Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kōtetsujō no Kabaneri, or Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, is a beautifully done anime, set in a post-apocalyptic Japan.

At the time of industrialization, a mysterious plague broke out, turning corpses into kabane, a kind of blood-drinking zombie that is extremely hard to kill. Get bitten and you turn into one. Die and you turn into a kabane. Or, if you’re lucky, a kabaneri, a halfbreed of man and kabane. Survivors live in stations along the route of heavily armored trains, known as iron fortresses.

It is in these stations and on these trains that we find the characters of this story.

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The Nazi Conquest of Europe in Maps

World War II started in 1939, when Germany invaded Poland and Britain and France declared war. But the Nazi conquest of Europe started years earlier.

In 1935, the coal-rich Saarland rejoined the Reich. The following year, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in violation of the Versailles Treaty. Austria and what is now the Czech Republic were annexed in 1938.

At the height of his power, Hitler ruled an empire stretching from the Franco-Spanish border in the southwest to Svalbard (Spitsbergen) in the north to the Caucasus in the east. Here is a short history of how it happened — with maps!

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Unsinkable British Aircraft Carrier — On Ice!

In 1942, the War in the Atlantic was not going well for the Allies. German submarines, operating in “wolf packs” just out of aircraft range, wrecked havoc on Allied supply lines. In the first half of the year, the Allies managed to sink just one U-boat for every forty merchant ships lost. At that rate, Britain would soon run out of matériel to sustain the war.

Atlantic Ocean map
Map of the military situation in the Atlantic in mid-1941, from Life magazine (July 21, 1941)

Lord Louis Mountbatten, as chief of Combined Operations, was responsible for coming up with a solution. He encouraged his department to explore every possibility, no matter how outlandish. One of the ideas, which originated with the inventor Geoffrey Pyke, was to built an aircraft carrier out of ice, which would allow the Allies to attack German U-boats no matter how far they sailed from the coast. The reason Pyke settled on ice was that aluminum and steel were in such short supply.

Mountbatten and Prime Minister Winston Churchill were enthusiastic.

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The Art of Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara Łempicka (1898-1980), known as Tamara de Lempicka, was a Polish artist who lived in Paris between the world wars and relocated to the United States in 1939.

Her breakthrough came at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which gave its name to the Art Deco movement. She exhibited her paintings in two of the exhibition’s venues, where they were spotted by journalists from Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion magazines. Exhibitions in Italy and the United States followed.

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The Lion King and Jungle Festival

The Lion King and Jungle Festival premiered in Disneyland Paris this summer. The event comprised, as you can guess from the name, all sorts of bits and bobs from The Lion King and The Jungle Book. Which was quite clever, considering the recent live-action releases of both movies.

Over the last few years, Disneyland Paris has been stepping up their game when it comes to additional shows and parades for their temporary events, and this was no different. Rather than combining the two movies, they had a Lion King-themed show called Rhythm of the Pride Lands with a little dance from Timon called MataDance (it was 40°C the day I was there, so I skipped that in favor of shade) and you could meet Rafiki during a special lunch at the restaurant Hakuna Matata.

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Iron Sky: The Coming Race

Iron Sky: The Coming Race

It took quite a few years, but the long-awaited sequel to 2012’s Iron Sky has landed! (Pun intended.)

The sequel takes place 29 years after the events of the first movie (our review here), which you’d have to see to understand what’s happening in the second. Considering the first is an absolute dieselpunk classic, you absolutely should if you haven’t already!

I won’t go into the plot of this movie. Suffice to say that, like the first Iron Sky, it is utterly and completely out there and I’m here for it. Old villains, old heroes, new villains, new heroes. A total sarcastic approach to non-fictional personas, dieselpunk tinkering and utter madness: it’s Iron Sky alright.

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