Day 7 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Time of Eve

So far, Time of Eve has the lowest rating of the movies in this series.  The fault lies more with the constraints of the format than the story itself.  The movie condenses a six episode OVA into an abridged version of one hour and forty-five minutes.  Abridged versions can work: many people praise the Vision of Escaflowne movie–even over the original TV series.  As for myself, Escaflowne is one anime I never wanted to see the end of, so I’ve never given the movie much thought.  With Time of Eve, so much of the story revolves around what’s going on in the character’s heads and the state of their society.  So, abridging our heroes’ journey does the story a disservice.  The audience wished to be immersed in the intellectual lives of the characters, which takes more time in film than in print.

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The movie focuses on how we should treat androids/robots if they became conscious or self-aware.  Blade Runner touches on about the same theme.  It’s fun to dabble with ideas like this in fiction, but it’s a materialistic fallacy to believe consciousness correlates to intelligence or programming of some sort.  Computers can be very smart: they can now best both chess and go professionals.  Computers may even soon have programs which allow them to learn like a human being would.  But, learning and smarts can’t bestow a soul on something.  A mind aware of itself, capable of meditating on first principles, and able to ponder its highest good is a distinct gift given by God to persons–whether human or angelic.

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Day 6 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Grave of the Fireflies

Here’s a classic everyone has heard of, but I only watched it a few days ago.  It’s a very emotional film.  Knowing that, I steeled myself against the tragedy I knew was coming, which was probably the wrong way to watch the film.  Instead of riding the emotional rollercoaster, you might say I watched the ride sitting on a bench somewhere with a soft drink.  The result was that I examined the tragic flaws of our hero rather than grieved over the tragedy of the orphans’ plight.  My focus was on why they suffered instead of the how they suffered.

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In the case of firebombing the Germans and the Japanese in WWII, I can never reconcile myself to the legitimacy of this form of warfare.  With the nuclear bombs, one can legitimately claim destroying industrial parks and dockyards as the main objective, while terrorizing the enemy into surrender as the secondary objective.  Incendiary bombs, especially of the sort used in WWII, have no effect on factories built with steel and cement.  Firebombs work much better against wooden houses–especially houses of Japanese design.  When it comes to firebombing, terrorizing the enemy is still the secondary objective, but destroying civilian homes and killing non-combatants becomes the primary objective.

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Days 4 & 5 of 10 Days to 500 Anime

On Day 4, I watched  From up on Poppy Hill.  You’ll be amused to learn that I did not find an English sub or dub and had to watch it raw.  Despite having only a low intermediate knowledge of Japanese, I never felt lost while watching the plot or listening to the dialogue.  That the themes of this movie revolved around basic things like family, friends, love, and young people striving for independence helped.

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That the animation imitated an older style (it felt like I was watching something from 2001, not 2011) added a nice touch to the story.  The images of the ships and the waterfront were beautiful, but I also enjoyed the scenes of crowded city streets.  All in all, the backgrounds do a nice job of immersing the viewer in that time and place.

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Very Brief Update

Hello, All!  It’s been too long since my last movie review, and so an update of sorts seems appropriate.  I should get back to the movie reviews starting today.  From up on Poppy Hill and In This Corner of the World were both very well done, and these two films might be treated in the same post.  After that, I’ll get back to writing one movie review a day–if all goes well.

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Day 3 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: Millennium Actress

I had forgotten that Satoshi Kon directed Millenium Actress until his name rolled across the opening credits.  Even if one had missed his name, the quirky Satoshi Kon method of transitioning from scene to scene would have tipped me off.  Millennium Actress reminds me of Perfect Blue.  The two movies have many points of comparison; yet, their treatment of living in a fantasy world are very different.  You might call Perfect Blue‘s treatment of fantasy and delusion via negativa, while Millenium Actress stands as a via positiva.  I’d love to read any blog posts comparing and contrasting the two.  Send such a blog my way if you’ve written one, dear reader.  I’ll reblog the first three of you!

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Millennium Actress covers the life of Chiyoko Fujiwara from her teens in WWII Japan to her old age in contemporary Japan.  The movie is a framed story, with Chiyoko’s life being the center and the interview of Chiyoko conducted by Genya Tachibana, a very avid fan, with his assistant in modern times framing the tale.  Amusingly, Genya and his assistant–in the fashion of how Satoshi Kon mixes reality and fantasy–appear to film her life as if they were right there beside her.  I won’t spoil just how much Genya participates in Chiyoko’s life, but there’s not another movie which uses quite the same idea.

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Day 2 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: The Boy and the Beast

The Boy and the Beast was a fun movie–even a great movie.  I loved the animation, which excelled both in the action sequences and when depicting the backgrounds.  Some of the scenes in Tokyo do a remarkable job of making the viewer feel like he is right there with Kyuuta.  The soundtrack melded seamlessly with the action of the story.

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My biggest complaint might very well be the dub.  I watched it in English, and actresses were selected to voice the boy characters.  The Japanese do this all of the time.  However, when the Japanese actresses take on the roles of boys, I never find myself thinking: “Well, that’s an unnaturally sexy voice coming out of that kid.”  It might very well have been better to have used some young male talents for these parts.  The voice talents of John Swasey as Kumatetsu and Ian Sinclair as Tatara stood out as the two best performaces.  I do not think that I have heard the latter gentleman before.  Sinclair’s voice sounds very similar to Steve Blum’s (Spike Spiegel of Cowboy Bebop and Makoto Shishio in Rurouni Kenshin).

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Day 1 of 10 Days to 500 Anime: A Silent Voice

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My hearty thanks go out to everyone who voted in the poll in order to pick out what movies I’ll be watching.  As of yesterday morning, these eight movies rank the highest:

  1. A Silent Voice
  2. The Boy and the Beast
  3. Millennium Actress
  4. Up on Poppy Hill
  5. In this Corner of the World
  6. Grave of the Fireflies
  7. Eve no Jikan
  8. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works the Movie

Following those eight, the two movies I picked out of 2nd and Charles, Submarine Revolution 707 (2003) and Ex-Driver the Movie (2002) will appear on days nine and ten.

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Voting on Ten Movies to 500 Anime

About every two years I add one hundred anime to my Watched list.  (Not too impressive when you consider that shorts, OVAs, and movies also count as separate titles and that I stay away from series with over twenty-six episodes.)  Also, as usual every two years, I want to let my dear readers vote upon what I watch to finish out this new hundred.  Since I ran into Ex-Driver and Submarine 707 Revolution the Movie at my local 2nd and Charles bookstore, you will get to vote on eight of the last ten.  (I think of 2nd and Charles as an earthly paradise of sorts.  Book, manga, and anime lovers who live nearby such a store know what I mean.)  Below is a list of thirty-two movies from my Want to Watch list arranged by production date, please select eight choices.  I intend to review each and every movie in the final lineup.

Thanks for your input on which movies will be in the new series of posts!  Be sure to pass the poll onto your friends so that they can throw in their two cents also.  The poll will remain active through January 23rd.  If a group of movies require a tie breaking vote, I’ll hold another such poll afterwards.  Thanks again!

EDIT: I notice that one title did not come out properly in the poll.  Where you see “(2015),” it ought to read “<Harmony> (2015).”

Forgotten Review: Girls’ Last Tour

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Girls’ Last Tour ★★★ 1/2

Don’t ask me how I forgot to review Girls’ Last Tour yesterday, for this oversight is a mystery even to me.  If anything can explain it, it’s the fact that I dropped the anime for a while until some commentators convinced me to give it another try.  (Yours truly ought to more frequently apply the three episode rule.)  Reading Infinite Zenith’s “Girls’ Last Tour (Shōjo Shūmatsu Ryokō): Full Series Review and Recommendation” reminded me of the fact that I had both watched the show and not reviewed it on my blog.  Infinite Zenith features very detailed posts with plenty of screenshots, and I highly encourage all my dear readers to read the post linked to above.

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What first attracted me to this anime was how unique the setting was.  As a lover of snowy settings and post-Apocalyptic tales, I had to give this show a try.  As the series unrolled, one could see that the mangaka essentially explored what makes life worth living.  Each episode provided one possible answer, and overall the mangaka simply answers “friends.”

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Rating the Anime of Fall 2017

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The time has come for my season review.  The seven anime I watched rated from two to four and a half stars with only two shows receiving the same rating.  This is to say that my shows run the gamut from disappointing to near masterpieces.  Fall 2017 well rounded out a good year for anime: the quality of the shows were generally good even if nothing truly spectacular came about.  I’ll write more about this when I write about my top five shows of last year.  The shows below rank from least to greatest.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

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7) Dies Irae ★★

As a cross between Fate/Stay Night and Hellsing, this show boasted a unique atmosphere–one of the most unique of the season.  It also boasted some likable characters, and one really roots for the hero to overcome the immortal Nazis trying to massacre his city.  The above makes me sad that I cannot in justice give it more than two stars.  Though the plot eventually becomes discernible, the events in the anime tend to be scatterbrained and the tale descends into bloody and disturbing violence.  The flashback to Sister Liza Brenner’s past as the mother of Lebensborn was probably the most disturbing part of the anime.

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Reblog: 12 Days of Anime Christmas, Day 6: The Irresponsible Captain Taylor and Reverence for the Sacred

Here’s my last post on Beneath the Tangles.  I might very well be the only writer to inveigh against something which annoyed them in an anime Christmas episode, but here it is:

12 Days of Anime Christmas, Day 6: The Irresponsible Captain Taylor and Reverence for the Sacred

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Some nice fellow did me the honor of translating this post into Spanish.  I think this counts as the first time my work has been translated, for which I am very grateful.  Muchas gracias!

12 días de Navidad Anime, día 6: El ‘Irresponsable capitán Tylor’ y la reverencia por lo sagrado

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Curiously Dead Cat Blog

I just discovered the blog of a contributor to Beneath the Tangles named Dr. Steve.  He wrote to me about his new blog, and I recall being very impressed with his article, “What Can a Succubus Teach us about Chastity?”  (There’s an impressive eye-catching title!)  He’s also written “Platitudes and Power in Juni Taisen: Zodiac War” and “Communion and the Food of the Gods in Restaurant to Another World” for Beneath the Tangles.  TWWK encouraged him to make his own blog, and Curiously Dead Cat resulted from this advice.

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His favorite show is Gate, by the way.

With such interesting posts behind him, I decided to check out his new blog.  Curiously Dead Cat has only been around since November 29th, but it has a nice assortment of articles out by now.  My eye was particularly drawn to his posts on Shirayuki Hime (I really need to watch that show) and Recovery of an MMO Junkie, which is my favorite show of the current season–what a shame that it only airs for ten episodes!  I rather enjoyed Dr. Steve’s (who now uses the handle NegativePrimes) post on the opening song of the latter anime and how it displays the idea of the characters having their identities fragmented between real life and the internet world.

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At any rate, be sure to check out his blog.  You’ll be glad that you did!

Mid-Season Review: Anime Fall 2017

tolkien-pipeThere comes a time in a blogger’s career when he must stuff a pipe, light it, and let nicotine act as his muse.  At least, that’s how I feel as I sit down to write this mid-season review.  Now, my list contains seven shows–the seventh being the formerly dropped Girls’ Last Tour.  (That’s a much easier title to remember than Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou.)  Not much happens plotwise in this show, but I think that I’ve discovered its thematic plot now that I’m four episodes in.  (Yes, I’ve not quite caught up; but, I want to get my thoughts down now before I start procrastinating.)  By the way, let me thank Gaheret for submitting a query through “Ask Medieval.”  I hope to post my reply to him soon–as soon as I write that article for Beneath the Tangles.

At any rate, let’s begin those reviews!

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1) Girls’ Last Tour

Yes, it appears that I dropped this show too soon.  It does get more interesting after episode one, even if the episodes remain slow.  The fact that the characters are not boys (Does this not seem the perfect setting for a boys’ adventure tale?) does not bother me as much anymore.  More bothersome to me now is the heroines continually wearing those helmets in freezing weather.  People often marvel that knights kept their armor on in the frigid campaigns against the Baltic pagans and the arid crusades against the Saracens.  A helmet magnifies the cold in the same way as medieval armor!  In reality, out heroines would both have stowed their helmets away long ago.  Can’t we get a slice of realism with our moé?

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Reblog: Can Christians Watch Anime?

TWWK of Beneath the Tangles wrote a very good article on what Christians need to think about when deciding whether to watch anime or not.  I highly encourage my dear readers to peruse it.  I’ve linked to it below.

Also, Beneath the Tangles is having a Patreon drive involving giving to a charity for orphans.  One of the new patrons will have the possibility of winning a copy of the film Your Name.  Something you might want to consider.

Can Christians Watch Anime

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Seven Anime for All Souls’ Day

You’ve probably read many posts about which anime to watch in celebration of Halloween. I missed the boat on that, but Halloween is actually part of a three day observance.  An alternate name for Halloween is All Hallows’ Eve, referring to it being the night before All Saints’ Day.  Today, after All Saints’ Day, comes All Souls’ Day.

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And so, we ought to be thinking about the afterlife over the course of these days.  While Halloween’s original purpose in time immemorial may have been for people to prepare for All Saints’ Day, the ghoulish costumes along with the emphasis on horror movies in October brings to mind hell rather than heaven.  On November 1st, we think of the blessed in heaven.  Today, we think instead of the poor souls who yet await the final cleansing of their souls before they enter the Pearly Gates.

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TAG – Five Flaming Hotties

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MIB did the honor of tagging me in this little game.  Thanks!  Now, I have an excuse to talk about five anime girls I find attractive.  There are two ways to concoct a list like this: 1) a list based on raw physical appearance or 2) a list based on a combination of appearance and personality.  I have chosen the latter so as not to drive away the many female fans of this blog.  This particular game had its start in the blogs Realweegiemidget Reviews and Thoughts All Sorts, which are linked to below.

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The creators probably intended for real persons to be named, but all of the movie stars I would name are well past their prime or deceased.  (I’m a huge fan of old movies.)  Also, my dear readers are likely more interested in anime characters than, say, classic stars of cinema like Sophia Loren.   Considering the wide range of personalities among anibloggers and that 82,380 female anime characters now exist according to Anime-Planet, these “top hotties” posts tend to be more interesting than one would initially think.  May my choices encourage you to check out some of the anime in which these heroines star!

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Dies Irae’s Allusion to Padre Pio

One conversation between a couple of Nazis in “episode zero” of Dies Irae caught my attention:

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There is only one priest to whom she could be referring to; though, the gift of reading hearts has not been confined to one priest of the twentieth century–or to Catholic priests for that matter.  This particular priest almost certainly Padre Pio.

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I have dubbed Padre Pio–more formally, St. Pio of Pietrelcina–“the last medieval saint.”  Though he lived from 1887 to 1968, accounts of the miraculous phenomena surrounding Padre Pio seem to belong to the saints of the thirteenth century, like St. Francis of Assisi whom Padre Pio referred to as “Our Seraphic Father.”  For, Padre Pio was not only a priest, but a Capuchin monk whose order followed the Rule of St. Francis.  Among the accounts of the miraculous surrounding Padre Pio, he saw visions of Jesus, Mary, and other saints, read hearts, received the stigmata, prayed successfully for the healing of people’s bodies and souls, bilocated, spoke in foreign tongues which he never studied, and had the gift of prophecy.

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Returning to the Aniblogosphere!

Tadaima!  That was a refreshing two months!  Though just two months, it feels like a coon’s age since I’ve blogged on Medieval Otaku.  At any rate, the transition from critic to fan was achieved over this time.  Being a critic is miserable: one watches so much anime that the flaws start standing out more than the good.  At the same time, one feels as though one never watches enough, which induces one to watch mediocre anime and be tortured more than ever.  A truly vicious cycle!

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During the past two months, I have kept up with precisely one current anime: Aho Girl (★★★★).  Two have been finished: Eureka 7 and You’re Under Arrest: Full Throttle.  Many consider Eureka 7 (★★★★1/2) one of their favorite shows, and quality and uniqueness shine through the entire series.  For all that, understanding why I enjoyed it is difficult to pinpoint.  Perhaps, if I watched it again, I could take apart more of the ideas–particularly, the comparison of Dewey Novak to Raskolnikov (the protagonist of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.)

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Ajin: an Anime with No Good Guys

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.

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