Rating the Anime of Winter 2017

There were three anime left out from my reviews at Beneath the Tangles.  Also, I’ll give a couple of bonus reviews at the end, one of which is old school and the other very modern.  Let’s begin without further ado!

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1) Chaos; Child – ★★1/2

As a fan of Chaos; Head, his show rather disappointed me.  If not for the final episode, it might have been given two stars instead.  There is plenty of meaning to be found in that final episode.  But, the mystery and character relationships, save between Takuru and Nono, struck me as very bland indeed.  Overall, the show comes off as a sadistic dating game.

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New Anime Streaming Site: Anime Bananas

The founder of a new site for streaming anime contacted me to take a look at his site, Anime Bananas, and possibly write reviews for him.  The question of Anime Bananas legitimacy came up on the Crunchyroll Forums.  As evidence for its legitimacy, one can’t find fansub versions of anime on the site, and the founder has agreements with the anime providers he connects to.  Let me talk about the benefits of Anime Bananas and a couple of its drawbacks below.

Anime Bananas

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Happy Easter to All!

Happy Easter, my dear readers!  Christus resurrexit!  Resurrexit sicut dixit!  Alleluia!  Today, we celebrate Christ’s double victory over sin and death, a share of which victory Christ offers to all humanity.  Though we are yet troubled by sin in this life, we shall one day cease to offend God and men and no longer be troubled by the effects of human wickedness in ourselves and others.  Though we all shall die, death has been transformed into the entrance to life illimitable.  How great the reward, and how little God asks of us!  Even if our malice, weakness, and ignorance frequently cause us to fall short of God’s commands, repentance continually brings us ever closer to God despite many falls.

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Recently, I made the happy discovery of another “Dante class anime”: Blood Blockade Battlefront.  (See the page Anime for Christians for a description of “Dante class anime.”)  Many who have seen this anime might thinks that monsters are the only thing Blood Blockade Battlefront has in common with The Divine Comedy.  But, Christian themes are intentionally used throughout the show.  I was first alerted to the possibility of this when Mary MacBeth says that people commit the same wrongs they did two thousand years ago when Christ came to earth.

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BnT’s Winter 2017 Reviews

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Beneath the Tangles recently finished their reviews of anime from the Winter 2017 season.  Three of my own reviews on Onihei, Chain Chronicle, and Little Witch Academia can be found among them.  I’ve watched a few other shows this season and hope to write reviews of them and three older anime this weekend.  (I’ve been painfully busy this month until now.)  Please like and leave comments on the posts below!  Enjoy!

Winter Anime 2017 Review (Part 1/3) – Onihei

Winter Anime 2017 Review (Part 2/3) – Chain Chronicle

Winter Anime 2017 Review (Part 3/3) – Little Witch Academia

Medieval Otaku’s Fifth Anniversary and Anime Spring 2017

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You’ve read the title correctly, my dear readers.  Medieval Otaku has entered its fifth year of existence!  Usually, I would point out my plans for the coming months, but certain urgent matters occupy my attention such that I don’t want to set anything blog-related in stone.  Over the past year, I spent too much of my time focused on political matters and the 24-hour news cycle.  Happily, the constant one-upmanship that characterizes the news has started to bore me to tears, so I should spend more time on anime and my other hobbies.  May this produce more interesting posts for you!

Let me turn to my choices for the spring 2017 season of anime.

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Examining Light Novels: On Rebellion

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In the latest post from my column on Beneath the Tangles, I examine the topic of revolt from the angle of Christian theology, bringing up the examples of “the Rising of the North” under Queen Elizabeth’s reign and the American Revolution.  What brought this topic to mind was the plot of the fourth volume of Slayers.  I hope to write many more volumes on this series in the future.  Click on the link below for the post!

Examining Light Novels: On Rebellion

 

Chaos; Child and the Creator-Creature Relationship

Theological questions are rather muted in Chaos; Child until the depths of Onoe and Takuru’s relationship is revealed at the end of the series.  The odd and poorly Englished subtitle to Chaos; Child reads: “If you are God, and the delusion becomes reality.  About what kind of noids you get?  Is it the sensual world?  The despotic society?  The destructive sanctions?  Or…”  Or, will your lust to solve a convoluted and macabre mystery materialize?  By the end, I realized that Takuru is essentially a God character and Onoe is his creature, created by his psychic powers during his hour of need in the Shibuya earthquake set off by the events of Chaos; Head.  For this reason, Takuru holds himself responsible for Onoe’s murders: they were committed to fulfill Takuru’s subconscious desire for solving a complex mystery and being a hero.

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The first thing to notice about Takuru’s Haruhi Suzumiya-esque existence is his intrinsically flawed godhood.  The real God does not need His creatures (Psalm 50:6 – 13) and His care of them is for the sake of their happiness, even if God delights in the happiness of His creatures.  Conversely, Takuru needs Onoe, and she exists for him to be happy and rejoices in Takuru’s happiness.  This reversal must happen whenever one incomplete being takes another incomplete being for its god.

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Examining Light Novels: Medieval and Modern Castes

Here is the latest post in my Examining Light Novels column.  I talk about the medieval caste system with a focus on executioners, who would have been considered untouchables at the time, and try to compare that to how one’s social status in modern society causes people to view one.  What makes for a favored class of persons changes in every age, but people’s desire to measure others by their particular situations doesn’t.  Click the link below!

Examining Light Novels: Medieval and Modern Castes

I’ve had a lot of fun talking about Spice and Wolf and how accurately the author portrays the medieval era or the medieval Church.  But, it’s time for me to move onto greener pastures.  My next post for the column will be gleaned from the light novel series Slayers.  Unlike Spice and Wolf, I’ll be reading this one from the original Japanese, which–though more verbose–is actually a little easier than many popular manga.

Anime Winter 2017 Mid-Season Review

After dropping KonoSuba, I realized that I was only keeping up with four shows this season.  Usually, I manage seven or eight.  Revisiting an earlier post made me remember that I had not yet tried out Little Witch Academia TV or Onihei.  Having watched the first episode of both series, those two are now on my watch list, and I hope to review them later.  I can already say that the animation of these two does not impress me that much, especially Onihei‘s reliance on CGI for figures in the background.  At the moment, I can say little more than that.

Why did I drop KonoSuba?  I’ve always felt on the fence with this show, though I enjoyed the first season well enough (7/10).  The comedy requires me to be in a peculiar certain mood, and the fanservice proves distracting.  The more these two drawbacks bothered me, the less inclined I was to enjoy KonoSuba‘s humor.  So, I washed my hands of it.  All the same, may those of you who enjoy the show enjoy it still more!

I’ll miss Megumin for sure.

On to the mid-season reviews.

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Spectacle and Service — Little Witch Academia and the purpose of magic

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How useful is floating a teapot in the air to serve hot tea?

Although both tea and wine have tannins — in varying amounts depending on steep time and prior to separating grape juice from the stems and skins in the case of wine — the former hardly needs to be aerated. Height is not necessary in the pour. And even if it was, a human could do the same with an equal amount of training.

What is the exact purpose of Diana Cavendish floating her teapot over to her teacher other than to pass her exam? Does she offer a service that couldn’t be provided by human hands?

No, she does not. The action is essentially useless.

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Fátima and the Desert Fathers

The three Fatima visionaries: Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta The three Fatima visionaries: Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta

by Marco Gregory da Vinha, Obl.O.S.B. (Marco and his wife, Isa, are Oblate novices of Silverstream Priory, Ireland)

I find myself writing today about a topic which I never thought I would – Fátima; specifically, the message of Fátima (or, at least, how I have come to understand it). Caveat: for those that came here expecting some comment on “the Consecration of Russia”, you can forget about that. That is a topic I’m not at all interested in touching. Let’s just say that I believe that that request was very time-specific, and is not necessarily what the “message” was all about, though it seems to me that to many it carries an almost messianic weight.

Love it or hate it, every Portuguese knows Fátima and has probably been there at least once in their life. In the minds of not a…

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Top Five Anime of 2016

I’m late to this party, but better late than never!  In prior years, I’ve only ever named my favorite anime of the year, but couple of friends have requested a top five list.  The first four were easy, since they were the highest rated shows at four and a half stars.  Deciding which four star show should hold fifth place between four worthy contenders was far more difficult.  At the end of the list, the three which fell short will be listed as honorable mentions.

Concerned Luluco

Last year was excellent for anime, the only thing I regret about the shows last year is that none stood out as a classic.  In 2013 and 2014, I had at least one show rated five stars.  The year 2015, like this year, lacked a classic for my top fifty list.  But, this probably reflects my favored genres–action, adventure, fantasy, and samurai–not doing so well.

On to the top five of 2016!

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Sobacha or Buckwheat Tea

For a long time, I have known about buckwheat tea but have never given it a shot.  After enjoying some nice bibim naengmyeon at the best Korean restaurant near me, I went to the Korean market nearby and chanced upon a container of buckwheat made for brewing.  At seven dollars for a decent sized container, I figured, “Why not?”

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The Difficulty of Interior Change

Recently, I have been watching You’re Under Arrest: Full Throttle.  Those of you who watch the show know that one character named Aoi is a transvestite/trap, who gives no indication of masculinity save for his height.  In episode six, a former superior who knew Aoi when he transitioned shows up and tries for a second time to make a man out of him.  He puts Aoi through judo and other tough training in order to accomplish this, but Aoi persists in being more feminine than the female heroines.  In the end, this superior gives up, and assumes that Aoi is fine living the way he does.

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Here, I don’t want to discuss the ethics of changing a transvestite to conform to their sex.  Instead, this episode reminds me of the difficulty of changing one’s ways–whether they be habits, opinions, vices, or sins.  A friend once told me that a man doesn’t change much after reaching the age of twenty-five.  (Though, many great saints experienced conversions around this age.)  I assume the same rule applies to women.  There is a strong likelihood of retaining all the evil habits one has acquired by this point to the grave; though, they will naturally ameliorate or worsen depending on our recognition of these faults and our attempts to overcome them.  Sometimes, one does succeed in uprooting a vice entirely through time, effort, prayer, and the sacraments.  During the long period of struggle, victory seems impossible as the long force of habit draws us again and again to sin–even over the course of decades.

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The Classical Source of LOGH

I promised to write this article a long time ago, and I’m very happy to see it published.  Legend of Galactic Heroes has garnered many fans throughout its three decades of existence.  (The OVA itself needed nearly a decade to complete: 1988-1997.)  Part of the charm of this series is that it asks an eternal question: what is the best form of government?  Monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy?  The dress and cultures of our heroes reminds us of the First World War, and we recall that great cataclysm in the obscene casualty levels of each interstellar battle.  Yet, does the Empire really represent the Second Reich and the Free Planets Alliance the Allies?

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The question on the best form of government has its antecedent far before World War I: Herodotus’ Histories contains a scene where Persians debate over the best form of government for themselves.  In the end, they decide on monarchy, since they argue that aristocracy and democracy are too unstable.  They say that the natural course of affairs is for one person to gain all political power anyway; so, they might as well establish a monarchy!

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Nine Years and Counting: The Null Set Keeps Blogging On

Steelbound has one of the longest running aniblogs on WordPress. He just posted on the occasion of his blog’s ninth anniversary. Be sure to check out his posts!

The Null Set

A little more than nine years ago – January 21st of 2008 – saw the first piece of writing published on The Null Set, and, thus, began a slipshod experiment that I’m shocked has continued for as long as it has.

I’ve yet to question my desire to continue blogging because, even in this recent time of diminished output, I still feel like that I get more back from my blog than I put into it. One of the reasons for this comes from the feedback I get from people who take the time to leave comments.

So, to my readers and commenters, Thank you! I want 2017 to be a better year for The Null Set than 2016 was.

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Pride and Virtue Mix Like Oil and Water

Watching Chain Chronicle has proven quite fun so far. This classic fantasy provides the viewer with a bevy of strong heroes, implacable foes, beautiful warrior maidens, and a Luke Skywalker-ish hero for its viewers to engage in “egocentric castle building,” as C. S. Lewis termed it in An Experiment in Criticism. This is a fantasy fully in the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s fun, but nothing within the story thus far has struck me as uncommon.

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Bruckhardt’s fall from grace counts as the most interesting event of the story thus far. From the first, my ears heard “Blackheart” when the seiyuu pronounced the knight’s name, and episode three revealed his transformation to a Blackheart indeed. The twin scourges of pride and melancholy oppressed him on account of the preferment Yuri gave to Aram. This allowed him to fall easy prey to the evil influence of the Black King’s demon. There is no faster way to hell than pride: the way Lucifer fell and the chief fault of Adam. Even the early Church Fathers wrote that pride alone suffices to send one to hell, even as humility provides the surest means to salvation among the virtues.

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Three Recommendations for Spiritual Reading

A Christian ought to daily nourish his spirit with theology or the good example of the saints.  The Bible accomplishes both admirably; yet, it can sometimes strike one as too abstract or its familiarity blocks us from receiving new insights.  This is where spiritual books are an enormous help.

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St. John Bosco, pray for us!

Below, I have included three recommendations and write a little about what makes them unique.  Hopefully, one or more of these will make your reading list in the near future.

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1) Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson

This is probably the most prosaic version of the world’s end I have ever encountered.  Written prior to WWI, Benson actually predicted that war and posits that the world will end in the early 21st century.  Readers of the Apocalypse know that there shall be widespread irreligion at the end of the world: the religious shall be few and far between, and God’s punishments will cause the impenitent to curse God rather than amend their lives.  What is the primary cause for the world ending around the beginning of the 21st century?  The rise of communism and the culture of death.

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Medieval Book Review: The Wars of the Roses

Dan Jones covers a superlatively violent period of British history: 1420 – 1525.  This period sees the death of King Henry V, the loss of English land in France under Henry VI, a period of Civil War which only ended for good with the ascension of Henry VII, and the reign of Henry VIII before his troubles with the papacy.  Most writers describe the Wars of the Roses as a conflict between two rival houses (York and Lancaster), which only ended when Henry VII married Elizabeth of York in 1486–thus combining them.  Even so, many of the events following 1486 have to do with Henry VII and Henry VIII either dealing with attempts of pretenders to the throne to invade England or killing off everyone with Plantagenet blood in his veins.  And so, it is fair to say that 1525 marks the end of English internecine conflict and the threat posed by people who might claim succession to the throne.

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This history is every bit as violent as the preceding paragraph makes it sound.  Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII all won their crowns on the battlefield.  Henry V bequeathed his subjects a stable and prosperous kingdom, but died while his son and heir was a mere infant.  The clashes between aristocratic families over who held the reigns of power during Henry VI’s infancy led to England becoming every bit as turbulent as France during the Hundred Years’ War.  (Maybe more violent.  I don’t think that France can point to a Battle of Towton, which left 28,000 casualties…all killed.)  The usual story of two rival houses needing to unite in order to end this strife, popularized by authors like Shakespeare (Henry VIRichard III, with Romeo and Juliet offering a tragic version of the same), found acceptance among earlier English historians.    Dan Jones challenges this notion by pointing out all the political problems caused by Henry V’s death.  His history shows that England’s civil strife was hardly that simple.

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