Its cold blade, collecting on its surface the moment it is drawn the vapour of the atmosphere; its immaculate texture, flashing light of bluish hue; its matchless edge, upon which histories and possibilities hang; the curve of its back, uniting exquisite grace with utmost strength–all these thrill us with mixed feelings of power and beauty, of awe and terror. Harmless were its mission, if it only remained a thing of beauty and joy! But, ever within reach of the hand, it presented no small temptation for abuse. Too often did the blade flash forth from its peaceful sheath. The abuse sometimes went so far as to try the acquired steel on some harmless creature’s neck.
– Bushido, The Soul of Japan, Inazo Nitobe, p. 135
When you take up a sword, you must feel intent on cutting the enemy.
– Miyamoto Musashi, Go Rin No Sho
The Associated Press have reported a dramatic tale of self-defense with a katana:
A Johns Hopkins University student armed with a samurai sword killed a suspected burglar in a garage behind his off-campus home early Tuesday, hours after someone broke in and stole electronics.
I finally know why I am participating in ISML, and why it is so important for all otaku. It is not as a lone individual that I draw forth my will, or set my fingers in motion. But it is as a lone individual that I experience these events, and the realization of this truth is important to understanding.
It was as a joke that I first compared participation in the ISML campaign to participation in the world of budo, but I find now that it is increasingly accurate. Why did warriors fight? Why did proud samurai learn the sword? Was it merely for power? Merely to offer violence? No. The path of the sword is surely a journey of self-discovery and spiritual realization even as it is outwardly the acquisition of a skill set, and similarly the path of ISML is one of reflection and self-knowledge even as it is outwardly the victory of one’s waifu.
Two major categories have sprung up in anime discourse. There are referential anime such as Yakitate Japan and Lucky Star, and there are anime which are designed to be watched with no prior knowledge of anime, such as Bleach and Naruto. In keeping with the concept that otaku culture is like a language to be learned, I will refer to the former as “advanced” anime and the latter as “beginner” anime.
Obviously this is a simplification. These categories are not pure and exclusive. Many essentially non-referential shows, such as Full Metal Panic, still have the occasional reference. Heavily referential shows such as Genshiken or Dai Mahou Touge can still be watched without getting all the references. Overall, however, there is an increasing creep of metatextual issues into the actual body of anime that air each season.
Is this good or bad?
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Well, I’m not going to say I was totally WOWed by it. I mean I won’t say the story is cliched. In fact, it’s not quite that way. A really down-on-his-luck teacher without much motivation, who drives a Honda and races like Initial D(?) decides to compete against his senpei’s Kendo dojo, which is full of girls.
He discovers a god-like kendo high school first year girl (Tama-chan) and decides to try to recruit her.
Simple, eh? But we have a lot of famous seiyuus in this one – Toyoguchi Megumi (Revi from Black Lagoon and Honoka from “the Third”), Kuwashima Houko, Ishida Akira, and others.
The first 10 minutes didn’t impress me at all. I was wondering why this even got made into an anime. Are the animation studio in Japan that desperate these days?
It’s funny at certain parts, like when a rugby/American football,
a basketball, a tennis ball, a baseball, a bowling ball, an Intercontinental Missile, and a teacher were flying toward the adviser teacher and the club president of the kendo club AT THE SAME FREAKING TIME (yeah, like that happens in real life) and all hell was about to break loose, and the girl with the super Kendo talent (Tama-chan) bashes back all these hazardous flying objects back at the same time with a broom and saves the two. So when the adviser teacher asks her: “Won’t you join the Kendo club?” She says: “Why?” And walks away after a bow.
It’s like asking Takumi of Initial D in season one: “Won’t you join our racing club?” And he probably would’ve said: “Why? I don’t the see the point.” And walks away.
Besides the star seiyuu power, I’d say this episode was a little bland. Nothing was quite cliched, but to a cynic who have watched 300+ anime, this wasn’t quite ground breaking either.
I don’t know if I’ll continue to write reviews for this, but 73% recommended for your daily anime diet.