The most important thing for any film adaptation is to recreate the feel of the original work. Slavishly adhering to the original plot is not necessary as long as the main features of the story are retained and its essence is transferred from the page to the screen. The 1978 Urusei Yatsura accomplished the task of retaining the essence of the manga in spades. One wonders why the new 2022 version was ever made. Many people are put off by older styles of animation, and I suppose that the animators thought that they could render the story palatable to new audiences. The 2022 version changes the veneer of the tale without replicating the soul of it. The result is that people are still better off watching the 1978 version of Urusei Yatsura–if they can’t stand the animation, tough!
Rating the Anime of Spring 2022
You know, there were too many anime worth watching during the spring season. Only one ranked as high as four stars in my opinion, but the ten anime I watched were quite enjoyable. Conversely, only three anime struck me as worth watching the Summer 2022 season: When Will Ayumu Make his Move, Call of the Night and Lycoris Recoil. Maybe I’ll add Cyberpunk: Edgerunner and Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth to that short list. I love most of what Trigger has done. The first Utawarerumono is still one of my all time favorites. Even though Utawarerumono: The False Faces was a complete disaster, I still feel compelled to try out their most recent attempt to craft a tale within this world. Feel free to recommend some new titles to me below.
At any rate, Vivaldi’s La Stravaganza plays in the background. Let me get on with rating last season!
- The Executioner and Her Way of Life ★★★1/2
Fantasy anime are a dime a dozen, and only rarely does the setting really stand out for me. The Executioner and Her Way of Life sets itself apart by containing a setting where…well…I don’t want to say it, even though it’s not actually a spoiler. You just won’t be shocked and appalled the way I was during episode one. The unique conceit with this isekai is that Japanese people are immediately slaughtered as soon as this world’s church discovers them. Otherworlders all carry special powers, which have gotten out of control in the past and have caused mass destruction, e.g. one entire continent being turned to salt. At the same time, the people of this world have adopted some Japanese technology (enough to give the world an early 19th century feel) and the Japanese language for its common tongue.
Our heroine, the priestess and assassin Menou, a.k.a. Flarette, discovers that some royals have summoned a Japanese high school girl named Akari inside one of their castles. Having infiltrated the castle, Menou claims to Akari that she wants to rescue her–only to assassinate her in the middle of the “rescue.” However, Akari has the power to turn back time, which leads to her reviving moments later. Menou realizes that she needs special help to liquidate Akari. So, she continues their pretend friendship as she takes Akari on a journey to her death.
There’s a dark setting for you! However, the characters tend to be very amusing to watch. There are some great fight scenes. I can promise you a unique fantasy anime experience with this show.
Quick Takes for a New Year
Let me wish you all a much belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If I was a proper blogger, you’d have heard from me twice ere now and November (NaBloPoMo) would have been filled to the brim with posts–instead of just the last one. My New Year’s resolutions include writing a post once a week–here or on another blog. The causes for me slipping in regard to post output were a greater workload and too much concern for prosaic matters (money, work, health, etc.).
Another cause lay in me suffering from acedia, which is defined as sorrow in regard to spiritual goods. Prayer, the Holy Mass, and reading Catholic books became so difficult that I started cutting corners, which of course only increased my spiritual sloth. This spirit of acedia oppressed me such that I prayed a deliverance prayer found in Fr. Chad Ripperger’s book Deliverance Prayers: For Use by the Laity. You know what? All of the spiritual works above became easier and produced more joy afterwards. Having been delivered from acedia, I hope to engage myself more in writing and other things I have neglected.Continue reading
The Tipsy Pelican Tavern Series
The Tipsy Pelican Tavern series is an English fantasy series in the tradition of Japan’s light novels. I happened upon the series quite by accident while searching for a new light novel to read on Kindle. The alluring blonde on the cover drew me in and, for $3 (I think that’s what I paid then, it’s $5 now), it seemed worth a shot. The premise of the series starts with the legendary hero Archibold Stormblood faking his death in order to live in obscurity as a tavern owner. In this world, people gain extraordinary powers by opening “gates” within themselves. These gates give the user additional awareness, strength, stamina, speed, and magical powers. The number of gates someone has opened is apparent to any individual capable of using magic, so Stormblood closed all of his gates. (Stormblood had opened nine. To put that in perspective, an individual with three gates open is very rare.) A tavern keeper with even one gate open is unheard of, and its existence would blow his cover.
Although Archie would love to lead a quiet life of crafting new brews and pleasing his patrons along with his longtime servant Charm his new employee Elsa, trouble seeks him out in the form of the Templar Cassia. (In true light novel fashion, Archie attracts more nubile women to his acquaintance over the course of these two novels.) Cassia realizes Archie’s true identity and tries to enlist him in a quest to defeat an elder dragon. Archie refuses, but Cassia persists–even taking a job at the Tipsy Pelican Tavern in order to stay close to him.Continue reading
Reblog: The Roman Martyrs and 86ers
Here’s my latest post on Beneath the Tangles. I want to get more into the story of 86 and might pick up the light novels in the near future. For now, I hope that you enjoy this brief meditation on some similarities between the Roman Martyrs and 86ers. Click on the link below.
The Roman Martyrs and 86ers
Reblog: Lust Will Be Dispatched
I’m back to writing for Beneath the Tangles again. May this become a habit! This recent post covers my reflections on lust which were inspired by episode six of Combatants Will Be Dispatched. I hope that you enjoy it.
P.S. I apologize if anyone finds that image a little too gruesome.
June: The Month of the Sacred Heart
Last month, Catholics celebrated St. Mary, the Mother of the Lord. This month long devotion is very popular in Catholic circles, as is the devotion to the Rosary for the month of October. (In my church, a statue of Our Blessed Lady stood near the sanctuary for each mass.) The Church has established a particular devotion for every month of the year. While the May devotion to Mary is universally popular, many people tend to neglect June’s devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
When we ponder the Sacred Heart of the Savior, we learn more clearly the love He bears the human race. The Sacred Heart is depicted as being covered in thorns and immersed in flames with a cross at the top. The thorns represent the insults and offenses directed at the Lord, particularly against the Holy Eucharist by which Our Lord wishes to remain present to us until the end of time. That the cross and the thorns are surrounded by fire indicates that neither the most evil event in human history, the Crucifixion of Christ, nor the sins we daily commit can extinguish the Love of God for mankind.Continue reading
On Survival Anime
Recently, I finished High-Rise Invasion on Netflix. Netflix has some great anime, though certain other programs with blasphemous depictions of Christ make it hard to recommend the service. If it were not for the kindness of a family member obtaining it for me, High Rise Invasion might have remained permanently off my watch list. At the same time, there are plenty of arguments that the pros of having a Netflix account outweigh the cons. One can note that they might just not be in the business of discriminating against content on religious grounds. (Plenty of Christian films play on Netflix also.) Others say that boycotting Netflix in a monolithic fashion does not effect them, so enjoy your movies. At any rate, follow your conscience.
My first exposure to High-Rise Invasion came in the form of the original manga by Tsuina Miura, who is also known for Ajin. I think of Ajin as a masterpiece, so there is little surprise that I enjoy High-Rise Invasion. Having written that, the two stories could not be more different. Ajin has characters who can’t die. Death stalks the characters of High-Rise Invasion at every turn. Most of the characters in Ajin are male, while females take the most important roles in the other one. Ajin eschews fanservice. High-Rise Invasion embraces it. On a final note of difference, Ajin‘s greatest character is the villain, Sato, while the heroine of High-Rise Invasion, Yuri Honjo, stands above the rest of the cast. It is almost as if the mangaka decided to reverse everything except the use of gore in order to make this more recent story.Continue reading
Some April Quick Takes
Hisashiburi da, ne? Yours truly is going to try to make up for the long gap between now and my last post with some quick takes. I rely on this format too much. One day, you may see some more posts like “Contra Divitias: Kill la Kill’s Opprobrium of Wealth” or, everyone’s favorite, “Shogo Makishima: the Villain who Should be Hero.” Today is not that day, but I hope that you enjoy what I’ve written below.
Yesterday marked the 9th anniversary of Medieval Otaku. Most blogs don’t last that long, and it’s obvious to me why they don’t: one seldom has the same level of passion for a subject or time to write about it as when one began. The sad thing about that is how often someone finds this blog and tells me how much they enjoy reading these scribblings. This indicates how much certain people still like to read about old anime, which I’m more inclined to write about these days–when I write at all. You also make me guilty, and guilt is the font of productivity–as a psychologist might tell you about conscientious people.
I have turned more towards reading manga of late than watching anime. Here’s an exhaustive list of the stuff in my collection. (Assume that I own the complete set unless otherwise noted.) Tell me whether you notice some of your favorites below:
- Full Metal Panic
- Gunsmith Cats
- Rurouni Kenshin
- Gun Blaze West
- Busou Renkin (vols. 1-7)
- Geobreeders (vols. 1-9)
- Full Metal Alchemist (vols. 3-7)
- Silencer (vol. 1)
- Samurai Deeper Kyo (vols. 1-26)
- Claymore (vols. 1-16)
- Gunslinger Girl
- Azumanga Daioh
- Black Cat
- Chrono Crusade
- Maison Ikkoku (collector’s edition vols. 1-3)
- Urusei Yatsura (collector’s edition vols. 1-9)
Most of those are in English, but Inuyasha, Geobreeders, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Nobuhiro Watsuki’s works are in Japanese. My manga collection used to be larger, but I have since pared it down to only include those works which I will read more than once.
I hope that you have all enjoyed a fruitful Holy Week and a happy Easter Sunday. There is still more of the Easter season to celebrate. This next Sunday is called Divine Mercy Sunday. Catholics who receive the sacrament of penance within eight days (before or after) of receiving Holy Communion on that Sunday and say a short prayer invoking Divine Mercy (e.g. “Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner” or “Jesus, I trust in you”) may receive a plenary indulgence. A plenary indulgence refers to a full pardon from God of all temporal punishments, either on earth or in purgatory, for sin. The qualification “may receive” is added above because a plenary indulgence requires the recipient not to even have an attachment to venial sin. If one is still attached to certain venial sins, the indulgence is partial.
Be that as it may, Christ promised St. Faustina, to whom he delivered the revelation that the Sunday after Easter be dedicated to His Divine Mercy, that the treasuries of His Mercy will be open that day. He intended this feast to prepare the world for His Second Coming. So, be sure that one will receive a significant indulgence on that day even if not a full one!
The mangaka who most catches my attention now is Rumiko Takahashi. Her work Inuyasha ignited my passion for both manga and the Japanese language. The slow translation of Inuyasha into English inspired me to learn the original language, and VIZ Media finished translating it years after I had read the entire series. Takahashi’s Japanese is pretty easy to read and sure to inspire any neophyte learner of the language that he’s making great progress.
Having said that, I am reading Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku in English now. Part of me wishes that I did not take the lazy way: Takahashi loves puns, and the translator sometimes really stretches to come up with English equivalents. The complete tankobun edition of Ranma 1/2 only goes for around $50, so that might end up on my shelves in the original. Maybe I’ll pick up Mermaid Forest in the near future.
At this point in my manga reading hobby, I’ve determined that it really is better to read manga as a physical book or in an e-book. Reading manga online often comes with too many ads and slow loading times.
Kindles are too convenient. A Kindle Paperwhite sits by my bedside as a dedicated e-reader, and it houses a library in a device small enough to fit into a large jacket pocket. Of the twenty-five books I’ve read so far this year, only seven were not on one of my Kindles. I find the Kindle Fire 8 is better for reading manga while the Paperwhite excels it for standard books. Looking at all the books I have lying unread around the house makes me feel guilty about using Kindle almost exclusively. Does anyone else experience a similar feeling?
Since the CCP Virus has spread around the world, China has made a ton of money selling masks and other medical supplies to afflicted nations. For my part, I’ve decided to boycott Chinese tea until that government pays some kind of reparations for their part in spreading COVID-19 across the world. It’s impossible to cut out Chinese products completely from one’s life, but tea is a different story. I confess that Chinese tea is the best in the world (though the Indians likely produce better black tea), but one can still get excellent tea from Japan, Taiwan, India, Ceylon, Nepal, Kenya, and even South Carolina. I feel as much need to buy Chinese tea as I do to buy Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager.
I hope that all of my dear readers have watched The Wind Rises. Hayao Miyazaki provides us with an animated biography of Jiro Hirokoshi, the designer of Japan’s famed Zero fighter plane. The movie was very well done. Recently, I came across a book titled Zero, which was written by Jiro Hirokoshi and Masatake Okumiya, a Japanese army officer. It chronicles the introduction of the Zero in the Second Sino-Japanese War, which began in 1937 and lasted until the end of WWII, and continues until Japan’s defeat. I have not come across another book dealing with WWII from the Japanese perspective and find this one fascinating.
May you hear from me again soon!
An Early Merry Christmas
Before being swept up into the Christmas work week, I want to wish all of my dear readers a Merry Christmas. (May all of you have had a more fruitful Advent than mine. I felt more prepared for Christ’s coming on the first week. Errare est humanum. Whatever readiness I now feel, I credit to the grace and mercy of God.) Since months have passed since my last post, I also wish to confirm the fact that I am still alive. The plague has not taken me down! My reasons for writing so little come down to a lack of inspiration, less free time, more distraction, and plain and simple sloth–or perhaps rather acedia. (Here’s yet another article I wrote on that capital sin.) Speaking of a lack of inspiration, is anyone enjoying the current anime season (Or enjoy the last one for that matter?) all that much? Iwakakeru, Yashahime, Jujustu Kaisen, and Golden Kamuy form my watch list, but I find myself often preferring to read a book or an old manga.
My interests pertinent to this blog are still alive. Deo iuvante, you shall see one more post before Christmas. Anno Domini 2020 has been a crazy year. If the things happening this year occurred in 2000, I might have believed the apocalyptic prophecies abounding at that time. We want pain, difficulty, and complexity to be quickly solved and out of our lives–even problems of which we are only cognizant of because of the news and social media.Continue reading
Watch List for Summer Anime of 2020
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Putting pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard can be more difficult than one might think. Last time–April 29th, I remember promising to write more frequently. I think that jinxed me. So, as much as I want to tell you to expect more posts, I shall say instead that you’ll be lucky to read another post from me this side of 2021.
At any rate, one of those posts which I ought to have written was on Spring 2020’s anime. If you remember, I only watched Sing “Yesterday” for Me, Wave! Listen to Me, and My Next Life as a Villainess. This season turned out somewhat better in me finding five anime to watch. (Seven to nine anime used to catch my attention every season, but I must have come to the conclusion at some point that life is too short to watch bad anime. Or, maybe not: I did watch Sing “Yesterday” for Me.) Take a look at the following five anime, and tell me whether I’m missing out on anything good.
Here is a true masterpiece of the time-traveling, samurai, monster-slaying genre. Everyone should be watching Gibiate, ready to rate it five stars, and sending Crunchyroll e-mails, postcards, and handwritten letters of thanks for producing this anime. This counts as a welcome break from your standard fare of magic academies, high school rom-coms, harems, and isekai.
8th Anniversary Quick Takes
This blog’s eighth anniversary came and went on April 5th without comment. Oops! Hopefully, I blog a little more regularly next month. May these quick takes in some way make up for my lack of posting!
I have finally made progress in Ashita no Joe II. Joe Yabuki is almost in position to fight his greatest rival to date: Bantamweight World Champion Jose Mendoza. (It’s funny to consider that most of the strong and tough boxers in this anime weigh 118 pounds or less!) The buildup to this fight has been even more intense than the one between Rikiishi Touru and our hero.
Cardinal Burke on Coronavirus
Here’s another day on which I’m too tired to write. You’ll find a link below with an article from Cardinal Burke if you’re so inclined.
Cardinal Burke: Message on the Combat against the Coronavirus, COVID-19 – https://wp.me/pYA4j-dM4
That Lame Fight in In/Spectre
I’ve highly enjoyed the past few episodes of In/Spectre, but the battle of Steel Lady Nanase vs. Kuro has much for me to gripe about. If you haven’t watched this anime, you might want to stop reading now. The problems of this fight can’t be discussed without spoilers.
Reblog: How Not to be a Villainess in Your Next Life
Here’s a post I wrote about the light novel My Next Life as a Villainess: All Roads Lead to Doom. The link below leads to the full post, which is on Beneath the Tangles. Enjoy!
How Not to be a Villainess in Your Next Life
The Greatest Knight: the remarkable life of William Marshal, the power behind five English thrones – Thomas Asbridge
I recently finished this book and wanted to write a review of it. However, I find myself far too tired to write today. And so, I’m pleased to refer you to this blog, which conveys a similar impression to mine of the book in question.
By the way, one of the reasons William Marshall is called “the greatest knight” happens to do with the fact that he defeated 500 other knights in tournaments and on the battlefield–fighting his last battle at age 70! Anyone with an interest in medieval times will enjoy this book.
I knew a little about William Marshal – he’s cropped up in quite a few books about the early Plantagenets – but I didn’t know anything about where he came from and how he became the go-to man when Kings were having problems hanging onto their thrones.
This book does an excellent job filling in those gaps and, as far as possible with someone who lived such a long time ago, bring the person to life.
I loved the story of the discovery of the manuscript in the 19th century that turned out to be a 13th century biography/hagiography of William, possibly commissioned by his son. This means that far more can be learned about William than about most of his contemporaries. The author of this book is quite clear about taking some of his source materials, including this manuscript, with a pinch of salt. I also like…
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Calling Every Odd Creature a Demon
Dream Eater Merry recalled a qualm I have about people who sub and dub anime. They translate most supernatural creatures from Japanese folklore as “demon.” The word demon points to a specific kind of creature: an intellectual spirit who refused to serve God and was damned for all eternity. They now roam the earth in order to tempt others into the same fate—for ultimately the same crime.
You might point out that the word demon did not originally mean devil. The ancient Greeks imagined that various places in the natural world had deities attached to them. These spirits were unknown within standard Greek mythology, and the pagans called them demons. Yet, it’s good practice to spell this kind of demon as daimon or daemon in order to help the reader separate this kind of spirit from a fallen angel. After all, Socrates claimed that he had a daemon who would tell him not to do wrong. The notion of a demon telling someone to avoid sin strikes one as preposterous.
Very often, the same creatures referred to as demons in anime are more accurately called fairies. Yes, the Japanese do have a word which tends to get translated as fairy—yousei. But, if you look at European folklore, you’ll see that fairies or the fair folk or the longaevi cover a wider spectrum than small humanoids with tiny wings. Also, fairy can describe a malevolent, benevolent, or indifferent kind of creature—unlike the malevolent beings we call demons.
Still, I do imagine audiences would laugh at seeing Inuyasha boast that he wishes to become an “honest-to-goodness full fairy.” (There are at least two senses in which the above is funny; though, the slang for a man with same-sex attraction might be far from their minds when dealing with youkai.) Why not simply use the word youkai? English does this all the time when we come to unfamiliar concepts. Just make the word English with a properly Anglicized pronunciation. Let the viewer expand their horizons. Only use the word demon for akuma, which is how the Japanese translate the Christian concept of a fallen angel.
In Dream Eater Merry, the supernatural beings are not exactly “dream demons” but muma. According to my big, fat kanji dictionary, muma is simply Japanese for nightmare or a disturbing dream. Why not then translate muma as “nightmare”? The heroine Merry originally calls herself a nightmare, but later becomes known as a baku for defeating nightmares. Baku are spirits which eat nightmares but might turn around and devour a child’s hopes and dreams if called too often. Oddly enough, there is one nightmare in the series who only does the later. One might describe the battle between her and Merry as one between two baku–one good and one evil.
True enough, nightmares are not usually beings with personal agency. In that way, the nightmares in Dream Eater Merry are more like demons in having agency. But, the author is obviously personifying nightmares, and a viewer would eventually go along with this personification. My main gripe still stands: stop calling every odd creature in anime a demon!
A Missive to My Dear Readers
Hi, there! It’s been a long time since y’all have heard from me. Since I’m not sure what to write, the following will simply consist of things which have been on my mind. First, I’ve lived long enough in the South to start saying “y’all.” As one who has lived in the North for most of his life, that “y’all” should ever pass my teeth’s barrier save in jest comes as a great surprise. Maybe five years will see me fully assimilated to Dixie. One gentleman did tell me, after I mentioned that Alabama would replace New Jersey as my residence of choice, that I would fit in just fine. That my ancestors originally settled in colonial Maryland and would fight for the South in the Unpleasant Affair of 1861-1865 has perhaps left an indelible mark in my blood.
The second thing which comes to mind is that I would like to post during this time of being cooped up in our homes. To that end, I desire to post once every day until the seventh anniversary of this blog. As an “essential worker” during the Kung flu pandemic, I’ll be out of the house most days for 8-9 hours before hunkering down with my food, supplies, ammunition, and toilet paper. (Who ever thought that people would obsessively buy toilet paper for weeks? I have ten rolls myself and expect them to last a coon’s age. Yet, some psychopaths apparently feel they need a dozen twenty-four count containers of the stuff.) I should have enough time to scribble at least three hundred words on a random topic if not more.
In this post, I want to discuss what I think are the three Catholic catechisms most easily accessible to Americans. A catechism is a summary of principles or doctrines often in a question and answer format. Catechisms usually concern Christian doctrine, but books like A Confederate Catechism and The New Conservative Catechism also exist. Of the three catechisms covered in this post, only The Baltimore Catechism has a question and answer format. This format is handy for memorization, but being able to answer in one’s own words, as The Roman Catechism or Pope St. John Paul II’s The Catechism of the Catholic Church would require, is also useful and more in line with modern notions of education.
12 Days of Christmas Anime: Patlabor
Here is a little post I wrote about a couple of Christmas episodes of Patlabor and how they reminded me of a passage from G.K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man. I feel honored to have had my post scheduled for Christmas Eve, and I hope that my dear readers enjoy it. Click on the link below.
Have a merry Christmas!
12 Days of Christmas Anime: Patlabor