Alien: Covenant and the Significance of Sacrificial Love May24

Alien: Covenant and the Significance of Sacrificial Love...

The Alien films are all about the coldness of space with an emphasis on mechanics ahead of humans, the quietness in the vastness of the universe, and the xenomorphs that hunt humans without relent. So it feels strange, at first, that in Alien: Covenant the vessel is led by a crew consisting largely of married couples, carrying in the warmth of love to this callous environment. Unlike in many horror films, the couples don’t turn on each other. Their love is real and deep; they are strong, solid, and supportive. It’s no wonder these pairs were specifically selected for the Covenant’s colonization mission, as they have the responsibility of guiding a ship carrying thousands of humans and additional embryos to a new planet. The crew is also friendly, and despite arguments and missteps, genuinely want the best for one another. And yet, despite its promising beginning, lots of people die. The crew of the Covenant fights against the furious predators, the coldness of space, and evils of sin and humanity. This is no touchy-feely universe. Love doesn’t stand a chance. Living a life separated in every way from the frightening fiction of the Aliens franchise, I’m much more optimistic about love. I believe that my friends will reach out to me when I’m hurting. I believe that I’ll be gracious to those who injure me. I believe that my church community will love the downtrodden and the cast aside. Many times, my expectations are met; but more than I’d like to admit to myself, they are not. It doesn’t take a monster to destroy love; humans can do that just fine on their own. In the midst of Alien: Covenant’s chaotic action, the film manages to stress that dilemma. Battles take place within the...

Your Name Demonstrates Love over Distance May08

Your Name Demonstrates Love over Distance...

In a number of east Asian countries, there’s a concept known as the red string of fate. Frequently portrayed in anime and manga, it’s a red cord, invisible to the human eye, connecting two people, usually in a romantic sense. No matter how far apart they are or what obstacles stand in their way, the pair’s fingers (and hearts) are always linked. It’s a charming idea, but one that doesn’t seem to fit in this modern world. I wonder, what would happen if that antiquated string was traded for a digital thread? Would modern technology change the way we view love? Your Name (Kimi no Na wa), the animated film from Makoto Shinkai that became one of Japan’s all-time highest grossing movies, explores the ideas of romance, fate, and digital technology. It features an unlikely pair: Mitsuha, the eldest daughter in a family tied to a rural community’s Shinto shrine, and Taki, a boy who lives in the megacity of Tokyo and works part-time as a waiter and bus boy. Tied together through a supernatural and cosmic phenomenon, the high schoolers begin switching bodies on a regular basis; the only way they can communicate with one another about the situation is by leaving messages on notepads, scribbling marks on their own bodies, and more typically, typing in a journaling app on their phones. I can work to love those people in my life that are otherwise separated from me. Their odd way of communication is played for laughs as they chronicle their days, often laying down ground rules and leaving snarky remarks, for each other. That surface-level conversation reminds me of my own smartphone habits. I’m frequently in dialogue with friends through Facebook, Twitter, and other apps, and though I communicate with more people...

Arriving at Regret Mar15

Arriving at Regret

It’s easy to dwell on regret. “If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist charged with communicating with visiting aliens in the science fiction film Arrival, asks. In times of reflection, I all too often dismiss that question. It feels too banal, too much like it’s part of the plot for a Disney channel movie. And my answer would inevitably be something similar to the response Jeremy Renner’s character gives: “Maybe I’d say what I felt more often. I don’t know.” I would probably change a few minor things here and there, rework some regrettable moments, but live my life generally as it has been, and how it will be, because I wouldn’t want to miss the moments I treasure; I wouldn’t want to lose my connections to people that are in my life now and in the future. Basically, I would just live my current life, but leveled up. But after seeing Arrival, my answer doesn’t feel like enough. What moved me profoundly in the movie was how it caused me to dig deeper and think about what I would do if I could feel all the pain of the past and all the pain to come, including the tragedy that befalls us when relationships are broken forever by death. If I knew all that, and I could change the ending, then would I really do things more or less the same, or would I veer hard left, wholly altering the route of my life? Would I make the selfish choices for my own happiness, even if it meant passing my burdens onto others and causing them pain and grief? Would I miss out on my precious moments in lieu of...

The Problem with Time Loops Mar10

The Problem with Time Loops...

One of my favourite movies from the last few years is Edge of Tomorrow, the Tom Cruise vehicle that had him repeating the same day over and over again as he fought against alien beings. Marketed with the tagline, “Live. Die. Repeat.”, the film really fed my love for the concept of time loops. The idea that we can relive the same past until we get it right holds a strong appeal for me. Comics, anime, and movies that show time loops often present them as a curse, but I see them more as a superpower. With this ability, what could I do better with the time I’m given? How could I improve my situation? Could I do something to help the people around me that I didn’t do the first time? Steins;gate, an anime about a pair of scientists and their cohorts who find themselves intertwined in conspiracies and plots involving time travel, emphasizes further complexities regarding time loops. At first, Rintaro Okabe, a peculiar college student and self-described mad scientist, is satisfied living an eccentric life, visiting his wide array of friends, and conducting unusual experiments involving bananas in his home laboratory. But as his conspiracy theories start to tap into truth, Okabe and his partners discover that time travel research has come at a great cost, and that the organization that has conducted it is willing to kill to hide and preserve their findings. Okabe encounters a time loop as he travels to the past incessantly in an attempt to save someone very important to him. Although it’s a loop that Okabe can exit, it has no less effect on him than one in which he would be helpless to break. Okabe witnesses the brutal death of a dear friend over...

Losing Star Wars to Legend Feb08

Losing Star Wars to Legend...

Picture this scene: a short, scrawny Korean boy with glasses sitting on a bench in a middle school locker room, talking nerd stuff with a tall, gangly, bushy-haired classmate. Day after day, we’d broach topics like Japanese film adaptations of fighting games, whether dinosaurs really could be made from mosquitos trapped in amber, and how there was this great game called Doom, but it required a boot disc. Of all these conversations, though, the most significant one to me was when my friend told me there was an “expanded universe” to Star Wars, novels that pushed the stories of our heroes further. I swore to myself that he was lying. He had to be, right? There couldn’t be more Star Wars, could there? Of course, there was more. So much more. I asked my parents to take me to a local bookstore and bought the very first novel I ever read for personal reasons, Heir to the Empire. That book, and the rest of Timothy Zahn’s trilogy, blew my mind. And that was that—my love for reading and my obsession over Star Wars was sealed. What I grew up loving was no longer canon, no longer true. So you might understand why I felt like I was being tortured by force lightning when Lucasfilm announced that the EU would now be called “Legends.” Legendary stories are those relegated to myth and folk tales, to narratives that might have been true but probably weren’t, or else were so mutated over the years that they only match the historical fact in bare bones. No longer was there a Mara Jade Skywalker, nor the Solo twins. Grand Admiral Thrawn has returned through Rebels, but doesn’t bring with him ysalamir or the clone C’Baoth.  And Chewbacca didn’t die;...

Passengers and Big Dreams Feb01

Passengers and Big Dreams...

Be ye warned: this article contains spoilers for Passengers. I like to dream big. I’m not content reaching only one person with a project; I want thousands to admire my ambition, the project’s goals, and the passion behind it! I want it larger, grander, more memorable! And that doesn’t just go for decisions here and there—it’s how I try to steer the course of my entire life, for better or for worse. I relate well to Aurora Lane, a colonist who wakes too early from hibernation aboard the Avalon, a ship taking her to a distant planet. There’s a scene in the film, Passengers, where she watches a video of her friends wishing her farewell. They are in their twenties at the time of recording, but because she’s been in hibernation for 30 years, she probably wouldn’t recognize them if she saw them now. She’s passed them by, a reality Aurora knew would happen, and one she’s embraced. As a journalist looking to spread her wings, Aurora paused her life, leaving behind all she knew in pursuit of the big story. Her friends hope that she’ll find happiness in becoming the first reporter to document the tale of being a space colonist, but at least one of them suspects that she would find greater joy in a simple relationship. I can hear how Aurora might have answered because it’s the same as I would respond: “Not likely.” Aurora decides that love isn’t so mundane after all. When I was younger, influenced by Tom Clancey novels and the movies based on them, I intended to become a government analyst. Top secret clearance, the ability to influence international affairs, the significance of doing something that affects people and nations—that sounded important, and worth striving for. So...

Remember the Duel with Westley Jan16

Remember the Duel with Westley...

“You must be that little Spanish brat I taught a lesson to all those years ago. You’ve been chasing me your whole life only to fail now? I think that’s about the worst thing I’ve ever heard. How marvelous.” Count Rugen’s response to an injured Inigo Montoya, the swordsman looking to avenge his father’s death in The Princess Bride, pained me when I first heard it as a child. Would this horrible man kill Inigo, just as the swordsman was close to achieving his lifelong goal? How unjust! It was difficult for me to watch Inigo, my favourite character in the movie, get stabbed repeatedly by Rugen, the one I most despised. It’s strange for me to think, but I identify quite strongly with Count Rugen. Not the sadistic, child-scarring, torture-inventing aspects to him, but the “Oh, I can’t believe I had such an impact on you” part. Just as Rugen is surprised by discovering that his foe is the boy he “taught a lesson to all those years ago,” I’ve been realizing lately that we all leave impressions—some profoundly strong—on people all around us, whether we intend to or not. The truth is, I have no idea how my words and actions will impact those around me. Unfortunately, just as with Rugen, some of those impacts I’ve made are through actions that are regrettable. As a teenager, I was a relentless bully. I thrived when I could generate laughs at the expense of others, particularly at an overweight classmate. Day after day I would make fat jokes, pushing him down to puff myself up. He and I eventually went to different schools, and when I next saw him, he had lost significant weight. He was also bitter and unwilling to talk to me...

An Apocalyptic Beginning Dec14

An Apocalyptic Beginning...

The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear “apocalypse” is the end of the world. But really, when an apocalyptic event occurs in books or on film, it’s usually presented not as the end of the world, but rather as the end of the world as we know it. The earth may be devastated and existence is diminished, but somehow life goes on. Aboard the command ship of a mission to colonize a new world, a young woman named Rem teaches two boys—who are actually aliens resembling humans—about the limitless potential of humanity and the goodness of which they are capable. One of the boys, Vash, admires Rem and binds her words to his heart. His brother Knives, on the other hand, victimized by Rem’s colleagues, becomes bitter and vengeful. He eventually sabotages the ships in an attempt to kill all the humans before they reach their destination, but because of a self-sacrificial act by Rem, not only do Vash and Knives survive, so do many of the colonists. After the survivors leave their pods, they struggle to build lives in an unforgiving world. But despite the hardship resulting from Knives’ vile act, their response isn’t to curl up and die; they instead move forward. These are the events that set up Trigun, the classic sci-fi western based on Yasuhiro Nightow’s manga. The humans populate the desert planet, and by the time the main events of the show take place, they have begun to thrive in communities that depend on “plants” (alien energy sources resembling giant light bulbs). They didn’t give up. I admire that tenacity, that toughness and grit demonstrated when people band together and spit in the face of extreme hardships. It’s a mentality that runs deep in many...

Choosing Peace In Nausicaa’s Wake Dec05

Choosing Peace In Nausicaa’s Wake...

Princess Nausicaa is cut from the Studio Ghibli tradition of strong, female heroines. Even her appearance challenges the stereotypical princess, as she has short hair and wears aviator gear instead of a ball gown. Nausicaa is more at home flying a glider and repairing a windmill than she is meeting perspective suitors. Respected and adored by her subjects, she cares for their well-being and safety. She’s confronted by a rival kingdom, who storms into the peaceful village and quickly conquers it, killing Nausicaa’s father in process. In a rage, Nausicaa defeats the enemy soldiers and nearly murders all of them. However, the village is still in danger from another threat. A thousand years before, civilization collapsed as ancient, mythical warriors destroyed the earth. It is strongly inferred that these gigantic creatures punished mankind for its poor treatment of the environment. Indeed, the Valley of the Wind is at the edge of a toxic jungle that’s spreading poisonous spores and inhabited by gigantic bug-like creatures called ohm, which can be incredibly destructive when they sense a threat. Even out of poison and dirt can grow a most marvelous thing. Threatened by another kingdom and by the ohm, the village seems to be at the end of its life, another victim of the ancient apocalypse that beset the planet. But Nausicaa, a lover of nature who can communicate with and tame the powerful ohm, has discovered that beneath the human-poisoned jungle are clean running waters. There is yet a chance at life. A lot of times, the challenges in my life come through my own doing. I behave in ways I know I shouldn’t, but do so anyway out of pride or blindness. A white lie here, a corner cut there, a deceitful response, a bitter...

The Gift We Can’t Earn Nov14

The Gift We Can’t Earn...

There is a word that is perhaps the most offensive one I know; it strikes at my sense of justice, at the idea that wrongdoers should get what they deserve instead of receiving forgiveness. But when I try hard enough to embrace this beautiful concept and remember how much it’s turned my life around, I’m able to remember the awesome power that it has. That word is “grace.” In Clannad After Story, the second season of the Clannad anime series, Tomoya graduates high school, goes straight from there into the workforce, and marries the series heroine, Nagisa. Their romance is a moving one—Tomoya helps Nagisa develop meaningful friendships for the first time in her life and she helps him overcome the emotional scars he’s incurred from years of abuse and neglect at the hands of his father. But their fairy tale romance ends tragically when Nagisa passes away giving birth to the pair’s daughter, Ushio. Depressed and heartbroken, Tomoya pours himself into his work and lets Nagisa’s parents raise Ushio. He becomes bitter about life and rarely sees his daughter, finally visiting only because he’s tricked into it. Tomoya begrudgingly then takes his daughter on a short trip, but it’s tough going as he continues to struggle with the bitterness he feels toward Ushio and with his own inadequacies as a parent. It’s that second struggle that becomes significant when Tomoya realizes that the place he’s taken his daughter to is near his own grandmother’s home. There, Tomoya learns more about his dad, who he’d grown to hate, especially after his father broke his arm during an abusive episode (and thereby destroying his dreams of becoming a professional athlete). But now, Tomoya hears a different perspective, one of a man who was also dealing...

After Being Burnt by Friendship Oct14

After Being Burnt by Friendship...

You wouldn’t guess it by the title, but My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, otherwise known as OreGairu, tackles the complex topic of genuine relationships versus shallow ones, and what it takes to connect people at a meaningful level. Hachiman Hikigaya is the class pariah (and one who wears that title as a badge of honour). A teacher forces him to join the school’s “service club,” where the members assist fellow students with their personal problems. The club is also comprised of Yukino, a beautiful genius with a biting tongue and, apparently, a frozen heart, and Yui, a bubblehead whose kindness for others is only matched by her anxiety. As the show moves forward and the service club takes on student requests, the three club members develop relationships with each other. But it’s frequently one step forward and two steps back as they become closer to one another before drawing away again. For Hikigaya, the pushing away is because he’s built a shield around himself, having developed the defense mechanism of criticizing the ideas of friendships and cliques while promoting a selfish, hedonistic existence. But as we see from his frequent asides, the real reason that Hikki doesn’t want friends is that he’s been burnt frequently in the past. His experience has been that taking chances to know others more intimately causes pain, and he’d rather do without. I totally feel Hikki. If I build a wall around myself and keep everyone at arm’s length, I will keep myself safe. During my college years, I began to drive myself to get to know others and be there for them in their times of need. I enjoyed it a lot at first, but as years passed, I found myself likewise scorched from those relationships. I learned...

A Lannister is Forgiven Sep07

A Lannister is Forgiven...

I found myself falling for Game of Thrones right from the start. And “falling” really is the appropriate word, because my addiction began right when Bran was thrown out of the window by all-world dirtbag Jaime Lannister, who in that moment instituted himself as the central foe in the television series. Or so I thought. Part of the beauty of Game of Thrones is that almost nothing is as it initially seems. By the time Brandon hit the ground, I had Jaime pegged as an antagonist because by that point he’d already established himself as a (literal) backstabber, regicide, incestuous adulterer, and as far as I knew, a child murderer. However, three seasons later I was openly rooting for Jaime. He became a redemption project, proof that there’s hope for even those who do the vilest deeds. Still, it’s not roses and daises in Westeros for Jaime. He’s incurred so many debts due to his past treachery that it’s a wonder he’s still alive (especially without the protection of his fighting hand). More frustrating is that Jaime’s course through the show hasn’t been linear. It isn’t until after he starts down the road of repentance that he rapes his sister. It’s after he’s become a better man that he breathes murderous threats at Edmure Tully while declaring his love for Cersei. Just when you think he has it figured out, Jaime retreats back to being the villain he once was. Watching Jaime transition from bad guy to good guy to bad guy again doesn’t just exasperate me—it makes me uncomfortable. Because in Jaime, I see more than a fictional character on screen and page. I see myself. Why bother trying to be a “good person” when it’s so difficult and I make so many...

Bunny Dropped into Love Aug10

Bunny Dropped into Love...

In fiction, life as an orphan is often not a rosy one. Harry Potter lives as a second-class citizen with the abusive Durleys. The BFG sweeps Sophie away from a difficult life in a children’s home. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny flee their murderous custodian, Count Olaf. Although strife is always involved when children transition into adoptive homes or foster case, the end result can be extraordinarily positive. A child doesn’t need to experience the fantastic or extraordinary lives of Harry, Sophie, or the Baudelaires to find his or her place in the world. Sometimes, and more applicable to real life, simple relationships are those that make a difference. And the picture of love in adoptive bonds is profound. Bunny Drop, a 13-episode anime, revolves around one such relationship, that between Daikichi, a single adult, and Rin, the six-year-old girl he adopts. Daikichi first meets Rin at his grandfather’s funeral. There, the family is stunned to discover that the young girl was apparently fathered out of wedlock by the deceased. The family also finds out that the mother is out of the picture, and soon negativity spreads among the attendees who quickly assert that they will not take the girl into their homes. Knowing how much pain will result, why would anyone adopt a child? It’s almost out of spite that Daikichi finally speaks up, deciding to care for Rin. Aloof and career-focused, Daikichi looks like the last person who would consider rearing an orphan, but he’s the only one willing to speak out for a child in need. It’s not an easy road for the new family—after all, relationships are hard work. To expect two people of any kind to get along seems to be wishful thinking. Even familial relationships, joined by blood, sacrifice,...

Reaching for the Sky Jul04

Reaching for the Sky

There’s a trope in anime where a character–usually an honest and kind girl–will look up into the sky and stretch her hand toward it, reaching out to something invisible. That scene represents the character’s distance from some faraway, seemingly impossible goal. But in that moment, I’m encouraged to think that she will achieve her aim, no matter how difficult. She only needs to persevere. Anime teaches me that sincerity and determination are the keys to making my dreams come true. My real life experience, though, has been that sometimes no matter how hard I try, no matter how much time, energy, and resources I put toward a goal, I still fail. Honey and Clover, the classic series about art school students trying to navigate the trials that come with romantic relationships, final projects, and life itself, breaks the anime mold and shows us that dreams don’t always come true, no matter how sincere we might be. But in the wake of our efforts, and even in our failures, we might be left with something unexpected. In an ensemble piece comprised of a memorable cast, the Honey and Clover character I identify most with is Yuta, perhaps because he’s the most “normal” one. Yuta is even-tempered, industrious, caring, and skilled in woodworking. He’s the kind of character that’s easy for me to root for, one that I just know will overcome his obstacles and, since he’s part of a love triangle, am rooting for to get the girl at the end. Hearts are broken, love isn’t written in the stars, and characters fail to achieve their aspirations. But Honey and Clover is a different type of anime. In it, hearts are broken, love isn’t written in the stars, and characters fail to achieve their aspirations....

Restoring Relationships (and the Force) May04

Restoring Relationships (and the Force)...

Like all relationships, the ones in Star Wars have their challenges. In A New Hope, the first meeting between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader in almost twenty years isn’t as emotional as I imagine it should be. After all, Obi-Wan basically raised Anakin before eventually slicing his legs off. Emotional stuff. Instead, they simply speak a few short utterances to each other in cold tones. There’s no love between the two; their cords have been completely cut, and as such, they no longer see each other as human. For Obi-Wan, Darth Vader is “more machine now than man,” and for Vader, Obi-Wan is just another obstacle to tear through. In this bond built a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I see a challenge being forced upon me, to look at the broken relationships in my own life and think about how they became that way, and what I might do to repair them. In an imperfect world, we’re all bound to have broken relationships. I’ve said many things that have hurt others, and people have driven me away, too, either by cruelty or by simple indifference. The thing is, the longer I let time pass without reconciliation, the more bitterness will take root, and the harder it becomes to heal the damage. The task of pulling it up becomes too daunting to even try. And soon, the person I’m split from has become a memory to me. Any relationship we had dies, wasted and transformed into a nothingness, like the emotional space between Vader and Obi-Wan. Luke makes the sacrifice that restoration costs. Of course, it doesn’t just take realization to reconcile; it takes action. And action requires selflessness. I find that whatever reserve of that characteristic I have in storage...

If I Could Erase the Past Apr11

If I Could Erase the Past...

I wouldn’t say I’m jaded, but I do have some regrets. I wish I had spent more time deepening my friendships when I was younger. I wish I had opened up more to people. It seems that every time I look back to my college years, I’m not disappointed about what I did, but rather about what I didn’t do. This especially affects me because I believe my actions have eternal consequences. ERASED features Satoru Fujinuma, an unsuccessful mangaka (manga writer) whose mother has just recently moved in with him. Satoru is a depressed young man, mostly due to repressing memories of an event where his classmates were killed many years ago. He feels he could have personally prevented the murders and the jailing of a man wrongly convicted for the crimes. Even worse, the events of the past catch up with Satoru, as the real murderer fatally stabs his mother. Laziness, timidity, retribution, fear—these are the demons that pull at me. But this is anime, so fear not! Satoru has an ability to jump back in time. Usually, he is only able to move back a few seconds or minutes, but after his mother’s death, Satoru leaps all the way back his childhood. He’s given a second chance to act and maybe save everybody. Satoru, effectively an adult in a child’s body, attacks his task of saving children with a gusto that takes everyone by surprise. He knows the future, and will do anything to prevent these terrible crimes from happening. I am jealous. I want Satoru’s superpower. But since that doesn’t seem likely, what should I—someone who, you know, can’t travel back in time and correct wrongs—do in the here and now? Unlike Satoru, I’m stuck with the consequences of my actions,...

Lessons of a Pork Bowl Mar04

Lessons of a Pork Bowl...

I love my father to pieces, but sometimes I wonder how we get along at all. We’re fundamentally very different people. Growing up, I would spend most of my free time reading novels or watching TV, while my dad enjoyed maintaining the car and doing lawn work. When he would ask me to help change oil for our old Ford, I would politely reply, “No thanks,” and return to my books. Getting sweaty and dirty working on a contraption I knew nothing about seemed like misery to me. It was wholly out of my comfort zone. I was a lot like Yugo Hachiken, the bookish protagonist of Silver Spoon who is in his first year attending an agricultural-focused high school. Hachiken is completely out of his element at the institution, where he dirties his hands working with livestock, crops, and farming equipment from dusk ‘til dawn. Almost everything at the school is a challenge for Hachiken, who previously responded to trials by keeping stress bottled up inside or by running away. He can do neither at Ooezo Agricultural High School—not if he wants to succeed. And though it’s rough going, Hachiken discovers something I wish I had known when I was his age–by getting out of your bubble, you’ll grow into a person you never knew you could be. It wasn’t until years later that I realized all this running away had molded me into someone I didn’t want to be. This theme is illustrated very early in the series. Shortly after his arrival at Ooezo, Hachiken begins to care for a runt piglet he encounters during a practicum. Learning that it supposedly won’t grow large enough to sell as high quality meat, he decides to prove everyone wrong and raise it himself, waking...

Lifting the Curse Feb05

Lifting the Curse

A youth living as a princess among wolves. Giant boars possessed by demons. An elk-like spirit who gives life and takes it away. A monk who fights and curses as well as any warrior. “Distinctive” describes Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece depicting humans at war with nature. But perhaps lost in the spectacle of gods and demons is a challenge that I find speaks directly to me. The film’s protagonist seeks to live a life free of bitterness and scorn, and that’s something I can relate to because I daily struggle to do the same. Ashitaka, the prince of a small tribe, has been cursed by a vengeful boar god who is driven mad by an iron pellet buried deep in his body. Ashitaka’s journey to find a cure for the fatal curse leads him to Irontown, an island settlement erected by Lady Eboshi, a shrewd and fearless businesswoman. She asks the prince why he’s there, to which he responds, “to see with eyes unclouded by hate.” As it is with Ashitaka, grace is the power to cast out hate, the power to absolve the curse. But his eyes are clouded by hate. Ashitaka’s eyes burn with loathing toward Eboshi as she proudly explains how her warriors chased off the bordering mountain’s boar gods through fire and gunpowder, all in the name of making her town the richest property in the world. They are the ones who shot the boar god, and thus are responsible for Ashitaka’s predicament. After his cursed arm begins to move on its own, attempting to assassinate the woman, he says of it, “If it would lift the curse, I would let it tear you apart, but even that wouldn’t end the killing, would it?” And Ashitaka isn’t the only...

Kenshin, Truth, and Love Jan22

Kenshin, Truth, and Love...

The subject of live action films, a long running television series, and multiple video releases, Himura Kenshin is one of anime’s most recognizable and enduring characters. The wandering samurai we know from the Rurouni Kenshin anime series is a kind pacifist, though we also know that he was once the brutal battousai (manslayer). Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen (known as Rurouni Kenshin: Trust and Betrayal in North America) is a two-part release that pulls no punches in revealing his history; while beautifully animated and instilled at once with both cold and romantic tones, it’s also a very bloody work, a vast departure from the more light-hearted series, which makes it all the more striking. Himura Kenshin, a great swordsman with high ideals, is at the center of all the violence in Trust and Betrayal, usually inflicting it upon others. It’s a surprising path for a young man who grew up single-mindedly set on saving others by the strength of his sword. But in his eagerness to aid the common person during the revolution which would eventually lead to Japan’s Meiji Era, Kenshin easily falls for the pretext set forth by Katsura, the leader of a faction opposing the shogunate. Katsura takes the swordsman’s immeasurable abilities and uses him even though he knows that doing so will destroy Kenshin’s humanity. in truth, they found something solid to stand upon, something strong and just, something worth fighting for. To keep Kenshin in line so that he may continue to carry out assassinations, Katsura asks Tomoe, a woman Kenshin has affections for, to act as a calming “sheath” for the young swordsman. Tomoe, however, has a secret as well: her fiance was assassinated by Kenshin, and she is acting as a spy to deliver him to his death. What she didn’t...

Remember Jon Snow Dec09

Remember Jon Snow

Pick a quote! Any quote! “You know nothing, Jon Snow”? Classic. “The Lannisters send their regards”? Brutal. But my favorite Game of Thrones quote is the one that keeps on giving, the one that we continue to hear as the show progresses, the one that’s perhaps the most meaningful of all: “Winter is coming.” These three words, the motto of House Stark, hang heavy over Westeros. Early in the series, they function as a lyrical anchor, beautiful words that help us understand the Starks, the geographic location of their home, and their hardiness. But even then, we know the maxim belies greater meaning. A long, horrible winter is coming, and this frightful season will befall everyone in the series—the good, the bad, and all the others in the vast spectrum between. For five seasons now, ancient families and their armies (and sometimes dragons) have jockeyed for the throne. All the while the White Walkers, undead and hostile beings, have been looming as a threat, growing stronger as winter prepares to blow in. Most of the Game of Thrones’ events have solely focused on the the crown, despite warnings from Jon Snow and others that a much larger menace, one that could overwhelm the entirety of Westeros, is coming. What I do here and now has an eternal impact and time is short.In the eighth episode of Season Five, the White Walkers strike, devastating the wildling town of Hardhome (for which the episode is named). Though the wildlings put up a valiant fight, they are unable to stop the invading force, even with the help of the Night Watch. Zombie apocalypse: imminent. Or maybe not. During the battle of Hardhome, Jon Snow discovers that his sword, made of Valyrian steel, is able to annihilate White Walkers. Until this time, the belief...