October Mythology Special: Gremlins

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“While I’m staring at the instruments, during an unearthly age of time, both conscious and asleep, the fuselage behind me becomes filled with ghostly presences — vaguely outlines forms, transparent, moving, riding weightless with me in the plane. I feel no surprise at their coming. There’s no suddenness to their appearance. Without turning my head, I see them as clearly as though in my normal field of vision There’s no limit to my sight — my skull is one great eye, seeing everywhere at one.

These phantoms speak with human voices — friendly, vapor-like shapes, without substance, able to vanish or appear at will, to pass in and out through the walls of the fuselage as though no walls were there. Now, many are crowded behind me. Now, only a few remain. First on and then another presses forward to my shoulder to speak above the engine’s noise, and then draws back among the group behind. At times, voices come out of the air itself, clear yet far away, traveling through distances that can’t be measured by the scale of human miles; familiar voices, conversing and advising on my flight, discussing problems of my navigation, reassuring me, giving me messages of importance unattainable in ordinary life.” (389) Continue reading

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October Mythology Special: 100 Ghost Stories (Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai)

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High in the mountains, a group of samurai gather, bringing the youngest of their class with them. It is long after the wars between clans have ended, and so the samurai’s grasp at the chance to feel brave, to prove themselves the warriors they once were. The cave they come to is dark, eerie even. Slowly they set up their game. One hundred candles are lit and the group gathers around as the light sends flickering shadows dancing along the walls. One by one they tell a story. A story of horror, of demons and ghosts, those stories meant to scare children or even the strongest among them. Each one tries to outdo the other, pushing their companions to fail, to drop out and admit they are scared. One by one, the candles go out until there is only one remaining. The last storyteller plunges the cave into darkness as the last candle is extinguished. From the shadows, a great black hand descends, reaching for the samurai, scattering their courage as they flee from the cave. Continue reading

Waxing Philosophical: On the Fate of Those Who Can See Youkai

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I love stories about youkai, whether it be in anime or manga form. Mythology, especially that of Japan, has always been a huge interest for me, as you can probably tell from the plan for next month and my posts on the mythology of Ancient Magus Bride. Which also means that I’ve spent a lot of time watching all sorts of different shows that have youkai and reading different manga as well, and through that process, I’ve come to notice a few things.

There are some common threads throughout all youkai stories that seem to paint a picture, both troubling and hopeful, for those who have the ability to see youkai and spirits. For the purposes of this post I went through some of my favorite youkai anime and manga again, namely: Ancient Magus’ Bride, Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits, XXXHolic, and Elegant Youkai Apartment Life. These shows may all focus on the interaction of human and youkai, but they are all also so different from one another in terms of mood, setting, and story. The aspects I found that seem to stay constant however are the background of main character, the kinds of interactions humans can have with youkai, and the impact seeing youkai has on human-to-human relationships. Continue reading

Time to Spookify the Blog for October! [Blog Update]

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Hi there!

One of my favorite times of the year is coming up in two weeks! Trees changing color, various apple flavored desserts and ciders, and the digging up of old spooky stories told to pass the growing nights. As you can tell, I love Fall and the month of October especially. October means Halloween, one of my favorite indie comic conventions, and Inktober! So, I wanted to try something new this year and get the blog into the spirit of the season so to speak.

You all seemed to love my Mythology of Ancient Magus’ Bride posts, with a total of 1,297 views for the first one alone. What better way to usher in the season then to take a dive into more mythology in a special month-long event! Continue reading

The Mythology of Ancient Magus’ Bride: Part 3 (Enchanted Animal Pelts and more…)

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Welcome back to another installment of The Mythology of Ancient Magus Bride, where we take a look at the origins behind many of our favorite characters and smaller aspects of the show. As you know from my previous two posts, the mangaka Kore Yamazaki, loved to pull from various mythology in her construction of this world. We see evidence of this all over the place, from the characters themselves to the world building to the minute details. With these posts, I wanted to try and capture and examine these myths and people as examining their origins allows us to have a better and deeper understanding of the show as a whole. Usually I would present you with six aspects of the show to examine, but I only had time for five this time. Tonight we’ll examine the meaning and history of poppy flowers, the origins of Chise’s stone necklace, the mythology of transformative animal pelts, the legends surrounding faerie world time, and the connection between red hair and magic. Continue reading

The Mythology of Ancient Magus’ Bride: Part 2 (What Exactly Is Elias and more…)

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Welcome back to another installment of my new multi-part series where we look at the mythology behind Ancient Magus’ Bride. Throughout the series, we’ll be looking at both the origins of some of these characters as well as how their portrayals differ from the myth. As a general rule, each post will cover six new pieces of folklore and mythology, so if I’ve missed something, don’t be alarmed! I will most likely get around to it in a future installment. However, if you want to make sure I cover something, feel free to leave me a comment below or even tweet at me (link to my Twitter in the sidebar). Today, we’ll be covering some of the most interesting tidbits from the show and manga: my theories on the origins of Elias, the legend of Cartaphilus, the story behind the king of the cats, Silky’s dual history, the mythology behind Leanan Sidhe, and the history of changelings. As usual, I’ll provide links to all my sources, so feel free to click through them to learn more. Enjoy! Continue reading

The Mythology of Ancient Magus’ Bride: Part 1

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Ancient Magus’ Bride has wound up being one of my favorite mangas and animes so far. If you haven’t read my review of the manga, you really should, if only to get my general overview of the series before I start diving into things here. I’ve always had an interest in mythology and religion, and this anime has revitalized that interest by giving me a lot of areas to dig in to and research. Below are just a few of the origins behind the main and side characters of this anime. This will have to be a multi-part series as there is just way too much to cover. As I’m writing this right now, it’s turned out to be about four pages worth of information. For this first segment, I’ve decided to stay within the anime and its content thus far, but for later segments, I will be delving more into the manga. I’ve included some links to my sources within the text and after each segment, but if I’ve missed a better source or some piece of information, feel free to let me know in the comments. As a general note, most of this will just be a general overview, as I don’t have the space to get into every bit of a certain legend. I hope these bits will inspire you to do research of your own as well. Continue reading

Little Gods Comic Review

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Little Gods — much like Blue that I reviewed a week ago — was something that I found at Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) last month. I have to say, I don’t regret picking this up. I was a little skeptical of the art style, but I’ve found the comic to be pretty interesting overall. It manages to utilize Native American creation myths as a jumping off point for its own story of adolescence and discussions surrounding family and queer romance. As someone who loves both mythology and watercolor artwork, it was pretty much a done deal that I would find at least something to like about this comic.

Created by Leda Zawacki and published by Tinto Press, this single volume comic not only contains the story “Little Gods” but also its prequel “Sky Gods.” The prequel follows the Northwest Native American creation myth Shasta Mountain and the Grizzly Bears, using most of the original text. “Little Gods” diverts the story to focus on the Sky God’s eldest daughter as she dreams about descending the mountain to see the world her father created. After a failed kidnapping by a bunch of wind monsters, the eldest daughter — nicknamed Bunny Girl for her distinctive bunny mask — finds herself at the base of Shasta Mountain, free from the watchful eye of her father. Continue reading

Kamisama Kiss Season 1 Anime Review

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Nanami’s father runs off to escape his debts, leaving her behind alone and without a home to return to. While sitting in a park contemplating her situation, she comes across a man stuck in a tree trying desperately to shoo a dog away. When Nanami saves him, he places a kiss on her forehead in thanks, offering her a place at his shrine and – unknown to her – giving her his mark of godhood. Having no other options, Nanami makes her way to Mikage Shrine where she finds the ornery fox yokai, Tomoe, who just so happens to be her new familiar. Now she must take on the mantel of land god and all the responsibilities that come with it. But will Nanami and Tomoe’s relationship become something more than master and familiar?

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride Manga Review

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When Chise’s mother dies suddenly leaving her all alone, she is passed from family to family, each one rejecting her because of her ability to see things they can’t lurking in the shadows. She eventually runs away only to fall into the hands of a slaver and is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Her new master just so happens to be a sorcerer straddling the line between human and monster. But when the sorcerer Elias calls her family and vows to make her his student, she decides to devote her life to his teachings even if her life may not last very long at all.

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