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!

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Finally, Joe says what’s all been on our minds.

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.

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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.

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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.

Obviously a demon.

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.

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On Catechisms

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.

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The Rest of that Thanksgiving Post

Here we are on December 22nd, nearly Christmas, and you’ve yet to hear about those eight other anime which were mentioned back in the “Happy Yankee Thanksgiving” post!  Well, my dear readers have waited long enough.  Without further ado, here they are:

1) Patlabor

Through the encouragement of a good friend who is also a big fan of this anime, I decided to give Patlabor a try.  This lighthearted anime still manages to provide some great combat, suspense, and intrigue.  It also helps that the characters are very likeable.  I haven’t formulated a full opinion of Patlabor yet, but I can guarantee that it’s fun. (Hidive)


2) Ranma 1/2

Many fans of Rumiko Takahashi consider Ranma 1/2 to be her best work–others say Urusei Yatsura, and yet others Inuyasha.  (A friend of mine theorizes that it depends on which one saw first.  Inuyasha is the one for me.)  Ranma 1/2 will appeal especially to those who love martial arts comedy.  After over 60 episodes, I don’t feel bored of it yet. (Hulu, Vudu)


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Happy Yankee Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my dear readers! If you’re not a U.S. citizen, then may you have a pleasant November 28th and a happy Thanksgiving when a similar holiday rolls around for you.

I know an American History professor who refers to today as “Yankee Thanksgiving.” There are two Thanksgivings which took place prior to the one celebrated by the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony in 1621. You may hear Floridians brag that their state boasted the first Thanksgiving in what would become the United States. On September 8, 1565, Spanish explorers and the Timucuan tribe held a Thanksgiving mass in St. Augustine–the oldest city in America. As for the other one, English settlers in Virginia held a Thanksgiving event on December 4, 1619, beating the Pilgrims by almost two years. But, it is just as well that our holiday hearkens back to the harvest festival put on in Massachusetts: the other two do not give a ready excuse for eating tons of food!

While I thank God for His innumerable blessings, I want to write a Thanksgiving post which rectifies my long, long hiatus. For the first time, I did not participate at all in National Blog Posting Month. So, I thought that I would write blurbs on all of the anime which I’ve watched in the past few months. After all, just because I have stopped writing about anime does not mean that I have stopped watching them! The list is long, but I promise to limit myself to five sentences per anime. If you don’t see a rating, that means that I have not watched that anime until the end.


1) Arcadia of My Youth ★★★★1/2

I love Leiji Matsumoto’s work.  This movie acts as a prequel to the events of Captain Harlock.  An alien race has subjugated the Earth.  Captain Harlock, a new friend, and a resistance network must give the men of Earth hope.  Anime fans with a love of bushido are sure to find this film very moving. (Tubi TV, Amazon Prime)


2) Buddy Complex ★★★

Buddy Complex offers some excellent fights and a plot which keeps you glued to your seat.  We follow a high school boy dragged against his will into a mecha conflict in another world.  The one person connecting him to Earth turns out to be an enemy pilot who wants him dead.  I’m very happy to have watched this anime, but I can’t see myself re-watching it. (Hulu, Tubi TV)

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Sunshine Award 2019

Thanks Jusuchin of A Journey Through Life for nominating me for the Sunshine Award!  It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these award posts, and I have a couple of others which I need to do–including rating Spring 2019 and telling you all what I intend to do about this season.  At any rate, please give Jusuchin’s blog a visit.  He tends follow one or two anime a season.  His choices always have plenty of action and come near to my own tastes in anime.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog so that other people can visit them
  • Answer the 11 questions put to you by the nominator
  • Nominate 11 bloggers of your choosing and provide them with a new set of 11 questions to answer
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts
  • List the rules and display The Sunshine Blogger Award logo within your post or on your blog site.

Now, let me answer those eleven questions.


1) What got you into anime and how old were you?

My recollection places me at age fifteen around my sophomore year of high school.  Millennials have been dubbed “the Cartoon Generation,” so it seems only natural that I would eventually discover that anime existed as a separate genre of cartoons.  Coming across Vampire Hunter D and Rurouni Kenshin on Toonami kindled my interest in anime and the rest is history.

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How The Hell Does The Rising of the Shield Hero Support Slavery?

I think this is a very nice post about Shield Hero and the Slavery controversy. 100% accurate to the actual messages the show presents.

Unnecessary exclamation mark!

We’re more than halfway through The Rising of the Shield Hero, and two things have been consistent: the quality of Kevin Penkin’s incredible soundtrack for the show, and the outrage of many Western anime fans, bloggers and critics over the story’s ‘controversial’ elements. From the first episode alone, many denounced the series for its use of a false rape accusation to establish it’s central conflict, claiming this to be outright misogynistic or simply in poor taste in the wake of ‘#MeToo’ activism. But beyond that initial furor, another outcry has been consistently present on social media.

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Rating the Anime of Winter 2019, Pt. 2

Delaying this post to the middle of Spring 2019 inclines me to brevity.  (God willing, I shall be able to give my dear readers a proper mid-season review!)  A good number of you may have already forgotten some of what you watched by now!  Well, this post concerns what I thought best of Winter 2019, and I hope that some of your own favorites are below.


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5) That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime ★★★ 1/2

I love the characters in this anime, but this half of the season lacks the tension of the first.  Much is made of Rimiru being overpowered, but the first season offered us more real stakes and real hardship.  One feels like the second part should be retitled “The Daily Life of a Slime” or something else as benign.

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At any rate, I love the worldbuilding and characters enough to look forward to the next season.  The preview offered at the end gives me hope of some good conflict to come.

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What to Watch in Spring 2019

I’ve been too tired to write about my favorite anime from Winter 2019, i.e. the top 5.  While my dear readers are patiently waiting for them, I thought to myself that I would quickly scribble about what I’m watching in Spring 2019.  There are nine anime in total–one less than I watched last season.  So, I’d like to invite my dear readers to comment below about what anime should be my tenth.  (Nine is the elvish number for luck, but ten strikes me as a nice round number.)  You can make multiple suggestions, but whatsoever anime is mentioned by the most people is the one which I will add.

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At any rate, I’m continuing to watch four shows from previous seasons:

  1. Bungo Stray Dog
  2. Dororo
  3. Karakuri Circus
  4. The Rising of the Shield Hero

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The following are the five new ones premiering this season:

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Boy With Luv (작은 것들을 위한 시) by BTS feat. Halsey

It’s good to see some quick takes from Nami again. Be sure to give these a look.

The Drama Llama

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It seems cliche to choose BTS’s new title song as the song for this week but I did it because of the Korean title – 작은 것들을 위한 시, literally meaning in English, “A Poem for Small Things.”

It’s about a lover who is entirely absorbed in their beloved and wanting to know everything about them. It’s not deep in the sense of being the most beautifully made iteration of this idea, but it’s a pleasant, joyous, euphoric one.  And despite what some might say, it completes a logical progression plot-wise from “Boy in Luv” and even through “DNA” and “Fake Love.”

“Boy in Luv” is the angsty adolescent love focused on self; “DNA” revels in the romance and speaks as if it’s fated, de-emphasizing choice; “Fake Love” reveals that destiny and feelings might not be the best way to determine love; and “Boy with Luv” is…

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Rating the Anime of Winter 2019, pt. 1

Here begins the first part of a long set of reviews–at least, of what I call reviews.  I tend to describe the facets of each show which I found enjoyable or deplorable.  After all, the other anime reviewers have covered all the technical points by now, and I’d likely only be repeating myself.

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The following six out of the eleven anime watched in Winter 2019 rate from 2 1/2 to 3 stars.  For me, two and a half stars refers to a mediocre anime which disappointed me, but not enough for me to consider it to have been a waste of my time.  Three stars designates a decent anime which I enjoyed but will not watch again.  Three and a half star anime are good enough to be worth watching again in the future and contain aspects which make them memorable.  I’m inclined to be generous with that last rating.  Thankfully, I did not run into any anime I’d rate two stars or less this season, which are all levels of poor quality.

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Let’s begin, shall we?  Spoilers ahead!

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7th Anniversary of Medieval Otaku

Wow!  Seven years of blogging!  It’s been fun getting to know all of you out there and hearing about how my posts piqued your interest.  Thank you for your support and your interest!  It seems like I have not really done enough with the present winter season, but I have finished watching all the shows I set out to watch.  You should see a couple of posts soon where I review all eleven shows in two parts.

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Eleven?  That’s right.  I added one more show to my watch list: Karakuri Circus.  This show does not seem to have gotten that much attention, but it’s a very well done shonen.  It excels in both action and characters, making even certain minor characters compelling.  Perhaps the oddest thing about Karakuri Circus, however, is just how much of the action takes place in the past.  I can’t remember the last anime I watched which indulged so much in flashback episodes.  This can be annoying when one would like for nothing more than for the story to advance.  At the same time, it’s fascinating how the action extends from Medieval Europe to Meiji Era Japan to modern America.  The anime is on Amazon Prime, and I highly recommend it.

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Here is a short list of what I want to post in the near future:

  1. Review of Winter 2019, Part 1
  2. Review of Winter 2019, Part 2
  3. Quick Takes on other anime
  4. A post on Karakuri Circus and Charity’s Relationship to Virtue
  5. Finally read Dante’s Divine Comedy to the end
  6. What the anime Caligula was actually about
  7. Spring 2019 Watch List

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If anyone gets what the main theme of Caligula was, feel free to comment on it below.

Look forward to these posts and one which I hope will appear on Beneath the Tangles soon.  Dear readers, thank you once again for all your support!