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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Reblog: Examining Light Novels: On Female Deacons

“Examining Light Novels” has returned to Beneath the Tangles!  I decided to write it on a somewhat contentious topic–at least, in Catholic circles.  The idea was mentioned in volume thirteen of Spice and Wolf.  I wonder what religious ideas the next volume will present the reader?

Click on the link below!

Examining Light Novels: On Female Deacons

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Rating the Anime of Fall 2016, Part 2

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(Here is the second part of my fall 2016 review.  Enjoy!)

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3) Izetta: the Last Witch – ★★★★

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.

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10 Reasons Why It Sucks To Be An Anime Fan

Fujinsei Kempo posts are always great fun to read. See how many of these points relate to you. 🙂

Fujinsei

FUJINSEI KEMPO
Achieving Enlightenment the Otaku Way
~Cross-shishou

Osu!  Greetings, shokun! It is I, Cross-shishou, back as promised for the last part of this 2-Part Lessons Series. Last week, you learned “10 Reasons Why It’s Awesome To Be An Anime Fan”. But like I always say in my Fujinsei Kempo lessons, everything has a dark side. Today, I’ll be teaching you “10 Reasons Why It Sucks To Be An Anime Fan”. As much as I would like to turn a blind eye to this dark side of the fandom and bury it into oblivion, it is my responsibility as your Otaku Master to inform you about it, so you don’t find yourself corrupted. So are you ready? Let’s start. Osu!


10 Reasons Why It Sucks To Be An Anime Fan

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Rating the Anime of Fall 2016

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.

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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.

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Anime Winter 2017 & Some Blog Resolutions

The winter anime season is practically upon us, and I’ve yet to wrap up IzettaTrickster, and Flip Flappers.  But, these shows ought to be finished and reviewed with the other fall anime choices of mine on or before January 7th, which appears to be the new season’s official start.  And, I’ll have to reveal my favorite anime of last year!

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Many upcoming shows caught my eye:

  1. ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
  2. Chain Chronicle
  3. Chaos; Child
  4. KonoSuba 2
  5. Little Witch Academia
  6. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
  7. Onihei
  8. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2
  9. Spiritpact

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Excaliber and the Second Meaning Behind Advent

Let Christmas count as the end of this blog’s hiatus.  The cause for me taking breaks likes this lies in the components of my writing, which I have compared to the hurricane cocktail in an old post, being out of whack.  These are still not in perfect proportion–especially the passionfruit ingredient; yet, so many ideas have come into my head during this time that I must open the floodgates of my imagination.

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The present article was one such inspired by my thoughts on THE SCENE in the film Excaliber and the Advent season.  If you have never seen Excaliber, by all means stop reading now and watch this cinematic classic.  Those of you who prefer to pass over this pleasure may get a sense of what I shall write about below by watching THE SCENE and the events immediately preceding it:

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Medieval Otaku Says “Saraba ja!”

Well, my dear readers, it’s time for me to take another break from blogging here.  Also, my column “Examining Light Novels” on Beneath the Tangles will be put on hold for the time being; though, I intend to write one article for their “Twelve Days of Christmas” series.  It’s a shame that this hiatus comes before the end of National Blog Posting Month, but so be it.  Medieval Otaku will return at some point in January.  In the meantime, I might write some articles on my two other blogs which I have neglected in favor of this one in order to keep the writing muscles in shape.

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Saraba ja or Saraba da is an antiquated Japanese term for good-bye which I learned recently.  The closest expression in English is “Godspeed!” and the Spanish “Adios!” might be even closer in meaning.  Apparently, the samurai used to wish each other good-bye with Saraba ja, and, if blogs are to be believed, it’s Buddhist in derivation and wishes “eternal wisdom” on the addressee.  (Kodansha’s Essential Kanji Dictionary gives the kanji in the valediction two meanings “yes” for zen pronunciation and “nature” for nen, but I am certain this is not exhaustive.)

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Happy Thanksgiving and saraba ja!

The Black Cat Takes A Stroll

A great review of a flawed book. Stephen King says that aspiring authors should read bad books now and then to build confidence that one can get published, and this book sounds perfect for that.

Contemporary Japanese Literature

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Title: The Black Cat Takes a Stroll: The Edgar Allan Poe Lectures
Japanese Title: 黒猫の遊歩あるいは美学講義 (Kuroneko no yūho arui wa bigaku kōgi)
Author: 森 晶麿 (Mori Akimaro)
Translator: Ian M. MacDonald
Publication Year: 2016 (America); 2011 (Japan)
Publisher: Bento Books
Pages: 146

Let me preface my review of The Black Cat Takes a Stroll by saying that this book is misogynistic pseudo-intellectual garbage.

I’ve tried to keep my tone sane and reasonable, but I don’t want to mislead anyone into wasting their time reading about something that celebrates notions of male dominance and superiority. If you know this sort of thing won’t appeal to you, it’s probably best to skip this review.

The Black Cat Takes a Stroll is a collection of short horror-themed mystery stories centered around “the Black Cat,” a genius 24-year-old professor. The narrator is a first-year PhD student specializing in Western literature. She became…

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