Quick Takes for a New Year

Let me wish you all a much belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If I was a proper blogger, you’d have heard from me twice ere now and November (NaBloPoMo) would have been filled to the brim with posts–instead of just the last one. My New Year’s resolutions include writing a post once a week–here or on another blog. The causes for me slipping in regard to post output were a greater workload and too much concern for prosaic matters (money, work, health, etc.).

Another cause lay in me suffering from acedia, which is defined as sorrow in regard to spiritual goods. Prayer, the Holy Mass, and reading Catholic books became so difficult that I started cutting corners, which of course only increased my spiritual sloth. This spirit of acedia oppressed me such that I prayed a deliverance prayer found in Fr. Chad Ripperger’s book Deliverance Prayers: For Use by the Laity. You know what? All of the spiritual works above became easier and produced more joy afterwards. Having been delivered from acedia, I hope to engage myself more in writing and other things I have neglected.

But, let me get on to my quick takes before I ramble further. You can read other things I wrote about acedia here and here.


A very convenient website known as Book Walker caught my attention recently. It provides Japanese and English versions of light novels and manga in e-book format. More is available in Japanese for those able to read that language, e.g. Gosick does not exist in translation but only in the original. The one downside concerns folks who prefer paperback books, since Book Walker only sells digital copies. I own so many books that e-books strike me as the better choice for fiction which I may only read once.

Another neat thing about this website include the fact that one can suggest works not yet licenced in the U.S.A. for translation. One also earns coins back for purchases, so buying manga and light novels here are ultimately cheaper than purchasing it on sites like Amazon. One’s first purchase offers 50% back; so, if you buy 10 books with the initial purchase, you can get five similarly priced books for free on your next purchase. Subsequent buys offer less back in return unless there’s a special sale.

How much was I paid to tell you about this site? Less than I earned for reviewing cigars: $0. I just wanted to tell devoted fans of manga and light novels about this. I personally own volumes of Pumpkin Scissors, 86, Mushoku Tensei, The Strange Adventures of a Broke Mercenary, and Wolf and Parchment from them. (Yes, I know that I gave volume one of Wolf and Parchment a try a long time ago and didn’t like it. But, they had a sale last month, and I reckoned that I should give these five volumes another try. I do like Isuna Hasekura’s work.) So far, so good.


Speaking of The Strange Adventures of a Broke Mercenary, it would be a great thing if that light novel got its own anime soon. The two main characters, Loren and Lapis, are a very entertaining duo. Loren starts the series broke and moves on to becoming in debt to Lapis for medical care and equipment. She keeps him in debt to her so that she can keep him by her side in her quest to regain her lost body parts. Yes, Lapis’s backstory strikes me as a combination of Hyakkimaru of Dororo and Rahzel of Hatenkou Yuugi–the later in that this magic user’s parents also kicked her out of the house so that she can see the world. Loren may simply be described as Guts from Berserk with a phlegmatic temperament instead of a choleric one.

Yes, this light novel is rather derivative. The story opens in about the same way as Goblin Slayer, but diverges sharply from that tale after the party of adventurers is slaughtered by the goblins. At least, the author borrows from the best, and I’m looking forward to getting around to volume three.


Many of you have likely not heard of Pumpkin Scissors. I fell in love with the series when I first heard Lieutenant Alice Malvin shout “Aku Soku Zan!“–“Slay Evil Immediately!” The manga follows a small detachment of soldiers known as Section III or Pumpkin Scissors (There’s a very entertaining story behind that name.) as they try to provide war relief to the citizens of the Empire. (The Empire bears certain likenesses to the Second Reich and the Russia of the Czars.) The Empire has just concluded a major war with a rival country known as the Republic–eleven volumes in and I do not know what culture to compare it with.

A giant of a man named Randel Oland joins Section III after he helps Malvin with a case. Oland is racked by guilt because of his actions in the war. Malvin struggles with balancing her sense of duty and idealism against the corrupt and painful reality in which she lives.

Alongside the high story, the manga arcs are frequently action-packed. Oland’s weapon of choice is called the “Door Knocker,” a large caliber, single shot pistol designed to penetrate a tank’s armor at point blank range. Many tanks are destroyed in this tale!


Counting manga, I was able to read 116 books last year. About 50 of this total were manga volumes. This year, I’m setting the goal of reading 125 books–just to see if I can do it. One of my Goodreads friends has read 235 books in both Spanish and English! So, I figure that I can manage 125 if I don’t waste too much time watching TV or on my smart phone.


Another topic which comes to mind–odd for someone who runs an anime blog, I’ll admit–is whether I read too much manga. About forty-three percent of what I read last year consisted of manga. To use a dietary analogy, this strikes me as a person who eats cotton candy for breakfast, cotton candy for lunch with a chocolate bar on the side, and a hearty well-balanced meal of steak, potatoes, and vegetables for dinner. The manga counts as the cotton candy, the light novels as the chocolate bar, and the well-balanced meal covering literature, history, theology, and devotional works. Does my mental diet consist of too much junk food? Or, is it natural that the ease with which one can read manga naturally makes it a large share of one’s total reading? This is to say, I can probably read six or seven manga volumes while I plod through the 400 pages of A Terrible Glory: Custer and Little Bighorn by James Donovan. Light reading is a break from more serious works.

You may take umbrage at my description of manga and light novels as junk food. Many such works are deep, meaningful, and beautiful. I agree up to a point. G. K. Chesterton once famously wrote: “Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.” One can survive without literature but not without fiction. Fiction offers mental pleasure, and pleasure–as Aristotle avers–recreates the mind. Manga often gives more pleasure than literature.

Yet, literature often gives more joy. I hope that my dear readers know the difference between pleasure and joy. C. S. Lewis once said that pleasure can be had at command, but experiencing joy is not within our control. Joy often comes out in the midst of struggle, hard work, and training–the kind of which is necessary for enjoying the works of, exempli gratia, Homer, Virgil, Dante, or Shakespeare. My most joyful moments in reading manga tended to come about while I read them in the original Japanese–which takes time and effort, I tell you! So, I think that I shall read more light novels and less manga in 2022 while trying to devour more steak.


There exists an excellent stage play which recounts C. S. Lewis’s conversion story. It’s titled C.S. Lewis Onstage: the Most Reluctant Convert. Anyone who wants an introduction to this famous fantasy author and Christian apologist should watch it. If you have read many of Lewis’s works, you’ll be pleased to see how well the playwright integrated C. S. Lewis’s writings into this story. I’ll give it five stars, and it’s available on Vudu free with ads.


Mushoku Tensei stands as my favorite anime of 2021. The animation hearkens back to earlier styles of cell animation, but it weaves in CGI for special effects. The story of a down-and-out loser who uses his second chance at life to overcome the defects of his former life appeals to me. There are many other flawed characters in the world of this anime besides the hero. Even though we cannot approve of their flaws, these things make them more likable–as the hero of Dostoyevsky’s “The Ridiculous Man” loves people more in another world after they become corrupted. (A great short story if you’ve never read it.)

Anyway, I think of this anime as a masterpiece. I hope that most of my readers can overlook Rudeus’s faults for the person he hopes to make himself in this second chance at life in a fantasy world. I should mention that the light novels allow one to see Rudeus as a child more easily than the anime. We’re not hearing a 30-something year old’s voice as we read Rudeus’s thoughts. This is similar to how I adapted my perspective of the heroine of My Next Life as a Villainess: All Roads Lead to Doom to her biological age. May all of my dear readers be able to enjoy this tale in one fashion or another.

I hope that you all have a great 2022!

10 comments on “Quick Takes for a New Year

  1. Happy New Year to you, too! As strange as it sounds coming from a fellow blogger, don’t worry about consistent blogging output and focus on writing things you’re happiest sharing 🙂 I find that to be the premiere way of maintaining a healthy and productive mindset towards blogging, otherwise, it becomes too much of a chore to keep up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You might have the right of it. I have felt blogging to be a chore at times. Part of me feels guilty when I don’t blog more, and it seems easier to let my blog fall into neglect when I don’t write consistently. But, I hope to have some interesting posts lined up in the future. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. doomwhite says:

    Unfortunately I just can’t watch Mushoku, it goes against way too much stuff of my catholic faith, even polygamy at the end.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can appreciate not wanting to watch an anime because it contains too much immorality. Everyone has standards. I don’t think that any sins are actually excused by Mushoku Tensei. The protagonist acknowledges that he met a bad end in his past life because of his waywardness.

      Paul is not so much guilty of polygamy as adultery. The way that Zenith is able to forgive Lillia for seducing Paul is admirable in some regards. (Her main motivation being to avoid suffering and possibly death for Lillia and her baby.) There is no indication that Paul repeats his adultery after his offense is discovered. Though, Lillia really ought to be sent away once her child is old enough for travel.

      Having said that, other characters are guilty of sexual immorality. (It’s a sadly common sin both in the world of Mushoku Tensei and ours.) I don’t think that it’s ever really excused, but I can understand avoiding such stories.

      Liked by 3 people

      • doomwhite says:

        There’s some polygamy stuff in the future of the series, I almost always search about this stuff before starting an isekai or fantasy. One thing I kinda hated about Mushoku was it having villans that had the same problems as the MC, but being treated completely different, it kinda tried to make an excuse for the MC to continue his immorality.

        Liked by 2 people

      • doomwhite says:

        And from what I’ve just read, it gets so much worse with the polygamy, beware.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I will. I’ll say something if the content of Mushoku Tensei gets so bad that I have to put it down.


      • I enjoyed Mushoku Tensei as well, so I switched from anime to manga and found out…..–spoilers-

        That the MC ends up marrying several of the female characters. If this was a different culture I may understand, but both the MC and the characters in this world know that polygamy is not the norm, but engage in it anyways. It shows the MC has no self control with women, thus failing to secure a deep, genuine connection one would find in a wife and the female characters have no self respect, all of them agreeing to share their husband with each other.


  3. Yo, you’ve been using Book Walker more, huh? I’m guessing you found Ao-chan Can’t Study! as well there already? And speaking of Ren Kawahara’s works, I’ve also been wanting to buy We’re New at This, but I’ve been way more focused on music and video games and VTubers when it comes to spending my earnings from my day job and my time outside that job, hahaha~ Anyway, I hope you have more God-filled fun with your life there, Med!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ao-chan Can’t Study is definently on there. I might pick it up in the future. For now, the story told in the anime is pretty satisfying. I’ll take a look at We’re New at This.

      May you also have some God-filled fun in the future!

      Liked by 2 people

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