Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Skywalker Lightsaber

So The Force Awakens has given a bit of an Excalibur/Master Sword quality to the Lightsaber that Luke inherited from his father.  So let's analyze the origin of this weapon.

In The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey, Balin tells Bilbo that swords are named for things they've done.  This sets up Sting earning it's name in the next movie, but it also shows that a legendary sword can have a totally mundane origin.

That is why since The Force Awakens I kind of like even more the fact that chronologically we don't see this Lightsaber till the third movie.  It's not the only or even the first Lightsaber that Anakin used.  In Attack of The Clones he goes through two, and if I remember correctly both were Green.  Going off the six Lucas films alone I kind of like the symmetry of Anakin starting with a Green one and then going to Blue, and then in the OT Luke goes in the opposite direction.  But I'll bet there were a lot of Prequels haters who just whined "did Lucas forget that Luke's Lightsaber was originally Anakin's?"

This is the only Lightsaber he uses in Episode III (besides briefly doing s scissor move with Dooku's), the script originally included an origin for the Red Lightsaber Vader used in the OT, but the film wound up flowing better without it.

I know one Podcast review of of The Force Awakens I listened to observed how this Lightsaber had been used by the both the Darkside and the Light.  Some have said you could hear the Younlings Anakin slew during Rey's vision.  I think everything in that vision comes from one of two origins, Rey's memories, and the Lightsaber's.

I think it's possible that the Lightsaber choosing Rey wasn't really because she was the good guy which is the audience's natural first assumption.  But it may be she's a more worthy successor to the legacy of Darth Vader as much as Anakin Skywalker.

So it started out no different then any other Lightsaber, but it gained an interesting history.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mimete's five minutes of fame

Well the best of the Witches only got slightly more time to shine then Eudial.

Did everyone watching on Hulu get the same ads?  If so I feel like saying the Guillotine isn't medieval, it was invented during the French Revolution.

Quick, to the Mirichu Copter.

Making a Family Guy reference that was itself a Batman reference, I'm ultra Nerdy.  Yet I know Mirichus not Haruka owns the Helicopter only because I read it on SailorMoonWiki.

Next week the pretending Haruka is a man should end.

Animation style alone will make this far superior to the first 2 seasons.  But what I observed during season one about suffering from not having more time to develop the story remains the same I fear.

Hotaru is there from the start this time, but with only 13 episodes that doesn't really give her more time then she had in Sailor Moon S, and now they're establishing HaruMi at the same time.

But it supposedly worked in the Manga, I've only read the Sailor V Manga but that had more then 13 and didn't really have a story-line, it was purely stand alone episodic till they decided to end it.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Kylo Ren, and the Theme of Redemption in Star Wars

One compliant many have about The Force Awakens, particularly among my fellow Prequel fans, is they see Kylo Ren killing Han Solo as a rejection of the theme of redemption Star Wars always had that reaches it's culmination in Return of The Jedi when Luke goes against what Obi-Won and Yoda insisted and saves his father.

I'm not willing to jump the gun on that off only the first film of the trilogy.  But I understand their concern.

As a Christian, and indeed now an Evangelical Universalist Christian, the idea that anyone can be saved is important to me.  It's part of why I like Magical Girl Anime, and it's part of what I like about Star Wars.

Kylo Ren is different from Anakin Skywalker.  Being a Jedi, a warrior of Light, was always what Anakin truly wanted to be, his fall was ultimately his own decision but it came about by a manipulation of his character flaws, and in how the Jedi order no longer lived up to it's ideals.

Kylo Ren is the opposite.  Being a Knight of the Dark Side is what he wants, it's the path he's chosen for himself, and to him it's the Light that is a seductive force that could ruin his dreams.  His parents want to believe Snoke manipulated him like Palpatine manipulated Anakin, but that's not what we've been shown so far.

For that reason Kylo Ren being redeemed in the same way we're used to redemption working in a Star Wars film would not fit his character.  However there is a third option.

Many people have been hoping for this new Trilogy to de-simply the Lightside/Darkside dichotomy.  To make The Force more nuanced.

In that context Kylo Ren can be redeemed by suggesting that Dark is Not Evil, That the Darkside can be used for good, and also the Lightside for evil.  After all Batman is Dark but doesn't Kill.

The Jedi view the Darkside as Evil because as Palpatine said their view of The Force is Dogmatic and Narrow minded.  But his view is dogmatic in it's own way teaching Anakin he had to kill innocent children to grow stronger.

So maybe Kylo Ren could turn on the First Order, but still be a Knight of Ren and still use his favorite Red Lightsaber.  The Hero the Galaxy deserves, but not the one it Needs right now.

So that's an idea, we'll see where the films go.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Flash Versus Zoom

This episode did a lot of stuff.

The Supergirl Crossover seems to have happened during it.

Zoom used Time Travel to create a duplicate.

I thought for a minute the Man in the Iron Mask was Zolomon's father.  Now I'm thinking he's the Real Jay Garrick.

And the Star Wars conversation mentioned the Midichlorenes, they showed respect unto the Prequels.

Monday, April 18, 2016

More Sailor Moon Crystal

I watched episode 29.

Usagi just straight up asks Haruka if she's a Sailor Gaurdian.

We've met the Professor now, they are setting up Hotaru's family dynamic slowly.

So is each Witch going to be killed off the first time they fight the Senshi?  That would suck.

I's read it claimed before that HaruMi have an open relationship.  I really didn't get that from the classic Anime, there was some ambiguous flirting going on but nothing really blatant.  Here however Haruka just straight up Kisses Sailor Moon on the mouth.

And while they're hoping uninformed viewers will be suspicious of them, they got Mirichu basically acting like a Femme Fatale towards Mamo.

I'd also read before that the Manga had ship tease for Hotaru with both Bunnies.  I'm not sure if I trust claim either.

Update: Tumblr exchange started by this post.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Westernizing Anime in Live Action Hollywood adabtations

Is a touchy subject.  I'm not as universally adverse to it as many of my fellow SJWs.  I believe re-imagining stories in a different setting is a powerful tool.  Both in terms of time and culture.

It's more a problem I feel when the Hollywood version is the first and possibly only Live Action take something will get.  Which is common since the most ambitious Anime are simply not doable on the budget limitations the Japanese film industry has.

But with Death Note there was a live action version made in Japan that did pretty well.  So I have no problem with Hollywood setting it's film in America. 

I do tend to agree that Westernizing Ghost in The Shell isn't a good idea (and it gets worse) (But there is an opposing view) (and another).  As far as Pokemon which there has been buzz of a Live Action version recently, my thoughts on that are pretty complicated.  Four of the 6 (is it 7 already) regions are based on Japan, but one is also New York and Kalos is France.

The most offensive thing about doing a Western Re-imagining to many is the White-Washing.  We want more diversity in Nerdy Hollywood movies in general, even when the source material isn't foreign.

Hollywood has made a lot of progress in being willing to cast more diverse films. The Force Awakens shows that a diverse cast certainly won't hurt an established Brand.

The issue with Adapting Anime is a paranoia that America can't handle something with no White Men.  (Even TFA had Han and British villains to fall back on, and most of the female characters are still White.)  So they cast a bunch of white characters until at some point they notice there are no roles for Asians left.

Why not focus on adapting some of the Animes that are diverse already in the original source material?

Code Geass absolutely allows you to have a lot of young white leads and stereotypical British Villains. But because condemning Racism and Imperialism are largely what it's all about none of us SJWs would complain, as long as Suzaku and the other "11s" are Japanese actors, and Kallen is still mixed.

Attack on Titan is so overwhelmingly White it would probably be called Racist if it weren't a foreign work. In fact the Western equivalent of it would be a dystopic future where there are no White people left but one half Breed who happens to be the most awesome character in the story.  I could see David Duke writing that actually.

But I think the best choice would be Gundam 00.  It is still the only Gundam series I'm familiar with, maybe others are equally diverse, I don't know.

The main Messianic Archetype lead, Setsuna, is a thinly veiled Kurd, one of the most obscure and minor minorities of all.  And surrounding his story-line are other Middle Easterners like Persians and Arabs.

Saji and his sister were the Japanese entry point characters.  And it has two Chinese characters who are siblings too.

Graham Acker is a character that was meant to be a sort of parody of a typical American action hero, but American fans wound up loving him.  So cast a typical Hollywood action hero lead as him (same choices you'd consider for Steve Rogers) and feature him prominently in at least one trailer and you should be set.  And one of his comrades was African American.

The show has lots of Europeans, and Russians like Soma Peirez.  Ali Al Sachez is either Spanish or Latin American.  Aeolia Shenberg I think we can assume is an Ashkenazi Jew.  And Louise Halevy is a Shephardic Jew, whom Hollywood often forgets exist.

Most of the Crew of the Ptolemaios is hard to tell since they go by code names and animation can be tricky to decipher ethnic features from,  Alleluia I would also cast a Latin American actor for, to avoid any implications Sachez being the only Latin would have.  The Lockon brothers are Irish.  Sumeragi I think is also Japanese, or mixed.

I've still only scratched the surface.  The story and cast is so massive I think you'd need at least 2 movies just to get the gist of season 1.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Why does Japanese Media seem more Liberal then Japanese culture?

If you spend a decent amount of time in Anime fandoms and also talking about Anime and it's connection to the culture that produces it.  You've no doubt seem people point out that Japanese culture is much more conservative and traditionalist then a casual viewing of it's media will let on.  For example Japanese culture is not nearly as tolerant of Homosexuality as watching Strawberry Panic might lead you to believe.  In fact Japan is probably the only "developed" nation that is currently more socially conservative even then America.

So why is that? people like to ask.

Well I feel the answer is pretty simple.  Entertainment Media is always to the left of the mainstream of society (Liberal by the standards of it's time at least, any significantly old work may seem Conservative to someone reading it now), at least in any Society that has Freedom of Speech.  The Poets and Playwrites have always lead the way in making the world more progressive.  And sometimes the more Conservative a culture is the further to the Left the artists swing.

From Euripides who's plays were filled with Social Commentary, to Lord Byron who was a member of the Carbonari.  Also Charles Nodior and Victor Hugo who were close friends of Nicolas Bonnevile, and early mentors of Alexandre Dumas.

Even the old Hollywood Biblical Epics that a lot of Conservative Christians idealize actually had a subversive agenda if you pay attention.  DeMille defied McCarthyism in casting Edward G Robinson in The Ten Commandments.

Now often these Liberal works of Media are not satisfactory to other Liberals and get criticized, sometimes fairly sometimes unfairly, by Liberals who spend their time critiquing Media rather then writing it.  The modern SJW bloggers who get unfairly accused of being impossible to please are not the first to do this, Karl Marx was critical of Eugene Sue.  I think it'd be absurd to suggest Sue wasn't a real Socialist just because Marx was critical of him.  Modern Liberals probably have more valid reasons to be critical of Sue then Marx did, since Sue is definitely problematic on gender issues.  And Dumas was much better then Sue at being nuanced in their approach to fictionalizing the French Revolution.

Now exceptions have existed, there have been Conservatives writers who've written stuff and even been successful and influential.  Paul Feval and Ponson du Terril were the main conservatives in 19th Century French pulp fiction, you can find all kinds of Conservative alternative media in modern America, most of which is inferior to Feval at being enjoyable to people who'd disagree with them.  And Chuck Dixon as a Comic Book writer.  And some Japanese Media actually does come off as conservative, mainly Attack on Titan is what I can think of.

The issue with Japanese Media is the way it's critiqued by western viewers misinterprets a lot of things about it.  A lot of that misinterpretation comes from not knowing how Conservative Japan is.  But on the other hand a lot of people who think they're smarter then the average Anime viewer because they read up a little on Japan, keep insisting on interpreting Japanese media in the context of how Conservative Japan is, rather then in the context of the long human history of artists being to the left of the mainstream.

This comes from both sides, from Liberal critics choosing not to trust anything that looks Liberal in an Anime unless the writer is outright beating the viewer over the head with how Subversive they're trying to be, like Ikuhara.  And even Ikuhara has critics, Utena is nearly universally praised by Feminists, but his more recent works like YuriKuma Arashi are about as divisive as Zach Snyder.  It might be fair to call him the Frank Miller or Alan Moore of Anime.

A number of these critics basically think the handful of Animes they really like are the good progressive ones and the rest are the problem.  While other critics have other responses to the very same works.  Like Evangelion, loved by Vrai but mostly hated by the comment leavers at TheMarySue.

And you got Conservatives of various kinds, like a blogger user-named Ex-Army who calls himself a "Libertarian Nationalist", whatever that means.  He is supporting Trump right now but I was familiar with his blog before Trump took off.  He primarily uses Anime Images with right wing quotes of dubious veracity slapped over them as his thumbnails.  He basically thinks the fact that Japan has a Nationalist Xenophobic culture means all that Anime that entertains him must reflect that.  In fact a pretty good chunk of Japanese Media is actually trying to be critical of that Xenophobia just as America's media tries to fight against our Xenophobia.

Code Geass I've just recently seen accused of having a Nationalist message.  I think a distinction needs to be made between being Patriotic and being Nationalist in the sense of what a Fascist or Mr Ex-Army means by Nationalist.

One thing that generally both the conservatives and liberals of Japan tend to agree on is Western Imperialism is the source of much of the World's problems (while in the West that is thought of as a uniquely Liberal thing to say that) so indeed Code Geass begins with an Evil Empire that is pretty clearly an Anglo-American stand in.  But it makes a strong effort to Humanize and not demonize the Britanians.  It's a very Anti-Racist work and Zero was adamant that the Black Knights were not fighting to bring back old regressive Japan but a new Progressive one.  I actually think there are few Anime's I've seen harder to interpret as being conservative, some I already mentioned, another would be Gundam 00.

But perhaps the biggest focal point of this dispute is the Yuri and Yaoi genres (Girl's Love and Boy's Love).  It's mostly Yuri I'm familiar with.

Part of Japanese Culture is a thing called the Class S Relationship.  A tolerance of quasi Romantic Relationships between young School Girls, that they are expected to grow out of, sometimes viewed as practice for eventually marrying a man.  Similar attitudes toward Lesbianism used to exist in the West but are now considered outdated.

Understanding what Class S is is absolutely vital to understanding the context of the Yuri Genre.  The issue is the then simplistic assumption that most Yuri is nothing more then a ficitonalization of that and has no desire or ability to make viewers in Japan rethink their general attitude towards Homosexuality.

Now I'm not going to say all criticisms of the Yuri Genre are invalid, thing is Western media made with the best of intentions towards the LGBT community often gets things wrong too.  The old Lesbian Pulp Fiction novels of the 50s and 60s were very problematic especially in how they ended, but they also meant a lot to the contemporary Lesbians who read them and it'd be disingenuous to discount that.

The first thing that I feel gets overlooked is that your typical Yuri absolutely does go further then what is tolerated in a real Class S relationship which is not expected to be physical in even the most mundane way.  Really it's Animes that are not officially Yuri but have a strong Yuri fanbase because of the very Femslashable female friendships they depict, like Maria-Sama and PreCure, that give a better picture of what a Class S relationship is actually supposed to look like.

Now maybe Yuri only goes further because of the natural tendency of fiction to exaggerate, but it's an important fact to note.  Or maybe it's because some girls do in private go further then what is acceptable.  But in the Yuri genre it's all pretty public.

The perception however is that with anything in a School setting, no matter how far they go they're playing it safe because conservative viewers can always just assume the characters will "Grow out of it".  But the thing is viewers are equally as free to imagine the opposite, and clearly most of Yuri's actual fandom (male or female) does just that.

A lot of the criticism is about the lack of actual Sex, and focus on Crushes that seemingly go on forever without being resolved. Yuru Yuri is a really fun Anime I watched just recently, where the criticism is mostly that.  Thing is it's not even High School, it's Middle School, most Middle School fiction doesn't go beyond that in it's romance regardless of orientation.  The hesitance of fiction to acknowledge that Middle Schoolers sometimes have sex can be viewed as a problem, but it's not an entirely unique to Homosexuality problem,.  And tension not being resolved is a natural product of being ongoing.

Erica Friedman has pretty much said a Yuri needs to be about adults for her to really like it.  And more Adult Lesbian relationships are needed.  But younger LGBT people are often the ones who depend on representation in fiction the most.  [Update Correction, she said prefers stories about Adults].

To a large extent, the difference between whether or not a School Girl set romance is liked by the Yuri Critics is if it actually talks about what being Gay means.  And while I agree having that conversation is important, I also like Escapism, I think stories that pretend it's not an issue at all make a lot of ground in normalizing it.

The Ikuhara approach to being subversive is important, we need a good deal of that.  But in the long run I think the more casual approach to putting progressive ideas in what you write actually does more to change minds.  Pretty Little Liars is a show that started out very casual in how it Incorporated it's feminist ideas, but become more overt over time.  Now it slipped up big time in Season 6, but for the first 5 seasons it really was the best inter-sectional show on television.  Watching PLL has certainly done more to change my thinking to the left then almost anything else, the other factor being actually studying The Bible.

Now I'm aware that as a Cis-Het male my ability to understand these issues is limited.  But all the use of the term "Real Lesbian" I see among Yuri critics I fear has the potential to be unintentionally hurtful to a lot of people, it echos actual discrimination that exists within the Gay community towards Bixexuals and Pansexuals and people who identify as Fluid.  And the condescending attitude towards real life women in High School and Collage who "experiment".  Conventional wisdom says even most straight people don't end up marrying who they dated in High School, but if your future Spouse isn't the same Gender as your Highschool sweetheart, then it's assumed one of those two relationships must be invalid.

Another thing I like about Yuru Yuri is how the characters are kind of Nerds, Yui is a Gamer and Kyoko goes to Comic Book conventions.  Maybe the perception that those things aren't for women isn't as a big a problem in Japan as it is in America, but I doubt it.

Another objection to the Yuri Genre is the emphasis on Purity it often has. Which can tie into the perception that Lesbian Sex isn't real Sex and so Lesbians can technically claim to be Virgins. Those are understandable concerns, and ones I may talk about more in the future.

The gist of this is, Japanese Media is very much Liberal by virtue of what that means in Japan.  If you're watching an Anime and it seems liberal to you, it probably is.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I've finally seen The Force Awakens a second time

It's still an enjoyable movie, I wasn't as awed by it as I was in theaters, and I think it'll take time for re-watching it to bring the same kind of nostalgic joy as the other movies do.

Many parts of it seemed to move faster then I remembered, in a way that I would not consider a good thing.  We'll see if that still plays out that way in future viewings.

In my last Star Wars post I talked about how one of my favorite moments in Episode II was when Obi-Wan says "She seems to be on top of things" in the arena.  And with that scene at the top of my mind I noticed another Prequel Echo in The Force Awakens.  On Starkiller base when Finn is trying to explain his plan to find Rey and Han is just looking past him at Rey already on the loose, it took me right back to that moment, clearly Abrams appreciated it also.

I may wait to re-watch it again till Rouge One is about to come out.

On the subject of Rouge One, I loved the trailer, I'm excited to see Mon Montha will be in it and played by the same actress from the ROTS deleted scenes.  I shouldn't get my hopes on this but I'd like for there to be a Padme namedrop, maybe during a conversation between Mothma and Organa about Leia being entrusted with transporting the plans.

One thing that does bug me about The Force Awakens is never hearing the name Anakin, we heard Vader and we heard how the Lightsaber belonged to Luke's father before him, not no Anakin.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 28

When there's something strange, in your neighborhood, who you gonna call, DEATHBUSTERS.

It's official, I'm committed to following Season 3 of Sailor Moon Crystal.

On the finale episode of Sailor Stars I will just it was awesome, perfect ending.

I notice they're not really the Secret Identity thing, among out Sailors anyway.

I didn't expect that the mistaking Haruka for a dude would go on so much longer.  And she seems to be intentionally living publicly as a guy.  It bugs me because it technically makes HaruMi not Openly gay, for the time being.  It's something that may have been normal for setting up a Lesbian couple in the 90s but seems kinda backwards now.

We see more of Hotaru, but I still don't think we heard her name yet.

And all the Witches 5 right away.  I'm kind of worries now if they'll have time to individualize them, I really loved the yellow one's gimmick in the old Anime.

We still haven't seen the Professor yet?  Interesting.

It was a fun episode I still highly recommend it.

On a side note, check out my recent YumaKuri Arashi activity on Tumblr.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Yes, the Prequels have a bit of a Racism problem.

So the one Prequel criticism I haven't talked about on this blog yet is the criticism that a number of the alien CGI characters come off as old racist caricatures.

And that is true, I will concede there is a problem there, one I'm not happy about.  And people who actually belong to those offended demographics may be much less willing then me to just ignore that when watching the movies and I understand that.

This particular criticism isn't one the majority of Prequel haters care about, what is the one most valid criticism, that is at it's most apparent in TPM, is never mentioned in anything Mr Plinkett says in his TPM review (I don't know what he says about the other two).  But it comes up when I'm talking among fellow SJWs at sites like TheMarySue, and at first it blindsided me only because I'm not used to it coming up, I could spend hours upon hours going back and forth with the Prequels haters of IMDB and they never care to even think of it.

But it is a problem I acknowledge, and one I should have talked about on my Blog sooner.  It's a problem that exists because Lucas was from the start mimicking things common in old movies and serials where those stereotypes were usually the default.  That's not an excuse, that's just the reason.  His intent wasn't malicious but that doesn't make it okay.

But I want to remind people that the Prequels are far more diverse then the Original Trilogy in both human and non human characters.

A lot of people like Vrai feel one of the most important things about The Force Awakens is how diverse it is, finally having a female lead and a Person of Color in the main three.  And I agree.  But Liberals are also called Progressives for a reason, we didn't get here over night.

The increased diversity of the Prequels are part of a direct line of progression that made The Force Awakens possible.  There would be no Rey without Padme Amidala and no Finn without Mace Windu.  And no Poe without Jimmy Smitts.

And even The Force Awakens isn't perfect.  The first film with a woman as the Jedi in training is also the first film where the Jedi in training is captured by the enemy and the other heroes go on a rescue mission to save her.  And it's been pointed out that she technically contributed nothing to Starkiller base being destroyed.  And the film still doesn't pass the Bechel Test, I'm more forgiving of failing to pass the Bechel test then most, but when the lead is a woman and it still fails, that I notice far more.  And isn't Maz Kanata effectively Star Wars first Magic Negro?

And still no openly Gay Star Wars characters in the films, though we've been promised some are coming.

Besides Qui-Gon Jinn, pretty much the only major characters who are White in the PT are those required to be by the canon of the OT, it's just that happens to include all three leads and the main villain.  Actually in the case of the Fetts they went against the original casting of that character to make them POC, and I still prefer to interpret all the Storm Troopers as clones no matter what Rebels says, and I've said before how TFA can be consistent with that.

They made Leia's adoptive parents POC, the most important off-screen deaths of the OT retroactively made POC.  Queen Amidala's trusted military commander in TPM is an African American, and his replacement in AOTC is a Native American.

And it split the Yoda role between the original Yoda and a Black Man, a calm wise intelligent Black Man played by a actor who was being typecast as a loud screaming angry Black Man.  And to me personally Windu's death is very meaningful, a lot of people think it's cheap, but I like that he echos what Luke says when he's being force electrocuted, it adds a new layer to an already Iconic scene.  It brings Vader back to the moment he first choose the Dark Side right before he chooses to return to the Light.  To someone who watches the films chronologically it makes Windu a part of that scene every time I watch it.

Padme Amidala is my personal favorite Star Wars character.  Always has been and always will be.

Leia was impressive for the time, at a time when a woman just grabbing a gun and firing it was still unusual.

We see Padme in Episode I bearing the burden of her responsibility, we see her make tough decisions after struggling with them as I already said about the Senate Scene.  We see her willing to humble herself on behalf of her people to make a new ally out of people they'd wronged in the past.  And we see her take part in a battle herself right from the first movie.

There is a video online of all the lines by female characters other then Leia in the Original Trilogy, it was a very short video which was the satire.  The thing is a PT equivalent would be a lot longer and thus less of a satire thanks to Shimi Skywalker alone.  And I'm impressed even with the characterization given to the Decoy Queen, watch the movie knowing the twist and the scene where she orders Padme to clean R2-D2 is pretty hilarious.

I would also argue that in Episode II she does more to show her strength and independence, but also depth and vulnerability, then Leia had in the whole OT.  I like how when Her and Anakin are captured and being taken the arena she confesses her feelings to Anakin under the pretense that they're about to die, then we immediately see her fiddling with the thing that gets her unchained, she was never planning to die.  I like when Anakin says "what about Padme" and Obi-Won says "she seems to be on top of things" that's why he's the Han Solo of the PT.

I think one of the few valid continuity issues isn't anything haters usually talk about but rather that PT Obi-Won is clearly less of a misogynist.  Obi-Won knew Luke had a sister but said Luke is "our only hope"  Yoda corrects him, yet he repeats this in ROTJ when there is no doubt that was written with us knowing who the other Hope was.  So OT Obi-Won was utterly dismissive of the idea that Leia could do what he's counting on Luke to do.  But PT Obi-Won fought along side female Jedi, and knew Padme, Leia's mother, was not to be underestimated, and arguably respects her agency more then Anakin, when he talks Anakin down from wanting to abandon the mission for Padme he says "what would she do in your place".

The female Jedi we see in action don't speak any-lines, but it meant a lot to see the Jedi weren't a boys only club, though it seems the Council mostly was, but as I've said before the Council's supposed to be seen as a broken institution.

Padme can be seen as more feminine and less masculine then Leia, and a certain brand of Feminist would argue that as regressive.  But I'm a Sailor Moon fan, I think it's important to show feminine women can be strong too.  I'd also argue Leia is that way because she has some of Anakin in her, I think you can easily argue every trait Leia doesn't get from Padme she gets from Anakin, you can see that brashness and arrogance in her at times.  And I didn't even think of this till recently.

In ROTS there are issues with how Padme is handled, though I still love Portman's performance.  I'm literally the opposite of most SW fans, your typical Prequel hater finds ROTS the only tolerable one, for me it's the only Prequel I have any criticisms of that bug me as I watch it, and they all come down to how the female characters were handled.  But the film also has many other strengths that I think make it the best of the movies.

The caricatures with the CGI characters are a problem, especially in TPM, they're most prominent there, I think Lucas listened to that criticism and decided to be more careful for the following films.  But like so many other criticisms of the Prequels it's another issue the OT also had but people give it more of a free pass on.

What about that fat disgusting gluttonous slimy worm Jabba The Hutt?  Who's so fat disgusting and gluttonous he can't even move on his own?  Doesn't that remind you of a real life caricature of a real life demographic?   Lucas actually didn't want Jabba to be unable to move, that was a technology limitation, one that OT Purists with Rose Tinted glasses take offense at hearing Lucas express dissatisfaction with n the audio commentary tack, and resent that since 1997 CGI has enabled Jabba to walk, "It's for the best he doesn't move, he's so powerful he doesn't have to" exact words I've seen on IMDB.  But even when he can walk Jabba still has that subtext.

Or Oola, the dancing exotic slave girl played by an African American actress, who's attempt to liberate herself results in a horrible death.  Or the Ewoks, who were basically like dumb African tribals who think a Gold plated robot is a god.  Oh wait, people do hate the Ewoks but not for that reason.

And aren't the Jawas and Tuskin raiders exactly how imperialists view the native "savages" of desert third world countries?  Episode II even draws attention to this, having Anakin's genocide of the Tuskins be his first morally reprehensible act on his journey to The Dark Side, and even has him cite Racist thinking as part of why he did it.

Lando is cool, but he is kind of a stereotype, kind of exactly who Billy Dee Williams was usually typecast as, the opposite of Jackson as Windu which went against that actor's usual type casting.  Then there is the Iconic character voiced by a veteran African American actor who couldn't be played by one when we saw his face, Canon demanded that but it still kinda looks bad.

Or how about Obi-Won Kenobi, a clearly East Asian name being portrayed by a British Actor, the Prequels of course repeat this offense with Qui-Gon Jinn.  The thing is we learned recently Lucas did want a well known Japanese actor for the role originally, but couldn't get him, so they defaulted to the standard British actor option.

And on Gender, I've talked before about how a hesitance to use Female Villains is a form of Sexism itself, and I do remember documentaries about SW making a point out of how intentional it was we saw no women in The Empire.  And I'll admit even in the Prequel era you still need the EU for good female villains, we just got one bounty hunter used as a pawn by Jango.  In TFA we saw women in the First Order finally, I hope in Episode VIII the Knights of Ren have some women.

I'm sure plenty of people have talked about those issues before, but it's only when I'm defending the Prequels in a TMS comments section that all it's offenses are thrown at me with a tone of "How DARE you be okay with that".

And if anyone honestly thinks "I didn't think of those things before so that must make them less blatant".  No, you didn't notice because you watched them as a kid, just as I didn't originally notice any of the implications I shall discus below with TPM when I was 13, not till I read about them being critiqued years later.

The Neimodians took the longest for me to learn about, and I'm still kind of skeptical that they were meant to sound how they're accused of sounding ("is that Legal?" is clearly pronounced with Ls not Rs to my ears), to me they always just sounded weird and alien.  The Trade Federation was clearly based on the British East India Company.  And their robes make me think of Venice.  But still if they come off Asian to some Asian viewers they have the right to express being offended.

Jar Jar Binks is my second favorite Star Wars character, he delighted me as a child.  But yes he talks like a very old accent used in a lot of old films for African Americans during and just after Slavery, it remained around actually into the 40s in The Mummy's Curse (the Kharis Mummy films were a direct influence on Indiana Jones), and that can bother people once they're aware of it.  But his character is a very good person, not as dumb he as he gets made out to be, but clumsy and childlike, and by befriending Padme he helps bridge the gap between two estranged neighboring cultures.

The Gungans in general are a people the Naboo have long looked down on because they're perceived (wrongly) as being less civilized and less intelligent, and they resent the Naboo for that.  And as a stand alone movie what TPM is mainly about is these two people who share a planet being reconciled to each other to thwart off an outside threat.  So it's not the best way to tell that kind of story, but the affiliation with an outdated African American accent does have a purpose.

Watto is the least defendable caricature in all the films save maybe Jabba.  He is definitely a SciFi cipher of a Greedy Jew caricature.  But Wario equally comes off as that, or more so, and is one equally as unofficially, and he's a beloved Nintendo Character.  Even though in TPM on paper Watto has no redeeming qualities, he has a charm to him that makes me love him, and I really liked his scene in ATOC, he seemed genuinely happy to see Anakin, like an old uncle.

The Prequels on diversity and representation have flaws, but I feel they are way ahead of the OT, EVEN when considering how they were for their time.  The Mummy is another 1999 film I'm equally Nostalgic for.  But it's handling of ethnic representation is far worse, and it's handling of female characters about equal to Episodes I and II.  And it also had a character who was ambiguously Jewish and very Greedy.

A stereotyped character can still be more then that, and for people who grew up on the Prequels like me, these Prequels characters are more then that just as much as the OT examples are for people who grew up on them.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I watched Ben-Hur again yesterday

Since April 6th is the day I believe Jesus was Crucified on our Gregorian Calendar.

As an amateur historian and Bible Scholar, I could nitpick the heck out of this movie, and the book it's based on, starting with all the White Israelites, but I don't really wanna do that.

I have sometimes complained about how a lot of these old Biblical movies seem to kind of just make Jesus into Gahndi, and this has elements of that at times.  But when Jesus was on The Cross, Balthazar talked about him dying for the sins of the world, so there is some at least vague knowledge of the actual Gospel there.

Today it's sometimes popular to mock the idea of never showing Jesus's Face or hearing Him talk directly.  And I certainly understand the concern that that takes away his humanity.  But I've always been a fan of when films try to get as much as they can out of what you don't see.

One moment that really strikes me is after Jesus gives Judah the water and that Roman commander is about to stop him and Jesus just looks at him.  The Roman doesn't seem to back down out of fear, he doesn't himself understand why he's stopping.  That brief performance says a lot.

As someone who still supports Ron Paul on his foreign policy.  Judah saying "Withdraw your legions" really speaks to me as a timelessly relevant line.

The film also depicts depicts it's Arab characters very sympathetically, calling out Anti-Arab Racism.  It's amazing how often old films pleasantly surprise me.

Though I can't say I'm too impressed with the handling of female characters.

On a shipping level, I think there is definitely more then meets the eye to the history between Judah and Messala.

Ben-Hur has always made me think of the Star Wars Prequels.

The most obvious and iconic example is the connection between the Chariot Race and the Pod Race.

But I also connect when Messala says "You're either with me, or your against me" to Anakin saying "you're either with me, or you're my enemy".  I know that's a common expression, and the people politicizing the Prequels like to draw the analogy mainly to George W Bush.  But these two scenes also have in common two friends becoming enemies in this moment, so I don't think it's a coincidence.

Also Arius saying "Your eyes are filled with Hate, good, Hate keeps a man alive, it gives him strength" sounds like a good Sith motto.

Let's also talk about what was an influence on Ben-Hur.

Ben-Hur is also related to a genre largely codified by The Cont of Monte-Cristo, Revenge Fantasy.  This was I think my first time watching the film since my obsession with French Pulp Fiction started.  And the potential parallels between Judah and Edmund Dantes really jumped out at me.

There are two fictional stories that have iconic Galley Slave sequences associated with them, Ben-Hur and Les Miserables.  I'd be curious to know which story it was associated with first, because Les Msierables came first but I'm pretty sure the specific Galley Slave part wasn't necessarily in the original Novel.

It's another old classic that still holds up.  They don't make historical films like that anymore, that today we can do gritty and realistic historical films is great.  But ya know with Comic Book movies (some) people people have figured out that the grim and gritty appeal is limited.  Why not bring back Historical films that are fun, theatrical, operatic, colorful and sometimes cheesy?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Biblical influences on Arthurian Legend and Grail Romance

I have tried and failed to solve the mystery of the Historical Arthur.  I feel much more qualified however to talk about the Arthur of fiction.

Whatever the real story of Arthur was, his legend has been influenced by many factors, including Celtic pagan mythology, and also by the contemporary concerns of various authors from the Crusades to the War of the Roses to the present.

As most Arthurian authors until the very modern age have been Christians of some type, it's safe to say Biblical themes have been an influence.

Given Gildas debatable relationship to Arthurian tradition.  I could start by mentioning how he references the Beasts of Daniel 7 and Revelation 12-13 to insult 5 local kings.  So the Bear reference is not at all evidence Cuneglass or Owain was normally called the Bear/Arth/Arto.

Of most interest however are the most notorious Kings of The Bible, like David and Solomon.  In many cases even if mimicking David wasn't the origin of a certain plot point the similarity could have still been in some authors' minds.  And it's fun to look at parallels that may or may not have been intentional at all.

Davidic parallels for the Mythical Arthur could begin right with his origin story.  Uther's adultery with Igerne and murder of Goloris could be compared to Bathsheba and Urias, but how it plays out is very different.  Recently that Starz series Camelot inverted the usual Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot triangle by making Arthur the adulterer, that makes a David and Bathsheba parallel very possible to see, but the Lancelot replacement isn't murdered by Arthur, though he does die in battle as Urias technically does.

David had two sons who were would-be usurpers like Mordred.  And with Absalom the story does begin with half-brother/half-sister incest, (but the real Sin there was the Rape).

And going back to the original version where Mordred was Arthur's sister's son, you could compare him to Joab son of Zeruiah who was the real mastermind of Adonijah's attempted coup.  And like Mordred, Joab wasn't David's only maternal Nephew, he had two brothers, Abishai and Ashael and David's other sister Abigail was the mother of Amasa who was Absalom's commander in chief.  So both rebellions involved a son and a sister's son, which is interesting.

There is also debate among scholars on if David's sisters were by the same father, an issue I'm still investigating myself.

Also both these rebel sons had lain with or attempted to marry Concubines of David, which possibly parallels Mordred's marrying Guinivere, though she was the Queen-Wife not a Concubine.

But what I mainly want to talk about today is Perceval.

Chretien de Troyes' Perceval, le Conte du Graal, which was the first appearance of both Perceval and The Holy Grail.  Had a number of influences on it no doubt, but one thing I've noticed is a possible allegory in which Perceval is David and Arthur is Saul.

Many later details we associate with Perceval weren't there yet, he is not given a detailed genealogy for one thing, he could be a complete commoner for all we know.  Also none of the people or places directly linked to the Grail are named yet.

Perceval first makes a name for himself by killing a Knight who was troubling Arthur, that could be compared to slaying Goliath, and Sir Kay's role could be Abner.  While this isn't part of Chretien's narrative, it's interesting that when Arthur is given a humble background prior to becoming King, it's usually as something like a farmer (as in Disney's Sword in The Stone), which would fit Saul more then David who was a Shepherd.

And even though their relation to each other is different and to Arthur non existent.  I think maybe Gornemant and Blanchefleur could be Johnathon and Michal.

The big thing though is, I think The Fisher King might be based on Ahimelech.

The figure of The Fisher King I have seen described before as being like a Priest-King, now at face value in Biblical history that makes us think of Melchizedek, the Hasmoneans and if you're a Christian Jesus.  But what's interesting about Ahimelech is he was a Priest but his name has the Hebrew word for King in it.  The question is if Chretien could have known that?

I've mentioned before how The Holy Grail was not originally identified as the Cup at the Last Supper, it was the third known Grail Romance author, Robert de Boron, that first made that identification.  In Chertien it seems to be a plate or bowl of some kind that contained a single Mass Wafer.  What that means is there was a thematic at least Last Supper connection, but it was to the Bread not the Wine.  But it should be noted in the original French text Chertien call is "un Graal" or "A Grail" not "The Grail", so it probably never was his intent to say it's the original of anything.

To a Christian, all references to bread, especially unleavened bread throughout the Old Testament are seen as anticipating the Bread of the Last Supper and probably representing the same thing, starting with the Bread and Wine offered by Melchizedek. This would particularly be true of the Table of Shewbread in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.  So it's interesting that Ahimelech offers David the bread of the Table of Shewbread.

The Grail Procession in Chretien also includes a Candelabra which could stand in for the Menorah, though it had 10 candles rather then 7.  The Menorah isn't specifically mentioned in the Ahimelech account but it's the Tabernacle so it would have been there.

The Fisher King also gives Perceval a Sword.  Ahimelech gives David the Sword of Goliath which had been kept with the Ephod since David slew him.

That Gwain takes over the narrative I think is where this parallel ends.

Chertein's tale was unfinished, so we don't know if Perceval would have gone on to become a King as he often does in later Grail romances.

Chertein also invented the character of Lancelot in an earlier different work, but that Lancelot was never part of the Grail story, there was no Galahad or Elaine of Corbenic yet.

The second Grail Romance was Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival.  Wolfram's work is very well known, yet strangely later Grail and Arthurian romances really didn't follow his lead.  They have in common adding a genealogical link to the Grail family for Percival, but elsewhere it's usually through his father while for Wolfram it was through his mother.  The Vulgate cycle and Malory give completely different names for Percival's ancestors and the Grail family.  And the characters of Belacane and Feirefiz do not reappear either.

The one possible influence is that once Lancleot became part of the Grail story and Galahad is created, I think he takes on some aspects of Feirefiz.  With Elaine of Corbenic replacing Repanse de Shoye.  And Prester John becoming Galahad.

There are a lot of clearly intentional historical anachronisms in Wolfram.  I as a student of Bible Prophecy disagree with seeing Babylon as code for Rome in 1 Peter or Revelation, but that idea was firmly established by Wolfram's time, and that one of his rulers of Babylon has a clearly Roman name, Pompeius, tells me that Wolfram meant Babylon to be code for Rome.  But he probably had the Eastern Empire in mind, what we call the Byzantine Empire never called itself that, they always called themselves Romans.  It's the same with references to Rome and Romans in old Isalmic writings.

I've talked before briefly about how the Grail is a Stone in Wolfram, and about Graham Hancock's theory that Wolfram's Grail was the Ark of the Covenant (which contained stone tablets), and that Wolfram was aware of Ethiopia's claim to have the Ark.  I'm convinced of much of that argument, but I do take things from people like Hancock with a grain of salt.

There are many thematic reasons to still link the Ark with the Grail even after the Grail becomes the Cup of the Last Supper.  Jesus quotes Exodus (but not the Passover account, rather Exodus 24:8) at the Last Supper, the Blood of Oxen was shed to confirm the Old Covenant, and the Blood of Jesus is shed to confirm the New and Everlasting Covenant.  So the Grail could be seen as the Ark of the New Covenant.

Robert de Boron also introduced the Seige Perilous (The Perilous Seat) as a special Seat at the Round Table linked to the Grail, that only the worthy Grail King can sit on it.  The lid of the Ark is called thanks to translation errors The Mercy Seat and is mistakenly believed by many today to be a Throne, specifically the Throne Jesus will sit on when He returns.  And if someone unworthy sat in the Seige Perilous it killed them, like how the Ark killed unclean people who touched it.

Even the idea of the Grail catching the Blood of Jesus shed after he was pierced with the Spear is interesting.  Ron Wyatt and Michael Rood believe the Ark was located under Golgotha and that Jesus Blood fell through the cracked open ground onto the Mercy Seat.  In my Mercy Seat study I was very critical of that view.  But the logic behind it stems from Leviticus 16 and Yom Kippur.

The first King of the Grail line in Robert de Boron is named Bron.  That name serves a dual purpose I think.  One is to echo the Celtic Bran linked to the Cauldron that played the Grail's role in the Welsh Arthurian tales.  But it is also stated in de Boron that the full name of Bron was Hebron.  Hebron is a name who's most well known Biblical usage is as a city (Judah and David's capital before Jerusalem), but it's also the name of a leader of the Kohathites in Exodus 6:8 and Number 3:19&27 who were in charge of caring for The Ark and other Tabernacle vessels in Numbers 3:30-32.

Bron married a Sister of Joseph of Arimathea, named Enygeus.  Robert de Boron's narrative is to me very interesting, considering I have argued that Joseph of Arimathea was Jesus' half brother Joses.  And that one of Jesus half sister's was named Naomi and became ancestral to the Bagratid dynasty possibly via marrying someone of the royal family of Adiabene.  And that The Virgin Mary might have had Hasmonean ancestry.  I doubt de Boron believed similar things, but they are interesting reasons for me to consider doing my own re-imagining of de Boron's narrative.

I also wonder if the story of King Kalafes suffering from Leprosy and being healed by the Grail, then converting to Christianity, was based on the legend about King Abgar of Edessa.  I of course take issue with Eisenman's theories.  Also interesting is the theory that a later Abgar of Edessa, was the real basis of Lucius of Britain with where he lived being a scribal error.

One more Biblical figure I think of as possibly linkable to the Wounded King, is King Asa.  Asa was one of the longer reigning kings of Judah, over 40 years, and one of the better reviewed ones.  But because of one of his mistakes he spent the twilight of his reign with a crippling foot disease.  The last few years of his reign his successor Jehoshaphat was already ruling as Co-Regent.  Which fits how the Fisher King and Wounded King are sometimes separate with the Fisher King as the son.  The era in which Jehoshaphat lived I discus on my Revised Chronology Blog.

Still we should not forget however that the figure of the Fisher King definitely has a Pagan origin too going back to the Welsh Bran the Blessed.  One thing the 80s Excalibur film gets criticized for is making Arthur the Fisher King, and it's generally defended only by saying it's the best way to condense all of Arthurian legend down to one film.  But when you go back to the Welsh Cauldron legends, Arthur and Bran are kind of interchangeable.  Both are said to be mortally wounded and waiting to be healed.

The way Excalibur depicts Arthur as all dark and Emo during his latter years does remind me of some film depictions of Solomon.  From Yul Brynner to the 90s Solomon movie that sometimes airs on the Hallmark channel.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My hypothesis on the Historical King Arthur

[Update: This whole post was a waste, read why at the botom]

I've noticed something odd a few times, that the history of Arthur in film is almost like a reverse of the development of Arthurian literature before then.  This may not hold up under a detailed break down, but I know when I first checked IMDB the first several movies to feature King Arthur were adaptations of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, a book written in 1889, literally just before the Motion Picture industry was born.  Then the Golden Age of Cinema tried to be evocative of Victorian depictions of King Arthur, then Excalibur tries imperfectly to mimic the most traditional versions and others followed suit.

Then starting at the turn of the Millennium the trend become depictions that at least put on a pretense of trying to seem like the real History behind the Legend.  There are constant references to Rome and Saxons and Hardrian's Wall and Aurelianus Ambrosius and Vortigern, and if they include supernatural elements it's all about outdated popular views of the Druids (they weren't matriarchal or goddess worshipers, sorry Mists of Avalon).  Thing is in my view none of those were based on any really good historical research.

I believe an historical Arthur existed in the first half of the 6th Century, his story was a lot different from the popular mythology, but I believe he absolutely did exist.

The lack of reference by Gildas and Bede doesn't mean anything.  Both do mention Badon but neither identifies any leader on the Briton side.  Bede was writing from an Anglo-Saxon POV, so he named few Briton leaders same as Welsh sources name few Saxon leaders.  But Bede does say during the latter 5th and early 6th century the native Britons did push back the Saxons.  And Gildas wasn't a historian, his focus was to rant about the present, but gave a brief backstory.  He talks about Aurelianus Ambrosius before Badon, but clearly implies a gab in between.

The geographical affiliation Arthur sometimes has with southern regions comes from Geoffrey of Monmouth mistakenly listing the 5 Welsh and Cornish kings Gildas ranted against as Arthur's immediate successors.  The pre Geoffrey references, and most of the 7th century individual names after Arthur seem to imply a more northern location.

The three oldest references to Arthur (the only surviving ones that predate 1000 AD) have one interesting thing in common.  None of them call him King.

First is the Y Gododdin by Aneirin, It refers to a warrior who "glutted black ravens [i.e., killed many men] on the rampart of the stronghold, although he was no Arthur". (Fletcher, Richard (1989). Who's Who in Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England. Shepheard-Walwyn. pp. 17–19.).

The Annales Cambriae has two references to Arthur.
Year 72 (c. AD 516) The Battle of Badon, in which Arthur carried the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ on his shoulders for three days and three nights and the Britons were victors.

Year 93 (c. 537) The Strife of Camlann in which Arthur and Medraut fell and there was death in Britain and in Ireland.

Year 129 (c. 573) The Battle of Armterid
The carrying the Cross on his Shoulders is likely a welsh translation issue that is meant to say he had a Cross on his Shield.

This date for Camlann disagrees with Geoffrey and the Brute Tysilo's 542 date, for many reasons I think this date is the correct one.  It's also been noted that this earliest reference to Mordred doesn't even tell us he was an enemy of Arthur, they could've been on the same side.

The battle of Armterid doesn't involve Arthur himself but other people who would become linked to Arthur in later traditions. Mainly Myrddin(Merlin) and the sons of Eliffer who I'll mention later.

The most informative but perhaps most controversial of the three is the Historia Brittonum, traditionally attributed to Nennius.  I should note that most might disagree with the order I chose to discus these three in.

Nennius not only doesn't call Arthur a King but seems to explicitly define him as not one.  He calls him dux bellorum which has been interpreted to mean "War Commander" or "leader of the battles", and says he fought alongside the Kings of the Britons.  He also lists Badon Hill as the last of 12 campaigns Arthur fought.  Nennius also calls Badon a siege which makes more sense of the Annales Cambriae saying it was three days and three nights.

Gildas and Bede have been interpreted as implying a much earlier date for Badon, around 480-500.  It could be there was more then one battle of Badon and there have been many locations with more then one battle named for them like Meggido.  Or 516 could have been the end of a campaign began 20-30 years earlier.  Scholars don't even agree which location Badon refers to.  If they are separate battles I think Gildas likely meant a southern maybe Welsh location and the two sources directly linking it to Arthur a northern one.

I think the Historical Arthur was Arthuis of Elmet.  Elmet was a Briton location just south of York(Eboracum).  Arthuis was called a "Prince" but never a King.  His father Mascuid Glof estimated to be born in 440 AD was King of Elmet.  As was his brother Llaenawc born about 475 AD.  And his nephew Llaenawc's son, Gwallawc Marchawc Trin who was born about 520 AD.

The source I'm going on for these dates seem to imply a lot of these Briton Kings had their successors around 40, which may seem odd at first but David had Solomon when he was over 40, and didn't start having kids till 30.

Arthuis (Arthwys) of Elmet was born about 479 AD.  Many Kings have had a brother serve as a right hand man and effectively co ruler.  And Since Gwallawc would have turned 17 the year Camlann happened, Arthuis may also have ruled as regent for him if Llaenawc died before then.  He could have been the person Llaenawc entrusted to command the army and thus was his "War Commander" at Badon.

The son of Gwallawc was Ceretic of Elmet.  Born about 560 AD and died in 617 AD.  I think he's almost certainly the Keredic of Geoffrey who began his reign in 555 AD.

It has often been noted that Cerdic of Wessex, an ancestor of Ælfrēd The Great had a Welsh/Briton name, clearly a from of Ceretic/Keredic. The earliest sources on Cerdic are just him being named in the genealogy of Ælfrēd The Great.  The biographical information comes later and is iffy, when he lived is disagreed on, and I think his geographical association with Wessex could just be because he's an Ancestor of Ælfrēd The Great.

Many scholars like Kenneth Sisam believe it's beginning with Cerdic that the genealogy is real people and all the names before were made up.  I don't agree with that exactly as a fan of Bill Cooper's After The Flood, but  I think we see a mingling of a Briton and Saxon royal line.  I think Cerdic/Ceretic/Keredic were all the same person.  Either Gwallawc or Ceretic himself or both took a Saxon Princess  descended from Odin as a wife.  I disagree with Cooper on Sceaf being Japheth though, I think the Pross Edda is right on him descending from Memnon and Priam.

The implication of all that is that Ælfrēd The Great may have been a distant nephew of Arthur, thus connecting Arthur to modern British Royalty.

Arthuis of Elmet was not the first Arthuis however.  Before him was King Arthuis (Arthrwys) of Eboracum/Ebrauc, who was born about 455 AD.  And who's son Eliffer (mentioned above) was born in 473 AD and died in 560 AD.  This Arthuis was the son of King Mor born about 420 AD, who was the son of King Ceneu born 382, the son of Coel Hen.  Eboracum was the main Roman Military fort of Britan, and Coal Hen estimated to have lived from 350-420 AD seems to have been the last of the Roman Duces Brittanniarum.  He may be the King Coel meant by the old nursery rhyme Old King Cole.

Both Arthuis have a common pater-lineal ancestry.  Mascuid of Elmet was the son of King Gwrast of Rheged, born about 422 who was the son of Ceneu.  Other northern dynasties also descended from Coel Hen who also had a son named Gorbanian.  And a daughter of Coel Hen married Cunedda Wledig and became ancestral to the kings of Gwnedd, the princes of Wales and the Tudor dynasty.

A couple early references to Arthur seem like they would chronologically have Arthur of Eboracum (which the Welsh called Efrawg) in mind, they're also the earliest ones to call him a King.

The 11th century Welsh Poem Geriant, son of Erbin presents the title character as a contemporary of King Arthur.  This Geriant is Gerren Llyngesoc king of Dummonia (a kingdom in Cornwall) born about 448 BC.  The eldest son of King Erbin born about 427 AD.  Gerren's son Cado lived from 482 to 537 AD (same year as Camlann interestingly) and was the father of the Constantine who was one of the 5 kings condemned by Gildas and made the direct successor of Arthur by Geoffrey.

And another is the Legenda Sancti Goeznovii, traditionally written in 1019 as a biography of St. Goeznovius.  This narrative talks about Vortigern but then ignores Ambrosious and Uther and presents Arthur and reigning right after Vortigern.  This source also says Arthur was "summoned from human activity" rather then saying he died, perhaps the first seed of the Avalon tradition.

The other lives of the saints that mention an Arthur are about late 6th and early 7th century saints.  So someone like Arthur of Dyfed is more likely there.  And that Arthur isn't always portrayed positively.

Timeline wise if Riomathus was someone known to the Britons as an Arthur, then Arthuis of Eboracum works best.  But Riomathus most likely ruled either Brittany and/or a part of Britan close to the English Channel.  There are also reasons to associate Ambrosious/Emrys with Brittany.

Goeffrey and the Brute Tysillo are already corrupt sources, but I think even they could have some useful info in them, especially in my view details found in the Brute but not Goeffrey.  One Brute specific detail is listing a Madoc as a contemporary of Arthur.  I agree with the theory that the Prince Madoc who traveled to the Americas lived in the 6th not 12th century as usually stated.  This could also be the same as the Madoc who gets remembered in Welsh poetry as a son of Uther, brother of Arthur and father of Eliwold.

If Geoffrey Ashe's theory that Emperor Lucius Tiberius was based on Glycerius is true, that also fits the time-frame of Riothamus.  But Geofrey didn't actually call Lucius an Emperor but "Procurator of The Republic" so maybe he wasn't actually The Emperor?

When Justinian was trying to reconquer the Western Empire in the 530s through 550s AD, he did demand the contemporary Frankish King, a son of Clovis, to pay him tribute very similar to what Goeffrey and the Brute say Rome demanded of Arthur.  In which context I think Liberius (praetorian_prefect) is a good candidate for Lucius Tiberius.

The grandson of Arthuis of Eboracum was Peredur son of Eliffer, who lived from 510-580 AD, and was King from 560-580.  He would have been a contemporary with the entire reign of Arthuis of Elmet, and is thus another possible connection between them.

Peredur son of Efrawg was a medieval Welsh Romance who's relation to Chrétien's Perceval, the first appearance of that character, is debated.  Many think it's just a Welsh adaptation of Perceval, but others think both were drawing on an earlier Welsh tradition.

Efrawg as mentioned above was a name for Eboracum/York.  Peredur son of Eliffer must be the Peredur that author had in mind whether he was adapting Perceval or not.  But the historical Peredur unlike in the romance wasn't an infant when his father died, Eliffer died when he was 50.

Most mysteriously Jesus Collage MS 20 lists an Arthur Penuchel as a brother of Peredur and Gwrgi.

So if the Arthur of legend was born from these two Arthuis being confused with each other and merged together.  It's interesting that the earliest references to Arthur seem to only make sense with the later of these two.

So that's my theory on the history.  I may make more posts in the future on the fiction.

I just read here about a new source of information.  The Vita Sancti Dalmatii dated to 800.  It doesn't mention Arthur but it is evidence of a Briton presence in northern Burgundisa from 534-541 AD.  I think Arthuis could have a lead a campaign there, some of his forces remained behind when he had to return to the Island to perish as Camlann in 537.  This remaining presence could be the reason Geoffrey has his date off by five years.

Update:  So it turns out Arthuis of Elmet is just an imagined name on internet websites, like those people who only exist in Mormon genealogies.  And even Arthuis of Eboracum is dependent on late medieval genealogies, the oldest one doesn't have him.  So this theory lasted less then a day.

I still think Arthur existed and that the Annals Cambraie dates are the ones to go by, and plenty of what I talked about above are clues to the riddle.  But for now it's still a mystery.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sailor Moon Crystallizes

So I just spent a good deal of my morning this Monday April 4th 2016 watching 3 episodes of the Sailor Moon franchise.

First were the 3rd and 2nd to last episodes of Sailor Stars, which I've been following since Hulu started it's actual story-line, but did watch the Nehelena episodes first.

They were both really good, It's hard to imagine I was once an immature punk who kinda denied the fact that I liked this show for more then looking at the Heroines.  Back then I didn't even know Stars existed, but still.

Spoiler ahead.  Skip to the next Bold line if you haven't seen them.

For the big reveal at the end of 198.  I went into this knowing a few basic things already, one being what it's villain is called.  So I honestly hadn't even noticed that they hadn't called her a "Sailor" before this point.

I had thought to myself watching these two episodes "we've seen other people jump in-front of Usagi to shield her form approaching danger repeatedly, I'd like to see her do it for a change" and then BOOM!!! it happens, perfect timing.

I also thought pretty quickly that Sailor Galaxia's fall was kind of like Anakin Skywalker's, she couldn't handle loss.  Some of the Prequel haters might respond to that here with "that's how Lucas should have done it" so which I will say ____ you.  In general the motive for falling is part of what the haters hate, they talk about wanting a generic slow ends justifies the means gray area pushing power corrupts message, even though that would utterly contradict the entire premise of how they tired to turn Luke.  For all the ways Luke's journey was different, that flaw he absolutely shared, it's what lured him to Cloud City.

Spoilers stopped for now.

And then as soon I'd finished those I saw the first episode of seasons 3 of Crystal was up.

Now I agree with a lot of the popular criticisms of the first two seasons of Crystal.  I'd said before I felt the lack of filler was a problem.  I hated the as Manga mimicking as much as possible art style which also keeps me from getting into Hellsing Ultimate.   And I agree with Vraik's argument for why the Anime changes to the Dark Kingdom story-line were improvements.

But I still enjoyed Crystal a decent amount, and I don't think anyone hated the theme song, Moon Pride.

Sailor Moon S was my favorite season of the old Anime as I've said before.  Even so I feel even though I haven't actually read the Manga that from what I know the extent to which the Anime changes were improvement kind of decreases as it goes on.  One of my few complaints about S was that it takes so long to meet the character the whole story is kind of about, and I'd been assured in the Manga Hotaru does show up sooner.

Then the early glimpses showed evidence of improving the art style, much less Manga bound.  So I awaited with high hopes.

And unlike Batman V Superman those hopes were not let down at all, it was an awesome episode.

Spoilers below again.

We don't have a formal introduction to Hotaru yet, but she was there right at the start.

And the new Theme Song is pretty rockin too.  And it's animation and the transformation scenes both show signs of now desiring to directly homage the old Anime.

And I was not expecting based on what I'd been told about the Manga to see Naru, Umio and Motoki still around.  I was quite pleased.

Spoiler over.

It was fast paced, but this time didn't seem to be at the expense of indulging in the characters.  It was a fun half hour of Anime.  I recommend even people who hated Crystal before give it a try.

I may keep sharing my thoughts here every week.  If you want to enjoy some good Racaps of Stars I recommend joseinnextdoor.  She hasn't gotten to these episodes yet, it should be up Friday.  Actually she's done the entire old Anime as Hulu's put them up, but I've only consistently followed Stars.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The War of The Roses, Game of Thrones and Final Fantasy Tactics

Game of Thrones, based on the Saga of Fire and Ice books, and Final Fantasy Tactics are two important parts of modern Nerdy Pop Culture (one is currently a bit more obscure then the other) that have in common drawing inspiration from the chapter of English history known as the War of the Roses.  But with some clear major liberties.

Both are also very dark pessimistic and arguably deconstructive takes on the High Fantasy Genre, I guess the War of the Roses isn't the most ideal piece of history to draw on if you wanna be Optimistic.

Both Ivalice and Westeros were originally Seven Kingdoms, just like England which was seven Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms united by Ælfrēd The Great.  Aegon Targaryen being a conquer from outside Westeros however would make a closer analogy to William The Conqueror then Ælfrēd.

One thing I wonder if anyone else has noticed is that when you apply how Westeros' geography equates to England's, The Wall that is such a big plot point is clearly inspired by Hadrian's Wall.

The scenario also involves an "Evil" Queen who's son may or may not be the son of her Kingly husband.  But how exactly she relates to the House that sides with her tends to be changed.

And both are a conflict between North and South.  Perhaps the least unique of the defining characteristics.  There was a North v South civil war in the history of my country also.  Bible scholars know that happens in the Bible twice (with Israel and with the division of Alexander's Empire in Daniel 11).  And it's part of Ancient Egypt's history.  And since we'll be talking some Japanese media here there was also a time when Japan was divided between rival branches of the Imperial Family, one based up North and the other down South.

There are some key differences in how the two draw inspiration from it.

The most superficial thing is the way Tactics geographically switches the scenario somewhat.  In both the History and GoT it's the Southern House that sides with the Queen, while in Tactics it's the North.

But the biggest distinction is that Martin was largely drawing on the popular perception of the war that viewed the Yorks as the good guys, at least before the Yorks internal conflicts messed everything up.  Richard 3rd Duke of York was largely the basis for Ned Stark, and Edward IV the basis for Robb Stark.

But in Tactics both Dukes are equally selfish pricks who care nothing for the suffering their war brings on the common people they're supposed to be responsible for.  And they're not even the most Evil characters in the story.

Both also have a lot in common in how they change the story interestingly.

In the real War of the Roses both houses were branches of the Royal Family.  Siding with Lancaster was by traditional standards siding with the rightful heir, the Duchy of Lancaster was created specifically to be the King's Duchy.  While the Dukes of York descended from a different son of one of the earlier Plantagenets.  The Duke of York held a relation to the Royal family comparable to the Duke of Orleans prior to the French Revolution.

But in both GoT and Tactics the warring houses are separate Noble Houses, and the Royal family effectively going extinct is partly what causes the conflict.  In both the Queen is a member of one of the rival houses who married the King.  While historically the Queen was a foreign (French) royal who married the King of England, who was a Lancaster.

All three have in common a suspicion (though in Tactics it is very vaguely hinted at while in GoT it's blatantly confirmed) that the actual father of the Queen's son is a member of the House that sides with her.  But because of the above change this makes both fictional scenarios Incestuous, while historically it would not have been (I won't venture to guess if it's true or not).

As Fantasy stories it's not surprising both add supernatural elements.  It's interesting how they both bring them in in a similar way.  An inhuman menace threatens to destroy the world and the internal selfish squabbling of the people who run it have them totally uninterested in dealing with that.  Like they're taking Reagan's whole "if Aliens attacked we'd all come together" slogan and saying, "no we wouldn't".

That's not necessarily the only way to bring Cosmic Horrors into it.  You could go further then Martin in siding with the North by having the Demons side with Lancaster and the Angels side with York.  But that would lack nuance I suppose.  In Homer's depiction of the Trojan War the gods all took sides in the conflict, I would probably emulate that.

Both are likely to be very different from history in how they end.  Martin's isn't over yet so we don't know for sure.  But it seems like there is hope that maybe eventually they will come together and deal with the real threat.  But as a Video Game FF Tactics has to be a story where the character you play and the party he forms save the world mostly on their own, the depressing part is in Universe no one knows what Ramza did and the biggest @##hole is remembered as a hero.

If whoever rules when the dust settles isn't exactly either side fighting each other when it all started.  Then that "winner" could be viewed as allegorically Henry VII to some extent.  In tactics this would be Delita Herial (and maybe Ovelia would be Elizabeth of York?).  But an important plot point of the game is that Delita was a complete commoner.  Henry Tudor had a distant connection to the Lancaster line, but more importantly he was a direct heir to the Princes of Wales and thus to the Kings of the Britons who ruled the Island before the Anglo-Saxons came.   Because of this he was heralded as the Mab Darodan and the return of King Arthur.

Who would make the most sense in that context in Game of Thrones?  Maybe a Targaryen since Pendragon means head of the Dragon.  And Henry Tudor was a direct descendant of Maelgwn who Gildas called "The Dragon of the Island".  Arthur means Bear but none of the houses of Westeros have a Bear as their symbol.  Henry Tudor invaded crossing the channel from France, which could fit what Daenerys is planning to do.

Also GoT doesn't have an allegorical vilification of Christianity.  It has religious themes, but not so blatantly anti-religious.

They are no doubt not the only works of fiction to drawn inspiration from the War of the Roses.  Though I'm hardly an expert on the subject.  But I know that the first such example would actually be Le Morte d'Arthur, which has to a large extent defined Arthurian legend ever since.  Thomas Mallory was actually contemporary with the War of the Roses, so for his time the influence of that War on fiction was more like WWII and Vietnam are for us.  The actual geopolitical scenario in the story makes far less of a direct analogy, the parallels that do exist are ones you may have to be a contemporary to get.

There has also been fiction that directly depicts the history involved.  Starting with Shakespear's Tetrology, (the Henry VI trilogy and Richard III).  I rather enjoyed The White Queen TV Series, haven't read the books.