Just continuing the series. You know how it is. Spoiler Warning is still in effect.
Episode 3: “Pickle Rick”
Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder if shows like Rick & Morty are written with the philosophy of, “Hey, what’s the context for [insert something really random].” Then again, when I assume the writers have this philosophy in mind, the show ends up being it’s own breed of stupid.
Not gonna lie, I almost thought this about this episode. The premise is that Rick turns himself into a pickle to get out of attending family therapy. This leads to a surprising amount of violence, rat-punching, and…government infiltration.
Wait, hold on. Rick, as a pickle, is excessively violent and ruthless. This would shed a bad light on all other sentient pickles. Which is why Larry the Cucumber is so insistent on being called a cucumber, not a pickle! Oh my gosh! Could this mean that Veggietales and Rick & Morty are in the same universe!?
I need to get outside more often.
Episode 4: “The Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”
Anyone who’s watched enough Rick & Morty knows that they are not beyond a little parody. This episode is no exception, as it looks at the superhero genre from a Rick & Morty angle.
I’ll give it this. This episode does a good job with the parody and the meta humor. And it takes a few jabs at the superhero genre—showing that the eponymous Vindicators are interchangeable and shallow, much like other hero teams.
Though, nevertheless, the episode centers around Rick getting black-out-drunk, and is basically twenty-ish minutes of Rick showing off. The deaths are violent, the language is prevalent, and some of the jokes are a bit dark.
I can’t help but think, “What else is new?…you know, besides Noob-Noob.”
I’ll have something else next week. I’m planning on continuing this series, but we’ll see how the next two episodes are.
Disclaimer: possible spoilers for those unfamiliar with My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and a possible trigger warning for fans of My Chemical Romance. I may not be appreciating this album as much as I should, but at least I’m appreciating it.
[Isaac looks up from his computer.]
You know…we haven’t covered music in a while.
[He opens iTunes and scrolls through library. He scrolls down to the M’s, and finds Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.]
Hm. I forgot I had a My Chemical Romance album.
And I know it’s not regarded as the best MCR album—that’s still The Black Parade, if I’m not mistaken—but it’s the only one I have readily/legally available.
Plus, I like it.
Danger Days is a concept album—in other words, an album that tells an overarching story, or has a theme throughout the entire album. This one, through about fifteen tracks, two music videos, and a comic series, tells a story of a rebel/renegade/outlaw group in a post-apocalyptic wasteland: the eponymous Fabulous Killjoys.
To give perspective, I haven’t read the comics yet. I’m basing this on the album and the music videos.
Right off the get-go, the initial themes seem to be, in order, making a lot of noise and running away. Lyrics like, “It’s time to do it now and do it loud / Killjoys, make some noise” (from “Na Na Na”) and “This world is after me / after you / run away” (from “Bulletproof Heart”).
However, this being the story of a group of outlaws, there are also references to car theft, drug dealing, and disregarding the powers that be. I mean, the first lyric out of the lead singer’s mouth is, “Drugs, give me drugs, give me drugs, I don’t need ‘em / But I’ll sell what you got, take the cash, and I’ll keep ‘em.” (from “Na Na Na”) Not to mention this album comes with the Parental Advisory sticker, and earns it within the first two tracks.
At least, that’s what it is on the surface. The music videos for “Na Na Na” and “SING” show the Killjoys—the members of the band—basically waging war against a shady corporate business, Better Living Industries (or BL/ind, for those missing the symbolism), that regularly tries to kill them.
Again, I haven’t read the comics, but I think they follow a similar vein.
Here, the theme of running comes back in full force, but with an added theme. It’s a fairly small theme, from what I can see, as it only appears twice: in the “SING” music video and the track “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back.” This would be the theme of sacrifice.
I mean, make of it what you will, but “SING” has the Killjoys breaking into the BL/ind office to save one of their captured friends, at the risk of their lives. And “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back” switches the “run” theme for “run so my sacrifice isn’t in vain.”
I don’t know. Maybe there’s something in the comics that I’m missing. Or maybe I got it all. Who am I to say?
And, yes. I did shorten one of the song titles for this post. Forgive my improper citation, but I’m too lazy to put the full name of “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” every time I reference it.
Well, after almost a year and a half, Rick & Morty Season 3 is well under way. I kind of missed my shot at talking about the first episode (which premiered on April 1st) because of emotional troubles. Now that I have the chance, I’m going to talk about it, with the episode that premiered last Sunday night/Monday morning.
And, as such, spoilers ahead.
Before I begin, I would like to point out that this is more looking at the episodes themselves, not so much from a Christian angle or worldview. Rick & Morty is a predominantly atheistic show—almost in the same way that Doctor Who is. Ergo, not every episode will have a solid moral or takeaway.
Or, if it does, it’ll be forced. You’ve been warned.
Episode 1: “The Rickshank Rickdemption”
The plot is as the name implies: Rick breaks out of prison through his usual, alcohol-and-nihilism-fueled tomfoolery. It’s been a while—four months and counting—since I watched it, but I remember it being fairly complicated, with Rick’s consciousness hopping from one body to another body to another body.
Though, along the way, Rick—through the power of plot advancement—devalues his captors’ currency. If this episode does have a moral, it’s that physical possessions only have value that we give them. Whether it’s the dollar, a car, or McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce.
Not necessarily a Christian moral, but one that would come in handy for when I clean house.
Also, I was basically a baby when Mulan came out; was the Szechuan Sauce actually that good? I’m asking because I’ve never had it.
Episode 2: “Rickmancing the Stone”
You’d think with a name that plays on Romancing the Stone, the episode would be set in a lush, South American jungle. But no. It’s a Mad Max parody.
Rick, Morty, and Summer (Morty’s older sister) are in another universe looking for an isotope that functions as a power source. Meanwhile, Morty and Summer are feeling the repercussions of their parents going through a divorce. It’s basically a 20-minute Mad Max reference with an interesting lesson on dealing with change. It felt like a filler episode, but Rick & Morty hasn’t had much in the field of meta-narrative.
But, still, it has the normal content problems of Rick & Morty, paired with the content problems of Mad Max. Normally, I’d say, “Make of it what you will,” except this wasn’t really that great of an episode, even by Rick & Morty standards.
So, yeah. Season 3, so far. I’m not sure if I’ll do this for the rest of the season. If I do, it’ll be another set of two episodes per post, just so I’m not talking about Rick & Morty for three months non-stop.
When I was younger, my family had a rule. “Read the book first, then watch the movie.” As I’ve gotten older, the rule has mostly faded, but otherwise remained in place. I re-read The Hobbit before the movies came out. I flipped through the Hunger Games trilogy before watching the series. Full disclosure: I use this rule as an excuse not to watch Game of Thrones—I haven’t read the books. (Nor do I plan to.)
I bring this up because The Dark Tower comes out in a week, and it looked interesting. However, much like Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, and countless other fandoms, it is based on a book. In this case, a series of five books written by Stephen King.
In preparation for the release, I picked up a copy of the first book in the series, The Gunslinger, from my local public library.
I only made it through the first section, before 1) the due date came up, and 2) I quit reading it.
The first part of the book is very much a western; I will give it that. But it is so in the sense of the wandering cowboy-gunslinger archetype stopping in at a town and trying to fix its problems, while also going on his usual revenge quest.
I won’t get into the exact details for fear of having to throw up a disclaimer. I will say that I hope this movie is a terrible adaptation of the source material. Because, if it was a good adaptation, it’s going to be uncomfortable to watch.
As in, “Rated R” uncomfortable to watch.
I shouldn’t have much to worry about. The movie’s supposed to be PG-13, so it either skips the first few chapters of the book or tells it differently. Or it’s an adaptation of the entire series in one film.
Nevertheless, I probably won’t go see the movie opening night. Or the first few months it’s out. If ever. And I’m not sure if I’ll finish the books either, so I have a valid excuse for skipping the movie.
But if I watch the movie, it’ll be because it stars Idris Elba.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to crack open a copy of Ready Player One. The trailer dropped last week, and it looks interesting.
Disclaimer: Mild spoilers for Castlevania, Season 1. Also, discussion of gore and ancient church politics.
[Sigh.] I’ve been dodging this review for a while now.
So, a couple weekends back, I sat down to watch Netflix’s Castlevania series, an adaptation of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. (Could’ve fooled me; I haven’t played any of the games.)
It’s not that long, for starters. Only four episodes, each under a half an hour long. Watching the entire series takes less time than watching a movie.
As far as content goes, it’s probably the most graphic (read: gory and bloody) media I’ve watched. To give perspective, the “tamest” of the gory actions is the sky literally raining blood.
Beyond that, it’s well written. The characters, for what little screentime they get, are fairly well developed, with clear goals and motivations.
But that isn’t why I’ve been dodging it. I’ve been dodging it because the show paints the church as the bad guys.
I don’t like giving in-depth plot synopses, but here’s the set-up (to skip it, jump to the TL;DR): it’s the mid-late 1400’s, and a wandering human woman comes upon Dracula’s castle. Dracula—being an immortal vampire—is thousands of years ahead of the rest of the world, with his castle decked out with electric lights. Dracula takes the woman in to teach her his science, and then he later marries her.
Of course, after time, the woman goes back out into the world to share her science and help humanity. But the church steps in and burns her at the stake for witchcraft. This, of course, turns Dracula against humanity, and he gives the church a year to leave.
A year passes, and the church is still there, having mistaken Dracula for Satan, and believing that they are protected by God. Of course, to their surprise, Dracula calls forth an army of demons that starts terrorizing the entire countryside.
And the church in Castlevania still doesn’t get it, blaming the gypsy-like “Speakers” for the demon attacks because some of them use magic. (In actuality, only a few do.) They even blame the family of the main character—the Belmonts—for the attacks and excommunicate them from the church, even when they’re the most qualified for stopping Dracula.
TL;DR,the church is shown as moronic, arrogant, and cruel, blaming everyone else rather than themselves.
It probably bugs me more than it should. The series is set in the 1400’s, when the global church was at its least Biblical and most corrupt. When they would have burned someone at the stake for witchcraft.
Still, I can’t help but think that the writers’ choice of direction in storytelling shows how they think the church could turn out. So judgmental that it becomes self-destructive.
I won’t try to argue that this is a Christian show. If anything, it’s pretty anti-Christian—at least, anti-ancient-Christian. But I will say that we can all learn the same lesson: don’t be like the church in Castlevania. That church carries knives and beats up people in the streets.
In closing, I can’t decide if I like this show or not. I keep hopping between liking the show and hating it, with no in-between. On the one hand, I don’t like how they portray the church, but the last episode changed that dynamic slightly. And I didn’t like how graphic it was, but again, the last episode dialed it back a bit. I have a feeling they won’t change the portrayal of the church or the gore in future episodes, but it would be nice if they did.
Accordingly, I present the most self-contradictory rank that I’ve given a series:
4/10 ~ I can’t wait for Season 2.
And that concludes my review. I’m off to watch something that won’t potentially make me hate the church. Until then, stay safe, eat well, and don’t. Play. With. Whips. This show taught me that they are not safe. [Shudders.]
Well, I was actually planning on writing a review of the new Netflix Castlevania series. However, 1) it’s technically not an anime, and I said I would review an anime, and 2) I’m not really in a good place to talk about the show right now. Emotionally, that is.
Instead, I’m going to review something a bit lighter.
Little Witch Academia is a series produced by Studio Trigger and released in the US on Netflix. This probably says more bad than good, since Studio Trigger gave us Kill La Kill, and Netflix has had a spotty track record for their exclusive releases, in my opinion.
But, to give some perspective, I was familiar with Little Witch Academia a few years ago. You see, before the anime was produced in 2017, Trigger released a half-hour anime movie in 2013. I watched that last year, and, honestly, it made it into my Top 5 anime. And it held that place after watching other anime, including some others that also made the Top 5.
So, I have a soft spot for this series. Sue me.
In my defense, Little Witch Academia is probably the cleanest anime I have come across in my four-plus years in the genre. Even compared to “kid-friendly anime” like Pokémon, it’s still pretty clean.
9/10 ~ Pretty good anime, in my opinion. I would actually recommend this one for kids, but also for people who enjoyed Harry Potter. My only problem with showing it to kids would be the witchcraft aspect, but I’d like to unpack that subject at a later date.
Now we have Part II of our two-part Assassin’s Creed series.
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. “Nothing is true; everything is permitted.” The eponymous Assassin’s Creed. I wanted to spend a post on this because, believe it or not, I think there is some Biblical grounding to it.
I mean, I could be wrong, but let’s go for it anyway.
“Nothing is True”
This is technically a fallacy. If the statement that “nothing is true” is true, then it contradicts itself.
To understand this line in the Assassin’s Creed series, I went to the 2016 movie. You know the one: the one that nobody seemed to like, but I thought was okay.
One of the characters, during an “initiation” sequence, this part of the creed is preceded by, “Where other men blindly follow the truth, remember…nothing is true.”
(Apparently, it was this way in Assassin’s Creed II, the game, as well as the movie. I’ve never played ACII, though, so…moving on.)
As such, the context for this seems to be more along the lines of, “Assume it isn’t true until proven true” rather than, “Nothing is true.”
It took me a while to find a good Biblical example of this. While the topic of false teachers and false teaching comes up a lot—especially in the New Testament—there really is little to say about testing for truth. I mean, there’s the stuff about “Do not bear false witness,” and examples of people getting in trouble for lying, but that’s about it.
The only passage I could find was less of a command and more of an example: the Berean Jews of Acts 17:10-15. The ones who “were of more noble character” and “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Lifted from Acts 17:11, NIV.) Those familiar with the book of Acts may recall that a lot of the Jewish leaders rejected Paul’s teachings; the Bereans were among the few exceptions.
Maybe I’m mistaken about it, but it seems like it checks out. I’m willing to discuss in the comments.
“Everything is permitted”
“…but not everything is beneficial.”
Sorry, I was finishing 1 Corinthians 6:12. In that context, Paul was talking about abstaining from sexual immorality, but I think it works in this context.
In the context of the games (and the full Creed), this line does speak out against being bound by laws and rules. Enter this restricted area? Sure. Everything is permitted. Take down the leader of this group of guards? Sure. Everything is permitted.
But not everything is beneficial. Enter the restricted area? The present guards will take you down. Take down the leader of this group of guards? The present guards will take you down, and call their friends.
Testimony time: as a Christian, I sometimes look at the commandments we are given and can find reason to follow them beyond “Jesus said so.” For example: don’t drink alcohol. Jesus said so, and people tend to do stupid things when drunk.
The Creed, as a whole, seems to promote moral and truth relativism, which makes sense for a game with stabbing people in the face as a core mechanic.
However, is there any merit to the Assassin’s Creed?
Sort of…I guess. Really the idea with the Creed is that you are free to believe what you want and to do what you want. As a Christian, I am not inclined to believe in this. But still, people lie and people do what they want. It is up to us—up to me and you—to discern what is true and what is permitted. And I like to use God’s Word for it, because having a guideline helps.
I’ll try not to cover anything deeply philosophical or doctrinal next week. Then again, I’m planning on doing an anime review, so it shouldn’t be a problem.