Yugioh Vrains Review


It’s time to link into the Vrains! Yugioh was always known as the big trading card franchise for a long while as even Duel Masters could not keep up but as the years went by it started to lose its ground at the top. Nowadays you could make a fair case for Cardfight Vanguard surpassing it in discussion at least for the shows. That said, Vrains is the end of the old guard in a sense since Sevens is really the start of a whole new direction. Vrains is another great show so Yugioh continues to go strong there. While I do think it ended up being the weakest of the classic Yugioh shows (Aside from Capsule Monsters and the original show) that’s more due to the high bar set by the franchise as opposed to this one lacking in anything. GX, 5Ds, and Arc V still remain at the top by a longshot, then you have classic and then Zexal, then Vrains comes riding through. We’ll see if Sevens can break into this very exclusive group of shows or if it’ll lag behind.

The show here follows Yusaku, whose alter ego is Playmaker. He was involved in an experiment as a kid that traumatized him as well as a lot of other kids and then the incident was buried. Yusaku has some issues with his memory, why he was there in the first place, and also has trust issues now. So he really stays by himself and the only person he truly trusts is Kolter. Yusaku now works as a hacker so he can find out the truth in the world and he’s also an expert duelist on the side. The only leads he has is the group known as the Knights of Hanoi and SOL Technlogies, and an advanced A.I. program (Ignis) named Ai. Will Yusaku be able to put this puzzle back into focus?

So lets talk a bit about the show as a whole first before getting into the arcs and characters. I do like the idea of dueling while on airboards now. It’s a natural piece of progression after being on motorcycles before. Arc V had rollerblades and flying through the arena so it’s only natural that fighting while in the air would be next right? The characters have to watch out for the constant tornadoes but it’s pretty intense. I would say motorcycles is still the best aside from normal dueling but this one is still cool.

The gimmick for Vrains is also considerably better than the one in Arc V where you could just randomly grab cards. Here you get to use a unique skill once per turn and every player has a different unique skill. It’s an interesting mechanic that doesn’t completely take over every duel so it actually feels rather balanced. At the very least I thought it was handled pretty well personally. It’s a visually interesting ability and with the characters already in the air, the whole thing helps to augment the duel without distracting from it.

I also enjoyed the mystery angle in the show with Yusaku trying to find out about his past. If he had full amnesia or something then that would have been annoying but instead it’s about that one specific event which always raises a lot of questions for Yusaku. Why wouldn’t it right? The whole thing seems incredibly suspect so it’s no wonder that he wants to find out exactly what was going on there. It’s a slow boil as you gradually find out the details of the mystery and that’s handled well.

Yusaku also makes for a very fun protagonist with how rude he can be the whole time. Yusaku is very much not a people person and he reminds the case of this a lot with his subtle burns. He’s never sarcastic but he will put a character in their place with a sharp remark at the drop of a hat. Yusaku is a master duelist so he can also quiet other characters down that way. As the series goes on he gets to be a nicer guy and someone who even believes in the power of friendship but he never completely loses his edge. He’s a solid character through and through as well as someone that all of the villains have to respect as a solid threat.

It was also nice to have various factions running around here. You had SOL Technologies and their various duelists and fighters running around. They even hire a bounty hunter at one point. You’ve got Yusaku and his friends on the heroes side and then you have the Knights of Hanoi with their own schemes to hack the world. So at all points in the series there are at least 3 factions running around and I think that’s a good thing because it always means there could be a wild card running around. It helps to keep things from being too static or straight forward.

Naturally the animation is very solid here. Yugioh never goes for looks that are too fancy or anything but it’s all well detailed and I had no issues with how anything looked. The designs and backdrops are always solid as well as the dueling effects. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable than some of the previous Yugioh titles though. I can’t really recall too many of the individual dueling themes and the English version of the theme song at least was rather underwhelming. So on the music side this one doesn’t quite hold up.

Now I suppose the question is what keeps Vrains from beating the other Yugioh shows. Well, I do think the soundtrack and animation play a part as it doesn’t look or sound as good as any of the others. While it’s not a major deal in the grand scheme of things, it’s still an important factor when you’re going up against elite titles. Faster music would have been good and the animation just didn’t get as out there as you would expect. GX and 5Ds for example came out ages ago but the animation still holds up even better I would say, especially in some of the biggest duels. I don’t even have to go into the soundtrack since those were amazing.

The cast is also a bit weaker overall. There aren’t a whole lot of Vrain characters that I would say are really high tier. One character who eventually got high tier didn’t reach that point in the final season. This was Ai as he was annoying for around the first 100 episodes before finally getting good. For the most part the characters just didn’t reach the next level though and as a result you had less heart pumping duels. The climax of each arc would get fairly intense but I would say that it could take a little while to get to that point.

Now all of these points are speaking relative to the other titles. This is still an 8 star title so you can tell that it is great all around. When you look at the show by itself, I wouldn’t consider these to be true weak points as the show still handles them well. It’s just the little things that can keep you from reaching the top and shattering all of the limits. It’s also difficult following a title like Arc V which was the big crossover saga for all of the series. That may be why this one intentionally tried to be a little more low key and about the mystery/world instead of always being about the duels. At least early on it’s going more in that direction which isn’t even a bad idea. It’s pretty enjoyable to see Yusaku playing detective and to see where that goes.

Now I’d say that’s a pretty good time to start jumping into the story arcs and talking about the characters a bit. The show had 120 episodes so as you can probably imagine, there was a whole lot going on here at all times. It makes for a great adventure and the longer you go the better. So if you’re 100+ episodes and an 8? Well that means you’re in for a treat because that’s a lot of content for greatness. If you’re 100+ but a 7 or lower then that’s still pretty good but it isn’t nearly as mind-blowing or anything like that.

The first part of the season’s more about the introductions. So while Yusaku is on his quest to find the answers, he gets to meet up with a lot of characters both friend or foe. Those who enjoy Link Vrains and those who want to see it go down. The Knights of Hanoi have taken a very drastic approach in this endeavor as they seek to completely delete it which will keep A.I. from taking over the planet. See, part of their concern is that humanity relies on the A.I. too much and so if they ever revolt, the world could be in trouble. While this may seem a little drastic, the show does give them some ammo here.

See, everything in this world relies on A.I. From entertainment to schoolwork, to hobbies, and normal work. Everything is connected with the sci-fi elements at this point. The Knights of Hanoi have seen firsthand how dangerous this can be and so they aim to nip this in the bud. It will of course be a huge inconvenience to everyone who uses Link Vrains but at least it’s not like they’re trying to blow up the planet or anything. It makes for a very interesting goal on the villains part. Then in a way SOL Technologies would be the good guys since they control Link Vrains but they have so many secrets and shadowy figures that it’s not like you can trust them either. At the end of the day Yusaku can only really rely on himself.

That said, I do think SOL Technologies could have done a little better with their council of elders. Those guys talk a really tough game but at the end of the day they can barely fight. You never see them actually running to the frontlines or anything like that. SOL has the money to buy a bunch of bounty hunters and such but I would have liked to have seen these guys getting in some action too. Now that would have been a lot of fun.

As mentioned earlier, Kolter is Yusaku’s main friend and he’s not bad. Hostage situations do force him into some tricky calls later on in the series but for the most part he’s dependable. I just wish he could duel a little better so that he could actively help Yusaku instead of always being on the sidelines. He helps out with the coding and all but dueling is the best way because you can just get right in there without any delay. He and Yusaku also have some good conversations on hot dogs and whether they’re a sandwich or not. I always thought those conversations were pretty cool.

Then there’s Ai. Well, I’ll talk about him a bit more again for the final arc but for the majority of the series I didn’t really care for him. Each Yugioh series always needs a mascot/advisor to the main character. The one in the classic Yugioh is Yami Yugi of course and he’s really serious but then sometimes you may have someone like Astral where you can’t trust him all that much and he’s not a great character. Ai is more on that level as he talks tough but is proven to be wrong every time. His confidence is never warranted and he just holds Yusaku back so there’s no way for me to like him much. It’s not until the final saga that he suddenly becomes a pretty good character.

Now Zaizen is a high quality character. At first he may seem like your classic government worker type villain who can’t fight and just sends goons after Yusaku but there’s a lot more to him than that. One of his motivations for getting to the top is so that he can protect his sister Skye and he even tries to prevent her from dueling for that reason since it can get rather dangerous. He does take it too far but you can get at least why he has that general view. Then when it’s crunch time he actually is able to duel. Sometimes Zaizen does take the easy way out and just follows the company line, but otherwise he will stand up for himself which is always what you want to see.

He looks into SOL Technologies on his own as well and gets a lot of character development. Ultimately I wouldn’t call him a hero but he was one of the most interesting characters in the whole show. Then you have Emma aka Ghost Gal who he would hire to get info sometimes. She’s sort of like a bounty hunter who will do missions for the right price. Typically she leans more on the side of being a hero and doing the right kind of tasks but I wouldn’t say exclusively. Ultimately if you’re willing to pay then she is willing to help out. She can duel very well too so she can take care of herself when a mission goes sideways. She brings a nice dynamic to the series.

Next up is The Gore but I never ended up liking this guy. He’s your classic strong but not very smart guy. There’s a nice touch to his character with how he fights so that the orphans can have someone to look up to. I think if that was played up then he could have been really good but he gets entranced by the darkness several times. It feels like he was always being a traitor and it’s not like he’s an expert duelist either. If his character had gone in a different direction then it could have worked but not like this.

As for the villains, lets start off with the leader Varis. He has a personal vendetta against all Ignis because he believes that they go too far. He doesn’t necessarily have a problem with A.I. and technology itself but since the Ignis have a will of their own they become too dangerous. He really thinks that this level of technology should not be around and so he tries to eliminate them and make a mess of Link Vrains. He has a very solid backstory here to set up this goal and his confidence is always high.

In a lot of ways he will definitely remind you of Kaiba. The two of them have a lot of similarities as characters and are both top of their field. Even by the end of the series Varis still has some edge to him. There’s one fight that he ends up throwing near the end of the series that I found to be a little cheesy though. I get that he wanted to end the cycle of violence but I would have liked him to have stayed the course and gone off to destroy the Ignis anyway. That would have been the ideal scenario for me.

Then you have Specter who I like to think of as the right hand man. The Varis group doesn’t necessarily have full rankings like that but this guy always proved himself to be the most capable fighter. His fight with Skye was really a highlight in the series as it was one of those battles that subverted your expectations several times. His backstory was surprisingly emotional and he just made for an excellent all around fighter. The guy is one of those villains who loves taunting his opponents and he puts this to great effect. The characters just have no idea how to deal with him since he throws them so far off their game.

Then you have Dr. Kogami who is a mysterious scientist who ends up having a big role later on. He’s overshadowed by the other two villains for me but this guy wasn’t bad. He has grand ambitions and has quite a few “All according to plan” moments so I’ll give him that. Maybe if his deck had more of a shiny gimmick to it that would have helped him be even more memorable.

I mentioned her before, but of course we can’t go on without talking about Skye. She plays a big role here as the main heroine and has to balance being a celebrity in Vrains while not letting her brother realize that she even uses the system. That makes for a difficult balance of course but she pulls it off. I liked Skye well enough even if she probably could have used a few more wins in the dueling world. After a while you realize that none of Yusaku’s friends can hold their own (Until Soul Burner arrives) so he really has to pick up the slack for everyone. Ultimately you can always count on Skye to do her best in helping out though.

Now we enter the meat of the first arc which is that Varis and the Knights of Hanoi have constructed a tower. Each duelist they defeat is destroyed and put into the tower. If it isn’t stopped quickly then all of Link Vrains will be taken down for good. Yusaku will have to rely on his friends to help him here but when they are soundly defeated then it’s up to him as expected. Seriously the friends do their best to help but often times they don’t really help much in the grand scheme of things. Yusaku has to do the heavy lifting at all times.

There are a lot of hype duels throughout the tower experience as you’d expect. The three highlights are Yusaku vs Varis, Skye vs Specter, and then Specter vs Yusaku. As I mentioned earlier, Specter is just a master of mental manipulation and I was really impressed with him the whole time. Initially I figured he was going to be more of a throwaway villain who was not going to be ready to fight in the big leagues like this but he proved me wrong. This guy was absolutely ready to swing for the fences.

As for Varis, well the series was hyping up his duel with Yusaku for a very long time and it lived up to it. Technically they had several duels but this was the big one to end the arc so it was extra special. A few other villains also appeared here who were reasonably solid even if they couldn’t top the big two. One was Faust and he’s a bit of a genius although all of the villains are to an extent. He has a solid duel and makes his presence known. After this season he would continue to appear but he doesn’t get to duel nearly as much. He’s more of a supporting character.

Finally there is Baira and she came up with a solid computer glitch that can damage you even in the real world when you duel in Link Vrains. That was no small feat and she made for another solid villain to go up against. Then you’ve got one hero I hadn’t talked about yet in Shima. This is the comic relief character of the series and so I don’t have many positive things to say about him. Comic relief characters can be cool of course but the first step is that they need to be funny and Shima never was. He just tries too hard in his scenes and he’s not even a good duelist. That’s a bad sign in a show about dueling.

Now with season 2 we enter the main arcs of the series. The planet that the Ignis lived on has been destroyed and so now they are appearing on Earth. Some of the Ignis wish to conquer it while others want to take a peaceful approach. Lightning ends up being the ring leader here and he quickly gets Windy on board. Then he uses the cyborg Bohman and his brother Harlin to back him up. Even the Ignis who were on the fence like Earth have to take a stand and the Knights of Hanoi aren’t making it easy to convince them of a peaceful solution since they vow to destroy all the Ignis either way. Yusaku will have to try for peace but is that even possible?

Lightning even ran simulations which showed that eventually war would break out between the Ignis and humans which would cause everyone to die. He ran this simulation numerous times and it always ended up the same way which is why he decided to make the first move. I do like that this does at least give a good reason for why he turned evil like this. If you see that in the future everyone ends up dying every time, then you would probably feel really tempted to attack.

Lightning also just made for a really solid villain. He’s easily the most memorable of the Ignis for that reason and is an exceptional duelist all the way through. Then you have Windy who is also a solid villain. I would say that he doesn’t quite keep up with Lightning in part because he had to be convinced and isn’t a true leader in that sense. Still, Windy does his share of damage and doesn’t crack when he is nearly destroyed by the humans. This was definitely another villain that the heroes had to watch out for.

Earth was my least favorite member of the Ignis. He decided to stay on the fence and also didn’t confess to Aqua quickly enough. He tends to take forever to make a point and ultimately gets captured. His fate is the darkest by far among the Ignis and it’s probably the darkest scene in the series to be honest. You definitely feel bad for him and at the same time it really makes Lightning’s point on why the humans can’t be trusted. There will always be some of them around who will show up to try and destroy the Ignis. This was just the latest example of that.

Then there is Aqua and she’s nice enough but unfortunately her dueling skills aren’t quite on the same level s the others. She’s more of a pacifist but at least is more determined than Earth was. Aqua ends up having a good bond with Skye and does her best to help out. At least she did choose a side instead of staying in the middle so I give her props for that.

Finally we have Flame and I liked him well enough although I expected better out of both him and Soulburner. On their initial appearance it felt like they were going to be the cool rival character to give Yusaku a run for his money and then it never happened. It helps that Soulburner’s human alter ego just isn’t as cool as you would expect. Part of the point is that he’s actually not a super cool dude in the real world but I would have switched that so he was cool in both realms. Would have just worked better right? As for Flame, he does a good job of backing Soulburner up but it felt like he didn’t have a ton of personality most of the time.

He’s a good guy and he can hurl some insults but that’s about it. At least Soulburner has some good rage moments when it comes time to deal with his backstory or fighting against Varis. So there would be full episodes where Soulburner actually was really cool. It doesn’t happen all of the time but when it happens that’s definitely cool at least. Now it’s time for the 4 villains in this arc. First up is Jin and sure he’s being manipulated the whole time but that means he is still showing up as a villain here.

He just didn’t end up being nearly as cool as he could have been as a result. The guy has no willpower and is really just a puppet to be used the whole time. Considering how long it took Kolter to find him, it would have been nice if Jin was more helpful. Maybe give him one big duel before he gets brainwashed. Then you have Bohman who gets brainwashed a lot as well. The guy is given different memories each time just to mess with him. The reason Bohman is cooler though is because at least he can duel really effectively.

He gets stronger in each duel and by the end he even learns how to have goals of his own. He has some really solid duels throughout and you just grew to like the guy. Bohman is a great example of a fun villain. Not saying you’ll be rooting for him or anything like that but like Lightning he at least has a fairly good thought process on what he’s doing.

Then there is his brother Harlin. That guy’s more on the emotional side for the villain as he has a hard time really appreciating Bohman until it starts to be too late. Harlin’s confidence well exceeds his overall dueling ability so he doesn’t stand out quite as much. He’s decent but you just won’t be putting him above any of the other big villains. Finally you’ve got Shepherd who is a bounty hunter and a nice wild card to throw onto the field. You definitely don’t want to underestimate this guy and he even got Yusaku into a sticky situation several times. He also can’t stand A.I. like Varis and that makes him another good character to have around. He’ll attack both heroes and villains depending on the job and I like those kind of characters. Shepherd will do whatever it takes to fulfill his own ambitions.

Finally we’ve reached the final arc which is rather short but very impactful. It raises a lot of good questions and it also what made Ai go to being a fairly high tier character. So the season starts off with Ai making a big choice. He realizes that the Ignis were right and declares war on humanity. He will take them all out and just needs to obtain the two card keys from SOL Technologies. After Ai obtains the first one, the heroes know that he is serious about this. Somehow he has become a world class duelist with exceptional cards though so defeating Ai won’t be easy. Pretty much every available character is rounded up to stop Ai but will they really be enough to defeat him? With Yusaku being shaken up at the revelation, it won’t be easy this time.

The whole A.I. vs humanity angle is something that the show goes into quite a lot as I discussed earlier in the main Ignis arc. It’s really an interesting plot and I like it when the show goes into this. The humans are always attacking them after all but it was still very surprising to see Ai going to the other side. He usually just gets beaten up by everybody but still bounces back with a smile. It turns out that he was looking at things a lot more seriously than he let on. He probably should have talked with Yusaku before going out on his own though. Ai ends up being very impulsive when it matters.

It would normally be hard to take him seriously though which is where the show did an excellent job with his character. He gets a whole new design and actually looks really good. Now he is a fighter that the heroes can’t afford to underestimate at all. Doing so could cost the planet. Naturally there are a lot of twists and turns here as well as infighting with the heroes. After all, the season is still close to 20 episodes so it’s not like the whole thing could just be the Ai duels. Fortunately the other duels are still a blast as well. This was a fitting way to end the series and it was really hype as a climax.

The ending of the series is very final and does feel like a good way to wrap things up. There is one scene in the final episode that definitely helps to give it a good buff. It’s the kind of scene that I enjoy having there as a positive twist at any rate. So that’s the story of Yugioh Vrains and it’s a good one. Of course I didn’t go into details on some of the twists and turns here so you can get into it on your own. That way they’ll really have a lot of bite and substance to them. There’s no way you walk away from the series with any feeling other than just being happy and thrilled.

Overall, Yugioh Vrains is definitely a great series. I would recommend it to any anime fan, whether they’re someone who is already into Yugioh or someone looking for a good show. Either way it’s easy to follow and a good enough starting place for any future Yugioh fan. As I wrote above it’s a great show that’s well balanced in all areas. It’s also emotional that this is effectively the end of the traditional Yugioh shows. We’ll see if Sevens is able to top it as the start of the next gen or not. Either way you won’t be forgetting Vrains anytime soon.

Overall 8/10

Black Clover Review


This has certainly been a long time coming, but it’s time to finally review the Black Clover anime. I finished this show almost a year ago at this point but it’s a really long one which meant the review would be long too so it kept on getting pushed back on the priority list. Well, now it’s time to jump in and the series certainly earns its rep as being the next big Jump title. It’s today’s version of Naruto and quickly gets you into the mix with a lot of hype characters and storylines.

The series centers around a boy named Asta who has grown up with no magical abilities. He literally has no mana and seems to be cursed as it just won’t generate no matter what he does. In this world it is difficult to function at all without magic because society will brand you as a failure. It means you will be constantly teased and picked on, additionally Asta is a commoner which is another strike against him by the masses. Asta has sworn to get around this by honing his body to its absolute limit though to the point where he can still fight with magical users.

Asta keeps on going and is eventually selected by the Black Bulls, the worst of the magic squads and known for having a bunch of crazy members. Still, they chose Asta to be one of them so he will help transform them into the greatest squad that the world has ever seen. Asta’s goal is to eventually become the Wizard King and prove himself as the strongest of all. He can then change the world to make it more just for everyone no matter their individual status. This won’t be easy but he is determined to see this goal through to the end.

When I say there is a lot to discuss in this review, trust me it’s not an understatement. I’ll talk about the technicals first now and then we’ll jump into the story arcs and characters. You don’t see too many long running action titles like this nowadays since most anime go for the seasonal route. Aside from Boruto and One Piece, this may have been the last big Shonen ongoing like this. So in a way Black Clover was around for the end of an era. Seasonal shows certainly have their advantages and it’s always a fun debate but I was glad that Clover really got to go in with so many episodes here.

Right from the jump I thought the show looked really good. It’s by Studio Pierrot after all so I wasn’t surprised. They have animated some of the absolute best shows around. They may not be Ufotable but in my earlier animation editorial I showed why they are absolutely one of the best around. Black Clover gets a good budget. I thought it may not have looked too impressive before watching it because for some reason you see it mentioned online a lot that the show doesn’t look good but clearly they haven’t seen the fights.

Even when the animators were rushed and it was tough to meet the deadlines, they made the show look epic. There was only one fight at the end of the witch arc that I thought went too far with the experimental style. Experimenting a bit is good but go too far and it starts to look like a fan animation. I understand that was one of the fights where they really had to hurry though so that’s understandable. The series can switch between a very detailed art style one moment and then go into a streamlined one the next. Each fight is really fast paced so you can feel how powerful the characters were. I can confidently say that the animation is at a great level throughout the series. There are just many standout ones throughout so you never feel like the series is lagging behind.

Then you’ve got an excellent 5 star soundtrack up next. I did an editorial ranking all of the openings a while back because one of its particular strengths is how great those were. The openings all have a lot of life to them and just sound incredible. Whenever one is played for a big battle then you know that things are going to be epic. The themes inside of the actual series are also very good. There are a ton of great battle themes and emotional ones in there. A benefit of being such a long series is that there are really a whole lot of themes to choose from. You’ll be very familiar with all of them by the end but they really don’t hold back.

On a technical level the series is just excellent and so it helps to elevate the story. Fortunately the manga is also quite awesome so then what you have is a show that’s virtually perfect. It’s always interesting and has a great cast of characters to balance out the fun stories. The series can get serious as well and you feel a sense of danger. There also isn’t too much fanservice and the anime even cut some moments out which was really nice. I won’t say that a series like this is devoid of it, but they do a good job of avoiding it for the majority of the time.

Black Clover also has a good amount of humor to it as well. There are a lot of fun scenes throughout the show and sometimes the visual gag is what really helps seal the scene like when Asta’s eyes turn into sparkles. That’s usually a whole lot of fun and each of the characters have a fun dynamic with each other. This is a very well balanced anime that you could recommend to anyone. There’s definitely no doubt on that. This wraps up the general thoughts on the series so now it’s time to dig deep and really look at the characters and story.

The show starts off with the pre arc where we get to meet each of the Black Bulls and the team starts to form some good bonds with each other. We see how the day to day missions play out and each of the characters also gets a lot stronger. The show’s got good pacing here and while most of these original villains won’t be too memorable, they do serve their purpose in the fights. They look fairly menacing and give the heroes a run for their money. At the end of the day that’s what we’re looking for here right?

Asta is a terrific main character and one of the best leads in recent history. He works really hard and doesn’t let his lack of magic get to him. Throughout the 150+ episodes, he probably only gets down about it once or twice. The rest of the time he is busy training and getting himself fired up to be stronger and stronger. That’s exactly what you want to see in a main character here. His anti magic would not be nearly as useful if he wasn’t constantly training it so that he could be the strongest fighter around. Asta’s just an inspirational guy and he makes everyone around him that much better.

His rivalry with Yuno also has to be the healthiest that I’ve ever seen in Shonen Jump. They constantly build each other up even as they have their friendly banter. They never say something that they would regret later on or take advantage of the other one being in a bad place. Yuno never turns evil in the show and it seems unlikely at this point. That’s because the heroes aren’t jealous of each other. They respect each other’s strengths and keep is moving. That’s what it means to have a true rivalry and I feel like the show really understands that.

Yuno is a great character too of course. He fights hard to defend his friends and prove that he deserves the 4 leaf grimoire. He never backs down from a fight and he is always improving his wind abilities. Yuno wasn’t much of a team player at first but as the series goes on he gets more and more accustomed to working with others. Gone are the days where he was purely a solo act, he’s now ready to help everyone out on his road to being the Wizard King. We’ll see who makes it there first, him or Asta.

Noelle is the main heroine of the series and she is with Asta on the Black Bulls. She is a royal but has a hard time controlling her abilities which causes the other members of the family to ridicule her at all times. As a result Noelle struggles with confidence issues throughout the series but has one of the best character development arcs around. Each arc has her learn to trust in her friends as well as herself to get the job done. So while at one point she wouldn’t even shoot a single spell straight, now she can launch finishers with ease. She’s very much a tsundere so she has a hard time expressing her feelings. Usually you can find her just beating up on Asta and friends but in a pinch they know they can count on her.

Luck is another member of the Black Bulls and he’s one of those characters that really loves a good fight. He will do anything to get the fight that he has been longing for but sometimes that does mean that he will bite off more than he can chew. Considering that Luck is the kind of guy who likes to fight a lot, I wouldn’t say that he is one of the strongest members on the crew though. He does tend to get beaten out by a few of the others but he always has fun and he’s a character that you’ll probably find to be very likable. His backstory is also rather emotional so you can definitely see how things turned out the way that they did for him.

Luck’s rival is Magna who is more of a street punk kind of character. He lacks the overall talent and abilities that some of the other Black Bulls have which can end up making him feel bad but he rarely stays down for long. You feel like Magna will never actually catch up but at least he’s trying and the guy does use fire magic which I like. The problem is that there are at least 3 other characters in the same series who are better at fire magic which is not a good sign for him. Magna’s best chance to be more relevant in the future will be for him to switch attributes or go for magic techniques that are very unique from the other fire attacks.

Then we have Yami who is the captain of the Black Bulls and naturally has a very big role here. He’s a fan favorite and it’s easy to see why because he knows how to take charge of the team at any given moment and also just has a lot of pull. When he’s on the case you know that the troops are going to fall into line right away. His dark magic attacks are solid and he always makes sure to prioritize saving his comrades over following the rules. That’s the right order to do things if you ask me so that’s a very good look. He’ll always be one of the best.

Finral is another member of the Black Bulls but he is a weaker character. The guy does start to have a character arc where he won’t be flirting with all of the ladies as much and that’s good but in the meantime it’s not like his character has really been any good. He may get his moments but ultimately I wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of his. He’s just not my kind of character and the series taking that long to try and turn him into one just didn’t work out for me. Perhaps in a sequel series he will end up being really good. He’s helpful in combat at least but that still isn’t enough yet.

Vanessa is more of a support fighter on the team but she takes this to new limits as her cat of fate can allow her comrades to escape death. It’s a fate alteration technique which is incredibly helpful. It’s the kind of ability you rarely see a hero have since it can easily make it hard to write the villains into a scenario where they can win but Black Clover’s done well with this so far. She’s a fun character and while she may not stand out as much as some of the others, she gets the job done.

Gauche is a character who had some potential but his running gag sort of ruins it. He’s always talking about his sister Marie and while it’s nice that he wants to protect her, the whole thing is overplayed way too much. He’s an example of a character with a lot of comedic scenes that actually aren’t that funny. That’s not a good thing when that represents the vast majority of your character moments. He’s another character who isn’t likely to rise up all that high for me.

Finally there’s Charmy and we don’t know a whole lot about her compared to some of the other characters. She gets a lot of comedic moments as well but you can tell that she’s hiding a great power behind it all. That kind of character can work but it’s certainly a lot trickier than it would be if she was just a solid fighter all of the time. They’re always hinting at a backstory involving the elves or something similar with her but we haven’t really gotten it yet. All in all, I can’t say I’m too impressed with her.

Another character who appears early on in the pre arc is Sekke. This guy’s the Hercule/King of the series in that he’s a really big comic relief character who tends to fall upwards. Things just work out for him even though Sekke is as weak as a character can get. He does have one or two spells but just about any fighter would defeat him with ease. The only way he gets out of the situations is to be lucky. That said, I loved his character gimmick of adding a little “haha!” to the end of each of his sentences. Usually a little word at the end gets old fast but sometimes it works like in Air and now this series. So Sekke I do like in his role, he’s a better comic relief character than most.

Klaus is one of the Golden Dawn members who works with Yuno. You’ll realize early on that aside from the Black Bulls, most of the other squads don’t have a ton of characters with their own individual character designs and arcs. It’s fitting since the Bulls are the main team but at least the Dawn have a handful. Klaus is one of them and he’s not bad. At first he’s one of those classic royals who dislikes all commoners but he is quickly able to shed that opinion and that’s when I started liking him. It takes a good character to be able to get with the program that quickly and I thought he did really well. His magic may not be super helpful but it’s the thought that counts.

Then you have Mimosa who is the healer of the group. She can heal most injuries at a really rapid speed which comes in handy with how many dangerous missions the characters go on. That means she isn’t often on the front lines but when necessary she can scrounge up an attack spell or two. Mimosa is a decent enough character even if she is rather harsh to one of her brothers during the tournament. The Silva family tends to be rather crazy so she probably has a lot of justification for this but at least from what we see it feels like she is a bit too relentless there.

Of course we also have Bell who serves as Yuno’s nature spirit to further amp up his abilities. She’s not really my kind of character though. She tends to get jealous really quickly, almost instantly at every moment. So in a way she starts to get in Yuno’s way instead of helping and she reminds me of Tinker Bell a lot. If Bell could fight more on her own that would help but as it is, it never feels like she serves much of a role in the story.

I can’t forget about Sister Lily either. She is crucial to helping with Asta’s character development as one of his goals is to get together with her. The issue though is that she can never be with a man because of her job so this always leads Asta to be rather depressed. Lily doesn’t get to do a whole lot beyond her initial appearance but she’s a fun character and at least she does have a water spell as a last resort.

Now lets dive into the first story arc here which is the mission into the Diamond Kingdom dungeon. We get to see how the Black Bulls deal with a foreign squad here as both Yuno and Asta’s group fight off the invaders. This was a good way to show us how one of these battles would go and I thought the whole thing went rather smoothly. We had a big team up with Asta and Yuno as well as a future rival of sorts in Mars. Now, I do think Mars could have been used a lot more in the series. He ends up vanishing for pretty much the rest of it but he was a good antagonist.

Mars even gets his own backstory and everything. It should at least come across as pretty sad the whole time. His abilities also made him a true threat. There was another villain in this arc by the name of Lotus and I thought he was surprisingly really solid. The guy has a very laidback kind of vibe to him but it’s one that worked well. Lotus can absolutely fight as need be and was even overwhelming Luck the whole time in their battle. He doesn’t get to do much after this but he’s a villain who leaves a lasting impression on you.

After this we get to have Asta and friends invited to the capital to get their awards and recognition from the Wizard King. Pretty much all of the captains are here so they also get to really meet them. It turns out that a lot of these guys are just as bad as the random royals with how they all insult Noelle. It does have one of my favorite scenes in the series though when Asta steps in to defend her and even goes up against several fighters at once. It was one of many moments that propelled him to being so high tier for me. This then transitions into a mini invasion arc as Rades sends a bunch of undeads out to take down Asta and friends. The actual arc isn’t as exciting as the smaller event but it’s a good chance to see Asta taking more names.

Rades will end up being a reoccurring villain later on. He’s not the most threatening villain I’ve seen and he’s borderline comic relief at times but he works well enough. I don’t think you’ll remember him as being much more than an afterthought most of the time though. For the heroes, well we’re introduced to quite a few bad ones like Noelle’s siblings. Those two characters are just extremely petty and don’t have the strength to back it up so they’re just awful.

We meet Nozel who is the leader of the 2nd strongest guild but he’s one of the guys who really encourages everyone to be mean to Noelle so there’s no way to like him. You’d think that he would be more considerate of her since they’re siblings but if anything he ends up going after her even harder than the others. That’s not the kind of thing I can easily overlook. So he is strong and I can’t deny that but I just never liked him. Later on the series tries to walk it back a bit but it’s just way too late.

On the other hand, Fuegoleon gets to look really solid to start things off. He actually has a good honor code and even gives Noelle a good pep talk. This is a man of honor who also has great power and I was glad that he was able to stand on his own like that without having to step on someone. Unfortunately he gets written out of most of the series with something that happens to him later on so that was unfortunate.

Another one of the captains is Vangeance who gets a really big role here. He has tree magic but that’s never been one of the more impressive kind of spells to me. Give me fire or water any day. Trees just don’t feel as versatile. Either way I don’t like this guy though. He’s not decisive in his actions and ends up causing more trouble for everyone. He may be a part of the strongest guild but he certainly doesn’t feel like the strongest captain. You get the feeling that a whole lot of the others could mop him up if they wanted too.

Now the wizard king Julius actually lives up to his hype. That guy looks fantastic in all of his appearances. There were a lot of jokes about him basically being Naruto and they worked because this is how you imagine Naruto would be when he makes it to the top. Julius has created a world of peace and he’s so powerful that almost nobody dares to challenge him. His fight in the series is really intense and the kingdom can really feel safe with him at the top. I definitely liked the guy quite a lot.

While not a captain, Asta obtained a new rival in this arc in Leopold. I use the term a bit loosely because it feels like Leo never really got to do a whole lot. It’s like he’s set up to be a major player at some point but it never quite happened. I still think he has a lot of potential but he hasn’t really kept up with the power creep which hurts him a lot. If he is going to have a big moment it is going to need to happen soon or it’s all going to be over for him. Well, I guess he will still be likable even if he’s not one of the strongest but I would like to see more out of him. I have high expectations here.

After that there is an arc involving Gauche trying to save his sister. The arc is fairly low key and I don’t need to go into it much here but the big thing is that this directly leads into the leader of the midnight sun, Licht showing up. We then get a big fight with the heroes going up against him which then escalates further as the other members of the group appear and a few captains show up. The battles here were really high tier and Yami vs Licht is still brought up a lot to this day. This was when the series first started showing signs of the grander plan that would take us to the big Elf arc. There’s a lot of great setup here and one of the impressive bits may even be the fact that it was thrown into a story arc that felt like it was going to be very minor all the way through.

Licht appears in a very impressive way here. Not only can he attack at the speed of light which is crazy in itself but he also appears to care about his comrades. I always thought that was a solid trait for a villain since it makes them feel like more of a fleshed out character instead of some random villain wanting to destroy the world. His moveset is solid and he gets a lot of great fights here. I definitely don’t believe you will be disappointed at all when this fight is all over and done with and in the character either. He opens and finishes strong.

Vetto is then the most impressive member of the Midnight Sun. His big role is in the arc after this one as he gets to go up against pretty much the entire Black Bulls team on his own. The guy fights wave after wave of enemies and just keeps on going. It’s absolutely crazy how much stamina the guy has and while he does tend to ramble on and on about despair, the guy can back up the crazy talk. I ended up liking him quite a bit and he is really the reason why the underwater temple arc was so good.

Rhya is also a solid villain. He’s more the cold and calculating type but that doesn’t mean he can’t fight. He still ends up being very helpful to the villains with how his copy ability works. There aren’t too many fighters who can stand up to him and he was also the first to realize that something was up with the devil even if it was just too late by that point. In a way he doesn’t get to cut loose as much as the other two members but he also doesn’t go crazy.

Fana is like Vetto in how much she dislikes the humans. She tends to yell a lot about the whole thing and just goes in guns blazing. She certainly isn’t conflicted about the whole situation. Fana has some solid fights here and makes for a solid all around villain. Definitely not someone that you want to mess with. From the hero side, we get to see Charlotte in action here. She’s another captain with grass type powers only hers are vines instead of trees. She’s much better than Vangeance and while her crush on Yami can mean that she is often flustered, she doesn’t let this show when she goes up against the big villains. To them she is just another really powerful captain that they have to watch out for. Charlotte commands a lot of respect in a battle and I’d say that she’s solid enough.

Then there is Jack and I do like the guy but my one issue is that I don’t feel like he’s as strong as you’re meant to believe. see, he’s Yami’s rival but it feels like the gap in power between them is absolutely massive. If they are as evenly matched as the show would have you believe, then Jack should look way better during his solo moments. He is usually portrayed as either being all talk or on Yami’s level and the two versions of him are completely mutually exclusive. You can’t be both at once no matter how much this show may try to trick you otherwise.

Now we get to the underwater temple arc which is one of the highlights of the series. The heroes are finally making a move to try and get a step ahead of the Midnight Sun, but naturally those guys were ready for this. So we get to have a bunch of big fights against Vetto. This time the heroes are not leaving without taking him down for good and it’s a very tense fight all the way through. The animation is really excellent and it’s just a super memorable experience. For a lot of people this was the turning point and while the series was already amazing for me prior to this, it certainly kept on raising the bar.

We got to meet the singer Kahano who quickly hit it off with Noelle. Kahano was a very nice character along with Kiato as the two of them did their best to help out. Unfortunately the burden of trying to help out the main characters while not being a part of them is that you tend to get absolutely crushed into the dust. These two really did their best but ultimately they weren’t ready. I liked them well enough and they actually remained relevant to a much larger extent than I expected.

Also, I didn’t talk about her much before but Grey is another member of the Black Bulls and she’s around the whole time too. Her ability is seemingly to shapeshift which isn’t too handy though. As of now you could say that her role is still very minimal so she hasn’t done a whole lot yet. Grey can be way too timid for me though which keeps her from being one of the top characters. Gordon is another Black Bull member and his gimmick is that he talks so silently that nobody can hear what he is saying. It definitely gets old rather quickly. His powers are all poison based which is handy at least but that’s still not quite enough to turn him into a good character. For now he’s just too gimmicky but I’d like to see him develop into a really solid character down the line.

Then we have a small filler arc or at least it felt like filler to me where Asta helps his (novel exclusive) mentor find Dominate after she has vanished. The heroes have to deal with the traitor Mariella and figure out what’s going on. I’d say the main issue with this one is that the villains feel way too weak so the heroes should be absolutely stomping them the whole time. Instead Fanzell just doesn’t feel very impressive at all. You get the vibe that Asta surpassed him a very long time ago. It was a decent little story saga but nothing to write home about.

Same for the characters. Fanzell is okay but he’s not making my top 20 list any time soon. Dominate doesn’t appear long enough to leave much of an impression either and of course Mariella didn’t really make the best calls. All in all I would be fine if they never appear again. It’s not like they were super bad or anything but they just don’t add anything to the dynamic so you could just give their scenes to someone else.

Now the next big arc is the Witch queen one. The heroes needs to find a way to heal Asta’s arms after the events of the temple saga and this is the best place to do it. The Witch Queen is supposed to have abilities far beyond that of anyone else when it comes to reversing curses and such. Naturally she isn’t super nice though so that won’t be easy. Additionally, the diamond kingdom and midnight sun are attacking again so the heroes have to deal with that too. It’ll be a busy time for them but they’re ready for this.

The Witch Queen herself is about as shady and nefarious as you would expect. She would absolutely murder all the heroes at the drop of a hat if she got her way. I do think she’s a bit shortsighted in this since the villains would then be able to take her out really quick though. She’s confident in her defenses but shouldn’t be because they just wouldn’t hold up. So I wouldn’t really say I’m a big fan of hers at the moment. She could turn out to be good down the road but for now I’m not impressed.

Likewise, the big villain here is Ladros and there’s just not much to him. He’s super strong so he’s absolutely a threat in combat but that doesn’t translate to him being a great villain. He can absolutely decimate his opponents in combat but there’s more to being a villain than that. He doesn’t have much personality or any super likable traits so that’s game over for him.

Mereoleona gets to appear after the climax as she gets ready to train the heroes and go with them to the elf invasion. Now here’s a top tier character who has a lot of great moments throughout. Whenever she is on screen you know that the heroes are finally going to learn a lot and will be able to push their skills to the next level. She loves fighting even more than Luck and has the skills to back it up so that’s good enough for me. Any scene with her is always fun.

After that we get to the big tournament and I’d been waiting for this. After all, tournaments are always super hype. All of the big characters are in this including some that we hadn’t gotten to see much of before now. It’s mostly a friendly tournament but Langris starts to go a bit crazy here so you can expect him to make some noise. It leads into one of the most intense scenes in the series though when the Black Bulls come close to ending him. They certainly weren’t about to let anything happen and I love to see teamwork like that. You gotta look out for each other in a moment like this.

Suffice it to say, Langris never really went very high for me. Sure, mind control played a part in some of the scenes, but not all of them and that’s an important distinction to make. By and large he is still responsible for what he was doing the whole time. He just had a bad attitude, there’s no two ways about it. The guy has a tremendous amount of power too so you would think that he would be more content with what he’s got instead of always looking around. That’s definitely a lesson that he needs to learn sooner than later.

Zora is a new member to the Black Bulls and right away he becomes one of the best members. I like how this guy openly takes on the royals and doesn’t put up with any of their nonsense. To an extent he acts like a vigilante at first and never really loses his edge but by the end he’s also a team player. His trap style of magic is also very effective although I feel like by its own nature it will never make him quite as powerful as some of the other fighters. It just inherently has some limits to it but he’s shown that he can work with those so far.

Sol is Charlotte’s right hand woman and she’s a decent enough character. I like that she’s always got a fiery spirit. Unfortunately she never gets to fight all that much but I see her having some potential as a strong side character. Sol is someone who could probably shine if the series ever got a true spinoff manga. Then you have Kirsch who is Mimosa’s brother. He’s the one where I feel like she’s too harsh at times. The guy is rather vain but compared to the rest of the nobles he is a decently nice guy. His abilities are also handy especially in a team format. He’s not really my kind of character but the guy does well enough.

In the tournament Rill gets to enter and I always thought that was a bit odd since he is a captain. Well, I suppose he’s one of the younger ones but even so I would have expected him to not have been allowed. His fight against Yuno is one of the highlights of the arc and it was great to see one of the main characters finally going up against a captain. To me this cemented what I had known for a very long time which is that Yuno and Asta were already captain level. Rill’s abilities are cool but his overall personality isn’t really my thing. He tends to space out and not be as focused as he should be.

Finally you have Alecdora who was trying to be a rival to Yuno for a long while. Unfortunately for him, his abilities aren’t nearly at a level that would cause Yuno to sweat at all. Seriously, this guy just doesn’t stand any kind of chance against him. Alecdora’s also rather stuck up so it takes a while for him to acknowledge Yuno’s overall abilities. Once he does then he becomes a much better character.

This leads us to the Elf arc which is widely known as the best saga in the series. I would absolutely agree with this too. Part of what makes the arc work so well is because it was being built up since near the beginning of the series. It’s also a very long arc much like Hueco Mundo where every character gets their own fight. Even the supporting characters finally get some action and there are a lot of villains to go around. The arc also has two parts to it as you have the initial invasion where the heroes try to take the Elves out and then the counterstrike where a bunch of people end up getting mind controlled.

There are so many iconic moments in this like Yuno using his strength of will to overcome the brainwashing or actually seeing the previous wizard king get to fight. There were just so many amazing scenes here and of course the battles were all top notch. The amount of replay value here is also incredibly high. You just don’t want to peel yourself away from the episodes and can probably blast through the entire thing in an instant. That’s when you know that you’ve got a really elite show by your side.

One villain in this arc is Sally who technically has been appearing here and there but this seemed like a good time to bring her up. She’s not really my kind of villain though as she’s one of those crazy scientists who runs a ton of twisted experiments but it feels like the heroes let it slide to an extent. At this point she is practically here as an anti-hero but she should be getting big jail time right away. She’s not someone you could ever hope to trust.

Then we have another Black Bull named Henry and his gimmick is that he talks really slowly. Unfortunately that destroyed the character for me. Gimmicks like that where you talk too slowly or too quietly just hurt because then it takes forever for the character to make any points. So any scene with Henry was more on the painful side than being emotional which is really not a good idea. His ability to absorb mana is cool at least.

Next up is Dorothy who is one of the captains but unfortunately for her fans she doesn’t get to do a whole lot. Her dream powers are incredibly powerful but she always happens to fight opponents who can hard counter it. Put it this way, she should be able to beat over 80% of the cast easily but she always goes up against the final 20%. She’s a fun character though who is always relaxing because deep down she knows how strong she is. Dorothy is quirky but not in an annoying way so there’s a lot to enjoy about her.

Secre is another Black Bull and you can tell how the series keeps adding new members as it goes along. Technically she was around since the start of the series as a bird but only gets to use her human form later on. Secre is another solid character who keeps all of the others on their toes with her quick wit. Her ability to unseal things is a very specific power but one that certainly has her uses. I enjoy what she brings to the table in terms of the character dynamics.

Of course a big character in this arc is Zagred as the first devil to fight the heroes. The show goes all out with this guy as he pretty much takes on the entire cast at once. If the show was trying to prove why this guy is an absolutely huge threat then it completely succeeded. He definitely strikes fear into his opponents and it’s all well deserved. Anything he says comes true which is a really scary power to go up against. Also as a Devil he just wants to cause chaos and misfortune to everyone around him. Not exactly the kind of villain you can reason with.

Finally there is Lumiere and I liked him a lot. He’s not quite as cool as the current Wizard King but you can see how this guy once had the rank and did a lot of good with it. His abilities have a lot of versatility to them and his raw power is exceptional. Put him up against almost any other character in the series and it would be an easy win for him. I also liked his bond with Secre, they were definitely good friends.

Finally we head to the final saga in the series. First there is a bit of a court drama as the people want Asta executed for being a devil host but the Black Bulls put a stop to that really quick. I was glad that they did not entertain this notion at all and just broke in. It was another great scene to show how much unity the Black Bulls have and how they will do whatever it takes to protect each other. Of course the real final saga comes after this and we even get a time skip.

The characters now have new designs although the one that stands out the most is certainly Asta. The devils are finally making their move as the Spade Kingdom sends the Dark Triad to capture 3 fighters while also invading the Heart Kingdom. Asta and friends have to go to each of the spots to defend their allies but these villains are far more powerful than any that they have encountered before. The Elf arc previously showed how powerful one devil was so you can imagine how taking on 3 would be an incredibly difficult task. The only thing that helps the heroes a bit is that the devils are using human hosts and can’t fully manifest the way that the last one did. If they could do that then the heroes would absolutely have no shot at taking the win. It would just be completely impossible at that point.

While not quite as long or ambitious as the Elf Arc, this one certainly comes close. Once we get a sequel anime to adapt the rest of the arc it’ll get even closer as it still is a super long arc with a lot of great fights. I also always enjoy a good timeskip and getting to see how all of the heroes have grown stronger with their techniques. The new opening theme song for this saga was also excellent to the point where I put this as the best intro in the series.

Damnatio is the judge who wanted Asta executed and he certainly gets a solid role here. I liked the guy, he may not be a big fighter or some kind of super villain but his abilities are cool. I don’t think he would have lasted long against the Black Bulls in an even fight but this guy is not meant for the front lines anyway. He’s a good way to represent what the general public of the Clover Kingdom think and how they are always very ungrateful. So he’s a fun antagonist here.

We also meet the leader of the Heart Kingdom in Loropechika, but I definitely can’t say that I was really a fan of hers. She cries way too much and being a klutz is part of her whole character personality. That’s never too endearing for me, I wish she would be able to get serious a lot quicker. If you commander can’t really fight, what does that do for morale? Maybe she’ll look better right now but so far she’s one of the weakest characters for sure.

She has a group of warriors who fight below her but the only one with actual development is Gaja. The others are around but you can’t take them too seriously and feel like they are going to get absolutely dominated the whole time. At least Gaja can actually fight the whole time and his abilities are the real deal. He gets to train the heroes and he is very devoted to protecting the queen. So I’d give that guy a thumbs up even while the rest of the group did not seem very impressive.

Then we get to the Dark Triad and they are all powerful fighters. That said, Dante is not really my kind of character. For starters, the guy is one of those villains who is obsessed with women and distracts him from the actual fight at hand. He’s also one of those proud villains who feels like he shouldn’t have to fight commoners and all that. He’s the kind of villain you’ve seen a million times before but who doesn’t really leave an impact. As a villain to be fought he lives up to the hype and looks great but as a character he wasn’t my kind of villain.

The second member Vanica was a lot more interesting. She is on the insane side at times which isn’t always my thing but at least she loves a good fight and is all about the action. Vanica likes to insult her opponents while fighting them as well but isn’t getting distracted from her core purpose. Now she’s a villain who you don’t want to mess with at all and she has personal ties to Noelle and the queen which adds a personal dynamic to the whole mix.

Finally there is Zenon who is easily the best member of the trio. This guy is very serious and down to business as he attacks Yuno and the squad. His bone magic is cool to watch and the guy just feels unbeatable. It’s clear from the jump that he is the strongest member of the triad by far. He doesn’t show any moments of weakness or even come close to appearing to be on the losing side. He dominates his fights from start to finish and that’s the kind of villain you want to see the heroes go up against.

Then as we end the series and get the setup for the next arc, two more characters show up. First is Liebe who is the devil that has been residing inside of Asta. We’ve been waiting for this guy to show up for so long that it was surreal to finally see him appear. Of course as luck would have it, he’s considerably weaker than all of the other devils who have appeared. So don’t expect him to be showing up to take names immediately but he does have a lot of character development. We even get to see his backstory which was very emotional. I’m excited to have him become a main character now since his dynamic with Asta is really going to be intense. Their battle was also a fitting way to end the series because of how emotional it was and all of the callbacks that got to be included.

Finally there is Nacht, the final Black Bull. He’s not as happy go lucky as the rest and even tends to insult Yami which is something that Asta and the others don’t like. He has several devils at his disposal though and is currently a very mysterious character. We don’t know a lot about him yet but I can say that he is starting the series off strong. I would say the mystique works really well here and you definitely want to see what he can do in a fight.

Overall, Well there’s always more to say about a series like this but I’d say that’s good for now. Naturally there are more characters and events out there but you should watch the series yourself to see all the extra details. Black Clover is a super all around show and I definitely recommend checking it out when you have the time. It is over 150 episodes long so you will need a lot of time but the episodes really blend together with how quick the pacing is. Hopefully they hurry up with the movie and the sequel show because it feels like we’ve been waiting for a long while. The post time skip events were just getting started after all so we need to see how it all ends. It’ll be tough for another title to top this one but we’ll see how it goes.

Overall 9/10

Noragami Review


Noragami is a title that’s been around for a while and is even still going but always seems to be hidden behind all of the other big ongoings. You just never see anybody ever talking about it and the same with the anime. This one isn’t even that old and yet I don’t remember seeing it make any headlines. It’s a shame because the production values on this show are really way better than I expected. Yukine single handily sabotages the show enough to keep me from calling it great all around but you’ll have a lot of fun with this one.

The show starts by introducing us to Yato who is one of the gods of this realm. He accepts any mission for 5 yen and one day hopes to have his own temple where people can come worship him. In the meantime though he is pretty poor and so nobody really wants to work with him. His latest regalia (partner) decided to quit so Yato is on his own one day. He gets someone else into trouble when a girl named Hiyori pushes him out of the way as a bus was about to hit him. Of course it wouldn’t have hurt since Yato is effectively a ghost but she didn’t know that and her spirit self was shot right out of her.

Hiyori now has a rare condition where she will just fall out of her body at times. Her spirit form can then run and jump across buildings but the danger is that it attracts evil spirits. She is now a prime target for all kinds of villains and so she hires Yato to heal her of this condition. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like he knows all that much about her situation so this may not be as easy as all of that. He does finally find a new regalia in Yukine but this kid has a lot of issues. Will they be able to form a true team and save Hiyori or should she turn to another god for help?

Right off the bat I like the setting for Norgami. It’s a very classic city but one that actually makes use of this. You have the characters fighting while jumping on buildings, checking out the sites, and the place always feels very modern. It’s very much the kind of place you would see in a slice of life title, only you’ve still got your consistent action here. Additionally, the gods dynamic is fun with how they’re always around and normal people just have a hard time seeing them. Whether the god stays alive and powerful or not depends on if people continue praying to them. It adds a sense of urgency for why Yato wants to keep on clearing missions and to get bigger. If he doesn’t then he’ll literally cease to exist.

Gods also have special privileges here like how they don’t suffer penalties for committing crimes and such since they are supposed to be above good and evil. You can see how the rules are slanted in their favor but they made the rules so of course they would do that. Season 1 doesn’t introduce us to too many gods yet but it’s clear that there are quite a lot of them running around. They’ll just be slowly incorporated into the mix.

Noragami also has a lot of really solid humor. One of the best gags was when a guy decides to finally end his life and gets to the roof. Yato approaches and you figure he’s going to talk this guy down but by mistake he falls on him and so the whole group (Yato, Yukine, Hiyori, and this guy) all fall off the building. So Yato is still talking him down as they are plummeting to their doom. They’re falling for close to 20 minutes and the characters even comment on this but Yato takes it in stride and never panics. There are some twists about how this guy’s life went so crazy and the show turns what would usually be a rather grim moment into something rather amusing.

The show just has a good sense of humor and a lot of that comes from Yato. He’s really an ideal main character who is strong but doesn’t take life too seriously. In a few ways he reminds me of Train Heartnet. The guy’s been in the game for a very long time at this point and so he has learned to not take everything too seriously at this point. He’ll eventually clear all of his goals so why stress about it right? It’s a pretty good motto tbh. Yato’s just a lot of fun and really does a good job in carrying his part of the show. He has a lot of the best scenes without a doubt and never gave up on Yukine even when it seemed like he should.

Yato’s certainly someone who owns his mistakes. Now he probably could have handled Hiyori’s case better, I won’t argue against that but for the most part he’s always on point. Then the show also has a really great soundtrack. It’s just epic and always has a very electronic kind of vibe to it. At the same time the slice of life moments can be low key. The opening song is really catchy and there are even a bunch of lyrical songs that play from time to time. This is close to a 5 star soundtrack for me and it just never lets up.

Then the animation is also a cut above the rest. It has aged really well and could hold its own with any of the newer shows. The fights are on point and I like the effects they use for when a villain is exorcised. The whole show has a lot of extra detail thrown in the whole way. A lot of care and effort was put into the presentation. There isn’t much in the way of fanservice also which is always nice to note. There is a bit here and there so I can’t say that it’s devoid of this but for the most part you get to dodge this issue.

So as you can see the show was just great all around. I thought it exceled in every area that a show can in order to enhance the manga quality. Of course it still does have to follow the story and the show’s only weakness is Yukine who can be almost unbearable at times. He doesn’t learn from his mistakes and just keeps on making them. I’ll get into him more in a moment but yeah the show would have easily reached an 8 without him. That kid just gets to be too much.

In fact, Yukine’s plot is most of the season. So his dilemma is that he is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he is dead. This can be an issue for a lot of characters for sure but he takes it really poorly. Yukine feels like he died so young that he never got to experience what it meant to be alive and to have friends. As he is a kid right now, that means that was the age in which he died so you can see how the whole thing was tragic for him. We’ll certainly find out more about that in the future but for now it’s a mystery and it wouldn’t be good for Yukine to find out more.

Yukine decides to rebel as a result. One rule I haven’t mentioned yet is that if a regalia feels bad, has malicious thoughts, or actually commits a crime, then this is all transferred to the god through a searing pain/curse. These stings will eventually destroy the god and so for that reason, most Regalia are tossed aside after a single burn. Yato doesn’t do that since he wants to stand by Yukine all the way to the end but unfortunately that just means that Yukine continues to do this without stopping.

Now, in Yukine’s only defense I feel like the characters could have been a bit more straight forward about how his sins impact Yato. Yato says it but in a way where everyone seems to think he’s joking at first. To an extent I’m not sure if Yukine ever actually believed Yato until Yukine mentioned it in the climax of the arc. That’s the one weakness of always joking around, when you’re actually serious people may not even believe you at the time. It’s something that Yato should really keep in mind.

This in no way absolves Yukine from what he’s doing though. He’s smashing windows, stealing stuff, etc. The guy has no moral compass and even came close to taking advantage of Hiyori when she was asleep if Yato hadn’t come around. These things are really tough to come back from and so Yukine was easily the worst character in the series. A whole lot of focus is on him too which hurts the season a bit. After a while we get it, he’s an awful person so you just wish things could speed up a little more because you want to go back to seeing Yato and his crazy shenanigans. That’s when the series is at its best along with the solid action.

Yato probably would have been better off with a different regalia. Meanwhile Hiyori is a good heroine. Jumping in front of the car to save Yato was very heroic and she takes her new condition in stride. Of course she isn’t thrilled about how Yato is always giving her the runaround but who would be right? He’s clearly just stringing her along and she knows that. Still, Hiyori takes the situation into her own hands several times like when she tries to fight some of the monsters in her ghost form or when she tries to find Yato a regalia.

Hiyori always throws herself into the plot and does her best to try and find a cure as well. I liked the fact that she wasn’t just waiting on Yato all day with no plan. Hiyori was doing everything that she could and that’s a good thing. Her two friends are also reasonable with how patient they are about Hiyori’s “sleeping bouts” (Which is what it looks like to people when her spirit form runs off) and her having to ditch them from time to time. I doubt they’ll ever get a big role but they’re nice enough.

Then we’ve got some of the other gods like Tenjin. He’s a fairly nice guy but probably not the god you want to work for. He’s quite extreme with how he’ll toss out a regalia over a single infraction. He also doesn’t seem like he would be quick to help Yato in his time of trouble. So in the end I don’t see him as being too reliable. Then you have Kofuku who is a lot more likable. She is the goddess of misfortune so she does tend to make the situation worse but it’s by accident so at least she isn’t trying to do that. I can certainly give her a pass and of course she is willing to help Yato in his time of need.

She steps in when Bishamon shows up and even threatens the war goddess. So Kofuku’s got Yato’s back and that’s appreciated since you probably couldn’t say the same for most. There’s also her regalia Daikoku who is decent enough. He’s very protective of her and always has a tough exterior. Ultimately he means well but his priorities are clear, Kofuku is the one who matters above all else. A fine attitude for a regalia to have since that’s their purpose and fortunately she likes Yato so he ends up helping out a whole lot as well.

Bishamon is one of the goddesses with the biggest role here. She has had a long standing feud with Yato for some time now over him apparently murdering one of her regalia. There’s clearly more to this story than it appears as her regalia Kazuma considers himself to be in Yato’s debt but she seems unaware of this. Either way she makes for a very solid antagonist as a result as she gives him no breaks or any room to explain himself. She just wants him dead at any cost. It’s not like he’s trying to explain himself anyway though, for some reason it seems like he wants to keep that a secret.

As for Kazuma, well he’s good in this season. He does aid the heroes even if he has to keep a secret and the guy comes across as being rather reasonable. It would be nice if he could explain exactly what the situation is to Hiyori, but it’s not like he’s under any obligation to do so. Ultimately he does still work for Bishamon and just helping out in the climax is good enough in order to repay his debts.

Nora is a mysterious figure who is also tied to Yato’s background. Apparently she used to work for Yato during his darker days when he was murdering everyone. Now Yato doesn’t want anything to do with her so she has gone further and further into the realm of the dark. Her role is rather large at the end of the season since she orchestrates the whole scenario with the heroes having to fight Rabo.

As for Rabo, I like this guy as a villain. He doesn’t have a whole lot of motivation beyond just wanting to fight Yato at his best and causing general mayhem. Rabo is a rather simple villain but an effective one. He has one singular goal and will do whatever he can in order to accomplish it. It doesn’t get much better than that for a villain. He’s also strong and his battles with Yato are really solid. Rabo even had the upper hand for good portions of that fight but of course you know that Yato would absolutely be able to claim victory if he was truly going all out like in the old days.

Now while I did enjoy the animation a lot, I do think the show could get a little lazy at times. There’s one flashback they show where Yato murders these two guys a ton of times. It was almost every episode after Hiyori found out about his past. They would play the same scene over and over and over again. It got old really quick and felt obvious as a way to save time on the animators part. In general I’m not usually a fan of recycled animation. Even when used stylistically, I can’t help but feel that it’s just really lazy. It doesn’t have to be lazy all the time of course but that’s just the vibe that I get. There is also recycled footage for when he’s entering into battles so it’s just a bit much.

Still, like I said the show’s excellent on a technical level. It’s just got really good vibes and is a blast to watch. Each episode is over in an instant and Yato’s such a good main character. This is a perfect example of an anime elevating the source material quite a bit. It’s all a lot more impactful than in the manga and if anything helps you to get more involved/invested in the current material.

Now that Yukine’s finally not acting like an awful delinquent making you cringe at every opportunity, I fully expect that season 2 should see a boost unless production values drop off or something. I can’t say I remember too well what happens next since I read this part of the manga so long ago but something cool should be around the horizon at least. Hopefully a lot of good action as well and then we’re really set. In general I also wouldn’t mind just seeing more of Yato being a nice guy. Even the small things like cleaning around the house and showing someone that violence was not the way when he was getting bullied were really good tips on his part. Yato actually does give good advice even if he acts aloof all the time.

I think part of what makes the series so much fun and what gives Yato time to shine is that this is an action show that still has time for its more day to day scenes. Who doesn’t like to see the main cast just hanging out and having a good time between the saving the world events right? I would argue that was always a strength in titles that happened to get huge globally like Naruto, Bleach, and other titles like that. While the action is still the biggest point for these titles, a strong case can be made that these got big because we got to know the characters on a personal level as well. For me the humor was just as important as the action in making this show a success. It really helped make the whole series an all around balanced title.

Overall, Noragami is a lot of fun. Yukine keeps me from calling it great, but it’s still a solid show that I would recommend to anyone. Whether you are a big action fan or just want a show with some good humor, you should have a good time either way. I see this show as being very accessible to everyone and that’s one of its many charms. I don’t want to overhype it or anything but it’s just got that calm vibe that really works out. I would compare it to Shenmue in some ways. We’ll see if Yato can ever reach his goal of being a really big god. He’s not close yet but at least the guy hasn’t lost heart.

Overall 7/10

Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation Season 2 Review


Season 2 should always beat season 1. That’s the goal of every sequel after all, to beat the original. Well, this one pulls it off. I thought season 1 was good, but not very good. The cast was a bit weaker than your average Shonen title and there wasn’t a ton of action. This one dials things up on the intensity and there is a good amount to enjoy. It may not go down as one of the great titles but being very good is already an accomplishment in itself. If you enjoyed season 1 or just want a good magic title then you’ll have a good time here.

Season 2 starts off quickly as a curse is put on Nana’s friends through the shady game known as Kokkuri so Muhyo (reluctantly) and Roji head over to help. Thing is, there’s a new group in town led by Goryo. He is a talented mage like Muhyo but the guy has less ethics and scruples. He will do whatever it takes to clear the mission and get a lot of money. If he isn’t paid then he will actually let the client get cursed or will take revenge on him. Muhyo and Roji can’t stand for this so the two groups have a little battle. The winner claims control of the city while the loser has to leave. With the stakes this high, will Roji be able to help at all?

Season 1 was more about character introductions and the like instead of throwing you into the action. Season 2 is able to benefit from that by getting you right into the plot. We see from the start that Goryo isn’t a particularly nice guy to the point where it’s fair to just straight up call him a villain. He is certainly no hero after all. The battle between groups is also a nice way to kick things off because you get to see them fighting off monsters. If you’re new to the series you can quickly get acquainted this way.

A running plot in this season is that Roji feels like he is holding Muhyo back. Of course that is true but you’re still hoping he can get his confidence back eventually. Muhyo is certainly tired of Roji’s whining and I want to say that just about everyone is by this point. He’s had a long time to get good but he never shows much improvement. You feel like he isn’t training as hard as he should, at least we rarely see him training so it feels that way.

I wouldn’t say Roji is a bad character but I don’t really care for him all the same. I rarely like the whiny type of character. I prefer my heroes to just be way more confident. Muhyo fits the bill there. Sure, he can be a bit lazy and is probably not the most dependable hero around but at least when he focuses he can beat almost any threat in his way. Even now he is portrayed as one of the most powerful characters in the series. He is absolutely someone that you want on your side. I wouldn’t say he stands out as one of the better main characters or anything like that in Shonen, but he is one of the better characters in this show.

Nana is still a good main heroine as well. She has to put up with a lot when Goryo shows up since he really puts her in harm’s way. Not to mention that several characters act like creeps around her so she has to always keep her guard up. I like Nana, but I do wish she would get some powers so she can beat people up. It would be nice to see her deal some big damage like that and then she could also be inserted into the various cases a lot easier.

Biko is still annoying in this season though. She just isn’t ready for combat on any scale. Wanting to save Rio is great and all, I never fault a character for ultimately wanting to make the hero move, but she really isn’t doing much to get closer to that goal. She helps Muhyo during the mass summoning later on but just isn’t really a fighter and ends up being on the outside looking in most of the time. For this character type to work, you have to try and save the person you want to save but also have to be tough enough to knock them out as needed.

As for Rio, it’s finally sinking in that she made the wrong call I’d say but the problem is that it’s way too late for her. She’s in so deep with the villains that she can barely even function at this point. She is at the mercy of Enchu and his gang so she really didn’t think this through. She certainly serves as a cautionary tale on why you shouldn’t be so quick to trust the villains or expect that joining their side will suddenly make things easier.

With the two new characters, Goryo is much better than Ebisu. Goryo is petty and certainly someone who relies on cheap tricks a lot of the time, but at least he can fight. The guy has bad habits but if all of his tricks were to be squashed, at least he can fight to a degree. He is a very prideful man about his clan and so at least there are things he can get serious about. I still see him as more of a villain than a hero but at least there’s some toughness to him.

I can’t say the same for Ebisu. Ebisu is your classic pervy character who is always whining and acting like the world is against him. In reality the issue here is that there is no reason for anyone to be nice to him. Ebisu’s just a jerk right from the jump who does whatever is asked of him without thinking about it. Nobody needs a minion like that and all of his scenes were pretty sad. The guy can talk tough if he wants but you won’t be taking him seriously.

After the opening battle saga with Goryo’s group, Muhyo and Roji split up for what’s pretty much the rest of the season. For Roji’s plot, he heads back to school to really learn how to be a proper magical sidekick. He gets to take the exam with some familiar faces like Ebisu and also some new characters. Trying to fight off monsters without Muhyo is definitely difficult so while he would end the threat in an instant if he was here, the idea is to see Roji thrive. I can safely say that the Muhyo plot is a lot more interesting.

Sure, it’s nice to see the school again and the characters are fun enough, but you are just waiting to get back to Muhyo and the more serious stakes here. Roji just can’t hold his own episodes in the same way with how nervous he is. The twins at the school talk tough but ultimately can’t back it up at all. Then you have the teachers who barely know how to run a school and really all need some serious training after this. There are some good fake-outs like when the students initially thought they all failed the test but for the most part it’s fairly standard stuff. It was nice to see more of Reiko though. She’s a fun supporting character and is omeone who can at least contribute in the fights while Muhyo is away.

With the Muhyo plot, well he needs a new super summon if he’s going to beat Enchu and pals. He already has some strong ones but “strong” won’t be enough to win the day. So he has to team up with Biko and Yoichi in order to do this. To obtain a summon you have to deal a lot of damage and convince it to come to your side with a spell. I’d compare it to catching a Pokemon but of course Muhyo is aiming for the absolute strongest summon there is so he’ll have to fight rather hard. We get to see quite a few powerful summons in this season between Hell Boy, Thousand Arms, Yuuri, and Hades. The fighters definitely aren’t playing around at this point.

So yeah this was a very engaging saga all the way through. Also, since Nana wasn’t around there was no time for Yoichi to be acting awful all the time. I still don’t like Yoichi since he should really be serious and not constantly messing with Nana though. Too bad Muhyo or someone hasn’t called him out on it yet but by this point I think he’s just too far gone to ever rise back up. It’s all over for him.

We also got to quickly see the origin story of how Muhyo and Roji met around this time. I always like seeing the first encounters with the main character duo like this and I think it’s a good idea not to include it right at the start. Now that we know both characters so well, it makes the whole thing a lot more emotional. I can see why Roji has low confidence since even back in the day he didn’t seem all that qualified. I still say he should have been training a lot harder the whole time though but better late than never.

This kicks off the final arc now. The heroes all reunite to take on the villain group known as ARK. Enchu has seemingly made his move and the Goryo group is taken out real quick. The main villain now is Tomas, someone who has a lot of talent like Muhyo but ultimately went to the dark side. The power sure corrupts quickly when you think about it with the strongest fighters always turning evil. I would say that Muhyo does still outclass this guy in a straight fight but there are usually a lot of circumstances going on at the same time which keeps this from being too easy.

Naturally as this is a full group you can’t expect them all to really appear and fight. In fact, Tomas is the only one with a big role here. Rio is around but her role isn’t big at all. She spends most of the season still being knocked out and then at the end she is finally ready to help the villains get to the next level. Enchu is around and talks tough as the leader but he technically doesn’t do a whole lot either. You can tell that they’ll save him for a while yet. Likewise with Teeki who has built up quite a lot of hype by this point so we’ll see if he lives up to it.

As for Tomas, well this is his chance to really look good. I would say that he is impressive in his fights. It’s clear that he does have a good amount of magical power and that he hasn’t gotten sloppy. His armor makes him a solid threat and there is a good amount of back and forth between him and Muhyo. This fight is a fitting one to end the season with and it’s a good thing that Muhyo got his new summon. Yuuri is probably still my favorite one because of how consistently useful he is, but it was a real team effort here.

Personality-wise, well Tomas is one of those guys who cracked rather quickly so I wouldn’t say he’s all that good. He makes for a solid boss fight and a good villain in that sense but as a character he’s nothing special. I would say that Teeki and Enchu are already quite a bit higher than this guy. We’ll see if season 3 comes out but if not, this one does end things rather well. There are a ton of loose ends and plot lines to look forward to, but what way to end things off than with a big battle right? The heroes will eventually have time to head on out to take the villains down.

The animation is good here. It does use a lot of recycled animations for the magic attacks which makes me feel like the budget wasn’t too big. I mean it’s partially a stylistic choice of course but even so that’s always my default reaction. The colors are good though and we do sometimes get real animation with the summon battles. This isn’t the kind of show where there are usually a lot of martial arts or anything like that though so there is less time for the animation to really shine. Either way it’s serviceable.

The soundtrack is not as impressive though. There isn’t really any singular theme that really stands out as a great one to me. The opening is okay but nothing special either. On a technical level the show just won’t be impressing you there. It makes for a good adventure as the story is solid enough but all of this combined is why this title doesn’t hold its own against the big shots. The anime tells the story without really enhancing it. So at the end of the day it’s like a very standard anime. In fact, you could say this is a pretty decent pick as a starter anime for someone as season 1-2 sort of embody what I would consider the general anime experience. It’s got a little of everything and is a fun watch but it won’t be smashing any records.

There is some fanservice here but fortunately not a whole lot of it so there aren’t a lot of negatives to hurt the show with either. In general the weak point of the show is that the cast isn’t all that great. I like Muhyo well enough but for the most part the characters never really excel to the next level. It’s been a while since I read the manga so I don’t remember if any more big characters are introduced for the hero side but I would enjoy it quite a bit if they could add one more hero to the mix to enhance the dynamic a bit. Give us the cool rival character and that’ll go a long way.

Overall, Muhyo and Roji season 2 is a step up over season 1. With the introductions out of the way we got to have more action scenes which is always good and the villain group finally making their move was solid as well. More lore is introduced too and seeing another group of sorcerers was a good way to make the world a bit bigger. If we were to get a season 3 that could potentially raise the bar even higher if this trend continues. Never say never after all so maybe one day it’ll be here and I wouldn’t complain if they could polish it up just a bit more.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard overDress Season 2 Review


To put it mildly I was not a big fan of the first season. For a franchise that is used to getting 9s and 8s before, that one only got a 6. It had a lot of glaring issues and would have been a whole lot lower if not for Tohya taking the whole season on his back and keeping it afloat. I’ve rewatched his fights many times on Youtube while I have not rewatched any of the other episodes at all. Well, season 2 seems to have gotten the memo as Tohya is a full main character now and we even got a big fight between groups here. Season 2 is a complete step up in every way and while Tohya still carries all of the best moments, the episodes without him as the focus are finally solid here. We’re not quite at the great level yet but now I can say this season is pretty good.

Last time Tohya torched the banner of Team Blackout and Danji ran off somewhere. So this season begins with the fallout from that. Tohya is trying to make amends for what he has done and is starting by getting the banner back together and fixing the amusement park. He’s done rather well for himself and gradually everyone starts hanging out with him and acknowledging him as a good guy. Tohya is not very comfortable being part of a group and so he has to get used to this. There isn’t a lot of time to take it easy though as a group has started going around burning other team’s banners and they’re doing this across the country.

Tohya’s old partner is in on this but the mastermind is Mirei, the leader of team Daybreak. She will have to be taken down to restore peace in the Cardfight community. It won’t be easy though as she is the head of a multi million dollar company and her bodyguard is…Danji? Why has he crossed over to the villain’s side and will Tohya be able to take him down this time? So far he has not proven up to the task but now is his chance to win the rematch and help his new friends out at the same time. He can’t afford to lose!

With season 1 one of the many issues was just how aimless it could be. You would barely have a cardfight even happen sometimes. The humor didn’t work and Yuyu was a rather sad main character. Well, season 2 works on this by having more of a plot right away. Having Tohya work to atone from last time is already a good starting premise since it reminds you of the stakes from last time. We’ve also got an actual villain that isn’t comic relief here. (Referring to Tohya’s partner from last time) So the stakes are higher and the season is a lot more personal. Danji’s got his own plot here too but I’ll stick to the heroes for now.

Tohya is still my favorite character and it isn’t even close. He just does a really great job and you can tell that he’s a very responsible person too. He’s not taking the easy way here. He also didn’t have to be the guy to shut down team Daybreak but he goes in anyway. Then when he fights Danji he doesn’t back down and challenges him to a Cardfight. That’s exactly what I want to see from the tough rival here.

There are a lot of callbacks to the original fight. When Tohya asks Danji if he has any drive left that’s when the music starts up and you get pumped. Man that episode has a ton of great replay value and you could watch the fight so many times. There are fake-outs and moments when both combatants seem like they are going to win. It just doesn’t end and you can really feel satisfaction for the victor when it’s all over. It’s a spectacular fight and a 9/10 episode. Definitely the pinnacle for the season even if it wasn’t the end arc fight.

But we already knew that the Tohya parts were going to be great. We knew that he was the guy who carried season 1 so you are probably more curious about the rest of the cast and events. Well, that’s definitely fair and that’s exactly where this season excels over the first. So lets head over to the Danji plot now. Mirei is his younger sister and she is blind which is naturally quite rough if you want to play the game of Cardfight. They were very close back in the day but one day she was to be put into an arranged marriage and Danji found out that the guy was no good so he caused a scene and cancelled the wedding.

Only he knows the truth and everyone else thought he was acting out since Danji used to be a bit of a delinquent. So Danji was basically forced out and Mirei’s guardian Haruka told the world that he was dead. They even had a funeral for him. Well, now her overall goal is to use Cardfight to bring people together in a way where everyone can be equal. By each group having their own flag it means that can’t happen so they all have to be burned. Additionally no emotions are allowed during the games so that people don’t feel sad when they lose.

In a way she has turned her tragic past into her drive to make Cardfight the safest game around. A game where you can always be happy and the groups she takes out will thank her someday. It’s definitely an overly optimistic view of how things would go since you can probably imagine how each of the groups are quite upset at her for burning their flags. Who would be happy about that right? To an extent she has been tricked by Haruka who just wants Mirei to be happy but it’s also partially that Mirei has been sheltered from the actual effects of her policies. A lot of people also support them so she just doesn’t have a proper worldview now.

Danji is basically blackmailed into being her driver by Haruka. He is not to let her know that he’s the long lost brother and has to play it cool. He does want to be with her so this is how he does it but along the way that means he is basically overlooking all the crazy things that the group is doing. I heavily disagreed with Danji on this and in general he doesn’t look great in this season. He should have come clean to Mirei a lot sooner. Sure he might get sued and chased out of town again but she deserves to know and the longer he doesn’t say anything, the more it is like he’s basically tricking her too.

Particularly as we see later on that Haruka records all of their conversations. Danji knows this and doesn’t say anything so now this is also an invasion of privacy since Mirei is talking to him in confidence and doesn’t realize that she’s being recorded. Danji is passive as she meets with the heroes and debates. It’s all rather hard on him but he’s just not as outgoing and decisive as he was in season 1. He’ll be back to normal for season 3 but he’s just disappointing throughout the entire season. He makes all of the wrong calls and found himself on the wrong side. In a way the show may have been paralleling how Tohya atoned the right way and Danji as being in the wrong here but I’m not sure if that’s 100% intentional. It makes a lot of sense so I can roll with that though.

This shouldn’t be used as an excuse for Danji during his battle with Tohya though. Listen when you take the field in a Cardfight battle then you have to accept the results no matter the outcome. So even if he was dealing with some things, there is no backing out now. Danji may have been super annoying the whole time but at least he still does have a lot of skills and I doubt Yuyu would have been able to stop him.

As for Yuyu, he is still the main character and it’s fair to say that he gets the most screen time but at this point he shares so much time with both Danji and Tohya that it’s not by a huge margin. I’m completely cool with this because I’m still not a big fan of his. He does make some good speeches during the duels but he’s another character who is just a bit too passive and doesn’t just get out there. He has a little more confidence than he used to, but still just lets Mirei walk all over him in their verbal debate. If he keeps up the upwards trend then he should be set for season 3 but we’ll see how that goes.

As for Mirei, she’s the main villain and will be appearing a lot so it’s important that she be a good character as well. Fortunately I would say that she is fairly solid. I wouldn’t say her goals make a whole lot of sense when you think about it and she gets manipulated a lot but that’s why making her blind was a very smart decision. It makes a lot of her choices believable because your whole worldview is just so different if you have to rely on what other people tell you your whole life. I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be blind and this did have a big toll on her.

So while I think she could have handled things differently, it’s not something that I would seriously hold against her. Particularly when the heroes have multiple opportunities to talk to her and end up chickening out each time. Perhaps they would have been able to have gotten through to her a little sooner. Her guardian Haruka is also responsible for a lot of this as she takes the job a little too seriously. Haruka tries to keep Mirei in a bubble and make decisions for her but this doesn’t tend to end well. I can appreciate her intent but I would say she handled things poorly as well. If Haruka had realized the truth behind the arranged marriage and why Danji broke it up then that would be one thing but without that she is on the losing side here.

Then there’s Megumi who is still the main heroine…sorta. I feel like her role is so small that you almost forget that she is the heroine. She is around a lot of course but doesn’t get a whole lot to do. In part this is because she doesn’t have a big rival like the others although they try to play the kid up as her rival. He’s not much of a threat compared to the others but he can duel so I suppose that will have to do. Megumi is a solid character either way.

Tomari gets some action here and shows that she can still duel with the best of them. She is a member of the team after all so you’d expect her to be able to duel. I was glad she got a little shine here. Tomari tends to serve as one of the more experienced members of the group so she should absolutely be able to pitch in when needed and she keeps the characters sharp. Zakusa is also around but I was never as much of a fan of him. He has his whole punk angle where he starts to talk tough and then he’s usually mild mannered but that whole dynamic never works. It definitely doesn’t for Zakusa and he just isn’t very interesting to me. It doesn’t help that he’s another very passive character.

This may be why I like Tohya so much since he actually goes out there and gets things done while the other characters prefer to just talk and talk all the time. The cast isn’t very strong yet which also didn’t help season 1 since that was all about the characters. Here we have a lot of duels and the impending threat of team Daybreak so that kept everyone focused. The duels are really good so I do want to emphasize that the show did that justice. The stakes are high and the music is very fitting for each one of the duels.

Finally there’s Masanori and I still can’t take him seriously as a villain. I get that he’s always around and seems to be the mastermind behind everything but he takes so many Ls and at what point is he supposed to start being a serious threat? Right now it doesn’t seem like he can beat the heroes even if he tries his best and I don’t get the feeling that he even knows what he will do next. The guy is a true wild card without a doubt but not one that you need to fear.

The soundtrack is quite excellent. The gyroaxia song returns for Tohya as he questions Danji’s drive and it really is a song that gets you pumped up. The animation is also fairly solid. I don’t think there’s any scene that quite matches when Tohya pulled off his special transformation in season 1 but it’s all pretty solid though. You shouldn’t have any complaints on the technical side here as they don’t phone any of that in.

In terms of negatives, I’d say the only thing here is that the first half of the season can be a little weak. The show builds up to the war against Daybreak so in the first episodes you hear about them and see Mirei through the Danji subplot but not a whole lot happens. It’s got that season 1 vibe of being more of an aimless slice of life. It’s better this time though because it isn’t truly aimless, not to mention the episodes aren’t as weak. We don’t get a whole episode of Yuyu being sick after all.

In the main plot we have Tohya trying to get the town to accept him and in the B plot we have Danji getting absolutely devastated in every scene. So at least things are happening and there’s always a duel around. It’s just not until the second part of the season where we kick things into high gear with the big battles of clan against clan. The show’s humor is also fairly decent. The heroes running around trying to get a free meal was decent enough. If the whole show was like this then I’m sure it would have lost a star and been around the first season’s level but we did get the action so this ended up making it.

Cardfight also tends to be about a clash of ideals. Whether it is power vs enjoyment in Aichi vs Ren, Acceptance vs Change in Chrono vs the kid who lose his parents, or now Discarding vs Embracing the flames in Danji vs Tohya. There always tends to be something deeper behind each duel which is part of what makes the series is a blast. Naturally we have those themes in these duels as well. I would say in particular Danji vs Tohya and Yuyu vs Mirei would fall into those camps so lets quickly look at those two duels since they were some of the best in the season.

So for Danji and Tohya I mentioned there were a lot of callbacks to the first season’s fight. That time Danji won as he pointed out that Tohya was too fixated on power and ended up losing his strength as a result. So initially Tohya thought he had to discard his flames and completely change himself but instead of doing this he ultimately decided to embrace them. Danji didn’t particularly agree but also said it’s a choice each person had to make. Tohya won the duel but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s right. It does mean that he successfully defended his ideals though.

Danji wasn’t defending anything in this season which is part of why Tohya’s win was so important here to get Danji back into his groove. As for the Yuyu duel, well of course he believes that you should be able to have fun and laugh while playing Cardfight. This emotionless way of dueling that Mirei teaches goes against Yuyu’s ideas here. Instead of making the game completely equal, it takes away from the fun.

Neither character is as eloquent in this duel since they’re both a little on the younger side but they still do their best and it is a pretty intense battle. There’s a lot of good back and forth here and I will always say that my one complement for Yuyu is that he gives good speeches. Sometimes they are thrown right back at him like Tohya when he turned the tables but Yuyu has a lot of passion in his duels. If he could keep this up outside of the dueling table then he could definitely join Chrono and Aichi as some of the higher tier main characters someday. As long as we keep up these emotional duels then the series is in a great spot and I don’t see that changing.

Overall, OverDress still has a ways to go if it wants to catch up to any of the other parts of the franchise but an upwards trend is always good. As long as Tohya is here you know you’re guaranteed to have at least one excellent match in the season too. He always brings in the passion and emotion that you want to see from the main characters. He could really teach the other characters a thing or two. The third season looks to be finally adding in some tournament action so that sounds really promising. Who knows, it could end up being the best season yet!

Overall 7/10

SSSS.Dynazenon Review


Gridman was definitely a really fun show and so it’s nice to see the franchise continue on. This one’s sort of a mix between being a sequel and a spinoff. I would call it a spinoff because even if it takes place after the original show, the cast is completely different. I tend to think of sequels as still being mainly connected to the original. I heard a lot of good things about this show from everyone who had watched it previously and I would say it lives up to that. Ultimately I would give Gridman the edge here but this is a show that keeps up with it in all areas and makes it a close fight. If you liked Gridman then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

The show starts with Yomogi running into a rather odd guy named Gauma. Yomogi gives the guy some food but runs off because he doesn’t want to get roped into something strange. He’s asked out by a girl named Yume but she has a reputation for asking guys out just to not show up for some reason. Yomogi accepts but she stands him up as well. Fortunately Gauma shows up and chews her out about this. Before any of them can really process what’s going on a Kaiju attacks so Gauma absorbs them as well as another nearby kid and they fuse into the robot known as Dynazenon to take down the Kaiju. They are now a team that will have to train together to save the world but these kids barely even know each other. Will they really be able to work as a team?

I do like the idea of these kids never even meeting before and suddenly having to work as a team. It does make for a pretty tough dynamic on them. The kids all do mean well though and try their best to show up and get a lot of training. Each character is dealing with their own drama though and I’ll get into that individually. There is also a villain group of Kaiju followers who basically think Kaiju are the greatest and should rule the world. They dominate them using mind control powers and try to destroy everything in their path. Gauma seems to have had some kind of connection to these guys.

One way in which the show doesn’t quite match up to the original is that you can’t really take these villains seriously next to the ones from the first show. These guys are usually played for comic relief after all and by the time they get their act together the show is pretty much over. It’s an interesting enough dynamic to have these guys kind of like Team Rocket but it also means that none of them will have you on the edge of your seat. Their overall goal is worth discussing though.

So…Kaiju rights are important and all but immediately their goal is invalidated when they have to mind control the Kaiju. If they seriously just wanted Kaiju to be free to do whatever they want…why mind control them? Aren’t the Kaiju smart enough to defend themselves? In that case then you’re not actually helping them out and this is all just an excuse for the villains to put their own goals into the picture. They’re basically projecting their objectives onto the Kaiju. We’ll have to see the leader in the next movie or show if she ever shows up to maybe put some better perspective on this but for now the group’s motivations just aren’t the best.

As for the villains themselves, well they try to get their own rivalries and everything. Mujina doesn’t feel very emotional about anything so she continues to work with the villain group but barely even knows why. She’s along for the ride so to speak and when she tries to help it doesn’t always work out. So along the way she learns how to tap into her emotions and it’s hard to say if this was her or just some feedback from the Kaiju control. Either way it made for an interesting arc but I did think it was a bit random how they tried to make her rivals with Koyomi.

The show seemed to want each villain to have a counterpart on the heroes’ side but this was a bit weak since they barely interacted. They did meet 1-2 times which seemed like it was getting close to setting up a romance plot but that never happened. Then you have Juuga who seems to be the smart member of the group. He talks tough but gets a little less to do than the others. He’s upset at Gauma not being with the group any longer but can’t exactly do much about that. From the villains he just didn’t have a ton of personality.

Onija is the member who almost dies in every episode which is a bit of a running gag there. He’s one of the most enjoyable members of the group so I’ll give him that. I also liked his dynamic with Mujina as their personalities may be complete opposites (Emotionless and the most emotional) but they did look out for each other and even got in sync at one point. It was a good way to give the group a little more humanity and make them leave an impact.

Then you had the leader Sizumu who takes the most steps to contacting the heroes and trying to stay on top of things right from the start. He was interesting and also seemed to believe in the ideology the most. I would have liked to have seen him explain his view on things a bit more though because he just doesn’t talk much. I also thought he blew it in the climax by not blowing up the main characters while they were in their human forms. Come on that would have been perfect for him. They would not have been able to do anything and it would have been game over. Ultimately he didn’t do that and I feel like that was a mistake on his end.

Next up is the third party group with Knight and The 2nd. I never would have guessed the 2nd’s true identity tbh. I knew Knight’s right away because he looked pretty similar but she really grew up. I only found out when looking up the names for this review so that’s pretty cool. She does well in finding gadgets to use and giving the heroes a chance. She’s a solid support character the whole time.

Knight is the guy on the field saving the main characters a lot of the time. He looks pretty strong initially but quickly becomes someone who does take a lot of Ls here. Either way I was glad to see him and he’s definitely my favorite character. He was a nice way to connect things to the Gridman show and he has certainly learned how to take charge. He doesn’t tend to goof off or make mistakes like the others but of course being so serious can have its own risks as well. It seemed like he wasn’t going to break out of the dream world on his own and he won’t ask for help even if he’s getting crushed. That’s just his style.

Now that means it is time to talk about the main cast and the plots that come with them. We’ve got quite a few characters here so lets jump right into them. First up is Chise and she is really eager to be one of the main team members. She is always present at training and even learned how to fight a bit so she could be a backup fighter for any role. You definitely have to admire her dedication here but unfortunately she just doesn’t have the skills to be a main member. I figured this might end up turning into a big jealousy subplot but ultimately she does handle things well.

Then she ends up getting an ally of her own so in a way she is finally a full member of the team. Chise’s a nice enough character. She may not have gotten quite as much to do as the other characters but she was nice enough and never really complained. She would do her job as well as possible and that was that. Her Kaiju Goldburn was also a fun ally to have around. I’m glad that the heroes ultimately didn’t try to take him out and that he was a hero right from the jump. It’s always nice when the heroes are being reasonable like this and it worked out well for everyone involved. I do think he should have been able to stick around and help out. In a lot of ways I feel like the heroes didn’t make the best decisions at the end.

Lets just say that the Earth isn’t in a very safe place at the moment. You shouldn’t weaken its defenses unless you absolutely have to and I wouldn’t say that this is one of those cases. Keep the Earth in tip top shape as far as the defenses go and you will never regret it. Now you have to hope that the people with the defenses arrive on time and considering that they could be anywhere, that’s putting the planet in a lot of danger.

Koyomi is the next character and I never really warmed up to the guy. He’s fairly timid the whole time and basically just spends all day in his bed playing video games. His story is really about gaining confidence, confronting his past, and getting a job. Right now he has no motivation for any of that but I guess being a sci-fi warrior defending the planet will help out on any confidence issues. Throughout the show he runs into a girl he used to have a big crush on back in school but in the present she is already married. This is the plot where I didn’t think he handled it well.

Koyomi clearly still likes her and can’t really get over this or think of anything else when they’re having a drink. She seems excited to chat about old times and get reacquainted but he’s not able to do this and just gets super jealous when her husband arrives. He ends up hanging up on her at one point and severing all ties but it didn’t seem like she was messing with him or trying to lead him on. I got the feeling that she was just being a nice neighbor. Perhaps a very oblivious one since Koyomi wasn’t subtle but she didn’t really know that things were in an awkward spot for him. Ultimately things end on a good spot for them all but it wasn’t due in large part to anything Koyomi did.

Gauma is the leader of the Dynazenon group and he’s got his whole past with the villain group. We see bits and pieces of this and ultimately you can piece together why he left their extreme group but you’ll probably still have some questions involving the leader and more exact circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see more of that but in the present he’s a solid enough character. Gauma is one of those loud guys who is absolutely not afraid to speak his mind and call someone out. He doesn’t waver in his sense of justice and so he can always fight at 100% power. That’s what makes Gauma a fun character and he tends to get some of the better comedic scenes. He doesn’t really have a subplot or doubt that he’s fighting through compared to the others.

Yume is the main heroine here and naturally she does start off in a very rocky position. Standing guys up for seemingly no reason is a very interesting way to start a character’s journey. She seems rather mean at first although not in a direct throwing insults at everyone kind of way but just in how she doesn’t care about the emotional damage. She seems rather off initially and we gradually learn more about her. Her sister Kano died a while back and the circumstances were vague so Yume hasn’t felt good about this. She has no closure because it seems like it may have been an accident, a suicide, or even a murder.

Yume wants to find out the truth but barely even knows how to start and it’s a tough task to be alone on. Fortunately Yomogi wants to help out and so gradually Yume gets a little bolder and is more prepared for the world. The show even got to let her have some closure via a time travel, dream like world. It was a pretty cool way to use those. Usually when the villains pull this off the heroes get all mad about it but in this way it does at least allow you to get some last words out. Since for all intents and purposes this is the real Kano, Yume was able to confront her.

The whole thing is a bit tragic as it seems like they were just never on the same wavelength. Yume wanted to be friends but both found the other to be rather unapproachable. With Kano the show still leaves it a bit vague on exactly what happens. On one hand, Kano basically tells Yume that she didn’t jump off the building so that only leaves an accident as being the main possibility. It seems very happy but once Yume jumps into the portal and vanishes, Kano gets dangerously close to the edge and starts singing that odd song again. It felt like the show really wanted to bring it to a complete 50/50 chance where you just have to decide what she was going to do and even if it’s the same thing.

Surely after talking with Yume she wouldn’t go through with this but if she was close, does that mean that without a talk with Yume she may have jumped? I don’t know, the show makes it hard to really guess but personally I choose to believe it was an accident. The alternative is just too tragic and it would have been a shame to go out like that. We do see that her life wasn’t all smiles and happiness but on the other hand you like to think that she would have been able to stay strong through it all and at least confide in someone to help her.

Yume definitely had to go through a whole lot either way and that’s why she is so broken at the beginning of the series. With help from Yomogi she is ultimately able to go past this. They have their rocky moments as well but it ultimately works out and Yomogi doesn’t back off. Fortunately he has friends giving him good advice as well so the two of them were very fortunate in that respect.

As for Yomogi, well he’s a bit of a pushover initially so I was worried that he would be like the latest protagonist from the Cardfight Vanguard show. Fortunately he gets over that phase pretty quick and does stand up for himself more than most. At one point it was time for a training session but Yomogi mentioned that he had work so he wouldn’t be able to make it. No hesitation or anything like that, he just didn’t go and he misses several training sessions as a result. I was glad that he was able to stick to his guns on that.

He may not be the natural leader type so you won’t see him yelling like Gauma about drive and friendship but he does well in a support role. It’s fairly unique to see the main character not be the leader here and the show did well with that. He had a good dynamic with Yume and the rest of the characters as well. One advantage I would give this show over Gridman is the character dynamics for sure. I thought the main characters just had a better connection than the Gridman ones and in general I would say the human characters were better as well. Certainly the good guys were better at least.

Naturally the animation here is really solid. The battle scenes are epic and you get to see both the heroes and villains utilizing absolutely devastating combos and bursts of speed. Each of their abilities are always nice and unique, plus I like the robot designs. I also thought the human character designs were pretty good. This is one of those shows that pays attention to detail with the eyes and so everyone has a distinct look to them. It helps each character really stand out. The show is just nice to look at.

It also pairs well with the rather relaxed atmosphere that the show has. The stakes rarely feel as high as in Gridman and the show typically isn’t as trippy either like with the train into nothingness. You don’t have the city being a world made out of tetris of dark villains running around. Instead it’s more of a romance story to an extent as the main characters grow close and everyone else deals with their own baggage. You rarely feel a sense of danger but I don’t think the show was going for that anyway. This is more of a slice of life drama with the creature of the week thrown in and the show executes this well.

I also liked the soundtrack a lot. There are a bunch of really solid tunes here for both the heroes and monsters. They’ve all got that techno vibe to them and work really well for the action. You’ll always get pumped in each scene. I was less impressed with the opening visuals but the music itself was good. You definitely won’t be disappointed with the music while watching the show.

Dynazenon’s strength is in the human plots and so that’s where I can see how this one beat Gridman for many people. It certainly does win on the emotions and writing, but for me Gridman won on the villains, story, and action. You felt more like the world was at stake and nobody was playing around there. While the humor here tended to be rather fun, it was also frequent enough where it would lower the stakes. You never really felt like the heroes were in danger here compared to Gridman where everything was moderately serious. So you’re going to be more pumped up in Gridman as you eagerly devour every episode but you’ll probably grin and earnestly enjoy the interactions more here. Based on which aspect of the show you’re more excited for will determine which one you like more.

If we’re going to use this as a tiebreaker, I will say that the romance in Dynazenon is considerably better than Gridman’s as well. There you had the villain trying to pull the moves on the main character and the slight romance with the main heroine but you’re not likely to be invested in it a whole lot and may even be rooting for the villainess since she’s more direct. Here the whole show is really built around the main romance and it’s handled in a very gradual way that’s fairly effective. I can say it’s one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while and is much closer to something like Tsubasa and Nisekoi than the average romance that I usually take shots at. I wouldn’t call this one rushed, obligatory, pointless, or anything like that and it’s automatically in the top 10% of romances that I’ve seen. It’s rather high praise. Yeah nobody’s watching for the romance but it’s a fairly big point of the show so it’s worth pointing out.

Overall, Dynazenon was definitely a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the crossover with Gridman. There is a whole lot you can do with having these two groups together and I’m all for it. Ideally you’d have the human characters return from both series so they can interact but in a way I don’t mind if only the heroes from this show return while the villains from Gridman do. It would be an interesting matchup since both sides aren’t familiar with the other. We’ll definitely have a lot of solid robot action which is always a plus so no matter what it should be a blast. If you like a good character drama show or just want some classic mecha action then this is definitely a title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Pacific Rim: The Black Season 2 Review


The Black certainly took a break for a long while but at long last we got season 2. I was pretty much blown away by how good season 1 was. It had a great premise and really executed on it. The solid cast brought this to completion and I was eager to see how season 2 would play things out. Season 2 is a very different show in a lot of ways and while the first one had me gushing about everything, I would say that this season had more weaknesses. It’s still pretty good but I had some issues which wasn’t the case with the first season.

Last time Boy transformed into a Kaiju and saved the day but now the group has to decide what to do with him. Taylor thinks its way too dangerous to stick with him and Mei agrees but Hayley says they will not abandon him under any circumstances. The Sisters of the Kaiju are after him as well which complicates things. Protecting Boy could end up costing all of them their lives. Taylor will be faced with a tough decision there and this could even cost him the trust of his allies. Will he make the right move? Also, does this group have ties to their parents?

There’s a lot going on here of course but the Sisters are definitely the main threat now. Not to say that the Kaijus aren’t a threat but at this point it’s fairly easy to outmaneuver them and to stay safe. The sisters can control Kaiju which is the real danger here since that means they can utilize strategy and all kinds of tactics to keep the upper hand. I wasn’t able to take them very seriously though which is part of what made this season a bit weaker. This group isn’t all that strong individually. They can be shot like normal or just overpowered. Their ability to use Kaiju is impressive but it’s not enough to make the group as a whole very scary.

You feel like the heroes probably could just storm the base and blow them up a few times. I like the concept of the group for sure and I remember being intrigued in season 1 but they just didn’t live up to the hype. Giving them some slight super abilities or a more charismatic leader would have gone a long way towards helping the group out. It did at least give us a fairly satisfying plot with the mother though. The episode of jumping into her mind and trying to bring her back was cool. It was like something out of X-Men with the whole exploring the mental realm part.

So this is around the point where Shane shows up and he’s definitely changed quite a bit. The guy was the big antagonist last time but here he is played up more like someone who deep down cares for Mei a lot the whole time and has just made a lot of tough calls. He walks back some of his more nefarious moves from last season with revelations like him storing up the memories and now he’s ready to risk his life to save the main characters’ mother. It’s impressive that he didn’t walk away from the challenge and just went for it. It feels like there’s a bit of a disconnect here but either way he makes for one of the better characters in this season.

The scene of him casually taking out a few of the sisters just made him look that much more impressive even if it had the opposite effect for them. His partner was also decent but more of a tech guy so there wasn’t a lot for him to do in the field. Shane’s group should live on rather well with their new commander who knew how to fight and lead the group. He ends up bumping off one member of the group but she was handling everything in a really awful way. Why shoot at a monster that’s not even going towards you? The scene was meant to show how she cracked but man was that a bad time for it.

The season is only 7 episodes so by this point we’re already about halfway and then we get the climax with the sisters launching their final assault and Apex even showing up. The government also appears to mostly get in the way by the end. I felt they were unreasonable the whole time but the kids did not help their case at all. We’ll get into that more later on. The fights are good as always with a lot of solid back and forth. There aren’t as many robot vs kaiju battles here but the ones that we do get always deliver when it counts.

There are also our share of human battles against the smaller creatures which is good. I did think that the main wolf type Kaiju looked way too weak though. You couldn’t go one episode without them getting wrecked by someone. They would lose to humans, Boy, random villains, etc. Seriously, it’s almost each and every one of those 7 episodes where they lose and it felt like they were complete fodder now. Losing to Boy is fine of course but when they were losing to Mei and the others it could be a little harder to buy because of how ferocious these things are supposed to be. It’s mostly just a power levels issue but they went down too easily.

As with last time I really enjoyed the animation. I still say it looks like something out of Nintendo with Hayley looking like a cross between Link and Samus. The style suits the series well and takes 0 time to get used to. It just works right from the jump even when there are no action scenes. It’s really colorful and striking so each scene has a big impact on you. The soundtrack or lack thereof isn’t impressive though. I couldn’t tell you any big themes from the show which is a shame because I think you could have had a lot of really cool sci-fi themes going the whole time. It seems like that wasn’t meant to be this time though.

Now we do meet a crazy guy named Bunyip who actually manages to keep the Kaiju at bay to an extent. I thought he was pretty interesting because he has managed to live all these years but he definitely didn’t think things through by the end. His system was never going to work forever though with how it relied on the food like that. One moment of sabotage and it’s all over. I did find it interesting that they had to do the whole sabotage thing instead of controlling the Kaiju outright. Maybe that would have been too much for them or their hunger for food would supersede the orders.

Now the most controversial character here would be Taylor and for good reason. This guy makes a whole lot of mistakes in this season and they are rather large ones that you can’t walk back from. He argues with Hayley in basically every episode about Boy and what they ought to do with him. Naturally he wants to cut ties with Boy the whole time because Taylor thinks the situation is too dangerous while Hayley says they should keep looking after him since they’re all a family. Taylor then does the unthinkable in brokering a deal with the villains to take Boy off their hands and it’s a move that you can’t come back from.

You can’t just give Boy over to an insane cult like this. Who knows what could have happened to him and then the fact that he did this in the dead of night so the others wouldn’t realize just makes the whole thing even worse. It wasn’t a brave thing to do but a cowardly one. I wouldn’t blame Haley if she decided to never speak to him again after that. Then in another scene has her take the tough job of helping talk to someone as they’re dying so it can be peaceful. Hayley has to go through a lot here and a good chunk of it is Taylor’s fault.

No matter how he rationalizes it, he made a terrible choice here. You can’t just betray your allies like this no matter how tough the situation gets. It was very disappointing since he was pretty good in the first season. It may have sown the seeds for their future disagreements but at least they were talking it out rather than him just making a big move like this. At least Hayley was still a very good character. She did advocate for helping Boy a whole lot in the season and never backed down. She proved herself to be more of a hero than the other 2 who certainly had a lot of doubts about the whole thing. Hayley just doesn’t give up the way that the others do and has managed to keep her optimism the whole way through.

She is also able to keep a better control of her emotions at times. Perhaps not all of the time as she’s under a lot of stress to but when the going gets tough she steps up. That’s exactly how it should be. As for Boy, he doesn’t get a ton to do here since he is being mind controlled half the time but he means well. He’s just too young to have much of a character yet though so he’s mainly just around as a plot point more than a character.

Mei is still the most hardened member of the group and she’s always talking about leaving but deep down you know that she’s here for the full ride. She has some history with the sisters which can cause her to freeze up but it doesn’t stop her from going in and helping with the whole attack on the base. Ultimately she does the best during this operation which is not surprising. The show always gave her the respect and poise that is due of such a good fighter. She was more on Taylor’s side the whole time but unlike him she wasn’t going to try anything sneaky in the dead of night so she’s way better than he is.

One character who shows up briefly here is Apex but you feel like his character was wasted. This guy still has the best design in the show and is one of the fiercer characters but he doesn’t get a true fight this time. He shows up to help with the Boy situation and that’s it. Ultimately it wasn’t much in the way or closure for this guy and they could have done better. I was happy to see this guy and so to have his role be so small just didn’t feel right. He deserved a big battle if nothing else.

Finally you have their mother Brina who is a solid character. It’s definitely a shame that she got brainwashed so thoroughly but it’s hard to imagine someone. holding out against the sisters for so long on their own anyway. They’re a professional cult with a ton of experience in this domain so that makes sense. Ultimately it’s hard to remove their influence and she has a tough time throughout the season. I was glad that she got to appear and have some conversations with the main characters at least. It was definitely a long time coming there.

As for the government stepping in, so here’s why I blame this on the heroes a bit. They should have yelled right away that they were the children of the two legendary pilots. After that have the A.I. try talking and just keep saying trivia and fun facts that establish their identity. Instead they were a little too curt and down to business on the liens which didn’t give the government a lot to work with. Of course I do think the government wasn’t very reasonable here either as they immediately started firing the whole time. At lest look at the situation and see what’s happening here. These guys were way too gung ho and if the barrage was successful then the robot would have been taken out too. You feel like they could use every suit they can so breaking it would be a huge waste for them.

It ended up making the final fight a whole lot closer than it needed to be. I’m also not convinced their assault would have done much to stop the real Kaiju enemies so being here may not be the safest thing anyway. Well, the season works as an open and shut ending to the series which most of the important things wrapped up. The Black does well in feeling like its own stand alone story while acknowledging that things are going on around the planet as a whole. I’d like to see this continued and incorporate them into the main plot to stop the Kaiju once and for all. That would make for a great season 3.

One of the things that helps the show excel so much is the very solid writing here. It’s a very advanced writing style here where the characters debate and talk each path through. They don’t always see eye to eye by the end and sometimes the plans are no good but the dialogue is quite strong. Writing plays a key part in any show and this one was definitely in a good spot as a result. Mixing in the fun action and graphics is an extra bonus to take this even further. So what I’m saying in the end here is that you’ll have a lot of fun here and you should be satisfied with the ending. It may have had its weak points but at the end of the day it’s still a well rounded show with a lot of fun moments. The action scenes are all a lot of fun and while this is a show for the story first and action second, they give each fight a good amount of time and effort.

Overall, Pacific Rim The Black has been a really fun ride. Watching the two seasons back to back would definitely make for a really solid watch. A lot of franchises would be desperate to get a show this good so it’s really fortunate for Pacific Rim to get something like this. There was a lot of effort put into it and there’s a lot of replay value to be had here. If you’re looking for a solid action/adventure show then you definitely can’t go wrong with this one.

Overall 7/10

Cells at Work!! Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in the Cells at Work series. Season 2 focuses more on the side characters like Normal Cell so it serves to expand on how well you know the cast. It is not quite as explosive as season 1 though and you will miss Red and Neutrophil when they aren’t around. You can tell the production values have dropped as well. Since the show is a slice of life title it’s not like you could call this a filler season but it does feel like that a bit since nothing big happens until near the end of the season. The climax is really solid though and ultimately this is a good title even if it isn’t a great one.

The general premise of the show is that all of the blood cells in a person’s body are sentient. They go around making sure that everything works and this is how you stay alive. Red blood cells move the nutrients around and the White blood cells take out the germ intruders. It all makes for a smooth operation and so you see their day to day lives. Near the end of the season the big villain known as Cancer makes his return to kick things into high gear. Can the heroes stop him?

This is a rather short season with only 8 episodes in it so the whole thing goes by pretty fast. The cast may not be the strongest out there but they’re still nice enough. Lets get the weak points of the show out of the way first. As with the first season I do find that the backgrounds can feel a bit repetitive because there’s only so much you can do while being inside of a body. It limits the show to an extent because the average slice of life has a lot of fun outdoor backdrops and elements to keep things fresh. With that out of the question here the characters have to do the heavy lifting.

Some of the characters are pretty fun so that works out well enough but at the same time I wouldn’t say that this is a series with top tier humor. Titles like Bleach and Noragami would be funnier. As a comedy it’s probably a little below average and the action is only standard. In a lot of ways that is the best way to describe the show. It’s not particularly weak in too many areas but it’s not strong in any of them so it only ends up being a rather standard show that isn’t too remarkable in any way.

From the soundtrack there is one theme that I liked a lot in season 1 and it returns here but barely. Felt like it didn’t get used to much this time which is too bad. The rest of the themes are okay but not really memorable. The animation also isn’t all that impressive. The first season had a lot of really intense, fast paced action scenes while this one has those very rarely. The battle with cancer at the end is probably the only one that felt like it had a lot of really good shots.

Now onto the good stuff. Neutrophil is still one of the best characters here. I like his drive to always protect the body and help the others out. He doesn’t waver in his goal and just keeps on going while also being reasonable. He did help the normal cell with hiding the other germs at one point and isn’t the automatic killing machine that everyone thinks he is. All you have to do is watch how he always supports Red to see that he’s a nice guy. Whenever he was the focus of an episode that was a good thing.

Red really gets the shaft here so don’t expect to see her a lot. She’s still a fun enough character but in a way she got bumped from being one of the 2 lead characters to a very minor supporting role. She makes the most of her moments but it would have been cool to have seen her do more. Maybe not a fight per say but some kind of support role.

Killer T is a fun character as always. He can be a little stern and rough around the edges but that’s just how he rolls. He still put in a ton of effort in order to master his super attack and won’t give up on his friends. He can be a bit much but Killer T will still land in the positive section every time. Meanwhile Regulatory T Cell definitely took a heavy hit here. She ultimately crumbled when the going got tough and that’s not easy for me to forget. She was on the wrong side and used a technicality as an excuse.

By the time she turned things around she had already done a ton of harm. There was no way to get on board with her character after all of that. She quickly sunk to being one of my least favorite cells here and there’s no real way to climb up again. At least realistically I don’t see that happening. She really enjoyed dishing out the pain against her friends too. It’s not like there was any hesitation, she just went right to it. You can’t make mistakes like that.

As for the normal cell, well he’s decent enough I guess. He was a bit annoying in his first main episode though where he is making fun of the white blood cells and all. I get that he’s jealous but the guy was insanely petty the whole time. You should be showing a little more respect to the guys who are keeping you alive right? Without them the germs would have infested the planet and that would be it for them all.

The first episode is mainly about the little cells who go around building bridges and being generally helpful. I liked their coach who got to appear since she was a strict teacher who ultimately helped them all out. It was a low key but fun way to kick things off. The second episode reminded me why the Memory Cell is still one of the worst though. He never comes through when the heroes actually need him to and when your weakness is your memory then you know you’re doomed. How could you start thinking you know about the future?

Neutrophil did well in the other part of that episode to stop the invaders. The 3rd episode has two segments as well. In one of them the Mast cell struggles with being liked vs doing her job. It’s a bit messy since the others don’t appreciate her. Ultimately she finds a balance here but I can’t say that I was a big fan of hers either way. The other segment had one of the more intense fights here as Neutrophil had to fight for the hair. The fact that thousands of his comrades died in this fight makes things surprisingly dark for a minute there. This villain really had a good setup going to stop the heroes each time. Kind of a shame that none of the others ever messaged for backup before though. You’d think that some of them would have done that.

Then we get to the mini arc of the normal cell watching out for a bunch of little creatures. Its nice and wholesome to an extent but at the same time you just feel like he’s not handling things very well. Being mean to the white blood cells is never cool and how is this guy so clueless about the world as a whole? He basically has to grow copies of himself all day so he can’t leave his room. Why not use that time t read or learn about the world? It might be fair to say that the world has no real educational books like that but in that case he should try asking around. Normal cell wants to be a hero but ultimately it just isn’t working out for him.

Finally we get to the Cancer Cell plot and this one is definitely fun. It also brings up some deep questions like Cancer Cell asking why he has to be murdered just for being born. The interesting part of making every cell’s job automatic while also making them sentient is that it can bring up dilemmas like this. White blood cells have to murder germs and cancer cells. That’s the law of this reality and yet as this cancer cell points out, that means its unfair to his group. From the instant they are born, they are slated for destruction. Even if they stopped their activities they would have to be destroyed.

Neutrophil doesn’t really have an answer for that either. He just explains they have to finish this and proceeds. Cancer Cell is a villain so don’t get that mixed up but his points were worth thinking about. He also mentions why they have to risk the lives of trillions of cells and lose them in many fights to protect one body. Why not just take out the body so they can all die together or just ignore it until it eventually shuts down. It’s not an option that’s sustainable in any way but sacrificing trillions of lives for one does seem a bit lopsided.

So you can always count on the cancer cell to really get you thinking. He’ also got a cool design and really solid powers. It took all of the strongest fighters teaming up to take him down for the count. NK cell got to appear again and she did really well in the fight. She’s another really solid character for sure and works well with the others.

As for my final thoughts on Cancer’s questions on just destroying cells because of their type, I agree with him that it’s not right but I can’t think of many ways around that. The characters are very limited in what they can do because of the setting and in his case he was already acting aggressively evil. Maybe there’s some kind of prison that can hold them. At the very least I was glad that Neutrophil didn’t hesitate and just rushed in. If you don’t have the answer then there’s no point in dragging it out. Just get out there and take care of business. Maybe one day he will be able to get his happy ending if they can find a cell that cures other cells.

The stakes were high and cancer is a fitting final boss so it was a good way to wrap up season 2. It always feels odd to finish a show that’s less than 12 episodes because it feels short. We still got the final saga to be a two part event though which was neat. You’ll have a good time here and you might even pick up a few things. It’s very science based like last time so you may recall some more scientific names than you did to start the show but at the same time there are so many names that you may forget them just as easily.

If we ever get a season 3 I think a good idea would be to get them out of the body somehow. That, or make it a time skip where the body now looks like a city. That would make for some fun new dynamics and even having the human shrink and appear in there would be cool. It would be tough to make that work but it would spice things up. Assuming we need to keep things reasonably similar then just bringing the animation budget back up to season 1 levels would be good for all of the fights. It’s hard to know how you can possibly top Cancer as a final boss though.

Overall, Cells at Work!! is a fun sequel. If you wanted to see the characters again then this definitely does the trick there. It should feel nostalgic seeing all of the characters again. It’s definitely got the same vibe as last time and due to its nature you can jump in on almost any episode and know what’s going on the whole time. It’s very accessible for casual watching and makes for a solid experience. There wasn’t a ton to say here compared to many shows since there isn’t a lot to theory craft or a huge cast to discuss but ultimately I’d say I covered the main points. If you checked out season 1 then you’ll want to watch this as well.

Overall 6/10

Moon Knight Review


It’s time to take a look at the latest in the Marvel TV shows. People were definitely looking forward to this one for quite a while since Moon Knight was a brand new hero who hadn’t been adapted before and he’s got a lot of fans. Before now all of the shows used existing characters while this one would not be using any like that. In a way you could watch this as a completely stand alone experience and not watch any other Marvel products. Well, the show is definitely fun and while I do think the second half is weaker than the first it sticks the landing well enough where I would say this is pretty good.

The show starts by introducing us to Steven who works at the local museum. His life is ordinary except for the not very small problem of having to chain himself up at night. See, he walks in his sleep and often wakes up in places where he has no idea how he got there so this is a safety precaution for himself. It’s worked well enough but does mean it might be awkward to invite anyone to his flat. One day he ends up getting mixed up with a bunch of thugs and a giant monster even chases him across the museum. The problem is that the security cameras don’t show this as appearing so it seems like he has completely lost his marbles.

That’s when he looks in the mirror and sees himself, but another version who calls himself Marc. Basically they have made a pact with the Moon god known as Khonshu to be the Moon Knight that punishes the wicked. They do so quite lethally and what Steven thought was sleepwalking was actually Marc running around as the Moon Knight. Only one can control the body at once and naturally Steven doesn’t want to lose control at all but it may not be completely his call. The two don’t get along at all and the rift between them begins to grow. Will they be able to put aside their differences in time to stop Arthur from summoning the goddess Ammit and bringing chaos to the world?

Right off the bat the show does deliver on what I’d consider to be its biggest selling point which is Steven not knowing what is going on at all. I love the jump cuts in the first few episodes where Steven will just be put in bad spots over and over again. He’ll have no idea what is going on and just has to roll with it as best he can. It works well with how he often appears to be a bit confused in the comics as well because of this. Naturally as the series goes on and he learns more about his other self this dynamic can’t stick, but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts.

In some ways that’s the best part of the show because Steven is a very likable main character. His confusion always appears genuine and you can tell that he means well but got a pretty rough hand in life. Not knowing where you’ll wake up is really tough just for starters but also doing things like asking someone out on a date and not remembering it is also pretty rough. His role stays really solid throughout the show and he’s my favorite of the personalities.

Then you have Marc who is the more violent version who goes around bumping people off as the Moon Knight. He is really good at fighting and I remember the rooftop battle being one of the standout highlights in the show. It was a really good display of how he fights and how versatile the guy is in combat. I wouldn’t say he handles the situations as well as Steven in the sense that Khonshu is openly manipulating him though. It feels like he’ll be put on an endless loop of trials no matter what he does so he may as well disobey Khonshu then right? There’s not a whole lot that Khonshu could do about it if he refuses.

He could move on to Layla as he threatened but then couldn’t she just disobey him as well? It feels like if the host doesn’t play ball there really isn’t a ton of leverage that the god has. When Marc and Steven inevitably meet-up they certainly don’t get along at first and it’s a good dynamic there. At one point in the show we get to see inside of his psyche and that makes for a really fun situation because they can actually interact in the flesh. It was something you’d have been waiting for the whole time and it lives up to the hype.

Meanwhile I definitely liked Khonshu a lot. He’s very much like Venom from the movies with how he talks to Steven/Marc. Khonshu is all about lethal vengeance while still thinking of himself on the side of good. He’s always quick to point out the distinction between him and Ammit whereas he punishes people after the crime while Ammit does so beforehand. It’s a very valid point to be honest and of course I would side with him if I had to choose. The guy is as shady as it gets though so you definitely do not want to have to trust him.

The heroes can be a bit harsh at times though like with one of them saying he was as bad as Ammit at the end. C’mon now, that’s not a fair comparison at all. Any scene with Khonshu in it is a blast though and he’s definitely a scene stealer. Ammit doesn’t get to appear as much but she does really well in the big fight. Her ideology is also an interesting one. If she can truly see into the future 100% and knows who will end up evil, then you can see why she would believe in stopping them now. Imagine you could constantly see into the future or into someone’s soul and know they will commit a crime. There’s no evidence so you can’t put them in jail and you can’t be everywhere at once so you could easily be pressured into thinking you should just bump them off.

It’s a dangerous mindset for sure but one that makes for a very interesting villain. By extension this is what makes Arthur so interesting. I was surprised we didn’t get more of a backstory to him because I felt like the series was leading up to that but it never quite happened. I was pleasantly surprised though because we really don’t need to see his past to understand the character. The guy has clearly seen a lot and wants to make the world better in his own way. That’s already enough development and motivation to make him a good villain. The guy’s definitely really good in that role.

On the hero side we also have Layla as the main heroine. She is often left out of the loop by Marc as he tries to keep her safe but that tends to backfire. Because of this Layla is upset at almost all points in the show but at least it’s understandable. She also ends up helping out in the climax and I’m sure she should get a pretty solid role in any future adventures with Moon Knight.

I already talked about the rooftop fight earlier but in general the fights here are really good. Naturally I enjoyed the battle of the gods in the climax as well. It was a good way to show us the high stakes of the battle and what these guys could really do in combat. Moon Knight’s fighting style naturally depends on who is in control at the time and the show does depict their fighting styles as being different. Well, Steven barely has a “style” per say as he’s just flailing around and hoping things will go well. By season 2 I expect he will look a little stronger.

Now I did have some issues mainly revolving around the second half so lets look at that. First off, the avatars for the other gods looked way too weak. I’m not expecting these guys to be crazy strong or anything but how come they seem to have no abilities or combat experience at all while Steven and Layla have all kinds of fun techniques up their sleeve? These guys are treated like fodder the whole time. Then you also have to factor in how the gods don’t look smart at all. They basically just ask Arthur “Hey, you guilty?” and when he says no they accept it and bash Khonshu instead.

Sure, Khonshu isn’t the nicest guy by a longshot but he is still a god and they should understand he wouldn’t just be making things up. There’s nothing in his character to assume that he’s a chronic liar and isn’t it a little suspect to have a former avatar running around and running a cult? The gods are able to make portals and watch over the skies at all times. A single glance would have verified Khonshu’s claims if they chose to look. It felt a little convenient to put Arthur in a position to win. If you ask me there should have been a better reason for how the gods would have been defeated.

Then I felt even Khonshu’s true strength was not very consistent. In one moment he is just able to swirl up some wind in the background as Arthur makes fun of him and then he’s getting into a Kaiju battle. So you may be thinking, he can only interact with Ammit because they are both gods? I could maybe let that fly but we see him interacting with the ground, pyramids, and other solid objects. So why can’t he hurt a human? Even if he can’t directly attack Arthur, surely he could throw a large object at him or something like that. I don’t see why that wouldn’t work and it would have saved him a lot of grief.

Additionally, the after credits scene is a great moment which I’ll get into later on but it also introduces something close to a plot hole here. If Khonshu could have done this the whole time then….why not do it before Arthur was so close to achieving his goal? Perhaps there are conditions that must be met to use this trick and it’s early enough where it’s fair to say that we don’t know what those are yet but at least as a first impression it does make you feel like he should have been able to end this threat a lot sooner.

My final gripe to an extent here is that Moon Knight looks way too weak at the end of the series. It really starts on the boat ride. How is he having any trouble with these random fantasy monsters? They didn’t seem very strong and then in the climax Arthur is tossing him around the whole time. There’s a slight Power Rangers effect here where you want to put some shine on the new hero so it makes sense that Layla was saving him quite a bit here but I would have liked to have seen him do a bit better. You can absolutely pull this off while making Moon Knight a bit more of a threat. With the skills he had in the first two episodes it’s just hard to see Arthur putting up a fight here at all.

The soundtrack isn’t quite as memorable as the other Marvel shows of late, however I did like the main theme that Moon Knight wakes up to in some of the episodes. It was really catchy and elevates the whole soundtrack on its own. There are some nice Egyptian kind of themes as well though. Then the special effects are solid as always. I liked how the hospital/mental space looked. The show did a good job of making it appear as if it was a whole different realm. A part of you knows what is going on here right from the jump but the show makes this part long enough where you could almost start to doubt yourself a bit here.

The show does have a great after credits scene here which ends the show on a perfect note. It follows up on one plot-line that was hinted at several points in the show while making one character also look very crafty/intelligent. There’s a lot of reasons to really enjoy this scene for sure and it just has a lot of potential for the next arcs. Logistically it would be tough to keep this up for very long without someone noticing so I expect it’ll be addressed almost immediately and that should be fun. After all, knowing what will happen and stopping it are two very different things.

There’s a whole lot of set up for the second season so that’ll be fun to see. One thing I’ll miss which is inevitable is the sheer confusion Steven had for a while since he didn’t know his other personality was around. It’s part of what makes the first episodes such a blast because it’s such a fresh dynamic. Then we have the dynamic of the two personalities not getting along and trying not to go to sleep so the other doesn’t take control. That’s another really great dynamic. Still the current dynamic between them will be fun too.

Overall, Moon Knight was definitely a very good show. I would put it above Wandavision and Winter Soldier but it goes under Loki, Hawkeye, and What If. Moon Knight makes for a very good main character and I could see him having a lot of great interactions with the rest of the characters. His durability/regen will also make him a useful ally and makes up for his lack of physical ability as long as he remembers his martial arts. The show really took advantage of the multiple personalities angle and I’m sure that should continue even with the main two on good terms now. Could be a kind of DN Angel vibe where they both start to fight over when one of them should be in control. The writing and humor were really on point here so this is just a very well rounded title. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is definitely a title I’d recommend.

Overall 7/10

Shenmue Review


Shenmue is a show based on a game series that I have not played, however you don’t really need to know them to enjoy the show since it re-adapts the sagas. I was impressed with the show right off the bat because it’s got a very retro vibe to it. I’d compare it to Batman Beyond and the classic superhero shows of the DCAU. Even the main character himself has that punk vibe like Terry. It’s a very short show so it hasn’t made it all the way to greatness yet but the way it adapted the events was definitely a lot of fun so hopefully we get a season 2 soon.

The show starts with Ryo being rather confident in his strength to the point where he doesn’t really take his father’s teachings very seriously. He ends up regretting that immediately as he heads home one day to witness a villain known as Lan Di murdering his father. Ryo tries to help but is instantly defeated and his confidence is shattered. He now wants to find out why his father was murdered and his only clue is a mysterious mirror. Ryo will have to ask around and get involved with a bunch of gangs as he tries to get closer to solving this mystery. With his heart clouded by vengeance can Ryo really get strong enough to stop Lan Di?

Shenmue is really a investigation show but what sets it apart from the rest is that Ryo’s not a pro. He’s not a hot shot detective who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He’s just going around and almost literally knocking on doors and asking questions. Each episode will have him walk over and ask an old lady for help, she’ll tell him to go to the coffee shop, the coffee guy will say to flip some cups, he’ll then get mugged, then rinse and repeat. Ryo is really going around doing the same things a whole lot but it just works.

There is a level of convenience to this of course as he always ends up meeting the right people, but the fact that it’s so tedious on his end helps to at least make it not feel too easy. The guy definitely does still have to walk everywhere and he gets mugged a whole lot so it’s not like he’s taking 0 risks either. Ryo is a really good fighter but he’s in a world where expert fighters seem to be around every corner and so he gets crushed many times. Even by the end of the series you can tell that he’s nowhere close to the top yet.

I’d say my best complement for the series is just that it’s a lot of fun. It really captures that retro action show vibe. There’s no end of the world stakes, no fancy combos, or really anything out of the ordinary. This is purely a street level show with Ryo beating up on goons and getting closer to his father’s murderer. The show never tries to be anything more than that and it’s probably one of the most relaxing shows that I’ve watched in a while. The pacing was always on point with each episode.

I also enjoyed the animation quite a bit. It’s not going to touch the big titles like Bleach but the fight scenes were always solid. They used the sonic boom effect for each hit which I always liked. It’s something you don’t always see nowadays but it’s a good way to make each strike feel like it has a lot of impact. The fight scenes are always solid here and the show also goes all in on the eye effects to show when someone is focused. Apparently a lot of the attacks are even taken straight from the games which is a cool attention to detail. Smooth might be the best word for the animation. It’s not as bright and colorful as some of the others out there but the fights exceled as you could really follow each exchange and feel the power behind the hits. Sadly while the animation in the episodes is real good, the opening is one of the lazier ones. I’ll never get why you would decide to cheap out on the intro since that will appear for every episode.

There’s very little actual animation in the intro at all and it’s just rather boring which is never a good thing for an opening. A proper opening should fill you with energy and have you jumping up and down. This won’t do that for you at all. As for the soundtrack, I wasn’t particularly impressed there either. I didn’t really care for the intro song. There were some decent instrumental themes in the show itself but none that I can remember off the top of my head. I feel like they worked well enough in the scenes as you’re watching but it’s quite telling that I can’t remember them at all.

As for Ryo himself, I definitely liked him as the main character. He’s focused on avenging his father’s death but never lets it consume him. He takes a ton of losses throughout the series but is always striving to do better. One of the standout scenes to me was when he and and Lishao disagree on how he should go further. He doesn’t storm out of there or cause a scene. He just respectfully says that it appears they will not be able to see eye to eye on this and leaves.

He just walks out of there peacefully and still in good standing with the master. It’s so rare to see that and Ryo just comes across as a very mature main character. Perhaps not the smartest one with how often he lets his guard down but a very solid one all the same. He slowly gets stronger throughout the series and his final fight with Lan Di was satisfying even if I thought he would have done way better. He’s clearly still got a ways to go and hopefully we get a season 2 soon so we can see how things play out. I haven’t played the games yet but who knows, I may end up experiencing the saga that way first.

As for Lan Di as the main villain, he doesn’t appear a whole lot. Really it’s just the beginning and the ending where we see him but you can still get a solid glimpse into his character that way. The guy seems very honorable but someone who will also see his revenge through to the end. He was clearly not going to spare Ryo’s father no matter what and the guy has an entire criminal empire. The fact that he can fight so well was always going to be a good sign for his character because I love it when characters can fight like that and don’t have to hide behind their minions. Lan Di is the strongest we’ve seen in the series so far so it’s fitting that he be the final boss.

Nozomi was the main heroine for a while but she pretty much gets written out once Ryo leaves home. She was as helpful as she could be in the meantime though. Nozomi may not be a fighter but she looks out for Ryo as best she can and is a nice person in general. Then you have Joy who is the main heroine in Hong Kong. Joy has a lot more energy to her and also isn’t afraid to take some risks. I thought she was a fun character to have around and Ryo would have had a really tough time settling in without her helping to show him the ropes.

There’s a third heroine Shenhua for the latest land but she hasn’t really gotten to do anything yet so there’s not much to say about her. Right now she would be the weakest of the 3 heroines and we’ll need to see some more personality out of her to get higher. Something beyond just the vague prophecies but I expect her role in season 2 would be rather large so she’ll have plenty of time for that.

Guizhang was a really solid character and definitely one of Ryo’s best allies. It was a shame that he couldn’t follow Ryo into Hong Kong because I think he would have really done well there. The guy was pretty much on par with Ryo in terms of overall fighting ability and had a good head on his shoulders. The way he was written out wasn’t terribly satisfying but maybe he’ll be back someday.

Ren was his replacement of sorts in Hong Kong. This guy is more of an opportunist who loves money and wants to get rich but as the show goes on he starts to become more of a legitimate ally. He does come in handy a lot so while he starts off as the kind of guy who will backstab you at every turn, you grow to like him. He never passed Guizhang for me but it’s always good that Ryo doesn’t have to go through the adventure alone.

Then there’s Lishao who is the master of her Dojo and has the skills to back this up. She’s a very fun character and someone that all of the villains and heroes have to respect. When she’s around you have to take that into account because of her incredible power. She’s certainly one of the standout characters here and pretty much forces Ryo to improve his own skills. Without her there’s no way he would be prepared to stand a chance here.

Wong is a kid in Hong Kong who helps out a bit here and there but I wouldn’t say he was particularly all that great. He has a good character arc where he learns to stop being a thief but that’s about all that I would say for him. You’ve got two more villains in Yuan and Dou but I wasn’t a fan of either of them. Yuan can barely even fight which really huts his case. Dou was surprisingly powerful with how he was beating Ryo on multiple occasions though. He seemed like the slow type who could never hold his own in a fight so I suppose he got the last laugh on me there. It was still pretty embarrassing for Ryo to lose there though.

Technically there are a bunch of other supporting characters running around but this pretty much sums up the main cast. As Ryo has to try and learn all of the Wude (It’s pronounced Wuda but seems to be spelled Wude online for some reason) he meets a lot of characters who help him out. I think these practices can be a little overhyped and some cross the line into just being common sense. It’s a surprisingly long plot point that takes up a good chunk of the show but fortunately the show usually throws you some fight scenes so you have something to do in the meantime.

There was one villain that felt wasted though. He shows up at the very end of the show with a cool looking mask but is taken down in seconds. Why give the guy such a good design if you’re going to throw him out right? I suppose it was subversive but I would have much preferred to see this guy get a real fight. There was a whole lot of potential there without a doubt. Lan Di’s a great villain but he’s really the only good villain at the moment so I’d like to see a few other good ones get introduced soon to keep things fresh. That slippery minion from arc 1 would definitely beat the minions in Hong Kong.

The power levels in the show are also handled pretty well which is a nice benefit of everything being fairly low tier. Ryo starts out as someone who’s low even within the verse despite having a whole lot of confidence. It’s to the point where he has to be protected by Guixhang the whole time. By Hong Kong Ryo is strong enough to hold his own but definitely can’t beat the general and still gets mugged a lot. Once Ryo has learned all of the Wude he is now able to fight and defeat any non-master but would likely still lose to Lishao and definitely Lan Di. By season 2 I expect he should make even greater strides.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of travelling in season 1. We mostly stuck to two different locations but as the show ends Ryo makes it to a third one as well. Then he’s always going to a bunch of different shops for clues and everything. It’ll be interesting to see if this continues into the next season. I assume it will since Ryo still doesn’t have an easy way of finding things out aside from asking everybody and following each lead. So how strong the region will be will depend on how good the supporting cast is.

Without the Wude to worry about we can also go back to more basic Shenmue investigation like Ryo heading back to the coffee houses and things like that. It’s just nice to see how nonchalant the whole thing is and I can’t stress that enough because it feels so unique in a show. I can’t think of any other time I’ve seen a main character have to check out so many places to follow through on his leads. Of course it could go in a different direction so we’ll see but as long as the show keeps its calm vibe I expect it’ll continue to be a blast. Naturally you also have to keep up the fun martial arts for the battles and I feel like Ryo needs a new super move. He has two now between the elbow hit and the axe kick but I think some kind of punch would suit him the best.

Overall, Shenmue is a very fun action show. It’s extremely low key and is more of a calm title despite the action genre but it works well. If you want to watch something that just feels nostalgic even though it’s a story you haven’t seen before then this is definitely the one to check out. For season 2 I suppose what I would like to see are some longer boss fights and for Ryo to keep his training. I can understand him forgetting the Wude when fighting Lan Di because of his grudge but you can’t use the same excuse next time. So I want a proper fight where Ryo has to give it his all. That would make for a very climactic battle and the pieces should all be in place to make that possible.

Overall 7/10