PokeToon Review


Pokemon has been getting a lot of little shows here and there. This is the latest one and it’s going for a more low key vibe as the anthology switches animation styles a lot. Some of the shorts are pretty solid while others are definitely weaker. In general I would say this one doesn’t hold up to the last few shows but you should still have some fun here. With only 8 episodes that are shorter than normal ones, it won’t take you long to blast through them all.

The first short is about Scraggy as he fights with Mikikyu in classic Looney Tunes/Mickey Mouse style. The animation is very much going for that kind of retro look and so there is a lot of battling going on. It’s very nostalgic to see this style and it’s nice enough but what I do miss about it is that there isn’t any dialogue or anything like that. So there’s barely a plot here. It works well enough since the short is….well short, but if this was full length then it would eventually drag on. This would be in the lower tier from the 8 episodes at 7th place overall.

Then next up we have an episode about Pancham and now this was a really solid one. I would put it as the 2nd best. Basically he wants to be a hero like his role model Arcanine but the problem is that the way evolution works, he can never be an Arcanine which shakes him up a bit. Still, he decides to train hard and become a respectable hero in his own right. One day there are a bunch of miners stuck behind a cave-in and it’s up to Pancham to save them.

It’s always nice seeing a Pokemon with a lot of personality and ambitions of his own. I liked Pancham right away and the story is very satisfying as he works to achieve his dream. The kid also wasn’t super annoying here although he could have let Pancham know about the situation a little sooner instead of just running around. At the end of the day Pancham is someone that you know you can count on to help save the day and take the right steps to saving the people.

Next up is a short that’s more about the human this time. Blossom wants to be a Pokemon trainer but her Mom denies the idea while her father is too nervous to do much of anything. She figures that she will just have to leave without permission and finds a nice Nidoran but unfortunately there is a misunderstanding and now his parents want to crush her. Blossom retreats to the village but with NidoKing and NidoQueen fast approaching, has she just doomed the village?

I liked the idea of the story more than the execution which is why this one has to settle for third place. I was thrilled when some Pokemon Trainers showed up right away because the idea of a village without trainers would be crazy. So that was cool and it also just made a lot of sense. The fact that they were losing is quite embarrassing but I can also get behind this especially with how the new Arceus game presents the world. If you live in a low level area then you might have weak Pokemon so when a tough wild one shows up then you’re sunk.

This does make Blossom’s dad look awful though. He just couldn’t care less and even when he hears the large explosions in the distance he doesn’t do anything. When Blossom shows up scared and desperate he coldly reminds her that his Charizard won’t listen to her. Throughout the adventure he just isn’t helpful at all even through to the climax as he lets his daughter take all of the risks. The special was trying to make him appear as the guy who appears to be rather helpless but is actually really tough. It just completely failed on that note.

The special itself is nice because of the action and Blossom is a good character but the Dad definitely makes it fall down a notch this time. I still like the idea of some Pokemon storming a village with trainers. I’d actually like to see something similar with Team Rocket someday. At this point all villages should have a bunch of trainers so that would make for a great premise to a short.

Now we can talk about the weakest special of the 8 which is about a Magikarp. This one is going for a very quiet kind of short like the first one. There is no dialogue here or anything like that. So it’s all about this one kid who plays by the lake and his music is really appealing to Magikarp. One day the kid leaves so the Pokemon has to try and find him. It’s one of those shorts that would be a lot more emotional with some dialogue and more of a full story. The abstract design of the short really doesn’t work nearly as well. It’s not all that interesting so it really couldn’t keep up with the others.

On the upper half of the 8 specials was one about Slugma at 4th place. This one is about a girl who always tries to be friends with Slugma when she stays at her grandma’s house, but the Pokemon is very shy and always hides. Still, Slugma is a nice Pokemon and does his best to make sure that she’s comfortable by always supplying a lot of heat to the house. There’s not a whole lot going on in this one but it’s a nice wholesome story. I also just like seeing all of the Pokemon just hanging around the house. They really would be a lot like having pets in the real world.

One of the longer specials was about a girl trying to survive past the Pokemon scare challenge. Basically there is a haunted spot in the school and so a bunch of guys decide to check it out. The main girl here gets spooked by a ghost and raises her hand by accident so she has to come along but then she is turned into a Gengar, one of the very Pokemon that used to frighten her. With the other kids stuck in the school, she will have to try keeping them safe from the other Pokemon and conquer her fears at the same time.

I put this one as a bit weaker than the others at 5th because while the idea is good, I don’t think the short did a whole lot with it. The kids aren’t very likable and I’m also not sure why they would all be super scared of ghost type Pokemon. I feel like if there were real ghosts here then that would make sense but in a world where Pokemon are so common place, I don’t see them being thought of as super scary or anything like that. The kids are very young so I can cut them a little slack, but only a little.

It was cool to see the girl turn into the Gengar since that’s like something out of Mystery Dungeon but the special just wasn’t all that exciting. The more emotional stories are definitely the ones that would tend to be a lot more high ranking and this one wasn’t going for those vibes. At least we got some cool effect with the whole dimension shifting.

Then there is the Snorunt episode which is one of the weaker ones at 6. Basically a few kids have a secret base which is a nice homage to the old Pokemon games. One day they come across a Snorunt that is outside but the problem is that they live in a very warm climate so it’s not good for the Pokemon. They have to decide if they should take him to the PokeCenter in which case their secret base could be exposed or just try to save him themselves. Fortunately they make the right call.

It’s a decent enough short but the animation wasn’t as good as some of the others ones and I wouldn’t say that the story was super explosive either. I also don’t think that this would necessarily expose their base’s location. I’m thinking that the rationale would be that they would have to say where they found the Snorunt but they could always hide the base for a day when the adults go to check on it and then blow it up again. Still, it was good that they made the right choice.

Finally we have the Jigglypuff short which I rank as the best out of the 8. This one is about a girl who befriends a Jigglypuff but for some reason she’s afraid to sing. What’s worse is that another girl has a Jigglypuff that loves to sing so they start blaming the Jigglypuff and even the main girl for this which leads to a lot of tear and emotional moments. This Jigglypuff may not be able to sing, but at the end of the day she still tries her best so as not to disappoint her Poke trainer.

There’s no danger or action here but it’s a pretty good story. I liked the animation and it had solid vibes here. On a technical level is probably had the highest budget and I could easily see a slice of life kind of show in this setting. It was a good way to end things and it’s easy to root for Jigglypuff. Always good to end on a high note and that’s exactly what PokeToon did.

At the end of the day, the anthology format is what really holds this one back a bit. We had some solid shorts here but also some very weak ones. Some would have good animation like the final short and others looked incredibly rough. In general this does not look as good as any of the earlier Pokemon shows and I wouldn’t say that it manages to beat any of them either. It’s still not a bad show though and it’s so short that it’s worth a watch. I would like the next series to be a little more focused though or if not, at least stay consistent in the animation instead of going for more experimental styles. Build a whole show off of the last special and that would really work well.


Overall, PokeToon is a solid online series. As a mini series it fills the bill of being entertaining and I’ll always take anything to extend a franchise even more. It ultimately won’t be making any waves or claiming any big victories but it’s a show that you can pick up and play at any time. You don’t have to try and remember a lot of characters or what’s going on. Just pop in a short episode and you’re all set.

Overall 6/10

Tiger & Bunny Review


Tiger & Bunny is a show I heard a lot about back in the day. It seemed to get big for a while before vanishing but with a recent season 2, the franchise is still around. I like the concept of the show and you really can’t go wrong with superheroes. I think this really could have become a big franchise in its own right but unfortunately the show just felt really low budget most of the time. Nothing’s all that streamlined and I would also say the cast is on the weaker side. The premise itself is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here. The show will have moments that are really solid but it’s not often enough to really keep this one at the top.

The show starts by introducing us to Tiger. The guy is a hero veteran at this point but the fact of the matter is that he’s growing old. People don’t find him cool anymore and that’s a big deal in this world. See, heroes have basically become professional advertisers. You earn points by saving people and looking cool while doing it. Tiger believes that heroes should do the right thing because that’s what being a hero is all about but such values have vanished over time. Now the agency is pairing him up with Bunny, the coolest young hero around. The two don’t get along at all but will they be able to put this aside to save the day?

So lets talk about some of the things the show did well first. I think it immediately does a lot of good world building in very direct ways with the hero agencies but also in subtle ways as you see nonstop product placement everywhere. Being a hero has really become just like being a movie star and naturally some resent this while others fully embrace it. Part of why Lunatic’s plotline is so good is because it’s based on this but more on that later. The world feels big even if it could have used more heroes at the main spot. You at least get the idea that there are more heroes like this around the world.

The power ceiling is also fairly low as even the strongest heroes aren’t very powerful so it’s a good way to explain how civilians aren’t always getting into trouble and all. The few that do get really powerful tend to become villains anyway so it’s really good that not everybody is super strong. In general the plots are solid too. The villains have interesting motives and there’s a mystery throughout the series that will keep you alert as well. I would have liked a little more commentary on how heroes are for show now and maybe a deeper arc on that but they could definitely tackle this in a future story.

One of the shakier parts of the series is the animation though. I dare say it comes close to just being flat out bad most of the time. The absolute best moments in the show can look decent but this is very much a low budget show. I would say some Dragon Ball Heroes episodes have about as much fluid movement which isn’t a great look since that’s a low budget online series. The CGI is really rough and even the hand drawn parts aren’t all that great. I’m hoping the budget is a lot higher for the sequel.

The music also isn’t particularly memorable. The intro is very weak and I can’t really remember any of the battle tunes so that’s not a good thing either. In the end the series was really caught lacking on all of the technical elements. A good story still helps it stay above water but it’s a much tougher fight than it otherwise should have been. You’d think that a story about superheroes would always look and sound amazing!

Now lets get into the show. The first few episodes are the pre arc so they help to get the personalities developed for Tiger, Bunny, and some of the other heroes like Blue Rose. So the fights are more on the basic side against minions who don’t really stand a chance but it’s always good to have the interactions here. Tiger & Bunny always have some good banter with each other which is important because a good portion of the show revolves around that. If their dynamic was no good then the show would have absolutely been doomed.

By this point I was already a big fan of Bunny and he would end up being the best hero in the show. He has a fairly serious plot as he has to avenge his parents’ death. This ends up being a big plot for the entire show and beyond so don’t expect the answers to come too quickly. Either way this was always the most engaging plot in the show though. Each clue would lead into another one and it also explains why Bunny is always so serious. He’s trying to be a great hero because it will open more doors and increase his influence so he can find the villains.

He can also back up his tough talk like when he saves Tiger several times. The guy has a cool air about him even if his rage can sometimes cause him to be a little too emotional. I’m usually on his side when he disagrees with Tiger though. There’s one key scene near the end of the show where Tiger doesn’t trust Bunny to make the right call and it’s clear that Bunny took that personally. Because the whole series Tiger was talking about trust and Bunny started to buy into it so that was a shame. It can be hard for the characters to be on the same page.

As for Tiger, part of why he wasn’t higher for me is because it feels like he never lives up to his tough talk. There are a lot of circumstances in the show that help make sure he is never on top but no matter how tough Tiger talks, it always feels like he is one step behind. He had to get saved in the very first episode after all and something similar happens at the end. I know that he’s getting old and it happens to everyone but he’s not quite tough enough to consider himself as a bigshot. It’s great that he has ideals and confidence but he needs to train a whole lot more.

Tiger’s a good guy but that doesn’t automatically make him a great hero. That said, most of the heroes here aren’t very good at all so that’s not a good bar. One of the only other heroes with a big character arc and all is Blue Rose. She is a hero but really wants to be a singer and is considering leaving the business. It’s tough though as her parents don’t fully support the career and are always worried about her. She’s also just not sure if she can pull it off which is another thing to consider. She has ice powers which are handy but they are not very powerful.

Again, part of the way the universe is built up is that everyone is fairly weak so it’s not like it’s just her but half the time she has to run off when the villains show up. It’s part of her hero image but it doesn’t really help her case. She still has more to do than Dragon Kid though. Dragon Kid’s main character dilemma here is that everyone treats her like a kid. Well…she kind of is a kid. Her parents are actually rather supportive but she finds this embarrassing and Tiger helps her to realize that this is actually a good thing and they’re looking out for her. It’s a nice enough plotline.

Sky High is the number 1 hero but it’s easy to forget that because he never looks all that impressive. He can fly and can create an energy blast of sorts but I wouldn’t say that it’s super impressive. In fact, the only time he uses it, it doesn’t work. I like that he always tries to look on the bright side and he’s a nice guy but he’s just not given enough to do. I think that you could really do some interesting things with his character. At best you have something that could almost be considered a romance plot while he’s dog walking but even then I would say it’s a bit of a stretch to say that. It’s not really big enough to call a full plot like that.

Then we have Fire Emblem, the worst hero out of the bunch and it’s unfortunate since he’s the fire themed hero. Usually those are my favorite but his character is basically the same as Puri Puri Prisoner. He’s not as extreme to the point of being an actual villain like that guy but he gets rather close with how he’s always harassing Rock Bison. Fire Emblem has no understanding of personal space and can’t stay serious long enough to ever contribute. His whole gimmick is that he uses fire but Lunatic is stronger in that element and then later on some random machines can use better fire.

Fire Emblem is never given any respect as the series goes on and he’s basically a wasted character. He’s not as bad as characters like Master Roshi or Mineta but man does he make it closer than it should be. Any scene with him is usually supremely annoying. On the other hand, I’m also not a fan of Rock Bison. Make no mistake, Fire Emblem is alone at the bottom but Rock needs to stand up for himself more. Don’t just let Fire Emblem get away with messing with him the whole time.

Rock Bison also gets no definitive moments even though he is supposed to be the power hitter here. At least in the manga he is given a key scene where he really gets to show his stuff but that doesn’t happen in the anime. Then you have Origami Cyclone and I would say that his character arc is actually fairly good. He is one of those heroes who is always in the background and isn’t too strong. Over the years he has really let that get to him so he has virtually no confidence anymore. He has resigned himself to the fate of just being a hero who is used for advertisement rather than saving the day and making a name for himself. Definitely not the kind of track record you want to have for yourself.

So in his mini arc he gets to learn about really being a hero and I thought that was solid. He also had a good backstory involving his friend Edward. I actually thought the whole thing was extremely harsh for that kid. He was trying to use his powers to stop an armed robbery and came close. Unfortunately things didn’t go very well and so he was locked up. But why locked up for so long? It just felt like a harsh punishment considering the circumstances so things better be even harder on the villains. It’s easy to see why Edward got jaded after that although I would say it was still a fairly weak motivation for turning completely evil though. Being a little upset? Sure that’s reasonable, but turning evil? I’m not so sure about that. I liked him in the flashback too.

Now the story starts to resume for real with Bunny finding a lead on the people who murdered his parents. The killer may have been from the terrorist group known as Oruboros and now criminals are being burned alive by someone with blue flames. This seems to tie into Bunny’s memories so this case is extra personal to him. Tiger has to try and stop Bunny from going too far but when they are face to face with Lunatic, that’ll be difficult. Lunatic believes that the current heroes are a joke and not decisive enough with the villains. He believes that true justice is to put these criminals away for good. Not in a jail, but 6 feet under and it’s difficult to stop him since his flames are so powerful.

We then get to what I’d consider to be the big arc of the series. A metahuman named Jake has basically captured the entire island in the name of Oruboros thanks to robots and bombs everywhere. The heroes are basically hopeless since they couldn’t beat the robots normally anyway. It’s all up to Tiger & Bunny as always but the difficult part is that they have been getting absolutely dominated whenever they try to fight Jake. They will have to find a way around that quick or it’s all over.

This arc had a lot of danger to it and was definitely a blast so I was on board the whole time. Jake was shown to be an incredibly powerful villain and he lived up to the hype. The guy was basically able to take all of the heroes on at the same time. Between his natural barrier type abilities which he could use for strength and his reaction times plus his true ability, the guy was virtually invincible to the point where it’s hard to see how you could beat him. Yet I would say that the show did a good job of making it believable. I was able to buy into the teamwork and coordination that the team used against Jake.

As a villain Jake’s not super interesting and his goals are weak at best but I did like his powers which helped the character as a whole go up. He’s really one of those completely chaotic villains who just likes to see the world burn. His right hand woman Kriem was very loyal. She was always by his side and her ability to manipulate the dolls using hair was really good. It was a versatile ability with a whole lot of uses so it’s hard to go up against that one. Even at the very end of her journey she was still doing her best to mess with the heroes and support Jake so I had to give her props there.

After that we start a plot that lasts until the end of the series which is that Tiger’s powers are starting to go away for some reason. Apparently this can just happen when you grow older and once it starts there is no way to stop it. The good part is that temporarily you may even get a quick power boost but the length of time you can use the power begins to shrink and shrink. Tiger’s powers are already on a time basis so losing any time is really bad for him. Now this makes him start to think about retirement but he decides to keep this a secret.

His family has long wanted him to be at home more so it’s a plus on that as well. The problem is that Bunny is also thinking about retirement. He feels no closer to solving his parents’ murder at this point and he can’t even trust his memories as the face of the killer keeps on changing. He just can’t trust himself at this point so he needs some down time. Bringing this all to a head is the fact that people around the city have suddenly forgotten about Tiger and think he’s a villain now. Can Tiger clear his name or is it game over for his days as a hero?

It was nice to see the family get more of a role I suppose. Tiger’s daughter Kaede was always hoping to spend time with him but the life of a hero is tough so most times it just wouldn’t work out. Now that she started developing powers of her own, that just made it even more important to have Tiger there at the ready. As a character Kaede is okay but there is just a limit on how good she can be while still just being a kid. You can’t expect any big fight scenes out of her or anything like that but she finds a way to help out in the climax a bit.

As for the world against Tiger plot, it basically boils down to one character having an advanced hypnosis ability. It’s a pretty interesting plot and I liked it but I also had to suspend some disbelief here. The guy isn’t altering reality or anything so all physical evidence of Tiger is still around. It felt a bit iffy that nobody would have noticed the contradictions in time. While it’s true that Tiger kept his secret identity from most of the cast, they should still be able to piece things together like when Tiger used his superpowers. It doesn’t make any of the heroes look great when they still refuse to help him out or at least listen to reason. They just jump into combat so quickly that it can be a bit discouraging if you were hoping that they would be able to do something here.

As for the lead villain himself, well I appreciated how the villain executed his plan. I may not be a big fan of the guy but the plot does revolve around some twists and he did have to put in a lot of work to get this plan all figured out. So he deserves some credit here and it also made some other scenes fun in hindsight. Lets just say when Jake took a bunch of people hostage a while back, the lineup was a little more stacked than he ever could have imagined. While Jake could probably beat all of the other villains in a fight since his powers are so good, it would have been interesting to see them mix it up.

It’s probably about time that we talk about Lunatic a bit now. So he has a sob story of course which is what set him down the dangerous path of evil. His father was abusive and kept on getting worse until Lunatic was able to awaken his flame abilities to stop the guy. From there on he realizes that heroes can’t be trusted (His father was a hero) and sometimes just locking up a prisoner isn’t enough. You have to destroy them all and that’s exactly what he did. You can’t accuse Lunatic of doing things halfway and a character deciding to be the judge, jury, and executioner is always a fun plot.

As a villain it is already a fairly strong motivation and it also means he has an honor code. That’s big in a villain because it already starts you off on the right foot with me. Lunatic is a villain through and through but he’s one who believes in his ideals and doesn’t run away from them when the going gets tough. That is important because as a villain you have to be consistent. His costume was also pretty interesting and it was just great whenever he would appear. The guy would function as a wild card when other villains took the stage and he would also get the focus sometimes. He is definitely a villain who should continue to the next season.

Okay it’s time to go into quick spoiler territory so skip these next two paragraphs if you haven’t watched the show yet. Tiger & Bunny has quite a few twist after all and it’s better that you don’t know them before watching. Especially because this is a very original twist that I did not expect was going to happen at all. All right so hope you’ve skipped by now because here we go. So throughout the series we have Tiger hyping up Mr. Legend because that guy used to be the best hero ever. He’s dead now but he was a symbol of hope.

Mr. Legend didn’t have super fancy powers or anything and yet he was able to defeat every enemy he came across and did it with a smile. He’s basically the Superman/All Might of this series, a living legend. Well, it turns out that he was Lunatic’s father. Yes, Mr. Legend may have started out heroic but then he started losing his powers which made him bitter and he turned to alcohol. Along the way he became a full villain but the public never knew this as he stuck to terrorizing his family.

This twist really just came out of nowhere because you just don’t suspect a thing until it happens. It really helps to give Lunatic a lot of ammo on why he turned against heroes. Even more than the fact that a lot of heroes are just in it for the publicity, now you had a hero who was actually crazy and nobody ever came to his aid. A hero can’t be everywhere but this was enough to help Lunatic mold his philosophy. It’s also a twist I can’t really recall happening before to the biggest hero so that was effective. Of course it did mean that Mr. Legend dropped significantly as he became one of my least favorite characters in the series but the show didn’t pull any punches here.

Overall, the story had a lot of interesting parts to it. There are some elements that the show probably should have gone into a bit deeper but the ending of the show leaves a ton of room for extra stories and sequels. Evidently the writers agreed with me since this does continue so there is still a lot that you can do with this title. I do hope that the animation and soundtrack improve though. The writing/plot shouldn’t have to try and carry the entire show this hard without any backup. I also think it would be easier to try and get this more mainstream if it stood out more. Season 2’s goals should be to try and get some more likable characters in here as well. Right now Tiger & Bunny are the only two really solid heroes here. Sky High, Blue Rose, and Dragon Kid are okay but they aren’t strong enough to really be big assets here. We need another heavy hitter so I’m hoping we can get that.

Overall 6/10

Clannad Review


Clannad is one of those romance anime that you had to have heard of at some point. It got really big back in its day after all as one of those shows that would get really emotional. Well I’ve finally gotten to check it out and it’s definitely a solid title. From the big 3 I would say it beats Air but loses out to Kanon. Ultimately the ending is probably the most satisfying out of all 3 but Kanon executed the mystery elements and ominous snow the best. You always felt like something crazy could happen at any moment and it did have someone fighting off monsters so it wasn’t afraid to get supernatural. This one gets supernatural as well but in a different way.

The show starts off by introducing us to Tomoya who is your average student just trying to enjoy his life to the fullest. He suffered an injury which prevents him from playing Basketball though and this has caused a big rift with his father who was seemingly at fault for this. So Tomoya is still bitter at this whole circumstance but tries to bury this beneath his carefree personality. His best friend Sunohara is even more carefree so the two of them get along just fine. As the show goes on Tomoya befriends 5 girls at the school and helps them deal with their own personal challenges and trials. Perhaps in helping them he will be able to get past his own issues as well.

So at its core this is a bit of a slice of life. Each story arc will focus on one girl in particular as Tomoya gives her his full attention. There are overarching plots throughout these arcs though and it’s not like the girls vanish. The main story is really about helping Nagisa get the drama club up and running. It’s tough though since the Student Council is all powerful and there aren’t enough members. That’s the general focus. So there’s always a lot going on but you can clearly tell who is the focus at any given point even while the main plot is going on. I would also consider this to be part harem as well since inevitably everyone seems to like Tomoya and you have to guess which girl he ends up with. It’s done in a classy way though where they’re not all trying to seduce him or anything like that. Plus the show is very tame with the fanservice.

I would say the amount of fanservice here is close to 0. Perhaps not at absolute 0, the ultimate technique of the Cygnus, but it’s close enough. That’s definitely a good thing, the show is going for a very mature vibe where the characters actually have real interactions with them and the drama isn’t forced. The show never has to try getting really edgy or flashy to keep the audience’s attention either which helps out quite a bit. In general this is what I expected though because this company is always good with that. I also appreciate that the series isn’t quite as depressing as something like Air which would absolutely have hurt the score here. Instead while not everyone gets a happy ending, nobody gets a terrible one either.

So lets go through each character and I’ll touch on their story beats. First we should start with Tomoya. His plot is ongoing as he talks to everyone else but perhaps because of this, his plot feels the most rushed and the one that doesn’t really get to end. Of course he doesn’t get along with his father which is a big plot point but surprisingly this doesn’t really get resolved. The final scenes with them give you the hope that things will start to change but it’s not really confirmed.

We don’t really see enough to truly get why Tomoya is so upset with the father though. Not being able to play Basketball ever again is definitely rough but was the father actually a vicious person back then, was it more or less an accident? You can make some good guesses based on how we see that he’s a full alcoholic now but it doesn’t seem like Tomoya really tried to help either. My interpretation was the show used this to tell us that Tomoya was actually the unreasonable one here. The contrast would be that he’s always ready to help everyone else out and be a super nice guy but he was too bitter to solve his own issue.

It’s an interesting angle and every scene we get in the show is the father trying to reach out and rekindle their relationship while Tomoya acts out. I just wish this could have gotten more closure. It’s the only part of the show that isn’t very satisfying. It didn’t need to show more of the flashback but just give more of a final conversation between the two of them. They didn’t even have to get along, having Tomoya decide that he just can’t do it would still work. Just something more than what we got.

As a character Tomoya is otherwise very solid though. While I didn’t agree with how he handled his personal issues, he was really helpful to everyone else. Tomoya was always willing to stick his neck out and try to improve a situation. He saved a lot of lives in that way and he was also quick on the uptake and always ready with some banter. The only times he would go too far with his teasing was with Fuko. He definitely should have eased up on messing with her while she was zoned out and it felt more mean spirited than funny. So as a main character he probably loses to the other two big KEY protagonists but there are more positives to his character than negative.

His friend Sunohara is a good character to talk about next because he doesn’t get much of a character arc. He’s the comic relief character of the group so as you can imagine things tend to be rather dicey for him. Unfortunately he’s the kind of character who is obsessed with girls the whole time and so most of his scenes fall flat. He’s easily got to be the worst character here and I think he should have just been cut out. I know a lot of times you need a second guy around so all of the characters can compare him to the lead and make their choice but this guy just isn’t needed.

At best he has a bit of a character focus in that he doesn’t like when characters make up excuses not to try so hard. He takes it extremely personal and uses that as extra motivation during the Basketball game. At his core he’s not a bad person as most of his scenes are just for laughs but even then I just wouldn’t say that I was a big fan. His sister Mei also doesn’t have a lot to do here and comes across as one of the more random characters. I guess she’s nice enough but since Sunohara already doesn’t have much of an important role here, you can probably guess that her role is really small as well.

First up is Kyou and she’s probably the most selfless of the heroines. She likes Tomoya but basically buries her feelings because her sister Ryou likes him. As a result she does her best to try and ship them together at every point. Unfortunately Ryou just isn’t able to capitalize on this and I’ll get into that more on her section. Kyou is easily one of the standout characters of the series and kept on fighting with Tomoyo (Not to be confused with Tomoya) as the best character in the series. She doesn’t really have a big character arc compared to the other girls. At most you could say that she had to come to terms with her feelings more directly as the series went on but she had no inner demons to conquer.

This is part of why she is such a great character. While everyone else was dealing with things, she was just putting others first and intentionally staying in the background. She’s also a very high energy character who is always acting really confident and getting the ball rolling. Kyou adds a lot to the dynamic in every scene and so you always appreciate having her around.

Now her sister Ryou just isn’t as solid. Of course you probably know that I’m not really big on the very shy characters. They just aren’t as entertaining and Kyou basically set her up with the bases loaded several times and Ryou messed it up every time. Even if Ryou is super shy, you’d think that she would at least honor Kyou’s constant sacrifices and try to talk to Tomoyo right? This is the main reason why I could never root for her. You’ve just got to give me at least an inch here. If Ryou isn’t willing to work towards her goal at all then it’s game over.

Just about any scene with Ryou is one where she is getting saved by Kyou. So I give Kyou full credit and top marks here but I have to give Ryou the big 0 if this was a test. She’s easily the least interesting of the heroines as well because there isn’t anything more to her than being timid. You could have her missing from an episode and I wouldn’t even notice.

Back to the high quality characters though, next up is Tomoyo and she aspires to be the student council president. She will help make a difference in the school and the current school council isn’t very good anyway so they really need to be bumped out. She’s a straight A student and top of her class but unfortunately her association with Tomoya may start affecting her reputation. She doesn’t care though and still brings in her best effort to not just be a guiding light to the best students but to the worst ones as well.

I liked her drive and she definitely went the extra mile. I think part of what makes her a good character is that she wasn’t just helping Tomoya because she liked him. I think she would have done the same thing for a number of other characters. I also appreciated her putting Sunohara in his place time and time again. That guy was definitely asking for it. She also gets more of a backstory than the others as she used to be a school delinquent which is where she learned to fight. This reputation has followed Tomoyo around to the point where it is hurting her future prospects as well.

So she has to try and get away from her past. The tough part is choosing between following her ideals or worrying about her self image. Of course she’s also got the romance plot to consider as well. I thought the show did a good job of making her a very well rounded character and someone that you could root for. She doesn’t hang out with the rest of the cast quite as much so in terms of full screen time she may have a bit less than the others but she does get a full epilogue episode in the what if scenario so that’s impressive.

Yes, past the final episode there is a what if episode about a different timeline and she’s one of the main characters there. That has to be fun for the fans since it seems rare that you would actually go far enough to check out another route like that. I’d say she earned it though, like I said she was always in the mix for being the best character here.

Another really good character was Kotomi. She probably has the toughest backstory to get around. Basically she was a child genius but the problem is that her parents were geniuses too and always had to balance a very difficult career. They were never home and so she was often neglected. One day they died in a plane crash and it really stunted her emotional growth to the point where she can’t really talk to people normally. That’s Tomoya’s queue to step in and talk to her. Gradually she learns to open up more and also confronts her past which she had been intentionally avoiding.

Now as a kid she did make some pretty big mistakes like a certain burning scene but as she was a kid it’s hard to blame her too much there. The oblivious character type isn’t often my favorite but the show doesn’t go too far with it. There’s also a twist about her knowing Tomoya back in the day which didn’t really help her recovery either. It’s easy to sympathize with Kotomi which is part of what helps her be a strong character her. I’d also say that being oblivious also helps a bit in the romance sense as she isn’t really trying for Tomoya. You can still sense the romantic undertones but it was nice to have someone who was really more of a friend the whole time.

Then there is Fuko who feels younger the whole time so it’s hard to see her as a romantic rival either way. Now she’s close to being dead so in a way you could say that she had it hard as well but living in a spirit body isn’t so bad. I’d say that the show doesn’t play this up as a super sad affair the whole time and the emotional parts are really about people not remembering her at times. It makes a case for being the saddest arc in the series. To counter that, Fuko is also the most cheerful member of the cast. Her arc is all about getting starfish to people and that gets tricky.

See, people don’t tend to remember her after a while. The rules of the supernatural follow the same ones as in Noragami where you need to constantly be around or have a powerful tie to the world or you will be forgotten. This arc definitely does get emotional with that because in a way you feel like there’s no way she can win in the end. In fact, the arc is even sadder in hindsight as the show goes on and the characters actually do forget her.

Again, the show doesn’t dwell on this so it’s not played up as a big tearjerker moment whenever she’s around but it’s definitely sad when you think about it. Until her real body wakes up, she is doomed to just wander the town for eternity with nobody recognizing or acknowledging her in any way. Only once a while when she charges up enough energy can she quickly catch someone’s attention but it’s always a very fleeting moment. It was always fun to see her although I think the show could have done a little more with her cameos down the road.

I wouldn’t say the show completely dropped the ball but there’s a lot of fun they could have had with this but all of her scenes basically end up being filler each time. That’s part of the gag but I think having a good heart to heart moment or something would have been nice there. Or maybe have the show end with her showing up and saying hey to the cast in her real body. Perhaps it would have taken some of the focus away but it would be worth it since I’d say that she earned her moment.

Finally we have the main heroine Nagisa. Now there’s a lot of pressure on being the main heroine. I’d say that goes without saying and it’s definitely the case here. Nagisa is a good character even if I would only put her 4th among the 6 girls. Nagisa really wants to be in a drama club but as for why that is, the show takes a little bit to build up to it. She can be a bit spacey and really likes the big Dango family. It tends to distract her and of course Tomoya is always distracted in helping the other girls so I guess they have that in common.

As the show goes on we naturally get a big backstory for Nagisa and it’s a sad one although not as sad as Kotomi or Fuko’s. Nagisa always feels like she did something wrong back in the day and as a result she is always acting very cautiously. Nagisa thinks her parents are hiding this so she never really confronts them. (They are hiding some secrets but nothing that they blame Nagisa for) So you’ve got a little drama there. Ultimately this works as a big trial for Nagisa but I would say it’s a bit harder to connect with it. She takes the situation rather hard but I just didn’t find it nearly as emotional.

Nagisa tends to fall for a lot of Tomoya’s gags the whole time but always means well. She tries to defend him when things get tricky and she fights hard to get her own club. So there isn’t anything really bad to say about her. She does well as the main heroine and gets her moments to shine. I can’t say I’m super on board with the romance angle but it’s not bad either and I’ll go more into that later on. I think something that could have helped her here would be to have had some kind of big moment outside of her arc. Mostly Tomoya did the heavy lifting in each arc and that makes sense as the main character but maybe having Nagisa come in with a clutch assist in one of them would have been good. Something to put her ahead of the pack.

Akio and Sanae did well as the parents. Now this is a subplot that the show really executed well as they initially start out as very gimmicky side characters but their plot actually gets rather serious. We learn more about their past and see why they are so protective. I also like how close they are even after being married for so long. You could make the very strong case that they have the healthiest relationship in the whole show. Akio may end up saying the wrong thing a lot and getting himself into hot water but he is always looking out for Sanae. He also has a very critical moment in Nagisa’s character arc.

It’s rare to see the parents actually getting a quality role like this so I was all for it. They also got to show Tomoya what a healthy family dynamic looks like which helped him in his own character arc as well. Sanae should probably start baking more to improve her cooking skills but low key I think she likes the attention since it gets Akio to chase after her. Again, it’s just a fun dynamic and even more so if you think she’s trolling him a bit there. He certainly likes trolling Tomoya a lot so it just runs in the family.

Now there is one plot that I found to be really pointless though. So at the beginning of every episode we start with a dystopian future where a girl is talking to a little robot she created. See, this kid had the power to create life but only once and so she created a robot but now he’s lonely and she’s sad too. The two of them are doomed to live forever in a world without life which is kind of depressing. The story feels like a very vague meta commentary on something and you’re just trying to figure it out. By the end of the series it makes sense but I just didn’t think it added to anything. It was just a bit boring and the only part of the series where I could even say that. Remove this and just keep the series on the main characters. That would be for the best.

The animation is pretty good. There isn’t much time to show off because this isn’t an action anime or anything like that but we do get a few action scenes with Tomoyo once in a while. The show never looks sloppy or off model so that alone is enough to fit the bill. It’s good enough for the title. The soundtrack is a bit more on the forgettable side though. The opening is one of the weakest ones I’ve heard in a long time. It’s just way too soft. This may be an emotional series but I feel like you could still add a little more energy to it. It’s one of those openings you probably would never re watch. Then the ending is even weaker. I appreciate the dedication to the Dango gag but this isn’t the place for it!

At the end of the day Clannad really succeeds because it’s really good at every genre that it tackles. It’s a really good slice of life title as you actually have time to see the characters hanging out and just relaxing in all kinds of settings. It’s a good way to build up some character development and the characters can hold their own so it doesn’t get boring. On the drama front the show manages to build up a lot of emotional scenes and get things sad for everyone without overdoing it and making the whole thing try hard. It never gets to be too traumatic or gritty while still keeping the emotions high.

Then for the romance, well that’s always a little trickier but I will say that on average it did the romance better than most. One of the key staples to a good romance is that it needs to take place over a long while. Any romance that is instant will be a weak one guaranteed. Likewise you don’t want rebound romances and that’s one advantage that harem titles actually have. Usually the lead doesn’t pick anyone until the end and all of the girls liked him from the start so there is no rebound. Some of the less classy ones would mess this up but not Clannad. The show cheats a bit by showing an alternate route but since it is expressly an “alternate” path it did choose one girl in the end so I’ll give it props there.

I won’t say which girl wins out but it’s probably pretty clear from the start. Some shows can actually keep you guessing right to the end like Lull of the Sea, but this is one where you can just tell based on who gets the focus and everything. The show isn’t trying to be very secretive about this at all. The main romance takes place over a long time and develops naturally so yeah I’d be able to confidently say that it’s one of the better romances. That’s a good thing because the show is part romance after all. I still didn’t ship the characters but if it happens then I guess I’m cool with it. I did like some of the other characters better than this heroine though.

During the show there is one Basketball game and it kind of made me wish we could have gotten some more sports. The game itself was very interesting because of course Tomoya can’t really lift his arm to play the way that he used to. So he’s at a disadvantage the whole time and has to try and win with pure strategy alone. I think making that a full episode would have been a blast even if it may not have really flowed with the rest of the show. Hey, sports and tactics are always a great mix and the show got me invested so it’s definitely a complement. I wonder how bad the injury was that Tomoya doesn’t feel like he can ever rehabilitate it though. The show doesn’t go into specifics and surely there’s a way to rebound. At least I figure there would be.

Overall, Clannad is a title that I could safely recommend to just about any anime fan as long as you aren’t looking for an action title. It’s just a well written title all around with a lot of strengths. Perhaps it isn’t as funny as it wishes it could be but there are still scenes that will make you smile here and there. Perhaps not laugh out loud funny but I did like a lot of Tomoya’s witty comebacks from time to time. It also never hurts to see Sunohara get beat up. The voice actor does a good job with the reactions.

Overall 7/10

Tekken: Bloodline Review


When Netflix first came out with the teaser for Tekken I was pretty stoked. From all of the fighting game series Tekken tends to have the best storylines. I may be more of a Street Fighter fan with the gameplay but the stories had less of a strong continuity than Tekken. Tekken was always going to give you a very solid cinematic experience and that translates well into a game. This one may be ultra short at only 6 episodes long but in a way you can just treat it as a 2-2.5 hour movie. It’s really quite elite and succeeds at everything it tries to do.

The show starts off by introducing us to Jin and his mother Jun. She is training him how to fight but only in self defense as might doesn’t make right. Jin tries his best to keep to these teachings but its tough with so many bullies around. Well, one day a mysterious being known as Ogre appears and murders Jin’s mother. He swears to avenge her and goes to meet his grandfather Heihachi to achieve the strength he will need. Jun had said to seek this man out and while Heihachi makes it clear that he doesn’t care about Jin, he agrees to teach him. Jin will have to enter the next King of Iron Fist Tournament and win. The more he wins, the more Ogre should be tempted to come out as he has been destroying powerful fighters across the world. What better bait than a fighting tournament right? Does Jin really have what it takes to beat all of these guys?

I mostly grew up with Tekken 4-6 so I don’t know too much about the earlier games outside of the bullet points. So it was nice to have more of an adaption for Tekken 3. This always felt like the beginning to me so I wonder what the first two games’ story was. Or maybe they were old enough so they didn’t really have enough of one to fill a whole show. Regardless, the decision was a good one because the story here is most excellent. Right off the bat you have a big villain and a tragic hero death. The main character losing a parent to a powerful foe may be something that happens a lot but when executed well it still hits you emotionally.

The show is in CGI but fortunately it keeps the cool visual effects that the games had when someone is hit. You really feel the power behind every blow and I would say the graphics work here. The show looks a whole lot like a video game throughout its run. The fight choreography was on point as well so I was not surprised when I saw Rooster Teeth in the credits. This is some of the better CGI on the market. Would hand drawn have been better? Yes, but they definitely did all that they could with the CG and it didn’t hamper the story. You’re still going to be having a blast with all of the fights. You may wonder how Jin can keep on fighting at times, particularly near the end when it feels like he fights in numerous battles with no break, but I guess we can chalk that up to the “Devil Gene”.

The Devil Gene is a big point of emphasis in the show because it ties into the Ogre mystery and why he attacked in the first place. Any Tekken fan will definitely recognize this as something that will be important in the future as well. It plays a part here and is referenced a lot but I would say it’s more of a preview of things to come. I certainly hope we get a season 2 or some kind of continuation. Keep this going because Tekken has a ton of potential!

I also liked the soundtrack but I think the opening is a huge missed opportunity. There is virtually no animation in the opening at all and the song is really dead. It doesn’t help get you pumped for the episode or anything. It just feels like a bit of a waste and is the only weak element of the show. Not a big deal since it’s just an opening but still, you’d expect better than that.

One of the main reasons why the show is so amazing is because Jin is a great main character. That is always the starting point when you want to make a show successful after all. He is motivated by revenge but hasn’t lost himself in it yet. He sill wants to be a great fighter and he’s made some friends along the way. The show doesn’t have time to dwell on this much but you can see that he does have a fairly stable life built around him. He always goes about things the right way and even by the end Jin still feels like a hero. Perhaps he is someone that the others will have to be careful around but I’d trust Jin at this point in time.

I also liked his fighting style a lot. It’s certainly more basic than most of the other characters but it shows how he relies on fundamentals. If the show was longer I would have liked to have seen more detail into the Kazama fighting style so we could really compare it to Mishima. That’s a big subject in the show as Heihachi wants Jin to learn his Mishima style over Jin’s mother’s style but we technically don’t see too much difference between them. Jin does get one KO move from his mother which was nice to see though.

Then Heihachi works really well as the main villain. He may be the CEO at the top of his company, but by no means has he gotten lazy in the slightest. His fighting abilities are just as deadly as they ever were and he gets to show them off at different points here. There is also a shocking moment involving a gun that was incredible. Heihachi really gets a lot of respect here and earns it not only as a fighter but as a strategist as well. His fans should definitely be very pleased with how he looks.

Jin’s friend Xiaoyu also looks really good. She is determined to be a fighter in the tournament and is tired of people treating her like a kid or thinking that she’s too weak for being a girl. Well, Xiaoyu does prove herself here and does better in the tournament than I was expecting. She’s just a fun character and brings a little light hearted cheer to the tournament as everyone else is fairly serious.

This hype does come at the expense of Nina to an extent though. It’s incredibly hard to believe that Nina would lose to Xiaoyu. I thought they were going to pull a twist where Nina lost on purpose to do some sleuthing in the background or something but instead she actually lost. Well, it’s an effective twist in that I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m still a little skeptical. Nina is fun in her brief appearance though and I expect we’ll see a lot more of her in future installments.

Next up is Paul who is a likable guy. He gets to talk tough and goes far in the tournament. It also feels like his fighting style is rather ordinary like Jin but it takes him far. He doesn’t get a whole lot to do here but I’d say the role was good enough. There is only so much time for each character after all and you get the feeling that Paul’s a good guy. He’s experienced and has been around the block a few times so he can give Jin some advice as well.

Leroy is more of an annoying character. He’s one of those guys who has a big grudge with Heihachi and wants revenge. Fair enough, but once you start taking that out on other people then it becomes a bit of a problem. He just wants to start trouble whenever he is around and that’s not a good idea without a good reason. Just taking out your revenge on someone else doesn’t cut it and so I found him to be one of the weaker characters here.

King was a solid fighter here. Now, there’s one moment where he defeats someone rather brutally so everybody gets upset, but I technically didn’t think he was crossing the line or anything. It’s not a Neji vs Hinata situation or something where it looks like the fight’s about to go beyond the match. King II just flat out won with his techniques and stopped once the opponent was down. We also find out why he is fighting later on and it tracks with him not being a bad person.

So I thought he was good, but the show tries to throw in a little mystery that deflates before it starts. So during the tournament the characters suddenly realize that this isn’t actually the original King. That’s cool and all but in the first or second episode they had already mentioned that Ogre destroyed King or at least that King vanished after the fight. So from the jump we knew that this wasn’t the same King even though it’s treated as a twist of sorts. I thought that was a bit odd.

Usually I’d be talking about Kazuya more by now but he really ends up missing out in this show. He’s still missing after the fight with Heihachi but unfortunately we didn’t see the scene of Heihachi throwing him off the mountain. We did get the reverse though. Those two always have an incredible rivalry so I’m ready to see him in the sequel. He also becomes more of a true rival to Jin. Right now Hwoarang has to fit that bill and it’s harder to take him seriously.

Hwoarang is a good character and I do like him but the victor is never in doubt when he goes up against Jin. It feels like those two are just in different leagues at this point. The fight appears closer than it really was. It’ll be nice to see him stick around but I feel like he probably won’t get many more big fights like the one in this season. As we wrap up the characters, we have to talk about Jun. She’s a lot of fun even if her screen time is quite brief. She helped train Jin the right away. While she does tell him to only fight in self defense, it’s to a reasonable angle at least.

My only issue with self defense is when characters take it to the extreme like letting people throw drinks on them or even land a hit. As long as you can fight back when you’re attacked then it’s all good. She reminds me a lot of the mentor character in Shenmue. Jun is really at the top of her game here and you can see why she is known as such a powerful fighter that even Heihachi gives respect to. She did well in the fight against Ogre too. I thought it was a good showing of how skill can let you keep up with a more powerful fighter for a while even if it won’t ultimately change the outcome.

Finally there is Ogre and I thought he was great too. He’s got a very Doomsday kind of vibe to him. He just shows up out of nowhere like a natural disaster and murders whoever is in front of him. As the show goes on we learn more about the logic of when and why he appears but either way you don’t want him to appear. Almost nobody can fight this guy 1 on 1 and hope to survive. The show even gets a little more out there than you’d expect with the final battle. Ogre does not hold back that’s for sure.

One thing the show could probably tone down for season 2 is the flashbacks though. This show is only 6 episodes long and yet there are a considerable amount of flashbacks. They seem to come in almost every episode over and over again. Some of the scenes we see multiple times and it’s not like the audience will have forgotten. Even ignoring the binging format, it’s only 6 episodes. You really don’t need flashbacks like that. If you want to use 1 or 2 to build up the emotional appeal then that’s fine but more than that is just excessive with no real benefit to doing so.

Meanwhile one unique thing the show did that I thought worked really well was having everyone talk very slowly. At first I thought it would just be something Heihachi did but it works for the entire cast. It’s like everyone is trying really hard to enunciate every syllable no matter how long it takes. I feel like this is either a tribute to the original game’s dubbing or that’s just the custom within the Tekken world. There’s no way it’s a coincidence and all of the VAs just talk like that. Whatever the reasoning behind it was, I thought it worked well. That slow way of talking wasn’t obnoxious like how it’s handled in other titles but just feels very regal here.

It also helps with the very cinematic style of each episode. Each episode feels like part of a grand movie. The characters are expressive, the backgrounds are memorable, and the music raises the tension. With the characters speaking slowly, you also feel like they could lunge at any moment so everyone has their guards up at all times. Some characters aren’t too smart and like to take their chances like the one guy who thought he could cheat Heihachi out of their deal, but for the most part everyone plans things out carefully. You have to in this kind of world or you’ll vanish pretty quickly.

Overall, Tekken is a superb show. At the end of the day it really did everything right. It would have its super hype moments and it would also get very emotional at times. Not making any big mistakes is enough to get you to a 7 but if you want to go beyond that then you have to also be strong in all areas. That’s what Tekken does here. The fight scenes are really excellent and the story is great. The character cast is very strong and this is really a superb adaption. Any Tekken fan should be proud of how it came out and even if you don’t know Tekken, you can easily enjoy this as a solid action show. The plot is fairly straight forward with the tournament and you can follow along from there. In a lot of ways it feels like the anime version of Mortal Kombat and that’s always high praise. Hopefully a sequel comes sooner than later.

Overall 9/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Ultra Romantic Review


Kaguya has been a pretty great show through and through for the first 2 seasons but could it deliver in the third? Well fortunately the answer is yes there. Season 3 is another great installment in the series and this continues to be the definitive comedy series out there. It’s got all the fun interactions and character drama that you could ask for with its usual assortment of references to everything. The amount of detail and care that goes into this show is always very impressive.

I’d say the big arc in this season is definitely the festival at the end but of course we have a lot of fun segments throughout the season so I’ll talk about some of those. The season also has its share of serious moments and in a way you could say this ended part 1 of the series depending on how you break it up. Either way it’s fitting for a season 3 to go all out since it ends the trilogy in a way.

The first episode starts off strong with 3 good segments right off the bat. In the first one Ishigami has to find a way to subtly let Ino know that her earphones aren’t plugged in before the others hear. Considering how mean she is to him on the daily, it’s nice that he’s still looking out for her. It’s not an easy mission by any stretch since she’ll probably yell at him no matter what but fortunately he finds a rather unique way to get around this. I thought it was clever at least and as always he was taking the high road there.

Then you have a segment that really feels like the classic season 1 days with Shirogane realizing that Kaguya doesn’t know how Line messaging works and capitalizes on it. It’s probably one of his biggest clear cut wins in the entire series. It wasn’t a tie or one of those debatable moments, he just saw his opportunity and took it. The whole thing was retro in all the best ways. Finally we had a segment for the arm wrestling which had some DBZ action in there. All in all, that’s exactly how you want to do a premiere. All of the segments were a lot of fun.

In episode 2 we get to see the Ai and Shirogane dynamic again as she is sent to a party to watch over him and decides to mess with Kaguya some more. She definitely likes messing with the main heroine but of course Kaguya reacts quite strongly each time so it’s easy to do. There’s also a segment with trying to get Ino and Ishigami to be nicer to each other although that doesn’t go super well. This episode isn’t quite as strong as the first one though since it doesn’t have any segments that knock it out of the park.

Then in episode 3 we finally get Maki to really get a big role. She’s one character who really took a while to get a big role but makes the most of it. I always thought she was a lot of fun and the show nails her character perfectly. She has a tragic lot in life as the guy she liked ended up going out with her best friend instead. That’s a rather bitter pill to swallow but she takes it in stride or at least as well as she can. She gets two segments in a way as another one was because her friend thought that Maki was tempting the guy away.

The third segment here is finally back to a group game which is nice. Everyone gets to use their own strategies here to try and come out on top. I always like the game segments because they’re super entertaining. Seeing everyone try to accomplish their agendas is priceless and it makes the games a lot higher stakes than they would be otherwise.

After that we really begin the Ishigami and Tsubame plot in earnest. He’s finally trying to get courage to ask her out and this leads to another studying session. Whenever Kaguya teaches him it’s always fun because she’s just a really good teacher. He also does want to learn and so it’s a lot healthier than the Chika and Shirogane dynamic. Of course that one’s a lot of fun too but this is more of a proper teacher and student bond. The final segment is more of a sleepover adventure which isn’t nearly as solid.

We get to have some fun rap segments after that. Rap isn’t really my thing as I tend to find it to be one of the weakest music genres but it works well enough here. Shirogane really gets to try and get his message across this way. Then we have another Maki segment as she gets to vent to her friends. It’s nice that Ishigami and Shirogane are always there for her because otherwise she’d have to keep it bottled in which is no fun for anyone.

Another fun segment after that was the student teacher conference as Ai and Shirogane’s parents help Kaguya out since her guardians weren’t around. They did a good job of stepping up in the moment and it made for a very amusing turn of events the whole time. Beyond that we get closer to the festival arc as it starts to really be around the corner. Shirogane steels his resolve to have her confess by that date so the stakes are still rising.

After that the festival really begins in earnest. We get a lot of Kaguya and Shirogane moments, Ishigami trying to get to Tsubame, and more plots. Just about every character is here and that makes sense since no student can afford to miss the big festival right? Anyone who is anyone will have to attend and help make the whole thing a huge success. The festival is rather long but never drags out or gets dull because of how much is going on the whole time. The whole thing is a lot of fun and of course we get to see Shirogane’s big plan. The whole series will never be the same after this.

As you can tell from the episodes, one reason why Kaguya is so good is because the humor is top notch. The characters are all a blast and have great dynamics with each other. The writing is top tier as well and then the show goes the extra mile with the animation and soundtrack. The theme song’s visuals are really catchy and throughout the show it feels high budget. Then you have the soundtrack which is also top tier. This show is treated like a big budget action title in terms of how much effort is put into it and it shows.

The storyline was also building up to this for a long time so the payoff really ended up working. It all builds together to really make this a masterpiece. I really don’t have any negatives to say about this one. If I had to drilldown on something minor, there was a moment or two where the show would pick a random angle that felt like a tiny bit of fanservice but on the whole the show has been quite excellent at avoiding that. It’s all so minor here I wouldn’t consider it to be an issue. Kaguya is really high brow entertainment through and through.

As always Kaguya is a fun main character here. Her strategies are always on point and the back and forth with Shirogane is the meat of the show. This time you could say he actually had the edge for most of the show though because he had his goal to make her confess while she was still used to him trying to dodge her. It’s like he had extra intel you could say so he steeled himself and wouldn’t get flustered the way he usually would. That’s not something she had previously accounted for which is what put her in a tough spot.

As for Shirogane, his plan was really on point. He put a whole lot into this and it paid off quite well. I always like how he’s determined to learn new talents and everything too. I doubt any character works quite as hard as he does. The guy never really gives himself a breather or any kind of break. He just keeps on improving and working to make everyone’s lives better. It’s why he’s so worthy of the title of class president.

Chika’s role isn’t huge here but she’s always around to have fun. Especially when there’s a mystery to be solved or a game to play. While she may have gotten one of the mysteries wrong, I did like her enthusiasm the whole time. She was so happy when she thought that she had cracked the case that I felt bad for her afterwards. Chika definitely nails the comic relief character role down to an art.

Ishigami continues to be a great character here. His character development has been super smooth all the way through. He’s always trying to do the nice thing and he’s slowly bursting out of his shell. He consistently has great character moments in every season and this one’s no exception. While I’m not really rooting for him to get with Tsubame, at least it’s another way to motivate him to study. His days of slacking off are pretty much over at this point.

Then we have Ino who is still fun but always aggressive towards Ishigami. He can’t really do anything without her throwing some shots his way. Ino always seems bitter about the guy which makes for a fun running gag but as a character you can see why he wants to avoid her after a while. While I would put her as the weakest member of the council for now, she is still a fun character and does add to the dynamic. Right now her friend Kobachi doesn’t at all. I can’t say I’m a fan of hers yet.

Ai is a fun character as always though. Her ninja skills are still on point but gradually Kaguya is learning how to fend for herself and not have to rely on Ai all the time. This also gives Ai more freedom to think about what she really wants and this is a plot that should continue on into the future. Then there is Tsubame and she’s a nice enough character. She did her best to break Ishigami out of his shell and should accept some of the credit for doing that. As for how she took the whole confession angle, it was all in the heat of the moment so all things considered she handled it well enough.

Now for me I’m mostly a fan of Kaguya because of the humor and all of the mind games. It’s what really put the series on the map for me as a top tier contender through and through. I’m less big on the romance in general so as the series gets more serious we’ll see how it can keep up. The first two seasons didn’t really deal with romance seriously at all as it was all about the cat and mouse games. Well, now we’re starting to get more into the serious side of it so I think it’ll be hard for the next seasons to beat the original 3. Still, as long as they keep putting this much effort into it, then they should work well enough. Also while I like Ishigami a lot as a character, I do think his romance plot is a lot weaker than Shirogane/Kaguya’s.

At least as far as romances go, Kaguya and Shirogane’s has been done the right away. It’s been built up for several seasons now and part of why the show is so much fun is because they just want to be the one to win the love game by getting the other one to confess first. So it’s a fun dynamic and once the romance gets serious, at least there’s been a lot of build up the whole time. Ishigami’s is much more of a quick romance in comparison and then with Ino you already have the show hinting that it wants to add some more drama into the mix. Right from the jump you could see how this one won’t work as well and it doesn’t work within the show’s tone quite as well either. There are no mind games to be had here (None yet anyway) and it’s all just a bit basic. Keep Ishigami as the fun video game guy and Ino as the stickler for the rules and then you’re all set.

As a side note, I did think it was fun how they switched up the ending animation for one episode where the characters are in some kind of neon lights band. The animation went crazy on that one but it was fun as a little experimental moment. Then you also had Ai’s brief song which felt really high budget and the music for that was cool. So the show isn’t afraid to mix things up every now and again. It’s a difficult show to predict compared to most and I would say that’s a good thing. You always want to stay unpredictable.

One thing we haven’t gotten from the show yet which would be fun would have been a school against school battle. It’s unlikely to ever happen as the manga is nearly over too but with so many strategic juggernauts in one school, imagine the possibilities of putting them up against another group? That would be a blast and we don’t actually get to see the Student Council teaming up a whole lot like that. Maybe do it as a quiz show or some kind of Olympics event where you keep switching activities. I’m sure our team would win but that whole scenario would be a blast.

Overall, Kaguya delivers another excellent season with this installment. It’s absolutely a show that you could recommend to anyone who wants a fun laugh or a good time. The production values are really impressive and the character cast is super dynamic. You could put two of them into any situation and you’ll be able to get a lot of fun jokes out of it. That’s when you know that a series is really on a good track. There are no weak episodes here and the 13 episodes will really be over in a flash. Now with the movie announced, we’ll see how long it takes to do season 4.

Overall 8/10

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle Review


I remember starting this manga not too long ago. Well after binging it all the way to the current chapter it was time to look at the show adaption which was referenced in the manga a bunch of times. Ultimately it is a fun slice of life type show. It’s not laugh out loud levels of funny like Noragami or Kaguya Sama but if you’re looking for a calming experience then this could be the ticket for you. At the end of the day it’s a very safe show all around that you can pick up and play at any time.

The show starts with Princess Syalis being kidnapped by Twilight, the Demon King. The hero Dawner vows to find and rescue her no matter how dangerous the trip is. To this end he and his loyal allies set off to various regions and dungeons to find her. They actually aren’t the main characters of this quest though. No, Syalis is the main character and the show is about her daily interactions in the Demon Castle. Will she learn that the demons actually aren’t so bad?

I have to admit, having Dawner as the main character would have been cool though. He’s a very genuine guy who really wants to help her out but unfortunately she just finds him annoying and the demons appear to be a lot stronger than Dawner. He can be sneaky good at times though and the show even gives him more of a role than in the manga. He gets to appear in quite a few episodes here as he gets closer and closer to the goal. Dawner is really played up as not being very smart and being super over the top but with such heroic aspirations how could you root against him right?

Now keep in mind that even though you have heroes here and villains with super powers, this is not an action anime. So don’t go in expecting a lot of big fights or anything like that. This is still a slice of life comedy at the end of the day so you have to go in with the right mindset. So long as you do that, then you’ll be good as the show goes on. If you went in expecting action then you’d be in trouble but I like to think that the theme song would clue you in right away.

As for the theme song, it’s okay I’d say. I’m not a big fan of it but it’s not bad. The soundtrack itself could use some more variety though. There wasn’t really a standout theme that I can think of right now. The animation is okay, but nothing special. I would say fairly low budget or maybe standard at best. This doesn’t strike me as a show with a really big budget but of course there’s not a whole lot to show off with it given how the show is based though. It’s not quite going above and beyond here, just adapting everything as normal. It also uses that annoying blush effect I don’t like much in the shows. It isn’t constant like in other shows but it’s never needed.

The one thing holding this one back is that I wouldn’t say it’s very funny for being a comedy. In general if you aren’t an action show then you need to be either really funny like Kaguya to succeed, be very emotional like Kanon, or have a super engaging plot with great characters like Death Note. If you don’t have any of those things in your corner then you’ll mainly be treading water. Now I do still have this show on the positive side so it works well enough but I do see this title being buried by the competition the whole time.

I do like that the show has a true continuity going for it though. While it won’t take too much advantage of that yet, we would see more of that come to play during a season 2. This isn’t one of those shows where each character is static, characters do get development. I wouldn’t say it’s anything major but it’s still nice because it really gives you a good reason to watch in order and see how it goes. I would argue that even true 100% comedic shows should have a continuity that they stick to. It just gets you more invested.

Now for Syalis, she’s a fun main character. She takes things in stride and quickly figures out the best way to manipulate the demons. With the video game RPG rules in effect, it also makes sense that she would grow so powerful so quickly as she’s always murdering the minions to get materials. That kind of EXP will add up quickly. Deep down she just wants a good sleep and that’s as good a motivation as anything. Contrary to most main characters, I wouldn’t even say that she is super nice. Sleep is prioritized over everything so if she needs a nap then that’s what is going to happen even if it means ignoring her friends.

At times you will feel bad for some characters like the succubus and harpy who want to be her friend though. Syalis comes really close to being a full antagonist at times so everyone needs to keep their guard up. Most of the demons know to leave her alone though, some just don’t really tend to get the hint in time. The show has each episode segment be like an in game mission which is fun. It comes complete with the fanfare and everything.

No main character is complete without a supporting cast though so lets talk about the side characters. First up is Twilight and he’s a very reasonable character. As of now we don’t really know why he kidnapped Syalis but he seems bored so he may have just wanted some excitement. He’s not even a particularly bad guy as he even leaves cool weapons and items for the hero to use. He doesn’t want things to be boring and he’s also got a lot of good sportsmanship which again begs the question of why demons and humans are enemies to begin with. The show starts to delve into that but for the most part that will be a plot point for the next seasons.

Twilight is definitely one of the best characters here. He is maybe a little too nice to Syalis which helps let her get so spoiled right away but it’s just hard for him to not be nice. That’s his default setting if you would. Then there is the Demon Cleric and he plays the straight man to the various jokes and gags. Everything takes him unawares and he really isn’t sure of what to do. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of his. His role will only grow larger and larger in the future but in the meantime he just needs to make sure that Syalis can revive without any issues.

Harpy is the most tragic character in the series because she just wants to be friends with Syalis. Unfortunately that isn’t possible as the princess just sees her as a pillow. It’s why their friendship always seems rocky at best. The dynamic is that Harpy does her best to help out and Syalis takes advantage of her. It’s the only time when Syalis can be rather annoying for me. Usually I can root for her but moments like that are not a good look at all. The same is true of the Succubus to an extent. She doesn’t want to be friends but Syalis is always putting her in dangerous situations when Succubus just wants to be more popular.

There are a lot of other monsters around the castle and the message to them is clear, stay out of Syalis’ way! If they don’t then they are liable to get hurt like the shrouds that she murders every day. Perhaps she is the real demon in this castle. The characters certainly treat her like the boss with how she can come and go as she pleases. Syalis even tends to take over the big board meetings when she feels like it.

Because this is a standard slice of life without any big plots yet, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about. I suspect that season 2 will have more themes to really sink your teeth into and discuss. That said, at least we do see that as per normal the humans appear to be the aggressors here. They have whole festivals and such just for badmouthing the demons. I tend to always be taking shots at the humans in these things and this is an example of what makes it so easy.

Now at least they have an excuse to be a little upset right now with Syalis being kidnapped but the festival has apparently been going on for a while now. So they are always using opportunities to insult the demons while meanwhile we see in the demon castle that they don’t care about the humans. The whole antagonism is only on one side. Of course they can’t suspect that the demons are so nice but they could stand to be a little more reasonable. It just feels like a mean spirited festival the whole time instead of just being a way to have a lot of fun. I admit that even Dawner would likely be in on this though so the whole kingdom needs to work on this.

Because of the nature of the show you’re not really sure just how deep into all of this it’ll go but at the very least there are already hints at a more serious plot someday. You have some serious moments with Syalis and Twilight on this and her deciding to go back with them instead of to the humans. It reminds me a bit of Detective Conan in that sense as 90% of what’s going on is fluff and then you have the occasional tease at a plot coming soon. Whether it actually happens soon or in a very long while is really the question you have to ponder in the meantime.

Overall, Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is a decent show. It’s a nice way to spend the time and it’s always fun to see the RPG elements. To take the show to the next level I’d say it needs to spice up the music a bit and also change the scenery some more. The demon castle is good but you need more than one backdrop. Make sure to show Dawner more as well since that guy is always fun. Any scene with him in it is bound to be a winner. In the meantime if you want a slice of life to check out, this one’s fairly short so there’s not really any downside to giving it a chance.

Overall 6/10

Demon Slayer Season 2 Review


This review has been waiting for a few months at this point so it’s time to finally look at season 2 of Demon Slayer. This one readapts the movie and then takes us into the entertainment district arc with one of the longest fights yet. The battle goes on for more episodes than you would guess which is good. I would certainly consider this one to be stronger than season 1. It still does tend to dwell a bit on the gritty side of things which always holds it back but I would say a bit less so than the spiders arc in season 1.

The first arc has Tanjiro and friends called in to assist the Hashira, Rengoku in exterminating a powerful demon. This demon has been lulling people to sleep on a train and then taking them all down. Even several other slayers have gone in and been taken out so the threat is very real. While the main characters are skilled, they don’t have the skills to be a Hashira yet so they have to be careful not to get in the way or be taken hostage either.

One thing that is new here is a prequel episode of sorts as we see what Rengoku did before getting to the train. The show has some dynamic animation right out of the gate this way and we see why Rengoku is one of the top fighters. This episode is a little more violent than the actual arc and serves to remind you why demons are so terrifying. Fortunately our hero takes this guy down real quick and the sheer speed when he runs is always impressive. In that stat it feels like he may be the best out of all the Hashira but of course there would be some competition there.

The actual train arc is still a highlight of the season because it’s great like in the movie. Each character really gets to test their limits as they confront their teams and make it out in one piece. The tough dynamic of having to destroy yourself in the dream to wake up while not accidentally doing that in real life was always a good one. It was a unique challenge that you don’t see very often and Tanjiro really had to fight hard to get around that. This was always one of his better appearances and was a good example of him surpassing his limits.

I’m still not a fan of seasons re adapting movies because it feels a bit lazy to me but at least a good story will always be a good story. I thought the movie was great and that transfers over to the arc as well. It’s effectively the same thing after all as I don’t think they switched the animation or anything like that. The first theme song that plays for this part is also excellent. I forget if that song had already been used in the movie but either way it was a blast. I already reviewed the movie so you can see my more in depth thoughts there.

Now the meat of this is the next arc. So the next Hashira has arrived, Tengen. His gimmick is that he always likes to be flashy about everything he does. He was originally going to take a few girls with him to do some investigating but Tanjiro and his pals get to quickly volunteer for the job. They will have to go undercover as ladies in this district and each work in a different house to find where the demon is. This appears to be an upper rank demon so they have to stay on their guard at all times. Once they have found the demon responsible, then Tengen will handle the rest.

The first part of the arc is a bit on the slower side. I felt that way in the manga too and mainly it’s because the main trio aren’t quite strong enough to hold their own screen-time without some action going on. They’re fun characters for the action but in terms of dialogue and all they aren’t super engaging. Fortunately that’s not an issue for long as the fights start up fairly quick and once the climax is here, it sticks around for the rest of the adventure. There is 3 episodes of build up and then around 8 for the fight so that’s a very good mix. You want fights to be long like that.

As always the animation is top tier here. It’s easy to see why Ufotable is considered the best in the biz by a wide margin. Pierrot will always be my favorite anime company but even they don’t tend to be as flashy all the time. It’s closer than people may think though. When the show was on you would typically see tweets about how good it looked just about every day. It’s just impressive how great each moment looks and this season really outdid itself. I doubt any other show in the season would come close. It helps to also show off just how powerful the Hashira are. They’re always drawn to be on a completely different level than the main fighters.

As mentioned earlier, the soundtrack is also top notch here. There are a lot of great themes all throughout from the theme songs to the battle themes within. I’ve definitely heard that first theme song a whole lot of times. There’s also one episode that ends on a powerful note with the villains seemingly winning and the music’s very emotional. It was one of the better cliffhanger endings I’ve seen to an episode.

The series absolutely soars on a technical level as always. It’s high budget all around the board. As for the arc itself, I would also say it was solid. With all of the action going on it’s hard not to rank it highly within the series. Daki and Gyutaro also made for good villains in the end and I’ll write about them more later on. The next arc will have a hard time topping these guys so we’ll see how that goes.

Really the only thing that limits Demon Slayer a lot will always be that the violence tends to be over the top. It’s still trying to be like Attack on Titan in some ways with the poor humans getting destroyed by the demons. Of course the humans are going to be doomed in pretty much any title with big villains but how much you show will vary from title to title. This is one that likes to go more in depth. Like near the end we get the big reveal on another upper rank demon and of course he has to show up with a body in tow that he’s still in the process of eating. It turns what should have been a really hype moment into a groaner. Why couldn’t he get a cool intro like Akaza?

Another moment where the detail was just too much is during Tanjiro’s fight with Daki. So there’s a lot of back and forth, big cuts and blood as they go all out and that’s all cool. It’s combat injuries and they know the risks so the battle’s a blast. The only point in the whole fight that felt iffy was when Tanjiro gets stabbed through the chin so you have the blade sticking out of him a bit as that goes on. It’s just enough detail and such a painfully specific wound that it throws you out of the mix there a bit.

I do feel like it’s toned down from season 1 which could really get crazy at times but ultimately I’d like to see season 3 dial it back even further. Otherwise the action is absolutely great and would be enough for high scores all around. This is just the one thing to get around and we get that the demons are all evil and everything so it’s not like we need any big reminders there.

As for the characters, Tanjiro is very solid as always. He got a massive power boost over the months that passed since the train arc to the point where he can temporarily hold his own against an upper rank like Daki. Of course once she got serious then he would be toast but he looks very impressive the whole time. There is a lot of good strategy going on here throughout like with how he’ll use the breathing arcs to go faster or switch to more powerful strikes depending on the circumstance. Humans have to fight with tactics since the demons have so many advantages after all.

Then it’s always fun to see Inosuke get in on the action. The guy still has a whole lot of confidence in himself and lands good blows when needed. By this point he and Zenitsu already seem completely outclassed by Tanjiro but at least they can perform search and rescue parts of the mission while also keeping some of Daki’s limbs busy. Her ability is really broken in a one on one fight since the heroes were barely holding their own even while she was distracted. Inosuke never backs down and that’s always good.

Zenitsu still isn’t my kind of character though. If there was ever a time for him to step up and be great then this would have been it to protect all the women in the houses but he still can’t do much without putting himself to sleep. We’ll have to wait longer to see him actually get brave and fight to his full potential. Nezuko gets a really good role here. Her abilities continue to improve and with her demon abilities she can regenerate and fight with the top warriors now. It’s always good to see just how far she has come as a solid ally.

Then we have Tengen and while he doesn’t beat Rengoku, (That would be really hard for any character) I did think he looked good here. I certainly enjoyed his flashy style of fighting with all of the explosions and everything. Tengen prioritized saving everyone and once the fight was going he would lose himself in the action. Determined characters like this who put it all on the line always tend to be really high for me. That’s exactly what you want in a hero.

Next up are the two villains. First up is Daki and she’s one of those sadistic villains who bumps everyone off for Muzan and enjoys making it rather painful. She’s also petty and will eat someone if they do any small thing that displeases her. There is an origin/sob story for her and Gyutaro later on where you can feel bad for them but then you see her in the present and are reminded that she’s completely twisted. As I said earlier though, I really like her power set. It’s super versatile and works as a close and long range weapon. Now that’s something that’s super handy to have.

Gyutaro is also impressive with his blood arts. The guy’s physical abilities are also on a completely different level. He tanks a ton of attacks and makes for a super powerful tag team with Daki. The Upper demons do seem more powerful than the Hashira on average so you really need 2 at once if you want to beat them in a fair fight. His character gimmick of constantly scratching himself can be really grating but once he’s in battle then you can’t lower your guard. As a character I’m not really a fan of his but as a villain he fits the bill.

The character cast for important figures is rather small here and you could say that goes hand in hand with this arc mainly focusing on the fights. Also the season itself was a little shorter than usual and then part of that was to redo the movie. So when you add all of that up, it makes sense that the season felt short. It really just breezes by at the end of the day and the wait for season 3 is probably going to feel long. At this point while the demons and humans have both taken losses, it’s fair to say that the demons have the advantage right now so the slayers are going to need to think of something and quickly. If they don’t then they are in big trouble.

Muzan needs to make sure not to mess with his demons too much though. I thought he was rather harsh on Akaza without good reason there. Akaza took out one of the Hashira so that should be a moment of triumph, not to act petty again. Muzan can get away with it since he’s the leader but no good can really come out of antagonizing one of your best fighters like that. Sure, Akaza didn’t murder everybody but taking out a Hashira is no joke since there aren’t too many more of them left at this point.

Even with his power ups, I wouldn’t consider Tanjiro to be quite a match for these guys yet. So have Akaza take out each Hashira one by one. It’s easy to lure them out too since all you have to do is to keep bumping off a bunch of humans in one spot and wait for the slayers to arrive. If you wanted to be fullproof about it, you could even show up with the whole force of Upper ranks and just start taking over the world one city at a time. When the Slayers are forced to respond, you take them out all at once. The gap in power isn’t as hopeless as something like Seraph of the End but it’s still enough so where that would be a real easy win for the villains. There isn’t much the humans could do in response to that.

In a final note, I’m almost surprised they don’t just make this a movie series. I can’t stress enough how great the animation is. It puts most movies and shows to shame. Instead of doing a 12 episode show every few years, why not do a 2 hour movie every year? I’d imagine that’s about the same amount of time to produce but the studio would be making bank every year. People would absolutely pile in to watch this each time. Even as I was getting screenshots from the show they all stand out enough where you want to watch the fights again. Needless to say there should be tons of great AMVs for the action.

Overall, Demon Slayer always delivers with the top tier action. If you’ve been following along with the series then you should definitely check the season out. If you haven’t yet, you’ll probably want to jump onto season 1 first even if it’s easy to follow along with what’s happening. It can be a little intense but as long as you enjoy a good fight then you should be set. The show probably has one of the most realistic fire effects as well as it almost looked real for a little bit there. The arc definitely has a lot of tension as the villains just keep getting up over and over again no matter how many finishing moves the heroes use. It’s why demons tend to be scarier than zombies since one mistake could cost you here while the zombies are slow enough where you can regroup each time.

Overall 6/10

Pokémon: Hisuian Snow Review


It’s time to take a look at a fairly quick mini series. This one only had 3 episodes and combined they’re only about the length of one normal one so it’s over pretty quick. I’m always up for more Pokemon animations though so it’s good to have it and hopefully we get some more in the future. This adventure takes place in the far past to tie in to the recent Pokemon Arceus game. The setting may not be quite as interesting as the modern areas but it’s been a while since we got a snow adventure.

The story follows a kid named Alec who had always been fond of Pokemon. Unfortunately he was born into an era where people don’t get along with them. Humanity is afraid of these powerful creatures and think that it is best to just leave them alone. Keep a safe distance and then they won’t bother you. Humanity even build up walls around their village to ensure that no Pokemon gets close but one day while outside, Alec gets separated from his father. He injures his knee but is helped by a Zorua. Now he has to find his way back to the village with his Pokemon companion but will he be taken in with open arms?

The story also jumps to the present with Alec returning to the village in time for another Pokemon incident. The humans definitely are never too accommodating here and it does make them look a little ungrateful. Especially the father who is quick to be antagonistic to Zorua despite the Pokemon saving his kid’s life. That was definitely a shame but at least Alec was able to settle things later on. Ultimately Zorua was a true friend who helped out even if no gratitude was guaranteed. That’s the kind of Pokemon that you want to have your back without a doubt.

Alec wasn’t bad for a kid either. At least he did try to help the Pokemon out. In the present he even became a bit of a doctor and really went out of his way to be a good person. He’s someone who learned the right lesson from his experiences. The rest of the humans are not impressive at all though and don’t really stack up. The next best character would definitely be Zorua for being a good pal. The special shows that the Pokemon at the end of the day are always the most heroic ones.

In the final episode we even see two Abomisnow’s defend Alec as he tries to heal their injured partner while the humans just stand around. We get a pretty decent fight scene there too although it’s very short. Action isn’t really the main genre of this special after all, it’s really more of a full time adventure. I always enjoy the action when we can get it though. The animation pops out when Pokemon use their special attacks. I wouldn’t say it’s anything super high end but it does look nice and works well for what it’s going for.

The soundtrack is more on the forgettable side. With quality writing and good pacing, this is a miniseries that you could recommend to anyone. It’s still too bad that it was only 3 episodes as I think you really could have turned this into a much longer adventure. Give more time for Alex and Zorua bonding by having them get lost deeper into the forest. With the outside world not being explored all that much, it would be reasonable for the humans not to be able to find them for a while and so a few episodes could just be them walking around and trying to survive.

It doesn’t quite hurt the show that it’s so short but it does mean that it’ll be a little less memorable. Down the road when talking about the various Pokemon titles and all, it would be very easy to just forget this one entirely. Maybe one day they can bring the characters back at least but it seems like they are having more fun just experimenting with a bunch of different characters so I would be surprised to see them again.

Overall, Hisuian Snow is a good episode’s worth of content. It may not be action packed but the story is interesting enough and it’s good to see Zorua getting his hype. The Pokemon always end up taking the high road even when the humans don’t. The world has certainly come a long way since these days as in the present even little kids play with Pokemon. You could say that the Pokemon world got something close to world peace by the end. Sure, you’ve got Team Rocket and friends but by and large it’s a very peaceful world. I still would have liked a formal apology from Alec’s father and the rest of the village by the end though.

Overall 7/10

Noragami: Aragato Review


It’s time for the return of Noragami! Everything you enjoyed about the show returns for season 2 and the action scenes get even more intense. Part of what made the first season a hit was the stellar soundtrack, solid animation, and it was a good time. The humor was really on point with likable characters to go around it. The only thing holding it back was how annoying Yukine was and that plot’s over now so we don’t have to worry about it. As a result what we get is a season 2 that’s devoid of any big issues like that. It may have a little less time for some of the wacky season 1 humor but it finds its moments to get that across. This one’s definitely a winner.

Season 2 starts off fairly quick with Yato and Yukine completing missions and having a good time with Hiyori. One day Yukine makes friends with Suzuha, a guy who really enjoys working on his tree. The two of them hit it off pretty well but one day Suzuha is brutally murdered and Yukine is upset at Bishamon for not spending much time with him. He feels like she has too many regalia and as a result doesn’t truly know any of them too well. Well, he may be more right than he realizes as one of her regalia, Kugaha appears and kidnaps Hiyori and Kazuma. Yato believes Bishamon ordered him to do that so he sets off with Yukine to rescue Hiyori and destroy anyone who gets in their way.

The first arc here is a full revenge arc through and through. We get to see a more serious Yato like how he was back when he was a god of calamity. Hiyori is one of his main ties to the human world so he really needs to save her but even more importantly, she’s a close friend. Yato saved Bishamon in the past even though she wouldn’t admit it but this time he may have to end her. It’s a very solid arc with a whole lot of action and character development. It also has the single best scene in the whole Noragami series when Yato does a spin move to dodge Kugaha’s attack and instantly counters.

For some reason several regalia seem to believe that the gods are powerless when they don’t have a regalia at the ready but that couldn’t be more wrong. Yato has shown time and time again that he can absolutely dish out some serious damage against any opponent even if he is by himself. He wouldn’t be a true god of calamity otherwise, but I believe the same is true for most of the gods. They tend to get underestimated quite a lot which you think wouldn’t be possible given their titles and all.

Yato is really excellent in this first arc but falters in the second one. I like that Yato doesn’t hesitate to save his friends and was really going all in here. He couldn’t afford to hold back against someone like Bishamon and also talks Yukine into helping out at full power. He’s just a dependable guy and someone that you want in your corner for any fight. Now the reason why he falters in arc 2 is because he allows himself to be easily manipulated by Nora and his father. It just feels too easy especially when he had been on such a high earlier. He should have been able to stay strong and just say no or at least get Yukine involved. Yato has a lot of powerful friends after all and while many of them may not be able to do a lot, I feel like coming clean and contacting them would have been way better.

Just vanishing like he did was really the wrong call and put him in a lot of hot water that he didn’t need to be in. Meanwhile Yukine wins the award for most improved character here and it’s not even close. He’s no longer a delinquent and has also learned to master his emotions. Even when Yato goes missing Yukine doesn’t panic in the slightest and stays calm. He knows that any negative emotions would hurt Yato and so he holds back. He does his best not to be a burden anymore and also to live up to his new position and status as a blessed vessel. He does great in that and while he suffers some self doubt, I don’t blame him. Yato just disappearing like that is still a big blow even if Yukine tries to ignore it. Then getting wrecked by Kugaha at first had to hurt.

In the end Yukine overcomes every obstacle thrown his way though and really ends up being a solid character. Meanwhile Hiyori is solid as always. She does try to fight at times which I appreciate even if the situation may be too dangerous for her to do much more than that. Either way she always proves that she has their back at all times. Whether it’s in a fight or just to say something inspirational. She keeps Yato and Yukine’s spirits up and is probably the best supporter you could ask for.

As for Bishamon, well we finally learn the truth behind the tragedy that happened to her family a while back. With Yato murdering all of her followers it’s definitely easy to see why she bares such a grudge. It’s not like she was ever given a full explanation back then and Kazuma was certainly not going to mention anything. To an extent she was in denial which she admits later on but either way that’s not something you can just let go. So I totally get her wanting to destroy Yato since he didn’t give her a chance to try and save them all. Fighting to avenge your family is a powerful motivator after all and she did well to keep fighting even after obtaining numerous blights.

Bishamon really gets to show off her stamina throughout all of this as she’s put through a ton in the arc. Ultimately she is able to get past the situation but having her family murdered twice is not something you can easily forget. I suspect she will still be struggling with this for a long time yet. At least she is trying to look on the bright side of things though and has a better setup now. She also returns for the second arc and does really well in the fight. It’s a little surprising that the new villain was so powerful that even Bishamon couldn’t do much though. I guess it goes to show that the power levels will keep on rising.

Kazuma was surprisingly really solid here. I remember not being a big fan of his in the manga but in the show he’s really been dependable. He’s a solid teacher and I was also glad with how confidently he took down one of the angel guards. At this point there aren’t many regalia who can challenge Kazuma. A big part of being a regalia is having a lot of confidence and with Bishamon trusting him completely, Kazuma’s got all the confidence he needs. Both he and Yukine get a lot of time to shine in the series and have to be the two strongest Regalia in action. The only possible competition is Nora and she seems like more of a tactical type than pure power.

Kugaha is the big villain in the first arc but I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of his. He also gets off wayyyyy too easily here. I get that Bishamon is a nice person but now you have someone who actually is directly murdering her family and the reaction is way milder than it should be. I don’t care that this guy thought he was a hero, Bishamon should still be taking him out right away. The guy tried every underhanded trick in the book. It’s a shame that they didn’t let Yato handle this because he would have definitely taken the guy down a peg. He wasn’t wasting any time like when he took Kugaha’s hand.

Kugaha is one of those manipulator types so he doesn’t fight on the front lines much but surprisingly he actually can fight when there is no other option. Between his summons and strong borderlines, he’s a legitimate threat to a lot of the fighters. I don’t think I’ll ever grow to like him since his motives are so petty but maybe one day he’ll rise up if he ever returns. His last scene seemed pretty open ended.

Aiha is the regalia that Kugaha tricks the whole time so I can’t say I liked her very much. She made his job very easy with how she was already bullying someone and causing blights on Bishamon. Basically Aiha was jealous because she wasn’t on the front lines anymore. Yes, she was blighting her god over jealousy, that’s just awful. Then meanwhile she was fully willing to do anything Kugaha said and would have possibly murdered Hiyori if Yato didn’t step in. So while she has her big redemption arc, I just wasn’t buyint into it here.

Suzuha was a good character, it’s just too bad that his spirit was broken so quickly. A few words from Kugaha was enough to distract him before he was taken out. Realistically he would have died anyway but maybe he could have put up a fight. That’s the only moment in the season that’s surprisingly brutal as he’s ripped apart. It’s mainly off screen but not the way you want to go out, that’s for sure.

In this first arc we also got to see Yukine’s true form which is a solid power-up for him and Yato. It’s good to see them getting stronger because while Yato is fairly high ranked, he didn’t seem to fare as well as you would expect against some of these fighters. I’d say it’s a mix of Yato holding back and Yukine just not being sharp enough yet. Yato doesn’t really want to murder people anymore and I think that ends up holding him back during a lot of the fights as well. He’s worried that he’ll end up being like his old self.

Then we jump into the final arc where Yato gets blackmailed/forced by Nora and his father into going back to his murdering ways. He murders a bunch of crooks and accepts any mission they tell him to complete. The final one is to rescue Ebisu from the Underworld and then he’ll be free again. The tricky thing is that the underworld is ruled by Izanami who is even stronger than the gods. Getting out won’t be easy particularly as Ebisu insists on stealing her brush which will let you summon demons a lot easier.

Right so I had more issues with this arc like the whole Yato thing that I already went into. I also thought the climax was a bit convenient involving the heroes having to figure out Yato’s true name. Perhaps with the kanji it makes more sense in Japan but if Hiyori just misspelled the name by mistake then that’s way too “destiny” for me. That just shouldn’t be happening. Now I do still leave the door open for this to be a kanji rule where you can break the symbol up into different word variations. Then I’d say that’s okay.

Izanami is really impressive with how powerful she is. Her vines just can’t be cut by Yato or Bishamon. I like to think that with Yukine, Yato would have been able to win though. Because the only reason he’s losing is because his blade isn’t sharp enough so that tells me that the match changes as soon as he has a sharper blade. Yukine should be able to cut just about anything right now so that would be a win. Meanwhile Bishamon did better because she had more weapons but ultimately also ran into the same issue where she just couldn’t land any cutting damage.

It’s Izanami’s domain so she gets an extra buff too. Honestly you feel bad for her by the end because she just wants a friend. The heroes ultimately did lie and betray her the whole time so it’s not like she even started the fight. From the context we have, she is just an innocent person in a bad situation. I feel like Ebisu should have stayed with her since he was dying anyway. There’s no indication that she is actually evil or would have done anything crazy to him so then he could have given the pen to Yato to hold onto for him until he reincarnated.

In this arc I thought Kofuku and Daikoku looked a lot better than usual as well. This time they did stick around to back Yato up even when the gods appeared. So there was no backing off or hiding when the going got tough. They just made sure to keep on supporting him even if they were branded as traitors as well. That’s the kind of determination and loyalty I like to see among the friends.

Meanwhile, Nora is super useful in combat of course but you can see why Yato tries to distance himself from her. She’s always acting rather sinister and the fact that she has a contract with just about everyone is a bit unnerving. You can’t really trust that she’s really on your side. I like to think she would choose Yato over the others but who wants to take that kind of a chance right? She is always quick to pull him to the side of evil too so you want to get bad influences like that out of your life.

Ebisu never hit it off for me here but at least I’m glad that he’s able to fight thanks to his regalia. Ultimately it feels like he had no plan though because imagine what would have happened if Yato didn’t show up? He wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes down there. It’s made clear from the jump that this guy isn’t a big fighter like that so this was all very poorly thought out on his end and he should feel bad since strategy is at least something that he should be able to do.

Ultimately both arcs don’t have clear cut happy endings so you can see why this season’s vibes are a lot more serious than the first season. There’s less time for the characters to mess around because something serious is always happening. You even have some romance drama with one guy trying to get together with Hiyori. Unfortunately when he takes advantage of her she doesn’t immediately report him to the school or her friends and just starts running. I’d like to see the guy get called out one of these days for pulling a stunt like that.

The season has a bit more fanservice than the first one though. Bishamon ends up taking a lot of baths to try and wash away the blight but I wonder how effective that can really be. Seems to me like doing an absolution for everyone would still be easier. Additionally it feels low risk since Yukine’s only got dicey since he was already so far gone. When you’re in good shape I feel like the process would be fairly painless. I could be mistaken on that though I suppose.

One them during the series is that gods can’t make mistakes. Yato explains that any action a god takes is automatically the right one and I would disagree with his logic there. Of course he is a god so he would believe that and he was also mentioning this during season 1. Given what we see from Ebisu and Bishamon though, they can still make the same mistakes as anyone else. I’d say they commit sins too and they just don’t get blighted because of how the world’s logic works. I get why Yato would think this since effectively they make the rules but it’s that kind of thinking that leads to so many of the gods getting overconfident and corrupt.

They all look really shady in the climax after all as they don’t give anyone a chance to sit down and think about what’s going on. They just launch right into their attacks and trying to bump Ebisu off. They’re not exactly paragons of moral virtue. The only one I liked here was the Hawaii guy who was eager to go help Ebisu and wasn’t about to get captured. We learn that he waged war against the heavens once before and based on his confidence I’d say that it went pretty well. I like the fire behind this guy’s eyes and he’s someone to keep an eye out for.

I had some slight power level issues here at times but nothing too crazy. I just feel like Yato’s power fluctuates a lot from being able to destroy the most powerful spell of the heavens to having trouble with Ebisu. Yes, his slashing power is dependent on his regalia but his physical abilities are always on point. He was holding his own with Bishamon and had great reaction times with Kugaha. He should not be having trouble with almost anyone here. I just have to go on the theory that he’s constantly holding back but I can only use that for so long before it gets stale. I assume the whole speech Kugaha made about how strong the Nora are is pretty much fake but at the same time I want to see the regalia have more attacks beyond the single shockwave. There should be a bigger bonus to having a contract with the god that would give you an edge over a nora who knows your name. Otherwise it does feel like you’re at a disadvantage.

I suppose the reason the power levels come to the forefront more here is because of how there’s a lot more action than in season 1. At least true fight scenes so not counting quick battles against the minions. Here you have the heroes going up against enemies who can actually fight back so you get to gauge their power a lot better. The show still has its somber moments and happy scenes of course but you can usually expect a big fight scene almost every episode. The stakes are constantly high and the show gets tense. It’s also always good to see the serious Yato return for the battles since he did have quite the reputation back in the day. You know that he can slip into that persona at any time.

As mentioned earlier, the soundtrack is still excellent like in season 1. You’ve got a lot of very catchy tunes that fit all occasions. From serious themes to comedic ones, the show has great variety. The animation is also great here and doesn’t hold back. All of the fights are really good and there’s a lot of detail. It’s a show that will absolutely still hold up 5-10 years from now and well beyond that as well. The show goes by quickly at 13 episodes but the pacing is really fast so a lot happens. There’s also a good amount of setup for the future story moments as well like with Yato’s dad being around. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of the guy at all since his appearances here are pretty bad. Hopefully he’ll end up being more interesting. The one weakness to the series right now would be that the villains are fairly weak. The guy from the season 1 climax stomps all of these guys so far.

Overall, Noragami: Aragato is a very solid follow up to the first season. It does everything the first did but even better and that’s what you always want to see out of a sequel. Yato is also just a great main character. Another standout moment for him is when Tenjin tells him to avoid Hiyori and Yato just doesn’t. That promise was rigged from the start so I’m cool with Yato breaking his word there. Tenjin was just trying to take advantage of a really bad situation and proved that he wasn’t a true friend in the way that some of the other gods were. Yato may have slipped in the second arc which I still find a little hard to buy into but I like to think that was the last time he will stumble. If you haven’t seen this show yet then you’ll definitely want to jump in now!

Overall 8/10

Yugioh Vrains Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10