Otaku Teacher, Overzealous Samurai and More!

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed manga, hasn’t it?  However, I have been reading a bunch of them and even finished a few.  I’m dividing my thoughts and recommendations on these manga into two parts.  Here’s the first five of them with five more to follow.

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1) Denpa Kyoushi (“Electric Wave Teacher” in English) by Takeshi Azuma

This manga is a fun comedy.  Essentially, our hero, Junichiro Kagami, starts as a NEET with an anime blog, which has just become the top anime blog on the internet.  (I sympathize with this kind of character a lot.)  Despite some initial resistance, his sister, Suzune, forces him to undertake a job as a part-time teacher–despite the negative effect it will have on his anime blog’s ratings.  Thus we follow his adventures as a high school teacher, his interior struggle with that part of him which wishes to resume a NEET lifestyle, and other forces which try to induce him to use his scientific knowledge for other organizations.

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Basically, this manga is Great Teacher Onizuka with an anime otaku instead of a former gangster as the main character.  Like Onizuka, he runs into troubled teenagers and helps them to believe in themselves–whether it be a girl who’s embarrassed of her anime girl voice or a punk who believes himself to be unlovable.  The humor is not quite outrageous as GTO, though he does pull things like teaching his students through video games or forcing a straight-laced girl to work at a maid cafe.  The characters are all pretty likable, and Kagami himself stands as a unique protagonist: the unashamed otaku teacher.  I highly recommend this series to people seeking a good comedy and some inspiring stories.

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2) Code-Ex by Ichiro Sakaki, illustrated by Yumiko Harao

This manga is related to the Code-E manga and Mission-E anime.  Both derive from the pen of Ichiro Sakaki.  I love his Scrapped Princess, Strait Jacket, and–the latest of his works to be animated–Coffin Princess Chaika.  Despite my love for these last three shows, I stopped watching Code-E after a few episodes because the plot moves at a slow pace.  Reading this short manga has inspired me to return to watch Code-E as soon as I find the time for it.

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The plot of Code-Ex revolves around the plight of a young man sent to live with a martial arts practitioner named Saihashi.  She is already training Ebihara, the protagonist of Code-E, to control her power of emitting electromagnetic waves.  Her powers become unleashed whenever Ebihara loses her cool, which makes this training necessary.  But the boy, Katsuki, has a different problem: his nerve signals at random moments shut down, leaving him paralyzed for a time.  Unfortunately for Katsuki, an unscrupulous scientist realizes that his problem is related to the Type-E phenomenon whereby women, like Ebihara, are able to emit strong electronic signals.  He wants to use an unwilling Katsuki in a perilous experiment to create a male Type-E.

The manga offers the likable characters we usually find in Ichiro Sakaki’s works.  It’s a exciting and brief manga of only twelve chapters with which to while away a rainy day.

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3) Dogs: Bullets and Carnage by Mira Shirow

The anime version far outshines the manga.  A friend advised me to watch Dogs: Stray Dogs Howl in the Dark, and I found that to be  fun four episode OVA.  However, the anime made the right choice in limiting it to four episodes: though the stories are fun and exciting, they lack depth.  In the manga, the only character who still retained my interest after fifteen chapters was the swordswoman, which wasn’t enough to keep me reading.

Dogs B and C

The action is set in a city rife with criminal activity.  Our heroes are all connected to the underworld somehow, except the swordswoman.  Instead, she’s looking for the killer who murdered her parents after having been raised by an assassin.  Each story examines a character’s history and how their history has impacted what they’re doing now.  Trust me: watch the anime, don’t read the manga unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool fan of yakuza manga.

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4) Mushibugyo and Jouju Senjin!! Mushibugyo

A random commentator recommended this one to me, explaining that it was a fun samurai manga with minimal fanservice.  The fanservice was not what I call minimal, but the manga is great fun!  I placed both titles above, because Mushibugyo seems to be the pilot manga for Jouju Senjin!! Mushibugyo.   They both start in the same way with a few differences as regards to the details, but that is all.  One sees Mushibugyo‘s eight chapters again in the ongoing Jouju Senjin!!

Fanservice Alert!  But, it's not too bad really.

Fanservice Alert! But, it’s not too bad really.

The manga is set in Edo era Japan, but enormous bugs called–without much imagination–Mushi terrorize the populace of the capital city.  The five members of Mushibugyo are in charge of exterminating the bugs.  The last member to be recruited is Jinbee, who rapidly rises in the estimation of the other members of the group through his zeal.  Jinbee’s naivete stands out, but his overzealous simplemindedness make him a fun character.  All the characters appear rather unique and likable, and the action’s great.  Give this historical fantasy a shot.

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Links Re-organized

My dear readers might have noticed that I organized the gigantic compilation of anime blogs into several smaller categories.  The thought came to me that people were likely going cross-eyes while scrolling through those lists.  This organization should make it easier for visitors to find new anime blogs which fit their tastes.  Because their categorization describes what kind of blog they are, I have for the most part inserted the site’s tagline as the description unless the site did not bear one.  In which case, I either left it as is or wrote something new based on the site’s about page–depending on how industrious I felt at the moment.

Rei eating Ramen

Several new sites have also been added to the list and one site’s name has been changed.  (Everything’s Magic used to be Grace le Fay.)  Of those sites recently finding their way onto my list of links, I recommend especially Contemplans Profundes, Gaikokumainiakku, Chromatic Aberration Everywhere, Res Studiorum et Ludorum, Fantasy and Anime, and A Journey through Life.  By the way, if any blogger thinks that I categorized their site incorrectly–e.g. “I do not want to be known as a site for weekly reviews/episodic reviews/opinion pieces, etc.  I prefer x”, tell me and I’ll happily place it in the category of your choice.  (This is very much the case if I marked your blog likely defunct, and you intend to write in the near future.  Send me a message saying: “Reports of my blog’s demise are greatly exaggerated.” xD )   But don’t recommend any new categories please!  Unless it’s Anime News, which I considered adding; but, I think that it would only fit two sites anyway.

Might as well add an anime recommendation in this article: watch Ga-Rei Zero.  Great action, a great story, and a cool bad girl.

Might as well add an anime recommendation in this article: watch Ga-Rei Zero. Great action, a great story, and a cool bad girl.

Before I define the categories, let me state that several sites do more than just one kind of blogging, but I tended to define them by the kind of blogging which seemed most prevalent.

Anime and Foreign Film Blogs – These blogs routinely cover more than just anime or even tend more toward live action films.

Christian Perspective – These blogs are either fundamentally concerned with looking at anime from a Christian perspective or their Faith has a discernible influence in their articles.  If you look at some of my articles here, some have an overtly Christian message or pick on certain themes or threads which a non-believer might have found less interesting than other things going on in an anime.

Editorial Style – This is the most popular category.  Bloggers give their personal opinions and analysis on specific themes found in anime.

Episodic Reviews – The hardest thing to do well.  These bloggers analyze anime series episode by episode, often pulling on different themes found in each.

General Reviews – These bloggers evaluate whole series or movies and give their recommendation about whether they are worth watching.

Likely Defunct – I wrote likely here because, though they haven’t posted in months or even declared that they were retiring from blogging, they might decide to come back.  In certain cases, I chose not to include some blogs where the author has not posted in a long time because I hope that they will return to the blogging world soon.  Some of them are excellent, especially Chronicle Holic, Lemmas and Submodalities, and Rayout.

Weekly Reviews – Almost as hard as episodic reviews, these will examine an entire week’s worth of episodes and either report on every show or remark on the best and worst episodes.

Hope that you find a new blog to follow!

Victorique Reading

 

 

 

Black Bullet on Temptation

An excellent post on temptation as it appears in the anime Black Bullet, which is surprisingly similar to how we are tempted in real life.

Yaranakya

[Ohys-Raws] Black Bullet - 08 (AT-X 1280x720 x264 AAC).mp4_snapshot_11.13_[2014.06.23_23.40.17]

No, wait, not the kind of temptation pictured above.

If you have been watching the show, you know that Black Bullet took its riveting setting and has been going weird places and doing weird things ever since the first arc ended. Still, it has its moments of brilliance. One of those was the commentary on temptation contained in episode eleven of the show.

[Ohys-Raws] Black Bullet - 04 (AT-X 1280x720 x264 AAC).mp4_snapshot_04.23_[2014.06.23_23.47.25]

The episode treats us to a reunion with our favorite villain pair from the first arc. The show never tried hiding that the Hiruko pair are both evil and completely insane, nor that where they now stand is where Rentarou might end up should he lose to the anger and despair in his heart. Kagetane urges Rentarou to join him from the very beginning, offering Rentarou various incentives as well as showing him the dark sides of the society Rentarou has sworn to protect.

However, during that…

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On Expanding the Heart

I have decided to break off my hiatus early, my dear readers.  But, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus provides a great reason to get back to blogging about Christianity and Anime.  All sorts of ideas for anime articles bagan popping into my mind as soon as the hiatus began anyway–that figures!  The themes in Saber Marionette J, the latest anime to steal my heart, and the Feast of the Sacred Heart incline me to write about the heart.  (Only two more episodes to go before I tuck another anime under my belt.)

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N. B. Couldn’t find many good pictures from the anime online, so I cheated and used manga ones. But, I will warn you that the manga–like all old manga–is ridiculously fanservicey. I could not help but burst out laughing at the lengths to which it goes.

Saber Marionette J features some female androids who have something called a “maiden circuit” which allows them to empathize with others and have emotions.  Essentially, they were programmed with a heart.  The greatest joys and sorrows come from having a heart.  The greatest hearts feel most keely the highs and lows of life.  During these low periods, when love appears extinct and and pain everpresent, people often fall into the temptation of becoming bitter and seeking means of escape which only harden and diminish the heart.  Some may even fall so low as to wish that they had no heart.  Why have an organ capable of experiencing such beauty and love when all it finds surrounding it are ugliness and hate?  In Saber Marionette J, Lime gives in to the temptation of abandoning her maiden circuit in order to escape the pain of a traumatic event.

Not a spoiler.  You know this kind of things had to happen once, and it's unrelated to the traumatic event I mentioned.

Not a spoiler. You know this kind of things had to happen once, and it’s unrelated to the traumatic event I mentioned.

However, losing her heart does not increase Lime’s happiness.  She comes to realize that the joy of loving Otaru is worth all the pain she meets in life.  In a similar way, the Sacred Heart was tempted not to love us during the Agony in the Garden, especially in seeing how many souls would either not care about His Passions or prefer hell to the Source of Goodness and Love.  Despite the many thorns with which humanity has pierced the Sacred Heart of Jesus, He chose to accept all the pain of loving us, even the reprobate, for the joy of seeing us happy.  The hardships endured by Christ through His entire life which culminated in His Sacred Passion produced the most magnanimous Heart ever to beat in a man’s breast.  Christ is divine but also human, and His humanity required Him to grow through experience: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  We must never forget that God Himself knows suffering and the misery of the human condition even more personally and perfectly than ourselves.

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This picture of the Agony in the Garden hangs in my room. One of my favorite paintings

Those who wish to follow Christ must endure similar struggles knowing that perseverance in love and righteousness enlarge the heart.  The grace of God is so infinite that God can use loving imperfectly or outright sinning–through repentance–to building up the heart as long as we keep our gaze on Him.  So, let us celebrate today the love with which this Sacred Heart burns for us, which came down from heaven to remove our stony hearts and to give us hearts of flesh.  One day, we’ll see that our hearts are no longer small and stony, but large and ardent–pointing to that Heart which fashioned all our hearts.

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Medieval Otaku Takes a Holiday

Well, dear readers, as you can see from the title, I have decided to place this blog on hiatus until the 151st anniversary of the start of the Battle of Gettysburg.  (To write more succinctly, July 1, 2014)  My posts feel belabored of late.  This means I need to perfect my hurricane before I can serve some refreshing articles to you.  After all, my best articles require me to make connections between anime, literature, and religion.  This leads me to the conclusion that I must use my leisure to study these things more; but, I want to leave you all with a final ramble.

Medieval Feast

While reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ On Prayer and the Contemplative Life, I discovered the three etymologies he offered for religion.  He draws the first from Cicero, who gives relegere, “to read again,” as the basis for the word religion, since the religious man reads things pertaining to worship repeatedly.  The next two come from the hand of St. Augustine, who claims that religion either derives from religere, “to choose again,” orthe most famous derivation–religandum, “binding again.”  The religious man chooses again those things which he has lost by his negligence–prayer, charity, virtue, holiness, etc.–and binds himself once more to the divine.  The three words above recall that religion is about perseverance.  If someone could be virtuous and follow all the precepts of the Church without effort, would we call them religious?  Maybe, but the man who falls and continues to turn back to Christ and metanoiein–to have a change of heart–every day strikes me as more religious.  Even Our Lord and Lady struggled in the maintenance of their spotless characters.

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People mess up, but God is always ready for our repentance–yet another important religious concept beginning with the prefix re-.  Let us use the month of June, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, to once again study His life, choose again the virtue, wisdom, knowledge, and grace contained therein, and bind ourselves yet again to the Fire of Divine Love emanating from this Heart.  We have already celebrated the feasts of Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.  Let us now prepare ourselves to remember Corpus Christi (June 22) and the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24).  Then, this month will end with the feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 27), Immaculate Heart of Mary (June 28), and Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29).  Let us remember the two hearts which love us best and the Church through which the fruits of Christ’s Sacred Passion purify and make fervent the hearts of believers daily.

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Besides my wish to study more some literature and religion, I hope to do away with my need for watching anime with subtitles by the end of the month.  In my last experiment, I found Manga-san to Assistant-san to easy to understand, Nisemonogatari ranging from average to impossible, and, at the beginning of Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii episode 9, I just caught the word tabi, “journey,” and realized that it was too hard.  May that give you an idea of my present listening skills!  To the end of improving them, I’ll study my kanji learner’s dictionary and read Busou Renkin and Slayers.  (I read only the finest literature, you see. 🙂 )  If I want to add something hard, Kinoko Nasu’s Kara no Kyoukai or Natsume Soseki’s Within My Glass Doors will find their way on my reading list.

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You’ll still see me posting about literature and poetry on Aquila et Infans or American history and politics on Aquilon’s Eyrie.  Hopefully, these efforts will generate more interesting things to read by July 1st.  Should some kind individual claim that my articles are still interesting, I must also confess to wanting a break from this blog–even if just for about a fortnight.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus bless and keep you all!

Reflections on Mardock Scramble and The Problem of Evil

As I was watching Mardock Scramble, I thought to myself that Catholic ideas heavily influenced this show.  I wonder whether Tow Ubukata is Catholic himself or at least admires the Faith.  After all, he is known for writing Chevalier D’Eon, which contains many references to Catholic motifs, but it also takes on a cultish quality.  This leads me to believe that Ubukata admires features of the Faith without being part of it, but I don’t know for sure.

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But, the Christian motifs of Mardock Scramble alongside the terrible evils committed in that show remind me of how atheists think that the Problem of Evil suffices to prove that God does not exist.  Believers must be living on cloud nine, happily removed from evil and suffering!  If only the Christians of modern nations instead lived in the violent regions of Africa where where the evils of cannibalism, rape, torture, murder, mutilation, etc. were common, then we should be forced to conclude that God was absent from the universe!

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Yet, believers often experience more evils than most people, not less.  African Christians suffer the very evils I mentioned above.  Even if Christians choose a life of exclusion, as ascetics like St. Guthlac and St. Anthony of Egypt have done, then devil comes after them–at least, with greater frequency than those living in human society.  Then again, who can forget the example of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, who endured persecution from demons, unbelievers, skeptics, Church authorities, and even distrust from members of his own community!  Of course, we should also look to our greatest examples, Our Lord and Lady, whose perseverance through hardships and manifold evils earned them the titles of the Man of Sorrows and Our Lady of Sorrows respectively.  We cannot but know that the more one strives to be good and to attain the truest goods the more evil and darkness one experiences.  If one delights so perfectly in God so that all one’s works and loves must refer to God as their final end, then the very presence of God may be taken away from one–as famously happened to Mother Teresa.

You'd never suspect that such a happy person experienced much darkness.

You’d never suspect that such a happy person experienced much darkness.

The reason why God permits such pain often escapes us.  I can only suppose that God wishes His followers to be so free as to choose righteousness in the complete absence of reward.  At such times, the atheistic ridicule that Christians believe in a figment of their imaginations–an imaginary friend–particularly hurts.  To draw a comparison to Mardock Scramble, the person whom Rune Balot completely relies on is Oeufcoque (The name “Egg cock” is ridiculous in itself), a talking golden mouse which can transform into a variety of tools.  Her complete reliance upon Oeufcoque is reminiscent of the reliance that a Christian is supposed to place in God.  And I could imagine an atheist ridiculing a Christian’s faith in God as being similar to hoping in a talking golden mouse.  After all, do their arguments involving a flying spaghetti monster pose any less ridiculous a concept?

Oeufcocque

At some of the darkest points in these OVAs, I doubt that Balot feels Oeufcoque’s presence.  This is especially so in the thick of her fights and when she experiences the evil memories of the person who tried to kill her.  Yet, her love for Ouefcoque counts as a lifeline for her at such times.  Similarly, a Christian must count on Christ at the times when He seems absent and hell seems ever-present.  One must keep the memory of God alive through all kinds of troubles, remembering that when Jesus Christ felt the most darkness–His Passion and Death–he effected the salvation of the world.

Rune Balot I

In the same way, God also produces the most good in us and others when we act with God despite darkness.  So, the Christian’s solution to the Problem of Evil is by conquering evil through faith in the love of God and good works.  Keeping faith in difficult times and continuing to do the works Christ would have us do is more than enough proof of God’s victory over the devil and all evil.

Picking on Black Bullet Again

Ah, these days, I have a hard time finding ideas for articles.  And so, I’ve decided to pick on Black Bullet for some things which excited my interest or peeves in the last three episodeswhich I watched on Crunchyroll.  I already wrote an article accusing Black Bullet of feeling trite or corny.  There were a few examples of that in these three episodes, but I prefer to concentrate on some other things.  Ready for a rambling rant?

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First, what is it with the Japanese obsession with numbers?  Especially as related to either chances of success or power levels?  (We all know that a plan which has a 0.0001% chance of success cannot possibly fail, right?)  In episode seven, Miori tells Rentaro that he has a power level rating of 2,200%, while Enju has one of 8,600% and Tina 12,900%.  While this is supposed to create a certain amount of suspense before the fight, one cannot get out of one’s mind that Rentaro will fight a little girl less than half his size.  It is very hard to make the audience enthusiastic about such a bout or to make the blond haired, blue eyed Tina appear that threatening.  (She’s not Balalaika, you know?)  In their defense, the fight was exciting, but I could not help feeling sorry for Tina when she got struck or thinking that Rentaro was more like a 13,000% than a 2,200% for that matter.

Tina vs Rentaro

Then, the scene immediately after the fight frustrated me on several accounts.  You had that punk attempt to execute Tina, as two persons with less strength than is in Rentaro’s index finger bring him to heel.  Rentaro just defeated terminator girl and allows himself to get manhandled by some losers?  Come on!  Before Tina is riddled with bullets, Seitenshi appears and rescues Rentaro and Tina by the might of her auctoritas, promoting Rentaro to #300.  Upon which, Rentaro shoots off the punk’s finger.  The hero just off and mutilates someone and Seitenshi, who’s all about peace and unity, just looks on.  Not saying that the punk did not deserve it, but what kind of society is she trying to build where cruel and unusual punishment is condoned?

Seitenshi

Another thing which annoyed me is well known to people that understand Japanese: the Japanese language and ordinary Japanese discourse is mostly free of curses.  If a Japanese person wants to insult someone, he mostly resorts to rude variations of the word “you” (temee, kisama, and omae) or prefixs kuso or bakato a person’s name.  And there are various forms of name calling, mostly revolving around whether someone is ugly or stupid.  But stuff that hardly counts as foul language!  And so, why does Yuyuki’s partner drop the f-bomb according to the subtitles?  He certainly doesn’t say the word, though he is speaking rudely to Rentaro.*  Surely, there was a more creative way to show his contempt for Rentaro?  The only place I recall anime characters actually using the f-word–an English loan word, by the way–is Black Lagoon.

Revy with cutlass

And there was one place, I do think the subber ought to have placed a pejorative where he did not.  As Rentaro is destroying Tina’s targeting sensors, he says, “Mittsu-me.”  This is simply translated as “three.”  But, you know, Rentaro often strikes me as a bland fellow.  Most other heroes would say “San-biki,” using the counter for a small, insignificant animal rather than the neutral counter –tsu.  It would really have added much more color and emotion to Rentaro if the subber tried to included the sense of the suffix -me by translating mittsu-me as “three of the damn things.”

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But, Black Bullet is a great show for what me and my friends affectionately term “anime lines.”  To understand what we mean, consider the following:

“I am going to kill many people and destroy many things, then my sister will be happy, and I will be satisfied. – (Full Metal Panic)

“People that dare to disturb a duel shall be run over by a tank!”
-Ritsuko (from Those who Hunt Elves)

“Our guns are useless against moving targets”
-Captian Romius (Gundam Seed)

“The 120 students that depend on baked goods sold on site will starve. The results are all too clear. Riots and pillaging. Moral decay. Order within the school will surely plummet.” -Hayashimizu (Full Metal Panic Fumoffu)

Black Bullet Kisara

You get the idea.  An anime line is a line so bizarre or random that one would only hear it in anime.  Take this one delivered by Rentaro to Tina: “When I met Enju, her eyes were even colder and more vacant than ours.” xD  Rentaro!  Do you really have no better object of comparison than your present selves?  Does this mean you believe both Tina and you have been divested of human warmth and emotion?  Then, Sumire’s “translation” of Rentaro’s promise to help Tina secures her position as my favorite character in the anime: “You’re a vital part of my little girl harem plan, there’s no way you’re getting away.”  I think her translation is perfect.

Black Bullet Sumire

I hope that you enjoyed this little ramble!

*Edit: I must thank AngryJellyfish for pointing out that the subbers did not needlessly add the curses, but that both Katagiri siblings actually did drop the f-bomb.  So, they provided an accurate, unbowdlerized translation.  For me needing several passes before I finally heard it, I accuse the Japanese voice actors of bad pronunciation. xD

Some Cool Videos on Medieval Weapons and Swordfighting

For a large chunk of time today, I found myself spellbound watching YouTube videos on medieval sword fighting and weapons.  (A pleasant break from anime.)  The coolest one, which blew my mind, is the following video on Viking sword and shield fighting.  I knew that the Vikings used their shields actively in battle, but I had no idea that it was to this extent:

In particular, it solved the question I had about viking shields having a single handle without a strap to keep the forearm firmly attached to the shield, which would be more secure.  Also, I learned that the shield strike and the sword strike are given with the same movement.  There’s no such thing as blocking and then striking, which gives one a very different vision of sword and shield fighting.  If only Hollywood or anime would catch up with what we now know about medieval combat, there could be some really amazing fighting sequences.  (Or not, those techniques could end a fight very quickly.)

Then, the following video also offers some great insights into the use of shields and bucklers.  The only inaccuracy I caught in the film was the way they described the Viking “spread eagle.”  They said that it was conducted on defeated foes while still alive.  In reality, we have no recorded incidents of Vikings performing the spread eagle on living persons.  It involved hacking the ribs off the spine and pulling the lungs out the person’s back.  (Yeah, some Viking had too much free time on his hands when he thought that up.)  But, the video offers some great historical information and sparring:

While browsing through various videos, I stumbled upon a great channel called Skallagrim.  The name–the name of the Viking Egil’s father– should be sufficient to tell you that the guy’s awesome.  He loves posting videos on swords and other weapons.  In particular, he has great videos about bronze age weapons, a category more sword enthusiasts avoid.  They have advantages over iron and steel swords which I would not have thought of:

Well, I hope that you enjoy those videos, and I’ll be back to blogging about anime shortly.

Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Nuns in Geek Culture

This is an excellent article on nuns in pop culture which includes the story of St. Hildegard of Bingen.

Lady Geek Girl and Friends

nuns and gunsGeek culture really has a thing for nuns. Specifically, Christian (mostly Roman Catholic) women who have made vows to live in community with one another in order to pray and do good works while living a chaste, simple lifestyle. But geek culture doesn’t like nuns for the right reasons. Whenever nuns pop up in geek media, they almost always function as some kind of trope-filled plot device. They look more like the writer’s idea of what a nun is, and less like real nuns. If nuns were depicted accurately, they’d be a great source for feminist characters and plotlines.

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My Two Cents on Bodacious Space Pirates

At long last, I have sat down and finished Bodacious Space Pirates, aka Moretsu Pirates.  My original hope was to write an article on this show back in November, since it featured as one of the article ideas in Un Programme d’Articles pour Novembre.  At any rate, this amusing anime features a high school student who inherits her father’s pirate ship and Letter of Marque–written permission from the government to act as a raider.  Letters of Marque derive from a war which space colonies fought for independence a long time ago and may only be passed on to one’s direct descendants.  After some internal debate, Mariko takes on the role as the captain of the Bentenmaru.

Bodacious-Space-Pirates

Perhaps that very description of the show reveals why it failed to keep my attention for long periods of time, though I liked it well enough.  The show is incredibly lighthearted and fun, but lacks tension.  Not until the last two story arcs does the show produce conflicts which keep the audience at the edge of their seats.  The show is fun from beginning to end, but it should have focused either more on humor or increased the peril which threatened the characters.  Nevertheless, the show’s plots, whether the characters are rescuing someone from a loveless engagement, embroiled in political intrigue, foiling attempted assassinations, or defeating a predatory pirate, offer a pleasant level of amusement.

For Schnitzer, they basically turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into a robot.

Upon recollection, I can enumerate a few more problems in this ultimately fun anime.  The protagonist, Mariko, starts off as a frightfully bland character.  She’s very conciliatory towards others and initially suffers from confidence problems until pirating awakens the more daring side of her soul.  She does grow very much throughout the series and by the end of it stands as one of my favorite characters in the show–though, I never quite accustomed myself to her voice.  (Mikako Komatsu sounds like she’s attempting the Demosthenes trick of trying to speak with rocks in her mouth most of the time.)  Luci Christian in the English dub must do a better job, but I haven’t watched the dub.

Chiaki Raiding a Ship

This show featured a ton of characters, especially when one considers the yacht club and the various pirate crews.  However, the main characters were given enough screen time for us to see them develop.  On the other hand, many of the secondary characters–even certain member of the Bentenmaru crew–felt one dimensional.  My favorite character is the business-minded tsundere named Chiaki.  She’s the daughter of a pirate captain and becomes one of Mariko’s first friends among her pirate colleagues.  One might complain that the show lacked strong, dynamic male characters; but, seeing Mariko in a miniskirt and the bevy of female characters ought to convince anyone that this is not the sort of show to feature this kind of character.

Mariko in miniskirt

Three features of the show excited certain peeves of mine.  First, Mariko addresses her mother as “Ririka-san.”  It never fails to bug me to hear children address their birth parents by name: it suggests that the child was adopted or does not enjoy intimacy with its parents.  (Though, their interaction makes it apparent that Ririka and Mariko are close to each other–but distant to the father of the family.)  As a matter of fact, I should prefer hearing children address their parents as sir, ma’am, oto-sama, okaa-sama, or–should someone write a story about ancient Roman fathers and sons–domine, which literally means “lord.”  Though very formal, these terms point to the relationship between the child and the parent, which name + san–especially this honorific which enjoys such general use–does not.  There was also a yuri relationship; yet, it was not too off-putting, and the opening and closing songs for this show are utterly terrible.

Chiaki singing my favorite song in the show.

Chiaki singing my favorite song in the show.

So, would I recommend Bodacious Space Pirates?  Sure!  To anyone looking for a lighthearted and exciting show.  The finale offers a great interstellar battle and the characters are universally likable.