Quick Takes for Old Anime

It’s been a little while, my dear readers.  It looks like the regular anime season is past the mid-point, so I should write something up about what I’m up to.  If you recall, most of my current watch list consists of old anime on my backlog.  I did make an exception for Cells At Work, which was recommended by MIB of MIB’s Instant Headache–an excellent recommendation.

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Most of you are familiar with the idea and the format of Quick Takes, so I’m just going to jump right in.


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Vampire Princess Miyu TV (1997-98) comes pretty close to being a masterpiece at ★★★★ 1/2.  The closest anime to compare with this show has to be Hell Girl.  Both share a female protagonist bound by fate whose closest companions are otherworldly beings–called Shinma in Vampire Princess Miyu.  (The English translation simply used the Japanese word.  “God-demon” is the most literal translation and the most confusing one.  Often, one will see creatures like this just called demons despite the Japanese equivalent for what is usually meant by the word demon is akuma.  Subbers should just borrow the term longaevi from the Latin, as this is the most accurate term for a host of beings in Japanese mythology.)  While Ai Enma is summoned to send usually wicked people to hell, Miyu works by keeping her territory clear of stray Shinma.  She’s often willing to ignore the presence of stray Shinma as long as they behave, but she’ll send them into the demon realm within a fiery inferno should they choose to prey on humans.

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On Pope Francis’s Apparent Reversal of Catholic Teaching

Pope Francis seems to want to reverse the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on capital punishment.  I’m sure that plenty of my dear readers have heard about how he intends to change the current passage in the Catholic catechism.  It is important to discuss this change, because it has the chance to undermine all Catholic dogma.  If the Church was wrong about whether capital punishment is an intrinsic evil, can we ever trust the Church about anything?  Moreover, God Himself seems to strongly encourage capital punishments at certain times during the Old Testament.  Is Pope Francis then saying that God commands people to do moral wrongs or that God is completely arbitrary?  These are very troubling notions which really can completely undermine the authority of the Catholic Church.

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Elijah slays a Prophet of Baal

 

Before I comment on the new one, let’s take a look at the old passage:

2266 The State’s effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good.  Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime.  The primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense.  When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation.  Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.

2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.

If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’

So, the old statement says that the State has the right to use capital punishment in defense of society.  At the same time, it offers the opinion that First World systems of penal correction are sophisticated enough to protect society from even very violent people; hence, there is no need for Canada, the United States, Europe, and certain other countries to have recourse to the death penalty.  There are many developing countries where the prison systems are not so perfect, so that line of argument does not fit there.

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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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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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On my Devotion to Padre Pio

Recently, I received a couple of questions from Luminas, a great follower of this blog, through the “Ask Medieval” page.  The first will be answered in this post and the second in a later one.  After that, I have high hopes of answering my next dear reader and hope for many more questions to follow!

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This question concerns why I am so devoted to Padre Pio over other saints who are similar in many ways.  First, let me start by describing Catholic worship and devotion for those who might not be so familiar with it.  It consists of three levels denoted by their Greek names: latria, hyperdulia, and dulia.  Latria refers to worship giving to God alone as Author of the Universe, Savior of the Human Race, and Source of All Goodness, Truth, and Beauty.  Hyperdulia refers specifically to the reverence paid to the Blessed Virgin Mary for being the Mother of God, the human being whose cooperation was most essential for humanity’s salvation, and the most graced human being in all of history.  Dulia refers to the reverence paid to the saints and angels for being devout servants of God and dear friends of God deserving of imitation.  Latria is absolutely necessary for salvation, hyperdulia morally necessary, and dulia necessary to practice when obligated by one’s diocese (as in a saint’s feast day being declared a holy day of obligation) but mostly subject to personal taste.  Having said that, many spiritual authors strongly recommend devotion to St. Michael, St. Joseph, and the holy angels as a group.  Be sure to thank your guardian angel for putting up with you so patiently since your days in the cradle!

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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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Reblog: Latest Post on Beneath the Tangles

I wrote a rather detailed post about some themes I discerned in the Read or Die manga.  It’s now posted on Beneath the Tangles, and I hope to get back to posting twice a month on this wonderful site–the best anime blog for describing anime according to a Christian worldview.  May you enjoy the post linked to below!

Laws of the Flesh and the Spirit in R.O.D.

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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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Medieval Book Review: Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

Most of you have not heard of this historical novel of Mark Twain’s; yet, he regarded it as his best work.  In his own words, “I like Joan of Arc best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.”  Mark Twain is known as something of a humorist, and many humorists see the dark side of life and turn to humor as a way to cope with it.  For example, many people know that Twain often wrote to underscore the injustice of Southern society towards blacks–both before and after the Civil War.  Twain loved fairness and justice above all, and these things shone yet more gloriously when painted against a background of villainy.

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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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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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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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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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A Brief Criticism of Drifters and Defense of St. Joan of Arc

Drifters stood at the top of my list among the present season’s anime, and I wrote as much in the chat of an entertaining conversation hosted by LitaKino.  Then, one of my best commentators, David A, pointed out that St. Joan of Arc was portrayed as a crazied pyromaniac in the show and as one of the villains.  This counts as the most wholly inaccurate and unflattering representations of a saint I have heard of since Wolf Hall, a show which portrays St. Thomas More as a corrupt fanatic.  I cannot get behind a show which calumniates a saint.  At least Joan of Arc’s portrayal in Shingeki no Bahamuteven though it presents a Joan of Arc who falls from grace for a time–still presents a character bearing her name as noble, courageous, and just.

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Calumniating the memory of the saints and great men counts as one of the blackest crimes a writer can commit.  Not only does the calumniator blacken someone’s reputation, but he damages the heritage of new generations.  Each generation has a right to have heroes to look up to and emulate.  One can claim that Drifters‘ portrayal is mere fiction, but most people get their information about the past from media, especially because schools don’t properly educate the youth on the subject of history.  Many people do believe that St. Joan of Arc was insane and delusional.

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Mercy in a Berserk World

While watching Berserk (2016), one cannot but be struck by how much evil exists in that world.  In that way, it imitates our own world, where every depravity has been committed at least a thousand times over.  Most figures in the story strike one as villains or mindless drones.  Few are like Guts in taking a stand against the forces of evil.  Decent people are mostly powerless against evil, and the majority only want to save their own skin–even at the expense of another’s life or hundreds of other lives.  This anime provides as bleak a picture of humanity.  Even death does not provide rest, as souls swallowed by demons remain trapped in their anger, hatred, and despair.

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But, I repeat that this world is much like ours: there is even the presence of grace though characters deny the efficacy of prayer and claim that only deeds count.  The concepts of grace and providence apply more to Nina than any other character.  Her surviving merciless soldiers, monstrous executioners, a fall of several stories, an ogreish inquisitor, and an army of infernal blob demons can only be considered providential and gracious.  Did she deserve it?  No, all her actions are selfish and call for punishment, from her clinging to life at all costs and participation at Satanic orgies to her consistent betrayal of associates and friends.

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The Importance of a Personal Philosophy

The latest episode of 91 Days inspires this topic, especially in light of what happened at the end of that episode.  Angelo has lived without purpose for the seven years following the murder of his family.  He exists in a cheap apartment with no signs of individuality and makes a living through theft.  He constantly thinks about his one great treasure, his deceased family, and has no desire to really live.  This makes him easy to manipulate as Angelo becomes embroiled in the power struggle within the Vanetti mob.  While he shows himself resolute, resourceful, and tough, he soon becomes a pawn barely able to exercise his own will.

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The above shows the importance of having a personal philosophy and of being true to oneself.  Indeed, one cannot ever be true to oneself without some personal philosophy.  The most warped mindset is that of relativism, and the relativist stands as the most miserable of all men, because his stance changes with the zeitgeist.  In terms of mindset, a racist imperialist is superior to a relativist.  Sure, it’s an awful thing to judge other men purely on external characteristics and to support a program of conquest for the benefit of the fatherland.  But, the relativist can morph from a classical liberal to a socialist to a monarchist to a democrat depending on what the majority prefers.  In England, the relativist abhors female circumcision; in Indonesia, he deems it a cultural practice worthy of toleration.  Contention and ostracism are feared above all.  At least, the racist imperialist has objective standards which he is willing to fight for.  Also, because he has objective standards, the racist imperialist can be convinced that his objective standards are not true and be brought closer to the truth.  The relativist blows with the winds of expediency.

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