7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Hunter X Hunter (2011) Review


All right it’s time to look at the second anime adaption of the Hunter X Hunter show. The original anime ended quite early as the OVAs had to continue the arcs and even then it didn’t make it all the way. Since the manga is still going this series wasn’t able to finish either, but this time it did make it through the Chimera and Election arcs so it’s getting closer and closer. The series has a lot of dynamic scenes and has some of the best strategic battles in all of Shounen Jump. While the series has a few jump the shark episodes in the Chimera arc the series is still solid as a whole.

The world of HXH centers around professional hunters. In this world this is the most lucrative position as you can get rich just for selling your license. Of course if you went to all the trouble of passing the exam it is very unlikely that you would ever do such a thing. The hunters keep their licenses as a matter of pride and serve as body guards or go on quests. The options are endless. There are quite a few main characters who each have their own goals and ambitions which lead to the various story arcs. Unlike most other series you can get arcs where the main characters shift more than once. Otherwise I think the only other series I can think of where this happened is Naruto where Sasuke got his own arc. Potentially Dr. Stone will count as well if the other guy ever gets his own arc.

The first arc follows Gon in his quest to become a hunter. He is finally old enough to take the Exam and dashes on over. He meets up with a few other applicants known as Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio. The tests are quite rigorous though as you have to go through a forest of death, run for miles, escape a death zone, and then engage in one on one battles with other fighters. This won’t be easy, but Gon has trained quite a lot to be in shape so he would be ready for this. Unfortunately for him this happens to be the exam where a villain has entered the ring as well. His name is Hisoka and his goal is to cause quite a lot of chaos.

It’s a pretty good introduction to the series. We get to meet the main cast and there’s even a tournament. While the Chunin Exams from Naruto do still take the cake for this format you can see how similar these two are. Adding Hisoka into the mix also adds a good level of tension. It would have been interesting to have had Killua and Hisoka meet up early on here, but realistically that probably would not have gone well for the kid. At this point Hisoka already had nen which means he is effectively invincible here.

The next big arc was the Heavens Arena which is another big tournament. Now this arc isn’t very large compared to the others, but it’s a lot of fun. Gon and Killua learn about nen which will be crucial later on and Gon gets to have his rematch with Hisoka. That’s basically his motivation here and Killua works to keep everyone out of Gon’s hair. I don’t think this arc is remembered quite as well as some of the others, but it was another solid way to build more character development. I’ll also take any excuse to have a bunch of extra fights. HXH does a lot of “about to fight, but then doesn’t” moments so it was nice to enjoy these days while you could when every fight did happen.

Next up is the arc considered to be the best in the series and I would agree with that. Yorknew brings Kurapika into the center stage this time. His goal in life is to destroy the Spiders since they murdered his entire clan. It’s his whole reason for becoming a professional hunter and he never lost sight of this goal. This is his chance to take them down, but these guys are world class threats for a good reason. It won’t be easy for Kurapika to bump them off. Meanwhile Gon and Killua wander into the fray, but at their current level they sometimes prove to be more of a liability than a help. We also get the government involved and a bunch of other characters.

Yorknew is just a very packed arc with cool moments around every corner. Kurapika vs Uvogin is still a very iconic fight and seeing Chrollo take on Killua’s father and grand father was epic as well. At this point in the series there are also a lot of fun dream match-ups. For example while Killua may not have much nen yet he still does have a lot of strength and speed. Would he have been able to at least take one of them down if Gon wasn’t around? Kurapika also did good in taking on Uvogin, but would he be able to take down the others? Most of the Spiders have fairly broken abilities so in a sense Uvogin was the easiest to beat because he’s all about strength. His strength was certainly crazy though.

Then we have Greed Island which is more of a peaceful arc in comparison. Gon and Killua enter a video game to find Gon’s father an instead they wind up stuck in the video game. To escape they have to clear it, but in the meanwhile there are a bunch of bombers running around in there as well. Their goal is to clear the game first and they’re willing to murder all of the other players to get their way. They don’t appear to be quite as tough as the Spiders, but the ability to blow someone up with a single point of contact is always helpful. The arc is fun enough and we meet more characters like Biscuit. It’s never quite able to capture the same level of energy and excitement as the earlier arcs though.

Next is the Chimera Ant arc which was certainly anticipated because it had never been animated before. It’s the author’s shot at a DBZ type arc. If you’ve noticed each of the arcs seem to switch genres time and time again. Well this arc focuses more on power levels and the whole alien invasion even makes it part horror. This arc is very long and it feels like the longest in the series although I don’t know if that’s accurate. Basically these insect creatures have taken over a kingdom. They are slowly growing more and more powerful as well as intelligent because of the humans they eat. When they eat someone with nen they start to grow nen as well. The government is trying to hide this, but as a result the situation is quickly growing out of hand. Hunters are sent in to handle this. Gon and Killua will have to prove themselves against professional hunters as well if they want to make the cut. This time they will need to master Nen and have special abilities to help out.

This arc gives the heroes the biggest power upgrades they’ve ever gotten in the series. That’s why it’s a shame that neither Gon or Killua have really gotten to fight after this arc. Not only have they likely surpassed Kurapika now but they’re possibly Spider/Pro hunter level at this point. I’d say certainly since they were taking on Ants that the pros were having a lot of trouble with. There are a ton of fights in this arc and the heroes even have to split up at one point to take down a lot of enemies. That’s why it’s a shame that this is ultimately the arc that really holds the series back. On the one hand, it’s easily the most epic arc in the series. It has a lot of the best battles and the set-up is really solid. This is basically an alien invasion and it’s the most ambitious arc yet. We even see the Hunter association chairman Netero fight for once.

What hurts this arc is how the violence steps up and also covers animals. The insects murder a bunch of animals in this arc. They take down kids and in general the arc gets really dark. We even have a human villain out of nowhere who is basically doing trafficking amidst the chaos in a plot that has no point. The author also started to get a little more experimental around this point so we get an episode about nothing much as a guy with a terrible past is wondering what’s going on. He had an abusive father or something and while I’m sure the episode tied in to something, it feels like half an hour of nothing. The new characters here weren’t all hits so when they get a lot of focus it takes away from the main characters.

That’s why this arc is a mixed bag. It has the largest amount of great moments and the animation is also stunning. The Nen affects and how they affect everyone is handled very well. One character ages many years in an instant which is a dramatic but effective way or showing just how fierce these enemies are. After all, the heroes know that if they’re caught then they’ll definitely be dead. Put it this way, this arc would get the lowest score in the series at a 4 or a 5. Everything just adds up, but it is the most interesting arc. It does get the same atmosphere you’d expect from something like Attack on Titan or Fate/Zero which always does keep you engaged from start to finish. It’s just a shame that usually in creating that atmosphere the series usually has to go into some pretty dark places. You could take away those scenes and the arc would be fantastic. It’s rare to get a series to such an interesting place with so many pieces so you always hope it’ll be the next big thing.

Finally we have the Election arc. This one is more of a return to form as it feels like the first arcs. The Hunter Association is going to pick a new chairman and naturally there are a lot of candidates to choose from. They’ve all got their own motives and agendas so the people have to vote carefully. There are a lot of rules here to prevent anyone from being chosen too easily and I always enjoy this complexity. In the sub-plot Killua has to go back home to rescue another family member and then try to help out Gon. This leads to a lot of chase scenes and clashes of brawn and brain. It’s a pretty fun adventure arc and a nice little adventure to cap off the anime. You definitely feel how there are a ton of loose ends left, but hopefully the manga ends someday so we can get a sequel show. There’s almost no point in making another season yet because there isn’t a ton of content available at the moment.

So lets look at the characters. Gon is our lead here and he certainly goes through a lot of development. He’s a pretty happy kid at first, but as the series goes on we see more of his serious side. I dare say that he showed glimpses of being a little unhinged near the beginning though. All good main characters get upset when their friends are put in danger or threatened and Gon’s no exception. However, mix that in with his stubborn nature to never back down and he completely loses it. Gon tends to lose himself in his emotions which is good for building up his Nen, but it does mean he’ll often do anything for a quick boost of power. He gets the job done, but by the end he does tend to push people away.

Then you have Killua who sort of has the reverse character arc of Gon. At first he’s a deadly assassin who has a hard time fitting in. Eventually he learns to believe in teamwork more and even talks about friendship. He makes some close bonds with Gon and the others and really has come a long way from when he first started. He gets a lot of character development and is the best ally you can ask for. He’s always got your back and balances out his impressive fighting abilities with a strategic mind. Killua’s my favorite character in the series.

Then you have Kurapika who is also a big focus in the series. His origin story is similar to Sasuke’s and his goal of revenge is certainly the same. He’s put everything on the line to stop the spiders including giving himself an ability that is only useful against them. As a result he’s permanently limited himself against any other kind of enemy. He’s the smartest of the main characters and rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. It’s a shame that he misses the final half of the series because he’s a very interesting character. Well if the next arc ever gets animated he’ll be the main character of that one.

Then we have Leorio who quickly gets left in the dust by the other characters. He used to be reasonably skilled, but he never learned a lot of Nen so he quickly fell out of the picture. Nen is something that you absolutely need to have or you just won’t stand a chance as the series goes on. He was never as serious or determined as the other characters though so maybe it’s for the best that he was written out. He can be a fun character, but you won’t really miss him while he’s gone.

Hisoka is one of the biggest villains in the series. He’s a constant thorn in the heroes’ path and the guy’s talents also ensure that it is hard to get past him. He’s incredibly powerful and right now it’s hard to say who in the series could really beat him. He’s at least around the level of the leader Chrollo and that would put him at the very top. His obsession with Gon can border on being a character wrecking trait, but so long as that never goes anywhere dicey we should be good. He’s definitely a wild card for all characters in the series.

As for the Spiders, Chrollo is their experienced leader. His ability to copy other powers is always something really hard to defend against. Mix that in with the fact that he is a tactical genius (Isn’t everyone in this series a genius?) and you’ve got a solid threat. One thing that makes the Spiders especially dangerous is the fact that they’re all reluctant friends and will go to war to help one of their own. They’re a unit so mess with one of them and you mess with all of them. Feitan is one of the stronger members of the group. He’s pretty quiet but beneath that are the abilities of the strongest member of the group. Next to Chrollo I just can’t see anyone else challenging him in a fight. Feitan is incredibly fast and strong and his heat abilities mean that escape is basically impossible.

Machi is the most enjoyable member of the group. She has a lot of fun while doing her job and while that doesn’t take away from her being evil, she’s just a nice contrast to the others. Her thin wires are also a tough ability to fight against for sure. It won’t be an easy match for any of the other Spiders against her. Nobunaga hasn’t done much yet and his abilities are pretty straight forward. If you get close to him then he’ll slice you to ribbons. That being said, just because the technique is simple doesn’t mean that beating him will be easy. His idea to get Gon and Killua to join the Spiders was interesting, but quite far fetched so I guess he doesn’t mind going for long shot plans.

Shalnark is probably the most cheerful member of the group though. He just likes hanging out with the group and seems to think of them as just a group of people hanging out. His ability to mind control people is definitely a scary ability to fight though. You never know when you’ll actually be taking on an ally. Then there is Shizuku who is one of the more inexperienced members of the group. Her vacuum does most of the work but her physical strength is in the higher end from the Spider members. All she needs is one good hit to possibly win a fight. She’s one of my least favorite Spider members but she’s not bad. Her personality just doesn’t click with me.

Uvogin is a fun member. He’s all about beating people with raw strength. The guy did allow himself to get captured pretty quick which didn’t work out well for him, but he always knew that the other Spiders would come to help him out. Had he fought almost anyone other than Kurapika in Yorknew he would probably still be around. He certainly had the best fight out of all the Spiders. As for other villains, Illumi is another big name in the series. He’s always messing with Killua and it can be hard to tell what his ultimate goal is. I believe it is just to break Killua down so he recognizes Illumi as his boss and everything else is to get to that point. He certainly doesn’t want anyone murdering Killua before that happens and is willing to fight for him. I’ts a pretty twisted state of affairs. He does seem pretty powerful so I hope he fights someday.

Genthru is the big villain from Greed Island. He’s probably one of the pettier villains though. He just wants a lot of money and to blow people up along the way. There isn’t much to him beyond that. He’s an okay villain, but not one you will remember. Biscuit left a much bigger impact in that arc and she was a fun coach to have. I do feel like she was surpassed in strength pretty quickly though. I don’t think she would be able to hold her own so well if she were to return.

As for the ants, Meruem is their leader so he should go first. He’s like a DBZ character who was thrown into HXH. He’s way too strong for everybody else. Even when he isn’t fighting seriously he’s able to handle the strongest hunter of them all. I like hie design and skill set. He gets a big character arc with a Go player. Mereum started out as a total villain, but was quickly getting redeemed. He’s an interesting character and by the end of the arc it’s quite telling that you’re almost rooting for his side over the humans.

His three generals were also great. Youpi is the weakest of the group (In terms of personality) He starts out as one of those guys who only wants to fight, but quickly begins to learn strategy. He actually outsmarts the heroes a few times which was cool and his final form would have been really tough to deal with in a fight. Pouf is the strategist of the group. He may not be as strong as the other two, but his abilities ensure that it is difficult to trap him. His voice actor did an excellent job with the character. He’s just a lot of fun whenever he is on screen. Finally we have Pitou who I consider to be the strongest of the 3. She took down Kite like it was nothing and was brave enough to make a move on Netero. If not for power level stuff and overthinking she should have been able to take everyone down.

As a quick aside, that’s another issue with the second half of the Chimera arc. I think the author wrote the heroes into too big of a hole. They were heavily outnumbered already and then he added the 3 generals who were stronger than all of the Hunters. There was no way they were going to mount a real comeback here and it shows. The heroes were so far out of their depth that the arc basically got cancelled and had a sudden ending that was not satisfying in the slightest. The power levels had just started to get out of hand so maybe it was a good idea to suddenly stop it, but as a result there are a ton of battles that should have happened, but ultimately didn’t. It was a very anti climactic end to the arc considering how much build up there was. I think the arc could have used another 20 or so episodes which would have been enough to cash-in on all the anticipation built up throughout the saga.

Ikalgo is a chimera who gets a big role as he eventually joins the heroes. He means well and while the guy was a total villain initially, his redemption arc is handled quite well. Ikalgo contributes quite a lot during the arc and while he may not be the strongest guy on the block, he is pretty sneaky. Then you’ve got Cheetu who is just a fun villain. He’s incredibly fast so it’s hard to tag him and he causes a lot of damage. If anything it’s just too bad that we couldn’t see him fight a bit more. It’s hard to really see anyone taking him down in a straight fight. He can destroy most opponents before they even notice he is around. Cheetu also continued to improve more and more as he developed new powers mid-fight. Rammot’s role isn’t nearly as big but he’s also a fun villain. The guy was really the first Nen chimera. Of course that means he isn’t quite ready to take on any of the commanders, but he still gives a good fight. I think his design is what really made him interesting. It’s a cool hybrid type look.

Then we’ve got Netero. This guy likes trolling everyone and by the time he is ready to act in the Chimera war it’s a little too late. The guy is definitely powerful and is probably still one of the strongest characters in the series. He couldn’t quite match up to Mereum but otherwise there are probably just a handful of characters who could give him a good fight. I wasn’t a big fan of his, but he beats most other old mentor type characters. As for Ging, he’s definitely one of the worst parents you’ll see around. He still has no good reason for ditching Gon and his wife. The guy just likes adventures and doesn’t want any responsibility that comes along with it. I want to see him fight because the guy gets to much hype, but at this rate it’ll be a long time before that ever happens.

A real standout character was Pariston. He really stole the show in the election arc. The guy has a charismatic presence so it’s easy to see why he was a front runner to be the next chairman. He destroys the opposing arguments with ease and is always one step ahead of the other characters. Everything goes according to his plans and it’s safe to say that he is still in control. I wonder if he’ll ever get a big role again, but even if he does not he left a great impression. Morel is a pro hunter who can manipulate smoke. He’s a very calm and calculated guy who knows not to bite off more than he can chew. He’s definitely a solid ally to have around and was a fun supporting character. His partner Knov may have cracked, but I liked that guy a lot as well. Ultimately he wasn’t able to press on with the rest of the heroes, but he was inches close to death. His older design also worked pretty well. It was really surreal to see that.

Knuckle is like an old school brawler character from an 80s anime. His power is pretty good because unless you have broken levels of Nen it’ll seal you off very quickly. Calling his attack Bankruptcy was also pretty neat. I do think Killua surpassed him a while back though and at this point Gon should be able to take him down. The guy was a good coach though and he was always nice to the local animals. In comparison Shoot never left as much of an impact. He did fight hard to the end though. Even while dying he wanted Knuckle to continue the fight. It’s always good to have that level of determination in battle.

Then there is Palm who is an odd heroine. She’s very unhinged and is always throwing threats around. Fortunately the heroes are tough enough where they don’t need to worry too much, but she is not an ally you’d want to have on hand. She wasn’t really my kind of character. Then you have Kite who is nice enough. He seems a lot more reasonable than Ging at any rate. He wasn’t terribly interesting either, but I did like his weapon. It’s pretty unique and the fact that even he doesn’t know what it’ll do next makes it a very interesting weapon to see in action.

Zeno is Killua’s grandfather and we can see why he was such a big threat back in the day. Even now he has some powerful moves and the fight with Chrollo was a lot of fun. We also saw what a large range his attack had in the Chimera arc. Pretty much everyone got affected by that. Then Silva is also a powerful fighter. We haven’t seen a whole lot of him either (Such is the fate of many characters in this series) but you can tell that he is the real deal. Killua’s family is just stacked with great fighters. Just take a look at Alluka. Alluka has never even trained before, but was born with a great ability to grant wishes. There is no wish that Alluka can’t feasibly grant in some way or another. I wouldn’t want to have that ability since I couldn’t grant my own wishes though. Seems like a big downside to me.

This likely won’t come as a surprise but the animation is definitely top notch. The colors are very strong and the battle animations are smooth. Everything about the shows looks quite modern. It’s got that sleek new look while still having a good color contrast for the dark nen abilities. Meanwhile the soundtrack is great as well. It’s a shame that my favorite track was never officially released but you’ll hear it quite a few times like when Killua fought the darts guy. There are many other great themes that you’ll be hearing as you go through the series as well.

One big factor in why the show is so good is the writing. Every character is written to be pretty intelligent and three dimensional. The narrator in the chimera arc also adds to the hype by building up each scene. A good narrator goes a long way and this guy definitely succeeded. The play by play enhanced each of the scenes as opposed to slowing things down too much.

Overall, Hunter X Hunter is definitely a fun show. If you’re looking for a good action/adventure anime then this is the one to check out. In some ways it is still one of the most ambitious titles out there. The mind games are incredible and the universe built around the characters is very interesting. There are so many complexities and various characters running around that the series could last for many years even without all the breaks. Once you watch this show you’ll likely want to go read the manga to see what happens next. It may have had a rough patch with the Chimera arc, but the series is long enough where it was able to survive this. Just dive in and enjoy the ride.

Overall 7/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

D. Gray-man Review


It’s time to take a look at a pretty long anime that I watched quite a while ago. This review’s been in the backlog long enough so it was time to knock it out. This was one of the first manga titles that I read way back in the day. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it in the beginning. It got good towards the middle and then got a little too crazy after it turned monthly. The show covers the manga all the way through the good parts and then stops right before we start to get some time skips and other adventures. That’s for the sequel show which adapts the Kanda arc so that should be good. As for this show, it’s definitely a great title.

The series starts off by introducing us to the world of D. Gray-man. When people die, someone can visit them and make a wish to bring them back to life. Should you do so, the Millenium Earl will bring the husk of the dead person back to life to murder you. You’ll then turn into an Akuma, but hey….at least you got to say good bye one last time right? It definitely does feel like this isn’t worth it, but most people don’t know the cost until it’s too late. The Exorcists are the only ones who can fight against the Earl and his legions of Akuma. Unfortunately there aren’t a whole lot of Exorcists left in the world and they’ve been fighting a losing battle for years. Can a local kid born with a cursed arm turn the tides of battle? His name is Allen Walker and there is more to him than meets the eye.

D. Gray-man is a very grim series. That’s not to say that it’s super gritty like Attack on Titan because the show can be pretty light. It’s still a shounen, but when you think about the plot you realize just how serious this is. The heroes learn time and time again that the Earl could murder the whole lot of them at any time. The fact that he chooses to let the human race exist is still a puzzle for the Exorcists. Perhaps he needs enough people to keep the Akuma army going which would make sense. Also, if the Exorcists are not a threat then there is no reason for him to go out of his way to destroy them right? They may win battles here and there, but it really does feel like the war is completely out of reach. They’ll need a few more Allens to even start a comeback.

Lets take a quick step back though. As I mentioned, Allen is the main character here. He has a mysterious past which isn’t looked at much here so there’s always a lot of mystery around him. He’s been a loner for a long time as he worked under General Cross, but now he is ready to join the main order. He’s a powerful fighter and one of the strongest Exorcists on the planet. Once he unlocks his Crown Clown form he can take any Exorcist down aside from the generals. Allen has a lot of your usual main character traits like eating a lot and being rather hot headed, but can also be rather ruthless against Akuma. He believes that destroying them is the only way to purify their souls so he has no qualms about crushing them. The Akuma don’t have hearts and do appear to be dead which furthers his point.

As Allen has some demonic traits the order doesn’t always trust him though. The deaths also take a toll on the guy because there’s no way for Allen to save everyone. For every 5 people he saves another one ends up dying and becoming an Akuma. It’s a pretty depressing cycle for him and as a result it takes him an incredibly long time to regain his powers compared to most leads. I liked him more in the anime than in the manga. He still could have acted faster to save the dog but after that Allen doesn’t really make any big mistakes. He may be outmatched at times, but he’s always fighting to the end. There’s even one match where he continues to fight the Akuma even after he has been knocked unconscious. That shows his determination. Allen also does defy the order at times which is good because those guys always seem corrupt.

Lavi is another one of the main characters and he is the one who was most improved in the anime. It’s not that I disliked him in the manga or anything, but he really didn’t leave an impression on me. In the show he is definitely one of the best characters. Lavi is a bookman and isn’t supposed to get involved with the exorcists. He breaks the rules many times to help them out though and ultimately makes the right calls. While he may not be ready to admit that they’re his friends, Lavi’s actions speak for themselves. Even with his job on the line he goes in to protect them and you can’t ask for a better friend. It’s just a shame that he seems a little weak next to the others. Lavi won’t be giving Allen or Kanda a good fight anytime soon. His hammer is his big weapon and every villain can just slap it to the side.

Kanda is the big rival of the series and definitely lives up to the hype. He has accelerated healing which is very handy and his sword can cut through just about anything. His fights against Tyki and Skin were good showcases of what he can do. He is dependent on his sword though so once it breaks then most of his skills go away. He’s still strong, but in this world you need a weapon laced with innocence to do anything against Akuma. Kanda’s got that Sasuke/Vegeta vibe going and it works quite well. He’s really a textbook rival and the kind of guy you want to have on your side. As you can probably guess he is definitely a standout character.

Lenalee is the main heroine of the show and definitely gets a nice character arc. Right from the start it’s nice to see that she can fight. Lenalee is a very capable fighter and goes through a very similar experience as Allen when she loses her abilities. Both of them have to risk their lives in order to get back into the ring. Her powered up form seems to keep up with Allen pretty well and if anything that means they may have both surpassed Kanda. Just temporarily I’m sure, a good rival never stays down. Her fight against the Level 3 Akuma is top notch and the same can be said of her fight with the Level 4. Lenalee’s a top notch character and part of why the show is so good is because the cast is so strong.

Another exorcist is Miranda, but her role certainly isn’t as big as the main 4. She can freeze time though which is an incredible ability to have. Now, it’s not game breaking since you keep your injuries from when time is stopped, but it will let you fight a little extra even after you should have been dead. Miranda is a great support fighter and her ability also allows you a chance to catch your breath real quick. Then you have Krory who is part vampire. He can bite enemies, but that kind of ability always seems a bit dicey to me. As soon as you face an opponent whose skin is harder than your teeth that’s it. As you can imagine this happens to him quite a bit. Still, he does have enhanced strength and speed so he remains relevant for most of the series. He’s a reasonable side character.

Then you’ve got Lenalee’s brother Komui who is one of the commanders in the order. We learn that he got the position to better watch the organization since he doesn’t trust them. I think he’s too passive though. We learn from Lenalee’s backstory just how extreme they can be. It’s nice that he got such a position, but Komui doesn’t seem to have actually done anything with this position so then what was ultimately the point? It’s not like the corrupt members are scared of him so it feels like his efforts were for naught. I wasn’t a big fan of the guy. His counterpart Bak was way better.

Bak doesn’t mind defying the government and he helped Allen quite a bit. He makes the tough calls and jumps into danger even though he’s only human. His friendship with Fo was also handled pretty well and you actually grew to like that branch more than the main headqarters. Fo was also instrumental in getting Allen back into fighting shape. They sparred quite a lot which wasn’t super convenient for her, but she did it and even gave him a nice pep talk. Allen had a lot of support during his rough patch and that was mainly thanks to Fo and Bak.

Bookman is also around with the group, but he’s definitely one of those guys that you can’t call a true friend. He would be quick to ditch the Exorcists and live up to his role of just being an observer. He doesn’t really believe in taking sides and considering that the Akuma plan to wipe everyone out that just doesn’t really fly. He’s not downright corrupt like Malcolm though. He seems to be the most extreme member of the Order or at least from the characters we’ve seen. He believes that the end absolutely justifies the means and will do anything to destroy the Akuma. Somewhere along the line he became a monster himself. The guy is probably one of humanity’s only hopes against them, but you just don’t want to win at the high price he’ll put you through. I would have liked to have seen at least one of the characters take him down, but no such luck yet.

As for the generals, we get to see them all fight near the end of the series. Most of them haven’t gotten a role beyond that though. The ones with the biggest role is the one with Kanda who likes drawing and Cross. Kanda’s general is pretty annoying the whole time with how laidback he is though. He does a lot of scouting, but never turns up any results so I can’t give him credit. Cross has a lot of bad traits like gambling and messing around, but at least he actually did destroy a bunch of enemy bases and solved a lot of puzzles. He actually made a tangible difference in the war effort and we got to see him fight quite a bit. His battles against the Level 4 and Tyki Mikk show why he got this position. He definitely seemed to be more powerful than the Exorcists and he’s got some great abilities aside from his super gun. I don’t like the guy, but I can respect his power.

Time to look at the villains. Naturally there are a ton of Akuma. All of the Level 0, 1, and 2 are fun enough, but at that level they aren’t a huge threat. Usually they show up so the Exorcists can have a good montage. I suppose the Level 2 fighters were a slight threat in their very first appearance and there’s one fight where they are in the sky and they manage to do some damage. It’s when the Level 3 Akuma show up that things get interesting. For starters, one Level 3 Akuma can basically take on the entire team. Lenalee has to give it her all to take 1 down and even then it was just barely. It was impressive because Allen didn’t seem to do quite as well. Even with Crown Clown form he was getting thrown around a lot. He did last a while even though he was outnumbered though, but the Akuma just wouldn’t stay down. Their speed, power, and defense are all off the charts.

One of the cooler moments in the series is when they make it to the Earl’s island. There are tons of Level 3 Akuma there and just one is enough to be a big deal so you can see how hopeless everything appeared to be. As a result I agreed with their decision to just storm the base and try to assassinate the Earl. It’s not like they could use hit and run tactics to whittle off the Level 3 so at that point you just try to go for the head and take him out right away. This was doomed as well since they had the huge Akuma towers running around the the Earl’s Noah fighters, but no other plan would have been much better.

Then you’ve got the Level 4 Akuma who is my favorite villain in the series. He’s just super intense and the fight with him vs Allen and Lenalee is my favorite in the series as well. This guy’s completely broken. He was able to take many big hits and still kept on going. If Cross didn’t show up then he would have still managed to secure a win which is pretty crazy. If the Earl makes more of those then I just can’t see how the heroes can hope to win without some major power ups. The Level 4 Akuma are basically General level.

The Earl may be the head honcho, but it’s hard to say if he is really the strongest villain around. It makes sense that he would be since the leader usually is the strongest, but I’ve never been too impressed with him He didn’t seem too eager to fight General Cross and Allen was holding his own pretty well. This likely isn’t the Earl’s final form, but he still doesn’t look great yet. He’s definitely a very different kind of villain as he doesn’t mind crying in front of his followers and such. You just can’t forget how many evil acts he does in the meantime. The guy is a complete psycho for sure and it’s hard to see him being redeemed.

From the Noah the one with the biggest chance of turning good would likely be Road. She may not actually be a kid, but she does seem the most innocent out of the group. They’re her family so she fights with them, but she doesn’t seem as openly malicious as the others. Road does do a number on the Exorcists with her attacks though and she is very hard to deal with. She’s rather unassuming but may be the strongest member next to Tyki. Lulu Bell gets the smallest role out of the Noah. She is reasonably tough and was beating the Exorcists when they fought, but that was very early on in the series.

Tyki Mikk definitely lives up to the hype of being a Noah though. Not only is he able to stalemate Kanda, but he also takes down Allen very easily when they first fought. In his final form he’s also far too much for Allen to handle even in his final form. Lavi’s help isn’t enough to beat him either. Tyki seems to enjoy his human life with his gambling buddies, but ultimately he never would have been able to have it both ways for long. The humans aren’t going to survive an Akuma invasion so eventually they would have been bumped off. Tyki’s a fun villain though. He keeps a front of formality in all of his conversations before eventually cracking when things get tough.

Jasdevi is sort of 2 different Noah, but they eventually merge into one. I forgot if that’s how they originally were and then they split or vice versa, but I believe they used to be one. They’re a fun duo even if Cross does mess with them a lot. It’s always interesting to have a Noah who’s part comic relief as they do the dishes in one scene and then murder everyone in another. They’re fairly strong, but not on the level of Road or Tyki. Their traps are really what made them a threat to the heroes during the fight. Then you’ve got Skin who is very strong physically but doesn’t have much else going for him. I suppose you don’t need much else when you’re that strong though. His lightning is hard to dodge and he gave Kanda a good fight. That alone tells me that he is very powerful. That was also one of the better fights in the series. He doesn’t have much personality so I wouldn’t say that I was a big fan, but Skin added to the villain ranks pretty well.

The animation in D. Gray-man looks excellent. The colors are sharp and as I mentioned we do get a lot of really great fights. There’s a lot of detail here at all times and the backdrops are suitably grim. It’s almost always night time in the show with very few episodes taking place during the day. You always feel the impending sense of doom with Akuma around every corner. The animators also really kick it up a notch during the big battles in the tower and everything afterwards. You just feel an uptick in the animation and there’s no comparison when looking at the first episodes and the last ones. Initially I didn’t think the soundtrack was that good when I used to listen to it online. Context does tend to help though and the scenes worked well with the music. It’s not the largest soundtrack so you’ll be hearing the tunes quite a lot, but that’ll give you extra time to get used to them. I didn’t have any issues with them by the end.

Now, why doesn’t the Earl just destroy the Exorcists? As I mentioned we don’t really know why, but my main theory is that he wants them around to destroy the weaker Akuma and keep the supply of Innocence around. We see how the Akuma are gradually growing stronger after each invasion and it’s possible that without the Exorcists fighting them left and right this wouldn’t be happening. If anything the Earl is toying with the humans which could come back to bite him. It’s hard to see how though because the Earl can churn out hundreds and even thousands of new Akuma with his factories as well as the personal visits to people who have died. Meanwhile the Exorcists are lucky to get 10 new recruits a year. Mix that in with the fact that it takes 10 or more to defeat one Level 4 Akuma and then you’ve got a problem. The Noah also appear to be as strong as at least a Level 3 Akuma and while there aren’t many of them here we learn in the sequel that there are many more.

The power levels stay consistent in this series, but we can expect them to start flying out the window soon in order to give the heroes a fighting chance. I expect the ending to be Allen getting a way to shut them all down at once or a non-ending where the author just abruptly ends with nothing resolved. At the rate the series is going it’ll likely still be quite a few years before this happens though. Ideally this will also let the Exorcists fight against the order a little more.

The writing and directing are also pretty good. I don’t really think about directing much, but then I watch Naruto Shippuden and it reminds me why it is so important. The characters are all written to be pretty likable here and their day to day conversations don’t drag on. Flashbacks are used quite sparingly and none of the episodes ever feel like they drag on. Even the scenes of the Noah picking off random Exorcists is handled well as they at least get a chance to use their attacks. You do know that they’re doomed either way though.

Overall, D. Gray-man is definitely a great show. It may have gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but it definitely gets to its peak when the Noah start to show up. The animation is solid and the soundtrack is well rounded as well. If you haven’t seen this show yet and are in the mood for a good action title then you can’t go wrong here. It’s quite unique next to most of the other big action anime with a lot of mystery thrown into the mix with the action and horror. A lot of these questions aren’t actually answered here though so be prepared for a lot of loose ends as the series ends. The manga is still on-going so that is inevitable though. Even if it were not to have continued the ending is still pretty solid.

Overall 8/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Review


It’s time to take a look at a pretty big TV show that ended recently. Friendship is Magic is a show that lasted for a very long time and really got a big fanbase. I dare say that My Little Pony is almost a household name at this point and that would have been almost impossible to have seen coming a long time ago. Not even the G1 part of the series got quite this much recognition. In short, it’s nice that MLP is back on the map. Even with this show over the series will continue through comics and the Equestria line. Friendship is Magic is a good show that I would recommend to anyone.

The series follows a pony named Twilight Sparkle who is going to be learning how to be a friend. Celestia gave her a mission to go into town and learn about this. She gradually meets up with other ponies and together they make up the Mane 6. Her allies are the speedy Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie. Together they solve a lot of friendship issues (Sometimes between them) and also fight to keep Equestria safe from the clutches of those who would try and destroy Ponyville. Fortunately Twilight is up to the task!

I haven’t seen a whole lot of shows aimed at a younger audience and especially recently. I watch Transformers Rescue Bots/Academy and that’s probably the only recent one I can think of. A lot of them look solid like I’m sure I’d enjoy Strawberry Shortcake and some of the other titles, but there’s a bunch of em so it’s hard to make time for each one. That’s why I appreciate the fact that MLP has some action scenes. It may not be the center focus of the show and you can go a bunch of episodes without it happening, but just the idea that a fight could show up in the next episode was always great. Plus the characters do have super powers which naturally leads to a cooler setting. The show also didn’t do this half heartedly. The Tirek episode actually had a lot of dark visuals and the fight scenes wouldn’t have been out of place in a total action show.

I managed to fast blast through the show pretty quickly and only got caught up once it was around the second last season I believe. It was a good ride and while I can’t go through episode I’ll at least talk about some highlights. One of the show’s strengths is its consistency as the characters get to learn a lot of morals and gradually become experts in their crafts. Some of the characters may not be all that different from their early days while others like Twilight are definitely pretty different. A slice of life show is only as good as its cast and fortunately MLP has a really solid cast at its disposal.

Twilight Sparkle is the lead character and definitely one of the characters with the most character development. She starts out as a pony who knows nothing about friendship to writing a whole book on it. Twilight is always about doing things according to how they are written and doesn’t like to branch out. By the end of the series she is more confident in leaving things to her friends and doesn’t panic quite as much. She’s a quality character throughout the series and does Pony up when she needs too. Her best appearance is in the Tirek two part fight when she tries to avenge Ponyville after it is close to destruction. She also put up quite the valiant fight against Starlight Glimmer. Twilight’s really stepped up to the plate every time danger arose. She may not be the strongest Pony around, but she is in the top tier fighters of the universe and her knowledge of books comes in handy many times.

Twilight is sometimes at her best when she goes crazy though. One such episode is during the trivia challenge where she decides that she will win at absolutely any cost. This includes messing with her partner and actually sabotaging other teams. You would expect this to be completely out of the question usually but not this time. Twilight was not messing around here. Then there is the other episode where she goes insane and we got a lot of memes out of it. Her facial expressions go all over the place and her mind literally broke. Twilight was under a lot of stress and that’s how she got it out. I’m sure the village will be glad that she ultimately got this under control.

Then we have Rainbow Dash who was consistently fighting with Apple Jack on who the best member of the Mane 6 was. Ultimately she took the lead. You just can’t beat Dash’s confidence and her super speed is incredibly handy. Dash is probably the Pony who would be the most helpful in all of the fights if this was more of an action series. Rainbow definitely stays the most true to herself throughout the series as well. She really hasn’t changed much at all since season 1 which in itself is impressive. Rainbow Dash has been proving herself the whole time and is now one of the most well known members of the Wonderbolts. It’s a good testament to her determination and pure skills.

Next up is Pinkie Pie and unfortunately she is easily the worst member of the Mane 6. She isn’t the worst character or anything like that, but she is definitely not very good. At first she isn’t all that bad. Pinkie Pie is one of the main comic relief characters in the show and mainly does this by throwing pies at everyone or just acting nonsensical. I’m sure it’ll be amusing for some, but the issue is when the series starts to get more serious in some of the later seasons. It’s all well and good to goof off when everyone is at a picnic, but if villains are attacking the town and blowing things up then the time for jokes is over. Unfortunately Pinkie Pie never knows when to stop and this is an issue with most character types like hers. The 24/7 jokes just go too far after a while and by the end of the series you’ll be completely tired of her.

Then we have Fluttershy who is the timid character of the group as her name would suggest. Most of her episodes are about her conquering her fears and becoming more outspoken. She does make some good progress from season 1. By the end of the series she is still very timid, but is at least willing to try and go into the limelight when it is necessary. She’s a nice enough character but while not to the extent of Pinkie Pie, she can feel a little out of her depth. Trusting the enemies may pay off a lot of times here, but it’s always a risky decision and the fact that she chooses this option so quickly is a bit of a red flag. Would Fluttershy be able to fight against the villains 100% if she thinks that they might be turned good? It’s a heroic aspiration, but one that she needs to keep in check.

Applejack takes us back to the intensity we saw with Twilight and Rainbow. Applejack has a rivalry with Rainbow as well as Rarity. In general Applejack is just very competitive and has a lot of great episode in the series. One really solid one is her race with Rainbow in the forest. She’s pretty tough and while she doesn’t have the super speed that Rainbow has, Apple makes up for it with her super strength. Honesty is her main trait and she uses it well as opposed to being too dramatized. Applejack is the kind of pony that you want on your squad.

Rarity is an interesting member of the group since she has magic powers like Twilight. Honestly I think the show may have missed the boat with her a little since we could have had an interesting rivalry there. Rarity is mainly focused on fashion though and has to be reminded at times that she even has friends. Rarity has a franchise and is pretty popular so she is probably the most successful of the group. By the time she closes up shop I fully expect her to be rich. She’ll have led a very satisfying life.

That’s it for the Mane 6, but towards the end of the series we got an honorary 7th member. Starlight Glimmer started out as one of the big villains before getting reformed. I really liked her as a villain. Her time manipulation was on point and she was the closest thing we got to a Dark Twilight. She’s like what Twilight could have become without friends. Since Starlight had a lot of time to focus on her magic she is even stronger than Sparkle which is interesting. In all of their confrontations Starlight had the edge and even at the end of the series she still seems to be more powerful. Starlight is also on the same path that Twilight was put on in season 1 so there’s a lot of good promise to her character. She is a real scene stealer and even the episode without her powers being where they are today in the same flank village she had a lot of great scenes. She’s just excellent at manipulating people.

Next up is Spike and he may not be a pony, but he is still a very important character in the series. He is Twilight’s assistant and is always around to offer advice and help out wherever he can. Things may not always go well for him, but he always tries his best. Twilight and the others would have really been in a pickle without him. I’m not a big fan, but he’s not bad. I just don’t think Spike really adds to the dynamic and the series would have been pretty similar without him.

Meanwhile Celestia is a solid character. She can be a bit mean and comes off as an antagonist though. Luna forgave her so I suppose the rest of us should, but Celestia always jumps the gun and adds on extra pressure to the crew. She also loses pretty much every battle that she gets in which doesn’t help her reputation. I think she stays on the sidelines a little too often which ultimately means that she doesn’t have a lot of battle experience despite being so old. I feel like she should have gotten at least one big win during the series so we could see why she is so revered.

Luna is a big improvement. For starters you will feel bad for her when she transforms into Nightmare Moon. Celestia doesn’t do a great job of trying to understand her. Then in flashbacks and comic adventures we see that Celestia always belittled Luna and teased her. While some of the jokes were in good fun, there’s a saying on how there is a little truth in every joke. If Celestia is always joking about how easy Luna’s job is then you feel like she actually believes it to be the case. This paragraph isn’t supposed to be about how mean Celestia is though. Back to Luna, Luna is just a very nice pony. She’s always the bigger pony in these arguments and gives the heroes great advice. Luna’s job is really difficult since she has to sleep during the day and can rarely spend time with anyone. It’s got to be super lonely and yet she handles her job with no complaints. Definitely one of the best characters in the series.

We also can’t forget about the Cutie Mark Crusaders. All 3 of those ponies are really good although Apple Bloom steals the show. They don’t have Cutie Marks which is something that most ponies get at some point or another. You have to find your specific talent to unlock it though and they had a tough time finding their actual talents. Most of their episodes are about trying various things or helping other ponies find their talents. These episodes are really wholesome and it’s nice to see them making such a difference. They really brighten up every episode and I think they would do a good job with their own spinoff series if given the chance.

Discord is one of the big villains of the series although I suppose he is a hero for longer than he was evil. The guy has unlimited reality warping abilities and should be super strong as a result. Despite this, Discord manages to lose just about every battle he is in which is actually pretty impressive if you think about it. How do you lose when you are so powerful? Discord never ceases to disappoint me and everyone else whenever he can. I like how crazy he is and the guy has a good personality. If you take away his embarrassing losses then he is a great character. Discord never truly changes his spots to the extent that he does whatever he wants, but at least he has good intentions at the end. His plans rarely end up working though which is pretty tragic for him.

Tirek was one of the coolest villains when he first showed up in the show. Not only did he defeat Discord but he also took down Celestia, Luna, and basically the entire cast in the show. The Mane 6 could not stand up to him for a second which led us to the greatest moment in the entire series. His fight with Twilight was amazing and solidified him as the ultimate threat in the series. Honestly the show could have ended right at that moment and it would have made sense. Unfortunately Tirek returned and his character was completely obliterated. He went from being the ultimate evil to comic relief and got wrecked at every corner. I like the idea of a villain teamup, but I have to admit that the show did not handle that part particularly well. Don’t get me wrong, the two part episode at the end was really solid. Tirek just looked really bad and that was a little disappointing.

Meanwhile we have Cozy Glow who was a very different kind of antagonist. Most of the other villains had fierce designs and showed up to destroy Equestria. Glow is a filly and doesn’t look particularly intimidating. She defeats others by making fun of friendship and manipulating everyone. She’s a fun villain even if you can’t really take her seriously in a fight. Cozy does get her share of results after all so it may be a different approach but it works well enough. I was glad she got a super form near the end though.

King Sombra didn’t leave quite as much of an impression on me as the others even though he is a pretty big villain. I gained a lot of respect for him in his final appearance though as he refused to work for Grogar. Sombra did his own thing and while he ended up losing I did appreciate the initiative. Teaming up simply isn’t for everyone and especially a king like Sombra wasn’t about to stand back and take orders. That simply isn’t how he rolls and that is admirable. I think he had the potential to be the best villain if he appeared more.

Queen Chrysalis is one of the more persistent villains. She really can’t stand Starlight or Twilight for wrecking her plans so many times. She has a lot of really good plans for revenge in her following appearances. The dark Mane 6 was great and I still think that should have been a two part saga. There were a lot of great paths that could have taken. Chrysalis can also fight really well and even held her own in a beam fight with Twilight. I don’t think she is as strong as Starlight, but it’s close. Chrysalis was consistently really solid and I’d argue that she was the most evil of the villains. From all of the antagonists she is the only one who was clearly never going to turn good.

Princess Cadence gets outshined next to Luna and Celestia, but this is for good reason. She really doesn’t do anything throughout the whole series and often shirks her princess duties to hang out with Shining Armor. I never liked Cadence, it’s hard to place my finger on it, but she wasn’t all that fun. I think she just came out of nowhere and if you were to cut her out of the show nothing would change. At least Shining Armor has the fact that he is Twilight’s brother to keep him relevant. Otherwise I would really argue the same thing for him. It’s nice to have someone who will debate with Twilight as well.

Big Mac was not one of my favorite characters. He also got most of the worst episodes. I suppose that shouldn’t be held against him though. The series did a lot of things well, but I wouldn’t say that the romance was one of them. The romance episodes have a tendency to drag on and Big Mac only saying “Yup” gets old after the first few times. If he actually couldn’t talk then that would be one thing, but since he can and simply refuses to say anything else it comes across more as a gimmick. The rest of the apple family feel more reasonable.

Diamond Tiara is one of the bullies from the Cutie Mark Crusader episodes. She was sympathetic from the start as you could tell that something was up to make her so mean. She never crossed the line with her pranks either. Tiara definitely made things tough for the trio, but did her part to make things right once she was shown the error of her ways. Tiara is just a fun character and I would have been cool with seeing more of her in the final seasons. Likewise Trixie used to be a bit of an antagonist, but eventually turned good. Now she is Starlight’s best friend and a loyal ally that she can count on. Trixie can be slow on the uptake and may not be the best worker in the school, but at least she tries. Trixie is also sure to stand by Starlight even when everyone else is a bit wary of her. The downside is that Trixie is also super sensitive likely as a result of her past.

Stygian was a big villain in one season as he became the Pony of Shadows. That was a really ambitious story and it was handled well. It had one of the best climaxes as well. On his own Stygian isn’t all that interesting but his symbiote-esque form was really cool. I was pretty surprised that we didn’t see him at all (At least I don’t remember him) after this. I suppose his character arc was complete though. A minor character was Chancellor Neighsay. He is an antagonist since he opposed Twilight’s school, but he did mean well. The guy was just set in his old ways. I don’t buy him losing to Cozy though. That episode was also a bit of a stretch since as Princess I feel like Twilight could have kept her school open. She was still new to the role though so it’s a little realistic that she could be pushed around.

Daring Do is basically a superhero so it was interesting to have her around. Her episodes feel a little different from the average ones so that’s good for a change of pace. I’d like to have seen Rainbow Dash be more useful in those episodes since she also has experience with enemies. Finally we have Derpy who never gets to do much but always seems like an earnest character. It would have been cool to have seen her do more in the show but I suppose that may have defeated the purpose of her character.

Near the end of the show we are introduced to the students of Twilight’s new school. I don’t think they ever quite managed to fit in though. Really they just weren’t all that necessary. I suppose this was probably because the Mane 6 already learned so much and this was a way for the writers to revisit some morals they wanted another crack at. They aren’t too bad, but the episodes just aren’t the same without the Mane 6 taking center stage. Naturally there are a ton of other characters in the show but you’ll have to watch it to see them. With well over 100 episodes you can definitely see how a ton of other ponies and other animals would have shown up.

The best episodes in the series for me are easily the opening two part epic and the Tirek 2 parter. The Tirek episode brought the series the best fight it has ever had and it worked extremely well. I haven’t been so impressed with a payoff in quite some time and it’s clear to me that the show was really going for the gold here. It’s a shame that the fight wasn’t more highly received because I wouldn’t have minded more fights like that. Starlight’s debut appearance was also really solid as was her time travelling adventures. The final two part saga was also really cool even if the actual final episode may have felt a little out of place. It’s hard to expect a perfect ending though so I definitely can’t be too hard on it in that area.

The animation for the show isn’t bad. It’s definitely not exactly my style, but after a few episodes you should be used to it. The show does still manage to have fight scenes with it which is the important thing. MLP has a colorful art style and while the hits won’t have the same impact as something that is hand drawn, it won’t take away from the story. The writing is the important thing after all and the writing in the show is pretty good. The characters are logical and you get some good plots in the episodes. In terms of the music the show has quite a few songs to follow along with. Various characters sing and the songs can be pretty well done. The best one is probably still the song where Applejack and Fluttershy duel over the bats or the Cutie Mark Crusader theme songs. These songs are all pretty wholesome so they work pretty well.

Overall, Friendship is Magic is definitely a show that I can recommend. I know that it may seem a little intense for a kid and I have had parents tell me that this would be too violent for their kid so you may want to wait until they are a little older than the average show like Strawberry Shortcake and such since there are actual big villains here with scary designs. The show isn’t afraid to get a little scary but I would still say that it should be fine for most kids. If you’re a parent just use discretion. If you’re older you can still get something out of this show. A lot of shows that are for kids can still work for older audiences, you just have to go into it with a different mindset. Enjoy the process of learning basic morals and watching a wholesome episode. It may seem basic at times but it’s never a bad idea to re-acquaint yourself with the fundamentals. It’s just a solid all around show. Even with the show done you can expect more MLP reviews soon. I have quite a few comics that I am getting ready to read and I’ll be reviewing all of those of course.

Overall 7/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Fruits Basket Review


It’s time to look at the recent Fruits Basket anime. I read the manga many years ago when I was a kid and didn’t really like it all that much. I actually put it down as one of my least favorite Shojo series so it was good to see it in a fresh setting. I actually liked the show so maybe I would like the manga more on a re-read or the show is just directed that well. Either way it’s a title I can definitely recommend. It’s an emotional slice of life title that manages to hit different tones in different episodes, but is careful not to go too far into being tragic.

The show is centered around a girl named Tohru. After her Mom passed away she went to move in with her other relatives, but it wasn’t ideal and so now she lives in the forest. She is found by the popular boy at school (Yuki) and he convinces her to stay at his place instead of the forest. To be exact, it’s Shigure’s place and soon after another kid by the name of Kyo stays there as well. Kyo and Yuki are constantly fighting like cat and mouse (heh) so Tohru quickly becomes the most mature member in the household. Tohru has decided to always have a positive attitude and to do her best to help everyone else out in respect to her mother’s memory.

There are no shortages of situations for her to help out here as everyone in the school has issues. The 3 people she lives with all of things to deal with and then the rest of the family. See, in a larger scale look at the plot there is the Sohma family. They were hit with a curse where if anyone from the opposite gender makes contact with them they turn into an animal. It is from the Chinese Zodiac legend which may be real and of course Kyo is the Cat and Yuki is the mouse so now things make sense. In the legend the rat didn’t send the cat the invite so he was shunned for life. Of course that was ages ago so we’re likely dealing with descendants, but the wound is still fresh.

Tohru is definitely a great main character. I mean she is pretty much portrayed as the perfect heroine. She’s super nice, does well academically, and is always ready to lend a hand. Tohru imparts wisdom whenever she can and even stands by her friends when they literally lose their minds. If Tohru has any issues it is just that she is a little too oblivious when other people are being downright mean to her. It’s great that she turns the other cheek but at least acknowledging this or telling them to stop would be a good idea.

We don’t see Tohru’s Mom much since she dies prior to the series but she appears through flashbacks a few times. She also seems really good and I’m glad that she still knows how to fight even though she is retired. The flashback where she helps Arisa was handled really well since it’s implied that she basically took down an entire gang.

Yuki is one of the main guys so he naturally gets a lot of screen time. He has a tough time showing his emotions except for when he’s upset at Kyo. Gradually Tohru helps get him out of his shell. We haven’t really seen his true origin but there is a lot of foreshadowing for it. From the main 2 I do prefer Kyo, but Yuki is good. He does step in to help Tohru at times and I do believe he would be able to conquer his fears and help even if Akito was involved. I really hope so at least. Yuki still gets hit with fear and isn’t perfect, but he does his best.

Then there is Kyo who is always ready for a fight. I dare say that Yuki picks the fight most of the time but that isn’t always the case. Kyo always tends to lose the fight, but at least he is enthusiastic. Kyo is not great around people but does his best to communicate with Tohru. He’s come a very long way from the first episode to the last one. His character arc already feels pretty complete and that may help in why he is one of if not the best character in the show. He’s probably the only character to not be openly scared of Akito. While part of him wants to be in the main family, I do think this is an advantage of not being there.

Then we have Shigure, but I can’t get behind him. He’s always trolling his editor to the point where he basically puts her job at stake. Then there’s the fact that he flirts a lot and rarely takes things seriously. He may be the adult in the house, but there is a reason why I said that Tohru is the most responsible. Shigure will have a moment or two where he steps up but that’s about it. The show is hinting that he is planning some kind of big revenge on Akito and is pretending to be a friend for now. He claims that he will avenge everyone else, but he’s sure taking his sweet time. Shigure better do something before the tables turn on him, but that is one of the more interesting plots right now.

Arisa is one of Tohru’s friends. She used to be a juvenile delinquent who hanged out with gangs and was generally on a rough path. Her origin is a bit similar to Tohru’s mom in some respects and that’s also why Arisa always wanted to meet her. Arisa was less thrilled to meet Tohru but along the way Tohru got to show her how to properly adapt to school life. Arisa had a tough road, but now she’s in a good place and has a solid group of supporting friends. Arisa is a nice ally to have. While she may not be as entertaining as some of the Sohma characters she is definitely a good character.

Then you have Saki who is Tohru’s other best friend. She has psychic powers which is cool. Mainly she just uses them for comic relief scenes against bullies and there is actually a story reason for this. She gets a backstory where we learn that her abilities nearly ended Saki. Saki’s origin story was definitely one of the toughest ones in the series, maybe the toughest because everyone was against her. I was glad that she had supportive parents who were there for her at least. It’s a reverse of most situations where you have a friend on your side but the family isn’t. Saki is fairly laidback and quiet so she can’t hold her own episodes the way that others can, but as a side character she’s good.

Kagura is a very persistent character and that’s a good thing since otherwise she probably would get pretty hurt with how Kyo is always ignoring her. Deep down she likely realizes that he isn’t interested in her but will keep on trying until he meets someone else. She’s a good side character. I’m also glad that the show didn’t go down the road of making her jealous of Tohru. That always gets old pretty fast and them being friends is a much better development. Momiji is one of my least favorite characters in the show though. He can be pretty annoying with how oblivious he pretends to act. He trolls Kyo and Yuki about Tohru quite a lot. She may be too oblivious to really take notice but it doesn’t do wonders for his character. I’m not even really interested in learning more about his backstory, but maybe it’ll help to make him more likable. Right now he’s just quirky and not really in a good way.

Ayame is also fairly eccentric, but he handles himself well and with style. Ayame throws himself into every situation and you can admire how bold he is. Even in real life it’s always an admirable trait to be so confident. Nothing throws Ayame and even when everyone is hurling insults he keeps his cool. Ayame and Yuki may never properly bond the way he hoped they would because of how different their personalities are, but at least they won’t be as antagonistic as they used to be. Ayame is a handful, but not in a problematic way. I can’t point to anything he did in the show that was downright bad. Perhaps inconvenient for the others, but that’s about it.

Hatori is a character that I definitely had some problems with. For starters he is very submissive to Akito to the point where he allows the guy to wreck his life. Hatori is basically a yes man and even threatens Tohru into meeting him. We learn that he is a nice guy for the most part, but since he is so weak that is barely a consolation since you won’t be able to trust him when it counts. His origin story is sad, but it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him because of how terribly he handles it. He met someone and they were to be together, but then Akito decided that he didn’t like this and throws a fit. Instead of stopping him Hatori lets Akito claim the win and then even erases the girl’s memories. From there on Hatori lost the will to resist, but he never had it to begin with. If he won’t stand up to Akito there then he never will. The whole origin was just really annoying, especially since Akito is so sickly to begin with. How is he going to threaten Hatori and the guy just takes it? I don’t really have any respect for this character.

Hatsuharu is another one of the Sohma and his dual personality is definitely unique among the others. One half of him is very edgy and definitely wants to be close with Yuki. Then the other half is calmer and more polite in comparison. He can shift gears at any moment and as a result tends to get involved in a lot of fights. It’s nice to have another fighter on the team, but it makes it more and more odd why everyone is so scared of Akito. I’ll get into that more later on. Anyway Hatsuharu would be near the middle of the pack. He’s nowhere near the best members but he’s better than someone like Hatori.

Kisa is one of the younger members. She’s a nice enough kid although she hasn’t gotten much of a role yet. I’m not sure if that’ll change or not later on, but so far she’s off to a good start. The same can’t be said for Hiro. That guy’s real petty and a jerk to Tohru for no reason. She overlooks all of it because she’s so nice, but it doesn’t do him any favors. He seems to be over that now so things will be looking up for him, but he’ll have to work hard to fully get past that terrible intro. Then we have Kazuma who was Kyo’s instructor. This guy seems reasonable. He lives on a mountain probably so he can get away from the main family. Forcing Kyo to transform was definitely a pretty iffy strategy since that could have easily backfired and really made life terrible for Kyo. It worked out in the end I suppose, but it’s hard to see them being quite as close after that. Kazuma seems like Hatori, but with more self-confidence.

Then we have the main villain of the series, Akito. He gets a lot of hype throughout as everyone is scared of him. Everyone shudders at the thought of even meeting him and they all freeze in terror. The guy’s super sick though and needs constant attention or he’ll die. How is anyone scared of him? I think this goes more into cultural impact and the fact that the family is so old. Traditions are strong here and maybe everyone is afraid because he would ruin their reputation. Since everyone else is afraid it becomes circular logic where everyone is afraid because of everyone else. All one person needs to do is stand up to him though and then everyone else could. Maybe the next season will go more into depth on this.

Regardless, Akito isn’t a good villain. The guy just seems really petty and self centered the whole time. I’m sure he’ll have a sad origin, but he’s taking it out on everyone else which is never good. Everyone in this series has had a tough background and I mean almost literally everyone. That means it’ll be very hard for Akito to try and stand there with a straight face and explain why he has to be mean to everyone. I just won’t be able to buy that very easily. Seriously, someone just needs to stand up to this guy and then the rest will quickly fall into place.

At the end of the day Fruits Basket is really about moving on from your past. That’s the main theme of the show and Tohru helps the characters come to terms with it and move forward. The origins are all sad and dark in different ways which allows her to give many different kinds of advice. It’s definitely a moving series in that regard and that’s why it’s a fun watch. You should always feel pretty good upon finishing up the episode. It can get heavy at times as well so make sure you are prepared. It’s worth noting that the romance here isn’t terrible so far. I still don’t think any romance should ultimately happen here since Tohru is just too heroic and oblivious to get into that, but it does feel inevitable that it’ll happen soon. We’ll see how the show handles that.

It’s also just plain fun most of the time. The cast can handle themselves pretty well and that’s extremely important for a slice of life show. There aren’t going to be big action scenes here so the show has to hold its own with pure writing and fundamentals. The pacing is on point and the writing is good so it’s all set there. The animation is pretty good as well. I wouldn’t say it’s anything particularly special, but it all looks smooth and vibrant. Then you’ve got a reasonable soundtrack here as well. It may not be the most memorable, but it does get the job done.

Overall, Fruits Basket season 1 is a pretty good show. It’s the kind of all around title that you can easily recommend to someone who doesn’t really watch a lot of anime. That’s because it touches on a lot of themes that a live action show would with regard to the origin stories and characters trying to find reasons to keep on living or to re-experience what it’s like to enjoy their day to day existence. The show can get pretty sad, but there is always a happy ending. I can’t think of any episode that ended on a low note. It’s not a perfect show and I’d say that a drama will always be limited in how high it can ultimately reach. That being said, the execution is basically ideal and we’ll see if season 2 can match it. I don’t know if season 2 intends to cover the rest of the series but you can already see how not everyone can get their perfect ending here. Multiple characters are interested in each other so someone will have to take a back seat. I also better see more people stand up to Akito because that’s the one part of the series that makes no sense so far.

Overall 7/10

5 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Ultraman Review


It’s time to take a look at the original Ultraman show from a while back. Ultraman is a character who is pretty big in Japan but never really got to attain the same success in America. It’s a little odd, but maybe the whole creature feature thing just ends up working better as a movie in getting people’s attention. I will say that the Dub really did its best to make the show more interesting. The DVD we had would randomly shift between sub and dub during the episodes but for the most part the dub worked which was good. There are issues which prevent this from really being a good show but it is something that can be fun in small doses.

The general plot is that on Earth there are so many disturbances thanks to giant monsters that we had to create a whole unit to deal with them. This unit is called the Science Patrol and their duty is to stop these monsters no matter what. Unfortunately they are rarely strong enough to defeat even the weakest of monsters. That’s where Hayata comes in. He has been chosen to be the host of Ultraman, a powerful alien from another realm. Ultraman can only be summoned in Hayata’s place for 5 minutes so he has to try and win quickly. Will this new guardian be enough to save the planet or is Earth already doomed to fall to the monsters’ assault?

The show has close to 40 episodes with the majority of them being stand alone adventures. The formula for each episode is typically that a monster shows up and beats up on the Science Patrol before Ultraman steps in to save the day. It’s a classic formula and it’s like watching an abridged version of a Godzilla film. The only tricky part about having a monster of the week kind of series like this is that you need a strong cast of characters and great writing. This series has neither so that can make it a tough sell when you are effectively seeing the same adventures over and over again. Some titles like Pokemon or Case Closed can pull off the repetition even for hundreds of episodes, but it’s not as easy as it looks.

One issue here is that the Science Patrol doesn’t always seem to be in the right. Often times I was actively rooting against these guys because they seem to be awfully selfish and don’t look at the bigger picture. Most of them just follow orders without question and the ones who think long and hard about it are ultimately reigned in. There’s no sense of unity on the team and Captain Mura is quick to push out any who doubt him. Without good characters to root for that makes the format a little tricky. I’ll go into this more, but lets quickly talk about the main characters. The cast isn’t particularly large.

The main character is Hayata. He can use the pen to shift places with Ultraman but does try to do his best on his own. Hayata is easily the best member of the main group since he does at least talk tough to the villains. Hayata does wait way too long to transform into Ultraman though and makes it clear that he is willing to let tons of people die just to prove a point. He wants humanity to be able to get along with Ultraman and never checks his ego at the door. Watching all of the death and destruction that is all Hayata’s fault is enough to make him sink as a character a bit. Ultraman has his own character, but rarely ever gets to talk or do anything. Skip an episode or two and you would assume that he still is Hayata.

Ultraman is a fun guy to have around even if he does seem to make up super powers on the spot at times. Unfortunately Ultraman isn’t the most heroic character though. He’ll take down any monster even if they are harmless and aren’t making a move to attack. He seems to have a no tolerance policy and just destroys whoever gets in his way. I suppose he is doing his job of protecting the Earth, it would just be nice if that could have also included the monsters who really don’t want to do anything wrong.

Mura is probably the worst character of the bunch. He’s a total Yes Man who will do whatever the government says. He rarely ends up helping out on missions and just gets in everyone else’s way. You want a boss who will stick up for his subordinates and Mura won’t do that. Arashi probably gets the smallest role out of the main characters. He gets a good episode where he defies orders to save some children though. Unfortunately the government didn’t like that and so he is temporarily fired and then reprimanded for saving the day. The whole thing was so crazy that I hopped Arashi would quit in defiance. He really doesn’t need to be taking any of this. He should have gone somewhere where they would have appreciated him more.

Then we have Ide who is the comic relief character of the group. He has a lot of funny dialogue and was a good highlight. At least he actually thinks about the monsters and how they’re feeling at times. I’ll give him some credit for this, but not too much since ultimately he does end up pulling the trigger each time. His inventions are pretty good, but he did have a valid point that Ultraman always does all of the work even if everybody dismissed the notion. Finally we have Fuji. She goes out into the field less than the others as she typically stays with the comms, but she does help out sometimes. Some of Fuji’s scenes can definitely be odd though like when she makes a long speech about why girls love jewels and then when she tried asking one of the monsters to give her some gems. I guess this is probably why she ism’t out on the field as much as the others. She seems nice enough I suppose.

In the first half of the series we see a kid named Hoshino who wants to join the Science Patrol. I’m guessing nobody liked the kid though because he is completely written out during the second half of the series and trust me when I say that this was a really good move. He didn’t add anything to the story and as a kid he really couldn’t keep up with the others either. In general the kids all stopped appearing near the end which was good.

Naturally the monsters showing up is the highlight of each episode. It’s always nice seeing the quick wrestling fights between them and Ultraman. Then throw in the martial arts and you’ve got some quality action. I like a good monster battle and that is really the center of what you need in a monster show like this one. That being said, the show does mess up a bit with the monster vs monster fights. Some of them actually get pretty violent which is surprising and also inconsistent. Most of the time the monsters fall apart like bags of potatoes with no blood inside of them. It’s like they are puppets filled with air which is definitely what you want to see. It also only gets violent when it’s monster against monster which is odd. Hopefully that’s not a trend.

Now lets go back to the Science Patrol being the enemies which is the trickiest part of the series. They are basically a hit squad hired by the government to take down all monsters. They are to do this without question whether the monster is acting hostile or not. There are numerous times where this happens and it’s always very annoying because of course the science patrol has to end up winning here even though they don’t deserve it. One episode where this happens is the ice one. Some kids decide to bully a girl to death so a monster shows up to try and defend her. The Science Patrol quickly puts an end to that. It’s a very somber ending and the Patrol just looks terrible since they were played by a bunch of kids. It doesn’t get worse than that. Another episode involves a peaceful monster from the graveyard dimension who literally doesn’t attack anyone. The government tells the Patrol to destroy him anyway so they just duck their heads and pick a fight. Ultraman beats him up pretty badly before they send him back into space. That was a terrible episode.

With 39 episodes the quality is naturally going to vary. The important thing is of course that you have more good episodes than bad ones and that the bad ones aren’t too bad. The problem is that some of these episodes are just really bad. The 2 that I just mentioned are prime examples of this. The series can just be really mean spirited at times. I think in part how the show plays out is due to the cultural difference here. In Japan following the rules is a very important part of the culture as seen in a bunch of anime and such. In these Ultraman episodes it is seen as a good thing to follow the rules even if the rules themselves are bad. That just hasn’t aged well.

One episode that’s real mean spirited is when a little red monster showed up to help the heroes. He informs them of the incoming alien invasion and the heroes follow him to the site. This little guy’s reward for being so helpful? He is murdered by the enemy kaiju and Hayata could have saved him but chose not to in order to prove a point to Ide. This is another episode where the heroes should have checked their Egos at the door. It’s always especially tragic when a villain tries to turn good and make the hero call but ends up being destroyed anyway. It just goes to show why most informants are worried about blowing the whistle on their alien boss. It’s just extremely risky.

Other episodes are just on the boring side. The first half of the show is affected more by this. One example is definitely the monster who loved the jewels a lot. It’s meant as a comedy episode, but it’s not particularly funny and just ends up dragging on a bit. The best parts of monster films for me are the monster fights so when you have an episode that is centered around the humans you can see how that wouldn’t work quite as well. The Dub really does its best to save some of these episodes but when it goes back to the sub you just don’t feel the energy or witty dialogue.

All right, lets look at some of the more enjoyable episodes. I did like the Baltan aliens. Their laugh is a lot of fun and I like how they troll the humans. They have more personality than any of the other creatures and I’d like to see them get more of a role. We got 2 alien invasions in the last few episodes and I would have liked a 2-3 episode saga with the Baltans trying to take over. Maybe we could have seen more of the other Science Patrols which were mentioned during the series. A large scale episode like that would be cool.

Another fun episode was when the shape shifter alien showed up. He acts like a long lost member of the Science Patrol but is actually working on the enemy side. He is definitely pretty suspicious right from the start. I do like a good shape shifting plot even if it can be tough to watch the heroes get played at times. There is just so much potential whenever it is used as is done well here. Surprisingly I have to say that the best episodes in the series are the ones that involve alien races as opposed to the Kaiju. It may be because the aliens are always evil so you don’t have to worry about rooting for the Science Patrol.

A lot of the other monsters have cool designs as well. There are a bunch of them so you probably won’t remember most of their names, but at least the designs you’ll take to heart. Zetton is a monster with a very memorable design. I like the black/yellow look, it works well for villains and does usually indicate that the character is going to be a real threat. Then you have Jirass who is basically Godzilla. The show doesn’t reuse monsters much so you’ve got 30+ monsters to look forward to. Choosing which one is your favorite won’t be easy. Mine was Baltan of course.

Overall, Ultraman is definitely a pretty unique show. I certainly hadn’t seen anything quite like it before now. As I mentioned, it’s like checking out a bunch of abridged Godzilla movies only with a Power Ranger as one of the main character. I think it might have been even cooler to have had Ultraman literally be Hayata transformed since it wouldn’t really change anything. If you want to see a bunch of cool monsters and action scenes then this is definitely a good show for you to check out. It’s pretty old so of course there aren’t a lot of special effects yet but the monster suits are practical effects so it’s not as if the test of time really affects them. You will have to get past the fact that the main characters are completely unlikable though and that the “villains” end up winning a lot of these fights. The monsters get the short end of the stick and watching this is actually perfect to really understand Garou’s argument in One Punch.

Overall 5/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 Review


Time to look at the next installment in the Mob Psycho series. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first season due in part to the experimental animation style and Ritsu’s plot line wasn’t all that good. This season improves quite drastically though and even the animation appears to be a big improvement. This is the kind of season 2 you want to see because it takes all of the good parts of season 1 and expands on them. It’s pretty short at 13 episodes but that is a normal length for a show even if you get used to the 26 and 52 episode titles. There’s a lot you can do with 13 and Psycho made the most of it.

Mob has been slowly improving himself physically through the body improvement club and even mentally as he has come to terms with his abilities. He is now almost ready to ask out one of his classmates. Unfortunately there is still a villain group at large which is making it difficult to find the time. He’s also starting to wonder if he should still be working for Reigen now that he knows more about the world and his place in it. He’ll have to find the answers to all of these questions as he fights and hopefully it’ll all just turn out well. He’ll have to be careful though as he may not be the most powerful psychic around anymore.

Mob Psycho and One Punch Man were both created by the same guy and feature a main character who is unstoppable. While that is still true for the latter and likely will always be, Mob does have some limitations. He’s actually a character who can be beaten due in part to the fact that his powers take up a lot of energy so he has to sleep them off and there are enemies who can actually keep up with him. We saw that briefly in season 1 and in this season the big 5 are able to match him for a while. When Mob completely loses control and goes into 999+ mode he is still one of the strongest guys out there though. Either he or Suzuki would be the strongest esper in the world. I wonder if the series will really keep trying to increase the power levels like DBZ or if this was the height of that.

The fights are really why this season is so great though. The action scenes are all top notch and one really great fight is when Shimazaki takes on the whole group of main characters. I always like a good group fight and this one did not disappoint. His teleportation ability is incredibly handy and I’ve always thought that it could be one of the most deadly abilities if used right. Alas, most characters do not use it very well but this guy definitely makes the most of it. A particularly impressive cut is when he smashes Teru through a wall and then through a car window as he teleported mid combo. It’s such a genius idea. I don’t doubt that a lot of writers have thought about doing cool tricks like this but hold back because they either can’t illustrate it well or are worried that the teleporting character would be OP. This guy would be insane in just about any series, but in a title with Espers who can use TK abilities that helps to keep him in check at least to a degree.

One thing I was happy about is Shimazaki doesn’t get nerfed or hit with plot hax. The guy actually improves while he fights and another great scene is when his eyes open and he ascends. No cheesy friendship power victory here folks, they ultimately do need Mob to show up. That would have been an awesome fight, but the resolution that we got was also really satisfying so I can definitely live with it. I talked more about his fights than the character, but Shimazaki is definitely a great character and easily the best villain in the series. He’s really a scene stealer.

That’s not to say that he has all of the best fights in the season though. Suzuki’s fight with Mob is excellent of course and we get a lot of other fights throughout. The last few episodes really focus on the big battles with Claw and ends the season on a high note. It’ll be extremely difficult for a possible season 3 to top this one. It’ll have to be firing on all cylinders, but that’s certainly something that can happen.

Meanwhile Mob has improved a great deal since season 1. He’s not a pushover anymore and he has learned more about the world so people can’t manipulate him as easily. Those are both good things and while it means that we may never get quite the same Reigen and Mob dynamic, their relationship will ultimately be a better one this way. I did get a little worried that Mob’s emotions would nerf him, but it’s a good tradeoff. As I mentioned earlier, Mob isn’t quite unbeatable anymore, but he’s still quite possibly the strongest character in the series. You can actually deal damage to him, but it’s unlikely that you will be able to claim victory. His rage modes in this season are definitely intense. I do feel like he should have been able to see through the fire ploy with his mental abilities but as the show points out, everyone’s mental abilities are different. Mob seems to excel more in defense and offense as opposed to miscellaneous abilities.

Reigen is still an awesome character and my favorite in the series. He goes through a rough patch where he starts to let the fame get to him and doesn’t give Mob the respect that the kid has earned. He takes Mob’s help for granted and learns a valuable lesson from that. It does involve having to get humiliated on a national level but everyone learns through different methods. You just have to find the one that works for you and then roll with it. Reigen also gets to take on one of the big villains here and is always a calm voice amidst a tough situation. He is a little different from characters like King and Hercule in that he may be a poser, but he does have a lot of legitimite skills. If not for half of these villains being crazy psychic powerhouses he would actually be able to really deal quite a lot of damage. I have high respect for how he faces off with these guys all the time without fear.

Then we have Ritsu who has come a long way from his season 1 days. Now he is on the hero side and has become a capable fighter. He may not be on the same level as Mob or Teru but he is strong enough to help out against the members of Claw. His fight with Shimazaki is pretty good. Ritsu’s always looking out for Mob and I do expect that his abilities will continue to grow as well. Another supportive character or characters in this case are the body improvement club. They’re always quick to rush to Mob’s defense even though they are a little outgunned. The fight with Dimple possessing the leader and fighting one of the Claw members was fun. I think what really makes these guys solid is how loyal they are. They really want to help make Mob a better person with no agenda or strings attached.

Dimple is still floating around with goals to eventually possess Mob. It’s at the point where it’s likely all talk though and he seems like one of the heroes. He may not be the most powerful guy around, but he does help out a lot when needed though. Then you have the heroine Tsubomi. She didn’t actually get to appear much in season 1 so it was good to see her get at least part of one episode here. She still has less presence than any other heroine I’ve ever seen, but at least this season gave her a real personality. She seems a bit jaded or perhaps just careful and won’t fall for a scam as easily as some of the other characters. I’m not sure where the series is going with her, but right now she is a solid character.

Teru also returns in this season and is still one of the strongest heroes around. Next to Mob I’d say that he is definitely the strongest although Sho and Ritsu may end up giving him some competition someday. I like Teru’s character. He’s able to keep a cool head under pressure and is one of the more strategic characters. His psychic abilities are versatile and he is able to adapt mid-match very well like when he predicted Shimazaki’s teleportation angles. I see him as a consistent Trunks type character who probably won’t be able to finish off the big opponents but he will always do well against the sub-villains.

As for Sho, he’s a pretty good character. His plan may not have worked, but it is admirable that he was trying to stop Suzuki on his own. We really don’t get to see him in action for very longm, but that’s fine. We get a general sense of his abilities. He was simply out of his league this time. Hatori is one of the Ultimate 5, but the guy gets no real screen time so we can skip past him. Serizawa is one of the more important members of the group. His abilities are quite high as well and he may be the 3rd strongest member behind Suzuki and Shimazaki. He has self confidence issues and gets manipulated a lot. It’s tough for him since Suzuki got to him at a pretty vulnerable time. While he ultimately gets a bit of a redemption arc I would have liked him to have stood up for himself a little sooner. By the time he acted it was pretty late. I can see him being a fun character in the next season. The guy means well after all.

Toshiki has plant abilities that are surprisingly formidable. He gave Mob a reasonable fight with them after all and rage mode or not that is a good feat. The guy did earn his way into the Ultimate 5. He doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but is a quality villain. Then there is Hiroshi who is the power hitter of the group. He isn’t terribly interesting since the guy is just there to punch people out, but he serves his purpose well enough. Then we have Joseph who isn’t actually part of the group. I thought he was a really interesting and fun character.

The series takes a page out of Index III’s book with various groups running around. In this case CLAW had another faction built in thanks to the government and Joseph was the mole. He went around trying to cause a civil war but ultimately it did not impede Suzuki’s plans. It was a good effort though and it’s hard to ever get tired of a good ole villain vs villain throw down. The whole concept of the government having their own Espers is also interesting and I really hope we get to see that plot pursued at some point. Clearly they have some offensive abilities at the ready which is good. That means this government is automatically a lot smarter than most.

Finally we have Suzuki who is the big boss of the organization. He’s a very strategic villain whose plan has been in the makings for around 10 years or so if I recall correctly. His abilities are sort of like All For One’s as he can give people abilities. What he does is he can charge his abilities for years to build it up and can power up other people. Then when he no longer needs to do this he can just re-absorb the abilities back into himself. He’s really a serious threat and there are multiple times during the fight with Mob where he just has the upper hand in raw power. Ultimately Mob proves to have a bit of a higher ceiling, but Suzuki seemed more impressive. Without a 10 year head start Mob definitely wins this, but with the 10 years Suzuki is a total monster. He’s an incredible villain and really ticks all of the right boxes for me. A confident leader who can fight like that makes for a really high quality villain.

Before the whole Claw arc we do get other stories of course which help to develop the characters. In one of them we see an innocent group of spirits and Mob doesn’t want to exorcise them because they weren’t doing anything wrong. This is one episode where Reigen was surprisingly slow on the uptake. I remember thinking that it would have been so easy for him to just pretend that they exorcised the spirits to keep things moving. It’s not like the humans would really know otherwise. Pressuring Mob to destroy them even while knowing the were innocent was pretty out of character. Mob also goes through a lot physically in these episodes like one villain who basically tormented him for years and years in a “what if” future world. That was pretty brutal from what we saw and definitely made for a very dark experience even if it was mostly off screen. Times like that are when you wish Mob had some more mental defenses to fight with. The mind seems to ironically be his weakness.

As I mentioned the animation is a lot better here. When the fights are happening it is near the top of the biz. At times it’s hard to even think that this is the same show. Everything looks so sharp and even from the screenshots I’ve attached you can see how vibrant it looks. Then the soundtrack is also a lot better. In particular Shimazaki has a great battle theme for when he is fighting with the group. There are a lot of familiar themes from season 1 as well and it all comes together for a very well rounded experience.

Overall, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 is definitely a top notch show to check out. It’s got solid action, quality writing, a good cast, etc. You feel more of the One Punch vibes here as the supporting cast is gradually beginning to turn into a very solid cast. The episodes will really fly by and you may even feel like marathoning the last 4-5 episodes so you can really experience all of the fights in one shot. It’ll just be hard to tear yourself away at that point. Definitely watch this show as soon as you can.

Overall 8/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Gen:Lock Review


It’s time to take a look at one of Rooster Teeth’s latest shows. This one was getting quite a lot of promotion from the company since they were hoping it would be the next big thing. Some even believe that they took part of RWBY’s budget away to this show temporarily although I’m not sure if it was ever confirmed. This definitely isn’t the next RWBY, but few things are. It’s a solid show and I’d be game for a season 2. The company definitely does need to remember that RWBY is their starter show and this is the back-up though.

The world has been embroiled in a battle with a foe who uses virus type weapons which have enabled them to take control of a majority of the planet. Their spores destroy whatever they touch and so they are hard to fight again. Fortunately Dr. Rufus has come up with a new project to fight them. It is called Gen:Lock and it allows a pilot to merge his mind with a robot suit. This does provide a good amount of defense but only a few robots have been created. Will these be enough to turn the tide of war?

It’s a pretty good set-up here. Who doesn’t like the classic resistance vs empire storyline right? It’s always nice to see a futuristic world as the setting as well. We don’t learn a whole lot about the enemy of the current state of the world beyond this, but we don’t really need to learn more. The core concept is the focus and I’m thinking the world will be fleshed out more in future seasons. We do have an online world where people go to forget about their real world issues which makes sense. You always want to have something like that in a dystopian future.

Julian is the main character here and he was presumed dead early on before returning as the first Gen:Lock candidate. This causes a lot of drama between him and Miranda. I’m on team Miranda here at least in the argument that if he wanted to he certainly could have gone to meet her sooner. At the very least that would have been nice to give her confirmation that he was still alive. So, she ended up meeting someone else and rebounded after Julian was gone. Now he wants to come back together, but it just feels way too late. That whole romance is a bit iffy and I think Miranda should just stay with her second pick at this point. Going back and forth just wouldn’t be a good look for either of them. Right now Julian is the one trying to convince her so the blame is on him. Hopefully Miranda is able to stay strong.

Otherwise Julian is reasonable as the main character. He’s quick to jump into the action, which is always good. What isn’t good is that part of the time he’s just jumping in and not even totally hoping he’ll win. He just wants to end things with Nemesis and at times it feels like he’s just trying to throw his life away. Hopefully now that he has finally accepted the mind meld he’ll be more ready for season 2, but letting Nemesis get that last hit in was definitely a pretty big mistake on his part.

Nemesis is a solid villain for sure. He’s a solid threat and is able to basically take on the whole team on his own. The guy leaves an impact and his monster design was really solid. He reminded me of an early Accel World villain with his tendrils supporting the claw attacks. The guy definitely has a pretty rough sob story so you will feel bad for him to an extent. The show handled his twist pretty well since usually when there are clones and such running around it always ends a certain way. This one flipped things and so long as they don’t reverse this in the next season it was a really smart decision.

Then we have Robert who is easily my favorite character in the series. Technically speaking he isn’t the real Robert, but an imposter sent to get details on the heroes. The guy only appears for an episode, but man is he impressive. The guy outfights just about everyone in what is one of the best fight scenes in the series and would have escaped if not for making a terrible decision at the end. He may never become a very well known character because of his limited screen time, but he was good. When you’re a double agent confidence is key and this guy had that in spades.

Miranda is a decent heroine, but I do think she’s in a tricky spot in the show simply because she doesn’t have a robot. That means that she really can’t keep up with the others and the gap will only continue to grow. Any supporting character in an action show who can’t fight will usually just be in the way by the end so hopefully she can get a robot of her own. Right now she’s mainly here for the drama with Julian so I’m ready for that plot to wrap up.

Cammie is one of the Gen Lock pilots and definitely the most optimistic of the bunch. Unlike the others she actually tries to have fun the whole time and while she may not be as disciplined as the others she is a quick learner. Cammie definitely gives the group a lot of personality and is one of the better members of the team. Her robot is also very mobile so I’d say that in these group battles she is one of the most useful members. Then we have Kazu who mainly doesn’t speak English so most of his lines are subbed. He’s an okay character, but there was one scene that really hurt him for me. Towards the end of the series all of the characters are fighting and Kazu is getting wrecked by Nemesis. Kazu is a swordsman and his robot has a sword so you’d think he would use it right? No, he doesn’t use it at all until the others mind meld with him and remind him to use it. Then he swings it….but really? Using a sword should have been the very first thought he had.

Yasamin is a character who definitely has a lot going on in her backstory but we haven’t really gotten to learn a whole lot about her just yet. I fully expect that to change in the next season. Her character is already really solid and depending on how this goes she could rise up to be the best hero. She can fight and has a lot of street experience. Her robot is solid but since she isn’t having to rely on it this makes her a much more versatile fighter. Then we have Valentina who is the most jaded member of the group. I’m expecting her to betray everyone at least once before she fully joins the allies. Valentina definitely doesn’t mind riling up the rest of the group.

Then you have Rufus who is the professor type character in the series. He seems reasonable all things considered, but is a bit of a boring character. He’s not someone you really need to return because the series just does’t need him. It’s also a bold move to sideline him straight away. In general Gen:Lock has made some pretty bold decisions, but have walked back on a few of them. It’s a shame because the series was building a pretty good atmosphere of how serious this threat was to the heroes. Hopefully they don’t walk back too many moves.

I also have to say that the resistance leadership isn’t very smart. With the Gen:Lock robots they should really be pressing their advantage as soon as possible. There is a time limit to consider, but the longer the wait the more chance that the enemies will gather more mechs of their own. Right now with a group of robots I’m sure the rebellion could re-conquer a bunch of territories all at once. If they do that then this war will seem a lot more winnable. At the moment the enemies still have the advantage since they can erase cities in an instant with their chemical weapons so ultimately the heroes are going to need better protections against that.

The animation is okay. It’s not really my style, it sort of looks like Tron or Beware the Batman. It’s not as smooth as the former but a little smoother than the latter. I’m not sure if it’s a similar engine as RWBY, but the latter looks way better so maybe it’s a colors thing. The action scenes can be good though and that’s probably where the show is at its best. Also, with hos high the animation standards can get nowadays, having below average animation doesn’t equate to being bad. It’s still good enough to watch the show and not have any real issues. It could also look worse as at least the show is going for a traditional look. I think what the show needs to do is just make things look a little more vibrant. More color in the backgrounds would make a world of difference. As for the soundtrack, it’s okay. The show is going for more rap type songs as the lyrical tunes which doesn’t work great, but they’re okay. The instrumental battle themes are definitely more solid.

I won’t really get into comparing RWBY and Gen:Lock much since their isn’t much of a comparison but since they’re from the same company you gotta do it at least once. Look, RWBY is the greatest show of all time and excels in every category. There’s no way Gen:Lock could hope to compare in any aspect, but when you’re comparing anything to the greatest of all time that isn’t really even much of a slight. At least I wouldn’t look at it like that. That being said, I really hope Rooster Teeth doesn’t divert any profits or budget from RWBY to Gen:Lock. If RWBY earns more than expected then it should be used to make a movie or increase the amount of episodes. Sharing is caring, but sometimes you gotta keep things separate.


Overall, Gen:Lock is not very long right now as it’s only one season at about half the length of most. Still, it’s off to a good start and I think the series should have a good future. It’ll need to do something to hit the next level like throwing in more good tunes or enhancing the visuals, but either way I look forward to seeing how they handle it. Maybe one day we’ll get a Gen:Lock and RWBY crossover event. That would definitely be pretty fun. If you like mech shows and haven’t seen Gen:Lock yet then you should change that.

Overall 7/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight Vanguard: High School Arc Cont. Review


Time for another Cardfight review! This may seem pretty soon compared to usual, but that’s because this was more of a miniseries than a full fledged one. It deals with the fallout from the recent reboot season. Kouji must face his demons and Aichi still intends to bring his club a world championship as soon as possible. At 14 episodes the series has to move on pretty quick but still makes for a good watch. It’s probably the most standard of the series and by default is the weakest entry in the franchise. There’s only so much you can do in 14 episodes when the others are all around 30-50 episodes (Some are at 60+) but it does what it can.

The show picks up where the last one left off. The universe has been reset after Kouji was defeated. Everyone has seemingly lost their memories of the old timeline. As a result there are a few things that don’t add up. One is that Aichi’s cardfight club no longer has the right amount of members so the student council decides to shut them down. Aichi and his team defeat them to avert this dilemma and as part of the deal even get the council to aid them in joining the big cardfight tournament that is about to start. Aichi aims to learn why the club is seemingly missing someone despite having no knowledge of this. Winning the tournament might somehow give them clues on how to do that.

They aren’t the only team to enter the Koshien though. Meanwhile you have Ren’s team and they’ve recruited a powerful ally in Kouji. Kouji no longer wants to erase Vanguard from the world, but as a result he is frozen with fear whenever he duels someone. He knows that if he wins he will end up destroying the opponent’s will to play so he must find a way around that if it’s even possible. His plot is almost as big a focus as Aichi’s as he tries to find a new path for himself. Meanwhile Kai is also still weakened from when his spirit was destroyed and along with the rest of the emptied souls must try to regain his joy for the game.

While the main plot of the season is technically about the tournament, it really doesn’t have a whole lot of importance. It’s here as a plot device to get all of the characters together to get through their difficulties but ultimately that’s about it. Unfortunately someone must have told the animators/writers this because it gets the shaft. The tournament doesn’t start until the last few episodes and as a result just about every fight is handled off screen. Sure, you see them on screen briefly for the trash talk and posturing but then most of the duel just goes by in a flash. It almost would have been better to not have had the tournament at all. It all feels very half hearted like the show is just going through the motions.

I suppose a rushed tournament is still better than not having any duels…but there’s more the show could have done if it cut the tournament out. The best episodes here are mainly the ones about Kouji as he struggles with his inner demons. It continues to show why he is the best character in this post reboot world as he is trying very hard to change himself. It’s a pretty painful process compared to everyone else who just has to win a duel. Trying to lose is always a tough thing to do because it also hurts your reputation. I still consider Kouji to be the strongest duelist here even with the nerf as I don’t find his new deck to be quite as impressive.

Although it initially seemed like he was the only one who kept all his memories while everyone else had to start remembering little flashes, the last episode seems to contradict this. Perhaps the universe change is slowly going to get everyone and Psyqualia only prevents this for a time. Ideally I’d like everyone to remember the old days as I never like for it to be permanently forgotten. The characters all get happy endings this time around though so that’s an improvement over the last adaption of this arc. Kourin gets her proper closure and is once again a true part of the team. She’s definitely been a fun character and it’ll be nice to have her back on the cast for a future season if we go back to these guys someday.

Nakagami is probably the biggest of the new characters. He’s got a lot of potential to be sure. At times he is played off purely as a comic relief character and I have a gut feeling that this will always be the case, but there’s always the chance he will be played seriously. If the show ever does go down that route it’ll be cool. I like the concept of his demon arm and he actually seems like a pretty decent duelist. His ramblings are fun and his duel theme is great. All in all I have to say that he is just a great character and struck all of the right notes.

The rest of the student council are decent, but they won’t leave much of an impact on you. They’ve each got their character quirks, but that’s about it. I like the President’s global gimmick as he is always yelling about that. Aichi’s club is always around, but I wouldn’t say that any of them have an especially big role. Naoki does want his revenge on Kouji since ironically one of his only memories is of the days when Kouji was a villain and insulted Aichi. As a result he wants revenge during the big tournament which is his perfect opportunity to do so.

Kai’s episodes are not quite as thrilling as Kouji’s but he also does get a pair of episodes where he duels Mamoru which also works as some setup for Cardfight G. It’s just so weird to see Kai acting so weak. It doesn’t feel right since he’s always been the champ above everyone else. I dare say that he’s taken the biggest hit from his old stature in this reboot series. He is getting to his old level though so I like to think that by the next series he will be back to normal. At least he ultimately did get his hits in though. At this point we definitely need another big season with more G characters. I feel like they’re all close enough in age right now where we could get some good fights between them without the original cast being as old as they were in the original.

As always the animation is pretty sharp here. I’ve always liked the style and especially since the show isn’t very action based the animators can easily just focus on making sure that the character models stay even at all times. The colors are bright and the whole thing just works quite well. In terms of soundtrack it’s all tunes from the last season and they are just as good as they used to be. Kouji still has the best theme but the others all share solid themes as well. The action tunes go quite well with the duels.

I know there are some who prefer the days of Cardfight before the stakes became planetary level. Back in the old episodes it was more about having fun and getting better with your friends so I can understand that. However, I think it’s the natural progression of every series to get higher and higher stakes so my favorite seasons are still the ones like that such as Link Joker. Still, this is a nice refresher season I suppose which is the best way to put it. As I mentioned earlier it’s still quite solid, it’s just “average” compared to the others which would absolutely blow you away.

Overall, This was a good aftermath season. I can see why it would make sense to just include this one with the last season. Ultimately it’s not like it’s trying to tell a brand new story just yet. The next season has already started in Japan though so I’ll be watching it pretty soon. I’m not sure how long that one’s going to be, but I expect it’ll be at least 26 episodes if not 40 so the review for that will likely take a lot longer. If you’re been watching the Cardfight shows then you definitely need to check these out. If this would be your first Cardfight title then I definitely recommend watching the previous season first as you wouldn’t really appreciate the aftermath without actually seeing the events that led up to it.

Overall 7/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Guardians of The Galaxy Review


It’s time to take a look at another recent Marvel cartoon. This one actually made it to 3 seasons which is pretty impressive. Whenever a show ends up with more than 50 episodes I’d count that as a win for the title and this one had over 70. It’s pretty by the books and the main characters aren’t quite as engaging as the Avengers of course, but it’s nonetheless a solid action/adventure show you could recommend for all ages. It also did get a fair share of guest stars and such which is always nice to have.

The first season mainly deals with the team being on a wild goose chase to find the Cosmic Seed before an onslaught of villains can grab it and use the seed to destroy worlds. Among the powerful villains who want this seed is Thanos and Ronan. Get used to most of the Guardian villains because you’ll be seeing them a lot. This season has less of a focused plot than the next two, but it does serve to introduce us to the main characters and since the seed’s signal is always hiding it does give a good reason for the Guardians landing on every planet they can.

The next season brought in Adam Warlock which was a lot of fun and Star Lord’s father shows up to try and cause trouble again. This time he plans on using the Nova’s power to conquer the world and he also tricks the cult with Mantis and the others into trying to stop the Guardians. Since their abilities run on belief that makes them very difficult to defeat since it’s just hard to shake them. As long as their faith holds true they are effectively invincible. The Guardians definitely have their hands full here. I’d say that this season did beat the first one. While there was no noticeable uptick in animation compared to Assemble’s upgrade, it did give us more fights and a fun plot.

Finally we had the third season. This time the Guardians are framed and have to travel the cosmos to clear their name. Along the way they meet up with Spider-Man and also have to team up with the Mad Titan Thanos to stop the latest enemy. This new enemy is called the Serpent and his abilities are so powerful that he is even able to overwhelm powerful foes like Thor. The episodes with the Asgard plot and the Darkhawks is definitely solid. The episodes where the Guardians are split up and have to re-unite are more hit or miss since Starlord typically carries the show and he doesn’t always appear there.

First lets get the technicals out of the way. The animation is pretty solid. It’s nothing amazing and gets shredded by any 90’s-2000s comic book show, but it’s still not bad or anything. The screen is always clear and we do get some pretty reasonable fight scenes. The hits just don’t pack the same punch as they would have in an older show and that could be due in part to the lack of sound effects. I think a big part of a good fight scene is having solid effects to back it up and that’s something that Guardians is definitely missing. Still, it’s not as if this show is all that focused on power levels anyway. At the end of the day it’s fairly loose so just enjoy the action scenes and don’t think too hard about who should win the battle.

In terms of writing the show isn’t bad. Just keep in mind that this show is a comedy first and foremost, the action and adventure are back-up genres. It’s a mix of all 3 of course but the show always throws in the one liners during the serious moments as well as in the fights. As a result it’s naturally not going to be in the same league as some of the big hitters from back in the day, but it also means that you’ll be looking at the writing a little differently. It’s entertaining which is the important part.

A good amount of this is due to Star Lord who is handled perfectly here. He’s easily the most fun character in the series. It helps that he got Ron’s voice actor from Kim Possible which was a brilliant casting choice. I can’t stress enough what a good move that was since it fits his character perfectly. Nobody on the team respects Star Lord and that is amped up to 10 in this TV show. Everytime he talks one of the other members is quick to jump in and insult Star Lord. I think one of the most powerful parts of his character personality is that he just lets the insults roll away. Star Lord does care but he knows that deep down the team is still on his side. He may not have won their respect, but a good leader can still adapt. At least 90% of the funny moments are thanks to him.

Gamora is definitely the next best member of the group. She’s always up for a good fight, but knows her limits better than Drax. She’s the most professional member of the group and saves the team quite often. Even when she is not familiar with the rules of battle in a specific setting like the video game episode, she is quick to learn how to win. She’s just a natural and that’s why she’s known as the deadliest woman in the universe even if the title is hyperbole. Groot is still the worst member of course and basically just slows everyone down. He’s always complaining about something or other even if we can’t actually understand him. You can just tell because Rocket has to tell him to quiet down.

Drax is not very smart as always so he falls for all of the traps and such. There’s one episode with the Hulk where he is completely unreasonable the whole time and even Hulk has to point out how sad it is that he is the smartest guy in the room. Rocket is always talking back to everyone so he can be fun, but he definitely can’t hold his own episode the way that some of the others can. He needs someone to banter off of in order to succeed and that’s where Howard comes in. Howard is handled extremely well in this show and tends to steal the show whenever he appears. He’s a solid rival to Rocket and part of why it works is because he’s shown to be around as good as Rocket. I would give the raccoon the slight edge overall, but it’s actually pretty close throughout.

Thanos gets a big role here so it’s always fun to see how he is portrayed compared to his movie self. While they go for a similar vibe, he is naturally less “heroic” here compared to in the movies. He has no delusions about being the savior of the universe here and is more of your classic villain type. It was cool to see him take on the Serpent near the end of the series. Obtaining the Carnage symbiote was definitely a fun idea even if he would become way too OP at that point. The guy’s already well above the Guardians weight class so whenever he shows up they usually need some kind of plot hax to defeat him. Nonetheless, he’s one of the highlights in the show.

I also did like the Serpent and he worked really well as a final boss. The guy did a lot of damage throughout and was a great villain. While the tree did a lot of the work he also showed that he could fight up close with the the other power hitters. Another solid villain was Star Lord’s father J’son. J’son shows up quite a lot and the show does a good job of showing how manipulative he is. No matter how many times he turns out to be evil the guy does a good job of suckering everyone. Just about every planet he goes to ends up buying into his act. He’s also a sharp thinker and does tend to plan for things well in advance. You always want a mastermind villain like that to back up the other more aggressive villains so you get a nice balance.

On the Nova side, Rhomann Dey gets a pretty big role. He’s definitely had enough of the Guardians’ antics by the end of the show, but it’s not like there is a whole lot he can do about it either. He doesn’t have any powers and the Nova Corp is so easily corrupted that he gets demoted every time the heroes get away. Still, you gotta love the guy’s determination I suppose and his voice actor also does a good job since Dey always sounds irritated and a little defeated on the inside. It’s like he knows that things are not going to end well right from the start and for the most part he’s actually right about that.

It was also nice to see Nova show up a few times. Yes, it’s the kid nova and not the classic Richard Rider, but he’s still a solid hero in his own right. He gets a decent amount of development and screen time here as he learns to use his powers more effectively. There are a bunch of other guest stars here like the Avengers and Inhumans as well. The show does a good job of bringing them in while also focusing on the main cast quite a lot. Towards the end you may start to wish that the show would expand a little more by bringing in different guest stars though. It’s hard to explain but even though the show has a lot of guest stars it has a tendency to always bring back the same ones. Take the final episodes with the Serpent, it’s the big gathering of Earth’s mightiest heroes and yet it’s the same guys we’ve been seeing throughout the series. That would have been a perfect time to bring in other characters like Wolverine, Human Torch, etc. I don’t imagine it saves time on animation either since this isn’t CGI so there’s no real reason not to bring in different fighters. Maybe it’s a voice actor thing or the show felt like it would be a better payoff to see the characters you’re familiar with. I guess that’s reasonable.

If the show has any real weaknesses beyond just being rather standard the whole time, it is in how much Star Lord carries the show. There are multiple episodes that focus on the other members or just other characters in general and they are never even close to as fun as the Peter centered episodes. He brings all of the humor and fun with him. The others try to be funny in their own ways, but can’t really pull it off. Fortunately it is very rare that Peter isn’t with the group so it’s not a big deal. Beyond that I wouldn’t say that the show makes any real mistakes. It serves its purpose and by the end of the show you will be very familiar with the team as well as their general lore. (Most popular enemies and such)

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun show. The team isn’t quite as popular as the Avengers even with the big films so you’ll possibly get to see some characters you didn’t know about before like Drax’s final living relative or that cosmic cult. It’s a very easy show to just pick up if you see an episode on TV. At the same time there are some multi part sagas which is always fun to have because you can really develop a story a lot more if it’s 3 episodes as opposed to always being a stand alone adventure. I’d definitely recommend this show if you just want to have a good time experiencing some comic book adventures. I also think you’ll end up enjoying Star Lord quite a lot since he just ends up being a real blast.

Overall 7/10

Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Avengers Assemble Review


This Avengers show definitely ran for a very long time. It got over 120 episodes which is impressive for any title. It managed to reach 5 seasons and adapted a ton of different Marvel events and brought in all of the fan favorite characters. While it’s not quite as solid as Avenger EMH or the classic 90’s X-Men show, it’s still a pretty good team show. It’s a very good title that you’ll have fun with. It checks off the right boxes and from the current wave of Marvel shows I would definitely say that it was the best one. The Avengers are just fun to have around.

It was a little funny how the show started though as they bump off Captain America almost immediately. Naturally any comic book fan knows that this isn’t going to stick, but it’s fun anyway. The heroes try to stay serious and for irony they have Iron Man tell the other characters that this is no time for jokes. Everyone ends up joking and making banter anyway, but they do try to keep some serious-ness about them during the first episode. The first episodes tried experimenting with comic book panels for the animation. So the characters would fly for example, but the screen would shrink to a panel size. It was an interesting idea, but I’m glad that it was thrown out almost immediately.

Season 1 is mainly about Red Skull and his Cabal of villains. It’s always nice to have a good villain group and these guys could hold their own so it worked out. Attuma and Dracula are among the members and those guys are no joke. While the series was still just starting it was a solid way to incorporate the fights right away and you got a feel for the show. It’s certainly one of the weaker seasons overall, but it holds its own just fine. It’d probably be nostalgic to go back and see how season 1 has aged.

Season 2 has quite a lot going on. First off you have the arrival of Thanos which brings us a ton of fights and then you get Ultron’s big move. Additionally the Squadron Supreme shows up with their Justice League-esque members as they try to take down the Avengers once and for all. That was definitely one of the highlights here since those guys have never really gotten to appear in the Marvel comics before now. It was great to see them on the big screen at long last.

Season 3 brings back Ultron and also adds in the Inhumans as well as a Civil War arc of sorts. It’s another pretty packed season and I do think that the show really started to hit its stride around season 2, but it continued seamlessly into season 3. The show just looked sharper and had more engaging episodes. The Civil War parts are always fun and you can’t really go wrong with Ultron either. There were a lot of fights to enjoy here and the effects of these events did continue into season 4.

Season 4 brings in the Secret Wars which was definitely cool. It’s not handled nearly as well as it was in the old Spider-Man cartoon, but it is really hard to top that one right? It does span almost the whole season though so there is a lot of time for things to happen, but it’s pretty changed from the comic. There are less spontaneous battles and chaos going on which is not the Secret Wars that I remember. We really need a full movie adaption of that legendary saga. Now that would be a lot of fun. Still, it was like an ensemble of all the heroes throughout the series so that was cool.

Season 5 is definitely the weakest of the bunch. The show effectively became the Black Panther show instead of an Avengers title. I’m rarely a fan of Black Panther as the MCU is one of the only continuities to make him likable. Typically he’s just way too arrogant and is basically a villain at times. You can probably imagine that the show wasn’t able to change that so when he is the main focus there isn’t much to really hold your interest here. It’s a whole season just to show why he is better than the Avengers. The basic plot though is that the Shadow Council is framing Black Panther and they intend to destroy the world. To stop them he’ll need a lot of old artifacts from Wakanda and he may have to time travel to use them.

So there’s definitely a lot happening here. As I mentioned, starting with season 2 the show did get better. The animation improved quite drastically as the colors were sharper and it actually got a little closer to the 90’s in terms of style and design. There was even a good soundtrack with a lot of tunes that almost seemed directly ripped from the Justice League cartoon. I wonder if that’s even possible or maybe the shows used some public domain music. Either way it did make everything a lot more epic.

And yet…the show still couldn’t reach the classics. So why is that? I’ve thought about it a lot and it’s hard to explain, but I’ll do my best to convey it. At no point in this show do you feel any serious stakes or truly hype moments. In The X-Men show the Phoenix Saga was grand and a real page turner. The Spider-Man show had quite a few sagas like the Secret Wars and Avengers EMH had the whole skrull invasion. Assemble has a ton of arcs, but none of them are quite as solid as those were. I think there are two guilty factors here. One is the nonstop humor in the show. If the heroes are constantly joking during the fights and not taking it seriously then the audience can’t either. Why feel scared for the heroes if they’re getting choked and still making puns? Assemble never really knows when to take a break from the one liners but that’s also true for most modern cartoons. It takes away any sense of danger.

Then there is the fact that the heroes seem to be able to lose to just about anyone. We get villains as powerful as Thanos and the Beyonder and then have to try and take guys like the Leader seriously. The stakes go from being universal to street level and it keeps flipping back and forth so often that it destroys your sense of scale. A show can certainly go back and forth, but like with the comics if you keep on going too often then things are going to get a little messy and you’ll experience event fatigue. We can’t blame the animation or soundtrack since I already mentioned that those are quite good. I suppose you can take some shots at the fight scenes though. There’s no weight behind any of the hits. Fights like Thor vs Hyperion are decent, but they don’t come anywhere close to the fights of EMH or something like Justice League. Everyone hits about as hard as sandpaper.

The fights can still look good though and I do enjoy the action, it’s just on a completely different level. It’s why most of the current superhero shows are stuck at a 7. It’s a very respectable score and the show is fun, but they just don’t manage to get to “Great” status. You need more of an engaging plot and a really strong cast to pull that off. That’s not something that Assemble is quite ready to do. Maybe the show will come back and try to prove me wrong at some point. I’d definitely be up for more Avengers action and lasting over 100 episodes is definitely impressive in and of itself.

Get ready for a lot of power level shenanigans, but for a long running superhero cartoon like this one that is basically inevitable. This kind of thing never really hurts the score, you just gotta roll with it. Season 5 is particularly guilty of this as Black Panther beats the entire Avengers crew multiple times. The show tries to make him seem like Batman at times with how prepared for everything he is. Even when he gets betrayed he always tries to make it seem like someone else’s fault. Then you’ve got Ultron taking down Thanos with the gauntlet which was pretty fun. That one’s more believable since Ultron is well, he’s Ultron. Still, I remember that one getting a lot of headlines back in the day and we also can’t forget Iron Man taking on the Byeonder. At the end of the day this show is all about seeing your favorite heroes duke it out with a bunch of villains and it delivers.

As for the characters, they’re all about the same as you would expect them to be from the movies or the comics. None of them are particularly changed or anything. Iron Man is still the leader of the group who likes to goof off, but it always ready with a solution when the world needs him. Then you’ve got Captain America who is more by the books but will startle everyone with the occasional joke. Thor is unfortunately not very smart in this version so he sometimes acts more like the Hulk than the green behemoth. Ms. Marvel is here to cover the newbie angle. She just wants the team to accept her and since she is a kid they all see her as the rookie. Interestingly her character is completely different in the current Spider-Man show as she gets pretty overconfident there. I like to think that Teen Titans Go got this one right as Robin explained in one comic that characters just act differently depending on what crew they’re with. It’s why he’s so goofy with the Titans, but gets serious when Batman is around. I guess not having the Avengers around just makes Ms. Marvel a whole lot braver.

As for the villains Thanos and Ultron are definitely a blast. Thanos gets to really go all out in the battle on the Moon and the scene of him hitting Thor against the hammer definitely looked painful. Ultron plays mind games with everyone as always and definitely has a lot of firepower. Then you’ve got Red Skull who has a really big role here and makes for a decent villain. The Squadron Supreme also deserves a mention. They really should have beaten the Avengers most of the times they fought. Their team is just OP and it reminds me once again why the Justice League would totally school the Avengers in a fair fight. Their members are just way too powerful and completely out of their league.

Overall, There’s not a whole lot more to say here. Avengers Assemble is definitely what you’d expect from a modern Avengers show. It gives us a lot of quality episodes and sagas. The show really takes advantage of the wide roster of Avengers through the years and how many characters they’ve faced. While the show may not contain the soul of the older titles, it still does a very respectable job. There isn’t really anything to dislike about the show and the large array of episodes ensure that it has a lot of replay value as well. It’s a show that you can pick up and watch at any time or if you have a favorite character you can look him or her up and odds are that the show will have introduced this fighter. The amount of guest stars here is quite impressive and having a consistently solid show that you could watch week after week is a very nice thing. If you are a big fan of comics or just like a good action show then I’d recommend checking this one out. It’s a good cartoon for a Saturday Morning.

Overall 7/10