The Law of Ueki Review


The Law of Ueki is a manga that was a lot of fun back in the day. It tends to be overlooked when talking about some of the top action titles but it can certainly hold its own. The series had a lot of fun characters and engaging fights. It’s no surprise that the anime really handles this quite well too. You can really divide the anime into two sagas even though it’s all the same tournament. Pre Celestials and Post. Either way you should have a blast with both versions and with a satisfying conclusion you can put this away as a very complete anime.

Law of Ueki opens up with a premise about a big tournament about to be held by the Celestial King. The winner of this tournament will receive the Talent of *Blank* meaning that you can write down whatever is there. Naturally that’s a very enticing prize for most. Each Celestial is able to choose one human to represent them in the tournament as this is a battle through proxy as the celestials would be too overpowered. You are allowed to give your candidate one power that you currently possess.

The candidates then have to seek each other out and defeat their opponents. Each time you defeat an opponent you also gain a personal skill like the talent to dance or things like that. Defeat them all and you will presumably win the tournament. Injuring non ability users is a strict no no though as you will lose a talent for each person you injure. Lose them all and you will cease to exist.

That brings us to the main celestial Mr. K who is thinking about having Ueki be his candidate. Mr. K is determined to see if the boy has an air of righteousness about him though and gives a lot of tests. Ueki completes each one as the guy is just a nice kid by default so Mr. K selects him. Ueki makes the rather interesting decision to take the power of turning trash into trees. Will he really be able to win this tournament with such an ability? His best friend Mori isn’t so sure so she decides to tail him everywhere to keep him safe.

Mori’s definitely a great friend to have. She really has nothing to do with this battle and prior to the series it’s hard to say if they really were true best friends. Still, she knew he was in danger so she jumped in to help which is definitely a heroic thing to do. Throughout the series she always has his back. She may not be the biggest fighter but she does participate in the tournament and does well when needed. Mori is quite determined and doesn’t go down easy. I would go as far as to say she is one of the better Shonen heroines.

The opening episodes of the show are mostly about introducing us to Ueki’s opponents, future rivals, and how the fights will go down. Ueki will typically end up going against a power user not because he really wants to win but because he realizes that it will be a bad thing if these guys get the talent of blank. Let’s just say that they don’t exactly have an air of righteousness about them after all so they would definitely end up leading the world into ruin. Sometimes their wishes aren’t super crazy evil but they’re always very selfish.

Ueki shows these guys what’s up by taking them out and he also gets more familiar with his ability. He doesn’t mind using it on humans when he sees anyone acting with evil intentions though. Due to this Ueki quickly starts losing a whole lot of talents. It’s a good thing Mori is here or he would probably go down to 0. Still, aside from one episode about track and field where he wasted talents for no real reason, each of the other times it felt necessary for him to use his ability or people would really get hurt.

The power to change trash into trees is a unique one so I give the series credit there. In general I thought the author was very creative with the abilities. Being able to turn towels into iron is another unique one for example or being able to put a portrait of someone’s face to simulate their voice. They aren’t abilities I’ve seen anywhere else or that I expect I’ll see in the future.

Ueki’s power system is also pretty well thought out. Each ability has a limiting condition that must be applied in order for it to work and also to negate it. That means there is a lot of strategy here instead of going for the I win button each time. Every character has to watch their actions closely which makes for a lot of nice back and forth battles.

Then the second half of the series I’d say is when the Robert’s 10 shows up although you could also make the case it should be when the tournament’s next round starts so they all go to the Celestial World. If we go with the latter, a big change is this is now a team tournament to Ueki teams up with Ai, Sano, Rinko, and Hideyoshi to form their 5 man team. Additionally, Ueki starts to learn some new abilities thanks to being a celestial and the concept of a grade 2 weapon is introduced as well.

Ueki getting some twists and a power up was pretty good because it does explain why he survives some absolutely brutal attacks throughout the course of the show. They are moves you wouldn’t expect a normal human to walk away from but taking a beating in anime isn’t exactly a new concept. So even without the twist I don’t think it would be a big deal but it is part of what makes this knowledge effective.

The major change here though are Ueki’s new abilities. Now that he has celestial weapons, super speed, and a bunch of ranged weapons, the whole tree power grows less and less helpful. It makes sense because such an ability had huge limitations from the start but you do feel to an extent like it changes all battles going forward. Now instead of strategy it was more about spamming your celestial weapons so for better or worse it completely changes how all of the fights go.

Personally I was a fan of it though. No matter how you slice it, it would have been a little cheesy for Ueki to have caught up to the others without some kind of big boost. Most of the other characters still have to rely on their natural talent so for their battles you still have the strategy. Ueki also does his best to mix and match weapons so it’s still unique.

Ueki’s just a pretty great character. At times they definitely use him to parody some of the usual moments. One such scene is when a guy he barely knew gets super injured so Ueki goes into a rage mode to fight Robert. The next episode Ueki doesn’t even remember who the guy was though which is super random but he did barely know the guy so maybe it actually makes sense. Ueki’s all about winning the right way and saving everyone he can. He’s a classic main character who always stays very heroic.

You could say the main rival of the series is Sano although Li-Ho could make a case for that as well. Sano’s another heroic guy and his ability of turning towels into iron may not sound impressive but he makes it work. Sano is a master strategist so coming up with plans on the fly like that is really what makes him stand out. He ended up easily being my favorite character in the series due to how impressive he was.

Sano makes up for his lack of pure strength with plans and this is something that comes in handy right through the final episode as well. Whenever you need a hand, Sano is your man. Rinko is another one of the main allies and while she is also a strategist, her methods differ greatly from Sano’s. She prefers to think everything through before making a move while Sano acts as he goes to test out his theories and troubleshoot. While neither approach is objectively better I would go with Sano’s in a fight.

Both of them have issues thanks to this during their team fight and in that case I thought Sano was right since you can’t just hide. Rinko’s power is to turn beads into bombs which is handy but since it’s not the most mobile technique the opponents tend to use that against her. She gets a glove near the end of the series that amps up her powers to a great degree but it’s so late in the game that she doesn’t get to use it a whole lot. She’s a fun character though.

Finally you have Hideyoshi who was added so late in the game that I don’t really think there was a reason for him to be included. He doesn’t really add anything to the dynamic that wasn’t already there and he can’t fight for beans. I won’t take any shots at the guy because he’s okay, but he just didn’t feel necessary is what I’m trying to say here. His power needs a lot of work.

Mr. K gets a fairly big role of course but I admit that he tended to be more annoying than anything. I liked him when he was alive. Despite his tough talk he did come to help Ueki when it counted. Where he got more annoying was once he was dead. The guy went out of his way to try and not hear about how Ueki was doing. It’s all just an act of course but he goes to such extremes that he just ends up being unlikable. So…yeah I wasn’t a fan by the end.

Tenko’s a much better ally for Ueki. He’s willing to make a lot of sacrifices to help him out and isn’t ashamed to be helping him. Now that’s a true ally. Then you have Yodogawa who is not the most loyal guy around to say the least but he gets a lot of fun scenes. There’s a certain track from the OST that plays for all of his scenes and it’s really great. So this guy worked rather well as a comedy character.

Now lets check out some of the villains. First off is the main villain Hanon. I guess I should say final villain as opposed to main since he doesn’t appear for quite a while. The guy is very powerful and really sets his own plans. I like that he’s not just someone who simply follows orders. He also likes a good fight and even entertains Li-Ho on this for a while. That said, he did try going after a random dog so it was lucky that Ueki was there. It could have gotten very dicey. I like his combat energy but going after a dog is just plain petty.

The other big villain is Robert and he really serves as the first huge obstacle in Ueki’s way. His bubbles ability is actually a lot cooler than it sounds with how it can raise and drop objects. Once he takes out the celestial weapons don’t expect that you’ll see a lot of this again though. He served as a good benchmark for how you could measure the rest of the characters. Robert is quite twisted to be sure and the show executes this well. He’s quite the intimidating villain.

Li Ho isn’t really a villain per say but he is a powerful obstacle in Ueki’s way. Part of this guy’s hype is he is so strong in martial arts that he doesn’t even use his super power. The show really milks this since the whole time you are waiting for him to use his abilities. The guy is very determined not to do so which means you can certainly appreciate his resolve even if you feel like he should put his pride aside to just win the fight. His battles against Ueki and Hanon are most excellent and he is definitely one of the best characters in the show.

Onimon is one of the earlier opponents but worth noting as he’s a fun character. He’s really powerful with his whole cannonballs attack and he has a good honor code in place. He’s definitely determined not to win his fights with cheap shots or anything like that and I always like characters like that. Winning isn’t enough, you have to win the right way.

I should also mention the King. He doesn’t get to do a whole lot but as the Celestial King his abilities are absolutely top caliber. There are very few opponents who can take him on. You feel like he probably should have acted a bit sooner though as his plan was very shaky and full of holes from the start. If he had a better plan or thought things through a little more then things would have been very different here. He’s a charismatic guy but there’s no excuse for not acting so I’d give him a thumbs down.

Each of the Robert’s 10 gets a role of course but lets talk about some of the biggest members. First has to be Don as the guy had a big grudge against Ueki from the start. His power to turn rings into rockets was also very impressive. His raw power was absolutely insane and he’s a good example of someone who just isn’t very compatible with the trees ability. Ueki needed something more to take that guy down.

Then you have Marco with his lava ability. Honestly if not for being with Rinko and then trapping Ueki in a tough spot, he would have gone down quick. The guy is good at playing dirty though so he’s pretty memorable. Then you have Taro who is the strongest member of the group. With his lasers and saws it’s tough to take him down. Of course that’s against the rules but it’s not like the Celestial King is paying any attention right? People break the rules constantly in this tournament. Taro was a solid villain though.

Kabara is another tough member. While the guy got humiliated in the end, he did look good in his fight with Mori. A fight that was quite original I might add and really stood out. Then you have Carpaccio who is more like a street gang guy but a very tough one to be sure. His ability to copy powers was already tricky to deal with and then when you combine it with all of his other abilities the guy was a true menace. Definitely not someone who could be taken down easily.

Margarette is a villain who doesn’t appear until near the end of the series but he was also impressive. His grand master plan is certainly ambitious and even end of series Ueki would have a tough time with him. (Ueki would probably still win though) This guy was fun and I wouldn’t have minded seeing him appear a little more just so we could learn more about the guy.

Team Marilyn was certainly one of the most impressive teams in the tournament. Mainly due to their leader, Marilyn herself. Her super speed ability is so broken that even by the end of the fight there was no way for Ueki to beat her. It’s why you have to wonder where she was during the climax as she could have actually given Hanon a good fight. The celestial weapons are all too slow to hit her after all so maybe she could have even won.

Her fight against Ueki is probably the best battle in the series as well. It’s just really good and it fits in well with the rest of the fights because the team battle was also the best in the series. Each member was very dangerous so everyone on Ueki’s team had their work cut out for them. It also helps that nobody on Marilyn’s team was even evil so at times you aren’t sure who to root for. You can just enjoy a battle between two elite teams.

In comparison, Team Barrow at the end isn’t quite as impressive. Sure, maybe they could beat Team Marilyn but I think it would be close and not a guarantee. They have no single member stronger than Marilyn, however as a whole their members are way stronger than her teammates so it does even out. Barrow’s members are all solid. They have Celestial weapons that have different gimmicks so each one has to be handled in a different way. Underestimate them at your own peril.

Law of Ueki has a lot of great humor which is worth noting. The characters lend themselves well to the humor such as Yodogawa being foiled in his plans or Ueki trolling his music friend. Mori’s antics as she tries to use her powers can be a great bit of fun as well. The show also subverts your expectations at times like when one character is gearing up to use some kind of super ultimate attack only to be foiled in the end before he can even do it. Scenes like that really land.

The show has a solid balance of being serious, funny, emotional, and dramatic. To an extent this is true for any good show of course. I’d say where this show really hit the next level and got big was the Robert’s 10 arc. Now I think Ueki took a huge risk that he didn’t need to in trying to join but he was definitely determined. The challenge where he had to lift a block up for several days without moving was crazy. Especially with the characters beating him up and jumping on the rock during the process.

That has to be one of the most intense scenes in the whole show. I’m sure Ueki was definitely ready to take them out after all of that. Even while being undercover Ueki made sure that nobody was going to push him around which I appreciated as well. He matched them blow for blow. That’s also the arc where we started getting a lyrical song before the episode would end which was a great way to end the fights.

The theme song just sounds really epic and it’s part of why you should always choose an opening with that in mind. A similar scene is when Ueki shows up near the end of the series with another inspirational track. The show puts the heroes in some really tight corners so when they get out it definitely feels pretty hype.

The animation is definitely very nice here. The battle scenes are on point and there are a lot of nice effects. Each attack looks good and the hand to hand battles have a lot of smooth transitions. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. I wouldn’t say most of the tunes seem to stand their ground when listened to on Youtube but when you mix them into the scenes with context I thought they were quite impressive. Both of the openings are also really good. The first one in particular stands out and really works well when the heroes have a big moment to end the episode.

Overall, The Law of Ueki is a great anime. It’s a show built around a tournament which is always a lot of fun and they are able to develop each character really well. The 50+ episodes all flow by really quickly. Before you know it they’re gone and that’s always the hallmark of a solid title. I can easily recommend this to anyone who likes a good action anime. It’s written well and every aspect of the show holds up well. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a Plus anime someday to see the characters return.

Overall 8/10

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Review


Marvel is keeping it going with a second live action show connected to the movies. Following up on WandaVision this one is more of a down to Earth story with two characters still trying to move on after Cap seemingly died or at the very least is super old right now. Personally I’m in the “he’s dead” camp myself but you never know when he might pop out to mess with everyone. This one’s a good show and I would put it above the WandaVision show. As it all takes place in the modern day you can expect a lot of setup for future events.

The show starts with showing us where the two characters are at. Falcon is in a rough spot financially since being an Avenger and a top ranking government agent doesn’t pay very well. (I still have major issues believing this by the way. There’s absolutely no way the government could let this happen. Even without Tony there should be some way he should have a lot of money right now since being a free lance government worker pays really well and with the Avengers press and such that should add up.) He and his sister may even have to sell their boat which is causing a lot of tension between them. Surely Falcon can find a way to get past this but it’s going to be difficult.

Meanwhile the Winter Soldier is trying to deal with his guilt of murdering so many people back when he was a Hydra agent. He is going to mandatory counseling to deal with this and has been working as a vigilante to try and commit a lot of good deeds to overwhelm the negative ones. It hasn’t stopped his nightmares though and he needs something big to take his mind off of things.

Well, they’re in luck. A terrorist organization known as the Flag Smashers have popped up. They go around burning buildings and destroying property to realize their goal of “One People One World” Effectively, they are saying that the world was better during the 5 years when everyone was blinked out of existence and they want everyone to go back to that time. They are led by Karli, a super soldier who is willing to do whatever it takes to get this mission accomplished. Sam and Bucky are going to need to unite forces to stop her.

Right off the bat it was nice to see some pseudo Avengers action here. One of the highlight battles was definitely when they engage the Flagsmashers on the train and get some assistance from the new Captain America, John Walker and his partner. With 4 on 4 effectively you figure the heroes would win but they still get rolled up like a burrito. It just goes to show that they are still lacking that power hitter to win the day but it was a well balanced fight that went back and forth.

All of the battle scenes here are on point. There’s a lot of good choreography throughout. That said, Falcon and John feel incredibly outmatched here since they are normal humans dealing with super soldiers. They should be getting rolled every time they try to fight because the gap is just too huge at this point. Especially as in later films we’ve seen more of what the super soldier serum could really do for Cap. It’s not a level of power that you can easily match.

The show only lasts for 6 episodes but it gets to accomplish a whole lot within that time such as plot setups for the future and different developments that will be relevant to the films coming up. One character who was fleshed out really well here was John. I rather liked the guy and thought that Sam and Bucky were way too harsh on the guy. He really was just trying to help initially but all they had to offer him were insults and a bad attitude. You can see where his character arc is going from there from the start though.

It’s a classic Ironwood kind of path although handled with a lot more subtlety. By the end you can’t even say John is fully evil or anything. The fact that his emotions run away with him is incredibly dangerous though so he’s likely going to end up more like Punisher than the actual Captain America. Still, I look forward to seeing more of him. He’s a versatile fighter who was usually fighting against bad odds and still did well.

His 2 on 1 fight against the other heroes was impressive, so impressive that you could make the case he would have beaten either one of them 1 on 1. That would scale him to possibly being even a little stronger than Steve who was initially getting overpowered by Bucky at times although I suppose since then he had surpassed him. John does have a whole lot of combat experience though so it makes sense. To him the whole thing must feel unfair as two vigilantes are trying to take away the shield he got from the government. Mix that in with the other events from that day and he had a really rough time of it.

On the government crowd we also have Sharon who finally gets to appear in the universe again after being gone for a long while. She’s a fun character and definitely doesn’t seem to have an issue with murdering her opponents though. She has managed to survive for a long while on her own which has definitely had an effect on how she sees things. Sharon will be an interesting character to keep an eye on.

Zemo also gets a big role here. Yes, I do think the heroes busting him free as part of the plan was an extremely risky plan that could have easily backfired. I disagreed with it from the start mainly because of how many innocent people would and probably die die during the escape. It’s glossed over but they had to free a ton of prisoners to keep the guards busy and we see a lot of guards getting knocked out during the chaos. Considering that all of these villains were incredibly dangerous like Zemo, I doubt they would be taking prisoners.

So the benefits didn’t outweigh the dangers there. At that point you could easily be rooting against the heroes for the rest of the show and I wouldn’t blame you. It was pretty shocking how dubious a decision that was. Zemo’s a fun guy though. He’s certainly as villainous as ever but he does agree that the Flagsmashers are a big concern since the guy really doesn’t like the super soldier serum. He’ll be an ally at least for a little while but he’s not someone you can turn your back on.

Joaquin is Falcon’s main army contact and the guy does pretty well for himself. He certainly isn’t someone who is ready to fight with a bunch of super soldiers but he does well when needed and finds out a lot of info. Then there’s Falcon’s sister who is fun enough. She helps to keep him grounded and is doing what she can to stay afloat.

Now let’s look at the two main characters and the main villain. Falcon leads the title card so as you can imagine he is effectively the main character here. A big part of the story is his character development from giving away the shield to ultimately deciding to take on the mantle. You’ve probably seen certain shots from the final episode between the film announcement and the big deal it got but he will certainly be entering a new status quo going forward.

I would like for Falcon to get a super soldier serum of his own just because I don’t think it’s possible to compete for long without powers but maybe that is coming up. He’s a good character here and there’s a lot of nice banter with Bucky. Falcon does fumble the ball towards the end though with his speech about how Karli wasn’t a terrorist. You can understand the idea behind this and not rushing to conclusions, but he shouldn’t have used her as an example.

Let’s face facts here, she blew up several buildings that still had innocents inside, she was going to blow up a bus of government officials to send a message and she was just getting started. She was getting more and more extreme throughout the show so calling her a terrorist is fair. His main comeback seemed to be that she had a good message but your intentions and goals don’t matter when you cross a certain line.

After all, there are tons of villains who had goals that people may even agree with but the methods are what nullify them. The universe is over populated so you may agree with Thanos on reducing it, just not by destroying people. Adam Taurus fought to help give the Faunus equal rights which everyone agreed with but he wanted to do that by murdering people so it voided the cause. It’s the same thing with Karli. Maybe they can think of a way to make the world better but it doesn’t change the fact that she and her Flagsmashers were absolutely 100% terrorists.

So I think Falcon got caught up in his feelings a bit there with a character who had just threatened to murder his sister an episode ago but otherwise he was a fun lead. It’ll be good to see how he handles the mantle in the next season. Meanwhile Bucky is definitely the more down to Earth guy in the group. I would say it seems like he was nerfed quite a bit to make sure he wouldn’t just outshine the rest of the cast though. Based on how well he fought Captain America he should absolutely be dominating these Flagsmashers. Unless it’s 4 to 1 or something he just has way better combat experience and his arm is on point. There’s a 1 on 1 fight where it’s fairly even near the end and I feel like Bucky should waste the guy.

On a personality level though Bucky is finally getting past his old feelings of guilt so I think we’ll see a more confident version of him if we get a season 2. It’s no secret that I’ve never been a Bucky fan in just about any incarnation but he’s not bad here. At least I’m glad we don’t have to deal with the mind control and such anymore. Now he works pretty well as an anti-hero and the banter with him and Falcon is always a positive. His super rushed romance that doesn’t go anywhere could have been skipped though.

Finally we have Karli. In case you couldn’t guess, I was not a big fan of hers. In part it’s because I don’t exactly see her group having any tangible ways to make the world a better place. Okay, she’s upset that half the world came back and destroyed the world unity that people had. Since she can’t destroy half of the population to bring things back to normal (Although I wonder if that was the plan pre-Covid. If it was, then that changes everything) how does she propose the world make this situation work? She doesn’t offer any solutions throughout the whole show.

Presumably she tried peaceful options earlier based on her dialogue but we never even learn what her proposal is. She always goes right to burning buildings and beating people up so there isn’t even any kind of agenda that you can get behind. Ultimately that’s why I can’t get behind Karli because her group didn’t seem to even have a tangible goal.

There’s also a guest star that shows up here but I won’t go into that here as it’s probably the first guest star from one of these shows that I didn’t even know was in it. So that was a nice surprise and her role is pretty good. She gets to show off her skills rather quickly. Including cameos and guest appearances like this also helps to cement this as something really in the universe which is always nice to see.

As always Marvel delivers with a lot of impressive effects here. The show does really feel like you’re watching an extended movie which is always impressive. TV Shows have certainly come a very long way from how they used to be. It probably helps that this is a mini series. I also like how the events seem really important to the movies. With a show like Agents of Shield no matter how many times they may say it was canon or the show would have references, you suspected that nothing big would ever happen because the execs would worry that people wouldn’t watch it. Sure enough, Shield is basically not cannon to the extent that nothing there mattered if you just watch the movies. While the movies could somehow back out of the events for WandaVision and this show, I find that to be 99% unlikely. There just seems like no way it would be possible. The events here are massive which is nice to see.

Overall, Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a pretty good show. We have a solid cast of characters and a lot of interesting plots going on. I do think the two heroes did really overstep their boundaries as heroes and acted like vigilantes quite a bit. Not a problem as I rather enjoy vigilantes but it’s never really portrayed that way which is odd. You’d think they would be full fugitives by the end of the film no matter what results they got. I particularly enjoyed John Walker’s character arc as he tried to use the mantle well and be the best hero he could be. Whenever I see him swinging Cap’s shield around I do wonder how people don’t straight up get murdered though. Never forget that the shield is made up of Vibranium. You feel like a single shot would utterly shatter someone. I think this show has a better chance of getting a season 2 compared to WandaVision but at the same time the odds are still small since this will probably continue on into the movies. If you haven’t seen this show yet then I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

WIXOSS Diva (A) Live Review


Wixoss has returned although this time we’ve got a completely new cast, rule set and a world that’s so different this may as well be a hard reboot. Whenever a series decides to sort of go back to the drawing board it can be fun to see the new characters even if you end up missing the old ones. Aside from Pokemon, virtually every long running merchandise show has done this like Yugioh, Beyblade, Digimon, Cardfight, Buddyfight, etc. It’s just the way it goes so maybe this is a good sign that Wixoss still has a big future ahead of it. It’s a fun season that is going for more of a slice of life feel than the previous ones. Don’t expect the fate of the world to be in the balance but you can expect a lot of action.

The story picks up by explaining that the game of Wixoss has gotten incredibly big over the years. The top team was known as the Eternal Girls but they faded away into retirement very suddenly. Now the best team in the world is known as Deus Ex Machina and all of the idols strive to match that team. See, the battles are now 3 on 3 and those who fight in the arena as known as Divas. You are expected not only to win but also to put on a good show while you do it. You have to sing, dance, and show the world that you have skills as an idol as well as a player.

Hirana is a girl who really wants to compete with the best of the best but her two partners aren’t really into the game and so they aren’t the most powerful members of the group. Hirana heads to a show to watch some real opponents when she is baited into a fight. Fortunately, the cold hearted Rei happened to be around and Hirana’s good friend Akino who doesn’t like being in the spotlight. This team ends up coming together and winning so they decide to stick through with it.

It won’t be as easy as all of that though because each of these characters bring some baggage along with them. Rei has broken many teams apart because of how cold she appears to be. She wants to win at all costs and doesn’t accept anything less than 100% in every battle. If her teammates don’t live up to this then she leaves. Hirana is sure that Rei is still a good person but the rumors are flying around everywhere.

I will say though that Rei never appears to be nearly as cold as her reputation. Really if you take any scene she is in, you could make the case someone like Sailor Mars or Jupiter may have been colder at times. Rei does have skill though and does seem to be the most talented member of the trio. She’s a fun character and is always willing to try and handle the drama on her own so the rest of the team can relax. She’s selfless and gets the job done.

Then you have Akino and as I mentioned, she does not like the spotlight. You feel bad for her because she did step in to defend Hirana’s honor and overcame her shyness temporarily. It was never expected to be a long running thing though. That was supposed to be one and down, yet Hirana and Rei continue to pressure her to enter again. Ultimately Akino is too nice to turn them down but she probably should have just stayed firm if that really wasn’t her thing.

Especially since you have to dance and sing as well and her auto costume isn’t exactly the most conservative one. You feel like the deck is stacked against her here. From the main 3 she would have to be my least favorite member. I don’t blame her for not wanting to have to go on stage because it isn’t for everyone but I think she should have been more resolute about this. Either you’re in or you’re out.

As for Hirana, she’s definitely a very solid main character. She’s a classic lead who’s all about wanting to win every battle. Her catch phrase is that there are no limits so you always have a chance to win if you put your mind to it. There’s not a whole lot to her beyond that level of determination but it’s enough to build a solid character around. That trait has always been a solid one after all so it would certainly work out in a character.

She is tested after getting wrecked in a lot of battles though. You do have to wonder how much virtual damage you experience in this game. It seems like the games can actually get rather painful which is a little odd but maybe it’s just because it happened so many times in a row. I was pretty skeptical about the climax there to say the least but if it was painful then I can see how it would be traumatic.

Either way Hirana did stay in there for a while though and battled many times so I wouldn’t hold that against her. Her abilities are definitely the real deal and she did well playing in the center position despite not having a whole lot of practice earlier. She also put a lot of time into studying which is important.

Of course they aren’t the only team here so lets look at some of the others. First there is the music team led by Nana. I would say next to Deus Ex Machine this is the best team. They are a well rounded bunch who always put up a good fight and Nana is one of the best supporting characters. She isn’t afraid to throw in some music puns and also has a lot of confidence. She doesn’t give up as easily as most of the other characters and she can duel really well. Her teammates don’t get to do as much but they’re around for support.

Then there is Dr. Tamago’s team. They are all about using data to calculate victory and such. Usually there’s always at least one team for that. They’re a good team but relying on data will always be a rather dangerous way to go about things. You can only learn so much about the heroes without improving the skills of your own group. Her teammates were Big Bang and Koeru. I’ll give Big Bang this, it’s cool that they had an actual A.I. as a sentient partner, it’s a nice twist even if she still doesn’t really get a role.

Next up is one of the more powerful teams and one of the only groups where all 3 members get a big role. This is Mujika’s team and the big deal is that her teammates were Rei’s old group. Mujika gets a lot of hype when she first appears because she’s effectively on the level of the pros. That means that the heroes can’t afford to underestimate her although in a 3 on 3 battle it seems like that’s not something that matters a whole lot anyway. She’s a reasonable fighter though and also helps to stop the drama with the others.

Then you have Madoka who is rather naïve and one of the weaker characters. I won’t go into detail about the falling out with Rei here since it’s a rather big plot point but it goes back to the whole issue where a character just takes someone’s word at face value without even trying to contact the actual person being discussed. It’s like if person C tells A, “Hey, B doesn’t want to be your friend anymore” and you just say “Wow!” Madoka needed to do a lot more ground work here to be honest so a lot of this is on her. She’s not a bad duelist as she actually put up a pretty decent fight against Rei but ultimately she couldn’t quite manage to claim victory there.

The third member is Sanga and she has to be the worst member of the trio. In fact, I would go as far as to say she was the worst character in the series. She’s one of those really petty characters who gets away with a whole lot without any real consequences. The worst part is that Sanga doesn’t regret anything aside from being caught. She doesn’t get as much as a stern talking to here so there was no going back for her. Characters can make mistakes, but her decisions were no accident.

Mikoto’s team are fairly big supporting characters although they aren’t nearly as skilled as a lot of the other teams. They put up a good fight in the opening episode but that’s about it. Mikoto’s all about winning at any cost even if it means breaking the rules and playing dirty. In her mind, whatever you got to do in order to win is what you have to do. Certainly a rather intense mentality on that and one that won’t get her far. She was pretty entertaining though and makes for a very fun villain.

Then you have the big team Deus Ex Machina. The main member naturally has the biggest role here and she’s a fun character. We get the classic plot of her meeting up with Hirana in the real world so they don’t recognize each other only to later fight in the cyber world. It’s definitely a bit of a shock to the lead especially since Deus and the others are much more aggressive on the playing field. The other two members don’t get quite as much to do but the time is rather limited for them.

I wouldn’t mind Deus Ex Machine getting more of a central role going forward. Their team is clearly pretty well focused and they’ve been through a lot to get this far. With their level of skill and ability there is no one on the whole planet (Aside from a possible return of the Eternal Girls) who can even challenge them. Effectively these girls have successfully become world champions which is no small feat. So it was fun to see them. If the virtual damage is really high then the leader may have been excessive when beating Hirana up but if it wasn’t then I think the whole thing was fairly normal despite being portrayed as rather intense. Keep in mind that Hirana has to formally accept each challenge in order for it to continue.

One side character who doesn’t do a lot here but contributes behind the scenes is Azami. She runs the card shop and if you’re any card show beyond Yugioh (Where Yugi’s Grandpa never helped) then you know that she can probably fight. We learn a lot about her and her character arc has a satisfying conclusion. I’ll admit that I was hoping she could have actually fought a bit but I guess that would have to be a season 2 kind of thing. You can probably guess at least part of her story as soon as she appears just because it’s that kind of series. Azami was fun so I’ll expect good things from her.

Pretty much the whole season here is about nonstop tournaments and battles so that was always fun. As soon as one battle ends the next one is usually right around the corner. I’m pretty sure there was a battle in each episode. Now granted, while I would effectively call this a true slice of life, the show tries adding some stakes at the very end. See there is an actual plan beyond just having Deus Ex Machina knock the stuffing out of everyone.

A lot of the Wixoss players are rather soft so just losing once is enough to get them to retire. The “villain” of the show figures that she will get all of the weak players to retire so the game of Wixoss can be pure once more. It’s just too over saturated right now. Here’s the problem….that’s actually not a bad plan. Think about it, there’s nothing evil, illegal, or even morally bankrupt here. She’s not going around insulting the players or bending the rules. Literally the plan is to have the best team welcome all challengers on TV and win within the rules. Their power is just so incredible that a lot of people realize they can’t match up and retire.

There’s nothing problematic here at all. In fact, if you’re going to completely quit a game because you lost once…then you weren’t going to stick around with it either. The villain here is just speeding up the process and it has another positive benefit of giving the Deus team some new challengers since they were clearly bored. The side characters with the right attitude like Nana were also thrilled to have a chance to fight the top team in the world.

So the plan wasn’t nearly as bad as the show would have you believe. For that reason I wouldn’t even consider the “villain” to be evil or even an antagonist. It’s just a nice marketing plan she has that some characters overreact to. I suppose it did give some drama to the final bouts though so that’s always fun. The battles with Deus Ex are undeniably the best part of the season and they stole the show.

In general the show’s just very entertaining so that’ll keep you invested throughout. The main characters have a good dynamic about them. The cast is also at a reasonable size so in the 12 episodes all of the captains get to do something. Their teammates may just be around at times instead of making a name for themselves but it’s all juggled rather well. The writing is on point as well.

The show does manage to squeeze in some fanservice of course so that’s a bit of a downer. It’s nothing too crazy but just the usual tropes of transformation scenes that get recycled in each episode and one beach episode. It’s nothing too crazy but it does all feel rather pointless like the show is going through the motions of adding this because it’s just expected at this point. Akina is the worst example of this since her whole point is that she’s timid and she doesn’t like people staring at her. Why wouldn’t she change her costume? Don’t tell me you can’t change your costume in a futuristic world that is centuries beyond Earth tech. I won’t buy that for a second, it would make 0 sense not to have such a feature. So every episode she has on the same costume is one where you’ll shake your head at that.

At least the animation is solid though. I wouldn’t say it looks quite as good as the original seasons of Wixoss which may be a slight shot since those are older at this point. I don’t know why a newer version wouldn’t look as good but maybe the budget was slashed for this season? It would explain the transition to more of a slice of life setting with less focus on the battles since you don’t need as many solid animation effects there. It also would explain the constant recycled animation in each episode as they transform into their Diva forms.

The soundtrack is really good as well. Part of what helps is that every team has their own signature song so the ost is quite varied. Nana’s team has the best team song but all of the tracks are pretty good. It’s got that classic techno vibe which is always fun to see. Nothing can beat the opening to Wixoss season 4, but the opening and endings here are solid as well.

Much like the earlier seasons this one doesn’t bother explaining the rules much. I still feel like this is a super convenient way for the writers to do whatever they want. You’ll have a character getting blackmailed into not attacking for 8 turns only to suddenly win on the 9th when they can fight back. The rules are so completely lopsided that nothing makes sense. Now that it’s 3 on 3 this only gets more and more noticeable as the characters on the side can level their cards up whenever they want and enter the battle.

The show never makes it clear what each role is or how the battles work. You may as well be watching a game of chance. It’s why I said earlier that the skill levels don’t seem to matter. Whether you’re a pro or it’s your first week of battling it just doesn’t seem to matter at all. That’s one thing the show really needs to work on. The rules need to at least be modestly explained for anyone to take the battles seriously. Otherwise you don’t even need to try and follow along since it doesn’t really matter towards who wins.

Overall, Wixoss Diva is a good follow up to the other series. It does feel like it’s taking the franchise in a very different direction. It’s not trying to be part thriller with showing us the horrors of being a magical girl. This one’s a very up beat slice of life about girls trying to be the top Diva fighters in the world. I expect we may start to ramp up the stakes in a season two but maybe they will actually play it straight. So long as you go into this knowing that it’s not going to be an action title you should have a good time. It’s a well balanced show and tournaments are all the plot you need in these shows. Just seeing the heroes enter battles and win as they rise up the ranks is fun. Now I just hope that if we get a sequel we get to see the Eternal Girls fight this time. Of course the best thing to do would be to bring back some of the older characters into real supporting or even main roles to hype up a crossover.

Overall 7/10

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Rimuru’s Glamorous Life as a Teacher Review


That title’s definitely a mouthful isn’t it? In theory I could have taken out the franchise title since you don’t always need to have that as part of the intro but in this case it did make sense. This one’s a 3 episode special about Rimuru’s days as a teacher. It’s a fun little adventure and works well in this universe where Rimuru already does get to have a lot of down time between battles. You can picture him hanging out at the school for a while to flex and show why he’s a better teacher than the rest. It’s a solid adventure that goes by in a flash.

The special starts with Rimuru slacking off at school as per usual when Jeff shows up. This teacher has always had something against Rimuru. Rimuru doesn’t know if it’s because he’s always slacking off or the guy is just jealous that he transformed the most problematic class into the most powerful one. Either way Jeff lets him know that a big protection test is coming up at the school and as always Rimuru’s class won’t be invited since they don’t have equipment. Rimuru quickly changes that so now his class can in fact enter. The rules are simple, the kids will drive a van/wagon past the mountain plains and into town where they will drop off the teacher unharmed. They will all then participate in a cave challenge fighting monsters.

To keep things fair, the students will be guarding different teachers. So for example Jeff’s students will be guarding Rimuru and his students will be guarding another teacher named Tiss. Your points are based on how quickly you make it to the castle along with how smooth a ride it was. Rimuru’s not particularly concerned since his kids are far more powerful than your average class. They each have spirit animals and basic offensive magic skills at the ready. Still, this trip may be more dangerous than they had expected.

The special does deliver on the action as the kids are inevitably attacked by bandits. They handle them rather well and then even have to fight off an actual demon. They don’t look quite as good in that battle but I don’t think anyone would have been quite prepared to handle this guy. Not only does he have regeneration but he is also very fast and powerful. Such a foe is completely outside the limits of a usual school test. Fortunately we had Diablo show up to clean things up by the end. The guy continues to prove why he is one of the best characters in the series which is why it’s almost a bit funny that he hasn’t technically appeared in the main show yet outside of a cliffhanger, a prequel episode, and now an extra episode.

You can tell he will definitely make a splash when he gets a proper role. There’s also a bit of an epilogue as Rimuru helps cure a fatal illness because he’s just that good. One thing you figure out very quickly while watching the slime adventures is that there isn’t much that Rimuru can’t do. Thanks to Great Sage he is a super genius and he has so many extra abilities that he is also a whiz at combat. This makes him pretty much untouchable to at least 90% of the cast which is no small feat. He’s a fun character and definitely looks good in these episodes.

Then you have the rival Jeff who is fun. I mean, you know he is completely and utterly out of his league in the fight but it doesn’t take away from his being a rather amusing character. It’s always fun seeing these characters give the lead a hard time, particularly when like here it isn’t overdone. He’s not trying to frame Rimuru or do anything drastic, he just throws out a lot of insults.

Then you have the third teacher Tiss. She’s a nice person but you feel like she should be a lot stronger than she is. My main issue is that she looked up to Shizu as a great role model and aspires to be as powerful as her. You would expect that she would have started training then right? Unfortunately she acts like she has never held a sword a day in her life. How does that work out? It just doesn’t make any sense no matter how you slice it. I’m hoping when she next appears she would have gotten a lot stronger.

Meanwhile the kids are good, they continue to defy expectations and actually appear as very solid characters. I would say the weakest of the group is Gale mainly because the guy barely seems to have any character next to the others. Kenya is a blast though and is always ready to charge the enemy. With his sword and design he looks like someone out of Dragon Quest. Then you have Chloe who is also always ready for battle. Her chosen weapon may not be the best one but she makes up for it in hidden talent. Then you have Alice who is quite possibly the most powerful of the kids. She is a little more on the timid side but definitely fights when it counts. Ryota is also a fairly quiet kid so you won’t see him make a name for himself, but he is there ready and willing to help at all times.

While the special is a fairly light hearted endeavor, the action scenes are pretty serious. Kenya actually sliced off one guy’s arm which was unexpected but of course the guy had a potion to regenerate it. I’m glad Kenya had been prepared for this though. The kids put up a brave stand against the demon as well which was nice to see and of course this led to Diablo stealing the show as always. It was a great climax and the perfect way to end the special. If you merge the three parts this works quite well as a mini movie. It’s got a complete plot and while Rimuru doesn’t get to do a whole lot in terms of fighting here, he’ll have plenty of chances in the main series anyway. This one really focuses on why he is known as such a great teacher. He may be rather hands off in his approach but his sheer genius makes up the difference.

The animation is on par with the main show. It’s a very solid display for the character designs and backdrops. I definitely have no complaints with how anything looked. The soundtrack is also taken from the show so this is good as well. It is able to really capture the feeling of just being another pair of episodes which is good. It’s a seamless transition. The pacing is on point so this will also keep your interest all the way through.

Overall, This was a fun trilogy of episodes. I wouldn’t say there is a ton more to discuss since it’s a rather straight forward plot. It’s a quick challenge to see which class is best and we all know that Rimuru’s absolutely destroyed the others no matter what Jeff says. Of course, they all have super powers and spirit boosters so it may not be super fair, but that’s neither here nor there. I’d be cool with Jeff returning in the main series for more of a rivalry with Rimuru from time to time. The kids also still want to visit Rimuru’s village so I assume that is probably going to happen soon. If you want a fun little adventure to see the old characters again this is definitely a good special to check out.

Overall 7/10

WandaVision Review


WandaVision is the first of the big Marvel TV shows to come out. One of the big hooks for these is unlike the previous shows such as Agents of Shield or the various Netflix properties, this one would be plucking some rather big characters straight out of the movies and into TV format. As a result you can expect more big events and for scenarios that actually impact future films. WandaVision definitely delivers on this as the events feel quite massive and you can bet that the films will feel an impact here. I did have some issues with the show’s pacing but lets dive in.

The show starts by introducing us to Wanda and Vision who appear to be living in a rather old era. It’s like something out of I Love Lucy or I Dream of Genie with the two getting involved in some wacky adventures. Each episode plunges us 10 years forward in time or at least with what the show is paying homage to but in real time it’s just the next day. Something doesn’t seem right though, why are the characters stuck in what appears to be an alternate world? Something just doesn’t seem right here.

Most of the show is about this mystery. The first 3 episodes keep this up and then in episode 4 is when we finally start to crack the puzzle. As a result it makes things rather interesting for a review since that is about a third of the way through the show. The actual plot twists are at the halfway point so would that be a spoiler? Since the hook of the show is figuring out what is happening I would say it is so I’ll try avoiding those plot threads for the most part.

So, the intro episodes for me are the weak links. The show isn’t quite as funny as it thinks it is with the various homages. It’s fun noticing what shows the series is going for but the issue is that it isn’t quite as good as any of those. The Office certainly made better use of the Mockumentary style, The Brady Bunch seemed to be more entertaining and likewise in each era. I think the issue is that the show was trying very hard to be as wacky and intense as possible to simulate these shows but as a result it doesn’t feel natural.

So I wasn’t big on the old time parts. The whole time I was always looking forward to the meanwhile plots as we see what everyone else is doing. Also, you can start to piece together what the plot is very quickly even if it takes the characters in universe a little extra time to pick up the pieces. The show is at its best when it is fully embracing the twists. The final two episodes are definitely the highlight of the show for that reason. It’s certainly nice to see the characters in a slice of life setting but it would have worked best in modern day.

I was satisfied with the various twists and explanation of what is going on though. It all makes sense and you can also see why it would be hard to intervene at this point since the Avengers aren’t in the best shape at this point in time. Iron Man’s not really in the picture, Cap’s gone, and Thor may be in space right now. You’d have to hope that someone like Ant Man is around and the odds of him even hearing about this event are slim to none.

For the characters, Vision is probably the worst one here. I really can’t cut him any slack. The guy moves as fast as molasses once he finds out more and more information so you can’t help but feel like he’s partially responsible for what is going on. The second he realized that something was wrong you would figure that he would quickly act or do something to help out. Instead he just drags the whole thing out as long as possible well past the point where you will lose patience with the guy. At the end of the day, his acting can help save lives so the longer he doesn’t do anything, the worse it gets. He had to be the most frustrating character in the show without question.

Meanwhile Wanda definitely has a lot to do here of course. Without going into details, you can see how her character has changed drastically even when you just see flashbacks in the show to her younger days. Her powers have gotten quite a lot of respect in the movies so we already knew that she was quite powerful. This whole show is really setting up that she will only get stronger from here. Power corrupts so this is rather dangerous and her actions in the show don’t exactly make her a beacon of hope.

All right, time for a quick pair of spoiler paragraphs. Skip these two if you haven’t seen the show yet but it’s time to dive into some of the bigger items here. All right, so it turns out that Scarlet Witch was holding everyone here against their will. She went from being a morally dubious character to a flat out villain and it’s not really something you might have guessed initially. The show did set her up as being suspicious as early as episode 2 to be honest but it’s all rather gradual. She seems rather insane and spiteful but you may write that off as just being fed up at the villains until it’s too late. I think she is going to make for a very interesting villain. Someone who isn’t quite pure evil yet but is quickly going there. Based on the end credits scene in the show I think she is going to be absolutely psychotic in short order. She does seem to be set off pretty easily and in a way this whole show could be considered as a super villain origin story.

In that sense you can see why the government wanted to wipe her out. Hayward and Monica represent two extremes in the army. Monica is insistent on treating Wanda like a victim who is only holding everyone hostage and threatening to murder her because she’s unstable at the moment. Hayward doesn’t want to try any negotiating and believes just shooting Wanda is the easiest way to do this. As a result both of them seem really unreasonable. I think you’re meant to be on Monica’s side as Hayward starts going so extreme that he even tries to shoot kids straight up. As a premise you do need to take Wanda down for sure, but there should be lots of ways without destroying her. Her durability is still that of a human’s if you can attack before her shield’s up. I do think peace is out of the question once she has hundreds of hostages the way that she does though. With her power said to be even stronger than the Sorcerer Supreme by the end, Strange may actually need some help in dealing with her. I can see why her powers are greater though, if you think about it, she essentially altered reality for an entire town and created new life forms complete with true super powers. That means she can conceivably do something similar like creating the original Avengers to fight Dr. Strange. There are so many exciting possibilities here and needless to say they all spell bad news for Agatha as well since she’s really at Wanda’s mercy right now.

Okay, spoilers are over now so back to our regularly scheduled program. We have some supporting characters from the old days like Darcy. She’s good at trying to crack the case although she does give the government a lot of grief whenever she helps. She definitely reminds them that she is doing this because she has to and not because she wants to. Monica also gets a fairly big role in the show and looks good. While I do think she needs to look at things in less of a “peace at all costs” approach, at least she is trying to reach out to Wanda. She probably just needed more of a plan though but we are setting up some fun things for her character in the future.

Inside of the dome we also have some supporting characters like Wanda’s kids. I’m not a big kids person but they could have been more annoying I suppose. At least they have powers which is pretty cool. That definitely separates them from the average kids at least since they can now defend themselves. You also have some neighbors like Agatha and I’m sure the instant that name is mentioned a lot of people will have various ideas on how that would play out.

Then the show has a really solid climax which was nice to see. We’re definitely at a point where shows can even look like movies now so I’m glad to see this show embracing that. No reason to shy away from big comic fights now. You can just get straight into the action and we get a prolonged battle from multiple sides which was fun. Things are definitely starting to get high tier by the end and magical battles are always fun. There’s just a whole lot you can do with that.

So WandaVision is a show where I’d say it really turned up once the action got going. Not necessarily fight scenes but once we got less of a focus on the old TV show motif and more into the actual plot. I admit that at times it felt like those scenes were straight up filler that were just holding the big plots up. The TV shows are a big focus of WandaVision so taking them out would effectively be changing the show but I think they could have had less scenes for it. Maybe it was just the execution that was off for me but that’s really the only thing that holds the show back from going further.

In a way the show was going for a low key horror vibe despite the classic show settings because you can see that something is off the whole time. So, if the show had committed to this more fully I think that could have been interesting. Grab a Stranger Things vibe or something with each question leading to more mysteries. You would need to retool the plot a bit but for example, Vision realizes he is in a world created by the Grand Master and none of it is real or he’s in a simulation. He confronts Wanda but even she isn’t real and he’s in Mephisto’s lair. Something like that would have been really scary but those are just alternate paths. I feel like the shows were sort of stuck in the middle so while you had that feeling of unease, it wasn’t quite enough to keep you compelled.

The writing is on point though so whenever the show is in the modern setting then it’s pretty interesting. I always like seeing a lot of government scenes so the moments with Hayward and the team were always fun. He may go all in but at least the guy did his best in commanding the troops. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many average humans you have though, it’s not going to do much at all against a true magic user.

Overall, WandaVision is a fun show. At only 9 episodes it is definitely over in a flash and can feel like an extended movie. It’s a fun thing about having the show format since you can cover a lot more ground than a film ever could. The first half of the show is a little slow and they didn’t have to do the dog like that by the end. Beyond that the second half turns up though. There are a bunch of twists and turns here so while you may understand the main plot and get most of the twists early on, ideally at least a few can throw you for a loop. I wasn’t expecting the after credits scene after all which was really solid. I can’t wait to see where that one goes since we should get more action out of it. I’d definitely recommend checking this title out and we’ll see how the rest of the shows fare coming up. Oh yeah there was also a song that shows up in the show which was pretty catchy.

Overall 6/10

Assassination Classroom Review


Time to look at Assassination Classroom, definitely a title that was a pretty big hit everywhere. This is one of those shows that definitely got a lot of attention while it was around. It had a pretty cool premise and a lot of potential although it ended up holding itself back. The first season makes for a pretty fun adventure. You’ll get to see the exploits of a supernatural teacher as he tries to get Class E into shape. Of course they’re all in Class E for a reason so this won’t be as easy as it seems.

The show starts by explaining that a mysterious being has blown up 755 of the world. He makes a deal with humanity. He won’t blow up the Earth yet but then he will get to teach a classroom of kids how to be great academics as well as assassins. They have 1 year in which to destroy Koro-sensei. If they are unable to complete this mission, then he will blow up the planet. As part of the deal, the government and other fighters can try to murder him as well so long as it doesn’t interfere with the classroom. Additionally, he is not allowed to harm any of the students so it’s a pretty generous deal right? At the same time, what can some kids do against an alien like Koro who moves at mach speed and travels the world on a whim?

From the human characters Nagisa is definitely the main one. He doesn’t have a whole lot of confidence in part because he has never found anything that he is really good at. He tries a lot of things but nothing ever turns out to be a perfect match for him. This class changes everything as he finds out he has a knack for being an assassin. Definitely not the career path he had initially thought of but it could be perfect for this role.

Part of the trouble though is the kids start to doubt if they want to destroy Koro. He seems like a really nice guy and at the end of the day all of his tips and tricks help make them better people. Kuro is always teaching the kids things they didn’t even know about themselves and they are all the stronger for it. Nagisa’s a good character. He could definitely use more confidence but he does get better as the season goes on. He’s got a very tangible character arc there.

The best character has to be Karma though. He’s essentially the opposite of Nagisa. This guy is incredibly confident but also a complete delinquent. He isn’t afraid to attack a teacher or get into fights with gang members. These are skills that help him a lot in this class but would definitely put him in a pickle for normal studies. It’s part of why he’s in Class E since technically his academic abilities are some of the best in the class. Karma can effectively do anything as a student but at the same time this does cause him to be overconfident. While all of the kids seem doomed against Koro since he can move faster than they can even think, at least Karma comes up with a lot of great plans to stop him.

He steals the show in the big story arcs as well like when he faces off against one of the pro assassins’ who can crush anyone with a single grab. Karma also does well against a group of thugs who attack his classmates and on some who tried bullying Nagisa. At the end of the day you can always count on him to defend his allies. Karma definitely didn’t have the easiest time growing up but he puts all of his energy into helping out his classmates in Class E so what else could you ask for from the guy?

Then we have the teacher himself. Well, Koro is definitely a very complex character. On one hand, he clearly has a whole lot of skill even aside from his super abilities. He’s got an analytical mind and is serious about being a teacher so he builds an individual curriculum for each of the kids. That being said, he doesn’t like to show this side of him to the point where he goes all out in making himself look as bad as possible.

Where Koro’s character really gets ruined is in how he is responsible for bringing quite a bit of the fanservice into the show. He is obsessed with reading certain magazines or falling for other characters’ wiles. He has enough ability to purposefully fall into a trap an still escape after all. It may all be an act but he has so much fun with it that it is impossible to find the guy likable. It would be nice if he was serious all the time but it happens so rarely that he even tends to get embarrassed afterwards. Koro’s good at teaching but he’s a bad character overall.

That is the show’s greatest weak point though. It does have a considerable amount of fanservice throughout the show. Mainly this shows up every time Irina appears or for some of Koro’s gags. Irina is the main culprit though. It’s unfortunate since she is a pro agent who actually has a good amount of skills but unfortunately she was trained in the art of seduction as well which the show likes to focus on. She isn’t afraid to mess with the students either if she thinks it will help her out which is definitely rather shameless. This is why she won’t be able to catch up to Karasuma.

Karasuma is an excellent character and definitely one of the standouts in the show. He can fight really well and definitely acts like a full commander. Without him the kids would be in a bit of a tricky spot but with him you feel like they have a chance…at least as much as Koro lets them have one anyway. Against any human you can expect Karasuma to take the win because of his high degree of skill. That said, Koro is a different beast entirely.

One thing that’s a little different here compared to most titles is that the goal appears to be impossible. In Naruto you can picture him becoming Hokage some day. He may be weak at the start but he knows Ninjutsu and has a Fox inside of him so he can pull it off. Same with Luffy becoming Pirate King as he has a Devil fruit and all. The kids destroying Koro? It’s hard to picture because they are just normal kids and he’s a being that can move faster than a fighter jet. I forget exactly what speed they said he is, mach 50 or something. What’s more important is what you see him do. Koro is so fast he is able to have 20 different conversations at the same time with various after images. He is able to play full sport games by himself on both teams. He can move with such crazy speed that the humans can’t possibly even hope to see him.

Because of that, there is no goal to achieve. The kids can study for thousands of years and never get fast enough to stop Koro without some kind of upgrades because they are pure humans. In that sense, this is probably one of the only series I can think of where the goal is actually 100% impossible. There is just nothing the heroes can do to stop him at least without changing the very formula of the series. Koro just lets them think they are close. He has a lot of weaknesses such as water, getting distracted, letting his guard down, etc. At the same time, you feel like aside from the water he makes up the rest of the weaknesses to help their self esteem.

What the heroes need are more supernatural creatures of their own. There is the mysterious Shiro who is an interesting figure because he actually made another tentacle type monster to fight wit Koro. Now this is the kind of guy you can see accomplishing his goals because this adds a layer of supernatural elements to the mix. Of course he’s a villain though so if he blows up Koro that might be dangerous. At the same time though….maybe the humans have a better chance against these guys so perhaps they should help assist?

It brings you back to their dilemma of wondering if they really want to murder Koro. At the very least they don’t want someone else doing it but that could just be denial. It’s an interesting predicament but I will say I’m on the side of not destroying him. Clearly Koro doesn’t seem like a bad guy here. The whole threat to destroy the Earth sounds intense but it’s hard to say if he’s really on the level or not. At the very least, you get the feeling that murdering him just doesn’t sound right. If he tries to destroy the world then you stop him at that point (Not that they can) but not before.

Back to the characters though, one of the students is named Kaede and you could say she is probably Nagisa’s best friend. She’s not very loud compared to the others but she is always willing to help out. She’s a very low key student who is always around though. Then you have Sugino who is good at sports. He tends to take things with a more light hearted attitude next to the other characters and does leave a good impression on you. It’s not likely that you will remember each student a whole lot but the show does try to give everyone at least one episode so they stand out.

For a more powerful student you have Itona who is the tentacle opponent I referenced earlier. He definitely has one of the more impressive entrances in the show as he just walks through a wall to challenge Koro. He also got some pretty intense music and was able to dodge Karma’s insult and then respond in kind. Itona isn’t really used to being around the other kids and acting normal since he focuses completely on battle. He makes for a fun antagonist though and it’s nice to have someone who can keep up with Koro.

Stepping away from the students for a minute, you have Gakuho, the principal of the school. Next to Karma he is the best character. This guy is incredibly impressive because of his intimidating presence and the fact that he is a principal who can fight. He’s not just going to be sitting around giving lectures. No, this is one of those guys who is absolutely ready to fight at any given moment as seen when he literally made someone eat paper and also when he caught a soccer ball at a speed that shattered windows.

He’s probably the only character in the series to not show even the slightest bit of fear against Koro. He’s probably the only person to actually get a clean win against the guy as well. This guy is definitely a scene stealer and I really like that confidence. He is definitely a villain no matter how you slice it though. We find out he created Class E purely as a way to make the other students have someone below them. It’s a diabolical scheme that improves grades through fear as nobody wants to go to Class E. He allows the other classes to pick on them and insult the kids as well in order to boost morale. It’s quite the vicious tactic and no matter how effective it may be, you can see how it’s not the right thing to do.

Then you have his son Gakusho who is also a lot of fun. While he may not have matched the level of his Dad yet, he does want to ultimately surpass him. Whenever he appears he is trying to find some way to close the gap between them although this is easier said than done. His abilities are still top tier though so he can keep up with any of the kids no problem. He has a good rivalry going with Karma as well. His introduction along with the rest of Class A was a really good way to amp up the stakes for the exam arc.

The show handles the exams in a fun way where it looks like the heroes enter a gladiator arena or an RPG to battle monsters. Each question is a monster with the most powerful ones appearing as boss creatures. This was just a good way to make each scene interesting. In general I thought the animation was quite solid here. The colors are very striking with everyone’s distinct hair colors being a good way to tell them apart. All of the character designs are different enough where you could even without the hair I suppose, but it helped ensure that each scene was always colorful. In fact, the animation is even a whole tier above Astra Lost in Space which came out by the same studio a few years later so it shows how much effort was put into this one. In particular aside from the eyes you have the striking eyes which really have a lot of intensity on any zoom in. I think there this show was able to show off the animation was in the impact shots where they put in a lot of shading and contrast effects. The animation was very impressive.

The action scenes are also on point when they happened as well. This may not be a full blown action scene but there were different mini arcs where you would get a fight and they always tended to look good. I also enjoyed the ost. The danger theme such as when Itona burst through the door is definitely the best track of the bunch. It has good range though so you should easily find a good track that you enjoy.

Back to the characters, Ritsu was another student who got a big role here. As an A.I. she is certainly a very different kind of student. Her debut episode was fun as she decided to mess with everyone to the point where they eventually decided to ban her entirely. Her arsenal of weapons is no joke. After her initial appearance she never quite gets a big role like that again but she is always around and tends to be more useful than some of the other students.

Then there is Terasaka who is the most annoying of the students and dare I say he may be the worst one? You can’t trust him for beans and strength is his whole thing but he would lose in a fight to Nagisa or Karma. His whole character just got nullified in an instant. I could brush that all aside if he wasn’t someone who was quick to betray the others but that’s just not the case here. As a result, his character gets a thumbs down.

Finally you have one of the big villains, Akira. This guy gets a decent amount of hype since he is one of the only characters to appear more than once. As a full fledged adult he makes for a difficult opponents for the kids to face off against. Karasuma or Koro could handle him no problem but it’s a different matter for the students. He even assembled a team of assassins which made for a fun mini arc. Some of them were definitely on the real crazy side like the guy who keeps munching on his gun but they all had skills. Akira comes off as really petty next to the other characters though as his life’s mission is to beat up on a kid.

Now, one thing with this show that sticks out more than most is you feel like the kids never truly have a shot against the adults. I’d say the reason for that is because the show is set up as a much more realistic experience than most Shounen titles. So these kids really are just kids. I mean they move with more anime speed than a normal kid of course but the adults still seem out of their level. With the assassins the show gives us a good reason why the fights went the way they did, but for the Akira fight I think you’ll always be a bit skeptical of those moments. I remember during the manga I kept thinking there would be a big time skip to where the main characters are adults but I guess there would need to be a good reason on why Koro just didn’t blow up the planet.

The power levels aren’t enough to change the score or anything but something that’s just worth a note. Either way the show establishes that Karasuma is still the strongest so there’s just usually a story reason why he can’t run in and save the day. Of course there are more characters I could mention but I would say these are the key ones. The next season should also introduce more characters as we still don’t know exactly what happened in Koro’s past. That should be a fun plot point and of course we need some closure for the principal. There’s still a lot of adventures to be had.

Overall, That’s the first season of Assassination Classroom. It’s a well balanced show with a colorful cast and a good amount of action. I’d call the series more of an adventure comedy as we see the characters try out different plans against Koro as opposed to a lot of big fights. That said, I guess those would fall under general action so that works as a genre as well. Their most impressive attempt was near the end of the season at the hotel resort where they set up a ton of explosives and even a TV as they tried getting Koro in a tight spot. It’s another reminder that he is just out of their league though. If you could just tone down the fanservice a good amount and improve Koro-sensei’s character then this show would be able to make it to the next level. Still, if you’re looking for an interesting anime to watch with a fun atmosphere then this is a good one to check out. Definitely be on the lookout for the hype principal.

Overall 6/10

Tower of God Review


Tower of God is one of those anime titles you saw everywhere. The amount of promotion it got was insanely widespread which is impressive. I’ll give Crunchyroll this, they absolutely know how to promote their materials. I would argue ToG and that tournament show got way more promotion than their third webtoon production but I guess by that point they felt the awareness was pretty good. You couldn’t turn the corner without seeing this one and now I’ve gotten to check it out. It’s an excellent anime to be sure and it’s the kind of show that gets better and better the more you think about it. Usually when you sit back and relax as you think about a show, movie, or game the score might stabilize a little lower since you’re past the initial excitement. This is one of the reverse cases as I walked away from the show thinking it was great; Then after reading a good chunk of the web comic, thinking about it some more and basically ended up going from re watching some clips to the whole show this is really a masterpiece.

The show starts off with a character explaining what the Tower of God is. It’s a tower that goes up to the heavens and contains everything that exists. Any answers, power, or goal you want can be attained by climbing it. Due to the tower having such prizes, the risks are also great. We then cut to a boy named Bam and a girl named Rachel. Rachel wants to see the stars some day and she tells Bam not to follow her as she vanishes. Bam decides to follow as best he can though because he doesn’t want to be alone anymore. He grew up along in a cave with only Rachel’s visits to break up the monotony of each day.

Bam suddenly appears outside the tower where he is allowed to take the entrance exam. He passes and makes it to the tower’s ground floor. He really doesn’t care about the tower or any secrets it may hold, but he does intend to climb the tower so that he can see Rachel again. He wants to understand more about why she left him and how the stars can be so important. He meets up with a mysterious boy named Khun and a powerful dinosaur hybrid named Rak. Together, these three must rise up the tower and conquer the various tests but can they pull this off?

Right away you can see how this will be quite the ambitious series. The Tower is huge with an unknown amount of floors and each floor has a game/challenge that must be completed in order to make it to the next floor. Each challenge can range from an episode to several and there is always the possibility that you might die. You’ve also got a ton of lore ranging from the 10 great families to Jahad and his Princesses. Then you have the Rankers, assassins, and a bunch of other factions all running around.

Part of the fun of the series is that everything’s all one big mystery. Bam has never even been outside before so he knows nothing about this world. We all have to learn about it along with him and most of the answers won’t even be in season 1. The web comic is around 500 chapter so far and this one covers the first 75 so it’s the tip of the iceberg. It perfectly covers season 1 of the Web comic though so the timing was really on point here.

The writing is also really excellent. A big part of the show are the various mind games as everyone tries to out think the other. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems and while characters may tend to overthink things at times, it pays to be cautious. Around every corner is someone who is absolutely brutal and may slay you without a second thought. The power levels in the universe can also get quite drastic as the characters have to remember that while they may be strong…they are only on floor 1. The higher you go the more crazy the opponents will get.

Right away you can tell that the animation style here is a little different. It seems to be modeled after the web comic and has a little less detail at times. It flows together really well for the action scenes though and the character designs are on point. I definitely liked the animation quite a bit and it does shine for the battles like Hatz vs Anaak or Yuri styling on the others at the end. It’s all very smooth and flows into the next scene well.

Where the series really shines though is with the soundtrack. It’s got a very interesting techno theme. In fact, I’d say for the most part the soundtrack sounded like they got it from Toonami bumpers and commercials. The whole thing felt a lot like I was watching Toonami which is pretty nostalgic and also very unique. It’s not a soundtrack I would have immediately connected to Tower of God but it absolutely worked well.

As for the characters, well I have to say that Bam is probably the blandest main character I’ve seen in a while. It may be a bit strong to say he’s the blandest I’ve ever seen but he has to be in the conversation. He’s always got a lifeless look on his face and is basically a one track character who can only think of Rachel. I have to say I was not a big fan of his. This is one of those titles where all of the supporting characters ended up being more interesting. Not to say that Bam is a bad character but if anything you think of him more like a plot device ready to go see Rachel as opposed to his own person. Due to the ending of the season though, you’ll want to see where he goes from here.

There isn’t a lot to say about Rachel in this season without spoilers. She leaves Bam rather quickly and then he sees someone who looks like her in the tower. Can it possibly be the same person? Either way the fact that she ditched Bam so easily and basically told him to stay in a dark cave by himself will probably set off some warning bells for you. She’s a very interesting character to be sure. She definitely wouldn’t rank as one of my favorite characters or anything but I don’t dislike her. If the show was playing her up as a misguided hero or someone we couldn’t understand then I probably would be in that camp. Again it’s hard to say much more for now but I am intrigued at how her plot goes.

Khun is definitely one of the standout characters here. He’s the strategist of the team and those do tend to be a lot of fun, particularly when they are confident in their abilities. Characters like L, Lelouch, Kurama, Eren, Kurapika, and other strategists who know how to break down a plan and acknowledge their own abilities tend to be great. If you’re a genius who isn’t confident like Armin or to a lesser extent someone humble like Shikamaru tend to not excel quite as high for me. Khun is one of those geniuses who knows he is a genius and tends to rub it in everyone’s face.

That’s part of what makes him such a fun character. Whenever he is on screen you know that something hype is about to happen. Right from his very first appearance you already get a good feeling about him and he ends up being one of the most loyal characters in the show. He’s constantly thinking about how to help Bam. Khun’s physical abilities also seemed very impressive when he was able to speed blitz to the crown so he can fight as needed. Then you have the third member of the group Rak. Now, from all of the big characters in the series I felt like he didn’t live up to the hype as much as some of the others. Mainly because the show has to balance a lot of characters so not everyone gets their chance to shine but Rak doesn’t really get to fight any big opponents.

He talks really tough the whole season so I’m hoping he ends up being very impressive but you start to have your doubts after a while. Still, as a comrade he is absolutely someone you want to have on your team. He may not admit it, but he has a good bond with the other characters as well. His chocolate gimmick is also a lot of fun and his brute force contrast to Khun’s intellectual approach gives their team a lot of balance. They may be at odds a lot of the time but at the end of the day Rak does listen to him.

On one of the other teams we have Shibizu. Like Khun he is also a strategist although he’s more low key about it. He may not be a super genius or anything but he is able to figure out most puzzles rather easily. He doesn’t have a lot of skill as he’s more of a standard human but he has a lot of determination and does his best to help out his friends. Like Bam he’s not super stoked to climb up the tower for any one reason and is able to try and help others out without just thinking about himself.

Then you have Hatz who is my favorite character in the series. It’s a pretty impressive title because this series has quite a few high tier characters such as Endorsi and Khun who could be the best character in many other shows or secondary characters like Anaak and Yuri who are also quite solid. Part of why Hatz is at the top is because his intro scene was dynamite. His line that “running away is only for opponents stronger than me” was really good as he attacked the strongest opponent in the area at the time. His twin blade style is also unique as he throws a sword in the air to block an attack while he deals with the other one. His skills are definitely on point.

Hatz gets quite a few action scenes here so I look forward to him fighting again more soon. The third member of the team Anaak is also a really powerful fighter though and someone who sticks out since she has the title of Princess of Jahad. Her Green April is a tough sword to stop too since it can alter its shape and strike from any angle. It’s the kind of weapon you don’t really want to mess with. Even without it she has a good deal of super strength and speed to back her up as well though. That makes her a very solid all around character. While Hatz has his whole thing about being honor bound at all times, Anaak just wants to crush the Jahad family at any cost. We see her origin story and why she wants to do this as well.

Next up is Hoh and we’re finally at one of the weaker characters in the series. The guy gets jealous from day 1 at how much stronger everyone is and so you can’t help but shake your head whenever he is on screen. You can tell that things are going to get dicey for him from day 1. I’m cool with someone just wanting to go up the tower and not making friends but Hoh’s jealousy just makes him such a petty character. I don’t think he quite deserved the big send off/funeral everyone gave him.

Then you have Serena who is more of a normal human like Shibizu. She has a bit of a rivalry going with him and they have a decent fight. Like Shibizu she feels a little out of place next to these guys who can crush mountains but she does well for as long as she can. Her character arc also has a bit of a surprising end to it so that was not something I had expected. Finally there’s Lauroe from their team who is quite powerful. The guy is constantly sleeping and whenever you have a character who is always asleep you can be sure that he’s hiding away a lot of power. His battle with Anaak was quite impressive and so was his big blast of Shinsu. Not many opponents would have been able to endure that. Lauroe’s a very laid back guy and while the sleeping may be a bit much, he’s a decent character.

Endorsi is another one of the standout characters here. She has absolute confidence in everything she does. Whenever Endorsi is on screen you know that someone is going to get absolutely crushed. It’s part of why she’s so much fun. Her only weakness is that her high heels tend to break which is something the anime has a little fun with. Regardless, in a straight fight you can expect that she would absolutely crush almost anyone in this tournament. Her skill are just off the chart and while she at first tries not to get close to anyone, she eventually gets caught up in the spirit of things. At the same time though, she’s not someone you can easily trust as her goals always take priority. You just have to make sure that your existence isn’t in her way. She was very close to passing Hatz as the best character in the series but at least if we go purely from the anime she is still behind him.

Then for one of the other supporting characters we have Paracule who is just annoying most of the time. He’s incredibly weak and is very quick to betray the other characters when it suits him. He’s not someone you could ever trust and he’s always whining. The character is around mainly to serve as a character to dislike but that doesn’t make him any better. It’s hard to even picture how this guy has made it so far. He is quite lucky that’s for sure.

Yuri doesn’t get a whole lot to do here but that makes sense as her abilities are far beyond anything we are expected to see this early on in the tower. You can think of her as a completed Princess of Jahad. A single blow is enough to destroy multiple giant monsters at once and there are few who could hope to be her equal. Then you have the mysterious gate keeper of the tower known as Headon who tests those who wish to join the challenge. He is definitely someone you can expect to be quite powerful although he hasn’t made a move yet. Whether you’re a regular or an irregular he lets you move up the tower. This guy appears to have big plans so we’ll have to wait and see how it goes.

Then we have some of the rankers like Lero Ro. This guy’s pretty fun. He definitely has a merciless persona to him as he isn’t afraid to put people in their place but at the same time he has more of a conscience than a lot of the other characters. He still wants to have a fair tournament and games here after all and suspects that something is up. He’s quite sharp and has quite a few mind battles with Hansung Yu. I certainly look forward to seeing what he does next. You also have Quant who has a lot of speed at his disposal and is pretty strong in his own right. He’s a lot more headstrong though so you can see how these two would make for a good team. Quant tends to take everything very literally and personally but I like the energy he has. He also does not care for traitors in the slightest.

Hansung Yu is easily the shadiest of the rankers though. He appears to be playing all of the sides so we’ll have to see how that plot goes. He’s also clearly a lot more powerful than he lets on but that makes sense since you would expect the ruler of the floor to be at a high level. Lo Po Bia Ren is one of the assassins’ of the tower and is a bit of an odd ball. He seems to have a real form underneath his animal costume but we never get to see it. It’s also hard to say if he’s still around as if he has more than one body at the ready or if it was a robot. Either way he’s a very intimidating villain to be sure. He doesn’t hold back and has a very creepy vibe to him. He’s not quite able to hold back his giant monsters from attacking either. He’s not really my kind of villain next to most of the others so I wouldn’t rank him too highly but he was a very real threat.

Finally there is Hwa who is a mysterious character. Her first appearance has her taking on Endorsi in a straight fight so her abilities are actually pretty good and she mostly sticks in the background after that. Needless to say it looks like she will be playing a big role coming up. I’m liking her character so far and there’s a lot of potential here.

There are other characters of course but I think that sums up most of the big ones. I tried keeping the review fairly spoiler free so you can jump in and see all of the twists and turns. In adapting 75 chapters into 13 episodes you can bet there are some changes but for the most part the series only cut minor stuff out. A ton of Urek Mazino references were cut for example but he won’t be appearing anytime soon anyway. There were a few questionable changes that could come back to bite them if we get a season 2 though like completely changing one character’s personality in the final episode and Khun’s final conversation in the final episode. Both are things you can easily walk back but do go against what initially happened.

For Endorsi, a good chunk of her one way romance with Bam scenes were cut out but I’m cool with that. In the web comic she is pretty much obsessed with Bam to the point where she is constantly flirting with him so the fact that the show dialed down her character is fine with me. The only change that’s a little regrettable is they cut out quite a few of Bam’s speeches which helped to really make him stand out as a character. Perhaps that is why he came across as bland in the show. In the web comic he has easily become one of the best characters although that’s more due to season 2 content than 1 so this wouldn’t have brought him to the top but it would have helped him rise quite a bit. Either way you are safe to jump straight to season 2 of the web comic if you don’t want to wait for the show.

The show ends on a rather perfect note with how episode 12 finishes also. It’s just such a powerful moment as the credits song plays. Honestly this could have been the perfect way to end although episode 13 is pretty interesting as a way to see a different side of events. It’s a good way to connect the dots and all. That said, the very last shot of the season is definitely a huge spoiler for season 2. I’m thinking it’s mainly there for the web comic fans so they would already know about the twist. In fairness to the show, I think most people figured out the twist in the web comic immediately. It’s sort of like Tobi from Naruto. The instant he appeared most people connected the dots. It’s a similar thing here so it’s nice for fans to see this guy but…I would technically still consider it a spoiler.

It’s rare that there is so much to talk about for such a short series but that’s part of what makes Tower of God fun. The lore is already absolutely massive in the series and it’s why you can easily see this going on for hundreds of episodes. There is so much to cover and I skimmed over most of the lore in this review but the show breaks it down well. I also really enjoy the way the games are presented. Each game is quite unique and you really have to think your way through them in order to win. Just relying on power won’t help although it is useful. I would say it’s a little like Phi Brain in that sense. My favorite game is definitely the Crown game though as that was a blast but a close second is the very first game as the opponents had to be reduced from 400-200. Less strategy in that one but it was a great way to introduce the characters.

Overall, Tower of God is definitely an elite title. There are less than 20 TV shows I’ve ever seen that were able to grab a 9 star rating and this one is good enough to join them. The characters are fantastic and a whole lot happens. It’s rare that you see a show be able to cram so much into each episode but when you’re adapting 75 chapters into 13 episodes it makes sense that you have to move fast. Especially with how big the web comic chapters are. All told, the show is an excellent adaption and I do hope we get season 2 at some points. There’s enough chapters for at least 5 more seasons minimum and since season 2 of the web comic is close to 4 times as large as season 1, a 52 episode season would be pretty nice to see. Either way this is just the tip of the iceberg so I hope the franchise continues on. If you haven’t seen the anime yet then I would recommend changing that right away!

Overall 9/10

RWBY Volume 8 Review


It’s always great to have RWBY back in action because the world of entertainment just isn’t the same without it. RWBY is the greatest show of all time and Volume 8 continues to operate on that high level. The show just has the perfect blend of action, story, and excellent musical themes to accompany the scenes. Throughout the season it’s always fun to watch reactions and learn new things about the show through interviews and such. There’s just a lot to take in and you can bet like last year I’ll have a few editorials for the show up before the next volume ends. Lets dive into Volume 8 and what it added into the table. Keep in mind this review is meant to be read after you have seen the show as it will go into a detailed discussion of important plot details

The show starts off with the heroes still in a dangerous spot. They are currently on the run from Ironwood and the Aceop’s but ultimately they do have more leverage since Penny is now the Winter Maiden. Ironwood orders the heroes to give her back or he will be forced to take drastic measures. Meanwhile Salem has finally arrived and intends to destroy Atlas while obtaining the next relic which is the staff of creation. Team RWBY is also having some issues among their team with each person wanting to try a different plan. Ruby wants to go with Ironwood’s initial plan of getting Amity Tower up to try and contact people around the world to help out while Yang wants to prioritize saving Mantle first. They’ll need to split up which is dangerous.

Naturally quite a lot happens along the way from there. So lets take things one step at a time. The first half of the season deals a lot with a new villain called The Hound. It’s a powerful Grimm to be sure and it was really giving the heroes a hard time. It’s got a cool design and I like the concept behind it. I would argue that Team RWBY shouldn’t have had as much trouble with it as they did though or team Yang when the Hound embarrassed them in the first skirmish though. Ordinarily I’d expect Yang to have taken the creature out pretty quickly but they ended up freezing for a little too long. With this Hound out of the way I expect Salem to be bringing in more of them soon. Potentially at least different Hound variations for Summer and Hazel.

We also get Cinder’s backstory at long last. It’s a play on the Cinderella fairy tale but a much darker twist. Cinder was effectively a slave working for a rich family that would torment her with a shock collar for quite a while. Eventually she was able to harness her abilities and escape but not before having to murder a huntsman as well. It was a pretty intense origin story to be sure and had one of the most impressive tracks in the season. Interestingly that song is one that already existed as opposed to most RWBY songs debuting in the volume they appear in. Cinder’s backstory shows that she didn’t quite start out being as evil as she is now but that certainly escalated quickly.

Rhodes really helped push her to the next level here since he was very quick to attack her. I would have to put pretty much all of the blame from the origin story on him. He knew about all the crazy things that were being done to Cinder or at least it would be hard to miss since they spent so much time together. Additionally he was telling her to be careful and such so he had an idea that things were dangerous but he never tried to help her out. Escaping with her or something like that would have solved the issue but instead he just trained her and told her to wait a few years. Ultimately she did try to wait but one day the family caught her with the swords so she had no way out. He was also the first one to draw his weapons and prepare to attack after this.

In the current story Cinder’s certainly an absolute villain and an unrepentant one so since then she has clearly taken it to heart that she needs absolute power. We can see why she is always trying to get stronger now. Her role in this season is really good. While she does have a rep for taking quite a few losses over the years she has also earned quite a lot of great wins. Up until now she has beaten Pyrrha, Ozpin, Winter, Jaune, and a whole lot of other fighters. I would say that she has certainly earned the amount of hype that she has gotten and is still one of the best characters in the show.

Another big event in the season is Salem finally arriving. We are 8 volumes into the show so this was definitely a big deal. Everyone is always very afraid of Salem but we’ve always had to wonder exactly why. The Maidens are incredibly powerful after all. It was hinted that the reason everyone fears Salem is because she is immortal but would there be more to it than that? So far it doesn’t appear so. I would make the case that right now Salem really isn’t all that impressive. Of course she will have plenty of time to show off more of her abilities soon since I don’t see her going away anytime soon. I still think Cinder will ultimately be the one to take her down though in a big betrayal scene.

Salem dies here and we find out that she has been destroyed several times by Hazel. Due to her immortality she is able to regenerate pretty quickly though so it’s only a minor setback. She showed some decent speed in the fight before going down, but as of right now I would still take any of the Maidens over her in a fight. Salem’s a fun villain though. She may not be quite as interesting as Neo or Cinder but as an immortal leader of the Grimm it’s nice how she manipulates the other villains so well. She also got a pretty tragic backstory a while back so you can potentially see why she wants the relics. We don’t know for sure yet of course but in theory she will want to bring the gods back so she can try to wipe them out or so they can wipe out the planet.

This volume introduced some pretty interesting new angles since we now know what the staff of creation can do. It can create pretty much anything although at the expense of something else. So now you have to start asking yourself some questions because it seems like this could easily destroy Salem. Create a box filled with fire or holes where you can put weapons in and keep destroying her over and over again, have her fall into the endless void. Well, the void leads to another realm seemingly so that might not do the trick but if that place isn’t connected to the main world that would be interesting. Finally, just open one of the vaults, throw her in and then close it again. Presumably if she could open a vault then she wouldn’t be searching so hard for the Maidens. None of these plans would be all that easy but this is why Salem needs more than just immortality. To recover from her showing this volume she’s going to need to go all in during the next volume.

Ironwood gets a big role in this volume as you would expect. After all, in the last volume he and RWBY really differed on their approaches on how to do things. He even went as far as to shoot Ozpin so he wouldn’t get in his way anymore. He went from being a fairly unremarkable character to completely stealing Volume 7 and helping to escalate it to the second best volume of the series. Well, it seems like his approach may have went too well. This volume decides to take him to the extreme of being a complete villain filled with ominous backgrounds like in his TV broadcast to suddenly just shooting people for not much of a reason.

Now you could say part of this is his semblance but despite being confirmed on a writer’s zoom call, I don’t put much stock in it. Ultimately there is no visual or audio queue to the semblance in the show and it is never referenced so for all intents and purposes it just does not exist. What seems to have happened here is that they wrote Ironwood too well as a morally gray character to the point where a lot of people were rooting for him. You’d look online and almost nobody was supporting Team RWBY in their debates against him.

The main reason for this is really that Ironwood at least had a plan but whenever Team RWBY was asked for specifics they didn’t seem to know what to do next. That happens in this volume as well when Mantle is being attacked so one of the Happy Huntsmen shows up to tell them it’s time to evac but Ruby insisted on staying. When they pointed out that they have been getting wrecked by the normal Grimm and the numbers are about to multiply Ruby didn’t have an answer except a vague “We’ll get through this”. Not having a plan is always the quickest way to lose support. It’s similar to a debate that happened in Attack on Titan although there we still have the gray character staying that way.

Maybe it was always the plan for Ironwood to go totally off the rails but I do feel it’s more likely that the writers saw how a ton of people were rooting for him and knew they needed to weaken his case quickly or people wouldn’t be happy with Ruby and co. So in this volume Ironwood is just straight up evil most of the time but he’s still a fun character to have around. He’s a little on the gullible side at times but at the end of the day he’s still a fighter. His battle with Winter is really solid and really cements him as one of the strongest characters in the series. To think, at one point he was considered the heavy underdog in that battle. Personally I think there’s still a decent chance he is alive. His ending was intentionally rather vague with no body shown so it’s not beyond the pale to say that he would have escaped. I doubt Watts would be as lucky though.

Ruby gets a solid role here. She does lose her will to fight at one point again but it is a pretty tough time for the team. At this point Weiss would probably be the best option for the leader as she’s gone through the most and has really matured into being a character everyone can count on. She’ll always support Ruby though so the team is in good hands. Ruby’s speed also makes her a very capable opponent in any fight. I look forward to her getting to fight more in the next volume. Here she may have mostly just taken losses but when up against foes like Neo and Cinder that is to be expected.

Weiss is great as always. She may be a little hard on Whitley but it’s hard to just get over something like that with what she had to put up with over the years. I’m glad that we’re seeing her use her glyphs more in combat now like the old days. If she keeps that up I could see her potentially becoming the strongest member of the team since those abilities are just so versatile. There’s a lot you can do with glyphs from gravity control to elemental attacks. Then she always has her summons available too.

Yang has a lot to do here since she gets her own solo quest and also has the task of cheering up Ruby. I would have liked her to have fought more in the climax but it also makes perfect sense that the villains would try to take her out of play right away. If you take out the strongest hero on the team that will always be the safest path to victory. She has to be the mediator quite a lot in this volume since Ren also deals with some issues here.

Blake gets to fight the Hound and has some good blows in the finale as well. Her role here is quite solid. She may not have quite as many individual moments as the other 3 but she did just have her big volume with Adam back in 6 so that makes sense. She still makes the most of her moments although she absolutely needs a new weapon soon. I still say she should use Adam’s sword since that would be cool but either way she has come a long way from her early days on the team and isn’t really a loner anymore. I expect she’ll be getting more hype battles in the next volume.

Jaune’s role here is small for the most part but he’s low-key a very solid leader. He knows how to handle each character and add moral support. He’s just a very well rounded character but I have to admit that I heavily disagreed with his choice at the end of the volume. Effectively Penny asks Jaune to murder her to that Cinder won’t be able to do so. The idea is that you die when you are killed so this can Penny can control who she gives the maiden powers to. I’m pretty surprised that she didn’t give the powers to Ruby to be honest but maybe she knew Winter was going to need those abilities more. Jaune just shouldn’t have obliged her in this case. By stabbing her like that he was basically conceding defeat to the villains and admitting that there was no way out. There’s always a better way and he should have just fought til the bitter end.

I have to say this was a very weak volume for Ren though. He looks pretty bad the whole time. Ren started his path of panicking ever since last volume but here it gets worse as he intentionally attacks each character using their pasts like Jaune and Yang while not actually contributing to the situation. It looks like he’s getting back to his usual self by the end of the volume so he should do better next volume but he was easily one of the worst characters here. Nora does a lot better as she is also attacked with feelings of self doubt but just pushes through them and helps the heroes as much as she can. Now that she is close to fully recovered I expect to see her fighting more soon.

Penny is a character I’ve never been a huge fan of. Her super cheerful persona isn’t a bad thing per say as I still like characters like that but I guess she just felt hollow. I don’t know, I got more from her in the first few volumes before her first death. It’s quite ironic that she was brought back only to die again although a lot of people did suspect this would be the case. At least she got to briefly wield the powerful abilities of a Maiden. I’ll still take her over Oscar/Ozpin though. I’m still waiting for Ozpin to betray the heroes but at this point I’m not sure if he could. Part of the issue for Ozpin is that he has not done very well at all against Salem over the last thousand years. Evidently he’s not as great a tactician as he thinks he is. He really accomplished nothing over many years which is why so many people left him. It looks like he is trying to do better this time but I have my doubts.

Oscar’s at least trying his hardest but every time he uses magic, the two of them fuse even more so at this point I wonder if Oscar still exists. Is he still really separate or at this point are they basically the same character? I could see the next volume delving into that a bit more. The AceOps are all still here of course but you could make the case that Harriet is the only one with a real role. She is the most extreme of the group and the only one who is ready to listen to Ironwood without hesitation. While the others are portrayed more as following orders, I would say Harriet goes into full villain mode. She just wants to blow everyone up as part of the mission so she fits in with Ironwood.

I like her as a villain though. She keeps the heroes on their toes and having super speed is such an incredible semblance to have. Aside from Ruby’s which has super speed as well as flight, I don’t think there’s any other semblance I would take over that one. It’s just way too good. The fact that she was dunking on Qrow is still solid even if the guy can’t catch a break lately. Qrow went from being one of the best characters in the series to fading fast. Qrow was fantastic in Volume 3, Excellent in Volume 4, and then I liked him quite a lot in Volume 5. The cracks in his armor began to show a bit as he had trouble with Lionheart but you could attribute that to animation. Fine, I can accept that.

Volume 6 Qrow was brutal though. He was so lost in his own misery and apathy that he nearly let Ruby and Yang die right under his nose. That would have happened without him doing a single thing about it. His depression just held him back real hard and when mixed with the fact that he seems to have been extremely nerfed, it’s not a good look for him. Losing to Harriet is just yet another loss to the mix and since Ruby was winning/put up a way better fight…that’s not good for him. I’m hoping he can make a comeback because he needs it.

Now Winter is a character who looks really good here. I’m not really a fan of when characters just follow rules even if they are evil ones. It can be a bit much or when a character goes against the rules but does so too late. Here Winter ultimately made a stand before that happened and then stood up to Ironwood. Since that goes against everything she had been working towards, I can appreciate her resolve and drive to stay on the path. I think she’ll make for a fantastic Winter Maiden as well and look forward to her going up against the villains more soon. It’ll be a tough matchup against Cinder though with the whole fire vs ice thing but if anyone can pull it off, Winter can.

Emerald also gets a considerable role here as she finally joins the heroes’ side. It’s definitely been a long time coming. Originally she was the pure evil one while Mercury was the guy questioning if this was the right path like in Volume 2 when Emerald was having a blast watching people get eaten by the Grimm while Mercury didn’t seem happy. That changed in Volume 3 as Mercury began to revel in the misery while Emerald no longer enjoyed it. Her only real tie here was to Cinder the whole time and Cinder really treats her poorly so the other side would definitely sound better. Now, if Cinder comes back asking Emerald to join her, will she stay strong or defect again? Personally I think Emerald’s a hero to stay now. She may end up dying for it but I think she may get to live through her redemption arc. If Mercury goes for a similar position, I don’t think he’ll survive as the guy has a lot of death flags written all over him.

Meanwhile Hazel finally got his big ending here. I was never a big fan of the guy personally, just because he’s ultimately working for the lady who murdered his sister. He blames Ozpin for sending her on a suicide mission and yes that’s fair, but how can you work for the one who ultimately orchestrated her death? Hazel would make a lot more sense as a third party kind of villain. Still, he eventually saw the light and I have 0 complaints about the way he went out. Hazel ultimately went out on his own terms and you can’t really do much better than that. Again, we don’t see his body so he may be alive but with Salem right there at best he can hope to be a living grimm or something but death would probably be preferable for him.

For Robyn there’s nothing much to say. You may still be confused why she is in the show since she’s had close to 0 impact on the entire franchise. Well…maybe next volume will be when she finally pops off. I have my doubts personally but she has to have been kept alive for a reason right? Watts had a solid volume as well. I like him as a charismatic villain. He may not go into the field a whole lot but the guy has guts to talk to Cinder the way that he did. I can respect that and while he may have ultimately been manipulated, I don’t think he would have had much of a way to escape anyway.

Finally there’s Neo who is always fun. I’ve always considered her to be a demi maiden power-wise just because of how effortlessly she handled Yang back in the day and how she even had the upper hand against Cinder until she activated her maiden abilities. This volume continues to support that as she completely shattered Yang’s aura in a single hit (Surprise attacks don’t affect aura as far as we know so that’s still a power feat) and then she was handling both Blake and Ruby teaming up with ease. I really hope she doesn’t die anytime soon because I want to see her get some more action. Her moveset is just very unique and I like the fighting style. Ruby just needs to convince Neo that Cinder is more to blame for Torchwick’s death which is fair since it’s a Grimm that ate Torchwick. It’s not like Ruby did anything to cause that.

Now for the volume ending stinger, I think the safest bet is they’re now in some kind of lost pocket dimension that the gods built but forgot about. That’s probably why they were warned not to go there since it’s so desolate the whole time. It is for the best that the show quickly confirmed the team was alive though because I don’t think anyone ever thought they were really dead. Even if the show only kept Yang as the one who had fallen down, she’s just too important of a character to go down like that. If a member of RWBY dies it wouldn’t be until the last arc and even then I would be surprised to see it. It’ll be interesting to see what’s down there especially since Neo and Jaune are crashing the party. If Jaune gets a big power up that will definitely be cool to see.

In theory with the delays to this volume and all the next one probably won’t start until November but hopefully it debuts earlier since that would be great. At least in the meantime we should be getting the CD soon so the full music tracks will be online. We’ll see if the next volume has any animated shorts like the Adam special or if those are going to be gone for good. If it helps to speed up airing the season then it’s worth it I suppose but those are always a lot of fun.

Now lets compare the volumes. It’s always fun to update the rankings as each volume airs. Naturally Volume 3 is still the all time best if you ask me. It was the absolute peak of the series’ nonstop action along with the plot settling in. The stakes were raised immensely and you just could not change the channel. The second best volume would be 7. Ironwood was just developed into a fantastic character here and the battle with RWBY vs AceOps is still the best one in the series. Mix that in with one of the best OSTs and it’s hard to see this volume getting beat.

3rd place would be Volume 6. It’s a pretty close one but the Adam climax was a really powerful one to end the series on. Additionally, the Grim Reaper’s origin as well as the return of Neo are scenes that are hard to be beat. Bringing her back into the fold was a fantastic idea. It’s also when the new animation style really got going. 4th would be Volume 8. It was a great volume and we got to have the heroes make a comeback and take a big win. It’s been a while since they made any serious headway against the heroes so it was nice to see how they could coordinate here.

5th would go to Volume 5. I tend to waffle between this one and 2 a lot because it’s pretty close. I would say 2 probably had longer stretches of hype fights and action but 5 had the better climax. The Raven vs Cinder fight is just fantastic. The More the Merrier episode is probably the biggest missed opportunity in the show just because the setup was absolutely perfect with all of the battles going underway but then there wasn’t really any animation to them. Volume 5 will always be the most awkward volume for fights in that sense but the story beats were still right up there. 6th is Volume 2, the big Neo fight was hype as well as the battle with the Giant mech. I always liked seeing Torchwick in the focus as well and it’s just a volume that really holds up quite well.

7th would be Volume 1, where it all began. The climax with Torchwick is a lot of fun and it’s always easy to forget that at the time you could make a legitimate argument for Blake being the most powerful member of Team RWBY. She had more real life experience than the other 3 and even went on her own to fight Torchwick. It didn’t go well until Sun stepped in but it was a good effort. Last place would be Volume 4. A very solid volume to be sure since this is all relative by RWBY standards but there was a lot of info dumping here and not a lot of action. The Tyrian fight is really the only big battle in the volume until the final episode. Qrow vs Tyrian was worth it though as it’s still one of the best fights in the season but it just couldn’t keep up with the others.

So that’s the rankings for now. 3, 7, 6, 8, 5, 2, 1, 4. I imagine as I continue to revisit each volume that could change but the rankings are pretty solid. Really the closest ones that I can see changing is the middle group (6-2) but the top two and bottom two volumes would be pretty hard to move at this point. I imagine with the series in the middle of so many events all future volumes will be in a pretty good spot as well as they aim for the top. Can any possible dethrone 3 though?

As always the animation is top notch here. The character models are really smooth and I wonder why all CGI shows can’t look this sharp. I understand it’s now using MAYA technology as opposed to POSER from the first 3 volumes which is completely open software, but it should still be possible for professional studios. Yet, I have yet to see a CGI show look as good as RWBY. It really shows how talented the staff is to make this a reality.

The writing is excellent as well. While I have my share of complaints with how Ironwood was written into a villain, that’s a narrative choice more so than a writing flaw. They just wanted him to be as evil as possible. The episodes are all very engaging and you want to see what happens next. The soundtrack is also excellent. I wouldn’t say it matches 7 quite yet but I liked the theme that played during the snow chase with the hound as well as the one during Cinder’s origin. Every volume usually has at least 2 stand out themes and those would be the ones for me. I’m definitely looking forward to the CD coming out though since I’m hoping some of the normal episode themes also make it in since there are a few instrumental battle themes that also stood out like the one in the final episode.

There’s certainly always more to talk about but I’ll start wrapping it up here. There will be at least 2-3 editorials about RWBY before the next volume comes up so if there’s any big discussion topic I need to bring up I’ll certainly write something about it. The possibilities for going forward are definitely pretty endless. With Atlas down the villains are also one step closer to destroying all 4 of the kingdoms. Haven is all but destroyed, Beacon isn’t doing great, and Atlas is certainly over. Vacuo is the last place standing in full health and it’s less of a formal kingdom and more of a bandits lair type of place so that’ll be different anyway. That’s why I definitely want to see their reaction to all of this.

Overall, RWBY is definitely as great as ever. The toughest part here is going to be waiting for the next volume. Each volume continues to be excellent so I look forward to seeing what they’ve got coming up for Volume 9. Ideally I’d like to see Raven return and for Yang’s Dad to finally get a fight. As a member on such a powerhouse team that guy has got to be a good fighter. Then once we get the team back to the surface I’m expecting a lot of big battles for sure. It feels like we’re getting closer to the ultimate climax although I would still expect that not to happen until around Volume 11 or 12.

Overall 10/10

Sakura Wars: The Animation Review


It had been a long time since Sakura Wars had gotten a complete TV show before this one came out so it was definitely a big deal. Between this and the new game the franchise was finally going to hit it big again. I get the feeling it wasn’t quite as big a hit as they intended at least since to me the series seemed to vanish again. That being said, the show is great. It’s easily the most complete Sakura Wars product out there and in 12 episodes it accomplishes a whole lot. This is absolutely the kind of vibe you want to have for the show and the new cast is a lot of fun.

The show starts out with a very engaging scene as a monster shows up to kidnap a kid named Klara. She is stopped in her tracks when a mysterious lady shows up known as the White Cape. Both of them are interrupted when Seijuro along with two guest stars from foreign combat revues show up. Seijuro takes the girl over to his team to look after her since it’s clear that a lot of villains are after her. While he will be away in Europe tracking down some clues, he leaves Sakura in charge of the team. She vows to watch over Klara with her life and the two of them hit it off really well. The rest of Sakura’s teammates are pretty cool about this as well. It won’t be so easy though. The Moscow team have arrives and claim that Klara is one of them and demand that the team hands her over. They refuse but the Moscow team is appealing to the government so this may be taken out of their hands. Can Sakura and her team protect this kid?

When you think of Sakura Wars, action usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s more of a drama or slice of life that includes a lot of action. Well, this show definitely tossed that out the window. There is a ton of action here and as you can probably guess, I was a big fan of that. The first scene in the show is a pretty powerful battle between the various characters. We got to see Excalibur and another girl briefly as they helped Seijuro fight these girls off. They definitely feel more like guest star characters and so you shouldn’t expect to see them do much again until the very end. Still, they had excellent character designs and just really helped to start things off on the right note. They’re exactly the kind of allies that you want to have by your side at all times.

This was also a nice way to build up the stakes and get the show ready from the start. It wouldn’t let up after that either as you could typically look forward to some kind of fight going on in each episode. Surprisingly the heroes don’t fight the demons quite as much as usual since it’s mostly the Moscow group getting in their way and the Black Cape. The monsters probably figured they should lie low for now and I don’t blame them. They do look pretty good when they appear though as the main unit had a lot of trouble with them. There is even one moment in particular that is pretty rough for the group since they had to be saved. It just goes to show that there is always someone stronger after all.

This time around the animation is in pure CGI. Fortunately this is an example of using CGI the right away. The character designs are on point and the fight scenes look good. Naturally with hand drawn animation I’m sure the show would have looked even better but this one handled everything pretty well so I had no complaints. The energy effects are still quite vibrant whenever the characters are attacking and the fight scenes are good. There’s one scene where White Cape has to deflect a ton of bullets and she does it with ease. Then you’ve got Leila blocking Hatsuho’s punch with ease which was another pretty hype moment. You can still feel the impact each time which is definitely the important part.

Then we’ve got the soundtrack. The opening is pretty solid and it feels like a nice remix of the classic intro. That said, the ending is what really stands out here. It is quite stellar and just feels like an epic way to end each episode. You’ll be at the edge of your seat each week as you wait for things to continue. In the actual episodes the music is a little more forgettable though so mainly it’s the beginning and ending where it shines.

Still, this wouldn’t be Sakura Wars without at least having some time to calm down and just enjoy the sights. We get one full episode where Sakura gets to go on a family outing with Seijuro and Klara. The main villains as well as the rest of the heroes all decide to tag along and wreck this little trip of theirs. It’s pretty interesting to see even the villains get in on this. I suppose it may have been a decent time to try and steal Klara away but you feel like they’d never get away with it. You could say that this is the only episode that doesn’t seem to further the plot so in a way it’s like filler.

It was a fun episode though and it gave Shiba some much needed screen time so that alone makes the whole thing worth it. The show balances out the genres pretty well. Aside from that happy episode then you get a more emotional one early on with Hatsuho as she feels bad that Seijuro didn’t choose her to be leader. The tough truth is that Sakura was just better suited for it. Then of course you have the pretty serious episodes of the climax where the villains are making their big play. The show succeeds at every theme so whether the heroes are just having fun on their own or jumping in to make some kind of great stand against the villain, the episode really flies by.

The writing is on point throughout but you would expect no less. The ending to the series is also very satisfying. There are a few ways they could have gone about this of course but this was the optimal route. Additionally, there was one character moment that would have just been plain unfortunate but the very last bit of the ending made sure to correct this. Make sure you stick around til the very end of the show. Ultimately the ending was just great when you consider all of that and so the whole show benefits as a result.

Lets talk about the characters now. First up is Sakura, the leader of the team. She is a very dedicated fighter who stuck to her guns and wouldn’t let Klara go. She also took a lot of big risks in putting her life on the line to protect Klara. Sakura also mastered the more powerful suit of armor pretty quick. It’s clear that she is the most powerful member of the group, especially thanks to her sword skills that she can use even without a suit. When you put that all together, her allies just don’t have anything on her. Seijuro made the right choice.

The bond between Sakura and Klara is also just a lot of fun. Sakura’s always got her back. As for Seijuro, he doesn’t get a whole lot to do here. The higher ups keep throwing him on wild goose chases so he can’t help out at home. From what we see he is clearly a good fighter though. While Black Cape was able to take on the entire Sakura team and do well, Seijuro was able to take on 2-3 of them at once and came out on top. He’s easily one of the most impressive fighters in the series so that’s why it’s a shame that we couldn’t see him fight more. He has trained the team well though.

Klara has a big role of course and she’s good. Now it’s not always easy for a kid character to be very impressive as worst case they can just be really annoying and hold everyone back. Fortunately that isn’t the case with Klara. She’s just a nice kid from the start. While English isn’t her first language (Well, technically it would be Japanese since this is a translation) she does well at fitting in and even throws in a few Russian lines on occasion. The fact that she has some special abilities helps out quite a ton as well. There’s a lot of build up to this so when she finally gets to join the team the scene feels very well earned.

I was also glad that Seijuro was quick to let her help instead of just wasting time and trying to stop her. She is a member of the team after all so it only makes sense that she would jump in right? This is one case where Klara feels necessary to the team’s dynamic so it was good that she was on board. She ended up being a lot more fun than I had expected. Then we have Hatsuho who is the power member of the group. Unfortunately because of this she loses just about all of her fights. It’s sort of like Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon or Tauros from Saint Seiya. Since they are the power members of the group, they are always the first to get wrecked to show how powerful the next villain is and after a while you wonder if they really are the strong member. I guess physically yes, but when Hatsuho is physically weaker than every villain she encounters in the series, that makes things rather difficult for her.

It does lead to one of the best scenes in the show though when she throws a punch and Leyla casually catches the hit while also bringing Hatsuho to her knees. Hatsuho has a tough time here in other scenes as well like when she lost to the demon twice and then growing jealous of Sakura. Fortunately the two talk it over with Sakura being oblivious to what the chat was truly about and then Hatsuho was able to get over it. It was good character development because staying jealous would have just made her look really bad. As it stands I do like Hatsuho quite a bit but she’s got to work on that.

Azami’s the ninja of the group and is not nearly as talented as she thinks she is. This leads to a lot of fun little scenes where she does her best. My main issue with her is the fact that she seems insanely weak in a fight. Ninja stars aren’t going to work on giant monsters. Additionally she seems like the character who would be quickest to betray Klara so I definitely would not trust her in the slightest. Anastesia is another member of the group but unfortunately she really gets nothing to do here. I guess maybe she had enough screen time in the game so they decided to skip her here but it is a shame since everyone else got a big role. All we know about Anastesia from the show is that she’s probably the most serious character of the group.

Claris is more of a low key character but she is quite solid. Her magical attacks definitely look a lot more impressive than the bullets and ninja stars everyone else is using. She is a very pleasant character who is happy to help and doesn’t really worry about anything. She’s quick to try and cover for Azami despite not being too invested in what’s going on just because she is a good friend. So while she doesn’t do a lot in the show, she leaves a very good impression. Their boss Sumire doesn’t do much either but you wouldn’t expect the boss to get mixed up in all of this. Mainly she is notable just because she was on the original show so it’s nice to see that she moved up. Hopefully one day she can access her powers again and suit up, defying what we thought was possible.

Then you have Hakushu, the White Cape. The show makes it plain as day that they are the same character so you don’t have to worry about spoilers. The show is definitely self aware about this the whole time as her disguise is completely obvious. All she does it put on a mask and a cape but everything else is the same from her voice to the hair style. In her first scene we have Sakura chasing White Cape and when she turns the corner there is Hakushu who half heartedly says the Cape ran off. Hakushu also tends to make errors when talking as if she was White Cape and always has a weak excuse as to why that happened.

The show has a blast with this so get ready for the big reveal. Either way Hakushu is easily the best character in the series though. The fact that she is portrayed as the most powerful character while not having a robot is pretty incredible. She always jumps in to help and is willing to do a whole lot more than any of the other characters. The scene of her deflecting tons of energy blasts using super speed is pretty incredible. It’s clear to see why she commands so much respect as Sakura’s boss. Part of why she is the best character is because of how many times she saves the characters. Aside from that, she also seems to be the most intelligent as she stays one step ahead of everyone else. She also finds time to run an orphanage so she is truly a woman of many talents. She steals any scene she is in.

Then you have the main villain Kaminski. This guy is your classic take over the world kind of villain. There’s not much different about him but he does have a flair for the dramatic which works really well. In general he tends to be a fun guy. He keeps a polite demeanor about him at all times even though you know it’s most likely fake the whole time. Considering how long he kept up this charade though, you feel like he gets really sloppy by the end. If he hadn’t suddenly tried being as evil as possible and being cold to Leila then he had a good chance to win this. It almost felt a little out of character for him to be honest as he made things really easy for the heroes. Well, either way he was a pretty charismatic villain that’s for sure and definitely not someone to underestimate.

Leila is his right hand woman and a great villain. She’s the standout villain because of her great character and hype demon form. Her story is a tragic one since she looks up to Kaminski and sees him as a hero so she chooses to ignore the fact that he is manipulating her the whole time. Again, at least he was pretending to be nice which is good so why wreck a good thing and start pushing her away? Leila does all of the hard work throughout the series and is quite powerful. Not only is she able to take on the whole Sakura team with ease but I dare say even White Cape would have a tough time with her. Part of what makes things tragic for Leila is there’s also a lot of memory and emotion tampering going on within her so she is rarely in her right state of mind. You’re certainly rooting for her to break free the whole time.

Then you have Shiba who is a solid mechanic here. One thing that separates him from most is that the guy can actually build useful things that don’t break. It’s a bit of a foreign concept in Sakura Wars where usually the geniuses are a little eccentric to put it mildly or just build walking disasters. This guy even showed some leadership experience like when he had the team tail Sakura. This guy’s a pure comedy character that’s for sure but he excels at it and all of his scenes are a blast. Now, would I sacrifice a scene of his to get some more of Excalibur and the other heroine? Absolutely, but that was likely not on the table anyway so I’ll take what I can get here.

This show even manages to avoid having much of any real fanservice. The fact that the show is CGI probably helps a bit with that since even if the character design for Leila’s super form could have gone tricky, the show didn’t go there. Aside from CGI, that’s just a directing thing though so the director did really good to always play the scene straight. She’s a demon fighting the heroes, the show never tries for anything other than that. That’s when you know that the show is going to be a really solid adventure from start to finish. I suppose we have the gag of Shiba running out of the shower to get slammed but I wouldn’t really count that to be honest. If you like the gag of someone yelling as the camera fades out though, Shiba gets a lot of that.

While the animation is quite solid as I mentioned, I will say that it’s still hard not to chuckle during the dance scenes. Maybe it’s because of how smooth and gracefully the characters move, but it’s just hard to take the villains seriously when they’re just dancing as they talk about the plans. I will say that it’s fun when Leila styles on the heroes while dancing though. Now that’s a whole other level of disrespect right there. There’s even a dancing battle so you can tell the show was having some fun with this. Hey, if you can do solid dance numbers and want to show off the animation why not right? Then you have the epic stills where the colors really jump out of the page and you’re reminded of the potential of CGI all over again. Honestly if every CGI show looked like this we wouldn’t have any problems. Hand Drawn would still be the best but this would be a much more respectable backup plan.

Overall, Sakura Wars: the Animation is a terrific anime. The government looks pretty bad as they fall for every trick in the book but Sakura’s team stays strong throughout and makes sure to protect Klara. When they fail that job White Cape is always around to help out so they have a great system going. Part of what sets the show apart from the rest of the titles in this series is how much action it has. The rest of the Sakura War titles just can’t match this. The best bet would be the OVA for Revolution but that is shorter so by definition it can’t match up. This one’s got fights in pretty much every episode. The final episode especially goes bold with this as the whole episode is really a big fight scene. By the end of the series we learn why one character is so exceptionally strong and I dare say that leaves room for a nice sequel someday. Honestly the humans are in a fantastic spot right now so they don’t need to worry but it’s still good to be prepared. One plot still going is the demons approaching. It’s implied that as long as Klara exists they will keep on coming so ultimately they need to find a way to take out the demons for good. That would make for a fun sequel.

Overall 8/10

SSSS.Gridman Review


Gridman is an anime from not too long ago. It deals with robots, aliens, and a whole lot of other sci-fi elements. It’s a pretty fun show and one that makes for a pretty quick watch since there are only 12 episodes at the moment. There are quite a few twists and turns as you go through the series so you can try to see if you get where the show is going early on. With solid action and an ongoing mystery type plot on the back-end what’s not to like? Either way you should definitely have a good time.

The show starts off by introducing us to Yuta. He has complete memory loss which is pretty unfortunate since he seems like he had just said something to the popular girl at school Rikka but has no idea what he said. She’s nice enough to take him to the hospital and then show him where he lives. Yuta then gets reintroduced to his best friend Sho and tries to make the best of this new life. He’s a bit weirded out by the fact that the town is surrounded by giant Kaiju. Nobody seems to notice them so only Yuta can even perceive the giant things. Yuta also dreams about a being named Gridman who is stuck in a computer. When a Kaiju attacks the city, Yuta follows his instincts and jumps into the computer. This allows him to turn into Gridman and fight off the Kaiju.

There is more to the story than this though. So Sho, Yuta, and Rikka form the Gridman alliance to stop the Kaiju. There are a few concerns. One is naturally what these Kaiju are and how they are appearing in the city. 2. Nobody remembers the Kaiju attacks once they are foiled and all of the damage to the city ends up being fixed. 3. Anyone murdered directly by a Kaiju stays dead even when the city is refreshed but now nobody remembers that character ever existing. Clearly there is a mastermind behind this and the heroes need to figure that out.

The viewers know this from the jump though as the show immediately reveals Akane as the big antagonist along with her alien friend known as Alexis. It’s one of those interesting dynamics where you are many steps ahead of the protagonists from the jump. Akane may not seem like your average villain but she is quite sinister with how willing she is to murder anyone who crosses her even if it’s just something minor like dropping her sandwich. Akane absolutely doesn’t have any sympathy for other characters.

As the show goes on you learn more and more about the city and all of your questions will be answered. Delving into any of that would be heavy spoiler territories though but needless to say it makes for a pretty fun twist. There is one supporting character who briefly appears to explain the twist and throw an info dump on Yuta but she disappears after that. I would be interested to see what she does in the future. I hope the character returns because there is a lot of potential there.

As the main character Yuta is decent. He’s a nice guy who always tries his best. Yuta does resist Akane’s attempts to seduce him which is good since you want to have a strong main character. He fights well in the mech and basically does whatever needs to get done. Yuta doesn’t have a whole lot of personality outside of just being your classic main character but there’s nothing bad to say about him either. Maybe he gets a bit jealous at times involving Rikka but that’s about it and it’s usually pretty mild.

Then you have his friend Sho who tends to panic a little more. Sho gets a bit of a mini character arc where he experiences a lot of self doubt. Aside from that period he was pretty confident the whole time though and did well as Yuta’s right hand man. The main heroine is Rikka and she’s a solid character. At times she may seem a bit desperate to be Akane’s friend despite Akane always insulting her but the show even explains this one pretty well. Rikka’s definitely a fun character so I can see why she grew pretty popular. She has more development than a lot of the other characters.

Gridman has a few allies who show up with Calibur probably getting the best role from all of them. They’re helpful to have around and each of them help out in the big fights. The fact that Calibur can fight rather well even in the human world is handy though. Gridman mostly just repeats his speech about saving the world the whole show but there is something that happens at the end which helps him a lot. It makes him a far more interesting main character so there’s a lot that season 2 can do with him. The guy has potential and I like the design.

As for the villains, Akane is naturally the main one for the season. She is constantly coming up with new Kaiju threats to use in battle. She certainly has a lot of Kaiju knowledge which is handy as well. Ultimately she really became her worst enemy as she could have had a much easier time of things if she wasn’t trying to be so commanding all the time. Her trying to make the world perfect is really what drives people away. She ultimately doesn’t seem to like people all that much despite wanting to be liked the whole time which puts her in a bit of a spot. Ultimately she may take a lot of detours in accomplishing her goals but if that’s what it takes for her to have more fun then I guess it was worth it to her. Her actions don’t always make a lot of sense but that seems intentional.

Then you have Alexis who is a blast. The entire show it feels like he is really just trolling everyone and that makes him a compelling villain. It reminds me a lot of the villain “Hero” from the Hyper Neptunia Virtual Stars game. They have similar designs and voice styles. Alexis has a plan of his own of course and he definitely looks really good by the end. This guy was definitely a scene stealer and it was always fun to see what his responses are. Despite his joking around a lot of the time, you always knew that you would have to keep your guard up around him.

Finally we have Anti who ended up being the best character in the show easy. This guy had a whole lot of character development. While he is a Kaiju who has a human body, he gradually grows more sentient as he stays human. From being one note to actually creating plans and understanding what it means to be human, Anti really manages to stand out as a result. He had some really great fight scenes as well. His ability to adapt to any opponent and keep on fighting was definitely impressive. His final form in the series is pretty great as well although my favorite form might have been 1 or 2 steps behind that one.

There’s a lot to like in Gridman with the engaging story and characters. I wouldn’t say the cast of characters is one of the strongest that I’ve seen recently as the main heroes don’t have a whole lot of personality next to others but the villains were all solid and we do get a lot of quality interactions. The writing is never in doubt and remains solid all throughout the series. For me the best episode in the series was number 6 as that is when the show really took a turn and we learned a whole lot of twists about the series. Now, I could have done without the very final twist in the closing seconds of the final episode personally since the twist could have taken a few other directions but it is a bold play either way which you can appreciate.

The animation here is very smooth indeed. The fight scenes are on point, especially when Anti was fighting Calibur or the final episode clashes. With the Kaiju there is a little less movement of course and yet the studio did a good job of making them give Gridman a good fight. Gridman often had the speed advantage of course but the Kaiju would either have enough durability to tank it or they would move pretty quickly. The weakest one was probably the giant volcano though since he couldn’t really move. Anti looks even more impressive by the end of the series considering that 1 on 1 most of these Kaiju gave Gridman a good fight while Anti was mowing through a bunch of them.

In particular aside from the excellent action scenes I also liked the eye effects. Eye effects are always a lot of fun in anime and that’s no different here. The characters had very detailed eyes which would sometimes even have more than 1 color. It’s a fun thing to see because it just makes the characters that much more memorable. It adds an extra dimension to things you can say.

On the opposite side, the series did have some fanservice here and there. Nothing really crazy, mostly it’s limited to just Akane in the show when she’s at home or messing with Yuta. The beach episode is the one exception because of course you know the Beach episode is always going to be here to try and shake things up. So on the whole I wouldn’t say the show has a big issue here. Enough where it is noticeable but it could certainly be far worse.

The soundtrack is pretty good in the show. We get some solid scenes like the insert song at the very end of the show and some good action tunes. It’s a well rounded soundtrack that works well for the show and the theme it’s going for. We even have a bit of a mysterious theme going on for when the heroes are wondering about what to do next. As much as it’s an action show this title also does focus on the mystery angle quite a bit as well.

The initial episodes of the show go for a more monster of the week kind of vibe until the end so if you’re a big Kaiju fan I imagine that may be your favorite part. Each Kaiju gets to have an episode to themselves after all and they get a good amount of hype. Being able to go up against Gridman is definitely not something that just anyone can do after all. The opening of the show is always a good way to introduce the characters as well since they get to bond while fighting off against these threats.

Time for two spoilers paragraphs so skip these if you haven’t seen the show yet. It deals with some of the final twists of the show so learning this ahead of time would definitely spoil the twist. So at the end of the show there’s quite a bit to think about. For example from Akane’s perspective, is she really as bad as all of that if her actions don’t actually effect anyone real? For example, when her Kaijus attack the town aside from anyone she is targeting, nobody stays dead or injured. If she is targeting someone who never truly existed and who technically doesn’t in the present either, then is she really destroying someone? It’s sort of like the next step to a VR video game. If you destroy an NPC nobody bats an eye. If the video game was drawn to scale and you were playing through it, suddenly the violence and gameplay mechanics are a lot more real so that would be more of a real attack right? Where the line gets drawn is definitely a very interesting point. That’s not what’s going on here with video games or things like that but it’s a decent analogy. My view would be she’s still the villain clearly because the instant she created all of these people as god from her bed in the real world, they did exist. Now, it’s implied that the entire series is just a dream she was having and none of it is real. In that case if it’s a pure dream then nothing is actually happening anyway right?

Well, it’s hard to say for sure because of the Gridman team who come from another planet and the Kaiju girl who appears on the train. In theory they could also be apart of the dream since if this is all happening in Akane’s mind then nothing is really happening. If you look at it from that perspective as everything being one big dream, then she was having fun playing the villain in her dream but that’s it. Alternately, she essentially manages to create a whole psyche in the dream world and then created a city. Her entire life just happened in the span of a dream and it felt longer than in the real world. The Gridman team was somehow able to get in to try and fix this or Akane’s dream managed to take over an existing world. There’s just a lot of ways you can spin this but personally in this case I think the simplest solution is the right one. The entire series is an elaborate dream including every character and lore mentioned in the series. None of it is real and when Akane goes back to sleep she will just dream about it all over again. Of course a sequel could theoretically destroy this theory but at least that’s my take on it.


Overall, SSSS.Gridman is a pretty solid anime. It’s got a lot of great action and solid pacing which is what you want to see in any show. At 12 episodes you’ll definitely be able to blast through this one in no time. Perhaps even in a day you can just speed-run through this. Any action fan or someone who likes a good ole action/mystery story should get a kick out of this. It’s just a very well rounded title that doesn’t really have any weaknesses. The whole amnesia plot does mean that Yuta isn’t really given a chance to do much for a while but he gradually just gets used to his new self and acts like one of the gang. It would definitely be fun to see the characters again and how they move forward from all of this. I imagine it will definitely be pretty tough on Yuta that’s for sure. Meanwhile Gridman seems quite similar to Ultraman so perhaps we can get a battle crossover someday. That would definitely be a blast.

Overall 7/10