Kisara’s Revenge: Right or Wrong?

Here’s one last article on Black Bullet and the Spring season of 2014.  Like most of you, Kisara’s utter obliteration of her treacherous brother took me by surprise.  I thought that she would let him off with the loss of his legs, but I suppose cutting off a limb is always the prelude to giving the killing stroke–whether one is considering Japanese or Western martial arts.  Anyway, the parricidal villain got what he deserved.


Or did he?  Kisara laughs maniacally after his death and claims that she is evil and that only evil can eradicate evil.  These two claims strike one as shocking, especially for someone from a culture where filial piety is so esteemed.  (And no, evil cannot eradicate evil.  Only justice and mercy can.)  When one takes that into account along with the traditional belief that the victims of murder will not rest in peace until they have been avenged, I’d say that most Japanese would think badly of her had she not killed Kazumitsu Tendo.


So, whence arises the idea that she did wrong?  I am tempted to think Kisara’s words as purely rooted in the emotion of the moment.  To a person of integrity, killing is always ugly and painful even if justified.  Or does she feel that she ought to have left Kazumitsu’s punishment to the authorities?  But, one has already seen the degree of corruption in both the police and the government, and Kisara no doubt took this into account when she undertook extralegal means to avenge her parents.  Using a duel to execute a murderer is hardly ideal, but neither is Black Bullet‘s society.


I’m pretty sure this did not enter into Kisara’s mind at all, but in the spirit of this blog let’s ask this question: was it unchristian to kill her brother?  The Faith does recommend mercy.  Kisara could have stopped short of killing him at least, right?  But, four things must be taken into account when judging this matter: 1) Kazumitsu thinks nothing of taking human life–even the lives of his parents; 2) merely maiming him does not prevent him from continuing to use his political power or influence to cause grave harm; 3) the corrupt government might acquit in a trial, thus allowing him to continue to take human lives or endanger society for his own ends; and 4) Kazumitsu would no doubt be using his power to eliminate witnesses should he be arraigned.  I think that there exists a hierarchy of compassion in Christianity and prudence partially governs how mercy is given.  As the Glossa Interlinearis, a 12th century Biblical gloss by Anselm of Laon, states: “Justice and mercy are so united that one ought to be mingled with the other; justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice profusion…” (Gloss to Matt. 5:7).  Permitting Kazumitsu to live in society places the life of a murderer above his potential victims.  To have compassion on the murderer in this case is to lack compassion for the innocent.  Giving the lethal blow to Kazumitsu falls more under Katsujinken (“the life giving sword”) than Satsujinken (“the murdering sword”).

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h50m41s25 vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h51m21s188

If anything could have rendered Kazumitsu’s death a moral wrong, it would be if Kisara had arranged the duel in the belief that she was doing wrong.  It is possible to render something objectively right evil by having the wrong intention.  For example, giving money to the poor in order to be praised by others or telling truth for the purpose of delighting in another’s pain on hearing it.  The ugliness of the deed certainly struck her after the fact, but she did not have any doubts about whether she should fight Kazumitsu beforehand.  The preparations before the duel evince her sense of righteous indignation.  But, if there be any truth to Kisara’s belief that she’s evil for avenging her parents, it could only be because she undertook the revenge believing that she was doing wrong.


You couldn’t be more wrong, Kisara.


Nevermind, you could be.

But, what do my dear readers think?  Was Kisara’s action laudable filial piety?  The only way to stop a dangerous malefactor?  Erroneous vigilantism?  Or wrong because Kisara acted against her conscience from the beginning?


Picking on Black Bullet Again

Ah, these days, I have a hard time finding ideas for articles.  And so, I’ve decided to pick on Black Bullet for some things which excited my interest or peeves in the last three episodeswhich I watched on Crunchyroll.  I already wrote an article accusing Black Bullet of feeling trite or corny.  There were a few examples of that in these three episodes, but I prefer to concentrate on some other things.  Ready for a rambling rant?


First, what is it with the Japanese obsession with numbers?  Especially as related to either chances of success or power levels?  (We all know that a plan which has a 0.0001% chance of success cannot possibly fail, right?)  In episode seven, Miori tells Rentaro that he has a power level rating of 2,200%, while Enju has one of 8,600% and Tina 12,900%.  While this is supposed to create a certain amount of suspense before the fight, one cannot get out of one’s mind that Rentaro will fight a little girl less than half his size.  It is very hard to make the audience enthusiastic about such a bout or to make the blond haired, blue eyed Tina appear that threatening.  (She’s not Balalaika, you know?)  In their defense, the fight was exciting, but I could not help feeling sorry for Tina when she got struck or thinking that Rentaro was more like a 13,000% than a 2,200% for that matter.

Tina vs Rentaro

Then, the scene immediately after the fight frustrated me on several accounts.  You had that punk attempt to execute Tina, as two persons with less strength than is in Rentaro’s index finger bring him to heel.  Rentaro just defeated terminator girl and allows himself to get manhandled by some losers?  Come on!  Before Tina is riddled with bullets, Seitenshi appears and rescues Rentaro and Tina by the might of her auctoritas, promoting Rentaro to #300.  Upon which, Rentaro shoots off the punk’s finger.  The hero just off and mutilates someone and Seitenshi, who’s all about peace and unity, just looks on.  Not saying that the punk did not deserve it, but what kind of society is she trying to build where cruel and unusual punishment is condoned?


Another thing which annoyed me is well known to people that understand Japanese: the Japanese language and ordinary Japanese discourse is mostly free of curses.  If a Japanese person wants to insult someone, he mostly resorts to rude variations of the word “you” (temee, kisama, and omae) or prefixs kuso or bakato a person’s name.  And there are various forms of name calling, mostly revolving around whether someone is ugly or stupid.  But stuff that hardly counts as foul language!  And so, why does Yuyuki’s partner drop the f-bomb according to the subtitles?  He certainly doesn’t say the word, though he is speaking rudely to Rentaro.*  Surely, there was a more creative way to show his contempt for Rentaro?  The only place I recall anime characters actually using the f-word–an English loan word, by the way–is Black Lagoon.

Revy with cutlass

And there was one place, I do think the subber ought to have placed a pejorative where he did not.  As Rentaro is destroying Tina’s targeting sensors, he says, “Mittsu-me.”  This is simply translated as “three.”  But, you know, Rentaro often strikes me as a bland fellow.  Most other heroes would say “San-biki,” using the counter for a small, insignificant animal rather than the neutral counter –tsu.  It would really have added much more color and emotion to Rentaro if the subber tried to included the sense of the suffix -me by translating mittsu-me as “three of the damn things.”


But, Black Bullet is a great show for what me and my friends affectionately term “anime lines.”  To understand what we mean, consider the following:

“I am going to kill many people and destroy many things, then my sister will be happy, and I will be satisfied. – (Full Metal Panic)

“People that dare to disturb a duel shall be run over by a tank!”
-Ritsuko (from Those who Hunt Elves)

“Our guns are useless against moving targets”
-Captian Romius (Gundam Seed)

“The 120 students that depend on baked goods sold on site will starve. The results are all too clear. Riots and pillaging. Moral decay. Order within the school will surely plummet.” -Hayashimizu (Full Metal Panic Fumoffu)

Black Bullet Kisara

You get the idea.  An anime line is a line so bizarre or random that one would only hear it in anime.  Take this one delivered by Rentaro to Tina: “When I met Enju, her eyes were even colder and more vacant than ours.” xD  Rentaro!  Do you really have no better object of comparison than your present selves?  Does this mean you believe both Tina and you have been divested of human warmth and emotion?  Then, Sumire’s “translation” of Rentaro’s promise to help Tina secures her position as my favorite character in the anime: “You’re a vital part of my little girl harem plan, there’s no way you’re getting away.”  I think her translation is perfect.

Black Bullet Sumire

I hope that you enjoyed this little ramble!

*Edit: I must thank AngryJellyfish for pointing out that the subbers did not needlessly add the curses, but that both Katagiri siblings actually did drop the f-bomb.  So, they provided an accurate, unbowdlerized translation.  For me needing several passes before I finally heard it, I accuse the Japanese voice actors of bad pronunciation. xD

How I’m Enjoying the Season Thus Far

You’re probably wondering how I’m getting along this season.  My list of shows is still at nine, but that comes from me dropping two and adding two more.  Ranking them from favorite to least favorite, the order of shows would look like this:

  1. Hitsugi no Chaika
  2. Gokukoku no Brynhildr
  3. Black Bullet
  4. Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii
  5. Nanana’s Buried Treasure
  6. Mekakucity Actors
  7. Knights of Sidonia
  8. Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to
  9. Captain Earth


Compared to my old list, this one has lost the sumo wrestling anime and Fuun Ishin Dai-Shogun.  The latter was particularly bad, and reading about the former deflated any desire I had to watch it.  What’s new to this list are Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii and Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to.  I am greatful to Lee Relph of MIB’s Instant Headache for recommending the former.  This comedic fantasy boasts some of the most likable characters this season.  The ups and downs of Nike and Livius’s romance, Nike’s exuberant behavior, and the intrigue surrounding Livius’ court make for a fun show.  Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to is hilarious, though I can see some people turning it down for the outlandish themes in its comedy.  If it were not so funny, I doubt that I could have made it through the panty episode, i.e. the very first episode.

Aito-san exclaims "Light!" in Japanese as he makes light of the master manga assistant, Sena Kuroi.

Aito-san exclaims “Light!” in Japanese as he makes light of the master manga assistant, Sena Kuroi.

There are two reasons Hitsugi no Chaika tops the list: 1) it’s based in the world of Scrapped Princess, one of my favorite shows and earliest anime in my career as an otaku; and 2) my ignorance of its story.  Otherwise, Gokukoku no Brynhildr is about as strong a show, but I’m familiar with the manga.  The anime sticks like glue to the manga’s story line, though it is fun to see it animated.  My last anime post pointed out a flaw in the action of Black Bullet, but for all that it well deserves the number three spot.

Akari Acura

Another blogger whom I need to thank for a recommendation is Overlord Bear for suggesting Mekakucity Actors to me.  It’s a very interesting show, animated in the vein of Bakemonogatari.  (Watching this is making me consider trying to watch Nisemonogatari again.)  Overall, the characters and action are only a little less enjoyable than those of Nanana’s Buried Treasure.  But, I’m greatly looking forward to the direction the plot takes us.

Momo of Mekaku City Actors

Along with Gokukoku no Brynhildr, I also decided to start reading the manga for Knights of Sidonia.  After ten chapters or so, I dropped the manga Knights of Sidonia, and found my enthusiasm rather killed for the show.  Basically, I came to dislike both the characters and the world in which Knights of Sidonia was set.  Why is it still on my list then?  I felt that it would be unjust to drop the anime because I didn’t like the manga.  After all, it is possible that the anime studio outdid the mangaka.  In this case, they certainly did: the characters feel more lifelike and the situation less grim.  (Not much less grim, but sufficiently so.)  The show could easily vault higher into the rankings.

If not for the threat of giant monsters, the future presented by Knights of Sidonia would consist of varying degrees of monotony.

If not for the threat of giant monsters, the future presented by Knights of Sidonia would consist of varying degrees of monotony.

Captain Earth owes its low position merely to the fact that I have not made time to watch it beyond episode two.  I was very excited for this show in the beginning and enjoyed the first couple of episodes before becoming distracted by other shows which seemed more interesting.  After all, mecha is not my favorite genre and we’ve seen the plot where a teenage boy suddenly becomes a giant robot pilot before.  But, the hero has guts and doesn’t appear two dimensional, so I’m going to start watching it again.

Well, that’s my situation this season.  I’m not sure whether any series will equal the classics of anime, but I hope that they will offer as much food for thought as they already have fun.

Black Bullet and the Difficulty of Expressing Noble Sentiments

While watching Black Bullet last night, the hackneyed quality of some of the lines in episodes three and four struck me.  Don’t get me wrong: I find the show very enjoyable.  It boasts likable characters and some brilliant animation, especially in the way they draw the characters’ eyes.  Seitenshi has some of the most brilliant blues I’ve seen anywhere in anime.  (Yes, I’ve fallen in love.)  Still, the hackneyed quality of some of the lines and impossibility of surviving certain wounds bother me: having both kidneys pierced and a hole as wide as the Grand Canyon made in one’s abdomen are lethal even in most other shonen anime.


Which brings us to the question of the difficulty of showing noble deeds and sentiments in a way which does not strike the audience as corny.  The difficulty is actually quite extreme: authors must be as noble as the ideas they wish to express.  Otherwise, these ideas come across as trite–rather than the writer being an authority on nobility, he thieves from the annals of heroes.  For example, those lines and scenes concerning the ostracism suffered by Enju, Rentaro’s insistence on her value and the value of other cursed children, and the gratitude for Rentaro’s acceptance shown by Kayo struck a chord with me.  Those times where Rentaro exclaims his zeal for saving the world, his condemnation of Kagetane’s actions, his perseverance in suffering through essentially mortal wounds, and risking transforming into a giant monster did not.

I had to fit her in somewhere. :)

I had to fit her in somewhere. 🙂

Everyone would like to write an epic; but those who have not suffered agony, strove nobly, or found their hearts aflame with great ideals cannot be expected to produce epics.  Emperor Augustus asked many poets to write an epic for the glory of Rome, but most excused themselves.  This developed into a tradition where Roman writers would publish their first work of poetry with an apology for not writing epic.  Only Virgil undertook the task, painstakingly composing an average of two lines per day.  And then, as Virgil lay dying, he begged his friends to burn the manuscript, because he thought that the manuscript lacked polish and stood as an inferior work–Virgil’s magnum opus, the Aeneid!


Virgil’s self-doubt points to the second thing necessary to generate sublime thoughts: humility.  As we see Rentaro shrugging off mortal wounds or ripping off an artificial arm bound to his nervous system without hesitation, we become vexed at seeing the unreality of these actions.  These heroic acts lacked the aura of heroism because Rentaro does not display human weakness.  A good shonen anime does show that its characters struggle to overcome human weakness whether it be Kenshin’s temptation to give up living toward the end of his duel with Shishio, the doubts constantly assailing Kiba’s mind, or Inuyasha’s self-hatred and thirst for power.  And we cannot forget the hero of the greatest modern epic, Frodo Baggins, whose determination would have been vain had he not been supported by so many and Providence saved him from his own folly at the critical moment.


One has difficulty identifying with Rentaro as a warrior.  He’s at his best while he supports Enju; but, in combat situations where he should have to struggle with human weakness, he proves to be an Übermensch having no weaknesses to overcome!  Would that the authors have added their own experience of physical suffering into Rentaro’s battles!  They would have been far more moving!

Spring Season 2014: Not so Bad After All

Seven out of the nine shows which caught my attention have been viewed so far.  I also added one more: Blade and Soul, due to D. M. Dutcher’s first impressions of the season.  Some of the backgrounds are remarkably beautiful, and the action’s not bad.  On the other hand, the character designs and predominately female cast make this show feel like Queen’s Blade–not that I watched more than two minutes of the show!  (Yes, I ought not even have entertained any hope for Queen’s Blade being a good anime.  But, Grenadier and Freezing are examples of enjoyable fanservicey shows which have more to them than the heroine’s bosom.  So, I felt Queen’s Blade had a chance.)  All the characters in episode one appear disappointingly flat; n.b. I refer to their character, not physique.  But, I am ready to give this show one more shot.  I have yet to find episode one of Mekakucity Actors, and reading about Abarebou Rikishi!! made me more eager to watch Ashita no Joe than the sumo version of a similar story.

Black Bullet

Anyway, the first show to receive my approval was Black Bullet.  The cast of characters are pretty cool–even the frenetic Enju–and the tale seems to be a cross of Psycho-Pass and Mushi-Uta.  (If you haven’t seen Mushi-Uta, watch it when you’re in the mode for something weird and soul crushing.)  Despite the cheerful characters, there’s plenty of darkness surrounding this world, and I expect the story to become darker as the series progresses.


Hitsugi no Chaika seems to be a lighthearted fantasy.  I like the fact that unicorns are treated as baneful rather than cute.  Some have noticed that the hero’s sister is unusually possessive of her brother, perhaps even incestuous.  But, this trait is more an affectation than purposive, as one would find in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei.  For example, she attacks her brother for dining with Chaika and says later, after Toru speaks badly of himself: “Even if you are my honored brother, I will not allow you to look down on the brother I admire so much.”  It’s comedic, not serious!!!  Then, Chaika herself is a fun character with her stilted speech and super-powered sniper rifle/magical rod.  With it’s splendid mixture of comedy, quirky characters, and action, I’m expecting good things from this show.

Multiplication troubles

TWWK made brief comments on Gokukoku no Brynhildr on Beneath the Tangles.  He claimed that the beginning of the episode indicated that the series would be dark and brooding.  It can be, but the characters are too focused on survival and making the best of their fugitive lives for these moods to last long.  From having read the manga, I can say that Lynn Okamoto, the author of Elfen Lied, has improved on his craftsmanship, as the characters are more vivacious and the killing is less–even if this series’ secret government agency is more odious and cruel.  I could barely put the manga down and expect good things from the anime adaptation–still not sure whether they will tone down the blood and gore.


Only anime would have a cute gamer for a ghost.

Only anime would have a cute gamer for a ghost.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure promises complex, likable characters.  The story is set on an artificial island dedicated to boarding schools where the author has decided to study.  (That’s one way to make sure parents don’t get in the way of the tale.)  Only, he discovers that he shares his room with the ghost of murdered Nanana–one of the founders of this island.  The characters are so likable that I find myself enthusiastic for this show–despite the little amount of information given by the first episode.


Two mecha series looked like they could be fun.  Knights of Sidonia does a beautiful job of employing CG.  They focus on the backgrounds and the scenery rather than on the characters, and I find myself curious to learn more about this world.  Captain Earth has hero for whom I identify greatly.  (Letting one’s studies go in order to research more important things?  Might as well be your humble blogger piloting the mech!)  This show offers a very intriguing opening despite the traditional “Congratulations!  You’re now a mech pilot in charge of saving the world!” scenario.


But, the main reason I find myself a little leery of the above two shows is because my tastes do not lean toward mecha.  I thank Full Metal Panic for making me interested in the genre.  After all, I started watching anime with shows like Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai: Hunt for the Sword, Inuyasha, Peacemaker, and Samurai Deeper Kyo.  See a common theme here?

Samurai Hunt for the Sword: my introduction to harem anime and boob jokes.

Samurai Hunt for the Sword: my introduction to harem anime and boob jokes.

And let me tell you all you need to know about Dai-Shogun – Great Revolution: it’s horrible and will liquify your brain.  The first episode features a hero who’s only interest is fighting, plenty of fanservice, and a murderess who amputates her victims’ analog stick–to borrow a slang from Gintama–before finishing them off.  Yeah, a show which panders to the base desires.

But, I must retract what I said in a prior article.  I’m impressed so far and hope that this strong start will carry over to a great finish.

A Fortunately Lackluster Season?

I tried to write a proper post on the 2014 Spring season, but I have not found an anime season so depressing since the Spring season of 2012.  Of the nine which I have listed below, I find myself most interested in Mekakucity Actors and Gokukoku no Brynhildr.  The first anime because Overlord Bear is thrilled about the series, and the second series because it comes from the pen of the author of Elfen Lied.  That’s a solid recommendation.  Here’s the list with parenthetical commentary where I please:


1) Knights of Sidonia

2) Black Bullet

3) Mekakucity Actors

4) Captain Earth

5) Gokukoku no Brynhildr

6) Fuun Ishin Dai Shogun (Can’t the Japanese get over the fact that they lost WWII?)

7) Hitsugi no Chaika (I can’t resist picaresque tales.)

8) Nanana’s Buried Treasure

9) Abarebou Rikishi!! Matsutaro (From the mangaka of Ashita no Joe.  I really want to watch that classic one day.)

Nadia Secret of the Blue Water

My lack of enthusiasm for the new season makes me feel like I’m going through an anime doldrums.  (I might even eventually drop all of these shows.)  But, I am still keenly interested in Kill la Kill, Witchcraft Works, NoragamiHajime no Ippo: Rising, and Tonari no Seki-kun.  Then, certain shows are on my watching list which I should plow through when I get the chance, like El Cazador de la Bruja, Infinite Stratos II, and Bodacious Space Pirates.  (I still need to write my opinion of the last show in that list.)  Then again, Cajun Samurai managed to get me interested in Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water, which now happens to be streaming on Hulu.  I expect this old anime to contain disappointments, but it sounded like enjoyable.

So, this season’s main benefit to me is that I can catch up on all the old shows which I have wanted to watch but not found the time for.  Anyone have a more positive view of the upcoming season?