Batman and Harley Quinn Review

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It’s time to look at a fairly recent DC film. The DCAU was one of the best things to ever happen to comics in general so it’s good to see it make a comeback with this film. Unfortunately its comeback is on a rather low note here as the film makes too many mistakes but if this leads to a new Justice League installment or maybe even a Superman film then I’ll be up for it. It definitely got a good retro vibe going for it.

The film starts off with Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man deciding to form an alliance and turn the world into plants. Batman and Nightwing figure that they won’t be able stop this threat on their own so they enlist the help of Harley Quinn. She agrees to help but is determined to make the heroes regret bringing her along. Will this team be able to keep it together long enough to save the world or do they just need to hope that the villains make a mistake somewhere along the line? The time is ticking!

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film does a good job of recreating the classic sound effects from the DCAU. One thing that always stood out back then was how hard each blow sounded. Every movement had power behind it and it’s likely also due to the animation style. This film recreated it quite well and then throwing in the familiar voices made the experience even more authentic. On a technical level the film certainly didn’t disappoint. The hand to hand fights are also quite solid like Nightwing vs Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy vs Harley. Both fights were nice and long. It does bring up a mild question though of how Poison Ivy is so good at martial arts. I can understand Harley being really good, although I think she should not be able to do so well against Nightwing, but then how can Poison Ivy hold her own against such an opponent? It seems like everyone is apparently a martial arts master at this point.

Batman is a solid main character as always. While I think he was rather quick to throw in the towel by asking Harley to come along I guess time was of the essence here. The villains plan was actually pretty quick and well thought out for a change. It’s certainly a fairly unique threat. Batman is also upfront with the constant insults to the government so it’s nice to see that he is still feared by villains and heroes alike. I mean, the henchmen at the bar didn’t fear him, but they were quickly taught that lesson afterwards.

Lets talk about where the film went wrong now. For starters, it definitely is trying quite a bit to be edgier than the old days. Not in a cool well written way like Batman V Superman as that’s dark, but not edgy. Here we have Harley Quinn throwing in swear words just to remind us that she’s one of the villains from time to time. The script never gets too crazy, but each moment feels forced. Then we have random comments thrown in to show us that everyone is rather terrible in Gotham. The government agent guy is cheating for some reason and the normal citizens are all James Bond and Captain Kirk types.

The film also includes quite a bit of fanservice with Harley Quinn. As with Suicide Squad all it does it help defeat the point of trying to make her a strong character. The scene with her and Nightwing takes the cake of being the worst scene in the film though. It’s no surprise to see Harley Quinn back on the rebound, but Nightwing should have had the will power to stay true to the mission and refuse her. He looked terrible in that scene and this leads to a lot of painful lines later on as it keeps being brought up. On second thought, the writing was actually rather bad in this film. We even get crude humor thrown in.

So, Batman is the only good hero in this film. Nightwing was completely destroyed by this scene and just couldn’t make it back up the charts. There’s no way to take him seriously by this point. Then Harley Quinn is also beyond saving because her character is just no good. It’s great that she doesn’t want to be a villain anymore and she tries to earn sympathy points by showing how rough it is for an ex-con in Gotham, but she certainly doesn’t make it any easier on herself. She gets a happy ending at least so hopefully she doesn’t mess it up this time.

The villains are a lot more interesting and they’re better handled. The Floronic Man is the completely evil member of the duo and he can’t wait to destroy the humans. He’s a villain who has never gotten the spotlight before so it was cool to see him here. The guy seems like a reasonable villain. He may not be much of a threat, but can still put up a fairly good fight. Then we have Poison Ivy who was always good in the DCAU. She isn’t as insane as the average villain and ultimately at least has a good reason for being evil. I do think it was a bit iffy how Floronic Man was basically the leader of their partnership though since he is basically made out of plants. I think Ivy should be able to defeat him rather easily, but of course walking within punching distance wouldn’t be wise. These two villains are probably the 2nd and 3rd best characters in the film.

There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but we hear a really solid remix near the end of the film and overall it was rather fast paced. I wasn’t crazy about the lyrical songs though so I guess they roughly cancel out in the end. This film isn’t too long and the pacing is good so at least it doesn’t end up dragging on. I do have to question why the film plays up a certain death near the end like it’s a big deal though. It was a character that nobody cared about and it’s not as if he died in a particularly brutal way or anything. I guess the heroes are heroic enough to care though so I can’t fault them for that.

Overall, Batman and Harley Quinn wasn’t a good movie but I think anyone probably could have guessed that based on the title. Whenever there is a film based around Harley Quinn you know that it’s not going to work out very well. This film pretty much made every mistake that it could here. At least it wasn’t all that violent so it dodged that. Still, excessive fanservice and bad writing is enough to bring a film down. Also the quick case of animal violence as a mouse blows up. That scene is so incredibly unnecessary that you have to wonder what the film was thinking. I would recommend passing on this film as there are plenty of other, better DC films to watch instead.

Overall 4/10

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Sherlock Holmes vs One Above All


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This is a tribute to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. This detective definitely doesn’t go down with a fight and it’s safe to say that his gun is enough to take down someone like TOAA. TOAA is about as fast as the average person and most people can’t dodge gun blasts. Holmes also has a cane at the ready to smack TOAA with if the guy gets too close. He can’t win from close range or afar. Sherlock Holmes wins.

Sherlock Holmes vs Nemo


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This is a tribute to the classic Hounds film of 1939. Sherlock Holmes is a great sleuth as always and uncovered the mystery right away. However, it won’t take nearly so much effort to take care of this little fish. Nemo can swim around quite a bit, but he has no real attacks while Holmes can easily use his jar to scoop Nemo up. Poor little guy never stood a chance. Sherlock Holmes wins.

Leprechaun vs Broly


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This is a tribute to the Leprechaun movie. This guy may not be a villain who looks all that intimidating but he still has quite a lot of strength at his disposal. Losing to a mere human was too much for his hype to recover from though. Broly could just power up and that would be the end of the planet and this Leprechaun. Such power cannot be taken lightly. Broly wins.

Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On Review

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It’s time to look at Monster Hunter. An anime that may be different than what you’re expecting as it is based on a very specific game in the series that is about riders instead of hunters. The series never really manages to break out of its shell and become something too epic which is a shame. There are certainly some more interesting things they could have done here and it could have potentially opened up into something like Pokemon. Still, it’s a reasonably good show and one that lasted for a long time so the show had time for a lot of things to happen.

There are two main arcs, but lets say 3 since the pre arc was rather long. The start of the show is about Lute, Cheval, and Lilia as they journey throughout the village and into towns as they learn more about being Riders. Unlike Hunters who destroy monsters for rewards and safety, Lute and the gang grew up in a village where they live as pals. Lute aims to prove that having kinship with a monster is the right thing to do while the hunters aren’t very sure. Hijinx ensues and the cast often have to wonder if this is the right call. Even if it is, how will they convince anyone to change sides? To become a rider you have to get a special jewel and to do that you basically have to join a village so that’s a tough sell for anyone.

The next arc is the darkest of the show as Cheval’s life is forever changed when a blighted monster destroys the village. He decides to avenge his family by hunting down and destroying all blighted monsters. Lute doesn’t think that this is the way to go though and decides to purify all of the crystals instead to stop the corruption at its core. The two of them become enemies now and while Lute is convinced that they can still be friends with differing opinions, Cheval doesn’t agree. He aims to destroy Lute once and for all to prove that sometimes Kinship isn’t enough to keep two people together.

Finally, the series brings in a new group of villains known as the Black/Ebon/Dark Riders who show up and kidnap Avinia. They aim to bring the world to its knees by performing a forbidden ritual and getting unlimited power. Lute and Cheval have to try and stop these guys, but the problem is that they are outnumbered and these villains are also way too powerful. They will need some kind of power up to hold their own. The other villagers realize that they will have to get stronger as well, but can they bridge the gap in time?
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The show’s tone was all over the place, but for the most part it was rather light. Think of it as a classic slice of life series for a while as the heroes head to various towns and chat with people. That’s why in some cases the episodes could get a little boring since the cast isn’t amazing. Then the show gets really dark for the main Blighted Monsters arc. One thing the show is rarely clear about is if defeating monsters means destroying them. It seems like this is the case due to how everyone reacts and Lute always tells everyone not to defeat the monsters except for when he does. The show’s just really not consistent here. This may be more the dub than anything, but it really tried to never use the word destroy. As a result, “defeated” is the term always used even when a monster is slain.

That’s why the middle arc gets really dark as Cheval goes around destroying all monsters who have been in contact with the blight and even any other that just gets in his way. Lute and the others are unable to save any of them. Chieval even commands a Nargacuga of his own as a revenge of sorts for the main one dealing with his family. He is very mean to it of course and then abandons it. Cheval never really had to answer for all of this much and I just felt bad for the monsters. Then of course we have the hunters running around slaying them all. It’s definitely a rather brutal world that Lute and the others live in. The worst part is that Lute has his kinship stone which can purify all of the blighted monsters but he typically forgets about this and still tries to take some of them down at times. This whole part of the saga definitely brings it down quite a bit and is one of the main reasons why the Black Rider arc ended up winning. At this point the monsters started getting written out a bit although Shadow still destroys quite a few along the way as well. I guess they all need to become pals with a main character quickly before it’s too late.

Lute is your typical main character. He believes in the power of friendship (Known as Kinship here) and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He’s really close with Navirou so they trade insults quite a lot but all in good fun. Lute’s only real flaw at times is just how much of a pacifist he is. Even when being attacked he refuses to fight back if he is up against a fellow rider. This is at its worst during the final arc when he first fights with Gale. Considering that this guy kidnapped one of his friends and may destroy the village, Lute really has no time to keep trying to dodge the fight. You’ve got to make a stand and it’s not like simply fighting the opponent is the same as destroying him. Aside from that it is nice to have a more experienced Lute for the final arc. He is treated with a lot of respect at the end since he did help save the world and his new design does a good job of getting that across without any words. As soon as you see the design for the first time you can tell that he has gotten stronger.

Navirou is Lute’s travel companion and he is very useful for navigation in his mind at least. He is the main comic relief character of the series so you can probably guess that he isn’t very good at almost anything. He does have some thunder abilities which are really handy when Navirou actually remembers that he has such a power. Unfortunately that isn’t very often so don’t expect to see it much. Navirou’s cross armed salute is probably his best running gag but I also don’t mind his “Navi rules.” Cutting out some of his comic relief would probably have been nice though or even some of the cat episodes in genera. Overall I think he worked well as a support character and I’m glad he was around but the character could have been better.

Lilia is technically one of the 3 main characters for a while but starts to get written out by the end. Her path in the show was doomed from the start as she did t have a monster to protect her. Without a monstie in an action show like this, of course she wouldn’t ultimately stand a chance. It’s the same situation as being in a Pokémon show without catching a Pokémon. Lilia decided that she wanted to be a researcher instead which is fine but that kind of character rarely gets to do all that much. Lilia ends up being rather bland as a result.

Then we have Cheval who is the main rival. He gets a very Sasuke esque role here as he starts out by being one of the more heroic characters, but quickly starts to let the darkness consume him. He goes as far as to try and destroy Lute multiple times and nearly destroys one of his own Monsties. His whole arc gets rather dark at times. Naturally he also gets the redemption arc at the end as well. It may be a little tough to buy into as well especially since he did claim quite a few victims. Lute may accept him, but should he? Ultimately it’s hard to see Cheval as anything but a villain even by the end. It’s a shame because his character type is always nice as he becomes the rival that he always should have been by the end. The guy certainly went through a lot of character changes.

Avinia is a mysterious figure who shows up in the series from time to time before getting a big role in the final arc. She does lose this mystique almost right away but it was nice to finally have another rider who could fight. At the time Lute was the only heroic rider so he really needed an ally. Unfortunately, we never did get that Avinia vs Cheval fight I was hoping for. Once again I can say that the show dropped the ball with Avinia quite a bit. She has one of the best designs in the show and a monstie with a lot of potential. Despite this she rarely fights in the series and spends most of the final arc on the sidelines. Considering how powerful she apparently is, I would have liked to have seen her play a more active role. Still a cool character but one who wasn’t given enough to do in the show.
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Of course we can’t forget about Deb….Li. Every character in the series likes to mess up his name and it is heavily implied that this is intentional. That’s because they say his name normally when he isn’t around. We already have a handful of comic relief characters but I guess you can never have too many as this one was thrown in as well. For the most part he is about as obnoxious as you would expect. He yells quite a lot and can’t seem to do anything right. The one running gag that he does right (Aside from the whole name thing since that one is decent because of how Debli panics every time) is when he Rides on. The animation and fake sound effect that he gets for it is handled beautifully. Debli toes the line between being a sympathetic character and an annoying one and does a good job of making it ambiguous. In the end I was okay with him although I wouldn’t have been sad if he had never shown up.

Reverto is probably one of her biggest unintentional jokes in the series. He gets a lot of hype throughout the series as being one of the world’s greatest hunters. If that really is the case then that doesn’t bode well for the hunters in general. He can barely handle any legitimately strong monsters and forget about taking down a plot important villain. In this show all hunters can do is swing their sword around and hope to land some good hits. They have no special abilities or even any enhanced physical ones. They are just guys with swords. Of course one of the main themes of the show is that the Riders are right and the Hunters are wrong so I wouldn’t expect them to look that good but they look downright horrible by the end. Hundreds of hunters can accomplish what a single rider can because they have no special abilities. Why would they possibly not want to become riders then? How have they not all been wiped out by this point? Anyway, there isn’t anything actually wrong with Reverto as he is a decent character but you just can’t take him seriously when he is fighting because despite all of the tough talk you know that he won’t end up coming out on top. He is just there to buy time for Lute.

Simone would fall into the same issue except from the start she is portrayed as a researcher rather than a fighter. Her intel is rarely useful and barely goes beyond the realm of common knowledge but I guess her role isn’t all that bad. She’s just not a very interesting character and none of her scenes really leave an impact. Cut her out from the show entirely and nothing really changes at all. That’s never a good sign.

Dan is one of those comic relief characters where you aren’t sure if it is intentional or not for a while. Technically you would think that he is rather skilled since he is rather old and teaches the kids, but they end up surpassing him very quickly. Part of the issue is the fact that he chose a very weak monster to be his monstie. He never explains why he doesn’t just pick a different creature. Perhaps it has sentimental value or perhaps he just isn’t the smartest rider in the group. Either way, his character doesn’t work too well and his “In top Form” battle cry is so half hearted that you will wonder why they built a whole character around the line. As you can tell, many of the supporting characters just aren’t very interesting. I won’t even get into the various elders who never do anything or the riddle master who is just annoying.
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Mille is one of the side characters who is actually good. She can fight and in the final arc is probably the strongest rider aside from the main 2. (Lute and Chevall) O would have liked her to have gotten more of a role though. From the start of the show you got the impression that she may turn out to be a bit of a rival or at the very least would remain as one of the main fighters for a while. Instead she is effectively kept to the background for most of the show. Still a good character but she could have been even better.

Instead a lot of screen time is wasted on Hyoro as he tries to overcome his timid nature. The plot does not go well and he even sides with the villainous Chevall to take on the village. Yes, Mille does this as well but at least she was already a quality character. Hyoro never ends up becoming a good character and even after he gets stronger off screen for the final arc it’s hard to ever gain respect for the guy. He just never had a big moment where he got past his fears and did something amazing. Instead he essentially proved his doubts right as he never got to be all that strong. Genie is Hyoro’s older brother and the main reason why the kid turned out the way that he did. Genie can be overly critical of Hyoro but of course he says it is only to make Hyoro better. I didn’t mind Genie, but he was a rather half hearted bully who couldn’t back up his tough talk. Ultimately he was about as weak as the other side characters and Hyoro likely surpassed him in the end.

Gale is the Shadow Rider with the biggest role in the series. He gets to fight Lute quite a few times and his skills are the real deal. He is also the strongest member I’d say although Shadow would give him some competition for that title. He gets quite a few plot twists. While his plan may not have been amazing and he probably should have tried doing something a little earlier, he did make for a good rival. He just kept getting stuck in rather bad situations. While he was also unable to make the hero move at the end which nearly caught him, it’s a mistake that I could sympathize with since he was so close to finally accomplishing his goal. It was an intense moment and he’s in my top 3 characters in the series. I’d say that he is second only to Lute.

Next is Shadow who is certainly the 2nd coolest member of the group. Her speed is astounding to the point where the heroes can’t even keep track of where she is. There is a plot twist about this that I was a little mixed on. It is essentially a nerf, but I didn’t see it coming so I’ll give the show that. I also think Shadow’s rage mode should have kicked in instantly after what Anvis ends up doing to someone instead of waiting til their next meeting. It’s not as if anything would have changed in the outcome though.

Then we have Mad who is one of the villains that you can’t take seriously. I guess in the end the Riders could only score a 50 as 2 of their members were good and the others weren’t. Mad is just one of those guys who only cares about his looks and as a result he can be defeated if you simply get some dirt on him. Even his monster’s design isn’t all that good. It’s basically just a huge worm so that’s not too impressive. Same goes for Wrath but to an even bigger extent. Wrath is the strong but not smart type, but he isn’t even all that tough. There’s nothing original or interesting about him as a character.

Finally we have Anvis, the leader of these guys. Somehow he was able to gain control over an Elder Dragon even before undergoing the complete power up ceremony. Considering this, he does earn the title of being the strongest rider in existence. He makes for a solid final boss and a solid character all around. He definitely thought things through and stayed one step ahead of Gale and the heroes for a while. He’s a considerable improvement over the doctor who was the main villain of the first few arcs. He is reduced to comic relief for the final arc and was never much of a threat anyway. His episodes had a tendency to simply be rather boring so I was fine with him being gone.

There are also the Numbers, but they never had much of a point in the story. They are really just around to get their long piece of recycled animation over and over again. The show certainly loved doing that to save on the budget. The animation for the show is fairly decent. It does take a lot of shortcuts by using recycled animation constantly though. This becomes a bigger issue in season 2 as we even get little scenes of the characters reaching out when calling their monsties. It feels really forced and I could have done without that. I’m happy they all got armor but it just feels like another way to save on animation. It also uses quite a bit of CGI. We do get some real animation whenever a big fight happens though. Some of the special abilities also look really good like Chevall’s energy disc. Overall, the animation wouldn’t hurt the show, but it wouldn’t really help it either.

The soundtrack is rather bland as well unfortunately. You will definitely start to remember the tunes after a while since they keep on popping up, but that’s because the soundtrack is just really limited. I would have loved to have had some really great tunes to amp up the fight scenes, but alas it was simply not to be. This title could not deliver.

Finally I have to say that the show’s ride on mechanic seems rather odd. Basically the monstie that is summoned shows up when a character strikes the pose. The show portrays this as the monsters are just hiding nearby until they are needed but what are they doing in the meantime? Shouldn’t they just be with the heroes then? Lute has over 6 monsties in the show, but only uses his main one for basically the whole series. What is even the point of everyone having up to 6 if they only use one for all of the fights? They should have just had Pokeballs of some kind to keep the others in as that would make more sense if you ask me. I think the show dropped the ball a little on the collect them all aspect of the series.

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Overall, This isn’t a bad show. I’d say that Monster Hunter is fairly decent. The problem is that it’s only average or below average in most areas. There isn’t a single section that I could point to and say that the series was amazing. On the contrary, the series could be a little boring at times. The characters just aren’t strong enough to hold the show as well as others could. It got a little more exciting towards the end but the show also amped up the crude humor and comedy to match. I’d recommend checking it out at some point if you need a good fantasy show, but there are many others that I would suggest seeing before this one. At least there is a lot of content here since the show managed to make it to around 70 episodes. That was actually pretty impressive.

Overall 6/10

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Review

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It’s time to take a look at another Sherlock Holmes title. This one brings in his arch nemesis Moriarty to match wits against. It’s a very solid mystery film where we actually see Holmes on the losing side for once. It’s rare to see him have trouble intellectually against an opponent but that actually turned out to be the case here. With two main cases to deal with here, there is plenty to keep you busy.

The film starts with Holmes finally solving the secret to Moriarty’s alibi but he arrives too late to testify in court and the villain gets away. Moriarty then decides to commit another crime and aims to use his innate knowledge of how Holmes operates to pull it off. The first case for Holmes is that someone appears to be trying to murder various members of one of the families. The lady asks for Holmes’ help and he eagerly helps as he figures Moriarty’s hand is at work here. Meanwhile someone is after one of the largest gems in all of England. This case bores Holmes so he decides to send Watson in his place. Can Holmes solve the true meaning behind these crimes?

It’s always a bold move in any form of media for a villain to explain the whole plan at the beginning. Typically you assume that the plan won’t work then or that he is leaving a lot out which will make for shocking plot twists at the end. That’s why it is actually surprising when the plan goes without a hitch. Moriarty’s goal was to get Holmes to pay attention to the 2nd case by making it sound more dangerous and it worked completely. The only reason the plan didn’t finish 100% is simply because the villain took too long at the end. A big part of the rivalry between Holmes and Moriarty is how they know each other so well and they can predict each other’s movements that way. Holmes was rather confident in how he could predict Moriarty’s actions so maybe that was his downfall. Of course, Holmes was also stuck being reactive while Moriarty was proactive and the latter always gets the advantage as well.

Just because he lost doesn’t mean Holmes looked bad though. His disguise was on point once again in this film and he is a fun character to have around. He isn’t afraid to point out how smart he is and insults Watson for not living up to this rather high bar. His violin is also a solid hobby to have on hand. I didn’t quite buy into the look of surprise Holmes had on his face when he punched someone off a building though. He clearly knew what would happen as a result of that and it’s not like it happened too quickly to react to either. He just wanted to get the win.

I also have to go off on a quick tangent to say just how interesting it is to see Sherlock live in a rather public place. Everyone knows where he lives so a villain could pop in and try to destroy him at any time. I suppose just like how Holmes has a tight grip on the police, Moriarty may have influence on the mobsters which prevents them from trying such a tactic. Usually the great minds have to be a little more discreet, but not Mr. Holmes. I guess that’s another plus about either bumping off all of his opponents or arresting them. They won’t be able to enact any kind of revenge in the near future.

Watson is a fun sidekick as always. While he may not be as smart as Holmes at least he always tries hard. He is conventionally smart which means that he will find the obvious answers to each question which are the ones that the villains want him to find. Honestly he can’t really be blamed for the police scene either since the cops should have known about that or Holmes should have had a way to make sure they were authentic. It was sad for Watson when a kid was proving to be his match in wit though. He certainly beats his evil counterpart as Watson will talk back to Holmes while the other guy does not. It’s certainly an interesting parallel though.

Then we also can’t forget Moriarty. He is definitely a very memorable character so it’s almost a shame that he might be written out so soon. It’s nice to have someone who can actually keep up with Holmes and I could see him acting as a rival in future films if he ever had a common enemy along with Sherlock. His plan is solid and he also knows how to fight so he is definitely a complete villain. We also get to meet the Police Chief here which was fun. I always like his character type because the guy comes in with such confidence whether he is right or wrong. Throw in the fact that Sherlock is looking out for him and this guy’s career is certainly set.

I haven’t spoken much about the actual cases. There isn’t much to say about the diamond as it barely appears until the end. I definitely agree with the police chief’s disappointment since Sherlock promised multiple times that he would show up, but ultimately sent Watson instead. The other case is the main one as we have several suspects and a lot happening the whole time. I will say that the main heroine’s fiancee was particularly bad though and I don’t think she should have forgiven him so easily. The whole movie he knows that someone is targeting her brother but still goes out of his way to convince them all that it’s just a prank. He tries to prevent Sherlock Holmes from getting involved (To no avail) and just comes off as a villain. Despite his half hearted protest that he was trying to protect Lloyd on his own, he certainly did a poor job of it. He should have walked with Lloyd to the house or stayed inside since the villain wouldn’t be able to commit the murder once the day was up. All of the characters who are being targeted play their parts rather terribly as they fall into every possible trap. 5 minutes left til midnight? Perfect time to run into the forest all alone! The characters do this sort of thing quite a lot and definitely make the situation harder for Sherlock Holmes.

Overall, This was definitely a very solid mystery. You’ll be engaged all the way through. Even if the main mystery is a diversion and you the viewer are aware of this, you’ll still be able to enjoy it. You’ll probably be shaking your head at some of the decisions that are made, but the scenes are still delivered with good writing. The dialogue is really what makes this film. For a mystery film it is especially important and this will be a tough Holmes film to beat, but there are plenty of other installments left so I’m sure we’ll have quite a few contenders by the end. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I definitely recommend checking it out!

Overall 8/10

The Hound of the Baskervilles Review

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It’s time to look at a really retro Sherlock Holmes film. The franchise has always been rather enjoyable since I do like a good mystery. I also like it when the detective is incredibly smart and tends to know what is going to happen at all times. It’s why Detective Conan is so good since he is always the smartest guy in the room. The same can be said for Sherlock Holmes who typically knows the guilty party right away and is only slowed down by a lack of evidence.

The film starts with Holmes trying to make Watson feel bad as per usual by showing him a cane and asking the assistant to try and glean some information from it. Watson does learn some information and seems rather proud of himself, but Holmes quickly points out that Watson was sloppy once again. That’s when Mortimer shows up and tells Holmes about a demon dog who has been going around murdering a family for generations. The next victim will be Henry who is inheiriting the estate. Holmes had actually figured that Henry was going to die, but didn’t particularly care. Now that it is an official case he has to make sure to see it through though. Can Holmes solve this supernatural case or will this mark the beginning of the end for the famous sleuth?

Naturally I was rather worried about having a dog be the main villain. It’s why this story has never sounded quite as interesting as some of the others. It was inevitable that the heroes would have to fight the dog after all. Fortunately the dog only really shows up once, but naturally the scene is pretty tragic. Especially since it wasn’t the dog’s fault that he was an antagonist, it was all the owner’s fault. The film definitely lost some points on account of the animal violence even if it was a solid film otherwise. It’s just hard to fully make a comeback after such a plot.

Beyond that, it’s a sound mystery. Holmes decides to stay in London, but as you may expect this doesn’t mean that he is gone for good. His disguise in the film is actually rather genius. He plays the role perfectly and is certainly the best character in the film. The person he was pretending to be had been my favorite prior to the reveal so it just makes sense that Holmes earned the top spot. His detective work is flawless as always. If anything you may find it a little suspect how he was tricked so easily into falling down to the basement, but I suppose you could maybe try and argue that it was all part of the plan. He still made it back quickly enough to help the characters who were less intelligent.

While Watson may not be as smart as Holmes, at least he tries hard. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy since he is insulted quite a bit, but that’s because being around Holmes all the time just sets a rather high bar for him to top. At least he was armed and ready for a majority of the film and never seemed like he would be an easy mark for the villain. Watson can either be a fun character or an annoying one throughout the various adaptions and fortunately this was in the former category.

Then you have Henry who is not smart in the slightest. He knows that people are out to murder him, but he doesn’t care one bit. He is too interested in romance for any of that and even heads to the swamp when nobody is around. There’s no point to this other than to try and taunt the villains by showing that he isn’t afraid of them. I’m sure the culprit would have been thrilled since Henry would have just fallen into the quick sand and died if not for a timely rescue by one of the neighbors. Henry nearly gets shot in the opening scene and doesn’t even realize it either. It’s hard to find this character likable in the slightest since he is so slow on the uptake the whole time. This character would have benefited quite a lot from a little more intelligence or common sense. Even accepting a drink at the end was rather sketchy on his part.

Then we have the suspects. First there is Mortimer who is the first character to show up. He puts Holmes on the case, but then seemingly lies about owning a large dog as his cane has big teeth marks. The guy says that it was just a small dog that he used to own. Is Holmes wrong for once or does this guy have something to hide? Then there is the Butler. What more needs to be said about this guy? The butler is always prowling around the corridors at night and naturally has quite a lot of good excuses at the ready in case anyone asks him why he is there. It’s simply his job. Then there is the butler’s wife who is a psychic. She doesn’t like to talk to the ghosts but always has a change of heart off screen. Is it all part of her plans? There are also the 3 neighbors. The sister who is romantically entangled with Henry. Is she simply trying to get him to lower his guard? There’s her brother who is super glad to have Henry show up so perhaps he is overcompensating so that he won’t seem suspicious? Finally we have an old man who seems to know things about all of the cast. Perhaps these secrets include some financial ones about the estate so he will need Henry out of the picture. Of course we also can’t forget the dangerous guy running around the moor trying to flatten everyone with rocks.

Definitely a lot to think about as you try to solve the mystery before Holmes does. The pacing is rather good so something is always happening on screen. The film doesn’t feel long either and we should also give some credit to the writing for that as well since the script was sound. Sherlock Holmes certainly earned its rep as a solid book series and this was a good film to start the retro movies out on in that sense. A shame about the dog scene, but since that likely wouldn’t return for future movies, it’s still a good sign for the film series as a whole.

Overall, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a solid mystery film so long as you can get past the dog scene. If you can see the dog as simply an antagonistic monster then maybe it won’t hurt quite so much. The Sherlock Holmes and Watson dynamic is always fun, especially when Holmes whips out his violin and begins to troll his assistant. Of course, they aren’t together for most of the film since they used a divide and conquer strategy this time. We’ll see how the team goes about it next time.

Overall 4/10

Spiral Alive Review

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It’s time to look at a prequel to one of the best mystery manga on the block, Spiral Alive. A long time ago I had read most of the series but then the last chapters took a few years to get scanned. I decided to re read the series from the beginning since there were quite a few gaps in my memory. This was definitely a good move since I forgot about 95% of the plot. It’s definitely a great series that I’d recommend as the cast is solid and the art is really good. Those are the solid foundations you need for a good series.

The series starts off as a typical school drama. Imari has been trying to get Shirou to notice her but it’s tough goings as she has to work up the nerve and whenever she does something happens which gets in her way. Months pass and she finally has a chance when a mysterious girl known as Yukine lets her know where he is. Unfortunately this girl is currently his girlfriend so Shirou has to turn Imari down. Imari is pretty upset of course since she was trolled so thoroughly but finding Yukine will be difficult since the girl is the lead suspect of a string of murders that have begun to occur. Shirou vows to stop her, but he will be in a race against time with the police as well as the world’s greatest detective Kiyotaka. There are also a bunch of third parties who aim to get involved as well. The series definitely changes quite a bit from the happy beginning.

Naturally as this is a prequel there are quite a few characters from the main series who show up. The main character even makes a cameo in the final chapter and the heroine also appears as a guest star two or three times. Most of them don’t get too large of a role except for a handful of the blade children who are always popping up. For reference, there exists a group of teenagers known as the Blade Children. They are all around the same age since that is when the period of experimentation was until it was stopped. Kiyotaka and the special ops have a list of all the Blade Children to ensure that they keep tabs on them. The sad fact of life for these children is that once they turn a certain age a trigger is unlocked which turns them into murder weapons. Effectively they are all sleeper agents and they know this, but are unable to stop it. One group seeks to destroy all of them before this happens, another group aims to save them and finally we have Kiyotaka’s group which just observes and steps in when things get messy. Given that he knows all about them anyway, a good number of the Blade Children work for Kiyotaka in exchange for safety.

There’s a lot more to all of this, but you get the general idea. Imari is the main character of the first bit of the series, but then the role switches to Kousuke. All of the characters are after Yukine because she holds within her the information on the missing Blade Children. There are a few who actually managed to keep their names out of the official database which is a huge concern for the government since just 2-3 would be enough to take down a whole country from the inside. (Yeah, I feel like this is hyperbole, but maybe they become that dangerous?) Kiyotaka is determined to get the list and this begins his long game of cat and mouse with Yukine. Yukine will have to stay sharp throughout though because Kiyotaka has yet to ever be defeated in a game of wits.

By this point you may be wondering who to root for. Well, it’s a tough call because none of the sides are objectively all that good. I suppose Shirou is probably the least shady and Imari is shady, but in a comical way to you can root for her. It’s hard to particularly root for Yukine or Kiyotaka. Lets get into some of the tough issues the manga presents and where I stand. Hint, I don’t side with Kiyotaka on anything.

One of the big situations that happened in the past is a Blade Child took Shirou hostage. She murdered a bunch of other people as well, but seemed sad about it. Shirou tried to help her and things were looking all right, but then Kiyotaka granted her permission to destroy herself so the girl did and Shirou held a grudge about it ever since. He wants to find his own answer so that he can tell Kiyotaka what other option there was that day. Unfortunately, the manga ends with Shirou seemingly believing that Kiyotaka may have made the right choice after all. Kiyotaka’s reasoning was that the girl was going to be destroyed as soon as she left the building anyway or would have done the same act at a later point so he simply let her go out peacefully.

Definitely a lot of justifying going on there, but I definitely couldn’t roll with it. Encouraging the girl to destroy herself there is never the right answer. The lives of the Blade Children may be tragic since they have a short life span and lose control of themselves, but as long as they live there is always a chance for a cure. Dying prematurely like that just destroys any possible hope that was left. As you can guess, Kiyotaka could never bounce back from this.
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Either way he was never going to though as the guy just isn’t likable. He knows everything and is always a step ahead of the rest, but always likes to act as if he isn’t very smart anyway. He jokes around a lot and likes to dress up as various animals. It’s heavily implied that he just does all of this because he is supremely bored from being right all the time so he may as well amuse himself. The series does go all out in trying to show that this guy is barely even human with how effectively he plays everyone. He starts his plans years in advance and they still turn out all right. The guy’s annoying and definitely not the kind of genius that you want on your side. Even the cops get fed up with him since the guy always does as he pleases.

You’ll feel bad for the other characters as well since they all try to out think him. Almost all of the Blade Children also possess above average intellect and so they make thorough plans of their own, but it always seems as if Kiyotaka is still in their heads somehow. From the Blade Children, the worst character is probably Kousuke. That’s not to say that he is a bad character, but he’s just a little more bland than the others. He is sent in as Kiyotaka’s right hand man (Totally not why I’m not a fan of the character of course) and he is dealing with his self esteem as the guy is always getting played. He also wants to get along with Ryoko but can’t stop himself from insulting her every time. I can’t say that I have too much sympathy for that kind of character so I was rooting for the inevitable friend zone. Kousuke can fight to a reasonable extent but even then the final fight is rather cheesy.

As for Ryoko, she is definitely a lot more reasonable than Kousuke. She has led a normal life so far despite being a blade child which is admirable since it appears like she was the only one able to do so. Her role wasn’t all that large, but she was a reasonable character. She did her best to foil Kiyotaka’s plans and seemed more heroic than the others. At the very least she wasn’t as interested in fighting as the others. Kanone was her polar opposite as he thoroughly enjoys taking down the human oppressors. He takes on a whole base on his own. His role here is strictly limited to a handful of cameos, but as he gets a big role in the main series that makes sense.

Now it’s time to look at the actual main character of the series. Imari almost feels out of place here with how energetic she is. Imari doesn’t care about thinking things through of all this Blade Children stuff. She just wants to defame Yukine so she can have Shirou all to herself. She goes to rather extreme measures for this like challenging Yukine to a death match and constantly trying to get Shirou to two time Yukine. While this could have been a little dicey if it was played more seriously, Imari’s comedic subplot ends up working really well. When she shows up at the end of the series it’s a pretty intense moment since she had been gone for a while. It would have been nice if she could have put up a better fight but technically she is only human so I guess this was accurate. Definitely a unique main character.

Shirou is also one of the main characters although his quest seems to get less screen time than the others. He wants to save Yukine and has the brains to achieve this plan but isn’t very strong. There are a few similarities to the main character of the other Spiral series here. Shirou is typically a little annoying though since he relies on others quite a lot considering that he makes a bunch of speeches about being a total loner. He is willing to lose himself in his journey and acknowledges that dying is a real threat, but takes no steps to protect himself. Even when some guys break in and hold him hostage the guy doesn’t really react. He’s rather bland in general so I’m definitely fine with him getting the shaft for the most part. I will give him some credit for staying loyal to Yukine though.

We can’t forget about her of course since the whole series really revolves around her and her quest. Yukine has begun murdering everyone yet leaving a lot of clues so she is playing the game both ways. Some of her actions are rather hard to rationalize, but the in universe reason seems to be that she was hoping someone would stop her which makes a little more sense than usual since the blade persona within her also has some control. Her backstory is certainly tragic and explains her quest for revenge pretty well. Naturally I was rooting for her in this case. Arresting the villain is the best move of course, but since all of the “heroes” were trying to protect the guy then I have to go with the vigilante. That’s another reason why the heroes are pretty annoying half the time since they aren’t actually interested in stopping the villains. Too much politics between the 3 groups so they all have diplomatic immunity, but just putting them all behind bars would be effective if you ask me.

Regardless of her reasons, Yukine is still firmly an antagonist of course. 2 wrongs don’t make a right and even if you root for the character trying for revenge of course they aren’t actually in the right. Yukine is definitely a compelling character though and I do like how she intentionally trolls Imari the whole time. She just makes life hard on the lead for no particular reason and admits that it is just for amusement. It’s nice to have the villain get a sense of humor.

Madoka is another one of the Blade Children and she gets along with Kiyotaka more than the others. They are actually friends and maybe that is because she seems to be the smartest of the group. She is seen as one of the best fighters as well and is a good all around character. Madoka tends to have a bit of a rivalry with Imari so their banter is fun. I’d say that Imari always has the edge though. Then we have Imari’s friend Moeki. (Possibly spelled as Moiki but the scanlation made the letter hard to see) Imari technically has another friend but that person never actually did anything so there’s no need to talk about her. Moeki didn’t do much either, but was always fun in her brief screen time. She was definitely the smart member of the trio and did a good job of keeping Imari in line. If any of the normal characters could keep up with the blade ones it would be her. Still, her role is very minor so don’t expect the character to do much. She’s just a low key hype character.

Finally we have Professor Sheffield who talks a good game, but seems out of his depth the entire time. Kiyotaka is always one step ahead of him and I believe you could even say the same for Yukine. His plan in the past backfired just as horribly as in the present. He does a lot of panicking and I can’t say that he was ever a likable character. He may not be threatening, but he does give the series a real villain to oppose so I guess that’s good.

The art is really good as you would expect from this series. A lot of thought and detail clearly went into it. The fight scenes are great as well when they show up. Naturally this is a series that is more about the dialogue and story than the fights, but we still do get a few of them. The art does a good job of keeping the exposition interesting and it’s never hard to follow. The writing is also quite solid so there is really nothing to hold this series back. There are no real negatives to be had here. Even the tragic backstory isn’t really gritty or anything as it’s mostly off screen and just handled as business per usual kind of thing. At most I do have an issue with nobody destroying arresting Kiyotaka or at least pointing out that his reasoning was wrong. In the end everyone basically agrees with him and it’s heavily implied that he got the last laugh. A shame, but of course the big villain couldn’t lose in the prequel.
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Overall, Spiral Alive is definitely a fun series. It’s certainly got a very intense plot that will keep you guessing all the way through. It does a good job of mixing together the light Imari plot with the more serious Yukine one. Everything here is high quality from the art to the writing and you’ll breeze through the volumes. It’s definitely best to read the main series first since this one spoils some things, but if you read this one first you’ll still understand what is happening. One day I’ll be sure to review the main series as it’s been a very long time since I’ve read that one.

Overall 8/10

Funny Valentine vs Goku


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Suggested by Random Funny Valentine may have a fairly unique name but that isn’t enough to stop someone like Goku. Goku has the powers of a Super Saiyan at his disposal which allows him to destroy worlds at will. His speed is enough to outmatch at least 99% of other characters in media so he won’t be getting hit unless he allows it. This is the power of Son Goku. Goku wins.

Vanilla Ice vs Goku


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Suggested by Random Vanilla Ice continues with the tradition of interesting names from the JoJo series. I certainly wouldn’t mind an Ice Cream right about now. That being said, he can’t hope to stand against Goku for long. Goku is a whole lot stronger than Vanilla and that’s before using any of his transformations. You can’t even compare the two fighters at this point and one MUI powered Kamehameha will certainly win the match. Goku wins.