The Latest Addition to My Top Fifty: Captain Harlock

Today, I have completed watching the forty-two episode long Space Pirate Captain Harlock.  I can recommend few series to my dear readers as heartily.  If you check my Top Fifty Anime Series list, you’ll see that I placed this classic in sixth place–below Wolf’s Rain and above Mardock Scramble.  (Soukou no Strain has sadly dropped off the list, leaving Gokudo precariously in last place.)  Nothing shakes up a top fifty list like watching acknowledged classics!  I heartily recommend Anime Classics Zettai! by Brian Camp and Julie Davis, which fairly represents the best anime OVAs, movies, and series until the year 2007.  Who knows?  You might find yourself a new favorite.


Briefly, let me explain why Captain Harlock so deeply appeals to me.  My dear readers likely know that Japan’s martial arts tradition stands as my first introduction to Japanese culture.  I used to study Judo and Aikido and devoured books by and about Morihei Ueshiba, Gichin Funakoshi, Nitobe Inazo, and Miyamoto Musashi.  These books express the warrior-philosopher ethos known as Bushido.  In recent years, Japan has become much more cosmopolitan, and many anime refer to Bushido comically or treat it as old fashioned or obsolete.

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The Patron Saint of Bacon


One of my all time favorite saints has just reached a new level of awesomeness to my mind by being the patron saint of bacon. The author links to St. Athanasius’s Life of St. Anthony, which is one of the greatest works of hagiography, and I encourage you all to read it.

Originally posted on Aliens in This World:

St. Anthony the Abbot, the Egyptian Early Christian and founder of most organized monasticism, is generally depicted with the attribute of a pig, because he once saw the devil in the form of a pig.

(He got bugged by lots of demons, but generally paid them no mind. He compared demons to mosquitos – always around, always annoying, but not a real danger.)

In the usual humorous style of picking patrons, the presence of the pig attribute led to St. Anthony (who ate no meat as part of his ascetic practices) becoming the patron saint of pigs, butchers, and bacon curing, as well as all livestock and animals.

St. Athanasius wrote an extremely popular biography of St. Anthony the Abbot. You can read it here, or in this version with footnotes.

Other patron saints of butchers include St. Adrian (a Roman soldier who got butchered during his martyrdom)…

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On Training with Sharp Swords in The Rose of Versailles

One scene in The Rose of Versailles features Oscar and André, Oscar’s valet and greatest friend, fencing quite vigorously.  At the end of which, Oscar compliments André by saying that he’s become quite a challenge while fencing “with sharp swords.”  A few years ago, this would have caused me to roll my eyes in disgust.  I would think to myself: “Practicing with sharp swords!  That wasn’t done, and you both have a death wish!”  I had that very response towards A Game of Thrones when Joffrey demands that he and one of Ned Stark’s sons spare with sharps instead of wooden swords, and the fencing master refuses to permit it–though he offers that they might practice with blunts.


Very many of you likely have the same opinion as I used to.  One of the first books on medieval fencing I ever read, John Clements’ Medieval Swordsmanship, does not talk about sparring with sharps anywhere.  It recommends cutting practice, technique drills, and sparring with boffers, wooden swords, or synthetic ones.  I used to figure that by combining the three one can “triangulate” in order to understand what fighting with a real sword would feel like.  In addition, I read two accounting of practicing with sharp swords which boded ill for one of the fencers.  In one viking saga, a father trains against his son while using a cursed blade.  The sword having been knocked backwards with a certain parry, it buries itself in the father’s brain and makes an end of him.  On the other occasion, Alexandre Dumas recounts in one of his historical fictions that people at first practiced without foils, but with swords having a point and sharp edges.  During one practicing bout, one fellow was stabbed sixteen times and fell dead after the session.  Both reinforce the idea that fencing with sharp swords is a very, very bad idea.

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Noragami Aragoto Anime’s Second Promo Video Previews the Opening Theme


It makes me happy to see that Noragami is getting a second season. The trailer looks pretty good.

Originally posted on Lesley's Musings... on Anime & Manga:

The official website for Noragami Aragoto, the second television anime season of the Noragami manga, is now streaming the sequel’s second promotional video.

The video previews The Oral Cigarettes’ opening theme song “Kyōran Hey Kids!!” (Fury Hey Kids!!). Tia will perform the ending theme song, but the song’s title has not yet been revealed.

The second season will adapt the manga’s popular Bishamon arc and will reunite the staff and cast from the first season based on Adachitoka’s manga.

FUNimation Entertainment streamed the first season as it aired in Japan last year, and it describes the story as:

Yato may just be a minor god now, but he’s determined to make it big and he’s got a plan. Unfortunately, things just don’t seem to be going his way. He doesn’t have a single shrine dedicated to him, his partner has just quit, and now he’s got to find a…

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The Glass is Already Broken

Originally posted on

“A young monk asked his Father Abbott how to find contentment and stillness in a world where things are always changing, where nothing is permanent and nothing remains the same. ‘When loss and grief are inherent in our very coming in to existence, how can there be any happiness?’

That elder monk, looking compassionately at his brother held up a glass which he had been drinking from said: ‘You see this goblet? For me, this glass is already broken. I enjoy it. I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably. Sometimes even the sun reflects in its beautiful patterns. If I should tap it. it has a lovely ring to it.’

‘But when I put this glass on a shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters I say; ‘Of course!’ I understand that this glass is already broken. Every moment with it…

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Examining Old School Anime: Honey Catches More Flies than Vinegar


My latest article under Examining Old School Anime

Originally posted on :

In a recent episode of The Rose of Versailles, Oscar’s coldness towards the now Queen Marie Antoinette struck me as too severe.  Since her rescue of Marie Antoinette, the queen has always held Oscar in esteem, and she uses her new authority to pour favors onto Oscar’s lap: she raises Oscar to the post of regimental commander and lavishes her with gifts.  However, Oscar turns down the gifts, sets conditions on her promotion, and only associates with Antoinette to the degree that her duty prescribes.  At the same time, Oscar bemoans Antoinette’s lavish spending, her neglect of royal duties, and the plight of the poor.


I find myself vexed with Oscar’s attitude.  Her polar opposite is a young Swedish nobleman by the name of Fersen, who basks in Marie Antoinette’s presence and adores the young lady for her beauty and grace.  At times, he tries to remind Antoinette of…

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Anime’s Robert E. Lee

The idea for this article was ignited by my fascination with Robert E. Lee, with the flames of my imagination first stoked by Robert E. Lee on Leadership by H. W. Crocker III and fanned into a blaze by Emory Thomas’s Robert E. Lee: A Biography and Michael Korda’s Clouds of Glory, the latter of which I could not finish because its repetitiveness wore me out.  At the same time as I read the latter, I started watching Captain Harlock and could not but note the similarity between the personalities and struggles of Lee and Harlock.  Sure, they hold polar opposite views and habits concerning alcohol, but most of their other differences are superficial.  When you’ve finished the article, be sure to tell me whether you are struck by the same fact as your humble author: that Captain Harlock is the closest approximation to R. E. Lee among anime characters.


Both figures impress one with how their polish and perfection mingle with a spirit of humility.  Lee was dubbed “the Marble Man” at West Point for his perfect obedience to his superiors and adherence to duty.  (Lee graduated West Point without a single demerit.)  With Harlock, we have also yet to see a real character flaw, save for Harlock’s audacity and alcoholic indulgence–though, Harlock even carries his indulgence to perfection as he never behaves drunkenly.  The characters of Space Pirate Captain Harlock look up to their captain in the same way that many looked up to Lee as a peerless soldier during his lifetime.

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Examining Old School Anime: What Profiteth a Man to Gain the Whole World and Lose His Own Soul?


Here’s my latest post for my Examining Old School Anime Column on Beneath the Tangles. For a change of pace, I write about a theme in The Rose of Versailles.

Originally posted on :

Let me take a break from Space Pirate Captain Harlock this week.  Thanks to the enthusiastic recommendation of iblessall, I have picked up an awesome new anime titled The Rose of Versailles.  You might have never heard of this gem from 1979, but I can assure you that every fan of exciting swordplay and historical fiction will become endeared to the story of Oscar Francois de Jarjayes’s adventures in Pre-Revolutionary France.  (If you liked Rurouni Kenshin or Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran, watch this old school gem!)  Within the first episode, Oscar becomes the commander of Marie Antoinette’s bodyguard and soon becomes one of the new princess’s favorite courtiers.


Immediately upon setting foot into Versailles, Marie Antoinette manages to start a controversy.  Court rules dictate that a lady of lower station is forbidden from first addressing one of higher station.  When Marie Antoinette gets a bad…

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No Poor Choices: My Experience with Anime Summer 2015 Thus Far

How are my dear readers enjoying the new anime season?  On my side, I’m enjoying all my picks, though one show notably falls short of the rest in quality.  At any rate, these kinds of posts tend to run long, so let’s jump right into the anime.


1) Aoharu x Machinegun

Here’s a lighthearted comedy with just enough seriousness to make the plot interesting.  The first episode featured our heroine, Hotaru Tachibana, being dragged into an airsoft team after picking a fight with an innocent host, who happens to be her neighbor.  The matches thus far have been quite suspenseful.  Even though the characters are not terribly original, the anime manages to immerse the viewer in their struggles and keeps the viewer eager to watch each new stage in our heroine’s journey.  Another plus is how much it reminds me of my favorite show of last year: Sabagebu!


2) Gangsta!

For some reason, American mob films have never appealed to me; however, I’ve yet to run across a bad yakuza anime.  Curiously, of the shows Anime-Planet users recommend to fans of Gangsta!, I’ve seen all except Michiko to Hatchin and have enjoyed the rest.  Gangsta! sets itself apart from other yakuza anime in having better world building.  Only Gungrave comes close to it in this regard.  The heroes fascinate one by how they try to live in a world of violence and exploitation with some honor.  The sword vs. gun fights are utterly unrealistic, but most of the fights are very exciting.  However, fans who don’t like bloody violence, sexual situations (the show has eschewed explicit sex thus far), or nudity should give Gangsta! a wide berth.

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The Moe Manifesto

I had the good fortune to win this book in a contest put up by Random Fantasy for a title from Tuttle Publishing.  The Moé Manifesto by Patrick W. Galbraith takes on the misunderstood topics of moé and otaku through looking at the perspectives of people as diverse as mangaka, singers, economists, psychologists, directors, and  self-professed otaku.  The interviews are generally of good quality.  The result is a fascinating work which I finished in practically one sitting.  The introductory chapter, where Patrick Galbraith explains his own views and history with the moé movement, is the most difficult to sit through; but, I would not recommend skipping it, because it holds very cogent information.  The pages turn quickly after that, a speed of reading which is helped by the fascinating and odd pictures included on every page.


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Examining Old School Anime: As the Tree Falls


Here’s my latest article on Captain Harlock under the Examining Old School Anime column. Soon, I’ll start writing articles for another old school series, since I’ve blogged the daylights out of this classic. Maybe just one or two more articles on it.

Originally posted on :

Few anime possess the brilliance of Space Pirate Captain Harlock.  On the night when I became inspired to write this article, I watched no fewer than seven episodes in a row.  This viewing also happened to give me another, more happy topic, but the topic of death appeared more interesting.  To be more precise, Captain Harlock inspired me to write about a theme in Catholic eschatology.  Episode 17, “The Skeleton Hero,” was unique in focusing on the life of the Arcadia’s chief engineer, especially his relationship with his former captain, Yamanaka of the warship The Braves.  (Most of the crew have amazing backstories.)  What caused this reminiscence was the Arcadia receiving a distress message from Captain Yamanaka, whose ship has become stranded in the Horsehead Nebula.


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What Medieval Otaku’s Been Doing, Part II

Below are various shows I’ve been watching but have yet to finish.  Many of them are quite old with the oldest produced in 1978 and the latest in 2014.  Tomorrow or the day after, I propose to finally get around to writing about how I feel about the new season.  Let’s get started!


1) Space Pirate Captain Harlock

Many of my dear readers may not understand the appeal of a thirty-seven year old anime.  After all, the animation is rougher, the action less fluid, and the characters often downright cartoony–a trait undesirable for many anime fans.  Also, the opening song is much more military sounding than in those found in contemporary shows.  Perhaps, it is the differences which make it my recent favorite.  Captain Harlock is a singular figure.  At first, I thought of him as the prototype for Alexander Row of Last Exile, but Captain Harlock is not a Byronic hero.  After watching over twenty episodes, Harlock’s personality strikes one as rather similar to Robert E. Lee’s.  (An article on that forthcoming.  And yes, my reference to General Lee in a prior article was not random.)  You’re not going to find a character comparable to one of the South’s greatest heroes in contemporary anime!

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What Medieval Otaku’s Been Doing, Part 1

For the past while, I’ve found myself too preoccupied, too lazy, or too weak-willed to write as much as I ought, especially on this blog.  Most recently, my move to Alabama provided a good excuse for missing my last installment of “Examining Old School Anime” on Beneath the Tangles.  Having recovered from the fourteen hour drive from New Jersey, I feel ready to blog again.  However, I have a warning for people passing through Tennessee: the police cars have an outrageous paint scheme.  They are a dull brown above and below, a flat, light yellow in the middle, and have a black silhouette of the state of Tennessee in the center.  All this considerably breaks up their image and makes for excellent camouflage.  Not only that, but they try to pull people over by speed signs so that one cannot argue being ignorant of the limit.


But, you would not be reading my blog if I only wrote about travel.  Below, my dear readers will find some succinct summaries of various anime.  I hope that these recommendations from my watch list prove interesting to you.


1) Strike the Blood – ★★★½

Some of my readers may be surprised to find such a fanservicey and silly show here.  But, I confess a weakness for harem shows and action-packed vampire anime.  How can I resist a show which combines the two?  Also, the main character, Kojou Akatsuki, has personality, unlike the harem lead of a certain show last season.  (*cough*BellCranel*cough*)  The ecchi varies between cute, silly, and rather uncomfortable–as may be expected from the fact that Kojou’s vampire powers, which he frequently resorts to, only surface when he’s aroused.  This leads to the harem becoming frequently infuriated with him, although Kojou himself does not have any attachment to his powers and has avoided sucking the blood of young maidens until a series of violent and potentially cataclysmic events strike his city.

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What Makes Seraph of the End Enjoyable

People rightly point out the flaws in Seraph of the End.  The middle of the show exhibits many high school anime tropes, some facets of the animation can be lacking despite the incredibly immersive backgrounds, the plot is not so straightforward, and it may be accused of being an Attack on Titan look-alike.  However, with Attack on Titan, the story only dragged me along by way of suspense.  After nine episodes, the only character I cared for was Mikasa, the world was too horrific to be loved, the society was filled with too many treacherous and cowardly people for me to root for their survival, and the bold lines of animation and still frames bothered me.  With the exception of the use of still frames, Seraph of the End proved to be the exact opposite and provided some interesting ideas for me to chew on.


Recently, my friends introduced me to a fascinating book called The Way of Men by Jack Donovan.  They had been prompted to recommend it by my article “The Post-Modern Fallacy on Manliness.”  (A while back, I mentioned that I was contemplating an article on the topic of manliness, and the result of that meditation seemed to fit Aquilon’s Eyrie more.)  Few works explain male psychology so well.  In particular, Donovan displays a perspicacious degree of Classical learning (he quotes Cicero, St. Augustine, Livy, and others) and knowledge of psychological and sociological studies.  Though, I will say here that his atheistic perspective gives an incomplete picture of man, and one wonders whether the tactical virtues of strength, courage, mastery, and honor are a good replacement for the cardinal virtues of temperance, courage, prudence, and justice.

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Links to Anime Season Reviews and the Battle of Gettysburg

At this point, I’d usually review the anime I’ve watched from this season and rate them from one to five stars.  This sort of season review might still come about on Medieval Otaku, but I already have reviews up for every show except Seraph of the End.  You’ll find these reviews scattered over three posts on Beneath the Tangles: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.  In the first part, Kaze gives Seraph of the End the same rating I’d give it.  The second part features an amusing picture of Hestia with a caption added by yours truly.  I found the picture particularly endearing because of it’s resemblance to the “Kilroy was here” image used by the Allies to mark their progress in WWII.


Let me remind my dear readers, as I did last year, that we celebrate the 152nd anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1st – July 3rd.  Lord Drako Arakis created a beautifully drawn and tragic music video to commemorate last year’s anniversary, and I hope that he has one planned for this year.  (His latest video is a ribald song not at all in the spirit of the battle, but click here if that doesn’t bother you and you want a good laugh.)  At any rate, July 2nd saw one of the most thrilling fights of the war on Little Round Top.  This was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of Maine’s most famous victory, which he wrote about in the article “Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg.”  I highly recommend the article for how well Chamberlain immerses one in the action on that fateful day.  Also, Chamberlain stands as the greatest hero to serve in the ranks of the Army of the Potomac and is worth learning about the Battle of Little Round Top for that reason alone.

This picture commemorates the famous bayonet charge lead by Col. Joshua Chamberlain.  At the center, Chamberlain captures a Confederate at saber point whose revolver either misfired or was out of ammo when he tried to shoot Chamberlain.  Chamberlain simply said to him:

This picture commemorates the famous bayonet charge lead by Col. Joshua Chamberlain. At the center, Chamberlain captures a Confederate at saber point whose revolver either misfired or was out of ammo when he tried to shoot Chamberlain. Chamberlain simply said to him: “You are my prisoner.”

Examining Old School Anime: How a Mazone Shows the Importance of Mental Prayer


Here’s my latest post under the Column Examining Old School Anime.

Originally posted on :

Episode 15 of Space Pirate Captain Harlock features, after Queen Lafresia, the most interesting Mazone we’ve yet met.  Aurora been posted inside an ice palace at the North Pole, where she waits for Captain Harlock to investigate the curious pattern produced by an aurora borealis.  Her only purpose in life is to kill Captain Harlock, and Aurora has meditated on him and their fateful meeting for years.  However, her long contemplation has brought home to her how good Captain Harlock is, and she quite naturally falls in love with him.  (What woman can resist the manly bearing of Captain Harlock?)  Unfortunately for Aurora, she tries to trap Captain Harlock inside the palace and picks a fight with Miime, an alien woman who owes her life to Captain Harlock.  The Mazone’s attack is cast back on herself and brings about her demise.

Miime, surprisingly powerful for a soft-spoken woman Miime, surprisingly powerful for a soft-spoken woman

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Two Final Prayers of St Thomas More


I had no idea that St. Thomas More’s feast day was yesterday. I just purchased a book on his life and writings and have started to make progress in reading it.

Originally posted on :

These beautiful prayers were written by St Thomas More (whose feast day we celebrated yesterday, 22nd June) while he was being held prisoner in the Tower of London.

Sir Thomas More, by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527 Sir Thomas More,
by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527

“Give me the grace, Good Lord:

To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on You and not to hang upon the words of men’s mouths.

To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business.

Not to long to hear of earthly things, but that the hearing of worldly fancies may be displeasing to me.

Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labour to love Him.

To know my own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself…

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Reasons to Watch Scholagladiatoria

Matt Easton of the YouTube channel Scholagladiatoria recently posted a video thanking those who’ve spread the word about his channel to bring the total number of subscribers up to over seventy thousand.  Those of you who’ve clicked on my Guide to Becoming a Scholar of Swords and Swordplay page know that I place this channel above all the rest in terms of the accuracy of information one finds there and the breadth of Matt Easton’s knowledge.  But, let me do my part here by sharing some awesome videos of his with you, and I hope that many of you who have an interest in the Middle Ages or fencing will subscribe if you haven’t already.

The following video explains how to accurately grip a Viking sword.  More people grip a Viking sword incorrectly than any other blade.  While one can often get away with a wrong grip in the case of other blades, doing so with a Viking sword will cause the pommel to jab into one’s wrist when cutting, which leads to the user hating a perfectly good sword.  One cannot but admire the facility with which Easton shows that he can wield the blade when gripped correctly.

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Rose of Versailles: The Changes of Oscar de François de Jarjeyes and the Dignity of Human Life


This is a beautiful post on Rose of Versailles. I must confess that I was rather iffy about watching this, but iblessall has done much to change my mind.

Originally posted on Mage in a Barrel:

As I started the final five episodes of Rose of Versailles, a friend warned me that I was in for a “rollercoaster.” Having come off the ride, I think I’d have to say that, as thoughtful as the caution was, it was unfortunately understated, as the conclusion to this magnificent series wrecked emotional havoc on me like it had not in 35 episodes prior. In considering why, I of course ended up at some of the easier conclusions for explaining my emotional wreckage—character investment, Stockholm Syndrome, lack of sleep, an exceptionally doomed ship—but I found myself unsatisfied with those answers. However, in considering the show as a whole, rather than simply a five-episode excerpt, I came to understand that I had, to continue to metaphor, been on a rollercoaster the whole time. On a terrifying and exhilarating ride known as “life.”

Rose of Versailles

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The whitewashing of England’s Catholic history


This is a very interesting article, especially since one doesn’t think that much about Catholic contributions to British economy, political liberty, and literacy.

Originally posted on :

from: The Catholic Herald:

A 19th century view of Magna Carta

The invention of liberty, literacy and prosperity have all been wrongly portrayed as Protestant developments

Last week I was writing about Magna Carta and how the Catholic Church’s role has been written out, in particular the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.

But the same could also be said about much of English history from 600AD to 1600; from the very first law code written in English, which begins with a clause protecting Church property, to the intellectual flourishing of the 13th century, led by churchmen such as Roger Bacon, the Franciscan friar who foresaw air travel.

However, the whitewashing of English Catholic history is mainly seen in three areas: political liberty, economic prosperity and literacy, all of which are seen as being linked to Protestantism.

Yet not only was Magna Carta overseen by churchmen…

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