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Sakura Wars Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

The Promised Neverland Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

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

Sakura Wars: Return of the Spirit Warriors Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Overall 7/10

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

Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Overall 7/10

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

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Siege Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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

Makai Senki Disgaea Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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

Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Review


It’s time to look at the legendary Fate Stay Night show. If you know anime then odds are that you have to have heard of this show at some point or another. The fate franchise has always been pretty massive and so it makes sense that when you take the best animation company and put them on this project, it’s going to be a big hit. I have a separate editorial talking more about animation soon, but for the sake of argument right now, Ufotable does have the best visuals. This show is definitely real solid and one of the things I like about it is how there are a lot of moral debates and philosophical discussions. I always like that kind of thing. The show’s first half is rock solid and while the second half stumbles a bit I would still say this is a very good show in the end.

The plot revolves around a kid named Shirou who lives a rather ordinary life at school. He is treated as a bit of a pushover due to his ideal of wanting to help everyone at all times. Still, he’s satisfied with where he’s at, but then he suddenly gets thrown in the middle of a big fight going on and is fortunately able to summon a servant in time to survive. He is now a participant in the Holy Grail War and must take out the other masters. Throughout all of this, he needs to keep his ideal of being a Hero of Justice. Ultimately that will be the toughest part of the journey.

Lets quickly talk about the Holy Grail War to really understand this. 7 Masters are chosen to be in this war. They are chosen by the Holy Grail and typically come out of prestigious magic families. Each master is then to summon a powerful servant who is a mythological hero of legend. The Holy Grail will only appear once a single servant remains so the idea is to destroy the other servants. Of course, the easiest way to do this is to take out the master since the servant can’t continue to exist without one. There are a lot of different methods to try of course and the only result that matters is victory.

The concept of the Grail War is definitely another gold mine. It’s basically the Hunger Games but with each player having an immensely powerful guard at their disposal. It makes for a great dynamic as well as trying to figure out who each Heroic Spirit is. Good luck though because a lot of them are pretty obscure. I dare say only two of them you would be able to figure out and even then it’s hard to say. The others I definitely would not have had a shot from the start. So from here the show really picks up. It’s got a very serious atmosphere throughout. Not to say that the show is without its happy moments of course. I’d say it’s definitely more upbeat than the original but there’s always a sense of foreboding.

The very episode (Episode 0) was the perfect pilot for the series. An easy 10/10 episode with a lot of replay value. It explains what is going on very smoothly while also giving us two fight scenes. I thought this was a clever way to also start the series off a bit differently by having Rin as the main character. While it might be a little hyperbolic to say that this is flatout the best episode in the series, it really might be. I’ve basically seen it 5 times (Twice normally, twice abridged, and once via reaction) and I can’t get over how well it is done. The characters are immediately interesting, the animation is out of this world, and the soundtrack is epic.

In general the first half of the series is pretty near perfect. I think the first 12-13 episodes (I forget what is exactly the halfway point but you’ll know it because the theme song from the original show plays) are basically 9/10 caliber. It has set all the pieces on the board and now you just need to see what happens next. I would consider this show to be an action mystery with some horror elements. At this point things are as dire as ever for the heroes. The villains really have all the cards and the problem is that there are different villain groups so you don’t know who to go after. I also thought the song here was perfect and suitably emotional.

Let’s continue with the strengths of the series. The animation is absolutely masterful. One Punch Man is still the best looking anime if you ask me, but this would probably take second. Ufotable really does not disappoint and all of the fight scenes here are excellent. There is no such thing as a poorly animated fight here. Everything’s just on point and it does a really good job of showing how powerful all of these characters are. You really feel the vast difference between the spirits and the humans. It also just makes a difference having great animation, really sucks you into what’s going on. The scenes just feel very powerful and you’re especially taken off guard in the beginning. Both the Archer vs Lancer (Round 1) and Saber & Archer vs Berserker fights happen within the first few episodes and quickly show you that you’re going to be in for an amazing ride.

The soundtrack is also top tier as I mentioned. The best theme in the show is probably the Archer theme. It was a really good theme to have show up whenever he pops in. Both of the openings are also excellent as well as the remixed version of the original theme song. Then you have Last Stardust which is a great emotional theme near the end of the series. Pretty much every theme in the show is really solid and you can keep on jamming to these tunes for a long time. It’s got a lot of replay value just like this show.

The script is also excellent. It’s a little harder to describe what an amazing script is without watching it but the show’s just super interesting. Just about any conversation with Archer and Shirou is one to watch. In general you could also say the same for any conversation Archer has. He just has a really good way with words and articulating what he’s thinking in a way that makes you really think about what’s going on. He’s certainly manipulative and uses this to great effect. Due to the nature of the show being a mystery, it’s also important that everyone acts cryptically without being too obvious. I thought it was all handled rather subtly. Due to how the show goes through 3 routes so you have to watch them all to understand everything, that spins perfectly here as not every plot line is actually explored, adding to the overall mystery of what’s going on here.

Now to the second half. First, I have to say that while it couldn’t execute nearly as well as the first half it is still pretty solid. We get quite a lot of top tier fights in the second half and they may even surpass the first half. Shirou vs Archer, Gilgamesh vs Berserker, and Rin vs Caster are all excellent fights. There’s a lot of variety in these action scenes so none appear to be identical. Since the tournament is getting closer to ending that means everyone is forced to start making moves so now the plot is at its most explosive. In particular I think that’s why Gilgamesh vs Berserker is a fight that particularly shines. I always like when villains attack each other because it’s harder to tell who will win. In this case you’ll have a really good idea just by context clues but it’s still great. Especially because Gilgamesh is a third party at this point so you really don’t know how he is going to affect things.

So what was weaker about this half? Well, it did start to creep a little more towards the Fate/Zero edge that I’d prefer to avoid. It never gets nearly as over the top gritty as that show but it goes farther than it needs too. One brutal scene is when Illya is blinded by Gilgamesh. It’s a pretty brutal scene and one that feels really unnecessary at that point in time. I don’t see how the scene really adds to anything. Then we get an origin story where a bunch of dogs get slaughters. That felt rather extra as well and there were much better ways to show a bond. Additionally I don’t see how the character got so injured by them when his durability should be so great.

The Caster and Saber stuff could also be a bit sketchy. It doesn’t go super far or anything, but why? Caster didn’t really seem like that kind of character. Especially from her origin where she is played as more of a sympathetic character. Why did we need kid sacrifices again? She did good in putting a stop to this even if it wasn’t in the best possible way. At the very least she was way better than her master. Finally there’s the Shinji and Rin stuff by the end. The show really wanted to do its best to make sure there was no way you could like Shinji. It succeeded of course and he’s definitely one of the worst in the series. These scenes together don’t negate all the good we get in this part of the series of course, but it’s also why it can’t come close to matching the first half. The first half of Stay Night is ideal and you could just watch it over and over again.

Shirou is the main character so naturally there’s a lot to say about him. He’s definitely a very solid character. Shirou does act a bit too much like a pushover during the start of the series but at least he has a better reason for it than most. He wants to be a Hero of Justice but is ashamed at how weak he is. As it stands, Shirou currently doesn’t have the ability needed to accomplish this goal. So in a way he punishes himself by doing all of these extra stuff. He’s still getting to help other people out which is ultimately his goal and that’ll just have to do. This war gives him a chance to really test his ideals and work to not let this game corrupt him. He does an excellent job of this and is definitely a very good main character. I already wrote an editorial about why his ideals are correct so it almost goes without saying that I think he’s great. He can also fight when needed and steps up when the chips are down. The other characters give him a hard time but would be in a tough spot without him. I’m not really on board with Shirou’s romance plot though. I think that could have been whittled down some.

Saber is the main servant here or at least she works with Shirou. In the first show she is definitely the main heroine with a ton of screentime but you could argue that her role is smaller than that of both Rin and Archer this time around. She’s still a solid fighter although I consider her to be over hyped in universe. When she is first being summoned there’s a huge deal about the Saber class being the most powerful and that everyone’s in trouble. Then she proceeds to lose almost every fight she gets thrown into or when she has the upper hand she is unable to close the deal. I’ll have more to say on that in another time. Power isn’t the only factor in how likable a character is though and so I still like Saber quite a lot. Her goals and motivations are pretty strong as well. She’s an excellent tactical fighter and is always ready to jump into the action. Her moves may be considered a bit more straight forward and basic next to what some of the other Servants can do but her physical stats are still high enough where she is able to get the job done this way.

Rin gets a huge role here so it’s important that she be a good character. Fortunately that is the case and part of why episode 0 is so good. She’s just a very interesting character and prepared well for this tournament. She may have messed up a bit with the time but that’s a pretty easy slip up. One of the reasons why she is really good is the fact that she can actually fight. Unlike most masters who don’t engage in combat she can actually charge the field along with her servant. She has a lot of good back and forth discussions with Archer. I think she tends to be a little too lenient on him given some of the actions later on though. She just figured out too many things which in effect made her sympathize with Archer even more but after a while it is a stretch. Either way Rin is definitely a highlight here though and has too many good scenes to name. I’d say her biggest highlight is probably the battle with Caster.

Then we have her servant Archer. He’s a very mysterious entity from the beginning as he claims not to know who he is which makes battle tactics quickly. Also, he’s an Archer but always uses a pair of short swords. Still, this guy is pretty powerful. He gives all of the other Servants quite a tough fight as the series goes on and his role is massive next to the original. The anime perfectly nails his confident attitude and the design is extremely crisp. He gets a lot of great dialogue with almost everything he says being memorable. Again, I already talked about him a lot in my editorial so I won’t go as far into this. Additionally I can’t talk about his appearances in the second half of the show as much without going into spoilers. Needless to say, his reasons for doing what he did was interesting but given his goal I feel like he could have made a move a whole lot sooner. I suppose maybe he wanted an even playing field so he could really have a battle of the minds. It’s a reasonable guess but he went really far in doing this to the point where he was basically willing to destroy everything. Not really a proper goal for a Heroic Spirit right? The guy’s definitely not very heroic compared to some of the others. He is quite jaded and even if he ends up doing the right thing at the end of the day in a lot of cases, it’s hard to call him a hero for the most part. Of course, there can be solid debates on that well. Regardless, Archer is a very interesting character and actually rose to being my favorite in the franchise. That was Gilgamesh for a while but I’d say that Archer surpassed him with this one. A mysterious enigma like Archer who manipulated everyone is just hard to top.

Rider doesn’t get much of a role here. She got a bigger one in the original show and even there she didn’t really do much at all. I think fans of her will be a little disappointed at just how quickly it’s all over. She was never one of my favorite servants thugh so I was okay with it. Illya was always one of my favorite masters though so it was too bad that her role was reduced. In particular I missed the scene of her kidnapping Shirou. I thought that was a really ominous moment in the series and one that definitely raised the stakes. She’s still really fun here too of course. She has a lot of great dialogue and was definitely showing Rin up during their fight. Her role may not be huge but she’s as confident and smug as ever so she’s definitely still a winner as far as I’m concerned.

Berserker is one of the big servants. I always thought it was interesting that his debut is that he’s basically the strongest servant. It seems to happen 3 times in the series, first for Saber, then for him, and finally for Gilgamesh. He is quite impressive though and his Noble Phantasm is very practical. I also like the fact that he is shown to be very agile despite being a Berserker. It makes him a complete nightmare to fight and he is consistently shown to be a very tough fighter. I liked the guy and despite his tough exterior, he does feel like a real hero unlike some of the other spirits.

Lancer really stood out in this version. He stole the show quite a bit and from all of the heroic spirits he is easily the most heroic. He has a very solid honor code and is willing to resist orders to do the right thing. I also liked his ultimate attack. It may not work a whole lot due to plot hax and all but otherwise reversing cause and effect is almost impossible to stop. How do you stop something like that? He’s just a very cool character and whenever he appears you know something cool is going to happen.

Gilgamesh is also a character that just radiates power and a cool personality. I like how smug he is and as you can tell, this show is filled with a lot of fascinating characters. I just wish we could have gotten more scenes with him and Archer. I think you have the potential for a lot of great character dynamics with them because if you think about it they’re very similar. Regardless he is one of the coolest villains in the series. He doesn’t fear anyone and you never get the feeling that he’s outmatched. If he would get serious a little sooner then I think he could have caused some real damage to the others here.

I already talked a bit about Shinji earlier so no need to go back into that. He’s a pretty terrible character. Kirei on the other hand is a lot more interesting. The fact that he’s more of a moderator is an interesting role in itself. He knows a whole lot more than most of the other characters and in a tournament like this that’s a huge advantage. He will be able to have a bird’s eye view of things. The voice chosen for him is perfect as well and I always did like the claw type weapons he uses. I’d have liked to see him do more in the series. Then you have the crew at Shirou’s home like Sakura and Taiga but they don’t really get to do anything here. Sakura has some interesting scenes with Gilgamesh but they’re completely off screen. I was surprised Shirou never tries to ask about that but I suppose at this point in time he was trying to keep her out of this. Taiga’s a reasonable comedy character. Her scenes don’t amount to much by themselves but it was good to show Shirou’s normal life before everything completely changed. She’s also good at fencing which is nice to note. At least it means she can fight a bit in self defense although it won’t help against a servant.

Caster gets a huge role in this series to the point where you could call her the main villain of the series. She may not be a close quarters fighter but her magic is so versatile that she can go head to head with just about any other servant. She tends to bend the rules quite a lot, making a mockery of the whole thing. That’s a solid way to approach things for a Caster though and I liked her plan. It was really just about perfect if you ask me and she just took too many risks by the end. She got way too greedy and it cost her.

Assassin is a pretty interesting character as well. In part he doesn’t feel like an Assassin though because the guy fights with a sword at close combat and quite well. He was easily overwhelming Saber after all. He’s very honorable and really just got a bad hand here. His actions are quite limited but he will leave a solid impression on you. Definitely a really fun character. Then you have Kuzuki. He does give some power level issues here though. I am glad to see a master who can fight but he should not have been able to do anything against Saber. I can understand the magic amping up his attacks to deal damage but he should have been far too slow to land any hits. No matter how the show tried to explain it I couldn’t buy into that. He made for a solid antagonist though. His set of ideals are definitely quite different compared to the other characters and how dead inside he is was pretty interesting. He’s a villain who isn’t pretending to be anything else.

There are more characters of course but those are the big ones. So I think this is a pretty good recap of the series. Ultimately one last thing to say here is that Fate has a ton of themes. That’s part of what makes it so much fun is there’s a lot to discuss and think about here. Every character has quite a lot of motivations going on here and a full plot to themselves. When you add that to every character then you’ve got a large multi layered story. It’s hard to find a story with as much depth as Fate. Typically you see this kind of atmosphere the more you get into pretty intense territory like Attack on Titan so Fate was able to grab that atmosphere without getting mired with the usual negatives that come with it. That in itself is pretty impressive.

One quick thing to note here is that the power levels can be a bit iffy though. I already touched on the whole Kuzuki managing to take on Saber and even overwhelming her in close quarters combat. I don’t see how that’s possible. Then you have the fact that Saber is supposed to be the strongest Saber but gets beaten left and right by just about everyone. I have an editorial for that at some point as well. How is she losing to Archer near the end of the series when the guy’s been without a master for a while and is super weakened? This is sometimes an issue for various shows where all of the characters have a lot of hype so we get a lot of deadlocks. There are quite a few of those here. Still, in this show it’s not like everyone lives so things do come to an end. Some fights just aren’t as believable as others. Archer vs Shirou made sense with the realization that one character was holding back for legitimate reasons while Gilgamesh vs Shirou is more suspect.

Overall, Fate Stay Night is definitely a show I would recommend. It’s got a top tier production behind it and now I can finally understand for real why it’s titled Unlimited Budget Works by fans. The series has a ton of replay value. When you’ve got a story that already has a good plot and then throw excellent music and animation at it you know you’ve got a winner. Ultimately I still did prefer the original version ever so slightly. It does lack in animation and soundtrack compared to this one but I thought it really nailed the uncertainty and the scary atmosphere of Fate. Perhaps it is due to the animation being darker and more misty but that show’s pretty hard to top. I also thought no moment in this show was quite as powerful as the Archer vs Berserker fight from that series which I never forgot. It was a real highlight for me. Either way, whether you’re a Fate fan or not you should definitely check this out. Unlimited Blade Works definitely sets a pretty high bar and there’s a lot to talk about here.

Overall 7/10

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

Pokemon: Twilight Wings Review


It’s time to look at a recent Pokemon web series that ended. It’s always nice to get some new animated material. Pokemon recently did something similar with Pokemon Generations although that one was way too ambitious in scope and ended up being rather disappointing. Twilight Wings from the start is going for a much more inspirational/somber feel to the shorts. These aren’t about big action scenes or colorful backgrounds. It’s actually all very subdued which is where the somber part comes from while also showing that everyone is trying hard to get ready for their futures. It’s a fun little collection of shorts.

There are 7 shorts in all and they’re all under 10 minutes. So if you merge them together this could be around a 40 minute OVA or something like that. Each short changes main character except for the first and last shorts which are about a kid who is rather sick but wants to be a Pokemon trainer. His friend’s definitely a good kid to have around as he tries his best to make sure that the main character is able to get closer to his friend. The rest of the shorts vary in plot and will always have an ending scene that teases the lead of the next main character. I’ll talk briefly about each short.

The first one I already went over. It’s one of the weaker ones in the collection but is fun enough. It’s always nice to see the kids have a happy ending especially when they’ve clearly been through a lot already. The second one is about Bea who is training for her next fight. She actually spars with her Pokemon which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately she gets stuck in a cave in, but this helps her remember that her strength is with her friends as a team and not by doing everything on her own. We get a little action here which is always pretty neat so this was a solid followup.

Then we have one about Hop who is admiring how great Leon is as per usual. His Wooloo feels bad about this and runs away though so now Hop has to find him. Sometimes it can be obvious that the main character is in the wrong but this time I think Wooloo was making a mountain out of a molehill. It showed that Hop was as close to Wooloo as ever though by having him chase after his friend. This was one of the shorts going for a more emotional angle and it worked well. Hop may have been one of the least impressive rivals in Pokemon but it doesn’t take away from him being a pretty good guy in general.

The 4th short is about Nessa as she tries to balance her career of being a model and a gym leader. People say that it can’t be done and she will have to choose one. Ultimately she chooses to keep going in both fields and will prove her doubters wrong. It’s part of why she is one of the better gym leaders as it takes a lot of drive to maintain two careers at once like this. I was glad she didn’t choose to sacrifice any of them.

Next one’s a slice of life short about Oleana as she tries to deal with Chairman Rose’s rather impromptu ideas. He tends to vanish or get sidetracked very easily. It’s clear that she’s got a tough job on her shoulders. Another good special but a lot more low key compared to most of the others. Then we have the short with Allister which is the weakest short in the series. Still not saying it’s bad or anything but the gym leader’s personality doesn’t work for me. The character doesn’t really talk and the kids don’t have enough snappy dialogue to really make the atmosphere work. It’s hard to hold your own episode after all.

Finally, we end with the kid finally getting to meet Leon. Leon helps him realize that his dream to simply meet Leon wasn’t what he was actually meant to do. The kid really wants to go out there and beat Leon and so the champion gives him a little hope that he can pull this off someday. It’s a fun way to end and while the gym leaders seem to not understand Leon (Some going as far as to say he was holding back or not taking the fight seriously) at least they all understand his strength. I like the idea of an unbeatable champion like Leon because it makes the fight with him feel all the more grand.

So those are the 7 specials. Due to the length of the specials the summaries of each special pretty much tell the whole story but I tried to keep them brief. The series is so short that you should really go ahead and check them out. Especially since it’s only 7 episodes in total. They’re all fun and it’s a nice, calm series to check out. The animation style is going for the washed out look which isn’t exactly my favorite but I think they were going for a look to try and resemble the games a bit more than the anime. Something like Generations is going a lot more traditional with vibrant colors but since this one is going for that somber atmosphere perhaps they thought it would be a little distracting. The brief fight scenes we get still look good though with a lot of shockwave effects to show the scale of the attacks.

This is more about the stories than the visuals or soundtrack though so it makes sense that this would be the focus. I can’t really recall any particular big themes either but we had no long fights that would have taken advantage of them anyway. Twilight Wings thrives on the fact that it makes no real mistakes. After watching each episode you’ll be satisfied with what you saw and can easily binge the rest of it or do one episode at a time. Hopefully we get more Pokemon web series like this in the future. I think these bite sized portions are always a good idea for any series. They help to expand the franchise and give each character more development. They could also work as brief character moments in a future game. Imagine the next Pokemon game having 5-7 minute cutscenes that play out showing a character’s origin. I think it would work rather well.


Overall, Pokemon: Twilight Wings is a solid series. I would definitely recommend it whether you are a Pokemon fan or just a general viewer of media. You don’t have to be a fan to appreciate the themes it’s going for. At the end of the day it’s about showing that you make your own path and to keep going when things are getting tough. None of the characters in the series give up and it ultimately ends up benefiting each and every one of them. The payoff may not always be as great as literally becoming champion of the world but you can still get some personal victories in the meantime. Of course aside from more mini series I would still like to have either a bug budget anime version of Pokemon Ruby (Or Omega Ruby so we get Zinnia) or Pokemon Adventures. It’s time we get more media and it’s Pokemon so it would sell really well.

Overall 7/10

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

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen (2020) Review


It’s time to look at the 2020 remake of the classic Orphen story. This one takes a far different approach than the last one though which was pretty interesting. Azalie plays a much bigger role here which I was happy to see. It definitely ended up completely surpassing the original series. This one is a blast and a half from start to finish with excellent animation and story beats. If you want a solid action anime to check out then this is definitely the one that you will want to have at the ready.

The show starts by introducing us to Orphen. He used to be a member of the Tower of Fang but left to pursue Azalie since he disagreed with the Tower’s approach. Most of this is cloaked in mystery and explained as the story goes on so I’ll leave it there. He’s now a renegade mage trying to make ends meet until he can find her. He takes on an apprentice named Majic who really wants to be a great mage but Orphen doesn’t take him too seriously. A rich girl named Cleao also ends up joining the party so now this trio have to try not to hold Orphen back as they tag along. Orphen will have to go up against assassins, the Tower of Fang, and of course Azalie. Are his skills as a stabber and inheritor of the Razor’s Edge going to be enough for this?

The show starts off quite fast paced and it has to in order to cover all of this in only 13 episodes. The show does a great job of making you feel like a lot is happening. We get to see Orphen in a lot of different fights and scenarios. I’d say that the first arc of the series is naturally finding Azalie and then the second half is sort of about finding her again. We get mini arcs throughout of course so there’s always more than one plot going on. For example, one plot has the heroes head to an isolated village of people who can’t stand sorcerers. Naturally they aren’t too happy to see Orphen and pals so the heroes have to end up fighting them off.

Another mini arc and my personal favorite in the series is when a fake Orphen appears and stars murdering Tower of Fang members. Naturally this puts Orphen in a bad light especially as this clone looks like how Orphen was back when he was a member. Orphen has to try and take this guy out but the problem is that the Fake Orphen appears to be as powerful as Orphen was at his peak. Unfortunately the Orphen, he has actually grown weaker over the years because he is not able to actively train like he used to and so his skills have naturally deteriorated. It’s a pretty intense arc for sure.

Finally the last arc involves some more assassins. These guys want a book that the Tower of Fang currently possesses and they will do whatever they have to in order to get it. Once they start targeting Orphen’s friends he takes it personally and decides to remove them. He is a stabber after all and isn’t opposed to destroying his enemies when necessary. They went after Cleao and Leticia (Tish) so at this point Orphen needs to make sure they don’t go after anyone else.

The season ends with a nice cliffhanger setting up the next season pretty well. Once again Orphen and the gang are going to be heading to a place that isn’t exactly known for being nice for mages. Should make for a pretty tense second season. We already know Azalie can protect herself so the question is if Orphen’s up to the task. He never backs down from a challenge so I expect he will do just fine here. He’s ready for whatever they throw at him and is pretty good at using underhanded tactics in a fight to make up the power gap as well. He’s not the kind of guy who will just give up.

All of this is to say that Orphen is a pretty great main character. He has confidence and ability, two traits that you absolutely need to have.
His fight against the Fake Orphen is a good example of that. He was completely outmatched in terms of physical and magical ability so he had to win with his pure intelligence. Otherwise he had no real shot to pull this off. Same as when he fought with Azalie. He knew that he couldn’t take her down in a fair fight so he had to have some good equipment at the ready. It’s not really uncommon in this series for Orphen to be outmatched so it’s good that he’s so cunning. He is the inheritor to the Razor’s Edge which the show loves to bring up every episode and used to be the strongest but he no longer holds that title. Even so, I feel like he is second only to Azalie in terms of ability from Tower of Fang members. I wouldn’t be surprised if people outside of the tower would be able to take him on though. He didn’t exactly do well against the Elder Dragon.

Then we have the main heroine Cleao who is a fun character. She may not be much of a fighter but she’s a good morale booster and is always here to raise everyone’s spirits. She also has her pet dragon Lucky who can fight really well. At least this gives her something in the way of defense and she can land a surprise blow when needed. She definitely will always try to contribute when needed. Her role isn’t huge and it doesn’t look like she will ever be going into more of a full combat role but as it stands she does add to the dynamic.

Unfortunately Orphen’s other partner Majic is not nearly as good. He’s just around to hold the team back. He’s the hapless trainee whose abilities aren’t improving at nearly the rate he was hoping for. Usually that could be an inspirational character as you root for his success but he ruined that in his first appearance when he betrays Cleao’s confidence and only stops because he is caught. His character never recovered from this peeping incident and for the rest of the series I was rooting against him. Clearly Majic doesn’t have the discipline needed to improve his magical abilities.

You’ve also got the pair of comic relief characters Volcan and Dortin who follow the heroes around. Their roles have been greatly reduced compared to the original show though. They show up a few times as they sell out Orphen over and over again but that’s about it. They’re pretty fun though and it’s a comic relief kind of style that has aged pretty well. I dare say that it’s about as funny now as it ever was. Keeping it in short doses is probably a good thing though so we can really focus on the actual plot going on.

Azalie was always a great character in the original show and the same is true here. She makes for a very good wild card. I would certainly not call her a hero but as a loner she doesn’t mind helping the heroes out once in a while. Her abilities are still formidable and she only loses one fight in the series due to a good magical item. Otherwise she looked pretty much invincible. She definitely enjoys being quite mischievous and pranking Orphan all the time. It makes for a very fun dynamic and she really is the heard of the series. The whole thing revolves around her so much that you couldn’t have the show without her.

Then we have Childman who is a pretty interesting character. He certainly looks after Azalie like how Orphan does although in his own way. He doesn’t have a huge role in the series but gets a lot of respect in his own right. He’s certainly a powerful opponent and a pretty reasonable guy in general. At least he’s someone that you can count on when the going gets tough and that’s always important. We’ve also got Leticia who’s another high ranking member of the group. Her abilities are fairly decent although I wouldn’t say I was too impressed. Her first big fight doesn’t really go all that well. In a fair fight I’d take her over most of the opponents though. When you’re outnumbered it’s hard to really do much.

The other members of the Tower of Fang like Heartia or Forte are around but don’t do quite as much. The final character I’d single out here is the Fake Orphen who really steals the show. Naturally there’s a twist about his true identity. His episodes were really the peak of the series with how fantastic they were. This guy would really keep you on your toes the whole time and I loved his absolute confidence. He’s definitely one of the strongest characters in the series without a doubt. Unfortunately he will likely never appear again so you will need to have enjoyed these scenes as much as possible.

As mentioned, the animation is quite solid here. It’s definitely bright with a lot of good color contrasts. The energy fights are good and the same goes for the hand to hand choreography which is quite impressive. I think this goes a long way into helping shape the series into the great title it is. When you’re following a show that just looks really good in addition to its good writing and solid soundtrack then you’ve got a solid combo. The soundtrack may not be an all star or anything like that but I thought it sounded really good for the scenes that were there. You’ll hear the themes a lot over the course of the series. The opening theme is also pretty catchy for sure.

Another thing that separates this show from the average title is that it was even able to make the flashback scenes interesting. In most shows I definitely don’t look forward to flashbacks at best and normally I dread them. It’s the perfect way to absolutely destroy a show’s pacing and give us extra info we didn’t need to know. 9 times out of 10 we don’t need a sob story for the characters. Fortunately the flashbacks are actually pretty interesting this time though. I think they could even make a whole show about Orphen’s days at the academy. It’s always rare to see a main character who was stronger as a child than when he was grown up. The idea that he had to fight while always holding back at the Tower was a pretty interesting one that they could run with. The writing here is just exceptional and it’s why the show is so much fun and so interesting throughout.

Overall, Orphen is definitely a great anime. As a reboot it’s very easy for anyone to just pick up and watch as well. You don’t need to go back to the old shows and can just start here. The animation is very smooth and the writing is on point. The show really has no weaknesses and had no bad episodes. It just does a superb job of showing what you can do in 13 episodes. It set a high bar for the next season but I look forward to seeing what other adventures we get. This was definitely one of the more fun self contained shows I’ve seen in quite a bit. It really took all of the strengths of the first show and expanded on them.

Overall 8/10

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

Prétear Review


It’s time to look at a magical girl anime from the not so distant past. I haven’t seen a whole lot of titles from the genre but they tend to be pretty solid. This one’s no exception and makes for a good adventure. It’s not really trying to do anything particularly special and just tries to hit all the usual beats for what you would expect. So that means the show just has to execute well and I’d say that Pretear manages to do this. The show really ends before you know it and we get our good share of fight scenes.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Leafe Knights. They protect the world from demons and such that seek to suck the life out of the world. They operate in secret but have slowly been losing ground to the enemy. What they need is to find the legendary Pretear who is a teenage girl living somewhere on Earth. That leads us to Himeno whose father recently married into a rich family so now she has two step sisters and a step mom to get along with. Himeno really does her best to fit in but unfortunately her new family is not very receptive to her at all. Himeno never allows herself to get down about it though. One day a monster attacks and the Leafe Knights confirm that Himeno is their champion.

Himeno is a little reluctant to join at first but after getting insulted by Hayate she decides to become the Pretear. The only issue is that transforming is a little more awkward here as she has to merge with one of the guys to actually use her powers. Effectively which guy she merges with determines what element her abilities are. From there on she is tasked with destroying monsters as they appear but is there more to this than they are telling her? The Leafe Knights appear to be keeping quite a lot of secrets so this won’t be an easy journey for Himeno.

As the show is only 13 episodes it has to move at a pretty steady pace. While it doesn’t take a real dark turn the way Madoka did, we do get a pretty serious plot for the second half of the show that I thought was handled really well. We are introduced to the Princess of Disaster Fenrir. She is a very imposing villain and gave us a real threat. Her design was sharp and I liked her raw power output as well. I do think the series tries to go a little too hard for the emotional beats with her. It’s a little hard to buy into her backstory because she takes the whole thing way too hard. She is also quick on the rebound as well. Fenrir is at her best when she is just being an evil mastermind and messing with everyone. Her debut appearance in particular was really solid as she completely dismantled the team. I dare say that Fenrir did a lot in making the show’s plot pretty interesting.

Pretear is a very focused show which I appreciate. The episodes all tie into each other and something is always happening. There were no episodes that I would consider to be pointless/filler which is good since the title is so short. There is one character that I would consider to be pointless though and that is Yayoi. She’s supposed to be Himeno’s best friend from school but she rarely appears. When she does appear it’s just to talk about crazy ramblings and she really adds nothing to the story. Cutting her out entirely would have been fantastic because her scenes drag on and have no purpose. If you’re not enhancing the story then that’s just a bad thing.

Lets talk about the main character though. Himeno is pretty great. I like her enthusiasm throughout the show. She takes things in stride a lot better than most heroines. I would actually put her above Ichigo (Mew Mew Power), Sailor Moon (From…Sailor Moon), and Sakura (Cardcaptors) because of how resolute Himeno is. She just jumps into action and also proactively tries to get stronger. How many other leads do you see actually training between missions? I can’t think of a single time I saw the others actually training their abilities although it’s possible I’m not recalling their scenes. The point is that Himeno has a pretty tough living situation with characters actively trying to sabotage her and she never takes it personally. She has to put up with quite a lot but always ends up being the bigger person. Gradually this gets through to her new family and then they end up getting alone.

Himeno has some reservations about merging with the others but I don’t blame her there. Actually having to merge with someone doesn’t seem like an easy decision. Additionally it does lead to the show’s only real weak point in that the merging scenes are a bit fanservicey. More so than the other magical girl shows I’d say. It’s nothing too crazy but since she transforms in every episode with the same recycled animation it still does appear quite a bit. A good transformation scene shouldn’t need any fanservice. Just go for full silhouette and you’ll be okay.

Mayune is one of Himeno’s sisters and loves playing tricks on her. Most of the time they’re fairly harmless of course and Himeno dodges them all but that does mean Himeno always has to be on her guard. That’s got to be exhausting after a while. Mawata is the other sister and gets a much larger role. She has had a difficult time of it because she has always had to be the mature and sensible member of the family but that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. She’s naturally very quiet as well so the others don’t really reach out to see how she’s doing. Having this be a main plot in the show was good because we get a satisfying conclusion to it all. Ultimately Mawata doesn’t look great for parts of this but she has a much better excuse than other characters. Overall I thought she left more of an impression compared to most of the cast and she was solid. Definitely a character you can sympathize with.

Kaoru is Himeno’s father and he’s very annoying. For starters he doesn’t notice everyone picking on Himeno at all. He’s played completely for comic relief and is also oblivious to everyone’s insults. It’s great that he’s so in love with Natsue of course but I would have liked him to have been portrayed a little better. He should at least be aware of some of the things going on right? At the end he gets serious but it’s way too late. Meanwhile Natsue seems reasonable. I thought she was going to be portrayed as the extreme step mom but for the most part she’s amiable to Himeno. She may be slightly biased towards the others but it never gets too crazy. She also seems to think Kaoru goes a little too far at times but tries not to let it show.

Hayate is the main Leafe Knight so he gets a huge role. You probably know where his plot is headed the instant the show starts. He has a fun design and is definitely the “toughest” member of the group with how he acts. He’s always got a burn at the ready and doesn’t play nice like the others. In general the Knights are pretty weak without having a Pretear to merge with but at least he puts up a better fight than the others. I thought he worked pretty well. Meanwhile you have Sasami who is the quiet Knight but ends up being the worst one. He just can’t control himself very well and loses sight of what’s the right thing to do. He’s the kind of guy who lets romance end up ruining his life as he throws his morals away for a quick chance. I’ll give the show props for playing the second half straight though. Sasami completely goes in his direction. There’s no way I could forget that so he was one of the worst here but it was unexpected.

The show did a good job of throwing some twists and turns at you. For example there’s one character who is around quite a lot but in a very low key way so when a twist happens you’re pretty impressed. Sasami gets a plotline like that which is handled really well. It also gave Pretear an extra layer compared to what you would have expected and enhances the story quite well. It makes the show more memorable and when you throw in the action scenes you’ve got a solid show. It’s able to shift genres and get quite serious when needed as well.

After the main two Leafe Knights, the rest don’t have a whole lot to do. If anything the show probably had too many of them because the rest never get to do a whole lot. They show up and get their transformation episodes but otherwise they’re mainly around to get wrecked. I think the reason they are here is so we could have a whole team. I wouldn’t say any of them are bad characters though. I didn’t particularly like them much but as far as supporting characters go they served their purpose of being around for moral support. Mr. Tanaka on the other hand is more like Yoyoi in that he could have been cut out. His job in the series is to be the but of everyone’s jokes and to constantly get wrecked by everyone. The show didn’t need him as a comic relief character.

The show’s humor could get a little repetitive in that sense. There’s one running gag where Mayune constantly tries to seduce every guy she meets and this results in the exact same scenes over and over. Once or twice is fine I guess but it happens at least 3 times if not more. I feel like low key this was to save on budget but I dunno. The animation is good I’d say. It’s nothing particularly spectacular or anything but it’s not bad. It’s smooth enough where you can enjoy the fight scenes and the character designs. There’s one scene that is animated a bit oddly as Hayate tries to find Himeno though. We get a scene where he seemingly sees her and isn’t able to save her from a car in time but then later on it seems like that was a red herring and he never saw her. The whole thing was odd but that’s probably more of a directing thing than an animation error. So it’s not anything special but it works well enough.

The soundtrack isn’t too memorable but there was one theme I really liked. I guess I’d call it the danger theme or the Leafe Knight theme since it appears in one of the very first scenes in episode 1. Sadly after that it doesn’t appear much at all but it was good. It started the series off on a high note and let you know that things were getting serious right away. The villains may not have great designs but it quickly let you know that the aliens were ready to invade the planet. Fenrir may be the only big villain but she’s the only one we really need because of how powerful she is. The heroes aren’t ready to deal with someone like her.

Outside of the humor gag that didn’t work, the show’s writing and humor are solid overall. I like the banter with Hayate and Himeno. He definitely feels like a throwback to the classic Shojo hero who would always be rather standoffish with the main character. He insults her quite a lot but they still manage to grow fairly close. Now you knew this was coming but the romance isn’t particularly great though. Himeno seems confused on who she likes for a bit and there are a lot of rebounds happening here. I think you could cut out all of the romance to be sure but it could have been a lot worse. At least the tight script helps to make things work out here.

Overall, Pretear is definitely a really solid magical girl show. I haven’t seen too many in this genre so it was fun to jump on board. It develops the characters pretty quickly and gives us some nice writing and banter as well. The story is very direct and there are actually some twists and turns to keep you interested. If you’re looking for a fun little show to check out then this is definitely a good one to keep an eye on. That’s one thing that is always a lot of fun about shows that are only 12-13 episodes long. It’s easy to jump into them and more often than not the pacing is going to be fantastic because of how fast the plot has to move. Not every show has to be the next big all star and as long as you have solid fundamentals you’ll end up being a good adventure. That’s exactly how Pretear rolls.

Overall 7/10