Alien Nine Review


Alien Nine has definitely got a handle on the strange atmosphere that only a few shows I’ve seen like Serial Experiments Lain have pulled off. There’s always a sense that something’s about to happen no matter how happy the scene is and so you’ve got a full sense of danger there right off the bat. That said, as a darker magical girl show, this one doesn’t quite reach the hype and levels of intrigue as Madoka. It ends up being rather twisted for the heroines but not always in a cool way.

The 4 part show introduces us to a world where alien invaders are common place. They crash on the school all the time and the local alien defense force takes them out. The defense force is made up of 3 girls from their respective classes. It’s a job that most of the girls don’t want but some don’t mind doing it. Basically each class holds a vote like for a student president and then they send their representative off to go and fight the alien monsters. This year the 3 girls selected are Otani, Kasumi, and Kuni. Otani is really not happy about this while Kasumi is thrilled and Kumi is more ambivalent. In order to fight off the aliens, the girls have to wear symbiotes which protect them as automatic defense weapons and shields. Now since these are symbiotes that at least hints that there is some give and take here. Is this really all above board and why do the aliens constantly attack this school?

I feel like the show drops the pretense of this being your classic magical girl adventure almost immediately. The symbiotes look creepy from the start and the OVA always has a lot of moody music and a dark color scheme. It’s all for that spooky atmosphere I mentioned earlier. Of course, it still does have its share of happy scenes, you’re just always waiting for the catch. Things continue to get more serious as we delve into the show and see more of what makes this school tick. As a short OVA, it does end on a big cliffhanger and doesn’t exactly cover the whole thing but that does make for a hype ending.

You could say the main plot is when the giant alien known as Yellow Knife appears. He claims to be Kasumi’s brother but this is likely mind games on his part. This was an easy way to get Kasumi on his side to fight against the other two. It’s a rather intense climax filled with dreams and inner visions that aren’t real as the teachers try to get control of the situation. You’ll want to stick around to the end as that’s when we get to some of the big cliffhangers. Lets just say that the body count is rising here, one character just can’t catch a break.

So lets talk about what didn’t work first and then get to the positives. Well, Otani is a really bad main character, there’s just no way around that. She is constantly crying and just doesn’t want to be an alien hunter. It is a dangerous job so that’s understandable but if she’s going to be forced to do this you’d like to see her really get tough. That said, she’s so young that it seems awfully mean of the parents to allow this to continue. We know the teachers will try to keep her in it as part of their nefarious schemes but unless the parents are in on the take, I’d like to see them try to help her get out of this a bit more. It’s really like Otani is being tortured by staying here. With one host getting eaten and another one murdered, you feel like Otani can only survive for so long.

With the main characters being so young, they’re effectively trapped in a lot of these decisions because they just aren’t old enough to get out of it. Having a character as reluctant as Otani is more tragic than funny the whole time. She really has to put up with a lot and will almost certainly be traumatized by the time she’s an adult at this rate. Otani has to see creatures get blown up right in front of her on multiple occasions after all.

The symbiotes themselves don’t really seem good or evil so much as they’re just there to help their owner. They’ll destroy any threats as they deem necessary although the teachers ask the heroines not to let that happen. Their having to lick the characters after the mission seems completely unnecessary though and just another creepy part of being an alien fighter in this world. It definitely gives Otani even more of a reason to want to quit right away. There are no noticeable upsides to being an alien fighter, especially when it seems like the group never actually makes any progress on this.

Kasumi is the only member of the 3 who actually enjoys the role and she is the most entertaining character as a result. All of the skills come naturally to her and she can even fight off opponents personally without having to rely on her symbiote. I like that at least someone came ready to fight here and so it’s a shame that she has to miss out on most of the climax.

She is rather obsessed with her brother who moved away though which starts to get to some almost disturbing territory with Yellow Knife manipulating her and some of the visuals that we get. It’s not cut and dry like Wixoss so you could make the case that it’s normal but it did feel like the OVA was getting there. Either way, the whole alien merging into her like a Chest Burster was one of those weird scenes that isn’t weird in a good way. The show even squeezes in a chest burster scene early on as the characters watch some kind of alien film.

The creatures get blown to smithereens during each of the fights. It’s monster blood so it isn’t quite as drastic as if they were normal creatures. It’s green and all although it can be a bit excessive, reminded me of Planet Hulk in a lot of ways. It’s less of an action context when Otani is going around slaughtering them all when she’s being mind controlled which may be why it feels more intense but it’s just another check on the list of reasons on why Otani would like to get away from this job as soon as possible. At least no real animals appear here which is always a good thing.

Now on the plus side, the main theme song here is catchy. It’s definitely got a more classic magical girl feel to it. From the theme song at least this appears to be your standard adventure. The rest of the themes within the show aren’t quite as memorable but it’s a decent soundtrack that works well enough in the moment. The animation’s definitely not as high budget but you do get some cool scenes like when the characters block attacks using the symbiote. Having an automatic defense which can also transform into anything is incredibly handy.

In a lot of ways it should remind you of the symbiote from Marvel. These guys can do pretty much everything that Venom can and can also talk. They allow you to resist illusions and generally seem helpful. Now, like Venom it may be hard to trust them at times but since the girls have to put their lives in the symbiote’s hands every day I guess you have to hope for the best. If it’s a true symbiotic relationship where the creature needs them too then it should balance out and they’ll keep you alive.

The final girl from the trio is Kumi and she’s nice enough. She’s always been helping students who couldn’t keep up or just helping everyone at large as student president. It’s why she wanted to join the group so she wouldn’t have that burden anymore but it ended up not working out perfectly well for her. She’s too nice for her own good and still tries to help Otani out. It makes her a well balanced character and definitely the natural leader of the squad. She may not be as powerful as Kasumi, but Kumi is definitely the person you would want to have at your back.

Hisakawa is the main teacher here and she’s as corrupt as they come. As one of the people in charge of the whole alien situation to trap these kids, she is really the main villain if you think about it. The disturbing part is how nonchalant she is about the whole thing. She doesn’t really seem to care for the girls’ safety at all so when she appears you always know she’s about to make some more unreasonable demands. She even wanted Kasumi and Kumi to leave Otani alone. Fortunately they realized this wasn’t quite right and stayed to back her up.

Naturally the Principal is another big villain here since she’s one of the head honchos. You certainly can’t trust her and will want to keep your distance as much as possible. Interestingly, the adults seem to have the symbiotes perfectly merged within them. We see that their hair can turn into drills which is how the symbiotes fight. So either they mastered the control as part of the symbiote bonding or the symbiote just took control. Either way it doesn’t spell a great picture for the kids who have to wear these symbiotes every day.

So lets talk a little more about the setup here. What seems to be the case is that the teachers raise a bunch of aliens in their labs and also create the symbiotes out of some kind of water substance. They then pick a few kids every year to wear these symbiotes. Aliens are strategically let loose within the school to be summarily captured by the kids although they sometimes end up being slaughtered. Rinse and repeat so of course this begs the question of why the teachers are doing this. It has to be for an evil reason or they would just let the kids know that the aliens are being manufactured to test their skills or something.

I think we can read into it based on the adults who have merged with their symbiotes. Most likely what this means is that they are feeding the Symbiotes. So I think the best explanation here is that the symbiotes did take over the principal and by extension they also took control of all the teachers. My only question would be why they don’t take over the whole school. Just have every kid wear the symbiote. With Otani it’s mentioned that some kids have better fusion rates than others so perhaps most people don’t mesh well with the symbiote. I suppose that would work and either way they’ll continue to spread even if it’s slower.

The whole Yellow Knife appearance is what threw a wrinkle into everyone’s plans since this wasn’t something the teachers predicted. They respond incredibly slow to the new threat though so it doesn’t seem to concern them a whole lot. I thought at least the teacher would be super concerned since she already failed once and can’t afford to lose the kids but you never see much of a sense of urgency. Not like the teacher is all that tough though as she was still overwhelmed by the alien’s illusions. Only Kumi really seemed to be able to break through the illusions quickly thanks to her symbiote.

The OVA has a twist ending at the very end so make sure you stay all the way through. It should raise a lot of questions while also leading you into the next act if you ever check out the manga. As mentioned earlier, the body count rises as someone dies but the problem is there are too many suspects to really figure out on who did it. It could be anyone who is being mind controlled, any of the symbiotes, teachers, principals, aliens, etc. Part of the danger in this school is how anybody can be an enemy. You can’t trust anyone, Otani probably can’t even trust her parents since they could be aliens.

In a way it’s like the Secret Invasion in Marvel. If fully realized symbiotes like the teachers don’t even appear anymore and just merge into your hair (Similar to what Otani did during her rage mode) then there’s no way to track them at this point. Any person can be part alien and you would never know it. I think this would have a lot of potential if you wanted to turn this into a mystery thriller or something as a group of humans try to stop the alien invasion. Thing is, it’s probably already too late to stop them. The feats that the symbiotes perform would make it a simple matter to destroy dozens of opponents in an instant. They can block any attacks including bullets and wouldn’t break a sweat. Not that the symbiotes can probably sweat but the point is that there are no threats to them. Humans wouldn’t stand a chance.

Overall, Alien Nine is not an OVA you are likely to forget. It’s got a very spooky aura right from the get go and the fact that the main girls are so young means there aren’t a whole lot of ways to escape. In effect that’s part of why the show can be so unnerving because most Shonen Leads can punch their way out of this but the girls can’t realistically do much. By the same token, that’s what holds the OVA back. The characters can only passively follow along with what is happening. They’re effectively all victims of a much grander scheme. It’s like they’re strapped into a rollercoaster that they can’t get out of. It can all be rather tragic at times and it’s sinister enough where you won’t have a great time here. Almost every scene is someone crying or yelling because of all the trauma. I’d like to see a sequel to this with older main characters trying to fight back against the aliens. Time to uproot the society they’ve built here and turn this into a Shonen. This is the kind of show where there is always a lot to talk about and theorize though. Still, if you’re looking for a very creepy alien invasion story, it would be hard to beat this one. I’d say it’s even spookier than Lain in some ways.

Overall 5/10

Demon Slayer Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Selector Spread WIXOSS Review


It’s time to look at the next season of Wixoss. This one directly continues from the first since there was such a cliffhanger there. The characters are still trying to pick up the pieces as their next adventure starts. Unfortunately some characters have been gravely broken to the point where they are practically written out of the show (Midoriko, Kazuki) and others have been mentally drained and no longer have the same fire that they once did (Ruko, Akira) so have the villains already won? This season is weaker than the first in almost every way but the Yuzuki plot takes a backseat here which is always great. Thanks to the body snatching the scenes with Hanayo and Kazuki also aren’t as bad although since he doesn’t know it doesn’t make him look any better.

The series picks up with Ruko on the rooftop staring in shock as her partner is now Iona instead of Tama. Iona proclaims that her wish was to be teamed with the strongest so now it has come true. Ruko isn’t thrilled about this and vows not to fight in anymore Wixoss battles as she tries to save Tama. The problem is, how can you hope to find and save Tama without battling? It’s a difficult problem that Ruko doesn’t really have a solution for. Her friends are no help as they constantly pressure her not to fight. Additionally the villains are on the move. Urith has decided to manipulate Akira so that she can plunge more people into despair. Ruko’s realistically the only one who can stand up to this menace.

Mainly I had some issues with Ruko here as her character went south very quickly. In the first season she finally steeled her resolve in the climax that she would do whatever it took to save all of the Lrigs. To that effect she lied to Tama and tried to sacrifice herself. Tama saw through this goal and stopped her so Ruko is back to square one. Instead of continuing with that same energy Ruko is back to being way more hesitant to fight. Even when Hitoe is being beaten up in front of her it takes an awful long time to battle. Battling is really the only way you can stand up to the villains. No matter what her friends may think, Ruko’s only recourse here is to fight. If she doesn’t fight then they don’t stand a chance and at the end of the day that’s the big hurdle that they need to get past.

So even by the end I wasn’t a big fan of Ruko here. She does what she has to do very reluctantly all the way through to the final episode where Tama has to ask her to actually fight seriously. As a result of her half hearted determination the ending doesn’t exactly seem to work out for everyone as smoothly as it could have. In contrast Tama was pretty solid here. She makes all of the right moves. Tama is given a chance to escape but doing so would have unlocked her dark side for good so she stayed in. She figures out how to exit a cage on her own and in general just seems to have a good grasp on the situation. Now that her memories are back she’s also able to reason things out rather well regarding Mayu’s goals. She’s still the strongest LRig out there even if her max power form makes her lose control.

Then you have Iona. Now that could be referring to quite a few characters at this point but I’m talking about the one from season 1 who is Ruko’s LRig the whole time. You can’t help but feel bad for her here since she seemingly got her wish but it’s nothing like what she was expecting since Ruko refuses to fight. Now she has effectively trapped herself in a card for no reason. She doesn’t let it get her down though and does a good job of hanging in there throughout. Iona looks good throughout the whole series. I was still half expecting the twist about her being Ruko’s mother since I felt like season 1 foreshadowed that a bit but I guess that’s not the case. Probably for the best since Ruko’s mother didn’t appear to be the nicest person back in the flashbacks.

As you’d expect Yuzuki’s role here is a lot smaller than in season 1. She’s trapped in a card after all so she can talk a lot but there’s no chance for her to act. I can see her fans being a little upset at this since once you’re in a card it just feels like you aren’t as important. The worst part for her is that Hitoe owns her so she can’t expect to get many wins either. In her only big battle I was rooting for the opponent. So Yuzuki’s okay here compared to season 1 but she gives the worst advice all of the time. She’s one of the main reasons why Ruko is so confused.

Naturally this doesn’t reflect well on Hitoe as well. She manages to get kidnapped here and just seems to hold Ruko back. I’d like to see her improve her Wixoss skills a bit and actually become an ally Ruko can rely on. I think that would do a world of good for her character and would be the first step to getting her on the map. It doesn’t seem likely but I suppose there is always a chance in the world of Wixoss. Hanayo also appears a bit of course but not a whole lot. She’s definitely not taking the situation all that well and ends up panicking near the end. She is far gone from her days of being the cold calculating LRig.

It goes without saying that Kazuki is still pretty annoying here. He suspects nothing to the point where the only explanation is that he just doesn’t know Wixoss anymore. Why else would he completely stop contacting Ruko and Hitoe? If he had talked to them at all he probably would have gotten a better sense of what is happening. How did he also not suspect that something was up? Yuzuki is back but no more cards and she never hangs out with her friends anymore? I say, Kazuki’s either extremely dense or extremely gullible if Hanayo just made up some story. Either way it’s not a good look for him.

Chiyori gets a much bigger role in this season and it’s for the better. She quickly rose up to be one of the best characters in the season with ease. She brings a lot of energy to the game and doesn’t get scared the way the others do. She really wants to win and has already accepted the risks. Her final duel is definitely the most emotional since everyone is against her. The “heroes” have decided that her being knocked out of the game would be best and her own LRig is trying to lose. It’s very difficult to win under those circumstances. I definitely felt bad for Chiyori since she easily gets one of the saddest endings out of all the characters in the series. Still, she had a great run though and ended up being one of the best characters either way. She definitely won’t be forgotten.

Fumio appears briefly but doesn’t have much of a role in the season beyond giving the heroes a quick info dump. Doesn’t really do anything beyond that though so you would be forgiven for forgetting that Fumio exists. Urith gets a bigger role here than in season 1 but I wouldn’t say that she looks great. She’s going for more of a manipulative angle for sure as she messes with Akira the whole time but the main problem is just that it shouldn’t work. Akira has never been portrayed as such a gullible character before so why start now? The whole plot was rather weak and it didn’t do wonders for Urith. She is good as a card but not great as a human.

As for Akira, she has taken the biggest fall this season. In season 1 she was hardcore as she went around stomping everyone in her path and just dishing out damage. In this season she is portrayed as extremely needy and gets depressed if Urith isn’t around. What happened to her? Gone are definitely the days when she was a big threat that everyone had to fear. It’s a shame because almost all of Akira’s scenes are just painful now. She will get the occasional good moment but they are very rare. The stab for example was good but the fact that it was not fatal wasn’t. She had quite the character turn but it’s so sudden and so massive that it just doesn’t feel like the same character anymore. I gotta say that this was just a mistake and this is the kind of plot that does hurt a season. Her scenes can be tough to watch.

Finally we have Mayu who is the mastermind behind all of this. She’s fairly spoiled and seems twisted from the start. At first you may figure that she’s a good person who went down the wrong path but that’s not the case at all. She’s portrayed as being clearly twisted right from the start. So much for that idea eh? It’s hard to feel bad for her. Sure, she is trapped in a room for all of eternity but she has magical powers by which she can make an entire game. If she had left it at that she would have been good. Why add the final rule that the lower has to get corrupted and live a life of misery while the winner turns into a card? These are rules that are completely unnecessary and definitely destroy any chance Mayu had at being sympathetic. She just wants to see the other characters suffer which isn’t very heroic of her.

The animation is definitely solid like in the first season. There isn’t a noticeable difference between them which makes sense since the season came out shortly after the first. If anything the first season may still have some of the most dynamic scenes like Yuzuki’s contract still being the most awe inspiring with all of the crimson effects everywhere. All of the contract scenes are always stunning with all of the energy effects being used though. Beyond that the animation is just smooth with the action scenes being very dynamic. Tama landing her hand to hand combo while in dark mode for example was definitely pretty intense. There’s definitely nothing to dislike there. As for the soundtrack the themes are mainly the same as in the first season. We do get a new opening though which is pretty solid. Both openings are very close to each other so it’s hard to say which is better. They both have a solid ominous theme behind them.

Ultimately I would say that the season is a little weaker than the first thanks in part to Akira really being thrown away as a character. She was so cool in season 1 so I don’t know why the show would go in this direction. It was unexpected so I’ll give the writers that but she just doesn’t feel like the same character. Her Akalucky name just doesn’t work now with all of these bad things happening to her. It’s also always hard to quite match the first season for a mysterious anime like this. Now we know the rules of the game and such so the main obstacle is the heroes trying to stop Mayu and get Tama back as opposed to figuring out why they are battling.

We get more origin stories and such which are good for lore but not quite as interesting as the main story itself. I still feel like Fumio doesn’t serve much of a role in the story and Mayu is a pretty weak villain. Her goals and plans aren’t all that good. That’s not a writing thing though, I’m pretty sure you’re meant to think that Mayu has just confused herself over and over with her plans. She could have easily had a happy ending if she had actually tried for it. The season itself has a far more definitive ending than the first season though. This is the kind of ending where you almost wouldn’t even need another season. Of course it’s always good to have more and more since I think all franchises should strive to be as long as possible. There’s always a way to bring more to the story and future plotlines for Ruko are pretty obvious. Her goals are not yet 100% complete so she’ll need to work on that.

The rules of the game are still not really explained but this season tries to show them a bit more. We actually acknowledge trap cards now and we see opponents using counters and strategies against each other. Evidently the elemental nature of the decks is also quite important here to the point where it’s hard for some elements to beat others. I have to say that this seems like a potentially troublesome mechanic since that invites a bit of rock paper scissors into the mix. It’s all the more reason to feel bad for Chiyori since she was trying her best. Not everyone can be a winner of course as there will be a loser in each fight but it would have been nice to see her win more. At the end of the day she is just a kid though and I suppose she hasn’t come into her own in terms of ability quite yet.

Overall, Wixoss continues to be a pretty interesting magical girl show even if the execution isn’t quite there yet. It’s still not able to get the same sense of dread as Madoka or if it’s slowly trying to transition it still doesn’t have the same energy as Angelic Layer. So it’s sort of stuck in the middle where bad things happen happen to the heroes and there is a sense of danger but not at the same level and the heroes are a little too hesitant to do anything about it. In a way it’s tough for the cast because Ruko is the only hero who can really fight well. It’ll be good for her to get some more reliable allies at some point in the future. If you already saw season 1 then you should definitely continue the saga. There’s less Yuzuki and Kazuki which is always good but Akira’s plot is really bad so get ready to shake your head once she appears. How the mighty have fallen!

Overall 5/10

Selector Infected WIXOSS Review


It’s time to look at the first season of Wixoss. Wixoss is one of those series that has a pretty cool concept but limits itself with a particular subplot. Online a lot of times you see people mention how they love anime but have a hard time recommending them to people who are not yet initiated into the format because of a plot or character that can be iffy. I can definitely see what they mean as even the best of titles tend to have some iffy elements that you more or less get used to as you watch them. That said, this one definitely sabotages itself early on but I’ll get more into that in a bit.

The series follows a girl named Ruko who doesn’t really have any friends. As a result her brother and grandma tend to worry about her. One day she is introduced to the game of Wixoss and can even talk to one of her cards. The card is an Lrig named Tama. Ruko then meets up with a girl named Yuzuki who challenges her to a battle. Ruko is winning the battle but it is then interrupted and she is told the full story. Ruko has been chosen as a “Selector” which means that her battles of Wixoss will be different from most. If she wins enough battles then she will have her wish granted. The problem is that Ruko has no wish that she wants to grant. All of the other girls are fighting as if their lives are on the line because their wish is so important. Can Ruko really fight and destroy these wishes with none of her own? At the same time, Ruko has only started to make some friends because of the game so if she stops now then she may lose them all.

Right from the start I imagine you’ll have some doubts on how legit the game is. In magical girl shows like this there is always a catch. Just look at Madoka where you end up turning into a witch at the end. I’ll go into this more later on in a spoiler paragraph that I’ll warn you about before entering. In the meantime lets talk more about the show in general. The rules of Wixoss are never really explained. The show doesn’t bother to lay the groundwork here which is a shame. Scripting out entire battles can be pretty difficult which is why it’s always so impressive when Yugioh does it. This show takes the easy way out as it focuses on just showing us the characters attacking and you have to trust that they’re following the rules. There’s no way to really tell though so that makes things a little easier on the writers.

The animation for the show is definitely pretty solid. The character designs are on point and the energy effects look sharp. When we do get the occasional hand to hand technique combo the animation is quite smooth as well. This isn’t really an action title at its core but it can certainly deliver. The animation is also really sharp whenever a contract is made. I liked the lighting during episode 12 as well which helped solidify that as the best episode. It had a very theatrical feel to it as the end drew near.

As for the soundtrack, it’s a little less memorable but I did like it. It’s not a huge soundtrack or anything but I wouldn’t expect it to be for only 12 episodes. There will be a handful of tunes you will enjoy though. I also liked the opening well enough. Wixoss definitely did well in all of the technical areas as you would expect. It’s basically like Megaman or Angelic Layer with the setting and this is just taking a darker look at the genre. Even then it’s nowhere near as dark as Madoka or something but throughout the show you know things are not going to go well for the heroes.

All right, lets talk about the troublesome plot. Yuzuki is one of the main characters and her wish is for her to be together with her brother Kazuki. Unfortunately along the way she started to like him and not in a family sense. It’s an unfortunate plot here in part because it takes up so much space. This isn’t super uncommon for anime. Usually though it’s played for laughs like in Black Clover or Railgun. It’s a comedy plot that shows up every now and then and you can almost write it off as not actually being serious from the character’s perspective in some anime. I’d say both of those are serious but they’re gag plots in the background that don’t effect much. Wixoss decides to take this plot quite seriously and have them deal with everyone’s reactions and how society considers it taboo. Unfortunately it doesn’t land.

Sword Art Online gets attacked a lot for its similar plot with Suguha and Kirito but that series actually tackled it a lot better. Suguha actually tried to get over Kirito by playing video games but unfortunately the next guy she liked turned out to be Kirito in disguise. So at least she tried to escape. When Kirito found out he very quickly and decisively shut that down. He did it in a nice way of course but did not entertain the notion for an instant. She’s his sister even if that’s not literally the case it’s how he sees her so it wouldn’t work. In this show Kazuki very quickly crumbles after 10 minutes of Yuzuki being direct and it’s all over for him.

The show definitely approaches this in a serious way but it’s not a good idea from the start. That’s because there’s no way you could spin this into a good thing. It just comes across as creepy immediately and gets way more screen time than it should. I was originally hoping Yuzuki’s wish was that they weren’t related so she could then make her move. That would have at least helped but since it wasn’t then this issue was not solved. So this plot is really what would prevent me from being able to recommend this show. It’s just a hard plot to get around and ends up dramatically hurting both of their characters. Kazuki in particular since he folds so easily. You’d think he could have stayed strong for more than a day. Instead he proves to be quite weak willed.

As for Yuzuki, it’s a shame since she was probably the most enjoyable character for a little while there. I like that she has a tougher disposition than the others. When the two characters get held at knifepoint by Akira Yuzuki is pretty quick to push her away. When the bullies are after Ruko Yuzuki is also key to eluding them and helping her evacuate the school. There’s just no way to overlook this plot though which definitely has her take a huge hit in the character department. I do doubt her skills as a Wixoss player though since she was losing to a girl who had never played before and didn’t even know the rules. How does that happen?

Ruko is the main character and she ends up being a strong one by the end. She really just wants to have some friends and is glad to have someone to talk too. She didn’t have the greatest childhood although her situation is a lot better now that she’s with her grandma. Getting involved in a game of life or death to her wishes is a pretty big next step though. While she is fairly undecided for a good portion of the story, she does get herself resolved by the end. I greatly enjoyed her character in the final episodes as she finally got serious. She’s consistently been shown to be the strongest character in the series here and the only thing that holds her back is self doubt. Without that she would be able to crush her opponents with ease.

Tama is one of the main Lrigs and definitely the best one. She’s not manipulative the way the others are. In a way this is because she lost her memories though. Unlike the others she has no idea on what is going on here and just wants a good fight. She loves fighting and as a result is always asking Ruko to participate. It’s definitely good to have an LRig who enjoys the game. It makes things easier on Ruko at least and they make for a good combo. Tama’s card must have great stats as well with how she easily takes care of her opponents.

Then you have Iona who is one of the main antagonists here. She’s rich and one of the most powerful players so she can come across as rather intimidating. She’s not unhinged the way that Akira is but still exudes an aura of great power. She’s not someone that you want to mess with and she’s a very solid character. She’s probably the only person who doesn’t back down to Akira. Aside from her fights with Ruko you never get the feeling that she’s in trouble. It’s why she makes for a great villain and the back and forth with Ruko in the final episode made for a very intense final battle.

Then you have Hanayo who is Yuzuki’s partner. She comes across as one of the wiser Lrigs although because of that you can’t really trust her. After all, the more you know about the game the more that you are keeping from your Selector. Hanayo certainly has plans of her own. The show tries to make her a sympathetic figure but it’s hard to buy into it. She knew exactly what she was doing and the only reason she didn’t say anything is for her own benefit. So no matter how you slice it, she’s not someone that you can trust.

Akira is one of the villains of the series and easily the best character by the end. She is definitely willing to win by any means necessary and is the most savage fighter. What I also liked about her was her quick wit. She can read into the wish of her opponents and always twists it in such a way where the opponent loses confidence. She does this to all 3 of the main characters with great success. In particular it was impressive with how she handled Ruko since you’d think that not having a wish would trip her up but Akira takes it in stride. She can be rather insane and cruel but that’s what makes Akira so good. Her nickname gimmick is fun as well. You won’t find a character tougher than Akira. From this season you can tell that nothing will break her. The fact that she even tried attacking the characters in the real world showed her true resolve.

Chiyori is a character who shows up briefly in the series but doesn’t get much of a role here. She basically serves as a quick opponent to be defeated and someone who still plays the game for fun. By the end of the season she won’t have made much of an impression on you although her outfit is cool. Midoriko is probably the worst of the LRigs in the series. Just a very weak character all around and doesn’t make any of the right decisions. As an LRig you either need to embrace being the villain or try to be a rare hero. Midoriko tries to act sympathetic the entire time but when you’re always saying the plot twists a bit too late, it starts to ring as hollow.

Urith is an example of an LRig who likes being the antagonist. She talks tough throughout the series and definitely isn’t afraid of anyone. She is a very interesting character and definitely one that you like to have around. It helps that she can back up her tough talk. Finally we have Hitoe who is definitely the most timid member of the main group. She’s not really much of a fighter at all and tends to lose just about every battle she’s in. Her backstory is rather tough since she’s never had friends before and wants some but isn’t sure how to go about it. I was glad that her mother appears as a very reasonable character and not one who is making things even tougher on her. Ultimately Hitoe has a solid character arc but she never quite rose up for me. She stayed as a fairly weak character and I’ll need to see her step up to the plate to change that.

These next 2 paragraphs are the spoiler ones so please keep that in mind and skip them if you have not seen the show yet. You don’t want to keep on reading. So it turns out that the cost for losing 3 battles is that your wish becomes distorted and you forget about Wixoss. For example if your wish is to make friends then you can never make friends again. It’s a tough penalty but not one that really sticks. We find out in the series that you can override the negative wish if you have enough willpower. It makes sense though because the wish also has limits. It turns out that the Wixoss cards can’t really use magic to make wishes come true. What happens is if you win enough battles, your Lrig takes over your body and you take its place. It actually makes a lot of sense since it’s pronounced Elrig and the girls are told they will become Eternal Girls when they win. If you spell that backwards it would be GirlE. (Eternal Girl) It turns out that it’s spelled a different way as I found out when writing this review but because of that you may figure out the twist almost immediately.

With few exceptions, the Lrigs have no real powers. So that means if your wish is to take over a Kingdom or something it’s not going to happen. Literally how the pact works is once the LRig takes over your body it has to fulfill the wish you asked for to the best of its abilities. A lot of these wishes are pretty easy like becoming an author or making friends. Some like claiming a romance should be more difficult but the Lrigs tend to have some charm. It does then make sense why they can’t enforce the negative wishes so well either. I do still question how Akira overrode hers so easily though. She didn’t forget the game for an instant and went right back on the attack. I suppose her will is just rock solid. So the whole game feels like a scam the more you think about it but of course the characters don’t know this. It’s an interesting twist since usually the powers are absolute.

The best episode of the series is definitely the last one for me. I was glad that Ruko finally had a strong resolve and fought for it. Her deception to Tama was a pretty big one though. I suppose she figured Tama would never know but in a game where your LRig can read your mind at times that is very risky. I do think Ruko’s decision was a good one but while I understand the lie, she should have been upfront with Tama. It may not have worked but it’s a risk you have to take. The idea of a quick tournament while climbing up the tower made for a solid climax as well. It’s just a great way to end the season and the cliffhanger is intense. You definitely know there will be a season 2 from how it ends but if not that would have been quite the ending for sure.

Overall, Wixoss had a rocky first season. If you take away Yuzuki’s plot then this definitely gets bumped up a pair of stars but ultimately that plot is absolutely crucial to the season in the sense that it appears in almost every episode. It would basically be a different show without it. There are ways the show could have fixed it and had a similar plot instead but the past is the past. With how events unfold in this season the next one will have changed the dynamic a bit. So the show handles most of its aspects rather well but I’d sooner recommend checking out the original Magical Girl show with high stakes known as Madoka Magica. To this day that’s still one of the all stars of anime.

Overall 5/10

D.Gray-man Hallow Review


It’s time to take a look to the sequel to the original D. Gray-Man anime. It hasn’t been so long since I saw the original so it’s nice to see the characters return. This was around the part where the manga started to go off the rails though with the artwork taking a dip and it never quite reached the parts that the original show adapted. Perhaps it would work better in anime format? Well, I can definitely make sense of the events a lot better and you can follow the action really well. Unfortunately, the show is not able to salvage these arcs to the point where it can hold a candle to the first show.

The show has 13 episodes and mainly focuses on two arcs. First up we get a mini arc adding a new kid to the cast. Allen and Kanda are sent in to investigate a possible new exorcist who can possess Akuma. Considering what a bother those enemies have been over the years this would definitely be a very valuable asset to have in the field. The heroes will have to hurry though because the Akuma are also after this kid. It’s a pretty reasonable first 3 episodes. I don’t really care for the kid but it did feel like the original days a bit. It also gave us a chance to see most of the characters and some quick fights.

After that we focus on the Alma Karma arc. This is definitely the darkest arc in the series as we see the shady experiments that the order runs on the Exorcist candidates or clones that can be disposed of. In the present we find out that Alma was actually kept alive and the Earl decides to use him to help awaken Allen as the 14th and possibly eliminate Kanda in the process. With the Order acting so questionably the heroes will have to decide if they really are on the right side.

Finally, we end with the debut of Apocryphos as one of the best villains in the series. He attacks and Allen’s arm resonates with the character which makes it difficult for him to stay with the order. At this point Allen is the host for quite a lot of beings so he has to go on the run. The Exorcists are given the order to destroy him so we will have to see which of his allies will remain loyal and which ones will decide to destroy him. Either way Allen better keep his guard up.

Right from the start Hallow positions itself as a much more intense take on the series. It gets quite violent as now even the Akuma all bleed like living things. It’s always been an odd take to have the monsters all bleed like this and many titles do this off and on. How I see it you should just keep the Akuma hollow. The series goes into the next level with this during the Karma arc though which is what ultimately holds the series back the most. It just gets way too dark with the kids effectively being murdered over and over again with their healing factors keeping them alive.

It also makes the Order look completely evil to be condoning these experiments. The Earl even points out that the Order seems to be just as evil as the Noah. It’s also ultimately pointless since the Earl has control over all Akuma so these experiments just ended up helping the villains even more. Even if they were effective it wouldn’t make these decisions any better. The fact that all of the higher ups are in on this makes it worse because even if you like the main Exorcists you have to now acknowledge that they are working for an evil organization. All the good they are doing is just protecting the villains above this. The arc goes too far in making you dislike the Order because now you have no one to root for.

The season does its best to get back on track after this. The final arc with Apocryphos is a lot more enjoyable and feels more like the classic adventures. We get to see Tyki Mikk and Road appear again to fight off the new villain. Apocryphos has a pretty great design and he can actually fight which is important. Allen gets framed and the episodes are pretty suspenseful with solid action and a good story. It also leads us to a pretty solid end for the series. The second last episode probably works better as an ending than the actual finale but either way I was satisfied with the ending. The manga hasn’t been super consistent since then so I don’t really think there is enough material for another season but eventually we’ll probably get another installment.

Allen continues to be a strong lead here. He’s doing his best to fight off the 14th and the total corruption of the Order. He’s in a tough spot here since no matter what he does someone tends to get upset. He is a full fledged Exorcist at this point though and can even hold his own against Kanda which is important. You still get the feeling that he won’t be beating the Noah anytime soon but who knows, maybe he could take them at this point. He just needs some allies because 13-1 are not good odds. Right now Allen has handled every situation admirably.

Then you have Kanda who definitely got a really big role in this series. He was rather mean to Karma throughout so you’ll feel bad for the kid. In the present he didn’t handle the situation well at all until Allen knocked some sense into him. Kanda seems to have mellowed out by the end of the series so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles himself in future arcs. He’s still a fun character regardless. The guy isn’t as heroic as some of the others, but doesn’t pretend to be either. He does what he wants at this point although some of his tough rhetoric doesn’t land since he is still working for the Order after everything they’ve done to him.

Lenalee and Lavi don’t get a whole lot to do here. Lenalee’s abilities still look really cool so I’m hoping she will get a real fight soon. Lavi gets kidnapped but that’s about it for his role. He’s pretty strong willed so hopefully he’ll come out of this okay. Cross gets a minor role as well, but he looks pretty terrible. So much for being a General and getting a lot of hype right? When it was clutch time he folded like a trading card.

Link is one of the new characters and I actually liked him a lot more here than I did in the anime. While he did start out as a watchdog for Allen he ultimately did gain some real personality. He made the wrong choice in stopping Allen during the fight with the thirds, but he made the right choice against Apocryphos. He may not have been the strongest fighter around, but his stats were still pretty good and he seemed like a nice guy. He was just in a little over his head.

Timothy is not nearly as interesting. He can possess ghosts which is cool but his personality isn’t all that great. I think it’ll be a while before he matures more and becomes a character you can root for. I’ll give him props for fighting valiantly later on though. If he keeps this up for another arc then he should rise up. We get a new Noah member in this show named Wisely. Technically there are a bunch of others but most of them haven’t done much yet. This guy gets some hype because he did take out Kanda in one hit which is hard to do. I think he should make for a very enjoyable Noah member.

The Millennium Earl appears a lot here and we finally see more of his human form. Unfortunately it does destroy his character. You can’t take him seriously when you see his human form constantly crying. He also seems like less and less of a fighter every time he appears and his obsession with the 14th could very well ruin all of his plans. The guy doesn’t seem to have a great plan laid out so I can see why his followers are getting very frustrated at this point. He may ruin it for all of them.

Road is a fun enough villain as always. She doesn’t do a lot here but does like messing with the heroes aside from Allen. Tyki Mikk gets a good role as he tries to fight Apocryphos even if he isn’t successful. He’s always gotten more personality than most of the other Noah members and that continues to be true here. He’s just a fun guy to have around. Then you have Apocryphos who is pretty great as I mentioned. It’s excellent to have a third party villain here especially since he seems to be a very radical “good guy” who just wants to protect the Innocence. It seems like he’ll murder anyone who gets in his way and if he is the ultimate enemy of the Noah it makes you wonder where the Exorcists stand. I want to see more of this guy.

Finally we have Karma. He’s a very tragic character since he started out very happy and then everything eventually broke him. By the end of the series he was a total villain. His whole reincarnation plot was a bit wacky but beyond that he got a cool super form and did give us solid action scenes. Battles between fighters with healing factors can always get pretty intense. I liked Karma. He may have cracked in the end, but he did a good job of making sure he saved Kanda and held out hope for as long as possible.

One thing that’s pretty noticeable with this show is that it throws in some random humor to try and get your mind off the serious stuff. To an extent most shows or movies will do this as throwing in a more light hearted moment helps to cut the tension of a dark one. This show just isn’t very subtle with it so it can be pretty jarring. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it to the extent as I did with this show. A character might have just been stabbed or in trouble and suddenly he will have a comic relief face or a deadpan moment where they make a joke. It happens a lot in this season and so it seems to me like the show knew it was getting really dark. It can be a bit off putting but not the kind of thing that will hurt the score or anything. Maybe if I really liked the dark stuff I would mind more.

In D. Gray-Man as I pointed out in my original TV show review there is still one element that is hard to ignore. The whole story doesn’t really make sense because the Akuma should have just won by now. The show continually points out that the Exorcists are completely outmatched in numbers and power. A single Level 4 was able to take out almost all of the strongest Exorcists and the Earl can mass produce hundreds of them. Why has he not just stormed the base at this point? The only reasonable explanation is that the Earl wants to keep the Exorcists alive but then why launch attacks on them in general? Everything he does seems half hearted.

In most titles the heroes are outmatched at least a bit but in this series it is incredibly one sided. The heroes really have absolutely no chance of victory which is just odd to see. When watching the show you know that they can’t win and so unless the heroes get a massive power up then it’s all futile. One episode here even illustrates that as the Earl sends the Noah in and they absolutely crush all of the Exorcists, but decide to spare most of them for kicks. The heroes are definitely lucky but surviving purely on your opponent’s whims is not a good spot to be in.

The animation is definitely solid though. We get a lot of striking colors and the dark color palette stands out. You’re always able to see what is happening and a lot of the visuals are adapted really well. I like how the feathers were implemented and Link’s various attacks were cool. It was consistently great during the show. Then you’ve also got a pretty solid soundtrack from the show. The opening for Hallow is also very catchy. I’ve listened to it quite a few times and the images are also solid. It definitely sets up the atmosphere quite well.

I’d say the best thing I can attribute to Hallow is that it is very interesting. At this point in the series there are quite a lot of pieces moving on the board which makes for a lot of interesting plotlines. You certainly won’t be bored during any episode. At most the final one has some slow scenes with the flashbacks but the rest of the series is very fast paced with something always happening. It’s definitely a positive for long running titles like this one because the longer they go on the more plots you have to juggle. With only 13 episodes Hallow definitely had to keep going at full speed.


Overall, D. Gray-Man Hallow wasn’t exactly the sequel I think it could have been. It goes too far in trying to be violent and gritty as it gets a lot darker than the original series. The first series could also be pretty dark but more in terms of atmosphere than just giving everyone a hard time throughout. If you cut away the Karma arc then the title gets considerably better. To an extent I suppose a show can only do so much with the source material but that’s where deviating can come in handy. Regardless if you’re a big fan of the original anime then you should definitely check this sequel out. It is still following all of the classic characters and continues the story so you want to see where things are going.

Overall 5/10

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Ultraman Review


It’s time to take a look at the original Ultraman show from a while back. Ultraman is a character who is pretty big in Japan but never really got to attain the same success in America. It’s a little odd, but maybe the whole creature feature thing just ends up working better as a movie in getting people’s attention. I will say that the Dub really did its best to make the show more interesting. The DVD we had would randomly shift between sub and dub during the episodes but for the most part the dub worked which was good. There are issues which prevent this from really being a good show but it is something that can be fun in small doses.

The general plot is that on Earth there are so many disturbances thanks to giant monsters that we had to create a whole unit to deal with them. This unit is called the Science Patrol and their duty is to stop these monsters no matter what. Unfortunately they are rarely strong enough to defeat even the weakest of monsters. That’s where Hayata comes in. He has been chosen to be the host of Ultraman, a powerful alien from another realm. Ultraman can only be summoned in Hayata’s place for 5 minutes so he has to try and win quickly. Will this new guardian be enough to save the planet or is Earth already doomed to fall to the monsters’ assault?

The show has close to 40 episodes with the majority of them being stand alone adventures. The formula for each episode is typically that a monster shows up and beats up on the Science Patrol before Ultraman steps in to save the day. It’s a classic formula and it’s like watching an abridged version of a Godzilla film. The only tricky part about having a monster of the week kind of series like this is that you need a strong cast of characters and great writing. This series has neither so that can make it a tough sell when you are effectively seeing the same adventures over and over again. Some titles like Pokemon or Case Closed can pull off the repetition even for hundreds of episodes, but it’s not as easy as it looks.

One issue here is that the Science Patrol doesn’t always seem to be in the right. Often times I was actively rooting against these guys because they seem to be awfully selfish and don’t look at the bigger picture. Most of them just follow orders without question and the ones who think long and hard about it are ultimately reigned in. There’s no sense of unity on the team and Captain Mura is quick to push out any who doubt him. Without good characters to root for that makes the format a little tricky. I’ll go into this more, but lets quickly talk about the main characters. The cast isn’t particularly large.

The main character is Hayata. He can use the pen to shift places with Ultraman but does try to do his best on his own. Hayata is easily the best member of the main group since he does at least talk tough to the villains. Hayata does wait way too long to transform into Ultraman though and makes it clear that he is willing to let tons of people die just to prove a point. He wants humanity to be able to get along with Ultraman and never checks his ego at the door. Watching all of the death and destruction that is all Hayata’s fault is enough to make him sink as a character a bit. Ultraman has his own character, but rarely ever gets to talk or do anything. Skip an episode or two and you would assume that he still is Hayata.

Ultraman is a fun guy to have around even if he does seem to make up super powers on the spot at times. Unfortunately Ultraman isn’t the most heroic character though. He’ll take down any monster even if they are harmless and aren’t making a move to attack. He seems to have a no tolerance policy and just destroys whoever gets in his way. I suppose he is doing his job of protecting the Earth, it would just be nice if that could have also included the monsters who really don’t want to do anything wrong.

Mura is probably the worst character of the bunch. He’s a total Yes Man who will do whatever the government says. He rarely ends up helping out on missions and just gets in everyone else’s way. You want a boss who will stick up for his subordinates and Mura won’t do that. Arashi probably gets the smallest role out of the main characters. He gets a good episode where he defies orders to save some children though. Unfortunately the government didn’t like that and so he is temporarily fired and then reprimanded for saving the day. The whole thing was so crazy that I hopped Arashi would quit in defiance. He really doesn’t need to be taking any of this. He should have gone somewhere where they would have appreciated him more.

Then we have Ide who is the comic relief character of the group. He has a lot of funny dialogue and was a good highlight. At least he actually thinks about the monsters and how they’re feeling at times. I’ll give him some credit for this, but not too much since ultimately he does end up pulling the trigger each time. His inventions are pretty good, but he did have a valid point that Ultraman always does all of the work even if everybody dismissed the notion. Finally we have Fuji. She goes out into the field less than the others as she typically stays with the comms, but she does help out sometimes. Some of Fuji’s scenes can definitely be odd though like when she makes a long speech about why girls love jewels and then when she tried asking one of the monsters to give her some gems. I guess this is probably why she ism’t out on the field as much as the others. She seems nice enough I suppose.

In the first half of the series we see a kid named Hoshino who wants to join the Science Patrol. I’m guessing nobody liked the kid though because he is completely written out during the second half of the series and trust me when I say that this was a really good move. He didn’t add anything to the story and as a kid he really couldn’t keep up with the others either. In general the kids all stopped appearing near the end which was good.

Naturally the monsters showing up is the highlight of each episode. It’s always nice seeing the quick wrestling fights between them and Ultraman. Then throw in the martial arts and you’ve got some quality action. I like a good monster battle and that is really the center of what you need in a monster show like this one. That being said, the show does mess up a bit with the monster vs monster fights. Some of them actually get pretty violent which is surprising and also inconsistent. Most of the time the monsters fall apart like bags of potatoes with no blood inside of them. It’s like they are puppets filled with air which is definitely what you want to see. It also only gets violent when it’s monster against monster which is odd. Hopefully that’s not a trend.

Now lets go back to the Science Patrol being the enemies which is the trickiest part of the series. They are basically a hit squad hired by the government to take down all monsters. They are to do this without question whether the monster is acting hostile or not. There are numerous times where this happens and it’s always very annoying because of course the science patrol has to end up winning here even though they don’t deserve it. One episode where this happens is the ice one. Some kids decide to bully a girl to death so a monster shows up to try and defend her. The Science Patrol quickly puts an end to that. It’s a very somber ending and the Patrol just looks terrible since they were played by a bunch of kids. It doesn’t get worse than that. Another episode involves a peaceful monster from the graveyard dimension who literally doesn’t attack anyone. The government tells the Patrol to destroy him anyway so they just duck their heads and pick a fight. Ultraman beats him up pretty badly before they send him back into space. That was a terrible episode.

With 39 episodes the quality is naturally going to vary. The important thing is of course that you have more good episodes than bad ones and that the bad ones aren’t too bad. The problem is that some of these episodes are just really bad. The 2 that I just mentioned are prime examples of this. The series can just be really mean spirited at times. I think in part how the show plays out is due to the cultural difference here. In Japan following the rules is a very important part of the culture as seen in a bunch of anime and such. In these Ultraman episodes it is seen as a good thing to follow the rules even if the rules themselves are bad. That just hasn’t aged well.

One episode that’s real mean spirited is when a little red monster showed up to help the heroes. He informs them of the incoming alien invasion and the heroes follow him to the site. This little guy’s reward for being so helpful? He is murdered by the enemy kaiju and Hayata could have saved him but chose not to in order to prove a point to Ide. This is another episode where the heroes should have checked their Egos at the door. It’s always especially tragic when a villain tries to turn good and make the hero call but ends up being destroyed anyway. It just goes to show why most informants are worried about blowing the whistle on their alien boss. It’s just extremely risky.

Other episodes are just on the boring side. The first half of the show is affected more by this. One example is definitely the monster who loved the jewels a lot. It’s meant as a comedy episode, but it’s not particularly funny and just ends up dragging on a bit. The best parts of monster films for me are the monster fights so when you have an episode that is centered around the humans you can see how that wouldn’t work quite as well. The Dub really does its best to save some of these episodes but when it goes back to the sub you just don’t feel the energy or witty dialogue.

All right, lets look at some of the more enjoyable episodes. I did like the Baltan aliens. Their laugh is a lot of fun and I like how they troll the humans. They have more personality than any of the other creatures and I’d like to see them get more of a role. We got 2 alien invasions in the last few episodes and I would have liked a 2-3 episode saga with the Baltans trying to take over. Maybe we could have seen more of the other Science Patrols which were mentioned during the series. A large scale episode like that would be cool.

Another fun episode was when the shape shifter alien showed up. He acts like a long lost member of the Science Patrol but is actually working on the enemy side. He is definitely pretty suspicious right from the start. I do like a good shape shifting plot even if it can be tough to watch the heroes get played at times. There is just so much potential whenever it is used as is done well here. Surprisingly I have to say that the best episodes in the series are the ones that involve alien races as opposed to the Kaiju. It may be because the aliens are always evil so you don’t have to worry about rooting for the Science Patrol.

A lot of the other monsters have cool designs as well. There are a bunch of them so you probably won’t remember most of their names, but at least the designs you’ll take to heart. Zetton is a monster with a very memorable design. I like the black/yellow look, it works well for villains and does usually indicate that the character is going to be a real threat. Then you have Jirass who is basically Godzilla. The show doesn’t reuse monsters much so you’ve got 30+ monsters to look forward to. Choosing which one is your favorite won’t be easy. Mine was Baltan of course.

Overall, Ultraman is definitely a pretty unique show. I certainly hadn’t seen anything quite like it before now. As I mentioned, it’s like checking out a bunch of abridged Godzilla movies only with a Power Ranger as one of the main character. I think it might have been even cooler to have had Ultraman literally be Hayata transformed since it wouldn’t really change anything. If you want to see a bunch of cool monsters and action scenes then this is definitely a good show for you to check out. It’s pretty old so of course there aren’t a lot of special effects yet but the monster suits are practical effects so it’s not as if the test of time really affects them. You will have to get past the fact that the main characters are completely unlikable though and that the “villains” end up winning a lot of these fights. The monsters get the short end of the stick and watching this is actually perfect to really understand Garou’s argument in One Punch.

Overall 5/10

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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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