Zankyou no Terror and Following the Handbook

Zankyou no Terror stood as the best thriller this summer.  (I suppose Aldnoah.Zero could be considered its only competitor.  Perhaps, Tokyo Ghoul as well?)  I very much enjoyed watching it, and rated it three and a half stars.  This might seem low to some, and it took a while to place my finger on why a higher rating did not square with my impression of the show.  At last, I hit upon the reason: Zankyou no Terror rates three and a half stars or 7/10 because it was perfect and no more than that.

Sono Serifu

You see, my dear readers, the modern world has reduced story writing to a science with much more precision than Aristotle accomplished in his Poetics.  Visit your local Barnes & Noble, and you can discover manifold handbooks on how to write a good story lining the shelves.  Follow their instructions, and, with a little practice, you too can create a polished story like Zankyou no Terror!  No exaggeration!  Of course, if you refrain from placing your own uniqueness into the work, the story will in nowise rate 7/10.  Placing his own unique vision and artistry into Zankyou no Terror is precisely how Shinichiro Watanabe guaranteed a story at least that good.

Odd Ball Terrorists

Not to say that following the handbook is a bad thing: the reason handbooks give the advice they do is because successful stories exhibit common features.  Yet, the knowledge that one is following a universally accepted framework forces one to add much more originality into a work in order to immerse people like me into the story.  For example, the first three novels of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files exhibit such a framework.  Yet, Jim Butcher adds loads of originality to his work by creating an inimitable mixture of thriller, horror, hard-boiled, and fantasy which hold the reader spellbound.  Zankyou no Terror restricted itself solely to the material modern world; yet, it did add a nice dose of originality with its inclusion of the Oedipus legend, 70’s vibe (70’s movies often featured the villains being the good guys or the villain winning in the end), chess metaphors, and terrorist teenagers trying to expose government corruption.  But, this was not enough for me to rate it higher.

Anyone else see this one coming a mile away?

Anyone else see this one coming a mile away?

Clarence obviously never studied famous gun fighters.  Wild Bill Hickok was killed in about the same way: someone shot him from under the card table.

Clarence obviously never studied famous gun fighters. Wild Bill Hickok was killed in about the same way: someone shot him from under the card table.

Once again, I liked Zankyou no Terror.  All the same, I wish it exhibited more originality–even originality which was patently flawed.  (After all, originality derives from our individuality, which itself is flawed.)  For example, Cowboy Bebop has many flaws, and the story-telling is no where near as tight; but it’s a classic.  People will remember and want to watch Cowboy Bebop again decades from now, but one cannot say the same about Zankyou no Terror.  But, Zankyou no Terror really does nothing wrong, which is an odd critique to make against it.  And, in its defense, thrillers are particularly beholden to the recipes in the handbook in order to ensure that tension does not drop.  And so, the show is very good but not great.

Shibazaki was by far my favorite character in the series.

Shibazaki was by far my favorite character in the series.

Well, I wrote an opinion that probably only a fellow fiction writer would agree with; but, do any of my dear readers think the same way I do about Zankyou no Terror?

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.