Questions from MIBIH

MIB of the blog MIB’s Instant Headache won the Liebster Award some time ago and kindly nominated me for the same award.  Be sure to check out his reviews of foreign films, classics, and anime, since all his reviews are brimming with detail and amusing observations.  The Liebster Award includes some questions for the award winner to answer, and then he is allowed to ask his nominees eleven questions in return.  While I felt that I must decline his nomination, answering MIB’s eleven questions sounded like they would make an amusing post.  Here they are below!

Flynn

MIB’s Questions
  1. If you could direct a film and cast any actor or actress, living or dead, who would it be?

Errol Flynn.  I’d cast him in a swashbuckling adventure with plenty of swordplay.

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The Fragmented Heart of Mytho

Prin T

I’ve known about Princess Tutu since around 2004, but have only just decided to watch it due to Josh W’s influence.  One does not expect a fantasy show revolving around ballet to be this good, and part the entertainment lies in how little of the plot is straightforward.  In the city where the tale takes place, storybook characters can enter the real world.  Prince Mytho stands as one such person and so is his antagonist, the Raven.  According to the book, written by an eccentric named Drosselmeyer, the Prince sealed the Raven’s power through shattering his own heart.  Though Mytho succeeded in his object, he has become the shell of a human being.  The heroine, Duck, is approached by Drosselmeyer and given the power to transform into Princess Tutu so that she might restore Mytho’s heart to its proper condition.  However, restoring Mytho’s heart brings him pain and sorrow which he would never experience without a heart.  Also, the advent of the Raven’s release from his imprisonment is simultaneously advanced by the restoration of Mytho’s heart.

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On the Athanatos Christian Arts and Apologetics Festival

Over one week has passed since I’ve written a proper blog.  (See “Examining Old School Anime: The Saints Point to Christ“)  I still need to comment on the new season among other things, but this post will be on my trip to Greenwood, Wisconsin in order to attend the Athanatos Christian Arts and Apologetics Festival.  Placing third in their short story contest of 2009, being a semi-finalist of the 2015 Novel Contest, and counting as a great friend of one of the contest judges ensured my invitation to the event.  Part of the idea behind the festival was that attendees would camp on site, but my friend (the blogger of Dusty Thanes) and I declined this opportunity in exchange for a comfy hotel room.  At a high of 81°F, the weather was appreciably cooler than here in Alabama, for which I was grateful.

Martha and Mary

Besides enjoying a reunion with my friend and his delightful family, the contest brought me in contact with several fiction writers and thinkers.  The most interesting of the bunch were Joseph Courtemanche, Robert Cely, Paul J. Bennett, David Zach, Bernard Bull, and Jamie Greening.  (I’m afraid that I skipped the apologetics part of this festival and focused more on the fiction writing aspect of it.)  Courtemanche, a former member of Navy Intelligence and a former police officer, stood out as the largest personality and person there; but, a deep humility made him very approachable.  Meeting the author of Assault on St. Agnes, whom my friend coached for countless hours on how to improve his novel, was a great honor.  (The preliminary judges act as editors after the initial cut before submitting their final recommendations to the deciding judge and founder of Athanatos Christian Ministries, Anthony Horvath.)  Assault on St. Agnes concerns a main character who is essentially a fictional version of the author: a “polyglot Rambo” called Bobby Kurtz.  Kurtz prevents Jihadists from committing a massacre in a church and soon finds himself enlisted again in the ranks of the U.S. military in order to prevent a bloodier attack from taking place.  Courtemanche’s experience makes for a very accurate and exciting novel, and I find myself enjoying every minute of it.

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Thoughts on Spice and Wolf Volume Eight

This volume of the light novels vindicates my hope that the series would improve after the preceding two volumes.  The eighth volumes covers the first part of “The Town of Strife” story arc.  Our heroes become plunged into a vortex of intrigue involving the church, pagan relics, a horn of immortality, rival guilds, and Eve, the femme fatale who almost cost Lawrence his life in addition to his money.  This novel manifests all the reasons people love Spice and Wolf, and I am looking forward to the next book and this story’s thrilling conclusion.

SW volume 8

Of note, the banter between Lawrence and Holo has lessened compared to the previous novels, and most of their conversations tend to be serious.  This novel is the most plot-centered of the series thus far.  Much of the dialogue is between Lawrence, Eve, and particular guild heads as he tries to work out a safe and profitable position for himself.  I greatly enjoyed this focus on the plot, especially after the last two novels.  But, don’t worry: Holo and Col still get plenty of print too.

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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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