The Hunchback of Notre Dame Review


The Hunchback of Notre Dame is definitely quite a bit darker than your average Disney film. Someone breaks their neck in the opening scene and from there it only gets darker. The movie does a good job of balancing this out though so it stays intense without going into super gritty territory. I wouldn’t say that it’s quite on the level of something like Frozen but this is a very good film. I thought it had one of the most memorable songs from the villain which definitely mixed in well with the flames everywhere. If you want a very atmospheric title then this is the one for you.

The movie starts with Claude going around murdering people as per usual. He manages to destroy a mother and goes for the child when a member of the Church shows up. He scares Claude into having the boy adopted instead. This boy would grow up to be known as Quasimodo. His body is quite deformed and so Claude has decided to hide him away in the church for all eternity. The Church doesn’t seem to have any qualms with this and Quasi was brainwashed as he was growing up to never leave the room. Still, he hopes to leave someday to experience life outside of the walls. One day he gets his chance and sneaks out. There he meets a dancer named Esmeralda and they become quick friends. Can Quasimodo keep this secret away from Claude? Additionally, Quasi may have to choose a side soon because Claude has decided to ramp up his efforts to murder all of the gypsies in the land.

The plot of having the villain trap and trick the hero is definitely a Disney classic. It wasn’t so long ago that I saw Tangled with a very similar premise. The idea is to manipulate the hero right away so that he just doesn’t know any better. I would argue that Claude is a little less obvious than the villain from Tangled but of course it would still be nice if Quasimodo has escaped earlier on to get into the spotlight. It doesn’t help that in his case the townsfolk probably will be pretty mean to him since they’re never happy to have someone who looks different. There’s a whole contest in the town about making fun of people. It’s not the nicest town so in some ways it’s not like Claude was totally lying about it, but of course we all know that his intent wasn’t exactly just. He knew exactly what he was doing the whole time.

As a main character Quasimodo’s not bad. He certainly means well and is a pretty nice guy. Things don’t always work out super well for him but he’s earnest. He does help Esmeralda when things get tough and at the end he’s pretty understanding. I wouldn’t call him one of the better characters, but he’s not bad. Then you have Esmeralda who is a pretty strong heroine. She does a good job of rebelling against Claude and making a mockery of his events. In some ways she’s a lot like Zorro as she uses her athletics to get the better of her opponents. The fact that she can actively fight is definitely very good and so she’s a standout character here.

Next up is Phoebus and he is a worthy counterpart to Esmeralda. He’s a soldier in the army who wants to do his best but gradually sees more and more how corrupt the whole thing is. Eventually he has enough of this. Once he turns away the guy never looks back and was definitely crucial in helping one of the families from a burning house. He does let his guard down at times but fights rather well. There are a few supporting characters like various gargoyles flying around but I wouldn’t say any of them were particularly entertaining. I understand why they’re around though as Quasimodo’s scenes may not have held up as well without them. He needs someone to talk to after all. I’d also say I was less than impressed with the main priest. He talks tough but ultimately doesn’t really stand against Claude.

As the main villain Claude’s definitely not one of the better ones. He reminds me a whole lot of Jafar. He’s more interested in scoring the main villain than in something more ambitious like taking over the country. He already has great influence within the town even though he doesn’t like the people. He just wants to eliminate the Gypsies at all costs even though he can’t decipher his own feelings. It’s part of what makes the Hellfire song pretty intense though. The villain songs tend to be quite memorable and this one is no different. It has some of the best background visuals I’ve seen in a song since Aladdin and there’s always something going on. So while I can’t take Claude seriously as a villain, at least he has that going for him.

In general the animation is quite striking and is easily one of the best looking Disney films. I dare say it even looks better than some of the ones that would come afterwards like Frozen, Big Hero 6, or Tangled. The colors are very sharp and all of the movement is on point. It may even be the best looking Disney animated film when I think about it. The songs from the Gargoyles don’t really rank but the villain song alone puts the soundtrack on the map as well. The writing is on point and so the film succeeded in all of the key areas. As I mentioned, the film doesn’t hold back on being quite serious as well. I was not expecting the opening scene to be quite so sinister and it sets up some tension right away as Claude is willing to do whatever it takes to win.

There is some romance in the film which I admit was not handled all that well but I was glad there was no drama with Quasimodo. He is satisfied being a good friend which is important. For Esmeralda and Phoebus, they only just met so the whole thing seems rather rushed. I think you could have axed that plot and it wouldn’t have really hurt the film at all. You could use the extra scenes to maybe show the Priest actually fighting back against Claude. That would have looked really good for him at least.

Overall, The Hunchback of Note Dame is a solid film. The movie feels very high quality throughout and the pacing is quick. The movie definitely goes all in on making Quasimodo deformed to the point where he may be a little harder to look at compared to other main characters but does underscore that he’s a good guy. The narrative irony being that the main townsfolk are the real monsters here as they eagerly go about trying to put others beneath them. The town seems very mean spirited in general so it’s good that there are some heroes around. Phoebus and Esmeralda will likely go about making the town a whole lot more hospitable in the future. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the sequel since by now things should be looking up. I suppose there are probably still enough corrupt people running around to keep on messing things up though. It’s hard to change the whole place in a day.

Overall 7/10

Corpse Bride Review


Corpse Bride reminds you that you gotta be careful when stating your wedding vows. Someone may get the wrong idea if they’re in the area. It’s a pretty interesting story since the main character isn’t brave enough to fight back so he gets himself in a lot of trouble. The film does tend to get a little grotesque with its visual humor though, particularly when in the land of the dead. It’s why despite how the heroine may be a nice person, it’s hard to see this working out for the guy. The whole eye popping out all the time would definitely make you shudder.

The movie starts with Victor preparing for his arranged marriage with Victoria. He’s pretty nervous about the whole thing. After all, the two characters have never even met before which makes things pretty difficult. Still, he is excited to meet her so he preps for this. He ends up being unable to talk much when he sees her and then messes everything up at the wedding rehearsal. Ashamed, Victor heads to the forest and put the wedding ring on a tree finger as he recites the vows. It turns out he said this to the corpse known as Emily who gladly accepts. He is now stuck with her in a wedding pact in the underworld. Victor needs to find a way back to the land of the living so that he can finally be with Victoria. To do that he’s going to need to trick Emily but should be really be doing something so underhanded?

From the start you can tell that most of the characters here are not meant to be all that sympathetic. Victor’s parents are usually taking shots the whole time. The mother in particular really just wants Victor to get married already so they can have some dignity. Meanwhile Victoria’s parents are completely out of money and they’re hoping that this will get them a nice pay day. The irony here is that as elites you figure that they would have a lot of cash at the ready. Both families are really using the kids as tools.

Fortunately it does work out that Victor and Victoria do like each other but at the same time it makes it easier for you to possibly root for the dead girl. After all you can only connect so much after a few minutes right? The cast is fairly small to be honest as the only other big character would be the villain Barkis. I can’t say that Barkis was very good though. I liked his initial appearance as he showed up to complicate things and mess with everyone. I can always respect that and he has a lot of confidence but his plan was basically to marry Victoria so that’s no good. We also learn about his past near the end which seals the deal as his not being a very good guy. Of course you would expect that from a villain bus his goals seem to petty and it also seems like he’s just not good at managing money. That’s a bad combination.

What holds the movie back to an extent is that the imagery can be pretty gross the whole time. Burton’s definitely no stranger to rather odd visuals that’s for sure. He likes having the goth motif and it can work reasonably well although I’ll take traditional any time. Whenever we’re in the underworld you can expect people’s eyes to be falling out, worms everywhere, and stuff like that. It’s definitely not the most pleasant backdrop and does limit the film a bit. As I mentioned earlier, it’s also hard to root for Emily as a result. Now the film does play the sympathy card for her quite a bit and to a degree you may feel bad for her. Her real life didn’t work out so well and so this was her chance to really make a comeback. In the present the whole misunderstanding is really on her though.

Is Emily trying to say that she only heard the vows and nothing before it? Additionally with context clues she should have been able to figure something out. Now it’s part of the main plot of course but Victor tries to tell Emily this was a mistake the whole time. The afterlife has not been great for her either as Emily just looks dead. This isn’t the kind of movie where the dead person still looks pristine. Even though Victor was willing to make this work it’s just hard to see this working out well.

Victoria’s a nice enough character although I wouldn’t say there is much to her. She definitely does her best to make sure everything turns out well though so I’ll give her some props there. The scene of her trying to ask the priest the tough questions was one of the funniest moments of the film. It was handled very well for sure. Then we’ve got Victor and I’m not a fan of that guy. He’s way too nervous and just goes along with what he’s told to do. The guy doesn’t have a whole lot of agency to himself. He’s really responsible for all of the messes he gets himself into. If he was just a little bolder and more outspoken then he wouldn’t have fared so poorly. Try this on for size, if Emily hadn’t made the call for him at the end then Victor would have just gone through with the whole thing. If anything you have to doubt his devotion to either heroine since he was clearly willing to go with either one or the other.

Overall, Corpse Bride is a pretty unique film. It’s definitely rare to see more of a Halloween romance film. The story’s not bad and there are some fun moments to be had for sure. The scene of the dead people going into the church while staying quiet was really nice since they still had respect was great. It was also nice to see everyone just hanging out and having a good time at the end. Zombies aren’t as scary when they’re actually good people and still have free will. The whole gross aspect of the dead side holds the film down to an extent though. It puts the film squarely in the green, it’s not a film I’d ever plan to rewatch but it’s not bad either. It doesn’t ever make any huge error that would make me turn it down. You can’t help but feel like it could have been a whole lot better though. If you want to see a film with this kind of atmosphere then I’d recommend watching Coraline sooner but you’ll have a good time here.

Overall 6/10

Sakura Wars: The Movie Review


Sakura Wars the marathon has now reached the big movie. It’s always great to see a series get its first feature film since that’s when you know that you’ve made it into the big time. The Sakura Wars film does not disappoint and is a quality follow up to the show. It may not be going for a very ambitious story but it’s a nice chance to see the characters again and even introduces another member to the squad. You’ll be entertained the whole way through and most of the characters get their big moments to shine.

All right, so the film opens with the heroes having another successful show. They’re then introduced to a new person who has been dispatched to join the Flower Division. Her name is Ratchet and she comes from a more extreme division. She’s not here long term but figures she can learn something from the group during this stay. She has a reputation of being quite fierce though. Orihime and Leni used to work with her. Orihime is jealous of how skilled Ratchet is while Leni straight up fears her. It’ll definitely be tough to get this unit working together, particularly since Ogami is no longer with the group.

Then you’ve got the fact that a new company has shown up and claims that the Flower Division may not be needed soon. That’s because they have built their own mechs and in their defense, these mechs do seem rather powerful. The demons are attacking more than ever but these guys are always around to stop them. It’s a little convenient that they show up at the perfect spot each time right? The business man quickly gets the government on their side but when things go sideways the Flower Division will have to band together for one more adventure. Will they be able to get to the bottom of this conspiracy and keep the country safe?

I think the instant the businessman shows up you’ll suspect foul play. In truth I don’t think you’re supposed to have any doubt on who to root for here and the real dilemma is seeing the bigwigs at the government get fooled yet again. It’s really not hard to trick these guys eh? You’ll mainly just be disappointed in the fact that all of the higher ups are not particularly quick on the uptake here. Yoneda’s right hand woman is eager to just follow orders and Yoneda himself doesn’t do much until it’s too late. It’s really up to Sakura, Ratchet, and the crew to set things right.

Now, at this point the cast is rather large so not everyone gets to do a lot. While most of the characters get their moment to shine, some don’t do a whole lot. Sumire for example is one very popular character that I was surprised didn’t get to properly do anything here. I suppose she got enough screentime in the show but I would have expected some kind of rivalry between her and Ratchet. It’s hard to see them getting along very well but they were pretty amiable here. Kanna gets to knock out a guard but doesn’t do much beyond that. Kohran finally had an invention that didn’t break so I’ll give her a pass here. Iris spends her time consoling Leni and this is Leni’s worst appearance by far. Ratchet is pretty intense but I feel like Leni exaggerated in being so afraid of her. At the end of the day Ratchet does seem like a good person.

That leaves the characters with the bigger roles. Orihime has a presence in this film but I can’t say that it’s a good one. She lets her jealousy get the better of her rather easily. Now, it’s a fun plot point and all but if you’re going to act like this then you gotta be able to back it up. Orihime volunteers for a mission that is clearly over her head and doesn’t prepare at all. It’s no surprise that she gets wrecked almost instantly. The sad truth is that Ratchet would have done a lot better which really justifies why she is so confident in herself.

Maria’s role is quite excellent though. She’s always been portrayed as one of the sharpest characters and she’s the first to suspect that something isn’t right. She gets two full action scenes to herself without the mech which is always fun to see. It makes for a great way to close out the film with her final moments and she proves why she is qualified to lead the team while Ogami is away. She’s such a strong character and the only reason I don’t have her higher up the list is because the team is stacked with such quality characters like Sumire and Kanna.

Then you’ve got Sakura who is still the main character of course. She looks very good and patiently helps to make sure that the team sticks together. She naturally disagrees with Ratchet’s more lethal approach throughout the film. While they never really come to blows, Sakura does step in to block Ratchet from murdering more people. Had things continued on that path I could have seen them fighting and I think it would be a close fight. Ratchet seems more skilled to me, but with her holy power Sakura just needs one hit to win. It would be a fun battle for sure. So Sakura is consistent as being a very solid character here.

Then you have the newcomer Ratchet. I must say that I thought she was a fun rival type character. I always like having the hero who shows up and decides that the villains must all be terminated. It always makes for some solid internal conflict. She can also have her lighter moments like when she trolls the characters at the beginning by pretending she can only speak English. Having her show up from America was a nice way to acknowledge the global presence of the fighters. The Flower Division reps Japan but of course there are divisions all around the world. I can’t say I’m surprised that the American branch is the one that murders everyone who stands in their way. That seems to be a common element when America gets involved in these things. Ratchet’s utmost confidence is one of the reasons why her character succeeds.

The only scene I found a bit questionable for her was the final play and in general the scene was a bit confusing. It’s an interestingly layered approach to having her and Sakura talk things out. Thing is, I’m all up for the conversation but it’s implied that Ratchet comes close to murdering her. It can be hard to tell where the play starts and ends with their conversation having multiple meanings but Ratchet seemed deadly serious. Destroying Sakura seems like it would have absolutely no benefit and doesn’t seem to be in line with Ratchet’s goals. Ratchet wants to complete the missions at all costs so destroying Sakura during a mission if she gets in the way makes sense but now? I just couldn’t really grasp Ratchet’s inner motivations at this point. She was clearly conflicted and confused but I thought it was an odd time for this to come out. I’d also argue that the other friends should have been closer by to try and put a stop to things. At their distance they wouldn’t have been in time to do anything.

Ogami gets a very small role here but it’s an excellent one. I won’t spoil what goes down but it’s one of the standout scenes in the movie. I’m glad he’s finally getting some respect here. The animation is definitely really good as you would expect. The best animated scene is likely when Sakura and Ratchet are taking care of the guards. They handle them quite seamlessly and the choreography is on point. The climax is also fun although the animation has less time to shine since the heroes are taking down one of those “I’m huuuuuuuge” opponents who can’t really do much in response. We get some good teamwork combos and determination moments though so it balances out. You always got to end the film with a big action scene and while I question why it always has to be a giant opponent in the end, it does work as a threat to unite everyone.

I didn’t talk much about the government plot but there’s not a whole lot to tell there. The idea of using mechs to support the division honestly isn’t bad. If they weren’t so greedy it could have worked and it’s something Commander Yoneda should still look into. I always thought there was no reason why they can’t make more robots. Sure, the users wouldn’t have spirit energy but wouldn’t the actual mech suits be enough as good backup? I believe it comes down to how durable the demons are but since conventional weapons sometimes have a bit of effect I think it’s worth it. Using captured demons to fuel power to fight demons? Now that’s a plan that sounds doomed from the moment it starts.

The soundtrack is fairly standard. You’ll recognize some tunes from the show and some new ones. None of them are super memorable or anything but they work well enough in the context of the scenes they show up in. I’d describe the tunes are smooth background music that doesn’t really stand out so it helps you focus on the dialogue. I wouldn’t mind more of a metal theme for the fights at some point though. The film has its share of darker moments where an ominous theme would work like when the villains first encounter Maria. Those two villains were pretty creepy and definitely came across as very intimidating.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the Sakura Wars movie. You may be a little confused if you jump into this one before watching the show though. The scenes with Sakura and Ratchet were definitely fun and the movie moves on pretty quick. None of the scenes drag on and there is always something happening. The movie has enough of an upgrade in animation where you definitely feel like this is a cinematic experience. I always feel like having that extra boost helps to make the experience feel legitimate. It tells a very complete story from start to finish. I look forward to seeing what other stories the franchise has in store. I admit that while the franchise does tend to move the characters around I’ll miss having the original group at the ready although it would be nostalgic if they could bring back the American branch from the So Long My Love title. That group was a lot of fun as well.

Overall 7/10

My Hero Academia Make It! Do-or-Die Survival Training Review


It’s time to look at a recent My Hero OVA. At two episodes you do wonder a bit why it wasn’t just released as one special or placed inside the show itself to buy it 2 weeks for the manga to get further ahead. I suppose since MHA is more of a seasonal show than ongoing they wouldn’t need 2 extra weeks. Well, it’s always fun to have some more adventures so that’s pretty neat. This one’s about getting the kids closer together with their bonds and teamwork so we get to see them in another training session. As always you could say that Bakugo is the MVP here.

The training session is simple, the students of UA have to go inside a partially destroyed building to find a lost civilian. For the purposes of the training they are to imagine that this is a normal person but in the exercise they will use a training dummy. Things fall out of the expected parameters when the building caves in. The students must now prioritize getting out of here alive. Ida has already been knocked out so the others need to get him to a doctor. The pros refuse to help so the kids will have to do everything. They’ve already split up into multiple parties though so even coordinating a plan will be difficult. Some kids may have to take things into their own hands from here.

One of the reasons why Bakugo is always a fun character is because he takes action. While everyone else is just talking a lot and standing around he is actually doing things. Bakugo is not the kind of guy who just takes a backseat and hopes for the best. He actually jumps in time after time. This special is no exception as he immediately goes for the backup power supply and also makes sure to complete the mission. While the other teams panic or immediately forget about the mission, Bakugo stays on task. He also recognizes when other kids are bluffing and stays back to protect them. His confidence is still absolute as always and when you mix his explosive power into the mix then it’s not surprising that he will one day be a pro.

The other vanguards here would be Deku and Todoroki. Todoroki is crucial towards the end of the special with his ice. It may not be a permanent fix but he covered a large chunk of the destroyed area so that was pretty good. Then you have Deku who always comes in clutch for executing the plans and crushing any extra debris. If not for the other kids being around Deku would be able to escape this area easily. His Once For All power is really well suited to this scenario. I’d make the case that it’s the best all around ability from all of the students but that’s borderline obvious with Mirio’s ability being the only one that’s close so I won’t bother.

It’s a fun special that goes by pretty quickly. All of the students who are partaking in the exercise get their moments to shine except for Ida. I guess the reason why he got his injury was when he tried to save another classmate so he gets some points for that but if his burst was a little quicker he would have been okay. Just have to throw that out there. I imagine fans of the kids who get less of a role as the series goes on will be glad to see them being useful here. Everyone has a different quirk so while in a fight it may be clear who the strongest are, some of these characters are really good at support. Take Froppy for example. While her elastic tongue isn’t viable for combat, it was helpful here for catching one of the kids who was going to plummet to their doom. Since most of the heroes can’t fly that kind of ability is a really good safety net.

The animation looks pretty solid here. It’s like a standard episode. I wouldn’t say it goes beyond that but since there are no fight scenes in this special they probably figured that would be a waste. As long as the character designs are on point and the animation is smooth, I wouldn’t say there is any real issue that should be had. My Hero’s animation has always been consistently solid. We get the classic tunes from the TV show as well which further gives it the look and feel of a classic episode.

Overall, Do or Die is a good adventure. It’s always fun to see the heroes in new situations. It’s the very reason why “filler” as a concept isn’t bad. You’ll only be with the characters for so long so a few extra adventures sound good to me. It’ll be good if we can get some more OVA adventures with the crew. That said, I’d like to see the writers challenge themselves to give us a quick OVA with some actual villains and fight scenes. Naruto and the Water Village is a good symbol of how you can do a quick adventure with brand new villains and some fights. Just have the heroes go on some kind of vacation where it turns out there are some villains present. Then presto, you’ve got yourself a quality adventure. Regardless, fight scene or not I would recommend checking this special out if you’re a My Hero fan. Alternately, this is a good pilot of sorts if you’re someone who’s on the fence about starting the series. It’s pretty much a day in the life of MHA so if you like this then odds are good that you’ll like the series.

Overall 7/10

One Piece Film: Z Review


It’s time to look at the most well known DBZ One Piece film out there. Film Z always got a ton of hype due to the fact that it had the DBZ type battles. I was certainly eager to check this one out and it turned out to be a lot of fun as expected. I would even give it the slight edge over Stampede. Mainly my only issue with that one was since it was all of the hype characters fighting each other almost none of the battles even had an ending. Here there is a winner or loser in each match which I think was important. It’s always good to finish things and the battles are a blast. More on that in a minute but this is definitely a film you should check out.

The movie starts by introducing us to Z. He is attacking a large island and Kiazaru shows up to try and stop him. It’s a pretty good fight but Z manages to blow up the island anyway. We then fast forward to where Luffy and friends are sailing as normal. They help Z out of the water and nurse him back to health but since they are pirates and his mission is to destroy them all, he ends up attacking and easily defeats the Strawhats. The team will now have to try and mount a comeback tour. Can Luffy really defeat this immensely powerful Z character?

Right away the first scene of the film started things off on a high note. The battle with Z vs the Marines are definitely solid. Kizaru has always been pretty much untouchable in the One Piece series so it was nice to see someone make him sweat a bit. That said, Kizaru was definitely going to win that round if it had kept going. As strong as Z is, he’s just not ready to take down Kizaru. Part of the issue here is that Kizaru’s ability to turn into light itself makes him extremely fast and also extremely hard to injure. How can you stop a guy who can just zip away at light speed? Z’s sea prism arm helps to negate that but at the same time he isn’t fast enough to actually grab Kizaru so at most it just helps him bypass the light and actually deal some damage at ties. Every step counts though so I suppose we take those.

There are a lot of action scenes throughout and they’re all quite solid. One of the best fights is definitely the opening skirmish with Z. It’s always fun to see the Strawhats actually team up against an opponent. It feels like they haven’t actually done that since Aokiji so it was nice to see here. I like to think that the big 3 should have done a little better against Z but as they said later on, their guards were down at the time. The film also uses a lot of 3D views during the fight which is nice. They tend to work pretty well for stylizing the fights. RWBY’s been adding some more of that in lately as well. It helps you really see the full attacks which works out quite nicely. The battles here definitely aren’t playing around and the animation is great as you would expect.

Then we’ve got the soundtrack which is solid although I don’t care for the pirate’s song. It plays near the beginning and near the end of the film but both times I didn’t really feel like it meshed all that well with what was going on. I dunno, it just had no real energy or life to it. You can do soft songs that are still pretty epic but this was not one of them. Beyond that, the rest of the songs were pretty solid though which is good. One Piece is all about being high energy so we wouldn’t want to lose that.

Film: Z goes by very quickly so the pacing is solid. There are a lot of action scenes but there’s also a lot of downtime so fortunately those scenes work out well enough. The writing is on point and this feels like a classic One Piece adventure. My only real fault with the film is that it can definitely be a bit obnoxious with the fanservice for Nami and Robin. Fortunately Nami gets taken out of the picture for a while since she gets turned into a kid but before that the film really seems to make fanservice her main role. It’s nothing crazy compared to other films and shows, but it’s definitely there and quite direct about it.

As for the new characters, there were really 3 main ones. The first is Z and he makes for a solid villain. He’s had enough of pirates messing up the world so why not just end everything right? If he destroys the new World then that’s it. I do question how he believes this would destroy all pirates though. The only way is if the entire planet does literally blow up which seems like a possibility I guess but at the same time they seem to act like it’ll destroy a lot of people but not everyone. No matter how you slice it, the pirates would be the last survivors if anyone was to live so the humans would need to watch out. Some Devil Fruit Users can fly as well so a flood wouldn’t be the end. It would be time to fly up to Skypiea.

Z’s motive here is really about revenge so it’s a compelling mission. He’s certainly made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. He’s also quite determined in his goal to take out the pirates and doesn’t waver. From all of the big film antagonists he would have to be the best one so far. Then you have his right hand lady Ain. Her ability to de age a person by 10 years every time she makes contact with them is quite impressive. It’s definitely a very useful ability that won’t steer you wrong. How do you hope to fight an ability like that right? Her battles with Zoro were quite impressive and her ability has to be one of the most dangerous ones in the series. Especially if she hides the true effect until it’s too late.

Then you have Binz who is just as loyal as Ain but doesn’t stand out as much. His ability is that he can dance to summon up plants. It’s a pretty useful ability for sure, but not nearly as flashy. I would also make the case that he should have lost a lot sooner but at least his speed does help to compensate for his ability not being very offensive in nature. His battle with Sanji is also pretty solid. As for the main cast, they’re all pretty true to form. Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji are still the heavy hitters here dealing with the enemies. Usopp and Brook can never focus long enough to actually be of help and just limit the crew for the most part. Nami and Robin get the job done when they appear even though they aren’t core fighters. The group is pretty big at this point so it’s always hard to find a villain group big enough to deal with all of them.

One last thing I have to mention though is that the government’s plan was pretty terrible here. So, from their point of view if Z destroys all 4 end points then the world might end. After he destroys two of them they have a big meeting about protecting the last 2 points with every available marine. So they should be around for the final 2 islands right? Wrong! On the final islands they’re basically just messing around the whole time and show up too late. They have some flunkies protecting the points but that’s it. Shouldn’t they have had the Admirals there or something? If Luffy hadn’t shown up then all 4 islands would have been destroyed for sure and the Marines wouldn’t have done a single thing. So no matter how you slice it, they failed here and owe their lives to a pirate. I don’t know what they were thinking.

Overall, One Piece Film: Z is a pretty fun ride. There was a good amount of detail put into the villains here so you should remember them. The story is strong and it’s always nice to see someone giving Luffy a good fight. It may be a little unsatisfying to some that Luffy doesn’t put up a bit of a better fight here but Z’s not someone you can really mess with. Zoro and Sanji put their opponents down pretty quick though so at least they brought their A game. If you like action films or just want a good adventure then this is definitely a solid film to check out. The One Piece films always do a good job of making sure you can understand what is going on whether you’ve already seen the series or not. Of course, you’ll understand the cameos and easter eggs more if you’re a fan of the series.

Overall 8/10

Tangled Review


It’s time to look at a pretty big Disney film from back in the day. Tangled may not have soared to quite the same heights as Frozen but it still made a name for itself in its own right. The tale of Rapunzel is definitely a classic to be sure so it’s nice to see a full fledged adaption. The movie has solid songs, strong writing, and pretty good animation so it’s a solid all around package. I’m definitely in the camp that says Frozen still wins the rivalry between the two but Tangled is certainly a solid film that doesn’t back down to anyone.

The movie starts by showing us the origin of Rapunzel. Her mother was gravely ill so the kingdom used the legendary flower to restore her health. This resulted in Rapunzel being born with incredible abilities. Her hair has the ability to heal injuries and even to dial a person’s age back. It must be used regularly though as it can only stall the age from occurring for so long. A lady named Gothel kidnaps Rapunzel one day and hides her in a tower not too far away from town. I do question to an extent how the kingdom never found her but realistically I suppose it is a long journey and you can’t catch everyone. Rapunzel grows up for many years trapped in the castle with Gothel who has tricked her into thinking that they are mother and daughter. One day a thief named Flynn tries to hide in the tower to avoid getting caught by the military and is promptly knocked out by Rapunzel. Since Gothel will never let Rapunzel go, the heroine has decided to force Flynn to escort her to the annual party in the kingdom. Flynn doesn’t want to do this but it’s not like he has much of a choice. Gothel will have to try and tear these two apart while keeping the facade up but it will be difficult.

You’ll recognize most of the usual story beats. The stories are all pretty popular so the goal is always to just execute the ideas well and I’d say that Tangled succeeds in this mission. As always there are a good amount of songs and the film is always doing something interesting visually so that you have something to watch while the songs are going on. That’s always low key been something Disney does way better than everyone else. Part of the fun in the live action Aladdin film was how many different special effects they could throw at you in a single song. You gotta admit, a lot of films don’t really go the extra mile there. There’s also so much you could do with Rapunzel’s hair that it would be a shame to miss the opportunity.

Rapunzel is a solid heroine. I like how independent she is and the fact that she knows self defense. She did actually take Flynn down for the count when he first appeared rather than panicking or anything of the sort. She also hatched a good plan and made herself a quality deal. Rapunzel’s hair having actual super powers is another feather in her cap so to speak. I suppose her powers merit more comparisons with Elsa and they are fairly close in how cool each character is. Rapunzel gets tricked perhaps 1 too many times but ultimately she makes the right move. I do have to question how she was taken out near the end of the film but I’ll assume it was a cheap attack.

Then we have her partner Flynn who is solid and gives us a lot of the comedic wit in the story. He’s certainly no hero when the film starts as he actively robs the capital. His overconfidence is also what leads him to get caught as he could have just stolen the crown but naturally had to make sure everyone knew he did it. Villains striving to get the credit they think they deserve is definitely nothing new and often sabotages them just as much as the heroes. He gets a solid character arc with Rapunzel though and it’s handled pretty well. One thing that will always elevate a film is good banter and this one certainly had that.

Gothel works as a solid villain. She may be a bit on the obvious side at times with how she doesn’t even pretend to be a nice mother to Rapunzel. I’m not sure what her rationale is, but it’s not unrealistic. I wouldn’t have minded a more nuanced take on her character but I think the film didn’t want to take a chance on her becoming sympathetic. At her core, Gothel is a petty thief who literally kidnapped a baby so that’s the end of that. She also earns extra points for actually stabbing someone. Gothel’s one of the more serious Disney villains we’ve seen. Maximus is the main animal character here and he’s definitely a lot of fun. The horse is incredibly determined to complete his mission of tracking down Flynn and you have to give him some major respect for following the thief for as long as he did. Maximus does a whole lot to complete this task and it’s really impressive. He was definitely a scene stealer if you ask me and the best character in the film. You just can’t top this guy.

With good writing and animation to back this film up it was definitely bound to be as good as it was. There’s really no weakpoints to the story and I would consider it to be one of Disney’s better ones. One of these days I ought to write an editorial ranking them all but there have been so many Disney princess stories that I’ll need to make sure I have them all straight. I’m still waiting for a big crossover film someday. They’d probably have to stick to adding maybe 6-10 in order to keep the story focused but I’d definitely be game for that.

Overall, Tangled is definitely a quality film and one worth watching. As always Disney has constructed a solid cast around Rapunzel and the film is enhanced by the solid song selection and good graphics. This is a nice story from start to finish with a good focus on the plot and solid pacing. Rapunzel herself may come across as a little slow on the uptake at times but since she has grown up in a super limited environment by a character who is known to be cunning then it does make a certain amount of sense. You can only do so much when put into a position like that. I’d definitely be up for a full sequel someday. There’s definitely more that you could do with this franchise.

Overall 7/10

Mad Monster Party? Review


It’s time to look at a comedic horror crossover featuring all of the big universal monsters from back in the day. I have to admit that at first I thought the premise was slightly different. See, it starts with an old man perfecting a serum that blows stuff up and then he invites everyone. So his goal would be to blow them all up right? The film doesn’t go in that direction but I think it could have been very interesting to see him trying to knock off all of them one by one. This is a fun enough movie although I do think it starts to drag on a bit. The premise doesn’t seem like it’s quite ready to handle a full length adventure and could have easily just been 40 minutes or so. I think that would have made the film better.

The movie starts off by showing us that Frankenstein has created a new serum that can blow anything up. He figures this is a pretty solid note to retire on so he invites all of the monsters to come and have a party with him. The thing is, not everyone is here just to have a good time. Dracula has his own plans in all of this. Meanwhile Frankenstein has invited his nephew Felix over to meet everyone. Felix is just an ordinary kid trying to live the good life but is excited to see his uncle after so long. Frankenstein asks Francesca to look after him during the trip but they end up getting quite close. Can Francesca get Felix off of this dangerous island before it’s too late or is it already over for them?

Naturally here a big part of the fun is in how oblivious Felix is to everything going on. The film leads off with a fun gag where the monsters scare the sailors quite a bit so they think Felix is a monster as well. It’s handled pretty well although I was surprised that Felix would then go on to miss a large chunk of the movie. It’s also pretty surreal to see all of the monsters just show up out of the blue. I think a film could actually be a lot of fun if it took this plot seriously and had an ensemble nature like this. It’s hard to picture nowadays since they want every character to have his own film but it could definitely be a blast.

The animation is your classic stop motion style from the creators of Rudolph so you either like the animation or you don’t. Personally I consider this to be one of the weakest animation styles. I’ll take flash or CGI over stop motion any day. That being said, I’ve seen a lot of stop motion films over the years and among those this one holds its own well enough I’d say. They definitely had to get a lot of different character designs to make it work so that’s pretty impressive. They even got unique character models for everyone at Felix’s ice cream shop and those guys don’t appear after the opening. I thought they made for a pretty fun group and I actually missed the store a bit. It was an effective way to introduce us to Felix.

As a character Felix is fun enough. He’s determined to do the right thing and is very polite. I do think his romance with Francesca is pretty rushed to say the least though. As for Francesca, she’s a pretty fun character. She can certainly fight which is always handy and she’s willing to make the tough calls like sacrificing herself to let Felix get away. In general the film has pretty strong writing so that translates pretty well to the characters. They’ve always got a lot of good burns and comebacks at the ready for every situation. In particular I think Frankenstein’s monster fans will be pleased at his portrayal. No, he doesn’t get any witty comebacks or things of that nature but his raw power is given a ton of respect. He’s shown to be far more powerful than Dracula after all. Only King Kong would likely be above him.

All of the characters get their time to shine even if some get bigger roles than others. For example, Dracula gets a big role while the Mummy rarely gets to do anything. The movie had to balance quite a few monsters though so I think it did a good job with what it had. I also still think the sheer amount of iconic characters was impressive. I’ll also give the movie some props for the ending. I thought it threw in a pretty good twist with some wrinkles to keep you guessing. The ending certainly wasn’t an expected one at the very least and makes you re-think the whole movie.

As mentioned earlier, my only problem with the film would be that it just lasted a little too long. I feel like it would lose focus mainly in the second half as the premise started to be played out. You can only make fun of the characters for so long before you need to do something more with the story. A good script can help you avoid that but even these characters had already started to use up all of the witty banter. It’s not something that would make me turn you away from checking out the film but certainly slows its momentum.

Overall, The Mad Monster Party is worth checking out. I always like a good crossover and this one certainly fits that bill. If I was the film one change I would make though would have been to add Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer since he’s so iconic. I know that he’s not a monster but that could have been part of the joke as everyone keeps referring to him as one anyway. There are always more characters you can add though so that’s a pretty minor point. So long as you want a fun film with a lot of good banter then this is definitely one you’ll want to check out.

Overall 6/10

Mob Psycho 100 II: The First Spirits and Such Company Trip Review


It’s time to look at a quick Mob Psycho OVA from a while back. It’s always fun to see the gang return and hopefully we get a proper sequel at some point. This one gathers the characters in a new environment and Reigen gets to be the main character so you can’t really top that. The new villain even gets quite a bit of hype. It’s a reasonably sized special at around half n hour so you’ve got time to have some fun here. It’s really a good chance to hang out with the cast in a fun environment.

The special starts with a lady showing up and asking Reigen for help. Her inn is being haunted as travelers who attempt to go there fall into another dimension during the trip. As a result the Inn is losing business and she has also grown rather ill. Reigen figures this is probably fake, but the lady agrees to pay for the trip and all expenses so he agrees to help. Serizawa is now a member of the team and Reigen also invites Ritsu and Teruki in addition to his partner Mob. They all get on the train but after dozing off, Reigen awakens to find that only Serizawa remains. Not only are the other characters gone but they seem to be trapped in the car. Whenever Reigen attempts to leave he ends up right back where he started in a loop. He is clearly getting nowhere fast and that’s starting to worry him. Still, he has to keep a brave face on in front of Serizawa. How long can Reigen keep the two of them alive?

As always Reigen is in over his head on this one but I always like how he is able to fake his way through it all. He doesn’t know that everyone else escaped because of their psychic powers so he’s just doing his best to think things through rationally. Throughout it all he still has the drive to save half of the food for Serizawa despite starving to death. At his core Reigen’s still a good guy as always. He’s one of those interesting characters that you can count on for the big stuff although he will cheat you in the smaller ways. It makes for a pretty unique character trait if you ask me. You don’t really see a whole lot of characters who are quite like that.

Reigen’s also just a lot of fun and is a big part of why the adventures are so enjoyable. He’s always quick to double down on his deceptions and just doesn’t give an inch no matter what. It’s really quite impressive when you think about it. You also feel bad for him as the others are never around when he needs them. A big example of this is when he’s ready to have a pillow fight near the end since he was just sleeping for days and nobody wanted to do it. They tend to leave him high and dry all the time which is pretty unfortunate.

Meanwhile Serizawa gets a pretty big role here too as he’s nervous about working for Reigen. His whole character has always been that he gets extremely nervous in all scenarios so you can’t really blame him. Part of why Reigen is so endearing is because he’s ready to help out in times like this and does his best to help Serizawa regain his confidence. Mob and the others don’t get much of a role although they quickly help out a bit in the final fight. I thought this made the villain look good since he was able to survive a hit that was launched by the whole gang of Espers all teaming up. You have to admit that not just any villain can do that. I don’t think it’s meant to be a serious feat and just an excuse for some action here but we take those.

The animation looks solid. The style naturally means it won’t touch most of the other current animations right now, but at this point I’m pretty used to it. The colors look solid for the energy blasts too. The soundtrack is taken from the show and works out pretty well here. As the OVA isn’t long the pacing is also pretty tight with the plot moving from part A to B without any issues. This is just a fun journey and one that you’ll definitely have fun with. At the end of the day this is the kind of plot that would work with almost any series. A lot of the time I think it would be fun if we could hang out with the characters a little more after the main story is done and this is definitely one way that you could do it.

Overall, I’m not going to repeat that long name, but this Mob Psycho OVA is quite good. It’s a good reminder that you don’t always need to have a super big climax filled with tons of explosions to make for an epic adventure. Sometimes all you need is just a nice scenario to have the gang back together with some fun dialogue. As expected Mob Psycho delivers on that. It’s a very fun adventure that will really breeze right past you. I’d definitely recommend checking it out and it’s the kind of title that needs no context. If you haven’t jumped into Mob Psycho yet but have been thinking about it then this may be a pretty good way for you to start.

Overall 7/10

Black Clover 2016 OVA Review


It’s time to take a look at a Black Clover OVA/pilot that came out a while back. It’s pretty fun to see the series going with a different studio/artstyle. Naturally almost nobody is going to be able to touch Studio Pierrot but these guys do a solid job as well. At the end of the day this is still Black Clover so it’s pretty much inevitable that it’ll be good. It’s a fun little special that adapts the first chapter of the series and also gives us a quick flash forward to the ice arc. The characters are cool and the whole thing feels pretty nostalgic.

The special starts with Asta and Yuno fighting off an enemy mage. We then cut away to their humble beginnings. Asta hopes to be the Wizard King someday but unfortunately he was born without magic so there isn’t a whole lot that he can do. Meanwhile his childhood friend Yuno is quite exceptional with magic. They were supposed to be rivals but the gap continues to grow. Yuno then receives a 4 leaf Grimoire while Asta doesn’t receive anything. His dreams may be at an end but when Yuno is attacked by a mage Asta steps in to help. Will he be able to defy his destiny and become a true Wizard King? It won’t be easy, but Asta is ready to do whatever he can in order to succeed. It’s a pretty noble calling and Asta’s determination is part of what makes him a solid character.

So for the main differences here, Asta’s hair is drawn as more of a grey so he looks rather old at times. His change in design is definitely the most noticeable of the characters but it still works decently well. It would take some getting used to, but it’s not a bad design. Everyone else looks pretty normal. While the animation is not up to Pierrot’s level it’s still fairly good. Some shots seem to have less animation and we get some stills but I’m thinking that these Festa OVAs are probably made really quick to come out on time. The important aspects are naturally the fights and I still liked the fight with the chain user. I was also glad to actually see the demon a little more in this version. It felt like we got to see more of his design. The soundtrack is fairly standard but one theme that stood out was a rock theme for when Asta’s fight began. That one was definitely hitting the right notes.

Beyond that this is basically episode 1 as you would expect. We get to see why Asta drives himself so hard. The deck has really been stacked against him. Not having magic in this world is like having an incredible curse be put on your shoulders. You can only do so much without it and you have to give Asta a lot of credit for fighting despite all of this. He doesn’t let the other kids and characters get him down. Then you have Yuno who is a fun rival. He definitely rides Asta quite a lot with all the insults and such, but deep down he still respects their rivalry. He was also willing to defend Asta at the end which is more than most rivals will do. I really like the dynamic between Asta and Yuno. It’s definitely one of the most wholesome main character to rival dynamics out there.

It was a good idea for the series to give us a brief glimpse of the fight that wouldn’t show up for a little while. It helps to spice things up and throwing in an extra action scene is always a good idea in my book. It helps give you something to look forward to instead of just watching the origin story. By starting and ending that way it shows you that big things are coming up and that’s an understatement.

Overall, The Black Clover OVA is a lot of fun. I’d definitely recommend checking it out and then you should watch the full fledged series. It’s only around 30 minutes so it’s not like it’ll take you all that long either. Ideally you should watch the main series first and then go back to this one for some nostalgia. If you don’t really have time to be watching a full anime now though then watching this one works well enough. It definitely holds up well as a mini movie of sorts and you can at least tell people that you’ve seen Black Clover. It’s definitely a lot of fun and currently the best Shounen Jump series going. You really don’t want to miss out on this.

Overall 7/10

Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution Review


It’s time to look at the remake to the original Pokemon movie. It’s always interesting to see a remake made to a movie in this day and age because there are now so many ways to go back and access the original right? The main incentive of remaking a film otherwise is to utilize modern effects and such that you didn’t have back in the day. That’s why it is especially puzzling to have a new film made that is technologically worse than the original. The original movie looks way better. So if anything maybe this could be a more family friendly version and I can roll with that logic. Due to the animation style it is something that would be easier for kids.

So the plot of the movie is that some scientists decided to try and create the strongest Pokemon of all time. His name is Mewtwo. I don’t really know why they wanted to make him aside from just proving that they could. Well, they succeeded and so Mewtwo blows up the island and works for Giovanni for a while. Eventually he has enough of that and decides to invite the strongest trainers in the world so try and test their mettle against him. Ash is naturally selected as one of the challengers so he heads on over to fight Mewtwo. Can Ash defeat this Pokemon or is this one fight that he is destined to lose?

Mewtwo is extremely overpowered in the film and it’s really nice to see. The film makes it evident that as a legendary Pokemon he is far above the rest and the same is true of Mew. This is how it should be. A Legendary Pokemon should be leagues above a normal one to the point where there isn’t even a contest. That’s just how it really should be. Later on the franchise would add weaker Legendaries, but at this point in time they lived up to the legends. Mewtwo also makes for a great villain. He’s got some fun goals and he has absolute confidence which you want to see in any villain.

The film continues to excel in all of the positives that the original had as well. The character cast is pretty strong and we get some solid action scenes as well. Right from the start in Ash’s first scene we are treated to a Pokemon battle. It’s always great to see those because a full Pokemon fight is pretty rare. Pikachu, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur all get to shine in the spotlight. Ash’s Charizard also looks really good whenever he shows up. He’s eager to battle and doesn’t shy away from a fight even when he is outmatched. It’s a big reason as to why he became a fan favorite Pokemon and he has definitely earned that title. Nobody is going to mess with him.

The soundtrack is a lot of fun. While I feel like it doesn’t have quite the same pop as the original version in some respects it could just be because I’ve heard that one so many times. It’s still quite solid here and I like the theme that plays during Ash’s fight. It’s very lively and a good way to kick things off. We also get an emotional theme near the end although I feel like they switched the song from the original.

I think this film really shows that if you copy a great movie then the remake is guaranteed to be great as well so long as the writing stays the same. The animation here is way worse than the original. To put it one way, it’s one of the worst CGI examples I’ve seen for a recent big media product. The Machinima Transformer shows look better than this one. Part of the problem is that the characters are drawn to look like action figures from a fan animation 10 years ago. For a fan animation I’d say that this looked exceptional but for a AAA CGI film from Netflix it is incredibly underwhelming. The only part of the animation that looks really good are the colors. I do like how the attacks really pop out at you and Mewtwo’s armor stands out as well. CGI tends to do colors really well which is why even hand drawn anime like Super typically use CGI for the aura that surrounds the characters. CG pops and blending it with 2D animation can work quite well., When you go full CGI though then it can get a little risky.

Ash is a great main character as always. This was back when he was at his best. I like seeing Ash jump into danger and have actual plans for the fights. While Charizard didn’t win, Ash had a good plan for him. I also like that he tried to punch out Mewtwo. The plan was doomed from the start but it shows Ash as basically working with his Pokemon instead of just sending them out there to do all the work.

Brock and Misty are still some of the weakest counterparts to Ash although I know they tend to be pretty well liked. Brock flirts way too much and is more annoying than entertaining. He never really has any good scenes. Meanwhile Misty is okay but I feel like she doesn’t have much personality here. She isn’t given a great deal to do in the movie. I’d argue that some of the random trainers who fought Mewtwo had more character as they stepped in and did their best in the fights. They lost of course but anyone would against Mewtwo.

I’m a big Pikachu fan but I do think he didn’t play the matchup right here. While he didn’t want to fight the fake, he still should have defended himself. If he could have escaped and aided one of the others then they could have turned the whole fight around. As it was most of the fights were total stalemates. I do consider that to be a cop out but it’s fine since the main matches had outcomes for the most part. Mewtwo vs Mew was also a stalemate although I still hold that Mewtwo would have won if they kept on going. Mew can dodge really well but you can’t win a fight by escaping. Soon Mewtwo’s hits would eventually land.

One scene that I always find a lot of fun is seeing the trainers try to cross the ocean during the storm. Seeing the Pokemon aid in real life trials like that is just cool. It shows the bond between the trainer and Pokemon as well as how strong the creatures are in a natural disaster. For sure you’d like to have a Dragonite or Gyarados for a situation like that. No mere storm would stop them. Ash and friends don’t have any big heavyweights like that but they ultimately pulled through with a little help.

Overall, Pokemon Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution is pretty faithful to the original. If you really don’t like watching things past a certain time period then it is certainly fine to watch this version instead. You’ll still be able to get most of the experience from the original. It really is basically the same film if you don’t mind the animation. The main problem for me is that there is really no reason to watch this one instead of the original. The original is simply better as there is no aspect of this film that defeats the original. Even minor things like the shading and atmosphere of the original are a lot more intense than the remake. I’ll give this film props for the attempt though. If you’re going to remake a film then it’s always ideal to remake a good one rather than something average or sub par.

Overall 8/10