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19 October 2016

Some Thoughts on Historical What-Ifs

"Eat your hamburgers, Apollo."
For part 3 of books I read in 2016, I want to start off by making a confession. I quite dislike historical what-ifs. It's not because I think these mind-exercises are of no value. In fact, I think they are valuable exercises. Rather, it's that a lot of historical what-ifs I see in internet discussions (not exactly a high bar of discourse, this blog included) are extremely sloppy exercises in logic that promote the idea of a singular cause for historical outcomes. Moreover, I find it very hard to believe that the so-called "pivotal moments" are really as "pivotal" as they're cracked up to be. Sure, the immediate aftermath will be different, but how different would things be a few centuries since the crossroads? Take Oda Nobunaga for example, since he's in a few anime series this season. "What if he died at the Battle of Okehazama? What if the Honnouji Incident never occurred?" The popular answer to the former is that Japan wouldn't have emerged as a unified nation while for the latter is that Japan would have been an innovative, outward-looking, modern nation much, much earlier. It's shit like this that triggers my historical autism. Why? Because it assumes that the process of unification can stem only from Oda's god-like figure, that a zeal for modernization can be ingrained by a single person on an entire nation regardless of external pressures, or that state policies can never change. I can get into a more detailed discussion on the process of unification/disintegration using Europe, China, Middle East as case studies to show why I don't think Oda is as critical as he's often claimed to be, but I don't want to get too off-topic now.

In any case, as much as I dislike historical what-ifs, I couldn't help but think of even crazier what-if scenarios of my own as I read some of these books. So I apologize beforehand for any simple assumptions or lapses in critical thinking in my opinions below. Like always, I try to write these posts half-jokingly, half-seriously.

16 October 2016

Soil v8 (complete)

Hopefully, my editor Kennit and I can finish this long-abandoned series before the end of the year, but no promises.

And volume 8 is now done!

Soil v8:   Mega
Soil c64:   Mega

17 September 2016

Some Politically Incorrect Thoughts on Religiously Incorrect Topics

Literally me as I write this post
For my follow up to books I've read in 2016 part 1, I'm going to focus on RELIGION of both the ancient and modern variety. As a citizen of the modern-West, I'm not alone if I were to confess that religion is boring. Sure, on surveys and polls, % of atheists is beaten by that of Christians, but there's a hell of lot of Christians who don't attend church regularly and even more who don't understand the principal theological beliefs that would set one sect apart from the other. My parents, too, were one of these "nominally" religious folks, and despite making me go to church and Buddhist temples in my childhood, they didn't care enough to prevent their son from becoming a dirty infidel in his teens. And because of the godless environment I grew up in, I'd gotten a foolish idea that religion doesn't really matter. "Who cares what papal primacy is? Who cares about the difference between Pure Land and Zen Buddhism? No, please not another school field trip to the Sikh temple with bad food!" While I'm exaggerating my ignorance here, there really does seem to be a tendency for a lot of us infidels to not understand how important religion is. When a religious person does something bad, we blame the individual, not the religion. We recognize that individuals get out of religion what they bring to it, but rarely vice versa, that religions have distinct perspectives to impart change upon the believer. In short, religion is a mere jacket, an external identity one can adopt with ease without fundamentally changing one's internal identity. Fundamental to my abandoning of such ideas was learning to read history as less the tales of great men and epoch-making moments, but more as the evolution of human society. All of a sudden, war matters, not because "ooh, shiny swords and armour" but because how it shaped human society. Economy matters, not because of some vague idea that more money = power, but how wealth is generated, accumulated, and distributed fundamentally alters human society. And last but not least, religion also matters because duh, it also shapes human society. Call it my "road to Damascus" moment, if you'd be so kind to let this dirty infidel culturally appropriate a religious term.

Full T R I G G E R   W A R N I N G S ahead to the religious and politically correct for the remainder of this post.

Legend of Giants

Yay, it's time for another Hoshino Yukinobu manga! I worked with illuminati-scans (click the link since they've got other releases) for this one, and it's a collection of 3 short stories drawn from his earlier career ('75, '77, '78) and that's intentional because I wanted to focus on Hoshino's earlier works now that there's a decent amount of his stuff scanlated compared to when I initially did Stardust Memories when 2001 Nights was the only other Hoshino manga available in English.
Icarus Asteroid (published in '75, the year of Hoshino's debut as a mangaka)
It's particularly interesting to note just how different the artstyle is for the second story (see above) compared to the other two, which is largely the same style Hoshino still draws with nearly four decades later. Given that there's only a 2 year gap between Icarus Asteroid and Legend of Giants, I would theorize that the artstyle shift is because Hoshino, like other skilled mangaka, knew how to draw in different styles but was initially restrained (whether by himself or those around him) to draw in a manner that would less alienate readers who had grown up on mainstream '60s and early '70s manga. I do plan on doing Distant Dawn with illuminati-scans as well in the near future, which is a collection of Hoshino's short stories from '75-78 including his debut work, Iron Queen. That one has a lot more stories from his formative years in '75 and '76 and it'll be interesting to note the subtle artstyle changes he was making as he shifted from his early to late styles. I'll probably do a longer write-up then to point out some of those changes. In any case, with regards to the first and longest story (Legend of Giants parts 1 and 2), I would encourage readers to not read it so quickly. Part 1 becomes more meaningful in hindsight when you read part 2. When I initially skimmed through it, I didn't think too much of it, but as I translated it, I was impressed by Hoshino's weaving of Western mythology. If you're a long-time reader of Hoshino, it's obvious that the guy is a major westaboo and loves to reference Western culture. But as far as this short story is concerned, it's not the kind of empty, self-congratulating namedropping. The Prometheus mythology serves quite well in connecting parts 1 and 2 to each other, and to their overarching theme. That's all I'll say for now. Enjoy!

Legend of Giants:   Mega

7 September 2016

Yakeppachi no Maria v2 (last updated Oct. 10)

And Tezuka's wacky attempt at sex education and a delinquent manga continues.
I can only imagine the sheer anger this would trigger among today's left.
Why Macaroni? Everyone knows penne is the worst pasta.

Yakeppachi no Maria c07:   Mega 
Yakeppachi no Maria c08:   Mega 
Yakeppachi no Maria c09:   Mega 

27 August 2016

Some Thoughts on Books I read in 2016 - Part 1

Literally me as I write this post
With the year heading towards its final season, I think it's time for me to collect my thoughts on the books I've been reading this year so I don't completely forget what it is I actually learned from them. This will be part 1 of 4 (maybe 5?) series of posts about my thoughts on books of 2016. As these posts are getting longer and longer, I'm starting to think simply doing smaller chunks regular history/politics posts would be better.

Historie Update

Chapter 97 is out. Good chapter. Will be interesting to see how Eumenes' new determination will play out during and after Philip's approaching demise.

Important note by Iwaaki that he'll be taking a brief break to do his usual art fix-ups for v10 release. So we probably won't see the next chapter until either late this year, or start of next year. I will be putting out v10 once I see any tank scans for that pop up on the internet though.

Historie c97:   Sendspace