Azumanga Daioh Review

It’s time to look at my first pure comedy anime as well as the first one to take an anthology style to it. Unfortunately I wouldn’t say that the mix worked too well. The series got off to a rocky start but was able to at least balance the ship by the end. It’s not the best one out there, but you’ll be used to the characters by and end and will have had a fun ride.

The plot follows a group of teenagers as they go through the various years of high school. Tomo and Yomi are already friends when the series starts, but Sakaki is a loner. The situation changes up when a little girl by the name of Chiyo shows up. She is a prodigy and got to skip enough grades to make it to high school. Another transfer student nicknamed Osaka also joins up. With the gang together, they can go on many adventures and try to achieve glory in the sports fest!

Lets quickly go with why the show had a rocky start. The anthology format is a huge warning bell for me because I just don’t like it. The concept of an anthology just sounds like a bad idea as each story is so short that you can’t fit much story into it. Some of the episodes here were split into 5-6 parts so each one was only 4-5 minutes. At first this was very jarring as nothing would happen and the segments felt like they had nothing to do with each other. I also think the writers didn’t know what to do because they acted like each 5 minute segment had to be as contained as possible. For example, if a segment had a joke, it would just keep on getting repeated and drawn out for the whole time. The show tried to limit itself to one main gag in the segment. It would even recycle animation and use a ton of stock footage to literally repeat the gag.

Another thing is that one of the few aspects where anime may lose to Western animation is in comedy. Westerns seem to prefer snappy dialogue as comedy with characters just rapid firing a ton of puns and subtle burns while anime really like having a perverse character say something crazy and then everyone either blushes or starts yelling at him. The former can be great while the latter is absolutely never funny. Daioh actually has a big problem trying to be funny throughout. I feel like the vast majority of the jokes didn’t work because either they were never funny from the start or they were dragged out way too long. That’s why it couldn’t really pick up til the second half where it started to get more of a plot or at least longer segments.

For now, one last problem is that the series is extremely low budget. I wouldn’t be surprised if the series originally debuted as 5 minute shorts behind various shows and was eventually compiled into a series. It would actually make a lot of sense with how I said that each segment limited itself to effectively one scene/joke. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with as much recycled animation as this one. The animation can be decent at times, but usually it is satisfied with as few motions as possible. You’ll notice a lot of times that if there are two characters on screen only one will move at a time. If two are talking on screen, they’ll each only use one mouth animation which continuously loops. So, I think the show just didn’t have a budget. Sure, there aren’t any action scenes so I guess it didn’t need much of one, but it should have at least gotten enough to reasonably bluff through it.

Now, here’s why the second half was better. For starters, they gave Kimura a shorter role. Kimura was one of the reasons why the humor was hit hard as his moments were just really bad. He would make scenes tougher to watch by making inappropriate comments and pointing attention to what the characters were wearing. He took advantage of his position constantly so he could be around. The show didn’t really have much in the way of fanservice but by going to the pool and trying to create it, that sort of defeated the purpose. The fact that he is still a teacher is appalling and every scene with him just reminded me of this fact. He was never completely written out, but he didn’t do a whole lot after the opening episodes. After that, the only iffy moments left where when the characters would have quick remarks about someone’s chest and those were slight in comparison. While the show show is pretty fun for the most part, he made it hard to enjoy the early episodes. As I said those just had issues with pacing and writing, but they certainly didn’t need more problems. Without Kimura the show would have definitely jumped up a star and possibly 2.

The next reason why the second half was better is that it had less segments. Episodes would be able to have a longer plot and the segments actually did continue from each other. The characters finally had goals like getting to college or studying for it. The last few episodes were all consistent in this regard. The show also stopped relying on one joke since it had plot to cover. Most of the characters stayed pretty much the same throughout the years, but Sasaki got a considerable amount of development by the end. It was a little hard to like her at first because she is extremely quiet and spends 90% of her time blushing at various animals or anything that she finds adorable. It’s cool to like animals, but it just made for a very limited personality. By the end of the series she starts to speak up more and blush less. She becomes a lot more open about playing with the animals and had a nice bond with Chiyo. She stuck up for the kid during the final sports fest when the other teens started to mock her. It was a nice friendship between them.

Chiyo is effectively the main character even if she doesn’t always feel like it. She’s rich and a genius so that makes it easy for her to be at the top of this class as well. She’s probably the nicest character of the group and constantly tries to get everyone to get along. They make it difficult though since bickering is what they do best, but all in good fun. Chiyo invites everyone to her summer home each year and is certainly popular in the classroom. She gets traumatized after a certain car trip and doesn’t do too well at the sport competitions since she technically is just a kid but Chiyo always tries her best. She’s a nice all around character.

Osaka is a total space case as she can’t think about something for more than a minute. As a result her mind is always wavering and she says random, abstract things at times. She finds studying to be pointless because she won’t remember what she looked at anyway. Osaka is a nice enough character. She’s one of the weaker members of the main cast, but she is a nice contrast from the others. I also like how bold she is like when she decided to take a nap right after getting to Chiyo’s place even though everyone was supposed to study.

Tomo is one of my favorite characters. She was surpassed by Kagura by the end, but Tomo always kept it close. Tomo is very loud and overconfident. She doesn’t do well in school but brags about it instead of stressing. She’s constantly sabotaging the team and failing to win when it counts. She’s effectively trolling the main cast throughout and even rubs it in when something goes wrong for the others. She has fun teasing them all but it encourages the team to try harder. It was infinitely satisfying when she got accepted to college before Yomi since the latter had constantly insulted her and studied so hard. You don’t need to study when you have good intuition ya know? Tomo certainly made all of the interactions more fun.

Yomi is the most boring member of the group. She effectively plays the straight man in this series as she doesn’t understand any of the jokes and is always wondering what everyone is doing. She studies hard and doesn’t mess around like the others. Yomi tries to act mature for her age and everything but as a result she never seems to really have any fun. This act that she puts up also results in her getting sick before the big amusement park vacation so that one was really all her fault when you think about it.

Kagura is the best character and it’s mainly because of how competitive she is. Kagura is always trying to surpass Sakaki. Honestly it’s like the whole Goku vs Vegeta thing, but even more sad. Sakaki never actually trains or exercises at all while Kagura trains 24/7. Yet, Kagura can never manage to beat Sakaki….at anything. Kagura really deserves the win, but at least she continues trying and never holds it against Sakaki. She’s actually happy when Sakaki wins as it means she just needs to train more. Kagura didn’t become a main character until the first time skip in the series, but from then on she stole the show. She’s essentially Tomo if Tomo was actually good at something and is a little less extreme. She certainly doesn’t mock the others or try to sabotage anything. The two of them do get along quite well though as they both aren’t great at school work. I guess Kagura couldn’t be perfect at everything right?

Kaori is sort of one of the main characters, but she always got the shaft next to the others. Her role is just a whole lot smaller and in the second half her only role is to get harassed by Kimura. I never liked her though as her subplot is that she is admires Sakaki and has a hard time trying to talk to her. It gets old before it even begins. Finally we have the two teachers. Yukari is the main one. She doesn’t like being a teacher and doesn’t hesitate to let the kids know this. I dare say that most of her scenes are the ones that are legitimately funny. At least most of the examples I can think of involve her in some capacity. She’s effectively terrible at her job which is her character arc. Yukari is definitely crazy and she doesn’t mind manipulating her students if it will let her win the contest. I can respect her drive to win even if it’s always hard against Nyamo’s squad.

Nyamo is the other teacher and she is an example of a perfect teacher. She supports her students and is also really good at all things athletic. That being said, she can’t really handle the rowdy things that Yukari likes so if she starts drinking then things get tricky. Nyamo is fun enough. She’s not quite as interesting as Yukari but she doesn’t shut down all of the jokes like Yomi. She does a much better job of bouncing off of the moments such as when she got revenge on Yukari for mocking her students by stealing her money. (Granted, she wasn’t “stealing” it because Yukari owed her money for something else)

An example of one of the jokes that I did like was the donation box. The kids forgot to get Yukari a gift and she was pretty obvious about it so the gang decided to bring her a donation box and then they would throw nickels in it. Yukari didn’t take it well, but it was a pretty fun scene as everyone approached the box very grudgingly. A scene that was more random than anything was when this cat creature would appear. He claims to be Chiyu’s father and only shows himself once in a while. He may have some special abilities, but he’s so abstract that you don’t really need to worry about him.

One big plot that actually had an ending was the cat that would always bite Sakaki when she was in the neighborhood. She certainly fell for its tricks many times, but only once at the end. Fortunately she got her own cat guardian which stopped the bullies from messing with her. I guess the cat was just a mean person because even at the end it seemed to have a grudge with Sakaki. The gag was a little overused in the early episodes, but it was handled a lot better by the end. I also am glad that Sakaki got her own cat since it really helped give her some kind of payoff for being bitten so often.

While the animation was quite limited it did have some good shots. I liked the chibi style it would use when characters gave a thumbs up or be in the background agreeing on something. Their arms would turn into noodles at times and it was a better effect than in some other shows. It doesn’t really make up for all of the stock footage but the actual animation certainly wasn’t bad. It may be more that the character designs were simply solid, but it’s hard to say. The soundtrack isn’t very good though. It’s also quite limited/repetitive and I would have liked a little more variety.

Even if the comedy may not always have been on point, one thing you can say for the series is that is was pretty much always fun. The negatives I have with the show don’t involve language or being super dark/violent. At the very least you can always leave the show feeling happy since it is so lighthearted. It’s one thing that I always like about uplifting shows because they should be enjoyable to watch. The characters are always having fun even if things don’t really work out. If there’s any reason I’d recommend watching it, this is the main one. To that end, I actually do tend to like slice of life shows. Sonic Boom is a great example of one that’s currently airing and to date it is the best in that genre. It perfectly pulls it off every episode and I dare say that it is the greatest comedy of all time even if that is a little bold. The show hasn’t ended yet so we’ll see if it can keep that up.

Overall, Azumanga Daioh was somewhat limited from the anthology style it had, but I suppose it was to be expected since the manga was close to a 4 koma at times. Still, with full sized episodes I think it would have been more fun. The cast was solid though and even if you’re skeptical of the show at first you should be able to get on board by the end. After all, that’s one of the points of being a full show, by the end you should be used to the characters which will make the series more enjoyable. You’ll see the characters develop over the 3 years they’re at school so surely you’ll be a fan of at least one by the end.

Overall 5/10


Mob Psycho 100 Review

This show is a nice contrast to Attack on Titan. That show had amazing animation, soundtrack, and writing which helped to counter the terrible source material. It managed to bring up the manga which is like a 1 all the way to a 5. Granted, it hasn’t had to adapt the really sketchy stuff yet so we’ll see if that can last. Mob Psycho is the opposite as the animation is terrible and the soundtrack is only average at best while the plot isn’t bad. It’s funny how two shows can be so different and so similar at the same time. It’s no One Punch Man, but the series manages to pick up its game just enough in the end to save itself.

The series is about a kid named Shigeo. He was born as the strongest being in the universe and he could end all life on the planet if he wanted too. Shigeo was unable to deal with this so he locked away his true powers with his emotions and decided to train under a con artist named Reigen. As a result of losing his emotions, Shigeo is now super timid and unsure of himself. He basically says whatever he is thinking and is typically a very oblivious person who is also not fit physically. He is forced to come to terms with his powers more when an evil organization known as Claw kidnaps his brother. Can Shigeo defeat them without losing his cool or is it curtains for him?

Right from the start you’ll notice a lot of similarities to One Punch Man. I like to think of it as the poor man’s version of OPM as it does everything on a lower level, but at least it still tries to be like that show. If you’re gonna copy something, you should copy from the best. It’s from the same guy so at least he’s just copying himself, I imagine there would have been a lot of waves online if this had really been a ripoff from another person.

Lets start with the negatives and then go into the positives. Mob Psycho is hurt by a very slow start. The show is only 12 episodes and the plot doesn’t really begin until around episode 8-9. The first chunk is just for filler and character development. Most of the development isn’t any good though which doesn’t help its case. The show isn’t so much boring as it’s just very underwhelming because of the animation. You won’t really begin to like any of the characters aside from Reigen and most of the supporting cast is pretty bland and lackluster.

The beginning of the plot didn’t help matters either as it covered Shigeo’s brother Ritsu on his descent into darkness. He turned completely evil and wrecked some lives before being beat up a few times and realizing that being a hero is less paiful. He was definitely one of the worst characters in the series so getting multiple episodes to himself wasn’t a really good idea on the show’s part. Next up is the biggest negative of the series though…the animation.

You can call the animation indie or experimental, but it leads to the same result. It’s just really bad. The average episode will look like hastily drawn title by the Dragon Ball Super B team. (Not even the starters) The character designs are only good when the episodes get serious or during a battle so otherwise they don’t look very good at all. It’s like we’ve time traveled decades into the past for this show. Moreover, the show looks ugly on purpose at times. The show has a really awful way of drawing characters sweating and we get some dicey facial expressions the whole time as well. The animation focuses on elements that don’t help the show’s case and parts of it will even seem like FLCL. It can be subtly gross if anything.

Now, the animation isn’t terrible 24/7. It magically transforms into a solid spectacle once the action gets underway. Suddenly the show remembers that this is 2016 and it looks top of the line. For the final 3 episodes, this is mostly the case for the entire adventure which also proves that this “experimental” style as intentional. It’s a little insulting that the show looked so bad on purpose. It would be like if the One Punch Man anime had decided to look like the web comic sketches. It would make no sense and would have severely hurt the show. Unlike Mob Psycho, the OPM series is just a lot better in general so it’d probably still get a 7, but it would be a massive two point drop.

As for the soundtrack, it’s not bad. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a little standard, but I’ll take it. It has 1-2 really good themes with the rest not being very notable. I wasn’t a big fan of the theme song and I still don’t care for the visuals, but the actual music grew on me by the end of the show. It’s definitely pretty catchy and the serious Mob themes are good. I’ll give this area of the show a thumbs up. All right, lets talk about the characters.

I definitely don’t like Shigeo. He’s not very smart and is way too timid. While the first trait can work to a character’s favor if handled well, the latter pretty much never works. Shigeo gets serious when he reaches 100% rage of course and he quickly jumps into the other extreme since there’s no middle ground for him. I wish he’d stay like that though. Not only does his design get a lot cooler, but he actually has a personality. Normal Shigeo has no character and just lets everyone walk right over him. He stays in normal mode for so long that a member of Claw even defeats him and then he loses another round later on for losing control again. Shigeo’s just not a good character and he is extremely annoying whenever he is on screen. For being the world’s strongest fighter, he’s got a ways to go.

Luckily, Reigen is the best character in the series and he gets a lot of screen time as well. Since he is a professional con artist, he doesn’t fall for any of the tricks that Shigeo steps into. Reigen knows how to steal money from people and trick them into enjoying the process. While he doesn’t have any powers, Reigen does know basic hand to hand skills and has most of the best moments in the series. He takes on the final bosses and it’s just great. While his advice at the end was completely terrible, it was the only out of character moment for him. The rest of it was all pretty legit and he just steals the show plain and simple. He’s the kind of character who should definitely stay powerless as it’s part of his charm, but I’d still love to see him beat up more villains at some point.

Next up is Dimple. He was a big villain who got turned into a powerless spirit and now Shigeo allows him to hang around. It may just be to fuel his ego though as Shigeo will threaten him now and again. He is definitely a villain even if it’s not played too seriously so the other characters need to watch out. He’s not a great character, but he can definitely be amusing. Ritsu on the other hand never gets amusing or likable. He’s the classic “jealous brother” trope along with characters like Yukio from Blue Exorcist. He doesn’t have any powers so that makes him feel bad. Ritsu does whatever he can to gain powers, but nothing works so one day he decides to take a shortcut. After he gains his powers, Ritsu immediately uses them to bully people because of his inferiority complex. This is the part where Ritsu makes sure to never redeem himself. He really only turns into a good guy because he was completely humiliated by the villains and spends the last episodes just getting beat up over and over again. He got to keep his powers so now he can fight to a degree, but he’s nowhere near Mob. Like One Punch Man, if you’re a supporting character then you’re doomed.

Ritsu does officially turn good so he’ll probably be a solid character in season 2, but it was too late for him here. He already ruined the lives of a lot of classmates by framing them and he just really crossed the line into full villain territory. It’s hard to reverse that in a handful of episodes as opposed to Naruto where Sasuke had hundreds of episodes to show you why he was a villain before turning good. Granted, it wasn’t handled any better than this show though, but that’s another story. Ritsu actually does bring down the show.

The last member of the heroes is Hanazawa. He has a similar plot to Ritsu as he starts off as a bully and then becomes a good guy after Shigeo shaves his hair off and beats him into the ground. There’s a trend here if you’ve noticed, the only way to turn a villain into a good guy is to beat him up. The series goes even further with this by the end of the series. I actually liked the ending of the show quite a lot. Just about everyone turned good, apologies were made, etc. It was a nice uplifting ending to the series and while Shigeo looks bad as usual in his epilogue, it hit all of the right notes. Since this is supposed to be a light hearted parody anyway, it should have an ending like this to match that beat. It’s why I have much higher hopes for the 2nd season. If it plays its cards right, I could definitely see that one getting a 7. Hopefully they don’t get the same animation studio though.

Time for the villains. Shou is the hype antagonist who they are saving for season 2. His abilities are certainly extraordinary as he was able to take down one of the strongest villains in the blink of an eye. He’s pretty charismatic and I think that I actually will end up liking this villain. He’s the best villain in the series at the moment. Another big villain was Sakurai. He’s a swordsman who uses psychic energy to amp up his equipment so he can take the fight to the heroes. He’s very strong and is certainly the most no nonsense of all the fighters. His role may not have been huge, but he was one of the big villains and I’d say that he was the best member. (Shou doesn’t count as a member of course)

Koyama was another one of the big members. He has super strength and it was quite formidable since he was actually able to punch a hole through Shigeo’s defenses. He wasn’t at 100% yet, but that was still really impressive. Furthermore, he was able to survive a long combo from Shigeo’s true power and had enough strength left to counter-attack and take him down. This guy was definitely no joke even if he was treated like one during round 2. He was another really good villain. There were other members of the group who shows up like one guy with fire powers and another who used a whip. The organization definitely had some really talented fighters under their belt.

Ishiguro was the leader of the group and “her” design while in villain mode was pretty cool. The gravity balls were also a nice touch. Gravity powers are some of the most underrated abilities in all of media if you ask me. They can definitely be very lethal and she was holding her own even after Mob stepped in. The ultimate reveal for Ishiguro may have been underwhelming for some and funny to others. It was mildly expected that something like this would happen, but at the same time it’s still a little surprising. It definitely destroyed Ishiguro’s character so hopefully it was worth the laugh.

One element of Mob Psycho 100 that can be a mixed bag is the fact that it’s a parody. Shigeo is meant to be virtually invincible which means that he can beat people whenever he wants. The reason why it doesn’t work as well as One Punch Man is because he’s just not likable. Also, Shigeo does lose 2-3 times in the series unlike Saitama who has yet to even come close to losing. It hurts the whole concept a little. Also, this means that there is never any real danger in the show. The show did randomly get dark at a few points in the series like with Ritsu’s plot and when the organization showed up for the first time. It’s a little all over the place with the tone and especially when the show would just go full parody mode and have some big comedic reveal to disrupt a tense moment. It just didn’t always work well. Some episodes had a perfect blend like with the last episodes as Reigen wrecked everybody, but others like the super strength guy getting one shotted by Shigeo didn’t work. I do think that it’s a formula which could work like OPM proved, but this show just isn’t as good at it. As a result, many of the fights in this series are completely one sided which is never a lot of fun for the viewer. Whether it’s the hero outmatching the villain or vice versa if you make it too lopsided then it’s not going to be any fun. It has to at least be at the level where the other side has a slim chance like with Aizen wrecking the Bleach cast or Broly dishing out the pain. Those were lopsided battles, but they still felt like battles, not just one guy murdering everyone else or knocking them out with a thought.

Also, the supporting characters just need to be written out. The Alien, Psychics club is really just a waste of time. None of their scenes are funny and the characters aren’t likable. At least the body improvement club members help out Shigeo when he needs them. Those guys are honorable and you can count of them. Unfortunately, they are still side characters so they get beat up quite a lot. I definitely felt bad for them at any rate since they didn’t really deserve it. It was also one of the moments that hurt Shigeo a lot as he just watched all of his friends get beaten up in front of him and didn’t move a muscle to help. Considering that these guys only got into this mess to protect Shigeo from the bullies and it’s pretty messed up. The bullies sure get away with quite a lot in this show.

On a final note, making Reigen the main character would really help the show. As I mentioned, he has most of the best scenes in the show. He takes out the villains while staying classy and not breaking a sweat. One problem with the show is that all of the fights revolve around someone beating Shigeo black and blue until he turns into rage mode and then crushes the opponent while insulting him the whole time. There’s no middle ground so the supporting characters are your only chance at a good fight. It’s just Shigeo turning into rage mode constantly, but not even a really cool version like Kirito. (Best kind of rage mode) Reigen wouldn’t have that problem since he never even gets upset. The show could just tap into its comedy/parody nature and think of cool ways for Reigen to win through his scams. A show like that would definitely be a lot of fun and that’s the key thing. It would be fun as opposed to just being dark and brooding at times.

Overall, I wasn’t really a fan of Mob Psycho. It had its hype moments and did get really good at the end, but the painful beginning really held it back. It could get a little mean spirited and the fact that Shigeo’s not a good lead doesn’t help either. That’s why I make the comparison to Attack on Titan, they’re both similar when you think about it. Mob Psycho has a whole lot more potential, but actually realizing it will be the struggle. Improving Mob as a character and getting the animation to a reasonable level should be the show’s two top priorities. Along the way it should also try to get the blend of genres balanced and write out some of the supporting characters as well. If it can do all of that, then Mob Psycho will be a success. Looking at One Punch Man and learning how to use humor as effectively would also be a valuable use of time. If you love One Punch man, then I guess you should check this out. I’d recommend just watching the first episode and then skipping the next 5-6 and starting with the plot if anything. That would probably help the experience quite a lot. Alternately, just check out One Punch Man instead.

Overall 5/10

Air Review

It’s time to look at an anime that’s a little different from the average title that I review. For starters, this is not an action anime. This is a tragedy mystery story where a guy must try to repair the lives of 3 girls and their respective families in the process. It’ll be tricky and the show will take you on quite the roller coaster. It’s definitely a solid title and a show like this can be a nice change of pace, but unfortunately it is hurt by the terrible ending. I had to slash away a full 2 stars on account of that and was tempted to take more away, but the rest of the show had been consistently good and the ending, while dark, could have been darker.

Yukito, a homeless guy with no possessions or money, finds himself in a small town after walking for a very long time. His mission is to find a girl with wings that his mother told him about. He doesn’t stop to question if this was literal so he continues to search. The main problem is that having no money really limits his options so Yukito tries to put on little shows with his telekenetically controlled puppet for the kids so they can pay him. As you may expect, this isn’t his greatest plan and he never makes any money off of it. Luckily, a nice girl by the name of Misuzu shows up and offers him a home and 3 square meals in exchange for being her friend for the summer. Yukito grudgingly agrees and so begins his adventures in this crazy town.

The show really has 3 main arcs, one for each dilemma so let’s take a look at each one individually. First up is Kano’s plot. Yukito was given a job by her mother (or if not mother, a close relative) Hijiri. His job is to do odd jobs around the house and to entertain Kano at times. Unfortunately, it turns out that Kano has been cursed by a feather and has a split personality. This new personality shows up once in a while and tries to destroy herself. If she is not cured soon, Kano will end up being gone for good. As you would expect from Air, there are quite a few fakeouts and even a scene where you’re led to think that Kano’s other side may have succeeded. It’s definitely tricky to stop Kano when she’s always vanishing and her alter ego has super strength as well. One grab was nearly lights out for Yukito…permanently. The arc went over smoothly though and the resolution was good. It definitely had its share of sad moments, but had a happy ending in the end.

Next up was Minagi’s plot. Her mother suffers from forgetfulness and has been unwilling to accept that one of her daughters died at birth. As a result, she believes that Minagi is actually her dead sister. As a result, Minagi’s been forced to assume this identity for years, resulting in a very awkward dynamic in the house. Things get worse when the mother finally realizes that the sister is dead, but then goes to the other extreme as she forgets that she ever had any daughters. Distraught, Minagi is forced to move out and live at an abandoned train station. Now she’s finally in Yukito’s home turf so he decides to help out a bit. He gives her the option of leaving the town with him or finally confronting her mother about who she is. There is also a plot twist about Minagi’s friend Michiru who happens to have the same name as the dead sister. Makes for an interesting dynamic although it leads into the arc’s sad ending. It’s sad, but at least it’s not tragic and all of the characters still had a good time in the end. Minagi is also given a nice epilogue as she leaves this mysterious town and gets to go to a happier place and meet up with some relatives. It was another solid ending to the arc.

Next was the big final arc and unfortunately, it was the one that didn’t go over so well. Misuzu has a unique condition, derived from a curse and a fate of an infinite time loop of very limited possibilities. She can never get a friend as she suffers from painful spells and seizures whenever someone gets too close. The curse also gets partially transferred so if someone wants to be friends with her anyway, then they will both die. There is no way to break the curse and Misuzu is even given the extra discomfort of knowing when she will die. As the show repeatedly states on this tale being the 1000th summer and how this show is essentially about having the best summer ever, it is also her deadline. Misuzu will not outlast the summer, try as she might. She will also have to continue to die every summer, forever and ever. Meanwhile, her aunt Haruko has decided to never get too close to Misuzu. She inherited Misuzu when the girl’s mother died and her father decided to run off. The problem is that the Dad could reclaim her at any time so Haruko didn’t want to get attached. As a result, they’re on good terms, but you couldn’t really call them great friends. They each lead their own lives.
As a result, Misuzu’s been all alone right from the start. Nobody even wants to be her friend no matter how much she asks. Well, Yukito’s helped out a few people already so this shouldn’t be a problem right? Well, unfortunately this is not the case. In fact, he just adds to her troubles by helping her emotions seesaw all over the place as he leaves and returns multiple times. In the end he realizes that this was a mistake and wishes for a do-over, but things don’t go as planned. Now, it should be made clear that Misuzu did get to have some fun in the end and you’re supposed to be content with the fact that she finally got to walk and go to the beach. If there was never any hope given for her to avert this fate of death then that probably would have been okay. It would have been a little more somber throughout, but so long as the core anime was not really changed, it may not have affected the score all that much. Unfortunately, the show keeps on giving you hope that the powers of friendship will be able to free Misuzu. There are dozens and dozens of fake outs that keep occurring and the viewer is left to think that we have finally made it past the darkness and into the light. Over and over again until you finally realize that the anime has just been toying with you from the start. Yes, I’m still irritated at the ending and just thinking about it makes me annoyed.

It doesn’t help that this infinite loop of 1000 summers will never end. If you decide to believe that the kids at the end are the final reincarnations of the two main leads, then it’s possible that this was the final death Misuzu had to endure and now she’s free. It’s a bit of a stretch if you ask me though and either way this version of Misuzu will keep on dying. If Yukito had found Misuzu’s winged form after being given a random speech in the final minutes of the show, then that would have helped to clear things up quite a lot. Instead, it turned into another fruitless search for the guy.

Still, as a lead, Yukito is a good protagonist. I found him to be a lot more enjoyable than the guy from Kanon as he was nicer and more understanding. He did his best to help all of the characters out and did so without having to flirt with everyone. He helped the other characters out as a good friend and he got a pretty sad fate in return. Ah well, he was never looking for a reward in the first place. He’s not too smart though as trying to earn a living by entertaining little kid in exchange for their pocket money will never work. Not to mention that his show was rather lackluster since he could only make his puppet walk back and forth in a straight line. In his second reanimated form, he lost all of his personality so he couldn’t really add much to this.

Misuzu’s a solid heroine as well. I found her to be more likable than any of the other girls. As we get to see her events twice, once from an outsider’s point of view and one from within, she does a good job of keeping up a brave face even when she’s feeling down. She’s had a rather miserable life after all, but always does her best to make the most of it. She turns sad ending into a happy one for herself. The only time I found Misuzu to be annoying was when she lost her memories as she suddenly became a mean person. I don’t think memory loss should change your core personality and subscribe to the Medaka Box theory instead. I feel like Misuzu would still be super polite even if she had no idea what was happening. Regardless, her likable personality is why I was hoping she would have a happier ending.

Kano’s not bad either as she would love to fly, but real world physics don’t allow it. Her dog, Potato, is pretty cool and Kano’s nice as well. She just never got a whole lot of personality besides being a nice person. I guess the split personality counts, but luckily she grew out of that. Her mother, Hijiri was good as well even if she never actually got to even try and help out Misuzu. She’s a doctor so it would have been nice to have seen her make an attempt even if Misuzu claimed that it would be of no use.

If there’s a character that’s a little weak in this series, it would be Minagi. That’s more due to the fact that I don’t really care for soft spoken characters though. There’s really nothing concrete to dislike about her and she has a lot of things to deal with as well. She’s always glad to help out someone in need with free coupons and a place to stay. Air doesn’t just give characters annoying gimmicks to make them different. The show did a really good job of making everyone very nice and sincere even if they end up being pretty similar at times as a result. Michiru was more entertaining as she was very over the top. She constantly beat up Yukito and the two of them were always getting into fights until Michiru became super serious towards the end. She certainly had a lot of energy and I was glad that she channeled it into productive things like blowing bubbles as opposed to constantly accusing Yukito of stuff that he wasn’t guilty of. That would have gotten old very quickly if she hadn’t stopped.
Haruko is Misuzu’s aunt and she gets a very large role in the last 2-3 episodes. She started out as a supporting character and quickly replaced Yukito as the main character once he died and reincarnated the first time. The new scenes gave her a lot of extra character development and ultimately turned her into the best character in the show. She drinks a lot and certainly isn’t the most responsible parent. It took her a while to realize that she should be more helpful, but was better late than never. The ending is particularly rough on her since she will always have some regrets as a result, but at least she’ll have a few fond memories from the last days. As for Misuzu’s dad, the show tries to make him seem like a reasonable character, but it’s hard to buy it. He completely ditched her for 10 years and shows up out of the blue to take her back. If she hadn’t gotten amnesia at the time, his offer would have completely been rejected. He never even has any defense to explain why he left. I’m glad that he didn’t appear as a super evil character or anything like that, but there’s no way that you can root for him by this point.

There was also a random flashback mini arc that happened after Yukito died. It involved three new characters which included the original winged girl, Kanna, her friend, Uraha, and her bodyguard Ryuya. They decide to flee the land so they can have some happy adventures, but they’re caught and Kanna is destroyed. The other two decide to have a kid so that he can keep on being reincarnated to protect her future versions. It’s a very flawed plan at best. This episode gives you some extra context I suppose, but honestly I’d call it total filler. These guys will never show up again after all and they weren’t useful in the fights. Kanna and her Mom could level mountains with a single slash and yet they die to a casual arrow? That was probably the worst showing that I’ve seen from such a powerful being in some time. Not to mention that the Mom could have mentioned that she was cursed before Kanna made contact with her. It would have been more effective than simply saying “Don’t touch me” for no real reason.

The show did do a good job with the following episode though as it played out like a bit of a mystery. Why are we reliving the first episode? Has Yukito been given a chance to change everything? At first it seemed like that, but instead he gets a double take in addition to his original version so there are now two of him living in the same place and time as each other. It’s a pretty novel concept and as mentioned earlier, it’s interesting to see everything again from a new angle. If only the ending hadn’t spoiled its efforts.

The animation looks good. It’s not particularly awe inspiring, but it does look a little retro. (In a good way of course) We do get a quick action scene that is good and the character designs are all solid. I enjoyed the soundtrack to an extent as well. The themes in the actual episodes are all forgettable, but the opening is good. It’s an emotional theme that fits very well with the episodes. As a result, it’s not something that you are likely to listen to for fun at any given time, but if you just saw an emotional movie, then it’s a fitting theme to look up on Youtube.

As for negatives, there really isn’t much here. There is a little fanservice as characters dramatically shed their clothes to embrace the sky as they fly around. The aunt is also very casually dressed so she isn’t wearing much most of the time. Luckily, this show isn’t a shonen so the camera angles never really focus on it. I am still of the opinion that a risque costume does not necessarily have to be fanservice as long as the camera handles it appropriately. Air is a good example of this. There’s certainly no problems with language or violence here. This is something that you could easily show a kid although he/she would likely get bored due to the limited action scenes.

In the end, how does this compare to Kanon? Well, Kanon takes the definitive win here, but it’s not a lopsided contest by any means. Air has the better characters including the lead and has a better resolution to most of the plots. Kanon counters this by having the far superior ending and much better animation. Kanon was a lot sadder than Air despite the ending, but I’m not sure if I’d really call that a good thing per say. The soundtracks were more or less equal. I think “Ugu” beats “Gao” as a character gimmick as well. Really, the only thing separating these two series is the ending. Without it, Air actually takes the solid win here. After all, with better characters and better arcs, how could it lose? Kanon does have less filler though so that’s something to consider. Both deal with amnesia plots, but Kanon’s was more enjoyable.
Overall, Air is a solid title, but the ending really saps the joy out of it. As they say, an ending can make or break a title. It breaks this one, but it still makes for a good ride to I’ll recommend it to you all. If anything, just watch the final episode until the initial commercial break and you should be okay more or less. It’ll have ended on a much better note for you or even just ending on the second last episode although I forgot exactly what the cliffhanger there was. The town’s certainly very deserted so it makes you wonder how living there would be. I doubt the wifi signal would be all that good so you could forget about online gaming for the most part. With this title down, it’s back to action titles. Still, we’ll see if the next tragic title can beat this one. It’ll likely all ride on the ending rather than the journey, but you never know.

Overall 5/10

Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures Review

It’s been a little over 2 years since I started this show. While the three holiday episodes have not aired yet, the show is essentially over so it’s time for this review to illuminate us all on how well Pac Man did. Was it a good show or did it fall to the immense amounts of crude humor and dicey moments? Well, it’s not the Pac Man show that we wanted, but perhaps it is the one that we deserved!

This show took the Pac Man mythos in a completely new direction. The old Pac Man was responsible, tough, had a strong moral compass, did what had to be done, and he was essentially the ultimate leader. He was a nice guy, but he could fight when pushed and he saved the world on several occasions. The new Pac Man is essentially the opposite in many ways and he’s such an obvious laugh in the face of the original that you can’t help but laugh. Depending on how much you like the original Pac Man, you will either enjoy this interpretation or you will just cringe.

Let’s quickly look at the plot. It’s been ages since the ghosts have been seen and nobody even believes in them anymore. That’s a shame right? Pac Man is also the only member of his species who is still alive. His parents mysteriously disappeared a very long time ago. One day, the ghosts attack once again and Pac Man is charged with protecting the planet from them. He can eat them with ease and Pac Man can even eat some berries to give him super powers so that he can defeat the ghosts by the dozens. His two friends, Cyli and Spiral also help him out in this battle against the evil Betrayus.

The show actually managed to crack 50+ episodes, which is most impressive. I’m pretty sure that the old show never made it that far. It’s too bad though since the old Pac Man show was a lot of fun and I even looked up some of the episodes on Youtube a while back. Each one was only 10 minutes similar to Arthur so they’re very accessible and you’ll see Pac Man as he was meant to be seen. If you’re a true Pac fan, that’s where you’ll want to be.

Back to this show, let’s start off with the technical aspects. The soundtrack is actually quite good and many of the tunes are memorable. You’ll actually remember them as you finish the show and they can actually get quite epic as there is even an opera theme at one moment. That’s definitely a good way to reel in the action fans right? Even the theme song is epic as the narrator says “The Pac is back!” He says it with a very dead voice, but that may be part of the point so I suppose that it can be excused.

As for the animation, Pac Man is unfortunately in CGI. This is a sad trend that has been going on for quite a while, particularly with American shows. Japan has also gotten into it, but not quite as much. It’s just sad because the old Pac Man show looks about as good as this one even though it’s so much older. That being said, the CGI is good as far as CG goes. One thing that you will notice is how Pac Man’s eyes are always half closed. It’s an odd quirk and one that is likely not intended to be there, but the CG just made it so. We do get some neat fight scenes, but they are naturally comedy action scenes that don’t take themselves seriously. If they did…I’m not sure if the animation could keep up. CG has a ton of limits, but still, the show does not look bad at all. It’s still clear and modern.

All right, let’s talk about the characters. Pac Man is essentially your average main character who fights to save the world. The main difference is that unlike other heroes, Pac Man literally cannot control his hunger. If there is food around, he’s going to eat it. This applies to events as well and he even eats all of the food at the President’s party, spoiling the event for everyone. Fans of the Pac won’t like how he can be pretty selfish with this and he’s never apologetic in the slightest. He gets scared by the bully of the school as well. He’s also the kind of guy who will get a crush on someone after seeing her for about a minute and he still can’t stop himself from burping after every bite. Yes, whenever he swallows a ghost, he has to burp afterwards. He does this in literally every episode of the series. I like Pac’s charismatic character to an extent…he means well anyway. I do think that the burping can be a little much though.
Spiral is one of Pac’s best friends and he’s always around to help out. His character basically is that he’s Pac’s friend as it doesn’t really go further than that. He doesn’t really have a gimmick. He seems to be the “cool” character of the group as he always says “bro” at the end of his sentences and fights off the ghosts with his cannon. I’d say that he’s a good character. Likewise, Cyli helps to keep Pac Man in check and she has more of a school presence than the other two. She nearly became class president, but ultimately decided not to do so. Her trendy parents embarrass her at times, but she mostly doesn’t have to worry about that as they only appear once or twice during the whole series.

Pac Man also has a few other supporting characters who help out. His aunt used to be a hardcore army fighter back in the wars and she reminds the heroes of this any chance that she gets. You could say that she’s the hype character of the show. Pac’s aunt is a good character although she doesn’t have all that much personality when you get past the hype. The President is on good terms with Pac Man and they have a very casual relationship similar to how the main character of Pixels could walk into the White House in shorts. The President gives Pac Man various missions ranging from being someone’s friend to saving the town. That being said, the President has a lot of dark secrets like crying as a kid or being allergic to peas, which makes him an easy target for black mail.

We can’t forget Sir Cumference, who can’t always hear very well, but he has a lot of technology at his disposal. He comes to the rescue more than once and he’s certainly one of the most dependable characters in the show. Another major character is Skeebo. He’s the bully who tries to be a relatable character once in a while, but always reverts back to his old ways. He only picks on people who are weaker than him and he loves to give Pac Man a tough time by calling him “Lemon Loser” and a lot of other lemon related names. Pac Man is pretty round so it makes the name calling easy for Skeebo. He was a pretty fun character and typically gave the show its best humor. Skeebo even turned into a superhero once, which was pretty neat! He may be a mean guy, but in the end, the heroes can count on him to help.

As for the villains, Betrayus is naturally the main one. He appears in every episode and is always thwarted by Pac Man. Typically, this happens in a very embarrassing way. Any toughness that he had at the start is quickly taken away as he is forced to team up with Pac Man several times and run away in others. At least he can fight though as Betrayus can shoot blasts of fire. That automatically makes him one of the toughest characters in the series since most of the other ghosts can just stand around and get eaten. The 4 ghosts from the classic Pac Man show are always around of course, but they have no real powers. Blinky’s the classic leader of the ghosts, but surprisingly that is rarely ever stated if at all. He’s just another guy in the gang like Inky. Pinky has the biggest role as she is always going after Pac, who denies her advances by running away. Clyde is the not very smart member of the group who speaks in a very slow and hollow voice to push that point across. He’s probably the best member of the group as he brings in the puns. Buttler and Dr. Buttocks were two recurring characters who worked for Betrayus and as you can tell from their names, they were typically the but of the jokes in the netherworld. Betrayus would have fun beating both of them up in most of the episodes.

Aside from the ghosts, we also have the aliens. They seem to know what happened to Pac’s family and may be holding them hostage although it’s hinted that they escaped. They have a warrior known as the Pacinator, who even gave Pac Man a good fight by forcing him to eat Ice Cream. That guy doesn’t mess around and that episode was the best one in the series. How can you top something that Epic!? The plot had returned and that didn’t happen too often. There were also one shot villains like the Easter Bunny who were typically fun to see.

The main thing that held the series back was how much crude humor it had. Literally every episode had multiple moments of this and it never let up for an instant. Seriously, you could expect slime jokes, burps, farts, and all kinds of gross moments in every single episode. It could definitely get quite excessive and there were some especially dicey episodes like the pimple one on picture day and one episode where Pac Man became a planet. I can’t even begin to describe how sad those episodes could be. If every episode was like that, this show would have gotten a 1 or a 2.

Luckily, there were still a decent amount of good episodes. After a while, you’ll barely even notice Pac’s burps as he eats the ghosts. It’s just too bad that the plot wasn’t around very often as 40+ of the episodes were spent on filler as Pac dealt with the ghosts. That’s not too bad depending on how you look at it, but I’m confident that the show would have been better if the plot had been pushed into the forefront a little more. Random episodes of crude humor can only get you so far after all.

Also, since this is really a complete comedy with some action, none of the characters ever stay serious for long. Even if there is an alien invasion, we’ll quickly get at least 3-5 comic relief scenes to compensate. There’s never a sense of danger or anything, but that’s the point. The problem is that the humor just isn’t good enough to make each joke good. The comic relief ones are simply recycled for the whole series instead of thinking of new ones. The characters are entertaining for the most part and we get some fun shenanigans like the campfire stories or the episode with the transfer student (That was an “emotional” one….) but I can’t forget the bad episodes. The reason why the score is still decent is that it’s typically a fun show despite its flaws.

At the very least, it is always a pretty happy cartoon so it makes for a good watch when you just want to see something light and fun. The episodes will shoot past you very quickly. It’s highly unlikely that the series will continue, but if it does, the next season would likely have a lot of promise and could bring the show up as the plot could mean more action and tension await us….or maybe not. Still, it’s fun to think about!
Overall, The Pac Man show definitely a bit of a miss. I’d say that it only barely broke even and that’s mainly due to the fact that it is a Pac Man show. Since I know the character, it’s hilarious to see how they’ve warped him. It’s like the Ultimate Spider Man show, but much more extreme. To an extent, that’s the only way you can expect to really enjoy the show a lot. If you like seeing your favorite characters look bad, you’re going to be in for some seriously hilarious moments! I aim to play the games based off of this show at some point, but it could be a little while until I pull that off. I really can’t recommend this show unless you either like crude humor or just don’t mind it. If you have to see the show for Pac Man honor, then you can at least be glad to know that there are some fight scenes once in a while. They’re around…just not too frequently! Well, I guess we can wait for the next Pac Man show now!

Overall 5/10

Fantastic Four World’s Greatest Heroes Review

Looks like it’s time to review one of the Marvel cartoons that fell under the radar. The Fantastic Four have had several shows, but they’ve never had the same amount of success as the Avengers or the X Men. I’ve seen episodes from two of the other series, but this is the first one where I got to watch the whole series from start to finish. It’s a decent show, but it makes many mistakes, which keeps it from being known as one of the better cartoons. You can certainly see why it was cancelled, but it’s still a good title to check out.

There aren’t any large story arcs in the show. There are plots that continue like villains who go in and out of jail and Dr Doom’s never ending plans to destroy the Fantastic Four once and for all, but nothing to really talk about in the plot selection. A lot of episodes are stand alone fights with the various villains. We also have the Kree subplot as they start to get pretty fed up with the group of heroes. The Fantastic Four antagonize just about everyone that they meet so they have a lot of enemies. Naturally, Dr Doom is at the top of the list.

There are 26 episodes, which is a decent episode count for a series. It’s not a whole lot when you compare it to the other Fantastic Four shows, but cracking the 20 episode barrier is always something to be proud of. That being said, the show was just not as high quality as we have come to expect back in the time that it aired. One of the main problems is actually the animation.

It’s some of the worst animation that I have ever seen for a superhero cartoon. We can make the case that the CGI Spiderman series looked worse, but it was CGI so that’s to be expected. The character designs here are just pretty off putting and the colors can get very chaotic. The show loves to make everything look red or green or blue depending on how the animators are feeling that day. It’s not very pleasing to the eyes and they just seem to be having too much fun trying to make the show unique. Focusing on the fight scenes would have been a better way to have kept the series afloat. I could not get used to this animation no matter how many episodes I saw.

The soundtrack is certainly better, but it’s still not very good. There’s one classic theme that plays whenever they are about to fight and it’s a pretty decent theme for the Fantastic Four. The problem is that the soundtrack is very limited so you’ll be hearing the same theme in just about every episode and typically more than once. It’s a good theme, but (almost) any theme will get old after a number of times. We need variety!

Those two factors hurt the show, but what hurt it even more is the overall cast. The Fantastic Four are known to argue and fight a whole lot, but they take it to a whole new level here. They are constantly talking and there is never a quiet scene in the entire show. Human Torch is like a music box that you just can’t close and he’s always on screen. The others love to contribute as well and the villains play their part. It wouldn’t be a problem if the lines were good, but that’s rarely the case. I’d definitely compare it to Avengers Assemble since just about every line here is supposed to be witty and make you smile. The scary part is that Avengers Assemble actually does a better job with this, but it could just be that I like the characters a little more there. Let’s look at the characters in more detail.

Mr Fantastic is easily the best character in the show. It’s not even close and I also liked the voice that was chosen for him. He really sounds like he’s full of himself and that’s the Reed Richards that I know. He’s always got a plan at the ready and he doesn’t back down. I’ve never seen an incarnation of Mr Fantastic that I did not like and I’m glad to see that this hasn’t changed so far. His powers still aren’t great for combat, but he definitely has his moments.

The Invisible Woman is not bad, but she definitely gives Mr Fantastic a lot of grief during the series. She blames him for the Human Torch’s disappearance at one point, which was fairly unreasonable. One thing that helps to counter this is that she’s easily the strongest member of the team. When she uses her powers effectively, there are few fighters who can really stop her and almost none of those are main FF characters. She runs the business side of the Baxter Building so she tends to talk to the various inhabitants a little more than the others. This means that she has to keep up a pleasant facade from time to time, but the other members know that she is always ready to fight. Sue Storm is probably the only member who can talk back to one of their meaner neighbors.

I’m definitely not a huge Thing fan and he doesn’t do himself any favors here. He’s a pretty nice guy as he just wants to watch his ball games in peace. Unfortunately, the Human Torch will never let that happen so they get into constant arguments. His side plot with Alisha can also drag on a lot since it never goes anywhere. I think there’s no real excuse for the heroes not to cure her blindness and she should also move somewhere that’s a little safer from the Puppet Master. Alisha’s not a bad character, but she’s always been one of my least favorite heroines. She simply doesn’t have a whole lot of character and she naturally doesn’t get any fight scenes. The Thing is the power hitter of the Fantastic Four, but you’d be surprised at how often he still manages to lose fights. The Mole Men’s minions are able to take him down and that was during a rage moment. This certainly isn’t Ben Grimm’s best collection of moments, but the show did adapt his character pretty faithfully. I’ll give the writers some props there.

The Human Torch is unfortunately the most annoying character of the group. For every good line that he has, he’ll have 10 wince worthy ones. The reason for this is the fact that he never stops talking. He continue going on and on until he’s knocked out by a villain. It’s nice to see his confidence and he does pretty well during some of the events, but this version of Johnny Storm is just a little too exaggerated. Naturally, he is given a rather high pitched voice to make him look even worse when he is knocked out. His fire abilities are definitely useful and I would argue that he could defeat the Thing, but there are also a lot of ways around his fire that make him a risky ally to have. He’s typically fun to watch, but he goes overboard way too often to be a really likable character this time.

The Skrulls naturally get to appear and the writers must have really disliked them. They are shown to have little to no actual intelligence. They are very obvious in their attempts to gather intel on the Fantastic Four and they are brushed aside rather easily once the fighting begins. They have never been the toughest of enemies, but they are typically intelligence. They are masters of espionage after all so they wouldn’t make the rookie mistakes that they exhibit in their appearances. It was a pretty good episode though, but their portrayal should have been a little better.

Namor makes a quick appearance in the show and naturally he is rivals with Mr Fantastic. They are constantly getting into arguments and trying to one up the other. Namor is not as bad as you would expect since he is typically a very unlikable character for me. He still shows some of those traits, but the focus is more on him being a leader than on his other qualities. That helps him a lot and he makes for a good guest star. It’s unfortunate for him that he has to ask the surface dwellers for assistance, but the Fantastic Four are always happy to oblige. I was more than satisfied with his portrayal.
Hulk looks pretty good here in his beast form and as Bruce Banner. It’s sad for Bruce since he’s always so close to getting a cure until things just don’t go his way. Considering how smart Reed is, you’d assume that he’d be able to cure him easily. The Hulk’s design isn’t very good, but he definitely looks tough. It’s safe to say that the Thing was completely outmatched in their skirmish and that’s how all of their fights should end up. Bruce Banner gets the short end of the stick as per usual, but his personality was pretty good and he was a likable guest star.

Ronan appears a few times and he has actually defected from the Kree this time. In the comics, that is pretty rare although I don’t necessarily mind the change. It means that he is now free to do as he pleases and he naturally challenges the Fantastic Four. His skill with his hammer is formidable and he has a nice fight against the Human Torch. I’ve never found him to be an incredibly powerful fighter, but against the Fantastic Four I would definitely give him some decent odds in a fight. He’s around the Thing’s level in strength here, if not a little weaker. He gave us one of the better episodes here in the form of a sort of Olympics competition against the Fantastic Four, which was pretty cool. He was definitely one of the better villains in the series.

The Mole Man is probably my least favorite villain in the series. He can’t fight and his design is pretty hard to look at. None of his plans should have any reasonable chance to succeed considering how weak his forces are. Unfortunately, he is one of the more popular Fantastic Four villains so he gets to appear several times. You end up feeling bad for his minions since they’ll never get to see the sun. He has to rely on his wit and cunning to win his fights since his staff can only get him so far. It’s always wince worthy to see him defeat the Fantastic Four.

The Impossible Man is one of those characters that I never like. His reality warping abilities are something that I never want to see in a show so a character whose whole gimmick is related to that is naturally not my kind of character. He mostly just comes to troll the heroes until they trick him into leaving. His episodes are typically more annoying than entertaining. Ant Man made a surprise guest star appearance in this show considering that he typically doesn’t get to be a guest star anywhere. His portrayal was pretty good and he definitely seems to know what he’s doing. There’s not all that much to say about him, but it would be nice to see him fight someday. Fighting minions doesn’t really count, he needs to take on a super villain!

Ironman gets to appear, which is pretty cool. Tony Stark’s portrayal is pretty great since he acts pretty fearless even as the Fantastic Four begin to threaten him. As Iron Man, he definitely proves to be an impressive fighter as you would expect. His armor does get hacked once again, but it is by Dr Doom so it’s pretty excusable. I liked the armor design here, which is a plus and he was definitely one of (if not) the best guest stars on the show. It’s too bad that he didn’t get to return since that would have been pretty cool.

The Super Skrull naturally gets to appear, which is good since he’s a very iconic Fantastic Four villain. I always liked the idea of a guy who had all of their individual abilities and he does not disappoint. He puts up a pretty decent fight and what he makes up for in personality, he makes up for in attitude. He’s never been a very deep character anyway so I hadn’t been expecting all that much. Still, he was a pretty cool villain thanks to his battles and appearance.
The Puppet Master is similar to the Mole Man in that he can’t really fight. He actually has a very overpowered ability, which enables him to control anyone that he has made a statue out of. Techncially, nobody can really counter such a technique so he cannot lose. Plot hax ensues and they get out of his plot, but it’s one of those cases where the writers just made him a little too good. That happens sometimes I suppose, but it’s why you’ve always got to be careful. Even with that ability, he’s just not likable. He’s a really old guy who’s out for vengeance…not a very original story.

She Hulk gets a guest star role and she shows why she is about as strong as the Thing. She is mainly here to remind us why the Thing is so important to the team, but she’s still pretty likable. She was always a pretty good replacement member on the team and she doesn’t rub it in. She’s a team player, but she’s naturally here for the money. It would have been cool for her to have had a real fight with the Thing, but maybe next time. I was just glad to have another guest star.

Terminus is the final villain in the series and it was an interesting decision to end with him. He’s incredibly powerful, but also incredibly slow, which helps to even it out. The heroes quickly despair when they see him until they remember that Reed will think of a plan. So, all of the pressure rests on Reed and it’s thanks to his quick thinking that the heroes survive. Terminus is pretty gullible and I can’t say that I like him, but I do like the idea of a giant mech running around New York. He makes for a good villain.

The Frightful Four appear as a foil to the Fantastic Four. They pretend to be heroes for a while, but we naturally don’t buy that for long. It’s one of the better episodes as they try to humiliate the Fantastic Four on TV until they eventually begin to fight. Mr Fantastic really lets loose and he gets a pretty epic line to end the episode. The members of the Frightful Four are decent. The Wizard is pretty smart after all, but they are rather simple villains. They’re around, but they aren’t on screen long enough to become likable. They make for good villains and that’s about all that you can say for them.

Diablo is a one shot character, but it’s cool to see him try to convince everyone that magic is real. He’s a villain who is hard to take seriously since his powers don’t have many offensive capabilities, but he really tries and that’s the important thing. He definitely isn’t a very interesting villain, but he only appeared once so it wasn’t a real problem. Annihilius is more interesting and I’m not even a fan of the guy. Annihilius also gets to appear in one of the episodes and things aren’t going well for him when his weapon is stolen. Let’s just say that a team up may be in order unless he can snatch the scepter back on his own. He’s not mindless per say, but he’s not one of the Fantastic Four’s more intelligent villains either. He’s a monster who will defend his territory and I guess that will have to be good enough for us. On the bright side, his design is pretty good.

Ultimately, the show definitely had some fun guest stars. It also had some pretty fun episodes like the olympic games and the one with the Frightful Four. From the 26 episodes, I’m sure that at least half of them are pretty good. There were just other episodes that were not so good and ones that were only decent. The problem is that some episodes can toe the line where they almost feel a little boring. It’s partially thanks to the intros as a lot of the episodes begin rather similarly with the Human Torch and Thing fighting. It can just be hard to really get into the feel of the episode, which hurts its chances. The series definitely has no real replay value since you will never care to watch it again. Other big shows like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Justice League don’t have that problem since you really want to watch them again. That’s probably due to the fact that this show has no good fights. It’s just the way that it was made, but you never feel the blows here. The lack of a plot only serves to amplify this and your first time around will likely be your last.

As far as Marvel cartoons go, this one still does beat Hulk Agents of Smash though so that’s a consolation win. It’s still not a bad show either since I would have given it a quick 4 in that case. It has its pros and cons and they basically cancel out in the long run. Watching an episode shouldn’t be considered as 20 minutes wasted, but it won’t leave you as fulfilled as other shows. Compared to most western shows at the moment, this would probably seem like an all star in comparison. Compared to most Marvel tunes, then it definitely seems to be under average.

Overall, The Fantastic Four were never the World’s Greatest Heroes so the title may have already started firing off some warning bells. The characters can be pretty annoying and it’s really hard to get invested into some of the episodes. They just aren’t very entertaining and the sub par animation does not help its case. That being said, we still do get a lot of fight scenes and we have a decent amount of guest stars. Some episodes are certainly better than others and at its best, the show can still be good. It’s just not very consistent and you are always playing with fire here. I recommend checking this show out if you’ve always wanted to see a new Fantastic Four cartoon, but otherwise I recommend watching the classic 90’s series instead. It’s a more accurate representation of the team and the comics that spawned them. On the bright side, you’ll get to see the Hulk duke it out with the Thing in this show!

Overall 5/10

Sword Art Online Review

Odds are that you’ve heard of Sword Art Online if you have any interest in anime. Before Attack on Titan came along, it was basically the most hyped anime to come out. It went viral instantly and suddenly everyone knew about it and really enjoyed or disliked the anime. It’s only natural that I would see it at some point and the plot sounded like a lot of fun. The show got off to an incredible start, but the ending was incredibly awful. Time to see what happened!

The plot revolves around a kid who goes into an virtual video game by putting on a headset. It’s like the Oculus Rift, but a tad more futuristic. Once he enters the game; Kirito realizes that he cannot get out. The programmer decided to get rid of the log out function and the only way to escape this place it to complete the game. If a player died in the game world, then they will die in the real world as well. Luckily, Kirito played the Beta version, but will that be enough for him to complete the game on his own? Either way, the rest of the players will be trying to head for the goal as well and the minions are not unlimited so they may have to fight for EXP. Let the games begin!

Arc 2 takes a different route as the SAO nightmare is not over. Some of the players never returned and Kirito is forced to head into a dangerous video game in order to tie up loose ends from the first arc. He’s going to do whatever it takes to make things right again and he is helped by his sister. Kirito and Suguha do not know that they are teaming up in the virtual world and just assume that it is a stranger. (Despite Kirito not even bothering to change his real life design from his online one…) No matter, they just need to complete the game!

During these two arcs we still manage to have some time for filler and the pacing can get a little rough. While some episodes may technically not be filler in the first arc, they definitely feel that way. We get a multi parter about a mystery that wasn’t very interesting and we even take time to see Kirito take a day off from saving the world. There’s also a random quest so that Kirito can get a new sword. Some of these plot points come back in a big way and others don’t really need to return. It can also make the story a little harder to follow because the timeline keeps jumping all over the place. Episode 8 may take place after 6 but before 7 and it boggles the mind. It can be complex in a good way, but it can also feel a little out of place. Kirito will be mopping the floor with everyone in one episode and then getting beaten up with ease in another.

Kirito is a pretty good character and his voice actor in the english dub did a terrific job. It’s easy to root for Kirito because he’s such a noble character and he always wants to help. He does have some iffy moments that detract from his coolness such as his ungraceful effort in helping Asuna get away from her bodyguard and the whole romance angle seemed to take him down a few pegs. He’s typically at his most hardcore when he’s alone. He was awesome during the first few episodes and he was pretty likable in Arc 2 as well. He’s pretty unforgettable and he finishes the show looking pretty good. He’s not going to be the greatest protagonist out there, but he’s good enough.

Asuna can be a little disappointing in this show. I’ve heard that she’s a whole lot better in the novels so I guess we’ll see about that, but her role in the anime isn’t great. She gets to fight the final boss of Arc 1 in a sense, but she doesn’t do well. She’s a high ranking member in the army, but she still needed help to get away from one of the underlings and we rarely get to see her fight any of the opponents. She has some good fight scenes, but they’re typically just against minions or she’s just supporting Kirito’s attacks. She needed a bigger role and it doesn’t help that her Arc 2 role is pretty sad. So, Asuna isn’t a bad character, but she’s not as tough as I had guessed.
Sugou is terrible and he’s the main villain of arc 2. His picture that’s shown above really depicts how awful he is. The creator of Sword Art Online technically destroyed many more people and basically committed genocide, but he’s still more likable than Sugou. He still had some dignity and humanity left in him. Sugou crosses all of the lines that he can and I’m just glad that the anime didn’t feature any puppies for him to try and kick. He’s pretty despicable and you can’t even appreciate him as a villain. His reasons are all very petty and he’s a very sad person. He single handily managed to drag Sword Art Online down with him towards the end of Arc 2, which shows how awful he is. He may be the worst final boss that I’ve seen in a long time!

Heathcliff is the big general of the army in Sword Art Online. He can fight, which is a step up from most of the commanders that you may be used to seeing. He is an excellent fighter as it turns out and he is one of the only guys who can give Kirito a challenge. I can’t say that I really liked him, but he wasn’t a terrible character. He doesn’t really have honor when it comes down to a fight though and that’s where he loses major points for me.

Skull Reaper and Gleam Eyes are only two of the epic enemies that appear in Sword Art Online. Arc 1 definitely had some fun opponents and I give the anime props for giving them a horror feeling. The backround music was perfect for when Gleam Eyes appeared and Skull Reaper’s design can give anyone chills. I also liked a Phantom that attacked the heroes in one of the episodes and his stats were off the charts. The heroes really didn’t stand a chance against him. It’s rare that we get to see monsters act as big bosses anymore so it was fun to see them.

Suguha is the main heroine of the second arc and I can’t say that she was terribly likable either. In a sense, she’s similar to Asuna in personality, but she’s not as powerful. This doesn’t bode well for her and she doesn’t really get any big fights in the show. She has magical abilities, but they aren’t good against the stronger enemies. She also has a lot of drama in her human form and I could have gone without that subplot. Just tell Kirito that they will have to be rivals and leave it at that. She can fight pretty well in the human world which is good. If not for her subplot, Suguha was actually a decent character. I’m sure that she’ll bounce back for the sequel.

Yui became a main character once she appeared early on during Arc 1. She’s not a bad character although she doesn’t really add anything to the plot. She does provide Kirito with someone to talk to at times so it is a good way to advance the plot without monologing to one’s self for no real reason. Yui has some pretty impressive abilities that help out the heroes as the show goes by. She jokes around a lot with Kirito and friends, but ends up coming through when it counts.

There are other characters that I could mention like Grimlock and Sigurd, but they don’t really feel major enough to warrant their own sections. Even the red haired guy from episode one vanished for a long time before briefly reappearing. Kirito also joined a squad during one of the earlier episodes but I can’t say that they were super likable. They should have listened to his expert advice! (Still an emotional scene though) There are plenty of characters in SAO, but I can’t say that most of them are likable. The bartender is a nice guy and he’s probably the best from the minor supporting characters.

So, what happened to the show? Sword Art Online’s first episodes were awesome and I was probably going to give it a low end 8 or a very high 7. Unfortunately, that’s when the random mini arcs popped up to give us some romance and a really boring mystery. A lot of the episodes didn’t really feel like they had a point. I only liked it when they’d work towards getting up the tower and Kirito’s epic fight against Heathcliff. That being said, it was definitely still a decently high 7. The arc also ended on an epic note and that’s where the series should have ended.

Then…arc 2 came along to blow the show up. If you thought that Guilty Crown imploded towards the end..then you need to see this show to see how you truly mess up an anime. I actually did not mind the beginning of the second arc…for a few seconds. Once the plot started and we find out what Asuna’s fate is…things quickly went down. The villain gets away with just about everything and Kirito can’t stop him. (Which is the main problem. We get that villains are evil because they’re the villains, but we don’t need to see how evil they are. After a certain point, it just makes the villain completely unlikable. I also prefer when the hero is able to stop the villain before maximum damage can be done. In this case, the villain lasted too long and accomplished too many of his goals) Kirito should have brought a camera and sent proof to the police between matches or just knocked him out and locked him up until he can get proof. (I realize that the second option isn’t feasible, but Kirito needed to do something!) Instead, it’s back to the gaming world.
The actual game is pretty interesting and it’s visually better than the Tower from the first game. Flying is a nice addition and Kirito even got to keep his level ups, which means that he’s still very powerful. Unfortunately, that’s when Suguha’s subplot comes into play and we get some plot twists about how related they are. Making matters worse is Asuna’s subplot, which we keep seeing over and over again. We know that she has absolutely no hope, but the anime keeps on showing this to us until it’s burned into our memory. Kirito’s plot was pretty good, but we can’t ignore the subplots.

Things went to ground zero during the final episodes as the main villain got two octopus assistants that were pretty awful. There was also a very unnecessary plot twist about some of the other players from SAO who weren’t able to get out in time. Time to give the show a dark twist eh? How did the police not notice this? Finally, Kirito meets up with the villain and things don’t go very well. It’s time for Kirito to realize how powerless he is and the scenes are cringe worthy. After that, we get to see Kirito’s super rage moment as he sadistically takes the villain on. Finally, the online game ends!!!! The final episode definitely leaves off on a happier note, but Kirito must be crazy.

After those two traumatic experiences..I’d never go into a virtual world again. I don’t know how they’re still legal after those two huge controversies and unless someone needs his help; Kirito should stay in the real world. In that respect; I definitely didn’t care for the ending. I was just relieved that Arc 2 was over. I really hope that no future SAO arc is that bad. The first one was amazing and the second one was downright awful, which means that they basically cancel out as far as the rating goes. Luckily, this isn’t an unusual thing. Soul Eater, Accel World, Samurai 7, Railgun S, Guilty Crown, Naruto (to an extent. Like 50+ filler episodes in a row…..) and many more have suffered the same fate. Sword Art Online’s just happened to be a little more drastic than the average show, but it can always bounce back. The sequel does show a lot of promise and adding guns to the mix could be nice and exciting.

The animation in Sword Art Online is also impressive and you can tell that they put a lot of effort into the show so that it would look good. The fights are always very flashy and exciting to watch and the show feels new. I have a feeling that it’s one of those shows that will never really look old. It’ll age pretty well and 20 years from now it’ll still be able to match up. Everything from the character designs to the backgrounds look very good.

Again, I have to stress how great the fight scenes were. The one thing that I really did enjoy in the second arc of Sword Art Online was the fight scenes. Kirito’s match against the Red group’s commander was excellent and his final battle against thousands of flying minions that came out was spectacular. Arc 1 also had it’s share of incredible fights. They’re some of the highest budget fights that you’ll see out there and they have the right amount of flashiness to coincide with the swordplay. The music just amps up the epicness for these scenes and Kirito is a solid protagonist to root for. All of these factors result in really great action scenes.

Unfortunately, SAO does have some fanservice. It’s mainstream so it’s probably expected that they would add some, but it’s still sad. It’s not a whole lot, but the small scenes to add up. They typically involve Kirito and Asuna or just Asuna. The scenes typically come out of nowhere and some are practically there just so that they can have the stereotypical scene where the main heroine gets jealous. The scenes will likely make you wince, but that’s the effect that they always have so it’s not surprising!

Sword Art Online’s soundtrack is very good. It has some very nice theatrical sounding themes in it. The fight against Glimmer Eyes started with a great theme and even Kirito’s quick assault against the guy with the shield had a good fight theme. There are mainly 2-3 action themes that I liked in the first arc and another 2-3 in the second. The show definitely excelled in this area and the soundtrack deserves 5 stars.

It’s time to finish up the comparisons to Accel World. Now that I’ve finished both, I can safely say that Sword Art Online feels higher quality. They definitely put more budget into it and the soundtrack/animation really show this. That being said; Accel World rules the school when it comes to fight scenes. Nothing can stop Silver Crow’s big fights. They’re fast, epic, and awesome. They’re some of the best fights in anime history and you won’t be forgetting them anytime soon. Combat Animation goes to Accel World. Overall animation goes to Sword Art Online. Soundtrack goes to Accel World. It’s tough, but Accel World takes the slight edge here. Both of them die out in Arc 2, but Accel World’s wasn’t nearly as drastic. So, it wins in Arc 2 and Sword Art Online wins Arc 1. Overall, Accel World wins. Still, Sword Art Online had the better main character, which helps to even the odds. Accel World ended up being the better show for me, but they both do a good job of showing how tough it can be to have games with such high stakes. (Accel World deserves a sequel!)
Overall, Sword Art Online is a tragic tale of an anime that ascended to great heights and then lost itself in the blink of an eye. The soundtrack and animation are terrific and I really enjoyed Kirito as a main character. His english voice actor is currently my favorite as he even passed Ichigo’s. I highly recommend watching the first arc and by then it’s hard to stop without finishing. Just be prepared for disappointment as you start the second arc. No matter how bad and unrelated to the title of the show you may think it is…it’s worse! Getting rid of the second final episode of the series would have bumped the show up to a 6 and just getting rid of the Asuna subplot in Arc 2 would have jumped it to a 7. Ah well, these things happen and I have much higher hopes for the sequel. (Guns vs Swords…the ultimate question!) On that bright note….I’m off!

Overall 5/10

Update. This is the kind of series that gets worse and worse as you remember it. It’s been a little over a year since I reviewed the title and would give it more of a 1-2 thanks to just how bad the ending is. Seriously, this is one show that you Do not want to watch!

A Certain Scientific Railgun Review

Shorewood Standard Ocard1
After seeing the Index series, I suppose that it was only a matter of time until the spinoff would come up. Without Touma leading the charge and the whole magic side of the equation, could the show still manage to be exciting? Misaka may have been a good character in the main series, but some characters just don’t do well when it comes to their own series. (Rock Lee) I halfheartedly wondered about these things as the show began. Time to see if the series could hold its own!

Misaka Mikoto is the main character of this series and she’s completely different from Touma. Touma barely got by and he had to scramble to get enough money to buy his daily groceries. He’s also a little in the dark as far as the plots go and he just punches whoever gets in his way. Misaka is pretty wealthy and she lives at the most prestigious school in the city. Guards can be found just about everywhere and she experiences the light part of the city. (In this series anyway) Misaka was a cool supporting character in the original series, but I can safely say that she’s become a much better character through this one. Similar to how I became a big Hunter X Hunter fan after watching the anime for the first time as opposed to reading the manga; I dare say that watching this series has helped me gain respect for the Index franchise as a whole. In some ways it’s more fun than the main series, but we also get a lot of filler, which is never an amazing sign.

For those of you who haven’t watched the main series, I’ll just give some background. A Certain Scientific Railgun takes place in Academy City, where they believe that science can solve just about anything. Many of the students are Espers and they are ranked from Level 1 to Level 5. (There are only 5 Level 5s) They go to school and work at using their powers and it’s really fun to live in the city…so long as you have powers. There is also a magical side, but they are not allowed to enter the city and if they did…trouble would ensue. All right, time for the plot. (not that many episodes really contribute to the main plots)

Before the main plot starts, we get some stand alone episodes to introduce us to the characters and also to buy time. (AKA filler) Misaka and her “sister” Kuroko (Not related and are just friends, but Kuroko refers to Misaka as her sister) take down some bad guys and we realize that Misaka is a nice person. We also get introduced to Saten and Uiharu, who stay as main characters for the series. That’s basically episode 1 and then episode 2 is just about cleaning. The plot begins in the next episode (albeit, only in the final seconds) and there is a device that has been mass produced. It is known as the Level Upper and it can increase a person’s natural abilities, but to a dangerous extent. A level 1 can become a level 2, but after a few minutes or a few hours; the person is liable to go into an a coma and possibly not wake up again. Making things worse is the fact that one of Misaka’s friends, Saten, becomes tempted by this device. She’s a Level 0 so this device could finally help her out. The devices start popping up all around the city so it appears that there may be a coordinated group behind these actions. Misaka will have to go against Kuroko’s orders and join this case…but will she be able to win?

The first arc was mostly a lot of stand alone episodes that were joined together by the Level Upper device. It felt less like a full arc and more like episodes that were vaguely related. The plot thickened once the villain appeared and Saten got involved, but the beginning was pretty slow. The climax is pretty good because Misaka finally gets a big fight against Harumi. Harumi obtained many abilities so it was nice to see Misaka get a challenge. The actual final fight involved a giant monster like being so it wasn’t nearly as exciting. Misaka is a long range fighter so giant creatures that can barely move aren’t a great match for her.
The second arc starts after some filler episodes. We get a two episode mini arc that involves a gang. Those episodes actually weren’t that bad, but the plot hax was immense. We saw the debut of a power dampener device that allowed Misaka to be on the verge of losing to ordinary humans. I had to wince at this because there’s no way that this device could pull off such a feat. Kurozuma was one of the gang fighters and he was pretty cool. In some ways, he was like Yusuke, but not quite that cool. It was nice to see some hand to hand action for once.

The second arc really begins during the final episodes of the series. There have been poltergeist reports and it causes damage to large areas. Kuroko suspects that Uiharu’s new friend Haruue may be behind this, which causes a rift to form between them. Meanwhile, Misaka finds Harumi and realizes that a group of kids are still in a coma from experiments that were done a long time ago. That’s when a new character by the name of Therestina shows up in command of a large squadron of men and robots. They seem to be pretty sketchy. Could they have something to do with these poltergeist attacks? Misaka realizes this and it’s time to take Therestina down once and for all. Looks like it’s fighting time!

This arc wasn’t nearly as interesting as the first and everyone felt a lot weaker. It’s to be expected since the second half of an anime is usually not as good as the first half. The Capacity Down device was a big plot device since it could make Misaka powerless as any given time. Also, the city looked evil as per usual and Misaka should have done something about it. (She’ll get more involved in the next season) Uiharu got way too upset as Kuroko for suspecting her new friend and that was disappointing. It’s Kuroko’s job so it’s not like the suspicion was personal. The final episode still had some flashy fights and a good insert song to make the show end on a decently high note.

As stated earlier, Misaka is a great main character. Some may argue that she’s a little too good since she’s a great person who always wants to help out and she also happens to be the third strongest Level 5 in the city,(As well as the world) but that’s part of the reason why she’s so cool. It’s tough for the villains to give her a challenge because her abilities are seemingly invincible. That’s likely why the writers of the show created the Capacity down. Misaka gets her share of fights in this arc and she’s basically untouchable. Even in the final fights of the first arc, where Misaka is fighting something with the energies of hundreds of Espers and then takes on a woman with dozens of abilities; Misaka doesn’t really break a sweat. The monster doesn’t really get any hits and while Harumi does deal some damage, we find out that Misaka was holding back. Naturally, I expect the sequel to bring in some tougher enemies because Misaka definitely needs a challenge. I want an excuse to see her go all out and bring us some DBZ fight scenes! As it stands, her super attacks are fun to watch and they’re definitely powerful.
Touma is drastically improved from the main Index series and he is easily one of the best characters of the series. We get to see his heroics early on as he attempts a rescue even though there was a high risk of serious injury. The attempted rescue did not go as planned since he was dealing with the legendary Railgun, who did not need his help. Touma has several battles against Misaka and his abilities are definitely impressive. He always seems to have the upper hand despite being a Level 0. They never let the viewer know what his ability is, but you will understand part of it by the end. Could Touma be the strongest fighter in Academy City!? It is certainly possible when judging from this portion of the franchise. Its just hard not to root for Touma. He gets all of the best lines and he realizes that buying groceries can be a priority. Touma is also a nice guy and he doesn’t mind throwing a fight if it will make everyone happy. He always knows just when to appear and he even got a ticket to a very prestigious event at the end of the series. Touma is just an awesome character and he gets even cooler during the sequel show!

Kuroko is a character that never fails to disappoint me. She is one of the few level 4 fighters around and her teleportation ability is very lethal. Instead of becoming an awesome ally to root for, she ignores this and allows her obsession with Misaka to ruin her. Kuroko is a part of Judgment and her job is to keep the peace. Its a noble job in theory, but she rarely does anything of importance. She takes down some fighters, but she nearly messes up during her first big fight. If she would tone down her obsession with Misaka a few notches then maybe she could become cool. Unfortunately, that is likely never going to happen so I won’t be becoming a fan anytime soon.

Uiharu is one of Kuroko’s coworkers and she appears a lot. She is a decent character for the most part, but she lets her emotions cloud her judgment at times. When Haruue is introduced and the heroes begin to suspect her involvement in a string of incidents; Uiharu refuses to accept the idea and gets mad at them. That part of the series is really what wrecked her. Uiharu gets a lot of screen time and is really a part of the plot in the second half of the series. That being said, any development that may have been attained is quickly lost thanks to the way that her plotline goes. I cant say that I was ever a real fan of her character since she always let Saten tease and humiliate her, but it didn’t help her case when Uiharu chose her new friend over the old ones. I also don’t care for her personality shift that occurs when she is at Tokiwadai High as she becomes fierce and downright rude/mean in her excitement.

Saten is one of the main characters of the series and she is introduced to the rest of the gang by Uiharu. Saten is a level 0 esper and she is pretty sensitive about this fact. Unlike Touma, Saten never improves her fighting ability and we rarely see her trying to get better. That’s what makes it a little hard to sympathize with her plight. She also has a habit of embarrassing Uiharu from time to time. Despite Uiharu’s complaints, Saten continues to humiliate her in public and even in front of their friends. They are still best friends, but Saten should show some more consideration. Saten also lacks strength of character as she gets tempted by the Level Downer. The Level Downer isn’t half bad and I wouldn’t have minded if she used it to defend herself, but not if she’s just going to use it for fun even if it means going into a coma. It would appear that the supporting cast for this show is very weak aside from Touma.

Haruue joins the main cast towards the end of the show. The writers really try to make her fun and enjoyable, but it doesn’t work. This is what happens to many characters in anime and other forms of media. When a character like this is introduced at the end, the writers will try to make her as likable as they can so she is forced into just about every scene. She just doesn’t seem to have much of a point in this show. She is a large part of Arc 2, but it could have been everyone. It doesn’t help that she is the one who makes tension arise among the heroes.

Banri gets a pretty small role in the show because she’s out of it for the most part. She’ll get to appear more in the sequel show, but I was never a fan. She’s a nice kid and things just didn’t go well for her. I just don’t care for her because we hardly needed another character. She’s almost a clone of Haruue in terms of personality and she can’t really fight. Telepathy is good, but hers isn’t at a very high level.
Harumi is the main villain of the first arc and she’s the first tough opponent for Misaka in the show show. Before that, Misaka fought some other Espers and even some that had their powers increased by the Level Upper, but they couldn’t really do anything against her. Well, Harumi has abilities from dozens of espers so it makes sense that she would be tough. Their fight was one of the best in the series and the stakes were definitely a lot higher than usual. Harumi is a decently likable villain and at least she has some sympathetic reasons behind what she’s doing. She can actually back up her tough talk, which is always a plus.

Therestina is a big character from Arc 2 and she has her own mecha. She can fight in it, but she’s really not a match for any of the decent fighters so she makes sure to have a capacity down with her at all times. She’s really not likable because her motives don’t make a lot of sense and she seems petty. She has the generic “hardcore” scene where she steps on the only piece of data that could have helped some people. Therestina liked to hide behind her minions and she can’t really back up her tough talk. At least she gave us a decently fun fight towards the end of the series.

Jufuku is a pretty bad character. She feels bad about her eye brows so she knocks people out and then gives them ugly eyebrows that don’t come off for weeks. Her ability allows her to pass by unnoticed by others as long as you are not directly looking at her. It’s actually a decent ability, but it’s not great in a fight. Jufuku’s goal just seemed way too petty and I was just waiting for her to leave. In her future appearences, she’s still unlikable even though she underwent a big personality change. there’s just no winning for some characters.

Kongou is Kuroko’s rival and she’s also a Level 4. Her powers aren’t really explained in this show, but she has a fan so it should be easy to deduce what element her power revolves around. She doesn’t really get to do anything in this show so it’s really impossible to become a big fan. That being said, she’s an amusing character and I don’t mind her. She gets some good lines and she’s always very confident about her abilities. Her role in the sequel is much bigger so it’ll be easier to tell if you like her or not in that one.

Kurozuma is a man of mystery who disappeared for years along with his gang. The gang popped back up with a new man pretending to be Kurozuma and that made the real one come back. Kurozuma definitely knows his brand of milk and he’s always ready to beat up the villains. He’s great in hand to hand combat and he’s almost a likable character. What stops him from being one is the fact that he’s very rude to Misaka and Kuroko. The lines that he tells them are so awful that it immediately threw away any respect that I had for the guy. Once again, like Kuroko, Kurozuma could have been cool and then he wasted his potential. Naturally there are other side characters, but their roles are so small that they barely even need to be mentioned. (Even if some get a whole filler episode to themselves)

Railgun’s animation is very good. I admit that the sequel looks much better, which makes this one a little tougher to gauge after seeing. That being said, this one holds up very well and the Railgun blasts are always fun to watch. The fight scenes are also really good because the show can handle movement pretty well. When the characters are jumping around and using flashy attacks, it all flows together pretty well. The best fight in the series is probably the battle against Touma, but the fight against Harumi would definitely be close. I also liked the battle against the ground user and we had some other fun fights that were scattered around. I wouldn’t say that the animation is exceptional and it’s not quite as high budget as the regular Index show, but it’s good enough. It can hold its own against other shows from around this time and that’s what counts. As long as the animation doesn’t hurt the overall experience by looking like FLCL, it’s still a good thing and Railgun is definitely above average.

Railgun is a lot of fun and it seems like it would get a really high rating right? Unfortunately, fanservice brings down the overall score. Surprisingly, the fanservice seems to be very toned down from the regular Index series, but there’s still too much of it. I’m glad that it’s lowering (and the sequel has even less) but they’re got to pick up the pace. We get numerous hot spring scenes and other moments that are just there for no real reason. Almost every episode is liable to have something and we have a whole episode about swimsuits. Someone’s skirt is always being lifted as a practical joke, but that makes the scene even more unnecessary. All I wanted was a show with no fanservice, but this one couldn’t make it. It’s a good thing that the rest of the show is so good or things could have been dire. That being said, it makes it very hard to actually recommend this show to anyone.

The soundtrack for Railgun is pretty good. It’s not incredible, but the battle theme is fun and both of the openings were pretty well done. I would have liked some more rock music, but I suppose that there wasn’t much time for it since this series didn’t have a whole lot of action scenes. The theme song made for a good backdrop during the big fights anyway. At the very least, the battle theme is memorable and you won’t be forgetting the tunes anytime soon. (The cricket sound is practically a part of the soundtrack since it starts off every episode that takes place on a hot day!)
Overall, Railgun was a fun spin off to Index. It’s really just lighthearted fun and I wouldn’t really have any problems with it if not for the fanservice. Aside from those scenes, the series is just fun to watch and you’ll always walk away feeling lighthearted. It’s one of the reasons why I like to watch such series because it’s basically a slice of life with some action and intrigue. If you liked Index, then maybe you’ll like this show a lot because it certainly helped me become a fan of the franchise again. That being said, just wait for the sequel. Railgun S is much better and it’s one of the best all around shows out there. (For the first arc anyway) If you can get around the fanservice, then a Scientific Railgun is a very enjoyable watch and fans of almost any genre can get into it. (We even have mysteries and horror/ghost stories!)

Overall 5/10

Serial Experiments Lain Review

Serial Experiments Lain is a very intriguing anime and it’s one that will make you think a lot more than the average show. I am one of those viewers who believes that you should always form your own opinion after finishing something. So, there are probably a lot of theories about what really happened throughout the show, and I’ll try to shed some light on it. The series is pretty short and only contains 13 episodes, but it’s enough to set the tone of the show. You know that this won’t be your average anime when the narrator doesn’t sound like a good guy. The theme song also isn’t that cheerful and it’s a hint of what’s in store.

Chisa jumps off of a building, but instead of dying, her soul goes into the “Wired”. Without a body, she has complete freedom to do whatever she wants and be wherever she wants. Or so she claims. Chisa doesn’t actually appear much, but it sets the seeds for the real protagonist of the show. Lain is gifted with special powers that help her in the “Wired”. The ability has some pretty good perks like teleportion and granting the user a genius level intellect, but the downsides are pretty lethal. The wired rapidly spreading and people are beginning to mysteriously die around the world. Lain could care less about the strangers, but will she be able to protect her friends and stop the “Knights”?

Lain isn’t a bad main character, but I can’t say that I ever got around to really rooting for her. For the first three episodes, she’s extremely quiet. (Reminded me of Peter Parker from The Amazing Spiderman movie) She got better when she began to talk more and started utilizing her powers in more effective ways. Of course, Lain’s abilities seem to have a mind of their own and there are other Lains running around….or so it seems.

Lain has three friends, but the only one to really get a large role in the series would be Alice. For the most part, she attempts to help Lain through her school life and even tries to make Lain have some fun. She’s a good character until we get a pretty big plot twist that made her into an unlikable character. I never really cared for the character before then either. She was constantly thinking that Lain may have been responsible for various things and then changing her mind abruptly. (Of course Lain usually was behind those things….)

“god” also appears and he’s in charge of the wired. He admits that he’s not the real God, but he’s the god of the wired world. He is everywhere at once and his power knows no limits. Unfortunately for him, one can only be a god if others worship him. Lain gets an idea and takes him on. This “god” character was pretty underwhelming and he’s definitely not much of a fighter. There are also two government agents who spy on Lain for most of the series, but in the end they are just pawns in a bigger game. The humans are extremely weak in this show. A little girl armed with a teddy bear succeeds in completely terrorizing a grown man and he runs all the way home. Unfortunately he’s unable to get the lock to open and things don’t go very well for him.

Alright, let’s talk more about the show as a whole and what really happened for most of it. My guess is that Lain was created a little before the wired so that she could control it. Or that she was an all powerful, cosmic entity who wanted to experience life and adopted a human form. Were her parents really her parents? I’d say that foster parents may be a better term and it would explain why they act pretty fake/off for most of the time.

After Chisa jumped and left the school a message, it slowly started to reawaken Lain’s latent powers. At first she couldn’t control her abilities at all and developed split personalities. “Wired Lain” was a lot meaner than the normal one and had a much better perception of her powers. She was basically the total opposite of the regular Lain and probably would have made for a more interesting main character. Lain’s other personalities started exerting their influence on the wired a lot more actively as they went out of their way to knock off some civilians and even mess up Alice’s social life. Lain’s other personality may have deleted her sister as well, but it’s possible that the Knights had something to do with it. The sister’s scene was pretty intense and she put up a decent effort, but nobody can escape the Wired.

The border between the real world and the wired continues to weaken throughout the show. Eventually, humans in the real world can even see Lain up in the sky as a messiah type being. They take it pretty well and nobody ever asks Lain about it. That should probably be the first hint that something’s off….

Lain has unlimited power on the wired and since the real world is almost completely connected to it, her abilities are enhanced in both worlds. She seems to have some telekinesis (Shown in her battle against “god”) and she’s a very advanced reality warper. Not only can she alter people’s memories, but she can also completely rewind time to whatever point that she feels like. It would seem that Lain could have become “god” at anytime, but she didn’t want to give up being a normal person. She liked having a body and not live her immortal life as one with everything. Based on the ending, it would seem that she has made her choice on whether to stay as an immortal humanoid being, or an abstract entity.

There are also some mild hinting that Lain could in fact be an alien. I wouldn’t be surprised, since the government found the alien ship near the end of the show. There are definitely a lot of theories that can be had here, but the important thing is that you know the basics.
1.Lain is All Powerful
2.Lain is “god”
3.Lain can do anything.

Everything else is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things when you think about it. Lain could have just created the entire planet with her abilities, which would explain why things always went badly for the victims. When the sister was trying to escape, people would flicker in and out, not to mention that reality seemed to be against her. In a way, Lain is just toying with everyone as she watched from above. Most of the time, she’s not doing it consciously, but eventually she begins to understand.

One negative of the show would be the lack of fight scenes, but you’re not really supposed to expect those in this show. None of the characters ever really get to be likable characters and there is some really unneeded romance scenes during the show. I liked the theme for the night club that the kids would go too, aside from that, the kids were pretty awful characters.

This anime is a very unique experience to watch and I’d recommend checking it out. There are a lot of really weird and random moments that increase the spookiness factor of the series. It may be the closest that you’ll get to a horror show about the cyber world. It contains some elements from The Ring, The Matrix, and a whole bunch of other things. It’s a good way to learn some fun facts as well. While most of the show can be considered “trippy” with all of the assorted lights and crazy camera angles, the final episode takes a break from that for the most part. The Red light from the first 12 episodes finally turns green for the final one. Knowing this show, it was probably symbolic for something. Anyway, this definitely makes for a great anime to watch during the dead of night!

Overall 5/10

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