Monthly Archives: June 2008

Servers, Girls, and “The Last Shall Be First”

This just came to mind over at Father Z’s, where they’ve been having (among other things) a discussion of girl servers.

I was all for girls serving back when I was a girl; but mostly from the standpoint that since boys were so lazy about doing it that girls might as well get in, and that since it was legally possible and had precedents, it could very well be done. But the one time I had a chance to do it, it felt very odd and wasn’t something I really wanted to repeat. It looks odd, too, up in the sanctuary. Not revolting or wrong, but just not right. As if someone has missed the point.

So I periodically put some thought into this subject. The thing that comes to mind is that the Church has traditionally had a hierarchical structure in which, literally, the last shall be first and the one in charge is the one who is the servant of all the rest. To wash feet was degrading and yucky — hard work and detail work. It was the kind of job that, in the ancient world, was usually given to slaves or women. The only well-off people who usually did it for themselves were Jewish priests preparing to go into the Holy Place. For Jesus to wash the feet of his Twelve was to prepare them to go into His sanctuary — to attend the first Mass _in_ that sanctuary, and thus assist not as members of the people but as priests and bishops.

There were some deaconesses appointed at need to enter women’s quarters without scandal, but the usual deacons — servants — of the Church were men. Men to fetch and carry, men to do menial everyday work that would be assigned in a household to slaves or women. Responsible, important work, yes. But also purposefully menial, and purposefully given largely to men.

In another interesting move, vestments are largely adaptations of archaic men’s clothes. Part of what makes them archaic is that, outside of church, their elements would largely be interpreted by modern eyes as being women’s clothing. Again and again, these elements are maintained in vestments long after they have started to seem “girly” on non-clerical men. Why do they not seem girly? Perhaps because of this role reversal. Long robes and lace and big necklaces continued to seem manly, on men doing work that would anywhere else have seemed like work for parlormaids.

The sanctuary — the area immediately around the altar — spends a good part of Mass as the dwelling of God. In the court of Heaven, the rules are different than in the world. So it’s exalted to fetch and carry, and men dress in a different way. It does have a certain logic to it, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, women were largely the philanthropists of the early Church, giving money and space to hold Mass, praying, making vows, and doing all sorts of things — things which were not menial. Lady Bountiful does not fetch and carry. In the rest of the ancient world, women could only have taken the role of Martha in most religions, and it took a rich persuasive woman to be allowed to listen to a philosopher’s lectures. In the Christian world, women were actually encouraged to listen and rest!

So now we come to servers, who stand in for adult men training up to be priests, and do what they’d do. And what they do is menial work, the work of slaves and women. They act as human bookstands, human censers of perfume, human candlesticks and tables. They fetch and carry and stand still without drawing attention. Boys who enter into this world are doing something vastly against their usual natural inclinations. Girls who enter into this world are spending a whole lot of time being submissive and attentive to the wishes of an older man.

So it should be obvious that it’s feminist for boys to serve as acolytes and more feminist for girls not to do so.

Now, I fully acknowledge that it’s not just fetching and carrying, and putting religious significance on an act makes it a lot less servile. But. It’s not a matter of positions of power, either. To be a priest or a deacon is to be at everyone’s beck and call at all hours. To be a server is much the same, but with more limited hours and numbers of persons to serve.

Women already do way too much of this stuff. It’s always tempting to take on more of the stuff we’re good at, or that society encourages us to do; and to serve is not all that far a stretch. So it’s not wrong to be a server and girls can do a good job; but it’s not right, either. It’s counter-productive to this “reversal of gender roles” principle, and thus to part of the intended purpose of serving. Girls should be encouraged to sit back in the pew, prop their Lady Bountiful feet up on the kneeler, and watch the boys scurry about instead of doing it themselves.

And if you think America is so egalitarian that reversals of gender roles are no longer needed –

Do it for the poor Muslim women and those of other oppressive religions; for all the female sex slaves hidden in our society and procured from around the world; and for all the many other oppressed ladies in our world today. They could really use some role reversal, and they aren’t all that few.

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Irish Catholic Heaven Sounds Like Riverdance

Also from “Tidings of Doomsday”, a sermon in Middle Irish translated by Whitley Stokes:

But the Saints and the Righteous, who have fulfilled the commands of the Lord and his teaching, will be called to glory, to honour, to veneration, into the eternal Life on God’s right hand, for ever and ever, to wit, the folk of gentleness and tenderness, of charity and of mercy, and of every fair deed besides, a folk of virginity and penitence, and widows faithful for God’s sake.

Then shall there be a great noise and mighty sound of the pure souls stepping on the right hand of their King and their Lord in the heavenly Kingdom, in ranks of the King of heaven and earth and hell. A place wherein is the Light that excels every light, every splendour, without interruption, without darkness. Life eternal without death: clamour of joy without sorrow: health without sickness: youth without old age: peace without quarrel: rest without adversity: freedom without labour, without fatigue, without need of food or raiment or sleep: holiness without age, without decay: radiant unity of angels:

delights of paradise: feasting without interruption among nine ranks of angels and of holy folks of heaven and holy assemblies of the most noble King, and among holy, spiritual hues of heaven and brightness of sun in a kingdom high, noble, admirable, lovable, just, adorned, great, smooth, honeyed, free, restful, radiant: in plains of heaven, in delightful stations, in golden chairs, in glassen beds, in silvern stations wherein everyone shall be placed according to his own honour and right and welldoing.

But indescribable are the amplitude and width of the heavenly kingdom. For the bird that is swiftest of flight upon earth, for him the journey of the kingdom would not end though he flew from the world’s beginning until the end thereof.

Vast, then, are this fruitfulness and the light, the loveableness and the stability of that City: its rest and its sweetness, its security, its preciousness, its smoothness, its dazzlingness, its purity, its lovesomeness, its whiteness, its melodiousness, its holiness, its bright purity, its beauty, its mildness, its height, its splendour, its dignity, its venerableness, its plenteous peace, its plenteous unity. Yea, not fit is any creature to set forth the hundredth part of the description of the goodness of that City, but still it is better to relate this little of them than to be in silence.

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Gentle Nature-Loving Medieval Celtic Spirituality Goes to Hell

From “Tidings of Doomsday”, a sermon in Middle Irish, translated by Whitley Stokes. (It’s a nice one, with lots of Jesus’ talk about those who found Him hungry and gave Him food, etc. In this case, you found Him in need of a guesthouse. Or they found Him in captivity, and they got tidings of Him and loosed Him. Heh! None of this visiting hours stuff for the Irish!)

Anyway, in this Irish writer’s scheme, this is what Hell is like:

Then will be shut the sinners’ three locks, to wit, shutting of Hell for ever on them, and shutting of their eyes on the world to which they gave love, and shutting of the heavenly kingdom on them.

Thereafter they will sit a merciless seat on glowing coals of great fire before the king of evil in the glen of tortures, wherein they shall have heavy punishments, to wit, death without life: dark fire: life woeful, sad, foul, unclean: a place wherein shall be many dogs, keen, greedy, gluttonous, broad-eared, longclawed, sharppawed, beside them. And toads, keen, rough, destroying one another. And adders poisonous, very swift, around the Devil’s city. And lions fierce, rending. And many in their dark mass and in their dark light. A place wherein shall be birds hideous, taloned, fearful, made of iron. And stinking lochs, stormy, cold, hellish. Fires dark, ever burning. Red flags under feet. Swords maiming. Cats scratching and furrowing. Fiends torturing. Wounds without healing. Flame without quenching. Gag on tongues. Strangling on throats. Vexing on heads. Yelling and gagging on voices. Fettering on soles. A place wherein beside every evil shall be the Monster, conspicuous, awful, manyheaded, with crowds of red glowing coals. Somewhat of his description, to wit: a hundred necks upon him and a hundred heads on each neck, and five hundred teeth in each head. A hundred hands upon him, and a hundred palms on each hand, and a hundred nails on every palm.

A place wherein existence is without lovingness, without friendship, in thirst, in hunger, in great cold, in great heat, in want of every good thing and in fulness of every evil thing, in union with the disunion of the fiends and the household of Hell.

Then will be there woe and lamentation, wail and crying, groan and scream of every mouth, and a curse without resting from the sinners on their abbot — to wit, on the Devil, for he it is that puts them in endurance of punishment for every evil they did through his temptation; and a curse, too, from him on monks about him — to wit, on the sinners, since the greater is his own punishment for every evil they did through his seduction of them, inciting every evil.

Awful, in sooth, and hideous is that prison which the Lord has made for the Devil with his fiends, to wit, Hell. Low, now, and deep is its place. For though a millstone were cast into Hell’s mouth, not sooner than at the end of a thousand years would it reach the bottom. The soul’s journey, now, after coming from the body, is for a space of thirty years from top to bottom thereof, as is the opinion of certain persons.

Strong is that prison’s surrounding: it is full of fear, dread, danger, lamentation. Dark, black, hideous is its open mouth. It is a rock for chastening every soul that is tortured. It is a flame for burning. It is a scourge for smiting. It is an edge for maiming. It is a night for blinding. It is a fog for smothering. It is a cross for torturing. It is a sword for vengeance. It is an awful weapon for slaying and for cutting. It is a howling of tortures. It is a crowd of punishments. It is a drowning, it is a plaguing. It is a breaking: it is a bruising, it is a pollution, it is an exhaustion, it is a consuming, it is a hacking, it is a burning, it is a swallowing: it is high, it is low, it is very cold: it is very hot, it is narrow, it is wide: great is the stench of the steam of its stewing flesh.

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A Medieval Irish Catholic Homilist on the Resurrection of Babies and the Unborn

From “The Tidings of the Resurrection”, translated by Whitley Stokes.

It is asked, now, will there be a resurrection for human abortives…? The answer to that is, that beyond there will certainly be a resurrection into life for all who have had death here after life. If, then, the abortives had death after life, even in their mother’s womb, it is certain that they will have a resurrection beyond, and that they will have life (again) after that death. If, then, there is thus no doubt of the resurrection of abortives, much less is there doubt of the resurrection of infants….

…‘All men’, quoth the apostle, ‘will arise out of death in the likeness of the age and form of Christ.’ …Whatsoever, then, is wanting of completeness in their body to abortives and to little infants… which have not their lawful size and are defective in certain corporeal members, the Lord will supply beyond in the Resurrection, so that naught shall be lacking to them of the full propriety of their form or of their proper nature. For that is a thing which they possess in themselves, according to the invisible and hidden law of their nature, though they have not possessed it according to material nor according to bodily size… as Job affirms when prophesying in his book and saying that all men will arise in their proper bodies.

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A French King Arthur Show!

Kaamelot. It’s a historical well-informed show about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

From France.

Composed solely of comedy skits.

Spottily subtitled on You Tube, and found via Shrine of the Holy Whapping, which posted a link to a hysterical skit about harmonic intervals in music.

And no, it’s not just funny for music geeks. King Arthur singing harmony is not only accurate to the medieval romances (oh, yeah, most of those were French!), but also intrinsically funny.

Btw, the Kaamelot spelling is sort of a joke on placenames in Brittany, I think.

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Infomercials Are Out of Hand.

They’re running an infomercial for a Kiyoseki curling iron — on the Cincinnati public TV station.

If this is just Time Warner, it’s either a big mistake or crooked.

If it’s the public TV station, it’s super-crooked.

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Apparently the Japanese Like Some Bits of the US Military Too Much.

There’s this weird Marine Corps minifad in Japan right now. Apparently it started with a very popular language learning manga called Magical Marine Pixel Maritan, in which a magical Marine princess girl promises to teach you how to swear like a Marine.*

No, I am not kidding.

Well, this apparently was not enough, so somebody opened a Marine cosplay cafe. For the uninitiated, a cosplay cafe is a theme cafe with overpriced food, where the (attractive female) waitstaff dresses up in “cute” or “sexy” costumes which fit the theme. Most waitresses in these cafes apparently specialize in being nice to the (male) customers in the hope of getting large tips, and of getting them to stay longer and spend more money.

But in this cafe, the waitresses are drill sergeants.

I blame JAG.

* Foreign nationals are indeed allowed to serve in the Marines, so being a magical princess from fantasyland does not disqualify her from enlistment.

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Your Tax Dollars at Work. In a Good Way.

The US Navy, always faced with image problems at its Japanese naval bases, has commissioned a manga from two Japanese manga-ka known for their military comics. CVN-73, by Harumi Sato and Hiroshi Kazusa, is apparently a slice-of-life story from the point of view of a Japanese-American sailor named Jack Ohara. It’s his first time on ship duty, so he has comical troubles with walking into kneeknockers, bunking with eight other guys, and so on. The comic presents the Navy as a bunch of ordinary fallible human beings, and is intended to relieve tension with its civilian neighbors. Everyone seems to agree that this is a more accessible format than brochures or articles, although it does raise the spectre of propaganda.

Three hundred paper copies were handed out for free at a signing by the manga-ka. The main distribution channels, however, are the Navy’s manga sites, which went live today and provide free downloads of the manga in English and Japanese.

(Why English? Heh. The Navy’s not stupid. Why waste all that money from US taxpayers on a comic just for Japanese taxpayers? So they also mean to recruit American manga fans, or at least give them more understanding of where their tax money goes.)

I think this was a very good idea. The US military has a pretty long history of passing along information through art and comics for internal training use (mostly vivid safety reminders). So this is an old idea made new.

However, I find it interesting that the manga-ka chose such a retro style of illustration. I wonder if this is their normal style of art?

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Seven Deaths in the Family: Part 2

Lovely. This morning, news reports out of Japan add a charming detail. Tomohiro Kato, the Akihabara spree killer (okay, alleged spree killer) is reported to have been a fan of comics and videogames.

The meager evidence they gave for this would not have been terribly convincing. Practically every man, woman and child in Japan reads some kind of comic (for them, it’s like saying you read magazines), and practically every young Japanese man plays some kind of videogame. Unfortunately, this jerk apparently decided to document his little killing trip by stopping to make posts on a fannish forum. (Other sources describe him as a “blogger” with a “mobile phone blog”. So non-fannish folks can expect a little media flak as well.)

So he too is one of us fans, albeit an evil or mentally ill one of us. Yay. (And if he did have Yakuza ties, apparently the Yakuza have managed to… discourage… talk of this. I’m sure their PR reps are interesting. But it sure doesn’t sound like he was gang material, though the outfit he wore to the killing might be perceived as looking gangsterish.)

Viewed with dispassion, it’s not surprising to learn that Tomohiro Kato had spent a good amount of time hanging out in Akihabara. People who plan to kill people usually plan it for some place they know well, a comfort zone. But it’s hard to be dispassionate about bloodspatters.

Naturally, this plays right into the recent media frenzy in Japan against fans who like guns (which you can’t get in Japan, so it’s like being a fan of moonrocks) and military knowledge. (Which is why none of these more martial types were shopping in Akihabara, when they might possibly have come in handy. The killer was apparently not a military otaku, but never mind accuracy….) Some of the more emo or exhibitionist fans have apparently also done their best to act like disgusting otaku on camera, in front of the impromptu memorial to the dead. Yay.

Oh, and the Japanese government is considering knife control while they’re at it.

Knife control. In Japan.

This story is getting worse and worse.

To their credit, some news reports are mentioning the general sickness rampant in Japanese culture. For example, that 32,000 people killed themselves in 2006 (many of them kids or middle-aged, many of them members of illegal suicide clubs who met online, went somewhere, and killed themselves in large groups). That’s 2% of the Japanese population. Coupled with the low birthrates and marriage rates, the seriously low number of young people vs. old people, and so on… well, there’s a lot of trouble brewing.

Btw, the stuff with irate Japanese policemen slamming the victim to the concrete apparently happened after he’d surrendered. (Which is apparently what one would traditionally expect from Japanese police in trying moments, from what I’ve been hearing lately.) The policeman (the one who got stabbed?) on duty in Akihabara apparently knocked the killer’s knife out of his hands with his baton, and then got the guy to surrender and sit down, albeit only after he drew his gun. The slamming or whatever happened after this. (Real professional. Also really macho, after the killer is captured and disarmed by a lone guy.)

However, let’s say a word for the victims.

The one woman killed was Mai Muto. She was 21. She had spent some time in San Francisco in a school exchange program, and hoped to break into the music industry. (She was apparently photogenic, so we’ll probably see a lot of coverage of her.) But her dream was not to be an idol singer; she was studying to be a recording engineer.

Kazunori Fujino, 19, was a university student. He went to Akihabara on Sunday morning to shop for computer stuff with a friend.

Takahiro Kawaguchi was also 19 and in college. He was shopping with three friends.

Katsuhiko Nakamura, 74, had just retired from his dental practice. He was shopping for a computer with his son.

Mitsura Matsui, 33, was originally from Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Kazuhiro Koiwa, 47, was unemployed.

Naoko Miyamoto, 31, was a corporate “salaryman”.

Please pray for them, and for their grieving families. As well as for the man who killed them, and whom we can but hope was insane.

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Seven Deaths in the Family

A disgruntled hood named Tomohiro Kato, who claimed Yakuza ties and worked as a temp at an auto parts factory in Susono, a town out in the country near Mt. Fuji, was feeling disgusted with life yesterday.

So he:

A) rented a DVD, bought a pint of chocolate ice cream, and kicked back

B) went to a bar, got drunk, sang karaoke songs, and went home

C) climbed Mt. Fuji, saw the sunrise, fell in love with a woman he met, and came down with new purpose in life

D) found Jesus and became a monk, serving the poor

E) rented a truck, drove to Akihabara, deliberately ran over pedestrians in the closed shopping streets, got out of his truck and stabbed the people he’d knocked down, ran around and stabbed other people, stabbed a patrolman who tried to talk him down, ran into an alley and stabbed two more folks, was tackled into the concrete curb by slightly irate Japanese police, ultimately having killed 7 and wounded 11 folks who’d never done him any harm.

I’m sorry to say that the answer is D.

For those of you who don’t know, Akihabara was once the shopping district of Tokyo dedicated to electronics. This drew lots of us nerds, and so various businesses selling fannish goods arose. DVD places, bookstores — and this being Japan, cool/weird/creepy stuff like cosplay cafes. So I don’t know if I’d really feel comfortable there, and yet, I know that Akihabara’s habitues are indeed part of my kind of people. Now they have been attacked, and I want to do something; but there’s nothing really to do.

One of the young women who was stabbed was apparently dressed in a maid costume. Nobody seems to have reported whether she was employed at a cafe, cosplaying for fun, or a cosplayer who also worked at a maid cafe. Whatever the case, there’s something strangely horrible about being hurt while wearing a costume — especially since the attacker apparently didn’t notice or care who he was stabbing, just as long as he was.

This sort of thing is very sad; it also makes one feel very angry. But mostly, it exposes just how stupid evil is. Hurting and scaring all those shoppers and employees — hurting and scaring people for years into the future — and for what? An attempt at suicide by cop? Having a mad on at the world? He wasn’t doing it for any sort of jihad or cause. It didn’t do the killer any good, even. Why did he go to the fannish shopping quarter at all? Just because he knew it would be crowded and thus target-rich?

You also can’t help but feel for the victims. There you are, strolling around with your friends — or at least, in a sympathetic community — only out to spend money on toys. You aren’t ready for eternity. We’ve all been there, and that’s why these sorts of shopping mall or restaurant murder sprees are so scary. Those poor men and women — and they were all ages, from 74 on down to 21 — could easily have been us.

We should pray for them, living and dead. We should also pray for their murderer, that he get some sense and feeling into his thick skull.

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Stripped of Dignity, Stripped of Rights

In Baltimore and 9 other US airports, the TSA is looking at you naked. (Via Slashdot.)

Yes, they’ve finally gone and installed one of those misbegotten “peer under your clothes and see your bare body” machines. This one uses microwaves to get a good long look, and transmits the picture to a super-secret TSA monitor room somewhere in the airport.

They say it will be used instead of pat-downs on “random” passengers they pull out of line. They say your privacy is ensured because they blur your face. They don’t say whether security officers of the opposite sex, or of the same sex for that matter, are leering at the unblurred parts, or whether their camera phones will be transmitting pictures of you to porn sites on the Internet, or whether they’ll be kept on official file. But of course, the basic nightmare is having strangers peer at you for signs of weaponry in your tuchus. I don’t care if they’ve hired a staff of doctors for this; it ain’t right.

Jesus God. I hate pat-downs (and they happen to me almost every time I travel by air — random, my butt), but that doesn’t mean I want to be bared to federal view. And heck, I think the blurred face/naked body thing is pretty darned disturbing also. We will not have our identity known; but we will also not be human individuals to these watchers.

The other disturbing thing about this is that many passengers who agreed to be scanned did not realize what they had signed on for. They thought they had just been scanned for weapons or infrared, or something of the sort. Signs were posted, but of course the airport is full of signs and travelers are full of tired.

The article says that people who refuse the scanning offer will be patted down instead. I know it’s humiliating, but dear God, hold out for mere humiliation. They have no business doing this to anybody, unless they’ve actually arrested you.

As for me — I don’t think I want to fly anywhere, anymore. But if you’re wondering, the airports starting this month are LA, JFK in New York, Reagan/National in DC, Dallas, Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Albuquerque, Detroit, Miami, and Las Vegas. 28 others will be added in the next month or so, with even more rolling out later.

Finally, I will note that the Israelis manage to provide great air security without all this kind of crud. They do it primarily by _talking_ to the passengers, not by violating them.

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Korngold. Wrote Operas.

Yes, he had a career before he came to Hollywood and became a great writer of scores. In Germany, he wrote three amazingly popular operas (and a few others not so popular). Die Tote Stadt, the story of a grieving widower and his painful emergence both from grief and from doing stupid stuff on the rebound, was so highly anticipated and so competed for, that it had simultaneous world premieres in two different German cities!

The Nazis drove him out of Germany for being Jewish, of course.

Anyway, I just saw a little bit of Die Tote Stadt on that little Classic Arts Showcase thing that runs on public access in the mornings. It was Korngold for sure. Even in one of those stupid European opera productions which are designed to go diametrically against the actual meaning of the work, the stupendously beautiful music and songs shone through. Apparently they only work with extremely good and healthy singers, though, because he has the full orchestra going most of the time and the singers are expected to sing right along with it.

I think it’s a great shame that he didn’t write any operas in America. His film scores were very important, but the twentieth century was very low on good operas, much less great ones. Alternately, I wish someone had hired him to do a dramatic musical. (He did write one musical after WWII, but that was in German. And then he died in 1957.)

Check it out. You already know he’s good stuff.

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Translation: Excerpt from “Ditie de Jehanne d’Arc” by Christine de Pisan

It’s a beautiful fact that Christine de Pisan, author of The City of Ladies, etc., lived to see St. Joan of Arc saving her country and wrote a poem about it while it was still going on. (I don’t think we know if she lived to see Joan captured or executed; it hadn’t happened yet when she wrote this. I’ve kinda cheated by making the “examination by the Dauphin’s guys” also refer to “torment in prison by the Rouen guys”.)

This is just a tiny excerpt from late in the poem. I’m not even trying to translate it in a scholarly, accurate way; I’m trying to turn this excerpt into a hymn for St. Joan. So I’ve taken some serious liberties — and obviously, no present tense as in the original! (Or snarky comments about the English, either.)

Remember D-Day, and the liberation of France.

Excerpts from “Ditie de Jehanne d’Arc”
by Christine de Pisan
Translation: Maureen O’Brien, 6/6/08

Oh, Esther, Judith, and Deborah,
They were women of great worth
And through them, God worked as restorer
Of His people’s freedom on earth.
And I’ve heard of other ladies,
Wise and skilled, to whom God gave aid
And through whom He worked many wonders –
But He has done more through this Maid.

By a miracle, by an angel,
And by God’s almighty command,
Sent to France’s true king to help him
And to put the crown in his hand,
She was tried by priests and wise men,
To catch her in lies and in sin.
But now history sings of her rise, and
Her great cause was destined to win.

And her lovely life showed with beauty
She was in God’s favor and grace.
By the way she lived out her duty
She showed many, clearly, God’s face.
For no matter what she was doing,
She kept her eyes fixed on the Lord
Whom she prayed to, and whom she called on,
Serving Him in deed and in word.

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Twenty Faces’ Daughter

Yes, if I’d lived in the Middle Ages, I would have been the maiden who got all excited about the latest geste about the grandfather of William of Orange, or the bit of Huon of the Horn where he goes to Fairyland and meets up with King Oberon and has a superhero misunderstanding/rumble with King Arthur. I love Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. I love Lupin III partly because it’s about Lupin’s grandson; and I hunted down the Lupin stories because they were about Lupin III’s grandfather and featured some tangling with Sherlock Holmes; and I loved the Lupin cartoon Night Hood — not in spite of, but partially because of it being reset in a slightly later time. Oh, and I’ve actually read an Akechi Kogoro mystery by Edogawa Rampo. (As translated into English, of course.)

In short, I am the target audience for Nijuu Mensou no Musume — Daughter of Twenty Faces.

It all started with Akechi Kogoro (consulting detective — but unlike Holmes, he eventually married and adopted a kid). He tangled often with the Fiend of Twenty Faces (Kaijin no Nijuu Mensou), or Twenty Faces for short. Now, Twenty Faces was a master thief. He was also a master of disguise (like Akechi and like the evil female criminal mastermind the Black Lizard). But Twenty Faces was a lot saner than the Black Lizard; he liked to show off and send warnings ahead of time as she had, but he never tried to hurt anyone.

The anime apparently riffs off an earlier TV incarnation, in which Twenty Faces had a male apprentice/heir named Chico. And no, the show was not called Chico and the Man (of Twenty Faces).

Now Chiko is the nickname given to a young girl who’s heir to a great fortune and a famous jewel — and apparently a spoiled brat. But appearances are deceiving in the extreme. She is chivalrously rescued from her plight by Twenty Faces, who makes her part of his gang and treats her like the daughter he’s never had. She responds with enthusiastic hard work. But there are certain obvious moral problems involved — problems which trouble first Twenty Faces and his gang, and then the girl. Sooner or later she will have to apply Twenty Faces’ constant advice to her, and learn to think for herself….

The interesting thing about this anime (besides the premise, and the cool retro-sf 1950’s-with-airship world) is the gradual revelation of mysteries and secrets. Often, the alert viewer finds clues given several episodes ahead. Also, the show is structured to trick the viewer. You think that, once the first couple episodes are done, it’ll settle down into a typical show about capers. Well, it doesn’t. Very soon, the story arc kicks in with a vengeance. And it’s only up to episode 7, so far — they plan to run 22!

It’s almost kid-friendly, but there are a few episodes which are pretty harsh. (And some plot points, too.)

I love this show. I loved it when Akechi introduced himself. I hope that mysterious chick is the new Black Lizard (but not as psycho, please). Plus, we haven’t even met one of the cast members in the credits yet!

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