Anime Winter 2018 Mid-Season Review

I should get on with this review before this season gets any closer to the end.  Many anime have already released their tenth episode by this point!  Let me just note that you should be seeing my top five anime of 2017 and a quick takes post on the various anime I’m consuming right now in the near future.  Before I wrote a definite top five list, there were a couple of shows which I wanted to try.  Am I glad that I did: these two anime took the first two places with five stars!


At any rate, below are my thoughts on the now eight anime I’m watching from the current season.  I decided that I had room on my schedule to add the short Takunomi, which I’ll be comparing to Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara.

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1) After the Rain

Here’s a show which has seen an endless number of bloggers comment on the premise.  Is it right for the 17 year old Akira Tachibana to desire a romantic relationship with the 45 year old Masami Kondo?  How appropriate is such a relationship?  It’s not appropriate at all: Kondo’s wife is still alive.  Kondo would sin if he began another romantic relationship, and Akira likewise if she were to become his partner.

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Days 8 – 10 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Unlimited Blade Works Movie, Submarine 707 Revolution, & Ex-Driver the Movie

Well, that took twenty-nine days rather than ten!  The last time I completed another hundred anime, it also took longer than ten days, leading me to dub the series “Dragging Myself to 400 Anime.”  (To be precise, I now have 503 anime under my belt.  I’ll tell you about those extra three sometime later.)  On a side note, a few people have sent me questions through “Ask Medieval,” and I hope to get to those soon.  The query I received about Wolf and Parchment, the sequel to Spice and Wolf, might take a little while.  It’s hard to get used to Col and Myuri after spending so much time following the travels of Holo and Lawrence.  But, I’ll get through volume one soon enough.

Wolf and Parchment

Myuri is apparently only ten years old, by the way.  Too young to go adventuring!

Anyway, a lot is on my plate–including mid-season reviews!  For now, please enjoy these brief reviews of the last three movies in this series.  Following the reviews will be the rankings of all ten movies.

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Day 7 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Time of Eve

So far, Time of Eve has the lowest rating of the movies in this series.  The fault lies more with the constraints of the format than the story itself.  The movie condenses a six episode OVA into an abridged version of one hour and forty-five minutes.  Abridged versions can work: many people praise the Vision of Escaflowne movie–even over the original TV series.  As for myself, Escaflowne is one anime I never wanted to see the end of, so I’ve never given the movie much thought.  With Time of Eve, so much of the story revolves around what’s going on in the character’s heads and the state of their society.  So, abridging our heroes’ journey does the story a disservice.  The audience wished to be immersed in the intellectual lives of the characters, which takes more time in film than in print.

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The movie focuses on how we should treat androids/robots if they became conscious or self-aware.  Blade Runner touches on about the same theme.  It’s fun to dabble with ideas like this in fiction, but it’s a materialistic fallacy to believe consciousness correlates to intelligence or programming of some sort.  Computers can be very smart: they can now best both chess and go professionals.  Computers may even soon have programs which allow them to learn like a human being would.  But, learning and smarts can’t bestow a soul on something.  A mind aware of itself, capable of meditating on first principles, and able to ponder its highest good is a distinct gift given by God to persons–whether human or angelic.

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Day 6 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Grave of the Fireflies

Here’s a classic everyone has heard of, but I only watched it a few days ago.  It’s a very emotional film.  Knowing that, I steeled myself against the tragedy I knew was coming, which was probably the wrong way to watch the film.  Instead of riding the emotional rollercoaster, you might say I watched the ride sitting on a bench somewhere with a soft drink.  The result was that I examined the tragic flaws of our hero rather than grieved over the tragedy of the orphans’ plight.  My focus was on why they suffered instead of the how they suffered.


In the case of firebombing the Germans and the Japanese in WWII, I can never reconcile myself to the legitimacy of this form of warfare.  With the nuclear bombs, one can legitimately claim destroying industrial parks and dockyards as the main objective, while terrorizing the enemy into surrender as the secondary objective.  Incendiary bombs, especially of the sort used in WWII, have no effect on factories built with steel and cement.  Firebombs work much better against wooden houses–especially houses of Japanese design.  When it comes to firebombing, terrorizing the enemy is still the secondary objective, but destroying civilian homes and killing non-combatants becomes the primary objective.

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Gasaraki: the Collective, Conscience, and Freedom

Here’s my latest post on Beneath the Tangles. It’s on the mecha classic Gasaraki.

Beneath the Tangles

Gasaraki is one of the classic mecha anime.  “If it’s a classic,” you ask, “why have I never heard of it before?”  Despite the great animation (at least, to a connoisseur of 90’s anime like myself), many layers of intrigue, a unique plot, and great mecha battles, the dialog can be very abstruse–so abstruse that I switched from the Japanese to the English dub after four episodes.  Esoteric anime generally don’t enjoy much popularity.

Gasaraki 3

After four unintelligible episodes, the dub is a great improvement.  The person who wrote the English script must have worked with the same translation, but he elevated the translation from “translationese” to proper English.  Some of what occurred still went over my head, but the enigmatic nature of some of the dialog made me meditate longer about what the show was about.  The show juxtaposes the individual against collective or group structures to highlight the…

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Days 4 & 5 of 10 Days to 500 Anime

On Day 4, I watched  From up on Poppy Hill.  You’ll be amused to learn that I did not find an English sub or dub and had to watch it raw.  Despite having only a low intermediate knowledge of Japanese, I never felt lost while watching the plot or listening to the dialogue.  That the themes of this movie revolved around basic things like family, friends, love, and young people striving for independence helped.

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That the animation imitated an older style (it felt like I was watching something from 2001, not 2011) added a nice touch to the story.  The images of the ships and the waterfront were beautiful, but I also enjoyed the scenes of crowded city streets.  All in all, the backgrounds do a nice job of immersing the viewer in that time and place.

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Very Brief Update

Hello, All!  It’s been too long since my last movie review, and so an update of sorts seems appropriate.  I should get back to the movie reviews starting today.  From up on Poppy Hill and In This Corner of the World were both very well done, and these two films might be treated in the same post.  After that, I’ll get back to writing one movie review a day–if all goes well.

Poppy Hill 7

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Day 3 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Millennium Actress

I had forgotten that Satoshi Kon directed Millenium Actress until his name rolled across the opening credits.  Even if one had missed his name, the quirky Satoshi Kon method of transitioning from scene to scene would have tipped me off.  Millennium Actress reminds me of Perfect Blue.  The two movies have many points of comparison; yet, their treatment of living in a fantasy world are very different.  You might call Perfect Blue‘s treatment of fantasy and delusion via negativa, while Millenium Actress stands as a via positiva.  I’d love to read any blog posts comparing and contrasting the two.  Send such a blog my way if you’ve written one, dear reader.  I’ll reblog the first three of you!

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Millennium Actress covers the life of Chiyoko Fujiwara from her teens in WWII Japan to her old age in contemporary Japan.  The movie is a framed story, with Chiyoko’s life being the center and the interview of Chiyoko conducted by Genya Tachibana, a very avid fan, with his assistant in modern times framing the tale.  Amusingly, Genya and his assistant–in the fashion of how Satoshi Kon mixes reality and fantasy–appear to film her life as if they were right there beside her.  I won’t spoil just how much Genya participates in Chiyoko’s life, but there’s not another movie which uses quite the same idea.

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Day 2 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: The Boy and the Beast

The Boy and the Beast was a fun movie–even a great movie.  I loved the animation, which excelled both in the action sequences and when depicting the backgrounds.  Some of the scenes in Tokyo do a remarkable job of making the viewer feel like he is right there with Kyuuta.  The soundtrack melded seamlessly with the action of the story.

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My biggest complaint might very well be the dub.  I watched it in English, and actresses were selected to voice the boy characters.  The Japanese do this all of the time.  However, when the Japanese actresses take on the roles of boys, I never find myself thinking: “Well, that’s an unnaturally sexy voice coming out of that kid.”  It might very well have been better to have used some young male talents for these parts.  The voice talents of John Swasey as Kumatetsu and Ian Sinclair as Tatara stood out as the two best performaces.  I do not think that I have heard the latter gentleman before.  Sinclair’s voice sounds very similar to Steve Blum’s (Spike Spiegel of Cowboy Bebop and Makoto Shishio in Rurouni Kenshin).

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Day 1 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: A Silent Voice

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My hearty thanks go out to everyone who voted in the poll in order to pick out what movies I’ll be watching.  As of yesterday morning, these eight movies rank the highest:

  1. A Silent Voice
  2. The Boy and the Beast
  3. Millennium Actress
  4. Up on Poppy Hill
  5. In this Corner of the World
  6. Grave of the Fireflies
  7. Eve no Jikan
  8. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works the Movie

Following those eight, the two movies I picked out of 2nd and Charles, Submarine Revolution 707 (2003) and Ex-Driver the Movie (2002) will appear on days nine and ten.

SV 2

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Voting on Ten Movies to 500 Anime

About every two years I add one hundred anime to my Watched list.  (Not too impressive when you consider that shorts, OVAs, and movies also count as separate titles and that I stay away from series with over twenty-six episodes.)  Also, as usual every two years, I want to let my dear readers vote upon what I watch to finish out this new hundred.  Since I ran into Ex-Driver and Submarine 707 Revolution the Movie at my local 2nd and Charles bookstore, you will get to vote on eight of the last ten.  (I think of 2nd and Charles as an earthly paradise of sorts.  Book, manga, and anime lovers who live nearby such a store know what I mean.)  Below is a list of thirty-two movies from my Want to Watch list arranged by production date, please select eight choices.  I intend to review each and every movie in the final lineup.

Thanks for your input on which movies will be in the new series of posts!  Be sure to pass the poll onto your friends so that they can throw in their two cents also.  The poll will remain active through January 23rd.  If a group of movies require a tie breaking vote, I’ll hold another such poll afterwards.  Thanks again!

EDIT: I notice that one title did not come out properly in the poll.  Where you see “(2015),” it ought to read “<Harmony> (2015).”

Forgotten Review: Girls’ Last Tour


Girls’ Last Tour ★★★ 1/2

Don’t ask me how I forgot to review Girls’ Last Tour yesterday, for this oversight is a mystery even to me.  If anything can explain it, it’s the fact that I dropped the anime for a while until some commentators convinced me to give it another try.  (Yours truly ought to more frequently apply the three episode rule.)  Reading Infinite Zenith’s “Girls’ Last Tour (Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō): Full Series Review and Recommendation” reminded me of the fact that I had both watched the show and not reviewed it on my blog.  Infinite Zenith features very detailed posts with plenty of screenshots, and I highly encourage all my dear readers to read the post linked to above.


What first attracted me to this anime was how unique the setting was.  As a lover of snowy settings and post-Apocalyptic tales, I had to give this show a try.  As the series unrolled, one could see that the mangaka essentially explored what makes life worth living.  Each episode provided one possible answer, and overall the mangaka simply answers “friends.”

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Rating the Anime of Fall 2017

Sake 6

The time has come for my season review.  The seven anime I watched rated from two to four and a half stars with only two shows receiving the same rating.  This is to say that my shows run the gamut from disappointing to near masterpieces.  Fall 2017 well rounded out a good year for anime: the quality of the shows were generally good even if nothing truly spectacular came about.  I’ll write more about this when I write about my top five shows of last year.  The shows below rank from least to greatest.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

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7) Dies Irae ★★

As a cross between Fate/Stay Night and Hellsing, this show boasted a unique atmosphere–one of the most unique of the season.  It also boasted some likable characters, and one really roots for the hero to overcome the immortal Nazis trying to massacre his city.  The above makes me sad that I cannot in justice give it more than two stars.  Though the plot eventually becomes discernible, the events in the anime tend to be scatterbrained and the tale descends into bloody and disturbing violence.  The flashback to Sister Liza Brenner’s past as the mother of Lebensborn was probably the most disturbing part of the anime.

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Spice and Wolf’s Author Supporting Medieval Studies

I found this pretty interesting.  Isuna Hasekura has contributed to a new Medieval European Studies journal published during autumn of last year.  The acknowledgements read: “We gratefully acknowledge a generous donation from Mr. Isuna Hasekura and Mr. Nobuo Matsuki which made the launching of Spicilegium possible.”  Cytrus, a dear reader and fellow blogger, once sent me a reading list of what Hasekura studied in order to write Spice and Wolf, but I had no idea that his passion for the Middle Ages was great enough for him to sponsor a historical journal!  Spicilegium is run by the Japan Society for Medieval European Studies, and I hope to read their first issue soon.  As of now, it only contains three articles, but I hope that the journal will grow in the future.

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On another note, I hope to be publishing blogs more regularly in the near future, so look forward to that!

Reblog: 12 Days of Anime Christmas, Day 6: The Irresponsible Captain Taylor and Reverence for the Sacred

Here’s my last post on Beneath the Tangles.  I might very well be the only writer to inveigh against something which annoyed them in an anime Christmas episode, but here it is:

12 Days of Anime Christmas, Day 6: The Irresponsible Captain Taylor and Reverence for the Sacred

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Some nice fellow did me the honor of translating this post into Spanish.  I think this counts as the first time my work has been translated, for which I am very grateful.  Muchas gracias!

12 días de Navidad Anime, día 6: El ‘Irresponsable capitán Tylor’ y la reverencia por lo sagrado

Tylor OVA 2

On my Devotion to Padre Pio

Recently, I received a couple of questions from Luminas, a great follower of this blog, through the “Ask Medieval” page.  The first will be answered in this post and the second in a later one.  After that, I have high hopes of answering my next dear reader and hope for many more questions to follow!

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This question concerns why I am so devoted to Padre Pio over other saints who are similar in many ways.  First, let me start by describing Catholic worship and devotion for those who might not be so familiar with it.  It consists of three levels denoted by their Greek names: latria, hyperdulia, and dulia.  Latria refers to worship giving to God alone as Author of the Universe, Savior of the Human Race, and Source of All Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.  Hyperdulia refers specifically to the reverence paid to the Blessed Virgin Mary for being the Mother of God, the human being whose cooperation was most essential for humanity’s salvation, and the most graced human being in all of history.  Dulia refers to the reverence paid to the saints and angels for being devout servants of God and dear friends of God deserving of imitation.  Latria is absolutely necessary for salvation, hyperdulia morally necessary, and dulia necessary to practice when obligated by one’s diocese (as in a saint’s feast day being declared a holy day of obligation) but mostly subject to personal taste.  Having said that, many spiritual authors strongly recommend devotion to St. Michael, St. Joseph, and the holy angels as a group.  Be sure to thank your guardian angel for putting up with you so patiently since your days in the cradle!

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Curiously Dead Cat Blog

I just discovered the blog of a contributor to Beneath the Tangles named Dr. Steve.  He wrote to me about his new blog, and I recall being very impressed with his article, “What Can a Succubus Teach us about Chastity?”  (There’s an impressive eye-catching title!)  He’s also written “Platitudes and Power in Juni Taisen: Zodiac War” and “Communion and the Food of the Gods in Restaurant to Another World” for Beneath the Tangles.  TWWK encouraged him to make his own blog, and Curiously Dead Cat resulted from this advice.


His favorite show is Gate, by the way.

With such interesting posts behind him, I decided to check out his new blog.  Curiously Dead Cat has only been around since November 29th, but it has a nice assortment of articles out by now.  My eye was particularly drawn to his posts on Shirayuki Hime (I really need to watch that show) and Recovery of an MMO Junkie, which is my favorite show of the current season–what a shame that it only airs for ten episodes!  I rather enjoyed Dr. Steve’s (who now uses the handle NegativePrimes) post on the opening song of the latter anime and how it displays the idea of the characters having their identities fragmented between real life and the internet world.


At any rate, be sure to check out his blog.  You’ll be glad that you did!

Knighthood in the Modern Age

My first question received under the “Ask Medieval” feature came from Gaharet and concerns how knighthood can be carried into the modern age.  To paraphrase, what are the essential features of knighthood and how might one be a modern knight?  The first quality of a knight is to be able to fight.  All other qualities of a knight surround the central fact of the knight being a warrior.  A knight may hesitate to strike a blow, but will not hit weakly when his hand is forced.  To that end in modern times, knowledge of how to shoot and martial arts are eminently desirable.  Next there comes keeping fit and healthy for action.  Thirdly, a knowledge of Historical European Martial Arts, though archaic, help in staying fit and better imagining what combat was like from a medieval knight’s perspective.

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The central virtue of the knight is courage.  The word courage derives from the French word for heart.  The knight must take care to keep his heart pure lest the taint of sin lead him to use force wantonly.  To which end, the virtues of faith, charity, chastity, honesty, magnanimity, obedience, loyalty, and good cheer are necessary.  To perfect his character still more, the knight ought to take on the mantle of meekness, not vaunting his own achievements but giving the glory to God.  The knight par excellence is a Christian gentleman.

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Reblog: The Real Place of Phos’s People in Fractured Humanity

Yesterday, a post I wrote for Beneath the Tangles was released on the site.  Therein, I wax philosophical on human nature and the place of the will, using an interesting myth given by the jellyfish-like character King in the anine Houseki no Kuni.  I hope that you enjoy it–or that you will at least enjoy my lengthy quote from St. Catherine of Siena’s famous dialogue with God.  Click on the link below!

The Real Place of Phos’s People in Fractured Humanity

Mid-Season Review: Anime Fall 2017

tolkien-pipeThere comes a time in a blogger’s career when he must stuff a pipe, light it, and let nicotine act as his muse.  At least, that’s how I feel as I sit down to write this mid-season review.  Now, my list contains seven shows–the seventh being the formerly dropped Girls’ Last Tour.  (That’s a much easier title to remember than Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou.)  Not much happens plotwise in this show, but I think that I’ve discovered its thematic plot now that I’m four episodes in.  (Yes, I’ve not quite caught up; but, I want to get my thoughts down now before I start procrastinating.)  By the way, let me thank Gaheret for submitting a query through “Ask Medieval.”  I hope to post my reply to him soon–as soon as I write that article for Beneath the Tangles.

At any rate, let’s begin those reviews!


1) Girls’ Last Tour

Yes, it appears that I dropped this show too soon.  It does get more interesting after episode one, even if the episodes remain slow.  The fact that the characters are not boys (Does this not seem the perfect setting for a boys’ adventure tale?) does not bother me as much anymore.  More bothersome to me now is the heroines continually wearing those helmets in freezing weather.  People often marvel that knights kept their armor on in the frigid campaigns against the Baltic pagans and the arid crusades against the Saracens.  A helmet magnifies the cold in the same way as medieval armor!  In reality, out heroines would both have stowed their helmets away long ago.  Can’t we get a slice of realism with our moé?

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