Tag Archives: Fall 2014

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 24: Mother’s Rosario

Review:

So here we are, the final episode of Sword Art Online II. We are initially shown a scene where the Sleeping Knights are introduced to Asuna’s usual crew of friends, followed by a montage of images that you would expect to close the episode, not necessarily open it. One thing you can be sure of is this: if you were expecting another episode of new and fun experiences for Yuuki, then you will be wrong. This episode is quite sad, and I don’t think I need to tell you why. If you’ve been keeping up with this story arc then you should already have a good idea of where this is going. If you are a crier, then prepare to cry.

Unlike the first season, which sort of went out with a bang, this season ends on a somewhat more sombre and sober note. There are certain joyful outcomes to be celebrated, to be sure, but where the first season had an ending that was pretty much victorious all around, this season ends with something that can’t be reversed. The events of the episode are the kind that force us to grow up, whether we like them or not. When I say us, I use the term in general, of course—I don’t expect this episode to grow us as people, but when we experience these events in our own lives, we inevitably grow. If you cry over Yuuki’s situation, then be sure to rejoice over another character’s that is revealed later on. Also, make sure you stick around after the credits.

In closing, let me just say that there are some powerful themes here if you take the time to reflect on them. Most predominately is the impact that a single life can have. With this being a Christian review site, I think it should be clear that the most impactful life ever was that of Jesus, but people have still left an impact long after their deaths. We see this in the large crowd that gathers to see Yuuki within ALO, we see it in the fact that she contributed so much to the Medicuboid research, and we see it in her contributions to Kirito’s research. Love and friendship can also be seen in the relationship between Asuna and Yuuki, particularly in how Asuna rushes to Yuuki’s side when she gets a particular phone call. Did you pick out any other themes? Discuss them in the comments below!

A Christian Perspective:

Yuuki mentions that she used to question whether or not she had the right to exist, and then explains that she eventually realized that it is okay for her to live. While I don’t remember the exact statements she makes, I know she basically came to the conclusion that she had the right to live, which is good, because as human beings all of our lives have value. Granted, I don’t have a particular verse for this, but I’m fairly certain it’s a common theme in Christian circles. If nothing else, we were all created by God, and therefore were created for a reason. If that doesn’t give us worth, than what does?

Furthermore, we cannot neglect the contributions that Yuuki’s life provided. While I already discussed these in the review itself, her contributions were to the Medicuboid research and to Kirito’s project to blend the lines between reality and virtual reality. I think we sometimes fail to see the impact our lives are having on those around us—or, perhaps, the impact of our lives does not come until our lives are over. The fact is, it is easy to get discouraged about the value and meaning of our lives when we see the people around us doing great and amazing things. As Christians, how easy is it for us to get discouraged when we see someone like Billy Graham preaching to thousands of people while we are afraid to even approach one man on the street?

The fact is, though, that we all have an impact. Maybe we won’t preach to thousands, but maybe we will make a difference in a single person’s life. I once told my wife (while we were still engaged) that if I made a difference in even one person’s life, then my life would be worth it. Maybe those weren’t the exact words I used, but you get the essence of what I meant. The point is that we may not see something like this as having much significance from our own perspective, but we can never measure the impact it has on the person whom we’ve helped. Only they know how much we’ve actually done for them. The best we can do, then, is to emulate Jesus in our lives as best we can, helping those who need it and sharing the news of our Savior with them. Even if we don’t contribute to some life-altering discovery, our lives are still worth it if people meet Jesus because of us. After all, that’s the impact that has an eternal effect.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Leafa cleavage; there is one point where Yuuki is looking up and sees a blurry image of what might be a naked woman

Violence: A collection of scenes showing in-game monsters destroyed

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Yuuki mentions dying in the arms of the one she loves, referring to Asuna—not sure if homosexual or not

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 23: The Dream Begins

Review:

We continue our trip down the path of character development this time around. As you probably surmised from the end of the previous episode, Asuna intends to give Yuuki the experiences she couldn’t otherwise have via Kirito’s project. As such, we get to watch as Yuuki is able to experience school and to visit a place that she never thought she would see again. As a result of their time together, Asuna is finally able to find a way in which to communicate her emotions to her mother, which leads to the first potentially tender moment we have seen between the mother and daughter, along with a scene of young Asuna. The episode wraps up nicely and shows that event the hardest of hearts can be softened.

Overall, it was a very nice episode. There was no action, though, and very little time spent in ALO, so if that is what you were looking for then you will be disappointed. One nice little touch is the subtle reveal that Yuuki’s family was Christian. While visiting a certain place, Yuuki mentions that her mom used to pray, and that her mom used to tell her that God would never give us more than we could handle. Yuuki comments that she didn’t want to hear the Bible’s words, but rather her mother’s words—but now she understands why her mother told her that. Yes, this sounds a little harsh (although lets focus on her present realization, not the negative reaction she had when she was younger), but it is still a nice little inclusion to see this hint that Yuuki comes from a Christian family. It was also nice to see the warm reception that Yuuki received from the rest of the students at the school. The writers could have made some of the students cruel for the sake of conflict, but that would have tarnished the beauty of what was going on, and besides that all of these students probably remember what it was like to be confined to a virtual world for an extended period of time.

At this point, Sword Art Online II only has a couple of episodes left, and the pace of the story is certainly moving towards resolution—Asuna has accomplished the goal for which the Sleeping Knights hired her, and the primary conflict of the arc has been resolved. Now all that’s left is to see how this story line will resolve. If the information presented to us (and the suggestions of people commenting on Crunchyroll) is any indication, then we may be headed for a real tear-jerker. Only time will tell. If you’ve stuck with it thus far, then do stay for the end.

A Christian Perspective:

We can learn a lot from Yuuki’s attitude in this episode. Since we are now one episode removed from her big reveal, I don’t see a need to be cryptic: we know Yuuki is dying, and we know that she hasn’t had the greatest life. It would be really easy for Yuuki to break down after finally seeing the outside world again and lament at how unfair it is that she has to die so young and miss out on so much. She could, but she doesn’t. Instead, Yuuki is grateful for everything Asuna does for her, and she appreciates what she has. How many times do we become ungrateful over trivial things? The neighbor has a nicer car, or can afford a better vacation. His kids have a full scholarship, while you’re stuck footing half of your child’s bill. So on and so forth. These things may not be fun (especially that last one), but they will all eventually pass. Yuuki’s situation will not. She knows that she is living on limited time, and that there’s no changing her fate, yet she simply enjoys the opportunities given to her and is thankful for them.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Yuuki’s attitude is a perfect example of this. She may be a fictitious character, but the next time we’re feeling ungrateful, let us Yuuki’s situation (along with the relevant Bible verse, of course) and ask ourselves if we really have it all that bad.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 22: The End of the Journey

Review:

In this week, the action-oriented scenes take a backseat to dramatic content and the explanation of Yuuki’s situation. After her sudden logout three days prior, Asuna has been unable to contact her new friend, and no one seems to be giving up any information. Siune shows up, but doesn’t offer Asuna any real explanation as to why things are the way they are, and simply logs out when the questions get too hard. One has to ask, though, why Asuna seems to hesitate for so long before trying to stop the log out process. In this episode, she doesn’t jump up until around the time Siune is actually logging out. Had she grabbed Siune’s arm as soon as she started making the sweeping motion, perhaps Asuna could have stopped the process. That’s neither here nor there, though, as Asuna does eventually get her answer and, as you may have guessed, it is tragic.

How much you will enjoy this episode will probably be affected by how emotionally invested you are in the characters. Those who enjoyed this arc will be more likely to be touched by this episode than those who have only stuck with it or found little enjoyment at all in it. There is a lot of talking, with only a few scene changes throughout the process, but it really is the beginning of the conclusion to the Mother’s Rosario arc. Yet again, Asuna can credit Kirito for helping her out, although how he obtained the information he possessed is not really explained. Perhaps the next episode will reveal this, or perhaps it will forever be a mystery. It’s hard to say too much about the episode without spoiling anything, really. If you tend to cry at sad scenes, then prepare to cry in this one. If you tend to look at the brighter side of things, then it is reasonable to suspect that the project Kirito is working on to bring Yui into the real world may go on to have a much deeper and more meaningful purpose. We will have to wait until next week to find out, and there will probably be more emotional moments to come, but let’s stick with it and see how this wraps up!

A Christian Perspective:

Spoilers ahead.

So, in this episode we find out that Yuuki is dying. What we don’t see, though, is a person who is broken, scared, or destitute. Instead, we see someone who is at peace with her fate, ready to accept it. While this may not have always been the case, it seems to be now. As Christians, we should be able to face down the possibility of death with at least as much peace of mind as Yuuki (if not more). After all, we know where we’re going. If we’ve come to believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then we know that we have eternal life in Him, and so the prospect of death should be a minor thing to us. Note that I said “should be”, because it often isn’t. Maybe some of us struggle more than others with a fear of dying, but I’d reckon that we all have feared the idea of dying at some point in our Christian lives. Yuuki may not be real, but let’s still consider her resolute acceptance of her impending death and find even more confidence to face our own impending deaths (whether they be tomorrow or 80 years from now) in the arms of our Savior. If you are reading this and do not know Jesus but would like to (and thus have confidence when your day of death comes), then please consider the information below:

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-is-the-romans-road-to-salvation-scriptures-and-commentary/

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 21: The Monument of the Swordsmen

Review:

If you’re looking for blood-pumping action, then this episode will fill you up with everything you want. We finally get the chance to see the results of Kirito’s attempt to take on a raid party by himself (well, almost—an unexpected ally does show up). On the other side, we get to see Asuna, Yuuki, and company take on the other portion of the raid team, which is enough to fill the action quota for the episode… but we still have the boss fight! Seriously, if you are a fan of fantasy action then this episode should more than satisfy you. If, on the other hand, you prefer the more sentimental, relationship-centered scenes, then fear not, because they are here as well!

Without spoiling too much, the episode does eventually slow down, and we get the opportunity to see Asuna and her new found friends spending some time together and simply enjoying each others company. The atmosphere of them simply hanging out at Asuna and Kirito’s (in-game) home is certainly a stark contrast to the earlier conflict laden scenes, and it helps to show that there is a certain camaraderie that has formed beyond Asuna simply fulfilling a task. Having scene the next two subsequent episodes, I can say that this episode also does a good job of building up to a bigger reveal, as certain actions from the Sleeping Knights (and particularly Yuuki) definitely raise questions. It just goes to show that the series doesn’t have to be about life-or-death situations within a video game to be dramatic or serious.

A Christian Perspective:

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:12

Okay, there are definitely stronger themes in this episode, but this was one that I could tie to a specific verse. I will discuss one other point after this. So, when everything is all said and done, Asuna openly and willingly invites the Sleeping Knights to her in-game home for a party. While this certainly doesn’t have the same implications as opening one’s real home to people you barely know, I imagine it probably still shows a level of friendliness regardless of whether it’s real or digital. It can also be a reminder to us as Christians that we should be just as willing—if not more—to open up our doors and invite people in.

Anyway, a better theme to draw from this episode is probably one of self-sacrifice for those you love and care about (and even for those you barely know). Let’s face it: Kirito puts himself in an impossible situation by standing in front of the raid party. Sure, he’s a skilled player and can probably hold his own for a while (we don’t really get to see the full event), but I don’t think it would be realistic to expect him to defeat all of them. Again, this point obviously loses some of its weight when we consider that it’s simply a game, but for the characters in this show, the game is something important. While ALO does not delve into penalties for dying, I know from playing World of Warcraft that there can be penalties for dying, such as damaged gear (which then costs in-game money to repair). So, minimally, Kirito could have wracked up an in-game cost that he didn’t have to incur; however, he loves Asuna, and so did not seem to care about the personal cost, whatever it may be. The same can be said of the unexpected support that shows up for Kirito.

More to the point is Asuna, who is sacrificing her time (which has a more relevant application to real life) to help a group of people she barely knows. Sure, it’s just in a game, but there will probably be seemingly trivial things throughout our lives that people will ask of us. God doesn’t give us the option of only choosing to help people when the request is significant (let’s not forget that Jesus Himself willingly did something as simple as washing feet)–we are simply to serve. You never know what opportunities we may have in the mundane tasks. Maybe carrying an old lady’s groceries will give you the chance to talk about Jesus and lead her to salvation. You never know.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ll”; 2 “d**n” (admittedly I didn’t label my document, so I had a file with nothing but these language notes… by process of elimination, I figured it must be for this SAO episode. I now take more care to label what I write)

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Plenty of player versus player and player versus monster action

Blood/Gore: At worst, the red marks indicating in-game damage

Other: In-game magic

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 20: Sleeping Knights

Review:

This is an interesting arc. On the one hand, you have Asuna’s adventures in Alfheim Online, which presents a fun, fantasy filled adventure. On the other hand, you have the real life drama that is happening between her and her mother. While there is certainly more focus on the former than the latter, the scenes between Asuna and her mother certainly leave a heaviness in the mind of the viewer which gets carried into the game world. This arc also gives insight into how something seemingly pointless to one person is meaningful to another. To most people (and especially non-gamers), the quest that Yuuki’s group has hired Asuna for would seem like a pointless waste of time; however, to that group, the mission has meaning, and is therefore important. While life certainly requires proper prioritization of events, we all have things that we enjoy that other people just wouldn’t get.

So here we have this group of players who simply want to defeat a boss, get their names on the stone in the first floor, and ultimately make a fond memory together while they still have time to play as a group. As if this goal wasn’t hard enough by itself, the threat of other players trying to take the boss kill also looms over our heroes’ heads—a threat that doesn’t come out until it’s (almost) too late. Again, it really shows a difference in perspective, as a non-gamer would likely look at something like this in real life (or perhaps even this show) and think it absurd that people are being this competitive over something in a video game; however, it is clearly meaningful for all of the players involved.

Another notable aspect of this episode is the ever-present sense of dread that comes after Asuna’s confrontation with her mother this time around. To be fair, Asuna is at fault this time around, as the problem truly arises from a time management issue, but her mother’s threat certainly does a good job of putting paranoia in the mind of the viewer. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen; instead, we are treated to a fairly epic ending, which certainly promises plenty of action in the next episode.

A Christian Perspective:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. – Ecclesiastes 9:10

This verse applies nicely to the principle cast for this particular arc. Asuna’s new friends are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goal of defeating the boss with just their party, even if it means dying and going back to start all over again, or facing a horde of players that far outnumber them. In other words, instead of getting discouraged at the frustrations they have, they continue on with all their might, applying themselves fully to the task at hand. While I may not be the best person to give this advice, we as Christians should learn from this, as the Christian life will inevitably be a journey of ups and downs, highs and lows, and much like the characters in question we also have an ultimate goal in mind: finishing the race and living eternally with Jesus. Certainly a much grander goal than defeating a video game boss, to be sure, and therefore worth even more effort than what the characters are putting into their goal.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d**n”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Asuna has flashbacks about a battle in SAO where players are being killed by a boss; typical in-game violence of sword fights with monsters; a monster is cut with a sword; Asuna flicks another character in the forehead; PvP sword-fighting action

Blood/Gore: The red marks that indicate damage in-game; a flashback to Heathcliff killing Asuna shows a giant red streak across the screen, which could possibly symbolize blood—red fragments are also shown coming from her body

Review: Your Lie In April, Episode 6: On The Way Home

Review:

Well, as was to be expected, Kaori has finally convinced Kousei to begin pursuing the piano again. There’s still the small problem of Kousei not being able to hear his own playing, though, and on top of that Kaori has taken it upon herself to enter Kousei into a contest. With this in mind, Kousei begins devoting himself to learning his piece for the competition, trying to overcome his handicap of not being able to hear himself. The whole thing should actually be quite inspirational for Christian viewers, as we too should work at least this hard to overcome whatever shortcomings we may find in ourselves in order to do our best for God.

On the other side of all of this is Tsubaki, who continues to feel more distance between herself and Kousei. It also continues to strengthen the idea that her feelings for Kousei may go deeper than simple friendship. The fact that the writers can keep the primary focus of the story on Kousei while still giving enough focus to side characters without making it feel simply tacked on is certainly enjoyable, and leads one to actually care about Tsubaki’s character. It will be interesting to see where this story goes from a romance perspective, but more imminent is the upcoming piano contest (after all, the story is ultimately about Kousei). Before the episode ends, we get a brief glimpse at a couple of Kousei’s competitors in the upcoming contest, and they don’t exactly seem to have positive opinions about him. Where this will lead will simply have to be seen.

A Christian Perspective:

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up. (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10a)

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

All of these verses are to refer to one particular friendship: that of Kousei and Tsubaki. The beginning of the episode shows a flashback where a young Tsubaki is carrying a young Kousei on her back, despite the fact that Tsubaki herself is injured. Fast forward to the present day, when Tsubaki has just lost her ball game. While she goes about the rest of her day completely normal, Kousei easily sees through her ruse and realizes that she had actually hurt her leg during the game. In a reversal of the earlier scene, Kousei now lifts Tsubaki onto his back and carries her. Amidst all of this, Tsubaki finally breaks down and lets out her sorrow over having lost the game.

The verses from Ecclesiastes are especially relevant here, because in both scenes we see a friend helping another up. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely necessary in either case, but one friend still lifted the burden from another, and in both cases they showed love for each other. In the first scene, it wasn’t convenient for Tsubaki to carry Kousei (as she was injured too), but she loved him enough to do it. In the second scene, Kousei certainly had his own stuff to deal with, but he knew that something was wrong with Tsubaki, so he went out of his way to go to her and help her out. If a middle school boy could do that much for his friend, then how much should we Christians (as disciples of Christ) show love for our friends and sacrifice ourselves to help them out?

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ck”, 1 “fr**kin”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: There is a slight glimpse of Kaori’s breasts from the side as she changes clothes (her arm is in the way, so it’s about as detailed as seeing cleavage in low-cut shirt) (2:25)

Violence: Kousei is hit in the face with Kaori’s bag, twice; Kousei kicks Tsubaki in the shin; Tsubaki hits Kousei in the back of the head

Blood/Gore: A scene shows Kousei being pierced by an arrow (it’s metaphorical, of course—he isn’t actually impaled) with blood coming out of him

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 19: Zekken

Review:

If you’re rich, then you have no worries, life is easy, and you get to do what you want. That’s the common perception, right? Well, take a look at Asuna’s life in this episode, and tell me you still feel the same. While having dinner with her mother, Asuna discovers that it is her mother’s desire to send her to a different school. It is also revealed that her mother is trying to set her up with an arranged marriage (as we all probably guessed from the flashbacks in the previous episodes). If you think having your life planned and decided for you is easy, then sure, Asuna has an easy life; however, if you’ve paid any attention to Asuna’s character, then you know that this is not what she wants. Her mother goes on to further say some disparaging things about Kirito, and I have to wonder: does she have any gratitude for the guy who saved her daughter’s life?!

To put it bluntly, this episode does a good job of exposing what Asuna’s life looks like outside of the small snippets we’ve gotten previously. One thing that was not surprising was her mother’s criticism of Asuna’s gaming. Even as a gamer, I think I would be hesitant to let my child play games again if I had lost her for two years to a death game. That being said, it doesn’t even seem to register to her mother. All her mother seems to care about is the wasting of time. If you can’t tell by now, Asuna’s mother is a frustrating character, and I don’t see her winning any fans from her introduction. All of this leads up to Asuna realizing that there is a stark contrast between her real self and her game self, and that she was only a warrior within SAO.

This, inevitably, leads into Asuna’s duel with Zekken, and what a duel it is! We get a nice comedic moment somewhere in between the drama of Asuna’s real life and the beginning of her duel, but when the duel starts it is all business. Honestly, this may be one of the best fight scenes in the entire SAO series, so if you like blood-pumping, sword fighting action, then you will want to see this episode. We also see Asuna get fueled on by her previous declaration that she was not a warrior in real life, and this seems to kick the duel into overdrive. I do not have the words to describe this duel, other than the aforementioned blood-pumping.

Sword Art Online certainly has its up and down moments, and thankfully this episode is one of its up moments. What this will do for Asuna’s character development is anyone’s guess (unless you’ve already read the light novels, of course), but one can certainly hope that it will actually help in that regard. Regardless, this is already looking to be a better second half than the ALO arc of the original SAO anime.

A Christian Perspective:

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)

So this Christian Perspective is more of a reflection/question than a lesson. As we know from the Scripture above, God expects us to honor our mothers and fathers, but where is the line? At what point are we able to say, “Okay, you’ve taken things to far?” It is probably safe to say that it is not dishonoring our parents if they wants us to do something illegal and we refuse, but what about in Asuna’s case? She is basically defying her mother, refusing the school that her mother wants her to attend along with the fiancee that her mother has chosen. Is this breaking God’s command to honor her mother? Or has Asuna’s mother overstepped her boundaries? What complicates the fact is that there is a cultural barrier here. As an American, I know nothing of arranged marriages. Certainly, our parents can try to strong-arm us into things, but at the end of the day they cannot force us into anything against our wills. I don’t know how things are in Japan, but from what I can gather (and granted, this is from anime), it seems that arranged marriages aren’t necessarily unheard of, even in this day and age. Also, my (limited) understanding of biblical history suggests that marriages in Hebrew culture may have also been arranged. So some may argue that arranged marriages are God’s will (although I don’t recall Him ever specifically commanding the practice).

All this boils down to what I hope will be a lively discussion from my readers. Do you think Asuna is in the right to refuse her mother’s desires, or is she sinning and refusing to honor her mother by rejecting her mother’s will?

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: Asuna’s mom is drinking what is presumably champagne

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Asuna cleavage; Leafa cleavage

Violence: A man falls from the sky and crashes into the ground; Asuna and Zekken engage in a pretty intense duel, so you can expect plenty of clashing swords; Asuna punches Zekken in the stomach

Blood/Gore: Just the red marks to indicate damage in-game

Review: Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Episode 3: A Precipitous Drop

Review:

Well, I didn’t expect the actual love plot line to start soon into the series. I thought it would be something that gradually developed between the two characters. Obviously, I was wrong, so at the very least the show shed some of its predictability from my perspective. One inquire as to what, exactly, Erika has found to fall in love with, though, as Sata has been nothing but twisted towards her (save for that one time he stepped in to defend her). Whatever it is, though, one thing is clear: Sata doesn’t return the feeling.

To be fair, though, the show has begun to paint a picture of Sata’s past, which seems to play into why he is the way he is, and why he has no desire for love. Something has happened (as symbolized in the flashback with the crushed snowman) that has either made Sata hard-hearted to love, or completely cold to the emotion. Even accepting care from Erika while sick seemed to be hard for him at first.

One thing that is interesting is that Erika’s lying seems to have quickly taken a backseat in terms of plot relevance. Yes, we still see elements of it pop up (such as when she states that she and Sata went to the mountains during break), but it doesn’t seem to play much of a role in the overall plot. Considering that her lying was such a big issue (and was the basis for the entire series, basically), it is interesting that this part of her character has quickly taken a backseat.

I still think it’s pretty obvious that, eventually, Sata and Erika will be a legitimate couple. I suppose it’s not all that original that the plot seems to be moving towards the “girl fixes guy’s emotional scars” trope, either, but it is still an enjoyable show, and (in this writer’s opinion) worth looking into if you like romance anime.

A Christian Perspective:

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. (Matthew 13: 3-4)

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. (Matthew 13: 19)

At the end of the episode, Erika works up the nerve to finally confess her love to Sata, only to be quickly turned away and (at least seemingly) her feelings changed. At face value, it seems that Sata was easily able to make her doubt that her feelings for him are false (of course, I guess it’s possible that Erika just went along with it, but only time will tell). This could be compared to the above sections from the Parable of the Sower, where Jesus describes some of those who hear the Gospel as having the message snatched away from their hearts by Satan. As He explains in verse 19, this happens because they hear the message and do not understand it. Similarly, Erika has never fallen in love with someone before, so when she confesses her love to Sata, he uses this against her to make her doubt her feelings.

This is also a good place to talk about placing too much emphasis on emotions and feelings. If our faith is based too much in how we feel in the moment as opposed to the truth of God’s Word, then it is easy to struggle with believing we are sincere in our faith when the feelings begin to fade away. In the same way, if Erika had examined herself a little closer and found that her love for Sata was deep and rooted, then perhaps she wouldn’t have been so quickly persuaded to walk away.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “da**it”, 1 “d*rn”, 2 “p*sses”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Tezuka is shown in a cleavage-revealing bikini; Marin is also shown in a bikini; it is implied that Sata had sex with a random woman

Violence: Sata pinches Erika’s cheek (twice)

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Episode 2: A Rash and Blind Act

Review:

Well, so far my fears seem to be unfounded. This episode, at the very least, did not contain even a hint of sexual humor. That’s always a good thing. In essence, the episode focuses on Erika’s desire to find true romance, which would then break her need for Sata and enable her to break free from his control. Enter Kimura, who saves her from some bullies, checks up on her, and bandages her knee. He even takes her on a date. In short, everything that Erika could want in a guy is embodied in Kimura.

Truth be told, this is a predictable episode. From the get go, it’s easy to figure out that things clearly aren’t what they seem. This isn’t the boring kind of predictable, though, as it becomes a game of figuring out exactly how things are going to play out. We may be able to figure out the general direction of the events, but it’s still fun to see the specific details, and that’s what makes this episode worth watching. You’re essentially waiting to see when and how things will turn sour.

That’s not to say this episode is without some sweetness (at least, by this show’s standards). While it’s hard to argue Sata as being even remotely a “good” guy, the ending of the episode suggests that he might have a heart somewhere in that chest of his. It would even be endearing that he stands up for Erika, if not for the fact that he basically makes a statement labeling her as his property. In all of this we see what was another inevitability: the start of Erika falling for Sata. I mean, come on, we all know that’s where this is going, right?

A Christian Perspective:

A valuable lesson to take away from this episode is that our love should not depend on our emotions. Of course, we all have those times where we say we love someone and have that statement backed up by our emotional feelings. That’s how it was for me after I was first saved, and I imagine I’m not the only one. In another sense, when we first meet our spouses and begin dating them, we grow to love them, and that knowledge is backed up by emotion. Some might use this to define being “in love”. But what happens when those feelings fade? Is our love based on something more solid and true than our fleeting emotions, or do we fall apart and find ourselves disappointed because we relied on something so flimsy?

Spoilers ahead:

This is essentially what happens to Erika in this episode. She assumes that she is in love with Kimura because he is nice to her, and that in turn makes her feel a certain way. In the end, with her heart broken and with Sata as her only source of comfort, she is informed by Sata (of all people!) that she couldn’t rely on those feelings essentially because she was actively looking for romance. While this particular explanation doesn’t meld well with the overall lesson above, the general theme is what’s important here: our feelings can lie, or at the very least deceive. It’s not so much how we conduct ourselves and devote ourselves when we feel emotionally strong towards the one we love—be it our love for Jesus or our love for our significant other—that matters. It’s what we do when we don’t “feel” that love. Do we rely on the truth, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that He will never leave us or forsake us, and is therefore worthy of our loyalty? Do we rely on the evidence that we may have read in support of the resurrection (my apologetics fans will know what I mean)? Or do we turn away and assume that what we felt for Jesus was just a passing wind and not real, because we don’t feel the same way?

Admittedly, I don’t have a particular Scripture to point you to. Yes, Jesus makes it very clear that we are to trust in Him, but offhand I cannot think of any Scripture that specifically tells us not to rely on our emotions (though, I also cannot think of one that tells us to do so). The best I can offer you is personal experience, in that serving Jesus, sacrificing for Jesus, and even the idea of dying for Jesus were much easier things to stomach when I was on that “spiritual high” of first being saved. It becomes much more challenging when we don’t “feel” some kind of great emotion to drive us on, perhaps because we don’t feel like we’re getting anything in return when we don’t feel the “warm fuzzies”. It is at this point that we must determine if our devotion to Jesus was real and based on the foundation of who He is, or if it was simply based on the fact that He made us feel good at the time. My pastor once explained to me that sometimes God will do that—He will pull away a bit to see if you will stick with Him, or if you’ll walk away from Him once the feeling’s gone.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “a**”, 1 “dumba**”; 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Three girls start tugging on Erika; Erika is hit with several different types of sporting balls (volleyball, basketball, tennis ball, etc.); a character is punched in the face; Sata flicks Erika in the forehead

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Your Lie In April, Episode 5: Gray Skies

Review:

In the aftermath of the previous episode, we find that Kaori is hospitalized and Kousei is still kind of feeling down about himself. What was particularly nice about this episode is that, while it was still primarily about Kousei and Kaori, it also put some focus on Tsubaki, at least temporarily. Despite previously claiming to have no romantic feelings for Kousei, Kaori ends up being quite hesitant when a former senpai shows up and asks her out. One can’t help but wonder if this will lead into something of a love triangle later on in the series. After all, we know that Kousei is falling for Kaori (he has already admitted as much to Watari, and seems to do the same this time around), and now it seems that Tsubaki may have feelings for Kousei. Whether Kaori’s feelings for Watari are genuine or not remains to be seen, as that may make it something of a love square? I don’t know.

What’s really nice is how the romance element is really a sub-plot here. Yes, they are middle school kids. Yes, they are falling in love. No, that’s not the focus of the show. The funny thing is that taking the romance out of the primary spot almost makes it more desirable, at least in this writer’s opinion. I want to know how things are going to go, and yes, I want Kousei to end up with Kaori. While I can feel for Tsubaki (the childhood friend always gets the short end of the stick in anime relationships), Kaori and Kousei clearly have more in common. Kaori even goes out of her way to intercept Kousei again in this episode. What that means is still shrouded in mystery, especially since prior to this point we do see Kaori and Watari together.

Oh, and Kaori also deserves credit for saying something in this episode that every teen and pre-teen drama ever created can learn from: We’re only fourteen. Despite all of the drama, despite all of the hopes and dreams, despite all of the emotions, she realizes that they are ONLY FOURTEEN and that life doesn’t have to be decided right there and then. They have time to try, fail, and move on. That, if nothing else, is a nice refresher from the typical, “My life is going to end” attitude that seems to hover over the teenage populace (or at least their media).

A Christian Perspective:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12: 6-8

In this passage, Paul essentially encourages us to put our gifts to use for their intended purpose. The parallel in this episode is that Kousei comments that the piano is all there is to him, and he seems none to happy about it. Just as Kousei feels that there is nothing more to him than the piano, so we Christians may feel that there is nothing more to us than whatever skill or talent we have, and we may even lament or get jealous that somebody else has something that we perceive to be greater than us. Some examples:

“Well sure, I serve well enough, but I can’t sing like she does! I’ll never be on the worship team!”

“Okay, so I teach kids in Sunday school, but look at how he evangelizes! I’m teaching Noah’s ark with felt boards while he’s bringing hundreds of people to Christ a week!”

Instead of seeing what gifts we have and then using them, we lament that our gifts are “as good” as the next guy’s. Granted, Kousei can be given some slack here, since he does struggle with the one thing that he perceives he has, but the point is that we shouldn’t be down on ourselves. Paul doesn’t say in the above passage, “If your gift is serving, then serve, but know that you’re not worth as much as the guy prophesying”. No, he simply says (paraphrased), “Whatever you have, use it!”. That’s it. Instead of being like Kousei and lamenting, “Well, all there is to me is x or y”, let us instead say, “This is what I have, so I will put it to good use for God!” That second one sure sounds a lot more promising, doesn’t it?

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ck”, 1 “d*rned”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: You see Kaori’s bare back as a nurse is wiping her down

Violence: Kousei and Watari are kicked; Watari and Tsubaki kick Kousei; Kaori hits Kousei in the face

Blood/Gore: Kousei and Watari both have blood pooling under their heads