Tag Archives: Summer 2014

Review: Sword Art Online, Episode 8: Bullet of Bullets

Review:

Well, it’s finally time for the Bullet of Bullets. Remember how I kept commenting that this season was moving slower at the beginning? I guess it’s time to eat my words, ha! At any rate, though, things are at least civil between Kirito and Sinon again, with the two of them set on fighting each other on the battlefield as per their agreement. Granted, I suppose this doesn’t necessarily mean the GGO arc is wrapping up. We still have to actually see the two of them fight, and the whole issue of Death Gun has yet to be resolved. Our villain inevitably makes an appearance in this episode, although we’ll have to wait until the ninth episode in order to see how the whole situation resolves.

In reflection, though, this season of SAO isn’t really heavy on plot. The premise is basically Kirito checking on a rumor within GGO. That’s it. Then again, I guess SAO has never been as much about the plot as it is about the characters. I mean, sure, each season has had it’s general plot line, but in a way it’s kind of been about the journey moreso than the destination. Plus the show does a pretty decent job at being eye candy. So if you feel that the plot isn’t really engaging you, perhaps try looking at how the events have—and are—impacting the characters.

A Christian Perspective:

There’s a lesson to be learned here: do not trust someone based on external appearances. I didn’t mention it in my review, but Death Gun is shown preparing to kill an opponent. Before he does, though, I’m pretty sure he “crosses” himself, as seen within the Catholic church. By itself, this outward appearance of religiosity might lead some to believe that he holds Christian beliefs, but since we know the whole of his character, we can definitively say that’s not true. Not only is he going through GGO killing people in real life (in some as yet undisclosed manner), we also know that he is a member of Laughing Coffin. For those out of the loop, Laughing Coffin was a player killing guild in Sword Art Online. Remember that the premise of SAO was “die in the game, die in real life”, which effectively made the players in Laughing Coffin legitimate murderers. So here you have a man who grouped up with a bunch of murderers, and who is still killing people, yet he performs this symbol of religious ritual. Clearly it’s all external.

We can encounter people like this in real life, too. The scary part about it is that we don’t have access to all the details of their lives like we do Death Gun’s. Jesus warns us, ‘“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7: 15-20) I don’t think I need to expand upon this too much—it’s pretty straight forward. People will come forth claiming to be Christians (or prophets, from Jesus’ words), but we will be able to determine the truth of the matter from their fruit. Perhaps we cannot obtain that determination immediately—after all, who can take one look at a person and make an entire inventory of their character (outside of God)? The answer is none of us; however, if we get to know this person, and we see an absence of good fruit in their life, then we can begin to draw the conclusion that everything may not be as they say it is, and perhaps it would be wise to separate ourselves from such a person.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ll”, 1 “p*ss”, 3 “d**n”, 1 “cr*p”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: The top of Sinon’s butt can be seen sticking out from her shorts–her top also shows some cleavage; a female announcer within GGO is shown wearing an outfit that shows her stomach; Kirito (in GGO) is shown swimming naked

Violence: Another SAO flashback to Kirito fighting other players; characters are shown shooting at each other and getting shot

Blood/Gore: Just the digital effects of a player being hit, as usual

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 7: Crimson Memories

Review:

After a few episodes of in-game action we now receive a breather of sorts as we see our main characters outside of the game. While there is very little in-game action (save for flashbacks and one current ALO scene), that doesn’t mean the episode isn’t tense. Kirito continues to struggle with his memories of killing members of the Laughing Coffin guild, with his guilt building up due to his memory of them being vague–and, in fact, completely gone until recently. Of course, we also see the support Kirito receives from those around him, and the ironic choice of who ends up being his ultimate comforter in this episode.

Elsewhere, Sinon and Spiegle spend time discussing the way things have been going, with Sinon visibly angered due to Kirito’s antics in the previous episode. Spiegle, of course, takes this opportunity to exercise poor male anime character timing, but thankfully (for him) it doesn’t have any seriously negative repurcussions. Basically, what this all boils down to is that this is more of a character development episode than a plot development episode, and that’s okay (unless you’re just in it for the action). It shows that, despite his Mary Sue-esque gaming skills, Kirito isn’t perfect. He suffers from his own shortcomings, and I think that is very well illustrated this time around. Don’t worry, though; if you didn’t like this week’s focus on the characters, then next week looks set to return us to the action of GGO. Stay tuned!

A Christian Perspective:

While this isn’t a perfect application of this Scripture, I still think we can apply it to this episode:

James 5:16 – Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

We see something similar to this played out in this episode when Kirito confides in another character about what happened in SAO, and essentially how he feels about having forgotten about it up until this point. I won’t say which character he confides in, as it may come as a bit of a surprise. Nevertheless, it’s not until Kirito allows himself to be completely vulnerable with this character that he starts to find healing. As he pours his heart out to his confidant, he doesn’t find condemnation or revulsion, but rather acceptance, comfort, and—possibly—love. I don’t know if that’s exactly what James had in mind when he penned the above verse, but the key connection here is that, in both cases, the confessing to another person of what we’ve done plays a role in ultimately finding healing.

Another lesson we can take from this is the necessity of forgiving ourselves. While I don’t think the Bible specifically states anything about self-forgiveness, I think we can all agree that it’s a necessity. As we see with Kirito, refusing to forgive ourselves and instead living in this sense of shame and self-condemnation can be destructive. Left unchecked, it could possibly drive us mad (well, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic there). The point is: if we’re to love others as we love ourselves, then shouldn’t we first learn to love ourselves? I don’t mean in a hedonistic, selfish way, of course. Likewise, if we can’t forgive ourselves, then how can we truly expect to be capable of truly forgiving others?

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “j**z”, 1 “p***es”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Shirtless Kirito 16:23 – 16:44; Leafa’s top shows a bit of cleavage; Sinon’s top shows a bit of cleavage–in one shot it also looks like you an the see the top of her butt crack sticking out from her shorts (sorry for lacking a more sophisticated way of saying that…)

Violence: Flashbacks to a violent battle in SAO; Asada pushes another character away; characters in ALO are shown fighting a monster

Blood/Gore: Just little red fragments that are presumably meant to represent blood; deceased SAO characters are shown with blood running down their faces and from their eyes

Other: Asuna uses magic within ALO

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 6: Duel in the Wastelands

Review:

Well, it turns out Kirito isn’t unshakable after all. After his run-in with another SAO survivor from the previous episode, he seems to be quite disturbed. The reason may very well have to do with the raid he took part in during the days of SAO, which we get to see via flashback. As you already know (at least, you should if you’ve watched last week’s episode, and if you haven’t then why are you reading this review), Death Gun is part of the Laughing Coffin guild, which was the guild of murderers in SAO. Clearly, Death Gun has not left those days behind, as we have already seen in GGO.

This is one of those reviews where I find myself at a loss for words. Did I enjoy the episode? Sure. Did it leave much of an impact? Not really. If you like action, then you can expect to see plenty of it in this episode, and we are already treated to a Kirito versus Sinon scene, which I honestly didn’t expect to see so early in the series. Of course, with Kirito so shaken up, it doesn’t end up being much of a fight (though it may not go the way you’re thinking after that statement). Overall, if you feel like Kirito is an over-powered character, then this isn’t the episode to change your mind. If you’re simply a fan of SAO in general, then I don’t think there’s anything here to dislike.

A Christian Perspective:

Well, the best I was able to come up with centers on this verse:

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

While Kirito certainly had some extenuating circumstances going on, the fact of the matter is that he ultimately offended Sinon with his flippant attitude about their fight. In his fear, he forgot the promise that he had made to her earlier, and essentially states that he’s only concerned with getting to the finals. While he ultimately makes it up to her, the point here is that he upset her because he didn’t go at it with all his heart. Now replace Sinon with God, and imagine how upset He would be (and is) if (when) we take a flippant attitude with the life and things He has given us. I know I’m guilty of it on a daily basis. I tell myself that I have a great witnessing opportunity because I work in a college, and deal with a lot of students. I tell myself that, with the right attitude, I can show the love of Christ. However, I get to work, and I simply start counting down the hours until I get off. I may start out with a cheery demeanor, but eventually I allow myself to get run down and just start going through the motions. Perhaps I make God feel kind of like how Sinon felt, aggravated that I failed to keep what I intended to keep.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Just Sinon’s outfit

Violence: Flashback to a fight in SAO where players are killed–lots of sword play and whatnot; the usual GGO violence of gunfire, an explosion, and of course Kirito’s sword play

Blood/Gore: Just the red marks that appear on characters when they’re wounded

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 5: Gun and Sword

Review:

It’s finally time to see GGO Kirito in action! Well, eventually. You still have to get through most of the episode before that happens. Thankfully, the writers continue to weave an interesting enough story that it doesn’t feel bogged down or weary as we inch towards the episode’s battle. We continue to learn more about GGO, including its legal gray zone status in both America and Japan, as well as the details of how the Bullet of Bullets (BoB) will go down. Oh, yeah, and Sinon finally finds out that Kirito is a guy.

Truthfully, this is the one gripe Christians should have about this episode. There were plenty of ways to have this happen. The writers (and, probably, the original author) decided to have it happen in the changing room, after Sinon (in-game) removes her clothing and is only in her underwear. You can check the content guide for the periods of time where we actually see her standing around in her underwear. Granted, I could try to put a positive spin on this whole situation and say that at least they portrayed Kirito well and made him fess up once he realized that Sinon was that comfortable around him, but why should I? The fact is, there were other ways they could have gone about bringing up this plot point without the fanservice, no matter how mild it may be. Yes, this does ultimately lead to Sinon having a change in feelings towards Kirito, which sparks what I’m going to call a rivalry, but again there were certainly more tasteful ways it could have been done. How about Sinon finding out who Kirito really is and thus being spurred on by competition? Wouldn’t that have worked? But, then again, we’ve seen most (if not all) of the female characters in their underwear throughout this show, so they had to keep up with the par, right?

Okay, I’ve spent too long ranting about something that honestly didn’t rub me as raw as it probably sounds. This stuff doesn’t need to be in the show, to be sure, but I’ve certainly seen worse in terms of how graphic the fanservice is. Beyond that point, we finally get to see Kirito enter into his first battle, and while he probably performs better than any newbie realistically would, he certainly doesn’t blow the competition away. Kirito certainly takes a few hits before he figures out a strategy, and his extensive experience with online games thankfully gives us a realistic explanation for why he can adapt so quickly (better than dealing with a Mary Sue type character, at least). We also get to see Kirito make contact with Death Gun in this episode, and the information that’s revealed may or may not be surprising.

Overall, Gun and Sword continues the strong start that SAO II has had, albeit with a bit of a hiccup that we Christian viewers can agree could have been left out.

A Christian Perspective:

Let Kirito’s predicament be a lesson to us all. By allowing Sinon to continue believing he was a girl, he ultimately put himself in an uncomfortable position that forced him to reveal his gender, which in turn caused Sinon to be quite angry at him. What started out as a potential friendship has now been wrecked, simply because Kirito wasn’t honest. As Christians, we’re expected to be honest, and to further drive home the point let’s look at what will happen to liars:

Revelation 21:8 – But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
So we see straight from the Bible that lying is a sin—why else would all liars be destined for the fiery lake of burning sulfur? Let’s face it: lying destroys trust. It destroys relationships. I can honestly say that it very well could have destroyed my relationship with my (then) fiancee, (now) wife. Even though Christ saving me ultimately saved my relationship, there was still a damage to the trust my fiancee had in me when she found out everything that I had been doing. Kirito has lost the friendship of someone he barely knew, but who was nice to him nonetheless, and who knows what kind of repercussions this may have on him in the future. At least in his case, at least he could leave the game and never have to deal with Sinon again. We don’t have that luxury. Is saving yourself a bit of discomfort by telling a convenient lie really worth damaging your relationship with another person? And, more importantly, is it really worth sinning against God?

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Sinon is shown in blue (maybe like a digital format?) and apparently naked–it’s about as detailed as a Barbie doll (4:57 – 5:01); Sinon (in game) removes her outfit and is shown in her bra and underwear (6:37 – 6:46; 6:51 – 7:06; 7:08 – 7:13; 7:17 – 7:29; 7:35 – 7:39)

Violence: A character is slapped in the face (although we don’t see the actual slap); typical GGO violence–people being shot and shot at, plus a character is stabbed (in game)

Blood/Gore: Just the red marks that appear when a character is shot

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 3: Rei – Sailor Mars –

Review:

Third episode, third guardian. If you are at all familiar with the original anime series, then you probably know that this is a much faster pace than the original (I looked it up upon writing this article, and it wasn’t until episode ten that Rei made her debut, though for American viewers it would have been episode seven). It looks like things will slow up for the moment—the next episode doesn’t appear to have any new guardians being introduced. So, what do you have to look forward to here?

Rei is a shrine maiden with supernatural abilities. Among these are the ability to see things in fire and, possibly, the ability to exorcise demons (she does throw a talisman at Usagi’s face). This may be uncomfortable for some Christian viewers, as the show is clearly giving life to supernatural abilities outside of the Sailor Guardian transformations. If that’s you, then proceed with caution. If you lack any such conviction, then it probably won’t bother you. It certainly isn’t the most intense depiction of Japanese mysticism, or whatever you want to call it.

While some things were probably changed, the basics of this episode are still the same: people are disappearing on a bus known as the “Demon 6:00 p.m. Bus”. Rei ends up getting caught up in the drama behind it, as a little girl who frequents the shrine has disappeared, and it appears that some of the townspeople do not have a kind opinion of the shrine. Usagi ultimately gets involved in all of this once she decides to follow Rei off of the bus.

On the other side of things, we see the emergence of two new enemies from the Dark Kingdom. While they don’t play much of a role in this episode—other than to antagonize Jadeite—they are introduced and will likely begin to play a larger role as the series progresses.

One major change from the original anime (or perhaps this is more in line with the manga) is that Rei and Usagi are not shown as rivals by the end of the episode. Now, I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain that Rei more or less declared herself Usagi’s rival for Tuxedo Mask’s affection by the end of her introduction episode in the original series. Not only does that not happen here, Tuxedo Mask doesn’t even participate in the fight! It will be interesting to see if they bring this plot point around at some other time, or if that rivalry is gone. If it’s gone, then it will be interesting to see a different dynamic between Usagi and Rei than what was previously presented.

A Christian Perspective:

We can learn something from the way Rei is treated by some of the townspeople in this episode. It would seem that her supernatural powers make some people uneasy, which ultimately leads to a couple ladies leveling claims against her. We can do this as Christians, too. It may not be something as odd as supernatural abilities, but how many times have we looked at a person who is stuck in some sin or who is living a poor lifestyle and judged them? How many times have we each failed to reach out with the love of Christ and embrace these people who society frowns upon, instead of joining in with everyone else who has ultimately judged them? We need to remember that loving the person does not equate to approving their sin. We need to be more like Usagi, standing up for the people that society would frown upon because they’re “different”, or because our society has chalked them up to “failures” or something else. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did (see: the story of the Samaritan woman and the story of the woman caught in adultery for examples)? As Christians aren’t we supposed to emulate Christ to a broken world? So then, let’s reach out and embrace those who have been unfairly judged and demeaned, and ultimately show them a better way in Christ.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Transformation sequences; the preview shows a girl wearing a dress that shows some cleavage

Violence: None in the usual sense, although the Sailor Guardians use their powers to fight, and their enemy is able to freeze parts of their bodies by touching them

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 4: GGO

Review:

Four episodes in, and Kirito has finally entered the world of Gun Gale Online. Don’t expect the bullets to start flying yet, though—the boy has to figure out how this game works first, and that’s kind of what we see happening this time around. First off, as you may have gathered from the intro, the character with long black hair is indeed Kirito, and no, he is not a girl in this game. Apparently, he has gained a rare avatar. I’m not quite sure what, exactly, makes it rare, but right off the bat another player tries to offer Kirito what I assume to be a large sum of money for his character. Also, if you mistook Kirito for a girl, don’t feel bad… most of the players in GGO seem to make that mistake up to and including Sinon, whom Kirito befriends and ultimately relies on to get a solid footing in the game.

Now, one criticism that could be made is that, yet again, the writer makes it all too easy for Kirito to get off the ground. While the stats carrying over from character conversion make sense, Kirito is given a quick out for his lack of income within the game. Instead of actually having to work to get started (for a change), Kirito is introduced to a mini-game where, if he reaches the gunman, he will earn all of the money people have spent trying to beat it. This comes out to more than 300,000 credits. After a small explanation from Sinon and watching a single failed attempt, Kirito figures the game out, beats it, and gets the money he needs to buy equipment. Honestly, if any arc could have pulled off making Kirito work for his cash, it would have been this one, since we’ve been moving slowly from the get go. Of course, while watching the episode this criticism didn’t hit me. I was all for Kirito getting in there and owning that game, but in retrospect it does kind of keep coming back to Kirito overcoming the system in some way. At the end of it all, though, he still has a long way to go in learning to shoot a gun, so he doesn’t exactly have it made within the world of GGO.

I guess what we do have to consider, too, is the character’s motivation. Kirito is pretty much trying to get in, figure out the whole Death Gun thing, and get out, so of course he would be searching for the quickest method to achieve his goal. Whether such an outcome is realistic or not, I don’t know (since we don’t exactly have full dive technology to test it out), but at least that thinking pulls the idea together. All-in-all, it wasn’t a very eventful episode, but it was fun and, as usual, it went by fast. At least now Kirito and Sinon have met, so perhaps we’ll see more of our main hero. It will also be interesting to see what happens when Sinon finally figures out that Kirito isn’t a girl…

A Christian Perspective:

Let’s all just take a lesson from Sinon here. Kirito was quite clearly a newb in GGO, converted account or not. It would have been very easy for Sinon to just let him go on his way, but instead she went out of her way to help him get started. From advising him on what type of weaponry to use, to showing him how to earn money, and even to helping him get some practice in, she pretty much provided as much help as she possibly could—and, in the end, it was to her own detriment, as she realized that she only had ten minutes left to register for the BoB. Much like Sinon did for Kirito, we should do for others. As Christians, we are supposed to help others. Just consider the following two Scriptures:

Matthew 25: 35 – 36: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Hebrews 13: 2: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it

From the words of Scripture, we should be willing to help those in need and to show hospitality to strangers. Whether it be a brief pause to give someone directions, giving food to a hungry person, inviting a stranded person into your home, or any other example of being hospitable that you can think of, we should do it.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ll”, 1 “cr*p”, 1 “d**n”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Shirtless Kirito in the pre-intro flashback; in-game girls are shown modeling guns

Violence: A game character is shot by an NPC; mainly just the NPC character that shoots at players

Blood/Gore: None, unless you count the red circles that appear on players who get shot

Review: Sword Art Online II, Episode 3: Memories of Blood

Review:

Well, if you haven’t taken a shine to Sinon yet, I hope you do soon, as she certainly doesn’t seem to be going anywhere (although the opening and ending credits should probably have given that away). Even this episode was mostly focused on her, although we did get a little Kirito action this time around. This time around, we get to find out some of Sinon’s back story, and it’s pretty intense. Honestly, though, if we pull out of the suspension of disbelief, it is kind of a hard-to-believe situation, but then again we are watching a show about games that allow you to fully immerse yourself in them, so I guess we can give Sinon’s backstory a pass. I won’t give away details, since I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible. What I will say, though, is that if graphically violent scenes disturb you, then you may want to read a synopsis of Sinon’s backstory, or ask a friend who knows about it…

I previously stated that this season felt like it would be much slower in pacing compared to the previous one, and this episode seems to reinforce that notion all the more. As of the end of this episode, Kirito has just entered GGO, without even a glance at what he looks like inside the game (although it’s pretty easy to figure out if you sit through the opening credits). So, how will these two characters come together—and let’s be real here, we know Kirito and Sinon will be involved with each other? Well, we get at least some idea of that this time around with a non-descriptive shot of Death Gun, but we’ll have to wait for any more information.

A Christian Perspective:

Who among us hasn’t done something that we regret, something that may have just impacted us for a moment or that may continue to carry negative ramifications as we go about our lives? While it may not be fair to say that Sinon regrets what happened in her past (I don’t see any indication of that), she is certainly suffering ongoing ramifications for her actions. As Christians, we also face the same things. When we came to Christ, we were ultimately broken, lost in sin, and spiritually dirty. We know that we are forgiven of our past sins but our enemy, Satan, will still try to hold us down. Have you ever been assaulted by a mistake your made in the past? What about feeling as if you were defined by a mistake? Remember that you have been forgiven, and that your past no longer defines you or has any hold on you!

If you have never come to know Jesus, then you should know that there is forgiveness waiting. Do you think you cannot be forgiven? Do you feel like you’ve just messed up too much to be saved? You should know that such thoughts are lies from hell! Mark 3: 28-29 reads: Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” As you can see, there is forgiveness and salvation awaiting you in Jesus. The alternative is to live with the sins of your past hovering over you, which will ultimately lead to eternal suffering in hell.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “j**z”, 1 “c**p”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Sinon (in real life) is shown removing her skirt–however, you see nothing more than her bare legs (8:47 – 8:50); there is another brief shot of Sinon’s legs; Sinon’s legs again 12:48 – 12:50; Okay, they show images of Sinon just wearing her white shirt quite a bit (basically, you see her bare legs a lot); a nurse touches Kirito’s butt; there is a brief shot of the nurse’s cleavage as she reaches into her pocket for a piece of paper; shirtless Kirito starting around 18:19; Sinon (real life) is shown naked from the waist up, but her arms are covering her chest so you don’t see anything overly explicit (20:04 – 20:16)

Violence: A game character is shown being shot in the chest; a flashback shows a man robbing a bank(?)–he throws a woman to the ground and eventually shoots a man, a scuffle breaks out between him and a child (the child bites his hand, and ultimately gets his gun, shooting him three times during the struggle)

Blood/Gore: A scene is shown where a girl has blood on her legs and a man has blood on his head; during the struggle between the child and burglar, blood can be seen coming from the man’s gunshot wounds and there is also some on the child; blood is also shown pooling on the ground; Sinon sees an image of a man with blood on his head

Other: The nurse in the hospital tells Kirito to take off his clothes, and she comments that she saw everything anyway, which prompts Kirito to cover/grab at his groin

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 2: Ami – Sailor Mercury –

Review:

Okay, while I don’t want to keep making comparisons to the original anime (especially since my own memory of it isn’t the most accurate at this point), I will say that the introduction of Sailor Mercury happens a lot sooner than the original. Of course, I believe that is also in keeping with the pace of the manga which, as I understand it, is the purpose of Sailor Moon Crystal. That’s all well and fine, anyway, as Sailor Mercury was my favorite Sailor Senshi back in the day. Why? You got me, especially since green is my favorite color. All I know is I had one of those creepy otaku crushes for a long time, but, you know, that was before being saved and… I’m going to stop talking about this now.

So, for the most part, this episode plays out more-or-less like I remember it. As I said, it’s been quite some time since I’ve watched the original series, and I haven’t read the manga in some time, either, so there may be details that I’m forgetting, but the general essence is there: Ami is introduced as the smart girl in school, she goes to a special school in the evenings, said school is actually a ploy by the bad guys, Sailor Moon goes in to save Ami, Ami becomes Sailor Mercury, everyone goes home happy. One detail that has clearly been changed, though, is the technology used in the show. I can’t take credit for noticing this, as it was pointed out elsewhere, but in the original series the program that Ami uses is on a floppy disk (makes since, as it took place in the 90’s). In Crystal, though, the program is on a CD. Add to that the fact that Usagi has a laptop running what appears to be Windows 7 (again, an observation I gleaned from someone else), and you can definitely see the change. Granted, this certainly isn’t a major change, but it does break from faithfulness to the source material, albeit in a minor and insubstantial way. The only awkward thing will be if everything else stays the same and the setting is supposed to still be in the 90’s…

I still think one of the biggest transitions for me is the new art style. While I’ve read some of the manga, I am much more familiar with the original anime, so it’s kind of a stark contrast in appearances. Not that the art style is bad—my only complaint would be the characters’ lips in Crystal; for some reason, the emphasized lips just don’t appeal to me. Outside of that, I really can’t criticize the art work, as it is beautiful.

Really, I don’t know what to say here. Again, if you are a fan of the original series then this should scratch your nostalgia itch without necessarily making you feel like you’re just re-watching something you’ve seen time and again. If you’re new to Sailor Moon, then this is a good place to start, and if you feel like the magical girl thing is cliched, just remember that Sailor Moon was one of—if not the—original magical girl series.

A Christian Perspective:

Well, we can learn a lot about how we should interact with people from Usagi. On the one hand, she approaches Ami to befriend her when everyone else seems to be keeping their distance. That’s good. That’s the kind of thing we should be doing as Christians: reaching across lines and befriending those who others avoid, for whatever reasons. It’s our job to bring the love of Christ to everyone, not just those we think deserve it or those whom society esteems.

On the other hand, Usagi certainly seems to have ulterior motives, as she thinks to herself that she could get Ami to help her study and improve her grades. This… is not what we should do. We should help others out of love and a desire to serve Christ, not for what they can do for us. (Luke 6: 34 – 35: And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (NIV))

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Queen Beryl’s dress is designed in such a way that part of her breasts are shown… I can’t really think of how to explain it, but it’s not really anything worse than if it was cleavage, I guess; Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury go through the transformation scene (I won’t mention this in every episode, since it’s basically a staple and likely to be in every episode… all you really see is an outline of their bodies because of how it’s done, but I guess we’re meant to assume that they are technically naked as they transform)

Violence: Sailor Moon is attacked with magical paper… (Yeah); Moon Tiara Boomerang

Blood/Gore: None

Review: Sword Art Online II: Episodes 1 and 2

Review:

Okay, I know I usually do my reviews episode-by-episode, but at this point I’ve neglected to write my review of episodes one and two, and we are just a couple of days from episode three. To save the hassle of having two somewhat underwhelming reviews (especially in regards to episode one), I’m just going to combine the first two reviews into one.

The first thing you’re going to notice about this season is that it has a much slower pacing than the original. By the end of the first episode in the original series, we had the premise of the series laid out and the plot off to a running start. This time around, we have a much slower build. Sure, we have some semblance of an idea about what’s happening: players are being attacked within another game called Gun Gale Online (GGO) and are dying in real life. Kirito is asked to go into GGO and investigate. That’s kind of the premise, although besides setting this up via a meeting between Kirito and Kikuoka Seijiro, we don’t see much of it. Instead, we get a lot of Kirito and Asuna screen time, as well as some in-game scenes from GGO itself. Don’t misunderstand, though: there is enough information given for us to understand what type of game GGO is; in fact, the second episode all but takes place entirely inside the game.

Here may be where viewers first take issue with this season: Kirito, who we would assume to continue as the main character, actually takes a backseat in the second episode. Instead, this one focuses on a character named Sinon, a sniper within GGO. With the exception of a scene within Alfheim Online (ALO) near the end of the episode, the entire episode is about Sinon. I think it’s safe to say that she will have a major role to play within this season. If you’re willing to entertain some character introduction without Kirito’s involvement, though, I think you’ll find yourself enjoying the second outing from this season. There is plenty of action to be had as bullets fly between contending parties.

Whether season two will best season one or not is obviously yet to be seen. We can’t really make that kind of determination from two episodes. Season two is certainly off to a strong start, and it seems to be taking its time building its plot this time around. Granted, the suddenness of season one’s plot certainly worked for it–the reveal of the characters’ situation was just as stunning for the viewer as it was for the players! It may also help that at this point in the story the original novel writer had a few light novels under his belt, and was therefore maturing in his approach. If nothing else, season two seems to hold more hope for itself than the second half of season one, which seems to be where most people find their complaints (I say this, of course, solely based upon my own observations). I suspect that we will be facing a darker plot this time around, but only time will tell.

A Christian Perspective:

Well, I don’t really have any spiritual lessons that I’ve drawn from these episodes. Content wise, just know that there is violence. Of course, there was violence in the first series, so if you were okay with that then this shouldn’t be much different. There are more guns than swords right now, but the severity of the gore is the same, which is to say that it’s pretty much non-existent. If you play games like Call of Duty without any problem then you shouldn’t be bothered by the violence in GGO.

Content Guide:
Episode 1:

Language: 1 “h*ll” (although in context, I believe it was “No way in h*ll”)

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: The camera pans up from behind a female character dressed in short-shorts, which leads to a shot of her crotch (is there a nicer way of saying this?) and butt 21:11 – 21:16; Leafa is shown in the credits (her top shows cleavage)

Violence: Within a game, we see a character shoot a TV screen, and the character on the screen starts to hold his chest and gag before disappearing into fragments; a character in a game is shot; end credits show game characters being shot with guns and sliced with a sword

Blood/Gore: Characters are shown dissolving in fragments

Episode 2:

Language: 3 “d**n”, 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Sinon’s top shows cleavage; a male character is checking out Sinon, and the camera zooms in to reflect this, focusing on her thighs and her cleavage (5:53 – 5:59); the camera zooms up on Sinon as she is lying down in her sniper pose, panning up her (clothed) backside, with a shot of her crotch (again) and butt (9:14 – 9:20); Leafa’s top shows cleavage

Violence: A character is shown shooting at a monster–the monster fires back at one point, and destroys a pillar, but is eventually destroyed and it turns into fragments; a character is shot in the head and disappears; a character opens fire on another character; characters are shown shooting at each other and being shot; when characters are shot, red spots appear on their bodies (presumably to represent blood) and the characters disappear when they die; gun fights and explosions continue on; a character has her leg blown off-in game (no blood or gore shown, just the usual red coloring); a character is shot in the head; characters are shown fighting a giant plant monster

Blood/Gore: See Violence

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 1: Usagi -Sailor Moon-

Review:

Okay, if you grew up in the 90’s then there’s a good chance you knew about and possibly watched Sailor Moon. Maybe you were like me, and didn’t realize you were watching “anime”, but regardless you probably had some exposure to it. Well, Sailor Moon is back, this time with a different art style and, if I recall correctly, a story that more closely follows the manga. So how does it compare to the original anime?

Well, to be honest, it seems to be more or less the same in terms of content as far as I remember. Now, to be fair, I didn’t go back and watch the first episode of the original anime or read the first part of the manga (hey now, it didn’t occur to me), but nothing really struck me with the realization of, “Hey, I don’t remember that.” What I mean to say is, if you liked the way the first one started, then you should enjoy this one. Of course, one of the first things you’ll notice is the different art style. What’s nice, though, is that while it’s different, it still has something of a “retro” feel to it, at least in my opinion. Perhaps it’s because it’s drawn as opposed to being CGI. Regardless, it’s an attractive show, but will probably feel odd if you’re very accustomed to the original.

My one complaint is that Usagi doesn’t feel as spastic. She feels more subdued in this iteration. She’s still ditzy (see her failing grade), but something about her character just seems different. Maybe I need to re-watch the original to see if it’s just me. Regardless, if you’re a long time fan of Sailor Moon, then I think you’ll enjoy this reboot. If you’ve never seen or heard of Sailor Moon before, then this is a good place to start.

A Christian Perspective:

Eh, nothing truly pertinent right now. I’ll just say that, while the NSF section below does look quite full, most of it is just comments about cleavage. For the Sailor Moon veterans, yes, the transformation scene is still there. I have mentioned it, although I don’t know how fanservicey you could consider it (I mean, you see nothing other than a silhouette, basically, as her body is basically made up of space and stars, or something, until her sailor suit forms). Regardless, I’m not going to necessarily mention the transformation scene in every episode review. It’s basically a staple of the series, seeing as how the Sailor Senshi will probably transform in every episode, so go into each episode expecting it.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “Oh my G**”, 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Princess Serenity is shown in a dress that shows a bit of cleavage during the opening moments of the show and during the intro song and elsewhere; Queen Beryl wears a cleavage revealing dress and is seen in the intro; Naru’s mom’s dress shows a little cleavage; the episode contains the traditional Sailor Moon transformation scene where Sailor Moon’s body is shown as a night sky (essentially), which I always assumed meant she was naked without there actually being any graphic nudity; the monster impersonating Naru’s mom is shown with the front of her dress ripped, which means more cleavage

Violence: Luna claws Usagi’s face at two different points; Sailor Moon dives to the ground and scrapes her knee; Sailor Moon destroys the monster by hurling her tiara at it

Blood/Gore: Sailor Moon is shown with a scraped knee; the monster turns into dust or something like that