I just finished watching Ajin and absolutely loved it. If I had watched that show last year, it would have headed my “Top Five Anime of 2016.” Ajin gets five stars from me and places sixteenth on my top fifty list–right in between Princess Tutu and Fullmetal Alchemist. (It was sad to see Solty Rei dropped from the list, but it had to be. Now, Pumpkin Scissors is hanging on precariously at #50.) One of the more interesting points about this series lies in how many grey areas can be found within it. The bad guys are easy to pick out: Mr. Sato and the Japanese government. (For all intents and purposes, the United States government is as evil as the Japanese government; though, the role of the U.S. is much smaller in this series.) Other person in this series align with either Sato or the Japanese governments depending on their interests. Kei Nagai wishes to live in peace, and sees Mr. Tosaki as his best ally in this regard–Miss Shimomura is no different. The Ajin allied with Sato want the same rights as other citizens and see Sato as their best bet in obtaining these rights.
A friend of mine has been extolling the virtues of Ajin for a long time now. At last, I decided to give this Netflix Original a shot. Prior to this, I had watched Kuromukuro on Netflix and played around with the language options. (As my dear readers know, I love foreign languages.) The German voice actors performed decently–not that well, but it interested me enough to give the German dub of Ajin a shot from the very first episode.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
This show successfully combines elements from Strike Witches and Maria the Virgin Witch. It provided us with two of the best heroines from this season. (Only Kyouka of Bungo Stray Dogs struck me as a better heroine because of her greater moral struggle.) The action was top notch, and all the WWII vehicles very realistic. Aside from the magic, only a few moments in the show struck me as unrealistic: things like soldiers being able to provide Izetta with shorts while on campaign and Germanian guards being armed with Lugers rather than Mausers or MP 40s. In other words, the show seldom rocked me from my suspension of disbelief.
Happy Feast of the Epiphany! Here are my reviews of the six shows I watched this season. Usually, I review some over at Beneath the Tangles but did not get around to it because of my hiatus. (Feel free to read my fellow bloggers’ opinions in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.) To my surprise, my break from my column on BnT was longer than I imagined with the last post of “Examining Light Novels” seeing the light of the interwebs on October 26, 2016. Readers of the series will be happy to know that it shall return on January 18th with a topic from volume thirteen of Spice and Wolf.
Anyway, let me get on to some general observations about Fall 2016. The general quality struck me as quite high. Many other bloggers were very enthusiastic about the season’s shows, and I myself rated one of the six below four and a half stars–not every season has a show which reaches that level! May you recognize two or three of your favorite anime below or in part two.
Yesterday, in reponse to my latest reblog, a few of my friends brought up that Perfect Blue has some scenes that are plain hard to watch. Another said that I should warn people about the nudity, sexual violence, bloody violence, and vulgarity contained therein. That last request I hesitated to meet, but here is my content warning for Perfect Blue: it has bloody and brutal murders, a lingerie/swimsuit photoshoot which turns pornographic, a rather disturbing simulated rape scene, and an infamous masturbation scene. (N. B. The last is non-explicit enough that one might not realize what’s going on–if memory serves me right–in that five second scene.) There you have the worst content in the movie. The question now occurs to me of why was I so loath to write about these details and even angry that they were brought up in regard to Perfect Blue?
We all got into anime because of the unique stories and scenarios offered by the medium. Still, moments of originality become harder to come across the more anime one watches. I just came across one of these moments of originality while watching Heavy Object of all things. This is the series that nearly drove iblessall mad with how ridiculous it was. The first five episodes are terrible, and the fanservice often becomes uncomfortable. Why did I stick with it beyond those first five episodes of stupidity? I liked the man vs. machine and buddy soldiers facets of the story, and it certainly made me laugh as it provided a good dose of action.
The fun factor counts as the most important reason behind me never actually dropping the anime. (My watching of it has frequently stalled.) Last night, my decision to continue watching the show felt completely vindicated when I turned to a friend and said:
A little detail caught my attention in Princess Tutu: Drosselmeyer favors a blend of tea he apparently made himself. It consists of three parts Darjeeling and one part Assam. Those of you who’ve followed this blog a long time know me for a tea connoisseur–at least, I am when I can afford to be. One of the earliest posts on this blog was on Kakuzo Okakura’s The Book of Tea. I’m a big fan of tea varietals but will drink blends also, especially English, Scotch, or Irish Breakfast tea. English Breakfast tea is formed by Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan teas, Irish is stronger because it uses teas from Assam almost exclusively, and Scottish the strongest with the strongest varieties from Asia–even sometimes adding the pine-fired Lapsang Souchong.
As you can tell from the title, one of the five shows below got a rare five stars from me. Keen readers of my anime posts might have an inkling of which anime made it to my top fifty. Let me start from the bottom and work my way up.
This show is not on the bottom because I don’t like it, but because I haven’t finished it. One never knows whether the second half of the show will ruin a promising start.
As of episode ten, the show appears to shine in three areas: the fight scenes, the animation, and the comedy. I greatly enjoy the samurai’s cultural shock as he experiences modern life in Japan. The sword fights surprise me with their realism: both within and without the mecha. (I think that I caught a glissade during one bout.) And the animation draws one in by sharp details and beautiful backgrounds.