A.I.C.O. -Incarnation Review


It’s time for another Sci-Fi show. There are quite a lot of these anime running around and this one really goes into the technical elements. Get ready for a lot of discussions on the burst, alien life forms, and cloning which can be pretty intense but at times it also means that the pacing can be a bit slow. This is a good title but another one where it takes the show a very long time to really get good. I don’t think it fully found its footing until near the end and the ending wasn’t ideal so while there is some replay value here, it won’t be near the top of the list.

So a while back there was an incident known as The Burst! A lot of people died in it and now some organisms known as Matter rule the area. They’re effectively mindless and touching it will result in your death unless you destroy the contaminated limb quickly. Now you need professionals just to get near it if you want to study the area or something like that. Our main character is a girl named Aiko and her family was seemingly murdered by matter but one day a guy named Yuya appears and says that this isn’t the case. They are still alive and Aiko needs to save them.

This guy is a bit shady though as he’s on the run from a mysterious military group and wants her to follow him without question. Aiko does want to save her family though so even though it means leaving her friends and old life behind, she follows him. Yuya and some other shady guys have enlisted a group of professionals who will guide them through the affected areas of the burst. At its center is presumably where Aiko’s mother and younger brother are. Once they save them then the day is saved….or is it? What does Yuya want out of this? Aiko figures she has no choice but to trust him….but this could be a mistake.

Now I would call that the basic plot but a lot of other things start to occur as the series goes on. I’ll go more into it in a minute but we have to answer the tough questions like if a clone is truly alive and what it means to sacrifice one. Do you sacrifice a town to save a kid who might be trapped within the Burst? Then you’ve got the government groups all fighting each other and a whole lot of chaos as outside governments want to weigh in on the conversation. I think the show could have tackled all of this in more interesting ways because there is a lot of cool stuff to discuss here but for the most part it is satisfied being more of a low key show that talks about it but mainly just from the main characters’ view. Extending this with another 10-12 episodes and bringing in more outside forces could have worked.

As far as the animation goes…it’s decent. I wouldn’t say it looks very good or anything like that but it’s not bad. It’s more that there aren’t a lot of good fight scenes because typically they’re just fighting the matter which is effectively mindless and can’t fight back beyond lunging at everyone so the fights aren’t super exciting. There are some episodes where you have the characters blasting the matter for the whole episode and yet you’re not excited because it isn’t a real opponent. Fortunately at the very end of the show we do get a real villain but it is very near to the end by that point.

As for the soundtrack, it’s not on the memorable side. The tunes within the episodes just don’t stand out and I wasn’t a big fan of the opening. It’s got to be one of the least exciting ones that I’ve heard in a while. The show is just not impressive on a technical sense so that means the actual story needs to hook you which it does not. This is starting to sound rather negative so I should say that what keeps this from being a bad show is that it does execute on some of the potential. While it does tend to drag out some elements and not take others to their full use, at least it is trying to tackle a bunch of Sci-Fi themes. Throw in an explosive climax (Even if the ending is underwhelming) and you’re really all set to at least get things interesting for the end. To it’s not the most engaging show out there and loses in most head to heads, however if you are looking for a decent Sci-Fi title to bring up then I would eventually mention this one. It’s still good enough where I could recommend it.

Now as for the characters, first up we have Aiko as the lead. I do think she’s a bit too trusting with the whole Yuya situation. She wants to save her family and that’s great but you still have to keep your guard up at all times or else you’re just going to walk into a trap. As the show goes on the mission appears to be riskier and riskier all the time. By the end Aiko learns a lot and makes a lot of good decisions. I do think she handled things maturely and did try to help out as best she could. Her being a bit naïve is her only bad trait, beyond that I liked her well enough as the main heroine.

She would actually contribute by firing the cannons and would disobey any order that told her to stand down. So Aiko did have some toughness to her and that was really important because if she was a passive main heroine then it would have been that much easier for the villains to take her down. As it played out this way, she was at least able to make decisions of her own and stayed in control of her destiny. Aiko definitely surpassed expectations here.

Unfortunately I could not say the same about Yuya. This guy starts off reasonably well as he’s very mysterious but you figure he’s got a good plan at the ready. You have to decide if you trust him the way that Aiko does or if this is all some kind of big mistake. Ultimately I did not agree with his plan at all and that is what ended up hurting him here. He is willing to make a whole lot of sacrifices and while the other characters get him to be more reasonable by the end, it doesn’t change what he was willing to do. You can’t trust him and he grew worse as the series went on.

One area where the show struggles is with the supporting cast though. Outside of Aiko and Yuya, the divers don’t really stand out. There are quite a few of them and you have the gruff leader, the hyper newcomer, etc but there isn’t much to them beyond that. One of these guys is Kazuki and he ends up liking Aiko from the start. It’s not a good idea to fall for the person you are escorting since this is supposed to be a mission where you stay neutral and everything. He definitely fails on that end.

I do give him credit for always having Aiko’s back though. He’s probably the only character in the series who doesn’t waver or get tempted to abandon her at any point. Yeah that’s because he likes her but isn’t that still a pretty good complement to his dedication regardless? When she falls into the cafe and asks for help he immediately tries to get her out of there while everyone else was still hesitating. That counts for something.

Unfortunately it’s not like he’s super strong or anything so ultimately he can’t stand in the way of the government but he tries his best. You figure that he’s doomed from the start too so you feel bad for him there. Maho and Daisuke are the two leaders of the diver operation so they have a lot of experience but they don’t tend to contribute a whole lot. As you watch the show you’ll see that they technically talk with the crew and make decisions but ultimately don’t change things up.

At least someone like Kaede may make her share of mistakes as she dives into the fights but she’s memorable because she gets a whole character arc about maybe being too impulsive. Her partner Haruka always takes the blame when this happens but it causes Kaede to really think about how she has been handling this situation. At the end of the day she doesn’t want to create more trouble and so she gets a bit more cautious as the show goes on. Haruka doesn’t really get an arc like this in comparison but at least this makes it easier on her as well.

Yoshihiko has his hands full with Kazuki but does as well as can be expected. He’s the more calm member of the duo so he usually has to end up being more of a boring character there but his advice isn’t wrong and in terms of pure skill he is probably better than Kazuki. Together these divers are good enough to blast away at the blobs and we’re told that they are the best in the business so even with their character flaws they make it work. Fighting in teams of 2 helps out with that I suppose.

Outside of the whole main plot with the heroes trying to save Aiko’s family we’ve also got a whole government conspiracy plotline going on as well. This isn’t quite as interesting as it could have been but I always appreciate seeing their take on things. The main character here is Akiko and her ongoing banter/feud with Susumu. They used to work together but now he’s on the rebel side with Yuyu while she works for the government. This leads to a lot of disagreements and subtle threats between the two. It’s always very subtle of course but you can’t help but think that Akiko actually would take Susumu down if she could.

I think what would help this plot a bit would be to have the characters actually talk things out a bit more. Typically how the conversation goes is she would ask him for details and after he gives the intel she hangs up on him. She’s very openly using him the whole time until the end where she decides to help but because of that there is no ideological battle or anything like that. I think that’s a missed opportunity because there is a whole lot you could do with that otherwise. She was a decent character though while Susumu is mainly forgettable.

The real standout character here is Kyosuke as the main villain. Basically he wants to save his daughter who is in a coma after the burst. He thinks that the answer to saving her lies within Aiko and that goes against Yuyu’s plan here so they are naturally at odds. It’s always a good idea to have the villain get a decent motive though and having him want to save his sister was an effective way to do that. He seems like a reasonable guy for the most part but as the show goes on he starts to go more and more off the deep end.

We even see how he used to function normally with how he had some friends and other doctors who had his back. Eventually they just weren’t able to do this anymore but it was nice to see because it makes sense that he would have some allied by this point. The premise makes it unlikely for everyone to have a happy ending but you are hoping that she will be able to pull through at least. Then thanks to Kyosuke we do have some more action by the end.

The climax still isn’t super exciting but at least it’s a bit different. Instead of all the blobs being mindless, now you have some being controlled by him and some by the daughter. Then you have Aiko controlling others as well so it all gets really crazy. The show’s ending is not very satisfying though which was another missed opportunity. So what I’m saying here is that the concept of the show was better than the execution. Giving us more monsters and such would have been great or give us more government meetings about what to do with the burst. This was a huge event that the show barely even bothers talking about except to nuke it all. I want to know more about the origins and how the other countries are taking this. It’s touched on but just barely.

Okay now I’m going to quickly talk about some of the more in depth parts of the show so skip the next 3 paragraphs if you haven’t seen it yet. Head out now because we’re starting fast:

So the big twist here is that Yuyu is trying to save the real Aiko who was captured by the monsters a while back and is used sort of like a core. He intends to sacrifice the cloned Aiko to bring the real one back to life. This touches on the classic theme of if a clone is truly alive or not. (The right answer is that the clone is alive so destroying it would be awful) As we’ve been with the clone Aiko the whole show we feel like she is alive and you would hope that he could see that but he doesn’t. Even up to the end he intends to destroy her until Kazuki knocks some sense into him. Of course by that point Aiko convinces herself to die for the original. It’s an interesting dynamic where both the clone and original would rather sacrifice themselves to save the original.

Clone Aiko looks a little bad at first though because she is fine with someone being sacrificed for a while but when the twist is that she will be the one sacrificed then she isn’t happy about the plan. I know she eventually comes around but it wasn’t the best look since it seemed to imply that she would be fine with someone else dying. It’s a good twist about the two Aikos though and the show has a good amount of foreshadowing for it. It’s easily one of the most interesting parts of the show and you know it must have been tough to be stuck within the Burst for so long without any way out. Likewise for the daughter who was in a coma but still conscious within the void all this time.

The show could be a little dark when you think about all of this but it’s not going for that angle. Now why did I not like the ending? Well, they save both Aikos which is great and what I was hoping for but they decide the family isn’t ready to know this and so one of them can never see the family again after the final goodbye. Cmon that doesn’t make sense to me, we’ve just survived a big sci-fi apocalypse. They can handle seeing two Aikos and the ending just feels unfair/forced. I didn’t buy that excuse and it just made the show forego what should have been a really happy ending.

If I could change one thing to improve the show rather dramatically it’s that I would cut out one episode of the heroes running through the mindless monsters and add it to the beginning. Have Aiko decide not to trust Yuyu at first and gradually she realizes that she wants to take a risk and goes off with him. That would help the pacing because part of what hurt the show is that the pacing died around the middle. You had multiple episodes of blasting away at the mindless ooze and it’s just not exciting. There’s action but how dangerous can these creatures really be? (Surprisingly they do pretty good at times)

After all in some ways the slice of life parts were better than the apocalyptic adventure which should never happen. I liked Aiko’s best friend even if she never appeared after the opening episode. The scenes of the characters talking and planning were better than when they were running through the endless labyrinth of monster zones. There’s even a blue gel creature that randomly shows up and at least you could wonder what it’s deal was. Meanwhile fighting the sludge monsters didn’t do anything for me.

Overall, A.I.C.O. Incarnation is a good show. While I had a laundry list of issues and weak points for the show, it shows just how strong the ideas and premise was. I saw a lot of potential that was left on the table and that’s what really made the show underwhelming for me. It didn’t look great on a technical level but could have still thrived without it. Unfortunately the writing and plot direction could not compensate enough for this. If you want to watch a Sci-Fi show though then this is a good one to check out because it’s short and it does touch on all those themes I mentioned. At least you can ponder them even if the show has no time for this.

Overall 6/10

Attack on Titan: Lost Girls Review


It’s time to take a look at the Lost Girls OVA that came out a while back. This one mainly focuses on Annie and Mikasa in side stories outside of the main story. One of them even works well as an AU of sorts that helped with the timeline theories from way back when. It always feels a bit odd to have a Titan story without the Titans really doing much here but it’s a good way to get some character development in and I can’t say that I really miss the titans must at all.

The first story focuses on Annie and it’s a two part adventure. Basically it’s almost time for her to pull off her plan of betraying the Survey Corps and kidnapping Eren but she needs an alibi and so she asks her roommate to cover for her as she takes a day off. The roommate says sure…as long as Annie does her a favor first. In this case it’s following up on a missing persons report that the girl just left hanging. The Military Police have a rather bad reputation of being extremely corrupt and not doing anything about it so Annie’s expected to just do the bare minimum but she has some free time so why not right? She is at a disadvantage though since the events happened a few days ago but she will give this her best effort.

So this is a detective story through and through. We get to see Annie checking around the city for any trace of Carly (The girl who vanished) and asking around. Most people would be far too scared to do anything like this because the city is so shady that you could die at any corner but when you’re a living titan with regen that makes things a little easier. Annie also knows a lot of hand to hand combat and takes out anyone who messes with her. The thugs of this town will certainly know not to mess with her next time. She uncovers the clues rather quickly and then has to decide how to handle this.

It’s not as simple as just solving the case since she can’t be tied up with any extra details when her mission is the next day. Additionally this isn’t just someone getting lost. It becomes clear that Carly disappeared deliberately so that also complicates things. Annie is quite efficient at solving the case though to the point where I thought this was only a single episode before checking and seeing that it was two. The mystery was handled well though so this was a good pair of episodes.

There were a good amount of twists and the writing was on point so it kept your attention the whole time. The animation looked good and the soundtrack was on point as well so definitely no issues there. Carly’s father was also a good character. I liked how perceptive he was. He wasn’t just some NPC to be tricked or discarded. Instead he had some good insight of his own and made sure that he wasn’t just being led around the whole time.

Meanwhile Carly does well for herself too. I wouldn’t say she is quite the strategic mastermind that the father is, but she was clearly able to strategize enough to pull off this whole plan so that’s impressive enough in itself. Then Annie did good in actually solving the whole case. In the end it’s one of those case where all of the characters are being rather corrupt and acting like criminals but I would expect no less from the world of Attack on Titan. After all, even the investigator herself was a titan traitor so that’s just how the ball bounces.

The only part of the special that may make you think twice is when Annie transforms for an instant near the end. No way the people of the town wouldn’t have seen that with such a large/bright flash of thunder. As a side story you want to make sure you don’t mess with the main timeline and I feel like this definitely does. The odds of nobody else seeing that is slim to none. You’re definitely going to notice that and so they probably should have had Annie win this without transforming. Sure, I bet they wanted to have her use the power at least once but it is a potential issue there.

The final story is about Mikasa and this one gets really trippy the whole time. You get lots of flashbacks, flash forwards, this is partially an AU and so everything is odd. There are random flashes of different times that Mikasa will get. Now this is fun for theory crafting and foreshadowing for sure but you definitely need to be ready for it. I was having a good time with it all the way through though. The actual main plot though is that Eren is coming up with a Hot Air Balloon so that he can finally escape this city and see the rest of the world. Mikasa desperately wants to go too so that she can always be by Eren’s side but a clown stands in her way. If she doesn’t get by him quickly then it’ll be too late.

This clown guy is definitely a rather odd figure. So his goal is to make Mikasa murder him and he figures he’ll prove that he can use his magic to corrupt anyone. Mikasa is just a little girl at the moment after all so this should be seemingly impossible. The anime uses a lot of fun effects to make this guy appear as deranged as possible and it definitely gets rather spooky. More props to the animation with this and the whole thing is framed very dramatically. It’s an effective way to use a short bit of time and make it intense.

Then by the ending we see more of how this is an AU although the balloon was a good first guess on that. It’s a solid special that may not be as important as the Annie one since the things there actually happened but it’s an interesting look on how things could have gone over here. Eren is just as ambitious and single minded as ever so the guy is always in danger no matter what timeline it is. The idea that the characters can see other timelines while they’re dreaming or asleep was always a good one. It’s nostalgic thinking of all the Attack on Titan theories from back in the day.

The animation for both specials is good as I mentioned earlier and the soundtrack is on point too. It’s a nice complementary piece for any fan of the series and I’d be cool with more OVAs for smaller adventures like this. You could probably have a lot of fun with it while keeping the Titans out although the series doesn’t have the most interesting cast so you probably would want to keep it to these characters and Eren. Not sure there are more than 3-4 other characters who could hold their own episode like this.

Doing more mysteries is probably the easiest way to generate more stories unless you want to do more AU type stories. The reason being, it’s not out of the question for the survey corps and military police members to have some down time between missions. There are quite a few empty gaps in time during the series and with the sheer amount of crime and craziness going on in the city, it would be believable that they were short staffed enough to add the characters in. You probably would want to keep it to short one shot adventures though instead of going for the big conspiracy mystery ongoing though because otherwise then you start to make things a little tricky. Having Carly’s father return would be fun as well.

Overall, Lost Girls is a good OVA. The title may not make sense in a literal sense but maybe what they’re going for here is how both of them have lost their purpose at the moment. Annie is being a traitor but doesn’t really know why so in the meantime she’s solving a mystery case. Meanwhile Mikasa is lost in a whole other timeline but rolls with it in order to save the day. At least that would be my interpretation of the title. There may not be much action here but the OVA is still interesting so I’d recommend giving it a shot. I think you’ll have a good time watching it.

Overall 6/10

ID-0 Review


Now this is an anime that I had never heard of before. It’s a Sci-fi title with a fairly original premise and it’s very unique. You couldn’t say that this one was emulating any other anime on the block. That said, while being original is good and all, I can see why this one didn’t ultimately get a second season. It starts off very slow and while it builds up by the end, it’s a little too late for this one to have really hit it big. I liked it well enough, but it does have its share of issues.

The show starts off by explaining that we are in the distant future and now one of the big ways to get rich is to farm the material known as Orichalt. It’s sort of like the great gold rush has returned, only now everyone is working on getting this material. You’ve got the government who is going after this as well as local pirates and such. In order to extract this material from deep space, people can put their soul inside of an I-Robot and control it virtually. It’s very safe since if the robot dies you just get booted back to your body at least. That’s true for most characters at least.

The main character here is Maya and she is still a student but has big aspirations for the future. Unfortunately there is a hitch to this plan as she has a run in with local pirates and is now framed for working with them to steal the Orichalt. Until she clears her name she will have to work with this group but gradually sees that they really aren’t bad people. Why was she even framed in the first place? She will have to work through these answers while also getting to know her new friends who are actually permanent I-Machines meaning that their bodies are long gone. This means that if they die, there is no coming back from that.

So lets tackle what I would consider to be the weak points of the show first. One is the main thing you may have guessed from the poster and that is that the animation isn’t very good. This is a CGI show and one that is very rough around the edges. While I’m not the biggest supporter of CGI, I can say that there are high end shows, medium, and lower tier. This one would be in the fairly low side as it’s all just very janky and at times the movement is off. Not to say there are no cuts here as the show does turn it up for the climax but for around 9-10 episodes it just doesn’t feel very natural.

A visual issue isn’t one that would hurt the series all that much on a score level though. While it may prevent it from taking the next stage, it wouldn’t make it a 4 or anything like that though. Animation is more like the frosting on top of the foundation so if your foundation is good then you’ll be okay. The other weak part I’d say is the story which is a bit more serious. It feels like the show is a bit more aimless for the first half and things don’t kick off for a while.

It’s hard to really care about the hunt for Orichalt. There is some tension between the government and the main pirates group regarding the hunt and how the government monopolizes this. The pirates basically hunt for it because they need the funds and there aren’t many other options. They also do like the thrill of the hunt as well. The show doesn’t pause on the ethics of this too much as it’s fairly direct. Think of these guys like the Strawhat Pirates. They’re on the wrong side of the law but at least they don’t hurt anybody and so it’s still easy to root for them. We’re not really given much of a downside to the pirates going hunting with how much Orichalt there seems to be everywhere.

The characters are fairly dry though and so you need something from the story to really get the cast going. Once the climax does start, then things get more interesting. We actually get a fairly deep dive into personas, the soul, and how it all intersects. One character has amnesia for example and part of the show is about finding out more about his past and the inevitable dilemma of what he’ll do if his personality was different back then. We’ll get into that more later but the show does get really interesting by the end, I just wish it did that a bit sooner.

The soundtrack is also virtually nonexistent for the most part. I wouldn’t say I remember any tunes and the theme song wasn’t my favorite. It wasn’t catchy and there wasn’t a whole lot of animation in it. So the show just feels low budget on all fronts and that spills into the experience a bit. Now lets talk about the characters. Maya is the main heroine here and she’s a nice enough person. There isn’t much to her beyond this and she goes through a fairly standard character arc of not trusting these pirates until she finally sees what nice people they are. By the end she is ready to take more risks and is more confident in her navigational skills.

Ultimately there isn’t a ton for her to do beyond that especially as Ido seems to be just as good as her in this area. Often times he will come up with a plan and just ask her to confirm it or vice versa. It helps the group be doubly sure about everything but for the most part she doesn’t change much of what would have happened without her. She is here to give them a bit of an emotional push though as it can be easy to think of everything scientifically after being a robot for so long. Maya is still more on the emotional side. It’s annoying when she gets held hostage but in the end she’s okay, there’s just not much to her.

Ido is the best character though and does his best to hold up the show. So he has lost his memory which is why he calls himself Ido. (Get it? ID 0? As in his Identification is zero because he doesn’t know who he is) Ido doesn’t exist on any record and he doesn’t have an ID code like every other ID machine. He wants to find the truth to his past but without any hint at all it seems like a lost cause and so he’s really thrown himself into his work, almost to a dangerous degree. He takes a lot of risks because he just doesn’t think it matters all that much.

This all changes when a little girl named Alice appears and then we start to slowly get more info on the plot. I’ll touch on that second half a bit later. Going on with the character introductions, Alice is a little kid so there’s not a whole lot that she can do. She seems to possibly have some kind of powers and at the very least everyone is after her but there’s not a whole lot that she can do about it. Alice is mainly a tool for the plot but barely a character for most of this.

Grayman is the leader of the pirates and is always ready to make the tough calls. He’s a rather stern guy who is nice deep down but is careful not to get too entangled in the emotions from the crew. His role is a bit smaller than you’d expect but he does a good job of leading the troops. Rick is the comic relief member of the group although his backstory is rather tragic. The guy is always joking around and he can go really fast which comes in handy by the climax. It would be nice if he could dial down the flirting a bit though. They really need this guy to focus instead of trying to make moves all the time! Plus as a giant robot who will never have a human body again, it feels like he may be out of luck there. It’s good that he stays optimistic though.

Karla is a character who was good for the most part. She was a reasonable member of the crew who kept everyone grounded and was good at strategy. Unfortunately I lost a ton of respect for her later on. Lets just say that she made a deal which was awful and took huge risks with very limited upside. It leads to Ido’s best scene in the series but it wasn’t something that was going to help her win back any points. She really lost all likability from this point on and got off rather easy. This is not the kind of character that you want to have at your back.

Clair probably gets the smallest role in the group. As Grayman’s daughter she helps to be a mediator when he is arguing with someone. She’s always calm and nice about everything but there just isn’t much of a role for her here. I expect she would have done more in season 2. Amanza joins the crew later on in the show and she was a fun addition. She can fight which is always appreciated and has some good plans. The group would have had a much tougher time without her and she starts to contribute right away.

There’s a character in here called Sam Taylor who only appears for one episode but was a great character. Not only did he nearly outsmart the whole crew but he was talking really tough considering that he is only a human while they’re in giant mech suits. That takes a whole lot of confidence in your own abilities and he pulled this off with ease. On a separate note, the heroes do need to work on keeping their guards up though. They seem to drop their guards immediately when they let people in which is something that Amanza took advantage of as well. This guy just left a big impact and I remember him partially because this was the first really solid moment in the show that made me take notice.

Okay so now I’m going to talk about the meat of the plot from episodes 9-12 so big spoilers will ensue from here on out. Skip to the last paragraph if you haven’t seen the show yet and don’t want to know about this yet. This is when the series got really interesting and ambitious. If you ask me this should have been the focus from the start and that would have been perfect. So Ido used to be a guy named Kain. He was actually a rather extreme scientist back in the day and was willing to do anything to save his daughter Alice. This led into him working with the Orichalt and messing with its very essence which was related to a dark god. So Addams stopped Kain by sealing him away and Kain effectively died but was such a genius that he was able to transfer to an I-Robot but lost his memories.

Then we had Kain mass cloned and one of his clones got big ideas to replace him and assume his identity. It gets more convoluted by then and it’s all very interesting. This is the kind of story I like to see because while it can be tough to follow, it lends itself well to a lot of theory crafting. It’s just interesting to ponder all of the possibilities and the show gives you a lot of ammo for this because there is a ton of dialogue and flashbacks in these episodes.

It’s also interesting how Kain an Addams basically reversed positions after the memory erasure. Now Addams is the extremist while Kain has mellowed out and is trying to find a solution for everybody. I actually thought Addams was a really good villain throughout this. He is absolutely a villain of course but the objectives were sound here and you could absolutely see why he was going with the old plan. The situation was tricky enough where saving everyone seemed impossible so the idea was to guarantee a few rather than risking everyone.

At the end of the show the government has to decide if they trust Ido’s gamble to use the last of the Orichalt to possibly save everyone or everyone will die, or go with Addam’s plan which guarantees survival for a group but will definitely doom the others. Always a tough decision but I tend to go with the group of either everyone lives or everyone dies. It’s an equal playing field and no time for regrets since everyone will be dead anyway.

I haven’t even touched on this yet but with the dark god, basically he needs to reabsorb Alice to be complete and it’s why those dark crystals are constantly chasing her and attacking the heroes. It’s like a living version of Orichalt but interestingly his weakness is to weaponize actual Orichalt and stop him. Of course the ship can only carry so much of it and it’s like shooting money at the guy so that’s not unlimited either. It’s an interesting concept going on here.

Although I wouldn’t say it’s the most visually interesting plot. You can only see the heroes blasting away as pixelated objects for so long. The objects can’t even fight back per say, but touching them is bad and they can crush you with sheer numbers. It’s like fighting a never ending blob of pure matter which is certainly dangerous in space since if you’re caught, that’s it. It just doesn’t make for particularly interesting action scenes.

We do get some real mecha fights near the end though. Addams has his own mech suit of course and Ido is able to have a proper fight there. We also got an excellent scene where Ido was seemingly cornered but then moved with incredible speed and took out quite a few fighters. That was one of the best animated cuts in the show and likewise for the fight with Addams. It felt like they saved up a lot of budget to spend on the end and they delivered there.

The ending is fairly definitive so it’s the kind of show that did not need a sequel anyway although it still would have been pretty fun. I think if they built on the ending well enough then season 2 would have been stronger. You could mostly avoid the slow start because we already know the characters and that way you could jump right into the story. While I didn’t think the cast was very impressive, maybe they would be able to look better in a high stakes environment.

With the whole clones angle, there could always be another one out there so you could use that as a plot thread and of course even if the dark god is gone, you could have other pirate groups that are less friendly show up. Just don’t focus on the actual mining too much, that’s the part that won’t be as interesting even if we do understand that it’s super dangerous. One wrong move and you could die while getting the Orichalt but that would be such an anti climactic way to go out.

Overall, ID-0 is a unique show that just suffers from a very slow start and a fairly low budget. Once we get to the meat of the plot then things get very interesting. As long as you enjoy the discussions and what they’re talking about then you’ll love the climax. If you don’t tend to like all of the sci-fi jargon then you may not enjoy it quite as much but we also have a lot more action so that should help balance things out. I can also finally say that I’ve seen a whole anime about space miners so that’s nice bragging rights. The show is very short either at 12 episodes so I’d still say it’s worth a shot if you’re looking for another sci-fi show. Think of this more like an adventure like Star Trek as opposed to an action and you’ll be going in with the right mindset.

Overall 6/10

PokeToon Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Overall 6/10

Tiger & Bunny Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Demon Slayer Season 2 Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

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