The Battles Rage On

The Battles Rage On

(This is in honor of Pokemon’s 20th Anniversary. 🙂 )

“Thunder crackles, strikes down from the sky

to attack the opponent, flying up high.

The opponent evades, count’ring with

a Slash of Air, a very near miss.

 

Next, a bladed leaf

slices through our opponent’s sheath,

leaving them open,

this one’s outcome leaves the foe mopin’.

 

The third starts within a mire;

my partner recoils, as it is fire.

The opponent shoots a gush of mud,

and my partner lands with a THUD.

 

Last, a foe of tremendous power

who grows in strength by the hour;

my nerves are slack, my faith is gone,

I do not have the ability to carry on.

 

But my partners gaze upon me,

wond’rous smiles I see,

then I spy what makes them grin,

the Victory that lies within

the rough, rocky edges of the precipice;

I need to stop so I can just pace

and think about a strategy

but also, what it’s about:

 

My partners and me.”

 

Artwork credit: http://serpentsshipmate.deviantart.com/art/Mt-Silver-159591759

 

Conversation Hunter

Conversation Hunter

Hello, hello? Is anyone there?

Why do I always get the feeling

I’m talking to just air?

Yet at times you send me reeling

with the power of Your love

although I feel that I am not enough.

I question You one moment, and then the next

I find myself seeking, hunting,

through Your ever-sacred text;

Stalking answers like

a prowling tiger.

Give me a sign, that’s my request,

I need to know straight from You

what is best.

 

The Prodigal: World or God?

The Prodigal: World or God?

(Note: I do not believe in/ really support Taoism or Buddhism, although I care about their believers. However, in this article I will be drawing a very Scriptural parallel between Avatar: The Last Airbender and a particular story, because it so clearly illustrates the concept. Thank you.)

One of my favorite TV shows, despite some difference in belief to my own beliefs, is and always has been Avatar: The Last Airbender. 

Yes, I mean the TV show. Most definitely NOT the movie. (I heard those sighs of relief!!!)

I’ve loved almost everything about the show, minus some spiritual stuff (personal disagreement, but hey); the bending, the plot, the characters, the deep, riveting, and incredibly powerful impact and influence they have on one another’s lives. One character in particular, the infamous Prince Zuko, caught my attention early on. Initially portrayed as the classic “bad guy,” we soon see that he’s a much deeper, more complex person than just that– on many levels, very much the same as us. He struggles with doing right and doing wrong, and often knowing what’s wrong and what’s right. He has trust issues. And don’t forget about his FIERY temper (OK, OK, I had to slip a little pun in there, hee hee). But all this shows that he’s human, and so much more than even that.

Zuko, Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, renowned firebender, exiled and disowned courtesy of his own father, Fire lord Ozai, is a major– repeat, MAJOR– prodigal son.

But not in the way you’d think.

You see, Zuko, in some ways, is the human race. He encompasses the highlights and the less flattering attributes of at least most humankind, the good and the bad. His father  (the true bad guy, who really couldn’t care less about Zuko, and sets himself very selfishly above all others) represents the world we live in, where the law of the land is “Dog-eat-dog world”. Ozai is actually the one who scars/burns him, literally for life, because Zuko simply spoke out against a very unethical act of his, before banishing him. This sets off Zuko’s true story, though not of redemption quite yet, as he needs to find redemption, rather than try to earn it, as he misguidedly does when trying to capture the Avatar, Aang. Along his journey, he is accompanied by his uncle Iroh, who loves him very deeply and wants to keep him from making more mistakes– but knows that only Zuko can make those decisions; he can only advise him. In a way, Iroh represents the real Father in the story of The Prodigal Son.

After Zuko betrays Iroh to Ozai and his sister Azula, he thinks he has everything he’s ever wanted, but in reality, he feels, well, empty. Numb. He feels like he’s the son his biological father has always wanted… but is not really himself. Feeling conflicted, he goes to visit his uncle in prison multiple times, and, though he initially refuses to listen, learns of his true heritage, and decides to do the right thing: He goes right to Ozai and confronts him, stating boldly that he never actually killed the Avatar, that in fact the Avatar’s alive (in a way, the Avatar, Aang, SORT OF represents, well, Jesus. And I say that very LOOSELY.)… and that he not only plans on joining his side, but plans on returning and freeing Iroh, saying that his uncle had been his true father, and that he plans to go beg for his forgiveness, despite Ozai’s scorn and scoffing. He departs from Ozai’s presence without killing him, knowing that that’s the Avatar’s job, not his, and goes out to find Team Avatar (Aang and co.) so he can join them.

With some initial difficulty and mistrust between them, he eventually befriends and bonds with each member of Team Avatar, before he hunts down his uncle at the White Lotus camp (Iroh escaped jail by waiting for an eclipse, when firebenders are at their weakest and can’t firebend, as well as exercising his body daily, fooling the guards into thinking he was going crazy when he was really sane). Zuko, upon finding his uncle fast asleep inside his military tent, sits himself right across the elderly man, waiting all through the night until morning  to see him. When Iroh wakes up and sees his beloved nephew, Zuko immediately tears up and starts apologizing for everything, but Iroh cuts him off with a tearful, very warm embrace, whispering that he was afraid Zuko had lost his way for good.

In many ways, this reminds me of the story of The Prodigal Son, in Luke 15:11-31. The son strays from a father who loves him very much, and wastes himself away, physically, financially, and spiritually. While Zuko was taken care of well enough physically within Ozai’s care, he too was tormented morally and spiritually over abandoning and betraying his uncle, who had stood by his side through thick and thin.

When the Prodigal in Luke’s story gets to his lowest point, when he’s so starved, physically and spiritually, he, like Zuko, decides to return to his true father and humbly beg for forgiveness; the primary difference between the two at this point is the son in the story was willing to forfeit his right to be called his father’s son and work as hired help instead, but then again, Zuko might have also been secretly willing to lay down his birthright to be with his uncle again.

In both stories, the true father of each story embraces and honors their respective sons, gladly willing to live and work (and in Iroh’s case, help to fight Ozai) alongside them– accepting them back into their hearts, just as they are.

Just like God tearfully and warmly accepts those who repent and turn back to Him.

” So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.” –Luke 15: 20-24

 

 

“Robots”– The Fixer

“Robots”– The Fixer

This seems to happen often to me.

If I can’t relate something/someone to Pokemon, I can relate it to God, or His Word.

In the movie Robots, for instance, I realized it was almost a perfect Gospel allegory, in almost every way. Rodney, very much like Jesus, becomes unwelcome in his own hometown when all he’s doing is trying to help others with his calling of being an inventor– similar to Jesus being kicked out of Nazareth because of His miracles He performed to help others. Rodney then sets out for Robot City, just like Jesus, Who traversed much of His ministry to try to reach others.

Like Jesus was rejected from the one synagogue and by the Pharisees and teachers of the law, we see Rodney get unceremoniously rejected from the front desk of Bigwield Industries; it is later revealed that one of the main antagonists (and current owner of the company), Rachet, deliberately changed and manipulated the company’s philosophy, just as the Pharisees and teachers of the law did, to try and manipulate the people of Israel. In addition, Rachet is greatly influenced by his “mother,” Madame Gasket, to destroy Rodney, the primary, behind-the-scenes antagonist, as Jesus’s enemies were influenced by Satan to kill Him. Rachet also tries to sell “upgrades” that will supposedly make the other robots’ lives “better,” though this is revealed as a cover-up manipulation scheme, just like the the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to look good by ritual and tradition, and keep the people in line with “God’s” laws. While the primary difference between the Gospel and Robots  is that Rodney never died to save his friends (they were all in it together; not to say that Rodney’s not a caring and selfless guy, though), Madame Gasket got hurled into a blazing furnace, just as Jesus will have Satan thrown into that brutal, fiery lake.

These aren’t the only parallels to the Good Book.

The main part that stuck out to me was Rodney, and his ability to both invent and fix. He made a little robot companion, Wonder-bot, all by himself, just as Jesus is a part of the Holy Trinity that created everything, including us. Rodney, after being rejected by Rachet and co., took matters into his own hands: gathering a rag-tag (literally) team of friends, he started FIXING robots who were broken down, literally falling apart. And, like Jesus performing miracles and healing (“fixing” ) people, this also got Rodney in trouble with the authorities, since his fixing abilities got him so well-known (and Rachet laughed at ). Jesus did that, and is doing that, too. He continues to work in our lives, even if we can’t actually SEE Him, fixing us up and making us whole once more. Any robot, no matter how bad a shape they were in, were each given a choice: to get fixed and support Rodney, or to be stubborn, and left to being dilapidated and rusty. In the movie, there were lines and lines of robots, just waiting to get fixed, just like there were massive crowds following Jesus, begging for Him to heal them or their loved ones.

But here’s the thing: Even though Jesus offers the same healing, both physical and spiritual, not everyone takes it. Don’t ask me why someone in a life-threatening condition would refuse either physical or spiritual medical attention, but people still do– and Jesus’s –and my– heart aches for them. They have eyes, but cannot see the truth so plainly in front of them, as broad as daylight; they have ears, and yet are deaf to the sweet music of Jesus’s voice. But Jesus’s offer still stands to this day, and all that turn over a new leaf and decide, yes…. I want healed. I want away from this horrible, rotting, perilous condition, will be granted not only healing but new life… Because Jesus’s power to heal is God’s. And God is the Ultimate Healer.

“See a need, fill a need.”– Robots

“And Jesus went all about Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him– from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.” Matthew 4: 23-25, NKJV

 

P.A.M.: B2W2 Review, etc.

P.A.M.: B2W2 Review, etc.

First off, let me state that this is the first nearly 100% based Pokemon-filled, kinda fangirly article I’ve done of the season (yaaaaayyy!) on Pokemon Adventures manga, or PAM (this one being on, obviously, the B2W2 Chapter). Before I get into the review I’d like to point out a few things:

Yes, I know Pokemon is very much fictional. As such, I also uphold the absolute truth that since Pokemon is fictional (and macro evolution is also very much fictional), although some situations and characters in that fictional world can certainly be very profound, philosophical, etc., I will not take it all that seriously, aside from typical fangirling and gaming. But I just wanted to let you know, as fangirl I’ve the right to get excited about awesome things in my fandom, but as a Christian I also have a duty to Christ to believe, truly believe, in only things that’re true, pure, and eternal— hence, the balance is set. So with that mindset in place, I will NOW begin the review.

The B2W2 series, as is normal with PAM, is based at least mostly off of the game and, like its game counterpart, picks up from where they left us at the BW chapter. Sadly, Mr. Kusaka, the author, has his hands tied down with writing the B2W2 chapter, ORAS chapter, and the remaining bit of the XY chapter (the latter of which may or may not wrap up soon, depending on whether or not he decides to pull a “GSC chapter” action on us; he may be waiting to see if Nintendo comes out with “Pokemon Z”–which I by this point have no real doubt that they will– before continuing.), and is likely not going to release the next issue of B2W2 until at least the middle of this month, if he even has the time. However, many previews have given us great hope that there will be lots of action, mystery, and even a couple new characters and cameos from old favorites (from BW). So here’s what’s been going on: (MAJOR SPOILER ZONE– IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILED, READ NO FURTHER!!)

Black, the newly crowned Champ of the Pokemon League, has mysteriously vanished (which is technically true, but if you really, really want to know what happened, go to goodmanga.net to read and find out details for yourself… because soooooo many juicy things happen in BW!!), a heartbroken White has returned, mostly, to showbiz, and is in charge of PokeStar Studios (honestly, why am I NOT surprised? LOL), and is, I would wager a guess, probably in charge of Join Avenue, too. N has vanished as well, but the B2W2 previews, or rather, one in particular, have given me great hope he will return, just like in the games. (preferably to fight alongside the Unova Dexholders altogether, but hey, one can’t be too picky) Looker, the International Police agent, continues his search and investigation for Team Plasma members and the Seven “Sages” (or Seven Stooges. Whichever term you prefer.), but more on the latters later. Bianca has become Prof. Juniper Jr’s assistant back at the lab, while Cheren, Black’s other buddy, is now the 16-year-old head teacher of the Aspertia City’s Trainer School, and soon-to-be Gym Leader.   Little Leo, a former contestant at the Pokemon League with a Deino (and former battle opponent of Cheren), is now enrolled in Aspertia City’s Trainer School/soon-to-be Aspertia Gym, where he meets a cast of all-new protagonists:

Hugh: Hugh’s story is pretty much the same as it is in the games, thankfully, with the exception being that he too is a Trainer School pupil, and is Leo’s roomie. He is a very hot-headed young man, quick to anger or judge someone even for the littlest things, as demonstrated when he deliberately attacked a group of girls simply because they were talking amongst themselves, after their teacher told them to go home, as the school day was over. He has had a very bad experience with Team Plasma, the chapter’s main antagonists, when a couple of plasmids (what I refer to the T.P. grunts as, instead of “grunts”) kidnapped his little sister’s Purrloin from her, on her birthday, shortly after she received it from him as a gift; Hugh blames himself for not being able to/strong enough to stop them. He has nursed a deep grudge against T.P. ever since then, and vows every day to get stronger so he can defeat every last one of them and get back her Purrloin.

Lack-Two (Japanese: Rakutsu) (yes, I know it’s a weird name): another pupil at the Trainer’s School, this cool cat and friend of Leo’s is actually an undercover International Police agent, on a mission to root out a former female plasmid who has a secret microchip that can counteract one of T.P.’s evil devices that control Pokemon. When on the job, he acts, very annoyingly, like a total womanizer, flirting with all the girls in the class to get close with them and discover if the plasmid is among them. When not on the job (which is basically when he’s around Looker and not around fellow students), he suddenly shifts gears in personality and becomes extremely serious, intelligent and no-nonsense. Despite his young age (12!!), he is of high rank in his department, classified as a “superintendent,” at least a rank above his colleague, Looker.

Whi-Two (Japanese: Faitsu): A transfer student to the Trainer’s School. Not much is known about her or her character initially, which is why Lack-Two seems to make it his priority to “get to know her better,” and help her to “fit in with the rest of the class”. In truth, she IS the former plasmid that they have been looking for (#starwarspuns), along with her mother, although she has no idea she is actually carrying the secret microchip inside a T.P. locket Anthea and Concordia gave to her (which has N’s picture inside… sigh… what I wouldn’t give for a locket like that!). She is what you would call the “original N fangirl,” still holding onto her plasmid uniform, even wearing it privately to reminisce sometimes, talking aloud to herself or in her head as if N could hear her, and non verbally refusing to put her Foongus in a Pokeball; additionally, when she unintentionally wins an unofficial tournament at her new school to decide who’s the strongest in the class, she wins herself a Pokedex alongside Lack-Two, much to her horror and dismay (but Lack-Two coaxes her to take it anyway).

And let’s not forget the new antagonist, Colress, an “mad” scientist who’s the new leader of T.P., whose existence is only known to T.P., Lack-Two, and Looker. (and who reminds me of, in many ways, Jeanine Matthews of Divergent ) Colress’s goal is to, ideally, bring out the proper strength of a Pokemon, and to do so he joined forces with T.P., and continued illegal experimentation on innocent Pokemon to fulfill his goal. Due to his actions, he is labelled “The Dark Scientist,” although Lack-Two himself points out Colress MAY not be evil, but rather deluded, since the title has been gifted only because of this.

Now that we’ve the official cast of main characters downpat, let’s get to the nitty-gritty good and bad stuff of the B2W2 chapter:

Bad Stuff:

Lack-Two’s womanizing habits. I mean, there’s more than one way to skin a raccoon, and there is most likely a more effective way to get poor, poor Whi-Two to open up to him, since she obviously isn’t responding all that well to his masculine charms– Lack-Two himself thinks quietly that she’s pretty guarded, and although he also thinks he will bust down her barrier eventually, regrettably refuses to think of a better, alternative way to get close to her so she’ll open up. Plus, him flirting and going out with girls SOLELY because he’s hunting for a former T.P. plasmid is in itself pretty irksome and even to some degree pathetic.

Hugh’s explosiveness. Yes, I agree that his lack of anger management skills sets the stage perfectly for some good tension, but in all honesty, I think in some areas Kusaka really, REALLY overplays it, to the point where Hugh’s not even really being provoked (like at all) to blow up at someone. This causes some futility in his worked-up rage, although I believe that he used it to emphasize Huge’s grudge against T.P.; I think he could have shown that in a more creative, and less over-exaggerated way. I think that even those with short fuses have to have at least a bit of a limit on that.

Whi-Two’s horoscope-reading hobby. It’s just as disturbing as consulting mediums and psychics. Just stop, please stop, OK, Kusaka? Even if you aren’t going to give God glory (which, since PAM is a secular–non-Christian– manga, is more so understandable), at least don’t disrespect Him. I usually have to skip large chunks of the manga because of crap like that, and it’s both annoying and morally/emotionally depressing. It would be FAR better if you just mentioned it, then then it drop, instead of playing into it; that makes it about as futile as Hugh’s excess anger.

Good stuff:

The tension between Lack-Two and Whi-Two.  This is a time where I heartily congratulate Kusaka for very well-played tension between two characters, despite the hassling of Lack-Two’s frequent, flirtatious habits: Guy meets girl. Guy is undercover cop trying to (constantly) find former bad person to bring still-bad people to justice. Girl is said anonymous former bad person who is trying to keep her ID hush-hush, so as not to draw negative attention to herself. They are joined in the fact that they both attend the same Trainer’s school, and are both now PokeDex Holders, which means they both need to go collect data for the machine (much to poor Whi-Two’s chagrin) and for school. Now THAT’S what you’d call jointed tension! (Although, I’m praying that eventually Lack-two will just drop the act, be himself around her, and the two eventually fall for one another. No stupid horoscopes necessary.)

MORE great tension! At the end of PAM issue 52, we see Hugh, a renowned T.P. hater, accidentally finding Whi-Two’s T.P. locket, and activating the secret chip inside to find out who the owner is, discovers a list of “liberated” Pokemon– his sister’s Purrloin being at the very top. This creates tension because, well, obviously, he realizes this means one of the girls in his class is a T.P. member, and angrily swears to hunt her down. (Dun dun dun duuuuuuuunnn…..) I’m assuming this will play a big role in the soon-hopefully-to-be-released issue 53, and I cannot wait to see how it all plays out (if it comes to conflict, just pray that Lack-Two will intervene for her in time…).

Cameos and reappearances from old characters… especially White, N, and even Drayden. As said before, nothing will get a rabid fan more worked up and foaming at the mouth than cameos of previous, favorite characters. Nothing. When we see White at the end of the PokeStar Studios chapter, we just KNOW that she’s gonna play at least a role in the B2W2 chapter. And if the B2W2 extra previews are any good indication, we’re almost certain to see more of her (and N!!!!) this time around.

Justice being dished out (eventually) onto T.P.’s… and especially Ghetsis’s… stupid….heads… After what happened at the very end of the BW chapter, I personally think ALL of us PAM fans pretty much want Ghetsis to rot, like the scumbag he is. LOL

Questions that need to be solved:

Did Cheren’s mind/memories get wiped by Colress’s Elygem? Cheren, at the end of the BW chapter, went through a DRAMATIC personality change; not only that, but he doesn’t seem to recall much after the incident at Cold Storage in Driftveil, where he met up with T.P.’s Seven Stooge, Zinzolin. My guess is, Elygem was probably hovering nearby, and BAM! caught him off guard, wiped him clean, filled his noggin with T.P. propaganda, and sent him out to do their dirty work against Black. Further proof of this is indicated when Cheren, in visiting PokeStar Studios, converses with Brycen, a former Gym Leader, states that he has no memory whatsoever and can’t recall challenging any gyms, other than Striaton’s. In fact, he can’t recall ANYTHING up past Driftveil, very heavily implying this is exactly what happened. But I guess we won’t get confirmation until Kusaka brings us home the real bacon.

Will Whi-Two be the one to inherit N’s Pokemon– including Zorua and even Gigi?? In the B2W2 games, you actually get to capture N’s Pokemon and battle with them, using a unique feature that unlocks old memories of N’s in BW. While you can get N’s Zorua buddy without this feature, it’s still pretty cool, and I’m betting that Whi-Two, as a former T.P. plasmid, will become the new owner of at least his Zorua buddy and perhaps Gigi as well, since White already owns Amanda as her “starter,” Black has Bo, and Lack-Two has Dewott. However, I also really would like to see her with a Whimsicott, since the poor Pokemon didn’t get much screen time in BW at all (the exception being at the very beginning of the chapter, with it being one of the first released Pokemon thanks to T.P.’s stupid speech about “Pokemon liberation”– what can I say; T.P.’s the Poke-version of both PETA and ALF ).

Where did the Light Stone go? After the BW, it mysteriously vanished with Black, shortly after N and Ghetsis’s separate departures. My guess is, since N took off on Zekrom, Reshiram/the Light Stone’s counterpart, it flew off to find them. This in a way would make sense, since in the game N goes off, comes back to Unova for a while, then leaves again to hunt for the person (who in this case would be Black) who beat him in BW, wanting to thank them for opening his eyes; this makes it highly probable that N has at least an idea of where they can find it… and Black.

Will the characters Lack-Two, Whi-Two, and Hugh EVER move their storyline outside of Aspertia City? Yes, I understand that they are students. Yes, I understand they have obligations of school to go to, classes to attend. But Lack-Two’s primary priority should be his job to help uncover and defeat T.P.; Whi-Two’s should be to stay relatively unnoticed and not to stir up trouble. And Hugh’s, bless his heart, is to get stronger. How can he do that if he doesn’t even challenge gyms, like in the games?! (although, a B2W2 preview pretty much guaranteed we’re gonna see Roxie at some point, so I think it’s safe to say there MIGHT be some hope there.) But seriously, if Kusaka doesn’t get the snowball rolling downhill already, how’re they gonna get to the point where they’re finally ready for the grand finale, the final showdown between all DexHolders and co., and T.P.???

Are both Reshiram AND Black going to be combined with Kyurem??? O.O This almost seems creepily inevitable, given the events at the end of BW…. But oh, the HORROR. THE HORROR.

Not a lot of events have happened so far to confirm any of this, save for the whole, “Black, White and N will be making appearances” thing. Oh, and Genesect and Keldeo, but they haven’t played too much of a huge role (seemingly), though it is subtly hinted at that we could possibly be getting more of Keldeo’s story in this chapter of PAM.

 

So far, we’ve a pretty even mix of good and bad panning out this chapter, but I can’t wait to see how it all turns out; hopefully, Kusaka won’t keep us waiting TOO much longer…

If you’ve any thoughts, questions, and theories on this, any of this, feel free to leave feedback in the comments section! ^.^