Some April Quick Takes

Hisashiburi da, ne? Yours truly is going to try to make up for the long gap between now and my last post with some quick takes. I rely on this format too much. One day, you may see some more posts like “Contra Divitias: Kill la Kill’s Opprobrium of Wealth” or, everyone’s favorite, “Shogo Makishima: the Villain who Should be Hero.” Today is not that day, but I hope that you enjoy what I’ve written below.

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Yesterday marked the 9th anniversary of Medieval Otaku. Most blogs don’t last that long, and it’s obvious to me why they don’t: one seldom has the same level of passion for a subject or time to write about it as when one began. The sad thing about that is how often someone finds this blog and tells me how much they enjoy reading these scribblings. This indicates how much certain people still like to read about old anime, which I’m more inclined to write about these days–when I write at all. You also make me guilty, and guilt is the font of productivity–as a psychologist might tell you about conscientious people.

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I have turned more towards reading manga of late than watching anime. Here’s an exhaustive list of the stuff in my collection. (Assume that I own the complete set unless otherwise noted.) Tell me whether you notice some of your favorites below:

  • Full Metal Panic
  • Gunsmith Cats
  • Inuyasha
  • Rurouni Kenshin
  • Gun Blaze West
  • Busou Renkin (vols. 1-7)
  • Geobreeders (vols. 1-9)
  • Full Metal Alchemist (vols. 3-7)
  • Silencer (vol. 1)
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo (vols. 1-26)
  • Claymore (vols. 1-16)
  • Gunslinger Girl
  • Azumanga Daioh
  • Black Cat
  • Chrono Crusade
  • Maison Ikkoku (collector’s edition vols. 1-3)
  • Urusei Yatsura (collector’s edition vols. 1-9)

Most of those are in English, but Inuyasha, Geobreeders, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Nobuhiro Watsuki’s works are in Japanese. My manga collection used to be larger, but I have since pared it down to only include those works which I will read more than once.

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I hope that you have all enjoyed a fruitful Holy Week and a happy Easter Sunday. There is still more of the Easter season to celebrate. This next Sunday is called Divine Mercy Sunday. Catholics who receive the sacrament of penance within eight days (before or after) of receiving Holy Communion on that Sunday and say a short prayer invoking Divine Mercy (e.g. “Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner” or “Jesus, I trust in you”) may receive a plenary indulgence. A plenary indulgence refers to a full pardon from God of all temporal punishments, either on earth or in purgatory, for sin. The qualification “may receive” is added above because a plenary indulgence requires the recipient not to even have an attachment to venial sin. If one is still attached to certain venial sins, the indulgence is partial.

Be that as it may, Christ promised St. Faustina, to whom he delivered the revelation that the Sunday after Easter be dedicated to His Divine Mercy, that the treasuries of His Mercy will be open that day. He intended this feast to prepare the world for His Second Coming. So, be sure that one will receive a significant indulgence on that day even if not a full one!

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The mangaka who most catches my attention now is Rumiko Takahashi. Her work Inuyasha ignited my passion for both manga and the Japanese language. The slow translation of Inuyasha into English inspired me to learn the original language, and VIZ Media finished translating it years after I had read the entire series. Takahashi’s Japanese is pretty easy to read and sure to inspire any neophyte learner of the language that he’s making great progress.

Having said that, I am reading Urusei Yatsura and Maison Ikkoku in English now. Part of me wishes that I did not take the lazy way: Takahashi loves puns, and the translator sometimes really stretches to come up with English equivalents. The complete tankobun edition of Ranma 1/2 only goes for around $50, so that might end up on my shelves in the original. Maybe I’ll pick up Mermaid Forest in the near future.

At this point in my manga reading hobby, I’ve determined that it really is better to read manga as a physical book or in an e-book. Reading manga online often comes with too many ads and slow loading times.

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Kindles are too convenient. A Kindle Paperwhite sits by my bedside as a dedicated e-reader, and it houses a library in a device small enough to fit into a large jacket pocket. Of the twenty-five books I’ve read so far this year, only seven were not on one of my Kindles. I find the Kindle Fire 8 is better for reading manga while the Paperwhite excels it for standard books. Looking at all the books I have lying unread around the house makes me feel guilty about using Kindle almost exclusively. Does anyone else experience a similar feeling?

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Since the CCP Virus has spread around the world, China has made a ton of money selling masks and other medical supplies to afflicted nations. For my part, I’ve decided to boycott Chinese tea until that government pays some kind of reparations for their part in spreading COVID-19 across the world. It’s impossible to cut out Chinese products completely from one’s life, but tea is a different story. I confess that Chinese tea is the best in the world (though the Indians likely produce better black tea), but one can still get excellent tea from Japan, Taiwan, India, Ceylon, Nepal, Kenya, and even South Carolina. I feel as much need to buy Chinese tea as I do to buy Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager.

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I hope that all of my dear readers have watched The Wind Rises. Hayao Miyazaki provides us with an animated biography of Jiro Hirokoshi, the designer of Japan’s famed Zero fighter plane. The movie was very well done. Recently, I came across a book titled Zero, which was written by Jiro Hirokoshi and Masatake Okumiya, a Japanese army officer. It chronicles the introduction of the Zero in the Second Sino-Japanese War, which began in 1937 and lasted until the end of WWII, and continues until Japan’s defeat. I have not come across another book dealing with WWII from the Japanese perspective and find this one fascinating.

May you hear from me again soon!

What Medieval Otaku’s Been Doing, Part II

Below are various shows I’ve been watching but have yet to finish.  Many of them are quite old with the oldest produced in 1978 and the latest in 2014.  Tomorrow or the day after, I propose to finally get around to writing about how I feel about the new season.  Let’s get started!

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1) Space Pirate Captain Harlock

Many of my dear readers may not understand the appeal of a thirty-seven year old anime.  After all, the animation is rougher, the action less fluid, and the characters often downright cartoony–a trait undesirable for many anime fans.  Also, the opening song is much more military sounding than in those found in contemporary shows.  Perhaps, it is the differences which make it my recent favorite.  Captain Harlock is a singular figure.  At first, I thought of him as the prototype for Alexander Row of Last Exile, but Captain Harlock is not a Byronic hero.  After watching over twenty episodes, Harlock’s personality strikes one as rather similar to Robert E. Lee’s.  (An article on that forthcoming.  And yes, my reference to General Lee in a prior article was not random.)  You’re not going to find a character comparable to one of the South’s greatest heroes in contemporary anime!

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Urusei Yatsura: The Folly of Romance

Here’s a post I originally intended for my column on Beneath the Tangles.  However, I forgot that the site is concentrating on Key visual novels for Holy Week.  But, the article came out decently well and it have a perfect screencap for April Fools’ Day, so I’m posting it here.  Next week, I’ll go back to writing about Ashita no Joe for the column Examining Old School Anime.  Hope that you enjoy it!

This April Fools’ Day, let’s take a break from Ashita no Joe and delve into Urusei Yatsura instead.  I wished to write about something more humorous than usual and figured that romantic love made for the perfect topic.  But, just how is romantic love a religious topic?  Why, moral theology concerns itself with romance, especially the sins of lust, more than any other topic!  Consider that two out of the ten commandments prohibit lust, one of the Six Precepts of the Roman Catholic Church bids us to follow Church laws on marriage, St. Paul singles out fornication as the sin to avoid most (1 Cor. 6:18), fornication was a prominent issue at the very first Church Council in the Acts of the Apostles, romance stands as the chief difference between the ordinary vocation (marriage) and the other three vocations (single, priestly, and religious), and Christ’s very relationship with the Church is described as a kind of romance with the Church as the bride of Christ.

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But, the Church deals with romance as a grave matter; however, that’s the least helpful way to deal with romance in one’s personal life.  Imagine proposing to someone by saying that they wish to marry them in order to build up the Body of Christ and cool the flames of lust.  How quickly would anyone run away from such a proposal!  St. Francis de Sales puts the matter much better: “If a man and woman love each other, they should marry.”  Love itself has been described in Plato as “divine madness.”  When one considers all the absurdities and misunderstandings concomitant with romantic love, the idea of divine madness applies to this form of love more perfectly than the others.  Traditionally, these misunderstandings are said to have been caused by the Fall.  Yet, since Adam and Eve did not realize the simple concept that they should talk over major decisions before making them, the relationship between the sexes could not have been too much better in the state of Original Justice.

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Medieval Otaku’s First (and Possibly Last) Quick Takes

Nami of the Budding Philosopher’s Quick Takes have given me the inspiration for this kind of post.  As I understand it, the object is to quickly apprise one’s readers of the things uppermost on the blogger’s mind, which works for me.  You see, I won’t be writing another post until February because of a certain project I have underway.  But, I hope that these tidbits will tide you over until I am able to write a more polished article.  I’m even departing from my usual modus operandi by typing this out without relying on a prior handwritten draft.  At any rate, here are my seven quick takes for the week.

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Only five days separate me from the deadline for revisions in Athanatos Christian Ministries’ Novel Contest!  The other finalists promise to give me some stiff competition in my quest to take first prize, but I shall give it my all.  Since the Christmas season began, I’ve procrastinated because work has gotten busier, but I finally feel that I have the urgency necessary to dedicate enough time to the novel.  Pray for me and wish me luck!

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Fantasy Galore: My Anime Picks for the Fall of 2014

My lack if focus resulted in this article’s long delay.  (We’re almost on the fourth week of the season!)  And so, this will be a brief rundown of why I decided on seven particular shows.  My dear readers might have noticed that this is one more show than I originally planned.  I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying is only three minutes long, so adding one more show did not seem like it would hurt.  Without further ado, let me start with the shows which failed to make the cut.

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1) World Trigger

Bloggers have called episode one rather dull, and I’d have to agree.  Yet, the second episode delved more deeply into our heroes’ psyches, and I found the clash of their worldviews interesting.  You might say that Kuga has more of a cowboy ethos (go 1:28 into this clip to see what I mean; though, it must be confessed that Kuga is no John Wayne), while Osamu holds to a much more civilized morality of the rules protecting one, which Kuga believes only goes so far.  The war with the Neighbors reminds me of the conflict with the Nova in Freezing–only that the necessary power to defeat the aliens is not restricted to the fair sex.

Though other series proved to be more entertaining, I would not be surprised if I returned to this show later.

Let me also mention that I hate the main character.

Let me also mention that I hate the main character.

2) Nanatsu no Taizai (aka The Seven Deadly Sins)

I read through about half of the first volume of the manga before watching episode one of the anime.  That episode followed the manga with slavish exactitude.  For this series, I consider this unwillingness to differ  from the manga a bad thing: the manga strikes me as dull and uninspiring.  I did not even have to use my Japanese dictionary most of the time–a sure sign of a mediocre manga unless Rumiko Takahashi is behind it.

Perhaps the later episodes show why the manga won the “Kono Manga ga Sugoi” award, but the blandness of the beginning overwhelmed me.

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3) Amagi Brilliant Park

The only anime which bored me more than this show’s first episode was X: the Movie.  With regards to X, I lasted five minutes and Amagi Brilliant Park bored me to tears in seventeen and a half minutes.  None of the gags struck me as funny.  This from the guy who gave us Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu?!  The passing of Shoji Gatoh’s sense of humor warrants a day of mourning for all fandom.

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4) Denki-gai Honya-san

Having seen episode one, I discerned some potential for this show.  The second half was funnier than the first.  However, an anime about the quirky workers at a Japanese bookstore had no chance of making the final cut.  Perhaps, I’ll watch this when I have more time.  (If you haven’t noticed, most of my decisions are rather cutthroat, which may be laid at the feet of the loss of leisure I’ve suffered recently.  C’est la vie!)

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5) Garo: Honoo no Kokuin

This is perhaps the best show among the anime I’ve tried which did not make the final cut.  The world of this fantasy draws one in with manifold types of conflict: witches vs. demons, demons vs. humanity, and the state vs. witches.  Note well that witches are demon slayers in this world, but that demons have deceived the king into believing that witches are plotting against him so that they might use the might of the government to purge witches from existence.  Our hero was born during his mother’s execution, and a knight was only able to save the baby, whom he has raised for seventeen years when our main plot begins.

You better believe that I’ll pick this action-packed anime up as soon as I have the time. 🙂

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6) Terraformars

Of the many things I loathe about this show, I shall limit myself to a select few of its flaws.  Most glaring is the sacrifice of the show’s unique premise and cool characters to the goal of making this a stupid and gory horror show.  One of the reasons I despise the horror genre is that most of its tales run on stupid people dying unnecessarily and in horrific manners.  At the end of the second episode, I became sick at seeing characters frozen in terror or merely contemplating the giant, ugly humanoid cockroaches instead of using the time to react in constructive ways.  (Reminded me of Shingeki no Kyoujin to tell you the truth.)  Episode three continued the trend, and I dropped it.

I think I need to go watch some Christopher Lee’s Dracula movies or Silver Bullet in order to cleanse the memory of this show from my system.

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7) Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (literally “April is Your Lie”; aka Your Lie in April)

This is another good show which I’m declining for the nonce.  The anime promises a good story, where a depressed youth rediscovers his joie de vivre through music and meeting a vivacious beauty.  This title will be saved for when I feel in the mood for a romantic, slice-of-life anime.  Thanks to David A and iblessall for the recommendation!

Anime that Made the Cut

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1) Inou Battle Within Everyday Life

The fifth spot in my watch list was opened for this show.  I have to watch Trigger’s take on a supernatural harem anime set in high school!  The first episode was highly entertaining in both its characters and the comedic scenario of members of a literature club gaining super powers.  As of yet, I wonder whether any of them are actually into reading books.  The literature club might as well be the GJ club.

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2) Akatsuki no Yona

Like Knights of Sidonia, I did not particularly care for the manga, but I enjoyed the first episode of the anime.  I lay the responsibility for my renewed interest in this story on the voice actors, who bring the characters to life in a way that the mangaka could not on the page.  Let’s see how long this tale of war, intrigue, betrayal, and romance holds my attention.

Cute and Deadly

3) Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Reading Jusuchin’s articles on this show convinced me to watch it before I saw episode one, which confirmed my decision.  A perfect show for a fantasy lover: the characters stand out, and the show includes plenty of action.  Our hero and his captor have an interesting relationship.  Does Eleonora want Tigre for his archery skills or romantically?  Will she do anything about saving his fief of Alsace?  The Eleonora’s personality seems reminiscent of the eponymous protagonist of Medaka Box.  (No, I haven’t seen this show yet, but I’ve read a few articles on it and a few chapters of the manga.)  This show stands a high chance of rating a 9/10 if they do everything right.

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4) Shingeki no Bahamut

I would not be surprised if this became the best show of the season, though it shall receive stiff competition from Hitsugi no Chaika (At least one of my dear readers is rolling their eyes, but I have faith that the second season will surpass the first!) and Psycho-Pass 2.  In episode one of Shingeki no Bahamut, I loved the references to Terminator 2Gun x Sword, and Devil Lady.  This action packed series boasts a good sense of humor and very idiosyncratic animation.  I look forward to watching this show.

Danna to Oku-san

5) I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying

At only three minutes long, this anime can easily fit into anyone’s schedule.  The married couple reminds me of Saki and Kousaka of Genshiken; however, Hajime is much more likable than Kousaka.  I look forward to watching this odd couple every week, though some gags fall flat.

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6) Hitsugi no Chaika 2

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7) Psycho-Pass 2

This article is already long enough, so I won’t describe how I feel about those last two shows.  I confess that my goal of determining which of the new shows I would watch preventing me from watching Psycho-Pass 2 at all and gave time for only one of Hitsugi no Chaika.  That will change shortly!  How does my watch list compare to yours?