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Secret Garden Korean Drama Review

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So I’m rethinking of re-branding my website; I’m recently discovering how amazing Korean Dramas are so I’m going to start reviewing at least one to two new dramas a month.

I’ll be starting with my absolute favorite, Secret Garden. Secret Garden tells the story of stunt woman Gil Ra Im and her unlikely love triangle between a Mr. Darcy like President of the Loel department store, Kim Joo-won and his cousin, pop star Oska or Choi Woo-Young. As we get to know each of our protagonists, we discover that Gil Ra Im and best friend Im Ah-Young share a very small apartment in a poor part of town making the best of each day together. Kim Joo-won, a man with a razor personality as sharp as a knife known for looking down upon others and playing at intense psychological warfare with his underlings (“Is this your best? Are you certain?”) is drawn in an unlikely manner into Gil Ra Im’s life. While attempting to cover up a scandal for cousin Oska with actress Chae Rin, we discover in short order a few very important details about each individual.

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Oska lives life to play, whether it’s with women or his career, though he appears to have some manner of sweetness and juvenile charm about him. Kim Joo-won lives to be the greatest. As Oska says, “If I buy a car, he buys the dealership. If I buy a boat, he buys the entire fleet. He’s that sort of guy.”

Meanwhile, Gil Ra Im is a woman who will be moved to violence for her friend’s pride and well-being, but will ignore her own personal injuries and slights to the point of landing herself in a hospital.

As a bit of happenstance throws these characters and more together, we embark on a tale of supernatural romance, and the many kinds of male and female friendships, all leading towards what one can only hope will be a happy ending. Shall we?

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E3 Doesn’t Excite Me At All…

To be honest, I really didn’t feel like writing this article. At all.

To be honest, I rarely feel like writing any articles these days. I see less and less point to what I do, but, a handful of readers ask me frequently to keep running with the torch, so it’s in my hand again.

I don’t care about E3 this year. I already knew that I wouldn’t. I’d hope that more Christians would feel the same way, but, my experiences with my independent publishing have shown me that perhaps I hope in vain.

I’m still indie for my works, because Christian publishing houses say I’m too out there (you have violence and cursing and you come across as too negative about the church and you discuss taboo topics like alternative lifestyles and you make the traditional church uncomfortable!), while non-Christian, or Worldly, publishing houses say I’m not out there enough (you need to have graphic sex scenes, you need to have the majority of your cast be LGBTQ, you need to stop talking about God, if you don’t pander we won’t publish you).

I’m sitting on three completed novels that I don’t feel like releasing right now, and over 200 original songs that I don’t feel like releasing either. These days I don’t write “for publishing” novels anymore, I write “for fun” novels, stories where I weave whatever narrative I please in whatever fashion I feel like without prettying them up for public consumption.

We live in an unprecedented era of hostility towards Christianity, and an unparalleled era of the perversion of original works. Did you know that the game “Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers” was titled “Shin Sangoku Musou: Eiketsuden” in Japan? Eiketsuden means “Legend of a Brave Hero”. Not unlike how Sengoku Basara became Devil Kings in America, the American marketing team functioned off of the tried and true that media sells better in America if it slams Christianity, promotes demon power, and is deviant in some manner.

Did you know titles like Earthbound had Christian protagonists that were removed when the games were brought to the west? Did you know that in Xenogears the last boss was called Yahwei originally, but they changed it at the last minute?

There was a time where a game like Bayonetta wouldn’t have been made. I marvel at how people tell me “You’re an idiot, Bayonetta isn’t anti-christian!”

So…the game where you’re a stripper witch who kills angels, is purported to have done things that Christ did like die and rise miraculously in three days, and who at the end of her game kills a God and Jesus stand in, isn’t anti-Christian? Really?

El Shaddai, a game that says Lucifer is actually a hero, is getting a sequel that will no doubt be popular. Persona 5 ends with you turning into Lucifer, professing Satan as the ultimate power to win the day.

I look at the E3 announcements, and here’s the part where I expect anyone who was still reading with the capacity to be a rational human being to check that rationality at the door. I hear the words “inclusive” and “equality” thrown around all the time, but what I see is preferential treatment. Whether it’s in a comic book, tv show, anime or video game, when the word “inclusive” is used, what it actually means is “girls are gonna kiss”.

Don’t poop your pants with rage, I have more to say. Or, if you already pooped your pants, go change them and come back. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Are you back? Did you wash your hands? You good? Good.

Because here’s the thing. My outlook on all of this is a bit different that what you’d expect. Yup, I’m a minister, and yup that means most of you are going to stop reading with any shred of rationality because this issue is polarized because hey, guess what, people want it to be.

Because when any issue is polarized, it’s good for that sweet sweet green stuff. Unity doesn’t make money; controversy does. Whether it’s race, gun safety or alternative lifestyles, as long as there are extremes there is money to be made.

I get so tired of typing my outlook, my “credentials” as it were, but if I don’t people make all manner of silly assumptions. I open discussions with a simple question. Did you come here to have an intelligent discourse, or are you here to be mad and pick a fight? If it’s the former, let’s discuss. If it’s the latter, fine, I’ll still talk, just know that I only half care about the outcome.

It’s unpopular in our Alastair Crowley fueled “you are your own god, do whatever you wish, that is the only law that need be satisfied. Whatever is pleasurable is good” society, but if you profess the faith you don’t pick and choose what parts you follow.

That means that yes, you believe homosexuality is a sin (don’t stop reading), but you also comprehend the fact that Christ said love everyone regardless of their sin and treat them like a decent human being.

To that end, Life is Strange, Blue Reflection, probably the new Uncharted, The Last Night, Andromeda, Horizon: Zero Dawn and more. That’s your franchise, do with it what you will. I’m not gonna rush out and buy them, I’m not gonna support the games, but that’s your jam. That’s what those teams wanted to create. Cool.

Just, don’t tell me you’re making an “all inclusive game”, just be real and say you’re following the market trends. Or hey, maybe that’s just the story you wanted to write. That’s cool too.

My upcoming novel “In Defense of the Heart” has two gay couples among the main leads. I’ve seen “Moonlight” four times. If you truly have a story to tell, a real story to tell, then cool. Because I also believe that you can’t meet someone as a human being if you don’t pull your head out and get to know what they’re going through.

But that goes both ways. If Mass Effect was meant to be “all inclusive”, then why was the only Christian a bigot and a racist? If The Last of Us was meant to be all inclusive, why did we get our “Where’s your God now?” moments but no positive Christians? If Horizon: Zero Dawn was meant to be about equality, why did we get a narrative that said the world is bad because men and religion made it that way?

My point is this: sometimes it sucks to be a Christian. I loved Persona 3 and 4, but 5? Where I have to be Satan to win? I have to pass. Alternatively I can enjoy God of War because it’s narrative is about tearing down a corrupt pantheon and fighting for redemption.

I don’t watch most super hero shows, because my issue is pandering in whatever form it takes. I also loved Moonlight and Secret Garden because each (one a solely gay story, the other who used a gay protagonist to tell a story that was about loneliness) because they told stories, they didn’t exist to make pander dollars.

And I know that the majority of you either stopped reading early, or read to the end but decided to stay mad, but the point truly is this: If your goal is equality, that has to run both ways. You have to respect that I don’t agree with your lifestyle, but I love and respect you. And, you also have to respect that if as a developer you say your game is about equality but it’s about “This makes money right now” or it’s about preferential treatment, I won’t buy it.

Just like how I won’t be buying the new Super Smash Brothers if Bayonetta is part of the main roster. Because I love the sinner, but I won’t throw money at the sin.

If you want to have a rational, intelligent discussion, comment below. If you want to run in and rage, just know your comments will be ignored. However, if you truly, truly want a more equal world, understand that means calmly and rationally discussing with calm and rational people.

Xeawn, out.

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Tales of Berseria Impressions: The Perspective No Other Website Will Give You

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*Sigh* Alright, let me get the more annoying part of doing these kinds of articles out of the way. That’s right, it’s time for theeeee

YES I HAVE ACTUALLY PLAYED AND ENJOYED THIS FRANCHISE SO DON’T BE AN IRRATIONAL FAN AND FLIP OUT QUANTIFIER PART OF THE ARTICLE!!!!

My introduction to this franchise began as a starry eyed elementary school kid who found out how emulators and roms worked. I played Tales of Phantasia, never got farther than the volcano dungeon, but enjoyed it a great deal. When I got a bit older I played Tales of Destiny, never beat it (had it stolen from my house by a then friend).

I’ve beaten Tales of Eternia (or Tales of Destiny 2 on PS1 for American fans) more times than I can count. I went on to play each Tales entry, and beat Tales of Graces R.

Now, a really weird new trend started with the otherwise fairly samey narrative of the Tales games around Innocence for the Nintendo DS:

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Tales of Innocence began the trend of the church being super super evil. Now, I’ll admit that I haven’t played the two Xillia titles yet (I was trying to beat them in order of release and I got bored before I finished the extra story in Graces) so I can’t vouch for those games. As you know, Xeawn doesn’t comment on anything Xeawn hasn’t experienced first hand. But, the church wasn’t exactly super great in Graces, and in Tales of Hearts the church functions as a primary antagonist.

In Innocence, the church is rounding up people with supernatural powers and putting them through some pretty hardcore Nazi style experimentation. And this all brings us to Berseria.

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Now I can hear you already, “XEAWN STOP BEING ONE OF THOSE KINDS OF CHRISTIANS GEEZ THE GAME IS JUST A FANTASY MYTH IT DOESN’T EVEN SAY JESUS ANYWHERE IN THE STORY!!!”

Hush your ravings of fan outrage, and let us dive a bit deeper. As newcomers may not know, I take the following stances on interacting with media:

  1. Hope to be pleasantly surprised (i.e. a form of media is innocent of attacking my faith until proven guilty)
  2. Do not speak on a game/anime/movie/show unless I have experienced the fullness of what it has to offer.
  3. Reserve judgement until the end.
  4. What is the final core statement on sin and sin lifestyles by the end of the game?

To elaborate on the last point, I like the God of War series. The core value and final statement in commentary is that Kratos sold his soul to a polytheistic deity, got screwed (as tends to happen with soul selling), then went on to destroy the polytheistic pantheon that abused humanity in a rage fueled quest for atonement and redemption. The final statement is that Kratos’ sin lifestyle was wrong and led to his downfall, and he fought to tear apart the corrupt institution he had once served. So, I don’t mind.

Conversely Bayonetta is about being a witch, lying about the Bible, killing angels while fighting on a stripper pole and killing Christ and God at the end, so, no grey area there.

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“In the second game I destroy a stand in for the Vatican!”

So now that we’ve wasted 542 words on my credentials, let’s sit at the table and discuss.

Tales of Berseria sets itself up as a piece of fantasy fiction, but we can immediately dismiss those trappings because Hideo Baba chose to use Judeo-Christian terminology for everything. This isn’t like other Tales Of games; Baba didn’t use a bevy of made up words for his fantasy world and their religions (I swear you needed an encyclopedia for Tales of Abyss). Instead, Baba decided to make the church the antagonist, and use myriad Christian terms along the way.

What’s more, any argument of “Other religions say things like angel” (most don’t) is taken away by the fact that he didn’t just use “common religious terms”; Baba chose to go back as far as traditional Hebrew terms to use the church as the villain of the story.

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Now, let me be clear about something right now:

For the duration of this article, no one’s opinions matter. My opinions do not matter. Your opinions do not matter.

I say that to tell you I don’t choose to base or frame these discussions around opinion, rather around the doctrine in Scripture. If I am wrong, please do not hesitate to show me scripturally where I am. I’ll also say that what you will read about my dissection of this story will surprise you. Let’s go on. Oh, and there will be spoilers for the first hour of Berseria, small bits of the rest of the game, portions of the last battle, and bits of Zestiria as we proceed.

 

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Dear Japanese Games: Stop Having Boring Butt Openings

Let’s start JRPG’s with less of this:

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And more of this:

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Maybe I’m just spoiled, maybe I just have a short attention span, but I have lost all patience for “humble beginnings in a sleepy village” openings. Guess what? I don’t care. I don’t care about the villagers. I don’t care about my quiet life. I don’t care about collecting five herbs for Grandma Whosit or getting little Jenny’s cat out of a tree.

Grandma can pick her own herbs and I hope that cat stays in that tree forever.

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I’ve been playing Trails in the Sky on an emulator…

And I wish I could play every game the same way.

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Let’s be honest, no matter how much you love RPG’s, they do have a lot of boring stuff. There’s a lot of animations that aren’t necessary (especially in battles), there’s a lot of walking around, and if it’s not your thing (and working full time for me it is not any longer) grinding levels is a chore.

I had been playing the Trails in the Sky games on my PSP first and then my Vita. Let me be clear: The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky has quite possibly leapt up to my favorite JRPG ever. This means it beat out Tales of Eternia (or Tales of Destiny 2 for Americans), Chrono Trigger (can we please agree that it’s good but it IS NOT the greatest thing in the universe?), Final Fantasy V (#TeamFaris), Super Mario RPG (my most beloved RPG, the first one I ever beat) and Evolution 1 and 2 for me. However as much as I love Trails in the Sky, from a technical perspective I have some complaints.

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009 Re:Cyborg Review – The Best Take on God and Faith I’ve Seen in a Fictional Movie to Date

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To be honest, I’m not entirely certain how to begin this article. The impact this film made on me however is evidenced by the fact that I’m taking time away from designing Withering Whispers, Murder the Citizens: Misery Moment, the reboot of The Blackest Rain and other internal projects (all of which will have updates soon) in order to review it.

There will be spoilers, bee tee dubs.

Let me preface by stating that while I recall enjoying Cyborg 009, I was a kid when I watched it. This gave me the unique opportunity of entering this movie fresh with no pre-conceived thoughts or feelings towards it one way or the other. To be honest, I wasn’t ever aware that the original creator’s plans were to eventually have Joe and company fight God, or God’s will, so there were more than a few moments where I sat with held breath hoping and praying that a series I re-called enjoying a great deal was not about to spend an hour and a half attacking my religion.

What I got was an exceedingly interesting package that discussed the broad range and depth of faith and faith struggles in ways that I believe even the church and many Christians shy away from. Let’s begin, shall we?

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Adult Fans Ruin Everything or Are You Part of the Problem?

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Credits go to Grimdark

Alright ladies and gents, let us preface this article with a word from Proverbs, specifically 26:4 “Do not answer a fool according to their foolishness, or else you will become just as foolish as them” and 2nd Timothy 2:23 “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments; you know they just produce quarrels.”

I’m pretty sure somewhere in James it says not to argue with stupid people, but, it’s 3 in the morning and I want to finish this before I fall asleep. My point is, if you disagree or whatever and have something constructive and intelligent to bring to the discussion, awesome, comment below and let’s discuss. If you come here just to get your hackles up and flame, I’ma ignore you.

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Adult fans ruin everything. It’s true. Well, half true. A vocal specific sect of adult fans ruin everything, and the pathetic money grubbing writers that flock for their dollars seal the deal.

More and more each day it becomes exceedingly difficult to find entertainment that actually cares about just being for children and young people. Now, there’s a whole other discussion we can have about how it’s the “cool thing” to vomit all over Christianity and stomp on Biblical morality, but, that’s another talk for another time.

Every time a new cartoon or game or show comes out that is apparently geared towards children, I always have to watch with clenching fear to wait and see “How many episodes in are you going to suddenly start clamoring for the creepy adult fan dollars?”

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“We’re just friends ya bunch of degenerates!”

I don’t care if you’re an adult and you’re into not traditionally adult things. I don’t care if you’re into things that are outside of the American sensibility of your gender matrix either. I personally don’t subscribe to typical American gender roles much; I love to fight, and there’s something satisfying about monster trucks and explosions, but, I adore cute things. I love ponies, soft colors and Rosa Regale sparkling wine as much as I love swords, explosions and bitter hateful Irish beer.

It’s fine to be an adult and to be a fan of media for younger individuals. I’m actually the one in my household that got my nephew into Chowder for example. I enjoy watching it in between The Wuthering Heights and The Grudge 😀

However, if you’re going to be an adult fan, don’t push your own weird agendas onto kids, huh?

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“Wait, the fans AND my voice actress want us to kiss? They…they do know we’re sisters, right?”

I get deeply disturbed when I read things like how one of the screenplays being shopped around for the live action Captain Planet movie depicts a grizzled old end of life jaded possibly alcoholic Cap who knows the world has no use for him and is ready to hang up the sparkly red boots for a bottle of coors as he watches the world burn. Also, run on sentence, just for the fans.

I grow deeply disturbed when I read about ideas for a dark Power Rangers live action film depicting blood and murder.

I cringe when I go to put on a performance at a convention, and then when I visit the panels for kids shows I hear rallying cries from fans too old to even be the demographic begging for adult language, slash fiction, violence, gore and other things that have nothing to do with the (supposed) intended audience.

Here’s the thing, if you want dark, go enjoy the media that is made for you. The same fans clamoring for Twilight Sparkle to start ripping ponies in half with her magic are the same ones that would lose their crap if they got a G rated God of War reboot.

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“ARIES! I’VE GOT A TICKLE TORTURE WITH YOUR NAME ON IT!”

The same fans that are screaming for a dark and gory Power Rangers reboot would figuratively, possibly literally lose their crap if say, Mortal Kombat was about holding hands and skipping through tulips while singing about the joys of friendship and love.

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“I DISAGREE WITH YOUR OPINIONS BUT I RESPECT YOU AND VALUE YOUR FRIENDSHIP! LET’S GO TO THE TASTEE FREEZE AND THEN GET FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS!”

Now don’t get me wrong, every child is different. I saw Akira when I was four, for example, and it didn’t jack me up. Here’s the thing though; Akira was an adult animation intended for adults. It wasn’t some G rated let’s hug it out version of the film. And, for them to reboot Akira as a Saturday Morning Kid’s Cartoon would be out of place. Because, Akira isn’t for children, it’s for adults. If your kid is mature enough to handle it, fine, let them watch it.

But, Akira isn’t for them, it’s for us. Mortal Kombat isn’t for them, it’s for us. Doom isn’t for them, it’s for us.

And ya know what? Things like Frozen, My Little Pony, Regular Show, Mega Man and so on and so forth, I don’t care if you can enjoy them. Heck, you should.

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Remember back when this was just innocent fun? Ya know, before you had to worry about turning up porn and murder pictures of elementary school protagonists from platonic friendships?

Just as long as you remember it’s not for you, it’s for them. And, the moment you forget that and start screaming to push your own agendas and change that, the moment you become one of those adults demanding something innocent, intelligent and fun for kids suddenly conform to your own desires, well, you’re part of the problem.

And the money grubbing losels who listen to you are the other half of that sinister equation.

Xeawn, out.