Cells at Work!! Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in the Cells at Work series. Season 2 focuses more on the side characters like Normal Cell so it serves to expand on how well you know the cast. It is not quite as explosive as season 1 though and you will miss Red and Neutrophil when they aren’t around. You can tell the production values have dropped as well. Since the show is a slice of life title it’s not like you could call this a filler season but it does feel like that a bit since nothing big happens until near the end of the season. The climax is really solid though and ultimately this is a good title even if it isn’t a great one.

The general premise of the show is that all of the blood cells in a person’s body are sentient. They go around making sure that everything works and this is how you stay alive. Red blood cells move the nutrients around and the White blood cells take out the germ intruders. It all makes for a smooth operation and so you see their day to day lives. Near the end of the season the big villain known as Cancer makes his return to kick things into high gear. Can the heroes stop him?

This is a rather short season with only 8 episodes in it so the whole thing goes by pretty fast. The cast may not be the strongest out there but they’re still nice enough. Lets get the weak points of the show out of the way first. As with the first season I do find that the backgrounds can feel a bit repetitive because there’s only so much you can do while being inside of a body. It limits the show to an extent because the average slice of life has a lot of fun outdoor backdrops and elements to keep things fresh. With that out of the question here the characters have to do the heavy lifting.

Some of the characters are pretty fun so that works out well enough but at the same time I wouldn’t say that this is a series with top tier humor. Titles like Bleach and Noragami would be funnier. As a comedy it’s probably a little below average and the action is only standard. In a lot of ways that is the best way to describe the show. It’s not particularly weak in too many areas but it’s not strong in any of them so it only ends up being a rather standard show that isn’t too remarkable in any way.

From the soundtrack there is one theme that I liked a lot in season 1 and it returns here but barely. Felt like it didn’t get used to much this time which is too bad. The rest of the themes are okay but not really memorable. The animation also isn’t all that impressive. The first season had a lot of really intense, fast paced action scenes while this one has those very rarely. The battle with cancer at the end is probably the only one that felt like it had a lot of really good shots.

Now onto the good stuff. Neutrophil is still one of the best characters here. I like his drive to always protect the body and help the others out. He doesn’t waver in his goal and just keeps on going while also being reasonable. He did help the normal cell with hiding the other germs at one point and isn’t the automatic killing machine that everyone thinks he is. All you have to do is watch how he always supports Red to see that he’s a nice guy. Whenever he was the focus of an episode that was a good thing.

Red really gets the shaft here so don’t expect to see her a lot. She’s still a fun enough character but in a way she got bumped from being one of the 2 lead characters to a very minor supporting role. She makes the most of her moments but it would have been cool to have seen her do more. Maybe not a fight per say but some kind of support role.

Killer T is a fun character as always. He can be a little stern and rough around the edges but that’s just how he rolls. He still put in a ton of effort in order to master his super attack and won’t give up on his friends. He can be a bit much but Killer T will still land in the positive section every time. Meanwhile Regulatory T Cell definitely took a heavy hit here. She ultimately crumbled when the going got tough and that’s not easy for me to forget. She was on the wrong side and used a technicality as an excuse.

By the time she turned things around she had already done a ton of harm. There was no way to get on board with her character after all of that. She quickly sunk to being one of my least favorite cells here and there’s no real way to climb up again. At least realistically I don’t see that happening. She really enjoyed dishing out the pain against her friends too. It’s not like there was any hesitation, she just went right to it. You can’t make mistakes like that.

As for the normal cell, well he’s decent enough I guess. He was a bit annoying in his first main episode though where he is making fun of the white blood cells and all. I get that he’s jealous but the guy was insanely petty the whole time. You should be showing a little more respect to the guys who are keeping you alive right? Without them the germs would have infested the planet and that would be it for them all.

The first episode is mainly about the little cells who go around building bridges and being generally helpful. I liked their coach who got to appear since she was a strict teacher who ultimately helped them all out. It was a low key but fun way to kick things off. The second episode reminded me why the Memory Cell is still one of the worst though. He never comes through when the heroes actually need him to and when your weakness is your memory then you know you’re doomed. How could you start thinking you know about the future?

Neutrophil did well in the other part of that episode to stop the invaders. The 3rd episode has two segments as well. In one of them the Mast cell struggles with being liked vs doing her job. It’s a bit messy since the others don’t appreciate her. Ultimately she finds a balance here but I can’t say that I was a big fan of hers either way. The other segment had one of the more intense fights here as Neutrophil had to fight for the hair. The fact that thousands of his comrades died in this fight makes things surprisingly dark for a minute there. This villain really had a good setup going to stop the heroes each time. Kind of a shame that none of the others ever messaged for backup before though. You’d think that some of them would have done that.

Then we get to the mini arc of the normal cell watching out for a bunch of little creatures. Its nice and wholesome to an extent but at the same time you just feel like he’s not handling things very well. Being mean to the white blood cells is never cool and how is this guy so clueless about the world as a whole? He basically has to grow copies of himself all day so he can’t leave his room. Why not use that time t read or learn about the world? It might be fair to say that the world has no real educational books like that but in that case he should try asking around. Normal cell wants to be a hero but ultimately it just isn’t working out for him.

Finally we get to the Cancer Cell plot and this one is definitely fun. It also brings up some deep questions like Cancer Cell asking why he has to be murdered just for being born. The interesting part of making every cell’s job automatic while also making them sentient is that it can bring up dilemmas like this. White blood cells have to murder germs and cancer cells. That’s the law of this reality and yet as this cancer cell points out, that means its unfair to his group. From the instant they are born, they are slated for destruction. Even if they stopped their activities they would have to be destroyed.

Neutrophil doesn’t really have an answer for that either. He just explains they have to finish this and proceeds. Cancer Cell is a villain so don’t get that mixed up but his points were worth thinking about. He also mentions why they have to risk the lives of trillions of cells and lose them in many fights to protect one body. Why not just take out the body so they can all die together or just ignore it until it eventually shuts down. It’s not an option that’s sustainable in any way but sacrificing trillions of lives for one does seem a bit lopsided.

So you can always count on the cancer cell to really get you thinking. He’ also got a cool design and really solid powers. It took all of the strongest fighters teaming up to take him down for the count. NK cell got to appear again and she did really well in the fight. She’s another really solid character for sure and works well with the others.

As for my final thoughts on Cancer’s questions on just destroying cells because of their type, I agree with him that it’s not right but I can’t think of many ways around that. The characters are very limited in what they can do because of the setting and in his case he was already acting aggressively evil. Maybe there’s some kind of prison that can hold them. At the very least I was glad that Neutrophil didn’t hesitate and just rushed in. If you don’t have the answer then there’s no point in dragging it out. Just get out there and take care of business. Maybe one day he will be able to get his happy ending if they can find a cell that cures other cells.

The stakes were high and cancer is a fitting final boss so it was a good way to wrap up season 2. It always feels odd to finish a show that’s less than 12 episodes because it feels short. We still got the final saga to be a two part event though which was neat. You’ll have a good time here and you might even pick up a few things. It’s very science based like last time so you may recall some more scientific names than you did to start the show but at the same time there are so many names that you may forget them just as easily.

If we ever get a season 3 I think a good idea would be to get them out of the body somehow. That, or make it a time skip where the body now looks like a city. That would make for some fun new dynamics and even having the human shrink and appear in there would be cool. It would be tough to make that work but it would spice things up. Assuming we need to keep things reasonably similar then just bringing the animation budget back up to season 1 levels would be good for all of the fights. It’s hard to know how you can possibly top Cancer as a final boss though.

Overall, Cells at Work!! is a fun sequel. If you wanted to see the characters again then this definitely does the trick there. It should feel nostalgic seeing all of the characters again. It’s definitely got the same vibe as last time and due to its nature you can jump in on almost any episode and know what’s going on the whole time. It’s very accessible for casual watching and makes for a solid experience. There wasn’t a ton to say here compared to many shows since there isn’t a lot to theory craft or a huge cast to discuss but ultimately I’d say I covered the main points. If you checked out season 1 then you’ll want to watch this as well.

Overall 6/10

Fate/Apocrypha Review


This one definitely had to wait quite a while since it’s been months since I finished it up. Apocrypha is an interesting Fate title in that it adapts the Holy Grail War as usual but then throws a lot of wrinkles into the mix. The whole format is different as a result. I would have liked to have seen a little more done with the concept and I had some issues with this one but ultimately it’s a good title. It certainly has the kind of high tier production values you would have come to expect here.

The show starts off with a group known as Yggdmillennia deciding to steal the Holy Grail War for their own nefarious purposes. They intend to start a Grail War with the Clock Tower. The new element here is that it will be a 7 on 7 battle instead of the usual 7 masters all duking it out to be the one true champion. The Clock Tower has to quickly assemble its own fighters in order to combat this thread. As always every master and servant has their own agenda here but this time they will actually have to team up a little which will be difficult for them. Which side will end up winning it all?

Pretty much the whole series is about the war which is impressive. There isn’t really time for anything else but because the war is so vast that does mean the characters aren’t constantly involved in battle. They still have time to strategize for a while and at one point even do some sight seeing around the village to lure someone out. Everything is done with strategy in mind though. Of course there are also a whole lot of subplots going on here so you’ll want to eye every character closely. It’s really a great premise.

Each servant gets his or her hype as well. Nobody here is extremely weak compared to the others although some are definitely what I would consider to be top tiers. This does come with a weakness though which is that the show cops out of almost every fight until we get to the climax. Fights constantly end in a tie over and over again to a degree I haven’t seen since Sengoku Basara. My main issue with the second stage of Basara (The Hideyoshi arc) was that almost every fight wasn’t conclusive. One guy might win but he would spare the opponent for some random reason and walk away. It was hard to recognize the battles as being in the middle of war because they would get up to fight again, over and over again.

Apocrypha fixes that towards the end but because of that you could skip most of the fights in the early half and not really miss much. The fights still look good though so you wouldn’t want to miss them. While the animation isn’t quite up to Grand Order or any of the Ufotable productions I would still say that it is quite solid. The battles have good choreography and the climax battles really get intense. The best battles typically would feature Saber of Red or Achilles but everyone brought something to the table.

For the soundtrack, I thought the two openings were really the highlight here. They have a very ominous feel to them and really set up the war. The cool 7 on 7 montage in the first opening especially feels epic and I can imagine how cool t would be to have something like that used for any crossover title or another big Fate epic. The chessboard is a good analogy to the players on the battlefield so I just like it for a lot of reasons. The tracks within the show are surprisingly not super memorable but they’re definitely good enough. They still have the grand feel that is associated with Fate.

After all, no matter what Fate product you watch, the servants are always supposed to feel very regal and majestic. They’re all famous heroes in their respective cultures and countries after all so you would expect nothing less. Now it’s time to start talking about the 6 masters and 6 servants across each faction. There are quite a lot of characters to get at here so lets dive into this. With so many combatants on both sides it also means that it can be hard to know exactly which side to root for. To an extent they both seem shady at best and evil at worst. Not to mention that everyone has their own agendas so you really have to be careful about who wins the Grail. (I mean it does feel like a bit of a gag that nobody ever gets the grail for good but you still have to be careful.) For the record, I was on Team Red on this one. At least they aren’t running human experiments and such.

Before the two sides lets talk about the two main characters who are officially neutral even if they feel like extra members of Team Red by the end. First off is Sieg who is one of many mass produced clones that Team Black made. He was able to escape his ultimate fate and met up with Jeanne who helped him forge a life for himself. Sieg is unable to abandon his fellow clones though and goes back into the war. He even ends up getting a servant’s heart so he is able to transform into the mighty Siegfried. That definitely worked out really well for him.

Sieg is a classic hero who wants to help everyone out that he possibly can. He may not be quite as ambitious as Shirou in that regard but Sieg gets the job done. It was definitely fortunate that he got the servant form though because in his normal mode he really would have had a hard time leaving much of an impact at all. It’s hard to defend justice if you aren’t able to fight for it but this helped. While Sieg is the main character he still has to share screen time with a bunch of others.

Then you have Jeanne d’Arc who was summoned as the impartial ruler in the war. This means she was granted an exclusive ability to stop any servant as if she was a living command seal. It’s a really good ability to have and while it won’t protect her from cheap shots, it does mean that no servant can beat her in a head to head fight right now. It was wise of the Grail to give her this ability because otherwise the servants would have definitely tried to get rid of her. As it is, they were close to trying that right out of the gate.

Jeanne has a very strong honor code similar to Saber so she really doesn’t care for a lot of the dubious plans that all of the characters are launching. At the same time it’s hard for her to have to go in and take on a bunch of fighters because at that point it would be as if she was an active participant. So she’s in a rather tough spot and perseveres as much as she can. Jeanne’s also seen a whole lot and isn’t easily rattled although I would say it sometimes comes at the price of making the right move.

There was one such moment when Jack the Ripper was close to being defeated. We find out that every kid he murdered is a part of him now and so the option came to get rid of all of them or spare them but it means Jack would continue. Archer of Red did her best to protect them but Jeanne decided they were a lost cause and ended it. In this one I disagreed with Jeanne. In a world of magic like this I feel like there has to have been a way to save them and it would have been worth it for her to have at least kept on trying. By completely abandoning the kids like this, it just didn’t feel particularly heroic.

By the end Jeanne was certainly jaded enough where nothing could phase her to the point where she told one of the villains: “Is this the part where you murder some kids in front of me?” because it felt like bad things would follow her everywhere. The Fate titles can definitely get rather dark and this one’s no exception. Fortunately it uses artistic license of having puppets and dolls be destroyed instead of showing us the kids like in Fate/Zero so things didn’t go completely out of control.

If you’re going to tackle something like this then using a proxy is the right move. I still could have done without some of the grit though but that seems to usually follow the Fate series around. I don’t think we need to know about the kids dying and there’s no way you can buy into Caster having any kind of redemption arc after going so far. It’s just way too much there. Then you also have some of the usual creeps around like Rider’s master in this case who was rather twisted. I guess the Holy Grail War tends to bring out the real twisted characters here.

Okay so now lets get on to the teams. On Team Black the first servant is Siegfried and he’s definitely a heroic kind of guy. If he got to appear more then I think he could have worked well as a leadership figure. Definitely not the top ranking guy but someone that the others would listen to and respect because of how adapt he is in battle. The guy is strong and gets a lot of good moments to be sure. While I wouldn’t say he stood out as the MVP or anything, he was one of my favorite members on this team.

Next is Chiron and I would say he was the best member here. While his abilities aren’t as flashy as some of the others, his archery skills are quite good to the point where he could even tag Achilles. He makes up for not being as physically powerful as the others by being the best strategist. He has a very solid character arc from start to finish and is one of the guys that you can root for. A shame that he’s on the more villainous team even if I use that term relatively since Red aren’t saints either.

Then there’s Vlad III, aka Dracula. It was pretty cool to see this guy get involved in the mix. His abilities are also really broken and if he was fighting anyone other than a warrior of the Sun then he may have won. His whole domain ability is just such a good long range option and those spikes come at you instantly. I think if the team had planned things out just a little better then he could have won it all for them. Even by the end of the series I felt like he was one of the strongest fighters.

Astolfo is next and he’s one of the weakest fighters. The rider class truly is cursed to never be super powerful huh? Fate/Zero’s rep seems to be the only exception to this. Well, he’s a nice guy and at least Astolfo does have a hero’s sense of justice within him. It’s why it’s always so tragic to be summoned to an evil master because there’s not a whole lot that you can do. He still resists as best he can though.

Frankenstein’s Monster is one of the servants here which is interesting. I mean I wouldn’t consider this beast to be a hero but if you can have reverse heroes (aka villains) like Jack the Ripper here then why not right? Either way she also looks very weak and really would not have done very well paired against almost any servant. Berserkers are at a disadvantage since they have a hard time thinking but Lancelot and Hercules were far more impressive.

Avicebron is the Caster of the group and he’s not really my style either. Casters are always rather shady fellows who can’t fight on their own and tend to sacrifice their allies to get ahead. Avicebron is no exception and while he’s not super bad or anything, he’s just not my kind of character. Likewise, Jack the Ripper is definitely not my style either. It’s interesting to see Jack as a little kid here. I suppose it helps with the disturbing factor as she goes around murdering everyone. It is impressive that she caused enough of a stir to temporarily prolong the war as both sides had to go and try to finish her off though. She certainly didn’t abide by the Grail War rule of not targeting civilians.

Now lets go into the Red faction’s servants. First you have Mordred who is similar to Saber in terms of moveset and design but their personalities are quite different. Mordred is always eager for battle and trying to prove herself worthy of being the King. Her battle style is less about elegance and efficiency but rather going for savagery and sheer power. She will just overpower any opponent in her way and this strategy works rather well.

At one point Mordred is in a gauntlet where she fights several opponents in a row and just keeps on winning. That takes enormous amounts of stamina and she made it look easy. I would like to see the others try and pull that off. Ultimately she is a fighter who always perseveres and was easily my favorite character in the Red faction. Her scenes were always just a lot of fun.

Next up is Atalanta and while she doesn’t get as much to do as the others, she does have her big fight at the end and gets a grudge with Jeanne over the issue of the kids I mentioned earlier. The whole thing is pretty sad for her because she just wanted to help the kids and feels guilty about not being strong enough. This ultimately causes her to lose her mind and gain great strength but at a huge cost. I liked her though and I can’t fault her for wanting to save everybody. It was certainly a noble vision even if it didn’t end up coming to fruition.

Karna is next and he’s the only character I really knew before starting the series. That guy always got a lot of hype and ended up being rather popular. He was even a big player in the Exstella game. I’d say this is deserved as he looks really impressive here. He’s got an honor code so he isn’t just going around beating everyone up and his sun abilities are fantastic. I don’t see almost any of the servants being able to defeat him here. He’s right up with Mordred and Achilles as the top 3 servants in the whole series. Only Vlad III has an argument for being included among that number of top tiers. (So Team Red has 3 of the top 4 fighters in the war. That’s pretty good) An honor code goes a long way in a character so you can see why I liked this guy.

Then we have Achilles who is another all star here. The guy has a ton of confidence and why shouldn’t he? The guy is virtually invincible except for his ankle which is really hard to hit as it is. It’s just his bad luck that he had to meet up with Chiron who was familiar with his fighting style. The two had a history together and that’s the only reason that he could keep up. Otherwise Achilles would absolutely be wrecking everyone in combat. He’s just that good and ultimately he does his best to help the others out as well. I definitely had a lot of fun with him.

The next fighter is Sparticus and I can’t say that I liked him much either. The guy doesn’t know how to stay back and do any planning. He runs into battle and it often costs him a lot. He lets his team down and if you’re a berserker that can’t resist mind control then you’re in for a world of trouble. He would just end up annoying me the whole time as he put his team in trouble and never really made up for it. Definitely one of my least favorite services here.

Nearing the end is Shakespeare who really isn’t all that strong although you might have guessed that. He’s more of a planner, someone who jumps in as needed with illusions but doesn’t do much beyond that. His illusions can certainly be twisted and he is effective at using them but I’ll never be able to put someone with a non offensive skillset over the power players. He just can’t fight much even if his life depends on it and that’s a rough state to be in. Imagine if he was summoned for a 1 on 1 war like most? HIs master would be absolutely doomed.

Finally you have Semiramis who is really solid. Certainly she’s much stronger than the team’s actual caster at using magic and that’s a bit ironic. Of course the way the summoning goes, you have to play into your role even if it’s not the strongest like how we saw Lancer summoned as a Caster in Grand Order. Apparently every servant can use all of the roles but naturally they just won’t be as strong. So you can only imagine how powerful Semiramis would have been if she was summoned as a Caster.

Either way she is very impressive though and is really the most pivotal member of Red’s team as a result. Without her summoning the large airship and manning the cannons then the team would have had far less opportunity to carry out their plans. She was absolutely necessary to everything playing out as the leader wanted it and she always gave the task her all.

Now which side do I think was stronger overall? Lets put them side by side and I’ll show you who wins every fight.

Siegfried vs Mordred : Winner Mordred
Chiron vs Atalanta: Winner Chiron
Vlad III vs Karna : Winner Karna
Astolfo vs Achilles : Winner Achilles
Frankenstein’s Monster vs Sparticus : Winner Sparticus
Avicebron vs Shakespeare : Winner Avicebron
Jack the Ripper vs Semiramis : Winner Semiramis

Red wins 5/7 rounds and easily clears the deck after that. The teams are still well balanced overall since it’s not like these fights are stomps but Red is just better around the board. Their heroes are more impressive and better suited to win each of the rounds. The only reason it didn’t play out like that is because Team Red would rarely be on the same page and lost some pieces early due to people doing their own thing or getting wrecked.

Time to talk about the masters. While most of them aren’t fighting on the front lines along with their master, some of them do get good roles. Most of Red’s masters are nonfactors though as they get bumped off real quick. It was a little sad since it would have been nice to see what they were all thinking but at the same time maybe it would have been too difficult to show all of them. So Red only has 2 real masters. First is Shirou and yes this is not the same Shirou from the main series but that would have certainly been interesting.

Shirou’s very much the mastermind kind of character here who is manipulating everyone to his own purposes. He can even fight to an extent which is impressive. Perhaps not well enough to beat most servants but he can defend himself and probably beat some of the weaker ones. As a result parts of his fight with Sieg are impossible to buy since he should be winning that one easily but the main character will usually need some plot armor at the end. Beyond that the fights tended to make sense so at least it was rare.

His wish is the classic villain wish of creating a Utopia. This time he would make everyone immortal to fulfill that goal and in theory if nobody can die and they’re all perfectly happy then bad things will never happen to people again. It’s one of those things that always sounds good at first but then you realize that this would completely remove free will as a concept and so that sours the whole thing. It does always make for a solid villain motivation though and that’s no exception here.

The other master is Shishigou who controls Mordred. I like that he’s not someone who blindly follows orders. He still intends to win the War with only Mordred as his partner. He can also fight on his own with his array of guns, grenades, and other anti-servant weaponry. It takes a lot of guts to get out there to fight opponents who could end you in an instant so that’s impressive. He mostly just does well against other humans but being out there at all to fight is a testament to his bravery. I also thought he and Mordred had the best dynamic as they would trust each other to fight their battles.

On the Black side we had a few more notable masters since all 7 got to do something. First was Reika who completely allowed Jack to murder people and even encouraged it. Naturally she’s one of the biggest psychos here and the fact that she always acted as a really kind person right through the end was certainly something. To her this was all just natural and shows how messed up she was.

Roche is a bit younger and definitely very naïve. He figured Caster won’t betray him but that’s just how the ball bounces sometimes. I never liked him personally. Gordes is another cruel master (Man this team really is mean huh?) who was helping with the clone project and doesn’t treat them as real people. He gets a character arc where he starts to get nice by the end but it’s a little late for that so I still wasn’t buying into it. This guy really went down a dark path with no remorse until after he was knocked out of the war.

Celenike is also master that makes it easy to root for Team Red to win and take control of the world. She likes beating up on her servant for no reason at all and just comes across as another twisted psycho. Her weird obsession with Astolfo doesn’t help her case either and the sooner she’s taken out the better. Any scene with her is definitely annoying and given that she doesn’t help the team in any meaningful way, the bosses should have picked a more capable member from the millenia group.

Fiore and Caules have their own servants and are immediately the two most reasonable members of the group. Fiora wants to do her duty to bring honor to the family name and plays things by the book. She’s one of the few masters who doesn’t lose her cool and just does her best to win each fight one at a time. Her main weakness is that she’s a little too nice so she has a hard time taking people out which is tricky in a war. Then you have Caules who is mainly fighting to protect Fiore and gradually starts to take mores responsibility within the family. It’s a hard road but he starts to pull through it.

Darnic is the final master and the guy at least has some leadership experience. He actually won the Grail war once before even if it was a long time ago. He’s a master manipulator but I would say his weakness was in not choosing better teammates. Either way he gets the job done and lasts for a long while. He almost won in the end but just got a bit too greedy and sped things up too much. I wouldn’t say he was great but he was memorable and played a good role in keeping team black in the running.

So that’s pretty much all of the characters. There are a few more here and there but that’s the majority at least. The cast really is quite big so it takes a while to introduce them all but I’d say the show did well with the development. Just about everyone gets something to do and then the fights are more emotional since you’ve seen both sides. As long as you like seeing a lot of action then you should definitely have a good time here.

Overall, Fate/Apocrypha is a good show. It can get a little extra gritty at times and I think more of the early fights should have had real winners but the show jumps up during the second half as we get the big climax battles. The animators went all out with those and the series does have a conclusive ending. It’s always nice to see the Holy Grail Wars and having a completely different cast with this one works pretty well. I don’t think these servants would beat the FSN ones in a straight fight but some of the top tiers like Karna and Mordred would absolutely go very far. Maybe we’ll see some of these guys pop up in Grand Order soon. Either way if you haven’t checked this one out yet and want to explore more of the Fate verse, it’s a good option.

Overall 6/10

Persona 5: The Animation Review


The Persona video games are immensely popular. Not only do they guarantee a lot of content in the games which really run on the long side but the characters tend to become very popular and the franchise is huge at this point. Persona 5 is likely the biggest installment in the series as well so it’s fitting that this one got a full anime. It’s definitely fun to see the thieves in action and the ending really leaves things at a high note. One of the best endings I’ve seen a while. A rough first arc is really what keeps this one from going higher.

The series revolves around a character named Ren and starts with him being beaten by the police and then interrogated. We then cut to the past where he has just gotten out of probation. It was a tough period for him because he was arrested solely for doing the right thing in defending a lady from some random creep. Unfortunately she didn’t defend him when the cops arrived and the whole experience set him back but to this day Ren does not regret what happened. Now his life is really spinning though. At night he has dreams where he is behind bars again and this time a demon is talking to him about rehabilitation.

What does he need to be rehabilitated against though and why is he here? In the real world he finds out that the PE club is run by a villain known as Kamoshida who is exerting his will over all of the students as he assaults them. Ren runs into another student named Ryuji who wants to help but neither one of them are sure what they can do. Fortunately that’s when they end up in an alternate universe of the school where they can tap into summoned spirits known as Persona. These heroes now have the ability to steal the hearts of the wicked and force them to repent. Perhaps they can free the world of all evil? We know that he ultimately ends up being captured by the police so throughout the series you’re wondering when that’ll happen and what leads up to this.

You know this is based on an RPG type game when just explaining the plot takes a few paragraphs and we’re not even past episode 2 yet. There is absolutely a lot going on here. The sheer amount of characters and cases is impressive so you can see how the game would be long. Especially since it seems like this show doesn’t cover the whole game based on how it ends. So lets dive right into this.

First off, the soundtrack is really a blast here. It’s got a very party kind of vibe to it. The opening is very catchy, both of them in fact. I prefer the first opening for sure but the second one grows on you after a bit. It’s definitely going for more of an emotional vibe while the first one is very upbeat the whole time. Then you have the transformation theme whenever the characters activate their persona and a lot of other insert songs throughout. They spared no expense on the soundtrack for sure.

For the animation style itself, it’s good but I wouldn’t say it’s great. It has what I’d call a very standard style here. There aren’t any cuts that are particularly impressive but it never looks bad either. So it’s just standard/average which is good enough here. As long as the animation isn’t bad I’m usually okay on my end. In the end this show really succeeds on a technical side. So now lets jump into each of the arcs.

First is the Kamoshida arc and as I mentioned, this is the weakest one. It does give us the origins of the Phantom Thieves which is nice as they get up to 3 members and learn more about how the castles work. The show leaves a lot to your imagination on this which opens the door for a lot of questions but I’ll get into that later on. So the reason why they have targeted Kamoshida is obvious. His actions have brought great harm to the school and one of the students even tried to commit suicide after he attacked her. So the heroes have to go in and take him out.

How this works is a bit complicated, they can’t just go in and destroy him after all. The way to take his heart is to first scout out the area and find the treasure room. From there they have to send him a notice in the real world to announce that they aim to steal his heart. This causes the treasure to appear in the castle and only then can the heroes steal it. Of course by this point the target is aware of their presence so they always end up having to fight anyway. These thieves never get out without a fight.

So with the rules out of the way, the adventure goes pretty directly. The heroes break in and give Kamoshida the hands with their transformations. Ann gets to directly enact her revenge next to the other characters. It was good that she got to have the win and of course they have removed the evil in him so he can’t hurt anyone else. It’s just too bad they couldn’t have done this a little sooner. A lot of the damage was already done by this point.

Persona 5 really goes out of its way to show that most of the adults are crooked here. They’re either going after girls like the corrupt fiancé, the guy from Ren’s backstory, and Kamoshida; just generally violent like the cops who enjoy beating Ren into the ground, or just plain mean like every other criminal they go after here. It’s rare to find any adults that actually seem like good people here. The only big one I can think of would be Futaba’s legal guardian and a politician who realized that he needs to bet on the youth of this world. So as you can guess this is not a very pleasant world to be in and that’s why a lot of heart snatching is necessary from the heroes’ side. That’s a whole other debate which I’ll go into later as well.

The Kamoshida arc is felt throughout the rest of the series and will be brought up a lot. It was certainly a big moment for sure but the show would have been better off skipping this one. That kind of villain never enhances an episode. The next arc introduces Madarame as the big villain. He’s a corrupt art teacher who steals his students’ work and then tosses them aside when they’re no longer useful. Right now his victim is a kid named Yusuke who refuses to believe Ren and the others when they talk about this. Since it will be incredibly hard to prove that Madarame is guilty, they’ll have to take his heart away.

Yusuke was very unreasonable the whole time but this was a good case. By this point we’re starting to meet some other characters here like Akechi who wants to catch the Phantom Thieves and the cast is slowly growing. The main moral here has to be that you should always not lose sight of the fact that people will take advantage of you if you don’t keep your guard up. Yusuke figured that this could never happen to him but sure enough, it did.

After that it’s time to go up against Kaneshiro. Yes this name is really similar and they are pronounced in very similar ways so that makes it a little hard to keep the names apart. Kaneshiro is using money to ruin lives as he gets people used to gambling and then takes their futures away and blackmails the rest. It’s a tough scheme that reaches all throughout the city and so the only option left is to take his heart. Each arc so far has added a new member to the team and this one is no exception as Makoto joins in. She’s definitely one of the better members and it was good to have her on board. This one was fun enough and the heroes made quick work out of him. It’s another reminder on why you want to stick away from the shadier parts of town though, everyone’s just waiting to mess you up in Persona world. Make one mistake and they’ll throw the blackmailing at you.

Next up, Medjed declares that they will attack the city if the phantoms do not give themselves up and reveal their identities. Up to this point people had been rooting for the phantoms but now with their lives at risk the people change their minds real quick. Naturally giving up their identities would be a bad move here since they would not be able to do much after that. You could make the case that it would be tough to prove their guilt even if they voluntarily turned themselves in but with everyone knowing about how all of these criminals have suddenly turned a new leaf, it is still too risky. The heroes have to steal Futaba’s heart to stop all of this.

Futaba’s not really a villain the way the rest of the people had been so far but she needs her heart stolen because she has been traumatized by this point. She hasn’t had the best experiences with her family as her mother committed suicide and the rest just weren’t particularly pleasant at the time. She blames herself for what happened and no longer goes outside. She has locked herself into her room and intends to never leave it again so if things don’t change, that will be game over for her. For once the heroes are trying to change a heart to directly save their target.

While I was not really a fan of Futaba, this was a solid arc. Sojiro got to appear more ere and he was doing his best to protect her the whole time. That guy gave Ren a chance when everyone else wouldn’t so now Ren had a chance to help him out in return. This helped the team really get together and now they had even more members in place. You have to think that this is happening just in time because every boss requires more and more fighters to beat it. Imagine if it was still just 2 or 3 of them?

Next up, the heroes are confronted with a string of mental blackouts where someone seems to be stealing hearts the way that the phantoms are, only these guys are completely murdering their victims. The blackouts effectively turn you into a vegetable or worse. The only lead is that a company owned by Kunikazu stands to gain from this. His daughter Haru is also being married off to some random creep and he won’t even talk to her about it. So the heroes have to stop Kunikazu quickly but making matters more complicated is that Morgana has been getting upset at them recently because he feels that they don’t appreciate his contributions.

Additionally, Morgana is still a human trapped in a cat’s body and feels like there has not been any progress on this part. So he also blames himself for this and not being able to help so all of that frustration comes to a boil here. Haru also gets to activate her persona here so the group gets even bigger. This arc wasn’t bad, I liked the idea of Morgana teaming up with someone else to form a splinter group of sorts. Then we have the mysterious guy in black and these mental outs so a lot is going on here. It ends up being one of the more important arcs in that sense. While Haru’s father looks awful and the would be fiancé is just as bad, you’re used to it by this point since all of the adults are just corrupt here.

The arc also doesn’t end the way you might expect. Finally, we enter the last arc which leads up to the present where Ren has been captured by Sae. The show really had the whole first season be a flashback if you think about it so it was nice to be in the present. Basically Sae has been gradually getting more and more off the deep end by the day in her desperation to stop the Phantom Thieves. So Akechi tells the team they need to steal her heart and he will even help. It’s hard to know if they can trust him but Ren agrees. As it is, it’s been hard to actually act lately with Sae around every corner and improving security all around.

Well this is the big arc and it lives up to the hype. Putting aside my questions of the capture for now, it was just great to get to this point. This also ties into the ending. Of course I can’t go into it but it really doesn’t go the way you might have expected. I wasn’t ready for the twist and then the ending theme that plays as the episode concludes is phenomenal. The ending just felt very valid. There was a game of wits and someone won while someone else lost. You sort of know that this ending cannot possibly stick but even so it was just really solid. Also, the show did end this way so if you don’t watch anything afterwards or play the game then in a way this was really the ending. Either way it definitely threw me for a loop.

So one of the big debates here is the ethics of stealing hearts. After all, the way it goes, this seems to be like mind control to an extent. The person’s whole personality changes and suddenly they want to be an upstanding citizen. The reason mind control is always controversial is because it’s a slippery slope. The good intentions you have can change over time and it’s not always clear what is the right thing to do but taking away someone’s agency is a big thing. Even in a series like One Piece people deeply disliked when one of the heroes would go around mind controlling the villains. I’m usually an advocate against mind control myself for those reasons.

The reason this one is tricky is because the heroes aren’t giving any commands. It’s not like they’re telling this guy “Go donate your money” or something like that. They remove the dark intentions without any orders so in a way the individual is still making their own choices. The difference is that they’re making their choices from a much smaller list of options because no evil ones appear there. It’s still a bit squishy but I would actually be in favor of the Thieves here. You’d have to convince me that there is a tangible downside to doing this.

In my mind it’s not equivalent to mind control and that’s why I’m on board. So if I’m the phantoms I’d keep on going. You can never get to everyone of course but each person they convert means one more potential victim that they’ve saved. The team is objectively making the city safer. Of course I don’t fault Akechi and the cops for trying to stop the Thieves. They have no way of knowing all of the information that we the viewer have but I think if they did have that knowledge, a lot of the would end up agreeing with the main characters. There are valid reasons to keep on opposing them since that’s a lot of power to be giving a few teenagers but it’s a good bet. I like to think if we had a way to tangibly make the world better then we should take it. Particularly since this world seems so corrupt but even in the real world, being able to eliminate evil emotions while only keeping the good ones just seems like such a good deal. Of course you take a risk since you could die in the castle but it’s a risk worth taking.

Now, there are some questions about how the castle system works out. In the show we see that the heroes take out their phone apps and the surroundings sort of turn into the castle framework. So in the real world are they still walking around and looking crazy like it’s a VR? Well, we see in the last episodes some cases to suggest this isn’t it. From an outside perspective the characters seem to just vanish. If you’re really close you’ll even vanish along with them. So once you are transported there is no connection to the human world until you get back.

With this in mind, how could the characters possibly get caught by the cops? I didn’t buy it personally but someone led them into the virtual world and they nabbed Joker. Here’s my thing, Ren has summons, super powers, and is more used to the world. You’re going to have a hard time ever convincing me that a bunch of cops with no knowledge of this world just popped in and took him out. Come on now, that’s just hard to buy. It’s a pretty big deal too considering the entire season hinges on him getting captured. I’m glad that we got an explanation on how it worked by the end at least because the whole season I was wondering about it. The heroes sure are lazy about keeping the secrets though as they’ll just vanish in the middle of school or right outside and get caught several times.

It’s a small thing, but I enjoyed the music and atmosphere whenever we’d cut to Ren being interrogated. You’d always hear that click sound effect and then be brought right back to the room where Ren definitely just wants some sleep but has to keep answering questions over and over again. You could feel his exhaustion just from watching the screen and also see how it feels like he wasn’t getting anywhere in his story. We still don’t have any answers on the rehabilitation jail Ren is in with the demon so we’ll have to see what becomes of that. Arsene also doesn’t appear much at all. Unlike the rest of the heroes who keep using the same persona, Ren keeps on switching so that’ll probably be a big plot moment eventually.

All right, time to talk about the characters. First up is Ren and he’s okay at best but I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan. It’s hard to get a read on the guy as his personality just seems to change or not really make much sense to me. He’s often quiet and just trying to do the right thing but then he’s also a pushover. He lets the guys talk him into ordering a maid for sketchy reasons which was a real low point for him. He has some debates with Akechi but doesn’t seem to have any enthusiasm for them so this banter is not nearly as good as it could have been. Ultimately Ren is a good guy but he’s not a great character. He needs to be either more outspoken or just more confident but something needs to change a bit there.

Then there’s Morgana who is the animal mascot here and he’s good for lore but doesn’t help a whole lot in the fights. He does have a persona but it seems weaker than the others. Perhaps that is not the case but it feels like that at least and it works well with the whole sub plot about Morgana doubting himself so it makes sense. Too bad Morgana never got a big power up.

Ryuji’s a fun character. He’s the first person that Ren meets up with from the phantoms and really gets the hang of things quickly. He doesn’t doubt himself or the mission as much as some of the others do. He’s not perfect or anything but by and large he does his best. Ryuji just has fun with the mission and tends to keep an upbeat attitude.

Ann joins shortly afterwards and is all for the mission too. She takes it very seriously considering that she’s been a victim of the corrupt adults before and is always helping out a lot. While more members join up later, I consider these 3 to really be the main players of the group and the leaders when you boil it all down. If they have an opinion on the next mission you expect it to get a lot of weight.

Next up is Yusuke and I never warmed up to the guy. For starters he claims to seriously be an art guy who does his sculptures just to achieve his mastery and yet it doesn’t seem that way when he wants the sculpture of Ann. He stopped being reasonable at that point and while he gets past that after the episode, his normal personality isn’t great either. He’s always rather aloof and just doesn’t really contribute as much as the others.

Makoto is one of the last members to join but she’s one of the best ones. For starters she was actually trying to enact some justice on her own first by working for the school and then by tailing the main characters. Her connection with Sae helps in that regard but so she’s always been on the front lines here. Becoming a phantom was the next logical step on her path and she had more personality than most of the other characters.

Futaba is not nearly as impressive. She’s a great hacker who helps out a lot on that front but she’s not really used to the outdoors and can hold the others back a bit. She doesn’t take as active of a role in fighting either. It’s good to have the tactician monitoring the situation of course but ultimately I’d like to see her do more. Due to her origin story it’ll take some time for her to really get the hang of things but after that maybe she will be fighting more.

Finally you have Haru. I give her credit for being able to self teach herself how to work in the castles a bit. I’m sure Morgana helped out as well but it was nice to see. Haru’s stint as an alternate hero group to the phantoms was very short lived but it was still a nice plot point. She shows up late enough in the series where she hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot just yet but should be a nice addition to the cast.

That’s it for the main heroes. I’ll mainly sidestep the villains as there isn’t much to say about them. They show up and prove how evil they are before being taken down by the heroes. The exception to this would be the mysterious man in black but we have yet to know who that even is. There’s certainly a big suspect on who that is based on the context clues but it’s not totally confirmed just yet.

For the side characters, well we’ve got Sojiro who I mentioned before. He’s a nice enough bartender and while he talks tough, he still helps Ren out in the end. There is Sae who we slowly see get more and more obsessed with the Phantom Thieves. She may not be a total villain but Sae is right on the edge about that. She is tempted to falsify evidence and can’t be reasoned with by the end so that’s when you know that her heart needs rescuing. I appreciate her determination but she really was crazy by the end so even though she started to see the light eventually, it was a little late. Sae makes for a good villain though.

Then we have Akechi who really lives up to the hype. He’s effectively like L from Death Note. Akechi is a super sleuth who is out to catch the Phantom Thieves because he believes that what they are doing is unjust. He thinks it’s an abuse of power and that it bypasses the court systems. So like I was saying earlier about how you could easily get this viewpoint and that it’s a valid one, I do like him as an antagonist. He is willing to talk with the thieves about this although they can’t out themselves so they’re careful about it. Ren’s not very subtle but you like to think they have a subtle understanding that they will talk vaguely around each other. Akechi doesn’t do much until near the end of the show but he really makes his presence felt in those episodes.

That covers all of the big characters I’d say. It’s really a colorful cast of characters here. I wouldn’t say it’s a great cast since I’m not a big fan of quite a few of the Thieves but Akechi and Sae make for two formidable opponents. The thieves seem to spend more time being fighters than thieves in the virtual world but the show makes up for it by having the characters strategize in the real world a lot.

Now, while the animation as a whole I wasn’t too impressed with, I did really like the transformation sequences. Each character gets one for the very first time they merge with their persona. These moments seemed to get a really high budget in particular. The attention to detail with each of the transformations was really excellent. There was even a specific theme that would show up each time this happened. These moments were always a lot of fun and we got a look into each character’s psyche as you have to tap into your inner desires to use the power. I was half expecting the characters to start faltering when they had doubts, but fortunately that didn’t happen. They may have had some doubts but on the battlefield they would stow their fears and keep on going.

The show even squeezes in a few one shot episodes like the moderator of the website going crazy, the heroes heading to the beach, etc. The slice of life episodes tend to be a little on the boring side though. This is a show where you really want to see the next story beats and the episodes for character development don’t land as well. Probably because I wasn’t a big fan of some of them but also because they tended to not look very good in these episodes. They tend to bring out the worst in Ryuji and parts like the maid episode don’t help Ren either. The show mainly avoids fanservice fortunately but if there were any episodes where you could expect some, it would be in these episodes which didn’t help their case compared to the plot based ones either.

Overall, Persona 5: The Animation seems like a very good adaption of the game. It doesn’t end all of the plot points so get ready for a few cliffhangers but that just makes the whole thing even more epic. I’d have liked more of an explanation on how the Persona’s work. Why can Ren use several while everyone else is tied to one? Headcanon will work in the meantime though. The opening arc started the show off on a real rough patch with the villain getting away with way too much but the show rebounds from there and by the end I’d still say it’s good, in no small part due to the climax really being quite epic. I still say that was one of the most effective endings I’ve seen in a while. If you’re up for some good ole mysteries and moral discussions on if you should change hearts or not then this is up your alley.

Overall 6/10

Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation Review


It’s really been a super long time since I’ve read the Muhyo & Roji books. I was certainly surprised when it got a show pretty much out of nowhere but I guess the fans must have been loyal here. It’s a very retro kind of title and I’d say you can even feel that from the character designs and such. I thought the manga was decently good although nowhere near the top of Jump and would be more mid-low tier compared to the average one there. the show is decent as well, not very good or anything but it makes for a good adventure watch.

The show starts by introducing us to Muhyo and Roji who have a supernatural agency where you can go in and tell them about your problems. They will help you overcome whatever supernatural menace is wrecking your life. It’s sort of like the Mob Psycho setup there. This is how the group gets to meet new characters and friends as their agency keeps on completing quests. Roji is really the assistant here as he has no talent with the supernatural and tends to get in the way. This is balanced out by his being the much more emotional one who really wants to help others. Muhyo tends to always be in a bad mood or just be sleepy. He’s one of the most skilled executors in the world so he can exorcise spirits with ease but doesn’t always find the energy to do so.

That’s effectively the pre arc here although it ends almost immediately so the show can skip right to the plot type elements. Pre arc’s fun and all but usually the story is where things get good so I can see why the show would do that. This way we get to see the main villain and a preview of things to come. Naturally as season 1 this won’t wrap up all of the plot threads but a good amount of things happen here and the heroes get their first true fight.

So first lets talk about some of the pre arc adventures and the characters that are introduced as a result of that. One of these cases involves a kid named Kenji who doesn’t buy into the supernatural. In fact his group of friends are doing a test of courage at a “haunted” temple. You just have to run up the steps and tag the house so he shows up to basically rub it in Muhyo and Roji’s face. Unfortunately they know that the danger is very real and show up to save him in the nick of time.

Kenji never quite stops being rebellious but at least now he knows about the supernatural. His role in the show is really pretty small after his opening appearance but he’s around. There’s one fun scene where we see how he broke into Muhyo and Roji’s office. As far as the kids go I didn’t really mind him.

Then you have Nana’s introduction case. She is a photographer but lately weird things are appearing in her photos like a hand or even a face that she doesn’t know. The fact that even a normal human* can see this is pretty concerning so Muhyo and Roji are on the case. It’s one of the more emotional cases here as the spook isn’t quite evil although I would say he did a very poor job of expressing that. It ties into Nana’s backstory where her father began taking fake pictures for money. This led to his eventual destruction and then as a spirit he wanted to watch out for her but eh….he just wasn’t very good at this.

Now, Muhyo mentions that as a spirit you start to lose your mind so I guess the father just couldn’t think of anything very well. The fact that he didn’t turn violent too quickly helps a bit but I don’t give him much points for willpower because it was definitely the bare minimum. Nana is a solid heroine. Unfortunately she doesn’t have any powers here so there’s not much she can do to support the characters. She’s around and is a nice person but in this kind of series I do feel like that puts you at a bit of a disadvantage right from the jump if you can’t fight at all. She also has to put up with sketchy types like Yoichi so you feel bad for her from the start.

There’s also a pre arc story with a girl whose friend fell in the train tracks and seemingly wants revenge. The friend was not a very good person from the start though as she got super jealous right from the start. I think both characters could have handled it better, but I really don’t put the fault on the main girl for trying to have a normal life. She wasn’t rude to the friend or anything but the other girl took it way too hard. At least we got a happy ending of sorts there…not super happy honestly but Muhyo does his best to make sure the punishments aren’t too bad.

I should explain about the punishments and the overall system now. So as an executor Muhyo is able to invoke different passages from his book which summon creatures to come and take down the evil spirits. These summons take up a lot of energy and if you aren’t strong enough then you will be absorbed as well. Only some have the talent to be executors which is why you don’t see everyone with books. There aren’t a whole lot of them based on what we see in season 1 and even less that are quite powerful.

Muhyo’s summon depends also in part on where he wants to send the creature. If it’s a total monster with no redeeming value then he’ll send it to hell or one of the more deadly places. If it’s a misunderstood creature that went down the wrong path then he may try to get it into purgatory or somewhere where there could be a happy ending. Beyond that the series doesn’t go very in depth with it but it’s really all that you need to know.

The only downside to this is that you can’t have very interesting action scenes in this way. The battle ends when Muhyo finishes his summon which is pretty much a one hit KO technique. There’s not much else to it so usually the action scene might be the villain blasting at him while Roji or one of the other characters block. The only true action scene I’d say is in the final episodes. That’s why I’d call this more of a supernatural adventure or case of the week kind of show. Action can be a bit misleading even though this is Shonen Jump but then you get into the arguments of chase scenes being action scenes and so all of these are action scenes. A better way to put this might be that there aren’t many fight scenes but still action scenes. All in all, I just wouldn’t use the term action to describe this one too much.

I’d prefer if the characters could fight physically since I think that would make the whole thing more engaging but I suppose it’s just not like that sometimes. As for the first main plot, well we have a brief adventure where Enchu makes his first move. He unleashes a curse that spreads through touch so everyone has a face growing on them and it’s spreading fast. Muhyo will have to hurry if he wants to solve this before the sickness goes too far. If that happens that it’s game over since the rest of the exorcist/executors aren’t very powerful.

It’s a solid adventure although one that’s over as soon as it has begun. It’s a particularly rough ride for Roji who just can’t compete at this point and slows the team down. Additionally, it’s the introduction of Yoichi who is easily the worst character in the series. All he does is harass Nana most of the time and remind the heroes why they should be beating him up. Turns out he was a childhood friend of Muhyo although they don’t really hang out anymore and I don’t blame Muhyo.

Yoichi’s a character I definitely would have liked to have seen toned down a bit here. He’s just such a bad character and I don’t think we’ve seen a character this pervy in quite a while, at least on the heroes side. If you think about it, the days of characters like Keigo, Roshi, and Jiraiya are pretty much gone. The modern Shonens don’t really go that route which is definitely a good thing and I suppose in another way that shows this title’s age a bit. So yeah the sooner Yoichi’s written out the better.

The show is fairly good about not including too much fanservice. Of course you have all the Yoichi moments of him being sketchy but beyond that there’s only one hot springs episode. It’s the worst episode in the whole bunch though because it ends with the characters actually encouraging this random guy to be a perv to finish his novels. Really? Also, Nana is okay with this and being the one watched but it’s still completely awful for every character involved. Ugh, it would have been nice if at least someone had said this was a bad idea!

The final arc is the longest one as the gang heads over to a mansion where the monsters are getting out of control. The heroes were requested to help by the young Biko who found out that one of his tags was removed. Without the tag, the spirits will get free and cause mayhem so Muhyo’s the guy for the job. The issue is that this is a whole mansion filled with evil spirits and it’s hard to exorcise more than 3 in a day without being completely drained. Making matters worse is that one of the demons is Sophie the face ripper, a being that can assume someone’s appearance after ripping their face off. Anyone in this mansion is now a suspect so they have to keep their guards up.

This is definitely the most intense arc in the season and certainly the most violent one as well. They don’t call Sophie the face ripper for no reason after all as she really goes all in on this. The show doesn’t hold back and the sound effects will probably seal the deal for you on this being a very intense moment. On the whole I wouldn’t say the show is super violent or anything but mixed in with the designs for the demons and the moments are quite striking. The series has some unique designs like the faces that appear on everyone and even chomp other people as they get close.

Sophie herself makes for a very imposing villain. Her abilities are the real deal although the only reason she wasn’t quickly sealed away is because Muhyo was busy beating up on the weaker ones first which zapped his energy. Otherwise she probably wouldn’t have lasted but you do have to use strategy to help out and so Sophie did a good job. She also took out a fair number of fighters on her own so she deserves some credit there.

We get some new characters here as well like Biko. I wasn’t a fan of Biko though. She’s one of those characters who cries quite a bit and talks tough but can’t back it up when it counts. She really gets in the heroes’ way most of the time and can’t even do much in the way of blocking. All she has are the seals which don’t always work but can’t use barriers or spells. That’s really not going to get you far here and she was just annoying most of the time.

Rio is the other big character to show up and she’s better than Biko although I can’t say that I’m a big fan either. She gets an origin story where we see how the town was awful to her. It does always make it hard to root for the city to be saved when you get an origin story like this though. Absolutely nobody defended her and that was disappointing. You’d think that there’d be someone to report this too or someone who could help out unless the city was truly corrupt all the way through like the Hidden Leaf Village. If that is the case…then yeah this place is pretty awful.

Rio went through a whole lot without a doubt but of course that can never be an excuse for going down the wrong path. What hurts Rio for now is that she’s not all in. I always say if you want to be a good villain or a good hero then you have to be all in. You can’t be on the fence or regretting your actions the whole time. Same when you make a hard call and destroy a villain or save a city instead of another one. I don’t want a scene with the character yelling in regret later or crying the whole time. You just have to own it and move on which Rio has not done yet. She is strong in a fight though so at least she will be ready for the adventures to come.

As for the other villains, Teeki gets to appear a bit but he doesn’t have any real fights yet. As Enchu’s right hand man you have to assume that his role will only get bigger. I can see why he was upset at Enchu for not letting him finish off Muhyo though. This was the perfect chance to get the heroes out of their hair once and for all but of course it wasn’t quite the right time for Enchu.

Enchu is the main villain of the series and certainly makes some moves in this season. We see that he was rather unbalanced from the start as the pressure to be the Executor was too much for him. His mother was super sick as well so he really needed the position to get higher up, more money, and more connections. Unfortunately for him it just wasn’t to be and so he basically went crazy. He went crazy so fast though that it does seem like he would have turned evil at some point. For now he’s not a great villain or anything as I’ll need to see some better motivations than a quick revenge here. I would argue that Rio’s backstory was a lot sadder than his at this point in time.

Finally we have the main characters. First up is Roji who isn’t very talented but tries his best. He’s a very earnest character who means well so he’s not bad. You wish he could improve a little quicker though as he spends most of the season getting in the way the whole time. He finally learns how to make some basic barriers in the climax though so that should follow him through into season 2. As a comic relief character Roji also works well. From the duo I much prefer Muhyo but Roji holds his own as the partner.

Finally there’s Muhyo and while his attacks may not have a lot of variety, they get the job done so it’s hard to argue with the results. When you need a demon/spirit taken down then you can always count on Muhyo to accomplish this. He may be grouchy a lot but that only serves to make the character more entertaining. His weakness of losing stamina so quickly is a big one but since it’s built into the universe it isn’t like that’s a weakness exclusive to him either. The duo have a good working relationship going with solid banter so that’s good.

In short, Muhyo & Roji’s a fun adventure. It doesn’t really feel like your average Shonen Jump adventure either since there’s less big fights and it’s more focused on the supernatural elements but that does help it stand out. The character cast isn’t great and like the manga there aren’t any super strong aspects of the series that would have me put it at the next level but it does enough to stay in the green.

The animation is good. It’s nothing particularly noteworthy but the animation is smooth and there’s a lot of good movement here. It’s the definition of average for me. You can tell that it’s a modern show and things get a little flashy during the climax so it serves its purpose. The designs look intense in motion and I like the effects for the summons (Although the recycled animation each time is a bit much) and barriers as well. The soundtrack didn’t have any real memorable themes though. The opening wasn’t great either but it’s not bad.

Overall, I guess that described a lot of the show. It’s certainly not bad but everything is just good enough to keep it that way without going further. We’ll see if season 2 is able to improve on this. Still, if you like the supernatural and dealing with spirits/demons then this is a show you could have some fun with. At the end of the day as long as you can have a fun time watching the show then it’s worth checking out. Especially since it’s only 1 cour for the season so it’s not like it’ll take you all that long to check out.

Overall 6/10

Transformers Bumblebee Cyberverse Adventures Season 4 Review


Well, who’d have thought that Cyberverse would come back? After the show ended, some time passed and then they announced that the show would continue with 2 mini movies. This basically became season 4 with two, two part events. It still feels rather random but who can say no to some more adventures right? I wouldn’t say either episode is quite up there with the best that the show was dishing out in season 3 but they’re fun enough episodes and the nostalgia is the important thing here. So lets take a look at the two stories here.

The first story has the Autobots and Decepticons preparing to finally make the peace between both sides official. It’s been a long time coming after all and this will mark a brighter day for Cybertron. Unfortunately that isn’t to be as the entire planet is frozen solid. The only ones to escape are the Dinobots and Windblade, but she is quickly captured. Grimlock must unite these Dinobots to that they can use a merged form to stop the group of bounty hunters led by the powerful Trypticon. Will they be able to save the day or will it be curtains for Cybertron?

I have to say that the bounty hunter’s ray is really impressive. The fact that it can take out an entire planet in the blink of an eye is terrifying. It reminded me of the whole premise for Dr. Stone. The Dinobots are really just lucky to have gotten out of that one. It was a bold pick to have them be the main characters here but I wouldn’t say it paid off. This has always been my least favorite incarnation of Grimlock and I can’t say that the other Dinobots are much better. As the big premiere to the new season I would have rather had Optimus Prime or Bumblebee at the ready.

The bounty hunter group isn’t bad though. Trypticon makes for a good leader of course. In this version he is portrayed as a tough boss who talks a good game but does care for his subordinates when the chips are down. He seemed like a really practical guy and someone you wouldn’t mind working for. Then you have Soundblaster who gets a rather big role here. You may chuckle a bit at his villainous origin story of why he turned against Soundwave and the others though.

This did mean that Soundwave got to have a true rival though so that was near. There are a few other forgettable members and then you have the last two, Bug Bite and Nightbird. Now these characters were fun as evil versions of Bumblebee and Arcee. It’s not literal but the character designs are the same so why not right? Nightbird had good close combat skills and Bug Bite was good at always moving and keeping everyone on guard.

So as a whole the bounty hunters were a lot more memorable than I would have expected them to be. They made for good antagonists and were easily the highlight of the two part story event. I just wish the heroes could have been as interesting. The whole Dinobots learning how to fuse thing got old fast and none of the Dinobots have enough charisma to hold their own scenes. They’re easily some of my least favorite Autobots and end up holding the special back. So in the end it’s a good two parter but not a great one.

Finally the other 2 part adventure sees the return of the ultimate Decepticons. Out of nowhere they start appearing on Cybertron only they are fighting each other for some reason. It’s difficult to get them to disengage and Cybertron itself may be destroyed at this rate. One of these robots still appears sentient though and explains that the Autobots can help the rest too. They just need to get another legendary relic of the Primes but it can only be opened by someone with the Matrix. It’s obvious that this is a trap so I’ll jump ahead a bit to say Tam (The sentient robot) gets this artifact and is now intent on using it to destroy all of the Autobots. The War for Cybertron has begun anew. Will any Decepticons continue to aid the Autobots or will we go back to square one?

Now this was a big step up from the first story. It’s a massive upgrade on all fronts from the action scenes to even having more of an ensemble cast. This time almost everyone gets a little something to do. Prime, Soundwave, Bumblebee, Windblade, the Dinobots, etc. Everyone has to pitch in and help this time around because the villains are too powerful for anything else. The perfected Decepticon robots are also impressively strong like last time. One on one only someone like Optimus Prime can defeat them. The other fighters don’t stand much of a chance which is why it was so important to try and shut them down.

Soundwave gets a lot of the spotlight here which was unexpected but his fans should be pleased. His story really goes in a vastly different direction from anything I would have predicted. Not only does he get his catchphrase but he’s well prepared for each battle and is willing to put his spark on the line to help his friends. The episode treats him like the new leader for the Decepticons and he was willing to make peace with the Autobots. Soundwave seems like he would make for a very good leader to the team, someone they could all be proud of.

The Dinobots return and get to use their fusion form but not as much as you would think. Too bad since it should in theory be strong enough to really make a difference in these battles. More importantly, Hot Rod gets to appear for a bit and while he doesn’t look super strong, I’ll take any screen time I can get. Optimus Prime gets to step in as well this time. It’s not a huge role but the episode does still acknowledge him as the strongest Autobot with how he is able to take on some of these robots.

Aside from generally having more action and more of a serious plot, the episode also had a great start. When Astro Train comes falling out of the sky it’ll remind you of the old Infinity Gauntlet comics when Silver Surfer crashed in a similar way. It immediately tells you that something big is about to go down and that’s absolutely right. Even if the main twist may have been telegraphed, the fact that the story has twists and turns is fun. It’s just a well written two part adventure and this feels like a true finale.

As for Tam as a villain, I thought he was solid. He isn’t quite as memorable as the bounty hunters from the first story but I still liked him quite a bit. He had a grand plan and did a good job of executing it. The design was on point and he had a good, no nonsense kind of personality. The show really didn’t hold back with the villains in this season. Both stories had good antagonists.

Season 4 seamlessly blends in with the rest of the episodes so it’s like no time has passed. The score may not be as high as the show but that’s in part due to how many adventures the show got to have and how you knew you’d have a consistently solid time. This season is better than the first for sure but would lose to seasons 2 and 3. I have a feeling it could have easily jumped up another star with more episodes. This one’s just over so quickly and with half the show used up on the Dinobots, that meant it didn’t have a lot of extra opportunities. Not everything has to be the next big hit though and at the very least I can say that I think you’ll have a good time with this one.

The animation style is kept the same from the TV show and still looks good. The animation style is colorful and you quickly know what’s going on. I like it well enough for the action scenes although this isn’t that kind of show so don’t expect any big battles. When it comes to the soundtrack, there aren’t really any memorable themes so I wouldn’t get my hopes up on that front. On a technical level the show definitely doesn’t stand out but it looks good enough.

Overall, Transformers got to have some more fun adventures which is nice. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first one but the second delivered. In the end they balance out well enough so I would call season 4 good and in the end that’s what counts. You may not check these adventures out again but now you can proudly say that the show reached 4 seasons and I’m looking forward to seeing what adventure comes around next. The Transformers franchise never takes a break after all so you can bet that it will be back sooner than later! There are even a few items already lined up in the franchise.

Overall 6/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard overDress Review


The Cardfight Vanguard franchise has really come a long way. It went from being the new kid on the block to being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with pioneers like Yugioh. At this point it can hold its own with any title in the trading card genre. overDress is the start of the newest generation in the franchise. It has a lot to live up to with the original, G, and the reboot era all churning out stellar titles. This one is off to a weak start so far with the weakest season in the franchise but knowing this franchise, you can’t count it out. Both G and the original series had a weaker first season compared to their sequels so this could be a similar path.

The series starts off by introducing us to Yu-Yu (Which sounds like a Yugioh protagonist name) who is rather timid and as a result he is pushed around by his family. They aren’t antagonistic and certainly don’t mean to be pushy but they have a lot of fun dressing him up and he doesn’t do anything more than half heartedly complain about it. One day they dress him up as a girl and he finally has enough of this so he storms off. He meets up with a girl named Megumi who introduces him to the world of Vanguard.

See, the players in this town use an abandoned amusement park to have their games in. It’s like a sanctuary here and it’s led by Danji, who is known as Big Bro by the community. He takes Yu-Yu under his wing and the hero quickly realizes that his life can be a whole lot brighter with this game by his side. Slowly Yu-Yu learns to open up and be more independent as he gains a lot of friends through this. When a challenger named Tohya shows up and threatens these bonds, Yu-Yu will have to fight for his friends.

It’s a fairly quick season at 12 episodes. That may be the standard for a cour but it’s rare to see Cardfight shows with any season less than 20 episodes and usually it’s higher than that. As a result this is more of an introductory view into the series. We get to meet the characters and see what makes them tick. Don’t expect quite as many big battles here, it prioritizes being a slice of life over being a dueling series. You can even go full episodes with no true duels here.

Slice of life isn’t a bad approach and to an extent Cardfight G did this. I think that one still had many more duels but it did use up the first 30-40 episodes just on introducing the characters without introducing big villains. This one does have an antagonist by the very end but it is very low key. There’s a whole episode where Yu-Yu is sick and the characters have to help him out after all.

There are some moments of foreshadowing like Daji hinting that he used to have someone he looked after and a lady who has some kind of ties to his past. Also Yu-Yu may already be developing Psyqualia to an extent near the end of the season. That’s about it though and the series is a lot happier than you would expect from the opening. The opening is surprisingly somber the whole time so don’t let that fool you. This isn’t nearly as sad a show as it would have you think. For the most part it’s usually fun and games here.

Where the show falters is that it isn’t nearly as funny as it thinks it is. The scenes with Megumi getting the wrong idea about Yu-Yu and Danji for a few episodes barely qualifies as a comedic subplot since you won’t be laughing. Everyone loves to mess with Yu-Yu to an extent where even Aichi would have told everyone to knock it off. The characters just don’t click for the most part. The main, main characters are solid but most of the guys at the club feel like throwaways.

I’d also say that this is a show where you need the cardfights because those are the moments that really give the show its spark. Not including them much is like taking the show’s strongest aspect and keeping it on the backburner. Doesn’t feel like the show is playing to its strengths in that way. There’s a reason why the best moments in the show are all regarding the Tohya plot because that feels like peak Cardfight.

So Danji is an unbeaten Cardfighter with 20 victories in a row. (Not a lot so this guy clearly doesn’t duel too many people. We also see him lose at several points so it seems like only “official” duels in the ring count towards this) One day a guy named Tohya shows up to duel him and break that streak. Tohya has personal reasons for wanting to win this fight as it will help determine his future path. Their battles are great.

The first one in particular goes all out with the animation. On the whole the animation doesn’t pop out as much as the previous seasons. It seems to be using more of a faded color palette so it doesn’t strike you as quickly but when the fights come in we get some really streamlined moments. The speedblitzing and high end attacks are great and it will make you want even more Cardfights. It’s also a glimpse of what overDress could be like in the future with how high energy and epic these moments are. The fight animation deserves a lot of credit and unsurprisingly, episode 11’s animation as a whole is really solid.

Tohya even has a true origin story that is suitably tragic. It shows how serious it can be to misread someone’s final wish on their death bed. Tohya is chained by his past and it shows in his fights. He gets a lot of development and is easily the best character in the series. I was also glad that they played his final moments straight with no cop outs or sudden plot twists. He made his decision and went down a dark path, there wasn’t any hesitating or anything like that.

Out of the 12 episodes he really gets 3 full ones to himself and those are not surprisingly the best episodes in the show. He duels with a fiery passion that you just don’t see much in this season. He doesn’t even feel like one of the normal characters. To him Cardfight isn’t just a game and that really goes against the whole worldview of Yu-Yu and the others. If the show ultimately becomes more of a Shonen battle title in the next seasons then we’ll see if he’s proven correct. That said, while I do like this guy, I do think the final scene and decision with Danji is undeserved. If I were the side characters I would certainly be upset as well.

That’s enough about the best character though, lets talk about the others. Yu-Yu is one of those really timid main characters so he’s not really my style. I always prefer characters who are able to defend themselves and really get into the battle. I can already see his character development in place as he talks tough to Tohya near the end of the season. I can see him being a tough character down the road but he just isn’t quite there yet. Give him another season and we’ll see if he has really made it to the next level or if he just won’t be able to make the jump. At the very least he won’t be dressing up anymore..presumably. The season already gave an excuse in the wrestling episode for that to come back so we’ll see.

Danji is one of the most hyped up characters in the series and it is deserved in a combat sense. The guy is undeniably the strongest character in the series right now. It takes a whole lot to bring this guy to his limits and he will win 9 times out of 10. He isn’t always reliable outside of a duel though like arriving late when the flag was going to be burned and the whole outcome was his fault. The team needed him and he bailed. His sudden decision to step away from the game also rubbed me the wrong way.

He seems like a character who is just very carefree but he takes it to the point of just being irresponsible. Perhaps if we have more context to his decision then that will help things out but in the meantime that just hurts him as a character. I like him well enough and he beats most of the side characters but at this point in time I’m not super impressed with him. I want him on my side in a duel but that’s about it.

Megumi is the main heroine here and she can duel which is always a good thing. That’s a must at this point if you want to be a solid character. She has a tendency to lose a lot though because she lets her emotions run wild with her. That’s something she will definitely have to watch out for in the future but I can see her improving there. Her crush on Danji is probably not going to go anywhere at this rate either so she should be careful there. Like Yu-Yu I expect she will be getting a lot more development.

Now we get to the side characters who don’t get quite as much to do. Zakusa used to be a punk so he can revert to that mode at times where he can’t talk but…it’s not really that cool and more cringeworthy. He’s trying really hard to be the tough guy in the room but I can’t take him all that seriously. He did get one really good win in the show but that’s about it. You don’t feel safe with him as the second in command so he needs to train a lot more.

Tomari is a much more charismatic character and does well in announcing the fights. She gives the duels that old school energy and does her best to support Yu-Yu as well. Unfortunately she doesn’t really duel which will limit her potential a whole lot. Next up is Masanori who is Tohya’s right hand man. We don’t know a whole lot about this guy yet. He seems like a comic relief character most of the time but will then suddenly get serious at the drop of a hat. He really is a mystery but I suppose that’s what is supposed to make the character interesting.

Unfortunately I just don’t like the guy. Tohya has concrete goals and visions so you can at least understand why he is doing what he is doing. This guy? Not really, he just seems to like chaos so far and that’s not really enough to make for a solid character. He’s also just not funny even though he tries to be which is game over there.

The soundtrack is a little limited so far but it works well enough during the duels. The serious duels have good soundtracks to accompany them and that’s what counts. The opening is also good as far as the music is concerned even if it can’t match the originals. Then as I mentioned the combat parts of the animation are really solid and the day to day episodes have their moments. They certainly aren’t bad at any rate.

Right now overDress is like a roller coaster. Episode 1 was solid, 2 was rather weak, 3 was good 4 and 5 were weak, 6 was solid, 7 was straight up bad, 8 was weak, 9 was very weak, then 10-12 end the series on a high note with some intense battles and even a serious mini arc. In particular 11 was the pinnacle of the series as we had a great clash of ideals with Yu-Yu and Tohya. Nothing makes a great fight even better by putting that emotional weight behind it as each character fights for their beliefs. I saw that fight 3 times while prepping this review because it was really spectacular.

Season 2 just needs to continue that energy and that will be enough to keep it soaring. It’s not to say you can’t have stand alone episodes or be an episodic series. That can work but a whole episode where the main character is sick? That’s the kind of episode that’s probably not going to fly even in all star titles like Yugioh GX, Digimon Data Squad, or Beyblade. Being sick just isn’t an interesting plot point in the slightest and I’d say not to even have it as a subplot. The wrestling episode just felt pointless but it’s at least got some dueling there.

The series may prefer to be a slice of life show or at least something more grounded than in previous generations. If that is how it wants to be, then the key will be to make the characters better. Straight up that’s the way to do a slice of life. The characters have to be charismatic and/or humorous. As I said before, the show just isn’t very funny at the moment which limits the slice of life appeal. We need some more banter and having Tohya around as a main character could help with that to an extent. Of course I’m hoping we double down on the hype duels since you can have a lot of great banter and intensity with that. It all ends up snowballing into being a great show when you start introducing those factors.

Ultimately it all goes back to this being the origin of a new generation as I mentioned. It may have been a rocky start but many titles have had a rocky start and gotten really good so we just have to see how season 2 goes. Presumably this title won’t be in continuity with the older titles but right now I don’t think there is anything in the show that would contradict the others so who knows, maybe by season 3 or 4 we’ll have a guest star or two. I won’t have my hopes up for it or anything but that would be fun.

Overall, Cardfight overDress feels like a step down from the average experience in the franchise but it isn’t bad. I would like more of an emphasis on dueling in season 2 or at least more of an ongoing plot though. Some episodes here like the wrestling one or Yu-Yu getting sick just weren’t all that fun. The technicals are on point so once the show finds its footing then it should be all set. I’ll certainly be ready to see where season 2 takes this show. Hopefully Tohya continues to get a solid amount of screen time here because there really is a whole lot you can keep doing with him. I also want to learn more about the mysteries surrounding Danji and see where that goes.

Overall 6/10

Fruits Basket Season 3 Review


Fruits Basket has finally reached its conclusion. The anime certainly did a great job of adapting and improving upon the source material. Who knows, it may also have the reverse effect of making the manga more fun if I were to ever revisit it some day. That said, I would say the first two seasons still defeat this final one. It’s pretty inevitable that in any rom-com the final arc will have to get serious and tie up all the loose ends. Well, this one certainly does but it doesn’t allow itself to have as much fun as in the earlier seasons and one villain gets off a bit too easy.

Shigure and Akito really have the biggest roles in this season to the point where you could make the case that Tohru is not the main character. Still, Tohru is still wondering about how to break the curse and what needs to be done. Meanwhile Akito is getting ready to end Kyo’s freedom once and for all. The promised time is nearly upon them after all. There is one thing that could destroy Akito’s plans though and that is the fact that the curse is starting to weaken. Is it finally time for the final banquet?

An interesting part about how Fruits Basket ends is that Tohru doesn’t end up stopping the curse. In fact, nobody does. It’s just an old one that is naturally decaying so characters break free from it randomly. It’s a bit of a twist because the whole series some characters have tried rather hard to break it but it turns out that it was futile all the time. There really was no way to break the curse and you just had to wait it out. That’s also a bit depressing in its own way too.

My main issue here is that Akito was never stopped. She pushed someone out the window and inflicted a lot of mental torture on all the main characters. She drew blood from Tohru in season 2 and landed physical hits on a lot of characters. In this season she goes as far as to grab a knife and actually stab 2 characters as well. Akito is as unhinged as she ever was so by the time you get to her origin story you’re already skeptical.

That won’t change after watching it. This is Fruits Basket, every character has had a rough upbringing but they’ve learned to deal with it. Akito’s isn’t even as bad as some of the others. I would argue that Kyo and Tohru had it worse. It’s maybe on par with Yuki’s but ranking origin stories is pretty sad since they’re all so tragic. Either way the point is that Akito can’t use it as the big slam dunk that she thinks she can.

Akito also hasn’t limited the suffering to herself and has really been forcing everyone else to stay in misery alongside her. If she wasn’t actively attacking the rest of the cast then I definitely wouldn’t have had as much of an issue with her. So all of her scenes would still make me shake my head here. I still say that the characters should have fought back or defended themselves. The curse may turn them into animals but I don’t buy their not being able to fight back. Even here Hatsu comes close to attacking Akito but ultimately stops and just runs off. The characters really let Akito get the better of them.

Yuki had the majority of his character development earlier so he doesn’t do much in this season. Still he has his quick rebound with the student council member Machi. This was definitely one of the more rushed romances since she didn’t get to appear a whole lot but in real time I think they knew each other for a whole semester so at least there was 3 months there. Machi is another character who went through a lot of trauma and definitely still goes through some tough times but she’s handled it pretty well for the most part. This wrapped up that plot in a very resolute way.

Now you could make the case that this is less of a rebound since Yuki took himself out of the competition for Tohru before she made a decision. There’s a fair case for that so while this feels sudden, perhaps you could say it was not a secondary pick. I think Machi probably could have been introduced earlier to set this up but either way she was fun. Yuki’s always been considerate so they’ll get along just fine. Machi’s another character who I would say had a worse origin story to survive through than Akito. Getting framed as a kid will definitely leave you with a lot of trauma after all.

We can’t forget about Kyo of course as he had one of the big plots here. Since Akito plans to lock him up soon, Kyo’s coming to terms with the end of the era for him. He’s pretty much resigned to his fate so he’s still in the phase of trying to push everyone away during this season. Unfortunately by now he has pretty much accepted his fate and is no longer fighting with the same passion he once had.

We get to see his full origin story for the first time. Quite a lot happened to Kyo over the years and unfortunately most of the Zodiac spirits are quite passive so nobody would really help him. Tohru’s mom was probably the first person to really care about him until the Dojo guy stepped up. Even in the present we see that this hasn’t changed. Everyone knows he will be locked up soon but nobody’s doing anything about it.

Aside from Shigure who confirms he would not lift a finger to help, I won’t blame the others yet. For all I know, many of them had plans they would enact on the day of. So in case that is what would happen, I can’t really dock any points there. I’d like to see what kind of legal right the Sohma family would have to lock him up though. I feel like if Kyo went to the cops or something then things would play out pretty differently. I get that the Sohma is a rich family with a lot of power but even they should have their limits.

Of course the romance with Kyo and Tohru wraps up here. It’s not rushed or anything since this has been going on for 3 seasons at least. Fruits Basket is known as one of the Top Shojo’s after all and while I’m not sure I would go that far, the romance is done in the correct style. It’s built up over many episodes to the inevitable conclusion instead of all happening very quickly. At most you may just have to shake your head as how Kyo brings in the drama by suddenly running off again in this season. There’s a lot of running between both characters that’s for sure.

From all of the romances in this series, this is easily the best one without a doubt so it deserves some props there. As for Tohru, she may not get a particularly large role here as I mentioned, but she is still officially the lead and as such, gets a good send off. As a character she is solid as always. She actually does some detective work and tries to talk to as many characters as possible. By the end she does give Kyo a solid answer in response to his origin story while still choosing to believe in her Mother to the end. It was a good way to wrap things up while also staying true to her ideals. So that was a solid way to wrap things up.

Then we have Shigure who is a pretty bad character. He’s not as bad as Akito but I would definitely put him in the bottom 3. The guy is every bit as shady as Akito but always tries to play the fool and act innocent about it. He loves to play both sides and mess with Akito while also pretending to be a friend. The thing is, he is like that to everyone. I don’t see how any character can trust the guy. He’s also rather mean to his editor for no reason as he causes her as much stress as possible. It’s nice to see a Zodiac spirit who isn’t terrified of Akito but there’s really nothing to like about the guy.

Akito’s mother also shows up here. I like the idea of having a character that even Akito can’t mess with, but ultimately she doesn’t do a whole lot. She adds some drama as she is easily able to corrupt Shigure and sets up another character but that’s about it. If you were to remove her from the story it really wouldn’t change much. Especially given that Akito’s origin story doesn’t really end up making the villain more sympathetic.

As for Akito’s right hand man Kureno, I didn’t care for him either. In a way this guy caused a whole lot of the problems that would end up infecting the rest of the characters. If he had come clean about breaking the curse then it would have saved everyone a lot of heartache. The guy also allows himself to effectively be used out of pity by Akito which is a high price for this affair. He should have just stayed strong and been a friend but not go beyond that. Instead he lets himself get abused constantly.

Next up is Rin who was doing a lot of sleuthing of her own. She definitely takes a lot of risks but in this season she just didn’t look very smart. Why believe some random person who is extremely shady when she says that she knows how to break the curse? That’s just ultra convenient and if it requires breaking into the main villain’s room then that is definitely not going to end well. Rin really walked right into that trap and of course she ended up freezing so she couldn’t fight back.

It’s one of those scenes that will make you shake your head. I was glad Rin wasn’t as quick to just forgive and forget with Akito later on. As for Haru, he’s not bad but I definitely think he should have stepped in sooner. He didn’t know about Akito pushing Rin off a building but he did know that she was missing for a while. I’d expect him to have been poking around and Akito’s building should have been suspect number 1. His whole split personality and Dark Haru element isn’t that great if it never shows up when it counts.

Tohru’s two friends from school show up a bit as well in this season but I wouldn’t say their roles are too big. In some respects they have never had as much importance to the story as the various Sohma members but they do remain more relevant than the school friends in a lot of other Shojo titles like this. They’re not bad but they don’t usually tend to have scenes that are quite as interesting as the main cast.

Hiro and Kisa definitely don’t do much here either but at least now that he’s a bit older Hiro isn’t as unreasonable the whole time as he used to be. It was always annoying how he would insult Tohru for no real reason and nobody would really defend her. In his current state that wouldn’t really be much of an issue. Kisa is also here for moral support. She hasn’t really had to deal with as many tragedies as the others and that’s good. It’s nice that at least one character isn’t having to deal with a dark past.

Momiji doesn’t do much but it is odd how he appears to be a lot meaner and more sinister after the time skip. Maybe part of him realizes that he should have protected Tohru when Akito attacked in the last season. Either way, this would be an interesting new wrinkle to his character provided that he is actually able to be tough when it counts. Only time will tell on that front.

There are more characters of course but this really tackles all of the big ones I would say. The cast itself is large so there will always be a few more hanging around the bends. With 3 seasons I would expect no less. Even some of the Sohma clan members don’t really get to do a whole lot here which shows just how many characters have to be juggled.

The animation is solid as always. It’s not like there are any big action scenes to really test the series but the characters always look on model and everything’s pretty clear. It’s a very consistent show and delivers on that front. The soundtrack can be a little bland though. I wouldn’t say that any of the tunes really pop out at you and the theme song could have definitely been a whole lot more exciting if you ask me. It just feels too basic.

Now time for some final thoughts on the series. Season 3 is shorter than the first 2 so it definitely goes by really quickly. At the end of the day I definitely consider the anime to be a huge improvement over the manga. You’re given a lot of time to get used to the characters and root for them. I’d say the strength of the series is that it does a good job of showing the various emotions of the characters.

The writing is pretty solid as well with each character having to deal with a different issue as they grew up. There are a ton of sob stories and yet I would not say that any two are the same. Most of them are sad without being overly gritty either. This show goes through a lot of different tones but manages to achieve them all pretty well. You definitely won’t be bored.

There is naturally a lot of romances here as well. I would say most of them miss the mark as per the course for most romance titles but at least Kyo and Tohru was a strong one so that’s good since it is the main romance in the series. I wouldn’t say the romance ever really takes over as well so if you’re here for the plot then you should still be okay in the end.

On the flip side, one issue I have is with how passive all of the characters are. I’ve already beaten the point about everyone bowing to Akito into the ground so I’ll sidestep that one this time. Even just with how they obey the formalities and everything feels like they aren’t trying though. So Kyo is going to be locked up in a cave right? Have him decide to move out of town or something. He would certainly be able to leave if he wanted and good luck trying to bring him back. The guy can turn into a monster after all so he could repel any attackers.

The same is true for the rest of the Sohma family who feel like prisoners in the estate. Just get out of there and things will be better. Now granted, the curse is still annoying but it’s not like Akito would ever help you cure it anyway so I’d say your best bet is still high tailing it out of there while you still can. It would have been cool if Tohru brought that up.

As for her mother’s death, I do think part of the scenario was a little forced just to scar Kyo further. The whole “I won’t forgive you” part being spoken out loud out of the whole speech is just hard to buy. It’s the only way you could misinterpret the speech to be something negative so of course that’s what happened. Given how solid her character has been throughout the series, it doesn’t really work as a fake out to the audience and to Kyo it’s just a bit on the contrived side.

Overall, Fruits Basket had a pretty good run. There are definitely a lot of different events that occurred here. The 13 episodes did a good job of really packing themselves in with a lot of content. If you watched the first two seasons then you owe it to yourself to watch this one as well. There aren’t a whole lot of light hearted moments or happy events for the characters this time, but they all finally confront their inner demons so in that sense you get an uplifting feeling there. You know it’ll be all uphill for everyone going forward. Throw Akito out of the show and this would probably be bumped up even further but of course it would be a different show at that point. Time to see what the franchise brings to the table next.

Overall 6/10

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Review


The Promised Neverland Season 2 was definitely very controversial to say the least. It really did a number on the fans who wanted a faithful adaption and even to non fans who felt it was super rushed and didn’t feel natural. It’s certainly a unique case where it seems like the studio just wanted to wrap it up as soon as possible. At the very least it was fun keeping up with all the theories on why it ended so quickly and all of that but the burning question is…did it change for the better? Well…I have to say that it did. Granted I was never the biggest fan of the manga but the anime effectively toned down some of the darker elements of the story and made it more of a standard adventure which I’m game with.

Last time, the kids had just escaped and were on the run. Now that they were out of the orphanage they could try and either get over to the proper human world or at least survive somewhere safe. Emma has promised that she would go and save the rest of the kids though so no matter what happens, she won’t be leaving without them. Still, it’s a cruel world out there so this environment is going to test all of her abilities.

I wasn’t particularly impressed with the animation in the first season and it’s more or less the same here. It’s pretty standard stuff with some giant CG demons running around. The demons have lost their edge compared to season 1 though so don’t expect them to be all that intimidating here. They’re mainly only relevant when they’re getting beat up and need Emma’s help. How the times have changed eh? The CG is fairly minimal though and in a way I guess if you’re going to use it for something, demons make sense since it makes them look that much more crazy.

For the soundtrack, it’s also not too memorable. I couldn’t tell you a single theme here. The new theme song definitely isn’t up to par with the original one either. That one’s fairly iconic at this point while this one just sort of fades away. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it doesn’t leave any kind of impact. On a technical level it felt like this show was sort of just going through the motions.

The pacing and writing were fine though. It’s always interesting learning more about the world and there is certainly a whole lot of dialogue here. You can see how things get sped up at the beginning and ending though. Norman showing up near the beginning of the show felt rather crazy since it was a big deal that he was gone. I still have to say that it feels like a lot of plot hax how he actually survived and escaped though. The demons are clearly awful at their jobs as well as the human guards. How do you let a kid escape like that?

There are a lot of plot convenient things happening here though like an old man who has every answer you can possibly need and the villains getting foiled because of numerous traitors and getting overconfident. It also helps that the villains always miss their shots when they’re firing their guns or don’t fire at all. The kids don’t have guns in this version so they’re even more outmatched.

The final episode can be almost funny though with how things are skipped over. The actual promise with the alien thing? That’s a single camera shot here so if you were watching The Promised Neverland for…the promise, then you’re out of luck. That’s not something you’ll get to see here. The show throws in a few Easter Eggs like the wolf girl appearing in a prison cell and at least a reference to GoldyPond but that’s about it for throwing a bone to the fans who missed some of the skipped content. The ending’s far better than the manga version though so I’ll give you that.

That’s enough on the pacing though, lets talk about the characters and how they ended up shaking out in this version. First up is Emma since she is the main character after all. She’s certainly come a long way since in season 1 she wanted to escape at all costs and would slaughter any demon who got in her way. Things are more complicated in season 2 though since she has now met demons who are not really combatants. It turns out that demons have families and loved ones as well so this puts Emma in a rather difficult place.

It does end up hurting her character though because one thing I don’t like is when a character is opposing the main plan but has no actual solution. It’s something you would see a lot of in Attack on Titan. So Norman’s plan is he’ll poison the water and in that way they will end the entire demon race. The scary thing about the plan is how easy it will be and yet it will still be super effective. The demons won’t stand a chance and humanity will finally be saved at long last.

The problem is that Emma now wants to spare the demons. There are a few problems with that though. For starters, the demons will die if they don’t eat humans are a while anyway. It’ll be the same effect as Norman’s poison water only slower and potentially more painful. Additionally given that they need humans to survive, talking with them is already out of the question.

Feeding them humans is also crazy since that’s how we got here in the first place. Norman does his best to explain this to Emma but she doesn’t really care. Now the show does offer a convenient way out of this predicament but until that solution appears, Emma is rather unreasonable here. There are times where you really have to make a choice. Choosing both sides just puts everyone at risk and it’s not worth it. Emma has a responsibility to the kids she has already saved.

Her lack of determination ultimately holds her back in this season quite a lot. Then you have Norman. I miss his updated manga design though as the guy finally got the big time skip super form that he deserved. In this version he looks pretty similar to how he did in season 1. His plan and motivations are similar enough with trying to end the demons once and for all but it’s all a lot more rushed here. He basically sees a demon with Emma’s name and calls it a day. So much for his determination and will to come out on top no matter what right? At the end of the day he folded like a deck of cards.

I also think he was acting rather rashly by walking into a demon village by himself while his team was busy. He easily could have been taken out by a stray shot and then all of his plans would have been for nothing. Whenever there’s a bad plan like that I have to call it out because while it may have worked, that doesn’t retroactively make it a good idea. In the end Norman was still pretty fun here the whole time though, he certainly still seems to be the smartest character around.

As for Ray, I would say his role here is smaller than in season 1. He used to be the tough member of the 3 who would always play the bad cop role. He would mention the most practical solution while Emma would say the most ideological one. Norman would then try to compromise and find a plan that would save everyone. With Norman gone though, Ray mainly lets Emma call the shots and does his best to assist her. There’s just less character to him as a whole at this point though. He does everything he can to help Emma but doesn’t do much beyond that so he doesn’t feel like the gruff rival anymore.

Don and Gilda still aren’t some of the more likable characters for me though. Gilda gives yet another lecture to Emma about taking too many risks and all that. Maybe Emma wouldn’t have to take so many risks if she actually got some backup once in a while right? That would have certainly helped a lot but Don and Gilda never really do much of anything. I guess they do more than the rest of the kids but that’s almost by default.

Mujika and Sonju get to do a lot more here. As they are demons who can actually converse with the main characters that means there is something different about them. They end up being some of the most important characters in the series due to how their blood works. Without them things would be pretty tough on the heroes. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan though but Sonju does have some fun scenes. The heroes may not want to underestimate him based on some of the things he said earlier on.

Then we have the return of Isabella since you naturally have to bring in this classic villain for the end. She has definitely lost her edge since season 1 though. She acts as a hype person to the kids at times and then makes her move by the end. No matter how you slice it the whole thing is pretty cheesy though. Her character motivations by the end are utterly unbelievable.

If you want a more compelling big villain here then you’ve got Peter Ratri. He’s the mastermind behind everything and is a man who isn’t even afraid of the demons. Now that’s someone to be feared because you never know when he’s going to pop out and start taking names. The guy may be an ordinary human but he is a grown up which means he could technically defeat most of the cast with ease. I was pretty cool with this guy being the final boss, he was a fun enough character.

Finally you have Norman’s new group. These guys were excellent so I’m just sad they couldn’t appear more. First up you have Zazie. He can’t really talk due to how the experiments messed him up but he’s got super strength and is not someone to underestimate. Then you have Vincent who is pretty decent although he doesn’t seem as powerful as the other members. He’s a strategist like Norman although of course he can’t fully match that guy.

For the real stand out characters you have Cislo and Barbara. Cislo is sort of the Captain America of the group. He is a natural born leader who really dislikes the demons but doesn’t show his emotions the same way that the others do. He doesn’t panic and is quickly to call out any member who gets out of line. You’ll enjoy any scene he is in because the guy is just that good.

Finally you have Barbara who goes as far as to even eat the demons she defeats. She really doesn’t hold back and has really been through a lot. It’s why you know that she will never be able to see eye to eye with Emma on this. How could she? She had to live through the worst of the demonic experiments while Emma had a very pleasant life in the orphanage. It’s another reason why it’s really hard to back Emma in her goals throughout the season.

The inclusion of Norman’s group helped transition this into more of an action title since these guys are able to beat demons in large numbers. Since the anime version has no super demons or anything like that, you could actually say the humans were more powerful this time around. That’s kind of crazy to think about but it ended up being the case this time. It’s part of why none of the demons were actually a threat in this one. No matter what they could possibly try, Norman’s group would take them down a few pegs.

This great power does come at a large price though. It’s not sustainable so the characters have to finish this quickly. It should add a layer of tension but at the same time you don’t feel like they’re in too much danger. Norman has already cheated death before, why not do it again now? The guy’s a genius so surely he can think of something.

Ultimately a lot of these things I couldn’t consider to be severe negatives though. The plot hax and sudden character turns always seem awfully convenient but it’s not the kind of thing I dock points for. The show includes some animal hunting for no real reason which can be annoying but the show doesn’t exploit it in nearly the way some other titles would so this one doesn’t sink into the negatives. Ultimately what keeps it from being higher is more due to a lack of positives than an abundance of negatives. At least the series will keep your attention from episode to episode which is important.

Overall, The Promised Neverland may have ended with a rather controversial season but at least it ended. It would have been nice if we could have gotten some more time to have Norman have a proper debate with Emma and Ray though. Surprisingly I wouldn’t say the three of them interact all that much here. Often times they are in different places and so they can’t even debate the whole demon thing much. Norman hands Emma a few Ls and that’s about it for their conversation. The season tackles some pretty interesting themes but with all of the scenes that were cut, there isn’t enough time to try and make the demons all that sympathetic. At the very least the attempt didn’t work this time. If you liked the first season then you should still enjoy this one well enough. The main thing to keep in mind is that the horror genre has been completely removed in favor of more of a classic adventure genre here.

Overall 6/10

Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy Review


It feels like ages since this show started. It’s already impressive that the original Rescue Bots got a sequel series and even more so that it got 2 seasons. Clearly the series is doing something right and it does feel like we’re back into a renaissance for the franchise. We’ve got a live action film coming up, another TV show, some animated movies, etc. And if you like the Beast War characters then even more so. Now this series is naturally a lot smaller scale than most of the other titles coming up as it’s more of an educational series but it’s fun enough.

The series takes place several years after the original Rescue Bots show. Cody is now a lot older and Heatwave is the main teacher at this academy. The goal of the school is to train a whole new generation of Rescue Bots now that the others are all masters of their craft. It’ll be difficult though because the new kids are ready for action and on its surface, rescuing isn’t quite the same thing. In particular Hot Shot is a global champion in Cube and it’ll be difficult to get him to switch gears. Well, Heatwave and the other bots have their challenge. Now it’s time to watch the journey on getting these recruits to be the best rescue bots ever.

Each episode is around 10 minutes which is definitely a trend in the west. So if you go by that logic then the series has over 100 episodes but I always merge them to be fair so lets say we have 52. That’s still a pretty good run for this show. There’s a lot you can do with that many adventures and a lot of lessons to learn for the kids.

Rescue Bots Academy is a very laid back show so from the start you have to make sure that you’re not expecting big action scenes or anything like that. This is a slice of life adventure that is aimed at a very young crowd after all. Still, it has to stay interesting and have some kind of focus in order to keep a positive score since whether you’re aimed at 1 year olds or 10, there should be a point to the whole thing.

Fortunately Rescue Bots Academy makes for a good watch. I don’t think it’s a title that you will want to marathon a whole lot but each story is very different so that does help. It’s also fun to see the old Transformer characters running about. You could even say that Hot Shot makes for an even better character than Heatwave was back in the day. I do miss the humans a bit here though. Yes, it’s rare but this is one of the few cases where humans help to enhance the experience.

Back to Hot Shot, the reason why he is the best character here is because of his absolute confidence. The guy is a cube champion which you will be reminded of a whole lot. Most of his morals are about learning to trust others and not keeping so many secrets. He’s a hard nut to crack but gradually throughout the show Hot Shot learns what it means to be a true leader. Ultimately he has the clearest character arc out of the whole cast and he never lost his edge. There’s just no way Hot Shot could be anything but the best. Even his transformation ability is the best as he can turn into any kind of vehicle even if he can only do it once a day.

Then we have Whirl who is the second best member of the group. She’s a stickler for the rules so she’s the polar opposite of Hot Shot. She is willing to bend them a whole lot more than Chase though and I suppose that’s why she is a cadet. She’ll probably be much more rigid about it once she grows up. A lot of the times she is the one coming up with plans and as a detective in training you would certainly say she is the brains of the group.

Wedge is the tough guy and in a way tries to be the rival to Hot Shot. He can’t quite keep up but at least he tries right? He has a good amount of power and part of his personality is that he really looks up to Bumblebee. This results in him trying to show off a lot of the time and it ultimately ends up backfiring quite a bit.

Then we get to the final two Rescue Bots who can’t really hold their own with the main 3. Hoist is the most nervous bot of the group and has a lot of self confidence issues. He does his best to get over his fears but that doesn’t really happen until the very end of season 2. Hoist just wasn’t quite able to get into the action like the others for a while which is why for me he was a lot less entertaining. I prefer when the characters just dive in.

As for Medix, I dare say that he’s even more by the book than Whirl. The guy doesn’t really know how to have a good time for the most part. A lot of his morals are about learning how to adapt due to this. It’s always good to have a medical bot on board at least even if nobody ever really gets injured in the show. At best you have Chuck, the indestructible testing bot who gets beat up a ton but the point of his character is that he can’t be injured anyway.

For the humans we have Cody as the main character. Unfortunately you won’t really be seeing Chief Burns or any of the other classic characters beyond a quick cameo or guest star appearance like the mayor. Cody’s a good character but he rarely gets to do much more than say a wise line or two. Cody has a friend named Wes who gets an episode or two to himself. The kid wants to hang out with the Rescue Bots but they’re not the biggest fans of humans yet as they find them to be a bit too weak.

This does lead to one of the cheesiest scenes in the series when Wes actually manages to snag the Cube when it’s tough even for robots to do it. Hmmm, I guess he got his hype though. For the true Autobots, we get a few of them from time to time. Optimus Prime shows up at the beginning and ending of the show to drop some sage advice on the characters. His role is never more than a quick cameo here and there though so don’t expect anything big.

Bumblebee gets a few episodes as we explore what it’s like to be a true scout. Wedge also gets to see his hero in action. We also get to see that he really is faster than Hot Shot when Bumblebee tries to humiliate the little guy. The moral of that episode was about teaching the right way so it was good that he showed Hot Shot what’s up although it would have been fun if Hot Shot had actually won that match. Now that would have put Bee in a rather sticky situation. It was nice to see at least one of the old guard getting to do quite a bit.

Perceptor and Ratchet also get to show up from time to time. Everyone tends to like their classes since they know their stuff and how to make things exciting. Surprisingly we even get Lazerbeak from the Decepticons only the bird has turned over a new leaf now. He’s here to help and support the heroes whenever possible. It’s definitely a pretty emotional sub plot I suppose although his change of heart seemed rather sudden. I suppose he never wanted to be evil and just followed Soundwave around? Hmmm…not sure I buy that one.

From the old Rescue Bots it’s very noticeable that Blades, Boulder, and Chase don’t get a whole lot to do. They may show up for a few episodes here and there but it’s a very rare sight. Especially Blades who is an exceptionally rare guest star. At least we do have Heatwave though and that guy shows up in virtually every episode. It makes sense that he would be the teacher after being the main Rescue Bot. He’s learned a lot of lessons as it is so it’s easier to teach them.

Then we have the Dinobots. Grimlock easily gets the biggest role as he became a Teacher himself which was pretty impressive. Just goes to show that anyone can do it if they put enough effort into the mix. Unfortunately Grimlock was objectively not a good teacher as he would constantly break equipment and even taught the wrong moral by mistake so the kids had to correct him. The guy always tries hard though.

The other Dinobots like Sludge and Snarl don’t do much until the final episodes. They become friends with Hoist which keeps them around as supporting characters since they’re needed for the morals. They’re definitely not the smartest characters which even leads to them being framed. I would say they’re some of the weaker characters personally. Then you have Slash who shows up at the very end of the series. She’s not a fan of humans and seems to be more of a rebel compared to the others.

She’s fun even if she ultimately has to lose her edge really quickly since being a rebel wasn’t going to be tolerated in the academy. Finally you have Scorch who also has a small role but as a rival of sorts to Hot Shot he was a fun character whenever he appeared. Part of why the Cube episodes in the show are the best ones is because I like to see some good competition and for Hot Shot to live up to his hype. To his credit, Hot Shot was not bluffing. He really is a cube master.

While there is never any real action in the show, occasionally we get some moments that at least give you a sense of competition like the Cube episodes and even this one tournament episode that occurred. Hot Shot may not have looked so good there which basically means that humans have built robots that surpass Cybertronians but at least it was cool to see. Who’d have thought this show would have a tournament? It may not be played super seriously but that’s just how it goes.

The writing in the show is good. You clearly see each lesson and moral as the show goes on. It stays interesting enough which is always good. It’s 1 peg below the average title I would say just because it is a little more limited in what it can do. I would sooner pick all of the other Transformer shows which makes sense since they’re allowed to execute on the actual concept of the series which is battles with Decepticons. Naturally this one can’t go quite so far.

As for the animation, I would say it’s fairly below average. You definitely wouldn’t expect to see any cutting edge spectacles here. Shows like Sonic Boom, Kim Possible, and other shows tend to look quite a bit better than this one. I suppose the character designs and environments aren’t bad though. At the very least everything is always clear. Potentially the animation could have gotten a chance to show off if we got some action scenes sort of like My Little Pony, but without those the series just never jumped up like that.

The soundtrack’s a little limited but it’s not bad. Each theme gets across what it was going for in the scene. You have the danger themes, happy ones, etc. It’s all rather by the book but because of that you’re never confused on what the themes are going for.

It would have been fun if the series could have maybe gotten around the no danger rules a bit more though. If the show can’t put anyone in true peril, have some more sport competitions. The fun thing about those is that you’re not in mortal danger but it still ups the stakes because you absolutely don’t want to lose. A mini arc about the Rescue Bots having to put aside their differences to be the best team in the land would have been a lot of fun without a doubt.

Overall, Rescue Bots Academy is a good follow up to the original show. I would say the original one still wins though as it felt like they were able to do a whole lot more. Not only was the cast significantly bigger but they were allowed to have real danger scenes. You had a Decepticon show up once, an evil scientist, characters nearly getting squished, etc. The first show had way more danger than this one so I suppose this one was aiming even younger. Still, if you really like Transformers and don’t mind watching educational type shows then this one makes for a decent watch. There are certainly no real negatives to be found here, it just won’t have any episode that really pops for you.

Overall 6/10

WandaVision Review


WandaVision is the first of the big Marvel TV shows to come out. One of the big hooks for these is unlike the previous shows such as Agents of Shield or the various Netflix properties, this one would be plucking some rather big characters straight out of the movies and into TV format. As a result you can expect more big events and for scenarios that actually impact future films. WandaVision definitely delivers on this as the events feel quite massive and you can bet that the films will feel an impact here. I did have some issues with the show’s pacing but lets dive in.

The show starts by introducing us to Wanda and Vision who appear to be living in a rather old era. It’s like something out of I Love Lucy or I Dream of Genie with the two getting involved in some wacky adventures. Each episode plunges us 10 years forward in time or at least with what the show is paying homage to but in real time it’s just the next day. Something doesn’t seem right though, why are the characters stuck in what appears to be an alternate world? Something just doesn’t seem right here.

Most of the show is about this mystery. The first 3 episodes keep this up and then in episode 4 is when we finally start to crack the puzzle. As a result it makes things rather interesting for a review since that is about a third of the way through the show. The actual plot twists are at the halfway point so would that be a spoiler? Since the hook of the show is figuring out what is happening I would say it is so I’ll try avoiding those plot threads for the most part.

So, the intro episodes for me are the weak links. The show isn’t quite as funny as it thinks it is with the various homages. It’s fun noticing what shows the series is going for but the issue is that it isn’t quite as good as any of those. The Office certainly made better use of the Mockumentary style, The Brady Bunch seemed to be more entertaining and likewise in each era. I think the issue is that the show was trying very hard to be as wacky and intense as possible to simulate these shows but as a result it doesn’t feel natural.

So I wasn’t big on the old time parts. The whole time I was always looking forward to the meanwhile plots as we see what everyone else is doing. Also, you can start to piece together what the plot is very quickly even if it takes the characters in universe a little extra time to pick up the pieces. The show is at its best when it is fully embracing the twists. The final two episodes are definitely the highlight of the show for that reason. It’s certainly nice to see the characters in a slice of life setting but it would have worked best in modern day.

I was satisfied with the various twists and explanation of what is going on though. It all makes sense and you can also see why it would be hard to intervene at this point since the Avengers aren’t in the best shape at this point in time. Iron Man’s not really in the picture, Cap’s gone, and Thor may be in space right now. You’d have to hope that someone like Ant Man is around and the odds of him even hearing about this event are slim to none.

For the characters, Vision is probably the worst one here. I really can’t cut him any slack. The guy moves as fast as molasses once he finds out more and more information so you can’t help but feel like he’s partially responsible for what is going on. The second he realized that something was wrong you would figure that he would quickly act or do something to help out. Instead he just drags the whole thing out as long as possible well past the point where you will lose patience with the guy. At the end of the day, his acting can help save lives so the longer he doesn’t do anything, the worse it gets. He had to be the most frustrating character in the show without question.

Meanwhile Wanda definitely has a lot to do here of course. Without going into details, you can see how her character has changed drastically even when you just see flashbacks in the show to her younger days. Her powers have gotten quite a lot of respect in the movies so we already knew that she was quite powerful. This whole show is really setting up that she will only get stronger from here. Power corrupts so this is rather dangerous and her actions in the show don’t exactly make her a beacon of hope.

All right, time for a quick pair of spoiler paragraphs. Skip these two if you haven’t seen the show yet but it’s time to dive into some of the bigger items here. All right, so it turns out that Scarlet Witch was holding everyone here against their will. She went from being a morally dubious character to a flat out villain and it’s not really something you might have guessed initially. The show did set her up as being suspicious as early as episode 2 to be honest but it’s all rather gradual. She seems rather insane and spiteful but you may write that off as just being fed up at the villains until it’s too late. I think she is going to make for a very interesting villain. Someone who isn’t quite pure evil yet but is quickly going there. Based on the end credits scene in the show I think she is going to be absolutely psychotic in short order. She does seem to be set off pretty easily and in a way this whole show could be considered as a super villain origin story.

In that sense you can see why the government wanted to wipe her out. Hayward and Monica represent two extremes in the army. Monica is insistent on treating Wanda like a victim who is only holding everyone hostage and threatening to murder her because she’s unstable at the moment. Hayward doesn’t want to try any negotiating and believes just shooting Wanda is the easiest way to do this. As a result both of them seem really unreasonable. I think you’re meant to be on Monica’s side as Hayward starts going so extreme that he even tries to shoot kids straight up. As a premise you do need to take Wanda down for sure, but there should be lots of ways without destroying her. Her durability is still that of a human’s if you can attack before her shield’s up. I do think peace is out of the question once she has hundreds of hostages the way that she does though. With her power said to be even stronger than the Sorcerer Supreme by the end, Strange may actually need some help in dealing with her. I can see why her powers are greater though, if you think about it, she essentially altered reality for an entire town and created new life forms complete with true super powers. That means she can conceivably do something similar like creating the original Avengers to fight Dr. Strange. There are so many exciting possibilities here and needless to say they all spell bad news for Agatha as well since she’s really at Wanda’s mercy right now.

Okay, spoilers are over now so back to our regularly scheduled program. We have some supporting characters from the old days like Darcy. She’s good at trying to crack the case although she does give the government a lot of grief whenever she helps. She definitely reminds them that she is doing this because she has to and not because she wants to. Monica also gets a fairly big role in the show and looks good. While I do think she needs to look at things in less of a “peace at all costs” approach, at least she is trying to reach out to Wanda. She probably just needed more of a plan though but we are setting up some fun things for her character in the future.

Inside of the dome we also have some supporting characters like Wanda’s kids. I’m not a big kids person but they could have been more annoying I suppose. At least they have powers which is pretty cool. That definitely separates them from the average kids at least since they can now defend themselves. You also have some neighbors like Agatha and I’m sure the instant that name is mentioned a lot of people will have various ideas on how that would play out.

Then the show has a really solid climax which was nice to see. We’re definitely at a point where shows can even look like movies now so I’m glad to see this show embracing that. No reason to shy away from big comic fights now. You can just get straight into the action and we get a prolonged battle from multiple sides which was fun. Things are definitely starting to get high tier by the end and magical battles are always fun. There’s just a whole lot you can do with that.

So WandaVision is a show where I’d say it really turned up once the action got going. Not necessarily fight scenes but once we got less of a focus on the old TV show motif and more into the actual plot. I admit that at times it felt like those scenes were straight up filler that were just holding the big plots up. The TV shows are a big focus of WandaVision so taking them out would effectively be changing the show but I think they could have had less scenes for it. Maybe it was just the execution that was off for me but that’s really the only thing that holds the show back from going further.

In a way the show was going for a low key horror vibe despite the classic show settings because you can see that something is off the whole time. So, if the show had committed to this more fully I think that could have been interesting. Grab a Stranger Things vibe or something with each question leading to more mysteries. You would need to retool the plot a bit but for example, Vision realizes he is in a world created by the Grand Master and none of it is real or he’s in a simulation. He confronts Wanda but even she isn’t real and he’s in Mephisto’s lair. Something like that would have been really scary but those are just alternate paths. I feel like the shows were sort of stuck in the middle so while you had that feeling of unease, it wasn’t quite enough to keep you compelled.

The writing is on point though so whenever the show is in the modern setting then it’s pretty interesting. I always like seeing a lot of government scenes so the moments with Hayward and the team were always fun. He may go all in but at least the guy did his best in commanding the troops. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many average humans you have though, it’s not going to do much at all against a true magic user.

Overall, WandaVision is a fun show. At only 9 episodes it is definitely over in a flash and can feel like an extended movie. It’s a fun thing about having the show format since you can cover a lot more ground than a film ever could. The first half of the show is a little slow and they didn’t have to do the dog like that by the end. Beyond that the second half turns up though. There are a bunch of twists and turns here so while you may understand the main plot and get most of the twists early on, ideally at least a few can throw you for a loop. I wasn’t expecting the after credits scene after all which was really solid. I can’t wait to see where that one goes since we should get more action out of it. I’d definitely recommend checking this title out and we’ll see how the rest of the shows fare coming up. Oh yeah there was also a song that shows up in the show which was pretty catchy.

Overall 6/10