Spirited Swords, Part 2: Five Living Blades

Welcome back! Ready for more swords? In Part 1, I listed blades that, like the Soul-Devouring Sword in Ice Fantasy, were possessed and/or cursed. These swords were animated or driven by forces that initially existed outside of their steel or bronze. Now I’d like to cover swords in a slightly different category: Living blades. Unlike cursed swords, these weapons have a little bit more ambiguity because they have their own intelligence and therefore their own agenda. Just like with people, whether you get along with a living sword is a matter of personal compatibility rather than because the sword itself is good versus evil. So here are another five blade displaying a different kind of spirit! Again, I will include at least one update of the exact sword in modern media along with one echo, a similar media sword possibly inspired by the myth. Continue reading “Spirited Swords, Part 2: Five Living Blades”

Spirited Swords, Part 1: Five Possessed and Cursed Blades

Greetings on this morning after Guǐ Jie /the Ghost Festival! Contemplating the roaming spirits of this thin time led me to thinking of the Soul-Devouring Sword (噬神劍) from Ice Fantasy. The energy-eating sword spirits possessing it give the sword great power but in their hunger they may strike even when the sword’s wielder would rather show mercy. Searching for a mythological model for the Soul-Devouring Sword turned up several interesting possibilities that I could only cover briefly. It seemed a shame to just leave those blades in my unposted notes, so I’d like to expand on them now. I’ll pair each one with at least one update, where the exact sword reappears in modern media, and at least one echo, original fictional weapons that bear some resemblance to the mythical. In keeping with tone of the Ghost Festival, I’ll start with possessed and cursed blades. Continue reading “Spirited Swords, Part 1: Five Possessed and Cursed Blades”

The Mythology of Ice Fantasy, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my exploration of the mythology behind the Chinese drama Ice Fantasy! In Part 1, I focused entirely on the original show with only a brief mention of its sequel series, Ice Fantasy Destiny. This time, I’d like to touch on a couple points connected to the sequel as well as more from the original series. After all, this is my last post for 2020 and that was the year Ice Fantasy Destiny supposedly took place. Let’s start with a bit about Destiny. Continue reading “The Mythology of Ice Fantasy, Part 2”

Quarterly Bestiary: Japanese Toilet Ghosts: Look Behind You

Japan boasts a robust collection of ghost stories, with one small group focused on an unusual habitat: the toilet. These specters are a variable lot. Some are relatively modern legends while others are quite old. Some are mostly irritating and some are downright deadly. Collectively, they represent centuries of anxiety around a place often treated as a necessary evil in Japanese culture. So let’s take look at the things that go bump in the stall. Continue reading “Quarterly Bestiary: Japanese Toilet Ghosts: Look Behind You”

Siuil a Run: A Song and a Manga Bridging Two Traditions

It’s the week of St. Patrick’s Day, which means it’s time for an Irish-themed post! I’m part Irish and feel a strong connection to that heritage. So every March, I’ll be covering a topic related to Irish mythology, history, or media—or even all three. Erin go bragh!

Follow a thread of story and you never know where you’ll end up. About a year ago, I stumbled on an unusual manga about two characters who blur the black-and-white rules of their world. Siúil a Rún: The Girl from the Other Side is now one of my favorite graphic series, and volume 8 is scheduled for release today, St. Patrick’s Day! What’s Irish Gaelic doing in a manga title? Well, when I went searching for the answer to that question, it led me back to an Irish folk song. On the surface, they’re very different works, but both reflect on the divisions of human conflict versus the bonds that bring us together. This time, I’ll take the proper path, from “Siúil a Rún”, a song of love and war, to a manga that blends European and Japanese mythological influences. Continue reading “Siuil a Run: A Song and a Manga Bridging Two Traditions”

Two Major Love Days: Part 2—The Qixi Festival

Welcome to Part 2 of my dive into two of the biggest love days! The original article covered both, but it grew so large that I decided to split it in half. I’ll turn now from Valentine’s Day to the Qīxī Festival of China. Though it may not be as well known in countries where Valentine’s dominates, this love day still has a sizeable following. Like Valentine’s Day, it has experienced some commercialization, but at its heart is a love story that has survived for more than 2, 000 years. I particularly enjoy how its mythology weaves itself around the stars. So let’s take a look at this very different love day and how it has evolved. Continue reading “Two Major Love Days: Part 2—The Qixi Festival”

Open Hours, Open Doors: More Thin Times

I know it’s almost time to turn our attention to Christmas, Solstice, and other winter holidays, but posting about Samhain as a thin time got me curious about other ones. Also, today is the 2nd anniversary of Coco‘s release, so I want to take a moment to quickly cover just a few more! Continue reading “Open Hours, Open Doors: More Thin Times”