The Cuckoo Bird Christ or How the Toothbrush Scene’s Not the Worst Part of Nisemonogatari

Nisemonogatari has been considered infamous for its toothbrush scene, but a worse scene has been neglected by the blogosphere.  (And if another article exists on this topic, please tell me about it.)  As much as I enjoyed the first seven episodes of Nisemonogatari, the last four ranged from atrocious to uninspiring.  Having no desire to watch it again, I could not but give it two and a half stars.
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This lackluster performance was capped by some infuriating insinuations in the prologue of episode eleven.  Let me remind you of some of the details of the description of the Dying Bird, which is apparently what Tsukihi Araragi–the main character’s sister–is.  The Dying Bird has been incorrectly called the Phoenix.  Instead, it is the fraudulent Cuckoo, who implants its brood into the nests of others.  In the context of this show, it’s a nisemono–fake–and an immortal one at that.  Also, the mother is the victim of this event.

In the midst of this narration, we see a picture of the Madonna and Child burning to ashes.  And do not forget that the Phoenix has been traditionally a symbol of Christ, which Nisemonogatari downgrades to a cuckoo.
Jesus et Maria

The suggestion is not subtle: St. Mary is the unfortunate victim of the Incarnation, and Jesus Christ a fake immortal.  Tying in the description of the Dying Bird with the picture of the Madonna and Child indicates that Nisemonogatari* wishes to smear the nobility of the Blessed Virgin Mary and paint our Lord and Savior in dark colors as it denies His divinity.  Nisemonogatari, with its constant questioning of traditional values, is clearly a Post-Modern work.  For Post-Moderns, denying the hand of Providence in all births makes them incapable of perceiving the divine origin of the Incarnation.  Denying free will makes them unable to perceive heroes in the mass of victims they consider humanity to be.

Fra_Angelico_Annunciation
Christianity has much more adventure and nobility than the Post-Modern credits it.  Through the archangel Gabriel, God approaches Mary with His plan of salvation and Mary agrees: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”   Once, I heard a professor claim that God carried out His plan without the will of any human being–including the Blessed Virgin.  God is more chivalrous and great-souled than that!  He hangs the whole plan of His salvation on Mary’s lips, and the Immaculate Virgin speaks her “Fiat” to undo the disobedience of Eve.  Eve’s disobedience slammed the gates of heaven to all humanity, while St. Mary’s obedience opened the gates of God’s plan of salvation.  Mary is not a victim, but a hero deserving a special reverence which the Church refers to as hyperdulia in Greek.
Nor is Our Lord a foreign body in the body of the Blessed Virgin.  He took His Flesh and Blood from the Immaculate Virgin.  But, St. Mary is not only the Mother of Christ’s body, but the Mother of God or Theotokos, as affirmed in the Third Ecumenical Council.  Mothers do not only give birth to bodies, but to persons unless the baby is stillborn.  Thus, Jesus Christ is the true Only Begotten Son of God and the true Son of Mary.
Nisemonogatari assassin
Nisemonogatari wished to scoff at a central tenet of Christianity, and they fail bitterly because they cannot see the nobility of God and His Gospel.  Tsukihi’s mother is not the Immaculate Mary, and Tsukihi herself no Jesus Christ.  It was nothing except poor taste and perhaps a hostility toward Christianity which prompted them to make this suggestion.  Or is my reaction to this juxtaposition of an immortal cuckoo and Our Lord too extreme?
*Kaze has pointed out that I am writing inaccurately here.  By “Nisemonogatari wishes to smear the nobility of the Blessed Virgin Mary etc.”, I meant the person or persons who devised the scene in question.  Kaze informs me that the original writer of the novel Nisemonogatari does not connect the Blessed Virgin Mary and Our Lord to the tale of the Dying Bird.  Hence, all blame for the attempt to denigrate the persons of Our Lord and Lady must lie on the hands of SHAFT.  Nisio Isin, the original author, cannot be faulted for it.

Pruning the Watch List

You know, my dear readers, the past two seasons, precisely because they have contained a surfeit of good shows, have convinced me that I’m not the sort of person who can benefit by watching ten or more currently airing shows at once.  I’m no Angry Jellyfish.  My inspiration for writing about anime peters out as it becomes divided over so many shows.  Not only that, by my other interests seem to suffer.  (Admittedly, it’s likely not anime’s fault, but it can be the scapegoat here.)  And so, I have found myself tempted again and again to quit blogging for a while or to abandon watching current series.  Of course, if I quit watching currently airing seasons entirely, then who would read my articles?  Moreover, how could I properly enjoy other blogs?

Don't worry Tokyo ESP.  When the season's done, I'll come right back to you!

Don’t worry Tokyo ESP. When the season’s done, I’ll come right back to you!

The solution lies in cutting back on the number of currently airing shows I’m watching.  And so, I have decided to stall all of them save for the following four–four seemed a good number:

  1. Akame ga Kiru
  2. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
  3. Rail Wars!
  4. Sabagebu!
Aldnoah Zero, another show I'm dropping so that I can properly savor it.

Aldnoah Zero, another show I’m saving for when I can properly savor it.

That the last three do not contain serious subject matter at all (unless you include Sabagebu’s hunting and airsoft regulations, anyway) works to their benefit.  More serious shows often have more complex plotlines, hence they deserve more focus than viewing them on a weekly basis can provide.  This might be less of an issue if I kept an anime commonplace book, where I included quotes, episode commentaries, and glosses.  My current method is to wait for inspiration to hit while watching the show and then to write enough drafts until I am satisfied with the final product.  But, an anime commonplace book does sound like a good idea, doesn’t it?  Does anyone else have such a book or take notes after watching episodes?

Hanyamata girls

Hanayamata: proof that even I can be snared into a show featuring cute girls doing cute things.

Akame ga Kiru still remains on the list for a different reason.  Having read fifty-two chapters of the manga, latent topics for articles have been rolling around in my head.  (Here’s my favorite one of the articles I’ve written concerning that show.)  Also, I would not exactly call Akame ga Kiru a show brimming with complexity; though, various circumstances cast doubt on the efficacy or righteousness of Night Raid’s actions, and Esdese herself is one of the most complex and interesting characters I’ve seen in a long time.  (On the other hand, some people consider her stupid and uninteresting, but I want nothing to do with those Philistines.)  As a matter of fact, I have an article brewing on the past episode’s fights, which annoyed me greatly.

ARGEVOLLEN's not as bad as people say it is...and I'll prove it later, I swear!

ARGEVOLLEN’s not as bad as people say it is…and I’ll prove it later, I swear!

Of course, this shall not prevent me from reading articles on other shows, even if they contain spoilers.  Shocking twists and turns are not where my interest lies in a story.  I’m happy to go along with the story’s steady revelation, to enjoy the hero’s journey, and to wait for interesting themes to drop from the author’s genius.  The nice thing about this attitude is that stories can hold an almost endless interest for one as the reader constantly uncovers new themes.  I apply this even to anime, but perhaps I hold the medium in too high of an esteem?

Zankyou no Terror is perhaps the only show which risks being stalled permanently.

Zankyou no Terror is perhaps the only show which risks being stalled permanently.

Manga Reviews for August

Rather than give a lengthy introduction, permit me to launch into these manga reviews/recommendations which I had promised back in  June without further ado:

coppelion cover

1) Coppelion by Tomonori Inoue

I don’t think I’ve yet reviewed this manga, the first story arc of which is now animated.  For those of you unfamiliar with Coppelion, there has been a nuclear disaster in Tokyo.  The radiation is so bad that the Japanese government has stopped sending in rescue teams to help anyone who may have survived.  But as of the start of the manga, they have developed genetically engineered clones called Coppelions who are immune to radiation for this purpose.  Our heroes are three of these Coppelions, Ibara, Aoi, and Taeko.  In Tokyo, they discover that not everyone wishes to be rescued and that some of their sisters start to run amok.

Kanon the Gunfighter

As fun as the first story arc of the manga was, the second one is even more exciting.  Most of you are not familiar with Akihiro Ito’s Geobreeders, but both mangaka have their love of action sequences and great fights in common–as well as a similar lighthearted feel.  The action only gets more wild in the second half.  Plus, there is much more political intrigue.

Want to learn the significance of this bunny?  You'll have to read the manga.

Want to learn the significance of this bunny? You’ll have to read the manga.

So, I’d like to recommend this manga to fans of the anime and those that love action-packed stories.

Don't do it. man!

Don’t do it. man!

2) Ore ga Doutei Sutetara Shinu Ken ni Tsuite by Mario Morita

This is a rather odd story for me to pick up, as may be seen from the title: “About How I Die if I Lose My Virginity.”  But, this story about time travel, escaping death, and sexual morality had me hooked for its twenty-two chapters.  It does have a fascinating concept: a playboy realizes too late the harm he causes by his Don Juan lifestyle until his friend murders him.  However, he’s given a second chance to go down to the past in order to prevent being killed in the present.  He discovers the easiest way to prevent his death is by remaining chaste, which leads to both hilarity and deep observations on the pitfalls of promiscuity.  The ecchi and sex have a point in the context of this story, but my dear readers may wish to avoid it all the same.

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I’d especially recommend the manga to those who hated the ending of School Days.

R Forgotten King

3) Rolan the Forgotten King by Yoshino Takumi

This fantasy is dark–not as dark as Akame ga Kiru, but very dark all the same.  The story concerns a mercenary in dark clothing who saves a damsel threatened with marriage to a heartless tyrant.  (I’m a romantic, if you haven’t been able to peg me as one yet.)  This leads to a series of adventures where our mercenary and bodyguard hero, Rolan, seeks the help of a Mazoku* in making his and Etoile’s escape.  After he makes the Mazoku’s acquaintance, it is discovered that he’s the reincarnation of their king.  This leads to Etoile and Rolan’s return with several great battles and combat.  Some of the characters and situations are fanservicey, but the manga does not go overboard.

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Perfect for the lover of dark fantasy or chivalric tales.

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4) Toraneko Folklore by Azuma Mayumi

This stands as a apparition/demon-slaying manga; but, it has a good sense of humor and a punkish feel.  The protagonist, Nogi Touto, in particular is mistaken for a punk; though, he is a nice guy of the strong, silent type.  While transferring to a new school, a friend gives him a charm and he befriends two loners.  One of whom is interested in the supernatural.  This friend leads Touto into his first confrontation with an apparition, where he discovers that his charm can transform into a powerful goblin woman.  (The translators call her a goblin, and I have no better name for the therianthropic creature she is.)  The fights in this manga often rely as much on the characters’ smarts as their strength.

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This manga on several levels is quite average.  If, like me, you enjoy monster-slaying stories with a sense of humor, you’ll like this one.

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* Mazoku is translated as demons; but Mazoku are not Akuma, which is the Japanese term for what Westerners calls demons or devils.  Mazoku may be malevolent, but they might also be halfway decent like Xellos in Slayers or rather decent like certain of Maoyu‘s characters.  I also prefer keeping Youkai as Youkai.  It’s so hard to find the Western equivalents for the creatures of Japanese folklore!

Is celibacy the new ex-gay? or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the clickbait

Josh W has a perspective on celibacy which people don’t often hear about. Many gays feel like the Catholic Church is against them because it does not recognize homosexual relationships as legitimate, but Josh W’s example proves that a homosexual can live a life faithful to God. This article reminds one of St. Paul’s letters in that it is better to be single because the single man can be more devoted to God than a married individual.

Res Studiorum et Ludorum

The Catholic Church’s explicit teachings on homosexuality are actually rather slim – meriting only three paragraphs in the Catechism. (2357-2359) And, naturally, those paragraphs have been picked apart to death by just about everyone who has an interest in this stuff and a blog.

But trying to apply them to my own life has been something of a complicated affair. When I first made the decision to live a chaste life – understanding that that decision meant in my case that I would have to be celibate, I drifted towards an approach which was problematic to say the least: if I was going to be celibate, I would just ignore my desires and sexuality. Sweep them under the rug entirely. I would live as if I was literally a eunuch.

While this sort of white-knuckle approach did accomplish in the short term the goal of continence, there was a problem…

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Sabagebu: An Introduction to Gun Culture

Just when you start to think that anime shall produce no new kinds of stories, something like Sabagebu! jumps onto the screen.  The show is essentially a zany comedy, but episode 7–if this fact has not struck the viewer beforehand–makes it manifest that this show is meant to introduce Japanese teenagers to the gun culture.  They have referenced gun laws throughout the show, especially in regard to airsoft guns; but in episode seven, they explained how to obtain a hunting license in remarkable detail–even giving the web address of the Japanese Hunting Association!  Rare does an anime with such a conservative worldview appear.

Group of Hunters

In addition, the show argues that hunters are desperately needed.  Wildlife causes millions of yen in damage to farms, which may increase due to animals losing all fear of man.  Also, Japan has an aging population of only 100,000 hunters.  I will say, of all the shooting sports, hunting is the most difficult and expensive to enter.  People’s ignorance of what hunting involves gives them a feeling of trepidation: how many of us grew up in a household where our father guided us through the ins and outs of hunting?  But after watching this episode, I felt my own desire to try my hand at hunting rekindle.

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Episode seven of Sabagebu! brings up something people often overlook: modern man’s withdrawal from the sport of hunting has effected nature sometimes for the worse.  For example, wild boars run rampant in parts of the South and cause much property and crop damage just like one saw in Sabagebu!  Also, Sarah Palin is famous for permitting aerial wolf hunts because hunters noticed that it was becoming more difficult to bag moose.  (Though this article reveals that bears might have been more to blame than wolves.)  Basically, hunting–as long as animals are not overhunted–has beneficial effects for ecosystems and people whose living is tied to the land.

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And so, I applaud Sabagebu!’s efforts to introduce people to the joys of firearms.  I have not watched a show which felt this conservative since Blassreiter, and that was a religious conservatism.

Hamatora’s Anti-Christ

As well as being a very enjoyable story, Hamatora asked a few interesting questions.  In particular, the way Moral framed his obsession with strength intrigued me because he used similar arguments to Dostoyevski’s Raskolnikov.  In both Raskolnikov and Moral’s understanding, only the weak are bound by morality.  The strong are not bound by moral laws–what C. S. Lewis or Lao Tzu would call the Tao.  Moral finds the order of the universe–that there exist strong and weak–inherently unjust, especially with some people in Hamatora being able to advance farther than their fellow men through having special powers.  His solution revolves around eliminating the weak through giving all people special powers.  Moral believes himself to be the Messiah, except that his mission and methods turn him into a mere anti-christ–and St. John the Evangelist tells us that many of them exist.

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Yet, one does wonder whether a central tenet of Moral’s ideology is correct even though his methods are heinous: that weakness must be eliminated.  After all, human beings do spent a great deal of time eliminating their weaknesses: exercising, studying, practicing skills, and practicing willpower.  People tend to hate weakness both in themselves and others.  A villain in Claymore even went so far as to say “Impotence is a sin.”  But if yet another villain agrees that weakness is so horrible, it implies that despising weakness and the weak is a quality of villains.

Demand Power

Moral’s problem comes in making strength and the elimination of weakness into an ultimate value.  Even if he attempted to do this without resorting to villainy, he would still be in the wrong.  A society with strength as its basis lacks charity.  Due to regarding usefulness and strength as the most important qualities, Spartans exposed sickly or malformed infants, and the ancient Indians killed their sick.  The fact of the matter is that God established certain strengths and weaknesses in everybody.  As God told St. Catherine of Siena, this forces us to practice mutual charity.  The same lesson can be gleaned from the Scriptures in St. Paul’s passages on each being given diverging spiritual gifts and the Church as a body (1 Corinthians 12).  The Middle ages in particular has a unique understanding of each member of society forming an integral part of the whole.

An Angry Three

The very strong physically are often weak mentally and vice versa.  This often comes of people discerning their gifts and pursuing them in despite of other parts of their humanity, but it reminds one that we need others.  Moral’s system would destroy the links between people and all need for chivalry or charity.  It is in this way that Moral acts as the anti-christ: claiming that certain people are not needed and thus subverting the order established by God.  One must ever be suspicious of people who wish to change the natural or even traditional order of society!

Nice is speaking for all of us here.

Nice is speaking for all of us here.

It is even the case that we must tolerate the moral foibles of our fellow men.  How would we win the crown of patience if we did not have to deal with quick-tempered Irene, the stubborn Brad, the avaricious Jean, the arrogant Claude, the slothful Clarissa, or the air-headed Desmond?  (These are not real people, by the way!)  We stand culpable for moral faults, but we must bear with them in ourselves and others until God sees fit to change them–knowing that we ourselves have placed obstacles to uprooting these vices in God’s way.  Love stands as the essential Christian virtue, and love is made like unto God when we not only love saintly, strong, beautiful, and smart people but also weak, poor, sinful, stupid, and ugly people.  Our goal is none other than to fulfill the New Commandment: “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” (John 13:34).  A system which would eliminate the difficult to love is anti-christ.  For, God made us all and for all to love one another.

Taking a bite

Cool Sword Channels on YouTube

As you know from my handle and previous posts–especially this one, I’m fascinated by medieval swordplay.  I’ve discovered several great channels on YouTube by enthusiasts of Historical European Martial Arts and figured that I should share the best of them here.  Some of my dear readers are no doubt curious what the difference is between real Medieval swordplay and what Hollywood portrays.  Medieval swordsmanship had been been lost until people in the latter half of the twentieth century began to try to reconstruct medieval swordsmanship from old manuals and the ergonomics of the weapons and armor.  There is a particular degree of ignorance in the study of the long sword and other weapons–as Skallagrim admits here; but one of the virtues of this community of enthusiasts is that they correct each others’ misconceptions.  You may watch this video where Skallagrim points out some errors in a prior video.  The other nice thing about that video is that he links to other channels which he considers valuable resources.

Naturally, I place Skallagrim at the top of the list.  He easily runs one of the most entertaining channels.  Though he calls himself a beginner, his videos make it obvious that he’s studied swordsmanship for a long time.  I disagree with him on religious issues–as you saw here; but his videos on swords, fencing, guns, gun rights, and various rambles make for informative viewing.  Many medieval sword sparring videos on YouTube make it seem like the opponents are trying to ding each other with the weapon rather than cut each other down.  Skallagrim’s videos show good technique based on the historical manuals and practice, which reveals that Europeans of the Middle Ages did more than just bang at each other with their weapons.

Next, I would place Matt Easton on the channel scholagladitoria.  He’s practically an encyclopedia on warfare and swordplay from medieval times to the 19th century.  His memory for original source material on his topics is rather amazing.  Also his demonstrations of sword techniques are quite good.  I found myself rather impressed by his skill with the broadsword.

About as entertaining as Skallagrim is Lindybeige.  His specialty seems to run from ancient to medieval weapons (good man 🙂 ); yet, as a history buff, he’s fluent in most areas of European history through the 19th century as far as I can tell.  As with Skallagrim, I disagree with him on religious and philosophical topics.  (He’s a determinist, for example; but, freely admits that the knowledge that he does not have free will does nothing to change the way he interacts with society.)  Other than that, his videos are very entertaining and informative.  His rants can be particularly fun and cover every topic under the sun.

Lastly, I just discovered ThegnThrand, who’s a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This rather long video reveals that his knowledge of the history and use of medieval and ancient weapons is astounding.  Also astounding are the demonstrations with sharp weapons involving a partner.  They do seem to have great awareness in regard to what their doing, but I myself would not trust anyone less than a master, e.g. Nidar Singh, to demonstrate a technique with a sharp blade on me.

There you have it.  I hope that you enjoy some of these videos on medieval swordplay.  I’ll get back to writing about anime pretty soon.

 

 

 

 

Nisemonogatari and Being a Phony

fake justice

I mentioned in my post before I traveled across half the country that I was watching Nisemonogatari, which might be translated as “Tale of the Fakes” or “Tale of the Phonies.”  Watching through episode seven made me ponder just what a phony was in Nisemonogatari’s book.  The ideas surrounding the issue reminded me of this great passage from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  Razumihin begins berating Raskolnikov by saying:

“Well, go to hell then,” he said gently and thoughtfully. “Stay,” he roared, as Raskolnikov was about to move. “Listen to me. Let me tell you, that you are all a set of babbling, posing idiots! If you’ve any little trouble you brood over it like a hen over an egg. And you are plagiarists even in that! There isn’t a sign of independent life in you! You are made of spermaceti ointment and you’ve lymph in your veins instead of blood. I don’t believe in anyone of you! In any circumstances the first thing for all of you is to be unlike a human being!…And if you weren’t a fool, a common fool, a perfect fool, if you were an original instead of a translation…”

Only Dostoyevsky could pose this problem so well: “If only you were an original instead of a translation…”  The reason Raskolnikov stopped being human is because he murdered an old woman for money and a sense of power.  His crime destroys his humanity.

Kaiki

One character in Nisemonogatari who fits the same description is Kaiki the con artist.  Sin detracts from our humanity and thus from our originality.  Of course, “errare est humanum,” but sins are sins because they make us less than who we were meant to be.  Our Lord came to deliver us from sin, and we slowly walk, slip, fall, and stand back up again on the way of perfection until we see the image and likeness of God made perfect in us in heaven.  In our perfection according to God’s image and likeness lies our originality.

kaiki wallet

But, I do think Nisemonogatari distinguishes between two kinds of fakes: the completely fake and the almost original.  Kaiki, because of his preference for money over the service of God and his fellow man, is a complete phony.  He introduces himself as Kaiki with the kai spelled as the clam/kai in “a mound of clams” and the ki as the ki/tree in “a dead tree.”  This brings to my mind Our Lord’s cursing of the fig tree.  The fig tree did not produce fruit when our Lord needed it, so it was cursed with barrenness.  Kaiki imitates the clam in its refusal to offer itself: Kaiki refuses to offer his talents for the good of his fellow man.  Also, like a dead tree, he bears no fruit.  A perfect name for a villain!

karen-3

Yet, a different sort of fake is symbolized by Karen Araragi.  She is almost original in that we see her using her talents for the good of others.  Where she lacks originality, as her brother aptly notes, is that she has appropriated other people’s desires and does not know what she really wants.  She merely plays.  But, her play reveals that her talents are genuine, which indicates that her true calling is not far from her play.  One day, she shall discover the true purpose her martial talents and give up her play as a seigi no mikata–ally of justice.

Senjougahara

And the majority of humanity undergoes the same struggle as Karen in finding their true purpose.  People try to advise us to take one path or another, but we can ever only truly find our path through looking at our own hearts and praying to the God who made us all originals.

Questions of Empathy and Emotional Unavailability in Aldnoah.Zero

This is a great post on two stoic characters. In particular, it states how their stoicism may be simply natural to them rather than the result of some traumatic event. And, as one of the persons who likes Inaho, I enjoyed this discussion of his character.

Perpetual Morning

[HorribleSubs] Aldnoah Zero - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.57_[2014.08.08_15.30.14]

[Warning: Spoilers for Aldnoah.Zero and Zetsuen no Tempest]

I felt a lot of things when my first pet rabbit of three was euthanized. Loss and loneliness were some of the emotions I felt when the vet returned the body, wrapped neatly in a towel. I remember how my lungs contracted with the unease I felt as we buried him in our backyard. Of these feelings, however, anguish is the one I felt the most. Not necessarily at my dear pet rabbit, however, but moreso at how my mother would cry endlessly into the night, for weeks. I see people do this in movies and TV shows so often, people laying out their emotions when it mattered to them most, and for good reason. Witnessing death is painful. Witnessing other people in pain is painful, as well, and I had no choice during that time to feel that pain alongside my…

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Temptation

TheWannabeSaint.com

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“Brother Timothy questioned Abba Poemen saying, ‘If I see a brother whom I have heard is a sinner, I do not want to take him into my cell, but when I see a good brother I am happy to be with him.’

The old man said, ‘If you do a little good to the good brother, do twice as much for the other. For he is sick.’

Now, another brother who was being tempted, came to Timothy and he drove the brother away for fear of becoming sinful. After he had driven him away, however, the brother’s temptation fell upon Timothy to the point where he was in danger.

Timothy fell down before God and said, ‘I have sinned. Forgive me.’  Then a voice came and said to him, ‘Timothy, the only reason I have done this to you is because you despised your brother…

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Violence in Anime and Society

Sadly, a wrench was thrown into our vacation plans to visit Montreal, but my brother’s move to Indiana and our time spent at both Richmond and the Cedar Point Amusement Park were all quite successful.  In addition, I was able to see one of my best friends, thompdjames of The Dusty Thanes, for a few hours in Indiana.  The joy of meeting him after a little over three years is worth a thousand Montreals.

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But, Richmond produced my most interesting meeting of the trip.  This particular old gentleman was most voluble touching his life spent in the South.  One story he told concerning one near and dear to him, however, shocked and infuriated me.  Six abandoned and wicked men committed an unspeakable crime against a man and his fiancee–let it suffice to say that this crime would not be out of place in the pages of Akame ga Kiru.  One might read of such a crime in the papers, but one never expects to meet someone of such close propinquity to it.

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For the most part, crimes of shocking villainy seem far removed from us.  Even more unreal is the experience that some people would find inflicting traumatic mental and physical pain on others great fun.  Akame ga Kiru has many people just like that; but, there’s no way we would actually meet such villains as those in our lives, right?  We live in states far from the southern border, out of the traditionally violent South, and separate from crime-ridden major cities.  There’s no chance of extreme violence happening to us in civilized societies!

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Yet, why not?  What prevents us from becoming victims besides the Providence of God?  And we know that evil things happen to people despite their decency, virtue, and innocence.  The case is, as Akame ga Kiru shows, that people are targeted by the predatory elements of society merely because their intended victims seem weak.  Episode one featured a family who targeted hapless people from the countryside.  In the world of Akame ga Kiru just being weak ensures that one will meet a gruesome end.

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In modern society, there similarly stands no guarantee of us escaping a confrontation with violent men during our lifetime.  People take steps to eliminate or compensate for their weaknesses.  In forty of the U. S. states, people often carry firearms concealed or openly, practice using them, and take classes on the legal ramifications of self-defense with a firearm.  Where firearms are not permitted either to be owned or carried about the person, people take up the study of martial arts.  (Great Britain was the best example to come to mind.)  Stringent gun laws give the citizens of most major cities no other option, unless they’re the sort to rely solely on the police for protection.  Yet, a famous court case did rule that the police have no responsibility to protect individual citizens–just to maintain public order.  Translation: If they can help you, they will.  But, if they can’t and you get murdered, robbed, etc., the police are not liable.  Do you really want to count on the police now?

Nothing inspires confidence like a policewoman who's no more than a waif.

Nothing inspires confidence like a policewoman who’s no more than a waif.

It is a shame, however, that stringent anti-gun policies, inadequate anti-crime policies, and other factors make for dangerous inner city environments.  That city dwellers cannot use firearms as a means of self-defense and need to take up martial arts reminds one of feudal Japan or medieval Europe, where the constant threat of violence in their societies also required them to study the art of combat.  One cannot help but wonder that the people who would benefit most from concealed carry are usually denied it!

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To conclude, the threat of violence posed by nefarious individuals in society is not as remote as one might think.  This practically makes learning how to defend oneself a duty, despite a loss of leisure.  Of course, one can also take no precaution and live in the hope of never being targeted.  Crime in the U.S. is on a steady decline after all; but, the best policy is always to be prepared.

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I hope that you enjoyed this ramble!

Off on Pilgrimage

My first day of vacation starts tomorrow.  I put pilgrimage in the title because Montreal includes part of this vacation, and I cannot imagine that we shall visit that fascinating city without stopping by St. Joseph’s Oratory.  This oratory was made famous by the miracles produced there and its association with St. Andre Bessette, who might have called himself St. Joseph’s doorkeeper.  He was famous for thousands of miraculous cures, which he attributed to the intercession of St. Joseph.

Since it is late, and I do not want to spend too much time writing (I wake at 3 AM on the morrow–four hours from now!), I decided to briefly list some highlights of my anime hobby and spiritual life.  I hope you find some of them interesting.

  • Watched Girls und Panzer: This is the Real Anzio Battle.  I greatly enjoyed it.  It felt like a longer TV episode but still had a great tank battle.  The following is my favorite quote from the OVA:
Only in a perfect world!

Only in a perfect world!

  • Akame ga Kiru stands as a faithful adaptation of the manga.  Things will really pick up once Esdese appears.  (I prefer the fan naming system and will stubbornly stick to that until the official naming system becomes more universal.)  The great thing about Akame ga Kiru is that it essentially turns shonen on its head: we have the same kinds of happy-go-lucky and quirky characters, but they’re thrown into a really corrupt, dark, and bloody world.  This is why so many people like myself enjoy the show.
  • The first three episodes of Aldnoah.Zero really took the cake in terms of the setting and action.  I hope that the quality of the characters catches up soon.
  • I’m somehow still finding the motivation to fit in an episode of El Cazador de la Bruja here and there.  It’s a rather mediocre show, but the characters are enjoyable enough that I find myself continually drawn back to it.  It will probably take me as much time as I took for Bodacious Space Pirates for me to complete.
  • Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is one of the best comedies this season.  The oddball characters are splendidly amusing to watch, and I like the fact that the hero is a shoujo manga artist, which makes many of the episodes’ plots revolve around him finding material for his comics.

No law Breaking

  • Gintama is one of those shows which I can put down for a while and then pick up again.  The quest to capture the aliens who were running amok turning people’s bodies and body parts into screwdrivers didn’t grab me, but the arch where Shinpachi gains a pen pal was more hilarious.  This show goes everywhere from toilet humor to maudlin to boring to hilarious to epic.  One just needs to wait for the best stories.
  • Many bloggers loved the first season of Hamatora, and I’m enjoying the show thus far.  Episode four, where the desire to own a gun was portrayed as rooted to evil desires, irked me to no end.  Cannot people get that some people love tools?  Especially men?  Guns are tools and a lot of fun to shoot.  People enjoy shooting at paper targets, cans, bottles, abandoned houses, cardboard boxes, etc.  Wishing to have a gun by itself in no way means a person is inclined to violence.  Just watch this video if you don’t believe me.
  • For some reason, I’m really enjoying Hanamayata.  I suppose my identification with Hana (she’s also from NJ) goes a long way, but somehow I find this slice of life comedy still a lot of fun.  I have a an article in the works for it.
  • Did you know that Mushibugyo has an anime adaptation?  I didn’t, and this decently animated adaptation is a lot of fun to watch.  Perfect for a lover of samurai shows.

Jinbee strikes

  • I’ve kind of stalled Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water.  At this point, Nadia, Jean, and Marie have met back up with Senora Grandis and company, which means the action should improve.  Man, the Island arc was exhausting!
  • I don’t exactly know how, but a friend of mine finagled me into watching Nisemonogatari.  I couldn’t even finish episode one of Nisemonogatari the first time around, despite being a fan of Bakemonogatari.  But, I find myself at episode four and wanting to know more.  (By the way, Nisemonogatari essentially decided to put Holo in its story via Shinobu.)
  • Many bloggers like despising Rail Wars!  But, I’m enjoying how the characters deal with the obstacles each episode.  It reminds me a lot of You’re Under Arrest, and even if it doesn’t hold a candle to season one of You’re Under Arrest, it’s certainly better than season two thus far.
Aoi losing her gun has to count as one of the saddest moments in the show thus far.

Aoi losing her gun has to count as one of the saddest moments in the show thus far.

  • Sabagebu! stands as one of my favorite shows this season.  This is pure comedy gold.  The action can get rather nuts; but if you liked Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu, Azumanga Daioh, Excel Saga, or Pani Poni Dash, I can practically guarantee you’ll love this show.
  • Concerning ARGEVOLLEN, the show is nothing special, but I’m enjoying it, and there always exists the chance that it will get better.  Basically, if I drop anything this season, it will be this show.
  • Tokyo ESP‘s not bad.  It’s doing everything well so far, and it feels a little similar to Samurai Flamenco‘s first half so far in that we have ordinary people who suddenly conceive that they have a duty to repress the darker elements of society.  However, it still has a long way to go in order to surpass Ga-Rei Zero, in which series’ world Tokyo ESP exists.  And I love how Leonidas has a cameo role. xD

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  • Somehow, I haven’t been able to get into Zankyou no Terror.  I loved how they referenced the Sphinx and the fact that there are two riddles according to mythology.  (Actually, I’m pretty sure “What walks on two legs, then four, then three?” was an invention of later writers.  Classical authors loved to mess around with mythology and add their own improvements on the canonical version.)  Yet, somehow, the story doesn’t grab me.  Like Sky Crawlers, it’s probably too intellectual for my tastes.

That sums it up for my anime watching.  I still owe you guys some manga reviews, so expect that around St. Edith Stein’s feastday (Aug. 9th).  Speaking of saints, I find St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea a constant source of inspiration.  There are almost four hundred pages of commentary on Matthew before I can move to the Gospel of Mark, but St. Thomas Aquinas’ ability to draw so many relevant Church Fathers on each passage of Scripture is nothing short of amazing.  Also, I’m reading George MacDonald’s The Seaside Parish.  George MacDonald is a genius of the spiritual life and every page contains something quotable.  Why don’t people read him anymore!!?  I’ll be right alongside C. S. Lewis in thanking George MacDonald for his works when I get to paradise.

Until August 9th, you’ll be seeing no more articles unless I am so lucky as to find a wi-fi hotspot.  But, I should be able to respond to commentary.

JOIN IN ADORATION ON AUGUST 1st, DAY OF PRAYER, ADORATION AND SOLIDARITY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ, SYRIA & MIDDLE EAST

I just found out that the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter has called for today to be a day of prayer, adoration, and solidarity for persecuted Christians in Iraq. This is a very good cause. Be sure to remember our fellow Christians who are being killed and forced out of their homes for the sake of the Faith.

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URGENT – WE BEG ALL CATHOLICS TO JOIN IN ADORATION ON AUGUST 1st, DAY OF PRAYER, ADORATION AND SOLIDARITY FOR PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ, SYRIA & MIDDLE EAST

Friday, August 1, 2014
This was the day chosen by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) for a worldwide day of Public Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in supplication for our persecuted brethren in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East:
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter asks all of its apostolates around the world to dedicate Friday, August 1 to a day of prayer and penance for the Christians who are suffering terrible persecution in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
August 1 is the First Friday of the month and the Feast of St. Peter in Chains, which is celebrated as a Third Class Feast in FSSP houses and apostolates. It is the…

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