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.

Ajin2

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

PRSJOA

Continue reading

Whether to Emphasize God’s Justice or His Mercy

This topic came to the fore of my mind recently while having a talk with my father on the burial of suicides.  I brought up the fact that suicides were much fewer in number when they were forbidden a place on hallowed ground.  This very practice highlighted the gravity of suicide, i.e. damning in and of itself.  My father brought forward that there may be many extenuating circumstances (mental illness, extreme pain, or the threat of extreme pain) in each individual case, which diminish the suicide’s culpability.  Also, the mercy of God is beyond imagining.  Contrary to the opinion of the Church of the Middle Ages, we cannot be sure that every suicide is in hell.  I countered, but, does that not diminish the seriousness of the sin in most people’s eyes?  I might have even added that we now have people who hold suicide as a natural right or that suicides might now understand that they can gain the Kingdom without carrying their cross.

image

We went forth back and forth on this issue, I emphasizing justice and my father mercy, which leads us to the interesting topic of which of these attributes should be emphasized.  (If you were curious, yes, I was playing devil’s advocate above: suicides ought to receive a Christian burial because God’s mercy is infinitely greater than human wickedness–even in the case of something as final as suicide.) Many say that we can reasonably assume that most are saved.  Others, however, contend that this lackadaisical attitude toward salvation causes many to be damned.  Rather, it is reasonable to assume that most or even all penitents are saved, but most of humanity do not seek or even want God’s forgiveness.

image

Continue reading

Nihongo no Hon #3: Rurouni Kenshin Volume 23

The twenty-third volume of Rurouni Kenshin forms part of the Jinchuu Arc and distinguishes itself for its two duels: Saito vs. Yatsume (Literally, “eight eyes,” but typing it out in English makes it look like “the damn guy.” xD) and Kenshin vs. Enishi.  Yatsume is one of the assassins who originally tried to kill Kenshin in the trap set for him by the Tokugawa gov’t during the last days of the Shogunate, but Yatsume fled after Kenshin thrust a wakizashi through his hand.  He felt disappointed not to fight Kenshin first, but you can be certain that Saito was more than a match for him–a very exciting duel indeed.  We learn about the origins of both Yatsume and Enishi’s prowess; though, I could not help but feel underwhelmed with the “pirate martial arts” of which Enishi boasts.  After all, English pirates beat Wakou in one famous encounter.  Perhaps, George Silver’s English martial arts is superior to both Watou-jutsu and Hitenmitsurugi-ryu?  Anyway, you can tell that I’m annoyed with this made up martial art.  Let me continue with the article.

Saito, the most awesome character in manga, levels insults almost as well as Alucard.

Saito, the most awesome character in manga, levels insults almost as well as Alucard.

Continue reading

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.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h47m18s68

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.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h46m11s162

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.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h44m30s163

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.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h52m45s248

You couldn’t be more wrong, Kisara.

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h53m18s44

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?

vlcsnap-2014-07-28-13h52m11s141

A Limited God and Christian Intolerance

I have begun reading Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and have run into a familiar pagan conception.  Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, says that no god could be great enough to create or run the entire world.  To reference anime, Holo of Spice and Wolf claimed the same thing.  The idea of an Infinite Being baffles the pagan mind.  I will say that even though we Christians believe in such a Being, we understand terribly little about Him.  We understand enough to be saved, but not even an eternity is enough to fathom all of God’s thoughts.  This prompted one Church Father to say that anyone who knew the least thing about God was a great theologian.

Image

Merlin, Igraine, and Viviane claim that Christians are foolish in denying the existence of other gods.  Indeed, in St. Justin Martyr’s opinion, these gods are really demons; in St. Augustine’s, they are nought.  But, these pagans remind me of the Ancient Israelites, who believed that other gods existed, but they were nothing compared to the God of Israel.  It is not until later in the Psalms that we see the assertion that no god exists besides God.  This suggests an evolution in thought: God is not limited, but ever-present and all powerful.

67184_maxAnd so, why not wipe out the pagan gods who are either demons or nothing at all?  Viviane makes the further accusation that Christians only want to spread their wisdom and to suppress all other kinds.  If this were the case, why has so much pagan mythology and literature survived?  Who do you think preserved it?  Monasteries and Christian schools!  Christians have always recognized wisdom where they saw it.  God ever worked for the salvation of all men, so one should not be surprised at finding wisdom in other cultures!

Cicero denouncing Cataline

Cicero denouncing Cataline

Christianity does not wish to wipe out wisdom, but only the worship of pagan gods, which must surely be accounted utter foolishness since they do not exist.  At one time, it might have been virtuous for pagans to worship gods, especially if they accounted them good, just, and holy–as Cicero and Socrates did.  But, Christ has come to remove the veil of ignorance, teaching about salvation through one Infinite God.  But, what a widening of the mind early pagan converts must have had to change their idea of God from a creature-like form to a formless and limitless Creator!