Comics, Reviews, Comic Reviews

Fantastic Four: Fantastic Origins Review


It’s time to look at a recent take on the Fantastic Four origin story. It’s definitely a classic origin that everyone knows pretty well by now, but it hasn’t been remade quite as often as some other origins like Batman’s or Spiderman’s. It’s also been a while since I read it so it was a fun trip down memory lane. There are some new elements added like the Mole Man, but for the most part it plays it pretty straight and is certainly a solid comic.

So the book starts with Reed Richards deciding that he wants to be the first person to go to space with his crew and investigate some cosmic rays. He gets his Susan, Johnny, and Ben Grimm to go with him. His partner in science warns Reed not to do this, but he doesn’t listen and they all get blasted by cosmic rays. Now Reed can stretch, Human Torch can fly and shoot fire, The Thing has a rock solid defense and super strength while Sue can turn invisible and create powerful barriers. They are now going to be called the Fantastic Four and must keep the world safe from those who would oppose it.

The first half of the book is about the heroes getting used to their abilities and after that we get two main adventures. The first one deals with the Mole Man as he shows up to attack the city. His underground monster is certainly fierce and since the city has no real protectors at the moment he does a lot of damage. It’s a pretty fun first story and the direction they took the Mole Man in here was unique. It’s a nice spin on the typical adventure and seeing him as a supporting character would be pretty fun. He’s no Reed Richards but certainly quite smart in his own way.

The other story involves Namor as he regains his memories and decides to destroy the city. He also ends up falling for Invisible Woman in a sub plot. I’ve never been a big fan of the guy and that hasn’t changed now. He just feels really petty all the time and not very smart either. He’s like a very petty version of Aquaman. It’s still a solid follow up story though the first one wins on all fronts. This certainly won’t be the last time the FF have to deal with this guy.

There is also one bonus adventure at the end which works as a preview for another series. We see the FF deal with the Wizard and Reed then heads back to base where he has been quite distant for a while. The various clones that the Wizard creates disturbed him and so he heads to his secret place, a convention of Reed Richards from various parallel universes. A few of them even have the Infinity Gauntlet and they have invited the main version to join them. It’s a pretty compelling pilot and I did enjoy the artwork quite a bit. Reed’s current design would take some getting used to, but I could definitely see the arc being quite great.

Back to the main comics here though. One thing I liked here was how quick Reed was able to find a cure for Thing and his determination here. Part of why Ben was always upset is because Reed is so smart that he could do just about anything and yet curing The Thing always seemed to be something that was quite far off. That’s not the case here and in general Reed is just quite solid. He’s one of the more underrated geniuses in Marvel seeing as how I would actually put him as the smartest character in the verse.

Invisible Woman also looks good and her powers get a lot of credit. She’s always been the strongest member of the team, but the original comics didn’t always do a great job of showing it. There is no doubt who the power hitter is in this collection and that’s a good thing. How do you beat someone with near unbreakable barriers and an array of other force related abilities? Human Torch easily gets the smallest role of the 4, but he’s in character. He definitely has the most fun with his abilities.

The Thing is my only real problem with the comic. His bad attitude is usually not all that justified but other comics have done a better job of showing why he’s so upset. Here he goes from 0-100 as he tries to murder Reed almost as soon as they exit the ship. I thought that was a bit much and a total overreaction considering what just happened. There wasn’t even enough time for the implications of the crash to totally hit him. Reed handles this as best he can, but the Thing never truly came back from this rocky start.

Meanwhile the Mole Man looked pretty good and as I mentioned earlier he has a bit of a unique character arc here. I get the feeling that he would ultimately turn evil if the series were to keep going, but at least right here right now he wasn’t bad and gets to be in an adviser position. There may quickly get to be too many brains in the room though. In this version Reed has an assistant who doesn’t get along with Sue all that much. Fortunately the comic doesn’t even try to turn this into a romance triangle because Reed’s definitely not the kind of guy to waver and Sue’s not petty enough to actually get too upset at the assistant. Nevertheless, they don’t get along much and I wonder what the point of this character is. She doesn’t hurt things or anything, but if you cut her out then nothing really changes at all.

The intro also throws you a few easter eggs like a quick cameo from Dr. Doom. I’d say that the story did as much as it could within the page count and is one of the better origin stories. I also thought the art was really solid. It is definitely above average and the pages all flow together really well. I ended up reading the trade from cover to cover. Sometimes it’s nice to go back to the simple days of street level threats rather than galactic showdowns. This is a comic that new and longtime fans can enjoy.

Overall, This is a pretty solid comic. It takes us back to the basics of the series while keeping the adventures fresh. The Thing is still pretty ungrateful the whole timed you ask me but he definitely did get the worst transformation out of the 4. Reed brings up an interesting point that the other 3 can at least look normal through sheer willpower so it is odd that the Thing can’t do so. Maybe one day he would be able to control his power, that would definitely be a cool plot twist. If you haven’t read this comic yet then I would certainly suggest checking it out. The writing is pretty sound and it’s an engaging read.

Overall 7/10

Manga

The Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts


Definitely a unique premise for this one. It’s sort of like Beauty and the Beast to an extent. I’m going to need to see this manga go further to see if it really has potential. I’ll have a review for the series up once I finish it.

Overall 5/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Fairy Tail: City Hero Review


It’s time to take a look at a Fairy Tail parody that ended recently. Fairy Tail has always been a very tragic franchise because it has some of the best artwork and fights of all time but is heavily held back by the large amounts of fanservice contained in each volume. Would a light hearted parody have the same mistakes? Unfortunately yes. It never gets quite as serious or excessive as in the main series, but there is still enough here to keep this from being the quality series it could have been.

The general premise of the series is “What if Fairy Tail was a police squad instead of a guild?” That’s what the series runs with. Natsu and friends keep the peace in the land and do their best to stop any villains that get the idea of taking over the world. It’s not an easy job but someone’s got to do it. Keep in mind that this is still a parody though so it’s not taken seriously in the slightest. A bunch of villains and side characters from the original series show up and we get homages to other titles, but it’s all in good fun.

The chapters are all pretty episodic with every 2-3 being about a different case. Occasionally you get the hintings of a grander story with Zeref making a move, but that’s fairly rare. The stories certainly do vary in quality with some being very good and others being sub par at best. I’ll take a look at some of the stories although naturally we won’t dive into every one as that would be quite a lot. Before doing that though lets look at some of the technical aspects of the manga.

The artwork is top tier as you’d expect. The character designs are on point and when we do get a fight scene it looks incredibly impressive. You can tell that the artist isn’t phoning this in. There’s a lot of effort here and it’s appreciated since art does play a big role in how good a manga is. It isn’t the critical factor, but every bit helps. The writing is okay, some of the jokes land and others do not. On the whole the tone of the manga is quite good so I’d give that credit over to the writing department. This is a series that is fun to read and you can almost overlook the fanservice as a result. Almost is the key word here.

As always fanservice is the big problem in the series. While it is played for laughs it happens often enough where you are still forced to take note. Characters are teased by others or they get put in dicey situations due to the circumstances of the case. Sometimes the heroes are even used as bait which is always a dicey tactic. It’s never taken too extremely, but merely being present is an issue in itself. The series is pretty consistent with fanservice being in just about every single chapter in the first part and then it surprisingly gets better about that near the middle. Too little too late though so I’m afraid that I have to dock points for this.

All right, lets look at some stories. Ironically enough we’ll start with the final one which was one of the better ones. Basically Zeref is launching his big attack on the Fairy Tail guild, but is this really what’s happening? Some dancing and partying goes on so the heroes think that perhaps they were wrong to doubt Zeref. We get a quick fight with him and Natsu which was certainly cool. The manga has brief flashes where it pretends to be serious and these moments actually do work quite well. The series even ends with the slight cliffhanger where it seems like Zeref still has his real plan at the ready. In this universe I believe Fairy Tail will likely lose.

One story that was good was the parody of Phantom Thief Kaidou. Part of why it is so solid is because it’s a multi chapter story so there’s time for the plot to get going and there was surprisingly no fanservice here. Essentially a mysterious thief is going around stealing artifacts so Fairy Tail is called in to help. Erza in particular has an interest in this thief because he looks a whole lot like her bartender friend. The series makes it pretty obvious from the get go that it’s the same guy, but Erza can be a bit oblivious at times so the plot still works. It was a pretty fun story.

One of the weaker stories is about Lucy and Wendy infiltrating a school to find out what shady business is going on. They’re actually magical girls who defeat their enemies with songs which is likely another reference in itself. What holds this back is that the villain’s pretty iffy and the principal is terrible. The characters are a little too extreme here and the comedy doesn’t hold up. I don’t believe Lucy and Wendy can hold their own story nearly as well as when Natsu and the gang are around.

A good set of stories was Laxus meeting a princess who was undercover. It’s a classic story where he helps her look around the town and she gets to have a day as a normal person away from her royal duties. It’s a pretty wholesome story and the plot usually works pretty well. Laxus getting knocked out by some random muggers was a bit forced for the drama, but fortunately he did manage to get up after that. The story stayed classy and even had a pretty nice ending. It’s easily one of the stronger stories in the set.

There was a one shot story where Rogue and Sting got to appear and they certainly looked really good. They were fun rivals in the main series so it was nice to see them appear a bit here. It’s not very long of course since you can only do so much in a single chapter, but it was a good story all the same. Sometimes you don’t need multiple chapters to really get a fun bit across. Especially in a comedy/parody title like this. You’ve got other one shots with fun plots like the murder mystery of who destroyed Cana, but naturally that one couldn’t help itself and included some fanservice so it’s not quite as solid.

Another good one shot was with Acnologia showing up in the real world and wanting to see if anyone could keep up with him. This leads to him sharing a bowl of ramen with Natsu which was pretty cool. Natsu really shows him up and even has a great closing line about how he doesn’t want to be king before leaving which causes Acnologia to disappear. I suppose that just wasn’t what he was hoping to hear, but at least he got to pass away in peace.

As you can see the series is very entertaining. These could have easily just been side stories included in the main Fairy Tail series, but I’m glad it got its own series. I’ve always believed that it’s good to have as many spinoffs as possible. I don’t think it waters down the series, but if anything enhances it. Give everyone a spinoff, it gives the characters extra development if you ask me and I can’t turn that down. In this series we get to see how the characters would act in a police setting. If anything it’s a good excuse to see all of your favorite characters just hanging out and having fun in a non lethal environment.


Overall, Fairy Tail: City Hero is definitely a unique title. I appreciate the fact that Fairy Tail has expanded into such a wide franchise over the years. It’s really done its best to compete with the other mainstream titles like DBZ, Naruto, and One Piece. I don’t believe it’ll ever quite eclipse any of those titles, but at least it’s still going thanks to the sequel series and may end up running for as long as those 3. If you’re going to read a Fairy Tail series then it’s better to read this one over the main title. That being said I’d recommend reading Ice Trails instead. It’s a spinoff about the best character, Gray, and it just works really well. It’s a story that you just don’t want to miss out on.

Overall 4/10

Akame Battles, Battles, Younger Toguro Battles

Younger Toguro vs Akame




Suggested by iKnowledge This was definitely a pretty tricky fight. Both of these characters are able to battle at an exceptionally high level. Toguro undoubtedly has the superior level of raw strength at his disposal. A single punch would really deal some serious damage to Akame. On the other hand she has an incredible amount of speed that could rival Toguro’s. I’m not sure if I’d say that it surpasses him though, it’s pretty close. Either way Toguro takes this. Physically he’s just too crazy and would be able to resist her attacks pretty well. Younger Toguro wins.

5 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Review


It’s time to look at the new Kino series. This one is effectively a remake of the old one in a way as some stories are re-adapted while others are looked at for the first time. Since the series is an anthology in a sense the stories will always differ a bit. Anthologies are still the riskiest type of story telling since there are so many different adventures that one is bound to drag the rest down. Unfortunately this was the case here. They say that a bad ending can hurt the whole product and it is true. An ending can really change things and this series had one of the worst final episodes I’ve ever seen.

The basic premise of the series is that Kino and her sentient bike Hermes travel the world seeing a lot of different countries. Their rule is that they can’t stay anywhere for more than 3 days. That’s because any longer and you may get attached to the place, but Kino wants to stay a traveler for her whole life. She has to keep on moving and so she follows this rule. That’s also why the series is able to be an anthology as each place is different. There is also a different main character for some episodes but more on that later. As an anthology it makes sense to look at the episodes so lets take a look at each adventure.

Our first episode sees Kino head into a country where murder is legal. As a result you’d expect the place to be very chaotic but it’s strangely peaceful. Kino enjoys the place quite a bit although she keeps her guard up at all times just in case. After all most places tend to seem better than they are. The twist here is handled pretty well and ends up making the place one of the better towns we’ve seen in the series. It’s certainly not an area to be trifled with and I think Kino would have fit in quite well.

Next up was one of the better episodes where we meet the other main character Shizu and his dog Riku. Kino enters a land where she is forced to participate in a tournament against other fighters. It’s all held under the authority of a corrupt king who forces travelers to participate and most if not all of them end up murdered. Kino begins taking down all her opponents and aims to seemingly end this while Shizu has similar goals. It’s a pretty intense episode and we get more fight scenes than usual which is nice. Shizu is also a good fighter so Kino finally has a good rival. Typically in the series she is portrayed as being pretty much invincible.

The twist ending here is definitely unexpected as it portrays Kino as being particularly merciless. We know that she is not a hero, but in this episode she goes as far as to basically be a big villain. She is directly responsible for triggering a mass murder at the end of the episode and she did so intentionally. It’s hard to really forgive her for this by the end and for the rest of the series you probably won’t be rooting for her quite as much. It’s possible for a hero to become a villain that you still root for sort of like Garou but the goals are a big part of that. Kino really doesn’t have any goals which hurts her personality.

In the third episode we see a moving country that likes to roll right over other countries as it destroys them entirely. The country has the same mission as Kino, to travel the world. The main difference is that the entire country moves around and it’s inside a giant armored shell so they just blow up anyone who tries to stop them. One country refuses to move and they end up paying the price. Kino gladly helps the moving country take care of these guys as well. They are giving her a free ride after all. It’s an interesting concept to have a moving country like this but you’re definitely hoping someone does shut these guys down soon.

Next up we got the return of Shizu as he finds a shady country that lives on a big boat. The boat is failing so eventually everyone is going to die. Shizu warns the leaders of this, but they refuse to listen. He doesn’t want to let everyone die so he decides to stop the boat by force only to be met up with the main antagonist Kino. She is working for the boat guys and so they have to have another fight. Shizu also meets a little girl named Ti who has had a pretty tough time of it and decides to adopt her. He intends to find a nice country where they can finally relax but it’ll be tough to find a good place. This was another fun episode in part because Shizu is just such a great lead. This guy’s a hero who is out to stop the villains whenever possible and I’d be up for a full series about him.

The next episode involves a lot of lies within lies. Kino finds out about some people who seemingly died, but then again maybe they didn’t. It’s an interesting concept where everyone knows the lie, but they don’t know that the others do. It’s an infinite loop where everyone has to play dumb until someone makes the first move. It’s a little tragic for everyone involved, so Kino just takes a sip of tea and leaves them to it. I do think the whole situation may make you roll your eyes a bit. Hopefully the characters just allow themselves to learn the truth at some point.

Following that up was the darkest episode in the season and certainly the weakest one aside from the final episode. We see a travelling caravan of merchants who have a slave girl with them. They force her to do all of the chores and such without really letting her eat or anything. The whole episode is them mistreating her as she tries to keep on a brave face throughout. They go to a poisonous area and everyone ends up dying except her. She gets a happy ending, but the episode is pretty unpleasant. For a while you may even think this was Kino’s origin story since there are a lot of similarities to the lead, but ultimately the episode doesn’t go down that route.

After that we got a pretty solid episode with Kino’s master and her partner. They enter a town where the partner is arrested and so she decides to break him out and they take over the town. We get some fun spy scenes and I like both the Master and the Partner. These two characters have a really solid dynamic and they have their epic entrance theme. The town definitely gets wrecked pretty badly by the two characters, but in the end they all get a reasonably happy ending. The Master’s team definitely won though. It was a fun prequel adventure and I’d be glad to see more of those.

Next up we see Shizu again. There’s this one town where people randomly turn evil and start murdering others once in a while. They blame it on radio waves so people don’t get arrested and go back to living normal lives. It’s pretty dark since everyone knows they get one chance to do something as evil as they want and there will be no punishment. Shizu goes out to the tower to prove that this is fake, but the town refuses to believe him. He does his best to change their minds, but is ultimately forced to leave with the assistance of Ti who causes a distraction. Shizu makes for an interesting lead as always, but the episode does cross into extra grim territory with everyone in the school getting murdered. It was definitely a twisted town.

The next episode was an anthology inside of an anthology which was definitely an odd choice. The stories were fun enough but the highlight was the two bandits who are wondering who they should try to rob. Kino passes by them and they wisely decide not to attack her since they would have been promptly murdered. Then you have Shizu’s group and again the bandits decide not to attack since they’d be sliced and diced. We find out that the reason why they are so wary is because they tried attacking Kino’s master once and lost most of their men real quick. Being a bandit just doesn’t pay off in the end.

After that we get an emotional story where Kino heads to a town that is known to be really mean to strangers. Surprisingly everyone is nice to her and she has a good time. It all seems pretty odd but she takes it in stride before leaving. Naturally there is a pretty big twist to the episode and the ending does make a lot of sense. Naturally Kino had to wreck this ending by pointing out that her first thought was almost a glad one because she didn’t want the extra responsibility of watching over someone. If you want extra context for this you’ll need to see the episode but it’s such a terrible first reaction to what just happened.

Next up was Kino’s big origin story. She grew up in a country where things get pretty dicey for kids and the original Kino learned this the hard way. It was nice to see the first Kino even though he looked pretty bad here. He’s definitely not quite as well trained as the current main character. It’s an interesting enough story. There’s not really a twist here compared to most of the other stories, but I suppose an origin didn’t really need a twist right?

Then we’ve got the terrible final episode. Kino and Hermes are travelling between lands when they run into a bunch of sheep. These sheep are particularly violent and just want to murder all travelers. Naturally Kino and Hermes are not exempt from this and so they have to be on the run. There is no escape though so Kino decides that she will murder all of them and does just that. The majority of the episode is Kino blasting them with fire, running over them, and then shooting them. It’s a really mean spirited episode that threw in a lot of animal violence for no reason. It’s a shame because the series hadn’t really had any animal violence before that. It was hard to believe what I was watching with that ending.

The character cast is very small since most of the stories make up their own leads. Hermes is a reasonable sidekick to Kino, but he does feel like a yes man half the time. He always gives her assurances that what she is doing isn’t all that bad which helps to justify her behavior. He’s also pretty helpless without her so it’s not like he can help much. Kino’s a unique character since she just looks out for herself and comes off as more of a villain than a hero half the time. She just wants to have a good time and so she does whatever she wants. If a villain helps her out she will likely return the favor and she doesn’t want to be burdened by anyone. I really wasn’t a fan of her in this series.

Shizu was great though and he stood out even more than in the original series. He was a great lead in all of his episodes and part of what made him so good is that he’s looking out for Ti. It’s not easy to have to be looking out for someone else like this, but he was ready. His dog’s decent, but the weakest of the 3. Meanwhile Ti is solid. She knows how to fight a bit with grenades and is a very solid supporting character to have. Her dynamic with Shizu is really good. I said it earlier, but I’d like to see more of them. Meanwhile the Master and her partner were also good. I liked the partner’s confidence. The Master tends to slam his ideas down, but he never loses his nerve and keeps on trying to be helpful.

The animation is pretty good. I wouldn’t call it excellent or anything like that as it’s going for a bit of a simple style, but it still looks clear enough to me. The character designs are on point and we get some nice action scenes as well. The best action scenes are always with Kino’s old mentor as they take the place down. We usually quickly cut away to the aftermath as this series isn’t really about the action but it works well when it occurs. The soundtrack is more low key so that part isn’t as impressive. I did like one theme though and coincidentally it always shows up for the mentor as well. It’s the main battle theme of the series.

So the series definitely has its ups and downs. One thing I’ll give the series is that it’s usually pretty interesting. Take away 3-4 episodes and the rest of it was pretty solid with the twists and that Twilight Zone feel. The series is at its best when everything feels rather odd and you don’t know what to expect. The mystery is what the series thrives on. If we ever get an actual arc where the whole season is one story I think that would have a lot of potential. I really wouldn’t mind if we switched main characters though.

Overall, Kino’s Journey is a series that will have a hard time really hitting the next level. Anthologies just limit themselves with the style that they have and I would say that the original Kino’s Journey was a little better. The title is like a modern day Twilight Zone so if that sounds interesting to you then you should check it out. Each episode has a different theme going on and there is usually a twist. Some episodes can be very light hearted and fun while others can be dark and dreary. You never know quite what you’re about to get. If you want a series that’s more consistent with its tone then you should check out Black Clover instead. That one’s sure to deliver with the epic fight scenes for you.

Overall 5/10

Battles, Mallow Battles, Rafflesian Battles

Mallow vs Rafflesian




Suggested by Anonymous Rafflesian is one of the secret bosses in Megaman X Command Mission. She isn’t very well known but her stats are through the roof. She is incredibly hard to defeat and can fire off elemental attacks on a grand scale. Mallow has some decent grass type Pokemon so the Terra Thunder wouldn’t be as bad as it could be (Still deadly) but there’s not much Mallow could do to get close. Rafflesian can spam her Sub Burst attack and really deal massive damage. This wouldn’t be a close fight. Rafflesian wins.

Battles, Noivern Battles, Sephiroth Battles

Noivern vs Sephiroth




Suggested by Anonymous Sephiroth is a powerful swordsman and one of the strongest fighters in all of Final Fantasy. Noivern is a skilled flyer and has a lot of projectiles of his own, but I don’t believe that they will be able to deter such a powerful figure. Sephiroth is fast enough to dodge all of Noivern’s moves and also has enough durability to repel them as well. The fact of the matter is that these two are in different leagues. Sephiroth wins.

Battles, Bui Battles, Red Hulk Battles

Red Hulk vs Bui




Suggested by iKnowledge Red Hulk is a powerful Marvel fighter. While he has never really seemed more impressive than Hulk he has certainly won his share of fights. Physically I may even give him the edge over Bui. Where he falters is in terms of energy projection. Bui is second to none in that and was even able to resist Hiei’s Dragon of Darkness Flame. He would speed blitz Red Hulk with ease and the hits would quickly add up until Red Hulk was down for the count. Bui wins.

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: Nemesis Raetsel Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Phi Brain season. The first two seasons were pretty great so I was ready to jump into the next season. This one is also very good although I would say that it is the weakest season of the 3. It just has a hard time keeping up with the first two because of Jin’s antics. His character gets flushed away here, but fortunately Kaito still makes for a pretty epic main character. We also get to see a lot of the big characters from the first two seasons show up which is always cool. All in all, it makes for a good wrap up to the series.

The season starts with Kaito solving another puzzle as per usual. It’s a little odd that there was still a puzzle around since they should have all been solved, but he doesn’t think too much of it. This changes when a girl named Raetsel shows up and kidnaps Jin. Kaito gives chase while the rest of the Phi Brain children are attacked by a man named Enigma. He is the leader of the Master Brains, a group who is dedicated to destroying all puzzlers. He states that the group is doing this under Jin’s orders. Up til now Kaito has known Jin as his trusted master who loved all puzzles and was a hero through and through. Is it possible that this was all a lie?

Why not ask Jin? Well, they try this, but Jin is no help since he is still missing most of his memories after getting steam rolled by the main villain in season 1. Jin never truly recovered from that in future seasons and even now he is being affected. He spends most of the season teetering like a rag doll between sides as he lets everyone speak for him. Jin is effectively an echo chamber or a mindless monster who follows whatever people say. He has no will of his own and unless he is being possessed you can’t expect him to do much of anything here. He’s a bit of a dull character who is always getting everyone in trouble. He never really shapes up so hopefully you enjoy his character more than I did. He’s the weakest one in the season.

Fortunately to counter that the other villains are pretty solid. One of the new ones here is Raetsel and she claims that she’s known Jin back during the “missing” year he had and that he does in fact despise puzzles. She is a talented solver which isn’t surprising since she was trained by Jin himself. Raetsel definitely doesn’t like Kaito since from her point of view he basically took Jin away from her. It wasn’t really his fault as Jin was just a jerk, but as a kid it was hard for her to know better. Raetsel does tend to get manipulated a bit as the series goes on and I would have liked her to defect early on, but she still has a strong showing overall. She’s another great rival for Kaito and we even got a duel involving her, Rook, Gammon, Freecell, and Kaito which was pretty amazing. Pretty much all of the big rivals were there.

Enigma is another big villain here and he was fun. He’s not as solid as the other master strategist from season 2, but he’s got the smug demeanor down pat. You always want to have a villain with a lot of confidence like this. He’s also good at what he does as shown by how he easily betrays so many other villains in the process. That’s not exactly an easy thing for anyone to pull off. I don’t think anyone expected him to be the final boss or anything like that, but he definitely does last for quite a while.

Unfortunately in this season Gammon doesn’t get to do much. In the first two seasons he was one of Kaito’s biggest rivals, but you can tell that he’s slowly stopped being able to catch up to the lead. Gammon is seen as more of an after thought and only gets 2-3 big puzzles during the whole season. It’s a shame but he did get a really big role in the first two seasons so I suppose eventually he had to slow down. He still talks tough to an extent, but is more on automatic mode than anything else. Gammon’s really just going through the motions at this point rather than actively trying to be the best.

The rest of the Phi Brain children also don’t get to do much here. Cubik gets wrecked in the very first episode of the season which is quite good foreshadowing of how useful he will be for the rest of the season. He’s never been the best solver though so it’s not as if it is out of the blue. He does his best when he appears, but I’ve never been a particularly big fan of his. Ana was also one of the more quirky solvers who relies on mind games more than skill. There isn’t really anyone here with personal ties to her which limits her abilities. Nonoha was never a solver anyway so she doesn’t get to do much of course, but she’s always around for moral support which is important. She’s a nice character as always.

Kaito is a top notch lead as always. It’s pretty rough for him since in every season the villains use mind games to get to him. It’s established early on that Kaito is one of the greatest solvers of all time. He’s only lost maybe 2-3 duels in the entire show in fair fights. Usually the only other way he will lose is if someone is messing with his mind or if there is some kind of device limiting his abilities. The latter doesn’t get to happen this time, but the mind games are still present. Jin and Raetsel do a number on him and he also gets more visions of how the world will end depending on his actions. It’s a lot of pressure but he does a good job of getting past it.

At the end of the day Kaito just loves solving puzzles and the villains aren’t able to take that away from him. He jumps into every battle and is quite impulsive so he just leaps in without a plan. Kaito’s a bit of a loner despite the group he usually travels with and isn’t opposed to fighting a villain one on one. I definitely liked him quite a lot and while Gammon was fighting neck and neck with him for the earlier seasons, it’s clear that Kaito is the best at least in this season.

Meanwhile Rook has now become one of the big executives of the puzzles group that used to be evil. He is now more of a planner than an active participant although he does get to have a few duels regardless. He looks pretty solid although there was one point where I disagreed with him. He basically told all of the heroes that they weren’t allowed to go after the villains. He figured it was a trap and so they needed to stay put. It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but time was of the essence and they needed to free Jin. Not going wasn’t going to solve anything and so Kaito rightfully ditched Rook. Rook tried forcing the issue with a lethal duel and I was just not on his side the whole time. Also by fighting each other it was playing into the villain’s hands. I do like the idea of having all 5 of the super geniuses across the 3 seasons fighting each other to awaken their true powers. Since it’s been such a long time and you had characters from different seasons (3 from season 1, 1 from season 2, and 1 from season 3) it was a nice balance. I think everyone would expect Kaito and Raetsel to be the final survivors, but I won’t confirm if that was the case.

Freecell had really hoped not to have to duel anymore and I don’t blame him since it was never his passion. Compared to the other characters in the show who just live for puzzles, Freecell was just mainpulated into using them. Once he regained his sanity it was time for retirement, but it was not to me. He made some powerful enemies in season 2 and one of them ended up coming back for revenge. Freecell ultimately embraces his abilities and has some pretty good duels near the end of the season. I do like him as a character. He was at his best as a villain, but is still portrayed as a skilled solver which I appreciated. He’s a step below some of the others, but really does his best to keep up and comes across as the most sympathetic hero. He could have walked away from all of this, but stayed behind to help his friend Melancholy.

Meanwhile Melancholy gets a big role here as she signs up with the villains just to get revenge on Freecell. She has a lot to avenge at this point since he took down her boss in the last season and nearly broke her with his vague optical powers. Melancholy does pretty good and still never lost sight of herself. She didn’t actually aim to murder the heroes most of the time although some of her puzzles seemed pretty dangerous anyway. Her main mistake was allowing the other villains to have control over her puzzles as well. In the end I wouldn’t say she was the smartest villain because she got manipulated quite a bit, but she was a fun wild card to have around. I always love having a third party here to shake things up and she fulfilled that role.

In a way Elena could have been in this role as well (only as a hero) except unfortunately she doesn’t really get to duel here. It’s a shame because we know she is quite skilled, but she only offers her support financially and through planning this time around. It is helpful to have her around though as she finds out a lot about Raetsel. Although in general the Raetsel thing was a little odd since she kept trying to murder the heroes, but they were pretty relaxed around her anyway. How can you hang out with someone who’s always trying to murder you? I know Kaito doesn’t really fear anything, but even for him it’s pretty bold.

Herbert seems to appear in every season as one of those villains who just doesn’t want to stay down. You have to give him some props for that even if you never really think that he’s going to come out on top. He’s just a fun guy to go up against and here he gets a brief power up which makes him even more of a threat. Herbert doesn’t last long, but you’ll remember him. Then you have Lovushka who is mentioned a whole lot more than her actual screen time would suggest. She’s the main reason why the villains are going through the plan so she’s important in that sense. I can’t say that I was a fan, but she didn’t really appear enough for me to have much of an opinion on her.

Finally we have Orpheus who makes for a solid end boss. It was also nice to see Jin finally leave for the rest of the season which helped me like Orpheus even more. He’s fairly standard as far as Phi Brain end bosses go, but it was a nice way to tie in season 2. It gave the Orpheus Order a little more credibility here. Orpheus has a pretty cool final form and the shadow eyes effect is always a nice one. I would have liked to have seen him fight more directly though as he usually chooses to go through intermediaries.

Each season of Phi Brain always has a terrific climax and this one was no exception. As I mentioned earlier I really liked the big duel between the 5 strongest solvers in the series. It was a pretty good way to let them all have one last crack at a puzzle and those kind of stakes are just fun. It’s like the 4 way duel from Battle City in the Yugioh series. It’s a lot of fun because it does make it a little harder to know where everyone will place. You may know who will win, but it’s hard to guess aside from that. Aside from the main plot I also liked all of the duels with the Master Brains. Their competency level varied for sure, but it did bring us more puzzles which is what the whole series is about. I like to see the puzzles and watching the heroes try to solve them is fun. The series does a good job of really thinking of a lot of different combinations.

The writing is sound as well and that’s important because the puzzles are naturally going to rely on having strong writing at the ready. Weak writing would result in puzzles that don’t make a lot of sense or have convenient answers. I’d make the case that the first season still had the best puzzles with answers that you could actually solve on your own but these were good as well. My favorite puzzle was probably one of the ones from early in the season where the heroes had to find the correct door while Raetsel would snap her fingers causing the doors to shuffle. The idea is to memorize which direction her snaps cause the doors to move and then go from there. It was a very logical puzzle with an answer that made sense. It was definitely an extremely tough one, but one that followed a set of rules.

As always the animation for the season is quite good. I like the character designs and energy effects the series has. It’s looked quite solid from day 1 and that’s never changed. The first episode of the series may still have had some of the most impressive scenes with Kaito first getting his powers, but it’s been pretty consistent since then. This season is no different. Then you’ve got the top notch soundtrack. Most if not all of the tunes are from previous seasons, but the show had already established itself as having a top tier music selection so I can see why they would want to bring them back. The songs can range from being pretty emotional and ominous to having straight up battle tunes. These music selections are part of what makes the puzzles so intense and are definitely necessary for the full experience.

Overall, Phi Brain season 3 is a fun end to the saga. I may not be the biggest fan of Jin, but since his plot had started back in season 1 I suppose it was about time we wrapped that up. On a technical level the series delivered as expected with great animation and a really solid soundtrack. The old characters didn’t get to shine as much, but as they had all already finished their character arcs I suppose their time was simply up at this point. The new characters were fun and I was glad to see old favorites like Rook and Freecell again. I’d definitely like to see a revival of this series someday, but it’s probably a little too recent for that. Even so, a 3 season show about puzzles is quite unique and hopefully more and more people will find out about this title.

Overall 7/10

Balalaika Battles, Battles, Spike Spiegel Battles

Balalaika vs Spike Spiegel




Suggested by iKnowledge Balalaika returns here, but this is also a fight that she will not be able to win. She would be able to keep up with Spike pretty well in hand to hand combat as well as with gun skills. The issue here is that Spike has the superior equipment. He’s got a personal spaceship with machine guns and the like. That really ends the fight right away. If you take the toys aside and just have these two duke it out with a personal gun then it’s still very close. I’d give Spike the slight edge thanks to experience and the benefit of more screen time, but it could go either way. Spike Spiegel wins.