Broken Blade and Meditations on Human Misery

As many of you know, I’m incredibly fond of a manga called Broken Blade or Break Blade.  I just finished watching the superbly animated series of OVAs based on the first part of that manga.  They follow a protagonist named Rygart, who’s considered useless for his rare inability to use magic.  Somehow, this very deficiency allows him to pilot an ancient mech discovered around this time.  This fortunate event comes of the heels of war being declared against the kingdom ruled by Rygart’s best friends from college: King Hodr and Queen Sigyn.

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The mech transforms this useless and disappointing guy into a hero.  However, even all the talent he has for piloting this mech avails naught against General Borcuse.  *Spoilers ahead!  You have fair warning!*  In the final battle of the series with everything on the line, Rygart fanatically attacks Borcuse’s larger and more powerful mech with his now ragged looking mech.  All his weapons break and Borcuse toys with him.  At last, Rygart is given a curious looking weapon–which doesn’t work!  At least at first, but through swinging it around enough times, he gains the victory.  YOU MUST WATCH THIS FIGHT!!!!  ITS AWESOMENESS DEFIES EXPLANATION!!!!

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*Ahem*  Now, that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I can begin tying the above to human misery.  Rygart’s situation in the OVAs parallels a believer’s in many ways.  We are hounded by our sense of misery, incapacity, and guilt: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy” (John 16:20).  Though we make great strides in faith and virtue, at last we find a difficult opponent who mocks us by our failure to conquer him.  We overcame large faults, but grow melancholy under nickel and dime temptations; or, we gain little virtues, but have a great fault that downs us often.  Our prayer and penance, by which we conquered our other foes, don’t eradicate this new enemy.  We get tired and frustrated.  Our hope wears thin.  Each prayer and penance seems a joke: our lower soul wishes to burst out laughing perhaps in the middle of prayer for humility, chastity, patience, peace, piety, hope, industry, or magnanimity as our higher soul mourns our infidelity.  Our efforts fall into Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Essential acts strike us as absurd.  Yet, their very absurdity is no argument for their discontinuation!

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Human misery, even if we focused on a single person, gapes as an unfathomably terrifying abyss.  We have no reason to “believe in ourselves” as the popular mantra goes, and many reasons to distrust ourselves.  These powerful foes or nickel and dime temptations I mentioned earlier cannot be escaped by dint of effort–especially the smaller temptations which attack us like annoying flies.  We need to patiently endure every hour of the day and carry these temptations even to our beds, knowing that victory is not in our hands, but in God’s.

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Yet, let not the struggle depress anyone: what more perfect edifice has God’s Infinite Mercy to build upon than unfathomable human misery?  Indeed, God’s Mercy shows its very infinitude by filling up human misery with its grace, forgiveness, and strength.  Like Rygart, we must swing the weapons of prayer and penance unceasingly.  We feel like asses in our inability to perceive the benefit of these actions, but we must also imitate the donkey in our stubbornness.  In patience, we shall possess our souls!

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I have borrowed from St. Francis de Sales for the above paragraphs, and would heartily recommend his Introduction to the Devout Life or Jean Pierre Camus’s The Spirit of St. Francis for anyone interested in learning more of his wisdom.

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Where’s the Anime Gone?

Some of you may be wondering whether I still watch anime or if I have become disenchanted with modern anime and started to focus solely on manga, like xxxHolicWing of Chronical Holic.  May she find reasons to get excited about anime again, since I have always enjoyed reading her articles–though I admit having to catch up.  Fear not, my dear readers!  I have a tidy list of shows which I happen to be watching on and off.  You may expect some reviews in the near future.  Also, a few more for manga: Bartender, Break Blade, Fuyu Hanabi, Guardian Dog, Gunka no Balzer, and Hinekure Shisho no Mikaiketsu Jikenroku have caught my attention in particular.  I might have reviewed Break Blade already though.  I’ll check later.

My favorite current manga for its dynamic characters, period detail, and political intrigue.

My favorite current manga for its dynamic characters, period detail, and political intrigue.

At any rate, Girls und Panzer and Future Diary provided excellent entertainment with the later raising some interesting moral questions.  I rather enjoyed both, though I admit to Future Diary being somewhat of an acquired taste.  At least, the points where I disagree with it furnish apt material for editorials.  Unfortunately, I can’t write anything else about Girls und Panzer besides what people have already written: it’s a unique show which excels at action.  Watch it!

Who knew that a show combining high school girls and tanks could be so fantastic?

Who knew that a show combining high school girls and tanks could be so fantastic?

Having been intrigued by a review of Dusk Maiden of Amnesia written by Marlin-sama of Ashita no Anime, searching for a good comedy yesterday finally led me to watch it.  Three episodes into the show, the comedy has remained spectacular, the fanservice not over the top, and the overall tone wonderfully touching.  So, you can expect an article from me on the show in the future.  On a friend’s recommendation, I have started to watch the Break Blade movies.  As a fan of the manga, I was happy to see that they have kept the story faithful to the original story and that the animation is quite stunning.  Then, there are a couple of other shows which bloggers’ articles have led me to watch: Charles of Beneath the Tangles recommended Kotoura-san, and John Samuel of Pirates of the Burley Griffin’s series of articles on Bodacious Space Pirates drew me to watching that show.

Another surprisingly good show led by high school girls, the ambassadors of Japanese culture.

Another surprisingly good show led by high school girls, the ambassadors of Japanese culture.

Then, there are a few others which I’m currently enjoying: Gintama, Hunter x Hunter, Inuyasha: the Final Act, Psycho-pass, and Ys.  Gintama rates highly among comedies, as its six season run attests.  It’s a rather frenetic show, going everywhere from high-class, dramatic series of episodes to episodes of low-brow toilet humor.  Sometimes I wonder whether a different show has insidiously taken Gintama‘s place.  I’m watching the original Hunter x Hunter, and just can’t seem to find the time to finish it.  If I did, I’d probably turn to the remake, which has received a lot of good press.  Inuyasha: the Final Act shows remarkable improvement from the original show in regard to animation quality, and I can’t wait to see the demise of Naraku in color.  Psycho-pass has frequently horrified me by the bloodiness of the crimes, and, in the last episode I watched, outraged me with the scene showing a brutal murder in a crowd with the onlookers merely spectating.  Yet, it offers an interesting view of human nature alongside its utopian society.  I should pen an article for it pretty soon.  Lastly, the fantasy Ys deserves a very harsh, mocking review.  It proves that not every anime from the 90’s is as good as I’d like it to be.  The characters’ actions are so artificial that it makes me feel like I’m watching video game cut scenes!

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Oh, and I have also been watching Shin Sekai Yori.  That sums up my anime watching history over the past few months.  Look forward to some nice reviews!