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

The Reflection Review


Stan Lee made a few works over in Japan that I’ve already checked out. Hero Man was pretty fun. It was a good show/manga with a fairly basic premise but one that just worked out well. Then we had Ultimo which had a great premise, but questionable execution which caused it to stumble across the finish line. Finally we’ve got the Reflection and unfortunately this is closer to Ultimo than Hero Man. The terrible animation keeps this from being a true contender even though the story itself isn’t that bad. It’s not a show you’ll likely ever re-watch but it’s reasonably interesting.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Reflection event. One day a mysterious cloud showed up and rained the world in bolts of energy. These bolts destroyed some people and it gave others super powers. The vast majority of people experienced no real change. The ones who have changed are known as the Reflected. The ones who were blasted with purple energy turned into villains and the green rays turned the others into heroes. Society still doesn’t know how to deal with them so they’re treated like mutants in X-Men. The government wants no part of them and Reflected are at risk of being destroyed just trying to live in every day life. So when some of them go missing nobody seems to care.

This takes us over to Eleanor. She is looking into these vanishings and is approached by a guy named X-On who asks her to look into Wraith. She finds out that Wraith is related to a villain organization with some kind of mysterious plot. She doesn’t know what it is, but is quickly dragged into the battle. Wraith wants her as well as all of the other Reflected and is going around attacking political figures. Eleanor bands together with X-On to stop them and gradually the group grows but their partnership is a very weak one. Will they actually be able to work together or is this partnership doomed to fail?

Reflection’s plot is rather vague. Most of the series is the heroes trying to stop the villains, but not really knowing much about why they’re doing this. Stopping the kidnappings is reason enough so the heroes don’t really need to know much more than that. It’s easy to see that they’re not particularly invested though. Their fights tend to end in stalemates with the villains getting away. Even by the final episode we still don’t really know anything and everyone is at large so nothing really gets accomplished. Needless to say this show ends on a big cliffhanger which will likely never get resolved. It’s hard to know what the show was going for so it ends up being an odd experience, but not necessarily a bad one.

The show’s only real problem is the fact that the animation is terrible. It’s probably the worst animation I’ve seen aside from FLCL and Pop Team Epic. You could also make a strong argument that while those two were also using experimental animation styles they were higher quality than Reflections. Reflection looks like the 1960 Marvel motion comic shows based on Thor, Avengers, Iron Man, and the other originals. You have to take the time into account so back in the 60s that wasn’t bad. Post 2000s? That’s downright horrible. It’s really hard to get as invested in the show as you could have with proper animation. I’m convinced that it cost the title at least a star.

Reflection is only 12 episodes but it still made the questionable choice of having episode 2 basically be a repeat of 1. We go through the same events from a different point of view with recycled animation. I know this isn’t the first show to do it, but it’s a terrible move. The opening episodes are where you try to get in viewers. Using recycled footage like this is only good for eliminating viewers and no show would actually aim to do that. You can see how the show got off to a rocky start. At least the soundtrack is decent. It’s incredibly limited so you’ll be hearing the same tunes a lot but at least they aren’t bad.

Okay, I think we’ve got the negatives out of the way. Lets look at the positives. I-Guy is a fun character who gets a surprising amount of character development. He starts out as a bit of an annoying celebrity who values his background noises more than actually stopping the villains. This results in a lot of innocents getting murdered on numerous occasions. Eventually this leads to people close to him getting bumped off so he finally takes being a hero seriously and aims to wipe everyone out. He’s a compelling character and by the end I was more interested in his plot than X-On’s. I also liked the armor design.

Reflection also has a solid atmosphere. It’s similar to Dead Fantasy or early RWBY. Due to the nature of the animation and how gray-scale everything is, you can never tell when something serious is going to happen. I-Guy’s allies being murdered or the villains destroying the old lady are very unexpected. In a more traditional anime it’s often obvious when someone’s about to die and there’s a big deal made about it. In a show like this it just happens out of nowhere and you aren’t given as much time to process it before going to the next event. While some shows may go too far in the shock value, Reflection uses this sparingly which makes it that much more effective.

The various characters also have solid designs aside from I-Guy. A good amount of detail was put into the villains and heroes. Lets talk about some of the other heroes first. X-On is the main hero who shows up in every episode and he wants to get Wraith for personal reasons. We don’t end up learning what those are. He has some kind of mysterious origin which is the biggest deux ex machina I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I’ve seen people use that term a lot in anime, but this has to take the cake because there is nothing leading up to the twist. It also happens to be the only way that the heroes can possibly stop the villain’s plan. X-On isn’t one of the best characters though because he’s pretty mean to Eleanor for absolutely no reason. His tactics just make it easier for the villains to make a move. His copy ability is also super handy yet he uses it in all of the wrong situations. It should have made beating the enemies quite easy in a lot of episodes.

Eleanor is the heroine who gets dragged into all of this. She can teleport, but her ability has a short range and she isn’t exactly a fighter. She means well and does her best to help the others who are in trouble. Unfortunately she cracks by the end of the show and makes a terrible decision. At the end of the day she is the one who pulls the trigger on making a really terrible call. It’s at the very end so I wouldn’t say it’s a character destroying moment though. At least it made her more interesting. It just came at a heavy cost.

Lisa has the ability to turn into a giant mech which is pretty handy. The robot may be clunky but it is very durable which is handy. She’s a little impatient at times and just wants to jump into action. I’m not the biggest fan of her character. From the heroes she is one of the less interesting ones. The worst would have to be Michael though. His ability is that he can see other Reflected so he takes them all to an underground shelter. Most of them seem to like this but it ends up just gathering everyone together to get bumped off. Too bad most of them can’t fight right? His partner is Vy, who used to be his wife until she was turned into a giant monster. She’s a lot better than Michael as she can fight and actually does well against the villains. Usually he chickens out and tells her to stop early though which is unfortunate.

From the villains we had a lot of members but most of them didn’t have much character. Wraith doesn’t actually do anything until the last 2 episodes. He has a cool design and his powers are definitely crazy. The guy likes using a lot of mind games but at the end of the day his big plan is basically to merge with darkness and give up on life. It’s not the best way to go out and as a leader it basically means he failed. His plan doesn’t make any sense to me and just seems pretty terrible to be honest.

We had a thunder villain named Volt who really didn’t have much character. He appears a lot but doesn’t do much. Same can be said for the guy who can turn into a dog. Flaming Fury’s character seems to be that she is merciless even as far as the villains go. Her fire abilities are fun at least. Then you’ve got Stan Lee who you expect to be the big villain the whole time but it turns out that he is just another underling working for Wraith. His telepathy is good but it seems like he may not be able to fight.

The two biggest villains were Steel and Dead Wing. Steel is the squad leader while the villains are on a mission. She can manipulate steel and is a formidable foe. Towards the end of the series she starts to have doubts on her mission, but it seems late for that since she is one of the main villains who was murdering a bunch of people. It’s possible that she is related to Eleanor or something based on how she acts at the end. From the villains I’d say that she was my favorite though. I like a good character arc and she probably would have had a good one.

Finally we have Dead Wing who seems to particularly like messing with I-Guy. In this case I don’t think there is a connection though and he just enjoys murdering everyone. His fights with I-Guy get pretty boring after a while but I suppose you have to like his confidence. No matter how many times he gets beaten he gets right back up. It works out well for him too since in the final fight he was easily dominating I-Guy. That’s why you should always fire your lasers when you’re in a robot suit instead of falling to your knees immediately.

Now there is one more problem I had with the show. That’s the fact that the heroes and villains keep fighting each other over and over with no actual progress being made. I-Guy fights Dead Wing 4-5 times throughout the series which is way too often. There’s not much point having a colorful villain cast when it’s always going to be the same pairings. It would help if the fights weren’t always stalemates but almost every time the fight ends with one character just walking away. That gets old very quickly. Same with X-On vs Flaming Fury or Steel. A lot of the time it feels like these fights are just to buy time. It’s less of a problem in most shows because at least you have fun animation but we’ve already gone over the fact that this won’t be happening here. This show easily has some of the most boring battles I’ve ever seen.

Reflection also seemed to forget about some of its characters at times. I suppose in fairness the show must have planned this out, but throughout the show there is a group of girls who are on their way to America. It takes them forever to make it though and they fight until the very last episode of the show. You’re waiting since episode 1 or 2 and the payoff is terrible. Literally they lose their first fight so what was the point of the hype? I expected them to at least win, but even 4 against 1 they ended up getting completely wrecked. I don’t think the writers were big fans of these characters.

Overall, The Reflection is a show that is interesting for its plot and atmosphere. You should be engaged on your first run through. It’s playing itself up as a mystery and that’s what it is. That’s the best way to go into the show. The animation will prevent you from ever coming back to the show on a second run. It does succeed in looking a lot like a comic book, the problem is that it looks like one of those comics that I probably wouldn’t check out of the library. There’s just not a whole lot for you to come back and experience. If it ever got a second season I would certainly be there though. One of Reflection’s greatest strengths is the fact that it didn’t make any big mistakes. While that may not sound as enticing as other positives, it’s still an important one to have. If you want to see Stan Lee’s take on creating a whole new set of heroes and villains then this is a fun one to check out. Get ready to watch the characters make some questionable decisions though. The only one who can save them all is I-Guy.

Overall 6/10

10 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

RWBY Volume 7 Review


It’s always a sad day when a RWBY volume ends. It’s a pretty long wait til the next one but at least in the meantime we can keep watching this one over and over again. The volume had a bit of a slow start in terms of action so initially I was a bit concerned but the final few episodes made for a really epic climax. This ended up being one of the best volumes yet. The fight scenes have improved again to the point where they are finally back up to around volume 3 level.

This volume starts off with team RWBY finally making it into Atlas. It’s been a long journey for the team but now they can talk to Ironwood about stopping Salem. He has been quite busy since volume 4 and has amassed an impressive army to combat her including the AceOps, a group of powerful fighters who are known as the best of the best. The heroes train and get some upgrades while in Atlas, even meeting up with a rebuilt Penny. The peace doesn’t last for long though as Salem sends Watts and Tyrian over to create some general chaos in Atlas. Meanwhile Cinder and Neo are after the maiden and the artifact. If the heroes aren’t careful they may lose everything. Do they retreat or hold their ground? Ironwood, Robyn, and Mr. Schnee all have their own ideas on what to do next.

A lot happens here even if the experience will feel pretty short due to how much fun it is. I believe this was one of the longest seasons to date and Rooster Teeth has done a good job of getting the episodes to pretty consistent run times. I’d like to eventually see every episode be around 25 minutes, but one step at a time. There’s so much that the volume does right so it’s almost hard to know where to start. First, one big positive here is that the story moves along quite a bit. We get through a solid chunk of the Atlas arc here to the point where the next volume should end it. We get to wrap up Weiss’ plot as well as get to the heart of Ironwood’s character arc. The pacing is solid.

The animation is definitely top notch. As I mentioned earlier, these are the best that the fights have looked in quite a while. It’s not like RWBY ever got bad at that though. Volume 4 did have the Team vs Tyrian fight which is still one of the best fights in the series and Volume 5 of course had the big Raven vs Cinder match. Volume 6 had the Grim Reaper battle as well as the climax with Adam. I’d say that the main difference is that in volumes 4 and 5 it felt like the team only had time for one big fight so the rest of the fight scenes suffered a bit. Volume 6 got past that and then Volume 7 is really thriving. We’re back to fun team combos and good background effects that amp up the battle.s

Ironwood’s battle is a good example of this with gravity playing an effect in the confrontation. It really adds an extra dynamic to the whole thing. Then Team RWBY’s fight was excellent. While most of it isn’t a pure 4 vs 4 fight, you’ve still got a lot of people moving at the same time which is something the series was infamously unable to do in the Volume 5 climax. (I’d still like to see the team re-make that fight someday) It’s a good benchmark to see how the series has really grown since then.

Then we’ve also got an excellent soundtrack which should come as no surprise since the series always has great tunes. We get the excellent Hero theme that plays during Ironwood’s fight. I’ve listened to that one a very large number of times at this point. The song that plays during the RWBY fight was also really solid. Those are the 2 best themes for me, but the credits villain theme is also solid as well as the intro. I look forward to seeing the full soundtrack for this volume coming out so we can hear the full versions of these songs.

Now we’re going to enter the more detailed part of the review so these parts will have spoilers. If you need to know the score now then know that it is a perfect 10. RWBY never delivers anything short of perfection. RWBY is definitely still the best show out there and it’s also part of why I have to discuss it in such detail. I can’t leave a stone unturned and I’m always browsing the reddit to see what everyone else thinks of the big events. It’s a title where there will always be a good amount of discussion.

The first big topic for debate here is Ironwood’s decision of course. Ironwood himself is a pretty complex character. He’s been doing his best to fight Salem since Volume 3, but things never turn out so well for him. In Volume 3 things don’t go well because Ozpin stays tight lipped about everything and doesn’t let Ironwood in quick enough. By Volume 6 2 of the 4 Kingdoms have already been defeated (Haven is still around, but without a headmaster or a relic it can’t do much to help) and so Atlas seems like it may be the next target. Given this, Ironwood has been building up his army. He has everyone fully mobalized and even got the AceOps ready for action. He’s done a tremendous job of getting everyone in tip top shape. The army may still need a little work since team RWBY got in so easily but it’s still pretty solid as a whole.

Unfortunately intruders are still getting into Atlas and Salem threatens to make an appearance as well. There is no time for Ironwood to achieve his goal of getting the communication tower up in time and the heroes could barely fend off the first wave of Grimm so the whole army would dominate them. Ironwood then makes the controversial decision to jettison Atlas into space to avoid the Grimm and in theory Salem won’t be able to chase him there. At the very least it’ll take some time for her to get up there so he can smoke out the intruders and think up a plan. Team RWBY disagrees which leads to their big fight with the AceOps.

Ruby does have the moral high ground here since abandoning a whole half of the country to die is not heroic no matter how you slice it. On a practical level Ironwood is right that they’ll all die down there given how powerful the Grimm are. It’s a matter of do you let everyone die or half of them? It’s not the heroic move, but Ironwood’s decision is the most rational. I think a good compromise team RWBY could have gone for would be to quickly gather everyone who wasn’t already evacuated into Atlas. They already got some of them over, just not everyone. This would also seal the deal for the rest of the survivors though so in effect helping Ironwood would also go against RWBY’s goals here. It’s easy to see why this would lead to a fight.

I hope the series keeps Ironwood as an anti-hero who is doing what he can, but finds himself on the wrong moral side each time rather than becoming a full villain. He’s getting dangerously close to that with how he shot Oscar. The line he used for that was pretty awesome though and one of the best lines in RWBY. This volume helped Ironwood rise up from just another character to being in my top 5 now. I may need to make a new top 10 RWBY characters editorial soon since it’s been shaken up so much. At the moment my top 10 would be 1. Adam 2. Ironwood 3. Cinder 4. Yang 5. Raven 6. Neo 7. Torchwick 8.Weiss 9.Mercury 10. Ruby but it’s definitely a list that tends to change quite a bit. Ironwood’s just made for a great character and now that he is officially becoming a third party to contend with it makes him that much more interesting. I really hope he doesn’t die in the next volume although it’s looking likely. Realistically he won’t be defeating Salem or Cinder but hopefully he can bump off at least one more side villain like Mercury or Hazel.

The whole Atlas debate was a pretty big part of the volume. Meanwhile we had the Atlas election which was the setup for all of this. The Weiss family drama was less interesting, but still a necessary part in all of this since we had been waiting so long for some closure. I’m still not a big fan of Weiss’ Mom. At least Whitley is a little interesting with where his character may go. There are a lot of options for him for sure. Then Weiss’ father gets his end. He had a pretty good run and he’s a fun guy to have around. I’d have liked him to manipulate the others a little more instead of getting manipulated but I suppose that’s how it goes some times.

Winter is a character who hadn’t appeared in a long while so it was good to see her return. She’s still a little too fixated on following the law though to the point where she isn’t choosing to step up and help Weiss. For characters like her I always like to see them ultimately betray the law to help their family out. Those who do not end up suffering a big fall and it’s hard to rise back up as a character. Byakuya from Bleach pulled it off so Winter could as well, but this was not her best volume. I’m fine with her getting wrecked by Cinder since I don’t consider them to be in the same league, but I’d have liked her to have been more supportive of Weiss. I do like to think that maybe she would have helped if Weiss was actually brought in although I have my doubts.

Penny’s return was another controversial part of the volume. Especially since it was confirmed that she wouldn’t be coming back several years ago after her death. Plans change so you should never put too much stock into interviews and such outside of the show though. In-universe she is a robot so it makes sense that she could come back. Personally I would have rathered she did not. In general not bringing a character back is the right move, but it can all work out if the character has great scenes. Take Cinder for example. I’m glad she was brought back since she has had several great fights since then. At the time I’d have preferred she stayed dead, but what’s done is done. So going forward in volume 8 it’s not like I’ll still be dwelling on it. She’s here so now I’m looking forward to her getting some big fights. She’s going to be a real powerhouse now so hopefully Ironwood is unable to take control of her or the heroes are going to be in some major trouble.

Watts gets his first big role of the series and looks pretty good. His battle with Ironwood is handled really well and they both got a good amount of hype there. Watts’ motivations may be weaker than some of the other villains, but it’s still one you can understand. He feels like he should have gotten the headmaster position at Haven. I think he would have done a way better job than Lionheart, but I’m sure Ironwood had his reasons for doing that. It’s still no excuse for being evil. I’m surprised that Ironwood let him live, but Watts could end up being pretty useful going forward.

Then we have the AceOps who all become pretty big characters by the end. Clover gets the biggest role for sure. He’s a solid commander who seems to be going for a bit of a Captain America vibe. Unfortunately he makes one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen as he decides to prioritize going after Qrow instead of Tyrian. Qrow even points out that this is crazy but Clover won’t listen to reason and gets murdered over that decision. It was hard to feel bad for him there because the entire thing was completely his fault. Qrow did his best to go after Tyrian, but Clover made that impossible.

The rest of the AceOps come across as more reasonable. While they are trying to take out Team RWBY, it’s because they see their orders as being the right ones. Harriet is the main fighter of the group and she has the right idea of going all out from the start. Marrow mentions that he doesn’t want to destroy the heroes, but ironically Weiss tries to slice off their heads at the exact point he says that. Team RWBY isn’t holding back so they can’t either. Besides, you aren’t able to destroy someone if they still have Aura unless your attack is that much stronger like Adam’s famous slash which took off Yang’s arm. Either way holding back will only get you injured. Harriet was determined and even after being tied up gave Ruby a good fight.

Marrow comes across as the most reasonable of the members. He doesn’t fall for Robyn’s mind games which was impressive since everyone always falls for that. His power to stop time of either one person at a time or everyone in his line of sight is a really good ability. He’s nigh unstoppable in a 1 on 1 fight but Weiss ended up being a bad match up for him. Elm and Vine get the smallest roles of the group. Vine is the most emotionless of the group and doesn’t find any of this personal. He’s just following orders and doing what he’s got to do in order to claim victory here. Elm takes this very personally as she is quite eager and willing to put team RWBY down for good.

One thing I greatly appreciated here was the fact that Team RWBY beat AceOps fair and square. I was worried that the fight would get broken up or they would get saved, but fortunately that does not happen. RWBY just shuts them down systematically and it was quite satisfying. I also liked Ruby’s confidence there as she doesn’t always show that lately. Flat out telling AceOps that RWBY is more talented was really great. This is the kind of development I like to see from her as team leader.

Meanwhile we had one more big new character in the form of Robyn. Unfortunately I was really not impressed with her. For starters her fighting abilities are really just now impressive. She has a crossbow as her weapon which is a questionable choice at best because there just isn’t anything you can really do with that. All of the characters fighting at this level can move fast enough to catch or dodge any such arrows. It leaves her with no real room to grow. She goes down quite quickly in each match. I was hoping she would have been more of a serious third party character to worry about, but in the end Ironwood ended up taking that role so there was nothing really left for her to do. A shame of course, but I suppose it couldn’t be helped. I hope she is able to make a comeback in the next volume. She talks really tough every time so that makes me think there is still hope for her to make a comeback if she can just get a little stronger.

I can’t say that I really have any formal negatives with the volume. Even the weakest aspects of RWBY are quite solid. If there’s a plot we could remove, I wouldn’t mind losing the Ren and Nora one. Their romance hasn’t really worked since day 1 and they were better off as close friends. It is also quite telling that the instant Nora distracted Ren was when the villains attacked so he was unable to help out. It ended up costing quite a few lives. Maybe the show will use that to end this sub plot. Ren’s also been panicking a lot so if one member of the team gets bumped off I could see it being him. Team Jaune in general spent the volume not doing much and getting wrecked along the way. They haven’t really kept up with Team RWBY in terms of power although I wouldn’t expect them to. The main characters should always be in a different level compared to the supporting ones. That’s just how these things go.

Cinder and Neo still make for a pretty dangerous team. Cinder needs to watch her back since a betrayal could happen at any point. It’s a little hard for me to believe that Cinder was unable to get past the other Maiden’s ice abilities though. Cinder is a maiden herself and I can understand losing to Raven since Raven had years of experience, but an old maiden who’s getting ready to die? I’m not sure I can buy into that one. For Neo it was great to see her take down the heroes. I’ve always seen her as a top tier fighter close to Maiden level so it’ll be interesting to see who is actually able to stop her. The longer she goes undefeated the more she will stay in her mythical status of being seen as basically untouchable.

As for Team RWBY, they all look good. Blake doesn’t do too well in the big fight at the end as she has to get saved twice, but she still does contribute in the fight. Yang looks great throughout here as she helps the team make their decisions and also has the power to get things done when it counts. She is still using a lot of strategy in her fights which is good to see. Ruby looks great in the volume as she takes charge and gives orders with one exception. She only didn’t look very good in Salem’s big scene where Ruby bursts into tears right away. I thought she fell to tears way too quickly if you ask me and it just wasn’t very deserved at the time. It also made Ironwood’s decision that much easier since if the leader of the heroes bursts into tears when the villain shows up then they really don’t have much of a chance. Hopefully Ruby can keep it together when they actually fight Salem.

For Weiss this was an especially big volume. At long last she won her first true 1 on 1 fight which was awesome. It’s about time since she has trained a whole lot over the years. She earned this victory and also helps the team out quite a lot. Her summoning is only going to get better from here on out and that’ll make her a true threat in combat. Then we have Qrow who looks pretty good here. He still has some trouble with his bad luck like nearly tripping once, but as least he doesn’t spend the volume looking super nerfed or feeling sorry for himself this time. He looks pretty decent as he keeps up with Clover and Tyrian. It’ll also be interesting to see if he does try to assassinate Ironwood in the next volume. I’m surprised he let himself be captured though because that’s always a very dangerous risk.

Finally we’ve got Oscar who is doing his best to fit in with the crew. He still feels way weaker than the others, but always does his best to give good advice and talk to the various characters. Ozpin misses most of the volume so this is really just good ole Oscar. I’m not his biggest fan, but he’s not bad. There’s no way he should have actually landed that punch on Neo though. I don’t think anyone was buying that. She’s way too nimble and if she meant to knock him out then Oscar should not be waking up anytime soon.

So in the end I thought about it quite a bit and I would actually put this as the second best volume in the series. Right now I’m going to put the volumes as 3>7>6>2>5>1>4. 2 and 5 are pretty close but the train fights are still just too amazing to pass up. If the trend continues then Volume 8 could finally be the one to pass 3. It’ll be tough but with how many cool things are set up to happen we could reach that level. I’m ready for Salem to finally step in the ring herself. Sadly there is no after credits scene in this volume but I’d recommend sticking through the credits just for the song.

Overall, RWBY Volume 7 is a really great volume. We got to see more of Cinder and Neo which is always great as well as some excellent action scenes with RWBY and Ironwood to close things off. The first 9-10 episodes are a little slow, but the final few really help to give us the action we needed. It’ll work well in movie format since you can see all of that as set up for the big fights in the end. The ending is always super important and RWBY always delivers there. If you haven’t watched RWBY before then you need to do yourself a favor and check it out. You can watch this volume from the start and get what is happening since the volume is made in a clear way so you can watch it as a stand alone title, but you’d be missing out on so many hype scenes from the earlier days. I’d advise you to start from scratch.

Overall 10/10

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

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Review


It’s time to look at the new Kino series. This one is effectively a remake of the old one in a way as some stories are re-adapted while others are looked at for the first time. Since the series is an anthology in a sense the stories will always differ a bit. Anthologies are still the riskiest type of story telling since there are so many different adventures that one is bound to drag the rest down. Unfortunately this was the case here. They say that a bad ending can hurt the whole product and it is true. An ending can really change things and this series had one of the worst final episodes I’ve ever seen.

The basic premise of the series is that Kino and her sentient bike Hermes travel the world seeing a lot of different countries. Their rule is that they can’t stay anywhere for more than 3 days. That’s because any longer and you may get attached to the place, but Kino wants to stay a traveler for her whole life. She has to keep on moving and so she follows this rule. That’s also why the series is able to be an anthology as each place is different. There is also a different main character for some episodes but more on that later. As an anthology it makes sense to look at the episodes so lets take a look at each adventure.

Our first episode sees Kino head into a country where murder is legal. As a result you’d expect the place to be very chaotic but it’s strangely peaceful. Kino enjoys the place quite a bit although she keeps her guard up at all times just in case. After all most places tend to seem better than they are. The twist here is handled pretty well and ends up making the place one of the better towns we’ve seen in the series. It’s certainly not an area to be trifled with and I think Kino would have fit in quite well.

Next up was one of the better episodes where we meet the other main character Shizu and his dog Riku. Kino enters a land where she is forced to participate in a tournament against other fighters. It’s all held under the authority of a corrupt king who forces travelers to participate and most if not all of them end up murdered. Kino begins taking down all her opponents and aims to seemingly end this while Shizu has similar goals. It’s a pretty intense episode and we get more fight scenes than usual which is nice. Shizu is also a good fighter so Kino finally has a good rival. Typically in the series she is portrayed as being pretty much invincible.

The twist ending here is definitely unexpected as it portrays Kino as being particularly merciless. We know that she is not a hero, but in this episode she goes as far as to basically be a big villain. She is directly responsible for triggering a mass murder at the end of the episode and she did so intentionally. It’s hard to really forgive her for this by the end and for the rest of the series you probably won’t be rooting for her quite as much. It’s possible for a hero to become a villain that you still root for sort of like Garou but the goals are a big part of that. Kino really doesn’t have any goals which hurts her personality.

In the third episode we see a moving country that likes to roll right over other countries as it destroys them entirely. The country has the same mission as Kino, to travel the world. The main difference is that the entire country moves around and it’s inside a giant armored shell so they just blow up anyone who tries to stop them. One country refuses to move and they end up paying the price. Kino gladly helps the moving country take care of these guys as well. They are giving her a free ride after all. It’s an interesting concept to have a moving country like this but you’re definitely hoping someone does shut these guys down soon.

Next up we got the return of Shizu as he finds a shady country that lives on a big boat. The boat is failing so eventually everyone is going to die. Shizu warns the leaders of this, but they refuse to listen. He doesn’t want to let everyone die so he decides to stop the boat by force only to be met up with the main antagonist Kino. She is working for the boat guys and so they have to have another fight. Shizu also meets a little girl named Ti who has had a pretty tough time of it and decides to adopt her. He intends to find a nice country where they can finally relax but it’ll be tough to find a good place. This was another fun episode in part because Shizu is just such a great lead. This guy’s a hero who is out to stop the villains whenever possible and I’d be up for a full series about him.

The next episode involves a lot of lies within lies. Kino finds out about some people who seemingly died, but then again maybe they didn’t. It’s an interesting concept where everyone knows the lie, but they don’t know that the others do. It’s an infinite loop where everyone has to play dumb until someone makes the first move. It’s a little tragic for everyone involved, so Kino just takes a sip of tea and leaves them to it. I do think the whole situation may make you roll your eyes a bit. Hopefully the characters just allow themselves to learn the truth at some point.

Following that up was the darkest episode in the season and certainly the weakest one aside from the final episode. We see a travelling caravan of merchants who have a slave girl with them. They force her to do all of the chores and such without really letting her eat or anything. The whole episode is them mistreating her as she tries to keep on a brave face throughout. They go to a poisonous area and everyone ends up dying except her. She gets a happy ending, but the episode is pretty unpleasant. For a while you may even think this was Kino’s origin story since there are a lot of similarities to the lead, but ultimately the episode doesn’t go down that route.

After that we got a pretty solid episode with Kino’s master and her partner. They enter a town where the partner is arrested and so she decides to break him out and they take over the town. We get some fun spy scenes and I like both the Master and the Partner. These two characters have a really solid dynamic and they have their epic entrance theme. The town definitely gets wrecked pretty badly by the two characters, but in the end they all get a reasonably happy ending. The Master’s team definitely won though. It was a fun prequel adventure and I’d be glad to see more of those.

Next up we see Shizu again. There’s this one town where people randomly turn evil and start murdering others once in a while. They blame it on radio waves so people don’t get arrested and go back to living normal lives. It’s pretty dark since everyone knows they get one chance to do something as evil as they want and there will be no punishment. Shizu goes out to the tower to prove that this is fake, but the town refuses to believe him. He does his best to change their minds, but is ultimately forced to leave with the assistance of Ti who causes a distraction. Shizu makes for an interesting lead as always, but the episode does cross into extra grim territory with everyone in the school getting murdered. It was definitely a twisted town.

The next episode was an anthology inside of an anthology which was definitely an odd choice. The stories were fun enough but the highlight was the two bandits who are wondering who they should try to rob. Kino passes by them and they wisely decide not to attack her since they would have been promptly murdered. Then you have Shizu’s group and again the bandits decide not to attack since they’d be sliced and diced. We find out that the reason why they are so wary is because they tried attacking Kino’s master once and lost most of their men real quick. Being a bandit just doesn’t pay off in the end.

After that we get an emotional story where Kino heads to a town that is known to be really mean to strangers. Surprisingly everyone is nice to her and she has a good time. It all seems pretty odd but she takes it in stride before leaving. Naturally there is a pretty big twist to the episode and the ending does make a lot of sense. Naturally Kino had to wreck this ending by pointing out that her first thought was almost a glad one because she didn’t want the extra responsibility of watching over someone. If you want extra context for this you’ll need to see the episode but it’s such a terrible first reaction to what just happened.

Next up was Kino’s big origin story. She grew up in a country where things get pretty dicey for kids and the original Kino learned this the hard way. It was nice to see the first Kino even though he looked pretty bad here. He’s definitely not quite as well trained as the current main character. It’s an interesting enough story. There’s not really a twist here compared to most of the other stories, but I suppose an origin didn’t really need a twist right?

Then we’ve got the terrible final episode. Kino and Hermes are travelling between lands when they run into a bunch of sheep. These sheep are particularly violent and just want to murder all travelers. Naturally Kino and Hermes are not exempt from this and so they have to be on the run. There is no escape though so Kino decides that she will murder all of them and does just that. The majority of the episode is Kino blasting them with fire, running over them, and then shooting them. It’s a really mean spirited episode that threw in a lot of animal violence for no reason. It’s a shame because the series hadn’t really had any animal violence before that. It was hard to believe what I was watching with that ending.

The character cast is very small since most of the stories make up their own leads. Hermes is a reasonable sidekick to Kino, but he does feel like a yes man half the time. He always gives her assurances that what she is doing isn’t all that bad which helps to justify her behavior. He’s also pretty helpless without her so it’s not like he can help much. Kino’s a unique character since she just looks out for herself and comes off as more of a villain than a hero half the time. She just wants to have a good time and so she does whatever she wants. If a villain helps her out she will likely return the favor and she doesn’t want to be burdened by anyone. I really wasn’t a fan of her in this series.

Shizu was great though and he stood out even more than in the original series. He was a great lead in all of his episodes and part of what made him so good is that he’s looking out for Ti. It’s not easy to have to be looking out for someone else like this, but he was ready. His dog’s decent, but the weakest of the 3. Meanwhile Ti is solid. She knows how to fight a bit with grenades and is a very solid supporting character to have. Her dynamic with Shizu is really good. I said it earlier, but I’d like to see more of them. Meanwhile the Master and her partner were also good. I liked the partner’s confidence. The Master tends to slam his ideas down, but he never loses his nerve and keeps on trying to be helpful.

The animation is pretty good. I wouldn’t call it excellent or anything like that as it’s going for a bit of a simple style, but it still looks clear enough to me. The character designs are on point and we get some nice action scenes as well. The best action scenes are always with Kino’s old mentor as they take the place down. We usually quickly cut away to the aftermath as this series isn’t really about the action but it works well when it occurs. The soundtrack is more low key so that part isn’t as impressive. I did like one theme though and coincidentally it always shows up for the mentor as well. It’s the main battle theme of the series.

So the series definitely has its ups and downs. One thing I’ll give the series is that it’s usually pretty interesting. Take away 3-4 episodes and the rest of it was pretty solid with the twists and that Twilight Zone feel. The series is at its best when everything feels rather odd and you don’t know what to expect. The mystery is what the series thrives on. If we ever get an actual arc where the whole season is one story I think that would have a lot of potential. I really wouldn’t mind if we switched main characters though.

Overall, Kino’s Journey is a series that will have a hard time really hitting the next level. Anthologies just limit themselves with the style that they have and I would say that the original Kino’s Journey was a little better. The title is like a modern day Twilight Zone so if that sounds interesting to you then you should check it out. Each episode has a different theme going on and there is usually a twist. Some episodes can be very light hearted and fun while others can be dark and dreary. You never know quite what you’re about to get. If you want a series that’s more consistent with its tone then you should check out Black Clover instead. That one’s sure to deliver with the epic fight scenes for you.

Overall 5/10

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

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: Nemesis Raetsel Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Phi Brain season. The first two seasons were pretty great so I was ready to jump into the next season. This one is also very good although I would say that it is the weakest season of the 3. It just has a hard time keeping up with the first two because of Jin’s antics. His character gets flushed away here, but fortunately Kaito still makes for a pretty epic main character. We also get to see a lot of the big characters from the first two seasons show up which is always cool. All in all, it makes for a good wrap up to the series.

The season starts with Kaito solving another puzzle as per usual. It’s a little odd that there was still a puzzle around since they should have all been solved, but he doesn’t think too much of it. This changes when a girl named Raetsel shows up and kidnaps Jin. Kaito gives chase while the rest of the Phi Brain children are attacked by a man named Enigma. He is the leader of the Master Brains, a group who is dedicated to destroying all puzzlers. He states that the group is doing this under Jin’s orders. Up til now Kaito has known Jin as his trusted master who loved all puzzles and was a hero through and through. Is it possible that this was all a lie?

Why not ask Jin? Well, they try this, but Jin is no help since he is still missing most of his memories after getting steam rolled by the main villain in season 1. Jin never truly recovered from that in future seasons and even now he is being affected. He spends most of the season teetering like a rag doll between sides as he lets everyone speak for him. Jin is effectively an echo chamber or a mindless monster who follows whatever people say. He has no will of his own and unless he is being possessed you can’t expect him to do much of anything here. He’s a bit of a dull character who is always getting everyone in trouble. He never really shapes up so hopefully you enjoy his character more than I did. He’s the weakest one in the season.

Fortunately to counter that the other villains are pretty solid. One of the new ones here is Raetsel and she claims that she’s known Jin back during the “missing” year he had and that he does in fact despise puzzles. She is a talented solver which isn’t surprising since she was trained by Jin himself. Raetsel definitely doesn’t like Kaito since from her point of view he basically took Jin away from her. It wasn’t really his fault as Jin was just a jerk, but as a kid it was hard for her to know better. Raetsel does tend to get manipulated a bit as the series goes on and I would have liked her to defect early on, but she still has a strong showing overall. She’s another great rival for Kaito and we even got a duel involving her, Rook, Gammon, Freecell, and Kaito which was pretty amazing. Pretty much all of the big rivals were there.

Enigma is another big villain here and he was fun. He’s not as solid as the other master strategist from season 2, but he’s got the smug demeanor down pat. You always want to have a villain with a lot of confidence like this. He’s also good at what he does as shown by how he easily betrays so many other villains in the process. That’s not exactly an easy thing for anyone to pull off. I don’t think anyone expected him to be the final boss or anything like that, but he definitely does last for quite a while.

Unfortunately in this season Gammon doesn’t get to do much. In the first two seasons he was one of Kaito’s biggest rivals, but you can tell that he’s slowly stopped being able to catch up to the lead. Gammon is seen as more of an after thought and only gets 2-3 big puzzles during the whole season. It’s a shame but he did get a really big role in the first two seasons so I suppose eventually he had to slow down. He still talks tough to an extent, but is more on automatic mode than anything else. Gammon’s really just going through the motions at this point rather than actively trying to be the best.

The rest of the Phi Brain children also don’t get to do much here. Cubik gets wrecked in the very first episode of the season which is quite good foreshadowing of how useful he will be for the rest of the season. He’s never been the best solver though so it’s not as if it is out of the blue. He does his best when he appears, but I’ve never been a particularly big fan of his. Ana was also one of the more quirky solvers who relies on mind games more than skill. There isn’t really anyone here with personal ties to her which limits her abilities. Nonoha was never a solver anyway so she doesn’t get to do much of course, but she’s always around for moral support which is important. She’s a nice character as always.

Kaito is a top notch lead as always. It’s pretty rough for him since in every season the villains use mind games to get to him. It’s established early on that Kaito is one of the greatest solvers of all time. He’s only lost maybe 2-3 duels in the entire show in fair fights. Usually the only other way he will lose is if someone is messing with his mind or if there is some kind of device limiting his abilities. The latter doesn’t get to happen this time, but the mind games are still present. Jin and Raetsel do a number on him and he also gets more visions of how the world will end depending on his actions. It’s a lot of pressure but he does a good job of getting past it.

At the end of the day Kaito just loves solving puzzles and the villains aren’t able to take that away from him. He jumps into every battle and is quite impulsive so he just leaps in without a plan. Kaito’s a bit of a loner despite the group he usually travels with and isn’t opposed to fighting a villain one on one. I definitely liked him quite a lot and while Gammon was fighting neck and neck with him for the earlier seasons, it’s clear that Kaito is the best at least in this season.

Meanwhile Rook has now become one of the big executives of the puzzles group that used to be evil. He is now more of a planner than an active participant although he does get to have a few duels regardless. He looks pretty solid although there was one point where I disagreed with him. He basically told all of the heroes that they weren’t allowed to go after the villains. He figured it was a trap and so they needed to stay put. It’s not the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but time was of the essence and they needed to free Jin. Not going wasn’t going to solve anything and so Kaito rightfully ditched Rook. Rook tried forcing the issue with a lethal duel and I was just not on his side the whole time. Also by fighting each other it was playing into the villain’s hands. I do like the idea of having all 5 of the super geniuses across the 3 seasons fighting each other to awaken their true powers. Since it’s been such a long time and you had characters from different seasons (3 from season 1, 1 from season 2, and 1 from season 3) it was a nice balance. I think everyone would expect Kaito and Raetsel to be the final survivors, but I won’t confirm if that was the case.

Freecell had really hoped not to have to duel anymore and I don’t blame him since it was never his passion. Compared to the other characters in the show who just live for puzzles, Freecell was just mainpulated into using them. Once he regained his sanity it was time for retirement, but it was not to me. He made some powerful enemies in season 2 and one of them ended up coming back for revenge. Freecell ultimately embraces his abilities and has some pretty good duels near the end of the season. I do like him as a character. He was at his best as a villain, but is still portrayed as a skilled solver which I appreciated. He’s a step below some of the others, but really does his best to keep up and comes across as the most sympathetic hero. He could have walked away from all of this, but stayed behind to help his friend Melancholy.

Meanwhile Melancholy gets a big role here as she signs up with the villains just to get revenge on Freecell. She has a lot to avenge at this point since he took down her boss in the last season and nearly broke her with his vague optical powers. Melancholy does pretty good and still never lost sight of herself. She didn’t actually aim to murder the heroes most of the time although some of her puzzles seemed pretty dangerous anyway. Her main mistake was allowing the other villains to have control over her puzzles as well. In the end I wouldn’t say she was the smartest villain because she got manipulated quite a bit, but she was a fun wild card to have around. I always love having a third party here to shake things up and she fulfilled that role.

In a way Elena could have been in this role as well (only as a hero) except unfortunately she doesn’t really get to duel here. It’s a shame because we know she is quite skilled, but she only offers her support financially and through planning this time around. It is helpful to have her around though as she finds out a lot about Raetsel. Although in general the Raetsel thing was a little odd since she kept trying to murder the heroes, but they were pretty relaxed around her anyway. How can you hang out with someone who’s always trying to murder you? I know Kaito doesn’t really fear anything, but even for him it’s pretty bold.

Herbert seems to appear in every season as one of those villains who just doesn’t want to stay down. You have to give him some props for that even if you never really think that he’s going to come out on top. He’s just a fun guy to go up against and here he gets a brief power up which makes him even more of a threat. Herbert doesn’t last long, but you’ll remember him. Then you have Lovushka who is mentioned a whole lot more than her actual screen time would suggest. She’s the main reason why the villains are going through the plan so she’s important in that sense. I can’t say that I was a fan, but she didn’t really appear enough for me to have much of an opinion on her.

Finally we have Orpheus who makes for a solid end boss. It was also nice to see Jin finally leave for the rest of the season which helped me like Orpheus even more. He’s fairly standard as far as Phi Brain end bosses go, but it was a nice way to tie in season 2. It gave the Orpheus Order a little more credibility here. Orpheus has a pretty cool final form and the shadow eyes effect is always a nice one. I would have liked to have seen him fight more directly though as he usually chooses to go through intermediaries.

Each season of Phi Brain always has a terrific climax and this one was no exception. As I mentioned earlier I really liked the big duel between the 5 strongest solvers in the series. It was a pretty good way to let them all have one last crack at a puzzle and those kind of stakes are just fun. It’s like the 4 way duel from Battle City in the Yugioh series. It’s a lot of fun because it does make it a little harder to know where everyone will place. You may know who will win, but it’s hard to guess aside from that. Aside from the main plot I also liked all of the duels with the Master Brains. Their competency level varied for sure, but it did bring us more puzzles which is what the whole series is about. I like to see the puzzles and watching the heroes try to solve them is fun. The series does a good job of really thinking of a lot of different combinations.

The writing is sound as well and that’s important because the puzzles are naturally going to rely on having strong writing at the ready. Weak writing would result in puzzles that don’t make a lot of sense or have convenient answers. I’d make the case that the first season still had the best puzzles with answers that you could actually solve on your own but these were good as well. My favorite puzzle was probably one of the ones from early in the season where the heroes had to find the correct door while Raetsel would snap her fingers causing the doors to shuffle. The idea is to memorize which direction her snaps cause the doors to move and then go from there. It was a very logical puzzle with an answer that made sense. It was definitely an extremely tough one, but one that followed a set of rules.

As always the animation for the season is quite good. I like the character designs and energy effects the series has. It’s looked quite solid from day 1 and that’s never changed. The first episode of the series may still have had some of the most impressive scenes with Kaito first getting his powers, but it’s been pretty consistent since then. This season is no different. Then you’ve got the top notch soundtrack. Most if not all of the tunes are from previous seasons, but the show had already established itself as having a top tier music selection so I can see why they would want to bring them back. The songs can range from being pretty emotional and ominous to having straight up battle tunes. These music selections are part of what makes the puzzles so intense and are definitely necessary for the full experience.

Overall, Phi Brain season 3 is a fun end to the saga. I may not be the biggest fan of Jin, but since his plot had started back in season 1 I suppose it was about time we wrapped that up. On a technical level the series delivered as expected with great animation and a really solid soundtrack. The old characters didn’t get to shine as much, but as they had all already finished their character arcs I suppose their time was simply up at this point. The new characters were fun and I was glad to see old favorites like Rook and Freecell again. I’d definitely like to see a revival of this series someday, but it’s probably a little too recent for that. Even so, a 3 season show about puzzles is quite unique and hopefully more and more people will find out about this title.

Overall 7/10

9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

One Punch Man Season 2 Review


Anime is definitely one of the most amazing mediums there is. It never ceases to really bring you into a show. Even anime that I haven’t given the highest of scores will usually have some kind of epic confrontation that takes it to the next level. As a result I tend to really get into various series. I was on a Sword Art Online high for a while, then there was RWBY, One Punch Man and of course Black Clover. There are many great shows, but then at the top you’ve got the elites. These are shows where you are engaged no matter what is happening on screen. It could just be the characters hanging around chatting and you’ll be interested because the characters are just so well written. Then when the action comes you know you’ll be in for a good time. One Punch Man is the second greatest manga I’ve ever read and the first season is easily in my top 10 shows. Season 2 continues the series on a supreme note and I certainly hope to see the franchise continue to go for many years to come.

The season really has two main story arcs going on. One arc follows Saitama as he decides to enter a martial arts tournament to see if some of these fighting techniques will help him face off against a worthy opponent. He’s tired of one shotting monsters all the time so perhaps this will give him some kind of a challenge. This is Saitama though so it’s going to be hard to find such a challenge. Meanwhile the monster association has started to make their first moves against humanity and so the heroes could really use him right about now.

The other big arc follows a new character named Garou. He has dubbed himself the “Hero Hunter” and aims to defeat all of the S Class heroes. He believes that monsters are always portrayed in a negative light and bullied by the humans so he will become a monster that defeats them all. His quest leads him up against most of the series’ biggest fighters as he gradually goes from taking on weaker opponents to some of the strongest in the series. As he becomes a bigger and bigger threat the heroes are forced to acknowledge his power.

It’s easy to see why the 12 episode format is so popular. One Punch Man is able to go at a very quick pace much like season 1 and so there is never a minute of dull time. The plot is always progressing and we go from fight to fight. It helps to really capture the high level of intensity from the manga which is ideal. This season is also covering the beginning of the greatest arc in the series which is a really great place to start. It’s a little hard to know what to talk about first. I guess a logical part is the writing. In most shows it’s hard to like the whole cast, but OPM really manages to do a great job here. I can’t think of any character that is downright bad….well there is one. I forgot he appeared in this season, but I quickly double checked and Puri Puri Prisoner showed up after all. He would be the only negative character. The others ranging from heroes to villains are all pretty spectacular.

Another positive in this season is that it goes out of its way to build up the monsters as a real threat. In season 1 we did see a lot of powerful enemies that dealt major damage until Saitama took them out, but as a whole the society was pretty much okay after each encounter. There were slight hintings in the background that something was coming though. Season 2 is the payoff with that as we find out that there is a monster association led by Monster King Orochi and they have plans on how to deal with the heroes. It’s really the worst nightmare of the hero society since these guys are all mega powerful and know how to pick off the heroes. It’s a fact that there are more monsters than humans so if they properly gang up then it’s hard to see how they could be defeated.

I always like a good villain meetup scene so the episode where we first see Orochi and his full staff of monsters is excellent. I also like how they trolled the humans by pretending to be interested in a truce only to start shooting anyway. These monsters are ruthless and most of their members are actually cool monsters and not just throwaways. The series went out of its way to establish a lot of these guys and that’s great if you ask me.

In particular I liked 2 of the monsters in this season a lot. First is the cockroach guy who has a cool design and gave Genos a real fight. That alone is enough to make him pop out on my radar. Then you’ve got Gouketsu who has a great design and a solid presence. I would have liked to have seen him fight some more opponents to really see him in action before he left though. While we didn’t get that, it’s still clear that he is one of the strongest fighters out there.

We’ve already got an engaging story and excellent writing so that’s how you know you’ve got a winner. Next up is the animation. It certainly took a lot of heat as soon as the first promo came out with people saying that J.C. Staff was going to ruin it and that it couldn’t match up to the original. To start with, season 2 was never going to pass the first one. To date One Punch Man season 1 has the greatest animation I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it will be passed in the near future, that anime just looked perfect and it was fitting since the manga has the best artwork I’ve ever seen in that medium. You simply can’t top it. That being said, season 2’s animation is still great. At its absolute worst it’s still pretty good.

Just look at any of Garou’s fights and you’ll see how stellar it is. Genos vs Sonic and Genos vs Cockroach are also great fights and the same goes for Suiryu. What I’m basically saying is that all of the fights are great. This season uses different animation techniques which may take a little time to get used to if you watch both seasons back to back, but they aren’t bad. We get more air slash effects to compensate for not being able to animate every little detail like in season 1. It’s also more of a fluid color scheme that has less detail, but still gives you a lot of movement. I’d say it’s similar to the older seasons of Cardfight vs the newer ones, DBZ vs Super, or Naruto vs Boruto. In general I think a lot of anime are going towards this more streamlined era of less detail. It’ll be up to personal preference though and it’s all done within reason. For example, Black Clover falls under the “more detailed” line of anime but for big fights they tend to switch to simpler designs. Super interestingly went the opposite direction as the first few arcs were very simple so they went for a detailed look in the Tournament of Power.

In general I’d say that the detailed approach will look better than the simple designs. It’s clear that it takes a lot more work and effort to get it across, but if it’s something that’s 5x as hard to do and only makes 2x as much money (if even that) then it’s likely not worth it from a studio perspective. As long as the animation is still great I’m cool with whatever they decide to use. At least it’s not all CGI right? Now that would be something for me to get disappointed at. Season 2 has a few CGI gradients put onto the characters at times, but it’s never a full transformation like the Colossal Titan in AOT or anything like that. The actual fights are always still hand drawn and that’s the important thing.

The soundtrack is also great like with season 1. I wasn’t a big fan of the opening though. I dunno, both OPM intros haven’t really been my thing which is surprising since they are rock based. Maybe season 3 will get that one across. The new theme we have which plays during Bang’s scenes is excellent. In particular when it shows up during his fight with Garou it’s perfectly timed. It starts out as a fairly soft theme and then really picks up. Every show should have a standout theme and this is the one for this season. We also have the return of the Genos theme which was slightly remixed and still sounds great.

It’s a small complaint, but the sound mixing did seem a bit off at times. The Genos theme in particular was one instance of this as you could barely hear it playing during his fight with Garou. The sound effects were way louder than the music. Then some of the sound effects don’t have quite the pop you would expect during some battles. I didn’t notice the effects sounding weak for any of Garou’s fights though as it was just in early episodes. Perhaps it’s something that was quickly addressed.

Most of the big characters from season 1 return here which is definitely good. Saitama is still a great lead. He’s just a nice guy who’s pretty relatable and does really want to be a great hero. It must be tough being the strongest, but he’s never even been remotely tempted to turn into a villain which is good. The series could easily have had him try to be a villain so he could see if the S rank heroes give him a good fight but it hasn’t gone in that direction. It’s also always cool to see him transition into his cool hero persona.

King is one of the big new characters in this season and he definitely makes a positive impact. Everyone believes they he is one of the strongest heroes out there because King always happens to be in the right place at the right time. He is similar to Hercule from DBZ only King is fairly selfless and isn’t here for the money or power. He just wants people to leave him alone so he can play his video games. King does step up when needed though. One of the main reasons why he is such a fun character is he actually does give good advice and solid speeches. His character definitely goes in a different direction from how you’d expect and it works out really well.

Bang was in the first season, but this is the first one where he gets a fairly significant role. Since Garou was one of his students he wants to defeat the villain personally. This leads to him taking down a lot of thugs and ultimately helping out a lot in the climax. He is treated as one of the strongest S class heroes for sure although his age does factor in a bit. He’s not quite as powerful as he used to be although you wouldn’t guess it from his fights. He’s probably one of the best Shonen mentors I’ve seen in a very long while. You can’t even compare him to someone like Master Roshi. Garou manages to stay relevant next to the main characters and is just a good guy. Then we get to see his brother Bomb. Bomb’s not one of the more popular characters but he is quite solid in his own right. He is able to keep up with Bang blow for blow and just having him along as backup is incredibly handy. There would be too many enemies if Bang had to worry about them all by himself.

Meanwhile Sonic is awesome as always even if his role is very small this time around. He still has his super speed and confidence when he fights the other two ninja but this season is mostly just not about him much. His quick fight with Genos was also great. I like the rivalry between them. Genos gets a solid role meanwhile. Unlike season 1 where he basically lost every fight he actually scores some impressive wins here like against the cockroach monster. Garou also takes down a legion of enemies all while overwhelming Garou. It’s great to see him improving although I expect ultimately he will still be losing to most of the bigger fighters. It just wouldn’t be One Punch Man without Genos breaking down at least once. He never loses confidence though and that’s why he is the best hero.

Another new character is Suiryu and he’s definitely a hit. At this point Saitama already has 2 solid rivals in Genos and Sonic but why not add in a third one right? Suiryu is a martial arts master and quite possibly the strongest non hero out there. He is able to easily defeat A rank heroes and I dare say that he could give some S Ranks a run for their money. His pure physical abilities are off the charts and I always enjoy confident characters like this. He completely overwhelms his opponents in the ring and is only stopped short by Gouketsu. I don’t believe any of the villains under that guy would have been able to do much here. I really hope Suiryu gets to appear again because this guy has potential. The scenes of him getting beat up by the villains are probably some of the most emotional in the series.

Then we have Garou who really lit up the anime with his appearances. He gets stronger as he fights which is always a great trait to have. A good villain should always have an interesting backstory as well and Garou’s is top notch. He does have a point that in a lot of the old monster type shows the heroes would pick on the monster unfairly. Just look at the original Ultraman. Part of my complaints with that show was that not all of the monsters would be evil, but they’d all be beaten and blown up anyway. Garou takes this down an extreme path and does without a doubt become a villain, but it’s still a solid motivation if you ask me. He’s borderline the main character of season 2 and should play a large part in season 3 as well. Garou faces off against crazy odds in most of his fights and easily feels like the most dangerous villain. Take this into consideration, he was giving Genos an even fight despite being almost unconscious and losing his vision. Garou at full strength at this point would be completely insane.

Then there’s Fubuki who hasn’t yet had a lot to do in the show. She’s a fun character and I look forward to seeing her get more fights in the future. Her dynamic of not wanting to be saved by Tatsumaki is good as it’ll make her get stronger and is also a good motivation in general. Saitama was that making the Fubuki group is a bit of a waste when you can just get stronger but it isn’t so easy for most.

So in the end does season 2 manage to dethrone season 1? The answer is no, but it’s a very close fight. Season 2 does adapt what I consider to be some of the best scenes in the series. The season has higher stakes and more emotional moments because Saitama just isn’t around to save the day as much. It has a grander feel, but ultimately season 1 wins with how phenomenal it is. Having the greatest animation of all time certainly helps, but we also got to meet all of the S ranks in the cool climax of season 1. Boros made for a great opponent and I also enjoyed a lot of the light hearted moments with Saitama and Genos. A whole show of them hanging out would be a lot of fun as well.

Overall, One Punch Man Season 2 is a great follow up to the original and a top notch show in general. When you combine both shows you’ve got 24 episodes that would be hard for any title to match. If you haven’t seen this show yet then you need to change that. Each episode is guaranteed to get your heart pumping as you enjoy the excellent action scenes. It’s really rare to have such a well balanced show on this level so the wait for season 3 is definitely going to be tough. I hope they launch the next one right away. Since the seasons are only 12 episodes that should help them pump it out quickly. Whether they adapt the rest of the arc or not I just want to see more One Punch Man!

Overall 9/10

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

A Certain Scientific Accelerator Review


It’s time to look at one of the Index spinoffs. The series has definitely expanded itself into a full franchise at this point with several manga and anime each spinning off into their own thing. It’s definitely neat that Accelerator got his own show since he is the best character in the franchise. Unfortunately he surprisingly isn’t able to carry his show into the spotlight as it just ends up being weaker than some of the other titles. An underwhelming climax and general lack of Accelerator ultimately stopped this season from reaching its full potential, but it’s still a fun ride.

The season starts by introducing us to Accelerator, the strongest Esper in Academy City. At one point he used to be a mass murderer, but has since made it his mission to protect Last Order. Last Order is a kid who also serves as a memory generator for the rest of the Misaka units who are still alive. As a result Accelerator tries to hide her from the darker parts of society. Unfortunately Academy City is as corrupt as they come so this is difficult. We’ve got various groups trying to either destroy the city, claim it, or just murder people for fun. Accelerator has to stop them all. One of the problems though is the fact that he took a lot of damage in a previous arc. He now relies on a web link to Last Order to keep his brain active which is also how he can use his limitless abilities. If someone turns off the switch then he shuts down.

The main story arc here revolves around Esther. She was a necromancer until she realizes that messing around with the dead seemed like a very shady thing to do. As a result she has decided to step away, but first she has to clean up one last mess that was made. See, Esther decided to help Mikihiko with his experiments and now he has enough tech to use dead bodies to fuel his robots. The guy is teaming up with an underworld group called DA and they have been making several moves against the cops. Esther wants to stop them, but she isn’t particularly powerful so she asks Accelerator for help. He couldn’t care less, but then one of the Misaka units gets captured and now it’s personal. Together these two fighters will have to stop DA and any other groups they hire to slow the heroes down along the way.

Accelerator never likes to be considered as a hero so he constantly tries to remind everyone that he is still a villain. Nobody really ever seems to buy this, but he definitely isn’t as merciful as someone like Touma. He will give the occasional heroic speech, but it’s all hidden between the lines so you have to pay attention to really get it. It’s a very interesting approach and I can roll with it. At the end of the day Accelerator does what he needs to in order to protect Last Order. This may usually go in line with the heroes’ interests, but that may not always be the case so he’s making it clear who his priority is. It’s why he doesn’t need a hero label and at the same time doesn’t want to suddenly be in charge of protecting other people like Esther.

This gets difficult though since Esther gets pretty attached to him right away. She sees Accelerator as her mentor and hangs on his every word. I suppose it’s hard not to look up to someone like him since Accelerator is mega powerful. He’s definitely a great character as always and has all of the best scenes. Pretty much nobody here can stand up to him which is something the show has trouble with. Either Accelerator completely overwhelms his opponents in a single hit or he fights a cosmic entity who can’t be hurt. There is no in between, but he never loses his confidence.

Meanwhile I thought Esther was a good heroine. She definitely does tend to hesitate and isn’t all that powerful, but she does her best to do what she can to help. At least she did quit the villain group right away when she saw it was getting dangerous and tried to stop everyone else. Esther just needs to hesitate a lot less and stop freezing up when everyone is counting on her. Esther’s resolve needs work and she can be a bit oblivious. Still, her core character is good and I always do enjoy a heroine who can fight back. That’s definitely important.

Then there is Last Order who is a fun enough kid. As you may or may not know I’m not a big fan of kids in these kind of shows because they tend to be used as hostages or just be slow on the uptake so everyone has to recap events for them. Fortunately Last Order doesn’t really fall into these traps and comes across as a nice enough character here. You do get the idea that she knows more than she lets on at times, but at least she doesn’t use this to slow Accelerator down. She’s also extremely handy since without her Accelerator would be powerless.

One of the Misaka units appears in the show for a while, but looks terrible the whole time. I think her character wasn’t used all that well. She has electricity and should be able to fight yet she forgets this the entire time. She loses every fight and you would think that she was a powerless human half of the time. The real Misaka hopefully would have showed a lot more fighting prowess and as a clone I’d expect the same from this one. Then we have the villain group Skill-Out. These guys are pretty fun. They may not be nearly as strong as ITEM, but they can certainly still fight and I always love having a whole group show up.

First up is the leader Iizumi. Her ability is that she can find you no matter where you are. She’s got the proper confidence that you need for being a leader, but her abilities definitely aren’t that handy in a fight which does hold her back. Having an offensive ability is pretty necessary if you want to last in this show. Naruha was a lot more impressive in this regard as she could make a giant rabbit suit and manipulate paper. She was pretty fun and one of the highlights in the group. Hopefully she’ll get another chance to fight at some point. Then we have Seike who is the best character of the group. Admittedly I never guessed that the character was a guy until I looked him up to remember the name for this review. His ability is the most dangerous since he can manipulate frictional coefficients. Essentially he can stop you from moving and it was one of those super scientific abilities that the series loves to use. I imagine there is quite a lot you can do with such a power.

Youko is one of the villains from the very beginning of the series. She was super out of her league with her tech suit and gun against Accelerator, but she gave it the ole try which is admirable. I always like villains who are confident and while her group may not have kept their hype for very long, they were still good to have around. Her two allies left less of an impact though. Hasami is the last ghost on Esther’s side and gets a big role. Since she is manipulating the body of someone who is already dead she feels no pain. Effectively she has no emotions either and as a result doesn’t tend to understand human cultures much. This makes for some forced scenes, but otherwise she is a good fighter to have around. She has basic super strength and speed which are two abilities that will never steer you wrong.

Time for some of the characters who go off the deep end. First up is Hirumi and we can blame most of the series on her selfish actions. She is a very obsessive character who appears unhinged from the start. I feel like the series was obvious about that so it’s no real twist. Her decision to make the ultimate sacrifice when it was not necessary and nobody wanted her to do it really sums up her character. Her will power is so low that two different characters possess her at the same time. You’ve got the demon and then you’ve also got Isaac. While this may make for an interesting villain it really does her no favors. The final episodes really go crazy with all of the various forms and such. It doesn’t make for an exciting climax but more on that later. Either way she was one of the weakest characters in the series.

Finally there is Mikihiko who is also a very dicey character. From the start the show establishes him as an evil character who is also quite sketchy. He betrays everyone and messes around with people who are dead. His sister is without a doubt his top priority but he doesn’t notice when she starts acting rather off. For a genius he is surprisingly slow on the uptake. Some scenes are a bit iffy too like how he found a short cut to catch up to the heroes when he was bleeding out and on the ground, but we’ll assume he’s just that good I guess. He gets quite a lot of development and scenes near the end. While he doesn’t turn good, the show does try to make you sympathize with him for just wanting to help out his sister. It doesn’t work though because of how much of a villain we saw him be earlier. He’s just one of those villains who wants to have it both ways. I prefer him to Hirumi but neither one of these villains were particularly good.

That basically wraps up the main cast. It’s not a bad cast, but really Accelerator has to do most of the work here. Esther and Last Order are good as well, but I wouldn’t call them great characters. Then for the villains I liked the more minor Skill-Out fighters more than the actual main villains. The DA guys were just insane the whole time and I already spoke at length about Hirumi and Mikihiko. The writing is good though as the series still has that scientific feel that Index is famous for. Nothing will top the fight between Accelerator and Kakine from the main Index fight in terms of dialogue though as it perfectly sums up the series. Still, we get a lot of technical dialogue here as well which is great.

It should come as no surprise that the soundtrack is great. The team did a great job with the catchy Shadow is the Light theme song. It’s got that rock theme to it as well which really fits in with Accelerators character as someone who helps out in the dark so nobody even knows that he is helping out. Throughout the season the themes are solid as well. Meanwhile I thought the animation was good. It’s definitely not quite as striking as the Index seasons or Railgun, but I’d still call it pretty good. The only episodes that didn’t look quite as good were the ones in the climax since everyone turned more gray scale. It was an effect that the villain had of course, but I saw it as a quick way to lessen the animation budget a bit. The show would kick it into high gear at some points, but not all the time. Still, it’s still animation that looks nice as you’re watching the show.

Naturally the show does have some fanservice issues at times. Characters forget that they’re not supposed to change while everyone else is around and at times the fighting starts suddenly so they have no time to properly get dressed. Most of their attires aren’t great even when they are ready. It’s never quite as extensive as in the main show fortunately. It adds up enough to be noticed, but definitely could have been a whole lot worse. It’s not the biggest problem that this title has. The main problem in Accelerator is unfortunately the fight scenes.

So how do you make fights for a guy who is pretty much all powerful? Well, I’d say that it was a difficult dilemma except that the main show has had no problems with this so far. The battles against Kakine and the archangels are perfect for showing how this could go. Since Accelerator is still hooked up to the device you can give him a run for his money. The first half of the season did a reasonable job of it with Accelerator wrecking everyone. Then the second half came up and all his fights were with robots. The problem here is that you couldn’t really call them fights. It’s really just him firing a shot at the robots, they dodge, he fires, etc. These scenes just never really amount to anything and feel like they’re stalling for time. Then we get to the final episodes where he is effectively firing at plants the whole time. Of course he can blow them up with ease, plants can barely fight back.

The climax is incredibly weak which is disappointing since there is a lot they could have done with the concept. Accelerator’s first half of the show was considerably stronger than the ending. The main villain by this point was becoming a cosmic being with a bunch of persona fighting for attention. The setting felt like an end of the world type of battlefield too so it at least looked cool. The problem is that the villains stayed in a cocoon the whole time which meant there was no chance of a real fight. When she strapped in I knew that the series had given up on giving us a big fight at the end. This is the main thing that lowers its replay value. You’ll definitely be interested and engaged as you run through the show for the first time, but it’s unlikely that you would come around a second time because there isn’t much you would need to re-watch.

Esther’s origin story also took valuable time away from getting to see Accelerator. It’s not a terrible flashback or anything but without Accelerator at all it couldn’t hope to match up to the present stuff. I’d rather see more of the reluctant Accelerator mentoring Esther dynamic. That was always pretty entertaining with how insistent Esther was on following Accelerator and him always trying to escape the situation. It’s unlikely that Esther would be a main character in the next season since the cliffhanger is already throwing him into another adventure, but I wouldn’t be shocked if she showed up again at some point.

Overall, A Certain Scientific Accelerator is an enjoyable show, but one that always leaves you feeling like it has some missed opportunities. Accelerator himself misses out on quite a lot of screen time as Esther gets her backstory and the other characters all try to be relevant. I believe focusing on him would have made the show better and it’s really the only advice I need to give to a potential season season. Still, just getting to see him as the main character for a while is fun and you’ll get to learn more about the Index franchise as a whole. I’d recommend checking this one out and hopefully we’ll get more Index seasons in the future.

Overall 6/10

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

Dragon Ball Super Review


It’s time to finally take a look at Dragon Ball Super. It may have finished a very long time ago over in Japan, but Toonami only finished airing it rather recently. It’s definitely a show that’s been pretty polarizing in many aspects, but overall it’s great to have Dragon Ball back. The show has significant issues to be sure, but it did bring us some big elements like Goku Black. Hopefully we do get that next show announcement by the end of the year, but the year is ending fast. Lets take a deep look at good ole Super.

The first two arcs recap the movies that came out. The first one where Beerus arrives to destroy Earth and find the legendary Super Saiyan and the second one where Frieza returns to exact his revenge. These stories are old so there’s no reason to really go into them again. Unfortunately both adaptions were not quite as good as the movies they were told in. This is mainly because the show has to pad these stories out to buy a lot of time. I’ll really be starting my story look through with the next arc, the big universe against universe showdown!

Basically Champa has challenges Beerus to a battle. The winner gets to claim the Super Dragon Balls and can make whatever wish they want. Beerus accepts and for his fighters he wisely chooses the power hitters like Goku and Vegeta. There is a mysterious Monaka fighter on the roster, but Beerus insists that he fights last. Meanwhile Champa’s team has a mysterious individual known as Hit which could get a little tricky for the heroes. It’s a fun way to really start the show off because we get to see some new characters and the first opponent to actually defeat Super Saiyan Blue. Hit vs Vegeta is definitely one of the best fights in Super and it really raised the stakes. If this random guy could beat Blue then who knows how many other guys could possibly take down Goku and Vegeta.

This arc may not have life or death stakes the way that the Z arcs had, but it was still a great kickoff event for the show. We got a lot of big fights and no real wasted time here. Hit vs Goku was also great and it was nice to see Vegeta take down Frost. It did start off the power level issues a little more, but I’m going to be tackling that after covering every arc because that’s a big topic that’s going to need its own section. This arc really let you ease into the new characters and just enjoy some nice fights.

Next we have the Goku Black arc which is definitely the best arc in the series. Trunks arrives from the future and we find out that in his timeline Goku murdered everyone. The heroes figure there must be more to it than that since turning evil isn’t really Goku’s thing. The guy shows up and easily beats Vegeta and Goku when they first fight. Black continues to get stronger with each fight which makes him incredibly dangerous. He also has an ally in the immortal Zamasu and they make for a great tag team. There’s also a bit of mystery here because we just aren’t sure exactly who Goku Black is. There are definitely a lot of people he could be, but it’s hard to get that definitive answer.

Part of why this arc is so good is because it’s the only big arc in Super to really have high stakes. The Tournament of Power is an example of the stakes not being existent because of how high they are, but more in a moment. Goku Black and Zamasu are here to destroy everyone, they aren’t following any rules and since we’re in the future there isn’t a Beerus or Whis to suck the tension away. It’s just a brutal battle among Saiyans and we get a lot of great scenes here. Trunks being around is also great. I do like the contrast of how he’s always ready to charge in and attack while everyone is still gloating. Trunks always goes for the finishing move, it’s just a shame that he doesn’t have the power to carry it out most times.

Finally we have the tournament of power. With the exception of two universes everyone else has been instructed to fight. Each universe gets 10 members and they all have to fight within 40 minutes. Each episode is roughly a minute and so we naturally get a ton of fights. The main threat appears to be a man named Jiren whose power is basically absolute. Super Saiyan Blue won’t cut it here so Goku will need an entirely new level of power if he wants to even get close to this guy. Can Goku really master such a form in such a small amount of time? Meanwhile his allies will have to try not to hold him back.

This is the longest arc of the series I believe and it does benefit from the animation upgrade Super got in the second half of its life span. It’s very noticeable how the animation improved and some of those final fights will likely live on forever as some of the best in anime. The concept of the arc is great since we have so many fights here and a lot of the best themes in the show appear here. Goku’s Ultra Instinct is definitely incredible and it felt like so long since he last had a super form. It was definitely worth the wait. There’s a lot of action and excitement to be had here for sure. While it may not be quite as serious with the stakes as the last arc the nonstop action definitely really helps to keep it at a high level.

The reason why there are no stakes here is because you know it won’t stick. The rules are that every defeated universe will be eradicated. That means Goku would be murdering untold amounts of people if he won the tournament. There’s just no way that could possibly stick so while you enjoy all of the fights it’s more of a friendly tournament at the end of the day. I love all tournaments so it’s not a big deal, but it does help to give Goku Black’s arc that slight edge. It’s really the only high stakes arc post Z and I’m hoping a sequel series brings back that tension by bringing in the demons and having foes who can defeat Beerus and Whis. That will really throw us back into uncharted territory.

The animation in Super is definitely solid. I know the show got a lot of mocking back in the day for how off model everything is, but it still looks good. Sure, it’s nowhere near the big shows nowadays like Fate, Bleach, or something like that, but it still looks good enough. The big battles also get a boost and then with the tournament of power the animation really got elevated. Towards the end there we finally get back into the high-end level of anime. The fight with Kefla, Jiren, Toppo, they were all quite solid. Once the animation goes up it actually manages to stay there for the rest of the series which is very impressive. The animation is definitely not a real concern for this show, it’s definitely very impressive and again, that boost at the end puts it up there with any anime it would like to face.

Then we have the soundtrack which is absolutely top notch. Super has one of the best OSTs that I’ve seen in a very long time. Pretty much every theme is one that you’ve just got to listen to. We have suspense themes, battle themes, emotional themes, you name it and the show’s got it. It’s easily a 5 star soundtrack and very few anime can even get on the same level as this one. I don’t know exactly where I’d put it, but I’m confident that it would make top 10.

Goku is the lead here once more but he may be a little different than you remember. Interestingly he is the most flanderized of the characters compared to the DBZ days. He has a very tough time taking anything seriously and is more kid-like than usual. To an extent this is because the old Z dub made him extra heroic but it’s also just the show dialing him back a bit. It’s a shame because he is an awesome character in Z. He’s still solid in Super to be sure, but not quite up to par with his normal self. He’s at his best when bantering with Frieza or Vegeta. That’s when he is back at his peak. Goku’s battle intelligence is also unaffected as seen by his plans against Hit and Jiren. His destructo disc plan against the latter was very impressive even if it ultimately did not work.

Naturally Goku did get some new forms here so how did they stack up? Well, I definitely loved the Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-Ken form mainly because I would always question why Goku didn’t use it more often with SSJ. Certainly it takes a larger strain but it would help him take down any foe. The form also just looks really cool with the blue and red colors blending together.

The big form is Ultra Instinct though. It’s got two modes, Onen and Mastered. Both forms are incredible. I’ll give the latter form the edge with how stylish the white hair looks. It feels more complete but I can also see why people love Omen mode since it’s more mysterious. Goku acts like his SSJ4 form where he is completely ruthless and just wrecks his opponents. Whenever Goku transforms into Ultra Instinct form it’s an epic scene. Surprisingly his first transformation scene is the weakest of the group, but I’m going to have an editorial on that soon. Personally the most impressive appearance of that mode was against Kefla. Either way I look forward to this form continuing to show up.

Then we’ve got Vegeta and the show really does an excellent job of portraying him. Yes the first arc with Beerus makes him look terrible and the running gag of Vegeta being scared of him does continue for a bit. Fortunately that starts to get dropped by the end because otherwise the show really depicts how Vegeta has changed over the years. He’s more of a family man than Goku and is always doing his best to protect Bulma. He’s kept up his Saiyan pride and no matter how many power ups Goku gets Vegeta is right behind him. Vegeta never loses sight of his drive to be the best. He may lose all of the important fights in the show, but he always puts up a good effort.

Trunks is always a lot of fun so it’s nice to see him return even if just for one arc. He gets a crispy new super form and is no nonsense as always. His battles with Goku Black are great and I do miss having him around. The show really missed a big opportunity by not keeping him around at the end. It would have made perfect sense to have brought him over instead of going to another world with no real benefits. Perhaps he’ll still appear in the future some day.

Beerus is an enjoyable character even if he does come at a big price. He has good banter with the rest of the characters and Beerus is super competitive so that leads to a lot of great dialogue as well. The show retconned the fact that Goku in SSG mode was close to beating him, but even so it’s hard to imagine that the heroes can’t beat him at this point. They’re basically just friends now though so I suppose the point is moot. The only problem about having Beerus and Whis around is that there is rarely a sense of danger. You know that the villains won’t be able to compete with Beerus which is a shame.

As for Whis, he’s portrayed as being even stronger than Beerus. Everything is a joke to him, but at least he doesn’t threaten to destroy the world nearly as often as Beerus. Whis is content to just hang out and enjoy whatever is going on. I hope to see him fight seriously someday. Then we’ve got some of the original Z fighters like Krillin, but there’s not a ton to say about him. He’s still not very strong, but at least Goku does put him on the final team roster so he gets to have a few fights.

Bulma gets a good role here. As always she is the genius of the group and develops a lot of great tech that helps the heroes out in their battles. Without her they would really be in a serious pickle. She may not fight, but her constant advancements in weaponry and armor have helped the team a great deal. Then we have Piccolo who is also not one of the stronger fighters anymore. He does help Gohan out in the tournament though and still has good tactical awareness. He’s also just a fun character to have around.

Gohan let his skills slack off once again for the first two arcs, but fortunately after that he finally takes fighting seriously again. He even re-unlocks his mystic form and gets back to his peak strength. While he is unable to pass Vegeta or Goku by the end (Nor should he since they never stopped training) he does get to be a serious threat once again. His best showing is probably when he took on Dyspo. Gohan was actually keeping up pretty well. I’m definitely up for seeing more of Gohan in a sequel show.

Android 18 joins the fray in the final arc. Unfortunately she has not gotten any stronger from the Android saga unlike 17, but she still contributes quite a bit in the various fights. She may be quite harsh to Krillin at times, but at the end of the day she really just wants the money to help out the family. Android 17 is one of the surprise hits of the series. Apparently being a park ranger can multiply your power level hundreds of times over. He went from being an Arc 2 villain to suddenly having power on the level of the gods. He’s a really fun character and I always like his dead pan approach. His best scene is probably when he caught the light speed power ranger in time to prevent him from landing a hit on 18. It was just a crispy scene.

Naturally Frieza has a really big role here. He is instrumental in the tournament of power arc. He’s definitely one of the all time best Dragon Ball villains and Super really handles his personality perfectly. He’s constantly messing with the heroes but fortunately he also has enough raw talent to back this up. He has the best strategy out of all the heroes in that he waits for everyone else to get tired and waste their energy before he steps in. Unfortunately the show does drop the ball with his character by the end. The entire time it is heavily implied that his power level is on par with Goku and Vegeta’s and his scenes support this. Then he suddenly looks terrible in the last few episodes. I’ve heard that it was a change of writers or something, but when watching the show it makes no sense. Dyspo and Toppo should not have done nearly as well as they did against him. It made all of his planning futile in the end.

Then there is Buu but in contrast you can tell that he got the raw end of the stick here. He is around for the first tournament and then gets a training episode for the second, but is quickly written out of the show. The whole sub-plot is rather bizarre. Maybe there was a plot that was intended for him at some point and then it was scrapped. It’s too bad because there was a lot of potential here. I do think he would have been a bit overpowered for this arc though. Healing and a high power level go a long way.

Goku Black is one of the most ambitious characters in the series and it was really great to see him step up to the plate. He certainly deserved his own arc so that was great. His regal personality makes for a great contrast to Goku’s design and his whole getting stronger the more damage he takes stick is also great. The end of the arc may not have been the most satisfying for his fans, but at least he got a lot of fights before then. He quickly rose up to become one of my all time favorite villains as well and I’d put him second behind Broly. Black is just that good.

Meanwhile I also greatly enjoyed Zamasu. His whole obsession with disliking the mortals is handled very well. You can feel his disdain in every scene that he is in. While his power level may not be too high, it’s nice to see his immortality in action. I always said that immortality is not a power I would want because if you’re weak then it just means that someone can beat you up for eternity. Since he has a partner in Goku Black it is less of an issue though. Otherwise he definitely would have been in a whole lot of trouble.

Jaco and Champa are two of the comic relief characters running around. Jaco’s a decent enough guy even if he is super weak. I mean, that’s basically the point. Champa is harder to take seriously because we’re meant to believe that he is about as strong as Beerus and I find that hard to believe. Not working out at all and getting super overweight should absolutely hamper your fighting ability. I just can’t see how it wouldn’t. Then we have the Grand Minister who is likely extremely powerful but we never get to see him fight. There are a ton of fan videos where he ends up challenging the gang and I must say that this would be a rather awesome turn of events.

Zeno is a high above being who can end reality with the snap of his fingers. He’s not my kind of character as I prefer actual fighting ability to triumph. He also has a habit of just repeating everything other characters are saying which gets old very quickly. His scenes are basically just around to save budget on all the recycled animation and to pad out the time. Now lets talk about some of the bigger characters in the tournament of power. First up is Frost and I really like the concept here. He’s basically a lower version of Frieza. His power level is considerably lower, but he can fight which is really all that I need. The guy has a good future if he ever appears again.

Then we have Cabba who is a Saiyan like Goku. He may not be super strong yet, but given how easily he was able to reach Super Saiyan 2 I could see him becoming a truly powerful asset at some point. In the meanwhile we have Caulifla for that. She’s a great character with a very considerable power level. I like her aggressive personality and she is always spurring on her allies to get even stronger. She really helped Kale improve for example. Kale isn’t quite as solid, but I really like her Broly form. Then when the two become Kefla they are easily one of the strongest characters in the entire franchise.

Hit is definitely a warrior with a lot of hype and it is deserved. His ability to time skip makes it so that any opponent going against him is going to have a bad time. Unless you are extremely fast there is really nothing you can do against him. He’s also important because he was the first fighter to take down Super Saiyan Blue. It would have been nice to see him do more in the Tournament of Power, but his fight with Dyspo was a lot of fun. We didn’t get to see a ton of fights where various universes fought each other without Goku’s team jumping in which is part of why it was so solid.

Then we have Ribrianne whose power level was jumping all over the place. You have to give her points for resilience because she just kept on getting up no matter how many times everyone would beat her down. Her super form is also pretty cool. I do prefer her human form to the transformed mode, but her Shojo powers were a nice homage to the classic anime. Then we have Dyspo who is part of Jiren’s main 3, but less impressive power-wise than the other two. There were quite a few times he was nearly eliminated. I do like the fact that his speed is so off the charts though. By the end of the series he’s going to fast that even other characters who are FTL have trouble keeping up with him. Dyspo definitely rounds out the trio quite well.

Nearing the end is Toppo, a pretty tough guy who doesn’t have too much going for him. His opening fight with Goku during the prelims was a lot of fun and in the tournament he gets his share of battles. He definitely did become one of the strongest fighters even if Vegeta wasted a lot of unnecessary energy in defeating him. His super form was just great and you can see why he is the 2nd in command on the team. He could have been even cooler, but as it stands you do have to respect his power.

Finally there is Jiren, the wall of power. The guy is portrayed as basically being invincible throughout Super. The writers really wrote themselves into a hole with how strong he is. Attacks on the level of Super Saiyan Blue literally could not hurt him and he was taking full shots from everyone at different points. You can see how he noticeably gets nerfed as the show goes on, but by the end you still know that he’s one of the strongest. His fight with Ultra Instinct Goku is great and I don’t think he needed more personality. A lot of people thought he was too much like a literal wall in Goku’s way, but that added to the mystery. All I need from a character like Jiren is a bunch of good fights and a solid design. It’s also worth noting that a lot of his lines were pretty great. He’s definitely a super solid villain.

Super’s writing is decent. The characters do act like exaggerated versions of themselves at times, but the plots are engaging. The music and graphics are definitely top notch so there are no complaints there. Really the big deal here are the power levels. It’s finally time to take a look at them. DBZ was not perfect, but for the most part it was very consistent in telling you exactly where everyone stacked up. This series throws that out the window almost immediately. Hit being able to tag Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta, but then being countered by base Goku is already crazy. The difference in speed is thousands, if not millions of times apart there. Super Saiyan 1 is a 50X multiplier, SSJ2 is around 2.5, SSJ3 is X4, SSJG is unknown but way higher than SSJ3, and then SSB is 50X that. When you multiply all of these things together with the original power level you can see how that makes no sense.

It would only get worse in the next arcs. Trunks goes from having SSJ2 level power to being in god mode and holding his own with Black and Zamasu. That’s definitely not going to make any sense no matter how often you look at it. Then the biggest offender is the Tournament of Power. Krillin and Roshi are able to trade blows with some fighters and their power levels are absolutely terrible. They’re so low that they should literally lose the instant that the match starts. The reasoning for not letting Goten and Trunks into the tournament was also terrible since their power levels are way higher. Then you’ve got the whole Frieza debacle.

Almost every show has power level issues, but I’ve never seen any as massive and obvious as Dragon Ball Super’s. It’s just completely unrelenting and you can’t help but think about it in every episode. Even if you’re not a huge DBZ fan you’ll likely be able to notice this. It’s just hard not to with the show throwing it in your face the whole time. It’s likely just a writing issue when you think about it. The show did struggle to get that DBZ vibe for most of the show. Really the only time it actually got that serious air again was during the Goku Black arc and then during the climax of the TOP.

The single best moment in the entire show is when Goku got up after being knocked out by Kefla and re-awakens his Omen form. With the narrator there as well it felt like the kind of cliffhanger you would see in DBZ. A good narrator makes a world of difference with how much hype he can bring to the table. Goku’s transformation into the finalized form of Ultra Instinct also gets a similar vibe. It’s just great to have such a powerhouse on the hero side and it’s also believable when Goku is holding his own and even beating Jiren. At least with that there were no power levels to think of.


Overall, Dragon Ball Super is a great show. We can do the “What if” game forever of course, but ultimately you can still be satisfied with what we got here. The show had a pretty good life at 130+ episodes and it kept the saga going. I’m definitely not in the group that says this should replace GT or that says GT is significantly worse than Super. It’s still a great sequel as well and I’d still say it takes place after Super. Super does have the advantage of being longer and keeping the Z Fighters though. Once you watch this show be sure to watch the Broly film since it takes place after the tournament of power. Hopefully the next show doesn’t re-adapt it, but no need to wait for that since Broly is available right now.

Overall 8/10

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

Hunter X Hunter (2011) Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10

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

D. Gray-man Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

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

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 7/10