Thoughts on Spice and Wolf Volume Eight

This volume of the light novels vindicates my hope that the series would improve after the preceding two volumes.  The eighth volumes covers the first part of “The Town of Strife” story arc.  Our heroes become plunged into a vortex of intrigue involving the church, pagan relics, a horn of immortality, rival guilds, and Eve, the femme fatale who almost cost Lawrence his life in addition to his money.  This novel manifests all the reasons people love Spice and Wolf, and I am looking forward to the next book and this story’s thrilling conclusion.

SW volume 8

Of note, the banter between Lawrence and Holo has lessened compared to the previous novels, and most of their conversations tend to be serious.  This novel is the most plot-centered of the series thus far.  Much of the dialogue is between Lawrence, Eve, and particular guild heads as he tries to work out a safe and profitable position for himself.  I greatly enjoyed this focus on the plot, especially after the last two novels.  But, don’t worry: Holo and Col still get plenty of print too.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Interest in Project Itoh: Empire of Corpses, Harmony, and Genocidal Organ

I’m writing this simply to see whether anyone else is interested in Project Itoh.  Of the blogs I follow, only Beatslars of Konnichiwa Anime no Yuujin has delved into both Harmony and Empire of Corpsesand Genki Jason has mentioned the two works here and here.  Those two works and Genocidal Organ have their origins as light novels, apparently written by the only fan to ever understand Hideo Kojima’s video games.  The story behind the novels, especially how the author wrote them from his hospital bed as he lay dying of cancer, is fascinating:

Curiously, Genocidal Organ (still a work in progress) is the last of the three light novels to receive an anime adaptation, even though it was the first novel of them to be written.  Harmony, with its investigation into the nature of happiness and free-will, strikes me as the most interesting.  But, all three seem to delve into philosophical questions, even though Empire of Corpses sounds mostly like a zombie-slaying adventure.  Besides the philosophical aspect, the world building in these movies, either the steam punk 19th century suffering a zombie apocalypse of Empire of Corpses or the dystopian future where everyone’s minds are controlled in Harmony, strikes me as the sort which makes anime worth watching.

Here are a couple of short articles on Harmony:

Fantasia 2016 Review: “Harmony”

Book Review: Harmony

So, are any of my dear readers also interested in these works?  I certainly want to find time for them!

Examining Old School Anime: The Effects of Tribulation

Ikki Phoenix

Below is a link to the latest post for my column on Beneath the Tangles.  It ponders the question of why tribulations drives some to greater goodness and others to become more evil.  The question might be even more complex than suggested by Gen. Joshua Chamberlain’s assertion: “War makes good men great and bad men worse.”  At any rate, I hope that you enjoy the article!

Examining Old School Anime: The Effects of Tribulation

On the Danger of Flying Witch and Its Ilk

IMG_9335

Here is the article I promised on magic in anime, which will especially focus on Flying Witch.  My arguements proceed from several premises, developed from Catholic theology and my years reading fantasy fiction, which I shall list here:

  1. All occult magic–i.e. not the kind resorting to deception or sleight of hand–in the real world is evil.
  2. Magic in the real world is evil because it involves the diabolic.
  3. To encourage or to support magic or the occult is always wrong.
  4. In fiction, there can exist types of magic not associated with the diabolic because the rules of fictional world and settings are not those of the real world.
  5. The decision to approve or condemn a fictional work’s portrayal of magic depends upon its similarity to the occult and whether it presents the magic as positive or negative.

Reaction to Ostrich Ferns

Continue reading

Thoughts on Volume Seven of Spice and Wolf

The seventh volume of the Spice and Wolf novels offers a break from the main story.  This annoyed me because of how little happened in volume six: the worst volume thus far.  Volume seven features the usual bad religion, especially in the novella which forms the first part of the book.  (You can tell already what most of my comments shall be about.)  This novella and one of the short stories were as bland as the prior volume.  Only “The Red of the Apple, The Blue of the Sky” showed Isuna Hasekura at his best.  The second short story was interesting in how it took Holo’s perspective, revealing how terribly insecure and anxious Holo is behind her quick-witted and capable facade.

SW Side Colors

The novella takes place before Holo settles down as the goddess of the harvest and concerns two children, Aryes and Klass, who are forced to flee their lord’s estate and find a new life for themselves in a far off town.  On the way, they run into Holo, who makes herself extremely useful and extremely annoying by turns.  (Holo appears unable to help teasing any man or boy in her company.)  The story ends with a thrilling chase, which would have been better without the twist.

Continue reading

Beneath the Tangles Spring 2016 Season Reviews

 

Duel Wielding Combs

No new articles have found themselves on this blog since Independence Day, because I have been busy writing reviews for Beneath the Tangles.  The following posts cover twenty-seven of the past season’s shows, five of which, Hundred, Twin Star ExorcistsSpace Patrol LulucoUsakame, and Ushio to Tora were reviewed by yours truly.  The other shows which I’ve seen this season, Flying WitchMayoigaKiznaiver, Haifuri, and Bungo Stray Dogs shall be reviewed in another post soon.  Please enjoy and comment on the following reviews!

Spring Anime 2016 Review (1/3) – Hundred

Spring Anime 2016 Review (2/3) – Twin Star Exorcists & Space Patrol Luluco

Spring Anime 2016 Review (3/3) – Usakame Ushio to Tora

Reasons to Remember Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from July 1st to July 3rd of 1863, and yours truly tries to make a point of reminding people of this battle each year.  In part, I wish that more people learned about the outstanding characters of the people who fought then.  Also, the heroism displayed in the steadfast defense of General John Buford (July 1st), the battle for Little Round Top (July 2nd), and Pickett’s Charge (July 3rd) are worthy of remembrance.  Lastly, despite being limited to muzzleloaders, percussion revolvers, canons, bayonets, and sabers, Gettysburg stands as the fourth deadliest battle in American history (WWI’s Battle of Meuse-Argonne, WWII’s Battle of the Bulge, and WWII’s Battle of Okinawa rank above it in that order), and people ought to learn the causes behind that awful period of civil strife and make sure that history does not repeat itself.

Unfortunately, several parallels to the antebellum years which ignited the Civil War do presently exist.  (As do parallels to the Decline of the Roman Empire and the last days of Tsarist Russia–but, that is for another article.)  Here are the parallels: 1) the constant debate over an extremely divisive moral issue: slavery then and abortion now; 2) various states (New Hampshire, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas) have experienced an influx of citizens from states with the intention or unintended result of slanting a state’s politics, as 19th century America saw in Kansas and Texas; 3) the existence of secessionist movements; 4) unrest caused by the federal government either passing laws against the interests of certain states or trying to impose a uniform culture; and 5) the excessive demonization of the opposing side and the difficulty of rational argument as a result.

Continue reading