In the facebook feed today, news about a new Christian manga.

Not really much info. It looks like a 4-koma published in Christ Shimbun, which can be found here. Unfortunately I think the comic is in the physical edition only, as I can’t see any link to it on the translated site. Pyuri-tan, a pun on puritan, is a glasses girl who might be a christian denomination anthropomorphized.

Interesting that secular sites are picking up on it, even though it’s obviously from the “how odd!” angle. Don’t read the comments on any of them, they’ll just depress you.


One of the best old-time radio horror series out there is Quiet Please! It’s given us some of the scariest episodes of audio drama I’ve had the pleasure to listen to, and Northern Lights happens to be one of the best of those episodes.

It’s a story about two scientists researching a time machine in a cold, northern location. Their goal is to send a cigarette lighter ahead a few seconds in time, but they also bring back an odd little visitor with them, one who perplexes them to no end. The rest you have to listen to yourself.

if you like that, some other scary episodes are “The Thing on the Fourble Board” and “Tanglefoot.” If you’re not keen on horror, National Public Radio did an absolutely wonderful audio drama of the Star Wars films that had much of the original cast, and expanded on them by including scenes not present in the movies. There are both BBC and American adaptations of the Lord of the Rings series for fantasy lovers. I think  audio drama is an excellent alternative for Christians worried about content, as you can’t visually display extreme sex or violence due to the nature of the media, and you have to focus on mood and atmosphere instead shock and transgression. It also forces you to engage your imagination more, and can be made at a fraction of the cost of a single television episode.

Unfortunately with the death of radio as a mass medium, it’s never really recovered. While the internet has acted as a big archive for the old programs, most of the new ones have no real distribution method outside of websites or the odd college radio station. Sort of like Christian spec fiction in a way; you need to have a distribution network that pushes content to people, not one where people have to pull content to them. It doesn’t even matter about the quality of the stuff pushed:

  • Tina Fey is spectacularly unfunny; compare 30rock to just about any sitcom made ten years ago, and prepare to cringe.
  • Family Guy is anti-funny, to the point of inducing pain.
  • Most geeky series can’t even do better than Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that series was fluff. Compare Arrow to it, and Arrow is a clunky, unrealistic mess.
  • Pretty much any “big” series in the last five years has been mediocre.

Yet TV keeps soldiering on. Same as movies:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy SUCKED. Hint: Rocket Raccoon is called Rocket because he wears rocket skates on his hindpaws. If you want a drinking game for that movie, take one every time the camera shows a shot of him looking down the barrel of a gun. Batista sucked as Drax, Zoe Saldana managed to make Gamora unsexy, “What a bunch of a-holes,” “Star-lord, man *whines*”, Ronan looking constipated, etc. I don’t know why its liked when it’s The Phantom Menace of Marvel live-action films.
  • Somehow, Michael Bay can keep making movies. In fact, he seems to be the most influential director out there. The Hobbit movies? Straight from the Bay playbook; overlong, absurd action sequences, etc.
  • It’s so bad that Oscar winners are movies no one cares about. It’s not a matter of passing over popular to choose less popular, it’s picking unknown or movies designed to appeal to critics over movies people actually spend money to watch.
  • It’s so bad that the shelves of most movie stores are lined with crap. Go into a Wal-mart movie section and you’ll see:
    • Five different Z-grade Syfy monster movies. The old B-grade films, the ones done by Corman of others, they were flawed but have charm. Modern ones? Blame Troma, who pioneered everything Syfy did, and made unlikable bargain-basement films without a hint of camp or art.
    • Multiple modern Chinese wuxia films. Buy cheap, bring over cheap, watch and they are a mess.
    • Endless indie horror flicks. Yeah, they had them earlier on too, but you had some real gems among the endless slasher retreads. Now it’s like we get endless retreads and precious few cult films. Where is our Evil Dead?
    • Tyler Perry, and much more.

The distribution network trumps all. It’s like a massive rock rolling down a hill; once its started, it can keep going indefinitely. Audio drama these days is impossible to start, because radio as a cultural force is dead. You know what radio stations are none for now? Spamming your Facebook feeds with stupid memes.

It’s sad because it’s really a wonderful medium. Quiet Please actually is BETTER than the Twilight Zone, because it uses a great formula of having a small cast with a single narrator to make intimate, chilling tales. I think I’d love to make Triune into an audio drama at some point, as well as write others. I guess it’s just me liking contrary things though.

This turned more into a rant than simply sharing a link, but here it is.

Writing Exercise: Kilmeny

Sometimes when I need to loosen up, I take a poem and try to rewrite it. I was browsing the internet today and found James Hogg’s Kilmeny, and thought to work on it some.

If you’ve read George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind, he mentions another girl who also was there. That girl is Kilmeny, the virgin heroine of this poem, and it appears to have had quite the impact on him. The original poem is here.

What i tried to do was modernize the language. The “sae gang aft agley” dialect of Burns (which influenced Hogg so much) doesn’t really translate well to modern poetry in my opinion. It can sound beautiful, but a lot of the words you simply can’t understand. I found many of the powerful passages in the original were exactly when he used plain language; the “land of love” passage I more or less transcribed verbatim, but I altered others if just to explain them. “Lane” means alone, “Maike” means equal, but didn’t make much sense in the original. Some of my new lines miss the rhyme structure, and I’m sure are clunkier than the original. The last three lines of the first stanza I admit make no sense, but they don’t really in the original either.  I only did part of the poem, before work.

Bright Kilmeny gamboled up the glen
but it wasn’t to meet Duneira’s men,
Nor the rosy monk of the isle to see,
for Kilmeny was pure as pure could be.
It was only to hear the yellowhammer sing,
and put the cress-flower round the spring;
The scarlet hip, the bramble’s berry,
and the hazelnut that hung from the tree so merry;
For Kilmeny was pure as pure could be.
But long may her mother look over the water,
But long may she seek rough roots for her father;
Long did the lord of Duneira them blame,
and long did they call for lost Kilmeny again.

When many a day had come and fled,
When grief grew calm, and hope was dead,
When masses for Kilmeny’s soul had been sung,
When the priest had prayed and the dead bell rung,
Late, late in twilight when all was still,
when the fringe was red on the western hill,
The woods were withered, the moon in the wane,
The reek of the sea hung over the plain,
like a small tiny cloud in the world all alone
When the fire burned low with an eerie gleam,
Late, late in the twilight Kilmeny came home.

“Kilmeny, Kilmeny, where have you been?
Long have we sought you among grove and den;
By waterfall, by ford, and green-wood tree,
Yet you are so healthy, and fair to see.
Who gave you that mantle with the lily’s sheen?
That fine virgin’s veil of the birch so green?
And those roses, the fairest that ever were seen?
Kilmeny, Kilmeny, where have you been?

Kilmeny looked up with a lovely grace,
but no smile was seen on Kilmeny’s face;
As still was her look, and still was her eye,
As the stillness that lay on the emerald sea.
For Kilmeny had been, she knew not where,
And Kilmeny had seen what she could not declare;
Kilmeny had been where the cock never crew,
Where the rain never fell, and the wind never blew.
But it seemed as the harp of the sky had rung,
and the airs of heaven played around her tongue,
When she spoke of the lovely forms she had seen,
And a land where sin had never been;
A land of love and a land of light,
Without sun, or moon, or night;
Where the river spawned a living stream,
And the light a pure celestial beam;
The land of vision it would seem,
A still and everlasting dream.

In that land there is a wood,
and in that wood there winds a path,
and in that path there walks a man
that has no flesh, nor blood, nor death;
and down in that wood, he walks alone.

In that green path Kilmeny lay,
Covered in piles of flowerets gay;
But the air was soft and the silence deep,
and bright Kilmeny fell sound asleep.
She sensed no more, nor opened her eyes,
till wakened by the hymns of far away countrysides.

She awoke on a couch of silk so fine,
All striped with the colors of the rainbow’s shine;
And lovely beings all ’round were rife,
Who had traveled the lengths of mortal life;
And how they smiled and began to say,
“What spirit brings us this mortal so gay?”

“Long have I journey the mortal world wide,”
A meek and reverent fellow replied;
“Night and day over beauties I did pore,
Unending my search, a thousand years, no, more.
Yes, I have watched over infinite degree,
the endlessly blooming flowers of femininity;
But a pure, holy virgin, she who fought sin and won,
in mind and body, of her I found none.
Never in the revolving banquets of time,
Found I such a virgin in the powers of her prime,
Till late this bright maiden I did know
As spotless as the winter’s first morning snow:
Full twenty years she has lived as free
as the spirits which sojourn in this country:
I have spirited her away from the snares of men,
so that sin and death may never touch her again.

They clasped her waist and her hands so fair,
They kissed her cheek, and they caressed her hair,
and round came many a brilliant fae,
saying “Bright Kilmeny, we welcome you, please stay,
O woman who flies now free of mortal scorn:
Blessed be the day that Kilmeny was born!
Now the land of the spirits you shall see,
Now shall you understand what a woman may be.
Many a long year, in sorrow and alone
Many a long year through the world we’ve gone,
Commissioned to watch fair womankind,
For it is they who nourish the immortal mind.
We have watched their steps as the dawn had shone,
and deep in the green-wood when they walk alone;
by lily-bower and silken bed
our invisible tears over them we’ve shed;
and have soothed their worried minds to sleep
as they’ve left the couch of love to weep.
We have seen! We have seen! But judgment must come,
and the angels themselves will weep at the day of doom…

I’d like to do the rest some time.

Horrible Manga, Awesome Concept

…Monster Musume’s chunibyou dullahan, Lala-chan.


You didn’t really think she was the Grim Reaper, did you? Her scythe isn’t even sharp! Pretty savvy of Darling to see through her, but I guess it takes an ex-chuni to catch a chuni. Dullahans are just normal critters just like lamia and harpies in that world, and even a wannabe Grim Reaper might find Agent Smith a bit too much to handle.


Not because Agent Smith is scary, or because Darling’s cool or anything.

This is one concept I wish could have its own book. It’s too bad Musume is 60% boobs, 40% plot (not the boobs kind of plot.) I have a weakness for chuni characters, and this was a delightful surprise. If they ever do get around to horrifying us with an anime based on it, I might see how Lala is.

Random things: 2/28/15

Another catch-all post.

Playing: Hyperdevotion Noire for the PS Vita.

Story is simple. Noire is on top of the battle for shares in Gamarket, and it’s not going to last long. She gets tricked into depowering everyone through doing something to the main power crystal that converts people’s faith in their nation into shares, and the now de-powered goddess needs to put everything back together again. She has the help of the other three goddesses though, her generals, and you, a random human who walks into the middle of everything and is drafted into being her secretary.

This game is different from the main series because it’s an isometric strategy roleplayer similar to Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics. You maneuver the goddesses on a grid and take turns beating up on whatever enemy force happens to show up this round. Your units are strengthened by the “lily” mechanic, in which close units will power up your skills in battle by…kissing you on the cheek.

Yeah, it’s about as lame as sounds.

Unfortunately this shares the same problem as the other Hyperdimension Neptunia games. It’s a chore to play. Oh, it’s not bad, per se; the turn-based action is decent, the story is serviceable, and there’s a mini-dating sim in the middle of the game focused around you helping to answer letters from Noire’s subjects. But the encounters are just long enough and just hard enough to make it not all that fun. Battles as early as chapter two quickly involve crawling up the field, taking one group of enemies on at a time, and inching to the boss who will unleash some absurdly powerful attacks on you. It doesn’t feel all that flexible, and you get the sense of slowly figuring out the sole correct path the devs want you to take to finish the level. Expect to retry battles the first few times when you realize how hard normal is. Tip: anything with a lot of HP will also hit you like a truck. Don’t run up to it if it’s in a group with friends.

It’s pretty much a fan-service game, and expect service shots of Noire as the game progresses. Honestly if you have a Vita, you probably bought this out of sheer lack of games, but it’s not really worth picking up unless you love Neptunia, and you probably already did that if you do.

Reading: Boys Be.


This was part of a huge stack of manga I found for sale at the local Goodwill. I had read the series before, back in the day when Tokyopop was the top manga company in the USA. I was glad to pick it up again.

Boys Be is unusual is that it’s a book of love stories told from the male perspective. High school boys meet high school (and older) girls, and crush on them, fantasize about them, and maybe even declare their love for them. It’s not moe, and while it can be ecchi at times, it’s sort of a realistic type that you don’t see much of these days.

Stories involve a judo student who gets in an accident with a club-hopping fellow student, and falls in love, an otaku who finds love when a girl in his class needs to find a certain manga, a boy in love with a girl a full foot taller than him, a pair of friends competing over the waitress in a local restaurant, and a high school kid who becomes the subject of three vacationing office ladies’ gaze.

It’s nice to see a manga that tries to get inside the romantic life of guys, and while there’s sexiness, there’s also a fair amount of love and romance too. It’s not all that heavy-there’s no Flowers of Evil here-but it’s probably more of a healthy fantasy than a lot of the ecchi harem shows that have been coming out recently, cough, Testament of New Sister Devil, cough.

There’s also an anime out based on it, but it’s bad. Avoid it.

I still have a pile of other manga to work through. I find that I liked Shugo Charat more than I should have, and it was great rereading Full Metal Panic again.

Disliking: Catwoman’s Bisexuality.

Yeah, apparently she likes girls too.

I try not to talk about politics here on my blog. This is the internet, and people do debate a wide variety of things while treating people with consideration and kindness in real life. This, though, annoys me some.

I’m not a fan of retconning characters into new, more controversial forms. I’m really not a fan of how homosexuality is getting pushed not because the average liberal cares about it, but because approving of homosexuality is a cultural marker that separates them from us. If they really cared, they wouldn’t be doing these sort of “shock” reveals and berating people who dislike the change. They’d be making new heroes and legitimately exploring the life of an LGBT person given superpowers.

When they do stuff like this, or in video game culture, or in other geek areas, it’s really not to help people. It’s to score points off of others while reinforcing in-group solidarity. I think it’s getting to a point where people are starting to notice, especially considering how often homosexuality is present in respect to the percentage of people that actually are LGBT. I think the biggest sign of this was gay marriage; considering the total failure of gays to actually get married (the numbers are infinitesimally small) it’s obvious that the desire for it is more or less being pushed by straights. Why? What better way to marginalize your opponents than by branding them bigots?

It’s starting to make geek culture suck. Gamergate (at least the sane side of it) and the reaction against Social Justice Warriors in general is really driven by this. People are not liking their favorite media being used as a stalking-horse to score points off of others with, and we’re starting to see geek culture decline as a SJW elite takes over and tries to use geek media as a new front in the battle.

I’m Christian and conservative, so I can’t view homosexuality as anything but sinful. That doesn’t mean I should be telling unbelievers what to do or how to live their lives, though. But the geek in me hates the new gotcha culture of point-scoring, and as one of the comments pointed out, DC already has close to 90 characters that are LGBT already, throughout its multiple imprints. It’s like the junk happening with Archie Comics right now; watching hipsters transform something that used to be a gentle, dorky series for kids into the second coming of Love and Rockets can be painful.

The next front seems to be polyamory and the various -sexuals. Pansexual, Asexual, Demisexual, whatever errors smart, clueless people hear in the herd-mind’s call.

Ending on bit of a cynical note, I guess. Hopefully all of your lives are doing better.

Top Ten Anime Of All Time: #8 Figure 17

Third in a series of posts about my personal top ten anime. This isn’t in any order, and the last one was Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventures.

I like anime that tends to be unusual. Figure 17 is truly unusual, and sadly underrated and unknown.


Tsubasa is a grade-schooler who has moved up north to Hokkaido with her father. He wants to become a baker, and is living on a farm with family. Tsubasa has’t really adjusted well, and is very shy. One day, she is present while a spaceship crash-lands in the forest.

That spaceship was transporting alien prisoners known as the Maguar. They managed to knock out the prison ship transporting them, and defeat the pilot, an alien named DD. The Maguar then goes after Tsubasa, who desperately hides in the ship. Out of desperation, she reaches for a Figure, an alien who is designed to merge with DD’s people and form a combat-enhanced version of themselves.

To her shock, she merges with the Figure, and defeats the Maguar. But it doesn’t end here. As she reverts back to human, an unexpected side-effect happens. The Figure transforms into a carbon-copy of Tsubasa, calling herself Hikaru. DD has no choice but to enlist the two children to help fight the Maguar until help arrives. But Hikaru and Tsubasa grow closer each day, and the Maguar are getting harder to kill…


One of the best cult anime out there. It manages to have its own, unique spin on things while honoring classic tropes. It also predated some modern anime trends.

The first unusual thing you’ll notice is that each episode is double the average length. At 45 minutes, there’s plenty of time for the story to develop, and the anime is not afraid to use that time. Many modern series are often so compact at 22 minutes that they seem hyperactive, and its refreshing to sit down and absorb the leisurely pace of Figure 17.

Figure 17 is also unusual in its setting. Very few anime are set up north in Hokkaido, and Figure 17 predated the trends of remote town slice of life farming anime by ten years. Not only does it evoke both Silver Spoon in the rural, farming background, it also does Non Non Biyori’s children in a rural school better, with more seriousness. The farm setting is done wonderfully, with episodes showing how hard farm life is, or the struggle of a teenager to not be spoiled by city life. It’s a gorgeous little slice-of life series, but it’s not only that.

Figure 17 is a riff on the classic trope of the magical girl. The original trope was that of a young girl who uses magic to grow up into an adult version of herself, and solve problems with her new power. Figure 17 is very faithful to that concept, even as it recasts it into a science fiction, realistic setting. It also subverts the trope of magical girls by having the real solving being done just by the growing relationship between Hikaru and Tsubasa. That close, sister-twin bond brings Tsubasa out of her shell and humanizes Hikaru, who shares her partner’s memories. It’s done wonderfully, with a lot of heartwarming moments.

Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t the “science fiction” of something like Lyrical Nanoha. Figure 17 takes the alien battling side very, very seriously. While Tsubasa and Hikaru are powerful, they really don’t like fighting. They are often afraid, and only want it to be over with. DD is not a Dumbledore; he is awesome in that he tries all he can to keep the girls out of the fighting, and is forced to ask their help. The plot is intelligent, and the battle is fierce, with each Maguar becoming stronger as the previous one is dispatched. Even the violence is there to show you how desperate the battle is; it’s neither gratuitous nor remote.

It’s an easy four stars out of five, with only the slow pace that might turn people off of it.


This series isn’t something I could pull spiritual meanings out of. It’s mostly about Tsubasa growing up, and how Hikaru helps her do so. It’s a very tender series, with many heartwarming moments between the two of them. However, it’s not afraid to deal with loss, as Tsubasa herself misses her dead mother, and by the end of the series we will see even more sadness.

I think one of the attractive things about this series is that due to its age, it predates many of the modern anime pitfalls, most notably the symbolic unreality of them. By this I mean a lot of anime is very mannered, almost like a comedia del’arte. You don’t have characters, you have stock roles: the tsundere, the best friend, the ojou-sama. There’s not one bit of this in Figure 17, and all of the characters feel more like real people than anime ones. Sometimes the danger in anime is in removing us from appreciating the real world into a 2-d world of types, and Figure 17 allows none of that.

Yet it even does some tropes better than modern anime. Both Tsubasa and Hikaru are very moe, and whenever you hear this song, it’s a sign of some serious heartwarming moments coming on. It’s not forced or saccharine at all, and as the series progresses to the final end, it gets very, very sad. You really want to just hug the two of them.

Christians should be warned that despite the theme and young protagonists, this has some decent levels of violence and brief nudity. These are not designed to offend or titillate; instead, they show  how dangerous the battle is. This anime is difficult to track down, but it’s well worth it if you do; it’s a lot fresher and original than many modern anime, and doesn’t feel dated at all.

Next up in the series is Saint Tail, another magical girl anime that plays a bit with the premise. While doing so, it also has a Christian definition of the romantic struggle between boy and girl, as well as a very Christian-friendly atmosphere.

A Good Librarian Like A Faithful Servant

I didn’t expect to watch A Good Librarian Like A Good Shepherd. It’s another harem anime based on a visual novel, and a pretty bland one too. However, I wound up downloading a free episode on iTunes, and got hooked enough to watch the rest of the series on Hulu. It’s unusual in that it sparked some Christian thoughts in me despite being a mildly ecchi series.

Kakei is a young man who for most of his life has been obsessed with books. He had an encounter with someone who told him of a magic library, and he devours books in search of the one book that can tell him everything. One day he receives an e-mail from a mysterious person named the Shepherd, and that e-mail combined with a precognition enables him to save the life of Shirasaki, a shy girl who is trying to change her life. Kakei gets drawn into her Happy Project due to her warmth, and soon an unlikely group of people form around them. But the Shepherd still has plans for Kakei…

There were quite a few things that struck me while watching it.

1. Have we forgotten Christian service?

Shirasaki’s club has one aim: making people happy. One of the things that the series got right was the joy in serving others. While there’s an ulterior motive, it’s a very mild one; Shirasaki wants to make true the lies she was telling her sister about her own school life. At her heart, Shirasaki serves others and that light winds up reflecting off of everyone.

It made me think how little serving Christians actually do.

Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if we had some Happy Projects of our own. I mean, we have Ministry, capital M, but the Happy project was anything but, until the end. It was striking how mundane most of what they did was. Doing chores together, fulfilling requests for no reward, and more. That serving drew Kakei to Shirasaki, because he saw something in her he couldn’t understand, or even see in himself. Maybe a little less evangelization and more serving for the sake of serving might help the faith grow. I could see renting a small room or meeting in the back of a big library like the Happy Project does, and planning how to help others.

2. Even this has a purpose.

Kakei has suffered quite a bit. His stated purpose in the beginning was to read books just to understand people. He longs to live by himself in a peaceful world of his own. That makes the realization that even the bad times in his live may have a purpose to lead him to the good is so rewarding.

It’s a very Christian sentiment, I think. “In all things God works for the good of those who love him,” the verse goes. The suffering that many of the members of the Happy Project had is redemptive, and leading to a better life for them all. Even the closest thing the series has to a villainess loses not solely to be defeated, but loses so that she can realize the error of her ways before it’s too late. There’s pain there, but it’s the healing kind.

3. The Shepherds are the Angels.

Or the closest thing that anime has gotten to a Christian conception of one, anyways.

No, seriously. The Shepherds are a group of people who magically help people to have happy lives. They work behind the scenes by reading the books of people’s lives and giving a push at the right moment to prevent catastrophe. It’s VERY much like a guardian angel, and their clothing choices subtly reflect this. They only wear  black suits, but this evokes Wim Wenders “Wings of Desire,” where the angels in them were similarly garbed.

The idea though evokes angels well. With the Library itself being a quasi-spiritual place, it feels a lot more like a Christian might think of an angel or helper to be, as opposed to the typical anime versions of it.


It’s an interesting series, despite its flaws. It’s not really well animated, switching styles oddly at points. There’s a lot of fan service, and it really is a typical harem anime. It drew me mostly in spite of all of the flaws. Looking at the wiki the same visual novel team did Fortune Arterial, which I also liked despite its issues. A Good Librarian made me think about the faith a little more though, by reminding me of joy in service, the redemptive purpose of suffering, and of the Shepherds of our own that work to aid us.

Christians probably would rate the anime PG13. It has a lot of fan service, but in general its mild. There’s some teasing of the viewers expecting to see yuri, by having two friends lead up to it and then…do absolutely normal things. Considering that this is based of an adult visual novel, you’d expect more Fruit of Grisaia-level fan service and less clothed jiggling. You might roll your eyes a lot.

No real violence or blood at all, although the main villainess has an unhealthy obsession with someone. Probably would only rank a 2 star “okay” rating from me, but it got me watching in spite of that.

NOTE: Yeah, I haven’t forgotten my ten best anime. Figure 17 is long to watch, and I’ve only been sneaking single episodes of anime when I can. It’s coming up as soon as I get a break.


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