Tag Archives: Spring 2015

Review: Re-Kan!, Episode 3: Delicious Fried Eggs

Review:

As you can see, I ultimately did not follow through with my plans to drop this show, and after this episode I’m somewhat glad for that. Granted, it still is not a spectacular show, but the premise of this particular episode was better and more focused than its predecessors, which ultimately made for a more satisfying experience.

The episode begins with what seems like a fairly pointless scenario in which Hibiki is revealed to now have a cell phone. Admittedly, it does provide for some humorous backstory into her dad’s overprotective nature, but all-in-all it doesn’t feel very important. From here, the res of the episode begins to unfold, as Inoue mentions that her cousin is staying with her, and that despite her best attempts she cannot make fried eggs for him that he will actually eat. Inoue ultimately enlists Hibiki’s help in this endeavor, and the two girls work together for the sake of Inoue’s cousin.

This episode is more along the lines of what I expected from this show: the idea of Hibiki and Inoue getting to know each other and becoming friends, while Hibiki uses her ghost-speaking abilities to solve issues. Without spoiling anything, that does become necessary in this episode. The cell phone thing even turns out to not be entirely pointless, as Hibiki’s cell phone ends up being useful to her a few times in the episode. On top of it all, Inoue (and the viewer) is let in on a little bit of Hibiki’s backstory, which goes back to the concept of building a deeper friendship between the two. Overall, this episode does an extremely good job of providing a cohesive story and decent character building.

If there is one thing worth complaining about, it’s Eroneko. While many would probably agree that perverse jokes are never really warranted in any media, that argument feels all the more true here. Re-Kan is not an anime that relies on perversity and fanservice to sell itself (if it did, it most likely wouldn’t continue receiving reviews here). Given the general tone and direction of the show, it just seems out of place.

At the end of the day, this episode does a good job of providing a legitimate plot line that manages to be enjoyable and to incorporate Hibiki’s ghost powers in a way that legitimately leads to a resolution, rather than have them there just as a gimmick in the story. Despite the complaints about Eroneko, this was an enjoyable episode, and the series would do well to present more like it.

A Christian Perspective:

John 11:35 – Jesus wept.

Okay, so there may be better messages that someone could draw from this episode, but this is the best I have; and besides, it is (or at least, was) a bit of a pet-peeve of mine.

Near the end of the episode, we find out that Yuuki (Inoue’s cousin) refused to cry over his father’s death because he was due to be a big brother, and therefore couldn’t cry, so when he finally lets loose and cries at the end Inoue just stands back and watches out of respect for something her aunt said. My pet peeve here is with the idea that “men don’t cry”. This may not be exactly what Yuuki said, but I feel like it stems from the idea. Now let’s look at the verse above: Jesus wept.

Jesus. Wept. If you think you are more manly than Jesus, then please show me how you’ve gone about your life fully knowing you were going to die, taken the sins of the world on your shoulders, and were crucified (and if you don’t know what goes on in the process of crucifixion, I suggest looking it up, because it will give you a much deeper appreciation of what Jesus endured). So Jesus, who took more of a beating than any of us probably ever will (and who, by the way, walked into it and didn’t fight back—even though He could have—because He knew this was what was necessary) saw no shame in crying. I could point you to other places in Scripture where men cried and there was no shame cast on them (Acts 20:37, for example). The point is, somewhere in history society decided that it was shameful for men to cast tears, and now men are looked down on if they cry (or, at the very least, our young boys are made fun of if they cry, which has the potential to carry into adult hood). I’m no expert, but I believe there are even health concerns with holding in your tears. The fact is, the idea that crying is “unmanly” just doesn’t seem to match up with Scripture, and it is a cultural phenomenon that I think we should cast aside.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Concerns: As always, Hibiki is able to see and communicate with ghosts

Language: 1 “d*rn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A flashback shows a young Hibiki in a one piece bathing suit, while other women in bikinis walk the beach around her; the episode preview shows several of the female cast in bathing suits (including bikinis and cleavage)

Violence: A ghost knocks a sign onto Eroneko

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Eroneko is shown peeing on a sign; Eroneko talks about wanting to see panties; as usual, Hibiki can see ghosts; Yuuki flips Hibiki’s skirt, but you don’t see anything

Review: My Teen Romantic Comedy Too!, Episode 11: Hayama Hayato Always Responds to Everyone’s Expectations.

Using a picture of Hayato for an episode named after him would have made more sense, but come on... Yukino is just too cute in this screenshot. Screenshot taken from: http://www.crunchyroll.com/my-teen-romantic-comedy-snafu/episode-11-hayama-hayato-always-responds-to-everyones-expectationsc-678759

Using a picture of Hayato for an episode named after him would have made more sense, but come on… Yukino is just too cute in this screenshot.
Screenshot taken from: http://www.crunchyroll.com/my-teen-romantic-comedy-snafu/episode-11-hayama-hayato-always-responds-to-everyones-expectationsc-678759

Review:

If you expected this episode to pick up from where the previous episode left off (Yukino being tricked into a situation where she has to be around her mother), then prepare to be disappointed. Not only do we not see how that situation played out, we also don’t even get a single mention of it. This wouldn’t seem so odd except for the fact that it seemed to be a pretty big deal, it had all the trappings of a continuing plot, and, for the most part, everything this season had linked together fairly well. That’s not to discredit this episode before it’s even reviewed, but to simply state that the direction it went in seemed to not make sense.

With that less-than-positive introduction out of the way, lets discuss this episode. As the title suggests, much of the focus is put on Hayato this time around. Of course, while “focus” might typically mean we see more of that character, that’s not necessarily the case here. Certainly Hayato is featured more than normal, but he doesn’t dominate the screen time. Instead, the “focus” here involves Hayato dominating the other characters’ conversations and motives. It would seem that the students at this high school have to choose a “track” of sorts, with the choices being either Liberal Arts or Science. Yumiko, a member of Hayato’s clique, ends up approaching the Service Club because she wants to know which option Hayato will choose. While it doesn’t appear to be an “official” request, Hikigaya ends up taking it on.

To be fair, the episode does a good job of exposing a little more of who Hayato is. It still doesn’t feel like we have a clear picture of his personality by the end, but we get to see more of him besides the “nice guy” sheen that he typically wears. His initial reaction to Hikigaya’s inquiry, though played off as a hypothetical, is quite harsh in comparison to the usual warm demeanor that he seems to adopt. Other comments made during the race scene (where Hikigaya plots with Totsuka to hold up the rest of the racers so that he can approach Hayato alone) suggest that Hayato may be the type of person to use others for his own gain. Hikigaya suggests that this was done with Yumiko to keep the girls off of Hayato. If this is true, it certainly raises questions in the viewer’s mind, such as why Hayato bothered to help Hikigaya earlier in the season (and even more so when Hayato says that he could never like Hikigaya). Overall, while the episode does provide some additional insight into Hayato’s character, it ultimately leaves more questions than answers in regards to who he truly is, especially when you consider his conversation with Hikigaya at the end of the episode.

One last thing to note is that, while the situation with Yukino from the previous episode seems to just be dropped this time around, there is a minor plot device that results from it. Apparently a rumor starts after Yukino and Hayato are dating after they are seen together (presumably at the end of the previous episode). While this doesn’t really play much of a role in the episode’s overall plot, it is at least a nod to the fact that the events happened. Yukino is also credited as having moved out of her sister’s shadow, but again this is something that doesn’t feel played up as much as it could have been (and, again, focusing on how she handled the situation presented at the previous episode’s close could have been a good springboard for that). Well, there is one “minor” Yukino development near the end of the episode that should have most fans holding their breaths, but we’ll just leave that for you to see.

In the end, this wasn’t a bad episode, per se, although it might be deserving of the “filler” title, as Hayato honestly isn’t that prominent a character to really warrant so much attention. Once Hikigaya had sorted out his issues, the focus began to shift towards Yukino, and keeping it there would have felt more natural instead of suddenly pulling away to focus on a secondary character. While it doesn’t make this episode bad—it still has all of the elements that make My Teen Romantic Comedy deeper than most high school anime—it does make it feel a bit inconsistent with the story that has developed thus far.

A Christian Perspective:

2 Corinthians 11:14 – And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

Okay, this may be going a bit extreme, but it was the best option I could think of. I have previously compared Hayato to the Pharisees, based upon his statement that he wasn’t the nice guy everyone thought he was. We finally get to see a bit of that in this episode when he replies quite harshly to Hikigaya’s inquiry (though he plays it off as hypothetical), and even more when Hikigaya suggests that Hayato used Yumiko to keep the girls from bothering him. While Hayato does not confirm this accusation, he also does not deny it.

The point in using the above scripture to relate to this episode isn’t to call Hayato “Satan”, but to compare the reality of the two situations: as Hayato masquerades as a “good” guy while secretly harboring some less-than-friendly motives, so Satan—the embodiment of all evil—masquerades as an angel of the light, or something that is seen as pure. Whether Hayato is truly this bad or not remains to be seen; we only get a short glimpse into his character in this episode (as opposed to the two season we’ve spent exploring the main cast), but I think the more important lesson here is to not base our opinions on mere appearances. We can be deceived by both Satan and people, so it’s best to be discerning. A person’s true colors will eventually come to light.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “h*ll”, 1 “p*sses”, 2 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: There is a bit of blood on the knee of Hikigaya’s pants and on his knee itself

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 23: Covert Maneuvers -Wiseman-

Review:

With the Malefic Black Crystal reactor going haywire, and with Sailor Moon gone, Black Lady leads Demande and Saphir into another dimension, where Wiseman has set up his own “castle”. It is here that Wiseman ultimately begins to make his move to use the Black Moon brothers for his own ends, and where the plan is put into motion to use the Malefic Black Crystal’s power to once again attack Earth. Meanwhile, Sailor Moon and the other Senshi set out into the dimensional storm in hopes of finding Tuxedo Mask and Chibi-usa, which turns out to be too much for Sailor Moon. While she is ultimately granted a reprieve to return to her own dimension, this doesn’t last long. Shortly after, the girls return to the future and prepare to battle what was once a friendly face.

In all honesty, this episode may have had a better build up if it wasn’t for the amount of time in between episodes. It’s already bad enough that new releases are typically spaced two weeks apart, but since May had five weeks (and new episodes are only released on the first and third Saturdays of the month), there was a three week gap in between the previous episode and this one. Unless you are a die-hard Sailor Moon fan (or unless Sailor Moon is the only show you’re following), it is easy to lose whatever anticipation you had for the next episode. Granted, that is no fault of the show or its story, but with such a regular gap of time (and with other anime in between) it becomes easy to forget plot details and lose the sense of excitement sparked by the evens of an episode. With that little criticism out of the way, lets take a look at the episode itself.

The fact that Wiseman was a snake wasn’t very well hidden from everyone except Demande. In this episode, Wiseman finally makes his move and shows that the Black Moon were ultimately just pawns; otherwise, why would he possess Demande and Saphir and rob them of their own will? As a villain, Wiseman has mainly lurked in the shadows and only played a supporting role, so perhaps we’ll get to see his true character in these final episodes. These reviews have previously applauded the much heavier and darker atmosphere of the Black Moon arc (not because “darker” is better, but because it feels like a better representation of the threats the Senshi face by battling the forces of evil), so hopefully that will continue as the final battle escalates. Of course, we all hope for (and can pretty much expect) a happy ending, but an ending that the characters have to work for is always more satisfying.

One thing that was weird in this episode (and that has happened previously) was how the Senshi all took on something of a carefree attitude during the brief return to the present. Once Usagi wakes up, the girls spend a few moments just chit-chatting and laughing. This felt kind of odd and out of place, considering the fact that Chibi-usa and Tuxedo Mask were still missing, on top of the situation with their enemies still being kind of urgent. Certainly it would not have been realistic for Usagi to just jump out of bed and get right back to action, but replacing the laughter with a serious discussion of how to proceed would have seemed more natural. At least the writers found it pertinent to draw Usagi’s mood back to the situation rather quickly by stilling her laughter with the realization that Chibi-usa was not around.

Overall, the episode did a decent job of setting the story up for what may be the final battle (or at least, one of the final battles). Dark Lady has finally been fully revealed, instead of just being a shadow lurking in the darkness, and the Senshi are fully aware that she is now their enemy. How this will play out is yet to be seen, and is certainly something to be anticipated for any fan of the series. It is just unfortunate that we will now have to wait another two weeks, which may serve to kill some of said anticipation.

A Christian Perspective:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 – Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

In this episode, comments are made about Wiseman’s will being absolute. This reminded me of the “man of lawlessness” that Paul speaks of in the above passage of Scripture. We know from Scripture that the only absolute will is that of God, and that ultimately nothing will prevail except what God has decided (and if you need proof, just take a read through the book of Revelation… or just the whole Bible). The man of lawlessness, however, will exalt himself over God and anything else that is worshiped and proclaim that he himself is God. This, presumably, means that he will claim to have attributes of God, similar to how Wiseman’s will is claimed to be absolute, even though there is no absolute will apart from that of the one true God.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Wiseman seems to take control of Demande and Saphir with a dark attack; a flashback shows Neo Queen Serenity possessing(?) Sailor Moon; King Endymion mentions that he is a spirit

Language: 1 “h*ll”, 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Dark Lady’s dress shows cleavage; Sailor Senshi transformation sequences

Violence: Wiseman hits Demande and Saphir with an attack

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Usagi accuses God of playing a trick on her; Wiseman is shown with his crystal ball; Dark Lady professes her love for Mamoru and kisses him (creepy since Mamoru is her father in the future)

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 22: Hidden Agenda -Nemesis-

Review:

Chibi-usa’s kidnapping at the end of the previous episode has kicked off some kind of dimensional storm in Sailor Pluto’s realm. Meanwhile, Usagi bravely begins to explore the Dark Moon castle where she is being held captive, in hopes of locating her friends. During her searching, she stumbles across a conversation not meant for her ears and later discovers Demande’s brother, who is kind enough to shed some light on more of the Dark Moon’s backstory. We find out that the Dark Moon’s current objective only came about because of Wiseman’s involvement, although that doesn’t mean that they had wholesome intentions to begin with. As Usagi finds herself in yet another battle aided by a new power, Tuxedo Mask journeys through the storm in hopes of finding Chibi-usa. Throughout all of this, a mysterious figure hovers behind Wiseman, a figure that looks somewhat familiar….

The previous episode’s plot holes continue in this episode. Despite prolonged exposure to his future self, Tuxedo Mask still shows no signs of the adverse effects he initially experienced. This may seem like a minor issue—or even a non-issue, if you forget about it—but it’s a simple point of continuity that shouldn’t be that hard to incorporate, not to mention the fact that it would add an extra layer of tension to the current plot line. I’m also curious as to whether different episodes have different directors, as this episode features the return of the “reaction box” (for lack of a better term) when Venus is left by herself. This feature isn’t bad in and of itself, although Venus’ reaction seemed out of character, at least to this reviewer.

Usagi’s situation on Nemesis is probably the more interesting of the two storylines, since it ultimately leads to a deeper understanding of the Dark Moon’s motivations and intentions. It also reinforces the darker tone that the Dark Moon’s presence has given to this arc of the show, with stories of how Demande was tempted away from their (equally as dubious) original goal, not to mention the obvious abduction of Chibi-usa. Add to this a literal attempt on Usagi’s life by Saphir, and you continue to have antagonists that actually feel evil. Oh, and lets not forget the fact that Wiseman kills one of the Dark Moon’s own number. That’s pretty sinister, too.

If you’re going to enjoy Sailor Moon Crystal, then the one thing you will need to get used to is a pretty regular use of Deus Ex Machina, and this episode is no exception. We already know that Usagi is trapped on Nemesis, unable to transform, with no seeming manner of escape. In addition, Sailors Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter are shown to pretty much be in a hopeless situation. Suddenly, Usagi develops a new power. It’s not the first time we’ve seen something like this happen, and it probably won’t be the last (at least, if they continue animating the series beyond this season).

With all that said, Sailor Moon Crystal’s latest installment will undoubtedly be a hit with fans, as they have likely made their peace with the shows weaknesses while embracing its strengths. Unfortunately, while the show is near its finale, it will take more than a month to actually reach that point thanks to the show’s release schedule. With other shows airing weekly episodes, it may not be easy for fans to maintain their anticipation for the upcoming conclusion.

A Christian Perspective:

1 Peter 5:8 – Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

In this passage, Peter is warning his readers to beware of the devil. As we all know, the devil can and, if allowed, will lead us astray into sin. As our enemy, he will ultimately do whatever he possibly can to make us fall or deviate from the path that God has laid out for us, and as Peter tells us we must be alert so that we do not get lead astray.

We see a similar situation in today’s episode, when Saphir reveals that Demande’s current mission is no longer the original mission of the Dark Moon, and that the reason Demande deviated in the first place was because of Wiseman. It would seem that Wiseman managed to manipulate the Dark Moon into serving his purposes, much like the devil would like to manipulate Christians into going against God’s will. The obvious difference, of course, is that the Dark Moon was set on evil in the first place, while God’s will is good, and the devil would trick us into evil. What these situations have in common is that of a sinister force that wants to deviate its targets from their intended purpose. Let’s focus on doing God’s will while avoiding the “Wisemen” of the world.

John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Yep, today is a two for one. This is a pretty quick point, but in this episode Usagi is overcome with a new power (remember the deus ex machina?), which shows her radiating a bright light that literally cuts through darkness and confusion (the confusion, namely, is the storm that Tuxedo Mask has walked into). This made me think of the verse in John 1:5, as Sailor Moon’s light cut through the darkness and could not be defeated, much like Jesus (the light described in the Scripture) cannot be defeated by the darkness, but is the ultimate Light that can lead us out of the darkness and into eternal life.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Saphir is shown making droids, which look like two spirits; Wiseman is shown with his crystal ball; a series of events seems to allow Usagi to shine a light that penetrates space and time; in general, Usagi gains some kind of super power that allows her to locate her friends and call to them; Neo Queen Serenity seems to possess Sailor Moon; Demande has a third eye

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Both Usagi and Neo Queen Serenity’s dresses show cleavage; Sailors Moon, Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter are shown transforming; slight shot of Dark Lady’s cleavage in the preview

Violence: Demande tries to touch Usagi, and is almost hit with a bolt of lightning; Saphir’s droids hold Usagi down; Usagi is surrounded by a powerful light that destroys the droids; Usagi sends Saphir; flying back; Usagi cracks a floor; the Sailor Senshi attack with their powers; Wiseman kills a man; Sailor Moon hits Demande with her tiara

Blood/Gore: None

Other:The Senshi use their powers

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 21: Complication -Nemesis-

Review:

With Sailor Moon captured, leaving Sailor Venus as the only active member of the Senshi left, what can we expect from this episode? Well, lots of back story, for starters. We were previously filled in on some of the details by King Endymion, and this episode takes it even further to explain the motivations behind the Black Moon’s assault from Demande’s perspective. Apparently, they considered the idea of an unaging body to be unnatural, which was at least part of their desire to attack Earth. Elsewhere, Venus and Tuxedo Mask consult with the image of King Endymion, where they learn more about Chibi-usa, particularly a specific detail about her appearance. Elsewhere, we see some back story through Chibi-usa’s eyes, both in regards to her personal life as well as the day the Black Moon invaded the Earth.

Overall, it’s not a very eventful episode, although it is very informative. While there is effort put in to explain more of the Black Moon’s motivations, the main focal point has to be Chibi-usa, who seems to descend further into a state of depression and hopelessness as the episode carries on. Despite being a princess, her life has not been easy, and she certainly didn’t seem to receive the respect due one of such a rank. Thankfully, her story is not all doom-and-gloom, as we at least get to see how Chibi-usa and Sailor Pluto first came to be friends, with Sailor Pluto showing her some genuine affection. Thankfully, the episode manages to avoid being boring despite its lack of plot progression (save for what happens at the end), unless you’re really not a fan of Chibi-usa. Even so, some of the stuff shown in this episode will probably be important later on, so you should probably watch it regardless.

This episode did have one flaw: a plot hole in the form of Tuxedo Mask being near his future self. If you remember, the crew from the present time had to previously rush back to their own timeline because they were suffering adverse reactions from being near their former selves. In the current episode, Tuxedo Mask probably spends just as much time near his future self as he previously did, yet he shows no signs of the previous side effects. While this may not be a major hole in the plot (it certainly doesn’t affect the key events taking place), it does create an inconsistency for those who are paying attention, and it seems like something simple enough to keep in mind. Plus, continuing to play on that consequence of being in the future could have helped to spice up the plot as the series inevitably draws to a close.

A Christian Perspective:

In this episode, Demande kind of reminded me of those people who like to use God’s name when it’s convenient, yet their walk doesn’t match their talk. Specifically, he tells Usagi that an unaging body is blasphemy against God, and seems to use this as a form of justification for the Black Moon’s actions. Whether or not such a statement would be true in the world of Sailor Moon (there is already a bunch of stuff that wouldn’t go along with God in the real world), we can’t say, but we know that Demande’s actions do not match up in any way with a true fear of or desire to serve God. Jesus said that we would know a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7:16), and Demande’s fruit is clearly rotten to the core.

A real world application of this would probably be people like the Westboro Baptist Church. Despite claiming to be Christians and followers of Jesus, all we ever see from them is hate and anger. They may have some valid points (homosexuality truly is a sin, after all), but they don’t go about it in a godly manner—instead, they stand on the street corners with their angry signs and yell nasty things at people. They even attack people that have nothing to do with homosexuality (KIA soldiers, anyone?). There is a place where we have to call sin what it is, and I may not necessarily know where that is (after all, if you tell a homosexual they’re living in sin, they’re probably going to see it as hateful, no matter how lovingly you put it), but when the majority of people can look at something and agree that it’s just an angering display, then something’s probably wrong.

So, as Christians, let us be ready to identify things that don’t go along with God’s Word (the part that Demande and WBC at least got right), and then let us pray about and consider the best course of action to take in regards to that issue, instead of jumping to our feet and taking the most extreme course of action we can possibly think of.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: Wiseman is shown with his crystal ball; Demande mentions that an unaging body is blasphemy against God; Demande is shown with a third eye on his forehead

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Usagi is shown in a dress that shows cleavage; a hologram of Neo Queen Serenity shows her in a cleavage-revealing dress; NQS is also shown in a flashback wearing the same dress

Violence: A flashback shows a dome of dark energy destroying a city

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Demande forces a kiss on Usagi

Review: Plastic Memories, Episode 11: Rice Omelette Day

Review:

In the previous episode, we finally got the love confession from Isla that we (and Tsukasa) had been waiting for. This episode allows us to follow them around the following day, which is their first as boyfriend and girlfriend. In reality, there is very little plot to this episode, other than Isla and Tsukasa both wanting to something special for the other. Isla quickly decides that she wants to cook for Tsukasa while Tsukasa finds it considerably harder to determine what he should do for Isla. All of that is to say that there is very little to appraise in terms of “story” this time around, so if you like the idea of seeing a day in the new couple’s life, then you’ll enjoy the episode from a story/progression standpoint.

Christian viewers should be aware of a few instances in this episode that may be a bit uncomfortable, all of which are near the beginning of the episode. First is when Isla goes to wake Tsukasa up. As she leans over, the front of her shirt comes down, and a small portion of her breasts is shown (nothing more than if you saw cleavage), with a brief zoom-in. Second is when Isla falls down the steps a few moments later, with her panties exposed after her fall. Third is when Yasutaka makes some suggestive comments about what the new couple spent the night doing (in reality, they haven’t even kissed yet).

Beyond that, the episode is just a giant ball of saccharin sweetness. Of course the other members of Terminal Service 1 stick their noses in (both invited and uninvited) to offer advice, and Tsukasa and Isla are shown to have a lovey-dovey moment that drives their co-workers away. Anyone who can remember the thrill of their first love should understand where these two are coming from. Quite possibly the sweetest thing about the episode is how they both focus on doing something nice for the other. Isla is inspired to cook for Tsukasa after seeing another worker’s lunch, and ends up seeking out Michiru’s help with cooking. Tsukasa doesn’t fair as well at finding answers, but that’s not for lack of trying. He truly does try hard, even going so far as to talk to the mafia boss’ Gifita about the situation. By the end they do find a result that works for them, which leads to an even greater overload of cuteness. On top of this, seeing Isla happier and more expressive than she has been for most of the series is really enjoyable. Let’s not forget in the midst of all of this, though, that Isla’s time is ticking down. While that fact is ignored by this episode, the viewer can’t shake the reality, and watching all of this will undoubtedly set us up for a harder fall when the hammer comes down in the end.

Before this review wraps up, it is worth noting that Zack is particularly bratty in this episode, much to the amusement of the viewer. From exposing Michiru’s curiosity to suggesting surprises that would get Tsukasa slapped before anything else, he provides a certain level of comedy to the episode’s early moments. In general, the entire cast is in high spirits this time around which, again, will only serve to build us up before likely tearing us down in the final two episodes. We’ve made it this far, viewers, so lets not back down now. Let’s ride this feels train until it reaches its destination.

A Christian Perspective:

Acts 20:35 – In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Much of this episode focuses on both Isla and Tsukasa wanting to do something to “surprise” each other due to a statement from Yasutaka. While there are certainly other things going on, the underlying theme is still there. While Isla quickly figures out what she wants to do and sets about planning how to do it, Tsukasa finds it harder to come up with an answer, and finds himself seeking advice from others in order to come up with an idea. In both cases, though, we have individuals who are focusing their attention on what they can do for the other, instead of what the other can do for them. Perhaps the scripture from Acts isn’t the most compatible verse for this situation, but I think it gets the point across, as both parties are focused on giving something to the other.

The challenge, especially in relationships, becomes keeping up with this attitude. A new relationship—especially a romantic relationship—can drive people to do crazy things, whether in an attempt to impress the other or simply because the parties are completely infatuated with one another. As time goes on, that “new relationship” smell washes off, and the real nature of what a relationship is rears its head. The challenge here, especially for Christians, is to be just as generous and giving whether we have some strong feeling or not, and this in all of our relationships, not just out romantic ones (of course, the Bible does have some very specific instructions for husbands and wives).

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 2 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: At roughly 3:14 – 3:17 Isla bends over and you can basically see cleavage—the camera also zooms in on this; shortly after the cleavage scene, Isla falls down the stairs, and you can see her panties for a few seconds

Violence: Kazuki squeezes Tsukasa’s shoulder; Michiru gently flicks Isla’s forehead

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Yasutaka makes some suggestive comments about Tsukasa and Isla’s relationship

Review: My Teen Romantic Comedy Too!, Episode 10: The Thing That the Light in Each of Their Hands Shines On.

Review:

This episode brings us what we’ve finally been waiting for: the conclusion to the Christmas event arc that has been running for several episodes now. As we all knew, including Yukino and Yui (but mostly Yukino) in the plans was the trump card that everyone needed. Before we get to that, though, we have to deal with the fall out of Hayama rejecting Iroha, which honestly isn’t as bad as it could have been. The writers do take the time to remind us that Hayama isn’t really the good guy that everyone thinks he is (a fact that seems to be further hammered home in the episode’s conclusion, when Hayama is seen with Haruno as she forces Yukino into a situation that Yukino herself did not want any part in). Iroha is clearly dejected as one might expect, but she bounces back fairly quickly, even going so far as to have the usual exchange of banter with Hikigaya. Of course, there are the usual hints that she may be developing feelings for Hiki, as well, and to be honest Iroha is starting to win over even this writer.

Once the drama from the previous episode is over, the preparations for the Christmas event finally get under way. Unfortunately, this portion of the episode is almost over before it even starts. This portion of the episode begins with the Service Club and the school council meeting to discuss their plan of action for dealing with the other council. This is all well and good, as it goes along with what one would expect for a “final confrontation”, of sorts. Unfortunately, the resolution to the whole even isn’t nearly as dramatic as one might think. Both Hikigaya and Yukino confront the other student council, which seems to basically break them and get them to agree to the idea of having each school do a different event. To give you a better idea of how fast this all happens, the first half of the episode contains the fallout and resolution to the Hayama/Iroha situation, the meeting between the Service Club and student council, the final confrontation with the other student council, and the actual Christmas event. While it is nice to have this plot point finally resolved, it felt a bit rushed, as opposed to being an epic battle of wit between Yukino and the other school’s student president. Regardless, the situation still wraps up nicely, and the Christmas event would have been a nice way to end the episode altogether, but ending an episode of OreGairu on a positive note doesn’t seem to be the thing this season, so the plot marches on.

After what would have been the break, we rejoin the Service Club, along with Komachi, as they visit a shrine (presumably for the New Year). This portion of the episode really only seems to serve two purposes: to push the Hikigaya/Yukino relationship (and, to a lesser extent, the Hikigaya/Yui relationship) further along and to set up the next major plot point. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the love triangle device was pretty evident from the beginning, yet there hasn’t been a lot of development between Hikigaya and Yukino (after all, they did spend most of this season being somewhat hostile towards each other), and watching Komachi set them up to be alone was amusing in its own right. Having this followed up with Hikigaya’s outing with Yui seems to further cement the direction the “romantic” side of this story (which has been woefully neglected) is going (that being the love triangle). Of course, as with other moments in this series, the fun, lighthearted interactions don’t stick around for long, as Hiki and Yui encounter Haruno and Hayama while out shopping. Haruno invites the two of them for coffee, which ultimately serves as a pretext for dragging Yukino out into public, and subsequently into a confrontation with their mother.

This portion of the episode is really the only negative part (other than the kind of rushed conclusion with the student councils), because it is evident that there is some kind of tension between Yukino and her mother—or, at the very least, some reason that Yukino does not want to be around her mother. While there are comments made among the characters, they are comments that seem to hinge on possessing other knowledge that, quite frankly, the viewer does not possess at this time. While this may ultimately be explained later, it does sort of leave the viewer in a weird position: on the one hand, we certainly want to know what’s going on (which will bring us back next week); however, on the other hand, it makes it hard to truly be impacted by what we’ve just seen when we are not capable of clearly understanding what we’ve just seen. Since OreGairu has not seriously disappointed this season, it is probably safe to assume that the situation will be handled in a way that will ultimately answer all of the viewers’ questions, but only time will tell if that is true.

A Christian Perspective:

1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

I quote the above verse because I want to talk about humility. I think it is safe to say that we’ve seen the fruits of this discipline played out in this episode. Remember how Hikigaya was originally bent on handling Iroha’s situation on his own, and how that ultimately failed for him? Eventually, he was lead to set his pride and whatever else he had aside, and to ultimately bear his soul and true feelings to Yui and Yukino. While we know this embarrassed him, we also get the opportunity to finally see the results in today’s episode.

Simply put, Yukino was the silver bullet that Iroha’s team needed. Once the Service Club was working together, they were able to formulate a plan in conjunction with the student council and stick to that plan, even under the pressure of the opposing student council. Perhaps my initial comment gave Yukino too much credit, because Iroha certainly stuck to her guns, and Hikigaya didn’t hesitate to throw in his two cents, either. It’s also worth noting that both Yukino and Hikigaya get reprimanded by Iroha for coming on too strong. Either way, the point still remains the same: this result was only reached because Hikigaya was willing to be humble and, despite the embarrassment of it all, open himself fully to his friends.

Humility may take many forms, be it setting aside your pride for the sake of a better outcome (or fixing a friendship, congratulating a coworker who got promoted above you, celebrating the accomplishments of someone else instead of drawing attention to your own accomplishments, or any other number of scenarios, but the point is that God wants us to be humble. Let’s try to learn from Hikigaya’s example and be more humble as we go about our days.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “Oh, G*d”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Review: My Teen Romantic Comedy Too!, Episode 9: And, Yukinoshita Yukino Is…

Review:

Now that the relationships between the Service Club members have been healed and now that they’ve come together to collectively solve Iroha’s situation there will finally be some progress made in the student council situation, right? Well, not quite. While Yui and Yukino certainly set foot into one of the meetings, no progress is actually made in regards to the problem at hand. Instead, the Service Club, along with Iroha and Hayato’s clique, end up visiting an amusement park. While there is some talk of this being “research” for the Christmas event, the episode moreso focuses on the relationships between the characters, and particularly those of the Service Club members. Overall, it is a fun outing, although things don’t end on a positive note for a couple characters.

The episode opens quite comically, with Hikigaya agonizing over his open display of emotion in front of Yui and Yukino. While this is the only part of the episode to be so openly comedic, the majority of the content is fairly upbeat and positive, as we get to see the Service Club spending time together and bonding, which hasn’t happened since the first couple of episodes in this season. On the one hand, this is a nice reprieve from the more oppressive atmosphere that has dominated the majority of the season; on the other hand, it would have been nice to finally see Yui and Yukino (or, more precisely, Yukino) tackle the situation with the Christmas event. At the very least, it would have been preferable to see the two girls’ reactions to the shenanigans in the student council meeting. Regardless, the lack of this doesn’t detract from the episode—it could have only added to its enjoyment.

Of course, not everything is fun and games. Effort is certainly put forth to exemplify the fact that Yukino has issues that have yet to be resolved, and it is questionable whether these things can be wrapped up before the season is out, but it is clear that the deeper issues these characters suffer from are far from being healed. Perhaps the whole purpose of this series isn’t to see all of the issues resolved, but rather to show how we can better deal with our problems when we let others help us, rather than going it alone. In any event, we get to see more of Yukino in this episode than we have for most of the season, and of course there are enough hints dropped to keep up the mystery of who Hikigaya will fall in love with in the end (provided we don’t get the typical ending where he doesn’t choose either girl).

The Hayato subplot also has its progression in this episode, albeit to a much smaller degree. Perhaps it would be more fair to even refer to it as the Iroha subplot. Either way, the characters from Hayato’s clique don’t get a whole lot of screen time, and it is only worth mentioning because the episode sort of ends with something kind of major happening between two of the characters in the clique. Earlier in the season, Hayato had stated that he isn’t the nice guy everyone things he is, and perhaps this will serve as the beginning to a better understanding of that statement. Of course, this can only be speculation until the show progresses, but hopefully it will serve a greater purpose than to provide a shocking ending.

At the end of the day, this was a nice change of pace from the general tone the show has adopted for most of the season. With that said, hopefully the Christmas event plot will pick back up in the next episode and begin moving towards a conclusion, because it has been drug out for a while now. Also, it is just plain curiosity that wants to know how the involvement of the full Service Club will ultimately turn the tides. One thing is for sure: if the character development that has been displayed thus far continues into the coming episodes, then OreGairu could be on its way to making a strong, lasting impression.

A Christian Perspective:

To be honest, I don’t have anything particularly “Christian” that struck me from this episode. What I do have is a reflection on the importance of reconciliation. Granted, reconciliation has its place within Christianity (God reconciling the world to Himself through Christ, anyone?), but the general idea of reconciliation isn’t solely applicable to Christians. Nevertheless, the fact that Hikigaya finally humbled himself in the previous episode and not only confessed his need of Yui and Yukino’s help but also confessed his desire for something genuine among the three of them is what opened the door for today’s episode. Now, for the first time since at least the beginning of the season, we see the three Service Club members happily spending time together, complete with Yukino acting uncharacteristically excited over a panda. Their relationship went from being almost destroyed to being at least what it previously was (if not stronger) only because Hikigaya humbled himself and opened the door for reconciliation.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we can probably think of moments in our lives where we needed to reconcile a relationship with a friend, family member, co-worker, etc. (or perhaps there is a relationship that needs reconciling right now). Those with memories of past reconciliations can probably attest to the healing that came as a result, along with how refreshing it was to have a restored relationship. Those who need to reconcile can probably attest to the pain associated with broken relationships.

I don’t really have a clever or profound way to close this out, so I guess I’ll just leave it with this: if you think a relationship isn’t worth reconciling, just remember that God thought it worth reconciling sinful, rebellious humanity to Himself. If God sought to reconcile with what were essentially His enemies, then certainly we can seek to reconcile with the people in our lives.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “h*ck”, 1 “d*mn”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Komachi grinds her foot into the back of Hikigaya’s leg

Blood/Gore: None

Review: My Teen Romantic Comedy Too!, Episode 8: But Still, Hikigaya Hachiman Is…

Review:

Things pick up shortly after the previous episode’s ending. Hikigaya is picked up by Shizuka-sensei some time after his encounter with Yukino, and the two of them end up on a bridge where Shizuka gives Hikigaya some advice on how to deal with the situation between himself, Yukino, and Yui. This ultimately leads to Hikigaya spending the entire night agonizing over the situation, trying to assess his own motives and reasoning. What this ultimately leads to is a quite surprising encounter between the three members of the Service Club.

Not much happens this time around in regards to the current story arc. In fact, Iroha only makes a brief appearance near the end of the episode, long enough to inform Hikigaya that there is no meeting for the day and to tell him where to find Yukino. Instead, the focus is placed on the subplot that has run through all of the various arcs this season: that of the growing tension between the Service Club members due to Hikigaya’s methods and approaches. This all comes to a head in this episode, and really does lead to some decent character progression on Hikigaya’s part. Oregairu has done a good job this season of rising above the stereotypical high school anime, presenting characters with issues that go beyond the ultimately superficial teenage drama. Realistically, the issues being faced by Hikigaya and company could realistically be experienced by people in all stages of life.

Without spoiling anything, the growth in Hikigaya’s character in this episode is truly shocking and unexpected, and yet long awaited. There is one moment in particular that is very well executed, and its shock is conveyed on both Yukino and Yui’s faces, not to mention that of the viewer. Unfortunately, the things that Hikigaya says during this part of the episode are hard to make sense of. He speaks of wanting “the real thing”, but what this “real thing” was wasn’t very clear, at least not for this viewer. Whether Yukino and Yui fully comprehended what he was saying is unclear, although it certainly provoked a reaction in Yukino. Whatever the case, it doesn’t seem that this issue is fully resolved. The episode certainly ends on a positive note, but one could reason that there is still plenty of distance to cover in repairing the relationships between the Service Club members before continuing to take the relationships further, which may be what Hikigaya was referring to in this episode.

A Christian Perspective:

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Luke 6:45 – A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

When addressing both the issue with the Christmas event and the issue between the Service Club members, Shizuka states that both have arisen from heart issues. She eventually charges Hikigaya with the task of agonizing over the situation to figure out why things are the way they are. We get a glimpse of what was going on in Hikigaya once he finishes his analysis of himself and ultimately confronts the Service Club. It is probably safe to say that Hikigaya has made some pretty dumb decisions during this season, and Shizuka tying the problems back to a heart issue only makes sense in light of what Scripture says. Ultimately, Hikigaya was operating in defiance of what he really wanted, yet he didn’t believe that was what he wanted. As complicated as that sounds, it just goes to show how much we can be deceived by our hearts.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: 1 “d*mn” in the episode preview

Alcohol/Drug Use: Shizuka smokes cigarettes; beer is mentioned in the episode preview

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: None

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Plastic Memories, Episode 10: No Longer Partners

Review:

Last week’s episode ended with Kazuki announcing the dissolution of Tsukasa and Isla’s partnership. This episode picks up right where its predecessor left off, though one can’t help but think that the ultimate reaction on Tsukasa’s part was a bit lackluster. He doesn’t really fight the decision, although his displeasure is well known. Of course, some may have expected that Kazuki possessed ulterior motives in making her decision, and if you did then you will be pleased with this week’s episode. If you’re wondering why, then you’ll just have to watch!

This episode is a bit hard to summarize, because everything ultimately leads up to the episode’s conclusion, which is something that I’m seeking to not spoil for you fine readers. While it does contain a bit of its own plot, it really serves as an opportunity to look at some of our principle characters and fill in some of their remaining blanks. A good example of this is how Constance (who is now Tsukasa’s partner) informs Tsukasa of how Terminal Service 1 operates differently than all of the other Terminal Service offices, and that this difference was ultimately Isla’s doing. Effort is also taken to explore Kazuki and Isla’s relationship a little more, and to show how fiercely protective the former can be towards the latter. Their bickering near the end of the episode is a testament to their relationship, and it has Isla showing more emotion than we’ve seen from her throughout the series thus far.

The show’s producers also prove that they know how to handle the mood properly. While not overly dramatic, this episode definitely shifts away from the comedic spectrum and focuses more on the serious and sentimental tones that are brought about. Of course, that doesn’t mean the episode is comedy free. Scenes such as Isla having her face drawn on by Kazuki and the chief of TS1 being completely ignored serve to bring a dose of lighthearted comedy to the table, but the majority of the episode keeps itself grounded in a serious exploration of character motivations and relationships. The end result is a better understanding of the characters we’ve come to know and love, along with an ending that should leave any fan of the show pleased.

A Christian Perspective:

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

So this verse is at least partially applicable to this episode. Let me start by saying that the Christian Perspectives assume that the viewer has already seen the episode, unlike the review which assumes that the reader has not seen the episode. Simply put, the Perspectives typically look deeper into an aspect of the episode, which would not make much sense to someone who has not seen the episode. All of that is basically a long way of saying, “Spoiler warning”.

Kazuki ultimately confronts Isla about her feelings for Tsukasa in this episode. Earlier on, Isla had stated that it was better for both of them if things stayed the way they were. What it ultimately comes down to is that Isla doesn’t want Tsukasa to build a bunch of memories with her because she feels it will then be even harder for him when she is retrieved. Isla’s thinking is finally challenged by Kazuki, who states that if Isla does things her way, then it will ultimately hurt Tsukasa more than if the two of them were together, because it would only leave him with bad/negative memories. It’s not until Kazuki says this that Isla’s eyes are opened and she is freed to see the situation from a different perspective than she had adopted throughout the series.

We can be like Isla at times. We think we have the right solution to a problem—it makes sense to us, and we cannot see a better outcome to our problems. The trouble comes in when we’re confronted with a better way—maybe in the Bible, through prayer, or by some other means—that conflicts with what we thought was best. As the Scripture from Proverbs states, we are to not lean upon our own understanding but rather to trust in God. It’s easy for us to say that God is all wise and powerful, of course, but sometimes putting that into practice is another story, whether it be due to weak faith or a limited scope. Of course, when we try to simply do things our own way we tend to end up like Isla: only seeing what we want to see, while failing to truly understand what our actions have the potential to do.

The only reason this scenario doesn’t line up perfectly with the Scripture is that Kazuki is not God. While God’s knowledge is perfect and complete, Kazuki’s is not, hence why I said the verse was at least partially applicable. In this case, though, Kazuki ended up being able to point Isla in the right direction, much like God is able to point us in the right direction if we will turn to Him and trust Him.

Content Guide:

Spiritual Content: None

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: Kazuki sits down with several cans of beer and a bottle of liquor—it is later shown that she drank a lot; Kazuki is shown drinking alone in her room; Kazuki asks Constance to drink with her

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Kazuki’s tanktop shows cleavage

Violence: Kazuki puts Tsukasa in a headlock

Blood/Gore: None