Ookami no Kuchi: How to Infuriate your Readers in 2 Chapters or Less

While browsing through my manga app, I ran across a manga titled Ookami no Kuchi: Wolfsmund.  At first, I was delighted to find that it was a manga based in 14th century Switzerland and that the artwork was quite brilliant.  However, it was disconcerting that it began with an execution of a Swiss freedom fighter; yet, stories that begin darkly often feature stronger struggles and make a happy ending more compelling.  So, I decided to read the first and then the second chapter.

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The first chapter was pretty grim.  A knight tried to smuggle the executed freedom fighter’s daughter across the border, because the tyrannical lord wished to execute his entire family.  Goaded by a claim I found on Baka Updates saying: “The author pulls no punches to show us just how brutal and inhuman the Middle Ages really were,” I must point out certain flaws in the manga on this point.  First off, it would be incredible for a medieval king to wish to wipe out a family’s womenfolk.  Most would not even make a serious attempt to kill all the men as long as they no longer posed a threat.  Exile and imprisonment were much preferred means of punishment until around the time of the Protestant Reformation, where the masses of people executed on both sides for heresy seems to have dulled people’s qualms about capital punishment.

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Anyway, the daughter disguises herself but she and the knight end up being discovered by the noble running a checkpoint known as Wolfsmund (Wolf’s maw).  The knight is killed by crossbowmen and the lady  executed on a chopping block.  Medievals never executed women unless they were found guilty of witchcraft.  The attitude of a 19th century American on the topic of hanging a woman differed not in the least with the attitude of a medieval man on the subject.  But, in this manga’s favor, I must note that the style of fighting employed by the knights, which uses the hilt and pommel as well as the blade, is very accurate–even if finishing one’s opponent off, which the lady’s knight was compelled to do, was not.

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Anyway, having been depressed by these events, I pressed on to the next chapter, wherein it is revealed that the freedom fighters are making great progress in ousting the tyrant ruling over them.  A pair of lovers is separated because the woman, a very capable fighter herself, is given a mission to pass beyond Wolfsmund to transport back money from a Florentine bank.  Need I say that a woman traveling alone is unheard of in the Middle Ages?  Especially in the disguise of an old woman?  That’s a very easy way to arose suspicion!  Better would have been to disguise herself along with a compatriot as nuns.  As it turns out, the poor girl is discovered by a trick the nobleman plays on her and thrown into the dungeon.

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From which, she herself manages to escape, only to be cornered atop a wall and killed by a thrown sword.  Now, the broadsword, unlike the katana, was never intended to be thrown.  The weight is balanced too close at the hilt.  The first throw does hit the girl hilt first, which is the most likely way it would land; while the second pierces her back–a blow only possible through incredible good luck.  Then, her corpse is displayed on a wheel–I did not turn the next page to see exactly how they displayed her corpse, but it must not have been pleasant.  At any rate, though male enemies’ corpses were sometimes displayed and mutilated during the Middle Ages; I doubt that a woman’s corpse ever suffered the same fate.  Despite popular opinion, medievals were not barbarians, and I suspect such an action would have brought the censure of the Church.

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At this point, I got the picture that the manga would consist of failed attempts upon the gate and the cruelty inflicted on the trespassers by the nobleman in charge of it.  No enduring protagonist had emerged yet, with the exception of the female owner of an inn (women owning inns was probably not uncommon at the time), who seems unable to help the good guys.  And so, I put down this novel which concerned itself more with exploring human suffering than telling a good story.

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Dog and Scissors: An Unexpected Favorite

Feeling rather blue one day and having heard that Dog and Scissors was an amusing, if insane, comedy, I turned to it on Crunchyroll.  For those of you unfamiliar with its premise, a young book lover saves the life of his favorite author during a robbery.  Unfortunately, the young man, Kuzuhito Harumi, is killed and returns to life as a Dachshund.  At which point, the author, having Shinobu Akiyama as her nom de plume and Natsuno Kirihime as her, rather ridiculous though idoneous, real name, locates Kazuhito in a pet shop due to a strong mental connection between the two of them (she heard his thoughts of despair over not being able to read) and takes him into her house. 

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This is of great benefit to Kazuhito in that he is now able to read as many books as he desires; but, Natsuno happens to possess sadistic tendencies and torments Kazuhito with a pair of scissors named Hasajiro.  I would feel more pity for Kazuhito if he did not deliberately call down the wrath of Natsuno for poking fun at her wee bosom.  Natsuno herself, for all her eccentricity, happens to be a likable character as well, not a little helped by the talents of the consummate seiyuu, Marina Inoue (Yoko of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagaan).  All the other characters, from the Kazuhito’s sister who makes curry with a chain saw to Natsuno’s masochistic editor, are all nuts, but this makes for a brilliant screwball comedy.

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Even the tragicomic  romantic affections of Natsuno for the boy–now, dog–who saved her life is hilariously funny.  If the writers handled this a little more clumsily, this could turn rather disturbing.  As it is, I’m hoping for some deus ex machina event to transform Kazuhito back into a high schooler so that Natsuno’s affections may be requited.

So, had anyone else been pleasantly surprised by this show?  Or discovered an unlikely favorite this season?

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Inuyasha and Beating the Devil

Inuyasha stood as my third favorite anime, but finishing Inuyasha: The Final Act gives me no choice but to bump it back into second place ahead of Code Geass.  Yes, the final installment of the series was enough to cover for any faults in the first several seasons.  The whole series focuses on the battle between good and evil.  Such shows and books are a dime a dozen, but Inuyasha parallels reality closely enough to catapult it to greatness.  In particular, Naraku very nearly captures the attitudes and wiles of the devil, and Inuyasha and his friends show how to beat the devil.

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#1 Good always wins.

This is the first and most important rule.  One must always act with this truth in mind lest one be taken down by despair.  Even if we are plagued with defeats, we must remember that an All-Powerful and All-Merciful God desires to hand us the victory which He won for us, and so we have great reason to hope, do penance, and continue doing good.  Naraku in particular tries to fill Inuyasha and his friends with despair.

The only thing to do is to keep fighting without believing the evil one’s lies.  As St. Anthony of the Desert (from whom I draw many of these maxims) said, Christ has defeated Satan so that the devils are powerless–they can only threaten.  They are no more than playthings for us Christians no matter how frightful they appear.  Christ always is ready to give us the power for victory, unless too much pride prevents his grace from being efficacious in us.  But these very falls provide reason for humility and allow for us to be victorious through God’s grace later.

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#2 Evil is best fought by the greathearted virtues of faith, hope, charity, and courage.

We see this especially in scenes like Sesshoumaru unhesitatingly entering the insides of Naraku, who has become a giant spider, in order to save Rin or Inuyasha jumping into the underworld to save Kagome.  Also, the utter reliance Kagome places in Inuyasha offers us a great symbol of faith: she does not fear falling into dark abysses, knowing that Inuyasha will save her.  We Christians should also not fear the darkness, knowing that we not only have a powerful savior, but an omnipotent and omnibenevolent Savior.

Evil cannot be conquered by excessive anxiety or worrying.  This is the fault of scrupulous people.  (Yours truly is guilty as charged.)  If we have excessive worry in our hearts, the devil will play upon these fears until we cannot perceive real goods or begin to fall into more vices.  Yet, if our hearts are filled with faith, hope, charity, and courage, all hell breaking into pandemonium cannot scare us.  Hence, it is important to fight evil with the greathearted virtues.

St. Anthony the Abbot doesn't look scared at all, does he?

St. Anthony the Abbot doesn’t look scared at all, does he?

#3 Remember Mercy and show mercy.

We are all weak and fall often.  Therefore, it is important to show mercy to one another, and to hope for mercy–even though all mercy is unmerited.

This is exemplified by things like Kagome forgiving Inuyasha for wounding her–the lover forgives her beloved.  In a similar way, the Church is the Beloved of God, who is more infinitely merciful than any human lover; and so, we have full reason to hope in receiving God’s mercy.  Then, we also have Sesshoumaru’s forgiveness of Sango for attempting to cut down Naraku by cutting through Rin in order to save Miroku.  Fortunately, Rin is not cut down, and Sesshoumaru completely overlooked Sango’s sin, for which she confesses to deserve punishment.  Though there is no forgiveness scene, the fact that Sango has three children at the end proves that forgiveness must at least have been tacitly given.

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#4 Even though we fall, don’t surrender.

Consider the mistakes Inuyasha and the gang made above.  They do not excessively grieve over their faults as to stop trying.  Rather, they continue to fight and refuse to give in to despair.  Miroku and Sango are particularly anguished by the prospect of the wind tunnel devouring Miroku; but, refuse to give in to despair, even though they come very close.

We are only human beings, not angels after all.

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#5 The devil lies and ought not to be heeded, even when he speaks the truth.

The devil is “the father of lies.”  Therefore, he ought never to be heeded.  Even when he speaks the truth, it is so that he can twist it to his own deadly purposes later.  Thus, Jesus Christ even silences the devil when he truly calls Jesus the Holy One of God.

In the same way, Naraku constantly lies or uses the peril of the situations to induce despair.  Sesshoumaru is perhaps the best at picking up on Naraku’s lies, especially where he quietly ignores all the illusions Naraku places before him of Rin.  (Indeed, silence and a calm mind are two great weapons in the fight against evil.)  And Inuyasha has this great line: “I’m sick of listening to you!”  In the same way, we should ignore the evil one and live our daily lines focused on doing good and our duty.

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#6 Though victory is assured, the struggle will take a very, very long time.

Inuyasha ran for a good 56 volumes, 193 episodes, and four movies in toto.  The struggle against evil in our lives and against our own vices will continue until death.  But, we must imitate Inuyasha and his friends in fighting this battle with perseverance and magnanimity until all our vices are pulled up by the roots.  Our Savior wishes this very thing.

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#7 Evil is small-hearted, mean, essentially nothing, and for nothing.

Kagome beautifully brings this out in a speech toward the end of the final battle.  Naraku lives merely to destroy.  He destroys relationships, friendships, families, and lives; but, for what?  No benefit ever accrues to him except that hollowest of pleasures: the delight in seeing another’s pain.  In the same way, the devil is the hater of all good and so truly deserves to be despised.

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However, Kagome’s speech brings out a very sad point: Naraku, while still a man, desired to be loved by Kikyo, but he gave in to despair and envy, which allowed him to be possessed by demons.  There are even hints in the show that a part of him wants to be good and to love others.  Rather than follow these good impulses, he actively strives to eliminate them.  These choices resulted in him becoming the evil creature that he is.

Hence, though we can gaily trample upon the devil and his designs, we should pity and pray for our fellow men who have fallen so low.  Remembering that if not for the grace of God, we ourselves would be in the same sorry state.

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Gunka no Blatzar: Historical Fiction Par Excellence

It’s about time that I post another anime article on this site.  My dear readers might know that historical fiction stands as one of my favorite genres.  Hence, Alexandre Dumas is my favorite author, and Rurouni Kenshin stands as my favorite anime.  So, I found myself delighted to discover such a detail-oriented, beautifully drawn, and character driven manga as Gunka no Baltzar.  The last quality is always a huge plus for me, and I hope that someone turns Michitsune Nakajima’s riveting manga into an anime in the near future.

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The story is set in a fictional 19th century Europe where the countries are renamed, but parallels are easy to draw.  For example, I am certain that Weißen (it’s so much fun to use the German double s) is Prussia, Baselland Bavaria, and the Ezreich Republic the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Weißen is competing with the Ezreich Republic for an alliance with Baselland, which introduces much intrigue into the plot.  The countrie’s two princes represent the factions, with the King being influenced by a criminal mastermind and Ezreichian diplomat and the titular character, Bernd Baltzar, holding the ear of the second prince.  The king wishes to keep the status quo, while the second prince, even though he loves the traditions of Baselland, wishes to modernize.  Both want to ensure that Baselland remains autonomous.  All these factors create a thrilling atmosphere of realpolitik, which is actually similar to the Bakumatsu period of Japanese history (1853-1867).

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Baltzar is initially sent Baselland in order to become an adviser for their military academy as a friendly gesture by Weißen.  Initially, he tries to befriend certain students, introduce modern theories of warfare, and eliminate certain barbaric practices at the military academy, such as whipping students for poor performance.  Attempting to reform this last practice brings him into conflict with the second prince, whom he did not know was an instructor at the academy.  But, Baltzar’s courage and resourcefulness lead to Baltzar becoming the prince’s right hand man and makes him a player in Baselland’s politics.

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Overall, one becomes impressed with Baltzar’s sense of justice, personal ambition, and strong patriotism even as he sincerely tries to help the second prince–in ways that benefit Weißen too.  Some people might find him using tragedies to his advantage and manipulation of people despicable, but he possesses great courage, being not at all afraid to risk his personal safety.  He is also a very loyal toward his students and believes in them.  No other male character since Sesshomaru has struck me as being so dynamic and multifaceted. He does remind one a little of Lelouch; yet, the fact that he’s less sneaky and more loyal to his comrades means that people who disliked Lelouch will probably be quite taken with Baltzar.

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The students of the military academy tend to be quite interesting themselves.  The most interesting of whom happens to be the sharpshooter, Marcel Janssen.  This was the cadet being whipped when Baltzar insulted the second prince for his barbarity.  This kid has some real guts, and the occasions where he shows his courage happen to be some of the highest points in the manga.

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The people of Baselland’s resistance to militarism and industrialism makes for many of the conflicts in the story.  They nearly riot when Baltzar demands that artillery cadets actually fire cannons for practice!  All civic disturbance in the country come from opposition to these two movements, and, in a rather twisted fashion, the military academy must deal with them rather than the regular army.  Their main enemy happens to be a group of terrorists supported by the aforementioned criminal mastermind having the king’s ear.

Anyway, Gunka no Baltzar‘s first 17 chapters proved to be true page turners, and I hope that it rapidly gains in popularity.

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What is God’s Will and Why One Should Strive to Follow it

Interestingly, people sometimes become nervous when they hear about God’s will.  Perhaps because they expect it will take a great sacrifice or they associate this term with misfortunes–e.g. “It was just God’s will.”  Yet, who is it that is willing for us to follow His will?  A perfect and infinitely good God who is absolutely merciful and just.  He wishes all things to come to perfection, which for human beings is nothing other than our happiness.

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So, God wishes us to be happy and to be perfectly happy with Him for all eternity, sharing in God’s own happiness.  Therefore, God’s will cannot be other than His Glory and our complete happiness.  Indeed, if we should all become happy in the way that God wished, like the blessed Virgin Mary–the only human being to perfectly follow God’s will in all respects (Of course, Jesus Christ followed His Father’s will perfectly too, but He was also God), then we should all be saints and the happiness of one would increase our own happiness.  How greatly would God’s glory be revealed!  The saints dwell in perfect happiness in heaven and were more joyful on earth than us ordinary sinners.

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Yet, why this hesitation and fear of following God’s will if it leads us to perfect happiness?  The great crosses in the lives of the saints might deter us; yet, is there a life without a cross–that gift from a most loving God?  If suffering be our lot whether we are saints or sinners, why not suffer for the sake of virtue and our happiness rather than going against God’s will?  Is it possible that we shall have a lighter cross by doing what ultimately makes us unhappy, even if it might seem the easier route?

I should like to compare three lives for you, all of which seemed to have been lived by God’s will: St. Padre Pio, Louis Martin, and J. R. R. Tolkien.    One does find crosses therein, but these same people seem to be happier than most.

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On one hand, the life of Padre Pio seems to have been stuffed with crosses: demonic persecutions, persecution by church authorities, people maligning his good name, much pain, and many severe physical illnesses.  On the other hand, he delighted to suffer because suffering increased his likeness and closeness to Our Lord and Master–to the degree that he was marked with the Stigmata.  Furthermore, he was able to help people reconcile with Christ through his ministry of the Confessional and his example of a life dedicated to Jesus Christ.  Doing so brought him so many spiritual children than he could have had as the father of a family.  No other kind of life would have made Padre Pio happier.

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You might know that Louis Martin was the father of St. Therese of Lisieux.  If I remember rightly, he owned a jewelry business and delighted in his family: a loving wife, who has also entered the process of canonization, and five daughters who became religious sisters.  He strictly observed the sabbath, exercised patience toward all, was always the first to respond to the village fire alarm, made time for quiet meditation, and loved his daughters dearly.  If he had gone into religion, as he had planned, we would never have had St. Therese of Lisieux, and he would never have enjoyed the love of his family and been an example to all his neighbors.  And despite his illnesses toward the end of his life, he actually seemed to grow happier and holier and edified people even by his death.

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Lastly, Tolkien’s early life also contained suffering: his mother was disowned by her family after converting to Catholicism and she died a widow while Tolkien was in his teens, he was forced to separate from his fiancee for years without contact (save once) and almost lost her to another man, and suffered many illnesses and wounds while at the front lines in World War I–losing all save one friend in the war.  Yet, his mother’s sacrifices increased his fervor for the Faith, his separation and reunion with his beloved purified and strengthened their love, and his suffering in the war increased his understanding.

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Suffering does increase understanding.  How well could Tolkien have written The Lord of the Rings without this experience?  Could he have written the romance of Luthien and Beren?  How much less penetrating his academic articles?  Truth and wisdom are great possessions.  Can anyone doubt that Tolkien was anything less than happy in dramatically reading the first fifty lines of Beowulf before new classes?

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All these lives are happy and according to God’s will.  One might judge Padre Pio’s life to have been more according to God’s will because he’s a canonized saint, but that is speculation: we shall not know until we have arrived in heaven, and I am certain that we shall see all three of them there!  What we can be sure that Padre Pio would not have been happy as a teacher of Old English, Tolkien as a jeweler, or Louis Martin as a monk.  Each person was made to be happy in a different fashion, but all of these lives are focused on Christ and following the Will of God: your salvation and happiness.

Shogo Makishima: the Villain who Should be Hero

 

Psycho-Pass stands as one of the greatest shows to come out among the recent seasons. I say this despite having read several reviews claiming it to be an average show. No doubt the current philosophy which advocates greater government control and regulation in people’s lives is partially to blame for such poor reviews of the series. For example, my brother has told me of people reading Huxley’s A Brave New World raving about the perfect society therein. Of course, one may argue that my own political philosophy of liberty under the law and limited government make me blind to how much happier people could be under the totalitarian systems of both A Brave New World and Psycho-Pass.

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At any rate, before I consider Shogo Makishima’s merits and demerits, let me delineate the deficiencies of the society in which he lives. First, it limits the freedom of what kind of career one wishes to pursue. Of course, this has the benefit of reducing unemployment and people’s angst about what career they should pursue. Also the findings of the tests may very well indicate one’s true vocation. Mikhail Botvinnik, the brilliant World Chess Champion of the 50’s and early 60’s, may indeed have wished to become both a scientist and a chess player; but, ought he not have had the freedom to merely pursue chess if he wished instead of the U.S.S.R. telling him that he must be a scientist? Test scores are a good indicator of talent; yet, had the Catholic Church relied on test scores alone, St. John Vianney, to our great loss, would never have become a priest. Then, who would have become the patron of parish priests?

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Besides the loss of freedom in choosing one’s career, this society has also lost its sense of justice and courage. The most fortunate people are the very enforcers who may be eliminated at will! One of the most telling scenes occurs when a man murders a women in the middled of a crowded street as the mob merely rubbernecks. One is reminded of a story in modern Britain where an old man was nearly beaten to death on a bus as the passengers looked on. In both cases, the onlookers would have been punished for assisting the victim. Only the police have the right to self-defense and defending a third party. Is it me or do not the majority of the citizens of Psycho-Pass seem little better than swine?

Few scenes have induced such a feeling of rage as this one.

Few scenes have induced such a feeling of rage as this one.

 

My final objection to this society lies in its destruction of the moral imagination. (Yes, Albert Camus and Russell Kirk have caused me to start viewing practically everything under the theme of the moral imagination. I promise to eventually beat this horse to death, but my dear readers may have to wait a while.) Man has essentially been reduced to their economic and carnal sides. The evidence of this lies in that literature is no longer considered essential to schooling; though, books do seem to be readily available. Society believes that the psychic part of man must merely be mollified, not nurtured.

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Oddly enough, the most literate and artistic people in this series tend to be the killers. What so drives this anti-social behavior? Surely not the humanities! I would have to say that the killers’ very literacy, especially Makishima’s, makes them outcasts from society. And between the level of outcast and wild beast stands only the mountain man—as the friend who helped Inspector Shinya Kogami’s investigation may be considered. People need society and other minds who are capable of relating to them. Otherwise, isolation builds mistrust and finally malice against one’s fellow men leads to the darkest depths of misanthropy—unless one has received a special mission and grace from God so as not to need the society of other men anyway.

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Indeed, the only person with whom Makishima could relate to was Kogami, who wished to kill him. Therefore, one impetus for Makishima’s crimes would be to form a connection with Kogami! Talk about killing for love!

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But, in the idea of killing for love lies the reason for Makishima being a villain instead of a hero. Good acts must be accomplished through good means and for a good end. If either the means or the end is evil, the whole act is wrong—a sin. It is obvious that Makishima wishes for a better society than the present one; however, encouraging heinous crimes in order to reveal the flaws of such a system hardly counts as heroic! Better was his attempt to infiltrate police headquarters in order to expose the real nature of the Sybil System; but he ought to have found a different method of depleting the building of personnel than by instigating mass riots!

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Makishima’s one shining moment (Major Spoilers ahead!!!!) has to be where he turns down the Chief’s offer to join the Sybil System himself. Who does not love how he turned down the temptation to become a cog in a semi-omniscent machine? That he told off the Chief as the Chief was so certain that he would leap at the chance to exchange his humanity for a purportedly superior existence? I almost cheered when he called up Kogami to inform him that he was still at large.

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Makishima could easily have been a hero if he did not resort to crime in order to achieve his ends. If only he had taken a page from Lelouch Lamperouge in using just methods for ousting a tyrannical authority! But, just methods always are the most difficult and are undertaken with the most risk. One wonders whether Makishima could have been successful. After all, if the Soviet Union could send someone to the gulag after a trial having found him insane for believing in God, how much more easy would it have been for the Sybil system to have executed Makishima as an extreme malefactor sans a trial? Then again, when the majority of the citizens’ mental states have been reduced to that of cattle, could he really foment enough dissension to induce peaceful change? Especially when society discourages literate and intellectual activity?

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I rather find myself at a loss to suggest methods of reform. Perhaps the last method Makishima devised to destroy the Sybil System was the one which he ought to have attempted first. I really wanted him to succeed. The Old Testament prophets had a more receptive audience than Makishima met in the society of Psycho-Pass! Others who hated the Sybil System limited themselves to blogging complaints among their inner circle online. Perhaps the most one can do in a society more oppressive than any tyranny in recorded history is to shake the dust off one’s feet and leave. In exile, one can imitate Solzhenitsyn in writing novels and short stories about the evils of this system, hoping to change people’s minds and hearts or do something more effective: pray.

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Attempting to reform such an emasculated, gutless, and heartless society seems impossible for any being less than God Himself. Violently attempting to bring such a society to its senses can only lead one to villainy—as was the fate of Makishima.

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Planning a New Blog

For a while, I have been thinking about how scatterbrained this blog often is.  You just need to look at this blog’s subtitle: “Commentary on Anime, Books, Religion and History–the Important Stuff in Life.”  Formerly, “booze” also made up part of the title, but those articles received the scantest readership of any on this site.  My articles on tea were better received!  With due regard for the voice of my dear readers, I have decided that Medieval Otaku ought to focus on anime and religion–particularly where the two intersect.  Of course, I promise to continue writing about tea when good opportunity affords itself.  For example, I have received a new Dooars (similar to Assam), Darjeeling, Keemun, Yunnan, and a Genmai cha sample (roasted rice green tea) which ought to be reviewed as soon as enough leisure is given me to enjoy them all.  Though, I can tell you right now that the Dooars was unimpressive.  It takes milk and sugar really well (my least favorite way to have tea), but lacks some of the complexity of a good Assam–which connoisseurs know are never that complex to begin with.

Trinity Blood, one of the best unions of Catholicism and anime in recent years

Trinity Blood, one of the best unions of Catholicism and anime in recent years

So, expect a modification of the subtitle soon.  I haven’t yet decided what to call this new blog, but I shall release the name as soon as the blog looks presentable, i.e. a couple of starter articles, an about page, and some nice decorations.  It will focus on history and literature.  Incidentally, I have another blog which I work on in collaboration with some friends of mine called Aquilon’s Eyrie.  It concentrates on topics concerning American culture, history, and politics with a decidedly conservative slant.  (If any of my dear readers feel like knowing this side of me would cause them to love me less, please eschew reading these articles!)

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Oh, I might be submitting a short story to the Christian Short Story and Poetry Contest 2014.  Of course, that link is for the 2013 contest, but my friend informs me that they begin accepting submission for the next one on September 4, the day after their Christian Novel Contest ends.  The curious thought of writing the 80 Word document pages necessary to fill their recommended length for the novel contest seems tempting, but the inspiration to write a new piece of that length has yet to come to me.  At any rate, you’ll be able to read the short story after I discover the fate it meets at the judges’ hands.

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Thanks for reading!  Oh, and I found something rather amusing about Japan: the Liberal Democratic Party has nearly a two-thirds majority in their parliament.  However, these Liberal Democrats endorse a stronger military and more pro-business laws.  How’s that for upside down?