Little Battlers eXperience Wars Review

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It’s time for the next and final series of LBX or Danball Senki. Whichever title you prefer to use for the series, it can’t be denied that it is one of the best franchises out there. Each season was consistently great and you could compare the franchise to other big names like Yugioh and Cardfight. LBX’s score range is currently 8-9, Yugioh, (8-9 excluding Capsule Monsters) Cardfight, (7-9) and that’s about it for series where I’ve seen a bunch of seasons. I could add Transformers and Slayers, but their scores aren’t quite as impressive. I am tempted to make an anime section where I divide them all by scores, but that’s a bit of a time consuming project so I’ll let it be for now. While this season of LBX doesn’t quite surpass the last one, it’s still absolutely great and I highly recommend it.

The series seems to take place a few years after the last one. The governments of the world decided to place a school on an isolated island. This school is used to fight mock wars in place of real ones where the outcomes of these battles have real world consequences. As such, each country selects the most promising students to represent them. Sena is selected and he is super excited to have gotten into this prestigious institution. He is teamed with Hikaru, Haruki, and the mechanic. They have to do their team justice and win as many battles as possible. Still, it’s a little sad that they have to crush other countries in the process right? The heroes begin to grow doubtful as to whether they are doing the right thing or not…but what can they do about it?

First off, I do have to admit that the premise is completely unbelievable right from the get go. I won’t go as far as to say that it insults our intelligence for the show to insinuate that it’s possible, but it makes every government look completely inept. Lets put this into perspective. Instead of America running into Europe and taking it over, they’ll have their kids attack the European kids in the school through the mock LBX fights. (In case you’re not familiar with the franchise, LBX robots are basically mini machines that can fight through virtual reality controls. They are quite dangerous and fight in a secure containment field as a result, but are still more dangerous than the average rocket launcher. If the main kids win and claim the territory, then the same thing happens over in the real world.

How is this logistically possible? Do soldiers just come in and tell everyone to vacate the premise? Do the countries that lose these fake battles actually accept them? That’s the main problem with the system. Lets say America lost New York in the video game battles, I could see them just laughing and telling the other country to take it by force. Considering that we lost no actual soldiers in the fight, there is no reason to actually honor the deal. There is another thing to consider here…cheating. This actually becomes a big part of the show towards the second half and it’s a possibility that should have been considered when the idea was first brought up.

The main villain is Kreisler and he acts as a terrorist, bringing along a bunch of traitors from the other countries. They just go around blowing everything up and taking over cities. They don’t play by the rules and this tips the scales quite a lot. The virtual equivalent of Russia had been winning throughout the series, but lost about 80% of their forces due to these attacks. How does the real Russia feel about this? Their virtual counterpart is now a lot weaker even though their physical country is still the strongest. This is why the game just had way too many limits and the villain was right about this.

Kreisler’s main objective was to end the mock wars as he believed that they solved nothing. They simply gave off the illusion of peace, but one that could not last. I don’t see how the game lasted this long anyway though. The government even locked the creator inside of the main engine so he could keep it running through his brainwaves indefinitely. Not a very heroic move eh? Following this, which government is in control of this? Throughout the whole series, the teachers and the principals can’t make a move because the “controllers” forbade them to do anything. The problem is that it turns out that these guys were with the villain all along. I don’t know who signed off on this rigged system, but it wasn’t a good move. The villains end up taking the Prime Minister (Or his foreign equivalent) hostage at gunpoint, but this was another odd scene. How did they get past the guards and why did this plot point never show up again? It was rather odd.
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I could go on for days about how the whole plot of the show makes absolutely no sense, but you get what I’m saying. No need to drone on about it and if you have any theories as to how this could make sense or any input in general, feel free to let me know. As I already mentioned, the show is brilliant overall so lets talk about why it was so good. For starters, the show takes on a very different approach and tone than the first seasons. It feels completely different and plays out a bit more like a shonen than the last few. The new locale actually worked out quite well and I liked the visuals for their new training environment. The team based strategies for the battles were also fun although 1 vs 1 is still the best.

The main cast was interesting from the get go. Haruki may have been a bit bland, but Sena was the typical hard working hero that you can always root for. Hikaru was a champion of LBX tournament fighting so he already had a lot of experience even if he still had a lot to learn. Having all of the countries hang out for lunch break added some intrigue and tension since there could always be traitors or people listening in on your conversations. You even had real currency that you would use for every day activities and if you didn’t budget well, you’d go hungry. Finally, you couldn’t afford to lose your LBX at any time. If it was ever broken, you would instantly be escorted off of the island and would be labeled as dead inside of the game. You could retreat with injuries before being completely destroyed and many characters had to use this.

It comes as no surprise that the show had an excellent animation budget. The visuals were top notch throughout and there was constant action. You could expect a big fight in just about every episode and some fights would go on for quite a while. The power levels did start to be an issue by the end though. The problem is that the show kept trying to make the next villain even stronger over and over again to the point where they just ran out of power scaling. It makes for great visuals since they move so fast that everything becomes a blur, but the side characters shouldn’t be able to do anything by the end if the main characters are as strong as they appear. I think the power levels were better than in W though so they certainly have improved. By the end, the only real contenders for the title of the strongest are Sena, Kreisler, and Itan. The rest get left in the dust by a wide margin.

Accompanying the great graphics are a stellar soundtrack. This show had quite a lot of epic tunes and the music helped to build up hype for future scenes and to also amplify the battle scenes. The openings may have been not quite as epic as W overall, but I really did like one of the theme songs for Wars. I forgot if it was the 2nd or third one, but it was really sharp. On a technical level, LBX certainly did not disappoint and when you add that to the cast and the story, it comes as no surprise that the show was so great.
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Sena is a great main character and there’s really no reason not to love him. He’s hot headed and always ready for a fight. While Sena is super eager, he never gets full of himself or arrogant. He’s just a really nice guy who likes LBX battles and he always does what he thinks is the right thing even if it breaks the rules. He’s a friend that you can count on to have your back and you can be sure that he’ll always give it 100%. He doesn’t back down to Hikaru and if anything, the only mistake that Sena makes is not using his special abilities whenever he can. Sena can move his robot at super speed through the same power that Hiro had in W. Only Kreisler and Itan also had this ability and you can see why they were the strongest. Without it, there is literally no way that you can win since you move in slow motion next to them.

Hikaru is the main rival of the series although you can throw Muraku in there as well. While he had great success in the tournaments, apparently it doesn’t always translate well to team battles. I don’t really buy this logic or at least not how it was implemented, but he still did good for the most part. He stayed neck and neck with Sena until the series was almost over and I really liked the design of his LBX. Hikaru was a good character and he definitely went through a lot. The villains sabotaged his capsule which nearly destroyed him and did traumatize him for a few episodes. Hikaru recovered, but it certainly made the game a little scarier than it ever would be for the others.

Muraku starts out as the first major villain, but he’s always been about honor. He gets along pretty well with Sena and while he did destroy many of Sena’s teammates over the years, it’s not as if they’re dead in real life. You should be going all out in the game and I think that’s why Sena didn’t hold it against Muraku at all. Muraku’s very skilled and is certainly one of the best operators in the game, it’s just a shame that he never got the super power. He is heavily outmatched by the end, but his fights with Sena are still some of the best in the series. Muraku’s a solid rival and one of the more interesting figures in the show.

Now let’s talk about the captains of Sena’s army. These captains are: Kaito, Catherine, Rikuya, Gendou, and Haruki. Kaito has a pretty high opinion of himself even if he isn’t that strong. His LBX just never seemed all that special and he never got a big fight to himself. He likes telling the others what they can’t do and stealing the glory whenever possible, but Kaito never earns it. He’s definitely not a very likable platoon leader. Catherine is pretty good and at least she is usually ready for a fight. She’s also not quite as tough as her banter though and desperately needed a power up throughout the series.

Rikuya is pretty important to the plot in the second half as the villains want a program inside of his mech, but he doesn’t do a great job of protecting it. He also keeps to himself a lot more than he should, which gets others to think that he’s a bad guy. He may as well be though as he gets quite a lot of people expelled from school. It was their mission though so I like to think that the government took good care of them. Gendou is a character who got a lot of hype, but ended up not doing a thing either. The show would constantly zoom the camera in on him or have everyone get worried when he’d just stare. Unfortunately, he actually wasn’t that tough or heroic. He quickly said that his group should keep the super lab even though Sena’s team put in the most effort. LBX always loves to have a character get hyped all season to no avail though so I guess it’s to be expected.

Finally, Haruki is one of the leaders and he’s actually a main character so he gets a big role. He once led his squad to complete defeat against Muraku and they were all expelled. This causes him to be a lot more cautious this time around, but that’s not a strategy that Sena and Hikaru are going to follow. They like the direct approach and I can’t really blame them when they are always way stronger than the villains. Without plot hax, a frontal assault should always be the tactic of choice for the heroes. Haruki gradually opens up and helps the heroes more. He’s a good character by the end even if he’s naturally not as charismatic as Sena or Hikaru.

Sakuya is the mechanic and he’s probably the most annoying character of the bunch. He can’t fight so he just watches (The show says that he can fight, but he retired so that’s the end of that) and fixes the mechs between battles. Honestly, that sounds a little boring and I don’t know how Sakuya doesn’t get tired of it. He’s not quite as reasonable as the others and is quick to get upset when the other characters don’t play by the rules. His episodes can’t really hold their own and his romance was also pretty bad. This guy deserves to stay in as a secondary character. Yuno was a heroine who hung out with the main group a lot despite being in another division. She never really did all that much, but she inherited a mech from one of the main characters so that gave her a pretty big power boost. She’s a nice enough character and she did save Sena at one point. Yuno’s a loyal friend at any rate and a good member of the cast. There were a lot of other supporting characters in the show who were around, but not quite enough to be mentioned. Yuno was more prevalent than them, but not quite as much as the main characters so she’s in an interesting position.
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Mito is the squad’s teacher and she has a personal stake in all of this. While she teaches by day, she searches for her father by night. She is pretty strict and by the books the whole time so she never gets quite as interesting as the others. Furthermore, she doesn’t handle the situation very well at all once the stakes are high and even faints at one point. I’d expect a little more determination considering that she wants to find her father.

Finally, we’re at the two big villains. Kreisler is the final boss and shows up with his seriously overpowered mech at the end. It basically can’t be damaged and it’s so fast that the mere thought of getting hit is out of the question anyway. He completely outclasses Itan as well as Sena during their fight. This also gives us some more brilliant battles as Itan and Sena even team up at one point while still not being able to claim the win. Kreisler was definitely a very good villain and at least he wasn’t completely loony. I also liked that he had a contingency plan for just about everything. Even while the guards were leading him off the premises when they finally caught him, Kreisler was ready. His submarine appeared out of nowhere with all of his armed troops and that was the end of that. It was really hard to keep this guy down and the show certainly got even more interesting once he showed up.

While Itan was not the final boss, he was certainly a major villain and probably had the biggest role of them all. I always felt bad for his teeth though. He always held onto a lollypop to suck on, but would end up crunching it accidentally when he got some bad news or got too stressed about something. The sudden crunch would always startle you and he would still go for another one. Lollypop aside, Itan was definitely solid. He didn’t give up like the rank and file and even after being betrayed, he vowed revenge. He lasted quite a while as he kept dodging the cops and he did his best to get back at Kreisler. He was an exceptional fighter and the fact that he could fight Sena on equal grounds is quite telling. Almost no other character can say that and he was also fun to root for. He’s probably the second best character in the series behind Sena, although Hikaru is quite close at third. I’d probably have Muraku at 4th and Kreisler at 5th. As I said, it’s a solid cast and they’re all pretty high.

One slight disappointment was that the old characters didn’t get to do anything. The big heroes like Ban/Van are mentioned and acknowledged, but they never get to appear. They get a lot of hype, but I was hoping that they’d show up to stop the main villains. After all, they do work for the government and are LBX experts, you’d think that they would have been called immediately. Jin shows up quite a lot towards the end, but he never joins in on the fights and just watches the whole time. That was a big missed opportunity and I can understand that sometimes writers want the season to stand on its own, but then why add Jin in the first place? It’s like a tease to something that will never occur so it’s better left forgotten.

I also can’t stress enough how impressive it was for the show to have constant action all the time while still introducing more and more villains. The fights started off very grounded, but gradually got as fantastic as you can imagine. Sena also got quite a few excellent rage moments where he utilized his LBX to the fullest and took care of the villains. You’ll get very invested into the show right from the get go and it never falters from there. The writing is always on point and I don’t expect that we’ll ever see another show quite like this one. It’s a shame that LBX had to end. Hopefully another long running mecha show can fill the void for this one someday, but until then at least I have the LBX game to help me remember this. The show isn’t even all that popular as finding images for this review was tough for a while. We need more people to spread the word and it all starts with this review!

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Overall, LBX Wars is definitely one of the best anime out there. The visuals are absolutely amazing and the screen caps can’t do it justice. Its decently long length will ensure that you don’t breeze through it too quickly and also gives it time to develop the characters and have a lot of things happen. There are a lot of big twists even if you’ll figure out some of them way before the characters and there are a lot of enemies to defeat. The show takes quite a lot of turns by the time you’re done with it and you’ll have to decide what you think the heroes should do. Fight and possibly allow the system to control you or stay back in an attempt of defiance, but it could be futile if nobody joins you and the villains may end up achieving their true objective. There are a lot of tough calls to make here, but Sena is always ready. If you haven’t checked this show out yet, then it’s not too late. You can still make your move now before they announce a big Hollywood film that will adapt it all!

Overall 9/10

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