How Tokyo ESP Reminds me of Chivalric Literature

A while back, I finished watching Tokyo ESP.  That the author of the manga is responsible for Ga-Rei Zero–an indisputable masterpiece–greatly excited me.  However, the very first episode planted the seeds of doubt in me that such genius would not strike twice.  While a fun show with an amusing X-men vibe, the subsequent episodes proved my doubts correct.  Though the characters are inherently likable, parts of the plot and writing could have been better.  I must also mention that the final fight between Minami and Rinka almost bored me.  Minami’s poor technique made it seem like she never wished to kill Rinka!  For example, the fight should have ended right here:

Certain Death for RinkaFew anime character know how to exploit having a sword in each hand.  By pulling back with a draw cut at Rinka’s neck with her right and aiming a cut to the legs with her left, Minami could have placed Rinka in an difficult position.  Parrying the cut to her neck, Rinka might obscure her vision of the low cut.  With her arms crossed like that (that’s an ugly parry, isn’t it?), she cannot parry a low cut, which means that she would need to retreat backwards in order to evade and then would no doubt need to immediately deal with a thrust.  But, Minami does not see this simple combination:

Minami temporarily forgets the sword in her left hand, I guess?

Minami temporarily forgets the sword in her left hand, I guess?

Isn't that position just begging for Minami to aim a strike to Rinka's legs?

Isn’t that position just begging for Minami to aim a strike to Rinka’s legs?

My dear readers might be asking at this point: “Is poor swordsmanship the link to chivalric literature?”  No, chivalric literature never really describes techniques.  The knights double or redouble their strokes and hack through certain points of the body; but no author ever describes their technique–or at least, there are so few examples that none comes to mind.  The connection which I was thinking of revolves around how the protagonist goes from this:

Rinka badly beatenTo this:

 

And yes, I find Rinka a puella forma pulcherimma!

Puella forma pulcherimma!

Such happy restorations of one’s good looks after the beatings Rinka took are not possible!  Have you ever seen a pugilist’s face?  They usually show signs of the beatings they take.  As pure and beautiful as Rinka’s heart is, her visage should not match.  I cringed every time Rinka was beat down.  And, I just want to point out something curious about that last picture: See the cuts on Rinka’s elbow?  This is almost the animator’s nod to the fact that Rinka’s body would not escape unscarred from her experiences.

I love the shirt. :)

I love the shirt. 🙂

My favorite character in the show.

My favorite character in the show.

The same phenomenon occurs in chivalric literature: a knight goes through dozens of battles, which involve several severe blows to the helm and body, causing blood and chain mail to fly off him.  Yet, ladies always find these knights very handsome and fawn over them each feast, exclaiming how handsome they are!

Kobushi Kuroi was perhaps my favorite character in the anime.

Wait, we have that here, too!

In real life, warriors are often not so handsome if they served through many campaigns.  The author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, states in writing his masterpiece: “…my only desire has been to make men hate those false, absurd histories in books of chivalry, which thanks to the exploits of my real Don Quixote are even now tottering, and without any doubt will soon tumble to the ground.”  One of the ways in which he shows chivalric literature’s lack of reality is by detailing Don Quixote’s wounds.  Those of you who’ve read the book know that Don Quixote undergoes several beating which mar his frame.  Most famously, a Basque squire chops off half of his left ear!  Needless to say, Don Quixote does not present a pretty picture to behold!

Nunchaku girl is too awesome for me not to show a couple of pictures of her.

Nunchaku girl is too awesome for me not to show a couple of pictures of her.

Two Down

Of course, I am happy that Rinka’s countenance does not feature a permanently swollen lip, cauliflower ears, one eye slit smaller than the other, and a crooked nose after all those beatings.  But, that’s how she’d really look!  That she still retains her beauty reveals that the impulse in chivalric literature of having heroes go through ridiculously terrific beatings without a permanently marred countenance still exists.  Though, I must note here that the same rule does not apply to middle aged men: all of the fathers in this anime have scars.  Just another interesting thing to note!

Dad with SwordsIn any event, I generously give Tokyo ESP three and a half stars for the pure, visceral pleasure it provided in the viewing.  I’m looking forward to Hajime Segawa’s next work!

Fall 2014 Anime to Try Out

It is that time of the year when people across the aniblogosphere write about which new anime excite them most.  I myself thoroughly enjoyed the present season–despite feeling the need to prune my watch list–and hope that the next season produces an equally enjoyable a crop of anime.  Many bloggers seem to be disappointed with the current season in general, but the fault seems to lie in certain shows not meeting the expectations the bloggers placed in them.  What I mean to say is that the majority of shows still being quite good in themselves, just not so great in the minds of the critics.  (But, I will say that I feel very sorry for the people that slogged through Glasslip.)  Shortly, I even hope to pick up all the summer 2014 shows I stalled and finish them by way of marathoning them–the most enjoyable way to watch any show.

Tokyo ESP is at the top of my list for that marathon.

Tokyo ESP is at the top of my list for that marathon.

At any rate, hence follows the list of shows I intend to try out next season along with a brief description of why.  To my mind, the list looks a little weaker than the one for the summer season.  Of course, some of these anime might hold some latent excellence.  Since this list concerns the shows I am not already sold on, I shall not include Hitsugi no Chaika 2 and Psycho-Pass 2.  How could I not watch the sequels to my favorite show of 2013 and my favorite show of the prior season?  Whether the sequels prove to be delightful or disappointing, I’m certain to watch through them both.  If they do prove disappointing, I hope that my complaints and vexation may at least prove enjoyable for you!

Sekai Trigger

1) World Trigger

Sounds like Freezing without the fanservice.  Fighting off giant alien invaders always sounds like an interesting premise for me, so I must give it a shot.

nanatsu-no-taizai mustache

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

While perusing the aisles of Kinokuniya in New York City (the best Japanese bookstore on the east coast since the demise of Sasuga–yet another reason to hate the current recession), I came across this manga among the “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” award winners.  With that endorsement, I purchased the volume one.  Though I have not yet gotten around to reading this Japanese edition yet, the artwork looks rather amazing and the action intense–big pluses in my book.  For the above reasons, I’m giving the anime a shot.  I really need to read volume one before it premiers.

3) Amagi Brilliant Park

Here’s an addition whose inclusion owes much to Caraniel’s excellent season preview post.  Before reading this post, I had not known that the author of Full Metal Panic was behind this series.  That’s all the endorsement a series needs in my book.  Though, I hope the dark and twisted psychological influences present in Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid are utterly, completely, and absolutely gone, lost, abandoned, forsaken, and anathematized from this new series!

4) Denki-gai Honya-san

Another comedy, this series of shorts involves the workers in a manga bookstore.  Can’t hurt to give it a shot.

Denkigai-no-Honya-san

5) Akatsuki no Yona

The manga version has the honor of being dropped by yours truly.  At a certain point, the plot and characters ceased to hold interest for me.  This does not exclude the anime version from outdoing the manga–as, exempli gratia, is shown in the cases of Knights of Sidonia and Saber Marionette J.  Especially as the scenario is rather interesting (though Rolan the Forgotten King executes a similar idea better), I am willing to give this story another shot.

6) Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis

Can’t be worse than that other Shingeki anime, can it?  (I jest.)  The preview boasts cool swordplay in a dark fantasy setting.  Worth a shot just for that.

7) Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Another show I wish to check out just because of its fantasy setting.  It must be confessed that this anime almost failed to make the list.  But, this preview promises the possibility of a fun show.  It could turn out to be another Blade and Soul, i.e. atrociously fanservicey and dull; but, one can’t know for sure until one tries it.

Garoo

8) Garo: Honoo no Kokuin

If you haven’t perceived it ere now, I’m a sucker for fantasy settings.  This one seems to have a good story.  A mix of Scrapped Princess and Chronicles of Lodoss War perhaps?

9) Inou Battle Within Everyday Life

Solely because Trigger is behind it.

10) Terra Formars

The plot sounds like a combination of the movies Starship Troopers and Mimic.  (I had no idea those came out in the same year.)  What’s not to love about a show about soldiers fighting giant man-eating cockroaches on Mars?  In any case, man-eating cockroaches are eminently preferable to man-eating monsters in human form–at least, to me.

Wakaranai

11) I don’t Understand What My Husband is Saying

My line-up this season is devoid of comedy except for Denki-gai Honya-san, so I feel compelled to give this show a shot.  Besides, few anime I know focus on married couples, so this should be interesting.

12) Whatever You Like

As long as my list is this long, I might as well add a twelfth show, right?  No, that’s not the name of an anime coming out next season.  Rather I’d like to invite my dear readers to recommend a series for me that’s not listed above.  Whatever most people tell me I should watch by October 1st, I shall watch!

Brains

I need to find time to watch the second season of Hamatora.

Within the first two weeks of the season, this long list shall be pruned by two-thirds, which means I’ll shoot for a total of six shows this season.  (I include Hitsugi no Chaika and Psycho-Pass in that sum.)  How does my list of shows to sample compare with yours?

Off on Pilgrimage

My first day of vacation starts tomorrow.  I put pilgrimage in the title because Montreal includes part of this vacation, and I cannot imagine that we shall visit that fascinating city without stopping by St. Joseph’s Oratory.  This oratory was made famous by the miracles produced there and its association with St. Andre Bessette, who might have called himself St. Joseph’s doorkeeper.  He was famous for thousands of miraculous cures, which he attributed to the intercession of St. Joseph.

Since it is late, and I do not want to spend too much time writing (I wake at 3 AM on the morrow–four hours from now!), I decided to briefly list some highlights of my anime hobby and spiritual life.  I hope you find some of them interesting.

  • Watched Girls und Panzer: This is the Real Anzio Battle.  I greatly enjoyed it.  It felt like a longer TV episode but still had a great tank battle.  The following is my favorite quote from the OVA:
Only in a perfect world!

Only in a perfect world!

  • Akame ga Kiru stands as a faithful adaptation of the manga.  Things will really pick up once Esdese appears.  (I prefer the fan naming system and will stubbornly stick to that until the official naming system becomes more universal.)  The great thing about Akame ga Kiru is that it essentially turns shonen on its head: we have the same kinds of happy-go-lucky and quirky characters, but they’re thrown into a really corrupt, dark, and bloody world.  This is why so many people like myself enjoy the show.
  • The first three episodes of Aldnoah.Zero really took the cake in terms of the setting and action.  I hope that the quality of the characters catches up soon.
  • I’m somehow still finding the motivation to fit in an episode of El Cazador de la Bruja here and there.  It’s a rather mediocre show, but the characters are enjoyable enough that I find myself continually drawn back to it.  It will probably take me as much time as I took for Bodacious Space Pirates for me to complete.
  • Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is one of the best comedies this season.  The oddball characters are splendidly amusing to watch, and I like the fact that the hero is a shoujo manga artist, which makes many of the episodes’ plots revolve around him finding material for his comics.

No law Breaking

  • Gintama is one of those shows which I can put down for a while and then pick up again.  The quest to capture the aliens who were running amok turning people’s bodies and body parts into screwdrivers didn’t grab me, but the arch where Shinpachi gains a pen pal was more hilarious.  This show goes everywhere from toilet humor to maudlin to boring to hilarious to epic.  One just needs to wait for the best stories.
  • Many bloggers loved the first season of Hamatora, and I’m enjoying the show thus far.  Episode four, where the desire to own a gun was portrayed as rooted to evil desires, irked me to no end.  Cannot people get that some people love tools?  Especially men?  Guns are tools and a lot of fun to shoot.  People enjoy shooting at paper targets, cans, bottles, abandoned houses, cardboard boxes, etc.  Wishing to have a gun by itself in no way means a person is inclined to violence.  Just watch this video if you don’t believe me.
  • For some reason, I’m really enjoying Hanamayata.  I suppose my identification with Hana (she’s also from NJ) goes a long way, but somehow I find this slice of life comedy still a lot of fun.  I have a an article in the works for it.
  • Did you know that Mushibugyo has an anime adaptation?  I didn’t, and this decently animated adaptation is a lot of fun to watch.  Perfect for a lover of samurai shows.

Jinbee strikes

  • I’ve kind of stalled Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water.  At this point, Nadia, Jean, and Marie have met back up with Senora Grandis and company, which means the action should improve.  Man, the Island arc was exhausting!
  • I don’t exactly know how, but a friend of mine finagled me into watching Nisemonogatari.  I couldn’t even finish episode one of Nisemonogatari the first time around, despite being a fan of Bakemonogatari.  But, I find myself at episode four and wanting to know more.  (By the way, Nisemonogatari essentially decided to put Holo in its story via Shinobu.)
  • Many bloggers like despising Rail Wars!  But, I’m enjoying how the characters deal with the obstacles each episode.  It reminds me a lot of You’re Under Arrest, and even if it doesn’t hold a candle to season one of You’re Under Arrest, it’s certainly better than season two thus far.
Aoi losing her gun has to count as one of the saddest moments in the show thus far.

Aoi losing her gun has to count as one of the saddest moments in the show thus far.

  • Sabagebu! stands as one of my favorite shows this season.  This is pure comedy gold.  The action can get rather nuts; but if you liked Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu, Azumanga Daioh, Excel Saga, or Pani Poni Dash, I can practically guarantee you’ll love this show.
  • Concerning ARGEVOLLEN, the show is nothing special, but I’m enjoying it, and there always exists the chance that it will get better.  Basically, if I drop anything this season, it will be this show.
  • Tokyo ESP‘s not bad.  It’s doing everything well so far, and it feels a little similar to Samurai Flamenco‘s first half so far in that we have ordinary people who suddenly conceive that they have a duty to repress the darker elements of society.  However, it still has a long way to go in order to surpass Ga-Rei Zero, in which series’ world Tokyo ESP exists.  And I love how Leonidas has a cameo role. xD

Tokyo_ESP_Manga_01

  • Somehow, I haven’t been able to get into Zankyou no Terror.  I loved how they referenced the Sphinx and the fact that there are two riddles according to mythology.  (Actually, I’m pretty sure “What walks on two legs, then four, then three?” was an invention of later writers.  Classical authors loved to mess around with mythology and add their own improvements on the canonical version.)  Yet, somehow, the story doesn’t grab me.  Like Sky Crawlers, it’s probably too intellectual for my tastes.

That sums it up for my anime watching.  I still owe you guys some manga reviews, so expect that around St. Edith Stein’s feastday (Aug. 9th).  Speaking of saints, I find St. Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea a constant source of inspiration.  There are almost four hundred pages of commentary on Matthew before I can move to the Gospel of Mark, but St. Thomas Aquinas’ ability to draw so many relevant Church Fathers on each passage of Scripture is nothing short of amazing.  Also, I’m reading George MacDonald’s The Seaside Parish.  George MacDonald is a genius of the spiritual life and every page contains something quotable.  Why don’t people read him anymore!!?  I’ll be right alongside C. S. Lewis in thanking George MacDonald for his works when I get to paradise.

Until August 9th, you’ll be seeing no more articles unless I am so lucky as to find a wi-fi hotspot.  But, I should be able to respond to commentary.