I watched which indulged so much in flashback episodes.  This can be annoying when one would like for nothing more than for the story to advance.  At the same time, it’s fascinating how the action extends from Medieval Europe to Meiji Era Japan to modern America.  The anime is on Amazon Prime, and I highly recommend it.

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Here is a short list of what I want to post in the near future:

  1. Review of Winter 2019, Part 1
  2. Review of Winter 2019, Part 2
  3. Quick Takes on other anime
  4. A post on Karakuri Circus and Charity’s Relationship to Virtue
  5. Finally read Dante’s Divine Comedy to the end
  6. What the anime Caligula was actually about
  7. Spring 2019 Watch List
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If anyone gets what the main theme of Caligula was, feel free to comment on it below.

Look forward to these posts and one which I hope will appear on Beneath the Tangles soon.  Dear readers, thank you once again for all your support!

Commentary on a Shield Hero and Slavery Post

Recently, Beneath the Tangles featured a very long and well-written post on the topic of slavery in The Rising of the Shield Hero.  It is worth your time to read when you have a good chunk of free time:

Guest Post: When a Shield Hero Becomes a Slave Owner

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Slavery is a very interesting topic in regards to Christianity, because the Bible never condemns it in explicit terms.  This has led to epochs where rulers and nobility saw slavery as permissible, especially in the Age of Exploration and when the wars between Christendom and Islam became more advanced.  Thus, the papacy had to condemn the practice several times in encyclicals and statements in the years 1462, 1537, 1639, 1741, 1815, and 1839.  (See Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life by Stanley M. Elkins.)  I might also add the 1435 encyclical commanding that Canary Islanders be freed from the condition of slavery.  That slavery could be countenanced is rather odd when one considers that Medieval society had made great strides in eliminating slavery with its borders so that it was virtually non-existent by the 11th century, which coincides with the end of the Viking Age.

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Five Favorite Anime of 2018

Now comes the post to sum up the highlights of 2018.  Last year did not have the same quality as 2017, which saw every anime in the top five rated 9/10 or 10/10.  Yet, 2018 was still a great year, offering plenty of four star anime to choose from.  It was difficult to choose between them.  In the end, I chose #3 – #5 based on how much enthusiasm I felt for these anime when they came out.  Honorable mentions go to Hinamatsuri and Golden Kamuy.

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5) Isekai Izakaya ★★★★

I cannot imagine giving a short more than four stars, but part of me wanted to make an exception for Isekai IzakayaDagashi Kashi II stands as another example of a well done and hilarious short from last year.  (It’s ironic that the original Dagashi Kashi was too long and the sequel too short.  If only season one had been a series of shorts, and the second season used full length episodes!)  But, where Isekai Izakaya trumps Dagashi Kashi II lies in how the former excelled in more than comedy and lovable characters.  Isekai Izakaya builds a great fantasy world using the Holy Roman Empire of the High Middle Ages as a basis–just as Isuna Hasekura did for Spice and Wolf.  In addition to exploring the world of Japanese cuisine in the anime, it offered some bonus segments alternating between a young chef showing the viewers how to make the dishes portrayed in the anime and an old gourmand touring various Japanese eateries.

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Reflections on The Rising of the Shield Hero, Episode 4: Lullaby at Dawn

Here’s a great and well-written post on episode 4 of The Rising of the Shield Hero. The author is new to the aniblogosphere, but this is a great start. Who would have thought that Naofumi and Motoyasu suffer from the same defect?

Beneath the Tangles

Today’s guest post comes from The Varangian, a writer and podcaster who comes to us through his friend (and yours and ours), Medieval Otaku. I hope you enjoy his excellent reflections on the most recent episode of The Rising of the Shield Hero which, if you haven’t seen it yet, in turn demonstrates just how special this series may be.

The Rising of the Shield Hero has been a trial by fire both for our heroes and for the audience, as best shield boy Naofumi has endured betrayal, false accusation, slander, ostracism, and a good deal of bad manners. The only bright spot in this very dark place has been his relationship with Raphtalia, who might be the salvation of him yet—as long as she’s given the chance. In the fourth episode, “Lullaby at Dawn” they (and we) are subjected to an agonizingly severe test of their bonds, a test…

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usylessly unreadable Blue Book of Eccles (part I of ??!)

No one has ever made reading James Joyce sound appealing to me before. That alone should interest my dear readers enough to take a look at this post.

Res Studiorum et Ludorum

Now for the good stuff. In rereading Ulysses and dipping into Finnegans Wake and Richard Ellmann’s biography of James Joyce, it’s become clear that the man is one of those artists who I have a foundational, yet utterly complicated and baffling relationship with. It will take some time to completely hash things out.

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Winter 2019 Anime Impressions

Always happy to see posts from Cytrus. It looks like another anime blogger is tackling ten anime this season. See if one of these shows catches your fancy.

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Out of the blue, some short impressions on stuff I will be following this winter.

Honourable mentions, good but probably won’t be keeping up with: Endro, HizaUe, Kotobuki

B class residents:

TateYuusha/Rising of Shield Hero: Isekai adaptation blessed with a motivated staff and a decent budget. I felt the opening was a bit too heavy-handed for its own good, but the series has more unique ideas later down the line. Now it is all a matter of whether a proper plot direction can be established and whether character chemistry can save the series from mediocrity. Very easy to follow, though, with a constant mix of action, humour and character development.

Kemurikusa: There is a lot to Kemurikusa that feels fresh, and that is its main forte. The setting, plot progression and dialogue flow are simply different from any other production of the season. That said, the pacing is on the…

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Pro Deo et Patria & What is Your Country?

Recently, I had the pleasure of reading TWWK’s post “For God or Country? Violet Evergarden and Divided Allegiance.”  It was a very good post meditating on Violet Evergarden’s relationship to her country and also about the relationship between piety and patriotism.  However, “For God or Country?” is a question which one should never have to ask.  In that regard, it’s like the question “Liberty or Equality?”  In these times of egalitarian extremism, we might be tempted to say “Liberty!”  But, the fact of the matter is one cannot throw out either liberty or equality without the end result being tyranny.  A society needs the proper balance of these two things to thrive: let’s say 70% liberty and 30% equality–if one can so quantify the two ideas!

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In regard to God and country, the problem is not one of balance but of order, as TWWK avers: “…I understood the idea that my allegiance to God trumps all other allegiances, meaning I could still be loyal to my country, still treasure it, but not above all, not above God.”  This is a very satisfactory answer and recalls the fact that some people reverse the order.  America is such a great country that one does find Americans who seem to worship–worship in the archaic sense of to praise and to serve–their country more than God.  This kind of patriotism exists as a vice rather than a virtue: love of God ought to come before love of country.

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Biting off More Anime than I Can Chew

Long time readers have likely heard me complain that I can’t watch more than seven shows in a season and that four is the most I should follow.  Well, Winter 2019 is shaping up to be an awesome season: yours truly went ahead and picked up ten anime.  This amounts to 3.5 hours of anime per week or about 2% of the week.  This seems doable.  At any rate, let me get onto the anime without further ado.

 


1) Boogiepop and Others (Crunchyroll)

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You know, I never watched the original series, Boogiepop Phantom; though, it’s on my list of things to do.  Knowing about the original drew me to take a look at Boogiepop and Others.  The opening arc kept me in my seat for the entire three episodes.  It looks like your classic supernatural, monster-slaying anime set in a modern high school.  The fights, the suspense, and the mysterious nature of the setting make for a very intriguing anime, and I look forward to more.  Has anyone seen Boogiepop Phantom and would recommend it, by the way?

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A Samurai Anime You Should Watch: Angolmois

Happy New Year to my dears readers!  You have not heard from me since Christmas, but I’m still around.  My schedule for the near future promises to be freer than it has been for the past several months, so I hope to produce more content.  This content will include my top five anime from 2018, a run down of what I watched for Fall 2018, and what I intend to watch this season.  (So far, Boogiepop and Others, The Promised Neverland, and The Rising of the Shield Hero have caught my attention.)  Two of those posts are late indeed, but better late than never!

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In the current post, I want to encourage everyone to watch Angolmois: Record of the Mongol Invasion.  Angolmois came out during the summer of 2018, but I did not discover it until December of last year.  I love samurai anime, especially those with a strong core of bushido.  Angolmois does not disappoint on this score as it drips with the virtues of the samurai.  Any fan of samurai anime or medieval action would do well to pick up this anime.

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Christ the King

Happy Feast of Christ the King! This is an excellent post describing how Christ built His Kingdom on the Truth, while the kingdoms of the world are more than willing to neglect the truth in favor of power.

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Christ the King

We live in an era of conspiracy theories, fake news, and alternative facts. In the past falsehood competed with truth. Now it’s confusion. We don’t have to be convinced of a lie to be led astray. It’s enough to become cynical and doubt that we can ever arrive at objective, absolute truth. Truth becomes relative and personal: “You have your truth. I have mine.” The person who shouts the loudest seems to get the most attention nowadays. Into this charred, postmodern landscape comes a stranger and alien, Jesus Christ. When he finally got his day in court, the judge wanted to know if he was indeed a king. He was, but he said his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:33-37). This world loves power, not truth. Jesus gave up his power to bear witness to the truth.

“So you really are a king?” Pilate asked.

Jesus…

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New Podcast: Deluded Fruitcakes Anonymous

Two of my good friends have started a podcast.  It sounds like they want to discuss books, movies, swords, anime, and manga–basically, their interests.  I myself might appear on a future episode of their podcast.  Why should you listen to them?  They’re funny, articulate, and their interests might cross with yours.  Anyway, drop by and say that Medieval Otaku sent you!

Dropping Golden Kamuy

Here’s a show which I feel sorry to drop.  Golden Kamuy stood as one of my favorite anime from two seasons ago.  I loved the aspects of it which dealt with the Ainu, the beautiful backgrounds, Hokkaido, and turn of the century Japan.  The action was great, and the characters interesting and fun.

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Yet, one unfortunate element intruded itself towards the end of season one: the author’s interest in serial killers.  Our heroes’ trip to the fishing village in search of more clues introduced a seriously disturbed fisherman, Henmi Kazuo, who became sexually aroused at the prospect of murder and death.  I found myself enduring rather than enjoying these couple of episodes.  And so, it probably comes as no surprise that I dropped the anime after the second season begins with introducing yet another crazed serial killer: Yasaku Edogai the taxidermist.

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Reblog: When the Barque of Peter is Tossed by Storms… Pray to St Michael Archangel! —

From Fr George W. Rutler’s Weekly Column Nostalgia is a selective editing of the past. For instance, there are those who wish we had today some of the architects of thirteenth-century cathedrals, but who avoid mentioning thirteenth-century dentists. In recent times, the general conceit has been the opposite of nostalgia. The philosopher Owen Barfield spoke […]

via When the Barque of Peter is Tossed by Storms… Pray to St Michael Archangel! —

Goblin Slayer and the Root of Horror

The Halloween season has given me some impetus to think about the horror genre.  A while back, an academic named E. Michael Jones was on the Patrick Coffin show explaining how he thought about the horror genre.  He has written at least two works on this subject: Monsters from the Id: The Rise of Horror in Fiction and Film and Sex with Monsters.  Jones believes that the modern horror genre arose as a reaction to the free love movements of the 19th century and reached its full flowering following the Sexual Revolution.  Many persons were hurt by the myriad problems which inevitably arise from sexual licentiousness and enjoyed a cathartic reaction from a central message of many horror stories: sex can kill you.

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You all know how this story ends.  Or, if you don’t, School Days should be on your list.

School Days might be the anime locus classicus for such a theme, but my dear readers know–know even a priori–that playing Don Juan for a length of time is going to lead one to embarrassing, painful, and even dangerous situations.  People don’t like being used as playthings, and the relatives of the playthings take an even dimmer view of such conduct.  The fact that one’s partner consents to the relationship does not take away from the feeling of being used.  The Sexual Revolution tried to paint promiscuity as a desirable thing, even promoting contraceptives and abortion so that women could participate in “consequence- free” sex.

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Fall 2018 First Impressions/At the half way point/Something

Mechanical Anime Reviews

I’m a very late with this one. I’m sorry. October was busy for me. Not only has school been getting busier and busier for me, I’ve also had some projects on my blog that have taken quite a bit of work and time for me to focus on. I mean, my time has been slowly draining away from me over the past month. I didn’t even write an OWLS post. Writing a first impression post isn’t as easy one would expect. Writing down thoughts for things like this could be much more complicated than one would think.

I have been watching a lot more shows this season then I anticipated. I said in my Summer 2018 in review post that I would try to keep my list lower and watch only nine shows or so. I personally don’t count Space Battleship Tiramisu because it’s a short and Thunderbolt Fantasy isn’t…

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Further Ruminations on Old School Anime

My thanks to all who have commented and participated in the poll below.   Your comments have forced me to think a little more about just what counts as old school anime.  In particular, I needed to think about how to separate it from both ancient anime and modern anime.  An old school anime has the following qualities:

  1. Not black and white
  2. Uses cel animation
  3. Character animation is less influenced by Disney’s style, usually with a sharper look
  4. Has a story which appeals to teenage and older anime fans, which appeal is proved by current fans of anime still seeking out these stories
  5. First aired between 1970 and 1999

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The fifth point likely surprises some of my readers.  My old parameters for old school anime stretched from 1960 – 1989.  This was based on the misconception that Ashita no Joe, an old school anime par excellence, aired in 1967, and I expected to find many others like this show in style.  Ashita no Joe actually only officially aired in 1970 (a pilot episode did appear in 1969), and only two anime exist in the in 60’s to which do not strike me as ancient: Tiger Mask (1969) and Star of the Giants (1968).  Not enough to classify the 60’s as an old school decade!

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