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

IMG_9335

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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Thoughts on Volume Seven of Spice and Wolf

The seventh volume of the Spice and Wolf novels offers a break from the main story.  This annoyed me because of how little happened in volume six: the worst volume thus far.  Volume seven features the usual bad religion, especially in the novella which forms the first part of the book.  (You can tell already what most of my comments shall be about.)  This novella and one of the short stories were as bland as the prior volume.  Only “The Red of the Apple, The Blue of the Sky” showed Isuna Hasekura at his best.  The second short story was interesting in how it took Holo’s perspective, revealing how terribly insecure and anxious Holo is behind her quick-witted and capable facade.

SW Side Colors

The novella takes place before Holo settles down as the goddess of the harvest and concerns two children, Aryes and Klass, who are forced to flee their lord’s estate and find a new life for themselves in a far off town.  On the way, they run into Holo, who makes herself extremely useful and extremely annoying by turns.  (Holo appears unable to help teasing any man or boy in her company.)  The story ends with a thrilling chase, which would have been better without the twist.

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Beneath the Tangles Spring 2016 Season Reviews

 

Duel Wielding Combs

No new articles have found themselves on this blog since Independence Day, because I have been busy writing reviews for Beneath the Tangles.  The following posts cover twenty-seven of the past season’s shows, five of which, Hundred, Twin Star ExorcistsSpace Patrol LulucoUsakame, and Ushio to Tora were reviewed by yours truly.  The other shows which I’ve seen this season, Flying WitchMayoigaKiznaiver, Haifuri, and Bungo Stray Dogs shall be reviewed in another post soon.  Please enjoy and comment on the following reviews!

Spring Anime 2016 Review (1/3) – Hundred

Spring Anime 2016 Review (2/3) – Twin Star Exorcists & Space Patrol Luluco

Spring Anime 2016 Review (3/3) – Usakame Ushio to Tora

Reasons to Remember Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from July 1st to July 3rd of 1863, and yours truly tries to make a point of reminding people of this battle each year.  In part, I wish that more people learned about the outstanding characters of the people who fought then.  Also, the heroism displayed in the steadfast defense of General John Buford (July 1st), the battle for Little Round Top (July 2nd), and Pickett’s Charge (July 3rd) are worthy of remembrance.  Lastly, despite being limited to muzzleloaders, percussion revolvers, canons, bayonets, and sabers, Gettysburg stands as the fourth deadliest battle in American history (WWI’s Battle of Meuse-Argonne, WWII’s Battle of the Bulge, and WWII’s Battle of Okinawa rank above it in that order), and people ought to learn the causes behind that awful period of civil strife and make sure that history does not repeat itself.

Unfortunately, several parallels to the antebellum years which ignited the Civil War do presently exist.  (As do parallels to the Decline of the Roman Empire and the last days of Tsarist Russia–but, that is for another article.)  Here are the parallels: 1) the constant debate over an extremely divisive moral issue: slavery then and abortion now; 2) various states (New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas) have experienced an influx of citizens from states with the intention or unintended result of slanting a state’s politics, as 19th century America saw in Kansas and Texas; 3) the existence of secessionist movements; 4) unrest caused by the federal government either passing laws against the interests of certain states or trying to impose a uniform culture; and 5) the excessive demonization of the opposing side and the difficulty of rational argument as a result.

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Xenogears and Erzatz Salvation

Beneath the Tangles has gained Josh W of Res Studiorum and Ludorum for our writing staff.  He’s a biblical scholar with an interest in science fiction, video games, and animated productions.  These interests lend to very unique, thoughtful, and well written articles, and the post linked to below is no exception to this rule.  Be sure to check it out–even if you have not played this game or have no interest in video games.

Xenogears and Erzatz Salvation

46-grahf56

 

Ideals, Real Living, and Brexit

Episodes nine and ten in Bungo Stray Dogs recall how much Britain’s vote to leave the EU revolved around idealism, or, at least, they do within the tortuous turnings of my mind.  This article has little interest in probing the political and economic ramifications of their decision but two competing ideals.  I wrote previously on the necessity of ideals for life to be worth living.  People need a purpose beyond material benefits and survival.  To base one’s life on material comfort and pleasure is to exist as one of the living dead.

Bikuri-saseta

At the end of the eighth episode of Bungo Stray Dogs, Atsushi saves the unwilling assassin Kyouka from certain death.  Despite his heroism, Kyouka is caught between the rock of the Law and the hard place of the Port Mafia: the former requires her execution for thirty-five murders (more like manslaughter than murder, but that’s how the characters term it) and the latter for betrayal.  Between these implacable foes, it seems impossible for Kyouka to survive in Yokohama.  In the following episode, Kunikida brings this argument to bear against Atsushi’s good intention of helping Kyouka begin a new life.
Devil's Advocate

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A New Saint at the Altars: Stanislaus Papczynski and the Virtue of Building Families

This new saint has a terrific story behind him.

By Br Estaban Ybarra, FMCD posted on OnePeterFive, June 23, 2016

StanislausIn July 1655, Poland was invaded by Swedish Protestant forces.  Warsaw had fallen, and the Swedish soldiers plundered and pillaged even the churches and religious houses, killing all in their path.  A young seminarian named Stanislaus Papczynski, along with a university companion, was walking along the street after studies in the Old City and was suddenly approached by a Swedish soldier with drawn sword.  His companion ran away, but Stanislaus in his youthful zeal wanted to be martyred for the faith.  He knelt in front of the soldier, baring his neck, bracing for the blow that would send him straight to Heaven.  Three times the soldier drove his sword, intending to decapitate the zealous young religious, causing him immense pain.  However, as he was to write later in his will, by “the decree of Divine Providence,” he…

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The House of the Wolfings: A Review

William Morris’s The House of the Wolfings will stand as my medieval book of the month.  Though published at the end of the 19th century and set prior to the Middle Ages, it reads very much like a Viking saga–even if the prose is more ornate than the saga writers tended to use.  William Morris numbers as one of those forgotten pre-Tolkien fantasy authors.  I first became interested in him when I heard of how Tolkien borrowed the name Mirkwood from the book under review.  The House of the Wolfings has not disappointed me in the least.

Wolfings

The story appears to be set around the first century AD and concerns the Roman invasion of Germania, but the clans of the Mirkwood are fictional.  The hero of this epic, Thiodolf, leads the Men of the Mirkwood against the invading Romans, and some fantastic elements include the prophecies of the goddess Wood Sun and the Hall Sun, who is the daughter of Thiodolf and the Wood Sun, and an enchanted dwarven hauberk.  The prophecies of these two women and the Romans history of conquest leave the reader guessing up until near the end what the final outcome of the war will be.

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A Better Show than Mayoiga

I know, dear reader, you’re going to say that one could probably name a few thousand shows which are better than the trainwreck called Mayoiga.  But, in watching the last couple of episodes of Mayoiga, one at last discerns a point to the Nanaki, even if the characters are mostly irrational.  The point centers on the necessity of us avowing our dark sides and the pain within our past if we want to move forward in life.  Trying to ignore the evil and suffering in us distorts our views of ourselves and actually makes us worse people, because we move from pride to arrogance when we ignore the bad within us.

Artsy Tasogare

 

In Mayoiga, this separation leads to an early death.  However, there is an anime which contains the exact same point, only it deals with a ghost’s inability to pass on: Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, aka Dusk Maiden of Amnesia.  Both shows share the same theme, except that Dusk Maiden of Amenesia stands head and shoulders above Mayoiga in every category one can think of.  (Except in paucity of fanservice anyway.)  So, I’d like to recommend that show as a sort of antidote to the mental numbness and disgust produced by Mayoiga.  One of my favorite posts here was written about that show, and I encourage all my dear readers to take a look at it after they have watched Dusk Maiden.  It contains several spoilers: Dusk Maiden of Amnesia and the Problem of Pride.

TOXA

 

On Suicide, the Negation of Being, and Evil

The anime Bungo Stray Dogs, another called Shigofumi, and certain blog comments have inspired me to write this article.  Shigofumi, an anime highly reminiscent of Kino’s Journey, (For interesting me in the latter series, my thanks go to Genki Jason of the blog Genkinahito.) hits the nail right on the head in the way it portrays evil as the negation of being in the first couple of episodes.  Since many of my fellow bloggers watch Bungo Stray Dogs, my article will focus on that series rather than Shigofumi, but I highly recommend it to those who love introspective dramas.  There are some spoilers, but you should be fine as long as you have watched the first seven episodes of Bungo Stray Dogs.

Seigi ga Buuki

In this series, I have been flabbergasted by both Osamu Dazai’s predilection for suicide–which is treated as absurd–and his nihilistic outlook, which shows his predilection for suicide to be no laughing matter.  His statement “Justice is a weapon” stands as the most nihilistic statement I have heard all year.  (By the way, if you wish to read an excellent article on Dazai’s statement and the nature of justice, read Annalyn’s article here.  No more digressions–I promise!)  Dazai, even if he works for the good guys, counts as an anti-hero if not a downright villain.  Though he pooh-poohs ideals, his statements prove that he has his own ideology, which is not far from the ideals of some of the worst villains.

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Examining Old School Anime: Be as Wise as Serpents

Here is my lastest post for my Examining Old School Anime column on Beneath the Tangles.  In this particular post, I reflect on Our Lord’s admonition to be as wise as serpents through the lens of an episode of Saint Seiya, which is an old school classic.  Click on the link below for the article.

Examining Old School Anime: Be as Wise as Serpents

Dragon Claws over Heart

 

Anime of Spring 2016: Mid-season Review, part 2

Here is the second part of my mid-season review.  Looking at what’s written below, the general mood seems to be one of criticism, except for Kiznaiver, anyway.  With that note, let’s get into my thoughts on MayoigaKiznaiverHaifuri, and Flying Witch.

Kyoumi aru

5) Mayoiga (aka The Lost Village)

At this point, I’m sticking around merely to see the end of the show.  I had hopes of these characters overcoming their fears and behaving rationally, but no dice.  At last, we have discovered that a village adjoins Nanaki village beyond the tunnel and that the monsters are both produced by our characters fears and truly are able to interact with the real world.  Our heroes must overcome their fears lest their phobias cause them more than mental harm, but can they?

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Anime of Spring 2016: Mid-season Review, part 1

Hi, there, my dear readers!  It’s high time for me to write this post, which has been divided into two parts.  The second will be published tomorrow.  There is little more to say about Usakame and Space Patrol Luluco: both are still as crazy as ever and making me laugh.  You will notice below that Hundred now finds a place on my watchlist.  It turns out that yours truly could not resist the allure of a goofy harem action show.  Let me start with that before moving onto Ushio to Tora, Bungo Stray Dogs, and Twin Star Exorcists.

Wrath of the Childhood Friend

1) Hundred

Hundred borrows heavily from Infinite Stratos, which I rather enjoyed–especially because of Megumi Toyoguchi (Revy in Black Lagoon).  To a lesser extent, I feel like it borrows from Freezing, Chrome-Shelled Regios, and other such harem, magical academy shows.  Most of the characters fall into stock categories with only Claire Harvey, the school president known as the Perfect or Invincible Queen (reminiscent of Freezing‘s Untouchable Queen), and Claudia Loetty, the heroine’s childhood friend, striking me as more than generic.  In Claire’s case, she combines the best qualities of Freezing‘s Elizabeth Mably with a trifle of the ditziness found in Cecilia Alcott of Infinite Stratos, which all go to make her a very likable character.  Claudia Loetty does not seem to fall into any stereotype, unless crazy and possessive childhood friend counts.  One has to love her attempts at using Claire in order to separate Hayato, our hero, from Emilia. Hayato is rather bland, but all I want from a harem lead these days is some spine, which he has in spades.

Make This World a Better Place

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The Nones Have It

That’s a sad trend in England. Christians everywhere should take note.

Mere Inkling

noneThe arrival of the “post-Christian” Western world is ahead of schedule. Great Britain just passed the point where those with “no religious preference” actually outnumber those who profess to be Christians.

With Europe leading the way, can North America be far behind?

You know what makes this even more shocking? The results come from a survey where all the people claiming to be disciples of Jesus needed to do, was simply check a box. One wonders how many among that 48% would still claim to be Christians if they lived in Iraq.

Ponder for a moment the sobering title of an article in London’s The Spectator.

“Britain Really is Ceasing to be a Christian Country.”

The secularization of the United Kingdom was a matter of great concern to C.S. Lewis. And this erosion was well underway during his lifetime.

The truth is that although Lewis excelled as a Christian apologist (defender of the faith)…

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