Reflections: Hagakure

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I’m at the age now where it’s time for me to start being exceptionally boring and read books all day instead of play video games. The caveat of course is that manga technically count as books so I’m still a filthy degenerate. However, I did decide to read something within the realm of non-fiction and that turned out to be ‘Hagakure’. So now I’m sort of ‘reporting in’ on that . I don’t want to call this a book review because I don’t think that there are really any good ways to review non-fiction other than to summarize the points and say what you think. So I’m just calling it a ‘Reflection’ and we’ll leave it at that.

This is the copy that I purchased. Bear in mind as this text is some 300 years old and it has several translations. So I have left the reference as a definitive point that you can trace my reading to. I will be citing the book directly in many parts of this post. However, I’m not going to be able to reference page numbers. I bought the kindle edition because ebook master race. Sue me. Fortunately, the setup is such that it will be easy to direct readers to the source because it’s quite similar to the Bible in that it has ‘Book – Passage’ format.

Introduction

I was attracted to Hagakure I was looking for a point of reference in what samurai believed. I have loved samurai ever since I was young because swords are cool and (quite frankly) eastern arms just look more badass than western ones. I’m just attracted to swords and samurai armor even though I find them pragmatically weaker than their western counterparts. What I got was a list of, I guess we’d call them maxims or aphorisms as well as anecdotes on Bushidou. Sometimes even contradictory but I suppose that’s the nature of this sort of thing. “All things in moderation”, eh? So, let’s begin with what Bushidou is.

‘Bushidou’ as a codified construct begins its existence in the Tokugawa shogunate. It seems to have been constructed as a means of transitioning a warrior class into the general populace in an era that no longer needs warriors.

A number of military and Confucian scholars started formulating and refining protocols to guide warriors in their peacetime role, which became referred to as “shidou” or “bushidou” – (Hagakure, Introduction)

So if there was a code of Bushidou that existed before this period, it may not have been formalized. And quite frankly, it may have even been changed through this codification to be what the society needed rather than the principles that underlaid it before. The samurai depicted in Hagakure exist as moral guidelines to be imitated. They are meant to have undying loyalty to their lord to the point where all other things are immaterial. I’ll bring it up later but those to become samurai were advised to stay away from buddhism (how can a loyal retainer serve two masters?) and poetry (considered a distraction). And I believe this sort of hits at the core message. Yamamoto Tsunetomo sums up what it means to follow Bushidou quite nicely. “The way of the warrior is to be found in dying”. This seems to be meant both physically and spiritually. I drew many parallels to what I knew of Buddhism but ironically enough Tsunetomo shows much contempt for Buddhism. The Nabeshima clan he served seems to show that contempt, really. So I suspect it’s a clan history thing. I wonder if it has any roots in the Nobunaga shogunate…

The Four Oaths

Tsunetomo describes the Way of the Warrior as aspiring to follow the four oaths. These oaths are:

  1. I will never fall behind others in pursuing the Way of the Warrior.
  2. I will always be ready to serve my lord.
  3. I will honor my parents.
  4. I will serve compassionately for the benefit of others.

(Hagakure, Idle Talk in the Dead of Night)

Even if I had not read these oaths at the beginning of the book, I probably would have picked up at least the last three oaths through reading. The first one kind of slips in. It’s not that it’s not noticeable, it’s just that I never would have worded it that way or taken it to be an oath. But once you know it’s there, it’s hard to ignore. So let’s talk about the oaths.

The First Oath

The first oath is “I will never fall behind others in pursuing the Way of the Warrior”. If we interpret these oaths as being in order of importance, then this would be the most important oath to take. There’s an excellent passage in Hagakure and I do wish that I had taken note of but I feel like at that point I had pretty much gotten the core message and I wasn’t highlighting as much as I used to. I looked through the book twice and couldn’t find it so I’ll quote this one from memory. It’s a quote by Oshou Tannen, I’m like 80% sure. Oshou Tannen was the head priest at a Buddhist temple and he has a few good quips. Anyway, it goes something like this,

“One doesn’t become chief retainer by wanting to become Chief Retainer. But on the other hand, one doesn’t become Chief Retainer if they don’t.”

Chief Retainer is the coveted title of the one that is closest to their lord. Tsunetomo describes it as being the highest ideal for a samurai. I only realized how good this quote was after I began drafting so I’m really saddened by the fact that I could not find it again. Anyway, this is a good quote because it really wraps up all four of the oaths. First, you can’t become the Chief Retainer if you want to be Chief Retainer… for yourself. For the glory, for the stipend. Desiring the position of Chief Retainer for yourself is a betrayal of the four oaths.

A man believed he was owed a generous reward after serving his lord diligently for many years. His friends were quick to offer their congratulations when he received a much-appreciated letter from his lord, but he was to be disappointed. To everybody’s surprise, all he was award was  a small increase in stipend. They continued to rejoice as this was still a welcome reward, but he looked surprisingly dejected. Full of woe he lamented: “I feel so embarrassed, and I find it hard to face you all. I suppose I was of little consequence to my lord after all. I will retire from service and become a recluse.” His close friends consoled him, and persuaded him not to retire.

Yes his attitude clearly demonstrates that his heart was not really in service. His main motivation was self-aggrandizement. It goes without saying that when you receive a reward, or even in the case of demotion from samurai to foot soldier (ashigaru), or if you are ordered to commit seppuku for a crime you did not commit, a hereditary retainer unflinchingly accepts his fate. Saying he was too ashamed to show his face proves that he was an egoist only concerned with his own standing. All warriors should bear this in mind, although it will be beyond comprehension for conceited rogues. – Book 1 – 87

It kind of wraps up oaths two and four. “It is ruinous to follow two Ways. The warrior needs only to train in Bushidou – the Way of the samurai – and seek nothing else” (Book 1 – 139). The retainer in the story was following two masters – himself and his lord. In serving himself, he forgot the core of Bushidou. “The way of the warrior is to be found in dying”. If you are dead, then you have no need for personal wealth. You have no “self” to serve. He wasn’t serving compassionately for others, he was greedy. He wanted wealth for himself.

A samurai is not a true retainer without placing himself in absolute servitude at the feet of his lord, thinking of himself as already dead, like a ghost, always mindful of his lord’s wellbeing from the bottom of his heart, and thinking of sound solutions for the resolution of problems within the domain – Book 1 – 35

This brings us to the first oath – never fall behind others in your pursuit of the Way. If you truly wish to serve your lord, you’ll want that Chief Retainer position because through it you can best serve your lord. You’ve probably seen these people at work, right? They do their job not because they love their job, but because they want the money that comes with it. Work in retail? You know what retail voice is. And you know what else? Everyone else knows what retail voice is too. Customers aren’t fooled by your false sincerity. And this is why the Lord will never promote a selfish bastard to Chief Retainer. Your eyes must be earnest.

There are a series of other passages that may be interpreted this way. I didn’t highlight all of them but I will mention a few I guess.

A samurai should not, in the slightest degree, say or do something faintheartedly. Never forget this. The depth of one’s heart is discernible even through something seemingly inconsequential – Book 1 – 142

You will have no doubt noticed this in life as well. Maybe the cooking isn’t as good as it could be. Maybe the room is ‘clean enough’. This sort of thing is everywhere. This contentedness for something that isn’t done to the best of one’s ability. Hell, I’ve done this on many exams, particularly those in which I did not care for the subject at all *coughWorthlessHumanitiesCoursescough*

According to an old retainer: “A samurai should be excessively obstinate. Anything done in moderation will fall short of your goals. If you feel that you are doing more than is needed, it will be just right.” – Book 1 – 188

A few times, he will note that “Everything done before the age of 40 should be done with all your strength. Only after reaching age 40 should you begin to moderate yourself” (paraphrased).

If you don’t believe, rather audaciously, that you are the singularly most gallant warrior in Japan, it will be difficult to exhibit true valor. The extent of one’s courage is evident in one’s confident attitude. – Book 1 – 47

The Second Oath

The second oath is “I will always be ready to serve my lord.” This one is fairly self-explanatory but it extends beyond this idea of mere subordination. The Lord – Retainer relationship is one that goes both ways. There are several anecdotes in which a retainer expresses very firm discontent, things that may be considered disobedience, yet through disobedience, the lord will come around.

[…] By and large, an ambitious vassal seeks to admonish his lord because it will be thought of as an act of merit, or because he has been coerced by others. A loyal remonstration should be courteous and discrete so that it is received with good grace. If your lord refuses to listen, then do your best to obscure his failings. Take his side as his advocate, and ensure that no rumors arise to defile his name. Often it is the case that retainers become belligerent, and they turn their backs when their lord doesn’t heed their counsel. Making a commotion is the most perfidious kind of behavior for a retainer. – Book 2 – 114

And in the event that your lord ignores your advice (and you still live), you should try to cover up his mistakes.

The gaze of retainers today seems to be very low. Their eyes resemble those of crooks driven by covetousness and cunning. Even if a samurai seems to have spirit, this is merely a feigned exterior. A samurai is not a true retainer without placing himself in absolute servitude at the feet of his lord, thinking of himself as already dead, like a ghost, always mindful of his lord’s wellbeing from the bottom of his heart, and thinking of sound solutions for the resolution of problems within the domain. This is the same for samurai who occupy stations both high and low. He must be completely unflinching in his resolve, even if it falls contrary to the bidding of the gods or Buddha. – Book 1 – 35

I feel like this selection emphasizes what I’m trying to get at above. The retainer’s loyalty is to the good of the lord and the domain.

Aside: This is prime Edo period (During Tokugawa Iemitsu’s reign no less) which creates a structure not unlike that which I remember being taught as Feudalism. What little I currently know about Tokugawa Iemitsu is that he was somewhat paranoid of the Japan his Grandfather Tokugawa Ieyasu unified. He established some rules with the intent of weakening powers in the region (lords) so that they may never challenge him. When I read more about this, I will probably make more comments on it but this is one such policy.

The intent is that when you challenge your lord, you’re challenging your lord because he may be ignorant or naive. Your desire should be that your lord have a long and prosperous reign. You can see the remarks at the beginning where Tsunemoto doubts the loyalties of retainers during his time. This will again go back to the prior section, who do the retainers serve? Themselves? Or their Lords and the domain?

To summarize the essence of samuraihood, first and foremost the warrior must be devoted body and soul to his lord. In addition, he must internalize the virtues of wisdom (chi), compassion (jin), and courage (yū). Although it may seem impossible to embody these three virtues, it really is easy. To nurture wisdom simply requires listening to others. Immeasurable knowledge comes from this. Compassion is for the sake of others. It is opting to do good things for other people rather than through selfish motives. – Book 2 – 7

I selected this because of the last line I’ve copied here. “Compassion is for the sake of others”. This also appears in my kendo manual. You’re asked to contemplate what you wield your sword for, and the idea here is that you wield it for others. This compassion extends not only to your lord, or those in your domain, but even to those you kill on the battlefield. The very first practice you’re taught is Nukitsuke (a draw slash), Kirioroshi (a killing blow dealt to the head), Chiburi (cleaning the blade), and Noto (return the sword to its scabbard). This entire process seems to be very ceremonial and if I’m remembering correctly, part of Kirioroshi is done in compassion for the enemy you’ve wounded. After your draw slash has critically wounded the foe, it is inhumane to allow them to suffer. The killing blow is a stroke of mercy. And I don’t want that quote to come back to me out of context.

Anyway, this section is getting long but the next two are short, I promise.

The Third Oath

The third oath is “I will honor my parents.” Quite frankly, there aren’t that many passages that emphasize this that I made note of. Those that I did make note of were… less than pleasant by modern standards. “The oldest daughter is special, but any others should be discarded.” (Book 2 – 117). This was a different time friends.

In raising a boy, the first priority is to encourage valor. From his youngest days, the child should be taught to respect his father as his lord, as well as matters of protocol and etiquette, service, proper speech, self-control, and even how to walk down a road. Warriors of old did this. If he is lazy, he should be scolded and not fed for a day. This is all training to be a good retainer. – Book 11 – 162

I will probably use those notes in the next post. More details on that at the end of this post.

The Fourth Oath

The fourth (and final) oath is “I will serve compassionately for the benefit of others.” There are quite a few of these examples. This is referenced quite often when it comes working with your lord. The retainer was an extension of the lord. Presumably, the lord wanted to serve his people for the good of the country and to help maintain his position. This post is already plenty long so I’m going to try to limit this section to this one vignette.

When discussing paraphernalia needed for a wedding, one person made the observation: “A koto and shamisen are not included in this list, but we will need them.” Another person remarked curtly, “We don’t need them at all.” This individual made his comments fully aware of the company present, but contradicted himself the following day by stating that the two instruments were in fact essential for weddings after all, and that two of each, of the highest quality, should be acquired. Upon hearing this story, I thought: What a venerable fellow [for admitting he was wrong]. Master Jōchō said to me: “It is wrong to think like that. He acted that way simply to assert his authority. Such conduct is often encountered among outsiders of equivocal loyalty employed in our domain. First of all, it is rude to behave in such a way to a person of higher station; and it does not benefit his lord at all. To an adherent of the Way of the warrior, even if an item is reckoned to be completely unnecessary, correct deportment dictates that one first acknowledge the other person’s assessment, and mention that it can be discussed later on so as to not cause embarrassment. Furthermore, the items in question were actually necessary, so he requested that they be added to the list the next day. This was devious, discourteous behavior that consequently humiliated his colleague publicly, and was very careless.” – Book 1 – 20

So what’s going on here? Quite simply, two men had a disagreement in public. The next day, the instigator acknowledges that he was wrong. Now it’s very important that we acknowledge when we are wrong, so Tsunetomo’s aide Tashiro Tsuramoto (the person actually writing these  things down) says that the belligerent was quite venerable for admitting his mistake. Tsunemoto corrects this naive kid.

The instigator made 3 mistakes. First, the instigator addressed someone of higher status rather rudely. The society at the time, as mentioned earlier was quite similar to that which we would associate with feudalism. So openly ‘confronting’ one’s superiors is not acceptable. Second, he directly contradicted his superior. This is different from what I would consider an ‘indirect contradiction’ which Tsunemoto mentions. “This can be discussed later”. I’ve only read about this so don’t put too much faith in what I’m about to say but it seems that the Japanese really find this to be rude even to this day. So if I were to say “The train station is to the north?” the listener would respond yes even if the train station were to the south. It’s also sort of baked into expressions. So we would say, “Would you like to go to the pool?” and the way it’s said in Japanese is probably closer to  “Won’t you go to the pool?” Peculiar. Anyway, if you do feel strongly about something that you want to admonish the speaker about it, you should do it privately. And third, by acknowledging his mistake, not only did he disrespect his elder, openly contradict them, but he then had to walk all of that back. So what was the point of having that entire argument in the first place?

Now I know you’re asking, where’s the compassion. The whole oath is about compassion for others. Compassion is the lesson learned from this. A little bit of compassion would have benefited everyone. First, the instigator would not have publicly humiliated himself. To have caused such a fuss only to turn around the next day, what a disgrace. Second, the lord would not have been humiliated by the actions of his retainer. Third, the families would not have been humiliated. Lastly, the planner would not have been humiliated. Privately disagreeing might have achieved the desired goal one way or another without anyone having any disgrace. When you act, remember that you represent yourself, your lord, your family, and you don’t want those names dragged through the mud for a moment of passion. Compact your passion into compassion.

Conclusion

First, some foreshadowing. There are some really woke lines in here, or things that I found particularly amusing that didn’t quite find the mould that I was setting up here. So I’ll publish the Hagakure: Woke AF edition… sometime in the future. I do these posts when I feel the urge so it’s unpredictable. I needed to finish this blog post so I could finally focus on the next history book that I want to read. More reflections or summaries to come!

Long story short, I don’t think the life of a Nabeshima samurai is for me. I’m a very selfish person. I’m a capitalist, greed is useful. Greed can be relied upon. If everyone is greedy, everyone is predictable. Tsunemoto mentions that the arts are to be forsaken for a samurai. I enjoy the arts. I enjoy life. And perhaps that is the problem, after all – “The way of the warrior is to be found in dying” (Yamamoto Tsunemoto). Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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Reflections: Hagakure

Rant: Sailor Moon Opening

Okay, this was not the blog post that I had planned to work on today but whatever. I gotta get this off my chest. Why the FUCK did (and I’m just gonna guess here, feel free to comment if I’m placing my blame incorrectly) Viz Media change the theme song so drastically for Sailor Moon? This is really important! Listen to the Japanese opening

I don’t know what feeling you get off of this, but I get this kind of romantic Swan Lake, rock/romantic fusion, Phantom of the Opera feeling from it. I don’t even need to understand Japanese to get the meaning. I don’t even need to have watched the anime to understand the feelings. It has this wistful touch to it, as if the romance is fleeting. Like, you only get one night to be with the one you love and after the night has passed you’re sat there just reminiscing about what was and imagining what could have been, what should have been. It’s painful. Now let’s listen to what Viz Media did to such a treasure

I don’t want to say that it’s bad. It’s not bad. Standalone, it’s fine. There’s not much wrong with it. They picked an okay singer. Tolerable. There’s a pretty cool guitar solo. But it feels like it lost something. It feels like it lost the emotion from the Japanese version. Maybe it’s because the singer is much younger, and has lost that ‘matured’ timbre that I associate with the Japanese version.

The lyrics also seem to have taken a very distinct change. The Japanese lyrics, again, maintain this wistful feeling.

I’m just about to cry — moonlight
I can’t call you, either — midnight
But I have a simple heart, so what can I do?
My heart is a kaleidoscope.

I want to, but I can’t. I can’t stop myself from feeling this way. My heart is a kaleidoscope what does it even mean? That’s the point! A youth not understanding her feelings, so she has to find other ways to describe her feelings. Contrast that with the sort of battle-focused lyrics of the English version. Why. Why did you change the song from a beautiful soliloquy into some generic ‘power of friendship’ song?

My hypothesis and I don’t have anything to back this up is that to my knowledge they both aired on Toonami (which is where I watched it) around the same time. It might have been changed to sort of be ‘DBZ for girls’. Which is a damn shame if you ask me, Sailor Moon is far superior to DBZ. I said it. Come at me. While we’re at it, Sailor Mercury best sailor scout. Fite me irl.

But I’ve never read the manga, I didn’t watch the entire series. It was a villain of the week series to my recollection, similar to InuYasha? Maybe I should go back and watch the 200 episodes? Maybe not. I just appreciate good music.

So that’s my piece. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Rant: Sailor Moon Opening

Punch Club

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Punch Club is a time-management Boxing Simulator. It’s ridiculous, it’s funny, it and I guess that’s going to set the tone for this review.

You are Hero (that’s the default name anyway). One night, your father gets killed by a man in black with a red eye. You decide to get swole and take revenge. As you do this, you find yourself in a fighting tournament or two that seem to style themselves as “Boxing” but permit kicks, so maybe it’s muay thai. I dunno. I’m a robot that lives in a server room playing video games. Along the way, you become Batman with allusions to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (title image) and Silent Hill (I won’t spoil this one but it’s really dumb and I love it). You find love, you beat up a Russian. You get to participate in mecha fights! (Mecha fights make everything better… ) This game just has so many little jokes and references. It’s amusing.

The game has stylized aesthetics and the music is this Eye of the Tiger remix that is actually pretty good. I made a boxing character because I totally read too much Hajime no Ippo. The game is sufficiently challenging. It took me over 300 (in-game) days to finish the game but I did waste a bunch of days on stuff that I’ll mention later. The fights can get pretty tense as you sit there hoping RNGsus is in your favour but then complain when you repeatedly get knocked out because you have negative stamina. And then you win the fight anyway because your boxing character can do combos that deal over a third the opponent’s health when they actually hit.

The storytelling is… sub-par. It’s not anything to write home about. There’s a main story and a series of substories. These substories do not seem to have much in the way of time limits. I locked myself out a substory by becoming a professional boxer fighter so maybe I should’ve completed it but it’s too late now. The main story has all of the usual tropes that you probably expect in a fighting game. And it has a very poorly written ending. It also kind of fades to black at an improper time.

Unfortunately the game does not seem to be balanced around being an all-around good fighter but rather by specializing in one stat. It tells you so much very early in the game. I would’ve liked for it to reward well-rounded players a little more. I did a hybrid of Power and Stamina, leaving out Agility. Agility determines how accurately you hit. So I have a heavy hitter than always misses. And even with my stamina training, I still found myself running out of stamina all the time. But maybe I’m just bad. Towards the end, the game becomes a bit of a grind and the pacing slows down drastically. Which leads up to the aforementioned poorly timed ending.

The game also does not explain some of the character interaction mechanics so I wound up wasting what must’ve been like 3 weeks trying to fix my friend’s engine so he’d train with me. I actually had to look up what the deal was and apparently the engine never gets fixed, but that the lines that my friend says indicate whether or not I’ve ‘chilled’ with him long enough to get him to train with me. Also, let’s be real here. I was the only one fixing his engine. The lazy SOB never got off the chair.

I do like the game, but I’m sitting on the fence with this one. I give it a pass because I found it amusing, but take this positive review with the grains of salt. It’s probably a toss-up whether or not you find it to be a fun game. Let’s not forget that the most important part of a game is whether or not it’s fun. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Punch Club

Orwell

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Orwell, in a not-so-subtle nod to George Orwell’s criticism of totalitarianism (*CoughCommunismCough*) 1984. I’ve actually read 1984. It’s not bad. It’s not great, and quite frankly I think it’s more of an observation than a story which in my eyes weakens it. It’s also an incredibly quick read so I do recommend you check it out. On a scale of 1-10? Probably a 7. Amusing, but not the best. Slightly better than average.

Anyway, the gameplay of Orwell is unconventional and reminds me greatly of Papers, Please. Which is another game I should write a review on and I do recommend it. In it you scan documents for information and upload this information into a mega-database which contains details on everyone under investigation (at this time). Presumably, Orwell would be expanded to cover all citizens. In the name of peace, surely! Everyone can trust the government to know every detail about them to make sure that they’re entirely safe!

Light Spoiler Warning: Orwell is a narrative, a visual novel of sorts. I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers.

Throughout the course of Orwell you follow the individuals of an organization called ‘Thought’ named after some German poem. Thought is an alleged terrorist organization. Your job is to follow the members of this organization to prevent terrorist activity. The first person you investigate is a woman with blue hair and problem glasses because of course she is. Which now presents us with our question. What scale of authoritarianism would be acceptable in the name of protecting people? As the game progresses, it gets to the point where almost the slightest connection to someone (perhaps eating lunch or seeing a movie together) is grounds for investigation. Authoritarianism seems to have a very tough job reigning itself in from being conventionally oppressive.

You know, I could not help but giggle with glee as I listened to phone calls of people and other people got blamed for things that I did. It was glorious! And it kept happening! I felt no guilt at all for doing my job. Perhaps that’s the point of the game. Thinking.jpg

The art style is… quirky. Not bad. Just quirky. The music is pretty okay too. My (small) gripe (I guess) is how long I had to wait for responses when it came to monitoring calls and SMS. I get that it’s supposed to be realistic, that’s the point. Not really a point against the game, I just felt that it was sometimes a little long.

Overall, excellent game. Quite a nice length for the price ($10 at the time of posting). Of course, cheaper is always better. I think my first playthrough had a run of about 4 hours and there are multiple endings (all of which, I did not explore). It’s a thumbs up from me. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Orwell

Aho Girl

Aho Girl is about a girl who is totally fucking retarded. The show is totally fucking retarded. Yet I can’t stop watching it. What am I doing with my life.

aho-girl

Aho Girl is a short anime (I think every episode is like 15 minutes). It’s a collection of short little stories (5-10 minutes apiece) and they’re all dumb. The characters are all degenerates (except Sayaka, you’re an angel).

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Akutsu is a violent domestic abuser in his early years thanks to his experiences with Yoshiko. Yoshiko (‘Aho girl’) is a retard with a magical ability to make everything around her get dumber. Sayaka is a pure angel that has no reason to be in this anime. Yoshiko’s mother is a degenerate who (on screen!?!?!!!) admitted to effectively raping Yoshiko’s father. Oppai Incho (yeah, who remembers her name anyway?) is a delusional stalker. There’s some delinquent that also suffers from stupidity. Oh, and I guess Akutsu’s sister also has that curse. And there’s a dog that is pretty much a bro? Dog’s cool I guess. His name actually is Dog. Guess whose pet he is.

There isn’t an overarching story. It’s just the lives of these people. This anime being short is actually a point in its favour because it’s so bad that you can’t get attached to characters (except Sayaka, and she only sticks out because she’s normal) but it’s also so bad that you have to watch it. Also, the opening theme is extremely catchy. It’s like this rap that at one point goes all opera and then becomes a rap again.

I guess this anime subscribes to the ‘Family Guy’ approach to comedy. Hit the audience with something mildly amusing, and then move the attention to something else mildly amusing. Since you never have too much time to stew on how stupid what you’re laughing at is, it’s good enough to keep you amused for the 15 minutes.

Overall, I’d say watch it. It’s so bad it’s good. Thanks for reading.

Aho Girl

American Cultural Appropriation

This post isn’t getting much of a draft process so it won’t really be the same quality as the other posts that I’ve done but I do want to get my piece in here. I’m literally just stream of consciousness-ing this post.

Readers may know that I am a bit of a manga fan. I read a lot of trashy manga like Yuusha ga Shinda and Kumo desu ga, nani ka? Though that’s not to say I can’t appreciate a good Hajime no Ippo or Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures. No I have no read One Piece. No, I’m not going to read it any time soon. I’ll wait for the completion. It’s bad enough Miura is stringing me along with Berserk. At least Togashi has Hunter X Hunter moving along nicely =D

Anyway, there’s a manga that became very popular and has finally hit the west in the form of My Hero Academia. My Hero Academia is the story of how Midoriya Izuku becomes the greatest hero. They spoiled themselves in the first chapter or so, don’t cry to me. Izuku lives in a world filled with people that have superpowers. He was born without superpowers and he has an unfortunate fascination with heroes just like any of us. So he wants to be a superhero but alas, no superpowers. He does get to eventually enter hero school with a small loan of a million dollars the superpowers of the greatest hero in their universe.

When you think of superheroes, no matter where you are in the world, you probably think of Marvel superheroes like Iron Man and Spiderman. These movies are very common throughout the world. While manga do often have people with unusual powers, the ‘hero’ character is really an American thing. Rugged individualism is an American ideal. Many heroes in the series were easily inspired by American comics. The Symbol of Peace – All Might wears red, white, and blue. He names his attacks after states and his strongest attack is ‘The UNITED STATES OF SMASH”. The man is always optimistic and willing to face danger headlong because he is the embodiment of heroism. It’s so inspiring to see All Might, not only a great hero, but a likable hero. He’s not rude, he’s overly polite. He’s not unapproachable, he’s incredibly friendly. All Might gives hope to those around him.

I feel like Horikoshi really loves America and American culture. And his love of the United States can be found in My Hero Academia. I love this manga because (in my opinion) there isn’t a single bad character in it. I wish I saw more Tooru Hagakure (pun intended) but overall, very well done.

We live in an era where certain individuals will vilify a person for borrowing from culture outside their own. They say this is offensive to the cultures, and that everyone should just stay in their own culture boxes and leave well enough alone. But I disagree. I have never connected so strongly to a manga (Berserk may have come close) as I have to My Hero Academia. I’ve never been so invested in so many characters in a manga. And I believe it’s not only because Horikoshi has written a good manga, but because I can feel the appreciation for American culture in this manga. This man (probably) loves America, and loves American media. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I celebrate this! I wish we had more mangas about different aspects of American culture! This is wonderful!

This is why I don’t understand how ‘cultural appropriation’ is a thing. Really, I’m so very pleased by this cultural appropriation. I would welcome Horikoshi into my home. There was a video that went somewhat viral, maybe a year ago of a black girl harassing a white boy because he had dreads. It seems she interpreted it as some kind of insult. But I don’t understand why. If she has cultural ties to dreads, shouldn’t she be happy that people from outside her perceived ingroup can appreciate dreads as well? There was a story a while ago about a young girl that loved tea ceremony and I believe she posted images in traditional wear. She received many hateful comments for this, saying that she was ‘appropriating Japanese culture’, and that it was offensive to Japanese people. These people weren’t Japanese though. When the Japanese people finally made a response, they were very thankful that the girl appreciated their culture so much. The girl did the research and actually invested herself in tea ceremony. She was celebrating their culture, not mocking it.

I wish that all of these people that think of cultural appropriation as a thing would see it for what it is – flattery. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. There’s no reason we should not be able to appreciate another person’s culture. Appreciating their culture is what makes the world great. These people claim to support multiculturalism, but everyone has to stick their own culture? That seems contradictory. It elevates tokenism to being the standard, rather than something we would openly find distasteful.

So long story short, I want to give another ‘Thank you’ to Horikoshi. You’re doing a wonderful job mate. Every chapter keeps me on my toes and all of your characters are wonderful. I love it. And thank you for loving American culture, loving my culture as much as I love my culture.

Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

American Cultural Appropriation

Date A Live

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So I am a member of certain Facebook groups that share images. Some of these images get me a little interested in the source material. Date A Live seems to have some really cute characters so I decided to look it up. Tags… MECHA?!

SOLD!

I’m not sure that the ‘mecha’ tag is being applied properly. Mecha usually involves GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS THAT MANLY MEN PUNCH OTHER THINGS WITH. But in this show the only things vaguely mecha are the outfits that some of the girls wear. And quite frankly, that doesn’t cut it for me. And they’re not even used all that much to be honest. Most of the girls in this show are fodder.

In Date A Live, the world is being ravaged by ‘spirits’. They’re supposed to cause ‘spacequakes’ when they arrive but apparently that gets turned optional real fast. Probably because doing an evacuation in every episode would be a waste of time and totally boring. A boy promises to meet his younger sister (ugh, siscon) in front of a restaurant even if a spacequake evac occurs. Whoops, you can probably guess what happened. The boy, I guess we can call him Shido, it’s his name after all. Shido goes to the restaurant and whoops, there’s a fight going down. Then his sister bails him out and he’s told that he needs stop all of the spirits (conveniently female) from rampaging by dating them. I… what is this plot even…

Now you can probably see the problem right away.  Women don’t always take kindly to guys dating other women. And apparently his ability to stop them from rampaging is entirely dependent on making all of the spirits love him simultaneously so I dunno mayne. This is just a disaster. And of course there’s a human interested in him and that causes problems to. And it gets so terribad that at one point he is dating 3 girls at once and you can tell the writers have never been on a date before because you can’t leave your date unoccupied for 30+ minutes and ‘nothing happens’, mmkay? Ain’t no way that girl gonna be okay with you unless she’s not interested in you. But yeah, that happens.

Quite frankly, I think there’s too much filler. The highlights of the series can be chopped down into 2-4 episodes really. You really only needed maybe 4 of the ‘core’ characters. to tell the story (if we’re calling it that). Maybe that’s the problem. There are characters introduced as main characters that literally turn into side characters. Abomination. I feel like the show may have been entirely filler. I didn’t get a clear sense of direction. What am I being told? And where are my giant robots?

That being said, we do have some shining light. Kurumi is one of the cutest things I’ve seen and she’s crazy to boot. Why do I like ’em crazy? I don’t know. I just do. Sue me. Anywhere, here’s a picture of her.

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The other shining light is the music. Seriously, the music to this anime is way too epic compared to the quality of the anime itself. It just soars majestically into the horizon on the back of a flying MECHA dolphin.

Without a clear sense of direction, terrible dialogue, terrible characters, I cannot in good conscience recommend this anime. That’ll be it from me though. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Date A Live