Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review

It’s been a long time since SHIELD started and quite a bit since it finished at this point. I’ve had the review on the backburner since November of 2020. The show certainly had its ups and downs over the years. It was always fun to have this show to look forward to each week either way and with over 130 episodes it lasted a while. I definitely won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Grant Ward’s various appearances and basically coming back every season was always a blast. Maybe one day these characters will return. That said, I ultimately would not recommend the title due to some seasons just going a little too crazy.

The basic premise of the show is that there is a group known as SHIELD which has always protected the peace over the years. They do so from the shadows and nobody even knows they exist aside from all the big companies in the know. Agent Coulson is one of the highest ranked members. He was thought to be dead after the Avengers 2012 film but he managed to survive. The show begins with him assembling a new team of fighters. Ward, Skye, Fitz, Simmons, and also the experienced Agent May. Together they aim to stop Hydra and all other threats from infecting the planet. Season 1 is mainly about introducing the team and taking some grunts down first. The season ultimately ends with some big plot twists as well as an inside agent who was a traitor all along.

This was a solid way to introduce the cast. One of the more underrated scenes is when Garrett shows up with his team on the SHIELD base and we get some quick fights. Ward took care of his opponent while Coulson and Garrett had their talk. It was pretty tense and also cemented Ward as the most dependable guy on the team which helped make the twist more effective later. While teased a lot, I also like how they made sure to reference the Avengers in just about every episode. It was an effective way to remind people that SHIELD was in the universe even if later on it felt less and less like the show was actually canon.

Coulson is debatably the main character of the series although you can make an argument for Skye. He’s a very solid leader and does a good job of always making sure SHIELD is on the right path. It was nice seeing him get some power ups over the various seasons but for the most part he stayed as being a very normal down to Earth guy who was ready with the quips. He had a lot of the best lines in the series and always helped to add some levity to the situation. It just wouldn’t be the same without him.

Agent May is definitely the toughest member of the group. She is able to fight through serious injuries and never stops battling. Her nickname of being “The Calvary” may get old after the heroes mention it for the 50th time but season 1 was really about building up hype for all the characters so I suppose it makes sense. Her fairly emotionless approach to most scenarios was always fun. Her best moment is likely when she crossed over into another dimension to take out some powerful aliens in Season 6 and effectively had a time frozen fight to the death there. It was quite impressive.

Then you have Ward who is always super confident and charismatic. He tends to steal the show whenever he is around because the guy is so fun. While most of the other team members are either rookies or jaded retirees, Ward is just an excellent agent who is still in his prime. He’s skilled at everything he tries and that’s why he is always the person people turn to. How many characters are able to consistently get hype as a hero, villain, cybernetic copy, and alien in the same series? Whenever Ward shows up you know something is about to go down.

That said, there was one scene with Ward that I found ironically funny as soon as it happened. So in the series there are 3 people who are extremely determined to protect Skye. First you have Coulson who really sees her as a daughter figure. You have Calvin who is actually her father and so his goal is to protect her at any cost. Then you have Ward who is obsessed with Skye and wants to protect her in his own twisted way. All 3 of these characters have a good amount of hype and skill so you figure they can handle anything right? Well, there’s one scene where Skye gets threatened so all 3 of the hype characters pull out their guns only for Whitehall and his crew to take out bigger guns so they surrender.

That to me was the funniest scene of the entire series. To have all 3 of these characters just immediately surrender to a bunch of guys with guns was hysterical. It was certainly tough for the heroes before the era of them all getting their powers that’s for sure. As for Skye, she definitely gets a whole lot of development across the various seasons. She starts out as a timid rookie and eventually becomes a confident rebel. In the final season she even actively makes the choice to murder one of the villains against orders. Specifically, she ordered someone to murder a villain though so she didn’t get her hands dirty in that scene but she takes out her share of enemies.

Once she became Quake, Skye became one of the most powerful SHIELD agents which is impressive. The fact that she can conceivably destroy the planet is pretty impressive. So Skye’s a good character but I do think she uses her powers rather poorly. She should be winning just about every fight and yet most times she forgets she has powers or uses them way too late. There are so many times where she is defeated and you have to shake your head. When you have impressive abilities like that you really just need to fight to the end and keep on going. Personally, I think she just didn’t train enough.

Then we get to the worst member of the group Fitz. Fitz is just extremely annoying from day 1. His personality is your standard science guy who is really smart academically but doesn’t do well socially. After he gets betrayed by Ward he loses a lot of his mental functions for a while so it takes multiple seasons until he is back to normal. You can try to make the case that this is why it was so easy for him to turn to the dark side but there is still no excuse for this. Fitz is very easily turned on multiple occasions. He is often okay with taking the easy way out such as sacrificing a few to stop an attack. He goes as far as to perform tortures on his teammates and the guy never properly gets any real repercussions for this. By the end of the series you can’t look at him without thinking that you are just flat out looking as a villain. Fitz is not a true hero as far as I’m concerned. His romance plot with Simmons also drags on over and over again and often times Fitz is tempted to forsake his duty as an agent for this.

Unfortunately Simmons is pretty much just as bad. When we find out that Skye has powers Simmons is very quick to say that the lead should be destroyed. There is no mind control here or anything like that. Simmons just jumps right into drastic territory because she thinks the risk is too great. The fact that she was willing to betray her friend so easily was just crazy. Then you have the whole destiny thing where she and Fitz delude themselves into thinking that they are immortal so nothing can go wrong in the present. That’s why pretty much any scene with these two can be painful. They’re just bad characters.

Fortunately we had some extra agents in Hunter and Bobbi who were far better even if their screen time is pretty limited. Hunter doesn’t take things too seriously and you could say he isn’t even all that heroic. Mainly he’s here for Bobbi. He still makes a lot of mistakes of his own though. When we meet the “Real SHIELD” lets just say that things get shaken up. That said, It made for a really cool cliffhanger to suddenly have a whole other group around. I would have been fine exploring that plot for a while longer to be honest because there is a whole lot you can do with that.

Bobbi also stands out as a quality character. One of her better scenes is when an alien warrior shows up and just easily crushes the main cast. Bobbi goes up against him in round 2 again facing certain defeat but doing so to buy a little more time. She’s a talented fighter and doesn’t even like combat but is always willing to stand back in the fray. It’s too bad she wasn’t around to fight more. Next up is Mack who gets a pretty big role by the end of the series. I wasn’t a fan of his though.

Mack’s main issue is that he’s not good with power. He panics a whole lot and starts yelling at the team for no real reason. When the going gets tough in the final season he literally just quits even though he has a responsibility as Director and just gets out of there. Then he gets depressed and shuts everyone out for over a year. You can’t be making these kinds of mistakes when you’re leader or you’re just putting everyone in danger. That’s why I could never support his rise to leader, especially when May or Skye would have done a much better job.

Lincoln is one of those guys who joins up but you feel like it’s just so he can have a romance with Skye. Given that there are other guys around who will last longer that means he was doomed from day 1. Lincoln was reasonable I guess but he doesn’t leave a huge impact. His electric powers were cool though and he did defy the Inhumans at times so I’ll give him credit there. Radcliffe is one of those villains who’s around a little more for comic relief at times. He’s a super genius given that he was able to build Aida and he usually comes out on top with his plans. He evaded SHIELD for years after all. He’s a fun enough villain and has some humorous moments even if he doesn’t really get to go in the field a whole lot.

We got some guest stars early on in SHIELD even if they wouldn’t return for long. Nick Fury’s scenes in season 1 were a lot of fun. It helped really make Agents of SHIELD feel like a big deal at the time. Maria Hill also got to appear and she’s a capable general as always. One of the more surprising appearances had to be Lady Sif. She gave us a fun episode even if Ward was mind controlled a little too easily. I like to think he wouldn’t fall for that. While not a guest star, we also had Agent Triplett show up for a brief time. Unfortunately he didn’t last very long but I did like the guy while he was around. He was always very enthusiastic about the mission.

Back to bigger members, Yo-Yo is easily the most powerful SHIELD member. She has legitimate super speed. Now, she does have a drawback where she has to return to the spot where she bounced from each time. That is a pretty big weakness but with her speed it shouldn’t matter. Of course that means that the show has to make her look bad a lot of the time so she doesn’t end the fight quickly each time. She can be a fun member for the most part despite this. It’s just tough for speedsters because they always have to be nerfed at some points.

Deke is a character who started out okay and then really jumped up the ranks. He had to survive in a pretty dark future and that showed his determination. Once he was in the present with everyone else he was able to have a blast just enjoying all the little things. He started his own company and had the catchiest theme in the whole show. It was always a lot of fun to see him even if the rest of the cast treated him horribly the whole time. At times it was for comedy and at other times the heroes were just jealous of his success. He took it all in stride though, even wishing Skye well despite his one sided romance for her not working out well for him.

One character who joined the crew late and definitely was not that good was Daniel. He is here from the Agent Carter show and managed to become a main character by the final season but he’s just annoying. Another one of those guys who panics a lot and he also got over Agent Carter awful fast to rebound with Skye. While it can be nice to have someone from the old days here marvel at all the new stuff I was just never able to get on board with him. I’d prefer if Deathlok had returned. He had some fun appearances early on in the show and was a good fighter to have on hand. His role was ultimately not very large though.

Garrett was one of the first big SHIELD villains and he did really well. The guy has a lot of connections and is really good at strategy. He had some solid one liners as well so he’s pretty memorable. I thought he was better than Malick who is a similar kind of villain but won’t leave as much of an impact on you. Now Raina was a villain you don’t forget. She loves to hear herself talk and is constantly making speeches. That said, despite being able to see the future and knowing a lot, she ultimately doesn’t fare too well here.

Calvin was an interesting villain seeing as how he’s Skye’s father and all. He has a pretty tragic backstory with what happened to his wife. You kind of hope he’ll take down Whitehall real quick but that guy is just a little too tricky most of the time. At least Calvin was always interesting though and you could definitely understand his motives. I wasn’t really a fan of Whitehall though. He’s just another old scientist here to cause some havok. We’ve seen it all before.

Season 2 features the destruction of SHIELD thanks to the events of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier film. Coulson is now the Director of SHIELD and things are as busy as ever. For starters a race of beings known as the Inhumans have begun appearing everywhere. These guys have a lot of fantastic powers and now every group wants them such as Hydra and AIM. In particular a man named Whitehall is quite intense about grabbing them all and running live experiments until he can perfect a way to use their powers. It turns out that Skye also has some ties to the Inhumans as well. Can SHIELD really keep this under wraps or are we about to get a war between humans and Inhumans?

You could say season 2 is when we really started embracing the comic book nature of the show more. Inhumans are a nice segway because they have powers but are fairly normal otherwise. The annoying thing about this is always that the Inhumans initially aren’t looking for trouble despite their tough talk and are taken down pretty quick. It’s why you send to see a lot of people acknowledging that Magneto has a point while Xavier’s wish for world peace goes on as mutants keep being captured and destroyed. Inhumans are effectively very similar to mutants if you think about it and are hunted a lot as well. Black Bolt doesn’t really get to weigh in here compared to his mini series though. This season was a lot more violent than the first one as Whitehall keeps going back to his scientific roots. In effect it’s why you always get worried when someone has regeneration because you know they are going to end up using that ability quite a lot as Jiaying had to.

Jiaying plays a pretty big role here as the leader of the Inhumans or at least this branch. Her healing abilities are really good but in a way this is just bad news for her since it means the villains can exploit this for quite a while. That said, I wasn’t a big fan either way. She just didn’t seem to have any plans for the long term survival of the Inhumans which is not good. Eventually of course things were going to go sideways. Gordon was a dependable right hand man. His teleportation ability was also really solid. He’s a likable guy. Gordon may not always watch his back too closely but without him the Inhumans wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long as they did.

Then you have a pretty interesting villain in Lash. Lash is so powerful that most of the Inhumans couldn’t last very long against him at all. It would take several just to try and bring him down. He’s pretty much a creature of mindless rage and he’s at his best when you don’t know his identity. The show really allows this guy to go all out and get a lot of hype so I appreciated that. Even the design was pretty unique.

The third season brings The Hive into the fold. Hydra has brought him around to cause chaos and he is basically a king of unlimited power. Naturally he decides to use Ward’s body so we have the guy around once more. His powers are pretty impressive and naturally this is bad for the Inhumans since he can effectively use a lot of abilities. Coulson wants to use the Inhumans for good as always and strikes a deal with Rosalind and her government group. She’ll stop capturing Inhumans for nefarious purposes and he’ll share data. This truce threatens to compromise both sides though and causes a lot of tension within the ranks of SHIELD.

As soon as Ward was back it’s hard not to get hyped since he’s always a blast. Of course in this one he’s here completely as a villain at this point trying to get revenge on Coulson. I was not a fan of Coulson’s partnership with Rosalind from the start though. You can’t make deals with villains like that and by all accounts she was totally a villain with all the kidnapping and such. You can’t just pull all of that and hope to get away with it. With this deal she would basically get away completely free. It was a pretty reasonable season. I would say it wasn’t as big in scope or new ideas as the first two seasons but the Hive had to be the strongest villain yet. From all of the seasons this one blends together the most because there were quite a few episodes here so it’s not like it was literally all Ward but he’s easily the most memorable part of the whole thing.

As mentioned Rosalind wasn’t very impressive. I just didn’t like her as a character from the start and she never really got better after that. She’s basically just another government agent. We got to see more of two SHIELD Agents Piper and Davis who would have bigger roles later on. Needless to say, I was not a fan of these characters. They just don’t really add anything to the story or dynamic. You could cut them out and nothing would have changed. I would say the best way to think of them is like getting two red shirts from Star Trek but then giving them an entire plot line and lots of extra appearances for some reason. No matter how often they appeared they were never impressive.

The Hive was an impressive villain as mentioned. I mean to a good extent he just felt like Ward but he does have a different personality in the end. He was certainly more ruthless. Then you had Hellfire who was another villain around but not nearly as powerful. The guy’s basically just a traitor who sells out and ultimately doesn’t realize that in the end the Watchdogs will take him out as well. His flame powers are good though. Elemental abilities are always fairly high tier because there is so much you can do with them.

In the fourth season the gang begins to tamper with forces beyond their comprehension like the Ghost Rider. The group heads out to find him but he’s busy tracking other villains down. The Ghost Rider is effectively a spirit of vengeance using a human host that appears from time to time to carry out a mission and then leave just as suddenly. Naturally this is a big burden on the human involved. We had some nice ghost type fighters to go up against him and the effects for his flames were pretty solid. We also have some drama within Shield as the Patriot takes over in Coulson’s place and quickly starts to become a very shady individual. That’s why you have to be careful when turning down a position to someone else. Coulson didn’t want to be leader and now it could come back to bite him.

Additionally we have the Framework appearing here. In this other world everyone’s lives are a little bit different which includes a completely evil Fitz as well as a powerful android known as Aida. This just helps to cement Fitz as one of my least favorite characters as we see just how close to being evil he is. You could cut him some slack if this was just in the framework but lets just say this isn’t the last we’ve seen of evil Fitz. This was definitely a very intense season. I liked Aida though, she’s one of the most memorable villains to be sure. She got a pretty bad deal by the end as Fitz basically just used her. She was a villain of course but you still felt like Aida deserved better. Her abilities were absolutely crazy as well so you could say she was one of the strongest characters in the series. You also can’t go wrong with Ghost Rider of course. He’s always a pretty fun character to have around and the heroes are lucky to have him and his powers at the ready.

Ghost Rider just helped give the heroes a lot of muscle and came through when it counted. His host here was also solid as he was always ready to fight. Things were certainly personal for him after all and he made sure to get a whole lot of revenge on the heroes. As for the Patriot, I did not like him. The guy was given a good position and then squandered it on a power trip. He had every opportunity to be a great character but at the end of the day he definitely did not live up to it. I have to take away a lot of points from him as a result. He just could have been so much better so it was a shame that he couldn’t live up to this. The way he went out also wasn’t super impressive.

Enoch is a character who would end up having a massive presence in the series. He is a Chronicom from the future so he is always prepared. He tends to be a pacifist and has a hard time understanding human customs but gradually he becomes proficient at it. He also has a lot of solid humor scenes. I would argue the final season gives him a little too much hype with being able to take down the entire SHIELD group. It’s hard to picture that in the slightest but he is tough. Also, without his planning the team would have died many times over. He’s like the Watcher only at least he actually helps out.

The Superior is another big villain who showed up. I like the fact that he realized how Coulson was always popping up from the dead and why he may be responsible for everything. He wasn’t correct of course, but I would say that it’s a reasonable interpretation of events at its face value. I also liked his determination to solve everything as a human and win with his own two fists instead of taking any shortcuts. He’s the kind of villain you don’t forget very quickly.

We finally get time travel in the 5th season. The heroes are transported to the year 2091 where naturally humanity has fallen. The Earth was destroyed and a bunch of Kree rule most of the universe. The heroes are onboard the “Lighthouse” and have to find a way back to the past. Additionally Fitz is somewhere in this timeline, or at least a version of him is. He’s currently working with Enoch and eventually the two plots collide. Once the heroes are back home they have to figure out a way to prevent the Earth from being destroyed and averting this disastrous future. It’ll be difficult but Talbot feels he is up to the task.

This season went the most all out in a lot of ways. Having almost the whole season take place in space was pretty crazy and we even had effectively a tournament as Skye and Yo Yo were forced to face off against other villains. Having a villain group with the powerful Ruby also helped to up the tensions. The stakes were quite high in this season although at times it would also get pretty dark here. The future is pretty hopeless with Kasius in charge after all so everyone either becomes a slave or is quickly taken out of the picture. Talbot being tortured for ages while the heroes were having fun in space was also rough. It’s easy to see how he came off the deep end in the second half.

I enjoyed his battle with Skye a lot though. It felt like something out of Supergirl with the characters flying around and getting things pretty high tier. For the most part despite having characters with super powers you couldn’t expect to see big meta human battles like this. Talbot may have become a big villain but at the end of the day I’m still a big fan. He was an interesting villain which is always important and with his powers I do think he would have been in good position to protect the Earth. With Thanos referenced it would have been fun if he had stepped in to fight for a while.

Tess is one of the survivors in the crazy timeline and she did well to survive. She’s got her own connections and always has a gameplan. While Tess may not stand out a whole lot next to Deke, she did well. Flint was another survivor who did well and the fact that he had some basic rock powers was cool as well. He’s a little young so there wasn’t a ton he could do but every bit helps. Kasius is the big villain here but he’s not likable in the slightest. He’s one of those villains more worried about romance and wanting more power than actually having plans. He would tend to just be annoying most of the time getting emotionally involved with his past and rambling a lot of the time.

Sinara was a solid villain though. As Kasius’ right hand woman she was always ready to fight. Her techniques were fast and lethal leaving no margin for error. Serious villains like that always tend to work well because they are focused on achieving their objective and that’s it. Sinara did really well. Likewise I enjoyed Ruby. Her disc throwing abilities were quite potent. I also liked her confident the whole time. She may have been manipulated a whole lot during the show but she’s a villain who really stood out. Ruby may not have seemed evil with her personality but she was ruthlessly butchering all of her opponents so you can’t go easy on her either.

Season 6 breaks the team up into two groups. One group heads into space for a lot of adventures while they look for Fitz who is once again missing across the timestreams. This tends to be the more lighthearted plot as the heroes go to a bunch of different planets. Every place is pretty different. Then you have the ground plot where a guy named Sarge who appears to look just like Coulson is running around. As Coulson should be dead by now the heroes are upset to see this lookalike. Sarge is saying some crazy things about surviving a lot of destroyed planets so the heroes need to get some answers out of him before Earth is put on a 1 way trip to oblivion.

The space adventures were okay but I think most of the intrigue and suspense here was with the Sarge plot. There’s a lot of fun mysteries here like what his whole deal is and how he relates to Coulson. There’s a lot you could do with his whole world hopping thing as well and seeing Coulson as a villain was just surreal. It was always fun to have him around. The rest of his crew was mostly forgettable but Sarge stands out. That said, I do think he didn’t handle some plot twists well as he was quick to forget his grudge. I would have liked him to keep his Sarge personality through and through.

It does make for a good climax though and the arc is just exciting from start to finish. We even got a bunch of monsters running around. Meanwhile Izel made for a great space villain though. Her humming was fairly iconic and she made for a solid mastermind. This isn’t her first rodeo as she’s been taking planets down for ages. I’d be very close to saying that she is the best villain in the show. I won’t go quite that far but she can hold her own with any. Her ability also helps to make her one of the most powerful ones though as she keeps on controlling people. She could have easily finished off the main characters so many times you’ll lose count. With great power comes a lot of holding back though. Her fight in the realm of the dead was also a lot of fun.

That brings us to the final season which involves a ton of time travel. The Chronicoms have decided to eliminate SHIELD by destroying them in history. The team will now have to keep jumping to different eras in time in order to keep up with them. The difficult thing here is that the Chronicoms always appear to be a step ahead. Additionally the heroes manage to grab onto Daniel Sousa so now they’re at risk of changing time. Still, the villains changed time first so does it all even out? Each episode is a reference to a different movie or show and we also get a lot of crossover elements here to really cement this as the final season. The gang’s together for one last ride and then it’s all over.

SHIELD did a good job of really throwing in as many elements as possible here. We got to relive all of the seasons to an extent and got some extra closure for each character like Skye getting to see her Mom again. The best episode here was probably the time loop. I could watch films and shows about that concept for ages. I’m a pretty big time travel fan so elements like loops and paradoxes are just a lot of fun. It was a fitting way to end the saga at long last and this was just a really solid season. It would have been nice to see Deathlok, Hunter, and Bobbi are they feel like the only big characters that the season was missing. We did still end up getting just about everyone though so I was definitely still satisfied in the end.

Nathaniel Mallick is one of the big villains here. You could make the case behind him being the main villain over Sibyl but they’re both about 50/50. With his sonic powers at the ready he makes for a pretty big threat in the season. I would say at no point do you think he could seriously beat Skye in a 1 on 1 fight but unfortunately she tends to turn her back during battle a whole lot and just underestimate everyone. This really ends up leading to her downfall at times. He’s not really my kind of villain. The guy whines a whole lot and doesn’t really seem to know when he’s being manipulated. He just talks with a lot more confidence than you would expect considering his lack of power but I guess relative to most of the case he is pretty tough.

John Garrett shows up again and I have to say I liked this new version of him quite a lot. The guy can teleport now and has endless confidence. He returns every one of Coulson’s subtle digs and one liners with a counter of his own which is nice. You want to see a villain be able to dish it out like that. This whole thing is more of a game to him compared to the others though so he does panic a bit when things are coming to the end. I still have him as the best villain in the season though.

Sibyl has a big role of course but you can’t help but feel that she ruined everything for the villain. The Chronicoms have time travel at their disposal and crazy high tech options. Why couldn’t they just blow up the planet or something like the hunters suggested? Sibyl kept saying that they had to follow her plan exactly since she can see the future but at the end all that did was put the villains in a bad spot time and time again. Things would have been a lot better if they had just ignored her. So she’s a fun villain but she overthinks everything.

Finally we have Kora, but she was not very good. My main issue with her is that she was very wishy washy about which side to be on. She was quick to turn evil and then to turn around again and again. She also wasn’t very smart with how she handled her final scenes. I remember in one cliffhanger when she hugged the villain a lot of people were waiting for her to suddenly stab him or something but then it just never happened. There’s a lot more the series could have done with Kora if you ask me. I liked her confidence and swagger, she just never followed up on it.

Naturally there are a bunch of other characters in the series overall but these are at least a bunch of the big ones. With 130+ episodes it makes sense that there’s time for a lot of them. Especially since as a live action series the episode lengths are double that of a normal show so this is more like reviewing something that’s 260 episodes long. It’s still quite impressive that it lasted so long. In general that’s just quite the feat. I also thought the show wrapped up quite nicely with the final season. They had a lot of fun with it and explored some nice concepts.

So at the end of the day, why does this show lose out? Well, in particular with the earlier seasons like 2-4, the series decided to get really gritty. You had characters being tortured numerous times, surgery on screen while the character is still conscious, and things like that. The show liked to make the villains appear as big threats by making them as evil and sinister as possible. It’s just the way the show would usually handle this. So it would go for being violent as well as dark/tragic. I would say in the final seasons, especially the very last one this got dialed back a bit but there would be moments like this in every season. You were never truly going to escape the violent nature of the show. Even the final season had the buzzsaw robots which were incredibly over the top to the point where it was more of a spoof than anything.

In that regard Agents of Shield is a show that’s more like Attack on Titan. It’s entertaining while watching it but it can never escape the core issues that doom it to a low score. Typically if you’re a long running title your odds of surviving moments here and there are increased because you can have so many positive moments that you drown out the bad ones. For example, if you’re only 13 episodes and have a horrible episode, that will hurt more than having 8 bad episodes out of 136. It’s all relative of course and you hope that even at its worst a show will never go bottom of the barrel. Shield never gets awful I would say but what hurts is the frequency of these moments. It got to a point in some seasons where you could expect this to happen every episode. I recall Whitehall’s season being the most violent at least back in the day. The Inhumans and the whole cyber season could be up there too though.

So violence is the main thing against the show. In a combat setting you can give it a bit more leeway but when you get to the torture and non combatants being thrown into this then it gets to be a bit much. On a much less severe note, the show also has a ton of rebound romances as it goes on. Throughout the series you can’t possibly take any romance seriously because of how they keep shuffling. Skye had affairs with Ward, her tech co-worker, Deke, and Lincoln at the very least. I think that was it at least. May had Coulson and Ward, but I could swear there is a third guy in there somewhere. Then you have Yo-Yo going with Mack as well as some other guy although I forget that expendable’s name. Simmons was with Fitz and some random guy she met on the moon, etc. Basically everyone in the show tends to be quick to fall for multiple characters so even by the end when they presumably find their true romance you may roll your eyes at that.

The Fitz and Simmons plot gets a ton of screen time for example and I can never buy into it. I mean, it doesn’t help that both characters are some of the worst in the series though. Fitz and Simmons continued to surprise me with how bad they were the whole time. Each season would bring them to a new low and they both had a similar plot line of going off the deep end. I suppose they match up in that sense but yeah I definitely was not feeling this story from start to finish.

It’s usually most convenient for guest stars since they don’t have time for more than one. For example at least Hunter and Bobbi always stayed consistent. It was definitely sad to see them go since they did add a lot to the team’s dynamic while they were there. So Agents of Shield can’t really get away from the romance angle and there’s a whole lot of it. I gather that’s pretty much a requirement for live action shows or pretty much most shows in general but with such a long running direction then it’s bound to add up after a while. The writing was usually pretty solid though. We got a lot of nice interactions during the show and pretty quality one liners. It’s pretty fun to see the first episode of the show again and then compare it to the ending. I ended up checking out the very first two episodes again just to see the contrast. The show started out very upbeat and fairly low key with a lot of practical effects and everything was down to earth. Then by the end you have the heroes hopping across dimensions and all having super powers so it was really quite the journey. It feels pretty natural as you go through though.

I would say the show is at its best when the gang is having fun with some solid action scenes thrown in which is why I would probably put the first and last seasons as the best ones. Still, it did a good job of shifting genres for each impending threat. The show also did a good job with the season cliffhangers. Each season would usually end with something crazy like the reveal of a new director or a cutaway to the far future where everything has gone crazy. It always made for a pretty hype way to await the next season. Good cliffhangers are always crucial for a long running title like this.

Overall, Agents of SHIELD is one of the only long running live action series that I’ve watched from start to finish. Aside from The Office, Ultraman, and Agent Carter I can’t think of any completed series where that is the case. I’ve seen a ton of episodes for old classics like Twilight Zone, Odd Couple, and I Love Lucy but not in a start to finish kind of thing. It’s pretty rare in general and I’m definitely more of an anime/cartoon guy but live action titles definitely have their own charm. With today’s effects they can basically be like watching a movie that just keeps on going and going. I wouldn’t be able to recommend the show myself as there are too many moments where you’ll be shaking your head. If you like watching the Marvel films though and want something to binge through as 2021 continues to roll then this is a pretty good option. It gets quite a bit darker than the films but there’s also a lot of light hearted episodes and comedy thrown in so that may balance it out. It should definitely last you a while even at top speed.

Overall 3/10

Attack on Titan Season 2 Review

All right guys, the time has finally come. Attack on Titan season 2 has snuck up on us after all these years. As you all know, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the first season. Far from it, the first one had a whole array of negatives and it was all just too violent and dark if you ask me. Does this season improve? I’m afraid that it does not. It’s just as violent as it ever was if not more so and the show is as dark as ever. People complain about how they don’t want to die just to up the grit factor and the scouts forget their training so we can see everyone die at once. The show is still quite epic though. Whether that is tragic or a good thing is really up to you. Prepare yourself as I attack this series from all sides.

The first season ended with the heroes managing to capture the Female Titan, but not learning anything new since she enveloped herself in ice. This installment takes place almost immediately afterwards as 3 more humans shift into Titans. It appears that they are serving another master and have been acting as moles on the inside for some time now. Their mission is to kidnap Eren, but he’s not going to go down without a fight. Can Eren fight the three of them off or will his allies get in his way long enough to prevent victory?

This season only has 12 episodes so it has to move pretty quick. Lets start with some of the positives. This season has a great soundtrack. It’s not on the same level as the first season, but the new tunes that it introduces are quite good. The theme that plays during the return of the Colossal and Armored Titans was pretty epic. We also got a nice lyrical song in the final episode which was just as solid. A number of themes from the first season show up as well like the iconic opera theme that plays during the Beast Titan’s introduction. There aren’t really any bad themes in the show and it has a cinematic feel to it from start to finish. I also liked the third opening. The first one is still my favorite by far, but this one does a good job of quickly getting fast paced. The music does a good job of tricking you into thinking that it’s somber before getting action packed. Not a big fan of this new gimmick where characters just stand around for part of the opening though. It’s not as bad as My Hero Academia, but do we need to see everyone putting on their boots and getting ready to go outside and start their battles? It gets more fast paced from there though.

The animation is also quite sharp. Again, season 1 may have looked a little better, but this one’s certainly as impressive as always. The animation really shines for the Titan battles. I think it may have been limited by the fact that the series always seemed cloudy. The first season had a lot of scenes in the daytime as well as the night which always stood out well. This cloudy middle ground didn’t work so well. I suppose it was supposed to subtly show you the desperation of the heroes but this show is never very subtle at all so you could gather that anyway. All of the character designs are pretty smooth and while the CGI effects for the Colossal Titan are humorously bad, it makes the taunts from the heroes hit a lot deeper.

You also can’t say that Attack on Titan is boring. The show never disappoints in how much it can get you engaged. Some episodes were underwhelming like the ones focusing on Connie and Sasha, but for the most part the plot always moved rapidly. The two episodes were Eren confronted the other Titans and found out their secret identities were the best two episodes in the series by far. If the series had just been those two episodes it probably would have gotten a high score. The fights were handled well and the series didn’t resort to getting super gritty. It was emotional enough that the two traitors knew Eren pretty well. I’ve seen the fight well over a dozen times at this point. Mainly because I forgot that Eren actually wiped the floor with the Armored Titan. I always thought he had lost the fight so it was nice to be mistaken for a change.

Eren is also just as great a main character here as he was in the first season. I’m tempted to say that he’s even better here, but it’s tough because he was a star in both. His stand out scene is when the Armored Titan tells him not to put up a fight and Eren puts one up anyway. Even without any hands, Eren buys the heroes more time and makes it difficult on the enemies. His never say die attitude is what separates him from the rest. He really makes the whole season better. Eren is always yelling and calling the villains out on their fake sob stories, but also continues to use strategy the whole time. He’s always thinking about the next move and ends up being a much more complete character than you’d otherwise expect. Pretty much all of his scenes are epic, but aside from his big fight, his scene in the last episode where he punches a Titan was just really great. It would be nice if he could keep fighting Titans like that, but it was basically a one shot deal as I understand it.

Mikasa is also a great heroine as always. She just wants to protect Eren and doesn’t care about the traitors either. Good call if you ask me. She won’t hesitate to take them down and is always ready to support Eren. She’s a consistently good character who can actually fight even if she doesn’t have powers. Mikasa doesn’t get a whole lot to do in this season, but she’s always around. Levi fans will be disappointed though since he really doesn’t get to appear for more than 5 minutes in the whole season.

All right, lets start talking about the negatives though. This is Attack on Titan so the usual issues apply. The series is just as violent as the first one if not more so. One new element that the show added was an effect that is supposed to resemble getting torn apart by a wild animal. It happens twice where the screen will start shaking to save budget to emphasize the violence as blood starts flying everywhere and it’s meant as an optical illusion to seem worse than it is. I’ll take the bait though so that hurt quite a bit. Whenever Titans are around, the humans die horribly. People are eaten alive and always beg for their lives first. That’s a staple of Attack on Titan at this point. They always have to rub in the fact that the humans didn’t ask for this as they’re eaten and they’re eaten slowly.

It even comes at the expense of the plot. At the end of the series, a team of highly trained fighters decide to attack the Titans. Half of them forget that they know how to fight though as they calmly let the Titans snatch them up and have their dinner. This was really just for violence and to show how hopeless the situation is, but it made no sense. Honestly, it never made any sense how the humans haven’t covered more ground considering how many Titans they’ve destroyed at times. It’s a logistical issue that I’ve always wondered about. The series also has considerable animal violence as horses aren’t immune to the Titan attacks. It even showed up in the Beast Titan’s debut which prevented the scene from being as hype as it could have been.

I’m a big Dub fan as I always prefer it to the Sub. That being said, I could have done without some of the language. It was certainly overdone at some points and threw cold water on what was otherwise a pretty hype scene. Take Eren’s big fight against the other two. The whole thing was intense and awesome, but it’s hard to watch it as much as you’d like to since Eren is constantly swearing the whole time. It’s supposed to show just how angry he is and emphacize the whole thing, but you can do that pretty well without language. Honestly, with the stellar job that the VA does, it isn’t necessary at all. He’s always been good at yelling. Just about any intense moment in the show will have some language involved. I’m confident that it has spread a lot more compared to season 1 because I don’t remember it being quite so frequent over there.

It’s really a shame that some of the most epic shows always seem to have some kind of strings attached. They could end up becoming elites if they didn’t focus too much on being dark and gritty. Take Sonic Forces, it brings all of the hype without the negatives. It’s not out yet though so I’ll go more into that when it actually comes out. The plot definitely is engaging here so you’ll stick around but after it’s over, it’s hard to recommend the title. This season just had way too many gritty moments to actually recommend it to anyone. If someone asked for a good title to watch, I’d quickly have to offer up an answer like Naruto or Madoka Magica instead. Those had a better blend of epic scenes while still keeping themselves in check.

A good way to tell how epic a show can get is to check out the promos. Just look at the Attack on Titan Toonami promos for this season. Particularly the last few. They sell themselves and you don’t need to know anything about the show to get into them. I watched several of those promos over 10 times. The final episode promo I probably saw the most although it’s close. I can’t stress enough how fun the show can be. I need to savor this as well since the 3rd season is likely going to be a big step down since the political arc is about to start. It’s quite long and dreadfully bad so unless the anime can really shape it up, things are going to get tough until the 4th season.

Aside from Eren and Mikasa, the rest of the cast is mostly all right. I still don’t like Armin at all as just about every scene with him is annoying. He gives terrible advice like telling Eren to run and then 2 minutes later changing his mind and saying that it would be impossible. His most intense moment is him trying to act like a villain and using dishonorable tactics that I can’t respect. Sasha doesn’t really get much of an actual role here and I can’t stress enough just how bad her origin episode was. It was one of the low points of the series for sure. Connie is even worse as he panics for everything and is in a serious state of denial throughout the series. He needs to get his act together, but I fear that he never will.

Historia gets a big role in this season and she’s a good character. We finally have someone who is actually heroic and tries to be a bright light for the others to follow. The series tries to make the heroes almost as bad as the villains at times so she is a nice change of pace. Other characters claim that she is fake, but I feel like she’s genuine and the others are completely over analyzing her. She’ll always try to do the right thing even if it means dying in the process. She instantly became one of the best supporting characters. Ymir is another new character and she’s Historia’s opposite in terms of personality. She claims to just live for herself but in actuality she is always trying to protect Historia. Her speeches about how she is a real bad person can be a little repetitive at times like she’s trying to convince herself of that. It is nice to have another tough character in the show though and someone who knows the truth about the Titans as well. She makes most of the wrong decisions throughout the show as she defies logic throughout, but at least its her choices. She ended up making the decisions on her terms as opposed to the other Titans so that was good. She was a good character to have around. Annoying, but better than most of the others.

Erwin is one of those characters that I could never like. He doesn’t place much value in human lives as he’ll sacrifice them all to get one step closer to unlocking the Titan mysteries. He’s all about how the end justifies the means and is such an extreme character. His “Sasageyo” speech turned into a meme, but the joke was turned around since the anime had to translate it and there was nothing to meme in the Dub. He ended up doing pretty well for himself by the end, but I’m ready for him to step down.

As for the villains, well we can start with the Beast Titan. He gets a lot of hype since it seems like he is the mastermind behind all of the Titans. As a result, he doesn’t get to do a lot here since they have to build up to him. He’s the tallest Titan aside from the Colossal Titan and seems to have more intelligence than the rest. He keeps his speaking ability even in Titan form. There’s not much I can say about him, but in his Beast Titan mode he’s pretty interesting. I prefer the Armored Titan, but I’ll take him over the Colossal. His fans will be pleased since he looks pretty good during the season and is definitely a merciless villain.

The Colossal Titan isn’t my kind of villain as you can tell. He tries to justify himself way more than everyone else and like Eren I’m not buying it nor will I ever buy it. The Armored Titan is a little more accepting of the situation and is also more likable since he takes command of the situation. The other guy waits for his opportunity while the Armored Titan seizes it. He’s just more of a commander and takes on all of the tough jobs. Again, the dub is just really great and helps make all of these characters more engaging. I also have to give major props to the director because he manages to make all of the scenes more interesting than they would have been otherwise. Others could learn from his example.

You’ll exit the season with about as many questions as you had when it first started, but at the same time you’ll feel more progress here. The heroes are getting a lot closer to the truth and I think it’s safe to say that we’ll get a ton of revelations in season 4. I’m looking forward to the anime getting farther because it is much more enjoyable than the manga. Case in point, the Armored Titan’s fight against Eren was a lot more violent and extreme in the manga. I checked it out recently to compare the two and it’s just in a different league. While the anime is still much too violent, I appreciate the fact that they at least put a good effort into making it a little more manageable.

Attack on Titan is one of those shows where fans will have fun rewatching it as more seasons come out. After all, I certainly got to understand more of the hidden subtext since I’m caught up with the manga as characters reference certain things that are important later on. The author did a pretty good job of planning things out ahead of time now that I think about it. It never feels like these plot developments are really sudden or are coming out of nowhere. It’s all part of a plan even if the plan may have changed a little during the series. On a minor note, the unveiling of the 3 Titans in this season doesn’t feel as big as Annie’s reveal in Season 1. Maybe it’s just one of those cases where the first undercover Titan was always going to be more memorable than the others. I do think that the scene of the Colossal and Armored Titans revealing themselves was handled just about perfectly though. It was a scene that I liked in the manga as well since it was done in the background so it was easy to miss. It’s a little harder to pull that off in the anime, but they did a really good job.

On a final note, Attack on Titan is also one of the only shows that can effectively pull off flashbacks. The flashback of Annie teaching Eren how to use a spin move and then is occurring during his fight with the Armored Titan was smooth. In another anime, it would have happened sooner so that we could see the whole scene over again during the fight. The flashbacks in this series are minimal and all have a big purpose when they appear. Unfortunately, a lot of the flashbacks are pretty violent as you can probably imagine what Eren recalls during these moments, but the directing with them is on point. This show can seriously make an argument for having the best directing in all of anime.

Overall, Attack on Titan Season 2 is more of the same as you saw in 1. It’s still a technical masterpiece as the animation is on point, the soundtrack is stellar, and Eren is one of the best leads of all time. The show never stops feeling like a big budget movie and the plot is very engaging. However, all of these positives are nullified by how violent and gritty the series is. It goes way too far in expressing that point. Just about every episode has the characters talking about how much they want to destroy another character and murder is the only thing on anyone’s mind. The animal violence isn’t helping matters and this likely won’t change because Attack on Titan really wants to keep reminding us that there is no hope left. It could be done better, but at this point we all know the score. Attack on Titan is not going to change so it’ll always make for a pretty interesting watch, but it’ll likely never be a good anime. I’ll take this kind of “bad” anime over the other kind though. (One that is not enjoyable throughout in addition to getting a low score) At the end of the day I like being entertained so at least every episode went by fairly quick and I could still chat about it for a while. Really bad shows make it so that you can barely even talk about them. If this sounds like your kind of show, then by all means you should check it out. Otherwise, you should probably go watch Madoka Magica. I mention it a lot, but this title perfectly handled the concept of being really dark without crossing the line of also being really violent. I was quite impressed. Now, the 3rd season is supposed to come out next year and will likely be a full 26 episodes again so we’ll see how they handle it. If they can cut out a certain political scene, it could theoretically end up being the best season since there is a lot less Titan violence. After all, most of the characters can fight now and normal Titans aren’t a threat because of Eren’s secret powers. Only time will tell though.

Overall 3/10

Samurai Jack (2017) Review

Samurai Jack is one of the best American cartoons out there. If we don’t count super hero shows like Justice League then it takes the title quite easily. The show had awesome fights and episodes that were nonstop action the entire time. It may have ended rather suddenly with no real ending, but that’s fine since you could always imagine your own ending. Still, everyone was rather hyped when they announced that the series would finally be getting a conclusion. Everyone…except me. From the start this was promoted as a far darker, grittier, more violent take on the classic show to fit in with the modern times. I had a bad feeling that this show was not just going to be bad, but terrible. Unfortunately…my fears turned out to be correct.

This new season was fairly misleading as the first episode was actually really good. We got a nice fight scene and it was against a robot so there wasn’t any blood or anything. I felt like things would maybe be okay. Right after that is where the show went downhill and never recovered. Episodes 2-3 are the most action packed and intense episodes of the show, but are also overflowing with over the top violence. Jack also ends up murdering a few of his opponents who were brainwashed girls who were raised to despise him. The fact that they are rather young is there to increase the grit factor.

Episode 4 was more like a classic Jack episode. It still couldn’t be bothered to avoid some animal violence, but was a big step up from the last two episodes. Episode 5 was the final episode before the show lost its focus. We see the Scotsman have a very pointless return as he gets one shotted by Aku and Jack is tricked into thinking that he murdered a bunch of kids. Honestly, I thought they were dead too so props to the show for not going down that rabbit hole.

Episode 6 is about cameos as Ashi meets up with a bunch of old allies. You can say that it’s filler as it’s just a homage for old fans, but the good news is that this means we didn’t have to see any unnecessary grit. I think this may be the episode with a pretty wince worthy line, but more on that later. Episode 7 leads us back to grit as it’s one of the most violent episodes. Ashi murders a bunch of villains and you’ll just want to fast forward to the next one.

Episode 8 is one of the worst episodes. This time it’s because of the very forced romance and the fact that it doesn’t work at all. Jack’s wayyyyyyy older than Ashi and as people had been pointing out on the sub reddit for weeks, it couldn’t work. The show surely wouldn’t go down that path right? Well, they did even though everyone was hoping for a more father-daughter bond which would have made more sense. Episode 9 still has some of this plot to deal with, but luckily the second half is better as Aku steps in. Episode 10 is extremely rushed with a rather lackluster ending and one of the more anticlimactic final fights. The season ended as it ran….a disappointing and unnecessary final season.

Lets look at the negatives more generally now. First off is obviously the violence. Samurai Jack was originally a kid’s show, but this season decided to get extremely violent and dark. You could barely go a single episode without some kind of animal violence. Whether it be a bird getting stabbed, a dog being slashed to the verge of death, or random bugs squashed there was something always happening here. Animal violence is always a big no-no and having it show up over and over again certainly doesn’t help the show’s case. Naturally, the human fight scenes were just as bad. It gets to the point where you actively hope for an episode with no action and that’s where the show goes to the other extreme of having an episode that’s all about walking and talking. The only good fights are the one against Aku and robots, but those are typically quite brief.

To make the show a little more dark as well, Jack destroys the brainwashed daughters of Aku as I mentioned earlier. They were only added to the show so that Jack could justify his choice to destroy them and so he could stop being such a dramatic hero who saved everyone in his path. This was their only purpose which meant that the writers didn’t even care about their power levels. They started out as being incredibly strong and much quicker than Jack, but ultimately turned into light weights that Jack could defeat with ease.

The show’s writing also drops down quite a few levels. Just to keep up the edge factor the show has Scaramouche use a p word to describe someone’s head and it felt so out of place and unnecessary. It was about as forced as Wolverine’s catchphrase in virtually every X-Men film. The whole romance angle was also written quite poorly. Jack’s sudden lack of confidence and debates with his inner self were just as hard to watch. Aku was really the only character who stayed in character during this season. He was great and definitely a highlight here. Without him, I wonder how the show would have fared.

To expand on why Jack isn’t a good character here, he has to compromise on his ideals far too often and doesn’t seem to have a shred of will power left. He decides to commit suicide after not being able to save a bunch of kids, but all that will do is doom even more people. He decides not to help a village that is being destroyed because he’s tired of being a hero. By the time he changes his mind and goes there, everyone is already dead. Jack even got a bunch of clever nicknames on Youtube as a result since he certainly seems to have gotten more ruthless over the years. His new (pretty bad) design didn’t help matters either. They really dropped the ball on this.

While Jack may have been butchered as a character, he still got some pretty good lines during the season. “It always seems bad at first, but then I find a way” or “I will give you a new choice. Turn back now or stay and face your destiny.” Those may not be word for word, but they were pretty intense. The latter especially as it comes from the preview for one of the first episodes. It was the most exciting preview and easily one of the best Toonami previews of all time. The music for that one was also pretty awesome and it will make you wish for some good tunes in the actual show.

Ashi is the main heroine and she’s a pretty decent character. She gets the short end of the stick on this show, but it was nice to finally have another supporting character who could fight. It’s a shame that we then had to throw romance into the picture and that we couldn’t see Ashi’s true form appear more. She was a good character and probably the best member in the series. She’s as brutal as Jack thanks to her origin and also mows everyone down during the course of the series. She got significantly weaker after turning good, but that’s to be expected. I like the concept of her character more than the execution, but she definitely wasn’t bad.

Scaramouche was great in the first episode. He made for a really good villain and his tuning fork is a potent weapon. That being said, his character was wasted in the rest of his appearances. The show just didn’t know what to do with him. His voice really helped to sell the character if you ask me. I already talked about how great Aku was so I don’t really need to go into it. He was just on point and while the show made him a little too powerful, (Jack can only win with plot hax) it made for an interesting dynamic. Aku is evil, but he doesn’t seem like a mean guy compared to the other villains. It’s something that I wouldn’t mind more titles playing around with. To an extent, Fairy Tail did this with Zeref for a while, but then he suddenly became full psychotic while trying to convince people that he was a nice guy.

The animation is basically the same as the old Jack show. It’s a little more streamlined and modern as the colors are sharper and the contrast works well. That being said, it’s still not my kind of animation and I wish they’d switch it to something more modern. The show looks very dated and I’ve seen 90’s shows that look a lot sharper. Just check out DBZ or Pokemon. The fight scenes are also a big step down from the old series. That one could have fights that lasted the entire episode and they happened multiple times. All of the fights in the 2nd half of the series are short and the first half felt long and intricate but also super violent and bloody.

There isn’t really much of a soundtrack here. The classic Jack end theme is still around for most of the episodes which was pretty cool. I’m not really a fan of the theme song either. I typically don’t care for narration in my openings as it should just be illustrated through the lyrics and animation. If the show can’t do that, then it just needs to try again until it can pull this off.

The show is only 10 episodes so you’ll be able to get through it in a breeze. I can’t say that there is any real replay value to be found here at all. It may help convince you to re watch the old series again though so that would definitely be a good side effect of watching this one. At the very least, Samurai Jack serves as a cautionary tale to other old cartoons that fans want to get a new season. Odds are that the new season won’t be able to live up to the original episodes and it’ll just throw mud onto your cherished memories.

Before ending this review I should at least come up with one positive fro the show. It’s not a 0 so it’s not as if the show had 0 potential. What it did do well was establish a pretty apocalyptic atmosphere. It’s clear that Aku has won the war when the season picks up. Everything that I say here refers to the first 3 episodes by the way. The rest of the season became a complete trainwreck. The episode with Ashi and Jack teaming up in the factory was the final episode to try and salvage itself. Still, the first 3 episodes were pretty hype. There was a nice level of intensity and flare to each episode and the fights had real stakes. While the daughters of Aku were nerfed, they still felt like a nice threat. Seeing Jack use a variety of weapons instead of his sword was also interesting since he is a master in virtually every form of combat. If the episodes had been handled in the same vein as the original show, I think that these three episodes could have easily reached a solid 9. It wasn’t to be, but at least Jack never got boring during this trilogy. It really should have come out as some kind of 70 minute movie.

To address the ending, I can safely say that it wasn’t satisfying. As mentioned earlier, I wanted a big final fight. Even if we ignore the fact that we got cheated out of that, it’s just pretty mean spirited to Jack. The show basically just got him a companion just so they could take her away at the end so he could die alone. Jack also got over it a little too quickly in that last butterfly scene. I would have much preferred it if Jack had simply gone to the past, defeated Jack in a very long drawn out fight, and then became King. It would have been so much more effective and concise. That or have a big team up with Aku against a new villain, but I somehow feel like fans wouldn’t like that option very much.

Overall, Samurai Jack deserved another season, but it didn’t need one. This season could have had a lot of potential since you can always make another story arc for Jack since he is immortal and the world is extremely large. Unfortunately this season couldn’t even decide what it wanted to do and half of the season felt like filler. The show could have ended on a more epic note after the first 3 episodes. It would have been a pretty conclusive ending. It even could have adapted episode 10 just without Ashi. Make no mistake, the show wouldn’t have gotten a positive score or anything since that would fix nothing, but you wouldn’t be missing out on anything by cutting the other 6 episodes out. The poorly constructed romance and pointless cameo of the Scotsman could have been left on the shelf. Next time you think about watching this show…don’t.

Overall 3/10

Agent Carter Review

It’s time to finally review the Agent Carter show. I have to admit that I got off on the wrong foot with this shoe right from the get go since the first episode was pretty bad. While the show mostly never got quite that bad again, it did suffer from a fairly unlikable cast and a rather boring plot. Not much of note ends up happening in this series and while you can argue that this is the point of a spinoff, I would counter with a Scientific Railgun. I do think this show beats Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but the latter is certainly more exciting. All right, lets dig into this review!

The show takes place before Peggy helped found SHIELD. While you may have thought that the point of the show was getting to see her form the team, that never happens so you should try to forget about that. She works with the SSR, but they don’t respect her because she is a lady. This also means that most of the guys don’t know how to do their jobs so Peggy has to help them all constantly. There are only 18 episodes between the two seasons so the show is fairly short, but each season has a plot. The first one involves villains stealing a lot of Stark tech and now Peggy has to get it all back. The second involves a corrupt politician and a lady who learns how to use dark matter. Peggy may not have any fancy super powers or anything like that, but she has a can do attitude and a lot of “witty” comebacks. The villains will have to tread carefully.

In case you can’t tell, I didn’t like Peggy Carter at all. She does a very terrible job of holding up the show and usually just helps to bring it down. I could go on a long rant about Peg, but lets just stick to the basics. For starters, she’s the tough female lead. That’s her character trope and she doesn’t get much personality beyond that. That’s fine, we’ve had many good characters like that such as Wonder Woman, Medaka Kurokami, Bra, (From Dragon Ball Multiverse anyway) and Dorothy from MAR. The issue with Peggy is that it feels very artificial. Medaka is an exaggerated version of the trope, but the series has fun with it and hey, Medaka actually is pretty tough. She could easily destroy planets by the end of the series. Wonder Woman is self explanatory as she’s a very strong character, but also has a winning personality. Dorothy’s nice and vicious and isn’t afraid to brutally murder someone if she feels like it. Bra just beats up everyone and then insults them afterwards. For Peggy, the writers seemed to think that people wouldn’t take her seriously so they really overplayed their hand by underplaying it.

In the very first episode, Peggy has to use her feminine wiles to solve the case. Naturally, she spits after going through with the plan to show us all that she’s tough and that doing this wasn’t personal. Sure…doesn’t change the fact that her skills as an agent were not enough and this is only the first episode. James Bond does this as well, but he’s one of the worst characters in cinema history (Lets not go extreme folks. Just main characters) and I’d put him in the tr-sh tier. Peggy’s not quite that awful. I just don’t get the logic from the writer’s point of view. This was literally the very first episode of the series, how are we supposed to take her seriously after that? She spends the rest of the series knocking guys out and getting a lot of verbal burns in. To help show that she’s the tough one of the group, her partner is Jarvis. A very frail, weak man who can’t fight for beans and is always very nervous. Ah, I see what the writers are doing here. The contrast will make her appear to be even tougher eh? Very slick guys!

Maybe….mayyyyybe this could have worked….but then the romance sets in. If you thought Carter was unbearably annoying in the first season, she gets worse in the second. A random joe shows up and they basically fall in love at first sight. Remember the guy from season 1? Forget about him, Carter’s ready for a new fellow this time around. Unfortunately, the guy turns out to be someone who lets others step on him and joins the villains. He quickly joins up with the heroes again on his dying breath and that’s that. Carter gets over it, but these romances aren’t really helping her toughness angle. Carter is also used for fanservice on more than one occasion which doesn’t help either. The worst part though is the fact that Peggy just isn’t a likable character. There was never a moment where I thought…”Here’s a good character”. None of her scenes really gave me that impression.

No worries, her supporting cast is just as bad. Lets start with Howard. You’ll remember him as Tony Stark’s father? Well, he has all of Tony’s bad qualities without possessing any of his good ones. He’s just another guy who flirts with everyone and it’s supposed to be endearing and funny. It’s funny in a “Ah man, when’s this guy gonna leave the screeeeen” *cue fake polite smile* way. He is supposed to be smart, but since the villains are always getting the best of him and his stuff keep getting stolen, I’m going to go on a limb here and say that he’s not very smart. Luckily, he doesn’t appear all that often.

We’ve got Jarvis at the ready and I guess he’s the best character. He’s portrayed as incredibly inept at just about everything and it’s handled well. I typically tend to like that kind of character, but they can be handled badly. He’s fun to have around and the only annoying part was his spat with Carter towards the end of the series where he decided to go in a full rage mode. I was actually on his side as opposed to Carter’s (Okay…I guess that’s not a surprise) but he really made his side look terrible by being held hostage. Now that was just embarrassing. He may never get to be all that tough, but at least we finally got to see him in the Cinematic Universe.

Next up is Jack. He’s the “tough” male lead. Oh boy…this isn’t going to end well for him is it? If that’s what you’re thinking, then you’re absolutely right! He starts off as a fairly intimidating character of course and he’s actually decently good at his job. This goes downhill fast though as he gets to see some real action in a gun fight. This traumatizes him and he freezes up so Carter has to come to the rescue. She promises not to tell anyone though. Jack’s never the same after that and then he’s naive enough to trust the villains and allow bribery to slow him down until one of the very last episodes. Ultimately, he does break away and decides to blow up a building, even though an innocent man is still inside. Hey…at least he’s hardcore right? Jack never seems to do all that well against the villains, but he is good at taking the credit. He’s the kind of character that you want to like, but just isn’t actually good enough to be likable. If he’d win a little more, then that would definitely help quite a lot.

Uh oh, we’ve got another “tough” character. Daniel is quite easily one of the worst characters in the show and that’s saying something. Here’s the problem, Daniel has crutches because one of his legs is basically broken, but the show still wants to paint him as one of the best agents in the business. This resorts in completely unbelievable battle scenes where he beat someone even though he can’t actually stand upright. He’s essentially beating them up while holding on to his crutch. I don’t care how little battle experience these thugs have, I just could not believe it. The show didn’t do a good job of convincing me of it at all. It gets a little worse for Daniel when he becomes Daniel the rebound guy. Basically, Peggy wouldn’t go out with him so he just finds someone else and then they get into a super
“serious” relationship. Daniel immediately breaks it off when Peggy’s other boyfriend dies off since he now has a chance and she’s eager for the rebound. It makes both of the characters look so shallow and petty the entire time. They are basically just using everyone else until the situation is just right for them to get together.

Dooley was a fairly good SSR boss to have. He was also rather naive though and talking to one of the big villains in his office with the door closed was not a smart move. I don’t put any stock into the whole hypnotism thing so that was just embarrassing for him to fall for. He got a dramatic end though as he broke into a pretty intense sprint with the most high budget explosion of the series. Everyone finally started to get their act together after that moment.

Dottie was one of the main villains of the series. She’s pretty tough and acts as Peggy’s main rival. She’s also involved for most of the series violence. Carter’s typically not that violent although Dottie getting tortured was pretty high up there and the implied death to the crazy dentist. I don’t recall much more than that and it’s a lot more tame than Agents of SHIELD. Dottie’s a fairly good character and she certainly has a very twisted personality. I think it’s safe to say that she’s the best villain of the series. Her boss was more of a generic evil scientist so he didn’t steal the show quite as effectively.

Whitney was the big boss for season 2. She may not have had Dottie’s experience, but she got alien abilities where she could zap people with black energy and destroy them pretty easily. She just needs to grab an opponent to defeat them so she was fairly overpowered. There wasn’t much that the heroes could do to stop her so they utilized the powers of plot hax. It’s economical and effective. She wasn’t bad, but she did use her powers to destroy a lot of mice so that definitely hurt quite a bit. She was also maybe a little too eager to have some help from Jason with the experiments since I don’t see how he could have offered much help at all. She got most of the last laughs though and I can safely say that Jason did not have a pleasant time.

Jason was the annoying love interest from season 2 that I mentioned earlier. He doesn’t last that long though and his character circle from “likable” supporting character to villain to heroic death dude was very rushed. I never really got to like the guy. His plan wasn’t great though and getting strapped down and tortured by the villains should have been an inevitability that he saw coming given how he really couldn’t trust any of those guys for beans.

Aloysius is a scientist who showed up in season 2. I had to bring him up because he’s pretty crazy. His romance is probably the worst in the entire show and he just acts like a jerk to everyone for no real reason. That’s when he’s at his best of course. The romance just ruins him though and there wasn’t much of a point to his character. He had his funny moments, but they were few and far between. Still, I guess it’s good to have a disgruntled employee into the main cast mix once in a while to spice things up. Other minor characters that I didn’t get to discuss include Jarvis’ wife. She’s a likable character who definitely has a lot of spirit. We’ve got the corrupt politician who’s just annoying. There’s a gangster boss who helps Whitney out in season 2. He was all right, but never really got past the “generic gangster” bit.

This show just suffers from the ripple effect. You know how people say that a really good character can make everyone around him good and improve the show as a whole? Well, the reverse must logically be true as well. Since I didn’t care for Peggy or the show as a whole, it makes sense that the rest of it would appear to be negative as well. I feel like they all helped to bring each other down and that’s why they all seemed pretty unlikable to me by the end. I also just don’t really have any fond memories of this show. It’s not as if it’s rotten to the core, but I don’t see any real reason to recommend it either.

Of course, I don’t expect many live action shows to get a positive rating as it is. It’s why I don’t watch very many of them. At the moment, the only live action show I’m even watching is Agents of Shield. Live action television has never really been able to do all that well and I think it’s because cartoons are just able to perform any plot a lot better. Live action is always limited by its budget and ditto for the action scenes since actors/actresses can only perform so well. An animated character doesn’t have to worry about choreography and can just launch into any battle. As a result, they’re typically a lot more fun. That’s not even getting into the soundtrack differences.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Agent Carter. There are certainly better things to do with your time than watch this title. It doesn’t really add just about anything to the mythos and you certainly won’t be missing any important tidbits of information if you skip the series. I’d sooner recommend watching a recent action movie like Avengers Confidential where the action scenes are incredibly good and the Punisher gets his best portrayal of all time. If Peggy ever gets a film, hopefully it takes place when she is actually a SHIELD Agent so there can be some more stakes or she can time travel and help the heroes on an alien planet or something. Adding in some sci-fi elements never hurt.

Overall 3/10

Kino’s Journey Review

It’s time for an anime review! It’s been a little while since I reviewed one so it’s time to get back in the swing of things. Unfortunately, Kino’s Journey is one of the weakest anime that I have seen in a long while and doesn’t hold up well. Despite the dated animation and unlikable characters, the show does have something going for it. Kino’s Journey is only 13 episodes. Beyond that, it’s a pretty tough ride and not a title that I would recommend for aspiring anime fans.

Kino’s journey is about a girl who drives around on her talking motorrad. She is a traveler, which means that she has no place to call home and simply visits towns as she travels the world. Her only rule is that she can never stay in a place for more than 3 days. She gets to see the worst of humanity and its best. Just about all of the episodes are stand alone adventures and some episodes even have 2-3 stories within them. As with most anthologies, this means that some episodes are good while others are really bad. Unfortunately, the latter is usually the case. Since the series is so short, lets take a look at most of the episodes.

The first episode has a Twilight Zone esque feel as Kino arrives in a town where machines do everything. Humans now live by themselves and avoid each other. The reason for this is that they have mastered telepathy and now know each other’s dark secrets. They are all so dark and mysterious that they can’t even look at each other. Kino listens to the sad tale and drives off, admiring the irony of how they originally just wanted to get to know each other better. This was a good way to start the series. It was an interesting episode and the plot was sound. It may not be very exciting, but it was decent enough.

Unfortunately, the second episode was the worst in the series and shot the series right into the gutter. Kino was driving across a snowy mountain when she noticed three human traffickers dying of hunger and thirst. She quickly murders a few rabbits and give them to these crooks, but not before they ate the people they were carrying. Kino quickly dashes off and realizes that she should have spared the rabbits instead of the humans, but 20/20 hindsight won’t be winning Kino any points. The episode is so dark and grim that it’ll just make you shake your head. Reading memes about Harambe is more thought provoking than this episode as Kino just proves that she has a lot more respect for saving humans than animals. The series really never recovered from this episode.

The third episode is an anthology inside of anthology. It was a little on the boring side since most of the stories didn’t have enough time to actually do anything. The first story is all right as a guy states that the world will be ending soon, but then another guy says that he counted the days wrong so it won’t be ending quite yet. Kino takes the opportunity to nab as much free food as she can and heads out. Another town showed up, which lived only to entertain travelers. Kino got out of there quickly to ensure the town’s demise. Well, the episode was a lot better than the second one.

Next was the episode where we finally saw Kino’s origin story. She lived in a twisted town where all kids had to undergo an operation to turn into adults. Luckily, a guy named Kino showed up. He was a traveler so he didn’t want to interfere, but when he saw that the town was going to murder Kino, he quickly stepped in. They murdered him and went to get Kino, but she escaped on the motorrad. This was the turning point where she lost her personality, design, and character in exchange for gun skills. It was a pretty fun episode and it shows how many towns are actually pretty twisted and you have to either get with the program of get out. I recommend the latter.

The 5th episode was fairly interesting even if it was a little repetitive. Kino discovers a land where there is an infinite cycle made by 4-5 guys. One guy spends his whole life taking apart the tracks, another guy spends his life putting them back, another guy polishes them, etc. They are all working together, but don’t see the other guys since they are a few miles apart. This means that none of them will ever make any progress or be able to return home to their families. It’s a shame, but they are getting paid so I suppose they should be grateful for that. Not to mention the fact that they technically could go home, but choose not to do so for some crazy reason. Kino decides not to mention any of this since she doesn’t want to change the customs and just tells them stories as she rides on. This was a good, calm episode.

The next two episodes contained the tournament saga. These episodes were the only ones with real action behind them so that was neat. Kino entered a tournament where she had to fight a lot of opponents to the death. Kino wanted to win without destroying anyone and steadily climbed the ranks. Then she realized that the leader was pretty corrupt so she decided to break her traveler law and shoot the guy in the face. A pretty dramatic Hunger Games esque ending to that event. Well, the tourney was pretty fun, but Kino was a jerk to everyone as per usual. She refused to keep anyone in the loop and just did what she wanted when she wanted to. At least this proved that she is certainly a very good fighter and someone who should be feared. It was a fun two parter.

The next episode had Kino be a supporting character for once as another character decided to build a plane. She did pretty good and completed the task. There’s not much to this episode, but there’s nothing wrong with it either. If anything, the main character was a definite improvement over Kino so that’s always a good thing. The one after that involved a land where books are forbidden aside from really family friendly ones. Naturally, that means that Kino didn’t like the books since she needs something with a little more edge to it. She meets a delusional author who believes that reality is fake and everyone starts chasing each other and the episode loses its sense of purpose by the end. There were fires and a lot of crazy stuff, but the episode was pretty jumbled and didn’t make too much sense by the end. It was all right I suppose, but Kino really needs to stop getting in everyone’s way if she’s not actually going to do anything to help.

Episode 10 saw Kino head to a house where the family were robots. It takes Kino a really long time to figure this out, but at least it means that she will get free meals all the time. Kino ultimately decides to move on, but it was a decent enough resting place I suppose. Robots get more realistic each day eh? The next episode was another anthology esque episode where Kino remembers the good ole days. There’s a boat and a lot of stories, but we can skim over this episode as well. It wasn’t really an attention grabber. The last two episodes certainly are, but I’m afraid that this is not in a good way.

Kino heads to another evil country where two powerful lands have decided to band together and murder people for sport. Whoever murders the most people wins. The two lands do this every so often and are pretty proud of themselves. Kino doesn’t bother to stop them or do anything about it since she’s just a traveler, but she does take a few shots at the people who are being murdered. In her defense, they tried to murder her first as it’s their past time to let their aggression go after being hunted. It’s a pretty vicious cycle of violence, but as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter to Kino if her neck isn’t on the line. She just drives off. It’s another really dark episode that makes you really dislike Kino.

Finally, we have another really dark episode. Kino heads to a town that is about to be destroyed in three days. The adults know it, but most of the kids do not. The parents have decided that the kids have to die alongside them, but they’ll spare Kino. Kino doesn’t know about this until she leaves and sees that everyone has died. Well, at least Kino has lived so now she can go watch more tragedies and suffering with the strange traditions that people have. Not a bad plan eh? Kino’s Journey decides to end the series on this low note and I do have to question a lot of its decisions.

As you can guess, I really didn’t like Kino. She’s easily one of the worst anime main characters that I’ve come across. By visiting all of these lands and not actually interfering unless it’s something that personally offends her, Kino is basically an accomplice to the crime. She can fight and actually could help people out, but purposefully chooses not to do so. There’s really no point to her journey and she should feel ashamed for making all of these bad decisions. Injuring animals, Watching people die, chatting it up with the villains, you just have to wonder whose side Kino’s on. She seems to just be in it for the thrills. Her cold personality is certainly fitting then as she always gives very vague answers, acts rude to everyone that she talks too, and also has a pretty bland design. There’s really nothing to like about Kino and it’s a shame since she was fairly all right in the flash back episode.

The only other real character in the show is the motorrad. The motorrad is fairly bland was well though as half of his lines are just repeating what Kino just said or asking a really obvious question. The motorrad was always super annoying and the voice was so raspy that you just knew that he was doing it on purpose. I don’t blame him since Kino’s no mean all of the time, but I was never invested in any of the characters. I think the old Kino could have ended up being more interesting, but at the same time maybe not. The other Kino also didn’t like to interfere, but he did prove that he would help in a pinch when he saved the current Kino. That makes me think that he has a slightly stronger moral compass. A shame that current Kino couldn’t learn from his example.

The animation is rather sub par and certainly one of the weakest ones that you will be seeing. The colors are all pretty faded out and you’ll notice that they reuse a lot of scenes to save on the budget. Watch out for Kino’s daily gun practice and how she starts up the bike in every episode. It just gets annoying after a while and even if the animation isn’t great, the show could have used some nice backgrounds to bluff its way past that. The show just looks a lot older than it actually is. It came out in 2003 and yet the original seasons of shows like Pokemon and One Piece can take it on. That’s a little sad. The soundtrack is also not very good. The theme song’s a little on the boring side and the music inside each of the episodes is very lifeless. You’ll forget the tunes as soon as they pop up. That’s not a great way to make people more excited about the actual episodes. Not by a long shot!

The main problem with Kino’s journey is just how dark and depressing the whole show is. There is nobody to root for and Kino herself drags the show down. If it wants to go the Twilight Zone route and have episodes where we can see places with a lot of strangeness, then tragic endings can work a little better. It still shouldn’t go as extreme as Kino’s last two though. However, by having Kino around, it makes the whole thing worse since the victims have Kino right there to help them, but she decides not to do so. It’s like having a villain as the main character and that’s no fun.

Finally, the show tries to be deep and thoughtful in its own way with text in between the episodes and scattered at random points. Kino will also beat you over the head with a message at the end of every episode. The problem is that most of the dialogue ends up feeling very obvious or just like rambling. At least Serial Experiments Lain had aliens show up and cool conspiracies and fights. Lain also had a much better atmosphere and characters. I didn’t even like Lain all that much, but you can feel the difference. Lain is what Kino’s Journey wanted to be, but could never reach.

Overall, Kino’s Journey is not a good anime. The animal violence is terrible and the episodes can get way too grim. If this show is supposed to be a calming experience, then it is clearly failing at that. The show also needed a far more likable pair of main characters if it wanted to get anywhere. Some plots never really went anywhere and just showed up to buy time like Kino training her gun skills every night. We get it, she can fight, but do we need whole minutes of her taking the gun out and putting it away again? That kind of training isn’t very fun if there’s no payoff and there should have at least been some music in the scenes. Ugh, I recommend watching just about anything else that I’ve reviewed instead. If you want a dark anime that handles itself well, watch Madoka Magica instead. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in the slightest.

Overall 3/10

Dimension W Review

It’s time to take a look at a recent anime. Dimension W is only 12 episodes long so it is definitely a short title. Nonetheless, it makes sure to give us some filler episodes here and there to “keep it real” for those of you who prefer not to have a big plot. Unfortunately, the show is quite terrible no matter what it tries to do and ends up making a bigger mess the longer that it goes on. While the show could have at least tried to go for a 6 towards the very, very beginning, it continued to shoot itself in the foot right up through to the very end.

This show takes place in the future. Another dimensional axis has been discovered and it has been called Dimension W. Through this dimension, Earth can now receive unlimited energy and essentially making companies like General Electric obsolete. To control this unlimited energy, towers were placed around the world and while the Earth still suffers from just about every modern day problem, lack of electricity is no longer one of them. The problem is that Dimension W can be a little unstable and that is an issue because it is what’s used to power “coils.” Think of coils as batteries that run on this new form of energy. Everything uses them now and they have revolutionized how people live their lives.

The downside of being so dependent on Dimension W is that when the energy goes out for a little while, so does everything else. Dimension W’s energy allows you to do things like enhance weapons and even travel through time. Naturally, this means that people also want to use it to further their own ambitions. In the center of all this is Kyouma. He is a bounty hunter who takes down villains, but he does it the old fashioned way. This guy doesn’t like coils because they were involved with the death of someone he knew back in the day. He gets along just fine anyway, but one day a scientist blows himself up and his robot (Mira) decides to join up with Kyouma.

Seeing as how Kyouma is a bounty hunter who also collects Coils to give to the people who hire him (Or just to destroy them) Mira figures that being around him will help her achieve her goals. Before the scientist died, he told Mira to find all of the coils for some reason. She doesn’t know the specifics, but a little thing like that won’t stop her. This is essentially the pre arc as they have a lot of adventures along the way. The main plot starts when a rich guy hires a bunch of collectors (The bounty hunters who capture coils) to go find the original numbered coil on Easter Island.

This gets personal for Kyouma because that’s where he was wrecked so convincingly that he lost his memories. It’s also the reason why his friend died. Still, he heads on over and he’ll have to fight quite a lot to get out of there alive. Especially since the other Collectors aren’t exactly team players and Salva (The rich guy) can’t be trusted. This should have been epic, but it simply wasn’t to be. Let’s start with some negatives before we talk about the characters.

For starters, this anime falls for the oldest trick in the book, the trap of fanservice. The main heroine is a robot, but she is (Of course) very well crafted so the anime constantly has her be scanned as fanservice for the show. Mix that in with a whole episode where she is stuck in a bath towel and other shenanigans throughout the show and you get some sad scenes. Salva is the rich villain who appears midway through the show and he doesn’t help matters. He uses a bind technique to inflict pain to his assistant and naturally this affects her in a specific area. Unfortunately, she has been brainwashed to the point where she still serves and admires him the entire time. It is very twisted and even more so when the show tries to present Salva as a good guy by the end. I really hope nobody actually bought that and it was going to be impossible to make him likable after his initial scene. It’s simply not going to happen.

The show is also very boring and tries to take all of the most boring cliches that it can find and merges them into a single episode. We get a mystery “thriller” where the heroes end up getting knocked into the past thanks to Dimension W and find out that people were still fairly sinister even back in the day. Another filler saga shows how a guy murders a security guy for no reason and as a result, all of his friends end up drowning. He’s left with two options, try to save a few people or save his girlfriend. (Who tripped and sprained her ankle so she can’t move) He ends up cracking in one timeline and doesn’t do much of anything while an alternate him tried to help people. Either way, they end up toast so it didn’t matter much and the guy was not sympathetic. The entire thing would have been avoided if he had not murdered the innocent security guard.

For some more context, he was trying to hide a body that his friend murdered in self defense, but didn’t have the confidence to back up her story before the cops. That’s why he decided to drown the evidence and murder someone else to increase the body count. It was a terrible story. Another boring installment to the series was the series of flashbacks that we got for Kyouma. We kept on seeing the same things time after time after time. I was glad when he finally got his memories back to we wouldn’t have to keep revisiting them. The problem is that they were still boring.

His old friend who died thanks to a malfunction of the coils didn’t feel like much of a character. She appeared and instantly fell for the main guy, but it felt forced. It was just there for our cliche romance and to make the main character have a tragic backstory. Getting stuck behind a bus somehow was also a very odd scenario that doesn’t seem all that realistic or likely. Instead of getting over it, Kyouma’s memory loss is an excuse for him to suddenly have a lot of doubts in the final episode. He’s a bad character without all that, but it meant a few more minutes of nothing happening while Mira had to jump in his mind Sailor Moon style.

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about why Kyouma is a bad main character. For starters, he is not heroic nor is he even close to that. He tries to punch Mira in the face after being frustrated at how badly he was humiliated in one case. Sure, Mira’s a robot, but she’s also a robot of a fairly young teenager and the principle of punching her in the face is quite sad. Luckily, Kyouma basically broke his wrist on the punch and decided not to do that again. He spends the entire show calling Mira names and insulting her. It’s supposed to be endearing, but I don’t think that plot line ever turns out to be endearing in the end and it just makes him look overly mean. Kyouma only cared about himself and while the show tries to prove to you how good Kyouma is deep down…I’m not buying it. He even goes into a rampage and attacks his old friend who saved his life many times over the years. That’s not being very grateful.
Mira is around for most of the series, but never turns into a good character. When she’s not being insulted or used for fanservice, we are reminded that since she is an android, she is technically fairly strong. She just never exhibits this and when she finally starts to fight more, she is outclassed by random robots who have been sleeping for decades. Yes, this show isn’t very nice to her. Even kids end up picking on her. Mira tries her best to be a nice robot and follow the rules, but she is simply too much of a pushover. She should have left Kyouma to find her own way a long time ago.

Loser was easily the best character in the show. He wants to collect the numbers so that he could go back in time and save his wife from being destroyed by the main villain. (Haruka) He has to do this very cautiously so that nobody suspects anything and gets the reputation of being a loser since he always fails his “mission” but actually ends up succeeding in his primary goal. Unlike Haruka, his motivations are ones that I can get behind and he proves to be a likable character from the start. He has a lot of plans and he treats his assistant (Elizabeth) with respect. The two of them make for a good team and since Elizabeth is a kid, it’s easy for her to go places without arousing suspicion.

As good as Loser is though, he’s only human. That puts him at a bit of a disadvantage when up against guys with powers like Kyouma (Mild super physical stats) and Albert. He has gauntlets which can amp up his physical power and he has some fire tech as well, but most of it is never shown. His only big fight in the series is completely off screen and he decides to let his guard down when fighting Haruka and gets crushed. He goes out in a very anticlimactic way which was disappointing. Despite all that, he was easily still the best. Personality trumps combat results after all.

Albert (How is this is name? Either the dub changed it or my memory is really out of whack. The name also doesn’t really fit the character imo) was my second favorite character. He’s a nice guy who works for the government. This often puts him at odds with Kyouma even though they don’t need to be. Kyouma just likes to stir up trouble for no good reason. Albert is a good fighter and an excellent sniper. He was one of the only survivors of the tragic mission due to his impressive skills. It can be hard to understand what his stake in the whole matter is since he treats everything like a game, but at the very least he seems to have heroic intentions/goals.

Haruka is the main villain and he fills all the stereotypes of “Evil Mad Scientist” 101. He wants to change things to prove that his teacher’s invention was actually awesome. It was taken by the government so Haruka decided to use the original Coil to destroy everyone, but the heroes stopped him. Luckily, he was able to keep on existing within dreams so he traveled through dreams into the present time and reclaimed his throne. He decided to use this strategy to do the plan all over again. He wasn’t ready for a positive dream though, which led to his demise. There’s nothing that makes this guy interesting at all. It probably would have helped (A little bit) if he could fight, but he can’t really do that either. In the end, he’s really just a ghost from the past who gets one last laugh.

Lwai is a cyborg who meets up with Kyouma and has some cross dressing adventures for his debut. He then proceeds to get completely wrecked by KK, the assasin. He has multiple bodies so he’s okay for now, but it does show that he’lll need to train some more. He’s not tooooo bad, but the fact that he follows Salva and doesn’t realize how corrupt the guy is can be a bit much. This is the part of the show where he would typically confront his brother and remind him how to be a hero. We don’t get any of that, although there isn’t much time for it either since Salva is knocked unconscious for most of his screen time.

The other bounty hunters who arrive on Easter Island all try to be hardcore and tough, but they end up being rather shallow. I would have liked the American one a lot since he was strong and had a good design, but he also had James Bond qualities to him, which destroyed his chances. KK randomly turned out to be an inside agent and started taking them all down one by one. His method of attack was decent I suppose, but he focused so much on mind games that he forgot how to fight by the end. The two drillers also didn’t really have a purpose in the story and they were just around for laughs.

The animation for the show was decent, but not nearly as good as it seemed to think. Most of the into is about Kyouma dancing to show off how smooth the animation is, but instead it came off as rather flat. Scenes that should have been used for action were just wasted. Plus, it’s easy to look decent when the show doesn’t have all that much action. The animation is still good, but it’s definitely nothing great and I’ve seen shows a few years older that looked better like Sword Art Online.

The music was all right as well, but it was on the bland side. The only memorable theme is the ending theme. It would pop up in some episodes as they were ending. That theme was fairly catchy and did a good job of making the episode’s cliffhanger feel a little more epic, but that’s it. A whole show can’t rely on one or two good themes if the rest are super bland and nonexistent. Maybe if Dimension W had more of an idea of where it wanted to go with the whole concept, then things could have turned out a little better. As it stands, I’m glad that the show was only 12 episodes.
Overall, Dimension W just was not a good show. As you read above, it simply made too many mistakes and rare did anything right at all. Whenever a promising moment started to approach like a big fight or some kind of hype scene, it would be quickly destroyed. Loser’s big fight against the American hero? That ends without us getting to really see any of it although we still get strategic “hype” talk as the villains mentions how strong Loser is. Kyouma gets a rage mode, but it is quickly nullified because of a plot twist and it didn’t do much for the show because KK barely even tried to fight back. The time travel shenanigans ultimately had no point except to pad out the episode count and buy some time. If the show had played it straight with no fanservice and annoying characters, then this show had potential. Still, you can say that for most shows so I won’t give Dimension W any credit here. It simply failed totally and completely. Also, the show had some animal violence at the very end involving some innocent mice so that’s another problem to add to the bucket list.

Overall 3/10

Fate/Zero Review

The Fate franchise has always been one of the more intense series. Fate Stay Night is probably the only anime that I’ve seen that I would consider to be part horror. (Mostly action) Now, a case can be made that it doesn’t deserve to be called a horror and that I should count Serial Experiments Lain as a horror as well. Both are compelling arguments and they would be interesting to debate, but Fate Stay Night wasn’t your average tournament series. Fate/Zero is known as the superior prequel that shatters Fate Stay Night in every way. Fate/Zero did have some strong points, but I would say that they ended up getting a little too extreme in their quest to be the grittiest mainstream anime. Want a series that’s darker and more filled with despair than Attack on Titan? You’ve come to the right place!

I can confirm that this won’t exactly be the most positive anime review that I’ve done in a while so the fans who think of Fate/Zero as the greatest anime of all time (Or one of them) may want to brace themselves. Instead of dividing this review up into all of the goods and then all of the negatives, I’ll try to spread it around a bit so that the review doesn’t completely tilt to one side to soon. First off, let’s look at the plot.

Naturally, Fate/Zero is a pretty complex anime so this is just a summarization for the overall plot. I’ll get into the character motivations in their individual sections. There is an item by the name of the Holy Grail and once every 20 years it appears to grant the winner of the Fate tournament. 6 candidates are chosen and 6 servants are summoned. Everyone gets a partner and the matchup is based off of a person’s true feelings. The Saber class is supposed to be the strongest, but each of them have their own pros and cons. Will the Grail be used for good or for evil? Nothing is black and white in this show of course, but you will likely figure out who you aren’t supposed to root for. (Caster) Let the games begin!

Now, I could have talked about more of the rules and such, but there are a bunch of them. The important thing to know is that you must destroy the other servants to win and get the human masters to abandon their command seals. If they don’t want too, then you have to take them out as well. The winner gets to make his wish on the Holy Grail and that’s how the tournament works. A church is also there to make sure that everyone is following the rules and not allowing civilians to find out about this secret tournament. (Although the humans wouldn’t be able to do all that much about it) Since the human masters may be a little outmatched if they are bi themselves or something, you are allowed to use one of three command seals to command your servant to appear at your side or for any other order that you need to win the tournament. (Although, some of the masters can fight) This show has a huge cast so let’s discuss some of them.

Saber isn’t the main character, but she’s easily the most iconic figure in the franchise. It’s easy to see why since her design really stands out and her drawing Excalibur is probably the best poster for the show. She wants to win the Holy Grail for her own purposes, which aren’t really stated very clearly here because she has no real reason to trust the humans all that much. We really see her goals in the Fate Stay Night show where she finally begins to trust the humans. We can’t blame her though because every time she tries to trust backfires. Her master is Kiritsugu after all and he backstabs people for a living. Saber’s ideals clash with the other 2 great kings and it makes for some pretty interesting dialogues that I will mention later on. Saber’s a very good character and she’s easily the most heroic from all of the characters. (Most of the characters in this series don’t really possess that quality)

Unfortunately, I do have one big problem with Saber. She is of the Saber class so she is supposed to easily be the strongest servant in the entire tournament, but she never shows this. We saw how often she lost in the Fate Stay Night anime, but I somehow figured that she would look a lot better in this show. She loses more times than she wins and she’s always on the defensive. She easily crushes one Rider in their spar, but she doesn’t look good against Lancer, (X2-3) Caster, Archer, Berserker, etc. It’s okay if she isn’t the strongest, but she should definitely not be one of the weakest. Only Assassin appears to be weaker than her and that’s not really how this is supposed to work out. She’s almost a parody of the main fighter in that respect, but at least she keeps her ideals throughout the tournament. Her disdain for Kiritsugu is appreciated and it’s too bad that she needs to win the Grail so badly or she could have tried to betray him so that she could save more lives. In the end, Saber is easily the best hero in the show and she deserves to be remembered as the most popular character from the Fate franchise. I just wish that she could get some kind of power up.
Kiritsugu is the main character and he’s easily one of the worst ones that I’ve seen in a while. To start with, I don’t consider him to be a hero in the slightest. You know the kind of villains who believe that they are bringing harmony to the world and that they’re the true heroes? That’s the best way to describe Kiritsugu. All that he does is to “save the world” and he really believes in his conviction. Whether that makes him more sympathetic or even more despicable is up to you, but it didn’t do any wonders for me. I consider him to be one of the big villains and at least Fate/Zero doesn’t try too hard to convince us otherwise. Other shoes would really force us to see a heroic side of him, but Fate/Zero loves showing us the gray areas, which turned out to be good in this case. There wasn’t almost anything that would help me change my opinion of him. It’s a case of “The more information that you know, the more that you are responsible” Kiritsugu knows about all of the other competitors and you have to wonder just how much he knows. If he knows about what is happening to Sakura and the other people in the Matos then he is pretty guilty for not stepping in to help. When he finds out that Caster is a mass murdering child killer, he decides not to help since a few (dozens) of kids aren’t worth his time since he has the world to save. Sacrifice the few (Thousands) to save the many. (What’s left of the 6 billion) That’s his basic philosophy and it’s why I could never see him in a heroic light. Almost every other main character learns that this isn’t the case and they try to save everyone that they can. Ichigo showed this in one of the first episodes of the Bleach series after all!

It got worse for Kitisugu when we saw his sob story. We all know that I can’t stand zombies right? Well, his story involves zombies as the girl that he liked ate from the forbidden magical plant thing and infected the whole village. Kiritsugu found out that his father meant for this to happen to he murders him. (I forgot if “our hero” murdered the girl as well or not, but I mostly tried to forget about these flashbacks) Next up, Kiritsugu and his newfound mentor went around the world to destroy people for money and that sort of thing. After years of becoming close and finally developing a bond, Kiritsugu sucker killed his mentor (Who was 100X more likable than Kiritsugu) from behind. In one of the few scenes where the show tries to get us to sympathize with him, he pulls off a Superman (Man of Steel post Zod) yell to show us how much he didn’t want to do it, but he had to do it to save the people at the airport.

Don’t worry, it’s not over! Kiritsugu threatens one of the masters to force his servant to commit suicide or he will destroy the guy’s fiancé. The guy naturally orders his servant to do this since he wants his fiancé to stay alive, but Kiritsugu basically just grins as his minion murders both the wife and the master. So much for heroic honor and decency right? The fiancé wasn’t innocent, but Kiritsugu didn’t know that so he basically just murdered someone who was only mildly assisting in the battle. Anything to achieve his goals! The very end presents us with another scene that is very Kiritsuguish. The Grail reminds him that it’s been suckering the mere mortals for years and he shows Kiritsugu just how evil his wish is. Kiritsugu responds my murdering his wife and kid in the dream world to show the Grail that he was not going to use his wish anymore. There are dozens of other ways that Kiritsugu could have refused the Grail without doing something so extreme. A simple..”I wish for ___” would have used up his wish and everything would have been okay, but he decided to destroy them for no real reason.

I could go on and on about Kiritsugu for quite a while and you can tell that I really didn’t like his character. He does get a lot of hype about what a great strategist he is though and it’s true that he’s very formidable. He has spells that allow him to speed up his movements by 2-4 times as well as slow them down and he has a gun that disrupts magic. He’s tough to be sure, but he has absolutely no honor and he’s about as deluded as your average villain like Creed or anyone else who thinks that they are the true heroes. It’s safe to say that he also dragged the show down since he’s the main character and you are supposed to root for him. After all, if he’s the most heroic..what does that say about the others!?

Natalia is an assassin from Kiritsugu’s origin story. She’s pretty likable and she’s definitely not a hero, but she’s one of the few villains/anti heroes that you can possible root for. She’s basically a gun for hire so it’s safe to say that she’s more of a villain since she is likely taking people down on both sides. However, she does seem to have some morals about her so she hasn’t hit rock bottom yet. She had started to bond with Kiritsugu and she did a good job while aboard the plane. Unfortunately, you can’t last for too long when your partner is a Benedict Arnold. (She doesn’t really blame him for her untimely end since it helps to save some lives, but it’s definitely a stretch)

I really think that shooting down Natalia’s plane wasn’t the only way to save everyone. It’s sketchy since the cops would complicate things and the zombies would certainly move out very quickly, but the damage would likely be contained. Natalia would run out guns blazing and I’m sure that she could prevent people from entering the plane long enough for the heroes to blow it up. Kiritsugu’s solution just seemed rather drastic.

Rider is pretty unique since he’s the only servant who’s really having a good time during the tournament. He tries to end things diplomatically before going into battle, but this never works since it would be under the condition that the opponent ends up serving him. Rider seems to be a benevolent king, but the other servants are figures of notable skill and reputation so it is out of the question to serve another. I disagree with Rider’s condescending attitude towards Saber (especially since he is constantly outmatched) and he can be a little too casual at times. He should have had more of a sense of urgency during the whole Caster debacle. Nontheless, he is better than some of the other servants and he was not a bad character. His scenes with Waver were a nice distraction from the more serious plots at times. His goal upon acquiring the Holy Grail is certainly not as intense as the other fighters.
Gilgamesh was one of my favorite characters from Fate Stay Night. His character arc went down towards the end since he was way too obsessed with Saber, but he isn’t like that here. This is Gilgamesh at his finest and he was my second favorite character of the series! He has an air of arrogance about him and it is very befitting for a king. He is the King of Heroes and he is shown to be on a different league from the others. The only servant who seems to be a match for him is Berserker since Gilgamesh is able to take on Saber and Rider with no effort whatsoever. His Noble Phantasm is possibly the deadliest one in existence since he can summon an infinite amount of weapons to strike his opponents down. Gilgamesh also has a cool spaceship, which resulted in the best fight scene in the series.

Gilgamesh feels so superior to the other fighters that he doesn’t want them to even look at him without permission. He always treats the rest of the cast as if they are his slaves and they typically humor him. (Since they could die if they didn’t) Gilgamesh loves to toy with Kirei and he constantly goads the villain on for the entire series. Gilgamesh is definitely epic and the voice actor did a good job of expressing his smug demeanor. He is easily one of the highlights of the series and every action scene with him tends to be epic.

Lancer is one of the better servants and he was in the runnings for best hero during the show. Saber eventually increased the lead between them though and it was partially due to Lancer’s ending. It wasn’t quite as disheartening as Berserker’s, but it didn’t really help him a whole lot. Blaming Saber for the events that unfolded didn’t make a whole lot of sense and he should have noticed that she was pretty surprised as well. Aside from that, he was definitely pretty great. We finally have another character who believes in honor and chivalry. His twin staff style definitely gave Lancer the edge over Saber and he proves to be a very tough fighter throughout. I don’t think he would have really been able to match Gilgamesh or Berserker, but it would have been nice to see such a fight.

Kirei is the main villain of Fate/Zero. The anime makes sure to give most of the characters a lot of screentime, but I would say that he is the big villain since he is Kiritsugu’s rival. He wants to find out what his purpose in life is and Gilgamesh tries to help him find a negative answer. Kirei joins the tournament with the weakest servant of the group, (Assassin) but he gets a lot of them to help even the odds. The show tries to develop a contrast between him and Kiritsugu. They are similar in several aspects, but Kiritsugu is at least trying to go towards the heroic side of things while Kirei continues to seep into the darkness. He was intriguing in Fate Stay Night since he turned evil out of nowhere and he was actually pretty tough. In terms of combat ability, Kirei is a lot more impressive in this show. I don’t know how a human could be so powerful, but he really slices through his opponents. He never gets to fight one of the Servants, but that would have been one sided in the other direction. Kirei’s character development is really to show us the dark side of humanity and he’s completely evil by the end although it’s implied that he was always evil and didn’t know it. He was definitely a more interesting villain than the others and I didn’t really mind him for most of the first half. After that, I think he overdoes it in his attempt to understand Kiritsugu and he drops, but he is still an improvement over most of the other antagonists.

Assassin is one of the worst servants. He’s not a bad character, but there’s just no point to him. Even referring to Assassin as “he” is incorrect since there are dozens of them. Thing is..they’re so weak that it takes a large number of them to challenge a single servant. Rider takes out a bunch of them without effort, which wasn’t a great showing for those stealth warriors. Assassin’s role is also very small and you can refer to them as throwaway characters. If they even had a Noble Phantasm, I forgot what it was. (They have no real goal upon acquiring the Holy Grail either…or at least it was never mentioned)

Rin was one of the better characters in Fate Stay Night and she’s also pretty good in this series as well. She gets a whole episode to herself where she gets to save the day and put a dent in Ryonosuke’s plan. That in itself helps her character a lot, but she was already cool. It’s good to have another hero on board and she would have been a great main character. She jumps into the fray to save her friend and you must keep in mind that she’s still pretty young. True heroes start early and at least Rin doesn’t have to go through some of the hardships that the others try to survive. (Although, her ending is also pretty sad in a different way) Unfortunately, she never finds out the truth about what happened to her father so she gets tricked on that part for the rest of her life. (Although she may suspect at the end of Fate Stay Night…hopefully)

Irisviel is Kiritsugu’s partner and she publicly acts as Saber’s master to draw attention away from our fearless main character. She is in charge of meeting up with the enemies and being the target while Kiritsugu is away. Arguably, she could be in a safer position since she is with Saber, but I would argue that Kiritsugu’s job is easier at times. She is a pretty good character and she holds on to her convictions to the very end. It’s unfortunate that she was paired up with Kiritsugu since she really could have done some more good in the world. Since she is with Kiritsugu and Irisviel is such a nice person, she decides to believe in his ideals until the bitter end. She is pretty brave amidst the war and she was definitely a good character.
Illyasviel is the daughter of Irisviel and she’s a pretty nice kid. Her fate isn’t quite as bad as Irisviel’s or Sakura’s, but she is forced to have some pretty bad nightmares since she is the next in line to be the vessel for the Holy Grail. I’m not sure if she will have to end up serving the same role as Irisviel, but I believe that her future may have been averted. I certainly hope so since that would make her ending a lot better. Otherwise, it’s another pretty sad ending since she won’t get to see her parents anymore.

Tohsaka is one of the big shots here since he is one of the favorites to win the tournament. His family has been a key player for generations and his family helped to start this whole competition in the first place. He has already prepared his daughter to win the next Grail War so he can focus on winning this one along with Gilgamesh. He’s a strategist so he never goes out to the front lines with the others. As a result, Tohsaka only gets one real action scene and it barely counts since he’s just blocking the whole time. As expected, he’s not a likable character. Trading away Sakura so that he could have two chances to win the tournament is pretty awful and his nice scenes with Rin just seem phoney. They’re real since he really believes that winning is everything so he treasures Rin as his successor, but it doesn’t make him any more likable. Rin was in trouble during her episode and Yohsaka never even found out about this. His minions also make a lot of plans and have suspicious meetings behind Tohsaka’s back. He needs to be a little more aware of what is happening to him. He talks a pretty good game, but he’s just another “elite” who believes that he is superior to everyone else.

Waver is the master of Rider and he is probably the only “normal” one in the group. He’s just a kid who loves to study, but he doesn’t like that nobody will take him seriously as a magician. It’s because his family line has only been around for a few hundred years and Waver enters the Grail War so that people can respect him. It’s not a very grand wish and he is mocked for it. He’s a pretty decent character for most of the series, but one of his first scenes involves him murdering some animals for the ceremony. It’s really hard to bounce back from something like that and I can’t say that he ever did. He gets a whole lot of development in the show though. Waver realizes what true courage is and he decides to start living a little more. He’ll continue to study and all, but Rider has shown him Earth in a whole new light. Why is Rider essentially the only character to get a happy ending in the show? Maybe it’s because he almost could have been The main character in almost any other show. Still, I can’t say that I really cared for him.

Maiya is a major supporting character in this show as she helps Kiritsugu take out their opponents. She is only a human who has some decent hand to hand skills and a gun, but she does give Kiritsugu a lot of help. It helps that most of the opponents aren’t really prepared to deal with someone else and they just don’t see her as a threat. Of course, it is safe to assume that it’ll be tough for her to live through the entire series. She wasn’t a bad character, although she ultimately didn’t seem to have much of a presence in the series. She gets a handful of action scenes, but that’s about it. She does help Kiritsugu take out two unarmed masters, but she never claimed to be a hero. She just follows his orders for better or worse. (They briefly hint at her origin, but it’s only a passing line or two)

Kariya is the master of Berserker and he’s another guy who gets a pretty tragic origin. To save Sakura from her cruel fate, he enters the Grail Wars. He allows himself to go with the worms in order to get some more power to win the tournament at the cost of his mind. The worms slowly deteriorate him and he has no chance of living past the month/months. His body just won’t last and his mind may go first. It’s really too bad since he was actually a very nice person at the start of the show. He really didn’t want to enter the tournament, but he did it to save Sakura. He should have just tried to break in with some weapons to save Sakura since it would have been a lot less painful, but the odds of success would likely have not been very high. He eventually becomes pretty insane and he deteriorates rapidly. He has a pretty bad scene where he really shows how evil he has become in a church. He tries to go back to how he was later on, but it’s really too late at that point.

It’s time for one of the candidates for worst character of the series! Ryunosuke gets an elite voice actor in the english dub, but that can’t even come close to saving such a terrible character. He’s a mass murderer who typically aims at kids and he really just loves pain and anything that is sadistic. He’s basically a sadist in every meaning of the term and there’s nothing good about him. He totally lives for evil and he’s the kind of guy who would look up to Hitler. He’s fully embraced every sin of the world and he has the gall to talk about how God enjoys his actions. It’s rather painful to listen to this guy speak and he gets way too much screentime as it is. I can’t believe he lasted so long and it’s frustrating to see the heroes just let him be. (At least Saber tries to stop him as soon as possible, while Kiritsugu plays the villain and decides that it’s not worth it) Ryunosuke is another character who lives to drive this anime down the ranks.

Kayneth is the master of Lancer and he doesn’t get a whole lot of character development compared to the others. He wants the Holy Grail, but his goal seems to be rather petty and he’s not a great strategist. He’s proud of his magical upbringing and he’s confident about his chances in the tournament. Unfortunately for him, he’s not a great judge of character and his partner isn’t someone who should really be trusted. He is forced to make a tough choice at the end and both answers led to a negative outcome anyway so it’s rough to be him. He was really unlikable anyway so he’s just a character who was doomed from the start. He’s nowhere near as bad as the characters above and below him, (In the review) but he’s still not a solid addition to the show. It’s too bad since Lancer was actually pretty good.
If you thought Ryunosuke was bad, it’s time for another evil being. Zoken Mato is one of the big players in the magic world and he’s in charge of the worms that exist to destroy this series. He wants to win the Grail during his lifetime so he trains the next successor (Sakura) from very young as he makes a deal to adopt her. Then, he basically throws her to the worms and permanently wrecks her life. He never even gets to die in this series although I’ll assume that someone destroyed him off screen. He’s just terrible and every scene with him is a very bad one.

Sola (Really long name so I’m just abbreviating it here) was Kayneth’s partner and she’s a pretty despicable character as well. She loves to hit people when they’re down and she’ll betray anyone at the drop of a hat. She has no real reason to get the Holy Grail and she’s likely just doing it for status and wealth. She’s just another unlikable character to add to the pile and she doesn’t get any good moments. The only interesting mystery involving her is why Kayneth would ever pick her as a partner. Whatever he saw in her must have been seen when he was barely conscious since she was a bad apple from the start.

Sakura easily has the worst fate from all of the characters in the series and it’s one of those fates that is so tragic that it drags the whole show score down. The instant that this occurred (in the first episode of the series) I knew that the series wasn’t going to be as good as Fate Stay Night. It was really the beginning of its ultimate demise and I’ll get into the “worms” negative a little as the review goes on. Sakura’s story is one of hopelessness where she is powerless to alter her fate. It’s the worst kind of fate because nobody can save her since they don’t know her plight and she can’t do anything about it. It’s one of the ways that Fate/Zero can achieve the dark tone that it was aiming for. Sakura is just a little girl so there’s nothing bad with her character and it’s pretty tough to watch. Fans of her definitely won’t appreciate this turn of events.

Now, it’s time for my favorite character in the franchise! Berserker is way better than his Fate Stay Night version and it’s enough for me to overlook the CGI in his design. Picture Dark Samus or Bass EXE. Berserker is basically an embodiment of darkness and rage as his fury has consumed him. He only lives to fight and destroy at this point, which also results in his fearless nature. He takes on several of the servants at once and he looks very impressive in the process. He is the only character who is actually able to not only damage Gilgamesh, but score a “win.” (It’s highly debatable, but he essentially claimed victory in one of their rounds) That’s a feat in itself and Berserker is just awesome. He doesn’t need to talk and he shows that a cool design mixed in with great action scenes can really help a character.

Now, his ending could have potentially dropped him a whole lot, but I tend to block it out. His final appearance really nerfed his character so that Saber could have one more victory before the series was over and we got an unnecessary plot twist about Berserker. It came out of left field and it didn’t help his character. Luckily, it’s a small scene and I can’t let it wreck such an intense villain! This guy’s still a highlight and he continues to gain strength in all of his appearances until the final one. This guy is great!

Oh no….it’s now time for one of the worst characters in the series! In most anime, this character would be the very worst by a clear margin and the fact that he competes with some of the others is pretty scary. I’m talking about Caster and he has no redeemable qualities. He is another character who is pure evil and he lives to destroy as many kids and people as he can. He lives for fear and the opportunity to deliver pain. He is also completely insane and he seems to be living in a delusion as he mistakes Saber for someone that he probably never even knew. Every scene with Caster is cringe worthy and he’s the kind of character who can wreck an entire episode with his presence. It’s hard to even talk about this guy without being saddened at the prospect of the show without him and some of the other cheap characters. This guy is as third rate as you can get and you can expect him to fight on this site at some point. Needless to say, I haven’t met many characters who are quite as despicable as Caster.

Okay, we’ve gone through all of the major characters. Some of them were negative influences on the show, others were positive ones, and others were so bad that I can barely believe that any writers/producers would want to add them in. (It goes back to the novels first I suppose) One of them is bad enough, but having up to 5 characters who are some of the worst in existence? Now that’s definitely excessive! For a change of pace, let’s talk about an area that was completely positive. I’m referring to the animation! I like googling searches along the lines of “Best animation in an anime” to see what pops up. Fate/Zero is a show that pops up on just about every list along with other big titles like Evangelion. Typically, there are always a few that I don’t recognize and I’ve never seen Megaman or DBZ make the cut. That’s too bad, but they can’t all make it. Is this the best animation in a show? Well, that’s always extremely tough to say since there are many great anime, but I will say that the animation was excellent. This is the kind of show that will still look great 20 years from now and it’ll likely still pick apart other shows from the future eras. The character designs are all streamlined and it would be tough to find an episode where the quality really deteriorated. I would argue that the first half of the show had a higher budget than the second, but it’s tough since it really depends on the episode. Everything about the animation is great and it really shines during night scenes. (Not coincidentally, all of the best animated moments take place at night.)

While I’m not sure about the best animation of all time, I do think the show has the best animated fight of all time. That would be Gilgamesh vs Berserker when they fought in the hi tech planes. It was awesome for many reasons and one of which is the fact that it was totally unexpected. It transformed from a very grounded (No aliens anyway) show about planet busting servants to one where spaceships could actually be used in the fight. The fight was really great and it helps that Gilgamesh and Berserker are my two favorite characters in the series. It’s one of those fights that you can’t really appreciate until you watch it in its entirety and it was the high point of the series. This was also the point where the government got involved to fight and show the world just how tough they could be. The music really complimented this scene as well since the opera theme came up and it’s my favorite theme in this show. It was a battle of titans!
Fate Zero - 16 - Large 25
The show had some other pretty great fights as well. Berserker vs Saber and Gilgamesh in round one was pretty great. It was epic for other reasons that I will go into in a second, but the actual fight was fun. Berserker was really the underdog throughout the whole series so it was always good to see him show everyone up. Finally, Saber’s battles against Lancer were great since they were the only really intense blade battles that we got. (Berserker had a brief scuffle as well) Those battles likely had the biggest budget in the series. Every swing was powerful and the colors that emanated from their blows looked very nice as they clashed. Blue and red are colors that naturally compliment each other and the fights did a good job of showing this. The choreography was great as well and the fight felt very real. They were easily some of the best fights out there.

I mentioned that the best fight in the series was the aerial battle, but what was the best moment? I did mention that the fight was the highlight of the series and I stick by that, but this moment was even more influential and it’s the type of scene that really gives you the chills. Remember when the main 3 Avengers first met or any other big group scene like Naruto facing off with everyone at the Chunin Exams? This is that kind of scene as everyone meets up at the docks for the first time. It was the first time that we got to see all of the servants (Minus Assassin since he was busy hiding and getting destroyed and minus Caster since he’s a cheap character) converge at one location. It was really the only time as well that they all got to talk and discuss matters. It was a very interesting moment and it played to the strengths of Fate/Zero. Fate/Zero spent a huge amount of time developing the characters so this is the kind of scene that really benefits from that. It’s definitely a moment that I won’t forget and it was awesome. We’ve never really seen a scene quite like that one or at least not on this scale. It’ll be nice to see if another show can ever top such a gathering of intriguing individuals in such an explosive setting.

Gilgamesh, Rider, and Saber have their own beliefs on what a true king should be like. Gilgamesh believes that he ruler over everything on the planet and his vassals should be happy just to serve him. He seems to actually be a very benevolent ruler and he treats the servants well as long as they remember who is on top. Crossing him would mean your demise. Rider believes in ruling over the servants, but letting them share in the pleasures of life. His dream becomes theirs and they don’t fear him. His underlings actually look up to him and they are glad to die during the journey if it will help him. Saber believes that a King’s path is a solitary one and it’s up to her to destroy all of the enemies in her path so that the Kingdom will be saved. She never developed a bond with any of her underlings so they were safe, but they didn’t really know their King. Which version is correct? Well, I wouldn’t say that any of them are downright bad, but I did find myself on Saber’s side the most while agreeing with Gilgamesh a little. Rider’s ideal isn’t bad, but not terribly realistic. When it works, it ends up being great for everyone since it’s good to be enthusiastic. Ultimately, I would be on Saber’s side since I agree with her that the King should be the one eliminating all of the opponents in the way of the Kingdom. She didn’t develop any bonds with her kingdom’s inhabitants, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. She didn’t seem distant in the flashbacks and it’s more that she just didn’t understand what they were thinking. I wouldn’t say that it was her fault and she was easily the most just of the three Kings. Everything she did, she did for the Kingdom and they just couldn’t accept it in the end. I don’t place any of the blame on her and her ideals are sound.

One of the biggest negatives in the show is the mere existence of the worms. They are mentioned in the first episode and it’s where we find out Sakura’s tragic history. They also come into play for Kariya’s subplot and they last throughout the whole series. They aren’t a big factor in the show, but once we know why they are there and what they are doing to Kariya and Sakura, it’s just a huge negative. You can’t help but be reminded of it whenever those characters appear as well as Zoken. It really crosses the line of how dark a show should be, but Fate/Zero does that a whole lot.

Fate/Zero’s soundtrack is pretty good. It’s nowhere near as memorable as Fate Stay Night’s, but it tends to fit the scene. Unfortunately, it’s pretty forgettable in retrospect, but I won’t be forgetting the main opera battle theme anytime soon. That was perfect for the fight scenes and it made each moment even more epic than it would have been without the music. The openings are decent I suppose, but I can’t say that I cared for them all that much. At least, they really couldn’t stand up to Fate Stay Night’s second opening and both of Fate/Zero’s focused too much on showing all of the characters so we didn’t get as much action as we could have gotten. The second opening is also surprisingly soft considering that this is where most of the action should be. (Although it is actually fitting in that regard)

A noticeable weakness for Fate/Zero is that there is a significant lack of action in the final half of the show. After the fight against Caster, there is a short bout between Saber and Lancer. We don’t really get a real fight again until one of the final episodes where Saber challenges Berserker and Kiritsugu fights Kirei. That’s pretty unacceptable since this is a span of 13 episodes. There are other action scenes, but they’re all just very short. Gilgamesh’s hyped battle against Rider is supremely underwhelming since no hand to hand blows are struck at all. It can barely be called a fight since Gilgamesh doesn’t even need to move and the fight barely lasts for 2-3 minutes. It really can’t be called a fight since it was such a blowout. Gilgamesh vs Saber? That fight lasts for about 5 seconds and I also wouldn’t call it a fight. It’s just surprising that the action died down as it ended.

From those two fights, only Kiritsugu’s match was actually a lot of fun. Saber’s battle against Berserker was much worse than the first round and it’s because Berserker decides to use a gun this time. Bullets/Energy Pellets don’t work on any decent fighter and it’s not quite as exciting to see Saber just running around to dodge the attacks. Berserker does take out his sword, but then he looks very weak while using it. I still cannot forget how weak the writers made him look in that battle so that Saber could take the win. I forgot to mention it earlier in the fights section so I will say that Kiritsugu’s action scenes were pretty good. His fight against Kirei is definitely interesting since it’s pretty strategic.

Now, I do have to wonder how Kirei put up such a good fight. He’s still a human right so how is he moving so fast? Kiritsugu speeds up his movements by 4X and Kirei is still a lot faster than him. I’m assuming that Kirei must be using some kind of spell, but it’s never stated. Nevertheless, the fight was pretty great and the animation was really good as well. I guess you can say that this battle was the true series finale clash and it was a solid way to end things. Kirei’s short battle against Kayneth was also good for most of the same reasons as the Kirei fight. I may not like Kiritsugu at all, but his action scenes were very interesting.

It’s time for a comparison paragraph for Fate Stay Night and Fate/Zero. It’s a bit of a blowout overall, but it looks a little more even on paper even though Fate Stay Night wins many of the big battles. Fate/Zero has the better animation and it makes the universe a little more interesting than Fate Stay Night. Berserker, Gilgamesh, Rider, and Saber (The way that she speaks is just so much more eloquent in this version and I love the polite pretenses that she and Lancer put up when they are bantering) were improvements over their FSN counterparts as well. However, Fate Stay Night’s Assassin, Caster, Rin, and main character (Shirou) beat the FZ versions. FSN had a better soundtrack and it managed to avoid most of the negatives of FZ. FSN had a little more fanservice than FZ, but it was still very minimal. FSN did a better job of making the ending exciting, but FZ did have the edge for animation. FSN did a good job of achieving a dark tone atmosphereically through the backgrounds and how it was animated without having to resort to dark content to make it dark like FZ. There are definitely points that could be darker if they were totally shown, but FSN knew when it was time to make those moments appear off screen. That’s something that could have benefited FZ a lot. It may sound pretty equal from here, but the lack of negatives is the critical part. I have already touched on some of FZ’s negatives and FSN didn’t really have a problem with them. Of course, you can check out my review for it to really get the full story.

One of the major negatives is that I wasn’t able to really enjoy almost any of the episodes because just about every one of them would have a big downer. A scene or multiple scenes that would really just wreck the episode because of how sadistic or unnecessarily violent they were. It’s because we had so many terrible characters like Caster and Zoken. They are characters that are so bad that they guaranteed that the show would get a 5 or less and they could spoil an episode. Likewise with the Worms, who just added onto the pile. Fate/Zero did everything in the darkest/most violent way that it could in just about every situation. The show had very few happy moments and that’s never a good thing. Having a serious tone can be a nice change of pace and it can make some scenes more exciting, but you still need to be enjoyable. Ultimately, shows are supposed to be pretty fun/enjoyable and while the fights were great, they aren’t enough to save a show where so many negative events happen. Also, if you thought Attack on Titan was intensely violent, I dare say that Fate/Zero matches it if not exceeding AOT.

For the death scenes, it would always happen in very unpleasant ways. When Kirei takes out Irisviel, he does it in a very painful way that is rather unnecessary. Her first defeat isn’t any better. The fact that we have to watch Caster perform so many sinister acts is another strike against the show and the list goes on and on. Fate/Zero seemed to really want to be the darkest/most violent series that it could be while still being mainstream enough to also have a lot of shonen action scenes. I have seen it labeled as one of the greatest anime of all time so it appears that this approach worked, (It did for Attack on Titan I suppose) but it’s also what doomed it for me. We are used to having many characters experience traumatic origins and upbringings, but Fate/Zero loves to take it a step further. It just goes way too far on all accounts.
Overall, Fate/Zero is definitely nowhere near Fate Stay Night in quality. It barely scores a 3 to be honest. The animation is undoubtedly some of the greatest that I’ve seen and the soundtrack was solid. The fight scenes were good and the show did a good job of fleshing out the characters and giving us a lot of interesting plot points. The problem is that these positives are completely overwhelmed by the onslaught of negatives. You could really make a case for a 2 or a 1 here. I still find the Fate franchise very interesting and I do like Fate Stay Night a lot, but this was just a really poor way to make a prequel. All of the reasons above are why I would never recommend it to anyone and I would strongly recommend staying away from it. The sheer amount of content and violence make it unsuitable for any audience. It’s really regrettable because this is a show that really could have been good. Take away Caster, Ryunosuke, Zoken, The Worms/Sakura’s plight, Kariya’s meltdown, Waver’s unnecessary animal violence, and get rid of some of the excessive violence, and this could have been a 7-8/10 show. The show’s positive elements would have really been able to shine and it definitely had the elements needed to challenge the big guns in the anime world. Alas, this is a ship that has sailed and I can only hope that the new remake of Fate Stay Night doesn’t lean towards Fate/Zero’s style or that it only captures its positive attributes. The Fate franchise still has a lot of potential and it’s a great universe that can continue to expand. Even if they only stick to the two Grail Wars, there are a lot of different ways that they can handle the event. As long as they don’t resort to such extremes like in this series, the Fate franchise can definitely have a worthy successor that is just as good as the original FSN. In the end, if you want a compelling action series with some horror, just skip this prequel and watch Fate Stay Night.

Overall 3/10