Category Archives: Anime

The College Dropout Survival Guide

Note: Thank you to TheOriginalPhoenix. Her post Self-Care Isn’t Selfish is what inspired me to write this post.

It’s now been 3 years since I made the choice to come home after my second semester of university.

Bad grades, combined with not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, made me realize I need time to get my head on straight.

Coming home was a choice that almost killed me.

So, in this post, I want to share with you what I have done in order to keep myself motivated to get out of bed in the morning:

Get a job. I initially balked at the prospect of getting a job. But I knew I had to do it — I knew that I didn’t want to spend my life on the couch, living off the charity of others. So, despite the grumbling of that lazy, entitled, refuse-to-take-responsibility part of myself, when a job opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. And I am so glad I did. Sure, my work could use improvement. More than once, my boss has expressed disappointment at my performance. But, I keep at it. And I figure that as long as the paychecks keep coming, than I must be doing something right.

I’m not at Kiki levels of productivity…

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

…but I’m getting there.

Plus, if nothing else: My job allowed me to have enough money to get an Xbox One after my Xbox 360 got the Red Ring of Death.

Have a spiritual life. If you’re spiritual/religious than, if you don’t already, get in the habit of praying at least twice a day — a prayer before you go to sleep and a prayer right after you wake up.

Even if it’s only 5 seconds long and consists of two words — “Hi, (insert name of higher power here).” — praying will do you good.

As the name of my blog implies, I’m a Catholic. I was raised in the Catholic faith and, so far, my faith hasn’t let me down.

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Star Wars (1977)

Realize that you aren’t alone. Chances are that if you’re reading this post, you’re in a similar position: You’re not in college and are wondering What the deuce do I do now?

Well, one of the ways to not despair is to know that you aren’t struggling alone. There are people who have gone through, or are going through, what you are, and either they need you to help them, you need their help, or both.

After all: In order to slay the Kaiju that is Despair, you can’t do it alone…

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Pacific Rim (2013)

(I picked Crimson Typhoon because, even though it does get destroyed, I think it’s the coolest Jaeger.)

Surround yourself with beautiful things. I don’t know about you, but: The 24-hour news cycle of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, presidential incompetence, rapes, and murders depresses me. It makes me ask the one question I never want to find myself asking: Should I keep on living?

So, what do I do? I focus on the good in life instead.

For example:

Instead of scratching my head over Donald Trump’s latest tweet…

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…I listen to my favorite song instead:

It’s much more relaxing.

Do what you love. I’m currently teaching myself how to write screenplays.

I’m doing this because I discovered that, in my free time, I would frequently read film reviews. There was just something about the reviews by Steven Greydanus and Jeffrey Overstreet that hooked me. That kindled within me a passion for film. A passion to not just critique art, but create it. Because anyone can criticize. But not everyone can create.

Lately that passion to create has, unfortunately, been fueled by anger at the incompetence of fellow Christian film enthusiasts…

…reviewers are sadly out of touch with ticket buyers. In fact, they are so far out of touch that most of them pick only one blockbuster movie, and many mediocre “independent” movies and boring foreign language movies that appeal to only a few moviegoers.
~WAR ROOM’s A+ cinemascore tells the story

…but still: I’m glad to be doing something I love. Even if it can be hard.

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And:

Love yourself.

You’re not perfect.

You’ve failed before, and you’re going to fail again.

But is that going to be the end of you?

No.

Why?

Because: You love yourself, flaws and all.

You know that what you have to offer the universe is unique.

And you know that it’ll be a cold day in Hell before you let life get away with sucker-punching you.

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Boundless Challenge: Week #11

OriginalPhoenix, I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up with the Boundless Challenge.

Boundless

My last entry in the challenge was almost a month ago.

The point of the challenge is to write about how I “lived boundless” this week — to write about one example every week of me doing more than I thought I was capable of.

And, I really do hate to say it, but: Lately, my neighbor’s cat has been more boundless than me.

Since I used to have two dogs — they died after living long, happy lives — my neighbor’s calico cat — that hangs out around my house because I give her food — has, for the longest time, resisted actually coming into the house. She must still be able to smell the dogs. But, over the weeks she’s made progress.

Yesterday she jumped on my couch and stayed there for 10 minutes before running to the door and meow-ing to be let out.

The light is bad, but here she is:

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I call her “Kiki,”  thanks to Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).

Why?

Because: Instead of delivering bread, Kiki the calico delivers “Aww!” Whenever I see her, I can’t help but go “Aww!” She always makes me do this:

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To get back on subject:

This week, I do have something to be Boundless about:

I finished the screenplay for my short film.

There will, undeniably, be more edits as I show it to people more knowledgeable about screenwriting than I. But, I’ve hit a wall: I feel like I’ve done everything for this screenplay that I, with my current knowledge of writing, can do. Hence why I consider it “finished.”

Have you ever felt like that? You write, and write, and write, and you get to a point where you look at what you’ve written and think I’ve done everything I can.

For weeks, my life has been relatively unexciting.

Just been trying to get more used to my job stocking shelves, since it’s the first job I’ve had in over 3 years. (School, family obligations, and soul-searching kept me busy during that time.)

When I’m not working, I’ve been listening to the Life is Strange soundtrack while I try and think of more ideas for screenplays…

…and spending time with my best friend. We hang out more frequently now, which I’m glad for. In my quest for awesomeness, I don’t want to neglect relationships.

What else has happened recently?

Well, thanks to Wild Woman Sisterhood

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…and some editing, I found a picture that captures what my short film is about:

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Regarding my short film:

I’ll write more on that later…

Thank you to TheOriginalPhoenix for inspiring me to get back to doing the Boundless Challenge.

Her fiery, phoenix-y awesomeness is just what I needed today.

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Daily Prompt: Blindly

Not wanting to know what I will see, I close my eyes.

Blindly, I lay myself bare.

The eyes of all see all of me.

Their eyes, like fingers, search me.

And I wonder: Is the scream trying to escape my mouth one of pleasure or pain?

These words are inspired by the above image, from the anime A Lull in the Sea.

Thank you to littleanimeblog — that’s where I saw the image.

And thank you to wordsareallihave, for making me aware that today’s Daily Prompt was “Blindly.” She inspired me to write this post.

Thoughts On The Reality Of Evil

Throughout the movie, Louise is subject to visions of Hannah at various stages of maturation ranging from infant to adolescent. Her memories begin as innocent moments playing with her in the back yard or having a chat at the lake but then they take a turn when Hannah develops cancer, gets sick, and eventually dies. All of these wonderful moments she has with her daughter develop Louise’s rationale for deciding to have her at the end of the film. But why? Why bring Hannah into existence knowing full well that she will become the victim of natural evil (i.e. cancer) and suffer and die at a young age?

…there are certain virtues that display themselves only as a specific response to evil; for example, the soldier that jumps on a grenade or the father who drowns in a flood to save his children. While the soldier and father’s death is tragic and a product of the evil that exists, their sacrifice would not exist were it not for the presence of evil acts. In other words, a world with no evil contains less virtue than a world with evil.

…the world He created, from beginning to end, is designed to show us the immeasurable glory that flourishes in the midst of pain and suffering, to show us what true love can do in the face of evil…
~How ‘Arrival’ Affirms a Christian Worldview

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Reading these words last night, I was reminded of Illuvatar’s (God’s) words to the Ainur (angels) after Melkor’s (The Devil’s) failed rebellion in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion:

…no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

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Having recently re-played episode 1 of Life is Strange that week, I found myself thinking, too, of Syd Matter’s “Obstacles”:

Let’s say sunshine for everyone
But as far as I can remember
We’ve been migratory animals
Living under changing weather

Someday we will foresee obstacles
Through the blizzard, through the blizzard
Today we will sell our uniform
Live together, live together

What do this movie (Arrival), this book (The Silmarillion), and this song (“Obstacles”) have in common?

1) An awareness that our world is not as it should be — for example: an awareness that there is something profoundly wrong with a person dying so young — and 2) A hope that suffering is not in vain.

According to my Catholic faith:

We lived in a world where there was “sunshine for everyone” (Eden).

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But, as a result of Adam’s and Eve’s sin…

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…as far as we can remember we’ve been “migratory animals living under changing weather.” We’ve been cast out of Eden, and have been trying to find our way back ever since.

There will come a day where we will “foresee obstacles through the blizzard” — we will see what it is that prevents us from being our best self — a day where we will cast off our shackles — “sell our uniform” — and “live together.” There will come a day where we will be reunited with the one we love, able to face life with a kind of knowledge that we did not have before. To me, that state of being sounds like Heaven.

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On a related note:

6:02 — 9:11:

My point with posting that video is:

Christopher Hitchens recognized that all is not as it should be — that our world is broken, and must be set right.

He recognized that it’s not enough to throw up one’s hands and say “Nothing really matters!”

He recognized that something did matter.

He recognized that injustice, like filth, needs to be washed away.

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Spirited Away (2001)

Feminism, Anime and Me

A thought-provoking, important post.

Though I do believe that fanservice can, at times, serve a good purpose — See my post Need Evidence That Good Will Triumph Over Evil? Look At A Woman’s Butt for why I believe that — ultimately, fanservice is something that should be gotten rid of.

All Hail Haruhi

As I type up this article there is a singular overriding voice in the back of my head saying:

“this should not exist”

To understand the thought process behind such a comment, you really need to look back at the history of All Hail Haruhi. Part introspective, part love letter, I want to tell you about the relationship I have with feminism, anime, this blog and even my own identity. Truthfully nothing I can say on the subject can be spoken of in a vacuum. A thousand invisible and interchangeable parts have collided to bring me to where I am today. So allow me to take you back to the beginning…

It was 2014, not so long ago, but a bygone memory given the rate in which the world has changed over these last two and a bit years. I was still on Reddit back then, no Twitter, no WordPress, only the largest…

View original post 2,774 more words

Why Christians Should Give “Kiki’s Delivery Service” A Chance

Note: I watched the movie in Japanese with English subtitles.

Reasons why I believe Christians should give Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) a chance. (Contains spoilers.)

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It is a positive portrayal of family

You don’t have to go far to find examples of Christians lamenting the state of the family in popular culture — lamenting how positive portrayals of an intact family consisting of father, mother, and child are, compared to decades ago, few and far between.

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Frozen (2013)

Christians going “Where are all the good families?” will surely be relieved by Kiki’s Delivery Service, with its positive portrayal of Kiki’s family…

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…as well as the positive portrayal of the family that gives Kiki a place to live when, following tradition, she leaves home for a year in order to find her purpose in life.

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It celebrates hard work and discerning one’s vocation

In Kiki’s Delivery Service, hard work is something to embrace, not avoid at all costs.

And discerning a vocation is something to commit oneself to.

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People who don’t discern…

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…are seen as snobs.

And people who don’t work…

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…are seen as stuck-up and ungrateful.

It is a positive portrayal of the elderly, and Christian living

Let’s compare Madame from Kiki’s Delivery Service to another old woman. An old woman from an explicitly Christian movie: Miss Clara from War Room (2015).

Miss Clara talks the talk…

…but does she walk the walk?

Compared to Madame, I would say “No.”

Madame has qualities that I don’t see in Miss Clara:

Madame makes up for her mistakes. She insists on paying the delivery girl even though there is no delivery to make.

In contrast: I don’t recall Miss Clara making a mistake — having a moment where she realizes “I messed up.”

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Madame has a passion. She likes to cook. Her specialty is herring and pumpkin pot pie.

In contrast: Miss Clara’s only passion seems to be her prayer life. Praying, of course, isn’t a bad thing. But: Miss Clara seems to do nothing but pray. And God did not create us to exist only on our knees: He also wants us to be creating, exploring, and learning too.

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Madame is willing to take others’ advice. She listens to Kiki when Kiki suggests using her old oven to bake her daughter’s present.

In contrast: Miss Clara gives advice but is never taught anything by Elizabeth Jordan, the woman she is trying to help. Miss Clara is the same at the end of the movie as she was at the beginning: she hasn’t grown as a person. The most growth that Miss Clara could be said to have is that, because of Elizabeth, she buys a smartphone.

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Madame uses her skills and passion for the benefit of others. To show Kiki her thanks for all that she has done for her, Madame bakes her cake.

Not everyone can bake a cake.

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Despite Miss Clara’s prayers and exhortations, Madame strikes me as the more Christian of the two women. Even though her religious beliefs are never known.

It’s beautiful

If excellence declares the glory of God, than Kiki’s Delivery Service is singing God’s glory.

Every shot in the movie looks like it’s from a painting:

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And the music… sigh

If I had to choose between living in a room at the top of a bakery in the fictional city of Koriko…

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…or living in the Jordans’ house…

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…I know which one I would pick.

It is explicitly spiritual

You don’t have to go far to find Christians lamenting the secularization of society. Which is why Christians should appreciate the spirituality evident in Kiki’s Delivery Service:

“We fly with our spirit.”

“That’s what I’m talking about! Trusting your spirit. The spirit that drives your friend to bake, me to paint, and you to fly, is the same spirit. Maybe the spirit comes from God.”

Related image

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When I was little, God was there and wonderfully granted my dream.
On mornings when I wake up with kindly feelings, even though I’ve grown up, miracles happen!
Opening the curtain, tranquil sunlight filtering through the trees.
If it envelopes me in tenderness, surely everything reflected in my eyes will be a message.
When I was little, God was there and every day he delivered love.
Inside my heart, I had forgotten my precious box of good memories.
The time to open it is now.
~An English translation of “If I’ve Been Enveloped In Tenderness”

In the world of Kiki’s Delivery Service, witches’ powers come from God, not Satan.

What’s wrong with taking something and reimagining it? Christians do it all the time.

For example: When it comes to Rock music, Christians went from this…

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…to this:

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And: C.S. Lewis frequently reimagined Pagan spirituality. For example: River gods (like the one in Prince Caspian) were ultimately subservient to Aslan.

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Why can’t the same be done with witches?

In conclusion:

If you’re a Christian who is lamenting that there is very little you feel comfortable showing to your kids, show them Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Un-Christian: My thoughts on the Newboys’ song “God’s Not Dead”

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
~Philippians 4:8

Listening to “Always With Me” from Spirited Away (2001) while thinking about “God’s Not Dead” from God’s Not Dead (2014), I realized how different the two songs are.

“God’s Not Dead,” now that I think more about it, comes across as confrontational — like the Newsboys are telling me “Go on! Say ‘God is dead’! I dare you!” It doesn’t help that, in the music video, the song is sung as a reaction to scientists’ claim that “God is dead”:

In contrast, the words I would use to describe “Always With Me” would be “At peace.” No scientists’ claim is going to put this girl on the offensive: She’s just going to keep on believing, because she knows that someone greater than her is “always with me”:

“Violent” is the word I would use to describe the lyrics of “God’s Not Dead.” Lyrics like “dead,” “explode” and “revolution” are in service of a message about defeating one’s enemies: “In this world I’ll overcome.”

In contrast: Lyrics from “Always With Me”:

“So many tears of despair, uncountable through and through
I know on the other side of them I’ll be sure to find you”

In conclusion:

One of these songs strikes me as more Christian than the other.

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