While We Were Enemies – How Unconditional Love Ultimately Wins

This post is very last minute and considering I did not write a post for March, so I am trying to make up for it by writing one for this month. Since Easter Sunday has already come and gone, I thought it best to reflect on what I have learned through Lent which I decided take an active part in for the first time. For Lent, I decided to give up binge watching Crunchyroll and Funimation as well Netflix (unless I watching it with my Mom) and in turn would give the time over to developing consistency in reading my Bible or other activities that didn’t involve watching a screen. It worked to a degree, however I ended up substituting my craving for video entertainment with Youtube which did have an impact on my intended purpose for Lent. Regardless it still was step in right direction and I learned a few things as I read through my Lent and Easter Reading Plan that I was able to access via BibleGateway.com.

As I read through various scripture passages about the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice, I could not help but compare what I had seen in My Hero Academia. There was a scene that stood out to me as I was watching the first season back the summer of last year which involved the main character Izuku Midoriya and his classmate Katsuki Bakugou. It’s shown to the audience that Bakugou has been bullying and belittling Midoriya for years nicknaming him Deku, an alternate reading of his first name which literally means “one who can’t do anything.” We see that he puts down Midoriya every chance he gets and mocks the very idea that he could ever become a professional hero.

This builds to the moment in the second episode where Midoriya sees Bakugou in the clutches of the fluid villain that All Might rescued him from earlier. When he recognizes that his classmate is in danger, Midoriya’s first instinct was to run in and try to save him. In that instant the insults did not matter, the vandalism of his hero observation notebook did not matter, even the years of verbal and emotional abuse did not matter. What mattered was that Katsuki Bakugou’s life was in the balance and that he had to do something. Izuku Midoriya best illustrates this when he says, “Kacchan, I couldn’t just stand there and watch you die.”

Even though  he had every right to hate Bakugou for terrible things that he did, Midoriya did not want to see him die. In the same way God couldn’t just stand by and watch us die in permanent separation from Him, even if we are at fault. Romans 5:6-8 describes this best:

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Like Katsuki Bakugou, we think we were powerful and that we can make it on our own. However, the truth is we are powerless because we are trapped by the suffocating power of sin which also makes us enemies with God. Like Izuku Midoriya, Jesus Christ was willing sacrifice himself so we could be saved from the power of sin if we accept the gift of life that He gives us. That is agape, that is unconditional love.

Childhood Christmas – My Favorite Rankin-Bass Specials

For those are not familiar Rankin-Bass was a movie production company that created animated features. What they are particularly known for is their Christmas Specials, some of which are considered classics even to this day. When I was very young I remember, when December rolled around, we would borrow Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials that my Nana had on VHS tapes. When DVDs became more popular and we were then able to buy our own copies of the Specials. For this list I will be reviewing the Rankin-Bass Christmas Specials that I have watched since I was child since they are the ones I am most familiar with.

santa_rudolph

4. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

The very first Christmas Special that Rankin-Bass ever did and this definitely their most memorable of all their Specials. Inspired by a popular song written in 1949 based off a children’s book that was written 10 years before that, it tells the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed who is picked on for nose’s glowing hue of red and how he ultimately saves Christmas by lighting the way for Santa and the other reindeer on a foggy Christmas Eve. It is a simple story but is effective in its message that one’s unique traits can serve a purpose regardless of how others may view them initially.

 

1e426f5f94f4146cf399af4a5bd723bb

3. A Year Without a Santa Claus

Based off of a book by the same title, where an under-the-wheather Santa Claus decides it would be better stay home having lost hope that people even care about what he does to prepare for that Christmas Eve sleigh ride. While Santa’s name is in the title he is in some ways a secondary character with Mrs. Claus acting as narrator and the main driving force for the plot. But who really steals the show are the step-brothers Snow and Heat Meiser who perform their own musical numbers praising the snow and heat respectively. While this Special does have the continuity errors (which I will not go into) it contains important lessons about believe and as well as giving.

 

santa-claus-is-comin-to-town

2. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

This is Rankin-Bass’ first attempt at the origin story of Santa Claus taking cues from another popular song of the same title. I have yet to see a better origin story for Santa because they create a great story of how Santa initially started out, all the while answering that probably every young child has raised to their parents regarding this Christmas legend. Raised by toymaker elves after being abandoned by his family and even the authorities, Kris Kringle (as he was called then) decides it is his mission to bring joy and play to the children of Sombertown despite the law that forbids toys. Think Robin Hood, except he makes toys. I enjoy Santa Claus as he is portrayed this feature because he is such a joyful man who gives from his heart even when the circumstances seem bleak.

 

littledrummerboy

  1. The Drummer Boy

A simple story again that takes inspiration from a popular song by the same name which follows young drummer boy named Aaron. Having developed a distrust of people since the tragic death of his parents Aaron keeps to himself and his animal companions Joshua the camel, Samson the donkey and Baba the lamb. Well that is until a greedy caravan owner Ben Haramed weasels him into performing for the crowds in the hopes of making a quick buck. After some mishaps they encounter the three kings who are following the star which is guiding to the stable in Bethlehem where the newborn Jesus is lying in the manager. I love how this event is viewed from an outside perspective of the traditional Christmas story and how Aaron’s outlook changes from one of distrust and hate to one of faith and love when he encounters the one who become the Savior of the world.

This will be the first Christmas post of the month of December I hope to do a few more leading up to Christmas, so stayed tuned for updates. Thank so much for reading and Merry Christmas.

Dungeons & Dragons Review – S1 E2 “The Eye of Beholder”

I decided to continue watching Dungeon and Dragons TV series and needless to say it was an experience just like last time. Again the episode stats with its origin story intro which if they just made it longer would have been a proper pilot episode. Okay, I complained enough about that last time. Time to move on.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-9-03-06-pm
Three writers worked on this…no joke just an observation.

The episode opens with the kids wandering through a desert again and under the light of four suns! Honestly how are they not dehydrated. Then we also figure out that they have not seen Dungeon Master for 2 days. Some guide he turned out to be! He leaves children to wander around in a desert with 4 suns in the sky without giving them directions or water. To make matters worse they come across and a giant scorpion and they all are forced to make a run for it.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-4-40-11-pm
Thank you for saving us us even though we didn’t see you save us.

A rotund knight appears around the same time and ends up being trapped between the scorpion and a blue scaled dragon. But this is a good thing for both creatures become distracted from their prey as they decide to duel each other. The kids come out of cave they were hiding in and mistakingly believe that the knight had saved them, and of course he accepts their praise. After introducing himself as Sir John and exchanging pleasantries the knight goes on his way.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-4-41-50-pm
Eric: “Why would you do that?” Dungeon Master: “I thought it would be funny.”

It is in this moment, Dungeon Master chooses to appear once again, scaring the crap out of Eric in the process. He gives the kids their new mission in which they need to defeat a monster known as the Beholder in order to return the valley it resides in, back to its natural beauty and an extra bonus is that it will open a portal so they can return home to the 1980s. Dungeon Master also explains that “Only beauty can beat the eye of the Beholder.” (Sigh) With a title like “Eye of the Beholder” I should have known where this was going to go.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-4-44-49-pm
Would you please try to do your job?

We then switch focus to Sir John and he faces some unhappy townsfolk. It is confirmed that he is rather cowardly and the town is unsatisfied with his work. He is given one more chance to commit an act of bravery otherwise they will fire him and cast him from the village along with his son. I am guessing the reason for his hesitance to risk his life because he is a single father having to raise his son alone. This would be forgivable if was the first time, but as we are told they have been kicked out of other towns for the same reason. Seriously Sir John if you so bad at being a knight, maybe you should seek a new line of work that doesn’t involve risking your life.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-4-47-04-pm
The image speaks for itself.

We return to our young heroes as they make their way to the Valley of the Beholder, but unfortunately they encounter “Snailmen” creatures who capture them and place them in bags. Uni the unicorn is the only one that escapes and he just so happens to bump into Sir John as he searching for some brave act to commit. Sir John is afraid go further and Uni has to force him to follow him come by snatching away his torch. By sheer luck they encounter the “Snailmen” and Sir John frantically waves his torch which scares them away (it was established before they are sensitive to light). Kids praise Sir John again (much to Uni’s chagrin) and Diana picks a flower and gives it to him as a symbol of their gratitude.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-4-51-59-pm
Uni knows what’s up with Sir John.

The kids then ask him to help them find and face the Beholder, and Sir John of course is hesitant for it would require great bravery. They reply saying that he is the bravest person they have met since they have been in this world, which is ironic since we the audience know he is not. As they reach the valley Sir John decides to volunteer to scout ahead so he can gather his thoughts. Venger appears to him and using his son as leverage forces the knight to lead the kids an ambush so that he could take their magical items.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-4-54-49-pm
Poor kid, to be the son of a secondary character and used as a pawn for the series’ villain to gain the main characters’ magical items of power…
screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-4-59-41-pm
The Eye of the Beholder…no literally it is the eye of the Beholder.

Eric, who is getting more more suspicious, calls Sir John out when he says he is not joining them in their fight with the Beholder. But the knight still leaves and the kids are captured by the evil one eyed monster. Venger holds his end of bargain and gives Sir John his son back making the comment that his son is braver than him. However Sir John’s son inspires him to go back and save the young heroes. In the process it is discovered that the beauty of the flower that Diana gave to Sir John is the key to defeating the Beholder and at its defeat the portal back to Earth is opened.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-5-01-23-pm
Drat my only weakness…BEAUTY!!!!

Despite being anxious to go back home, Bobby can’t bare to part with Uni. This hesitation is further amplified when Venger comes back to take his revenge on Sir John for betraying him and kids decide to stay behind to come to his aid. To Eric’s credit (being the spoiled prick of the group), he does come and help too even though he could have easily gone back home. In the end Venger retreats and the valley becomes beautiful. Before the episode closes Dungeon Master who is unseen by the kids scares Eric again when he attempts to sit down on a rock only to leap out of his skin at hearing an unexpected honk of a horn.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-5-06-15-pm
Wow, Eric can be heroic if he stops acting like a jerk!
screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-5-07-43-pm
Dungeon Master…more like Troll Master.

Again like last time this episode still very cheesy, but still not too bad. There was a good lesson about how not judging people by appearances, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There was some humorous moments especially between Eric and Dungeon Master as well Sir John and Uni. Maybe this series is getting to me despite myself. Anyway we’ll see what happens when I review the next episode. Thank you for reading.

Quirks VS Mutants – How My Hero Academia Differs From X-Men

I have written a review for season 1 of My Hero Academia on Fandom Factory, but I also wanted to write the supplementary piece on how the world of My Hero Academia is differs from the world of X-Men. On the surface they appear the same, genetically super-powered individuals that fight to save the world and have special schools to help train the next generation how to use their powers. However there are 2 differences that have a major impact on how the world views these superhumans.

characters

big_thumb_c145b4e50f63e576cfcb0c2dfcafdaf9

The first difference is the number of people who have powers. Mutants are in the extreme minority; I mean they are minority of minorities. Time to take a page from MatPat’s Film Theory to show just how few mutants there are in the X-Men universe. While very little is mentioned in the comics, cartoons or movies about their population, I was able to get a rough estimation thanks to the numbers mentioned in Sentinel Massacre of the mutant population of Genosha in Earth 616 which was estimated to be between 16 to 17 million. Since the source stated that more than half of the world known mutant population died in the massacre, I calculated that the mutant population at its height should have been at minimum 32 to 34 million.

While this may seem a big number just remember the population of United States alone as of this year (2016) is about 323 million. And when the calculations are all said and done out of the current world population of 7 billion, the mean of the known mutant population of Earth 616 is five hundredths of a percent (0.05%) when rounded up. In contrast in the very first episode of My Hero Academia we are told that quirk users make up 80% of the world’s population; that means 5 to 6 billion people are quirk users. That is a huge majority, in fact with those statistics it is more likely to be quick user in My Hero Academia than it is to be a mutant in X-Men.

39fx-men-104

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second difference involves the average age in which an individual whether mutant or quirk user “receives” their powers. Mutants manifest their power during puberty (starting at age 13 or 14); it also can present at birth especially if their mutation has a physical effect on their bodies. Now there has been the stereotype that teenagers are impulsive and rebellious; combine that with superhuman abilities you have a recipe for prejudice and hatred. Teenagers are going through a lot already since they are transitioning to adulthood, but add superhuman abilities, which they don’t fully understand themselves and people persecuting them out of fear of what they could do, let’s just say they got more than they bargained for. The term mutant itself derives a negative connotation have towards individuals that have inhuman abilities (not to be confused with Marvel’s Inhumans…they are completely different from mutants). Needless to say it is not easy being a teenaged mutant in the world of X-Men.

In My Hero Academia it is a totally different story. The average age that a quirk user manifests their quirk is 4 years old or it can be present at birth like with mutants. People are less likely to view a young child with fear (unless they have paedophobia…trust me it’s a real phobia), plus with an 80% chance of them or someone they know developing a superhuman ability, they are not going to look at anyone as a threat much less themselves. Even the term they use to refer to their powers, quirks, signifies the causal acceptance of these unique traits that just so happen to be superpowers. Plus discovering that ability at such a young age gives more time for them to learn more about their quirks and to control them better by the time they reach adolescence.

friends-of-hummanity-1024x469

In the end those despite the differences that create a world that rejects superhumans and one that embraces them, both worlds still have discrimination. In X-Men, the prejudice is directed towards mutants because they are different from the norm and are feared because the power they have. This much is obvious and very familiar from the ardent comic book reader to the causal moviegoer. However, in My Hero Academia it is those without a quirk or the quirkless, as they are sometimes called, who are viewed in the negative light.

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-4-06-41-pm

Based on my observations from the first season, I gathered the main character Izuku Midoriya was teased and bullied in the classroom of a public Japanese middle school just because he didn’t have quirk. While we see no cases outside of Midoriya, from we do see the bullying he experiences by his classmate Katsuki Bakugou goes unchallenged by the other students and more importantly the teachers. Now this could be an isolated occurrence, but even so it gives the impression that bullying of people who are quirkless is condoned at Midoriya’s middle school. Or it could insecure teenagers picking other insecure teenager but instead of picking on them for their height or braces they’re picked on for not having a quirk.

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-4-05-55-pm

Whatever the case maybe, no should be treated any lesser just because they are different. As a Christians we are called to love everyone regardless of their appearance or background and there are a number of passages in the Bible that address this. In James 2:1-5, it explains why no one should exhibit favoritism:

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

It is so easy to discriminate, whether be it race, gender, status, weight, height…you name it there is a prejudice for it. It’s because as fallen individuals we feel to need to put others down to make ourselves feel better. We judge people from the outside and forget what is inside. But this is not how God sees the world and this thought elaborated in the Old Testament passage in I Samuel 16:7:

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height for I have rejected them. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ”

Regardless what’s visible on the outside, what ultimately matters in is our hearts. What do our hearts reflect? Is it hatred towards those who we deem different from us, or is it love towards our fellow human beings?

The 3 R’s of Stargate SG-1 – Retribution, Repentance & Reconciliation

For those who thought I was referring to the other 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse & Recycle) I apologize in advance. But seriously at first I was only going to talk about repentance, but then I thought about adding retribution and reconciliation as I went through the researching process. I also was planning to discuss multiple media examples but I found one that was able to exemplify all of the 3 R’s: the show Stargate SG-1 and the episode “Cor-ai.”

For those who are unfamiliar, Stargate SG-1 is a TV series, which was a continuation of the original Stargate movie that aired from 1997 to 2007. It follows the story of SG-1, a team consisting Colonel Jack O’Neill, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Captain Samantha (aka Sam) Carter and Teal’c of Chulak. They serve General George Hammond of Stargate Command and are tasked to defend the earth from a parasitic species known as the Goa’uld by exploring new worlds via the Stargate which creates a wormhole between two points in space. Now with that brief synopsis of the series out of the way, on to the episode discussion and just a warning there will be spoilers ahead.

corai-1
Teal’c surrounded by the Byrsa.

“Cor-ai” takes place at the end of the first season, and starts off with SG-1 transporting to a new world. Teal’c recognizes the location from the many visits he made when he was the First Prime of the Goa’uld System Lord Apophis. During the team’s investigation they come across the planet’s inhabitants, the Byrsa, who not so welcoming given their frequent contact with the Goa’uld. O’Neill convinces them they are not their enemies and they mean them no harm. Tensions ease for a bit but not before a young man by the name of Hanno sees Teal’c.

corai-7
Hanno in the Past.
corai-17
Teal’c in the Past.

 

 

 

corai-8
Hanno in the Present.
corai-9
Teal’c in the Present
corai-16
Let the Cor-ai commence.

It is revealed that Teal’c, during his service to Apophis, had killed Hanno’s crippled father. The young man seeks retribution on Teal’c for killing his father through Cor-ai which is the Byrsa culture’s version of a court trial. However Cor-ai is very different from U.S. court trials we may see both in its fictional and non-fictional forms. First off the notion of innocent until proven guilty does not exist in Byrsa culture and it was explained to SG-1 in the episode, “If there were no guilt there would not be Cor-ai.” Second the victim of an offense has the three roles of judge, jury and executioner, and needless to say this concept doesn’t sit well with O’Neill:

Jack O’Neill: “You can’t be the judge, that’s not fair.”

 

Hanno: “Judge?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Yeah, the guy who controls the proceedings, decides what happens here.”

 

Hanno: “Why is it not fair?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Because your are the son of the victim.”

 

Hanno: “Yes.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “The judge has to be impartial.”

 

Hanno: “What does that mean?”

 

Daniel Jackson: “Uh, impartiality would require someone who hasn’t already formed an opinion about Teal’c’s guilt or innocence.”

 

Hanno: “How can there be such a person? Everyone who has a mind has an opinion.”

In a desperate attempt O’Neill tries to appeal the Byrsa elder to have someone else judge the Cor-ai. She responds saying, “Only the person who has suffered understands the pain that been inflicted. Who else can fairly say what the punishment must be?” While Cor-ai seems unfair in light of the American justice system, Hanno is well within his rights to seek retribution in this way (within his culture at least). It’s better than just killing Teal’c right then and there and Hanno even acknowledges at the start of the Cor-ai that he was wrong to let his anger control him in that instance. So despite differences in perspective, Cor-ai serves the same purpose as court trials, to carry out justice and prevent revenge killings.

corai-10
Hanno questions Teal’c.
corai-12
Jack O’Neill’s conversation with Teal’c.

As the Cor-ai commences and Hanno asks Teal’c if he killed his father he replies, “Yes. I am the one who killed your father.” Admittedly he didn’t want to kill Hanno’s father, in fact it is revealed that he shot him not just to appease Apophis but so that the Byrsa would not be slowed down when they had escape into their hidden caves if the Goa’uld were to return to the planet again. While he had the right to blame it on Apophis, Teal’c acknowledges and accepts responsibility for his actions. This is best exemplified through his conversation with O’Neill (apologies for the length but I thought it would be best to show the entire conversation):

Jack O’Neill: “Teal’c are you trying to commit suicide?”

 

Teal’c: “I do not understand.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Why didn’t you tell me you were guilty? At least before you told a room full of people that wanna see you dead.”

 

Teal’c: “You already knew, only you did not want to hear it. That is why you asked me not to speak.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “What happened?”

 

Teal’c: “Apophis ordered me to kill Hanno’s father.”

Jack O’Neill: “So, you were following orders.

 

Teal’c: “Hanno’s father died by my hand. No one else’s. I am responsible. What I did while serving Apophis, I will not hide from.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Even if the punishment is death?”

 

Teal’c: “Then that is what I deserve.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Teal’c, you sound like you wanna die.”

 

Teal’c: “Colonel O’Neill, have you ever faced the crying eyes of a child whose father you have just murdered?”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Not exactly. Teal’c, there are a lot things we do that we wish we could change and we sure as hell can’t forget, but the whole concept of chain of command undermines the idea of free will. So as soldiers, we have to do some pretty awful stuff. But we’re following orders like we were trained to. It doesn’t make it easier; it certainly doesn’t make it right, but it does put some of the responsibility on the guy giving those orders.”

 

Teal’c: “Then you are saying Apophis is responsible for Hanno’s father’s death.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Yes.”

 

Teal’c: “You are wrong, O’Neill. While in the service of Apophis I did many things. For these deeds, my victims deserve retribution.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Can we focus on this one case only for now please?”

 

Teal’c: “This case represents the many.”

 

Jack O’Neill: “Well it shouldn’t! Why? Why are you doin’ this?”

 

Teal’c: “When I look into Hanno’s eyes, I see the horror on the faces of many others, as their loved ones prepare for Goa’uld absorption. Worse yet is the face of the victims whom I selected as they realize they are about to take their final human breath. Hanno’s father is not the first nor the last of those whose lives I’ve taken. And I have done far worse, O’Neill. I cannot give all of their loved ones retribution, but I can at least give it to this one. I am sorry, O’Neill. I will not run.”

I wouldn’t say that Teal’c is giving up but rather he is letting this Cor-ai give him the chance to repent from all the acts he committed as First Prime of Apophis. Teal’c didn’t deny the crime he committed and I guess that is what stood out to me the most when watching this episode. It is rare especially in our society to see someone who is so repentant that they willing to accept retribution from those they have wronged. Despite SG-1’s best efforts to defend Teal’c, Hanno sentences him to be killed by his own staff weapon.

corai-22
Teal’c risks his life to save the Byrsa villagers.

Thankfully the story does not end with Teal’c’s death for Goa’uld decided to show up in the Byrsa village just before Teal’c’s execution. Hanno leaves with the other men to fight them off but instructs a boy to inform those in authority to go through with the execution that if he is killed in battle. Unfortunately despite effort of the Brysa men as well as O’Neill and Carter, the Goa’uld discover the location of the women and children along with Jackson and Teal’c. Thankfully Teal’c is able to cut his bonds thanks to the boy who gave him a knife and put his life on the line to save the women and children from the onslaught of Apophis’ Serpent Guards. After risking his life to save the Byrsa villagers, Teal’c still hands over his staff weapon prepare for his execution by Hanno’s hands. This is the conversation that followed:

Hanno: “You would save those who wish to kill you?”

 

Teal’c: “I would save those who deserve to live.”

 

Hanno: “I have made a mistake. My memory is faulty. You are not the same man as he who murdered my father.”

 

Teal’c: “I am the one.”

 

Hanno: “No that Jaffa is dead…”

In that moment there was reconciliation as Hanno gives Teal’c his staff weapon back and allows him to go back to Earth with SG-1.

corai-27corai-26

 

 

 

corai-25
Hanno returns Teal’c’s staff weapon.

In some ways the justice system we see in “Cor-ai” is similar to how God operates. Like Teal’c, we all deserve retribution at the hands of God for all the sins we have committed against Him. We also have the same choice as Teal’c to repent and confess our wrongdoings to God. Finally we all have the ability receive reconciliation from God but unlike Teal’c we don’t need to prove ourselves worthy. Romans 5:6-8 explains:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God has already forgiven us and paid the price for our sin through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. All we need to do is to repent and accept that forgiveness for the wrong we have done and will do. It is only when we do this that true reconciliation is accomplished and the promise from Jeremiah 31:34 is fulfilled:

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

In this way we begin life anew and just like Hanno’s words to Teal’c the old self we leave behind is dead. That still doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t over but we live in the knowledge that we are free from the retribution of sin through our act of repentance and our acceptance of God’s reconciliation through His death and resurrection. That leaves only one question: Are you ready to lose your life in order to save it?

Dungeons & Dragons Review – S1 E1 “The Night of No Tomorrow”

Now just as I promised here is my first review series and the TV show I will be reviewing is…Dungeons & Dragons. When I saw this Dungeons & Dragons DVD collection at a local bargain retail store for a dollar (yep seriously it was one dollar) and I thought I’d give it a shot. I guess I shouldn’t have expected much, but then again I was hopeful that it might be entertaining. And what you know it had a lot of 80s cheese and was also more confusing that I thought it was going to be. So this is my summarization of my initial impressions on Dungeons & Dragons‘s pilot episode “The Night of No Tomorrow.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.18.40 PM
Ahhh, title screen.
Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.12.57 PM
Pilot episode? What’s that?

First we have the introduction to the story and characters that is done in the span of 2 minutes. Talk about suspension of disbelief…or not in the case of 6 teens and pre-teens ending up in a world of magic just from riding a theme park ride. Probably my major compliant about this episode is that they don’t take time to set up the story and characters. I would have loved to see what the kids were like in our world and then see their adjustment to the fantasy world right after it happened. However this first episode seems more like a follow-up and you feel like you are missing something when you are watching it for the first time. Despite this I will do my best to summarize the plot.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.21.30 PM
Purpose…this Dungeon Master says. There is no purpose for this series. Well other than further promote the game Dungeons & Dragons.

After the kids trap a multi-headed dragon creature called Tiamat, the Dungeon Master (who looks like a more human version of Yoda) appears and tells them that they might find something that will help them return home in the village of Helix which is having a millennial celebration the magician Merlin’s banishment of fire-breathing dragons that had plagued the town. But he warns the kids that they might come across Venger (the enemy of the series and voiced by Peter Cullen of all people) and they will know him by his white hair. Or is hare?

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.25.40 PM
Castles in the sky…now where have I heard that before?

After he vanishes the kids make their way through the desert and come across Merlin’s floating castle. After they climb up a ladder leading up to the castle they are greeted by Merlin himself who holding a white rabbit. They initially were suspicious of him due to his white hair but it’s soon revealed to be a toupee. He tells them the story of Helix again and one of kids Eric (the annoying jerk of the group) says he’s had enough and proceeds to leave only to encounter Tiamat again. How she got into a floating castle in the sky? She flew of course. The kids and Merlin trap the multi-headed dragon in the castle’s dungeon.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.31.10 PM
Cast coming across a dungeon while being chased by a multi-headed dragon. Well at least it fits with the title of the series.
Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.32.29 PM
The Magician’s Apprentice…not what I was expecting.

The kids are about to leave for Helix but the magician Presto (I can’t believe that’s his name) decides to stay to learn more about magic from Merlin as his apprentice. Merlin instructs him to stir the cauldron, but while he is out of the room Presto takes a look at the book he’s instructed not to look at in order to find a spell that will help him and his friends return home.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.34.34 PM
Oh great Presto! You unleashed hell!

Unfortunately the spell that Presto casts unleashes the dragons that Merlin had imprisoned. It is soon after that he discovers that Merlin is not Merlin at all but Venger (remember the white hare aka rabbit) who used Presto to release the dragons because only his “good” magic could undo the original Merlin’s spell. This begs the question: Why did the original Merlin cast a spell that could be undone? Anyway while Presto stands there dumbfounded Venger takes his hat and Presto doesn’t do anything to stop him. Come on man, you can at least struggle with Venger for your hat. You might not succeed in getting it back but you can still try can’t you?

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.36.41 PM
Don’t just stand there you idiot! Get your magic hat back!

After the dragons commence their attack on Helix the kids quickly figure out what happened and head back to the sky castle to find Presto. They face Venger who says if they hand over their magical items and he would let them go. It is actually really surprising having a villain whose initial goal does not involve hurting or killing the heroes/heroines. The rest of the kids refused to so, at least they don’t just stand there and let Venger take their weapons like Presto.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.41.38 PM
Evil Magic…
Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.42.49 PM
Good magic.

 

 

 

 

 

They come up with a plan to counter Venger by releasing Tiamat from the dungeon they trapped her in while Presto casts the spell to seal the dragons again, saving Helix in the process. The kids escape from the castle where Dungeon Master appears again and returns Presto’s hat. How did Dungeon Master get Presto’s magic hat back? No time for that, the kids are now off on their next adventure as they try to find their way back home to the 1980s.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.43.41 PM
To borrow from Nostalgia Critic, explain D&D! Explain!

While it is not the worse show ever I realized after watching this first episode that there was a lot I did not understand. I think it’s due to the fact that I am not the intended audience; it was intended for the young people who grew up during the early 80s. That’s all well and good but this prevents it from being universally understood and only serves to date the series even more. To those you have fondness for Dungeons & Dragons I am glad you can enjoy it for what it is. As for me the only enjoyment I had was in awkwardly chuckling at it. I plan to watch all the episodes on the DVD despite my cringing and convey my thoughts on them for future posts. Who knows maybe it’ll get better or perhaps I am glutton for punishment but we’ll see how long I last.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 9.44.44 PM
One thing we all can agree is that Eric deserved to be left with a cow.

Let Us Be Elegant Or Die! My Thoughts on Little Women

Little Women is a story that somehow transcended time and its characters are relatable now as they were back when they were first written. There has been a lot of analysis over the years and let me tell you I found some doozies as I was researching information about this novel. But as this is “A Few of my Favorite Things” I will mostly stick to my own experience and personal opinion with just a dash of interesting tibits of information about the book and its author.

Best place to start is the first time I was introduced to the story of Little Women. I was not introduced through reading the book (I did read it later though) nor was I introduced through its multiple film adaptions. Rather it through an audio drama production that I first heard the story. Any guesses who made that audio? That’s right Focus on the Family Radio Theatre.

LWidea51-1024x1024
2004 audio adaption.

Within the same year my 5th grade class read and studied the novel and I remember bringing in the audio drama for the class to hear. It was only the following years that I became more aware of some of the film adaptions of this literary classic which can be seen below.

Poster - Little Women (1933)_04
1933 Version.
Poster - Little Women (1949)_05
1949 Version.
LittleWomenboxart
1978 Version.
1994-little-women-poster1
1994 Version.

While I have not seen the entirety of these films other than the 1978 version, I have seen some clips online and have read about other people’s opinions about them. However Focus on the Family’s audio adaption stands well on its own merits and will always hold a place in my heart. A huge plus that the audio version has is that it provides the voices and sounds allowing your imagination to fill in the visuals from a character’s appearance to the layout of a house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Orchard House, the Alcott family home.
normanrockwell
Josephine March, great American authoress in the making.

Of all the characters I loved the character of Jo March because she was the creative free spirit that many women, young and old, desire to be. While every sister stands out in their own right, it can be said that the story Little Women is Jo’s story since it follows her a majority of the time. Since Jo is a reflection of author Louisa May Alcott this is hardly surprising.

3046-LMA1858
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

Little Women one of the few stories that I have personally encountered that has relatable female characters. The reason why they are so relatable is because the characters based on the women in Alcott’s own life, her sisters. I can believe in Meg’s prudence, Jo’s candidness, Beth’s congeniality, and Amy’s exuberance. This is the reason why this book has remained in the public consciousness for all this time because the audience can see themselves in one or more of the March sisters. I can only hope that some day I might come across an author or filmmaker who can produce the same kind of effect that Little Women had starting in 1868.

First Thoughts – Star Wars: Rebels Season 3 Trailer

Needless to say I was very excited to see the trailer for the new season of Star Wars Rebels. It was nice to finally have more substance to speculate about since the cliffhanger ending of the season 2 finale. I am sure Dave Filoni and the team will knock this out of the park just like they did in the previous two seasons and that there’ll be even more engaging stories to tell.

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.43.38 PM
Don’t you dare, Ezra Bridger!

I am anxious to see how things have changed since the events of “Twilight of the Apprentice” and how they have impacted Ezra and Kanan in particular. We do see is that Ezra taking the stance that he will do anything to destroy the Sith especially after what happened to Kanan as well as Ahsoka. It is not his motive of protecting his rebel crew family but how he is going about it that concerns me, and I only hope he can avoid going further down the wrong path before it is too late. Oh and another big change was that he also cut his hair. It was weird at first but I think I am used to it and he does not look like Aladdin anymore which is a plus.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 6.14.16 PM
Focus…get the Meiloorun fruit.
Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.50.08 PM
Time to scrap some tinnies.

Kanan seems hold his own despite having lost his sight so I think he has honed his ability in the force allowing him function and fight even though he is not able to see with his own eyes. This is evident when we see him, Ezra and Rex on a mission together which involves Separatist droids from the Clone Wars. However it seems like Kanan is going to come in contact with some green ethereal being and from the looks of it he is going to be possessed by it. Let’s just say I have a bad feeling about this.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 6.17.45 PM
Where’s Ghostbusters when you need them?
Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.41.08 PM
You take the guys on the ground. The one in the air is mine.

Sabine appears to have a major part to play in this season as well and with her involvement we also involve Mandalorians, those who fight with the Rebels and those side with the Empire. From the looks of it there is going to be an episode that involves Ezra. I can see the shipping memes and fan videos even now. Also Sabine has gotten her hands on a darksaber. Is it same one that Pre Vizsla had in the Clone Wars? A question that will be answered I am sure.

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.45.55 PM
Just try and face me. I dare you.
Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.56.29 PM
Here’s the Chiss himself…Thrawn or Mitth’raw’nuruodo if you will.

The introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn has gotten many in the EU Star Wars fandom excited. I have heard nothing but good things about him and it is going to be so much fun for me to get learn more about this character as I watch this season. In one clip it seems Cham Syndulla and his people have crossed paths with Thrawn before and Cham states that they were not prepared to face him demonstrating he is a force to be reckoned with. It also appears that Hera herself will come face to face with Thrawn according to another clip that is close to end of the trailer. We’ll just have to wait and see what that is all about.

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.59.40 PM
Well this is problematic.
Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.58.23 PM
I seek your counsel wise Tom Baker…I mean Bendu.

We also have Tom Baker voicing a character named Bendu which is a nod to the name George Lucas considered using instead of Jedi. I am glad they can pay homage to history of Star Wars and to Doctor Who having the iconic 4th Doctor voicing the character. This will make 2 Doctors that Filoni was able to snag to voice characters for Star Wars, previous one being David Tennant for the Clone Wars Series.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 6.10.55 PM
Let the humor commence 🙂

Along with newer characters we also have some old ones from last season, Hondo. Honestly Filoni and crew really like this character, and I do as well but I hoped to see some other outlaws say one certain smuggler…cough…Han Solo….cough. But who knows maybe they will surprise us and throw Lando in for good measure, since we haven’t seen him since the beginning of season 2.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 6.15.15 PM
Here’s Maulie!

Also Maul rears his ugly head and he is up to his old tricks again and it appears to involve the blending of the Jedi and Sith holocorns which may have devastating consequences. I am not a huge fan of Maul, but I will be interested to see what the future has in store for this fan favorite dark side user.

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.46.21 PM
NOOOO!! IT’S A TRAP!!!!
Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 2.47.17 PM
Let’s do this!

A great trailer that makes me eager about what is to come. I am debating doing reviews when the new episodes come out, since I enjoy this series so much and I like to share my thoughts. But for now I’m signing off.

Back in 2010 [Part 2] – My Top 10 Young Justice Episodes

I thought since discussing the basic premise of Young Justice in my last post two weeks ago I thought that I would delve a little deeper and create a top ten episode list. Easier said than done because I enjoyed all of them in one way or another, but in any case here is ten episodes that stayed with me the most (as spoiler-free as possible).

The_heroes_prepare_to_save_the_world
Okay, here’s the plan.
  1. “Summit” & “Endgame” (Season 2 Episodes 19 & 20)

The reason why I paired both “Summit” and “Endgame” is because the events flow into one another and I consider both together to be the finale for the season and unfortunately the finale for the entire series. In any case I heartily welcomed this finale for it was good to see the villains being played by the heroes after all they got away with in earlier episodes and also to see the heroes both young and old save world once again. What I liked most was the entire set-up of “Summit” which was set mostly in one location where a lot of the mysteries of the season are unfolded and explained as well as the scenes in “Endgame” where the heroes team up to prevent the destruction the world. The finale was great but also bittersweet for that one event that occurred within the last episode (those who watched it will know what I mean) and also the knowledge that unresolved plot-points will not be addressed (unless by some miracle they allow a third season to be made).

Vandal_outmatched
I have taken up telekinetic fencing.
Flash_and_Impulse_race_to_the_final_MFD
Who can save the world faster?
Searching_for_Cheshire
So what are we looking for?

9. “Usual Suspects” & “Auld Acquaintance” (Season 1 Episode 25 & 26)

These episodes are together for the same reason as the previous entry. The reason why the season one finale is higher on the list is because I felt that there was better build-up and payoff with all the events of the season coming together into the final confrontation in which the Team really gets to shine. In “Usual Suspects” we also have revelations similar to “Summit” which was satisfying since we the audience had been waiting for the truth to come into the light (haha…those who watched the show will get the joke) and “Auld Acquaintances” demonstrated the growth of our young heroes as they face the most unlikely of opponents. This finale’s cliffhanger ending makes you want to watch the second season with anticipation of what is going to happen next.

Auld_lang_syne
Happy New Year!
The_Team_victorious
That’s a wrap.
Kid_Doctor_Fate
I’m back! Did you miss me?
  1. “Denial” (Season 1 Episode 7)

In this episode the Team faces off against villainous magic users both fake and real as they attempt to rescue the Helmet of Fate and it’s guardian Kent Nelson. “Denial” focuses on Kid Flash (aka Wally West) as he comes to terms with his views of the unscientific and unexplained as he interacts with Nelson the former Doctor Fate. We are also introduced to Young Justice’s version of Nabu, the Lord of Order whose powers are connected to the helmet and who turns out to be rather possessive, literally and figuratively. This would only be the first among his recurring appearances. All in all a great episode, whose outcomes are demonstrated throughout continuity of the first season.

Artemis_and_Wally_bicker
I saw it first!
Kent's_last_moments
Have a little faith.
Bloodlines
The Flash Family, young and old!
  1. “Bloodlines” (Season 2 Episode 6)

This what I dub as the Flash family episode, where we see all the Flashes Barry Allen, Wally West, Bart Allen and Jay Garrick suit up. For those who know their comic book history will get a kick of the interactions that take place in this episode and even if you don’t you will still have fun as well. Impulse (aka Bart Allen) is such a funny character and I love the way he plays off of the Flash family as well the other heroes. There is a lot of laughs to be had and it was good to have this breath of fresh air before they delved into the more serious and darker elements of the second season.

Impulse_arrives
Ta da!
Impulse_greets_Wally
Hugs for everyone!
young-justice1x18_0613
Never far from Harm…in more ways than one.
  1. “Secrets” (Season 1 Episode 18)

This was the series’ Halloween episode and it delivered, providing a main and a side storyline that were both equally entertaining to watch. In the main storyline Artemis and Zatanna battle a deranged young man who calls himself Harm who has unleashed powerful mystical force. Luckily they have help in the form of a mysterious young girl who can only say one word: Secret. In the side story we see Superboy (aka Conner Kent) and Miss Martian (M’gann M’orzz) attend their high school’s Halloween costume party accompanied by Kid Flash. The episode as its title suggests deals with secrets that not only affect events in the episode but also events that are to come. The atmosphere was great, the story was great, the character chemistry was great; there is nothing more I could ask.

Halloween_costumes
Which one is the third wheel?
Girl's_night_out
It’s a Girl’s Night Out!
The_Team_infiltrates_the_complex
Where are you taking me?
  1. “Intervention” (Season 2 Episode 19)

In this episode the Team takes it upon themselves to un-brainwash (I know that is not a word but whatever) their teammate Blue Beetle. Really cannot say any more than that, otherwise I give away major plot points for the second season. But what I can say is that I loved the way all the events of “Intervention” came together and that it was incredibly satisfying to watch.

Blue_Beetle_trapped
Drat my one weakness…bubbles!
Activate_the_beetle
Indiana Jones anyone?
Image
Is that Megan?!?
  1. “Image” (Season 1 Episode 21)

For this episode we see Robin (aka Dick Grayson), Kid Flash, Superboy, and Miss Martian attempt to thwart Bialya’s passive-aggressive takeover of Qurac. This is also where we see the influences behind Miss Martian’s attitude and appearance as well her fear that her friends will not accept her if she were to reveal her true self to them. “Image” has a lot to say about insecurity and self-image, which I think is a important discussion to have especially with impressionable teenage girls. An amazing message from this amazing episode, I highly recommend it.

Megan_and_her_idol
I recognize you.
Hello_Megan_explanation
Something you like to tell us?
Depths
It is a rocket launch. What could go wrong?
  1. “Depths” (Season 2 Episode 7)

Much like “Intervention” the reasons behind what makes this episode so great goes into spoiler related territory. What I will say is that this is the episode in which we see Artemis back in action after the 5 year time skip. As established in previous episodes she and Kid Flash had left the hero gig, but “Depths” shows her taking up the mantel of team archer once again much to Wally’s chagrin. Ultimately it has one of the best climaxes in the show, and believe me when I say that this is an episode you do not want to miss.

Miss_Martian_at_the_conference
It’s the final countdown!
Artemis_and_Wally
I am not happy about this.
The_Fix
Can she fix him?

2. “The Fix” (Season 2 Episode 13)

Again another episode with spoiler ridden plot points, but the best way to summarize is that Miss Martian has been abducted in order to fix the broken mind of Kaldur’ahm (aka Aqualad). In “The Fix” we see Miss Martian’s self-torture over her past actions earlier in the season and by the end we see forgiveness and redemption help her to begin not only the restoration of Kaldur’s mind but also for her own spirit as well. It is an intense ride but it is well worth the watch.

Psimon_sedated
What’s going on here?
Miss_Martian_captured
Fix him or I will break you.

Before I get to number 1 on my list here is a few honorable mentions:

“Homefront” (Season 1 Episode 12)

The_Cave_under_attack
Red Alert. Red Alert.

“Failsafe” (Season 1 Episode 16)

A_lone_ship
Just like we were trained…

“Satisfaction” (Season 2 Episode 8)

Speedy's_goodbye_gift
I couldn’t think of a going away present.

“Complications” (Season 2 Episode 16)

Sportsmaster_and_Cheshire
It’s complicated.

And now…

Coldhearted
Speedy delivery boy at your service.
  1. “Coldhearted” (Season 1 Episode 20)

This episode initially was not on my radar, but recently after re-watching the series I found a new appreciation for it. It is another Kid Flash episode and if you haven’t noticed a lot of the episodes on this list involve Kid Flash in one way or another. Anyway in “Coldhearted” we see Wally celebrating his 16th birthday which is soon interrupted because five mysterious airships are causing extreme winter conditions all over the globe. The Team and the Justice League are joining forces in order to shut them down which Kid Flash is stoked about. However much to his disappointment, Batman assigns him the errand of delivering a heart across the country for a young girl in need of a transplant. Little does Wally know of the importance behind this supposedly simple task. I love this episode because of its heart warming message which is ironic considering its title and that is why I consider it the best of Young Justice.

Birthday_kiss
Birthday kiss for the Wall-Man!
Too_late
Am I too late?

I hope that this list has made you interested in watching this incredible series whether it be for the first time or the hundredth time. I had fun writing this and I hope to do more posts like this in the future. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I’ll see you all next time.

(EDIT: 11/08/2016) It has just been announced that Season 3 of Young Justice is a reality and it coming soon.

Back in 2010 – Remembering Young Justice

Starting off my new segment of the blog “A Few of My Favorite Things” I am going to be talking about one of my favorite shows which aired while I was in high school: Young Justice.

Season_one_title_card
Title Card for Season 1.

While it was not the first superhero show I had watched, it was the first one that I watched as it was airing. So from Thanksgiving weekend premiere (which consisted of the first two episodes) in the fall of 2010 to second season finale which concluded in March 2013, I waited for each episode with anticipation. Unfortunately the show was cut too short and while it left some unanswered questions I still believe it is a great show.

Main reason I believe show was as great as it was, was due in part to the people involved in the project. One of those people was Greg Weisman who produced Gargoyles and Spectacular Spiderman and has since gone on to Star Wars: Rebels which is currently running. Honestly there has been nothing that Greg Weisman has produced or written that I do not like. I could just go on about how he is underrated as a producer and storyteller, but that is for another blog for another day.

Next let’s talk about the premise: Young Justice comes from comic book series by the same name and for those who are familiar with Teen Titans the show follows in similar lines in that the main focus is on a group teenage superheroes. But unlike Teen Titians instead of focusing on their tiny little world, they bring in many aspects of main DC Universe (Earth-16 to be exact). This means involvement of the Justice League whom the team of young heroes serves under, like a mentor/apprentice relationship.

maxresdefault
The Team as they appear in Season 1.

Now the Team as it is called in the series starts with six primary members. Those members are in order of entry are Aqualad voiced Khary Payton, Robin voiced by Jesse McCartney, Kid Flash voiced by Jason Spisak, Superboy voiced by Nolan North, Miss Martian voiced by Danica McKellar, and Artemis voiced by Stephanie Lemelin. While the cast of characters grows a bit later in season 1 and even more in season 2, these are these characters serve as the main anchors through the unfolding story.

The overarching plot of the series starts in pilot episode later divided into the first two episodes of season “Independence Day” and “Fireworks.” In those episodes Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash in order to prove their worth to their respective mentors sneak into Cadmus research complex into to investigate some suspicious activities. In the process they come across Superboy, a clone of Superman and a product of Project Kr which Cadmus was running. An organization known as “The Light” is also introduced in these episodes and its members and their intentions are slowly revealed as the Team crosses paths in their many confrontations throughout the series. It is worth noting that there is a five year time between the first and second season which takes some adjustment but is still intriguing nonetheless.

Young_Justice_TV_series

I highly Young Justice recommend this show if you enjoy anything superhero related but also enjoy character depth as well action-packed and engaging story telling. So give a watch and enjoy the ride.