RWBY Volume 8 Review


It’s always great to have RWBY back in action because the world of entertainment just isn’t the same without it. RWBY is the greatest show of all time and Volume 8 continues to operate on that high level. The show just has the perfect blend of action, story, and excellent musical themes to accompany the scenes. Throughout the season it’s always fun to watch reactions and learn new things about the show through interviews and such. There’s just a lot to take in and you can bet like last year I’ll have a few editorials for the show up before the next volume ends. Lets dive into Volume 8 and what it added into the table. Keep in mind this review is meant to be read after you have seen the show as it will go into a detailed discussion of important plot details

The show starts off with the heroes still in a dangerous spot. They are currently on the run from Ironwood and the Aceop’s but ultimately they do have more leverage since Penny is now the Winter Maiden. Ironwood orders the heroes to give her back or he will be forced to take drastic measures. Meanwhile Salem has finally arrived and intends to destroy Atlas while obtaining the next relic which is the staff of creation. Team RWBY is also having some issues among their team with each person wanting to try a different plan. Ruby wants to go with Ironwood’s initial plan of getting Amity Tower up to try and contact people around the world to help out while Yang wants to prioritize saving Mantle first. They’ll need to split up which is dangerous.

Naturally quite a lot happens along the way from there. So lets take things one step at a time. The first half of the season deals a lot with a new villain called The Hound. It’s a powerful Grimm to be sure and it was really giving the heroes a hard time. It’s got a cool design and I like the concept behind it. I would argue that Team RWBY shouldn’t have had as much trouble with it as they did though or team Yang when the Hound embarrassed them in the first skirmish though. Ordinarily I’d expect Yang to have taken the creature out pretty quickly but they ended up freezing for a little too long. With this Hound out of the way I expect Salem to be bringing in more of them soon. Potentially at least different Hound variations for Summer and Hazel.

We also get Cinder’s backstory at long last. It’s a play on the Cinderella fairy tale but a much darker twist. Cinder was effectively a slave working for a rich family that would torment her with a shock collar for quite a while. Eventually she was able to harness her abilities and escape but not before having to murder a huntsman as well. It was a pretty intense origin story to be sure and had one of the most impressive tracks in the season. Interestingly that song is one that already existed as opposed to most RWBY songs debuting in the volume they appear in. Cinder’s backstory shows that she didn’t quite start out being as evil as she is now but that certainly escalated quickly.

Rhodes really helped push her to the next level here since he was very quick to attack her. I would have to put pretty much all of the blame from the origin story on him. He knew about all the crazy things that were being done to Cinder or at least it would be hard to miss since they spent so much time together. Additionally he was telling her to be careful and such so he had an idea that things were dangerous but he never tried to help her out. Escaping with her or something like that would have solved the issue but instead he just trained her and told her to wait a few years. Ultimately she did try to wait but one day the family caught her with the swords so she had no way out. He was also the first one to draw his weapons and prepare to attack after this.

In the current story Cinder’s certainly an absolute villain and an unrepentant one so since then she has clearly taken it to heart that she needs absolute power. We can see why she is always trying to get stronger now. Her role in this season is really good. While she does have a rep for taking quite a few losses over the years she has also earned quite a lot of great wins. Up until now she has beaten Pyrrha, Ozpin, Winter, Jaune, and a whole lot of other fighters. I would say that she has certainly earned the amount of hype that she has gotten and is still one of the best characters in the show.

Another big event in the season is Salem finally arriving. We are 8 volumes into the show so this was definitely a big deal. Everyone is always very afraid of Salem but we’ve always had to wonder exactly why. The Maidens are incredibly powerful after all. It was hinted that the reason everyone fears Salem is because she is immortal but would there be more to it than that? So far it doesn’t appear so. I would make the case that right now Salem really isn’t all that impressive. Of course she will have plenty of time to show off more of her abilities soon since I don’t see her going away anytime soon. I still think Cinder will ultimately be the one to take her down though in a big betrayal scene.

Salem dies here and we find out that she has been destroyed several times by Hazel. Due to her immortality she is able to regenerate pretty quickly though so it’s only a minor setback. She showed some decent speed in the fight before going down, but as of right now I would still take any of the Maidens over her in a fight. Salem’s a fun villain though. She may not be quite as interesting as Neo or Cinder but as an immortal leader of the Grimm it’s nice how she manipulates the other villains so well. She also got a pretty tragic backstory a while back so you can potentially see why she wants the relics. We don’t know for sure yet of course but in theory she will want to bring the gods back so she can try to wipe them out or so they can wipe out the planet.

This volume introduced some pretty interesting new angles since we now know what the staff of creation can do. It can create pretty much anything although at the expense of something else. So now you have to start asking yourself some questions because it seems like this could easily destroy Salem. Create a box filled with fire or holes where you can put weapons in and keep destroying her over and over again, have her fall into the endless void. Well, the void leads to another realm seemingly so that might not do the trick but if that place isn’t connected to the main world that would be interesting. Finally, just open one of the vaults, throw her in and then close it again. Presumably if she could open a vault then she wouldn’t be searching so hard for the Maidens. None of these plans would be all that easy but this is why Salem needs more than just immortality. To recover from her showing this volume she’s going to need to go all in during the next volume.

Ironwood gets a big role in this volume as you would expect. After all, in the last volume he and RWBY really differed on their approaches on how to do things. He even went as far as to shoot Ozpin so he wouldn’t get in his way anymore. He went from being a fairly unremarkable character to completely stealing Volume 7 and helping to escalate it to the second best volume of the series. Well, it seems like his approach may have went too well. This volume decides to take him to the extreme of being a complete villain filled with ominous backgrounds like in his TV broadcast to suddenly just shooting people for not much of a reason.

Now you could say part of this is his semblance but despite being confirmed on a writer’s zoom call, I don’t put much stock in it. Ultimately there is no visual or audio queue to the semblance in the show and it is never referenced so for all intents and purposes it just does not exist. What seems to have happened here is that they wrote Ironwood too well as a morally gray character to the point where a lot of people were rooting for him. You’d look online and almost nobody was supporting Team RWBY in their debates against him.

The main reason for this is really that Ironwood at least had a plan but whenever Team RWBY was asked for specifics they didn’t seem to know what to do next. That happens in this volume as well when Mantle is being attacked so one of the Happy Huntsmen shows up to tell them it’s time to evac but Ruby insisted on staying. When they pointed out that they have been getting wrecked by the normal Grimm and the numbers are about to multiply Ruby didn’t have an answer except a vague “We’ll get through this”. Not having a plan is always the quickest way to lose support. It’s similar to a debate that happened in Attack on Titan although there we still have the gray character staying that way.

Maybe it was always the plan for Ironwood to go totally off the rails but I do feel it’s more likely that the writers saw how a ton of people were rooting for him and knew they needed to weaken his case quickly or people wouldn’t be happy with Ruby and co. So in this volume Ironwood is just straight up evil most of the time but he’s still a fun character to have around. He’s a little on the gullible side at times but at the end of the day he’s still a fighter. His battle with Winter is really solid and really cements him as one of the strongest characters in the series. To think, at one point he was considered the heavy underdog in that battle. Personally I think there’s still a decent chance he is alive. His ending was intentionally rather vague with no body shown so it’s not beyond the pale to say that he would have escaped. I doubt Watts would be as lucky though.

Ruby gets a solid role here. She does lose her will to fight at one point again but it is a pretty tough time for the team. At this point Weiss would probably be the best option for the leader as she’s gone through the most and has really matured into being a character everyone can count on. She’ll always support Ruby though so the team is in good hands. Ruby’s speed also makes her a very capable opponent in any fight. I look forward to her getting to fight more in the next volume. Here she may have mostly just taken losses but when up against foes like Neo and Cinder that is to be expected.

Weiss is great as always. She may be a little hard on Whitley but it’s hard to just get over something like that with what she had to put up with over the years. I’m glad that we’re seeing her use her glyphs more in combat now like the old days. If she keeps that up I could see her potentially becoming the strongest member of the team since those abilities are just so versatile. There’s a lot you can do with glyphs from gravity control to elemental attacks. Then she always has her summons available too.

Yang has a lot to do here since she gets her own solo quest and also has the task of cheering up Ruby. I would have liked her to have fought more in the climax but it also makes perfect sense that the villains would try to take her out of play right away. If you take out the strongest hero on the team that will always be the safest path to victory. She has to be the mediator quite a lot in this volume since Ren also deals with some issues here.

Blake gets to fight the Hound and has some good blows in the finale as well. Her role here is quite solid. She may not have quite as many individual moments as the other 3 but she did just have her big volume with Adam back in 6 so that makes sense. She still makes the most of her moments although she absolutely needs a new weapon soon. I still say she should use Adam’s sword since that would be cool but either way she has come a long way from her early days on the team and isn’t really a loner anymore. I expect she’ll be getting more hype battles in the next volume.

Jaune’s role here is small for the most part but he’s low-key a very solid leader. He knows how to handle each character and add moral support. He’s just a very well rounded character but I have to admit that I heavily disagreed with his choice at the end of the volume. Effectively Penny asks Jaune to murder her to that Cinder won’t be able to do so. The idea is that you die when you are killed so this can Penny can control who she gives the maiden powers to. I’m pretty surprised that she didn’t give the powers to Ruby to be honest but maybe she knew Winter was going to need those abilities more. Jaune just shouldn’t have obliged her in this case. By stabbing her like that he was basically conceding defeat to the villains and admitting that there was no way out. There’s always a better way and he should have just fought til the bitter end.

I have to say this was a very weak volume for Ren though. He looks pretty bad the whole time. Ren started his path of panicking ever since last volume but here it gets worse as he intentionally attacks each character using their pasts like Jaune and Yang while not actually contributing to the situation. It looks like he’s getting back to his usual self by the end of the volume so he should do better next volume but he was easily one of the worst characters here. Nora does a lot better as she is also attacked with feelings of self doubt but just pushes through them and helps the heroes as much as she can. Now that she is close to fully recovered I expect to see her fighting more soon.

Penny is a character I’ve never been a huge fan of. Her super cheerful persona isn’t a bad thing per say as I still like characters like that but I guess she just felt hollow. I don’t know, I got more from her in the first few volumes before her first death. It’s quite ironic that she was brought back only to die again although a lot of people did suspect this would be the case. At least she got to briefly wield the powerful abilities of a Maiden. I’ll still take her over Oscar/Ozpin though. I’m still waiting for Ozpin to betray the heroes but at this point I’m not sure if he could. Part of the issue for Ozpin is that he has not done very well at all against Salem over the last thousand years. Evidently he’s not as great a tactician as he thinks he is. He really accomplished nothing over many years which is why so many people left him. It looks like he is trying to do better this time but I have my doubts.

Oscar’s at least trying his hardest but every time he uses magic, the two of them fuse even more so at this point I wonder if Oscar still exists. Is he still really separate or at this point are they basically the same character? I could see the next volume delving into that a bit more. The AceOps are all still here of course but you could make the case that Harriet is the only one with a real role. She is the most extreme of the group and the only one who is ready to listen to Ironwood without hesitation. While the others are portrayed more as following orders, I would say Harriet goes into full villain mode. She just wants to blow everyone up as part of the mission so she fits in with Ironwood.

I like her as a villain though. She keeps the heroes on their toes and having super speed is such an incredible semblance to have. Aside from Ruby’s which has super speed as well as flight, I don’t think there’s any other semblance I would take over that one. It’s just way too good. The fact that she was dunking on Qrow is still solid even if the guy can’t catch a break lately. Qrow went from being one of the best characters in the series to fading fast. Qrow was fantastic in Volume 3, Excellent in Volume 4, and then I liked him quite a lot in Volume 5. The cracks in his armor began to show a bit as he had trouble with Lionheart but you could attribute that to animation. Fine, I can accept that.

Volume 6 Qrow was brutal though. He was so lost in his own misery and apathy that he nearly let Ruby and Yang die right under his nose. That would have happened without him doing a single thing about it. His depression just held him back real hard and when mixed with the fact that he seems to have been extremely nerfed, it’s not a good look for him. Losing to Harriet is just yet another loss to the mix and since Ruby was winning/put up a way better fight…that’s not good for him. I’m hoping he can make a comeback because he needs it.

Now Winter is a character who looks really good here. I’m not really a fan of when characters just follow rules even if they are evil ones. It can be a bit much or when a character goes against the rules but does so too late. Here Winter ultimately made a stand before that happened and then stood up to Ironwood. Since that goes against everything she had been working towards, I can appreciate her resolve and drive to stay on the path. I think she’ll make for a fantastic Winter Maiden as well and look forward to her going up against the villains more soon. It’ll be a tough matchup against Cinder though with the whole fire vs ice thing but if anyone can pull it off, Winter can.

Emerald also gets a considerable role here as she finally joins the heroes’ side. It’s definitely been a long time coming. Originally she was the pure evil one while Mercury was the guy questioning if this was the right path like in Volume 2 when Emerald was having a blast watching people get eaten by the Grimm while Mercury didn’t seem happy. That changed in Volume 3 as Mercury began to revel in the misery while Emerald no longer enjoyed it. Her only real tie here was to Cinder the whole time and Cinder really treats her poorly so the other side would definitely sound better. Now, if Cinder comes back asking Emerald to join her, will she stay strong or defect again? Personally I think Emerald’s a hero to stay now. She may end up dying for it but I think she may get to live through her redemption arc. If Mercury goes for a similar position, I don’t think he’ll survive as the guy has a lot of death flags written all over him.

Meanwhile Hazel finally got his big ending here. I was never a big fan of the guy personally, just because he’s ultimately working for the lady who murdered his sister. He blames Ozpin for sending her on a suicide mission and yes that’s fair, but how can you work for the one who ultimately orchestrated her death? Hazel would make a lot more sense as a third party kind of villain. Still, he eventually saw the light and I have 0 complaints about the way he went out. Hazel ultimately went out on his own terms and you can’t really do much better than that. Again, we don’t see his body so he may be alive but with Salem right there at best he can hope to be a living grimm or something but death would probably be preferable for him.

For Robyn there’s nothing much to say. You may still be confused why she is in the show since she’s had close to 0 impact on the entire franchise. Well…maybe next volume will be when she finally pops off. I have my doubts personally but she has to have been kept alive for a reason right? Watts had a solid volume as well. I like him as a charismatic villain. He may not go into the field a whole lot but the guy has guts to talk to Cinder the way that he did. I can respect that and while he may have ultimately been manipulated, I don’t think he would have had much of a way to escape anyway.

Finally there’s Neo who is always fun. I’ve always considered her to be a demi maiden power-wise just because of how effortlessly she handled Yang back in the day and how she even had the upper hand against Cinder until she activated her maiden abilities. This volume continues to support that as she completely shattered Yang’s aura in a single hit (Surprise attacks don’t affect aura as far as we know so that’s still a power feat) and then she was handling both Blake and Ruby teaming up with ease. I really hope she doesn’t die anytime soon because I want to see her get some more action. Her moveset is just very unique and I like the fighting style. Ruby just needs to convince Neo that Cinder is more to blame for Torchwick’s death which is fair since it’s a Grimm that ate Torchwick. It’s not like Ruby did anything to cause that.

Now for the volume ending stinger, I think the safest bet is they’re now in some kind of lost pocket dimension that the gods built but forgot about. That’s probably why they were warned not to go there since it’s so desolate the whole time. It is for the best that the show quickly confirmed the team was alive though because I don’t think anyone ever thought they were really dead. Even if the show only kept Yang as the one who had fallen down, she’s just too important of a character to go down like that. If a member of RWBY dies it wouldn’t be until the last arc and even then I would be surprised to see it. It’ll be interesting to see what’s down there especially since Neo and Jaune are crashing the party. If Jaune gets a big power up that will definitely be cool to see.

In theory with the delays to this volume and all the next one probably won’t start until November but hopefully it debuts earlier since that would be great. At least in the meantime we should be getting the CD soon so the full music tracks will be online. We’ll see if the next volume has any animated shorts like the Adam special or if those are going to be gone for good. If it helps to speed up airing the season then it’s worth it I suppose but those are always a lot of fun.

Now lets compare the volumes. It’s always fun to update the rankings as each volume airs. Naturally Volume 3 is still the all time best if you ask me. It was the absolute peak of the series’ nonstop action along with the plot settling in. The stakes were raised immensely and you just could not change the channel. The second best volume would be 7. Ironwood was just developed into a fantastic character here and the battle with RWBY vs AceOps is still the best one in the series. Mix that in with one of the best OSTs and it’s hard to see this volume getting beat.

3rd place would be Volume 6. It’s a pretty close one but the Adam climax was a really powerful one to end the series on. Additionally, the Grim Reaper’s origin as well as the return of Neo are scenes that are hard to be beat. Bringing her back into the fold was a fantastic idea. It’s also when the new animation style really got going. 4th would be Volume 8. It was a great volume and we got to have the heroes make a comeback and take a big win. It’s been a while since they made any serious headway against the heroes so it was nice to see how they could coordinate here.

5th would go to Volume 5. I tend to waffle between this one and 2 a lot because it’s pretty close. I would say 2 probably had longer stretches of hype fights and action but 5 had the better climax. The Raven vs Cinder fight is just fantastic. The More the Merrier episode is probably the biggest missed opportunity in the show just because the setup was absolutely perfect with all of the battles going underway but then there wasn’t really any animation to them. Volume 5 will always be the most awkward volume for fights in that sense but the story beats were still right up there. 6th is Volume 2, the big Neo fight was hype as well as the battle with the Giant mech. I always liked seeing Torchwick in the focus as well and it’s just a volume that really holds up quite well.

7th would be Volume 1, where it all began. The climax with Torchwick is a lot of fun and it’s always easy to forget that at the time you could make a legitimate argument for Blake being the most powerful member of Team RWBY. She had more real life experience than the other 3 and even went on her own to fight Torchwick. It didn’t go well until Sun stepped in but it was a good effort. Last place would be Volume 4. A very solid volume to be sure since this is all relative by RWBY standards but there was a lot of info dumping here and not a lot of action. The Tyrian fight is really the only big battle in the volume until the final episode. Qrow vs Tyrian was worth it though as it’s still one of the best fights in the season but it just couldn’t keep up with the others.

So that’s the rankings for now. 3, 7, 6, 8, 5, 2, 1, 4. I imagine as I continue to revisit each volume that could change but the rankings are pretty solid. Really the closest ones that I can see changing is the middle group (6-2) but the top two and bottom two volumes would be pretty hard to move at this point. I imagine with the series in the middle of so many events all future volumes will be in a pretty good spot as well as they aim for the top. Can any possible dethrone 3 though?

As always the animation is top notch here. The character models are really smooth and I wonder why all CGI shows can’t look this sharp. I understand it’s now using MAYA technology as opposed to POSER from the first 3 volumes which is completely open software, but it should still be possible for professional studios. Yet, I have yet to see a CGI show look as good as RWBY. It really shows how talented the staff is to make this a reality.

The writing is excellent as well. While I have my share of complaints with how Ironwood was written into a villain, that’s a narrative choice more so than a writing flaw. They just wanted him to be as evil as possible. The episodes are all very engaging and you want to see what happens next. The soundtrack is also excellent. I wouldn’t say it matches 7 quite yet but I liked the theme that played during the snow chase with the hound as well as the one during Cinder’s origin. Every volume usually has at least 2 stand out themes and those would be the ones for me. I’m definitely looking forward to the CD coming out though since I’m hoping some of the normal episode themes also make it in since there are a few instrumental battle themes that also stood out like the one in the final episode.

There’s certainly always more to talk about but I’ll start wrapping it up here. There will be at least 2-3 editorials about RWBY before the next volume comes up so if there’s any big discussion topic I need to bring up I’ll certainly write something about it. The possibilities for going forward are definitely pretty endless. With Atlas down the villains are also one step closer to destroying all 4 of the kingdoms. Haven is all but destroyed, Beacon isn’t doing great, and Atlas is certainly over. Vacuo is the last place standing in full health and it’s less of a formal kingdom and more of a bandits lair type of place so that’ll be different anyway. That’s why I definitely want to see their reaction to all of this.

Overall, RWBY is definitely as great as ever. The toughest part here is going to be waiting for the next volume. Each volume continues to be excellent so I look forward to seeing what they’ve got coming up for Volume 9. Ideally I’d like to see Raven return and for Yang’s Dad to finally get a fight. As a member on such a powerhouse team that guy has got to be a good fighter. Then once we get the team back to the surface I’m expecting a lot of big battles for sure. It feels like we’re getting closer to the ultimate climax although I would still expect that not to happen until around Volume 11 or 12.

Overall 10/10

Sakura Wars: The Animation Review


It had been a long time since Sakura Wars had gotten a complete TV show before this one came out so it was definitely a big deal. Between this and the new game the franchise was finally going to hit it big again. I get the feeling it wasn’t quite as big a hit as they intended at least since to me the series seemed to vanish again. That being said, the show is great. It’s easily the most complete Sakura Wars product out there and in 12 episodes it accomplishes a whole lot. This is absolutely the kind of vibe you want to have for the show and the new cast is a lot of fun.

The show starts out with a very engaging scene as a monster shows up to kidnap a kid named Klara. She is stopped in her tracks when a mysterious lady shows up known as the White Cape. Both of them are interrupted when Seijuro along with two guest stars from foreign combat revues show up. Seijuro takes the girl over to his team to look after her since it’s clear that a lot of villains are after her. While he will be away in Europe tracking down some clues, he leaves Sakura in charge of the team. She vows to watch over Klara with her life and the two of them hit it off really well. The rest of Sakura’s teammates are pretty cool about this as well. It won’t be so easy though. The Moscow team have arrives and claim that Klara is one of them and demand that the team hands her over. They refuse but the Moscow team is appealing to the government so this may be taken out of their hands. Can Sakura and her team protect this kid?

When you think of Sakura Wars, action usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s more of a drama or slice of life that includes a lot of action. Well, this show definitely tossed that out the window. There is a ton of action here and as you can probably guess, I was a big fan of that. The first scene in the show is a pretty powerful battle between the various characters. We got to see Excalibur and another girl briefly as they helped Seijuro fight these girls off. They definitely feel more like guest star characters and so you shouldn’t expect to see them do much again until the very end. Still, they had excellent character designs and just really helped to start things off on the right note. They’re exactly the kind of allies that you want to have by your side at all times.

This was also a nice way to build up the stakes and get the show ready from the start. It wouldn’t let up after that either as you could typically look forward to some kind of fight going on in each episode. Surprisingly the heroes don’t fight the demons quite as much as usual since it’s mostly the Moscow group getting in their way and the Black Cape. The monsters probably figured they should lie low for now and I don’t blame them. They do look pretty good when they appear though as the main unit had a lot of trouble with them. There is even one moment in particular that is pretty rough for the group since they had to be saved. It just goes to show that there is always someone stronger after all.

This time around the animation is in pure CGI. Fortunately this is an example of using CGI the right away. The character designs are on point and the fight scenes look good. Naturally with hand drawn animation I’m sure the show would have looked even better but this one handled everything pretty well so I had no complaints. The energy effects are still quite vibrant whenever the characters are attacking and the fight scenes are good. There’s one scene where White Cape has to deflect a ton of bullets and she does it with ease. Then you’ve got Leila blocking Hatsuho’s punch with ease which was another pretty hype moment. You can still feel the impact each time which is definitely the important part.

Then we’ve got the soundtrack. The opening is pretty solid and it feels like a nice remix of the classic intro. That said, the ending is what really stands out here. It is quite stellar and just feels like an epic way to end each episode. You’ll be at the edge of your seat each week as you wait for things to continue. In the actual episodes the music is a little more forgettable though so mainly it’s the beginning and ending where it shines.

Still, this wouldn’t be Sakura Wars without at least having some time to calm down and just enjoy the sights. We get one full episode where Sakura gets to go on a family outing with Seijuro and Klara. The main villains as well as the rest of the heroes all decide to tag along and wreck this little trip of theirs. It’s pretty interesting to see even the villains get in on this. I suppose it may have been a decent time to try and steal Klara away but you feel like they’d never get away with it. You could say that this is the only episode that doesn’t seem to further the plot so in a way it’s like filler.

It was a fun episode though and it gave Shiba some much needed screen time so that alone makes the whole thing worth it. The show balances out the genres pretty well. Aside from that happy episode then you get a more emotional one early on with Hatsuho as she feels bad that Seijuro didn’t choose her to be leader. The tough truth is that Sakura was just better suited for it. Then of course you have the pretty serious episodes of the climax where the villains are making their big play. The show succeeds at every theme so whether the heroes are just having fun on their own or jumping in to make some kind of great stand against the villain, the episode really flies by.

The writing is on point throughout but you would expect no less. The ending to the series is also very satisfying. There are a few ways they could have gone about this of course but this was the optimal route. Additionally, there was one character moment that would have just been plain unfortunate but the very last bit of the ending made sure to correct this. Make sure you stick around til the very end of the show. Ultimately the ending was just great when you consider all of that and so the whole show benefits as a result.

Lets talk about the characters now. First up is Sakura, the leader of the team. She is a very dedicated fighter who stuck to her guns and wouldn’t let Klara go. She also took a lot of big risks in putting her life on the line to protect Klara. Sakura also mastered the more powerful suit of armor pretty quick. It’s clear that she is the most powerful member of the group, especially thanks to her sword skills that she can use even without a suit. When you put that all together, her allies just don’t have anything on her. Seijuro made the right choice.

The bond between Sakura and Klara is also just a lot of fun. Sakura’s always got her back. As for Seijuro, he doesn’t get a whole lot to do here. The higher ups keep throwing him on wild goose chases so he can’t help out at home. From what we see he is clearly a good fighter though. While Black Cape was able to take on the entire Sakura team and do well, Seijuro was able to take on 2-3 of them at once and came out on top. He’s easily one of the most impressive fighters in the series so that’s why it’s a shame that we couldn’t see him fight more. He has trained the team well though.

Klara has a big role of course and she’s good. Now it’s not always easy for a kid character to be very impressive as worst case they can just be really annoying and hold everyone back. Fortunately that isn’t the case with Klara. She’s just a nice kid from the start. While English isn’t her first language (Well, technically it would be Japanese since this is a translation) she does well at fitting in and even throws in a few Russian lines on occasion. The fact that she has some special abilities helps out quite a ton as well. There’s a lot of build up to this so when she finally gets to join the team the scene feels very well earned.

I was also glad that Seijuro was quick to let her help instead of just wasting time and trying to stop her. She is a member of the team after all so it only makes sense that she would jump in right? This is one case where Klara feels necessary to the team’s dynamic so it was good that she was on board. She ended up being a lot more fun than I had expected. Then we have Hatsuho who is the power member of the group. Unfortunately because of this she loses just about all of her fights. It’s sort of like Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon or Tauros from Saint Seiya. Since they are the power members of the group, they are always the first to get wrecked to show how powerful the next villain is and after a while you wonder if they really are the strong member. I guess physically yes, but when Hatsuho is physically weaker than every villain she encounters in the series, that makes things rather difficult for her.

It does lead to one of the best scenes in the show though when she throws a punch and Leyla casually catches the hit while also bringing Hatsuho to her knees. Hatsuho has a tough time here in other scenes as well like when she lost to the demon twice and then growing jealous of Sakura. Fortunately the two talk it over with Sakura being oblivious to what the chat was truly about and then Hatsuho was able to get over it. It was good character development because staying jealous would have just made her look really bad. As it stands I do like Hatsuho quite a bit but she’s got to work on that.

Azami’s the ninja of the group and is not nearly as talented as she thinks she is. This leads to a lot of fun little scenes where she does her best. My main issue with her is the fact that she seems insanely weak in a fight. Ninja stars aren’t going to work on giant monsters. Additionally she seems like the character who would be quickest to betray Klara so I definitely would not trust her in the slightest. Anastesia is another member of the group but unfortunately she really gets nothing to do here. I guess maybe she had enough screen time in the game so they decided to skip her here but it is a shame since everyone else got a big role. All we know about Anastesia from the show is that she’s probably the most serious character of the group.

Claris is more of a low key character but she is quite solid. Her magical attacks definitely look a lot more impressive than the bullets and ninja stars everyone else is using. She is a very pleasant character who is happy to help and doesn’t really worry about anything. She’s quick to try and cover for Azami despite not being too invested in what’s going on just because she is a good friend. So while she doesn’t do a lot in the show, she leaves a very good impression. Their boss Sumire doesn’t do much either but you wouldn’t expect the boss to get mixed up in all of this. Mainly she is notable just because she was on the original show so it’s nice to see that she moved up. Hopefully one day she can access her powers again and suit up, defying what we thought was possible.

Then you have Hakushu, the White Cape. The show makes it plain as day that they are the same character so you don’t have to worry about spoilers. The show is definitely self aware about this the whole time as her disguise is completely obvious. All she does it put on a mask and a cape but everything else is the same from her voice to the hair style. In her first scene we have Sakura chasing White Cape and when she turns the corner there is Hakushu who half heartedly says the Cape ran off. Hakushu also tends to make errors when talking as if she was White Cape and always has a weak excuse as to why that happened.

The show has a blast with this so get ready for the big reveal. Either way Hakushu is easily the best character in the series though. The fact that she is portrayed as the most powerful character while not having a robot is pretty incredible. She always jumps in to help and is willing to do a whole lot more than any of the other characters. The scene of her deflecting tons of energy blasts using super speed is pretty incredible. It’s clear to see why she commands so much respect as Sakura’s boss. Part of why she is the best character is because of how many times she saves the characters. Aside from that, she also seems to be the most intelligent as she stays one step ahead of everyone else. She also finds time to run an orphanage so she is truly a woman of many talents. She steals any scene she is in.

Then you have the main villain Kaminski. This guy is your classic take over the world kind of villain. There’s not much different about him but he does have a flair for the dramatic which works really well. In general he tends to be a fun guy. He keeps a polite demeanor about him at all times even though you know it’s most likely fake the whole time. Considering how long he kept up this charade though, you feel like he gets really sloppy by the end. If he hadn’t suddenly tried being as evil as possible and being cold to Leila then he had a good chance to win this. It almost felt a little out of character for him to be honest as he made things really easy for the heroes. Well, either way he was a pretty charismatic villain that’s for sure and definitely not someone to underestimate.

Leila is his right hand woman and a great villain. She’s the standout villain because of her great character and hype demon form. Her story is a tragic one since she looks up to Kaminski and sees him as a hero so she chooses to ignore the fact that he is manipulating her the whole time. Again, at least he was pretending to be nice which is good so why wreck a good thing and start pushing her away? Leila does all of the hard work throughout the series and is quite powerful. Not only is she able to take on the whole Sakura team with ease but I dare say even White Cape would have a tough time with her. Part of what makes things tragic for Leila is there’s also a lot of memory and emotion tampering going on within her so she is rarely in her right state of mind. You’re certainly rooting for her to break free the whole time.

Then you have Shiba who is a solid mechanic here. One thing that separates him from most is that the guy can actually build useful things that don’t break. It’s a bit of a foreign concept in Sakura Wars where usually the geniuses are a little eccentric to put it mildly or just build walking disasters. This guy even showed some leadership experience like when he had the team tail Sakura. This guy’s a pure comedy character that’s for sure but he excels at it and all of his scenes are a blast. Now, would I sacrifice a scene of his to get some more of Excalibur and the other heroine? Absolutely, but that was likely not on the table anyway so I’ll take what I can get here.

This show even manages to avoid having much of any real fanservice. The fact that the show is CGI probably helps a bit with that since even if the character design for Leila’s super form could have gone tricky, the show didn’t go there. Aside from CGI, that’s just a directing thing though so the director did really good to always play the scene straight. She’s a demon fighting the heroes, the show never tries for anything other than that. That’s when you know that the show is going to be a really solid adventure from start to finish. I suppose we have the gag of Shiba running out of the shower to get slammed but I wouldn’t really count that to be honest. If you like the gag of someone yelling as the camera fades out though, Shiba gets a lot of that.

While the animation is quite solid as I mentioned, I will say that it’s still hard not to chuckle during the dance scenes. Maybe it’s because of how smooth and gracefully the characters move, but it’s just hard to take the villains seriously when they’re just dancing as they talk about the plans. I will say that it’s fun when Leila styles on the heroes while dancing though. Now that’s a whole other level of disrespect right there. There’s even a dancing battle so you can tell the show was having some fun with this. Hey, if you can do solid dance numbers and want to show off the animation why not right? Then you have the epic stills where the colors really jump out of the page and you’re reminded of the potential of CGI all over again. Honestly if every CGI show looked like this we wouldn’t have any problems. Hand Drawn would still be the best but this would be a much more respectable backup plan.

Overall, Sakura Wars: the Animation is a terrific anime. The government looks pretty bad as they fall for every trick in the book but Sakura’s team stays strong throughout and makes sure to protect Klara. When they fail that job White Cape is always around to help out so they have a great system going. Part of what sets the show apart from the rest of the titles in this series is how much action it has. The rest of the Sakura War titles just can’t match this. The best bet would be the OVA for Revolution but that is shorter so by definition it can’t match up. This one’s got fights in pretty much every episode. The final episode especially goes bold with this as the whole episode is really a big fight scene. By the end of the series we learn why one character is so exceptionally strong and I dare say that leaves room for a nice sequel someday. Honestly the humans are in a fantastic spot right now so they don’t need to worry but it’s still good to be prepared. One plot still going is the demons approaching. It’s implied that as long as Klara exists they will keep on coming so ultimately they need to find a way to take out the demons for good. That would make for a fun sequel.

Overall 8/10

SSSS.Gridman Review


Gridman is an anime from not too long ago. It deals with robots, aliens, and a whole lot of other sci-fi elements. It’s a pretty fun show and one that makes for a pretty quick watch since there are only 12 episodes at the moment. There are quite a few twists and turns as you go through the series so you can try to see if you get where the show is going early on. With solid action and an ongoing mystery type plot on the back-end what’s not to like? Either way you should definitely have a good time.

The show starts off by introducing us to Yuta. He has complete memory loss which is pretty unfortunate since he seems like he had just said something to the popular girl at school Rikka but has no idea what he said. She’s nice enough to take him to the hospital and then show him where he lives. Yuta then gets reintroduced to his best friend Sho and tries to make the best of this new life. He’s a bit weirded out by the fact that the town is surrounded by giant Kaiju. Nobody seems to notice them so only Yuta can even perceive the giant things. Yuta also dreams about a being named Gridman who is stuck in a computer. When a Kaiju attacks the city, Yuta follows his instincts and jumps into the computer. This allows him to turn into Gridman and fight off the Kaiju.

There is more to the story than this though. So Sho, Yuta, and Rikka form the Gridman alliance to stop the Kaiju. There are a few concerns. One is naturally what these Kaiju are and how they are appearing in the city. 2. Nobody remembers the Kaiju attacks once they are foiled and all of the damage to the city ends up being fixed. 3. Anyone murdered directly by a Kaiju stays dead even when the city is refreshed but now nobody remembers that character ever existing. Clearly there is a mastermind behind this and the heroes need to figure that out.

The viewers know this from the jump though as the show immediately reveals Akane as the big antagonist along with her alien friend known as Alexis. It’s one of those interesting dynamics where you are many steps ahead of the protagonists from the jump. Akane may not seem like your average villain but she is quite sinister with how willing she is to murder anyone who crosses her even if it’s just something minor like dropping her sandwich. Akane absolutely doesn’t have any sympathy for other characters.

As the show goes on you learn more and more about the city and all of your questions will be answered. Delving into any of that would be heavy spoiler territories though but needless to say it makes for a pretty fun twist. There is one supporting character who briefly appears to explain the twist and throw an info dump on Yuta but she disappears after that. I would be interested to see what she does in the future. I hope the character returns because there is a lot of potential there.

As the main character Yuta is decent. He’s a nice guy who always tries his best. Yuta does resist Akane’s attempts to seduce him which is good since you want to have a strong main character. He fights well in the mech and basically does whatever needs to get done. Yuta doesn’t have a whole lot of personality outside of just being your classic main character but there’s nothing bad to say about him either. Maybe he gets a bit jealous at times involving Rikka but that’s about it and it’s usually pretty mild.

Then you have his friend Sho who tends to panic a little more. Sho gets a bit of a mini character arc where he experiences a lot of self doubt. Aside from that period he was pretty confident the whole time though and did well as Yuta’s right hand man. The main heroine is Rikka and she’s a solid character. At times she may seem a bit desperate to be Akane’s friend despite Akane always insulting her but the show even explains this one pretty well. Rikka’s definitely a fun character so I can see why she grew pretty popular. She has more development than a lot of the other characters.

Gridman has a few allies who show up with Calibur probably getting the best role from all of them. They’re helpful to have around and each of them help out in the big fights. The fact that Calibur can fight rather well even in the human world is handy though. Gridman mostly just repeats his speech about saving the world the whole show but there is something that happens at the end which helps him a lot. It makes him a far more interesting main character so there’s a lot that season 2 can do with him. The guy has potential and I like the design.

As for the villains, Akane is naturally the main one for the season. She is constantly coming up with new Kaiju threats to use in battle. She certainly has a lot of Kaiju knowledge which is handy as well. Ultimately she really became her worst enemy as she could have had a much easier time of things if she wasn’t trying to be so commanding all the time. Her trying to make the world perfect is really what drives people away. She ultimately doesn’t seem to like people all that much despite wanting to be liked the whole time which puts her in a bit of a spot. Ultimately she may take a lot of detours in accomplishing her goals but if that’s what it takes for her to have more fun then I guess it was worth it to her. Her actions don’t always make a lot of sense but that seems intentional.

Then you have Alexis who is a blast. The entire show it feels like he is really just trolling everyone and that makes him a compelling villain. It reminds me a lot of the villain “Hero” from the Hyper Neptunia Virtual Stars game. They have similar designs and voice styles. Alexis has a plan of his own of course and he definitely looks really good by the end. This guy was definitely a scene stealer and it was always fun to see what his responses are. Despite his joking around a lot of the time, you always knew that you would have to keep your guard up around him.

Finally we have Anti who ended up being the best character in the show easy. This guy had a whole lot of character development. While he is a Kaiju who has a human body, he gradually grows more sentient as he stays human. From being one note to actually creating plans and understanding what it means to be human, Anti really manages to stand out as a result. He had some really great fight scenes as well. His ability to adapt to any opponent and keep on fighting was definitely impressive. His final form in the series is pretty great as well although my favorite form might have been 1 or 2 steps behind that one.

There’s a lot to like in Gridman with the engaging story and characters. I wouldn’t say the cast of characters is one of the strongest that I’ve seen recently as the main heroes don’t have a whole lot of personality next to others but the villains were all solid and we do get a lot of quality interactions. The writing is never in doubt and remains solid all throughout the series. For me the best episode in the series was number 6 as that is when the show really took a turn and we learned a whole lot of twists about the series. Now, I could have done without the very final twist in the closing seconds of the final episode personally since the twist could have taken a few other directions but it is a bold play either way which you can appreciate.

The animation here is very smooth indeed. The fight scenes are on point, especially when Anti was fighting Calibur or the final episode clashes. With the Kaiju there is a little less movement of course and yet the studio did a good job of making them give Gridman a good fight. Gridman often had the speed advantage of course but the Kaiju would either have enough durability to tank it or they would move pretty quickly. The weakest one was probably the giant volcano though since he couldn’t really move. Anti looks even more impressive by the end of the series considering that 1 on 1 most of these Kaiju gave Gridman a good fight while Anti was mowing through a bunch of them.

In particular aside from the excellent action scenes I also liked the eye effects. Eye effects are always a lot of fun in anime and that’s no different here. The characters had very detailed eyes which would sometimes even have more than 1 color. It’s a fun thing to see because it just makes the characters that much more memorable. It adds an extra dimension to things you can say.

On the opposite side, the series did have some fanservice here and there. Nothing really crazy, mostly it’s limited to just Akane in the show when she’s at home or messing with Yuta. The beach episode is the one exception because of course you know the Beach episode is always going to be here to try and shake things up. So on the whole I wouldn’t say the show has a big issue here. Enough where it is noticeable but it could certainly be far worse.

The soundtrack is pretty good in the show. We get some solid scenes like the insert song at the very end of the show and some good action tunes. It’s a well rounded soundtrack that works well for the show and the theme it’s going for. We even have a bit of a mysterious theme going on for when the heroes are wondering about what to do next. As much as it’s an action show this title also does focus on the mystery angle quite a bit as well.

The initial episodes of the show go for a more monster of the week kind of vibe until the end so if you’re a big Kaiju fan I imagine that may be your favorite part. Each Kaiju gets to have an episode to themselves after all and they get a good amount of hype. Being able to go up against Gridman is definitely not something that just anyone can do after all. The opening of the show is always a good way to introduce the characters as well since they get to bond while fighting off against these threats.

Time for two spoilers paragraphs so skip these if you haven’t seen the show yet. It deals with some of the final twists of the show so learning this ahead of time would definitely spoil the twist. So at the end of the show there’s quite a bit to think about. For example from Akane’s perspective, is she really as bad as all of that if her actions don’t actually effect anyone real? For example, when her Kaijus attack the town aside from anyone she is targeting, nobody stays dead or injured. If she is targeting someone who never truly existed and who technically doesn’t in the present either, then is she really destroying someone? It’s sort of like the next step to a VR video game. If you destroy an NPC nobody bats an eye. If the video game was drawn to scale and you were playing through it, suddenly the violence and gameplay mechanics are a lot more real so that would be more of a real attack right? Where the line gets drawn is definitely a very interesting point. That’s not what’s going on here with video games or things like that but it’s a decent analogy. My view would be she’s still the villain clearly because the instant she created all of these people as god from her bed in the real world, they did exist. Now, it’s implied that the entire series is just a dream she was having and none of it is real. In that case if it’s a pure dream then nothing is actually happening anyway right?

Well, it’s hard to say for sure because of the Gridman team who come from another planet and the Kaiju girl who appears on the train. In theory they could also be apart of the dream since if this is all happening in Akane’s mind then nothing is really happening. If you look at it from that perspective as everything being one big dream, then she was having fun playing the villain in her dream but that’s it. Alternately, she essentially manages to create a whole psyche in the dream world and then created a city. Her entire life just happened in the span of a dream and it felt longer than in the real world. The Gridman team was somehow able to get in to try and fix this or Akane’s dream managed to take over an existing world. There’s just a lot of ways you can spin this but personally in this case I think the simplest solution is the right one. The entire series is an elaborate dream including every character and lore mentioned in the series. None of it is real and when Akane goes back to sleep she will just dream about it all over again. Of course a sequel could theoretically destroy this theory but at least that’s my take on it.


Overall, SSSS.Gridman is a pretty solid anime. It’s got a lot of great action and solid pacing which is what you want to see in any show. At 12 episodes you’ll definitely be able to blast through this one in no time. Perhaps even in a day you can just speed-run through this. Any action fan or someone who likes a good ole action/mystery story should get a kick out of this. It’s just a very well rounded title that doesn’t really have any weaknesses. The whole amnesia plot does mean that Yuta isn’t really given a chance to do much for a while but he gradually just gets used to his new self and acts like one of the gang. It would definitely be fun to see the characters again and how they move forward from all of this. I imagine it will definitely be pretty tough on Yuta that’s for sure. Meanwhile Gridman seems quite similar to Ultraman so perhaps we can get a battle crossover someday. That would definitely be a blast.

Overall 7/10

Spider-Man Review


Spider-Man has had a whole lot of shows and movies over the years. He is Marvel’s most popular character of all time after all so you would expect nothing less. The character tends to churn out a lot of quality content. Ultimate Spiderman may not have set the world ablaze but it was definitely a solid show with good animation and a lot of guest stars. This show tries to take the character back to its roots as more of an origin and then slowly starts to build things up. It definitely had a solid run and I’ll look forward to seeing what’s next.

The show starts off by getting the usual origin out of the way with Peter being bitten by a radioactive spider and then allows Uncle Ben to be murdered. We then cut forward to Peter being accepted into Horizon High on scholarship. It’s a very prestigious school, one of the top ones in the entire country for technology. He’ll now be surrounded by other geniuses at the school and Aunt May is naturally very proud. He’ll continue to work as Spider-Man on the side but this school is hiding more secrets than Peter would have initially suspected. Can he continue to hide his double identity while also keeping his grades up and uncovering the school’s mysteries?

For people who grew up with the Spider-Man comics from the 60s, they’ll feel pretty nostalgic. It’s fair to say that we haven’t had a proper Peter Parker story in a TV show since the 90’s version and that was quite a while ago. Ultimate Spiderman while fun, was absolutely a Spider-Man story first and foremost. It was about him constantly teaming up with other heroes and even working as an instructor. That show was going for a team up approach while this one is going for a more personal feel.

It’s like comparing Batman the Brave and the Bold to the classic 90’s Batman story. Both have very different approaches. Now I’m more of a team-up guy personally but that doesn’t mean a solo story will lose. You’d have a hard time finding people who prefer Brave and the Bold to the 90’s show or saying that Ultimate Spider-Man beats the 90’s version. Solo stories can be a blast as well and then when they have their guest stars it feels like a bigger deal. With constant team up series you do run into the issue of how to increase the threat each time or how to make the individual stories feel threatening after having end of the world stakes.

Ultimate Spiderman had that issue to an extent at times as it’s hard to go from Spider-Man taking on the Beyonder to stop the universe and then going back to Paste Pot Pete. This Spider-Man show starts out with far more street level threats for Spider-Man to take down which then leads up to the season 3 finale where he has to defend the Earth from Venom. Now lets talk about where this show ranks real quick. Naturally it does not beat the 90’s show but I would put it above Spider-Man Unlimited, The Amazing Friends, the original cartoon, and the CGI show. Pitting this one against Ultimate Spider-Man is tricky. Ultimately I would give that one the slight edge. It’s close but ultimately that one does win in animation and it had a healthy episode count with a lot of solid adventures. Who can forget the mobile game adaption right?

So that would still put this on the higher end for Spider-Man shows. If you look at the show on its own then it absolutely stands out quite well. I thought the show handled the approach of seeing Spider-Man slowly mature and become his own hero really well. An interesting angle is also how it introduces the other Spider characters like Gwen, Miles, and Spider-Girl early on. In a way it’s like a look at the 60’s Spider-Man if he grew up in the modern day where there are just so many heroes. Now, while it may have been even more interesting to have kept Spider-Man by his lonesome to really start off small, it is kind of nice to have other characters trying to hide their secret identities for a change. It’s like a big game of cat and mouse as nobody knows what the other is doing. I always like that kind of tension.

For the animation, it’s not nearly as vibrant as Ultimate Spiderman was, but it does look very clear. I think once you get used to the more pale colors, the actual flow of the animation is quite solid. The hand to hand action is really good and the choreography even for the energy attacks is always on point. You can follow along with the action really well. The soundtrack is less noticeable but unfortunately that is really the norm for most shows. Really if you look at post Justice League there aren’t many comic book shows where you can point to a really vibrant soundtrack. (Ignoring the animes) The only one I would name would be Avengers Assemble as to this day I say they ripped some of the themes straight out of Justice League. It was always cool to hear them of course. That said, there is one theme I really liked here. I would unofficially call it the Cloak & Dagger theme since it always appears in an episode where they show up. That can’t be coincidence right?

Season 1 is mainly episodic but with a lot of plot lines being foreshadowed. This was a nice touch because it’s one of those things the original comics did so well and any superhero show starting out should absolutely do this. Yeah it can be risky if you don’t get future seasons but it’s worth it. Early on in season 1 the show already starts to foreshadow the Jackal, Spider-Gwen, Doc Ock, Norman, Alistair Smythe, and many more characters. you have all of their human personas walking around so you know what’s going to happen to them even before the characters themselves do. For some characters the payoff is quick while for others it takes a very long time.

One of the big sagas in season 1 was the big Spider-Island adaption. I remember when that arc was still going on in the comics and the show handles it pretty well. Suddenly every character has spider powers and you can imagine how society would go absolutely nuts at this point. If everyone is super then nobody is or at least that’s how the saying goes. Spider-Man would just have a lot of competition in standing out. Doctor Octopus also gets several episodes to himself as he is introduced. This guy would go on to have a pretty massive role so that makes sense. The first season does a great job of setting the stage and getting all of the characters introduced.

Season 2 starts to ramp things up for Spider-Man from street level threats to more high end villains. First off, Peter gets a job at the Daily Bugle so we’ve got that iconic storyline now. Meanwhile Doc Ock is trying his best to work as a hero but can Spider-Man really trust such a guy? It’ll really test his whole motto about giving everyone a second chance. Venom also finally merged with Eddie Brock, leading to the most famous version of the character. Even the Avengers show up and get kidnapped so Spider-Man has to save them. Yes, Spider-Man is a rookie no longer. Now he is a full hero and people are counting on him.

The Venom two part saga was pretty hype. Eddie definitely makes for a powerful villain and it add some tension since he knows who Spider-Man is and how to reach him. When someone like Aunt May is put into a dangerous spot naturally Spider-Man isn’t going to take that well. The Avengers episode is admittedly a little cheesy that they were captured so easily. By the way, it was A.I.M. that captured them so…I’m having a hard time buying it.

Season 2 doesn’t end there with the big events though. Next up we have a saga where a bounty is put on Spider-Man so every villain wants a crack at him. This leads to many episodes where Spider-Man has to deal with many villains back to back. It was a good way to show off his stamina and really illustrate that Spider-Man is not an easy guy to bring down. This all leads up to the whole Superior Spider-Man event where he trades bodies with Doc Ock. Now that was an intense storyline both in the comics and the show.

You do feel bad for Peter though because Ock puts his life through the wringer. It’s the kind of thing where no matter what Peter does or says later on about someone else being in his head, people will never trust him quite the same way again. Ock does a great job while trading places though and shows Spider-Man several ways he can improve. Now, he’s not an improvement in every way of course as he’s more of an anti-hero but he does make some valid points about Spider-Man installing better web equipment and having tech around to monitor the city. Ock took the whole job very seriously.

This also helped introduce Cloak and Dagger who would never become main characters in the show but looked good whenever they showed up. I rather like that duo so it’d be cool to see more of them. Their great theme song helps as well. If anything you might miss Otto when he’s gone. Although I didn’t really care for his possible romance plot though. The show mainly stays away from any romance which is probably for the best since in a school setting that could get overly dramatic pretty fast.

With Peter back we get the Avengers getting kidnapped again which is always fun. Beyond that the final episodes are all about the Goblin War. Norman’s making his big play..or is it Norman? Either way Spider-Man and the other wall crawlers will have to try and take down this army of goblins. Fortunately most of them are just grunts with a costume but it is concerning that so many have appeared to spread chaos.

Definitely a solid way to wrap up season 2 for sure. The stakes were increased and it was nice to get a change of pace here with the whole body swapping thing. The Avengers admittedly looked very bad in this season and it would continue to an extent in season 3. I guess that’s the one thing with having a lot of guest stars here. To show off how powerful the new threat is it can be tempting to have them lose so Spider-Man has to save the day but you have a hard time believing that the Avengers would lose first to A.I.M. and then to Regent.

Finally we make it to the final season which is easily the shortest one at 6 episodes but at least each episode was double length. The title of the season is Maximum Venom so you can imagine who the big villain is. So Venom is coming back and this time he has brought an entire planet of symbiotes with him. Together they manage to take over the planet, the Avengers, and just about every supporting character there is. Characters like Aunt May have to form a resistance and we even get Moon Knight on the team. For many of the heroes Earth is already lost so they plan to fight back a little bit here and there or wait it out in the sewers.

Now I’m not going to say this is executed quite as seriously as it all sounds on paper but I wouldn’t say it’s comedic either. The show actually plays this out pretty straight and Venom is really shown to be a fierce opponent. We also get Mary Jane introduced to the season at long last. They may play up how awkward Peter is around her at times though especially with baby Groot messing with him during their appearances. You feel like Mary Jane would make herself scarce after the opening scenes but at least she took it all pretty well and just seems like a very nice person the whole time. I suppose she just barely made it into the show before it ended since she showed up for the final episodes of the series.

Season 3 ended the show off pretty well. We got to close out a lot of the big plots here. All of the heroes are on good terms now and they’re pretty much ready to leave the school. I still don’t like Max but at least he should have less things to hide now though. Spider-Man is also ready to become an Avenger so things are looking up. If we got a season 4 then I’m guessing everything would go sideways again on account of the Parker Luck but at least like this things went well for him.

Lets talk about some of the characters. Peter is the main character of course and he’s really good. He may make his share of mistakes but throughout the show he is portrayed as a nice guy who does what he can to help out. Balancing his work as a superhero and an everyday student is naturally pretty difficult as it is. While it takes him some time, he does live up to his reputation for giving people a second chance when he forgives Otto Octavius which is pretty tough after all the things that guy did. The show also takes time out to show what a genius he can be as well which is something we don’t always see a lot of lately. The school setting and expanded take on his origin days helped to give him time to show this off instead of just overwhelming opponents with his physical power.

Then we have Harry who gets a pretty big role and character arc here. At first he starts out as Peter’s best friend and then of course things get pretty heated once he learns more about the Goblin heritage. He also gets a bit jealous when Otto enters the picture as well. It takes a while for all of them to really form one close unit but I liked him and the cool fire sword he got as Hobgoblin. It helped to make him more of a threat and not just another one of the friends. Since Peter’s friends all had super powers here that may have easily overshadowed him.

I definitely did not like Max though. I found him to be one of the most ungrateful characters in the series and he was always quick to go against Peter despite how much the lead did for him. Peter had his back every step of the way and the guy never did anything to try and help him. The worst of it was in the final season when Peter tried to save his job twice including disclosing his secret identity and Max just slammed the door in his face. Mix that in with all the dubious experiments and Max is just not a good guy.

Anya is one of Peter’s best friends in the show and she becomes Spider-Girl. Anya’s a fun addition to the cast and from the main members I certainly haven’t seen her as much as the others so it was nice to see her get some extra screen time here. She doesn’t really have any big personal plots compared to some of the other characters but she’s always ready to fight and help out.

Miles gets the biggest role from the friends as he helps Peter a lot and they share secret identities pretty early on. He also has the plot with his uncle/father (I forget which but I think it’s his father in this version) being a super villain so that adds a personal element to things. Surprisingly it’s a bit of a smaller role than you would expect. He’s typically the comic relief member of the group and tries to make sure everyone is having fun.

Then we have Gwen and naturally she has a big role since the Jackal is always around. Surprisingly Captain Stacy doesn’t show up as much as you would expect. Gwen’s a solid friend and may be the most fleshed out character from Peter’s inner circle. This family development definitely helped a lot in giving her things to do aside from just fighting the villains off. Her battles with Jackal definitely tend to get pretty intense. The Jackal’s also a fun villain. I’m always up for seeing more of him as I consider the guy to be a far more compelling evil scientist than Otto. It also opens up the door to the Spider-Clones although the show didn’t get into that yet.

Aunt May is solid as always. I did like that she was able to fight here like when she took her giant gun out. It shows that she was ready to rumble which is always important. I like to think that she knows Peter is Spider-Man as well even if she doesn’t say anything. Jameson’s role here is small but he does look good in the Venom episodes when he puts his life on the line to buy his staff some time. It shows that while he is a pretty gruff fellow he’s ultimately still a good guy. He’s a solid boss who thinks of his employees first.

Otto gets a really big role in the series since he starts out as a hero, turns evil, turns good, turns evil again, then he turns into Spider-Man, then he turns good again. He had a whole lot of things going on that’s for sure. I never really became a fan of his though. I guess the character just never really interested me but he’s better than in Ultimate Spiderman so I’ll give him that. While I usually didn’t care for his episodes much next to the other characters, I did like the Superior Spider-Man story arc quite a lot so that one worked out really well. At the very least his fans should be happy with how he looked.

Likewise, Norman gets a lot of props here. He’s the big mastermind behind a lot of the villains which is very fitting to his character. He’s always been the kind of guy who manipulates others from the shadows. He seems to return over and over again throughout the series. Harry finally got some closure from his character by the end which was a good way to wrap up the cycle. Norman’s always been one of the most compelling Spider-Man villains and the show did him justice.

Sandman doesn’t appear much but his opening episode was very memorable. It actually gets rather tragic by the end of it too. His powerset is always fun to watch and he does make for a pretty sympathetic villain the whole time. Speaking of minor roles, the Avengers look decent at best but most of the time they come across as pros who talk a good game but really can’t back it up. Being kidnapped and having to be saved by Spider-Man multiple times isn’t the best look after all. As the Superior Spider-Man Ock was also able to defeat them rather easily.

Finally there is Venom and naturally he looks pretty great here. He has several hosts during the series and in each one he is able to dominate pretty quickly. I’m still not a big fan of the whole twist that he was one of the weaker symbiotes on the planet though. That always seemed a bit cheesy to me. I like to think of Venom as one of the tougher ones. That’s just how I’ve grown up with him after all. Seeing him be humiliated and mocked by the others doesn’t feel right. Beyond that he does have his own sense of pride though and makes for a pretty intimidating villain. He was a fitting choice for the final boss.

Spider-Man definitely had a good run. There were a lot of solid adventures here and characters to meet. It’s not quite a great show as it would need that extra boost to reach the next level but it was quite consistent. As the seasons went on the show just kept bringing more plots forward and it felt like a pretty strong continuity was established here. Whether something happened a season ago or two the show would remember. If it had kept on going it would have been nice to see how everything else was adapted. Alas, all shows must end at some point.

Overall, Spider-Man is definitely a show that all fans of the character should check out. In general if you enjoy superhero shows then this will be a good one to check out. The story is sound and you have a good blend of action and adventure. It’s a pretty light hearted show and you can also expect some decent comedy. The jokes don’t tend to drag on for the most part or anything like that so you’ll be able to focus on the story. The show doesn’t really have any weaknesses so it makes for a pretty fun experience from start to finish.

Overall 7/10

Fate/Grand Order – Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia Review


After watching the film a while ago it was time to jump into the show. I really like the idea of the company just giving people a choice on which arc to adapt. Instead of adapting the whole mobile game, just have the fans pick their two favorite arcs. One for the show and then one for the movie. Additionally, it’s not like it’s taking a different route or anything. The show literally picks up as if it’s season 7 of an ongoing series. There’s even flashbacks to scenes we’ve never seen and the characters just jump in with no recap or explanation. Technically there is an episode 0 which quickly runs through things as well as re-adapts the movie but it’s more of a general compilation. This is something I wouldn’t mind getting more mainstream. Your favorite manga never get an anime adaption and it’s over 20 volumes at this point? Quickly get a 12 episode anime to cover the final arc. It’s just genius because this also opens the door to adapting the older sagas at some point if the company really wants to.

After the recap of the previous 6 singularities, the show opens up with the heroes already completing the first 6 singularities and getting ready to complete the final one. This time they have to travel to the distant past in Babylonia where the age of the gods met its end. Their mission is to correct the timestream and locate the Holy Grail. It won’t be easy though as King Gilgamesh is already in a pretty big war with the three goddess alliance. These beings are immensely powerful and can’t be defeated so easily. Still, Ritsuka is determined to accomplish this mission and asks Gilgamesh if they are able to defeat the goddesses, can they have the grail? Meanwhile, you’ve got quite a few factions taking advantage of the chaos such as a being who claims to be the legendary hero Enkidu, although that hero should have been long dead by now. The heroes also meet up with a girl named Ana and Merlin, the most well known mage of all time. With their help, perhaps the heroes have a fighting chance.

The show manages to fit a whole lot into the 21 episodes. Pretty much every episode either contains a big fight or some kind of plot twist. You can expect each episode to never miss a beat as the plot moves forward. One thing you will be impressed by right at the start is the smooth animation. The show’s hand drawn style is definitely on point with a lot of great movement and high speed action. Every character looks like they can be a top tier threat with how they are dishing out the special attacks. The show also uses some CGI at times, particularly with Mash like in her opening fight scene but it’s handled really well. I suspect maybe they are trying to emulate Ufotable a bit with how they seamlessly meld the two together. This animation company certainly did a great job with this show. Some shows can make it difficult when you’re trying to find screenshots for the review like even Beyblade which has great animation but getting a screenshot isn’t always easy. This show has the opposite problem where there are so many great ones it can be hard to choose.

Naturally the soundtrack is also really good. It has that opera style feel for a lot of the bigger fights. I also liked the main goddess theme for Ishtar whenever she would appear for a fight. It definitely has that desert feel to it but with a lot of action so you felt like a big battle was about to come in. The technicals on the show were never in doubt throughout this. The opening is a little more low key next to the other Fate intros but it’s still very catchy.

As expected the dialogue is really good with each character being quite distinctive. There’s a lot of planning and strategizing going on throughout this war. Particularly since Gilgamesh and the humans appear to be on the losing side they have to do a lot of planning to try and make a comeback here. His very regal style of talking is always great. The guy embodies being a king through and through which keeps reminding me of why he is one of the greatest Fate characters of all time. I’d still ultimately say Archer is number 1, but Gilgamesh is a very close #2. This may even be his best portrayal yet although he’s great in all of them. His best design is still the casual design with the black shirt though.

With a series as intense as Fate you can always expect things to get a little violent though. You have characters being tortured and civilians slaughtered by the dozens. The most intense episode may be when the creatures show up in Uruk to dispose of the humans. They do succeed to quite a large extent as almost every human is destroyed. They’re either sliced to death or eaten and if you’re a human you’re probably hoping for the former. One of the heroes is captured and tortured a bit before being consumes which was definitely not fortunate for her. On the whole I wouldn’t say the show ever gets quite as up there as Fate/Zero or Demon Slayer in how intense it can get, the show is definitely not afraid to really blow people up.

As the show is in the desert you can expect a lot of wildlife. Now, the monsters here are created using magic so you could call them more magical creatures than animals. Still, I’d say there’s less of a distinction. Going back to my Pacific Rim review, I would consider these creatures to be more like true animals. It’s not exact, but I wouldn’t say any fight scene with the heroes beating up on them was quite so fun. I was always eager to get the characters back to fighting each other instead. Also, it’s not like the creatures ever stood a chance so after a while it’s not as if it is super impressive to beat them anyway. I’d prefer the battle with the new human creatures.

Those monsters were quite deranged to be sure and since they can talk that did make them legitimately spooky. Now this is how you introduce a powerful enemy invasion force that can be feared. They may almost be too powerful in some respects as one of them was strong enough to overpower Mash so with an army it’s hard to see how the heroes can stay alive for long. We have some super OP fighters on our side but even the goddesses were taking some hits. It’s a good thing Ritsuka is around to refill their energy or things could get a little tricky.

On a final note for things holding the show back a bit, this one does indulge itself a bit more than the other shows with the fanservice. It can be a bit cheeky the whole time with a lot of specific camera angles while the characters are fighting. Mainly I’d say this tends to happen to Mash and Ishtar. As I’ve mentioned in the past, a character design alone I wouldn’t usually consider as fanservice. Even some of the crazier ones like say Quinella or Nami’s “battle suit” I wouldn’t say are too crazy on their own. It just depends on if the show decides to pay extra attention to this during the battle. In this case, that’s what happens whenever Ishtar fights. I wouldn’t say the fanservice ever gets crazy though. It’s consistently there but to a fairly low level. Only slightly notable because the main Fate shows never really have much of that but I suppose this is more of a spinoff.

One of the fun things about the various Fate titles is always seeing who these heroes are. If you’ve heard of them, their weapon, or if you can predict their noble phantasm based on that. I’m not the biggest scholar on classic characters of legend but Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors have helped quite a lot with at least being able to put a face to some of these names. Quite a few of the heroic spirits in this title like the guardians Gilgamesh sends to fight Gorgon appear in those games. In this one we get a bunch of big characters including ones not seen in Fate before now like Merlin and we even have Leonardo Da Vinci. The show makes good use of these guys.

In a power level context the show can be a bit tricky at times. Not because it’s hard to see their powers but because you can’t always be sure of their max limit. The heroic spirits are sort of like batteries. They naturally decay if they aren’t fighting for a while and they do need to be charged up either with rest or Ritsuka just using his amplification abilities. Ishtar for example looks consistently powerful but she isn’t able to use her most powerful abilities until the end of the series when Ritsuka is able to give her a boost. Since the same would be true for the other characters, it is hard to say who would truly be the strongest.

That said, you can usually work your way back based on who appeared first and who appeared last. One thing with this show is you can expect the main characters to get beat up quite thoroughly in just about each episode. Even when they recruit a goddess to their side they end up getting wrecked by the next one. At one point they get 2 and are still losing. They just have the unfortunate luck of recruiting the weakest one first or at least it certainly seems that way. The battlefield and even time of day are important in seeing who wins in a fate matchup though. I’ve been talking a lot about the general aspects of the show though so it’s time to discuss the characters.

Ritsuka is the main character here and he’s pretty solid as you would expect. He’s been through quite a lot by this point in the story but he hasn’t gotten jaded or lost hope. He’s always ready to lend a hand to the other fighters. He may not be able to fight all that much on his own but he still jumps into action. Definitely a good hero to keep everyone together. Then you have his main partner Mash. She is admittedly a bit on the weaker side but as a pseudo servant it does make sense that she would be relatively low tier in the grand scheme of things. Get ready to see her lose in just about every episode though. If you’re a big fan of Mash then that could get a little tough to watch but she always fights well. You can see that she has experience, it’s just that there isn’t a lot you can do when you’re physically outmatched like that.

Then you have Ishtar who gets a huge role here. She’s a lot of fun and one of the standout characters. Now she is weaker than all of the goddesses but that makes sense for a few reasons including the fact that she doesn’t have her ultimate weapon. She probably cares about humans more than the other goddesses as well. I like her aerial fighting style and the theme that accompanies her scenes is always fun. She has a hard time showing her feelings but she is willing to take quite the beating to defend the heroes. Her outright confidence and determination easily allowed her to surpass the other goddesses as a character.

Next up is Enkidu or I should probably call him Kingu. It’s not like he is able to keep the charade up past episode 2 anyway. The real Enkidu is long gone but this guy looks just like him. I won’t spoil why that is but he makes for a pretty intense villain. Maybe a naive one though as he really doesn’t tend to think a few moves in advance at all. This results in him getting surprise hit and overwhelmed quite a few times. You’ll see his face twist with shock a lot. Considering that he is one of the strongest fighters in the series, he really doesn’t contribute much when it counts. He does give us some of the most dynamic fights in the series though. So I’m a bit torn on him on how much I like the character but his strength is the real deal.

Merlin is more of a hype character. He gets a lot of hype from everyone but never really does much. As someone who exists everywhere but will cease to exist everywhere if he dies, it’s an interesting predicament. He has a lot of confidence though and is good at dodging so he has that going for him. Ana is much more fun as an ally. She has a deal with Merlin involving things you won’t get to learn til the end but until the deal is fulfilled she will be helping the heroes. Her power level isn’t very high but she is a valuable ally to have since every person counts here. I liked her savage fighting style as well, it definitely comes in handy.

As for Gilgamesh, what can I say that hasn’t already been said? The guy is very regal and an excellent ruler of the kingdom. He understands his people and how to best utilize them. This isn’t a Gilgamesh that has grown overconfident or discarded humanity. He serves as King and believes in giving everyone their proper role in society. It’s easy to see why he is such a beloved king. his strategies may not always pan out but he’s a really fun guy and whenever you see him on screen you’re sure to be in for an entertaining scene. He has a good working relationship with everyone and the way he is always laughing fills you with confidence.

His most loyal employee is Siduri who is a nice person. She’s probably one of the only people who would dare talk back to him. She is able to understand what he is really saying beyond the bravado which is important. Then in the darker corners of the city you have a mysterious being of shadow. There’s not much I can say about him but while his role is pretty small, it’s also a critical one. He gave the show a solid fight scene as well.

Ushiwakamaru definitely has a big role here that’s for sure. She’s a fun character and I like how much speed she uses in her fights. She’s definitely not a fighter you will be forgetting anytime soon. Alas, this is Fate so don’t expect everyone to have a happy ending. From all of the characters she probably has it rougher than most. At least she never allowed the villains to break her. I’m not sure I buy her going down when the speed advantage was so great but I suppose if she decided to never run away eventually she would tire, although I expect it would be days later.

Then you have Benkei and I really didn’t like him. There aren’t a lot of bad characters in the show, up til now they’ve all been good in fact. This one is an exception though. He chickens out when it counted and that caused quite a lot of grief and casualties. Ultimately he just wasn’t abe to make it up to the characters. Leonidas gets a smaller role but at least he did charge in when it counted. The heroes probably would have fared better if they had teamed up instead of going 1 on 1 but at least he slowed the villains down.

Jaguar Warrior is an interesting character because initially she is so strong that she wipes the floor with all of the characters but then slowly but surely they don’t take her seriously. It’s not like she can do anything against the goddesses I suppose. She’s a fun character to have around though. Probably not someone I would trust to be honest but if you have absolutely no other options then she is not a bad ally to have.

There’s also the Mage King but he doesn’t technically appear here outside of flashbacks so I don’t think there is much to say about him. He seems like he is going to make for a great final boss though. Back at base you also have Da Vinci and Roman but they don’t do much. Roman is still hiding a lot of secrets to be sure so the heroes are going to have to be careful with him. Da Vinci seems safe but you never know. They’re usually here just to give us some quick moments back at present but more often than not they don’t have any ideas for how to deal with the villains.

Now lets talk about the three goddesses and the main villain. First up is Gorgon who is pretty powerful. Not only does she have a whole lot of poison thanks to her snakes but looking directly at her is a bad idea. Cursed eyes are always lethal in any anime, but especially in Grand Order they’re given a lot of significance. I’ll give her some props for being so powerful. She has a bit of a 1 track mind with how she wants revenge on humanity and doesn’t get as much character as the other goddesses but makes her presence felt with how long she remains as the big villain here.

Then you have Quetzalcoatl who has the toughest name to spell. She is all about combat and likes fighting people 1 on 1. There are some twists that help with redeeming her character. She is quite strong as you’ll see when she easily wrecks the main cast. Her final fight is also quite the spectacle as she unleashes some pretty crazy attacks on everyone. She is definitely a memorable character to have around for sure.

Finally there is Ereshkigal. Here’s the thing, she seems like a very nice character in the present. Someone you can sympathize with and all. But the flashback is hard to ignore where she repeatedly tortured Ishtar for a while before stripping her of her decrees and leaving. In the show they don’t explain it too much but decrees and orders are part of your power level. The higher your divine right and the more authorities you have, the harder you will be to defeat. Ereshkigal really put Ishtar in a dangerous spot and you don’t just torture someone without being a psycho. So I liked Ereshkigal in the present but she seems like a completely different character than what we know of her.

Finally we have Tiamut, the big boss of the season. I have to say that she was handled really well. It’s pretty much a trope for a show to always end off with a giant monster or just a giant enemy in general. I see even Fate went this route. Usually I’d be rolling my eyes at this but this may be the best example of how to handle it. Tiamut is more intimidating than the villain from the latest One Piece film, My Hero’s first film, Godzilla: all 3 Netflix films, etc. The reason is because Tiamut is effectively portrayed as a god and her invincibility is absolutely crazy.

The way the show is able to pull this off is because of how stellar the animation looks. Each cut is just crystal clear and she feels like a walking disaster. I also liked how her eyes have actual stars in them. I just love anime eye effects like that where the colors are really crazy and vibrant. Having symbols is an added bonus. So Tiamut was just a real threat as she took the final attacks of so many fighters and just kept on going. I haven’t seen another giant type fighter look so impressive, maybe ever. Her design is memorable, her durability is some of the best I’ve ever seen, etc. This is just the proper way to handle a giant opponent. I won’t go as far as to say it would beat having a humanoid sized opponent at the end but I can appreciate the angle here. You could make a case for Tiamut maybe even being the strongest Fate character of all time since she is invincible in the real world and even in the underworld she is almost impossible to stop. 1 on 1 who could stop her?

It’s no surprise that the show would have an out of this world climax though. The show just has such high standards for the soundtrack and animation that you knew they would go all out. It’s also easy to see why fans would vote for this one to be the big arc to get an anime adaption because I wonder if the others would have such a grand spectacle to end things off on. Surely this one can’t be topped right? I suppose we can’t rule it out but that would be difficult. I fully expect the climax of the book to have something big with the Mage King though. Maybe summoning a bunch of other heroes to come in and help would be ideal.

As a final note, the show also has some pretty good humor. There’s a lot of solid banter throughout. Gilgamesh and Ishtar both tend to have a lot of the best scene with regard to this. The writing is on point so it almost goes without saying but I did want to give the humor a mention. It helps give you a breather from when things are getting so deadly although there isn’t much time to rest in the second half once the new humans start showing up to eat everyone. The first half is more low key in that respect as we’re introduced to the characters and see the heroes lose a bunch as they slowly get used to this world.

Overall, Fate/Grand Order -Babylonia arc is a pretty fun show. It’ll definitely take you on an emotional rollercoaster with all the epic fights as both sides keep trying to gain ground in this war. Grand Order seems to really go all in with bringing in so many different characters from the franchise. This one seems to be definitely gotten the most high tier with crazy stakes but I’d still look forward to seeing the older arcs at some point. With the season ending on a huge cliffhanger for the climax of the first main arc of the game, hopefully that gets adapted at some point. The animation is definitely top tier. I would still say Ufotable is the best but CloverWorks absolutely establishes themselves as a top tier contender with this title. Pretty much every episode has a huge fight scene and the animation is always excellent. Not just in motion but a lot of the still shots if you pause the scren. Yes, that even includes the CGI which is better than most competitors. If you’re a big Fate can then you definitely need to check this out if you haven’t already. Also if you just enjoy action then this will still be a pretty big title to check out. The animation is absolutely on point and the characters each have their own distinctive fighting styles. We’ll see what the Fate series has in store next.

Overall 7/10

Pacific Rim: The Black Review


I’ve been awaiting the Pacific Rim show for quite a while. From the start it looked like the show was doing all of the right things that the movies couldn’t quite capitalize on. I mean, I did enjoy both films pretty well to be honest and would definitely recommend them but the idea of Kaiju vs Robots has a lot of potential out of that. An animated format will always be the answer for taking something to the next level and The Black definitely pulls it off. I’d be game with them just continuing the rest of the franchise in this style.

The show starts off with introducing us to the main characters’ parents. They are trying to help with the evacuations particularly since their kids are still around but the government has declared this place as lost. The parents manage to protect everyone and then leave to go and find help. Unfortunately help never came and many years have passed. Taylor and Hayley are the two kids who couldn’t escape in time. As siblings they are quite close but have taken the loss of their parents in different ways. Taylor thinks he has to protect Hayley at all costs and wants to stay safe in the village until they return while Hayley is convinced that they are dead and thinks they need to leave. Well, their hand is forced when a Kaiju attacks. Taylor and Hayley take a test Jaeger (Giant mech suit) and escape. Their best bet is to try and find civilization but can they survive in this Kaiju wasteland?

There are 7 episodes out currently as season 1 concluded. I’m hoping we should get season 2 pretty soon. If they could fast track that and get it out quick that would be ideal. The show does manage to conclude a lot of the main plots pretty well but we’re just at the tip of the iceberg here. The show doesn’t reference the movies all that much beyond a few names you might recognize like easter eggs for the suit and the pilot. Otherwise this works as a standalone title which works for me. We’ve already got a pretty solid cast and world going on here after all. Then we can build to an eventual crossover so far. Right now we haven’t really had time for any aliens to show up for example so throwing that in will be cool.

A lot happens in these 7 episodes after all. We get a new villain faction and it’s hard to say if they are human or alien yet. My bet would be alien but it’s hard to guess. Either way they get the stinger at the end of the season and it’s a pretty hype way to get season 2 rolling. Then there is the bio form running around. Won’t get into specifics since that would definitely be a spoiler but it seems like an interesting take that’s different than what Uprising did. It’s another kind of fusion and based on the dialogue we should see some more of these soon.

Meanwhile the animation here is pretty solid. It looks like it’s straight out of a Fire Emblem cutscene. That video game kind of look works well and the animation’s pretty smooth. It may not be quite like Castlevania or a true anime look like that but it works well enough. The fights are also nice and colorful with the Kaiju and Jaegers. If you’re going to do CGI then this is the level you’ll want to be on. The soundtrack is a lot more forgettable though. I can’t say that I could really recall any themes by the end of this.

Taylor may take a little time to get going as one of the main characters but he does get better. Hayley handled the situation better initially but eventually Taylor came around. He still panics quite a bit and I see more character development incoming for him. At the end of the day he is ready to step in and help Hayley and is determined enough to reach his goal that he even goes through the solo diving process. Meanwhile Hayley is solid from the start with how she jumps into battle and always tries to have a plan. They make a good team and who knows, if Taylor had gone with her initially and helped with waking up the Jaeger then they may have had time to train a bit more.

Loa is the main A.I. for the bot and I like that she has some good personality here. The series is already hinting at an origin story for her. It’s hard to say how it’s going to play out. Is it simply that she used to be the A.I. for another Jaeger and the pilots have traumatized her or is there something more to it? A lot to explore here but she definitely helps to keep you guessing. Then you have Mei who is the best character of the season. She’s the right hand woman of Shane and so starts out as an antagonist. From the start you can see that she has a lot more humanity than the other members though. She’s not just going to destroy humans without giving them a chance.

She is also the most skilled human in the series. That doesn’t mean she will stand a chance against any of the Kaiju but it’s good to have a solid human fighter on board with how many corrupt people are out there. There’s no end to the humans trying to take them down. I imagine this will only continue as the seasons go on. Mei still has some more demons to get past since she isn’t quite 100% past them but I do think she’s at a point now where she is ready to actively participate and be a part of the team. I look forward to seeing this play out.

Then you have the main villain Shane. Effectively he’s a black arms dealer who sells things for a profit and makes sure that he always has some plan at the ready. The guy suffers a lot of losses to his troops though and doesn’t make for a great general. Just look at how he sacrificed so many brains in the experiment to try and get a pilot on the Jaeger. Not the smartest move when you already don’t have a lot of men and are living in a Kaiju wasteland. By the end of the season you’re sure he will be back but the guy doesn’t have a whole lot of resources left. You feel like it’s going to have to be a big coincidence that he ever catches up with them at this point.

Then you have Boy. Now, I think everyone will know exactly how his plot is going to go the instant you see him in the tube but I won’t say just in case. He has to be the weakest character though. Most of the time Boy is just holding the characters back. He doesn’t have much common sense so he runs off all the time picking on little animals. There’s nothing heroic about this guy for most of his screen time because a more heroic soul wouldn’t be attacking all these creatures. He gets the heroes into a lot of trouble all the time. I’m hoping he improves but his core personality is one that doesn’t usually change all that much so I admit that I am having some doubts here.

Then you have the mysterious Apex, a being that seems to be part Kaiju and part Mech. In the film we saw aliens piloting mechs by sort of infusing the two so this is like a more advanced version of that. It’s got a pretty great design and has a great role. Definitely one of the more hype characters and he gets a lot of really pivotal scenes. One of the best things about this guy is that he shows some real intelligence so I can call him a true character more than most. Whether we see an army of them soon or stick to just this one, I don’t see any passing the first. This guy will come in handy soon.

As for the Kaiju, we get to see quite a few as the series goes on. The Rippers which are like little dog Kaiju. I was a bit on the cuff with these guys. They were a little close to looking like real dogs. I would say there was just enough Kaiju where they weren’t, maybe in part because the blood is blue or they just didn’t show a whole lot of animal type mannerisms and mechanics compared to others. If any of them had been taken in as a pet or something it could have changed things entirely since the viewpoint shifts but it’s hard to say for this kind of thing. They are fairly weak though and only good against humans. Then you have the Eel who goes down awful quick. The best Kaiju personally is Acidquill. The two tendrills it shoots out are very impressive and I liked the fightstyle. That’s a good way for a Kaiju to stand out among its peers and this worked out quite well for it.

The Kaiju with the biggest role here is definitely Copperhead. He follows the heroes around quite a lot and is a very determined Kaiju. He gave us some solid fight scenes and made for a good opponent. Most of these Kaiju likely won’t be returning for the second season so we’ll see who the replacements are next time. As long as their are mechs, Kaiju will continue to show. Right now the humans are definitely on the back foot since the aliens can seemingly summon an infinite number of Kaiju to keep on bumping up the ranks. No wonder the humans are always running.

All right, time for a spoiler paragraph so skip this if you haven’t seen the show. It won’t be in depth spoilers but just my quick theories on things. So for the parents, I’m thinking right now that the Dad is dead but the Mom escaped. The reason for this is based on what we saw, the Dad definitely seemed to be crushed in the ship while the Mom did run out of the hatch in time. Now, why is the father’s body not there? Well, someone took it so perhaps the Sisters will turn him into a Kaiju or something like that. There’s a lot of possibilities so it’s hard to say for sure but it’s definitely going to be a pretty interesting path to watch.

Rim: The Black definitely has quite the body count at times. Someone’s head gets blown off, a village is blown up, etc. This is definitely not a world that has worked out very well for the humans. The show can have some violent moments on occasion like this but usually they are either mostly off screen or stylized quite a bit. The show has an intense atmosphere but at the same time by and large I wouldn’t call this a violent series all that much. Again, if the dogs had been more like real dogs then we may have had some real problems but as it is the show has stayed the course.

Part of what makes The Black so much fun is really just boiled down to the premise. Giant robots vs Giant monsters and the characters keep this working well. The main suit is Atlas Destroyer and I definitely like the design of this Jaeger. I also like that it becomes more of a hybrid later on which enhances the design anymore. I expect the main characters will be fighting a little more in the second season now that they are more experienced so that will be fun to see. There’s a lot of adventure and action throughout the show so you should be on the edge of your seat. The writing is also quite solid so the show ends up being really balanced and makes for good marathon watching. I saw all 7 episodes back to back after all and it definitely didn’t drag on.

As a final note, am I the only person who thinks Hayley completely looks like Link from Breath of the Wild? I think it’s due to using a similar shading system but you would really mistake her for Link easy. I’d also say she has a strong resemblance to Samus from Metroid. I guess you could say that some similarities can be drawn from Link to Samus by extension and I would say that is true at least in Breath of the Wild. Maybe it’s just a character design that is easy to make you think of other characters but the instant the trailers came out I remember thinking that right away and that never changed during the show. It’s just a random observation but it was interesting.

Overall, Pacific Rim: The Black is a great show. I had been pretty hyped for this ever since the trailer since it looked so dynamic and the show did not disappoint. It definitely ends up finishing in the blink of an eye but it really delivered on everything the show promised. The characters are a lot of fun and the fights are dynamic. The water type effects when trading out blows or when they are used in place of the blood is an interesting one. It could have been hit or miss but it works well in this one. The show opens up a lot of plot lines to be completed at some point in the future. I’ll be looking forward to how that goes. I’m sure there will be a lot of theories on everything going on right now. Lets see if Rim keeps going strong and finally re-establishing Rim as one of the premiere mech titles.

Overall 8/10

Beyblade: V-Force Review


Beyblade is ready to make its big return with this second season. The original Beyblade season was great, no doubt about that. However, this season takes things to a completely new level as it easily jumps up to one of the best anime out there. That’s right, this one is an easy 9 no questions asked. You’ll get to see a ton of hype duels and a bunch of great new characters. Effectively this season accomplishes everything that the first did and then even improves upon it.

The season starts with explaining that the Bladebreakers have gone their separate ways. Effectively the group has broken up since each member has gone their separate ways. Unfortunately a group of mysterious individuals appear and manage to defeat or at least tie every member of the Bladebreakers. Tyson in particular gets slammed twice by the mysterious Ozuma. These new enemies intend to steal their bit beasts so the Bladebreakers decide to reunite to stop them. This group known as the Sacred Shields aren’t the only group after them though. You’ve also got a group of scientists who keep on sending bounty hunters and trained professionals after them as well. With everyone wanting a piece of the team, can the heroes really escape?

The first episodes are really about establishing the new group led by Ozuma and allowing the heroes to get used to Bey battles at this level again. One thing I was surprised about was Kai’s sudden retirement. That plot didn’t really work for me. So Kai retired because there was nobody left who was worthy to fight and yet it’s not like he beat Tyson the last time so why retire? You’d think he would at least want to end on a win first before stepping out of the game and Wyatt even points that out. Wyatt’s a kid at school who knew Kai and his role is actually rather big due to the influence he left behind on Kai. I wasn’t a fan of the guy personally and stealing someone’s Beyblade is never the right answer. Still, he was right that Kai shouldn’t just ignore a fight like this, especially when someone is targeting him.

Kai does recover from the slow start though and did put up a good fight against his opponent. In general the Saint Shields are a lot more interesting than the scientist villains so whenever the focus was on them that was definitely a good thing. The season really started out with a bang by introducing these Saint Shields and having them easily dismantle the main characters. They didn’t waste any time with that episode 1 fight coming in to the mix of a new rock song. That has to be one of the most influential fights in the series just because of how sudden it was. I always like the plotline where a hero just became world champion or beat the best there was and suddenly is defeated by a new challenger. It really establishes the new villain as being tough.

Naturally this can be tough to execute because you also might just not buy into it. Like Tyson was shattering universes with his Beyblade and now he can’t beat this guy? In some ways I would say they’ve scaled down the feats from the first season so don’t expect the Beyblades to look quite as powerful. Still, the intensity is always present in the battles which is the important thing. The animation is a lot different for the actual Beybattles here but I was definitely enjoying them quite a lot in the season. In general I would even say the battles were better here. In part because the season had the heroes powering up a lot more.

You could mistake this for DBZ as the characters start yelling and powering up their Beyblades. This was executed exceptionally well and really made you engaged in what was about to happen next. The character designs aren’t quite as good as season 1 though even if I think the animation is a little better. The characters just don’t look nearly as powerful. Tyson was ripped in season 1 and now he looks like a kid. Kai’s new outfit also isn’t nearly as cool as the old one. They do keep their strength though even if it doesn’t show like Tyson being able to race across the entire city. At the very end of the season we also get some power levels introduced to the series which was cool. I had definitely not been expecting that.

So the first half of the season is really solid but it’s the final chunk where the series kicks it into high gear. First, with the scientists out of the way, we get the final battles with the Saint Shields. One of the fights takes place during a rainy battle at the amusement park which was a lot of hype. Kai and Ray got to tag team against one of the big opponent teams. Then we had Ozuma and Tyson finally have their big rematch. It was a terrific way to end the arc and you couldn’t ask for better.

The final arc is the best though. A new kid named Zeo has been hanging around with the heroes for a while. He even saved them from the Saint Shields at one point. Well, he goes from being a happy, mild mannered kid to a really intense villain almost over night. The heroes aren’t sure what to do about this yet but there isn’t much time to think about it. The World Championships are starting up again so the Bladebreakers have to defend their title. This time the tournament is in a 2 on 2 setting though where the teams compete in a best of 3 set, one at a time. The bladebreakers split into two teams. You also have the Saint Shields stepping in, the hunters King and Queen, two of the international fighters from the earlier team that got mind controlled and of course Zeo’s team. That means that you have every big character in the season all rolled into one big tournament.

It would have been fun to have seen some of the season 1 guys as well but to be honest most of them would probably get stomped and the season 2 fighters are more interesting anyway. The more the better though if you wanted to make the tournament last a few more episodes. Every single duel in this tournament is incredible and a big part of why this season will be so hard to beat. Every duel just draws you in because of how strong each character’s motivation is. For example, I would say the big highlight battles in the tournament are Ozuma vs Zeo, Kai vs Zeo, and of course Tyson vs Zeo. There are a lot of other hype battles to be sure but in each fight the hero really wants to take Zeo down no matter what.

This leads to a ton of solid back and forth. The soundtrack is also so amazing in the season that each duel is really built up. The first season’s soundtrack was already excellent and this one took it to the next level. It reduced the amount of time the weaker songs played and even introduced some new ones. Swing Low is the standout theme here for sure which always shows up when the opponent is dangerous. Whenever you hear that theme you know things are about to get real.

This climax can hold its own with any anime. Then you also have the fun tournament meetup scene where the fighters get to interact. It’s a small thing but I always love to see this moment especially when it leads to a little fighting the way that this one did. King and Queen definitely love to stir the pot. They are even bold enough to directly cheat in one of the tournament battles. If you ask me that should have automatically disqualified them but of course they are allowed to proceed a bit since the judges just want to see good battles. Otherwise you feel like the Saint Shields may have actually won that battle. I was surprised at how quickly King turned over a new leaf by the end though. Hopefully they return at some point.

Tyson is a fantastic main character as always. You’ll notice that he does seem to be a lot more tense than usual here though. He picks fights with the characters quite a lot to the point where he is always breaking up the band. Being the champion of the world has certainly gotten to him. That said, his skills are still the real deal. If not for Dragoon chickening out on him he may have very well had fewer losses by the end of the series. When he’s not blowing up at everyone Tyson also does have a ton of great lines where he does pat himself on the back. A high energy main character like Tyson tends to always be a lot of fun. He enhances every scene he is in and is just fun to root for. He gives a good amount of pep talks as well. I’d still go with Kai as the best character but it’s awful close.

Then you have Ray who is the team’s consistent third strongest member as always. He is a blast to have around and I always like when a series has the big three established. Think One Piece, Saint Seiya, DBZ, etc. You can always count on Ray to go in there and get some wins. In some ways he even looks better than Tyson as Ray never even entertains the idea of cheating while the others get tempted to do so during the tournament. Ray is all about fighting with honor and to the end. His fights tend to get more intense than the others with how much physical punishment he takes, but Ray always gets back up. It’s too bad that he was the only one who didn’t get to fight Zeo, that would have been fun.

Max is around the whole time so he has a pretty big role but he always tends to get overshadowed by the other members. His Beyblade fighting style is all about defense and to his credit it is handled rather well. He is always relevant in the battles and gets a good fight to end the series. I’m not the biggest fan of Max but he’s fun enough and a good friend to have. At the end of the day he’s a nice guy who fights fair so what’s not to like right?

Kai is the main rival and so of course he is a blast here. Again, I wasn’t big on his first episode though with the whole retiring and then mellowing out. It just didn’t feel like Kai, especially just letting an opponent stomp him like that. As the season went on he quickly rose back to his old levels though and that was great to see. He really serves as a mentor to the group and was probably the only one actually making sure Hilary was okay during the big fights like saving her from the boulder and a big fall. Kai was also determined to stop the part hunters and did a great job. He always brings a ton of intensity to the battles which is important.

Hilary is a new addition to the cast and she’s fun enough. She gets a lot of fun banter with Tyson. Tyson certainly takes a lot of shots at her but she can dish them out just as well which makes for a pretty good balance. If she could duel that would be even better since she could help out in the climax but as it is she’s solid. I prefer her to Kenny who is technically more important to the battles but at the same time I’ve just never been a big fan. He should duel at this point and he is always doubting the team and putting them through a lot of training. Dizzy doesn’t do much as the A.I. but she gets some good one liners and tends to be pretty sarcastic the whole time.

Lets talk about some of the other big characters here. First up is Zeo of course since he is the big villain. He was a fun hero so it made for a fun character arc. I do have to say right off the bat though that I still don’t buy how he was able to take on the complete range of Saint Shields with a single blow and then go back to rookie status after that. I wouldn’t say Beyblade is the tightest when it comes to power levels but that just felt like a stretch. None of the characters seemed to think it was off either. Even if it was a surprise attack, the match should have just kept going.

I also have to admit Zeo’s reasoning for turning evil is very weak and does make him look bad. At the end of the day he turned against his friends incredibly easy which was disappointing for them. Zeo makes for an excellent villain but I will have to say that I’ll remember him as a traitor pretty well too. So, great character but his betrayal was too sudden and too easy. I did like the explanation for why he was so strong by the end though, that did make a lot of sense.

Then you have the various Doctors. Doctor K probably had the most personality since she actually got kicked out and then went right back into the ring with her own team. You have to admire her persistence that’s for sure. She even grabbed a gun to try and shoot the tops herself so you can’t say she does things halfway. Then there’s Doctor B who gets scared a lot. He does a lot of the grunt work of actually challenging the team and bringing the robots so kudos for that. He’s just never really much of a threat though.

Dr Zagart is someone you don’t mess with though. I’d have liked to see him duel a bit too but he does have much more of an imposing presence about him. The guy feels like a main villain and you can tell that he’ll back it up as needed. Much more so than Gideon who basically gets shoved aside and frightened by all of the other villains. You feel bad for him because essentially he is a henchman who is forced to act like a leader until he is tossed aside. Cool character design though. By the end of the series there are so many layers to the hierarchy in the organization that it’s quite impressive.

King and Queen are added near the end of the series but they leave an immediate effect. What better way to solidify yourself as a threat than taking Kai down right? I wasn’t exactly expecting Kai to be dispatched like that so this was a pretty epic way to introduce them. Both of these characters make for really epic fighters. I also like how both of them are ready to jump in when one of them is in trouble. Queen cheats on King’s behalf the first time against Kai and King returns the favor against Mariam. Their costumes are pretty cool too and at the end of the day the impressive thing is really that their skills are the real deal. Even without crazy power ups they were doing well.

That’s one thing you’ll see a lot of here compared to the first season though, rampant cheating everywhere. You have characters using Beyblades that keep on regenerating. Then you have the 2 on 1 battles like I just mentioned with King and Queen. Kai gets double teamed, Mariam gets double teamed, it happens a lot in the series. The most annoying part is when the heroes just get frozen though. If you see your teammate being double teamed you’re really obligated to jump into the fray immediately if you ask me. Anything less and you’re not watching your partner’s back as closely as you should.

Time to talk about the Saint Shields. Mariam gets a lot of development in the group. I like her confidence and she does like a clean fight. You could say she appreciates it more than some of the other members who just want to win at any cost. She certainly taunts Dunga quite a bit but the group is pretty close knit so they definitely get along well when it counts. Dunga is also a solid fighter although he’s naturally not quite as charismatic as Mariam. His brute strength takes him pretty far in the series but ultimately falters when it counts.

Then you have Joseph who probably gets the smallest role out of the group. He just doesn’t have a true character arc next to the others but does have consistent skills. The best member has to be Ozuma though. He seems to take this mission the most personal when it comes to trapping the Bit Beasts. He has a lot of passionate duels and the way he stole the show in the first episode of V Force was just incredible. His entrance was absolutely perfect and his victory over Tyson was decisive. There was nothing questionable, no dirty tricks or cheating. He just won straight up.

Then we have some of the other characters who appeared briefly and then got turned by the Psychic team. Salima tried to stay strong and even did some detective work but ultimately her will power was no match for the power of the dark blades. It was definitely unfortunate but nobody in the series seems to be able to resist its powers so she isn’t alone in this. Kane is another such victim. He was a decent rival to Tyson but you did feel like he had no real shot once he was a good guy again despite a pretty impressive intro. Both of these characters were pretty interesting. They got overshadowed but had a good run. I can’t say much for their two partners though. They were definitely not very impressive in the slightest.

Wyatt is someone who’s worth more than a mention since he was integral to Kai’s plot. My main issue with him is how weak willed he was. First he stole Kai’s Beyblade and then after that he was very quick to turn to the dark side again. I can see why Kai didn’t want to train him because this kid absolutely could not be trusted. No matter how many sympathetic flashbacks the guy got, I was never a fan. Finally we have Gordo who was Zeo’s partner in the finals. It’s clear that the whole purpose of his character was so Zeo could have a partner but the guy was fun. I liked his design which is a total reference to DBZ and the guy can fight so he was a worthy partner.

Right from the first episode V-Force establishes the stakes as being quite high. These fighters are extremely powerful and it’ll be fun to see Season 3 up the stakes again. The question is, can they top this one? The fun part with Beyblade is you know there is always a chance even if it’s hard to picture when you’re coming off the incredible highs of this climax. The season has incredible replay value to the point where you could easily go back to watch some of the big fights again right now. While I’ve mostly been praising the second half of the show, I do want to say the first half is great as well. A lot of the Saint Shield battles are there after all and you’re guaranteed a lot of great moments with the cast filled with action and intensity. You can’t go wrong there.

You can also tell how impressive a show is when there’s a fight where the outcome is already all but determined and they still keep you invested. In a fight like Kai vs Zeo you already know there’s no way Kai can end the arc prematurely. At the same time you want to see just how close he can get. Even fights with throwaway villains end up being a lot of fun because of how well the show executes the battles. There’s also a lot of solid character development everywhere. The main characters are obvious, but take someone like Hilary. She starts out despising Beyblade and giving Tyson a hard time but by the end she is as invested as the rest of the characters. Admittedly she was a lot of fun as one of the antagonists but as an ally she’s cool to. The show has a lot of fun with the dynamics and banter. It almost goes without saying but the writing is absolutely phenomenal here. The trash talking is top tier with Tyson getting a hype line about how he’s seen better duelists in Kindergarten at one point when fighting Ozuma. Lines like that are why Tyson’s still the Beyblade champ.


Overall, Beyblade V-Force is a terrific anime. It’s just incredible how intense the duels are and how excellent the characters are. You can really get behind this as one of the all time greats. I can really see why Beyblade got to be so great. There’s nothing that this show doesn’t execute at a masterful level. It definitely deserves to be up there with the all time greats like Yugioh and Cardfight. The best part is knowing that Beyblade still has tons of episodes and seasons left to go. If you haven’t watched Beyblade yet, you definitely need to change that as soon as possible.

Overall 9/10

Sakura Wars: New York Review


This Sakura Wars OVA definitely feels a lot different from the previous ones. On one hand it easily has a lot more action than any of the others to come before it as well as an ongoing plot instead of being episodic. On the other hand it decides to engage in more harem antics as everyone fights over the main character. It basically evens out so this ends up being on par with the other OVAs but it could have otherwise had potential to be the very best. I suppose that just wasn’t in the cards this time around. I will say the posters for this OVA are easily the best ones I’ve seen compared to the others though.

The story starts off with Shinjiro in high spirits after taking out the Samurai Warriors villain, Nobunaga. When he goes into work he is in for a shock though as it turns out that the troupe is starting a new play for Cleopatra. The worst part is that they want him to be the main heroine in it. Shinjiro never performs in the plays and to be placed into this role is not something he’s looking forward to. Unfortunately the group won’t hear any objections. Meanwhile, a mysterious pair of individuals have appeared. They are targeting various landmarks in New York and seem to want to resurrect Cleopatra or do something with the Egyptian artifacts. Can the New York team of fighters stop them?

First off, I do have to say that the actual premise of the OVA is quite forced. Bare in mind that the Star Division is completely made up of young women with the exception of Shinjiro. So naturally one of them should be playing the main female part right? Instead they play the male roles and you’re left shaking your head. Clearly the whole point of this story is to put Shinjiro in a tricky spot. Then to market the play (Because you do that apparently) he has to run around in his Cleopatra outfit for the entire OVA.

Fortunately for Shinjiro he is oblivious to basically everything but even so, you know that the characters are intentionally messing with him for no real reason. Each episode tends to follow a formula where he hangs out with one of the girls who teases him a lot and then they team up to stop the villains. Sometimes they succeed in protecting the artifact and sometimes they fail. Shinjiro’s costume is also so realistic that the villain actually mistakes him for Cleopatra as well so there’s also that.

On the positive side, as I mentioned we do get some real fights. This is due in part to the fact that these villains have actual powers. The main villain can use his energies to summon monsters and his sidekick can fly. We get a solid hand to hand fight with Subaru even if you could tell that the budget wasn’t entirely ready at that moment. On the whole I would say the animation is good though. The final fight looks really solid for sure and on the whole the character models are on point. That fight just felt like there was less going on despite it being a close quarters encounter. The soundtrack is more on the bland side but we do get the intro song near the end so that was fun. Adding a lyrical song at the end is always a good move.

In true harem style each episode focuses on a different character. Shinjiro gets to hang out with almost everyone although at 6 episodes there isn’t quite enough time for everyone with the plot also taking time to shine as well as Shinjiro’s mother showing up. The episode with his mother was definitely pretty fun. It was definitely nice to see her clowning on the team. It makes sense that she would be quite powerful since she’s related to Ogami. Clearly even though she is not on the front lines her fighting ability hasn’t decreased.

For the rest of the characters, Gemini is still the best heroine of the group like in the games. Admittedly she doesn’t get a huge role here but she does always try to support Shinjiro and doesn’t mess with him the way that some of the others do. She’s also always up for a fight which I think is important. When all of the characters brought Shinjiro various meals to cheer him up, her idea of steak had to be one of the best options. I’ll take that over the other meals which were pancakes, chicken n rice, fish, and some more that I’m probably not remembering.

Shinjiro Sagitta helps get Shinjiro out of a jam when he’s being peppered with questions from his Mom but otherwise doesn’t get quite as big a role as the other heroines here. Then you have Diana who is still the worst member of the group. She never has Shinjiro’s back when it counts and isn’t as decisive as the others. I didn’t care for her much in the game either. Rikaritta’s really a kid compared to the others so you can’t take her quite as seriously in a fight. She’s a gun character with her twin gun style but sometimes they’re fake guns anyway so it’s not quite the same as a real weapon. While it’s a comedy plot she does always threaten to eat her pet as well which is a big no no.

Finally there is Subaru who may get the biggest role here and I dare say the OVA was shipping her the most. She’s relatively emotionless next to the other characters but also turns out to be the strongest one. She’s the only character to actually try to attack the main villain on her own and she was doing pretty well in the fight. Without any outside interference she very well could have won the battle and ended the OVA just like that.

As for Shinjiro, I can’t say he’s the best character. He spends a whole lot of the OVA yelling and being pushed around. Almost every episode ends with him yelling as the other characters tease him. He never stands up for himself. The only thing Shinjiro has going for him is the fact that he’s a solid fighter. While Ogami is likely still stronger, we see Shinjiro fighting outside the mech with his twin blade style more which is important. He’s not afraid to get out there and start fighting. He definitely should have declined the play position though if everyone was just going to make fun of him the whole time though.

While I was glad to have a real villain here, the villain was pretty bad. I don’t even remember his name and the wiki doesn’t bother to list his name on the OVA page as it is. That’s how forgettable the poor guy is. My main issue here is how he keeps on thinking that Shinjiro is the reincarnation of Cleopatra somehow and constantly suffers from huge headaches whenever he uses his ability. There’s no way you can get intimidated by someone who can’t even control his ability right? No matter how you slice it, this guy just isn’t impressive in the slightest. His sidekick was more interesting and she didn’t get to do much.

So at its core this OVA has quite a lot to make fun of. It’s clear that it was just thrown together without a ton of effort or anything. That said, it is nostalgic to see the cast from the game. Despite the crazy plots, the episodes all do flow together well and are over in a blast. The episodes can be ironically funny and I would say the writing is good. The villains may not be very solid but we do still get real fight scenes. It also can’t be understated how having a real ongoing plot is a nice change of pace as well. There’s a lot more you could have done with the New York cast to be honest but this is a start.

Overall, Sakura Wars: New York is going for a very different direction than the specials before this. I guess New York would have to be a little different right? It’s not perfect and the story is so incredibly forced, but it’ll keep your attention. If you liked the Sakura Wars video game based in this location then you’ll like the OVA even more. It’s pretty fun and at the end of the day that is important. I wouldn’t say there are any negatives that really end up hurting the OVA. SO it may not rise up to great territory but it’s pretty good and a consistent watch. I wonder if these characters will ever return.

Overall 7/10

Sakura Wars: Le Nouveau Paris Review


Sakura Wars returns with the Paris troupe once more. Like the last adventure we’ve got a 3 episode OVA here. The stories are all pretty solid so this one holds its own with the last batch. I’d say there’s a little less action in this case and the first batch had the team’s origin which is always nice to see but we get some good character dynamics here. I would ultimately say that the third episode was the best one and that’s good since it means that things end off on a high note just as you’d hope.

The first episode focuses on Hanabi which is nice for her fans since she had a pretty small role in the last adventure. Her father is coming to town and he doesn’t know about Hanabi working on stage as part of the troupe or of her secret role in protecting France. Hanabi decides to make things a little difficult on herself by explaining that she is in a circus. Honestly the easiest thing here would have been to have just told him she was part of the theater and that would have worked a lot better. Still, misunderstandings happen awfully quick and so she lost her window of opportunity right away.

Hanabi was just a little too stressed out so even though her father turned out to be a reasonable guy who probably would have heard her out either way she ended up going through these elaborate measures. Give the rest of the team props for quickly having her back though. They are certainly quick thinkers as always which was really important here since Hanabi would have pretty much been out of luck otherwise. It’s a fun way to open up the saga. It may not be one of the more high stakes missions but we do get some danger towards the end of the episode. Mainly this was for Hanabi’s development and I would say it was handled well. Her father was also reasonable which is nice to see since sometimes parents in these things tend to be quite extreme.

The second episode gives us a mystery and this time the main characters are two of the assistants at the troupe rather than any of the main characters so that was also a twist in itself. Basically someone’s clock gets stolen and the issue is that he is an ambassador from another country. They want to use this as an excuse in order to infiltrate the troupe and find evidence that they are actually related to the secret defense force. It’s actually not a bad plan, especially considering that they didn’t fake the theft. It actually happened so they really were thinking on their feet here.

Lobelia looks really good in the subplot as she actually tracks down the thief. We also get a James Bond homage there as M16 appears along with their star agent. In his defense, the agent actually tried to hold his own even if you knew there was no chance he could beat someone with advanced fire magic. Those kinds of special abilities just give you a big advantage that can’t be solved without some kind of extra edge.

The main plot is still with the attendants though who are put in a pretty tough situation. The episode actually gets rather intense here while they are being interrogated and zapped since they won’t relinquish the information. It takes the heroes a while to get there so it’s impressive that they stood strong. I didn’t really recall their names but in honor of their efforts I figured I’d look it up so the two attendants are Ci and Mell. They ultimately make the heroic move to spare the villains at the end as well so give them points for not murdering those guys. Honestly I think the Paris group should try for harder punishments on the foreign groups after this incident though. It went rather far so the heroes should be able to get something out of this. From the 3 episodes this one had the most going on for sure. The idea of several intelligence agencies all getting involved along with a random criminal trying to pull the moves on everyone was fun to see.

Finally the third episode ends one of the subplots that had been going on throughout the first two episodes. When Ogami left he didn’t really get to choose who would take over as leader. He deserves full blame for this by the way as a quick line would have been enough to have gotten everybody on the same page. Instead he kind of waffled on this and gave every character a cryptic message making them think they would be leader. Naturally this hasn’t gone over well. Now there’s an old man who has taken over the Paris tower and is basically threatening to blow up the island. The Paris group has to finally choose a leader so they can unite and fight.

I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise who they pick as leader. The choice makes a lot of sense although I would argue that Glycine is the most qualified for the position. This is a fitting way to end the OVA because the leader plot was a big one and also because this special did allow Erica to get back in her robot so we got some big action scenes here. The second special had some good action too of course but no mech suits were involved so this one got more of the full Sakura Wars experience. It also felt rather grand due to the tower takeover because now the stakes were high. The old man and his abilities/tech may feel a bit random but in a world of aliens and mechs everywhere there are bound to be a lot of characters around who get their hands on things. Additionally I wouldn’t be surprised if he was from the game or a previous media because with the dialogue between him and Erica it’s clear that he’s not just some average joe. Based on his high position he’s in a good place to disrupt everything.

So while I wouldn’t say this beat the last Sakura Wars OVA, it’s a pretty well balanced one. The first episode would probably be the weakest for me with the final one being the best. The second one is in the middle. The Lobelia plot was definitely the best part since it’s always nice to see one of the team go rogue to an extent and just solve things on her own. Ci and Mell deserve credit as well of course. Meanwhile Coquelicot definitely gets the smallest role here. She doesn’t really get to do anything this time around while the other characters all got their big moments here and there. The cast works well together and there are a lot of different personalities so the contrast is effective. It would have been fun if Ogami had gotten to show up a bit but I suppose he can’t come rushing in to save the day every time. This way the group was able to stop the villains without any outside help.

The writing is solid here as you would expect and the animation is solid. It might not be anything breath taking but there isn’t a whole lot of action or anything so it’s not like the animators are really trying to stretch their limits. This is more of a little bonus adventure for fans who played through the video game and in that sense it succeeds quite well. The episodes all flow together well and you’ll have a good time with it. The soundtrack is a little less on the memorable side but it works well enough while you’re watching it so I’d definitely have no complaints there.


Overall, The Paris adventures end on a solid note. It’s been fun hanging with this group. With the New York group coming up we’ll see how those guys hold up. Personally I would consider them to be the best group but of course that’s the first one I was introduced to so they will always be rather nostalgic. At the same time the Sakura branch is the one I’ve seen for the longest period of time so they’re hard to beat as well. In a sense the deck was stacked against the Paris group so they’ve really done well in spite of that. It’d definitely be nice to see them get a full anime someday or something like that.

Overall 7/10

Demon Slayer Review


It’s pretty neat to be reviewing the anime and manga versions of Demon Slayer almost back to back. When Ufotable jumped on to animate this series it was definitely a big deal. The manga went from being a pretty big Jump title to suddenly being a house hold name and breaking all kinds of records. It’s easy to see why though, Ufotable easily appears as the best animation company at the moment. (Although I’ll still take Studio Pierrot as my favorite company. They are able to keep a top rate level of animation for long running shows which is just as impressive but more on that in a future editorial) Their animations are just spectacular and the adaption of the manga is quite accurate. It’s certainly top notch in that respect but of course that also means the anime can get extremely violent. Ufotable isn’t about to shy away from such things so while this series is held back in that regard, you won’t be forgetting the battles.

The series begins with a kid named Tanjiro heading down the mountain to sell some wood and gain money/supplies for his family. Unfortunately when he returns it turns out that his family was murdered by demons. The only survivor is his sister Nezuko who has also been turned. Fortunately she is able to resist the urge to eat humans but she can no longer be in the sunlight. Tanjiro convinces an ex Demon Slayer to train him so that he can fight demons and ultimately find a way to turn Nezuko back to normal. It’ll be a difficult journey since we don’t even know if a cure is possible and most people won’t trust her since she is a demon. Still, Tanjiro does not intend to give up and is ready to brave any hardship to protect her.

We get quite a lot of training initially and you can see why being a Demon Slayer is not something that just anyone can do. Most people simply wouldn’t be willing to train for years at a time risking their life in the process just to get a job that we don’t even know has a salary to risk your life against monstrous evils. Fighting demons has to simply be something you are very resolved to do. Otherwise it simply won’t work out. In fact we see this later on in the series as a lot of people either dropped out or didn’t have the proper motivation and got bumped off pretty quick.

I’ll quickly talk about the animation part right off the bat to get it out of the way. It’s exceptional as you would expect. One thing I really liked here was how the show gives all of the characters very distinct eyes. Eye colors have always been a fun anime thing and I really enjoy when titles go all out with it. For example Shinobu has very dead eyes which makes sense for such a mysterious character and then Tanjiro has two layered eyes which are cool. They just stand out. It’s a little harder to get this across in a manga although Slayer did that well there too. To date the best example of a manga doing something similar is Kaguya: Love Is War but for the most part you usually have to wait for the anime. The fight scenes are absolutely on point with Tanjiro’s battle against the spider creature getting a ton of hype back when it came out. You would see that one everywhere. The animation’s just very consistent and even small things like the little character heads for bumpers during the more comedic episodes were fun.

Naturally the soundtrack is also quite good. It really sounds like a Fate soundtrack to me at times with maybe a little Naruto on occasion. I wonder if Ufotable has some kind of jurisdiction over soundtracks so they have to have a certain style. It all works very well for the series though of course. You can expect a lot of high intensity tracks to be played during the fights really cementing how high the stakes are.

Naturally as mentioned the series can be incredibly violent. While I wouldn’t put it on the same level as Fate Zero, it’s probably right after Attack on Titan for being the third most intense series I’ve seen. Characters are blown up, ripped apart, and suffer catastrophic injuries over and over again. Since the demons can regenerate it isn’t always a big deal to them until they finally lose their head. The show isn’t afraid to just show all of this straight up. Naturally a lot of random civilians also get thrown into the crossfire and don’t quite make it.

Some of the demons have pretty twisted backstories as well. The Spider demon saga probably had the most moments like this even though it also had the most epic fights. The spider demon son who was the main villain for example would just rip another demon’s face off and liked to punish them with his whips. The father demon was also demented as he terrorized the others. It was an extremely warped version of a family and you would expect no less from a demon tribe. Still, those scenes are definitely quite dark. In the final episode we basically have Muzan crush and dismember a bunch of his demons to remind them of their place as well.

In such a world even the heroes are rather jaded to the point where you even have one of them stab Tanjiro’s sister a few times. Those scenes are pretty tough since it makes it hard for you to root for some of these heroes. It’s always good to see Tanjiro jump in to help out. He’s definitely a very solid protagonist in any medium. Nezuko also deserves a lot of credit for staying strong in these circumstances. The level of violence means I’d be recommending this to a very select crowd based on their tastes but overall it really does limit the show a lot because of how frequent it is. More realistically this wouldn’t ever make the list on my recommendations for anime viewers.

Season 1 covers a pretty good amount of content even going into the big Hashira meeting and through to the beginning of the Train section. As the train arc is getting a movie I figured the show would end with the heroes walking out of the house so it was nice that we got a bonus scene at the end here. It also makes for a good ending point with a fresh adventure on the way and the opening act stories completed. Lets turn the clock back a bit though and talk about some of the opening stories.

The first mini arc is Tanjiro’s entrance exam to becoming a Demon Slayer. To do this he must survive a few days in a deadly forest with a lot of demons. This is one of those tests where you feel like the proctors could probably keep an eye on things a little more. After all it turns out that a super powerful demon is around picking people off and nobody figured it out. Ah well, it’s fortunate for the demons at least. It worked well as a first big fight for Tanjiro and he got to show off his opening water breath techniques this way. By avenging all of the students who came before him, Tanjiro started off his journey on the right foot.

Then you have the arc where Tanjiro meets two demons who are on the side of good such as Tamayo and Yushiro. They were good allies to have around for sure. Yushiro may have given Tanjiro and Nezuko a hard time throughout but he was quite devoted to protecting Tamayo which is important. Tamayo’s mastery of medicines was also handy. In this arc the group is attacked by a pair of demons who can use a soccer ball and one who can control the direction you move in. These were definitely deadly opponents to fight and Susamaru had to be the standout villain of the series. She was really confident in her abilities and even fought Nezuko rather fairly in a battle of brawn with her kicks. Ultimately Nezuko was still getting stronger at this point so she wasn’t quite ready to win such a battle but she made it awfully close.

Susamaru’s partner isn’t quite as memorable but his attacks were great. Honestly it’s hard to see how this guy could be defeated once he gets the arrows on you. Tanjiro did a great job of surviving but that had to be one of the deadliest fights for him. If Susamaru had just kept the arrow going up it could have been the end. I assume he has some kind of ability limit which prevents him from doing so, however it’s still a great attack. This arc was a great showcase for Tanjiro and Nezuko to fight.

After that we have the arc with the house that is always changing rooms. Tanjiro and a guy he just met on the road named Zenitsu. This Demon Slayer is afraid of just about everything though so he won’t exactly be the most reliable ally to have around. The demon in charge of this mansion may not be the most powerful in a direct fight but he can cause the house to keep shifting gravity angles so if you jump at him you’ll suddenly find yourself going backwards or to the side. He can also shoot shockwaves at you while you’re disoriented. Fortunately the heroes have some backup with a guy named Inosuke who is another demon slayer in the mansion.

It was nice to get 3 different Demon Slayers at the ready here. The fight with the demon was also pretty solid here with a lot of dynamic visuals of having to get used to the place shifting so much. I imagine even the toughest of fighters would have some difficulty adjusting to such a thing. Initially Inosuke was definitely a very antagonistic member of the group though, going as far as being ready to destroy a fellow demon slayer in order to take down one of the demons. Tanjiro had to go in and teach him a lesson. It’s definitely a common theme here that Tanjiro has to headbut/punch people back onto the right path. Inosuke ends up being more of a regular hero after that.

Then we have the iconic mountain arc. A family of spider demons have been murdering a whole bunch of Demon Slayers and essentially own the mountain. It’s difficult to deal with them because they can use their strings to manipulate the movements of the slayers and force them to destroy each other. Additionally one of them has the ability to turn others into spiders and then you have a member with pure power. Tanjiro’s crew is sent over to help out and it’s quite a bold order if you think about it since they were sent in as backup for a group of much higher ranked fighters. Needless to say this isn’t exactly easy. The three of them get split up and all have to deal with their own opponents now.

It was a nice showcase for all of the fighters. Ironically Zenitsu is really the only fighter able to handle his opponent without help. I guess it goes to show that his thunder breathing is really good. The show also highlights the weakness of only knowing one style though. Then you have Inosuke’s battle which is pretty solid. He has his confidence shaken at one point but then recovers enough to attack. Ultimately it wasn’t enough for him to win but he put up a really valiant effort. Finally you have Taijiro who had the iconic fight that everyone was talking about with the final sequence. The fight’s definitely top notch with all of the speed and energy attacks going into it. Nezuko and Tanjiro also got to team up for that effort.

The spider arc is probably also the darkest one though with the origin of how the demon spiders came to be. You’ve got betrayal but also a whole lot of punishments within the ranks. Anyone who defies Rui really ends up getting punished. He shreds his own family of demons quite a bit. The flashback where he effectively takes off one of their faces is pretty brutal and he also puts Nezuko through a lot. At that point Tanjiro definitely knew he had to step in. Rui’s tactic of taking his own head off to prevent anyone else from doing so was a pretty smart idea though. We know that demons can’t destroy each other so it makes sense that if he delivers himself a fatal blow then it’ll be tough for anyone else to do so.

You can definitely be a bit sympathetic to some of the other demons. Particularly the mother one had a pretty tough road. The sister seems sympathetic initially but then she has the flashback where she betrayed another demon and you figure she’s more manipulative than anything. One of the standout scenes of the arc aside from the flashy Tanjiro fight is certainly when two members of the Hashira show up. It’s always hype when you see backup of this level. You only get to experience the first fight for an upper rank once so this was a great way to do it. Gyu and Shinobu show up to offer much needed support and also show how much stronger they are than the average fighter.

Giyu immediately shows why he is the best character in the series (At least as of season 1) here. He’s incredibly powerful but also very reliable. Giyu was quick to defend Tanjiro when it counted. He’s certainly a lot slower to jump to murdering everyone compared to Shinobu. Shinobu’s also a great character though. I appreciated her backstory of why she hides her emotions. Effectively she is trying to fulfill someone’s last wish even if she really doesn’t agree with it. Her style of combat is also unique. She’s quietly quite sinister at times with the demons and it’s hard to say if she would have even kept her end of the deal with her offer to one of the spider demons. Perhaps though, we’re also shown that she has a kind side so maybe if the spider demon had agreed to the terms she would have been okay. That said, I can’t see this demon being able to resist humans the way that Nezuko could.

Finally the show ends with the heroes training at Shinobu’s estate and also meeting up with the Hashira. Naturally a lot of these guys are all in for murdering Nezuko and don’t really want to listen to reason. Giyu appears to be the only reasonable one again, even having to step in to stop the snake pillar from crushing Tanjiro. These hero meetings are always pretty hype though because now we’re really getting to see the whole roster of top level allies. All of these guys will be important down the road that’s for sure. I was glad Tanjiro wasn’t standing for their attacks on Nezuko and quickly jumped in. Nezuko is definitely given quite a hard time being forced to restrain herself so often.

This was a nice way to end things. We essentially got a preview of the future here and the villains had a similar meeting. For contrast Muzan spent it slaughtering all of his members except for one who is given another chance. Compared to how the leader of the Slayers handled the meeting by building everyone up, it was quite the contrast to be sure. We also get a good training arc here and I would say Tanjiro once again proves to be at the front of the class with Inosuke and Zenitsu both throwing in the towel early on. You can’t be a quitter and expect to reach the same heights as someone who trained hard from the start. Tanjiro’s good deeds are always rewarded as the teachers were inclined to give him tips on how to be stronger due to this.

I didn’t really talk about the characters earlier so lets run through the main ones. Tanjiro is an exceptional lead as you would expect. He’s always a nice guy who is still resolute in his mission to take down the demons. He’s very quick to protect Nezuko as well as anyone else who is threatened as seen in the proctor exam when he stopped another trainee from threatening the overseer. Nezuko is also a very solid heroine. From the start she is able to restrain herself from eating humans which is huge and she is also quick to support Tanjiro in his more difficult fights. She is a demon after all so her abilities are quite solid even if Tanjiro tries to protect her from having to engage in these battles.

Zenitsu is pretty good at his role of comic relief but he’ll likely always pale in comparison to the other characters. He’s not exactly the most heroic guy to the point where he hesitates a lot and always waits at the back of the line. He’s not a reliable sidekick to have and he is a little too obsessed with every girl he meets. For those reasons I wouldn’t say he is a quality character. Inosuke on the other hand is pretty great. He’s a vicious fighter who doesn’t give up very often. Inosuke loves competing with Tanjiro and in this way he continues to hone his skills. I like his competitive attitude although Tanjiro pretty much never jumps at the bait which really works Inosuke up. He certainly helps the dynamic.

Then you have Kanao who will have a much bigger role in the future. As of now though she has a pretty solid role here as she starts off pretty emotionless but Tanjiro at least shows her the potential of unlocking her emotions. She definitely had a rough backstory though so it’s easy to see why she sealed her emotions off. At the time I’m sure that was very helpful so she wasn’t hurt as much as she would have been by the tough conditions. Tanjiro’s teacher was also a pretty reasonable character although I thought he did a particularly poor job at preparing Tanjiro for the road ahead. Some basic things like teaching him more about breathing for long periods of time or at least a heads up that all of the other students went missing so something may be going haywire at the school. Instead he basically left Tanjiro to his own devices and we learned later on that he partially just didn’t want Tanjiro to succeed. It’s easy to see why since he doesn’t want anyone else to die but it’s rough on Tanjiro.

Overall, Demon Slayer is definitely a pretty intense show. It has really high production values and a lot of hype moments. While the best fight has to be Tanjiro vs Rui, I would say the most hype moment of the show was when Giyu faced off against Shinobu since there’s nothing Tanjiro can really do there except hope that Giyu comes out on top. The pacing of the episodes are solid and it all goes through in a breeze. The show tends to go too far with the violence though so expect some intense scenes in virtually every episode. As long as you don’t mind thing getting a little violent then I can definitely see you enjoying this one quite a bit. If you love the concept but want something a little tamer then I’d say to check out Yu Yu Hakusho which also involves quite a bit of demon hunting while also throwing in some tournaments for good luck. It’s pretty unique that the show continues with a movie before presumably going back into show format so if you want to stay current then you’ll need to check out the movie.

Overall 5/10