Least Interesting Anime of 2014:

Here’s a list which is sure to needle everyone in some way. For me, that happened in the section about Akame ga Kiru. An amusing article to read all the same!

illogicalzen

Don_runs

Now that my favourite anime of 2014 are out of the way, its time for a post on the anime I found least interesting this year.

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The Final Temptation of Jeanne D’Arc

In watching Shingeki no Bahamutsine dubio the best show of the past season, the temptation of Jeanne D’Arc struck me enough to produce the present article.  Their portrayal of demons and how they tempt people advancing in virtue is very true to reality.  Note well, the devil does not tempt everybody in the way that Jeanne was tempted but only the virtuous.

Jeanne at the stake

According to Aristotle, there exist four kinds of people in the quest for virtue.  Well, Aristotle does list two more; but one is a worse state of the vicious man, and the other is lukewarm.  Neither are especially important to my arguments here or to Aristotle himself.  The four classes consist of the vicious, the inconstant, constant, and the virtuous.  The vicious freely and painlessly commit sins out of habit; the inconstant fall often though they intend to do the right and are pained by their sins; the constant avoid wrongdoing even though the practice of virtue feels painful to them; and the virtuous joyfully and often painlessly do the right thing.  The devil does not bother to tempt the vicious, sometimes finds it necessary to tempt the second, fights against the progress of the third, and–in his bitterness at their good fortune–wages total war against those sane individuals who love the practice of virtue.

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Most of us are slightly insane in believing that sinful deeds are good for us.  We believe so either because of the pleasure obtained in the sinful act (occasions of lust, sloth, or gluttony come to mind) or because sinning appears to be to our advantage (e.g. theft or destroying a personal enemy’s reputation through slander and detraction).  On the other hand, the virtuous make for very difficult targets for the devil, because not only do their minds and will tend toward the right but even their affections and emotions.  Every sin repulses them, no matter how apparently advantageous or pleasurable, while the thought of any good deed spurs them to action no matter how arduous, self-effacing, or painful.  They possess true wisdom and solid good habits.  So how does the devil make war on them?

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We see the answer in Jeanne D’Arc’s temptation, which spans episodes nine and ten: the devil assaults them with darkness in order to take away their wisdom.  Not only does Martinet try to make the sinful desirable for Jeanne but even persuades her that goodness itself does not exist.  Martinet mocks her belief that she is a holy knight and states flatly that the gods have abandoned her.  Jeanne makes the fatal mistake, which everyone makes, of actually talking to the devil and engaging with his ideas instead of treating them with contempt.  Demons lack all wisdom and deal exclusively in lies–no matter how persuasive their words or how close they seem to match reality.  By engaging with them, we only become entangled and influenced by them.  Our Lord provides the perfect example of how to deal with devils when He does not permit them to speak (Mark 1:25 and 1:34).

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Shingeki no Bahamut‘s gods are finite beings; therefore, they did indeed abandon her.  However, when the devil tells us that God has abandoned us, we ought instead understand that the devil is panicking in seeing that God works ever more strongly in perfecting our souls.  In Jeanne’s case, Martinet even resorts to impersonating the gods in order to induce despair into her soul.  I can think of two saints against whom the devil has impersonated Our Lord: St. Martin of Tours and St. Padre Pio.  The people of St. Martin’s time esteemed him as equal to the apostles.  Padre Pio is the greatest saint of modern times.  Both saw through the devil’s schemes.  The more hotly pursued we are by evil, the more tightly God binds us to Himself: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

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Sadly, Jeanne allows her mind to become so disturbed by the abandonment of the divine and the problem of evil that she drinks Martinet’s poison.  Similarly, if we allow despair and distrust of God to guide our choices, we shall doff our wisdom, imprudently indulge our senses, and eventually drink the poison of the vices.  Fortunately, such failings do not turn us instantly into demons!  But, how shameful for someone who has been given so many graces and the honor of participating more in Christ’s Passion than other people to not only distrust God but to show Him scorn!  Surely, God will bring down many punishments upon such people and abandon them to the deepest hell!

Our Lord Jesus Christ descending into hell on Good Friday.  He grasps Adam by the hand in order to lead him to paradise.

Our Lord Jesus Christ descending into hell on Good Friday. He grasps Adam by the hand in order to lead him to paradise.

No, God is infinitely more merciful than even St. Michael in Shingeki no Bahamut.  As St. Bernard of Clairvaux writes, “When we fly from Thee, Thou pursue us; when we turn our backs, Thou present Thyself before us; when we despise Thee, Thou entreat us; and there is neither insult nor contempt which hinders Thee from laboring unweariedly to bring us to the attainment of that which the eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and which the heart of man cannot comprehend.” People are weak and ignorant, stray from the truth, and sin.  However, God is ever faithful, even if we are unfaithful: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).  God Himself restores the light lost amidst darkness and the faith lost in bitter trials.  This restoration may take a long time, but we are assured to be more blessed then than we were before–as was the case with Job.  No matter how dark and bitter our present circumstances, God never swerves from being generous, good, merciful and caring.

The Year of Nobunaga

Anime Monographia

“The lord [Nobunaga] is certainly not a fool. He is simply beyond our comprehension. And yet everyone calls him a fool.” -Hirate Masahide

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In 2014 alone, there have been three anime series (Nobunaga the Fool, Nobunagun, and Nobunaga Concerto), and two live-action dramas (Nobunaga Concerto and Nobunaga no Chef) on Oda Nobunaga, who is indisputably the most famous historical figure in Japanese history. To say that Japan is slightly obsessed with Nobunaga would be an huge understatement.

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A powerful daimyo and warlord, Nobunaga is best known for initiating the unification of Japan in the late 16th century—at that point, there was no concept of Nippon—only a sprawling land of splintered fiefdoms/domains ruled by hundreds of daimyo. His military conquests such as the Battle of Okahazama among others are well documented in history and legend.

What is with Japan’s fascination with Oda Nobunaga?

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A Very GLORIO 2014: Jel’s 10 Moments That Make You Want to Keep Watching Anime

An excellent list of top ten anime moments on 2014.

The Glorio Blog

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[Welcome to “A Very GLORIO 2014”, our look back at the best of the past year. We’ll be featuring a different post from each of our authors everyday leading up to our top 10 shows of the year. To start things off Jel fights off his inner cynic and lists his favorite anime moments from 2014.]

2014 has been a tough year to be a nerd. There’s been a lot negative energy surrounding the mediums we love as they go through some much needed growing pains and while I’m glad to see things slowly moving past catering to the usual demographics, the ensuing backlash has been exhausting to witness.

For me personally, it’s been harder than ever to avoid being cynical and enjoy the silly little hobbies – in this case anime – that I’ve loved for so long. But as I keep sifting through all the trashy otaku-focused…

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Joyful Christmas Music

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May all my dear readers be enjoying a happy Advent season!  This week marks our final week to prepare for the great celebration of Christmas.  Buy those presents, decorate your abode, participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, meditate with wonder on the Incarnation, show extra kindness and patience, and, first and foremost, be joyful!  Buying presents for those near and dear to us in itself helps make us happy as we look forward to the smile on their faces.  Many people complain about the spirit of commercialism that runs through Christmas, but this applies mostly to businesses and may easily be avoided as long as we don’t focus on buying things for ourselves.  When else do so many people spend so much of their time and treasure in order to bring a smile to other people’s faces?

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During some years, however, people can get wrapped up in various misfortunes–suffering, sickness, over-absorbing work, stress, worry, financial strain, death of loved ones, etc., which prevent us from entering into the spirit of joy, love, wonder, generosity, and peace that is Christmas.  Also, like me, your environs might show none of the expected hallmarks of the season.  Nothing says Christmas as much as seeing a panoply of Christmas lights and decorations against a snowy background.  Without snow, it is incredibly difficult for me to think about the holiday.  Snow always brings to mind the following verses, which describe Christ’s mission: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

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Without the aid of the environment, song provides the best avenue for entering into the spirit of the season.  But, Christmas music, which begins mid-November, has lost its charm by this time.  What was intended to bring us into the joy of the holiday now annoys us.  I’ve discovered a trick this year: if English Christmas music bores you, you might simply listen to other countries’ Christmas music.  They convey the same joy and sound fresh even if we’ve already heard the English version of a song one hundred times.  ( Zvončići sounds great even though I don’t want to hear Jingle Bells until next year.)  Check out any of the playlists below.  Croatian, German, and Latin are my favorite languages for Christmas music.

And there's one of my favorite German anime characters: Satella Harvenheit.

And there’s one of my favorite German anime characters: Satella Harvenheit.

Croatian Christmas Songs

Danish Christmas Songs

French Christmas Songs

German Christmas Songs

Italian Christmas Songs

Latin Christmas Music

Spanish Christmas Music

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Finally, Lord Drako Arakis has combined several fine Christmas songs with pictures drawn in the anime style.  Their selection of Christmas music is great and much cleaner than many of his other pieces.  I have picked through the following songs, but have a care if you explore his channel!  Enjoy!

If you want to hear a sad and touching song, you can listen to the following:

Also, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol:

Finished Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water

Well, I have at last finished watching Hideaki Anno’s interesting take on Jules Verne.  The long course of time over which I watched this show renders me less able to give a comprehensive review, so you might want to check out Cajun Samurai’s three part review (Part One, Part Two, Part Three) for a more in-depth take on the series.  On this blog, the show managed to inspire a post on vanity and another on unlikely animal lovers.  The greatest problem with rating Nadia overall is that the parts which are good are really good, while the parts of it which are bad are really bad.  The Lincoln Island arc and even the episodes following until the final four episodes make for a very painful memory.  While slogging through them, I was ready to give the show a 6/10.

NSOTBW

However, the nail-biting action and gripping drama of the last four episodes saved the show’s rating.  How did the studio ever allow the show to get so far off track?  If they had compressed the events of episodes 23-35 (Yes, it was that long of a slog) into two or three episodes, I would gladly have given this show a 9/10 or even a perfect score.  But, I just can’t ignore what must be deemed the worst sagging middle in all of anime.  And I thought Glass Fleet had a terrible sagging middle!  But, it does not even compare to Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water.  I am never watching that part again!

Samson on left.

And so, the great story arcs, moments of striking originality, and the likable characters of Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water–especially Samson, Hanson and Senorita Grandis–merit for this show an 8/10.  I found myself a little annoyed by the show’s alternate history of the human race, but, as I mentioned above, this does come from the director of Neon Genesis Evangelion.  The similarities between the two shows will delight the fans of Evangelion–as would watching Gunbuster, amuch more focused and of higher quality work of Hideaki Anno’s than Nadia.  Even if you’re not a fan of Evangelion, you might want to give this show a shot–if reading Cajun Samurai’s adverse and more critical opinion does not put you off.

Not Ordinary

TheWannabeSaint.com

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This quote, by beloved author C. S. Lewis, begs the question; “who have I, who have you, helped today?” Have we assisted or hindered each person we’ve been in contact/connected with as they seek to discover, follow their path?

We often have such a low view of ourselves and each other. We see one another as tasks to be dealt with or obstacles to deal with so we can complete our tasks. What if we truly believed; “there are no ordinary people, that we have never talked to a mere mortal?” Would this realization, paradigm shift, change our interactions with folks we’ve known forever, those with whom we’ve shared only a moment?

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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“Kikuchiyo of Samurai 7 Level Epic”: How the Last Episode of Akame ga Kiru Met My Expectations

I do not often write a post immediately following an episode, but it’s not every day that one of my wishes for a currently airing series comes true.  And, I have already given myself a week off.  Time to start blogging again!  Major spoilers for both Samurai 7 and episode 23 of Akame ga Kiru to follow.

Akame's Warning

For the most part, this week’s episode of Akame ga Kiru provoked much laughter as every cliche from shonen anime featured in one of its scenes–from Tatsumi gaining strength through the memory of his friends to the emperor having a nervous break down in his mech.

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Anyone else reminded of Escaflowne's Dilandau?

Anyone else reminded of Escaflowne’s Dilandau?

Ran appears to have transformed into a facsimile of Suzaku Kururugi–though several times more palatable–with his claim to have wanted to reform the empire from the inside.  And I expected Leone’s fight with him to be her last.

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It never works, man.  Neither in Code Geass nor in Akame ga Kiru.

It never works, man. Neither in Code Geass nor in Akame ga Kiru.

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However, this episode happily surprised me in two ways: 1) Leone did not kick the bucket (Yay!); and 2) Tatsumi did indeed reach Kikuchiyo’s death level epicness.  Let’s compare the two of them:

How do you stop a giant air battleship?

How do you stop a giant air battleship?

With a giant katana of course!

With a giant katana of course!

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Kikuchiyo explodes from overheating, but not before sapping the giant airship of the momentum it needed to destroy the village.

 

And down it plunges.

And down it plunges into a canyon.

All that's left of Kikuchiyo

All that’s left of Kikuchiyo

I had the same reaction.  The saddest death in the anime!

I had the same reaction. The saddest death in the anime!

Kikuchiyo’s death still tops Tatsumi’s; but, Tatsumi still managed to pull off one of the greatest deaths of any anime character.  No mean feat!

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Requiescas in pace, Tatsumi!

Requiescas in pace, Tatsumi!

Now, the last episode will feature a duel between Esdeath and Akame–perhaps the two most popular characters in the anime.  The first half of the show was remarkable for its poor swordplay .  The second half has shown a marked improvement, but will they be able to create a final duel worthy of the two expert swordswomen?  I’m rooting for the triumph of Esdeath, but I won’t hold my breath: as soon as Esdeath gets nicked she dies.  At least, I can hope her death won’t play out thus: Esdeath thinks that she has Akame beaten, but it turns out that Akame landed the slightest of cuts and Esdeath falls dead!

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At any rate, may they exceed my expectations once again!

Kabukimonogatari

It seems like the Monogatari series has yet another installment. MIB gives an excellent review of this short OVA. Since I’m still plodding through the beginning of Monogatari, I’ll have to reserve this pleasure for later.

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Kabukimonogatari (Cert 12)

1 Disc (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 99 minutes approx.

Release Date: December 15th     

This latest slice of surreal verbose mind-bending madness from the Monogatari universe is once again a singular arc culled from the twenty-six episode Monogatari Series Second Season, which originally made up chapters 7 to 11 including the recap episode which is included in the extras.

It hasn’t been explained quite why we’ve been afforded this unique release method – one can only assume that since the show is very hard work to watch with its verbal and visual onslaught that releasing it in small doses is to benefit our sanities, which is fine by me!

On to this latest adventure which is partially based around Mayoi Hachikuji, in that she is the catalyst for the supernatural exploits which occur. A quick reminder for those of you with either short…

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