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