Tag Archives: Winter 2015

Review: KanColle, Episode 12: Kantai Collection

Review:

Well, one thing that can be said for the final episode of KanColle is that it went out with a bang. The vast majority of the episode is an action-packed sea battle that should either feed whatever thirst you may have for combat, or annoy you by the repetitive nature of the occurrences. Essentially, the battle keeps restarting. Every time things look like they’re supposed to end, the fight resets with the Fleet Girls left more and more depleted. This would seem to play into the whole “destiny” aspect that was introduced in the previous episode, although there is a clear solution that becomes evident as the episode plays on.

As stated in the previous review, this concept of the girls being driven by some invisible force of destiny would have been a great plot point had it been used from the get-go (or at least early on) instead of being tacked on at the last minute. Instead, it was added on hastily and solved by the following episode. The solution to the issue of a regenerating enemy also seems to undermine the “destiny” aspect of things, as it really ends up being less about fighting against some pre-ordained event and more about eliminating numbers. All-in-all, while it was an entertaining episode from an action stand point, it ultimately falls flat on its face in terms of plot once you stop to consider the way everything played out. *Spoiler* The fact that everyone lived, despite the presence of overwhelming enemy numbers, also detracts from the impact. While I’m not a fan of killing characters for the sake of killing characters, there is a certain level of realism that it would have achieved in this setting. *Spoiler*

Of course, the end of the episode is the typical spunky, happy thing you would probably expect from a show about cute girls with ship powers. In the end, KanColle was my guilty pleasure show for the season. I enjoyed it for what it was and found entertainment outside of the fanservice, but when looked at on a critical level it ultimately fails. The conclusion of the episode also announces a sequel, but at this point I don’t know if I will be tuning in.

A Christian Perspective:

I feel like I’ve made a lot of connections to the church being the Body of Christ this season, and not just in this show. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but that’s about the only connection that I can make for this episode. In the end, part of the reason the girls succeed (other than the fact that a cute girl show where all the girls die and the enemies win would not appeal to the moe crowd) is that everyone plays their parts. The girls who were sent to be diversions until the time was right come in as scheduled, and even those who wouldn’t normally set foot on the battlefield make their way out to lend their firepower to the war effort. I wont’ claim to be very active in my local church (because that would be a lie… I help out here and there, but I’m not nearly as involved as some people), so it would be hypocritical for me to sit here and lecture you about how we should also be getting up and going out to support the effort for Christ. Speaking from a matter-of-fact perspective, though: that is how it’s supposed to be. How much any one person is supposed to do I cannot say—perhaps God intends for one person to do more than another. All I know is that it’s important to be involved, and that if we feel God is leading us to a certain place then we should consider it, pray on it, and, if we truly feel God is leading us that way, follow through.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Damaged fleet girls show cleavage; the airfield princess is shown in what appears to be a skimpy outfit; there is a shot of Nagato’s legs from the front, and it appears that you can see the very bottom of her butt in the shot

Violence: Fleet girls are bombed, Abyssals are shot down, explosions; Abyssals are hit with fleet girl rounds and blown up; an Abyssal is kicked; an Abyssal is punched and kicked; basically, plenty of gunfire, explosions, bombs, and the like the go around

Blood/Gore: One fleet girl has a trickle of blood in the corner of her mouth; the Airfield Princess has some purple stuff (Abyssal blood?) on her body

Other: Oicchi refers to Kitakami as “my Kitakami-san”; Mutsu hangs onto Nagato in a suggestive manner (and later brings her flowers)

Review: KanColle, Episode 11: Operation MI Begins!

Review:

Like some of the earlier episodes, this one presents a sharp contrast of dark, intense scenes and light-hearted scenes, although the focus is certainly more on the former than the latter. We begin on a dark note as Akagi has a dream where the fleet girls are completely wiped out during the upcoming mission. It turns out that she has been having this dream for a while, and that she has a history of experiencing premonitions where she felt pulled to follow a particular path as if prompted by destiny. It’s unfortunate that this plot line was not developed earlier in the series, as it would have made an interesting subplot to the otherwise generic “beat the bad guys” plot. It also seems to tie into the backstory of the actual game (which holds that the girls are actually sunken battleships that have come to life as girls in an alternate universe). My hypothesis is that this is the direction the show is moving in, hence why Akagi feels like she is being pulled to a certain destiny.

The focus on Akagi in this episode was also a nice change, as it highlighted the part of her personality that I imagine most of the characters admire, as opposed to the usual scenes of her being a glutton that have become the typical scenes she appears in. Unfortunately this, too, comes at the end of the series, making it a little late for character development. In short, it seems like KanColle tried to give too many of the girls screen time, which interfered with the ability to really build up a principle cast (outside of Fubuki, Yuudachi, and Mutsuki). While this episode functions well enough by itself—and is certainly enjoyable—it does bring to light the above-mentioned issues that make one consider how the story could have been done better up until this point.

KanColle may not be the greatest anime, but it has certainly been entertaining up until this point, and this episode is no different. With the ending of the show looming on the horizon, this episode sets the scene for the finale very well, with an intense battle scene in the latter half of the episode before ending on a cliffhanger. While there are certainly many things that could have been done better in the series (especially in light of this episode), it doesn’t take away from the fact that this was a well-done episode (minus the stuff in the Nudity/Sex/Fanservice section). Hopefully the finale will be done just as well.

A Christian Perspective:

In this episode, Akagi talks about feeling as though she is being lead in a certain direction by some force of destiny. She also speaks of wanting to oppose this force, which can either have a positive or negative reflection from a Christian perspective. On the one hand, God has certainly put in place a certain “destiny” for this world, which can be found in Revelation. There are those who oppose this by their unbelief, as if not believing in it will stop it from happening. That, of course, is the bad kind of opposition, as it suppresses the truth and blinds the holders of that view to their own sinfulness.

On the other hand, there is the fact that all humans, regardless of how “good” we are by human standards, are bad, and if left to our own devices we are all “destined” for hell. Thankfully, God sent His Son, Jesus, to live a sinless life, die on a cross (where he became sin for us), and rise again, thus defeating death and the grave, which gives us access to eternal life if we put our faith in Jesus. We are, in a sense, opposing our destiny if we turn from our sinful ways and follow Jesus, for then we are receiving a gift we do not deserve and escaping the punishment that our sins rightfully deserve, because Jesus already took the punishment for us. So, we can either fight against destiny by opposing the truth, or we can fight against it by embracing that truth and then embracing what was done for us by Jesus in light of that truth, and in that way we can truly escape the punishment that all humanity would otherwise be destined for.

And then there’s the whole free will/predestination debate, but I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole!

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: A slight cleavage shot near the beginning of the episode; Nagato and Mutsu midrift outfits; around 4:30 there is a flashback to two girls in bikinis (thus cleavage), and a close up of one girl’s bikini-clad breasts bouncing; several girls are shown in the bath around the 11:15 mark, with the fanservice being equivalent to cleavage; 13:43 and 13:45 have brief underwear shots; an Abyssal female is shown in a very skimpy bikini-like thing (or may be partially nude… can’t really tell what it’s supposed to be); other Abyssal females are shown in bikini-like clothing (cleavage); fleet girls are damaged, and their damaged tops show cleavage

Violence: Two girls are bombed (though the impact is not shown); fleet girls bomb an Abyssal; Abyssals launch an attack on some fleet girls—the girls are attacked with bombs and torpedoes (bullets are probably involved too); a flashback to an Abyssal getting shot in the face
Blood/Gore: A girl has blood running down the corner of her mouth; a line of blood is shown on Akagi’s face

Other: Akagi speaks of a feeling that they are being lead along a certain path—she also has a dream that potentially shows the future, and Nagao echoes similar feelings; Nagao lays her head on Mutsu’s chest, and the two sort of hug; Ooicchi’s usual freak outs about Kitakami; Yuudachi, Mutsuki, and Fubuki pray(?) at Kisaragi’s grave

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 18: Invasion -Sailor Venus-

Review:

So, do you remember that prediction I made at the end of my last review? Of course you do. Well, that prediction was surprisingly wrong. Bravo Sailor Moon Crystal, bravo.

With three of the five Senshi now taken prisoner by the Black Moon, it is understandable that morale is pretty low—at least for Usagi. Minako, on the other hand, is out for vengeance. Sadly, this episode doesn’t really give the spotlight to Minako as it did to the other Senshi in the past weeks. While she does get some decent screen time throughout the episode, we don’t really find out anything about her that we don’t already know, which is a shame. Then again, I suppose Ami is the only one who truly got that treatment.

On the other hand, the episode does do a good job of giving screen time to a variety of characters, including the Dark Moon group. While nothing particularly substantial, the episod does throw into question the presence of “Wiseman”, and shows that there may not be complete unity among the Dark Moon in relation to Wiseman’s involvement. While this doesn’t do much to flesh out the Dark Moon’s agenda or the characters themselves, it does at least give a little more depth to their characterization beyond the “bad guys doing bad stuff” approach. Chibi-usa continues to be a bit of a mystery, although we find out that she is terrified of the black crystal the Dark Moon kingdom uses, and we also find out a little more about why she wants the Legendary Silver Crystal.

One plot element that was abruptly introduced in this episode was Mamoru’s ability to channel the spirits of the four knights through the stones that represent them. Occultic suggestions aside, this kind of comes out of nowhere, as we have never seen him do this before. On the other hand, Tuxedo Mask does get a cool new power in this episode, so that’s cool. It would just have been nice if his apparent ability to speak with his dead servants was something that had been previously explained, and not something conveniently introduced.

Another gripe that I have—which is with the show overall—is that, despite the Senshi all having new powers in this arc, they are still seemingly useless. Sure, they blow away the Droids with relative ease, but they are always bested by the Dark Moon enemies. Venus is no exception in this episode. It raises the question of why they’re even there, as they always need Sailor Moon to ultimately bail them out. It would be nice to see the Senshi actually hold their own for once.

Gripes aside, this is still a decent episode that continues in the darker, grittier vein of its predecessors. Christian viewers may feel a bit uneasy with the amount of channeling that is shown in this episode, though. This week’s Specter Sister is able to channel the spirits of her dead sisters, and as previously mentioned Mamoru is also shown doing the same with the four knights. There are no dark, occultic rituals involved, or really any explanation of how it works, but the existence of it may make some viewers squeamish. If that’s not a problem for you, and if you’ve enjoyed the current arc up until this point, then you will ultimately feel right at home with this episode.

A Christian Perspective:

Deuteronomy 18:10-13

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God.

In this episode, we see two characters who are capable of communing with the dead (or at least certain people who are dead), and in one case a person who can use the powers of the dead for her own purposes. The verses shared above make it clear that these practices are not acceptable in God’s eyes. That’s all and well in regards to one character—she’s a bad guy, so the fact that she is using forbidden powers just goes right along with the face that she’s evil and a force to be defeated. The problem is that the other person is Mamoru, AKA Tuxedo Mask, who is apparently able to speak to the four knights who were killed during the first half of the series. Does it make the practice excusable because Mamoru is a “good” guy in the show? The short answer is, no.

Now, before anyone goes getting all up in arms, let me say that yes, I realize this is a made up show with its own made of continuity and so forth, but the whole purpose of the Christian Perspective section is to draw applicable lessons from fictitious shows. While the universe of Sailor Moon may not have anything wrong with practices such as these, they are forbidden in the real world in which you and I live. Clearly, the verses from Deuteronomy do not give any exceptions to the rule. It does not say you cannot practice divination or consult spirits “unless”; it simply says do not do it. In fiction, we like to draw a line between good and evil practices: we might call “bad” magic “black” magic, and “good” magic “white” magic. Some series’ use these terms, but only to describe the difference between offensive and defensive/healing magic (see: Final Fantasy). Again, this is all fine and well in fiction—I am not a believe in the idea that doing something in a video game means you are guilty of it in real life*, but we have to realize that this is a thin line, because what is okay in the world these games and shows take place in is not okay in the real world.

Truth be told, I believe the concept of “white” and “black” magic does exist in the real world, but let me make it clear: there is NO “good” magic. God has made it clear that we are to practice no magic whatsoever, and that to do so is a sin. Again, I do not believe you are sinning by watching Sailor Moon or any other fantasy series, nor by playing Final Fantasy or any other video game in which your characters use “magic” as defined by the world in which the game takes place. That said, if watching these things or playing those games makes you curious about real magic, and you feel yourself wanting to look into it or even practice it yourself, you need to STOP watching/playing whatever it is, because you are being adversely affected. Mamoru may be a “good” guy within the Sailor Moon universe, and within that universe there may be nothing wrong with him channeling the spirits of his dead knights, but that should not inspire you to do the same with your dead relatives or anyone else—this is a sin against God. If it does, then you need to seriously assess a couple of things, such as your ability to discern between fiction and reality, as well as what affects the things you are absorbing are having on you.

*Jesus said that looking at a woman with lust means we have already committed adultery in our hearts. I think it would be unwise to only apply this to adultery, as it seems to suggest that if we look at something with sinful desires, then we have already sinned, so while I don’t believe simply watching fantasy shows or playing fantasy games to be inherently sinful, I do think it is possible to sin in our hearts if we find ourselves truly desiring to mimic the things we are seeing on screen.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d*mn”, 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Calaveras wears a cleavage-revealing top; princess Serenity cleavage; Petz shows cleavage; Bertheir is in her leotard; Sailor Moon transforms

Violence: Artemis tackles a man; Venus is electrocuted by an enemy attack; Tuxedo Mask hits Reubeus in the face; Sailor Moon destroys an enemy

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Wiseman uses a crystal ball; Prince Demande’s third eye is shown in a flashback; the remaining Specter Sister is shown channeling the spirits of her dead sisters; Mamoru speaks to the spirits of the four dead knights; Calaveras brainwashes people; the other three Specter sisters show up as spirits; the Specter sisters use a magical-esque attack; Tuxedo Mask shoots energy from his hand

Review: Your Lie In April, Final Episode: Spring Wind

Review:

I’m going to post a fair warning here: this review will not be spoiler free. It would be ridiculously hard to give this episode a proper review without discussing the events that transpire, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet then I wouldn’t read past the first paragraph. Is this episode worth watching? Yes. Is there much to worry about in terms of content? No; if you’ve watched until this point, then there won’t be anything worse than what you’ve already seen. Now go, watch the episode, then come back and read my thoughts. Or stay. Your choice. But from here on out I’m not holding back.

The final episode picks up right where the previous one left off: Kousei is in the middle of his recital, and Kaori is on the operating table. Most—if not all—of the first half is devoted to Kousei’s recital, interspersed with scenes of Kaori in the operating room. Of course this portion of the episode also serves as a montage of all the people who have influenced Kousei along his journey up until this point, and of Kousei’s own internal monologue. The flashes to the operating room during these scenes are always white-knuckle moments, especially as the camera focuses on the heart monitor. Kaori passing away in this episode is almost a given, with the primary question being whether it will happen on the operating table or sometime later in the episode. As we come to find out, it happens on the operating table.

I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that we don’t actually see Kaori die. In fact, it’s not even fully confirmed until Kousei’s performance is over and he’s standing at Kaori’s grave site with her parents. During the performance itself, we see Kousei off in his own world, where Kaori appears and gives him that second duet he always wanted. Whether this is meant to be some kind of spiritual event wherein he performs with Kaori’s soul or if it’s just something that happens in his head is not explained; however, it is clear that he is acutely aware that Kaori has passed away, so it may be meant as a literal scene. As for the competition, we never do find out the results, which is fitting in the long run, as it was never really about Kousei winning but rather the impact that all these people had on Kousei’s life up until this point.

When I first saw this turn of events, I was content with it, but then the second half of the episode came. Much of this portion shows the seasons changing after Kaori’s passing while Kousei reads a letter that Kaori had written to him prior to her death. We hear her words posthumously read over these scenes, and it’s the first real glimpse we’ve gotten into the person of Kaori Miyazono throughout this whole series. What was worse was the fact that I actually had to stop and finish this portion of the episode later, which meant on my way to the gym I had time to think about it, and the more I thought about it the more I felt it wasn’t fair. Kousei was just now finding out about Kaori’s true feelings, her true motivations, and the lie she told (presumably in April). It felt more and more unfair the more I thought about it.

But life isn’t fair.

Your Lie In April may have had some fantastic elements, such as the conveyance of images through music and a seemingly spiritual duet at Kaori’s passing, but it was painfully realistic in a lot of ways. It would have been nice to see Kaori live through the surgery and play a duet with Kousei, followed by the two falling in love. Perhaps the series could have ended without actually showing Kaori’s death, leaving the viewers with the hopes that she could somehow survive, or at the very least having her die after the performance and after everyone’s true feelings were out on the table. That would have been more of an ideal ending, but the painful reality is that life isn’t real. People die with things unaccomplished. They die before we have the chance to know them as well as we’d like. They die in ways that are anticlimactic, such as during an operation while someone plays the piano. That’s the reality of life, and Your Lie In April didn’t shy away from that. Kaori was presented with a terminal illness, and the show saw that to the end.

Perhaps the most painful thing about Kaori’s letter is the fact that it reveals how little both Kousei and the viewer knew about her. It’s a fact that doesn’t really hit home without some thought. Sure, she was a major player during the first half of the series, with her presence (though not her impact) diminishing once she is hospitalized, but we didn’t know much about her. We were given enough so that she didn’t just feel like a plot point, but we never knew much about who Kaori Miyazono was. There was no real “viewer privilege” that the main character lacked. What he knew, we knew. So, in a sense, we share in Kousei’s pain of finding out how woefully lacking we were in our knowledge. Granted, the author of this series could easily make a side story that tells us more about Kaori, but hopefully he won’t, as that would destroy the beauty of this scene.

I’m sitting here at almost a page and a half of text—the longest review of a single episode I’ve ever written—and yet I still don’t feel like I’ve done it justice. There is just so much in that letter and this episode that moved me. Additionally, there was the tension of knowing that the episode was drawing ever closer to its close, and therefore to the end of Kousei’s story, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what was going to happen to him. What about Tsubaki? She certainly shows up quite a bit in the second half of this episode. While her name definitely comes up in Kaori’s letter and her role in Kousei’s life is certainly explained, nothing is forced. This much is left to the fans’ imaginations, which is ultimately a good thing, I think. After all, Kousei is still getting over the death of the girl he loves, so to put him with Tsubaki at the end would feel rushed and forced.

As far as any complaints and criticisms go, I still hold to the idea that Emi and Takeshi were horribly underutilized in the show, especially when Kousei credits them for part of his growth. The show could have done more with these rivals, and their almost complete absence from this episode really feels unfair. Then again, Watari doesn’t get much screen time or resolution as all, despite being one of Kousei’s two closest friends. Outside of that, it is really hard for me to find much to criticize in this episode.

I have previously compared Your Lie In April to a piece of music, and the comparison still holds here. Much like the final note in a song, the end of the show hangs in the air with a definitive conclusion. The journey is over—at least, the piece that we were allowed to be a part of, for more stories could inevitably be written about Kousei’s life. After all, he is getting ready to enter another spring, a spring without Kaori. Where will his life go from here? What challenges will he face? How will Kaori’s memory affect the rest of his life? We will probably never know the answers to these questions, but we can still ponder them and reflect on the impact that one single person can have.

A Christian Perspective:

Oh boy, I could say even more here, and this review has already gone on long enough! Well, first things first, there are a few issues that Christians may have with this episode. The first, of course, is the potential “spiritual duet” that Kousei plays with Kaori. It’s never officially stated that Kousei actually played with Kaori’s spirit, but it certainly is clear that he knew in that moment that Kaori had passed away. Later on, Kashiwagi encourages Tsubaki to listen to her heart, which is not sound advice, and Kashiwagi is revealed to be into Boys’ Love.

Beyond that, there are many positive elements that Christians can draw from this episode. Rather than go into exquisite detail (because I fear I may have lost some people by now), I will simplify what I have to say and also link you to another very good write up about this episode.

First up is the idea of building one another up. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.(1 Thessalonians 5:11). The penultimate point in this episode is how Kousei only reached the place he’s at because he was surrounded by people who built him up—people who wanted him to succeed and thus poured into him, or else people who challenged him in some way, shape, or form to grow. The same is true of spiritual growth. It is easy to become apathetic and not want to do the hard work that goes into learning more about God and growing spiritually, so we need people who can encourage us past our lethargy, our weaknesses, and whatever else stands in our way.

Secondly, there is the idea of selfless love that Kaori displays. It is not a perfect display, because it is in some ways selfish, as well. Allow me to explain. We find out that Kaori only pretended to like Watari to get close to Kousei. This is selfish. True, Watari is a womanizer who plays the field, but that doesn’t make using him any less wrong. The flip side, though, is that Kaori didn’t want to approach Tsubaki and ask to be set up with Kousei because she was well aware of Tsubaki’s feelings for Kousei, and she knew it wouldn’t be fair to take Kousei away when she herself was dying and wouldn’t be around for long. While her solution was selfish, her motivation was selfless, putting aside her own happiness in her limited time on Earth out of respect for Tsubaki’s feelings. This brings to mind what Paul wrote in Romans 14: 13-21, where he talks about not doing things that might make your brother stumble, despite the fact that you feel no conviction about it yourself. The point is that you sacrifice your own personal satisfaction and gratification for the benefit of another, much like Kaori did here.

The final point I want to make is in regards to Tsubaki’s final statements to Kousei before the episode ends. In essence, she tells Kousei that she will always be there for him, no matter what. We know that this comes from a place of love, because we’ve seen her love for Kousei revealed throughout the series. We don’t know how Kousei will ultimately respond to this love—the most we get is a smile—yet it’s hard to imagine not responding positively to this kind of love. After all, isn’t this the kind of thing we all want? Someone who will love us despite ourselves? How could we not fall in love with someone who would love us so completely? Yet many of us don’t. For no matter how much Tsubaki may love Kousei, it can’t compare to the love God has for us, and yet so many of us turn our backs on Him. Some do it permanently, making a lifestyle out of it, but even those of us who profess Jesus’ name tend to make mistakes, and sometimes we even turn our backs on Him. There are, of course, discussions on salvation that could be had here—if you turn your back, were you really saved? Does the length of time you’ve turned your back determine whether you were saved? Have you lost your salvation then?–but that is far from the purpose of this section, and far more advanced than I am equipped to handle. The point is that people will turn their backs on something so complete and fulfilling.

With all of that said, I will finally let you go, but not before linking to another very well written article on this episode. Check out what Charles from Beneath the Tangles had to say .

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “h*ck”, 1 “go to h*ll”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Tsubaki kicks Kousei in the shin

Blood/Gore: Some blood is shown on surgical instruments and gauze/cotton balls

Other: It is at least suggested that Kousei plays a duet with a deceased person; Kaori talks about not taking her regrets with her into heaven; Kashiwagi is revealed to be into Boys’ Love; Kashiwagi tells Tsubaki to listen to her heart; Seto describes Kousei’s playing as sensual

Review: Your Lie In April, Episode 21: Snow

Review:

After watching the girl he loves hit a critical state and failing to save the life of a stray cat, Kousei is in dire straits. He’s lost all will to even play the piano, despite the fact that his next performance is right around the corner. With that set up, it seems like this was destined to be a very depressing episode, so it is surprising when it isn’t. To be honest, it almost felt a little too rushed. Kousei is certainly down and out, but he seems to snap out of it fairly quickly thanks to the inspiration he receives from another character. For the amount of depression he seems to be suffering, it feels kind of fast for him to get over it within the first half of the episode. Then again, the scene that sets him back on the pianist’s path is no small or weak scene, either.

One area that Your Lie In April continues to do well in is the area of realism. While the show is a drama, it doesn’t necessarily play up the dramatic elements as you would expect. The big changes and revelations come amidst the mundane, everyday moments of life. Take the previous episode: Kousei’s life is going normally right until he gets to Kaori’s hospital room. There is no dramatic music or some series of dark, foreshadowed events to suggest that the episode will conclude in the dark fashion it does. Likewise, this episode, despite being the second-to-last, doesn’t necessarily feel like some huge climax in the story. The events that take place are huge in light of the overall plot thus far, but they are not over dramatized.

Despite this, the episode still manages to end with a sort of cliff-hanger, as one character’s situation has yet to be resolved. While Kousei may recover and deliver an awe-inspiring performance, we are still left guessing on one character’s fate. Amidst all the joy, triumph, support, and even love that is felt between the characters in this episode there remains an element of tension, which it seems will carry us up until the very end.

A Christian Perspective:

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,

This verse seems to sum up the relationship between Kaori and Kousei perfectly. Throughout the whole series, one has always spurred the other onto not giving up their craft—or on life, for that matter. Without Kaori, Kousei would never have gotten back to playing the piano, and Kaori would have given up on her life and her health if not for Kousei’s influence. In both cases, each character considered how they could best influence the other to do their best and not give up.

The Christian life is not an easy one, and we could stand to observe Kousei and Kaori’s relationship as an allegory of how we can spur each other on to not give up on our faith or our journey with Christ.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “da**it”, 1 “d**ned”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Kaori throws a stuffed animal at Kousei’s face

Blood/Gore: Kousei has a flashback to blood on his hands

Review: Your Lie In April, Episode 20: Hand In Hand

Review:

This is one of those episodes where not a lot happens, yet a lot still happens, if that makes any sense. Much of the first half is dedicated to the Kousei/Tsubaki relationship, between flashbacks to their childhood and to the present day events. Not much has changed here—Tsubaki is still pushing herself harder in order to stay close to Kousei, and Kousei is still oblivious to Tsubaki’s feelings for him. The difference is that Tsubaki finally seems to be getting fed up with the way things have been going. Without spoiling anything, there is a particular conversation where Tsubaki essentially breaks and tells Kousei what she thinks. She is also the first person to finally call him out on his interest in Kaori.

Speaking of Kousei, he is still much the same, swinging back and forth between wanting to visit Kaori and wanting to avoid the hospital whenever Watari is around. One would think that he’s finally be over that after the revelations from the previous episode, but apparently not. It probably doesn’t help that Kaori sends mixed signals his way. She tells him to check in, but then yells when he comes to the hospital because he’s not using that time to practice. Then she calls his cell phone and says that talking on the phone is alright. Kousei may not be handling the situation well, but it is easy to argue that he may not even know how to handle it, all things considered.

Watari, unfortunately, continues to be more of a background character. He is there, but mainly as a plot point. Throughout the whole series he hasn’t gotten nearly as much screen time as the other characters, despite supposedly being a close friend to Kousei. That’s not to say that he hasn’t played some important roles—the cell phone at the concert was a big deal—but he never really got fleshed out beyond being the perverted, womanizing friend. That doesn’t really change in this episode. At best, his role is simply love rival.

While it may not sound like a particularly exciting episode, it is surprising how fast it goes by, and the mundane happenings of the episode are completely shaken off of their foundations by the episode’s conclusion. No spoilers will be mentioned here, but it is not an ending that would be expected, and it is totally at odds with the tone of the rest of the episode. In short, it was really well done.

A Christian Perspective:

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

(Luke 12: 16-21)

To clarify before I begin: money and the storage of possessions have nothing to do with this episode. The point I want to make here actually rests in the fact that, in this parable, the man is suddenly faced with his own mortality: his life is to be demanded from him the very night he thought he could beginno taking it easy.

As I mentioned in the review, the ending of this episode comes out of nowhere. There are little glimmers of hope, especially prior to the ending scenes, that Kousei may finally be growing as a person again, only to have the hopeful atmosphere obliterated in one scene. To be fair, it is unclear whether anyone actually dies at this point (well, something definitely dies, but we’re left wondering about the person). It harkens back to this parable that Jesus told because no one saw it coming—not the characters, and not the viewers (at least, not this viewer). Everything was business as usual and then in one moment everything changed. That’s how life is, and it’s easy to forget that. We tend to get caught up in the comfort and the predictability of the day-to-day, not giving much thought to our own mortality until we’re slammed in the fact with her, either by something that happens to us or by something that happens to someone close to us. Then we think about it. I’m guilty, and I’m sure all of you reading this have been guilty at some point in time. This isn’t meant to condemn, just to draw a lesson that I think we can all relate to.

How can we escape this trap? That’s one I don’t have the answer to. I imagine the textbook answer would be to fix our eyes on Jesus and fill our minds with Scriptures talking about our eternity, but sometimes simply giving the textbook answer isn’t enough. How many people miss out on the gift of eternal life because they don’t want to think about the unpleasantness of their mortality? Or worse, how many of us miss out on opportunities to tell our friends about Jesus because we don’t want to think of the unpleasantness of them refusing to accept Him and ending up in hell? Everything can change in a moment, in a second, and I fear I’m just another hypocrite sitting here, saying that we must do something, with no clue what to do himself.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d*rn”, 1 “sc**w you”, 1 “smart***”, 1 “p***ed”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: None

Violence: Tsubaki kicks Kousei in the knee

Blood/Gore: Kousei is shown with blood on his hands

Review: Sailor Moon Crystal, Episode 17: Secret – Sailor Jupiter –

Review:

On the one hand, the general plot of these newer episodes is completely predictable at this point—if you’ve seen episodes 15 and 16, you can sort of figure out what is going to happen this time around, and if you watched the preview (or paid attention to the episode’s title) then you can figure out who’s going to get kidnapped this time around. On the other hand, this predictability does little, if anything, to diminish the overall quality of the show at this point. Everything still runs together fairly well, as the deeper plotline continues to connect each of these individual episodes—and at this point, the Senshi are finally catching on to their enemy’s true motives.

As stated in a previous review, it is nice to see some other characters being implemented and focused on at this point. While Usagi may still grab the most attention overall, this episode still gave a decent amount of screen time and purpose to some other characters. Chibi-Usa, for instance, isn’t just a tacked on plot point; the viewers are actually allowed to see into her past and how she is being affected by the current events. On the other hand, the episode also uses a little-known character for a segment. The character in question is Asanuma, and underclassman to Makoto (I had to actually look this information up). While using a character who has ties to Makoto outside of the main cast is certainly a good way to broaden the scope of the story, it is kind of confusing when you see a character and cannot remember who he is.

One point of criticism that I must offer is that the information on the enemy’s attack kind of comes out of nowhere in this episode. We see early on that Makoto has a cold, but as far as we know she’s just sick. It isn’t until almost the end that we find out the enemy has actually spread a virus throughout the city with the intention of replacing sick people with droids. The problem is that there wasn’t much attention given to the virus. For something that seemed like a widespread thing, it was not really focused on or emphasized at all. In short, that particular detail felt tacked on. If the treatment the enemy gives Makoto is any indication of how they are dealing with the rest of the sick people, though, then their sinister nature certainly hasn’t changed.

Tacked on plot point aside, the current arc of Sailor Moon Crystal continues to be much more enjoyable than the first half. The stakes are higher, the enemies are fiercer, and the focus goes beyond Usagi and Mamoru. For the next episode, I predict that Sailor Venus will be kidnapped and another Specter Sister killed. Will I be right? I guess you’ll just have to watch and see.

A Christian Perspective:

Matthew 7:15 – “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

So this isn’t one of my better Christian Perspectives, but the above verse could easily be applied to the Dark Moon’s plan to incapacitate (or possibly kill) normal people and replace them with droids. As we’ve seen from previous episodes, the droids are able to make themselves completely indistinguishable from normal people until they choose to reveal themselves (usually for the purpose of battling the Senshi). This means that the droids could easily move amongst normal, every day people and never be detected.

In our Christian life, we will come across some people who are like these droids. On the outside, they may appear pious and holy, able to quote Scripture and make it sound like they know what they’re actually saying, but in truth they are frauds and phonies. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait for them to reveal themselves to figure them out. With the help of the Bible, wise Christian friends, and even God Himself, we can determine if what someone is saying is true or if the are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d**n”, 3 “j**z”, 1 “s*ck”, 1 “h*ll”, 1 “da**it”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Petz wears an outfit that shows cleavage; Princess Serenityis shown wearing a dress that shows some cleavage; Sailor Jupiter’s transformation sequence; Sailor Moon and Venus transformation sequences

Violence: Mars and Mercury are shown engulfed in fire and water, respectively; an enemy begins to choke Makoto; Makoto kicks the enemy; Makoto throws a droid through a window; Jupiter uses her powers to destroy a numberof enemies; Petz and Jupiter’s powers clash; Jupiter is encased in a black ball of lightning; Sailor Moon’s power clashes with Petz’s; Sailor Moon destroys an enemy

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Chibi-Usa remembers a voice telling her if she wants to learn a spell; Chibi-Usa makes her Luna P-Ball turn into an umbrella, and pigeons fly out of it (she also yells out “Abracadabra”); Mamoru is able to see a vision by touching Chibi-Usa’s shoulder; a character is shown using a crystal ball

Review: KanColle, Episode 10: Let’s Do Our Best!

Review:

If you’ve watched the previous episode (and you should have if you’re reading this review), then you should already know that Fubuki is due for a remodel per the Admiral’s orders. In true Fubuki fashion, she begins pushing herself as hard as she can in an effort to spark the remodel. Meanwhile, Nagato is wracking her brain trying to figure out where the Abyssal base mentioned in the Admiral’s notes is. She and Mutsu determine that the name must be a code, due to the fact that the enemy had previously intercepted their communications. Their only course of action is to scout out enemy bases and do their best to determine the right base.

You can probably imagine how this goes: Fubuki gets sent out, gets overzealous, and gets herself into trouble because she’s trying to prompt her remodel. While this may be fairly predictable overall, the writers do a good job of at least throwing in one curve ball during the fight. One thing that seemed inconsistent in this episode, though, was that, despite being damaged in the battle, Fubuki spends very little time in the baths getting “repaired”. Previous episodes seem to have established that girls damaged in battle can take a while to heal without a special item, yet Fubuki seems to be out fairly quickly. It’s a minor detail, certainly, but still something that stood out.

Honestly, this is probably one of the more serious episodes in the entire series. Fubuki spends a lot of time in self-reflection, and there is one particularly intense scene with Mutsuki. Incidentally, it felt like this scene was trying to imply something deeper, although nothing actually happens between the two girls. Just something to be aware of. By the climax of the episode (no, the battle is not the climax), Fubuki is given the opportunity to do something she has wanted since episode one, but first she must endure a harsh trial. These, too, are some pretty intense scenes to watch, although the removal of the threat of death does diminish some of the tension.

While KanColle may not be the greatest anime ever created, it still does well with what it is, and manages to present something that is enjoyable to watch. While certainly not without its faults, it makes you want to come back for more, and this writer can’t help but feel a bit of anticipation as the final battle approaches.

A Christian Perspective:

Romans 5: 3-4 – Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Fubuki’s efforts to achieve her remodel offer a parallel to these verses. Much like Paul describes good things coming from our sufferings, Fubuki also realizes that in order to achieve the good thing she wants (a remodel), she will have to go through some sufferings. These include, among other things, a lot of training and a beating from two of her fellow fleet girls. The end of the episode shows Fubuki battered, weakened, and likely exhausted, yet she doesn’t give up—she presses on, completes the task at hand, and achieves the goal for which she was working.

This example should be an inspiration and encouragement to us Christians, because it is a tangible way to look at what we are hoping for in Christ. As we watch others achieve their goals despite sufferings (whether in real life or fiction), we can be encouraged that there are results to be had at the end of our trials.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “j**z”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Nagato and Mutsu’s midrift outfits; Shimakaze is shown in her usual tiny skirt—you can see her underwear straps and part of her butt crack sticking out of the top; Fubuki is shown in the bath, but as usual you only see the equivalent of cleavage; there is a brief underwear shot at 20:58

Violence: Fubuki destroys some targets; bombs are shot at a squad of girls; Fubuki shoots an Abyssal; a girl is hit twice by enemy fire; Fubuki is hit by practice fire; planes are destroyed

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Mutsu refers to Nagato as the girl she cares “so much about”; Oicchi is creepy with Kitakami (again…); Mutsuki and Fubuki have a serious conversation, and Mutsuki wraps her pinky around Fubuki’s—from a distance it looks as though the two are standing very close and facing each other, although nothing is actually shown to occur; Fubuki looks at Yuudachi’s chest and then at her own

Review: KanColle, Episode 9: Second-Remodel, Poi?

Review:

As the title of the episode suggests, this entry into the KanColle story focuses on the concept of the girls getting “remodeled”. What remodeling comes down to ends up being little more than a girl glowing and then changing her appearance at some point. We’re not really shown how this is done—one scene shows the lucky girl glowing, and another shows her with a completely different appearance. It sort of takes away from the “character powering up” concept when you don’t actually see the process of the character powering up.

Of course, while the title of the episode and the overall theme of the episode focus around the concept of remodeling, the actual content of the episode focuses more on Fubuki, although the remodel of one of her friends inevitably becomes the topic for a lot of the episode’s conversations. The episode also has a lot of applicability to real life situations, in the sense that sometimes people get things that you feel you deserve more, until you find out that the other person put in a lot of effort to which you simply were not privy. There is also the idea that sometimes we are asked to do things that we do not immediately understand, and perhaps in which we do not immediately see the value.

In short, this was a fairly heavy episode by KanColle standards, although since we have previously seen a character die I suppose it would not be right to call this the heaviest episode of the series thus far. The main difference is that this episode carried that heaviness through a good portion of the run time, instead of only having a few scenes. That’s not to say that the episode is without its light-hearted moments. Some of the things Fubuki and Mutsuki encounter in the workshop, for example, are humorous, as is Fubuki’s reaction to Akagi’s display of affection, depending on how you take it. Another noteworthy aspect of this episode is that it very well may be the cleanest episode of KanColle yet. While it’s not squeaky clean (see the content guide), it certainly had less objectionable content than some of its predecessors. That’s always a nice thing.


While I haven’t played the Kantai Collection game that KanColle is based off of, I have done a bit of reading on it, and it is interesting to see how they have incorporated this remodeling concept. It’s also quite a refreshing change to see that the first “remodeled” girl is not, in fact, the main character. Whether the remodeling concept will continue to play a big role throughout the remainder of the series or not is to be seen, but by the end of this episode we know that at least one more girl is going to be remodeled. The end result of all of this just adds more to the question of what, exactly, these girls are supposed to be. Girls with magical powers? Ships that have taken on the likeness of young girls? Will we ever know? Probably not, but at least the whole concept is amusing.

A Christian Perspective:

1 Peter 2: 13-14 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

This was a lesson that Fubuki had to learn in this episode. After not only having one of her close friends receive a remodel before her, Fubuki is also told that her squad will be disbanded and that she will be sent back to the Naval District. This order comes directly from the Admiral, and is one that Fubuki doesn’t understand. She even sinks (no pun intended) into a sort of depression over the situation until she finds inspiration from the hard work that Yuudachi has been putting into her own training. Fubuki may not have liked the Admiral’s decision, and may have been confused by it, but she ultimately had to obey it. As she found out, there was a legitimate reason for the decision.

Life can be that way some times, too. How many of us have grumbled because our state or federal governments have passed a law that we didn’t like? The thing is, we are supposed to submit ourselves regardless of what we think about the laws. There is an exception, of course, when the laws of the land go against the commands of God (just see Peter and John’s response to the Pharisees in Acts when they were told to stop preaching in Jesus’ name), but if the law doesn’t violate what God has commanded us to do then we should willingly submit to it. Peter even tells us that we do this for the Lord’s sake.

Content Guide:

Language: 1 “d**n”

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Nagato and Mutsu midrift outfits; Shimakaze is shown in her usual short skirt with the underwear straps sticking out of the top—you can also see the top of her butt crack sticking out; Yuudachi is shown in her bra and underwear; there is at least one brief Yuudachi underwear shot while she is training; possible side-breast shot of an Abyssal woman

Violence: Yuudachi destroys some targets

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Oicchi has her usual affections directed towards Kitakami; Fubuki is shown looking at Yuudachi’s chest and then at her own; Fubuki gets extremely excited over Akagi patting her head

Review: KanColle, Episode 8: I’m Not A Hotel!

Review:

With Shoukaku damaged from the previous battle, Fubuki and her squad head for a temporary base that has been established for the Fleet Girls. This base–which seems more like a luxury hotel than a military outpost—is to play a key role in the operation that is currently underway, and the entire Fleet Girl force has been relocated for the time being. This new base also brings about the introduction of a new Fleet Girl named Yamato who, despite having an awesome arsenal, has not been used in battle. Of course this means that Fubuki just has to find out why Yamato is not being deployed, and just has to offer her assistance in getting Yamato into the water.

For the most part, this is a laid back episode, although the parts with Fubuki and Yamato can be a bit sentimental. It is also an excuse for typical beach episode material which, while just as bad as your typical beach episode in terms of content, does not drag said content out for an entire episode (or even the majority of it). As a matter of fact, there are several scenes of fanservice in this episode, although they certainly don’t dominate the episode, and they aren’t nearly as bad as they could be. Let me pause to say that I’m not trying to excuse the fanservice—it is certainly something that can turn into a stumbling block, and I don’t want to be the guy who carelessly leads somebody into something they shouldn’t watch. The show could only be better without it, at any rate.

This episode also raises some interesting questions about the nature of the Fleet Girls themselves. From the outset, it seemed like these were supposed to be normal human girls who have somehow “inherited” the spirits of old battleships; however, it would seem that these girls share the weight of their respective ships, as seen when Fubuki tries to tow Yamato on her own. On the other hand, the girls are regularly shown sleeping in normal beds, so it certainly creates some interesting questions; however, this may be asking for more depth than what the show ever intended to offer. On a more amusing note, it is explained that eating and “refueling” are one-in-the-same for the Fleet Girls, so seeing a girl who requires a lot of “fuel” eating a ton of food is entertaining.

KanColle may not win any awards, but in this writer’s opinion it has managed to escape the trap of being a throwaway fanservice show and has instead established itself with something of a central plot (no matter how odd) along with likable characters who genuinely care for each other. It is a fun show, if nothing else, and sometimes that’s all anyone can ask for: something to watch that can be enjoyed simply for what it is, and nothing more.

A Christian Perspective:

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

I was originally going to talk about bearing one another’s burdens here, but I think I may have already used that in regards to KanColle, so instead I’ll go with this verse.

As we see in this episode, Yamato has not been allowed to enter battle at all. Fubuki, who knows what it’s like to not be allowed into battle, takes pity on Yamato and begins to formulate ways to get her out onto the sea. While her first attempt is in blatant disregard to Nagato’s commands (which is bad), her second attempt at doing the same thing is much more thought out and respectful of the rules (although it is questionable if it was still a violation). The point is that Fubuki seems to have a gift or a drive to help people out, and she put that to use for Yamato’s sake. Paul spoke in the above verse about using our gifts to do what they were given to us for, and that is precisely what Fubuki does here. Let us, then, follow Fubuki’s pattern and put the gifts we have been given to work for the benefit of others. Just make sure you obey the rules while you do.

Content Guide:

Language: None

Alcohol/Drug Use: None

Nudity/Sex/Fanservice: Nagato and Mutsu midrift outfits; Zuikaku and Shoukaku are shown in the baths, but as usual the detail doesn’t get much worse than if cleavage were shown (anything below the water is fairly well obscured); many of the girls are shown in bikinis (so, cleavage); there is a close-up of one girl’s bikini-clad breasts bouncing; Fubuki, Mutsuki, and Yuudachi are shown in the bath—you can see a portion of Yuudachi’s butt (and her breasts, in another scene) as she’s sitting down; Nagato is shown bathing—as usual, nothing much worse than cleavage is shown; another scene near the end of the episode shows several girls in bathing suits again

Violence: Yamato shoots down several enemy planes

Blood/Gore: None

Other: Kitakami and Oicchi are present, so the usual stuff with them; Fubuki dotes over Akagi; Oicchi gets excited over Kitakami in her bikini; Kitakami comments on breast sizes