Sakura Wars: School of Paris Review


The Sakura Wars marathon continues as we now focus completely on the France division. Aside from Ogami that means it’s time for a completely new team to shake things up. The OVA has 3 episodes so it’s definitely a pretty quick experience but that’s enough time to get all of the characters introduced. It looks like the team will have a fun dynamic. I certainly wouldn’t put these guys above the original Flower Division or the hype New York Branch quite yet but it’s definitely early as I’ve been with those guys for many hours while this group only about an hour so far.

The first episode focuses on Erica and Glycine meeting up for the first time. Glycine has royal heritage from her Viking ancestors so she believes in always holding her ground and behaving in a prim and proper fashion. Meanwhile Erica is more of a spacey person who gets distracted easily. She is a little more capable than she lets on though as Erica is actually a member of the Paris division. A group of secret fighters who protect the country from alien monsters who would attack it. Unlike Japan, Paris isn’t attacked very often but the government wants to be ready as they fear the attacks will soon increase in intensity. It’s why they are looking to bring Ogami in but at the moment their group is pretty small. In fact, Erica may have been the only member.

It’s a pretty fun way to start the OVA. Erica is a fun enough lead and her banter with Glycine is good. We also get a solid action scene in the museum which gets pretty intense. The monster was actually giving them a pretty good fight here. It’s why I always advise not having a gun as your main weapon because it will always be limited in how much damage the bullets can deal unless you are somehow able to augment their abilities. Otherwise you’re just not going to win the big battles. Fortunately for Erica, Glycine was able to use her super strength to turn the tides.

The second episode is more of an elaborate chase. So there is a villain known as Lobelia who seems to have the same spirit energy as the main heroines. Unfortunately she uses it for evil though as she is a burglar although the government says she performs just about every kind of crime. They’ve decided to take her down alive so they can force her to join the other heroes. It won’t be easy though so the two political leaders decide to have a chess match while waiting. The episode has a lot of subtext going on here as the chess battle mimics the actual events. It’s also pretty interesting to see onw of the future Sakura War members actually be a villain. She may be forced into helping them out but it doesn’t mean that she’s happy about it.

While not as solid as the first episode this is still a pretty reasonable follow up. I always like being able to see the actual powers on display since that gets a lot more focus in the game than in the actual OVAs and shows. Lobelia’s abilities are definitely the real deal with her master over fire. It’s pretty impressive how long she is able to elude the heroes and even to the end her reaction times served her well. I may not really be a fan of the character but she would definitely add quite a lot to the overall dynamic.

Then we’ve got the final episode which probably does end up having the most action. So the team is finally all united with the various members. Ogami is running them through a typical practice session when the robot ends up being corrupted by the clown villain. The Team has to then try and team up to take it down but this robot’s actually pretty tough and most of the members don’t have their robots ready. As a result it’s really Erica and Ogami doing their best to take it down. The fight switches between hand drawn and CGI a lot which makes for a pretty interesting action sequence. You definitely couldn’t have ended with a more fitting episode. You’ve now got the team assembled and also got to see what they’ve got against a true villain even if most of them were caught resting on their laurels here.

With only 3 episodes not all of the characters get a lot of development quite yet though. Coquelicot for example joined the group later on but doesn’t have much to do yet. We know that she likes animals but haven’t gotten to see much more than that. I can only assume that she is able to fight pretty well with the spirit power but we’ll have to wait and see that. Then you’ve got Hanabi who seems rather timid and trying to get over a recent death. She’s very polite and seems like a pretty kind hearted soul who’s a little in over her head. She doesn’t get a focus yet either.

Mainly the OVA is trying to give the screen time to the main 3 plus Ogami. Ogami definitely looks pretty good here even if it does seem like he’s not ready to handle this group yet. They’ve already started driving him crazy and he’s brand new there. I can only imagine how it’ll be for him soon. He probably just misses the gang but maybe he’ll warm up to these guys soon. In the meantime his sword skills are as good as ever.

As mentioned, Erica is a fun enough lead. She can maybe be a bit too oblivious at times and doesn’t have her priorities straight at times but at least she is good when it comes time to fight. She’s definitely experienced there. Glycine was definitely my favorite character here. I like her confidence and she was ready to jump right into the action when needed. She also doesn’t put up with Lobelia’s attitude the way the rest of the characters do. One thing she definitely does not tolerate is disrespect.

As for Lobelia, I do typically like when the characters show a lot of attitude and are rebellious. Lobelia fits those qualifications but at the same time her bar adventures are pretty suspect at best. She definitely goes all in on keeping her edge as she refuses to help even when her teammates are in trouble and about to be blown up. At least they definitely know where they stand with her. I imagine she’ll soften up a little more with the rest of the group eventually but for now even Sumire would have to be impressed with how antagonistic she is.

The animation is pretty solid here. You can definitely tell that it’s a bit newer than the last few. The colors are sharp and it’s all smooth. For the fight scenes it is interesting that they’re using more CGI. It’s definitely noticeable but CGI can work well. I’ll never put it quite above the classic hand drawn but it’s still good enough where I’d say the fight scene with the robots was pretty solid. It’s nice to see the mechs looking pretty fast now and having some real fight scenes here.

The OVA definitely leaves you with a good amount of questions to wonder about for the future. The villain appears briefly here as a clown but other than that we don’t really know anything about him. Most of this you’re not supposed to figure out as this is a supplementary OVA to the game as opposed to adapting the whole thing. It’s a pretty fun thing about these materials because if you own the game you can really pop these episodes in and have the complete experience. I’d definitely be down with more series doing this where you get to see the characters a little more in different scenarios.

Overall, The Paris Division is off to a pretty solid start. The Sakura Wars series is still in good hands here. The group dynamic may be a bit weaker but it’s always hard to catch up to the original bunch. I definitely hope we can have a crossover with the original cast from the Japan branch someday. After all we know without a doubt that these guys are in the same universe so I don’t think it’s too far fetched or anything like that. They just need to go ahead and do it. I think it would definitely be a pretty big hit. Hopefully we can also get more Sakura War titles licensed in the U.S.

Overall 7/10

Selector Spread WIXOSS Review


It’s time to look at the next season of Wixoss. This one directly continues from the first since there was such a cliffhanger there. The characters are still trying to pick up the pieces as their next adventure starts. Unfortunately some characters have been gravely broken to the point where they are practically written out of the show (Midoriko, Kazuki) and others have been mentally drained and no longer have the same fire that they once did (Ruko, Akira) so have the villains already won? This season is weaker than the first in almost every way but the Yuzuki plot takes a backseat here which is always great. Thanks to the body snatching the scenes with Hanayo and Kazuki also aren’t as bad although since he doesn’t know it doesn’t make him look any better.

The series picks up with Ruko on the rooftop staring in shock as her partner is now Iona instead of Tama. Iona proclaims that her wish was to be teamed with the strongest so now it has come true. Ruko isn’t thrilled about this and vows not to fight in anymore Wixoss battles as she tries to save Tama. The problem is, how can you hope to find and save Tama without battling? It’s a difficult problem that Ruko doesn’t really have a solution for. Her friends are no help as they constantly pressure her not to fight. Additionally the villains are on the move. Urith has decided to manipulate Akira so that she can plunge more people into despair. Ruko’s realistically the only one who can stand up to this menace.

Mainly I had some issues with Ruko here as her character went south very quickly. In the first season she finally steeled her resolve in the climax that she would do whatever it took to save all of the Lrigs. To that effect she lied to Tama and tried to sacrifice herself. Tama saw through this goal and stopped her so Ruko is back to square one. Instead of continuing with that same energy Ruko is back to being way more hesitant to fight. Even when Hitoe is being beaten up in front of her it takes an awful long time to battle. Battling is really the only way you can stand up to the villains. No matter what her friends may think, Ruko’s only recourse here is to fight. If she doesn’t fight then they don’t stand a chance and at the end of the day that’s the big hurdle that they need to get past.

So even by the end I wasn’t a big fan of Ruko here. She does what she has to do very reluctantly all the way through to the final episode where Tama has to ask her to actually fight seriously. As a result of her half hearted determination the ending doesn’t exactly seem to work out for everyone as smoothly as it could have. In contrast Tama was pretty solid here. She makes all of the right moves. Tama is given a chance to escape but doing so would have unlocked her dark side for good so she stayed in. She figures out how to exit a cage on her own and in general just seems to have a good grasp on the situation. Now that her memories are back she’s also able to reason things out rather well regarding Mayu’s goals. She’s still the strongest LRig out there even if her max power form makes her lose control.

Then you have Iona. Now that could be referring to quite a few characters at this point but I’m talking about the one from season 1 who is Ruko’s LRig the whole time. You can’t help but feel bad for her here since she seemingly got her wish but it’s nothing like what she was expecting since Ruko refuses to fight. Now she has effectively trapped herself in a card for no reason. She doesn’t let it get her down though and does a good job of hanging in there throughout. Iona looks good throughout the whole series. I was still half expecting the twist about her being Ruko’s mother since I felt like season 1 foreshadowed that a bit but I guess that’s not the case. Probably for the best since Ruko’s mother didn’t appear to be the nicest person back in the flashbacks.

As you’d expect Yuzuki’s role here is a lot smaller than in season 1. She’s trapped in a card after all so she can talk a lot but there’s no chance for her to act. I can see her fans being a little upset at this since once you’re in a card it just feels like you aren’t as important. The worst part for her is that Hitoe owns her so she can’t expect to get many wins either. In her only big battle I was rooting for the opponent. So Yuzuki’s okay here compared to season 1 but she gives the worst advice all of the time. She’s one of the main reasons why Ruko is so confused.

Naturally this doesn’t reflect well on Hitoe as well. She manages to get kidnapped here and just seems to hold Ruko back. I’d like to see her improve her Wixoss skills a bit and actually become an ally Ruko can rely on. I think that would do a world of good for her character and would be the first step to getting her on the map. It doesn’t seem likely but I suppose there is always a chance in the world of Wixoss. Hanayo also appears a bit of course but not a whole lot. She’s definitely not taking the situation all that well and ends up panicking near the end. She is far gone from her days of being the cold calculating LRig.

It goes without saying that Kazuki is still pretty annoying here. He suspects nothing to the point where the only explanation is that he just doesn’t know Wixoss anymore. Why else would he completely stop contacting Ruko and Hitoe? If he had talked to them at all he probably would have gotten a better sense of what is happening. How did he also not suspect that something was up? Yuzuki is back but no more cards and she never hangs out with her friends anymore? I say, Kazuki’s either extremely dense or extremely gullible if Hanayo just made up some story. Either way it’s not a good look for him.

Chiyori gets a much bigger role in this season and it’s for the better. She quickly rose up to be one of the best characters in the season with ease. She brings a lot of energy to the game and doesn’t get scared the way the others do. She really wants to win and has already accepted the risks. Her final duel is definitely the most emotional since everyone is against her. The “heroes” have decided that her being knocked out of the game would be best and her own LRig is trying to lose. It’s very difficult to win under those circumstances. I definitely felt bad for Chiyori since she easily gets one of the saddest endings out of all the characters in the series. Still, she had a great run though and ended up being one of the best characters either way. She definitely won’t be forgotten.

Fumio appears briefly but doesn’t have much of a role in the season beyond giving the heroes a quick info dump. Doesn’t really do anything beyond that though so you would be forgiven for forgetting that Fumio exists. Urith gets a bigger role here than in season 1 but I wouldn’t say that she looks great. She’s going for more of a manipulative angle for sure as she messes with Akira the whole time but the main problem is just that it shouldn’t work. Akira has never been portrayed as such a gullible character before so why start now? The whole plot was rather weak and it didn’t do wonders for Urith. She is good as a card but not great as a human.

As for Akira, she has taken the biggest fall this season. In season 1 she was hardcore as she went around stomping everyone in her path and just dishing out damage. In this season she is portrayed as extremely needy and gets depressed if Urith isn’t around. What happened to her? Gone are definitely the days when she was a big threat that everyone had to fear. It’s a shame because almost all of Akira’s scenes are just painful now. She will get the occasional good moment but they are very rare. The stab for example was good but the fact that it was not fatal wasn’t. She had quite the character turn but it’s so sudden and so massive that it just doesn’t feel like the same character anymore. I gotta say that this was just a mistake and this is the kind of plot that does hurt a season. Her scenes can be tough to watch.

Finally we have Mayu who is the mastermind behind all of this. She’s fairly spoiled and seems twisted from the start. At first you may figure that she’s a good person who went down the wrong path but that’s not the case at all. She’s portrayed as being clearly twisted right from the start. So much for that idea eh? It’s hard to feel bad for her. Sure, she is trapped in a room for all of eternity but she has magical powers by which she can make an entire game. If she had left it at that she would have been good. Why add the final rule that the lower has to get corrupted and live a life of misery while the winner turns into a card? These are rules that are completely unnecessary and definitely destroy any chance Mayu had at being sympathetic. She just wants to see the other characters suffer which isn’t very heroic of her.

The animation is definitely solid like in the first season. There isn’t a noticeable difference between them which makes sense since the season came out shortly after the first. If anything the first season may still have some of the most dynamic scenes like Yuzuki’s contract still being the most awe inspiring with all of the crimson effects everywhere. All of the contract scenes are always stunning with all of the energy effects being used though. Beyond that the animation is just smooth with the action scenes being very dynamic. Tama landing her hand to hand combo while in dark mode for example was definitely pretty intense. There’s definitely nothing to dislike there. As for the soundtrack the themes are mainly the same as in the first season. We do get a new opening though which is pretty solid. Both openings are very close to each other so it’s hard to say which is better. They both have a solid ominous theme behind them.

Ultimately I would say that the season is a little weaker than the first thanks in part to Akira really being thrown away as a character. She was so cool in season 1 so I don’t know why the show would go in this direction. It was unexpected so I’ll give the writers that but she just doesn’t feel like the same character. Her Akalucky name just doesn’t work now with all of these bad things happening to her. It’s also always hard to quite match the first season for a mysterious anime like this. Now we know the rules of the game and such so the main obstacle is the heroes trying to stop Mayu and get Tama back as opposed to figuring out why they are battling.

We get more origin stories and such which are good for lore but not quite as interesting as the main story itself. I still feel like Fumio doesn’t serve much of a role in the story and Mayu is a pretty weak villain. Her goals and plans aren’t all that good. That’s not a writing thing though, I’m pretty sure you’re meant to think that Mayu has just confused herself over and over with her plans. She could have easily had a happy ending if she had actually tried for it. The season itself has a far more definitive ending than the first season though. This is the kind of ending where you almost wouldn’t even need another season. Of course it’s always good to have more and more since I think all franchises should strive to be as long as possible. There’s always a way to bring more to the story and future plotlines for Ruko are pretty obvious. Her goals are not yet 100% complete so she’ll need to work on that.

The rules of the game are still not really explained but this season tries to show them a bit more. We actually acknowledge trap cards now and we see opponents using counters and strategies against each other. Evidently the elemental nature of the decks is also quite important here to the point where it’s hard for some elements to beat others. I have to say that this seems like a potentially troublesome mechanic since that invites a bit of rock paper scissors into the mix. It’s all the more reason to feel bad for Chiyori since she was trying her best. Not everyone can be a winner of course as there will be a loser in each fight but it would have been nice to see her win more. At the end of the day she is just a kid though and I suppose she hasn’t come into her own in terms of ability quite yet.

Overall, Wixoss continues to be a pretty interesting magical girl show even if the execution isn’t quite there yet. It’s still not able to get the same sense of dread as Madoka or if it’s slowly trying to transition it still doesn’t have the same energy as Angelic Layer. So it’s sort of stuck in the middle where bad things happen happen to the heroes and there is a sense of danger but not at the same level and the heroes are a little too hesitant to do anything about it. In a way it’s tough for the cast because Ruko is the only hero who can really fight well. It’ll be good for her to get some more reliable allies at some point in the future. If you already saw season 1 then you should definitely continue the saga. There’s less Yuzuki and Kazuki which is always good but Akira’s plot is really bad so get ready to shake your head once she appears. How the mighty have fallen!

Overall 5/10

Selector Infected WIXOSS Review


It’s time to look at the first season of Wixoss. Wixoss is one of those series that has a pretty cool concept but limits itself with a particular subplot. Online a lot of times you see people mention how they love anime but have a hard time recommending them to people who are not yet initiated into the format because of a plot or character that can be iffy. I can definitely see what they mean as even the best of titles tend to have some iffy elements that you more or less get used to as you watch them. That said, this one definitely sabotages itself early on but I’ll get more into that in a bit.

The series follows a girl named Ruko who doesn’t really have any friends. As a result her brother and grandma tend to worry about her. One day she is introduced to the game of Wixoss and can even talk to one of her cards. The card is an Lrig named Tama. Ruko then meets up with a girl named Yuzuki who challenges her to a battle. Ruko is winning the battle but it is then interrupted and she is told the full story. Ruko has been chosen as a “Selector” which means that her battles of Wixoss will be different from most. If she wins enough battles then she will have her wish granted. The problem is that Ruko has no wish that she wants to grant. All of the other girls are fighting as if their lives are on the line because their wish is so important. Can Ruko really fight and destroy these wishes with none of her own? At the same time, Ruko has only started to make some friends because of the game so if she stops now then she may lose them all.

Right from the start I imagine you’ll have some doubts on how legit the game is. In magical girl shows like this there is always a catch. Just look at Madoka where you end up turning into a witch at the end. I’ll go into this more later on in a spoiler paragraph that I’ll warn you about before entering. In the meantime lets talk more about the show in general. The rules of Wixoss are never really explained. The show doesn’t bother to lay the groundwork here which is a shame. Scripting out entire battles can be pretty difficult which is why it’s always so impressive when Yugioh does it. This show takes the easy way out as it focuses on just showing us the characters attacking and you have to trust that they’re following the rules. There’s no way to really tell though so that makes things a little easier on the writers.

The animation for the show is definitely pretty solid. The character designs are on point and the energy effects look sharp. When we do get the occasional hand to hand technique combo the animation is quite smooth as well. This isn’t really an action title at its core but it can certainly deliver. The animation is also really sharp whenever a contract is made. I liked the lighting during episode 12 as well which helped solidify that as the best episode. It had a very theatrical feel to it as the end drew near.

As for the soundtrack, it’s a little less memorable but I did like it. It’s not a huge soundtrack or anything but I wouldn’t expect it to be for only 12 episodes. There will be a handful of tunes you will enjoy though. I also liked the opening well enough. Wixoss definitely did well in all of the technical areas as you would expect. It’s basically like Megaman or Angelic Layer with the setting and this is just taking a darker look at the genre. Even then it’s nowhere near as dark as Madoka or something but throughout the show you know things are not going to go well for the heroes.

All right, lets talk about the troublesome plot. Yuzuki is one of the main characters and her wish is for her to be together with her brother Kazuki. Unfortunately along the way she started to like him and not in a family sense. It’s an unfortunate plot here in part because it takes up so much space. This isn’t super uncommon for anime. Usually though it’s played for laughs like in Black Clover or Railgun. It’s a comedy plot that shows up every now and then and you can almost write it off as not actually being serious from the character’s perspective in some anime. I’d say both of those are serious but they’re gag plots in the background that don’t effect much. Wixoss decides to take this plot quite seriously and have them deal with everyone’s reactions and how society considers it taboo. Unfortunately it doesn’t land.

Sword Art Online gets attacked a lot for its similar plot with Suguha and Kirito but that series actually tackled it a lot better. Suguha actually tried to get over Kirito by playing video games but unfortunately the next guy she liked turned out to be Kirito in disguise. So at least she tried to escape. When Kirito found out he very quickly and decisively shut that down. He did it in a nice way of course but did not entertain the notion for an instant. She’s his sister even if that’s not literally the case it’s how he sees her so it wouldn’t work. In this show Kazuki very quickly crumbles after 10 minutes of Yuzuki being direct and it’s all over for him.

The show definitely approaches this in a serious way but it’s not a good idea from the start. That’s because there’s no way you could spin this into a good thing. It just comes across as creepy immediately and gets way more screen time than it should. I was originally hoping Yuzuki’s wish was that they weren’t related so she could then make her move. That would have at least helped but since it wasn’t then this issue was not solved. So this plot is really what would prevent me from being able to recommend this show. It’s just a hard plot to get around and ends up dramatically hurting both of their characters. Kazuki in particular since he folds so easily. You’d think he could have stayed strong for more than a day. Instead he proves to be quite weak willed.

As for Yuzuki, it’s a shame since she was probably the most enjoyable character for a little while there. I like that she has a tougher disposition than the others. When the two characters get held at knifepoint by Akira Yuzuki is pretty quick to push her away. When the bullies are after Ruko Yuzuki is also key to eluding them and helping her evacuate the school. There’s just no way to overlook this plot though which definitely has her take a huge hit in the character department. I do doubt her skills as a Wixoss player though since she was losing to a girl who had never played before and didn’t even know the rules. How does that happen?

Ruko is the main character and she ends up being a strong one by the end. She really just wants to have some friends and is glad to have someone to talk too. She didn’t have the greatest childhood although her situation is a lot better now that she’s with her grandma. Getting involved in a game of life or death to her wishes is a pretty big next step though. While she is fairly undecided for a good portion of the story, she does get herself resolved by the end. I greatly enjoyed her character in the final episodes as she finally got serious. She’s consistently been shown to be the strongest character in the series here and the only thing that holds her back is self doubt. Without that she would be able to crush her opponents with ease.

Tama is one of the main Lrigs and definitely the best one. She’s not manipulative the way the others are. In a way this is because she lost her memories though. Unlike the others she has no idea on what is going on here and just wants a good fight. She loves fighting and as a result is always asking Ruko to participate. It’s definitely good to have an LRig who enjoys the game. It makes things easier on Ruko at least and they make for a good combo. Tama’s card must have great stats as well with how she easily takes care of her opponents.

Then you have Iona who is one of the main antagonists here. She’s rich and one of the most powerful players so she can come across as rather intimidating. She’s not unhinged the way that Akira is but still exudes an aura of great power. She’s not someone that you want to mess with and she’s a very solid character. She’s probably the only person who doesn’t back down to Akira. Aside from her fights with Ruko you never get the feeling that she’s in trouble. It’s why she makes for a great villain and the back and forth with Ruko in the final episode made for a very intense final battle.

Then you have Hanayo who is Yuzuki’s partner. She comes across as one of the wiser Lrigs although because of that you can’t really trust her. After all, the more you know about the game the more that you are keeping from your Selector. Hanayo certainly has plans of her own. The show tries to make her a sympathetic figure but it’s hard to buy into it. She knew exactly what she was doing and the only reason she didn’t say anything is for her own benefit. So no matter how you slice it, she’s not someone that you can trust.

Akira is one of the villains of the series and easily the best character by the end. She is definitely willing to win by any means necessary and is the most savage fighter. What I also liked about her was her quick wit. She can read into the wish of her opponents and always twists it in such a way where the opponent loses confidence. She does this to all 3 of the main characters with great success. In particular it was impressive with how she handled Ruko since you’d think that not having a wish would trip her up but Akira takes it in stride. She can be rather insane and cruel but that’s what makes Akira so good. Her nickname gimmick is fun as well. You won’t find a character tougher than Akira. From this season you can tell that nothing will break her. The fact that she even tried attacking the characters in the real world showed her true resolve.

Chiyori is a character who shows up briefly in the series but doesn’t get much of a role here. She basically serves as a quick opponent to be defeated and someone who still plays the game for fun. By the end of the season she won’t have made much of an impression on you although her outfit is cool. Midoriko is probably the worst of the LRigs in the series. Just a very weak character all around and doesn’t make any of the right decisions. As an LRig you either need to embrace being the villain or try to be a rare hero. Midoriko tries to act sympathetic the entire time but when you’re always saying the plot twists a bit too late, it starts to ring as hollow.

Urith is an example of an LRig who likes being the antagonist. She talks tough throughout the series and definitely isn’t afraid of anyone. She is a very interesting character and definitely one that you like to have around. It helps that she can back up her tough talk. Finally we have Hitoe who is definitely the most timid member of the main group. She’s not really much of a fighter at all and tends to lose just about every battle she’s in. Her backstory is rather tough since she’s never had friends before and wants some but isn’t sure how to go about it. I was glad that her mother appears as a very reasonable character and not one who is making things even tougher on her. Ultimately Hitoe has a solid character arc but she never quite rose up for me. She stayed as a fairly weak character and I’ll need to see her step up to the plate to change that.

These next 2 paragraphs are the spoiler ones so please keep that in mind and skip them if you have not seen the show yet. You don’t want to keep on reading. So it turns out that the cost for losing 3 battles is that your wish becomes distorted and you forget about Wixoss. For example if your wish is to make friends then you can never make friends again. It’s a tough penalty but not one that really sticks. We find out in the series that you can override the negative wish if you have enough willpower. It makes sense though because the wish also has limits. It turns out that the Wixoss cards can’t really use magic to make wishes come true. What happens is if you win enough battles, your Lrig takes over your body and you take its place. It actually makes a lot of sense since it’s pronounced Elrig and the girls are told they will become Eternal Girls when they win. If you spell that backwards it would be GirlE. (Eternal Girl) It turns out that it’s spelled a different way as I found out when writing this review but because of that you may figure out the twist almost immediately.

With few exceptions, the Lrigs have no real powers. So that means if your wish is to take over a Kingdom or something it’s not going to happen. Literally how the pact works is once the LRig takes over your body it has to fulfill the wish you asked for to the best of its abilities. A lot of these wishes are pretty easy like becoming an author or making friends. Some like claiming a romance should be more difficult but the Lrigs tend to have some charm. It does then make sense why they can’t enforce the negative wishes so well either. I do still question how Akira overrode hers so easily though. She didn’t forget the game for an instant and went right back on the attack. I suppose her will is just rock solid. So the whole game feels like a scam the more you think about it but of course the characters don’t know this. It’s an interesting twist since usually the powers are absolute.

The best episode of the series is definitely the last one for me. I was glad that Ruko finally had a strong resolve and fought for it. Her deception to Tama was a pretty big one though. I suppose she figured Tama would never know but in a game where your LRig can read your mind at times that is very risky. I do think Ruko’s decision was a good one but while I understand the lie, she should have been upfront with Tama. It may not have worked but it’s a risk you have to take. The idea of a quick tournament while climbing up the tower made for a solid climax as well. It’s just a great way to end the season and the cliffhanger is intense. You definitely know there will be a season 2 from how it ends but if not that would have been quite the ending for sure.

Overall, Wixoss had a rocky first season. If you take away Yuzuki’s plot then this definitely gets bumped up a pair of stars but ultimately that plot is absolutely crucial to the season in the sense that it appears in almost every episode. It would basically be a different show without it. There are ways the show could have fixed it and had a similar plot instead but the past is the past. With how events unfold in this season the next one will have changed the dynamic a bit. So the show handles most of its aspects rather well but I’d sooner recommend checking out the original Magical Girl show with high stakes known as Madoka Magica. To this day that’s still one of the all stars of anime.

Overall 5/10

My Hero Academia Season 4 Review


It’s time to take a look at the long overdue season 4 of MHA. My Hero’s definitely been going pretty strong getting season after season. It’s definitely good to see because when you’re a Jump flagship title like Hero is then you definitely deserve to get it. Back in the day it was more common to see long running anime that just wouldn’t end as they adapted like Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach but seasonal is the new in thing and I’d say it works pretty well. Especially in MHA’s case as the next season is announced almost immediately each time. In general I’d say the seasons have been getting better and better with 3 being my favorite followed by 2 and then 1. 4 breaks this trend as I would consider it to be the weakest one. Still very good of course and I suppose if a series continues to go up it has to stop at some point. This one happens to involve a what I’ve always considered to be one of the worst decisions by the main hero. More on that later.

As with the other MHA seasons it is divided into 2 story arcs here. The main one is easily the Overhaul arc. So it turns out that a gang of Yakuza led by Overhaul is making a bit of a comeback. The Yakuza have an interesting setup because even though everyone knows they’re evil, the live out in the open and can’t really be attacked. The heroes need to find some proof of their wrong doing and the Yakuza’s new alliance with the League of Villains is the perfect tie to do so. Additionally, Overhaul has a girl in his custody who he is forcing to create anti-hero bullets using her body/quirk. Deku and the team had a chance to save her early on but did not take it. Now he is extra determined to save her this time around. The heroes launch an all out assault on Overhaul’s base. Can the heroes really get through to the goal?

That takes up the first 14 episodes and we have a lot of action here throughout the arc. Right when the heroes approach the mafia base they are quickly attacked and from here on out the whole arc is a bunch of nonstop fight scenes. I always enjoy when the heroes have to split up and take everyone out. It’s a tried and true arc setup that doesn’t disappoint because you really get to see everyone fight. It’s not like the main character can take everyone on so this is the time for the secondary characters to shine and it’s why you need a strong supporting cast. None of the fights in this arc are weak. They’re all quite good and it makes the whole thing feel pretty grand. Perhaps not with the same literal stakes as All Might vs All For One but it’s more of a personal fight which ends up making it pretty equivalent.

Let’s get the Deku stuff out of the way early and then go into the rest. Early on in the arc Deku and Mirio head out on patrol and run into Overhaul and a little girl. The girl has obviously been through quite a lot and is injured. She has bandages over her arms and legs. Still, Eri manages to run from Overhaul and over to Deku where she literally tells him not to go. Now, before this you could make the case that he wasn’t sure she was in trouble but by now there is no way this isn’t happening. Ultimately once they go into the dark alley Eri realizes that the heroes aren’t doing anything while Overhaul is getting ready to make his move so she runs back to him while Deku and Mirio just watch. It’s a terrible scene all the way around. Even ignoring the fact that Overhaul is running live experiments on Eri which the heroes couldn’t have known about, they do know that he’s been injuring her. He basically confirms that to them in his speech. She’s just a little kid, they’re obligated to help her out.

It’s not a morally gray situation or a scenario where the heroes aren’t sure of what to do. The solution is clear as day and it is that they need to help her. This really hurt both Deku and Mirio’s characters as heroes. I dare say that a lot of characters who are vigilantes or heroes with heroic tendencies would have stepped in. These two are both heroes and that’s what their whole lives are all about. It’s inexcusable of them to just ignore Eri when she’s in trouble like this. They spend the rest of the season and even future seasons reminded of this at every turn but it’s just not a mistake that should have happened in the first place. Some mistakes make sense, but this was really something.

So that takes care of that and it’s why Deku gets a low grade from me in this season. There’s just no way you can bounce back from that in the same season. As for Mirio, he’s one of the new characters in this series. He’s the man who wants to save a million people. While that isn’t quite the same as saving everyone, it shows that he acknowledges that it won’t always be possible to save everyone. He has one of the best quirks in the series. With permeation he can make parts of his body intangible and can slip through the ground very easily to attack someone from behind. He’s portrayed as not only being one of the strongest students in the series but even one of the strongest heroes. It’s no exaggeration to say that he’s easily Top 5 among the pro heroes. Obviously All Might would defeat him but after that it gets interesting. Personally I think Endeavor matches up really well against Mirio so I would give him the win. It’s very close with Hawks so I’d say Mirio is either 3rd or 4th which is really good.

Naturally Mirio is also to blame for the earlier season. Debatably more because he was the one holding Deku back although it’s still equal since as a hero you can’t let others tell you what to do. Mirio does have one of the best fights in the series. While the animation isn’t quite given the special budget the way Deku’s fight was, I would consider Mirio’s fight second in the season only to Deku vs Gentle Criminal. Part of what makes it work is how intense the fight is. The music is top tier and the fight is a mix of regret and utter determination. Mirio’s fighting overwhelming odds. It’s a fight that as the viewer you know he cannot win which makes it all the more intense. I’ve rewatched this fight more than any other in the series. Part of it is also the stellar voice acting and that the fight is fairly short so it’s easy to go back and check out quite a lot. In some ways it’s a more powerful fight than with the Criminal although that’s still my favorite because of how great the action choreography is. That first shot of Mirio taking down both villains and grabbing Eri was super impressive though. Without a hostage he definitely would have won this round rather easily.

Suneater is another member of the big 3 and he gets a pretty big fight. The guy is super nervous and doesn’t believe in himself the way that Mirio does. He prefers to stick to the shadows and just observe what is going on. His quirk is that he can take animal attributes from what he eats and uses that in combat. It’s a very unique quirk. Perhaps not as useful as Mirio’s but it works out pretty well either way. I prefer characters who are more confident so he’s not one of my favorites but I really enjoyed his fight. It’s rare to see villains using so much teamwork and yet they were acting like a well oiled machine. I actually think Suneater should have lost that fight in the end but ultimately it was a satisfying encounter either way.

I’ll give this to Overhaul’s minions. A lot of them aren’t very memorable as I don’t remember their names but when you rewatch the fights they did rather well. This trio was very good against Suneater. Then you have the guy with the dizzy powers who fought Mirio. It may not be a very offensive ability but it was a useful one to have. I’ll probably never remember that guy’s name but he was quite solid. Then you have Rappa who is one of my favorite Hero villains. The guy loves a good fight and he fights fairly. No underhanded tricks for him because he’s confident in his abilities and that’s how it should be. If you doubt yourself then what’s the point right? When you really think about it, Overhaul has a much better villain group than Tomura. I’ll take these guys over the League of Villains any day.

Unfortunately the only member of the Big 3 to not really get anything to do was Nejire. Her abilities of flight and energy blasts would lend themselves well to a fight. Hopefully one day she gets a proper match. She’s a fun enough character but I want to see her get some action. Even Fat Gum got a big fight here. I’m not a big fan of the guy but he’s a reasonable hero. The ability of being able to soak up damage and then release it is very handy and we’ve seen quite a few characters use that effectively in media like Yang from RWBY or even Adam from the same series.

Eri is a nice enough character even if she can’t fight. She always prioritizes other people’s safety which is quite mature for a little girl like herself. Once she learns how to control her ability she will end up being one of the best support characters in the field. Aizawa is another great support character since erasing an entire quirk is an incredibly useful ability to have. It’s why the villains always have to try and knock him out of the fight early. In a 1 on 1 fight it’s unlikely that you’ll defeat Aizawa. I can’t say I was sold on him in the beginning but I’ve grown to enjoy his character more. Between his origin story (Not in this season though) and his various appearances throughout the series he has solidified himself as a solid mentor you can count on.

Sadly Bakugo pretty much misses out on the whole season. He’s around for the babysitting arc of course but that’s about it. It’s a shame because having him in the Overhaul arc would have been a blast. He has a decent matchup against Overhaul as well. He’s still the best character in the series and has already appeared a ton so I guess taking a season off isn’t bad. His main partner Kirishima gets more of a lead role instead. He has a few notable moments here but the best one is definitely his fight against Rappa where he has to try and shatter his limits. His ability to shore up his defense by becoming as hard as iron is definitely handy. The fact that he was able to awaken this to a level 2 ability was definitely useful as well. If he keeps growing like this he can definitely be one of the top heroes. It’s a simple quirk, but a highly effective one all the same.

Nighteye is one of the new heroes and since he used to work with All Might that makes for a pretty personal connection to Deku. His ability to see the future is a very useful one. In general I always like that ability. It can be hard to write around but s long as you define some limits then it works out. I would make the case for example that Deku still should have crushed him in the fight because even when seeing the future you can’t hope to keep up with Deku’s speed. That’s the one thing about seeing the future. Just because you can see what the opponent is about to do doesn’t mean that you can hope to stop it. He was a quality character either way though. I actually thought he was in the right with his arguments about the future with All Might. It’s an incredible useful ability and the two of them could have worked out a way to try and change things. All Might’s decision to just get out of there wasn’t good. Nighteye at least stayed in the field and continued using his ability for the good of everyone.

Tomura appears here but he definitely plays second fiddle to Overhaul. Sure, Tomura gets his big moment at the end but it’s more petty than anything since he didn’t dare go in on a frontal assault. There are quite a few parallels with the two such as their similar quirks. A single touch can obliterate either one of them. In that sense I don’t think Tomura would lose to Overhaul as it would be a mutual kill but that wouldn’t benefit anyone. It’s still fair to say that Overhaul had the edge in their meetup though. His group was better prepared and it was a tough one for the League of Villains to overcome. It’s why they needed to get their revenge in the end. It’ll be good to see Tomura take up more of a role in the future although the nature of his ability means that it’s tough to have a real fight with him. The current arc addresses this though.

Finally we have Overhaul himself. Well, the guy is about as evil and corrupt as you can get. Only the most evil of villains tend to mess with kids and since his whole plan involves effectively destroying Eri over and over again that’s very twisted. He makes for an imposing villain even if he lasts longer than he needs to. Based on the Mirio fight from earlier it’s safe to say that Mirio could have defeated him in the alley. His ability to become intangible is the perfect counter against a villain like this. I don’t like Overhaul personally, but he does make for a threatening villain. If you give him enough time to power up and stockpile abilities then he becomes quite the threat. He’s also very confident and does have a whole organization backing him so you can’t take the guy lightly.

The next arc we get is the School Festival. Deku is determined to make this a fun one for Eri but there’s one possible obstacle that could get in the way. A villain known as the Gentle Criminal has made UA his next target. He aims to break in just to prove that he can. While the goal is harmless to the actual students, the school has been warned that if yet another villain breaks into the school they will go into emergency lockdown and the festival will be cancelled. That means Deku will have to take this guy out very quickly and decisively. Can he really win though? Gentle Criminal is easily one of the most dangerous villains he has ever tangled with. It’s a very quick follow up arc but one of the highlights of the season.

Right when this arc occurred in the manga I knew it was going to be a good one. I also thought it was a way to show that Deku had learned his lesson this time. The circumstances are fairly different but he is once again forced to decide between overlooking the villain’s actions or stepping in even though it would not be advised by the pro heroes. Deku doesn’t hesitate this time and launches into battle. You want to see that kind of character development. Additionally, Criminal’s quirk is really quite impressive. Initially it looks like creating air pockets may not be very helpful but the guy is really good with using it. I’d also make the case that any and all elemental abilities tend to be very useful in combat. In particular gravity and air tend to have many different uses which is good. Their fight has quite a lot of back and forth which both fighters giving it their all. It’s not just a clash of might but a clash of ideals which is part of why the fight is so effective. I would consider that the best fight in the arc no question. In all of My Hero I would consider it one of the best fights in the series, the animation is also incredible.

Gentle Criminal may not be around for too long but I hope he gets to return someday. He may have given up on being a hero but he has fine tuned his abilities to a degree where he would definitely be quite useful. He may have been a villain but at least he did his best not to hurt anyone. His main goal was really just showing that he can do something when he puts his mind to it and that La Brava’s editing skills are on point. They make for quite the difficult team to conquer. If Deku had not been the one to go up against him I doubt the Criminal would have been captured right now. I like the guy’s charisma. He’s the kind of villain who’s easy to root for just due to the nature of his criminal actions and the fact that his theme is pretty great. You really can’t count this guy out.

After that the season is effectively over but we do get a little bit of a lead up to the next season which will heavily involve Hawks and Endeavor. We get to see one of the new Noumu creatures in action as well. The season ends rather quickly so the next season should pick up almost immediately which is cool. While this season adapted the fan favorite arc in the Overhaul saga, the next season looks like it’ll be adapting some of the most important parts of the manga which will be pretty intense. I’d make the case that coming up are some of the darkest arcs in the series so we’ll see how the anime handles it. Some parts can definitely be quite twisted and while I expect My Hero will be going on for a very long time, I do feel like we’re getting close to the end of “Part 1”

The final bit does its best to try and show Endeavor in a more positive light but at this point it feels very late for that. It’ll be good if his character is ultimately redeemed but if you ask me it’s way too soon for that. While Todoroki’s brother is portrayed as being the unreasonable one here in how he can’t forgive Endeavor, I can’t blame him. The others are very quick to welcome him back except for Todoroki although he’s getting rather close, but if anything that will just widen the gap. Todoroki’s brother just can’t believe how easy this is for Endeavor. Of course at the end of the day they’re all hoping Endeavor doesn’t get destroyed by a monster though. Not only would that not atone for anything but it makes things too easy on him. Endeavor needs to live so that he can really turn into a better person. He’s certainly working at it so hopefully this works out for him.

We don’t see Hawks for long but right away you can see why he’s such a fun character. The guy takes his hero work very seriously but is far less rigid than the other heroes. He’s more about being practical than just blindly following orders. He’s got a lot of thoughts of his own and you certainly don’t feel like you can trust him for that reason. His feather abilities are very handy and it’s yet another versatile quirk. It’s easy to see why he is one of the Top 10 heroes even if he lacks the sheer power that some of the other heroes have. Technique will certainly trump raw power any day of the week although it also means you have to be 100% focused the whole time as one mistake can mean the end for you.

As always the animation is very solid. It’s no surprise though, the show has always been very consistent with this. To date I wouldn’t say that any episode has had bad or even average animation. It’s all looked quite solid from the start. It’s easy to see this as clips from season 1 still age really well and yet you can see the improvement from season to season. The Deku vs Overhaul fight definitely got the maximum amount of budget here. Meanwhile Mirio’s fight was more still based but all of the images were very dynamic so it still looked very good. The colors pop out at you and the fight scenes are on point so My Hero definitely delivers as always.

It almost goes without saying that the soundtrack is very solid as well. I wouldn’t say that any of the openings quite have the same iconic energy as the very first MHA opening but they’re solid. We get a lot of the classic tunes here as well and then there’s also a new theme for Gentle Criminal. The theme is excellent and really shows you what kind of character you can expect from here. It’s a theme that has a lot of intrigue and a hint of mystery which is the perfect blend for this character. It definitely helps to take him to the next level. “Brawl” and “Sword and Shield” are two other excellent themes in the show.

In a way the Deku vs Overhaul battle gives us a preview of what Deku will look like at 100% power. He won’t be able to use this consistently until we get some kind of timeskip I imagine since his body won’t keep up but it’ll be fun to see. The form effectively has him go Super Saiyan and like this there is no hero who can even dream of stopping him. Just one 100% punch is enough to take down almost any fighter so using it consecutively? That’ll be fun. I’m always glad to see Deku going all out at last so that worked out quite well. Definitely makes Overhaul’s defense also look very impressive when you think about it since he was able to keep regenerating from that. We’ve got a lot to look forward to with Deku power wise after this.


Overall, My Hero Academia has definitely become the next big show in America. It has been for quite a while at this point and I expect it will continue to be quite mainstream with the consistent releases and solid story arcs. There’s just a whole lot you can do with this universe and the solid cast built around it. If you haven’t checked the show out you should certainly do so. With 4 seasons out you’ll have a lot of episodes to binge through and perhaps that will take you up to the season 5 release date. I don’t recall when that is coming out but it definitely can’t be much longer I’d say since this review took me a while to write. With excellent music and animation throughout you really owe yourself to check this title out.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars Review


Looks like it’s time to finally review the original Sakura Wars anime. This one has definitely been waiting its turn for quite a while now so it’s time I get right to it. Ultimately I would consider this to be the definitive Sakura Wars experience at the moment from what I’ve seen. While the OVAs may have more energy to them, this is a complete 26 episode anime so it gives us a full plot complete with an array of enemies. You also get a lot of interactions with the cast and natural character development as a result of it. I’d classify this as a slice of life that transitions slowly into more of an action series for the second half. Lets take a deeper look at one of the classic mech franchises!

The show starts off by introducing us to the Flower Division. This is a group of undercover fighters who use mech suits to take down the alien/robotic creatures that attack the capital. In order to not draw too much attention to themselves the group operates a theater by day. It’s a pretty detailed disguise as the group actually performs quite a few plays throughout the show. It’s a career they have dedicated themselves too. Then when the enemies strike they get into their uniforms and get ready to strike the opponents down. Well, one day Commander Yoneda is finally able to recruit the final member of the team. Her name is Sakura and part of the reason why he is eager to recruit her is because she is related to one of his old partners who saved the world a while back. There’s a decent chance that she would have inherited those abilities plus her own maiden ones.

See, in this world maidens are able to use a sort of energy that powers their mechs and allows them to unleash super moves. Guys aren’t able to draw out this energy with the exception of Sakura’s father as well as a man named Ogami. This suggests that men can use the energy but it is an extremely rare occurrence. How the energy manifests will differ from person to person. Of course at its most basic level it will move your mech but after that you can do so much more. For example, Iris can teleport and Sumire seems to amp up her spear’s attacks with this. Sakura channels the power into her sword and Kanna may use it with her fists although she may just be naturally strong. That’s a real possibility as well to be honest. The show doesn’t go into the energy abilities all that much to be honest as the OVAs show more of that like with the elemental abilities. Still, the process of controlling it is a big part of the show.

The Flower Division is definitely not a big fan of Sakura’s when she first shows up so the heroine gets a very cold reception. Eventually she wins them over but it takes a while so you may not even like them for a while there. At the very least you feel like they showed their true colors initially. I can’t imagine Sakura giving other characters a hard time like that although she is by far the nicest character of the group. By the end of the series they are a close knit group even if you feel like Sumire will continue to give Sakura a tough time as long as they are teammates. Some things never change after all.

Sakura Wars goes for a pretty interesting tone here. The whole time the villains keep on invading and being pushed back and yet this often feels like an after thought. A lot of times the main plots for the episodes will be about the theater which leads to a lot of character development. You’ll have an episode where Sumire wants to be the star over Sakura or one where Kohran has another crisis of confidence and runs off. The villains don’t become more of a major factor until near the end of the series. You should think of this as more of a slice of life and then it’ll all feel pretty natural. Just don’t think of it as an action series despite the mechs.

I wouldn’t have minded the action part coming in a bit sooner but the slice of life stuff is fun enough as well. It’s a pretty good cast. Perhaps not the strongest out there but most of the characters are good which is important. The heroes are also a bit lucky that the villains don’t use much in the way of teamwork because just one villain is enough to put the heroes on edge so if they had all attacked initially then that would have been game over for the heroes. As it was, the heroes should blame Commander Yoneda for not leaving them more prepared. Sakura had a meeting with one of the villains and had no idea of his true identity until later on since so many secrets were being kept.

I’m not a big fan of the robot designs because they are so old school and don’t feel very streamlined. It’s going for a very steam type design here which does match the rest of the era. It’s to the point though where you feel like the heroes would be better off fighting without them some times. I don’t think the show did a great job of making them appear to be stronger than the heroes individually. Meanwhile the villains go down like butter except for the high ranking members of the cabal who seem to easily crush the robots. Those guys definitely can’t be defeated 1 on 1 at all. You really want to have the whole group ready for them.

The soundtrack is a little on the forgettable side but I’d say that it works out well enough. It’s a pretty peaceful ost that never feels repetitive. It isn’t the easiest bit to remember by heart but as soon as it plays during the scene you’ll immediately be able to recall it. Likewise the animation isn’t anything special but it gets the job done. I’d consider it to be standard animation so it’s good and I have no complaints. In a lot of ways that is how the show is in general. It’s not about to become the next Railgun or Madoka but it’s a quality adventure where you’ll have a lot of fun. You’ll have fun with the case before very long and this is the kind of series where I feel like an anniversary OVA/TV show reboot would probably do pretty well.

Lets quickly take a look at the characters. Sakura is the lead so it makes sense to start with her. She can be a bit of a timid character so at first she definitely gets steam rolled by the others. I wouldn’t say that her character has any negative qualities though. I’m not usually a fan of timid characters though so I was ready for her to regain her confidence. Fortunately that happened sooner than later. She begins to stand up for herself more by the middle of the series and since by then she was awakening her abilities it’s not like the other characters could say a whole lot about it. Once the hazing period was over she was able to make a good connection with the other characters. I wouldn’t say that Sakura has a ton of personality, but she’s a good character and definitely a nice person. She brings a good contrast to the group.

Then you have Sumire who is always pretty entertaining. At first she may come across as overly mean spirited though since she is pretty unrelenting in how she hounds Sakura. As the show goes on you learn that she is like that with everyone so her character will be hit or miss. I ended up liking her by the end although at first she wasn’t quite my favorite character. By the end you can see how Sumire really enhances the character dynamics though and the show wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s also a lot more eager to just jump into the fray and let the chips fall where they may. That’s definitely the kind of character that you need in a group. Sumire pretty much took down one of the enemy commanders on her own and then also won in the rematch.

Kanna is next and she’s a lot of fun as well. Her deal is that she’s very good in hand to hand combat and sensitive to changes in nature. She’s the only character who can really stand up to Sumire on an even playing field in part because she has a lot of confidence as well. Kanna is unquestionably a much nicer character than Sumire while still having that absolute confidence which makes for a lot of banter between the characters. These two definitely have the best dynamic to be sure. Kanna doesn’t really get to show off her strength quite as much as in the OVAs but you still know she is the power hitter here.

Then we have Iris who is one of the weaker members. I’m talking in terms of character as power-wise she should be the best. She has much greater amounts of spirit energy than the other characters but she is also a lot younger so she is unable to control it. As a result what tends to happen is she’ll panic and teleport away from the characters rather than actively using her abilities to help out. That bit is unfortunate because she would have been a great asset to the team. She never quite gets her confidence even by the end of the series. Sure, Iris has her big moments on occasion but it’s more like Luigi or Scooby having a quick brave moment. It doesn’t exactly stick which is unfortunate.

The worst member of the Flower Force is Kohran though. It’s hard to know where to start with her. I guess the main thing is that she ultimately ends up running out on the team when the going gets tough. I understand (very slightly) that there would be some shock upon learning that the inventor of the legendary robots is evil, but it should be very mild. Certainly not enough to run away and hide while the heroes are fighting for their lives. It was a terrible moment and every other character handled it better. She had not even met the guy before so why is there such a strong connection just from reading his notes? I also felt like Kohhran never really did much in the way of improvements for the mechs. She would repair them a lot but that’s about it.

Finally we have Maria. She’s a very serious member of the group who is effectively the leader of the team when Ogami, Yoneda, and Ayame aren’t around. She’s a Russian fighter who specializes in gunplay to take down her opponents until she gets into her mech suit. One thing I hadn’t mentioned up til now is the series has the Flower Division be a global group of sorts. All of the girls are from different cultures which also helps to make this a pretty interesting dynamic since they have different ideas on everything. One episode had Iris throw a fit because French parties are different from how they celebrate in Japan where it’s about festivals. That episode still came across as very petty on Iris’ side though which is another reason why I wasn’t a big fan of hers. The whole group went out of their way to make her birthday exciting and that’s how she reacts? Yeah, definitely not a good look.

Back to Maria though, she’s a solid character. I’d say that she’s one of the better ones. Her serious nature means she doesn’t have as much fun with the group for the most part but by the end I’d say that they have started to chip away at her. She is a solid tactical fighter and never backs out on the team the way that others (Iris and Kohran) do so I’ll give her points for that. She also acts as a mentor to Sakura at times and is easily the most supportive member of the group.

That covers the Division but then you have Ogami who is effectively the captain. It’s pretty tough for him because he doesn’t have the same level of ability that they do. At times he tries to compensate by having the drills run very strictly which tends to backfire. He goes through his own sets of issues during the series like struggling with confidence and such so he never has an easy road. I liked Ogami well enough. He may not be the most exciting character but he did a good job of hanging out with the team. He took some key steps in improving their unity like when he made everyone have dinner together. That was definitely a pretty good move.

Then you have the higher ranking Yoneda who didn’t do a very good job. For one thing he tends to get drunk quite often. It’s mainly played for laughs of course, but even so this isn’t someone I would trust to have my back. He also decides to go up against the villain completely on his own which was a really bad idea. I understand not wanting to get everyone involved but he should have at least left some kind of letter in case he was defeated so people would know what was going on. As it stood, to them it looked like he just vanished without a trace when they needed him most. Then he also took the bomb and hinted that he would have used it if the heroes had failed. You can assume that it was a bluff, but I’d have liked to see him throw it away later on or something to show that he wasn’t serious. As it stands, I just wasn’t impressed with Yoneda.

Ayame was his right hand woman. She didn’t really get much of a role although we can assume she used to have a much more active role within the group before the series started. Maria and Yoneda both trust her guidance quite a bit although now she tends to decline on giving her thoughts so the others can grow. The last hero to really talk about would be Kazuma. He died before the series started so we only see him in flashbacks but it’s easy to see why Yoneda believed there was so much promise to Sakura’s future with the group. Kazuma was an incredible fighter who could harness spirit energy better than anyone else in the series. He really did a good job of making his last stand count. At most maybe you could say that if he kept fighting with his sword he could have won without sacrificing himself but there were still a ton of monsters at the end so his sacrifice felt pretty justified. It’s too bad we couldn’t see more of him, the guy was definitely cool. A prequel TV show about the guy would definitely work well I’d say. Since they had to fight without the robots I can see those fights being pretty tense. Additionally, it seems like this is a case where the previous generation may have been stronger than the current one so I’d like to see what other abilities they had. Although if like in the games every character should have special moves, maybe the TV show just toned down the super abilities a bit.

Yamazaki is the main villain of the series and makes for an interesting guy in general. He’s easily my favorite villain of the series. His motivations for being evil are a little on the weak side to be honest as the guy just totally cracked but since he does completely remember how things used to be it makes him a pretty deadly opponent. For the most part the enemy forces tend to be rather mindless so when they finally got a leading figure I was happy about that. He made for some good fights with Sakura and the team as well. Between a solid character design and impressive abilities, I would definitely say that Yamazaki is a winner in my books.

Then you’ve got Miroku who was the first big villain to make a move. She gave Sumire a solid fight and the two almost became rivals in a sense. It definitely got personal there and was one of the first moments where you really saw what a great character Sumire was. I’m not sure if the others would have fared so well in this battle. Miroku is a fun villain. She doesn’t have quite as much personality as Yamazaki but she is dedicated to the cause and doing what she needed to. She represented a shift in the series from mindless drones to an opposing army so she was effective in that respect.

Then you have Jade who looks like a kid but can actually be a pretty dangerous opponent. It’s hard to land a hit on him because moves tend to go right through him. He definitely has his way with Ogami’s friend for a while there before they learn how to counter him. I wouldn’t even say that his physical power is anything to be afraid of, but his abilities are tricky. You’ve got Silver to compensate for that though. This guy is rather slow but has a lot of super strength. He’s like a Frankenstein of sorts who just barrels into his opponents. This guy’s the definition of a mindless opponent though and is my least favorite member of the group. At least Jade gave us the closest thing to a horror episode here and was a thorn in the heroes side. Silver would have been doomed without backup.

There are other characters but I think I’ve covered most of them. The show definitely has a lot of events happen during its run. In part because of how stand alone a lot of the episodes are it lets the show cover a lot more with all of the characters and their personalities. I’d say it’s a pretty organic way of adapting the game if it’s anything like the Wii installment I played where you focus on improving your bonds with the other members while also defending the capital at the end of each chapter. That format lends itself really well to a show like this. At the end of the day what is really key here is the writing and characters. So long as those are strong then the show will be a success and that’s exactly what happened here.

Overall, Sakura Wars is a pretty fun show. It’s definitely going for a different angle than other mech series like Gundam or Transformers. It’s really balancing the action element with more slice of life themes like the girls all trying to get alone despite having such different personalities. Sakura Wars can definitely handle the action elements really well though as you can probably tell from some of the images I chose. The stakes do get pretty high and the series definitely picks up the action at the end with the quick onslaught of fights but I expect you should enjoy the series before then for the strong writing and pacing. I’d definitely recommend this series no matter what genre you like. It’s a fun title that should satisfy you with action, adventure, and comedy.

Overall 7/10

The Promised Neverland Review


It’s time to look at a quick anime that came out a while back. Season 2 shouldn’t be far after though and with the manga being over they can really fast blast now. At 12 episodes this is a pretty quick anime and your classic seasonal type show. It makes for a nice quick watch with a compact cast. The show was pretty unique in its premise so it made some waves. While I wasn’t a big fan of the manga as the concept grew darker and darker in its execution, the beginning always starts off pretty ominous. I think season 1 was a pretty solid adaption with definitely a lot of notable moments within.

The show starts by introducing us to Emma and her friends at school. They live in an orphanage and don’t know anything about their parents. They have numbers tattooed on them but beyond that it’s a very ordinary home where they live perfect lives. The kids all eventually find foster parents before they enter their real teen years which is good too. One day Emma decides to follow one of the kids who is sent out along with Norman and then they find out the truth. They actually live on a human farm where the kids are sent off to be eaten by demons. As the oldest kids with the highest test scores, Emma, Norman, and Ray will be the next ones to be shipped out. Do they tell the rest of the kids, bump off Isabella, or try to escape? There are a lot of ideas but not a lot of time. The heroes will also have to try and keep a straight face in the meantime but will they really be able to do that?

This is definitely a horror anime. The kids know that their odds aren’t particularly good and finding out that you were born to be shipped off isn’t a great feeling either. There’s a lot of things that the kids just don’t know either. What exactly is this planet and how does it work? They can’t trust anything they learned at the school and it seems like escape will be nearly impossible as well. There are a lot of natural defenses to take into account as well and since they are just kids it’s not like they could fight off the demons either. They don’t have any true weapons either and there is a tracker built into each of the kids so the villains know where they are at all times. The deck is stacked against them so the show is mainly about their planning a way out of this.

The season adapts the complete arc and doesn’t really even end with a cliffhanger so it handles all of this rather directly. It feels like a pretty complete story even if there obviously has to be a season 2. The cast will definitely grow in the next season so you can eagerly await that. The main cast we have here is pretty solid though. First you’ve got Emma who is extremely determined and wants to save everyone. Her view is that they can’t escape unless everyone is safe. I feel like they toned down how crazy she can be a bit in the anime as the manga did a terrific job with her close ups. Still, she is still the same character here and does everything she can to make the plans succeed. Emma isn’t afraid of death or pain and will go to drastic measures to make sure things work out. As she is here, Emma’s definitely a solid character.

Then you have Norman who is easily the smartest kid in the class. He has a bit of a rivalry with Ray on this but I think it’s fair to say that Norman is always a step ahead. He finds out quite a lot during the season. He may not always beat Isabella in wits but always comes close so it’s neck and neck. I like Norman’s calm demeanor here even if he’s always got something up his sleeve. He’s also determined to make Emma right so his plans are built with that in mind. By throwing his plans on top of hers he makes them sound even better.

Then you’ve got Ray who is not quite as much of a “Gotta save them all” person as Emma. He looks at things scientifically on what gives him the greatest chance of escape. If he has to sacrifice others to do it then so be it. Naturally this is a very ruthless way of looking at things but you do have to look at the situation from his point of view. Emma wants to bring along kids who are only 2-3 years old with them on a journey through the forest that could last for months and they will be on the run from demons. While anime can help kids be a lot tougher than in the real world, there is only so much you can do with a 2 year old. Can you picture such a kid making this kind of journey? So Ray’s right in that sense that taking everyone would be pretty crazy.

In a way the best thing to do would be to bump off Isabella but at most that would only buy them some time. She has to make regular communications to the demons so if she suddenly stops then that will really raise some red flags on their side. That’s why escape is still the best bet but they’ll need a terrific plan to bring everyone together. As planning is one of the core focuses of the show you can rest assured that the plan is sound. A lot of thought goes into all of this and it ends up being pretty satisfying. If you think about it hard enough of course there are many ways Isabella should have been able to stop the kids. At the end of the day a big part as to why the kids get away with so much is her overconfidence. She thought she had more power than what she really did and also underestimated the kids quite a bit. That can definitely be a fatal mistake.

Isabella is still a good villain though. While she may have made some mistakes here, she’s had a long track record of doing well in the meantime. You can’t say that she didn’t do a great job when she’s maintained the place for so many years. She also has an interesting origin story showing the lack of choices you have in this society. Ultimately you end up being another one of the villains or you die out. There aren’t exactly a lot of rebel fighters out there. She’s still a villain as a true hero would have fought despite all of that though. Sister Krone is in a similar spot as she had to go through the same trials to get this far. After a point the characters just stopped worrying about others and started thinking about themselves. Krone really wants a win here so she can be back in control.

There are two other kids who get a main role in the form of Don and Gilda but they aren’t that great. I feel like they’re just here to get in trouble. There’s one scene where they decide to break into Isabella’s room just to stick it to Emma and friends. It ends up working out but that was such a petty thing to do and it could have literally gotten everyone murdered. Gilda also tends to panic quite a bit. These guys feel a bit out of their league next to the main characters. In some ways it’s not their fault since the main 3 happen to be super geniuses. Don and Gilda are technically still above average in intelligence but in this fight that’s barely even a consolation at the moment.

A lot of the fun in the show is thinking about the various arguments the kids make and who you agree with. There’s also a traitor subplot throughout the show that’s pretty interesting to follow. With all of the dynamics going on in the show there is always a lot of story to follow. Now as for who is right. Emma is naturally right morally since leaving anyone to die is a sacrifice. As it is, kids have been getting sacrificed left and right but you can’t change the past so you may as well change the future. That said, she doesn’t really have a concrete plan to do so. In that case taking Isabella out makes the most sense. In terms of probabilities Ray’s plan makes the most sense. The 3 of them leaving on their own would work pretty well. Then in theory you’ve still got about a year or two before you need to go back and save the rest. Of course sometimes a shipment leaves early so it’s a complete gamble either way. If your test scores are low you get shipped out a lot sooner as it is. If you had someone to protect then that would give some strength to leaving people behind but that isn’t the case so you do need to bring everyone. Better to all die together than 2 surviving instead of most right?

The animation is good. I wouldn’t say it’s anything great, but for a show like this you don’t need anything fancy. As long as the animation is solid you can still get across the horror vibes. The show likes its quick 3D looks as well which are fun enough. The whole thing feels very standard and since this is a pretty modern show that means it still holds up rather well. The real test will be once we get more fight scenes in a future season. Then we’ll see how the animators handle that. As for the soundtrack, I’d say that one’s pretty good. I like the opening song and the tunes during the episodes are suitably ominous. You’re not going to hear a lot of super happy tracks or anything like that of course. The soundtrack fits the tone which is crucial.

Overall, The Promised Neverland is definitely a pretty unique show. As far as the various dystopia futures go, this has got to be one of the darkest. There is really no backup for the heroes and not a lot of hope either. Still, they’ve made progress so in season 2 we’ll see how they use that. If you’re up for a dark thriller then this will be up your alley. It never gets violent or anything like that, it’s just dark because of how the kids are being eaten off screen and all. The show doesn’t beat you over the head with this fortunately so it doesn’t turn gritty. It’s just the premise of the show and Neverland runs with it. If you managed to watch the show without knowing this beforehand then the first episode is especially powerful although odds are that you’ll already know the twist before that happens. Usually even the promos spoil that part since it happens so early. The show builds up the tension through the atmosphere as opposed to crazy shock value or anything outside of that. You might quickly yell plot armor during the final episode when someone isn’t instantly murdered the way the last few were but I suppose it helps to build up the hype for season 2 as well.

Overall 6/10

Sakura Wars: Return of the Spirit Warriors Review


It’s time for the next Sakura Wars OVA. This one introduces two new members to the group who show up pretty quietly in the second half. That’s a fun part of having a spinoff to a game where they are probably introduced midway. They’re gone one moment and here the next. They’re not bad, although naturally it feels like they have less character development than the others. This is a pretty follow-up OVA with a good array of stories. I would still give the first OVA the edge but it’s pretty close.

The 6 episodes have 5 stand alone stories and one two part adventure at the end. The main story holding them all together is that they are being presented via flashbacks from Ogami as he remembers his time with the Flower Division. It’s an unforgettable time for him and I suspect that he is slowly regretting his decision to leave them. It just won’t be the same at his next location but I’m sure he’ll make the most of it. It almost becomes meme worthy by the end as every step he takes triggers a new flashback to the point where you feel like he will never leave the house. There is just too much to remember at this point. So lets take a look at the 6 episodes.

The first episode is a good way to start things off. An assassin from Maria’s past has arrived in New York and he is determined to destroy her and the rest of the Flower Division. Maria goes off to confront him but her skills have been faltering a bit lately. Perhaps it is because she has started to come out of her shell and be more friendly with the other members. Sakura will have to convince Maria that this is actually a good thing as they team up against this guy. Can they defeat his giant mech? The episode had a lot of action and pretty high stakes. Sakura Wars as a franchise isn’t always about the big fight scenes and action segments but this one certainly went in that direction and I’d say that it worked out quite well. Maria’s a fun character and Sakura’s always got everyone’s back. They make for a very solid tag team.

Next up is the episode about introducing Reni. She seems to look up to Iris to an extent or at least appreciates how nice and innocent she is. As a result Reni lets Iris put the blame on her for the latest mishaps in the theater. When Iris runs off to pout, Reni goes after her to try and talk sense. It’s not so bad being a kid, at least that’s what Reni is trying to convince Iris of, but it’s been a tough sell. I’d say that this was the weakest episode. It wasn’t bad or anything but Iris was definitely acting like a kid here and just made things tougher on everyone. If she had been a little more reasonable then the episode would have been pretty short if anything.

After that we get a haunted opera. So Sumire and Kanna are co starring in an episode about a detective who is taking out a corrupt business lord. The play is going as normal except a lot of unfortunate accidents start happening on set. Supposedly it is the work of a ghost who is haunting the place. Sumire doesn’t buy into this but the rest of the group is nervous. Turns out something wrong is happening here and the ghost intends to murder them all. Can the Flower Division handle it? It’s always interesting when you’ve got a ghost running around because the main characters do have powers so you’d think they could wreck it right? Kanna does pretty well with blocking the attack so I think she was doing pretty well. Sumire wanted a peaceful resolution for once though so we don’t get to see the battle.

This was probably my favorite episode in the saga. It had a little action so that was good and I’m always up for a supernatural angle. The ghost could definitely put up a fight and even was able to fire off energy blasts which was pretty cool. The scene of Kanna being able to block one with her fist was also pretty noteworthy. That’s not something just anyone can do. The actress comes across as pretty spoiled throughout but I’m glad she had her happy ending. She was fortunate here since if the others knew that she tried to vaporize the friends they may not have been quite lenient.

Next up was an episode about a town getting harassed by a bunch of bullies who wanted the land. This one’s a little less notable but we got to see the heroes pretend to be costumed fighters so that was interesting. It also continues to show why Kohran is easily the worst member of the group with how reluctant she was to help. She had the costume so at that point it was her duty to help out as best she could. It’s definitely a pretty wholesome episode. Orihime helped to make it better than if Kohran had to hold the whole episode on her own.

Finally we get the two part episode where Sakura and Yoneda leave on some kind of journey. Word gets out to the team that Sakura is about to get married and they’re all sad about this as well as upset that she didn’t tell them. It’s all gossip and yet they believe that it’s probably true. After some sleuthing they find a letter that hints Sakura doesn’t want to go through with the marriage so they take the blimp to go and stop Sakura. Meanwhile Sakura’s intent on following the traditions and won’t take a man for herself. In the Shinguji family what happens is you take a man who then becomes one of their family and the next in line to be a demon slayer. As a result it seems like she would rather do this on their own. The family traditions seem to be pretty bad as always so hopefully they put a stop to this. It seems like there is no end to the demons anyway so they should all keep fighting as opposed to doing this. Well, Sakura may wish she had told the others ahead of time because they’re on the way!

This was a solid way to wrap things up since it is going for one of the more emotional beats in the series. There’s definitely a good amount of character development here and we get to see some more flashbacks of Sakura’s father which is always fun. A shame he couldn’t live through the battle but the guy was heavily outnumbered so he really did good when you think about it. Definitely a character you can look up to. Yoneda also spends most of the episodes drunk but at least in this one he tries to be responsible since Sakura asked him to be in the event in place of her father. The guy ends up drunk in the end though so I have to deduct some points. Sorry Yoneda but you just can’t stay serious long enough to be a likable character.

Right away you can also tell that the animation certainly got an upgrade here compared to the first OVA. The colors are very sleek and this looks way newer than the first one even though there technically wasn’t much of a gap between this one and the first so that’s impressive. I wouldn’t say that the soundtrack is particularly notable although the theme song is definitely pretty iconic at this point. The 6 episodes really breeze by as well. The pacing is on point and same for the overall writing. It’s why the 6 episodes are all pretty solid. The characters are interesting and so this is a title I would recommend to any viewer who likes a good story. It’s effectively a solid slice of life.

Sakura is a solid lead as she was last time. She’s definitely still the heart of the group and without her I don’t think they’d be the same. Aside from being the most powerful member, she’s also the sharpest and tends to know when something’s not going well like with how she helped out Maria. Meanwhile Maria is definitely a solid character as well. Even though her confidence was shaken early on she was able to bounce back from that and came in handy for the future fights. She may be getting more emotional than she used to be, but it’s nothing overdone or handled crazily.

Then we have Sumire who looked the best here. As always she can be pretty harsh with her criticism and doesn’t mince words. I think the reason it continues to work more and more in the execution is that the team is already one unit. So it’s not super personal when she’s taking shots at Sakura because they are friends. It’s more posturing than anything else to put Sakura on notice. Then there’s Iris but she is a bit weaker here than last time. She acts a bit more spoiled and otherwise doesn’t get much to do. In the first OVA I liked seeing her flaunt her abilities so confidently while she takes a bit of a backseat here.

Kohran is not very good as always. She continues to mess up all of her inventions which is sad since being a genius is her whole gimmick. If she’s not really able to make any great inventions anymore then what’s the point of her character? The original show played it straight but in the OVA adventures they act like she’s just not that bright. It’s pretty unfortunate and so she continues to spiral down the chains. Even making the microphone box was a pretty low moment for her since it’s not like the thing didn’t work, it was built to be a microphone and she just didn’t realize it. That’s pretty sad.

Meanwhile we’ve got the more battle tested Kanna who is a hype member as always. The scene of her punching away an energy blast was extremely impressive. You never really see a character doing much against the supernatural without their mechs but Kanna wasn’t worried. She comes across as the most reasonable member and the banter between her and Sumire is always a lot of fun. They’ve got a great dynamic there. From the two new characters Orihime is definitely the better of the two. I still maintain that she doesn’t add much to the story though. Effectively she is like a backup version of Sumire in that she believes in being very harsh on everyone. She’s also super rich so it really feels like they just grabbed the same character. It’s not really a bad thing per say but at the same time it means that her character doesn’t feel necessary. I’d have liked to have seen her and Sumire go at it a bit more, I think that would have been fun.

Reni may need some more time to really get going but she’s not off to a great start. We didn’t really need another kid type member of the group. She may try to always be very calm and collected, but we already have Maria for that who executes this a lot better. Finally we have Ogami who has certainly started to get very nostalgic in his old age. He’s a solid character as always even if his getting drunk is never a good look. The guy needs to learn how to block peer pressure and just do his own thing instead of drinking to make his boss feel good. Ogami certainly can’t handle his drinks. When he’s serious he’s a solid character though and means well. He helps to balance out the dynamic.


Overall, The Return of the Spirit Warriors is a pretty solid second OVA. It carries on the strengths of the first OVA and brings them along here. While the first one still takes a narrow win thanks in part to the fun of seeing the team get together initially, this one’s pretty close. I wouldn’t say it has any weaknesses or anything like that. The characters are still as solid as ever (Or in Kohran’s case as weak as ever) and it’s always fun to see them have adventures. I look forward to seeing how the next one stacks up.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms Review


It’s time to look at the Sakura Wars OVA. I actually saw the show before the OVA but this one certainly makes for the quicker review since it’s only a handful of episodes. It’s a pretty solid alternate look at the series. It’s got a greater focus on the origins of the characters and works as a solid prologue for the most part even if it ultimately ends up catching up to the main series a bit. You could almost watch the first 2 episodes of this show and then cut right to the main show for an almost seamless experience. Of course, you will have to get used to the new voices if you’re watching the Dub though so that’s one thing to keep in mind here.

The show introduces us to the setting. It’s old style Japan but the world is a lot different than the one we are used to. Monsters continue to attack the capital so the Flower Brigade has been tasked with taking them down. A lot of the older members are already dead or not strong enough to win though so now we need a new generation. Several characters are brought in who I will talk about shortly. The main character is Sakura and as the daughter to one of the strongest warriors of all time, people expect big things from her. There is certainly a lot of pressure. Will she be up to the task and do the heroes really have what it takes to defeat an entire army of fighters?

Right away you can tell this show is buffing the power levels quite a bit compared to the show. It feels more accurate to the game to me. I haven’t played the original Sakura Wars but I played the Wii game and the characters were all quite powerful there. You had elemental attacks and special abilities while in the TV show for the most part that just wasn’t there. Kanna is able to punch through solid brick and Sumire/Maria are using elemental energy blasts. It’s definitely nice to see and the battle on the bridge was pretty exciting due to that. I also liked the aerial fight scene against one of the monsters where Iris took him down for the count. Iris is greatly improved from the TV show here. In general I think the OVA’s short length helped it really focus on giving you a solid peak into the video game.

I also always like seeing the heroes get together for the first time. It makes for a lot of solid banter and the OVA doesn’t disappoint here. It’s not surprising in the slightest that Sumire and Kanna would be bickering right from the jump. Their idealogies and personalities are just completely different so they won’t see eye to eye. They do work well once a battle is on though and that’s the kind of dynamic you want to see. Constant bickering is fine if at the end of the day you still join forces to stop the enemy in front of you. That’s exactly how these things should go. Sakura and Ogami start to take the show over for the last two episodes but the first two are really about the other characters who get the starring spot.

The writing is definitely solid. The characters are introduced well and you quickly get a feel for them. The animation also holds up rather well. It looks pretty much identical to the show. It’s certainly old enough where you can tell the OVA’s age to an extent but there aren’t a lot of shortcuts taken or anything like that. It’s very smooth. To an extent the fact that it’s going for a very steam based aesthetic also means it won’t look quite as flashy as some of the other titles. It’s not exactly Gundam but that’s also why it’s good that we finally got some more energy attacks here. It gives the show a chance to show some solid energy effects here.

Sakura is the main character of course and she’s solid. Sakura is definitely quite nervous at first and doesn’t believe in her abilities as much as she could but she gradually gets over it. I feel like she’s not hazed quite as much in this version although the characters can definitely be tough on her all the same. I’m glad that at least Maria and Kanna would stand up for her at times but even then Sakura had to fend for herself at times. Even Iris was surprisingly antagonistic towards Sakura. You’d think that she would at least cut Sakura some slack but I guess she didn’t want to risk being out with the in crowd. Well, Sakura does a good job of pressing past this and shows them why they need her on the team.

Sumire is definitely the meanest character of the group but it’s part of what makes her fun. She adds a lot of division to the group and you always need a member like that stirring up the pot. Her rivalry with Kanna is especially good and we even get a bit of a fight scene between them which I wasn’t expecting. That was a lot of fun and if they hadn’t gotten interrupted I fully believe Kanna would have won that match. Based on the strength we saw earlier she would have punched through Sumire’s weapon like it was butter. Sumire’s technique is the best from the group though and against the aliens she is an absolute machine.

Kanna is the best member of the group although she and Sumire are close. I just like Kanna’s confidence and how she is always ready for a fight. She also makes the right choice in heading off to avenge someone. The OVA is a bit vague on this and she settles her business off screen. Still, she has to go and do this while the enemy is around. Why should she have to wait in the building? I’d say that Yoneda made the wrong call here. Then we have Maria who is not quite as emotional as the other characters. She still likes to enjoy life and its experiences though, she just keeps it to herself more. Her main weapon is a gun though which I’d say puts her at a bit of a disadvantage next to the other characters. In shows like this guns just don’t do a whole lot. If anything they just hold you back and prevent you from really accessing your full abilities. Part of why I like Maria is she doesn’t bow to Sumire like some of the others. When Sumire threatens to not be in the play because Sakura will lead Maria basically shows her the door and tells Sakura to lead anyway.

Then we have Iris who is greatly improved from the show. In the show Iris could often be annoying, had no idea how to use her abilities, and would just get in the way a lot. Here Iris is a whole lot more confident and takes down the enemies like it’s nobody’s business. The heroes would have been in considerable trouble without her. She can still be a little mean to Sakura but for the most part Iris is a much more consistent character. I think when you’ve got a kid with overwhelming ability it’s nice to see them confident for a change instead of still working to train at it. Then we have Kohran but from the main girls she gets the shaft here. She spends most of the episodes still working on building the mechs and as a result doesn’t even get to interact with the other characters much. By default she would be my least favorite character for that reason.

Ogami takes a little while to really show up here but to make up for that he gets a whole episode to himself where he tries to write a play. It was a pretty fun episode and I’d say that the plot was handled well. We even have an interesting meta subplot where his inner self is following him around and helping out. He’s a solid character. I do feel like the fact that he can’t fight as well as the other characters hurts him a bit but as commander the main thing he just needs to be able to do is make good plans and execute them. At the end of the day he does good in this task so it all works out for him. He is a pretty solid commander and he’ll only continue to get better. He would have gotten even more props from me if he was able to take down all of the monsters by himself. Now that would have been impressive!

Ayame doesn’t get a huge role but she definitely makes for a solid sub-commander. You get the feeling that if she was able to harness the energy abilities the way that the others could she would have been commander instead of Ogami. She certainly seems well equipped for the task, but I suppose if you can’t access the power then that’s the end of that. Yoneda is also a better commander here than usual. I still don’t particularly like the guy all that much but he was absolutely correct in yelling at everyone for prioritizing a stage play over an alien attack on the city. Really guys? That one’s a no brainer. I know they worked hard on the play but you’ve absolutely got to go after the aliens right away. The sub-general should have told them all right away and they all run off after Ogami. So Yoneda seemed like a capable leader here and he also knew when to stay out of the action.

The mecha themselves are let clunky here which is good. I remember thinking at times that it seems like the heroes could fight better without them than in the suits in the show. In the OVA it seems more like they help channel the abilities to their fullest so the heroes can use elemental attacks. I feel like that helps to justify their use a lot more. I still have my issues with the suits like the fact that if you fall down in them you can actually get trapped though. That seems like a huge oversight. I think that’s the point of the designs to an extent but I still think they could have been better. I’d also have liked to see one fight where the heroes try to fight without them and lose to really spell out that they need the mechs. As it stands I have some doubts but I will definitely give the series this, the suits have a very unique design. I can’t think of another anime where they look quite like this.


Overall, Sakura Wars is definitely fun to check out. With only 4 episodes it’s not like it’ll take you a long time to get through either. The characters are well written and the plot is pretty interesting. It does feel like the adventure just doesn’t end of course, but it’s not like this was meant to adapt the whole game. If you want a full adaption then for that you get to watch the whole show. This is like a preview of the story which I have seen less of in anime format. It would have been nice to have seen more of the villains but that’s why I appreciated the fact that we got a few more action scenes early on. In some ways that’s why I would say it even beats the full length TV show but at the same time that one’s just so much longer that it gets to do a whole lot more. SO for example, on average each of these 4 episodes would beat the show’s, but when you take the full 26 vs 4, I would still say that the TV show wins. The climax was pretty intense there. If you want a solid mech anime adventure then you should definitely check this one out.

Overall 7/10

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Siege Review


It’s time for another Transformers show to enter the fray. This one’s more of a mini series since there are under 10 episodes but it is confirmed to be a trilogy so by the end of it this’ll be like a normal length show. It’s a take on the original Transformer battles from G1 but throwing in some extra elements. It’s like the Final Fantasy VII Remake in that a lot of things are similar but things start changing a bit by the end to the point where you’re confident that the sequels are really going to change things up. It’s definitely pretty solid and I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.

The show starts us a little after the war has begun. The Decepticons currently have the edge in this war and the remaining Autobots are outnumbered and almost completely out of energon. If they don’t replenish soon then they will die out before the Decepticons even attack. Optimus Prime has gone for more and more risky endeavors to the point where some of his team are losing faith in him. The window for victory is closing rapidly though so Prime decides to take one last gamble to ensure their survival. Meanwhile Megatron knows he needs to squash the Autobots before they do come up with some kind of plan to take him down.

Since the show skips the actual start of the war you’re left to rely on context clues on who to root for. Naturally the Autobots are not as merciless as the Decepticons and don’t just go around blowing everyone up. That said, it does look like they would quickly fall to that level without Prime intervening all the time. We just don’t know what the actual treaty will be. The old system hardly sounds like it was that good with the Decepticons being enslaved. Of course, it looks like they’re just trying to turn the tables and do the same to the Autobots. Megatron doesn’t seem completely off the rails for most of the show though so I feel like there may be some nuance here. Regardless, there’s no way you will be rooting against the Autobots in the meantime. It’ll be up to the Decepticons to prove that their goals aren’t bad.

This show is CG like the last online title. It’s going for more of a War for Cybertron aesthetic whole the former went for a bright PS2 look. Both animation styles are solid and I remember thinking that the old show looked quite a bit better than I expected. CG can absolutely work well as long as the character models are on point and the other show handled that rather well. At the moment I would say the other show had the better animation. Still, the show looks really solid and definitely has a lot of detail. It had some really epic shots and a lot of fun fights. It’ll naturally take some time for this one to get there since we’re at the start of the war so it’s trying to go for a very dialed down approach for now. Everyone has standard power levels at the moment and the fights aren’t the main focus yet. I look forward to seeing the fighters go all out soon.

The character who is most changed from the original show is definitely Bumblebee. Here he is completely disillusioned with the war and does what he can to survive. He scouts out energon and gives it to the highest bidder. It’s an interesting way to keep him as a scout, he just isn’t an Autobot this time around. You sort of know who he will join in the end but I like the idea of making him a wildcard in the beginning. The Autobots are definitely pretty persistent in trying to recruit him though. They certainly have some good points here such as the fact that you can’t just avoid the war forever. The whole planet is involved and at some point you will either join a side or get taken out as a casualty in the end. Not choosing is a choice in itself.

Optimus Prime is a solid Autobot leader as always. He seems a little weaker than Megatron here but that makes sense since he is new to combat while Megatron grew up as a gladiator. It always made sense that Megatron should be stronger initially even if Optimus Prime ends up catching up to him at the end. Prime’s leadership skills also aren’t at the point where they would be later on. He makes a lot of tactical mistakes and continues to push for riskier and riskier plans. If the Decepticons didn’t have the aim of a Storm Trooper his group would have been doomed many times over during the opening episodes. Honestly if the Decepticons played this a little better the war should have been over. There is only so much you can do when you’re out of energon and that’s the status of the Autobots. You may as well go with one last all out assault instead of dragging it out at that point.

Of course we do have some wild cards in the show which help things out. One pretty interesting change here is how the show introduced Soundblaster. You may remember him as Soundwave’s super form in the G1 show but why would he have a super form already? Well, the show takes a different approach and it works out pretty well. Soundblaster is pretty interesting and I’d like to see more of him. The show does a nice job of building the environment in Cybertron so there are already a lot of characters to root for here with different personalities. Not everyone will be a winner of course but it does help you remember them.

For example, this is probably Elita’s biggest role in the series. Surprisingly she doesn’t end up as one of the more supportive characters here. She disagrees with Prime on a whole lot. To an extent this is fair since I agreed with her sentiments for a while. However, once the plan is underway at that point you just have to do your best to make it work. It’s not like you can turn back halfway yet she was still giving Prime a really hard time about everything. I would have liked to have seen her get on board with the plan for the second half. It would have made a nice difference to her character. Then you have Ratchet who definitely isn’t a big fan of the Autobots and feels like this war is a waste. Still, in the end he helps the heroes out. As a medic he prioritizes saving lives above all else so he’s a good ally to have around. He doesn’t forget about the rules of war and makes sure not to cross them.

The characters here all have their own plots which is good. Then you’ve got the Decepticons. I think just about anyone will predict that Starscream will be having a pretty big role coming up. The guy always has a lot of ambition and nothing slows him down. Jetfire really doesn’t help his case much though. He could have explained his side a little better. I don’t think it would have ultimately made much of a difference to be honest since the Decepticons were gradually growing darker and darker but at least it would have helped him out. I also like to think he could have taken out just about all of his opponents in his main fight if he started fighting a little sooner. Jetfire’s a fun character even if he ca be a bit naive so I’d like to see him more.

Soundwave and Shockwave get solid roles as well. Shockwave is the guy who really helps bring Megatron to the dark side. He’s that classic bad influence who keeps suggesting tempting ideas until they eventually get to the guy. He’s a large part of why Megatron ultimately started disregarding the ideals that kept him close to being less of an evil mastermind and just someone who wanted to help. Then you have Soundwave who is a very loyal officer and one that Megatron can count on. The fact of the matter is that the Decepticons have more key players than the Autobots so it’s easy to see why they were winning the war. This side is just very stacked. Then you’ve got Megatron himself. I’ve already talked a bit about him so I’ll keep it brief, but he’s a great villain as always. The slow descent from being a reasonable villain to going more off the rails is always pretty interesting.

From his point of view you can also see why Prime would feel like a villain. Megatron just broke free from society and now Prime is going to blow up the planet? Prime knows that taking the core will likely blow up the planet but sees this as necessary over losing the war. It’s a very drastic step and one you don’t usually see from the heroes. It really underscores that this is a war and both sides are incredibly desperate. They’re willing to make sacrifices in order to win. I imagine in part 2 there is definitely not going to be any mercy or quarter given from the Decepticons. The time for talking is over.

It was already over to an extent though which is why Ultra Magnus was a little annoying here as always. Walking over to the villains to talk never works out well. Naturally they can’t be trusted and will end up doing whatever they want now that you are effectively a glorified hostage. Even if Magnus doesn’t mind risking his life, what he doesn’t understand is that he’s risking everyone else’s lives as well. Magnus does a good job of handling the situation once he’s in there but he should not have gone in the first place. It was just a bad decision through and through.

At the end of the day Transformers just makes for a very interesting show. We’ve already had plenty of shows about them on Earth with the humans so it’s also nice to just have a title where it’s the robots. The writing is absolutely on point and you could definitely have the robots continue to fight for a long time on this planet. Of course Part 2 looks like it’ll change that, I doubt there will be any humans if they do wind up on Earth but if it turns out they arrived in present day that would certainly be a huge twist. I doubt it would be well received, but it would certainly be a twist.

Overall, This was a solid start to the War for Cybertron series. It starts out fast and keeps the pacing up throughout the whole season. There’s never any down time in the action and that makes sense. Part of the point of small seasons like this is that they can be very focused with tight pacing through and through. The Transformers franchise has always delivered with a lot of solid shows and this one will certainly be no different. I’m looking forward to seeing which characters are thrown in for part 2. Personally it would be nice to see Rodimus show up a bit more but as he got a big role in the last CGI title I suppose they may want to give him a break. That’s fair, but it would still be cool of course. If you like Transformers or just enjoy a tense action series then this is a good one for you to check out.

Overall 7/10

Makai Senki Disgaea Review


It’s time to take a look at the anime adaption to a game I played pretty recently. This anime isn’t a straight adaption and has quite a bit of fun along the way. It’s certainly not a great show and mileage will very but I thought it was solid. It’s certainly entertaining and the cast is strong enough to hold their own here. With solid writing behind it, Disgaea is a show that is good to pass the time with and they do quite a bit with the 12 episodes they had. I’d definitely be game for the second title getting an anime someday as well.

The show starts with an angel trainee named Flonne showing up in the demon world to assassinate the King. She finds a boy who is asleep and wakes him up. It turns out that this is Prince Laharl and his father actually died by choking on some food. Laharl is now the demon king and Flonne decides to accompany him and prove that demons have feelings too. Laharl isn’t thrilled to have company but he won’t let this distract him from assuming command. The demons won’t follow Laharl until he possesses the legendary book which proves ownership and also gets back to his real castle. His “loyal” retainer Etna also arrives to come with him on the journey. Will these 3 really be able to get alone and is Flonne right that Laharl has the potential to be a good guy?

This is a main plot in the show that is actually played pretty seriously or at least relatively so for this title like in the game. The idea of demons being capable of feeling emotions and being heroic is quite foreign for a lot of characters. The demons themselves certainly don’t think it’s possible but at the same time they all act like regular people so you never find the idea to be all that outlandish. If you’re familiar with this kind of plot you’ll also be very willing to believe that it might happen as well. Flonne can be a little naive about it but she’s still on the right track here.

I’d say that the biggest difference here compared to the game is while the game was a blend of action and comedy, this show is going for full comedy. There are rarely any serious moments until the final episode. For the most part the show is actually going for a slice of life feel as the main character visit different areas and have a lot of stand alone adventures. There are plots that reach through the whole series in the background but they don’t really take center stage here for quite a while. So how much you enjoy the series will really come down to how funny you find it to be.

As I mentioned earlier I thought it was pretty entertaining. The dynamic between the three main characters is a solid one. Laharl definitely takes everything pretty personally so he’s always fighting with the other two. Etna is openly antagonistic with Laharl and is constantly trying to get him assassinated which is a fun subplot. Then you have Flonne who keeps talking about love and forgetting that the mere mention of the word ends up weakening Laharl considerably. This also means that Laharl is rarely able to go all out in a fight. It might be for the best as he is clearly one of the strongest characters in the series and would end most fights really quick.

He’s definitely a solid lead character. Laharl’s design is certainly memorable and he would make for a really good overlord. The guy knows how to run a kingdom even if he acts like a kid a lot. The most memorable part of his character is easily his laugh though. It’s brilliant and I dare say it’s the best laugh in media. It’s just epic and the shows even ends off with this laugh. That’s when you know that the laugh itself has hit the big time. You just can’t watch this show without giving it some credit.

Etna is a fun side character to have around as well. I do think she looked a bit weaker than I expected at times though. If she really wants to be the overlord then she is going to need to hit the gym quite a bit if she wants to compete. As it stands right now she is nowhere near strong enough to become the leader that everyone will end up following. It’s another reason why the sequel needs an adaption because she got much more powerful in that title. She may be constantly trying to destroy Laharl but she’s still someone he can count on in the meantime. It may seem like a contradiction but that’s a crucial part of her character. Logic is flipped with demons so the fact that Etna wants to murder Laharl is why he wants her by his side. The show also has a nice gag with this when someone tries to take some demons hostage. As if that would work on Lahalr.

Flonne is definitely the nicest character in the series and always trying to convert the characters around her. She may not always live up to her standards such as accepting the Prinnies carrying the heroes around for a while even when told that she should probably get off to help them out. Flonne has her limits but at the end of the day she tries her best to make the right move. Laharl doesn’t make things easy for her though by doing things like stranding her in the desert and such. Flonne always takes on each new challenge with a smile. I would argue that she had no reason to accept such a punishment in the final episode of the show but heroic sacrifice is the whole idea of her character.

Then we’ve got the Team Rocket of the series which is Gordon, Jennifer, and Thursday. As the protector of Earth Gordon is pretty full of himself but he really can’t fight at all. I like the team because the camp works quite well in this setting. I would have liked Gordon to have looked a bit better against Curtis though. I think the fact that the show uses them as a full Team Rocket blasting off again approach weakens their characters a bit but they still work well enough. Similarly Kurtis doesn’t appear nearly as much here. He was one of the best characters in the game but I couldn’t rank him quite as high up here as a result. Still, he is fun to have around.

Then you have one of the standout characters, The Dark Adonis. The show pretty much spoils his twist early on but I suppose they thought people might find it obvious anyway. Now this guy is a show stealer. He’s always around with a cool line and shows up whenever the heroes are in trouble. Unlike Laharl he doesn’t mind being openly heroic although that doesn’t mean he will always do the right thing. The guy is as chaotic as can be and just does whatever he feels like. He is not someone you can count on. Even if he is usually portrayed as more of a good guy the fact that you are never sure means he is not the guy you want to absolutely have in your corner. You want someone that you know will have your back right?

Then you’ve got the Angels. Vulcanus gets a big role and is one of the main villains here. The guy can’t fight much though so he focuses on summoning demons to help him out. That definitely means you won’t really be seeing him as a threat here. The tougher angel is Lamington who is also a villain. The guy may try to justify his actions later on but there’s just no way he can. At the end of the day his decision was to try and murder a bunch of people to answer the question of if love was real or not. The guy does a lot of back pedaling. Laharl doesn’t buy it and neither do I. If anything Lamington seems to get off really easy by the end of the series. If only Laharl could have acted a little quicker.

While parts of the ending feel a bit forced due to one character making a terrible move, the show still manages to have a pretty satisfying conclusion by the end of it. The ending is definitely close to ideal if you ask me with the final twist being excellent. The ending could have easily swung the wrong way if you left out the final scene because that is critical. It just provides the closure we need for such an adventure.

The animation for the show isn’t all that good. I liked the art and the character model style though. The character designs look like they’re out of the show but when they start moving that’s when things fall apart. It’s not very consistent and a lot of shortcuts are taken. We maybe get 3-4 very solid animation scenes throughout the whole series. It’s rare to see so when the scenes pop up it’s pretty nice to see. It feels like the show had a very low budget and perhaps that’s why it decided to go for the comedy angle. That takes up less budget than if you decided to go full action. The soundtrack is certainly good and nostalgic though. It grabs all of the classic themes from the video game which work really well with all of the scenes. The game did a masterful job with all the tunes.

While there’s definitely lots of room for a sequel the show stands up well on its own so you don’t feel like there needed to be a second season. I imagine it would have gone more into some of the plots here like Laharl’s fake sister. At the end of the day that plot didn’t appear as much and goes about how you would expect. I have to say Laharl absolutely did get punked there though. It happens to him a few times though so it’s nothing new for the overlord. He’ll only improve from here though. I should also quickly mention that the Prinny makes for pretty fun creatures. Their plot is a little sad if you think about it, but they really are nice followers. They put up with a lot and their whole purpose is to support an overlord and his army of demons who don’t actually care for them in return. The idea is that they’re working towards their salvation in the end though so that’s probably what gets them going. The world has quite a few unique rules and the show lays them out nicely.

Overall, Disgaea is a solid story. If you could only choose one way to experience this series then you should do it with the games. The game does a much better job of telling the story. Still, if you want to see it in another way then going with the show is not a bad idea. The show is still a lot of fun. It may add a lot of gags and extra stories but at the end of the day it’s still relatively close to the main game’s plot. The creative liberties help you to experience things in a fresh way which is not a bad idea. It’s only 12 episodes too so you’ll definitely be blasting through it and whenever you see a critical story moment from the games the show does its best to adapt it sometimes even word for word. I definitely need to go and get Disgaea 3 at some point even if it will be with whole new characters.

Overall 7/10