SSSS.Dynazenon Review


Gridman was definitely a really fun show and so it’s nice to see the franchise continue on. This one’s sort of a mix between being a sequel and a spinoff. I would call it a spinoff because even if it takes place after the original show, the cast is completely different. I tend to think of sequels as still being mainly connected to the original. I heard a lot of good things about this show from everyone who had watched it previously and I would say it lives up to that. Ultimately I would give Gridman the edge here but this is a show that keeps up with it in all areas and makes it a close fight. If you liked Gridman then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

The show starts with Yomogi running into a rather odd guy named Gauma. Yomogi gives the guy some food but runs off because he doesn’t want to get roped into something strange. He’s asked out by a girl named Yume but she has a reputation for asking guys out just to not show up for some reason. Yomogi accepts but she stands him up as well. Fortunately Gauma shows up and chews her out about this. Before any of them can really process what’s going on a Kaiju attacks so Gauma absorbs them as well as another nearby kid and they fuse into the robot known as Dynazenon to take down the Kaiju. They are now a team that will have to train together to save the world but these kids barely even know each other. Will they really be able to work as a team?

I do like the idea of these kids never even meeting before and suddenly having to work as a team. It does make for a pretty tough dynamic on them. The kids all do mean well though and try their best to show up and get a lot of training. Each character is dealing with their own drama though and I’ll get into that individually. There is also a villain group of Kaiju followers who basically think Kaiju are the greatest and should rule the world. They dominate them using mind control powers and try to destroy everything in their path. Gauma seems to have had some kind of connection to these guys.

One way in which the show doesn’t quite match up to the original is that you can’t really take these villains seriously next to the ones from the first show. These guys are usually played for comic relief after all and by the time they get their act together the show is pretty much over. It’s an interesting enough dynamic to have these guys kind of like Team Rocket but it also means that none of them will have you on the edge of your seat. Their overall goal is worth discussing though.

So…Kaiju rights are important and all but immediately their goal is invalidated when they have to mind control the Kaiju. If they seriously just wanted Kaiju to be free to do whatever they want…why mind control them? Aren’t the Kaiju smart enough to defend themselves? In that case then you’re not actually helping them out and this is all just an excuse for the villains to put their own goals into the picture. They’re basically projecting their objectives onto the Kaiju. We’ll have to see the leader in the next movie or show if she ever shows up to maybe put some better perspective on this but for now the group’s motivations just aren’t the best.

As for the villains themselves, well they try to get their own rivalries and everything. Mujina doesn’t feel very emotional about anything so she continues to work with the villain group but barely even knows why. She’s along for the ride so to speak and when she tries to help it doesn’t always work out. So along the way she learns how to tap into her emotions and it’s hard to say if this was her or just some feedback from the Kaiju control. Either way it made for an interesting arc but I did think it was a bit random how they tried to make her rivals with Koyomi.

The show seemed to want each villain to have a counterpart on the heroes’ side but this was a bit weak since they barely interacted. They did meet 1-2 times which seemed like it was getting close to setting up a romance plot but that never happened. Then you have Juuga who seems to be the smart member of the group. He talks tough but gets a little less to do than the others. He’s upset at Gauma not being with the group any longer but can’t exactly do much about that. From the villains he just didn’t have a ton of personality.

Onija is the member who almost dies in every episode which is a bit of a running gag there. He’s one of the most enjoyable members of the group so I’ll give him that. I also liked his dynamic with Mujina as their personalities may be complete opposites (Emotionless and the most emotional) but they did look out for each other and even got in sync at one point. It was a good way to give the group a little more humanity and make them leave an impact.

Then you had the leader Sizumu who takes the most steps to contacting the heroes and trying to stay on top of things right from the start. He was interesting and also seemed to believe in the ideology the most. I would have liked to have seen him explain his view on things a bit more though because he just doesn’t talk much. I also thought he blew it in the climax by not blowing up the main characters while they were in their human forms. Come on that would have been perfect for him. They would not have been able to do anything and it would have been game over. Ultimately he didn’t do that and I feel like that was a mistake on his end.

Next up is the third party group with Knight and The 2nd. I never would have guessed the 2nd’s true identity tbh. I knew Knight’s right away because he looked pretty similar but she really grew up. I only found out when looking up the names for this review so that’s pretty cool. She does well in finding gadgets to use and giving the heroes a chance. She’s a solid support character the whole time.

Knight is the guy on the field saving the main characters a lot of the time. He looks pretty strong initially but quickly becomes someone who does take a lot of Ls here. Either way I was glad to see him and he’s definitely my favorite character. He was a nice way to connect things to the Gridman show and he has certainly learned how to take charge. He doesn’t tend to goof off or make mistakes like the others but of course being so serious can have its own risks as well. It seemed like he wasn’t going to break out of the dream world on his own and he won’t ask for help even if he’s getting crushed. That’s just his style.

Now that means it is time to talk about the main cast and the plots that come with them. We’ve got quite a few characters here so lets jump right into them. First up is Chise and she is really eager to be one of the main team members. She is always present at training and even learned how to fight a bit so she could be a backup fighter for any role. You definitely have to admire her dedication here but unfortunately she just doesn’t have the skills to be a main member. I figured this might end up turning into a big jealousy subplot but ultimately she does handle things well.

Then she ends up getting an ally of her own so in a way she is finally a full member of the team. Chise’s a nice enough character. She may not have gotten quite as much to do as the other characters but she was nice enough and never really complained. She would do her job as well as possible and that was that. Her Kaiju Goldburn was also a fun ally to have around. I’m glad that the heroes ultimately didn’t try to take him out and that he was a hero right from the jump. It’s always nice when the heroes are being reasonable like this and it worked out well for everyone involved. I do think he should have been able to stick around and help out. In a lot of ways I feel like the heroes didn’t make the best decisions at the end.

Lets just say that the Earth isn’t in a very safe place at the moment. You shouldn’t weaken its defenses unless you absolutely have to and I wouldn’t say that this is one of those cases. Keep the Earth in tip top shape as far as the defenses go and you will never regret it. Now you have to hope that the people with the defenses arrive on time and considering that they could be anywhere, that’s putting the planet in a lot of danger.

Koyomi is the next character and I never really warmed up to the guy. He’s fairly timid the whole time and basically just spends all day in his bed playing video games. His story is really about gaining confidence, confronting his past, and getting a job. Right now he has no motivation for any of that but I guess being a sci-fi warrior defending the planet will help out on any confidence issues. Throughout the show he runs into a girl he used to have a big crush on back in school but in the present she is already married. This is the plot where I didn’t think he handled it well.

Koyomi clearly still likes her and can’t really get over this or think of anything else when they’re having a drink. She seems excited to chat about old times and get reacquainted but he’s not able to do this and just gets super jealous when her husband arrives. He ends up hanging up on her at one point and severing all ties but it didn’t seem like she was messing with him or trying to lead him on. I got the feeling that she was just being a nice neighbor. Perhaps a very oblivious one since Koyomi wasn’t subtle but she didn’t really know that things were in an awkward spot for him. Ultimately things end on a good spot for them all but it wasn’t due in large part to anything Koyomi did.

Gauma is the leader of the Dynazenon group and he’s got his whole past with the villain group. We see bits and pieces of this and ultimately you can piece together why he left their extreme group but you’ll probably still have some questions involving the leader and more exact circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see more of that but in the present he’s a solid enough character. Gauma is one of those loud guys who is absolutely not afraid to speak his mind and call someone out. He doesn’t waver in his sense of justice and so he can always fight at 100% power. That’s what makes Gauma a fun character and he tends to get some of the better comedic scenes. He doesn’t really have a subplot or doubt that he’s fighting through compared to the others.

Yume is the main heroine here and naturally she does start off in a very rocky position. Standing guys up for seemingly no reason is a very interesting way to start a character’s journey. She seems rather mean at first although not in a direct throwing insults at everyone kind of way but just in how she doesn’t care about the emotional damage. She seems rather off initially and we gradually learn more about her. Her sister Kano died a while back and the circumstances were vague so Yume hasn’t felt good about this. She has no closure because it seems like it may have been an accident, a suicide, or even a murder.

Yume wants to find out the truth but barely even knows how to start and it’s a tough task to be alone on. Fortunately Yomogi wants to help out and so gradually Yume gets a little bolder and is more prepared for the world. The show even got to let her have some closure via a time travel, dream like world. It was a pretty cool way to use those. Usually when the villains pull this off the heroes get all mad about it but in this way it does at least allow you to get some last words out. Since for all intents and purposes this is the real Kano, Yume was able to confront her.

The whole thing is a bit tragic as it seems like they were just never on the same wavelength. Yume wanted to be friends but both found the other to be rather unapproachable. With Kano the show still leaves it a bit vague on exactly what happens. On one hand, Kano basically tells Yume that she didn’t jump off the building so that only leaves an accident as being the main possibility. It seems very happy but once Yume jumps into the portal and vanishes, Kano gets dangerously close to the edge and starts singing that odd song again. It felt like the show really wanted to bring it to a complete 50/50 chance where you just have to decide what she was going to do and even if it’s the same thing.

Surely after talking with Yume she wouldn’t go through with this but if she was close, does that mean that without a talk with Yume she may have jumped? I don’t know, the show makes it hard to really guess but personally I choose to believe it was an accident. The alternative is just too tragic and it would have been a shame to go out like that. We do see that her life wasn’t all smiles and happiness but on the other hand you like to think that she would have been able to stay strong through it all and at least confide in someone to help her.

Yume definitely had to go through a whole lot either way and that’s why she is so broken at the beginning of the series. With help from Yomogi she is ultimately able to go past this. They have their rocky moments as well but it ultimately works out and Yomogi doesn’t back off. Fortunately he has friends giving him good advice as well so the two of them were very fortunate in that respect.

As for Yomogi, well he’s a bit of a pushover initially so I was worried that he would be like the latest protagonist from the Cardfight Vanguard show. Fortunately he gets over that phase pretty quick and does stand up for himself more than most. At one point it was time for a training session but Yomogi mentioned that he had work so he wouldn’t be able to make it. No hesitation or anything like that, he just didn’t go and he misses several training sessions as a result. I was glad that he was able to stick to his guns on that.

He may not be the natural leader type so you won’t see him yelling like Gauma about drive and friendship but he does well in a support role. It’s fairly unique to see the main character not be the leader here and the show did well with that. He had a good dynamic with Yume and the rest of the characters as well. One advantage I would give this show over Gridman is the character dynamics for sure. I thought the main characters just had a better connection than the Gridman ones and in general I would say the human characters were better as well. Certainly the good guys were better at least.

Naturally the animation here is really solid. The battle scenes are epic and you get to see both the heroes and villains utilizing absolutely devastating combos and bursts of speed. Each of their abilities are always nice and unique, plus I like the robot designs. I also thought the human character designs were pretty good. This is one of those shows that pays attention to detail with the eyes and so everyone has a distinct look to them. It helps each character really stand out. The show is just nice to look at.

It also pairs well with the rather relaxed atmosphere that the show has. The stakes rarely feel as high as in Gridman and the show typically isn’t as trippy either like with the train into nothingness. You don’t have the city being a world made out of tetris of dark villains running around. Instead it’s more of a romance story to an extent as the main characters grow close and everyone else deals with their own baggage. You rarely feel a sense of danger but I don’t think the show was going for that anyway. This is more of a slice of life drama with the creature of the week thrown in and the show executes this well.

I also liked the soundtrack a lot. There are a bunch of really solid tunes here for both the heroes and monsters. They’ve all got that techno vibe to them and work really well for the action. You’ll always get pumped in each scene. I was less impressed with the opening visuals but the music itself was good. You definitely won’t be disappointed with the music while watching the show.

Dynazenon’s strength is in the human plots and so that’s where I can see how this one beat Gridman for many people. It certainly does win on the emotions and writing, but for me Gridman won on the villains, story, and action. You felt more like the world was at stake and nobody was playing around there. While the humor here tended to be rather fun, it was also frequent enough where it would lower the stakes. You never really felt like the heroes were in danger here compared to Gridman where everything was moderately serious. So you’re going to be more pumped up in Gridman as you eagerly devour every episode but you’ll probably grin and earnestly enjoy the interactions more here. Based on which aspect of the show you’re more excited for will determine which one you like more.

If we’re going to use this as a tiebreaker, I will say that the romance in Dynazenon is considerably better than Gridman’s as well. There you had the villain trying to pull the moves on the main character and the slight romance with the main heroine but you’re not likely to be invested in it a whole lot and may even be rooting for the villainess since she’s more direct. Here the whole show is really built around the main romance and it’s handled in a very gradual way that’s fairly effective. I can say it’s one of the better romances I’ve seen in a while and is much closer to something like Tsubasa and Nisekoi than the average romance that I usually take shots at. I wouldn’t call this one rushed, obligatory, pointless, or anything like that and it’s automatically in the top 10% of romances that I’ve seen. It’s rather high praise. Yeah nobody’s watching for the romance but it’s a fairly big point of the show so it’s worth pointing out.

Overall, Dynazenon was definitely a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing the crossover with Gridman. There is a whole lot you can do with having these two groups together and I’m all for it. Ideally you’d have the human characters return from both series so they can interact but in a way I don’t mind if only the heroes from this show return while the villains from Gridman do. It would be an interesting matchup since both sides aren’t familiar with the other. We’ll definitely have a lot of solid robot action which is always a plus so no matter what it should be a blast. If you like a good character drama show or just want some classic mecha action then this is definitely a title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Pacific Rim: The Black Season 2 Review


The Black certainly took a break for a long while but at long last we got season 2. I was pretty much blown away by how good season 1 was. It had a great premise and really executed on it. The solid cast brought this to completion and I was eager to see how season 2 would play things out. Season 2 is a very different show in a lot of ways and while the first one had me gushing about everything, I would say that this season had more weaknesses. It’s still pretty good but I had some issues which wasn’t the case with the first season.

Last time Boy transformed into a Kaiju and saved the day but now the group has to decide what to do with him. Taylor thinks its way too dangerous to stick with him and Mei agrees but Hayley says they will not abandon him under any circumstances. The Sisters of the Kaiju are after him as well which complicates things. Protecting Boy could end up costing all of them their lives. Taylor will be faced with a tough decision there and this could even cost him the trust of his allies. Will he make the right move? Also, does this group have ties to their parents?

There’s a lot going on here of course but the Sisters are definitely the main threat now. Not to say that the Kaijus aren’t a threat but at this point it’s fairly easy to outmaneuver them and to stay safe. The sisters can control Kaiju which is the real danger here since that means they can utilize strategy and all kinds of tactics to keep the upper hand. I wasn’t able to take them very seriously though which is part of what made this season a bit weaker. This group isn’t all that strong individually. They can be shot like normal or just overpowered. Their ability to use Kaiju is impressive but it’s not enough to make the group as a whole very scary.

You feel like the heroes probably could just storm the base and blow them up a few times. I like the concept of the group for sure and I remember being intrigued in season 1 but they just didn’t live up to the hype. Giving them some slight super abilities or a more charismatic leader would have gone a long way towards helping the group out. It did at least give us a fairly satisfying plot with the mother though. The episode of jumping into her mind and trying to bring her back was cool. It was like something out of X-Men with the whole exploring the mental realm part.

So this is around the point where Shane shows up and he’s definitely changed quite a bit. The guy was the big antagonist last time but here he is played up more like someone who deep down cares for Mei a lot the whole time and has just made a lot of tough calls. He walks back some of his more nefarious moves from last season with revelations like him storing up the memories and now he’s ready to risk his life to save the main characters’ mother. It’s impressive that he didn’t walk away from the challenge and just went for it. It feels like there’s a bit of a disconnect here but either way he makes for one of the better characters in this season.

The scene of him casually taking out a few of the sisters just made him look that much more impressive even if it had the opposite effect for them. His partner was also decent but more of a tech guy so there wasn’t a lot for him to do in the field. Shane’s group should live on rather well with their new commander who knew how to fight and lead the group. He ends up bumping off one member of the group but she was handling everything in a really awful way. Why shoot at a monster that’s not even going towards you? The scene was meant to show how she cracked but man was that a bad time for it.

The season is only 7 episodes so by this point we’re already about halfway and then we get the climax with the sisters launching their final assault and Apex even showing up. The government also appears to mostly get in the way by the end. I felt they were unreasonable the whole time but the kids did not help their case at all. We’ll get into that more later on. The fights are good as always with a lot of solid back and forth. There aren’t as many robot vs kaiju battles here but the ones that we do get always deliver when it counts.

There are also our share of human battles against the smaller creatures which is good. I did think that the main wolf type Kaiju looked way too weak though. You couldn’t go one episode without them getting wrecked by someone. They would lose to humans, Boy, random villains, etc. Seriously, it’s almost each and every one of those 7 episodes where they lose and it felt like they were complete fodder now. Losing to Boy is fine of course but when they were losing to Mei and the others it could be a little harder to buy because of how ferocious these things are supposed to be. It’s mostly just a power levels issue but they went down too easily.

As with last time I really enjoyed the animation. I still say it looks like something out of Nintendo with Hayley looking like a cross between Link and Samus. The style suits the series well and takes 0 time to get used to. It just works right from the jump even when there are no action scenes. It’s really colorful and striking so each scene has a big impact on you. The soundtrack or lack thereof isn’t impressive though. I couldn’t tell you any big themes from the show which is a shame because I think you could have had a lot of really cool sci-fi themes going the whole time. It seems like that wasn’t meant to be this time though.

Now we do meet a crazy guy named Bunyip who actually manages to keep the Kaiju at bay to an extent. I thought he was pretty interesting because he has managed to live all these years but he definitely didn’t think things through by the end. His system was never going to work forever though with how it relied on the food like that. One moment of sabotage and it’s all over. I did find it interesting that they had to do the whole sabotage thing instead of controlling the Kaiju outright. Maybe that would have been too much for them or their hunger for food would supersede the orders.

Now the most controversial character here would be Taylor and for good reason. This guy makes a whole lot of mistakes in this season and they are rather large ones that you can’t walk back from. He argues with Hayley in basically every episode about Boy and what they ought to do with him. Naturally he wants to cut ties with Boy the whole time because Taylor thinks the situation is too dangerous while Hayley says they should keep looking after him since they’re all a family. Taylor then does the unthinkable in brokering a deal with the villains to take Boy off their hands and it’s a move that you can’t come back from.

You can’t just give Boy over to an insane cult like this. Who knows what could have happened to him and then the fact that he did this in the dead of night so the others wouldn’t realize just makes the whole thing even worse. It wasn’t a brave thing to do but a cowardly one. I wouldn’t blame Haley if she decided to never speak to him again after that. Then in another scene has her take the tough job of helping talk to someone as they’re dying so it can be peaceful. Hayley has to go through a lot here and a good chunk of it is Taylor’s fault.

No matter how he rationalizes it, he made a terrible choice here. You can’t just betray your allies like this no matter how tough the situation gets. It was very disappointing since he was pretty good in the first season. It may have sown the seeds for their future disagreements but at least they were talking it out rather than him just making a big move like this. At least Hayley was still a very good character. She did advocate for helping Boy a whole lot in the season and never backed down. She proved herself to be more of a hero than the other 2 who certainly had a lot of doubts about the whole thing. Hayley just doesn’t give up the way that the others do and has managed to keep her optimism the whole way through.

She is also able to keep a better control of her emotions at times. Perhaps not all of the time as she’s under a lot of stress to but when the going gets tough she steps up. That’s exactly how it should be. As for Boy, he doesn’t get a ton to do here since he is being mind controlled half the time but he means well. He’s just too young to have much of a character yet though so he’s mainly just around as a plot point more than a character.

Mei is still the most hardened member of the group and she’s always talking about leaving but deep down you know that she’s here for the full ride. She has some history with the sisters which can cause her to freeze up but it doesn’t stop her from going in and helping with the whole attack on the base. Ultimately she does the best during this operation which is not surprising. The show always gave her the respect and poise that is due of such a good fighter. She was more on Taylor’s side the whole time but unlike him she wasn’t going to try anything sneaky in the dead of night so she’s way better than he is.

One character who shows up briefly here is Apex but you feel like his character was wasted. This guy still has the best design in the show and is one of the fiercer characters but he doesn’t get a true fight this time. He shows up to help with the Boy situation and that’s it. Ultimately it wasn’t much in the way or closure for this guy and they could have done better. I was happy to see this guy and so to have his role be so small just didn’t feel right. He deserved a big battle if nothing else.

Finally you have their mother Brina who is a solid character. It’s definitely a shame that she got brainwashed so thoroughly but it’s hard to imagine someone. holding out against the sisters for so long on their own anyway. They’re a professional cult with a ton of experience in this domain so that makes sense. Ultimately it’s hard to remove their influence and she has a tough time throughout the season. I was glad that she got to appear and have some conversations with the main characters at least. It was definitely a long time coming there.

As for the government stepping in, so here’s why I blame this on the heroes a bit. They should have yelled right away that they were the children of the two legendary pilots. After that have the A.I. try talking and just keep saying trivia and fun facts that establish their identity. Instead they were a little too curt and down to business on the liens which didn’t give the government a lot to work with. Of course I do think the government wasn’t very reasonable here either as they immediately started firing the whole time. At lest look at the situation and see what’s happening here. These guys were way too gung ho and if the barrage was successful then the robot would have been taken out too. You feel like they could use every suit they can so breaking it would be a huge waste for them.

It ended up making the final fight a whole lot closer than it needed to be. I’m also not convinced their assault would have done much to stop the real Kaiju enemies so being here may not be the safest thing anyway. Well, the season works as an open and shut ending to the series which most of the important things wrapped up. The Black does well in feeling like its own stand alone story while acknowledging that things are going on around the planet as a whole. I’d like to see this continued and incorporate them into the main plot to stop the Kaiju once and for all. That would make for a great season 3.

One of the things that helps the show excel so much is the very solid writing here. It’s a very advanced writing style here where the characters debate and talk each path through. They don’t always see eye to eye by the end and sometimes the plans are no good but the dialogue is quite strong. Writing plays a key part in any show and this one was definitely in a good spot as a result. Mixing in the fun action and graphics is an extra bonus to take this even further. So what I’m saying in the end here is that you’ll have a lot of fun here and you should be satisfied with the ending. It may have had its weak points but at the end of the day it’s still a well rounded show with a lot of fun moments. The action scenes are all a lot of fun and while this is a show for the story first and action second, they give each fight a good amount of time and effort.

Overall, Pacific Rim The Black has been a really fun ride. Watching the two seasons back to back would definitely make for a really solid watch. A lot of franchises would be desperate to get a show this good so it’s really fortunate for Pacific Rim to get something like this. There was a lot of effort put into it and there’s a lot of replay value to be had here. If you’re looking for a solid action/adventure show then you definitely can’t go wrong with this one.

Overall 7/10

Moon Knight Review


It’s time to take a look at the latest in the Marvel TV shows. People were definitely looking forward to this one for quite a while since Moon Knight was a brand new hero who hadn’t been adapted before and he’s got a lot of fans. Before now all of the shows used existing characters while this one would not be using any like that. In a way you could watch this as a completely stand alone experience and not watch any other Marvel products. Well, the show is definitely fun and while I do think the second half is weaker than the first it sticks the landing well enough where I would say this is pretty good.

The show starts by introducing us to Steven who works at the local museum. His life is ordinary except for the not very small problem of having to chain himself up at night. See, he walks in his sleep and often wakes up in places where he has no idea how he got there so this is a safety precaution for himself. It’s worked well enough but does mean it might be awkward to invite anyone to his flat. One day he ends up getting mixed up with a bunch of thugs and a giant monster even chases him across the museum. The problem is that the security cameras don’t show this as appearing so it seems like he has completely lost his marbles.

That’s when he looks in the mirror and sees himself, but another version who calls himself Marc. Basically they have made a pact with the Moon god known as Khonshu to be the Moon Knight that punishes the wicked. They do so quite lethally and what Steven thought was sleepwalking was actually Marc running around as the Moon Knight. Only one can control the body at once and naturally Steven doesn’t want to lose control at all but it may not be completely his call. The two don’t get along at all and the rift between them begins to grow. Will they be able to put aside their differences in time to stop Arthur from summoning the goddess Ammit and bringing chaos to the world?

Right off the bat the show does deliver on what I’d consider to be its biggest selling point which is Steven not knowing what is going on at all. I love the jump cuts in the first few episodes where Steven will just be put in bad spots over and over again. He’ll have no idea what is going on and just has to roll with it as best he can. It works well with how he often appears to be a bit confused in the comics as well because of this. Naturally as the series goes on and he learns more about his other self this dynamic can’t stick, but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts.

In some ways that’s the best part of the show because Steven is a very likable main character. His confusion always appears genuine and you can tell that he means well but got a pretty rough hand in life. Not knowing where you’ll wake up is really tough just for starters but also doing things like asking someone out on a date and not remembering it is also pretty rough. His role stays really solid throughout the show and he’s my favorite of the personalities.

Then you have Marc who is the more violent version who goes around bumping people off as the Moon Knight. He is really good at fighting and I remember the rooftop battle being one of the standout highlights in the show. It was a really good display of how he fights and how versatile the guy is in combat. I wouldn’t say he handles the situations as well as Steven in the sense that Khonshu is openly manipulating him though. It feels like he’ll be put on an endless loop of trials no matter what he does so he may as well disobey Khonshu then right? There’s not a whole lot that Khonshu could do about it if he refuses.

He could move on to Layla as he threatened but then couldn’t she just disobey him as well? It feels like if the host doesn’t play ball there really isn’t a ton of leverage that the god has. When Marc and Steven inevitably meet-up they certainly don’t get along at first and it’s a good dynamic there. At one point in the show we get to see inside of his psyche and that makes for a really fun situation because they can actually interact in the flesh. It was something you’d have been waiting for the whole time and it lives up to the hype.

Meanwhile I definitely liked Khonshu a lot. He’s very much like Venom from the movies with how he talks to Steven/Marc. Khonshu is all about lethal vengeance while still thinking of himself on the side of good. He’s always quick to point out the distinction between him and Ammit whereas he punishes people after the crime while Ammit does so beforehand. It’s a very valid point to be honest and of course I would side with him if I had to choose. The guy is as shady as it gets though so you definitely do not want to have to trust him.

The heroes can be a bit harsh at times though like with one of them saying he was as bad as Ammit at the end. C’mon now, that’s not a fair comparison at all. Any scene with Khonshu in it is a blast though and he’s definitely a scene stealer. Ammit doesn’t get to appear as much but she does really well in the big fight. Her ideology is also an interesting one. If she can truly see into the future 100% and knows who will end up evil, then you can see why she would believe in stopping them now. Imagine you could constantly see into the future or into someone’s soul and know they will commit a crime. There’s no evidence so you can’t put them in jail and you can’t be everywhere at once so you could easily be pressured into thinking you should just bump them off.

It’s a dangerous mindset for sure but one that makes for a very interesting villain. By extension this is what makes Arthur so interesting. I was surprised we didn’t get more of a backstory to him because I felt like the series was leading up to that but it never quite happened. I was pleasantly surprised though because we really don’t need to see his past to understand the character. The guy has clearly seen a lot and wants to make the world better in his own way. That’s already enough development and motivation to make him a good villain. The guy’s definitely really good in that role.

On the hero side we also have Layla as the main heroine. She is often left out of the loop by Marc as he tries to keep her safe but that tends to backfire. Because of this Layla is upset at almost all points in the show but at least it’s understandable. She also ends up helping out in the climax and I’m sure she should get a pretty solid role in any future adventures with Moon Knight.

I already talked about the rooftop fight earlier but in general the fights here are really good. Naturally I enjoyed the battle of the gods in the climax as well. It was a good way to show us the high stakes of the battle and what these guys could really do in combat. Moon Knight’s fighting style naturally depends on who is in control at the time and the show does depict their fighting styles as being different. Well, Steven barely has a “style” per say as he’s just flailing around and hoping things will go well. By season 2 I expect he will look a little stronger.

Now I did have some issues mainly revolving around the second half so lets look at that. First off, the avatars for the other gods looked way too weak. I’m not expecting these guys to be crazy strong or anything but how come they seem to have no abilities or combat experience at all while Steven and Layla have all kinds of fun techniques up their sleeve? These guys are treated like fodder the whole time. Then you also have to factor in how the gods don’t look smart at all. They basically just ask Arthur “Hey, you guilty?” and when he says no they accept it and bash Khonshu instead.

Sure, Khonshu isn’t the nicest guy by a longshot but he is still a god and they should understand he wouldn’t just be making things up. There’s nothing in his character to assume that he’s a chronic liar and isn’t it a little suspect to have a former avatar running around and running a cult? The gods are able to make portals and watch over the skies at all times. A single glance would have verified Khonshu’s claims if they chose to look. It felt a little convenient to put Arthur in a position to win. If you ask me there should have been a better reason for how the gods would have been defeated.

Then I felt even Khonshu’s true strength was not very consistent. In one moment he is just able to swirl up some wind in the background as Arthur makes fun of him and then he’s getting into a Kaiju battle. So you may be thinking, he can only interact with Ammit because they are both gods? I could maybe let that fly but we see him interacting with the ground, pyramids, and other solid objects. So why can’t he hurt a human? Even if he can’t directly attack Arthur, surely he could throw a large object at him or something like that. I don’t see why that wouldn’t work and it would have saved him a lot of grief.

Additionally, the after credits scene is a great moment which I’ll get into later on but it also introduces something close to a plot hole here. If Khonshu could have done this the whole time then….why not do it before Arthur was so close to achieving his goal? Perhaps there are conditions that must be met to use this trick and it’s early enough where it’s fair to say that we don’t know what those are yet but at least as a first impression it does make you feel like he should have been able to end this threat a lot sooner.

My final gripe to an extent here is that Moon Knight looks way too weak at the end of the series. It really starts on the boat ride. How is he having any trouble with these random fantasy monsters? They didn’t seem very strong and then in the climax Arthur is tossing him around the whole time. There’s a slight Power Rangers effect here where you want to put some shine on the new hero so it makes sense that Layla was saving him quite a bit here but I would have liked to have seen him do a bit better. You can absolutely pull this off while making Moon Knight a bit more of a threat. With the skills he had in the first two episodes it’s just hard to see Arthur putting up a fight here at all.

The soundtrack isn’t quite as memorable as the other Marvel shows of late, however I did like the main theme that Moon Knight wakes up to in some of the episodes. It was really catchy and elevates the whole soundtrack on its own. There are some nice Egyptian kind of themes as well though. Then the special effects are solid as always. I liked how the hospital/mental space looked. The show did a good job of making it appear as if it was a whole different realm. A part of you knows what is going on here right from the jump but the show makes this part long enough where you could almost start to doubt yourself a bit here.

The show does have a great after credits scene here which ends the show on a perfect note. It follows up on one plot-line that was hinted at several points in the show while making one character also look very crafty/intelligent. There’s a lot of reasons to really enjoy this scene for sure and it just has a lot of potential for the next arcs. Logistically it would be tough to keep this up for very long without someone noticing so I expect it’ll be addressed almost immediately and that should be fun. After all, knowing what will happen and stopping it are two very different things.

There’s a whole lot of set up for the second season so that’ll be fun to see. One thing I’ll miss which is inevitable is the sheer confusion Steven had for a while since he didn’t know his other personality was around. It’s part of what makes the first episodes such a blast because it’s such a fresh dynamic. Then we have the dynamic of the two personalities not getting along and trying not to go to sleep so the other doesn’t take control. That’s another really great dynamic. Still the current dynamic between them will be fun too.

Overall, Moon Knight was definitely a very good show. I would put it above Wandavision and Winter Soldier but it goes under Loki, Hawkeye, and What If. Moon Knight makes for a very good main character and I could see him having a lot of great interactions with the rest of the characters. His durability/regen will also make him a useful ally and makes up for his lack of physical ability as long as he remembers his martial arts. The show really took advantage of the multiple personalities angle and I’m sure that should continue even with the main two on good terms now. Could be a kind of DN Angel vibe where they both start to fight over when one of them should be in control. The writing and humor were really on point here so this is just a very well rounded title. If you haven’t seen it yet, this is definitely a title I’d recommend.

Overall 7/10

Shenmue Review


Shenmue is a show based on a game series that I have not played, however you don’t really need to know them to enjoy the show since it re-adapts the sagas. I was impressed with the show right off the bat because it’s got a very retro vibe to it. I’d compare it to Batman Beyond and the classic superhero shows of the DCAU. Even the main character himself has that punk vibe like Terry. It’s a very short show so it hasn’t made it all the way to greatness yet but the way it adapted the events was definitely a lot of fun so hopefully we get a season 2 soon.

The show starts with Ryo being rather confident in his strength to the point where he doesn’t really take his father’s teachings very seriously. He ends up regretting that immediately as he heads home one day to witness a villain known as Lan Di murdering his father. Ryo tries to help but is instantly defeated and his confidence is shattered. He now wants to find out why his father was murdered and his only clue is a mysterious mirror. Ryo will have to ask around and get involved with a bunch of gangs as he tries to get closer to solving this mystery. With his heart clouded by vengeance can Ryo really get strong enough to stop Lan Di?

Shenmue is really a investigation show but what sets it apart from the rest is that Ryo’s not a pro. He’s not a hot shot detective who knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He’s just going around and almost literally knocking on doors and asking questions. Each episode will have him walk over and ask an old lady for help, she’ll tell him to go to the coffee shop, the coffee guy will say to flip some cups, he’ll then get mugged, then rinse and repeat. Ryo is really going around doing the same things a whole lot but it just works.

There is a level of convenience to this of course as he always ends up meeting the right people, but the fact that it’s so tedious on his end helps to at least make it not feel too easy. The guy definitely does still have to walk everywhere and he gets mugged a whole lot so it’s not like he’s taking 0 risks either. Ryo is a really good fighter but he’s in a world where expert fighters seem to be around every corner and so he gets crushed many times. Even by the end of the series you can tell that he’s nowhere close to the top yet.

I’d say my best complement for the series is just that it’s a lot of fun. It really captures that retro action show vibe. There’s no end of the world stakes, no fancy combos, or really anything out of the ordinary. This is purely a street level show with Ryo beating up on goons and getting closer to his father’s murderer. The show never tries to be anything more than that and it’s probably one of the most relaxing shows that I’ve watched in a while. The pacing was always on point with each episode.

I also enjoyed the animation quite a bit. It’s not going to touch the big titles like Bleach but the fight scenes were always solid. They used the sonic boom effect for each hit which I always liked. It’s something you don’t always see nowadays but it’s a good way to make each strike feel like it has a lot of impact. The fight scenes are always solid here and the show also goes all in on the eye effects to show when someone is focused. Apparently a lot of the attacks are even taken straight from the games which is a cool attention to detail. Smooth might be the best word for the animation. It’s not as bright and colorful as some of the others out there but the fights exceled as you could really follow each exchange and feel the power behind the hits. Sadly while the animation in the episodes is real good, the opening is one of the lazier ones. I’ll never get why you would decide to cheap out on the intro since that will appear for every episode.

There’s very little actual animation in the intro at all and it’s just rather boring which is never a good thing for an opening. A proper opening should fill you with energy and have you jumping up and down. This won’t do that for you at all. As for the soundtrack, I wasn’t particularly impressed there either. I didn’t really care for the intro song. There were some decent instrumental themes in the show itself but none that I can remember off the top of my head. I feel like they worked well enough in the scenes as you’re watching but it’s quite telling that I can’t remember them at all.

As for Ryo himself, I definitely liked him as the main character. He’s focused on avenging his father’s death but never lets it consume him. He takes a ton of losses throughout the series but is always striving to do better. One of the standout scenes to me was when he and and Lishao disagree on how he should go further. He doesn’t storm out of there or cause a scene. He just respectfully says that it appears they will not be able to see eye to eye on this and leaves.

He just walks out of there peacefully and still in good standing with the master. It’s so rare to see that and Ryo just comes across as a very mature main character. Perhaps not the smartest one with how often he lets his guard down but a very solid one all the same. He slowly gets stronger throughout the series and his final fight with Lan Di was satisfying even if I thought he would have done way better. He’s clearly still got a ways to go and hopefully we get a season 2 soon so we can see how things play out. I haven’t played the games yet but who knows, I may end up experiencing the saga that way first.

As for Lan Di as the main villain, he doesn’t appear a whole lot. Really it’s just the beginning and the ending where we see him but you can still get a solid glimpse into his character that way. The guy seems very honorable but someone who will also see his revenge through to the end. He was clearly not going to spare Ryo’s father no matter what and the guy has an entire criminal empire. The fact that he can fight so well was always going to be a good sign for his character because I love it when characters can fight like that and don’t have to hide behind their minions. Lan Di is the strongest we’ve seen in the series so far so it’s fitting that he be the final boss.

Nozomi was the main heroine for a while but she pretty much gets written out once Ryo leaves home. She was as helpful as she could be in the meantime though. Nozomi may not be a fighter but she looks out for Ryo as best she can and is a nice person in general. Then you have Joy who is the main heroine in Hong Kong. Joy has a lot more energy to her and also isn’t afraid to take some risks. I thought she was a fun character to have around and Ryo would have had a really tough time settling in without her helping to show him the ropes.

There’s a third heroine Shenhua for the latest land but she hasn’t really gotten to do anything yet so there’s not much to say about her. Right now she would be the weakest of the 3 heroines and we’ll need to see some more personality out of her to get higher. Something beyond just the vague prophecies but I expect her role in season 2 would be rather large so she’ll have plenty of time for that.

Guizhang was a really solid character and definitely one of Ryo’s best allies. It was a shame that he couldn’t follow Ryo into Hong Kong because I think he would have really done well there. The guy was pretty much on par with Ryo in terms of overall fighting ability and had a good head on his shoulders. The way he was written out wasn’t terribly satisfying but maybe he’ll be back someday.

Ren was his replacement of sorts in Hong Kong. This guy is more of an opportunist who loves money and wants to get rich but as the show goes on he starts to become more of a legitimate ally. He does come in handy a lot so while he starts off as the kind of guy who will backstab you at every turn, you grow to like him. He never passed Guizhang for me but it’s always good that Ryo doesn’t have to go through the adventure alone.

Then there’s Lishao who is the master of her Dojo and has the skills to back this up. She’s a very fun character and someone that all of the villains and heroes have to respect. When she’s around you have to take that into account because of her incredible power. She’s certainly one of the standout characters here and pretty much forces Ryo to improve his own skills. Without her there’s no way he would be prepared to stand a chance here.

Wong is a kid in Hong Kong who helps out a bit here and there but I wouldn’t say he was particularly all that great. He has a good character arc where he learns to stop being a thief but that’s about all that I would say for him. You’ve got two more villains in Yuan and Dou but I wasn’t a fan of either of them. Yuan can barely even fight which really huts his case. Dou was surprisingly powerful with how he was beating Ryo on multiple occasions though. He seemed like the slow type who could never hold his own in a fight so I suppose he got the last laugh on me there. It was still pretty embarrassing for Ryo to lose there though.

Technically there are a bunch of other supporting characters running around but this pretty much sums up the main cast. As Ryo has to try and learn all of the Wude (It’s pronounced Wuda but seems to be spelled Wude online for some reason) he meets a lot of characters who help him out. I think these practices can be a little overhyped and some cross the line into just being common sense. It’s a surprisingly long plot point that takes up a good chunk of the show but fortunately the show usually throws you some fight scenes so you have something to do in the meantime.

There was one villain that felt wasted though. He shows up at the very end of the show with a cool looking mask but is taken down in seconds. Why give the guy such a good design if you’re going to throw him out right? I suppose it was subversive but I would have much preferred to see this guy get a real fight. There was a whole lot of potential there without a doubt. Lan Di’s a great villain but he’s really the only good villain at the moment so I’d like to see a few other good ones get introduced soon to keep things fresh. That slippery minion from arc 1 would definitely beat the minions in Hong Kong.

The power levels in the show are also handled pretty well which is a nice benefit of everything being fairly low tier. Ryo starts out as someone who’s low even within the verse despite having a whole lot of confidence. It’s to the point where he has to be protected by Guixhang the whole time. By Hong Kong Ryo is strong enough to hold his own but definitely can’t beat the general and still gets mugged a lot. Once Ryo has learned all of the Wude he is now able to fight and defeat any non-master but would likely still lose to Lishao and definitely Lan Di. By season 2 I expect he should make even greater strides.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of travelling in season 1. We mostly stuck to two different locations but as the show ends Ryo makes it to a third one as well. Then he’s always going to a bunch of different shops for clues and everything. It’ll be interesting to see if this continues into the next season. I assume it will since Ryo still doesn’t have an easy way of finding things out aside from asking everybody and following each lead. So how strong the region will be will depend on how good the supporting cast is.

Without the Wude to worry about we can also go back to more basic Shenmue investigation like Ryo heading back to the coffee houses and things like that. It’s just nice to see how nonchalant the whole thing is and I can’t stress that enough because it feels so unique in a show. I can’t think of any other time I’ve seen a main character have to check out so many places to follow through on his leads. Of course it could go in a different direction so we’ll see but as long as the show keeps its calm vibe I expect it’ll continue to be a blast. Naturally you also have to keep up the fun martial arts for the battles and I feel like Ryo needs a new super move. He has two now between the elbow hit and the axe kick but I think some kind of punch would suit him the best.

Overall, Shenmue is a very fun action show. It’s extremely low key and is more of a calm title despite the action genre but it works well. If you want to watch something that just feels nostalgic even though it’s a story you haven’t seen before then this is definitely the one to check out. For season 2 I suppose what I would like to see are some longer boss fights and for Ryo to keep his training. I can understand him forgetting the Wude when fighting Lan Di because of his grudge but you can’t use the same excuse next time. So I want a proper fight where Ryo has to give it his all. That would make for a very climactic battle and the pieces should all be in place to make that possible.

Overall 7/10

Cells at Work! Review


Cells at Work is definitely a show with a very unique premise. It’s sort of like the Magic School Bus episode where everyone heads into the body except this time the show show takes place inside the body and every blood cell is an individual character. So you’ve definitely got a show that’s not quite like any other and can even be educational to an extent. You may end up missing the outside world pretty quick but it’s a fun enough show.

The main character here is the Red Blood Cell. (I’ll call her Red for short) Red’s job is to go around the body delivering nutrients to every part of the body. Unfortunately she is not very good at directions and ends up getting lost all the time. That’s when she meets Neutrophil, one of the white blood cell variants. His job is to ruthlessly murder any germs and bacteria that get into the body. The guy’s always serious and slashing away but deep down he’s a nice guy and they end up hitting it off after he saves her from one of the monsters and helps her with directions. As the show goes on we see more adventures with these two and get introduced to the rest of the blood cells.

For the most part I would say this is a slice of life title. Each episode is fairly stand alone even though we do have the big climax at the end. Typically Red will get lost somewhere and Neutrophil will step in to help along with the cell of the day. Each episode will usually introduce a new blood cell so by the end of season 1 you’ve pretty much met them all. Sometimes we’ll even get a big budget fight scene.

The first episode has the best fight in that regard. The battle with Neutrophil against the germ really looked great. There was a lot of excellent hand to hand and the animators went all out. The rest of the show can’t quite compete with that but I would say it still keeps to a pretty solid level of animation. The character designs are consistent and the animation looks good.

For the soundtrack, there’s the main battle theme that I like a lot. It’s really good for when danger approaches and is suitably fast. The opening isn’t really my thing but I appreciate the effort of dubbing the intro since that’s pretty rare. All in all the musical themes are memorable so you aren’t likely to forget them.

A slice of life anime lives and dies on the characters so lets jump into those. First off we have Red and she is a fun lead. She may not be good with directions but she tries hard and just keeps on going. Near the end of the series she gets her big episode when the body is snowed in and got to prove herself. She definitely holds up her end of the show very well and it someone you can count on in the end.

Then you have Neutrophil who’s the main fighter here and he definitely looks good. The guy is absolutely invested in his job and loves any opportunity to go in and crush the germs. The guy is always yelling and acts like such a savage that most characters are afraid of him except for Red. Deep down the guy is just trying to make the world a better place and that’s his role within the body. He also has his lighthearted moments where he watches over Red to make sure she’s okay.

Killer T is like a more exaggerated version of Neutrophil when it comes to beating up germs but he has less social awareness. The guy has no time for happiness or anything like that and just focuses on the mission. I like Killer T’s confidence and he never bets against himself in the end. You’ve certainly got to respect that. Then you have Macrophage who is also really intense but she doesn’t typically let it show. She just goes about her business and drinks tea but when the going gets tough, she gets going.

Platelets are like junior cells that go around stitching up wounds and making sure that the body is safe. They can’t really fight but they get around and there are sure a lot of them. They would probably use a few bodyguards though since they don’t stand a chance when villains show up. Typically there is someone on hand to help but they probably shouldn’t take any big chances.

Helper T is someone who really tries to do things by the book and lets the other cells know when there is trouble. He may not do a lot in the present but he gets a whole episode to himself where we see how he and Killer T used to be rivals. That made for a fun watch but it’s a shame that Helper T went for more of a desk job when his fighting abilities are so good. The heroes could have used him in some of these battles. Maybe someday we’ll see him in the field again but it feels unlikely since his station is always so far from the action.

His partner on the job is Regulatory T and she makes sure the paperwork is in order. She keeps Killer T and Helper T from fighting too often as well and has always been a bit of a mediator there. Without her I’m sure they would be bickering even more. Naive T is a cell who gets his own episode too. He feels bad because he has been completely ineffective in combat and everyone’s always going at him. Eventually he comes to terms with this and evolves into a more powerful cell who can defend himself though. It was good to see him step up when it counted since he had a rough start there.

Eosinophil is a type of white blood cell but she’s not meant for direct battle with the germs. Due to this the other cells tend to make fun of her a bit since a lot of them didn’t properly learn the duties and tasks of all cells the way Neutrophil does. Fortunately she gets to show her skills off later on. She’s a fun character who is really enthusiastic. She may not have strength against all enemies just yet but she will still jump in to try and do what she can.

Then there’s Memory Cell but there’s not a whole lot to say about him yet. The guy should be able to use his memories really well to help everyone out but he always forgets them. He’s the one cell you could say is just bad at his job because remembering is the one task he should be able to do at any time. You definitely end up feeling bad for him there. Dendritic Cell’s job is to awaken other cells to their maximum power. He does this by using embarrassing photos/memories of other Cells. In a way he should have been the memory cell then right?

Mast Cell and B Cell don’t get to do a whole lot here. B Cell has his gun and as long as memory does his job and remembers the formula, B Cell can use this to take down a lot of germs from afar. Unfortunately for B Cell, he is powerless without this. Meanwhile Mast Cell is ready to tell the body when to panic but she is always stressed out which puts her in a tough spot here. If she stresses everyone too much then it’ll backfire.

Basophil’s role is to be really mysterious and try to be vague about everything. I wouldn’t say that it really works though. The main issue with him is that you really feel like his speeches aren’t going anywhere so you feel like he’s talking just to talk. That’s what really holds him back here. To be a good mysterious character, your paranoid delusions have to make some kind of sense and be interesting. That way I can get behind what is going on here but without that it just feels like mumbling without a true goal.

That about wraps up the heroes. On the villain side most of the germs and viruses are oneshots. Technically each one that appears is a different member of the same species and similar to the heroes, each kind of villain just has the same design based on what strain they are. I really liked the designs though, these villains look intimidating and can fight rather well. They give the heroes a good fight each and every time until they find their worst opponent.

Cancer Cell stands out as being the most memorable villain though and that makes sense. After all, cancer always felt like a perfect big boss for a series like this because cancer cells actively destroy other cells and spread quickly. Cancer Cell has a grand master plan and even tries to explain his own ethics to Neutrophil. It’s all very interesting and ultimately they still need to take Cancer Cell down for the count of course. I was glad that he got a character arc though.

His point also brings up an interesting part of the world. So of course every cell is born with their own role to play here. What cell you are will dictate what kind of germ/virus you must destroy or if you have another function. You will be unable to destroy a virus that’s outside of your role no matter how strong you are and the cells here learn that the hard way. It’s an interesting dynamic because it shows that the world runs on a Pokemon type/matchup kind of dynamic. This is one series where you cant really surpass your limits because they are built in.

The cells also don’t seem to know much about the past as they tend to learn things on the fly. I expect that is memory’s fault but maybe this body just doesn’t have a library where you can read up on the past. It’s possible that they just don’t have the time though. I can’t recall if the characters ever sleep. You see them taking breaks on occasion but that’s it. I remember at first I thought that Red and Neutrophil would be different in each episode since they mention that there are millions of them inside the body. After all, each blood cell is technically different but they still end up meeting all of the time. While that could be a stretch when you think about it, I think it’s a necessary one. I don’t know about you but it’s more engaging to be hanging out with the same characters as always.

Now, as I said before you may start to miss the outdoors though. One thing about being inside the body the whole time is that a lot of the backgrounds and scenery start to feel the same after a while. it can feel a little confined but I don’t know what the show could really do about that. At the end of the day, the body is the setting and there are ways you could cheat that but I can’t fault a show for sticking to its premise. Personally I wish we could have seen the human running around a bit.

As for the humor, I’d say it works well enough. It may not be the funniest slice of life out there, but the characters are enjoyable enough and make the dynamics work. There weren’t any really bad characters or anything like that here and we did have the occasional big action scene which was always nice. As the characters are blood cells, you can probably guess that there is a lot of blood flying around. Ironically, the blood pretty much always comes from the enemies though as Neutrophil really lays into them. It’s fairly excessive with the geysers everywhere but the show’s using it for comedy. Always a tricky gag and I think it could be dialed back a bit but in this context it’s not something that really would hurt the show.

Overall, You’ll have a good time with Cells at Work. I was on the fence the whole time on if this is a high 6 or a low 7. I don’t feel like it really has any replay value, it’s not the kind of show you’re likely to watch again but at the same time I wouldn’t say it made any real mistakes. It’s just not quite as funny as it could be. Still, I’d say it does enough right where your initial experience is good so I’d give it the points. You even get to learn a few things about how the body works although good luck on retaining that info. The scientific name for each blood cell is just so advanced that they tend to fall out of your mind as soon as you hear them.

Overall 7/10

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen: Battle of Kimluck Review


It’s time to take a look at Orphen season 2, not to be mixed up with the season 2 to the original show. This one delves into the Kimluck battles and I’m always still curious at how the novels played things out. The events in this show compared to the first one are just so massively different on every level that it’s pretty interesting. I am glad that Azalie gets more to do in this version though as she is easily one of the standout characters. It’s a fun show but considerably weaker than the first one mainly due to some slow pacing with new characters that you’ll find it hard to care about and Orphen’s main plot being a little hard to buy into.

So the gang are finally arriving at Kimluck. This is a place that is incredibly dangerous for sorcerers aside from those who are already within the kingdom but Orphen has to go there anyway. Azalie was interested in the place and that’s the best lead that he’s got. Plus, he’s Orphen, what can these guys do to him? Well, he’s about to walk into a situation that’s much bigger than he was expecting as there are some mysteries involving the origins of the dragons, the origins of the sorcerers, and even the legendary sword from season 1. It turns out that pretty much everything has roots within Kimluck and Orphen won’t be able to use his true powers anymore after being traumatized during a fight with one of the villains. Can he escape these tunnels alive?

The heroes are stuck in the tunnels for quite a bit after being betrayed by one of the locals. Of course Orphen did say they couldn’t trust anyone here but the gang ends up following their lead anyway so the warning pretty much didn’t matter. At the end of the day I suppose if they want to find the secrets of this place it’s not like they have a whole lot of say in the matter anyway. This leads into the weakest aspect of the film though.

See, the characters are stuck in this underground passageway where the water could come flooding in at any point. This means they can’t really blast their way out or it could cause a cave in. Usually Orphen could at least try some kind of spell but here’s the kicker. So Orphen murdered this one guy who was in his way because he used too much power accidentally. Orphen blames himself because even in the life or death situation he thinks he should have been able to hold back and just knock the guy out.

I have a lot of issues with this, one of which being that this guy was trying to murder Orphen and had a bunch of steroids so he was moving very fast. Orphen was nearly the one who died there. Even beyond that, Orphen doesn’t strike me as someone who would be traumatized so easily like that. In this world magic is based on your emotions so while he is in a fragile state like this there isn’t a whole lot that he can do. I find it hard to buy into personally. It’s also to such an exaggerated level where he is down in the dumps for almost the whole season from that point.

It’s a shame because Orphen’s usually a lot of fun for being such a confident main character. He’ll talk back to anyone and fight with the best of them. We don’t get to see that version of Orphen for very long here. So I can safely say that the murder guilt plot was just bad. It doesn’t help to enhance the story in any way and instead only serves to hold it back. If you had to do this kind of plot then I think it needed to be a bystander. For example, Orphen didn’t hold back enough and his attack murdered an onlooker or something. That would make a whole lot more sense for why this incident would break Orphen.

Okay so that plot wasn’t great but the show does have a fantastic climax. Azalie’s always a lot of fun like I mentioned before because she’s the tough rival for Orphen. Their relationship is a bit different than the average rival one though as she was also a mentor to him. He doesn’t even know what her true goals are here but she tends to find herself in dangerous spots most of the time. While he did beat her that one time, she is always portrayed as being far more skilled than he is.

This also seems to be the case in the climax as we finally get to see them team up against Quo. Now granted, Orphen is nerfed for the whole guilt thing from before but Azalie is definitely doing the heavy lifting here. The magic fight is a lot of fun because we don’t always get to see these large scale battles in Orphen. The series typically ends up being more about adventure and world building which are both good as well of course but sometimes you just want that big fight to end things off with and the show manages to deliver on that.

The final fight has some super forms and a lot of strategy as well. Quo’s battle style is rather fun as he has a solid defense and offense but isn’t really able to use them at the same time. In that respect it’ll remind you of a video game as the characters have to try and hit him with perfect timing before he resets. There’s also a very memorable part near the end where he pulls out a gun. It’s always very impressive when the villain just pulls out a gun in any kind of show where there are super powers because you just wonder how useful it can possibly be. Well, it comes in clutch here that’s for sure.

In general I thought Quo was a rather fun villain. At first he is more of a minion who just takes orders so he didn’t stand out but he finally realizes that the whole thing is nonsense and makes a move later on. With his level of abilities it makes sense not to just meekly follow orders and the leader did seem rather crazy with how he would murder off his subordinates for no real reason. Quo at least tried to have an honor code and thought he was doing the right thing. Throw in his super forms and he may be the most memorable Orphen villain aside from the clone doll in season 1 or Azalie if she still counts.

Salua is a returning character from season 1 but he definitely does not look very good here. So he was taken down off screen by the Kimluck church and the best you can say for him is that he never talked no matter how much they interrogated him. I’ll give him credit for that but that’s about it. Considering that he was a death instructor who gave Orphen a tough fight in season 1, he’s treated like fodder in this season. He gets wrecked in every fight and just can’t seem to hold his own against everyone. He constantly looks to Orphen for help which tells me that he doesn’t have a ton of confidence in his own abilities either. It’s like without his special sword he’s not as tough as he once was.

In this verse the power levels don’t go too high yet so I get that he has limits but he does not look impressive in the slightest. Volcan and Dortin don’t get a big role in this season but I was cool with that. They’re the comic relief characters who will have a fun scene once in a while but usually don’t really do anything to enhance the scene. They just slow it down and you wait for them to go away. They’re traveling with Azalie for most of the season which is a change of pace but even then they don’t do anything.

Cleao’s role isn’t huge as the main heroine either but she still manages to be helpful quite a few times. It really helps that she has Leki (I always think she’s calling him “Lucky” though) around since that little dragon type creature can take almost anyone out. It’s not always a get out of jail free card but it does work quite a bit. Cleao also isn’t opposed to getting into the field and trying to swing at the enemy either. She has a lot more energy than you would expect and so she’s a lot of fun.

Definitely a big improvement over Majic who I’m still not sold on. He at least tries to fight in Orphen’s place at times here while Orphen is unable to deal any damage. That said, he’s still ineffective at almost all points so it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of improvement there. For every step forward he takes, he seems to fall backwards almost immediately. I look forward to the days when he becomes someone that can be counted on.

Childman’s dead by the time season 2 pops around but he still gets a whole lot of hype. For example he is the only sorcerer to ever break into Kimluck and then escape with his life. We also get a flashback where he is the chosen one able to meet the god who broke away from the other gods to deliver the power of the dragons. The guy really got around so in a way it’s too bad that he couldn’t have fought more in the present before being taken down. I’d have liked to have seen more of his skills.

For example, could Orphen really beat him in a fair fight? It seems like the answer to that may be a no. At least Orphen still has the cool title of being the Razor’s Edge. It’s brought up constantly and I do like it as a title. It’s just got some gravity behind it and makes him really sound like a tough customer. I am still a big fan of Orphen so when he’s not down in the dumps he is usually coming up with some good lines or solid fight scenes.

Madchen is one of the main new characters here. She fights for the resistance and opposes the will of Kimluck. Naturally this means that her whole squad is murdered in the opening episode and she spends the rest of the show getting styled on by all of the villains. In particular the worst appearance for her is when she tries to assassinate Carlotta who is asleep in bed but fails. Of course we learn that Carlotta was awake and would have easily bested Carlotta but it doesn’t help Madchen’s hype. Really the issue for Madchen is that she’s a normal human with a sword who has no magical enhancements. That is really not going to take you far in this kind of show. At least she is on the right side so maybe one day she will get a power up.

Carlotta’s an interesting villain but it’s hard to say exactly what she is thinking. She enjoys being a villain for sure but is quick to walk out on the main villain when the tides turn. She’s just looking after herself but you have to assume she may lose her wealth if she isn’t careful about being so openly rebellious. I’d like to see more of her because there is some potential here but I get the feeling she won’t be returning as the heroes leave Kimluck for good.

Then we have the Pope who is at the head of this and there’s an interesting twist about him. He’s not just some old guy in the chair but can actually fight. The doll in that place may or may not even be the real guy although I like the idea that it is. It’s hard to get a read on him. At first glance he seems like some insane villain who isn’t planning for the long game but maybe there’s more to him. He’s still more interesting than Name who is the villain that only exists to traumatize Orphen.

Name starts rambling on about the Church of Kimluck and trying to be of use to the place. The guy is completely brainwashed by the church to the point where he fills himself with steroids so that he’ll die but is fine with it. He even starts questioning Orphen’s resolve and messing with his mind. I would have liked if Orphen had just laughed all of this off but unfortunately he takes it pretty hard the whole time. The guy is surprisingly skilled so he does last quite a bit. I’ll at least acknowledge that he is powerful considering that the guy’s only human. Those drugs really did the trick.

There’s not much more to say about Azalie as I already explained why she’s so much fun. She has Orphen’s confidence but with an even higher level of skill. She’s always mysterious about her intentions but at the end of the day she still does help Orphen out when he’s in trouble. Azalie’s like an anti-hero in that sense as she is quietly helping Orphen out at every turn. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is leading him somewhere or has some kind of grand plan in the end but we would probably need more seasons for that and I’m not sure what the odds would be on this getting a season 3.

As for the plot with the gods, it is interesting in concept but right now it’s hard to care too much. The series tries a lot of worldbuilding throughout but I’d say it’s just not all really connecting quite yet. We have dragons, gods, humans, sorcerers, and they all mix together with the origins. It seems like it’s possible that the other gods may intervene at some point but what would that really do with the plot? Who knows so we’ll just have to wait. It was impressive that the girl behind the door survived being choked by a god for many years but since they were partially in the other dimension and partially in the real world, I guess this was due to being between realms. I have to say that being choked for years sounds like a pretty awful experience though.

So if they want the gods and dragons (Or they may even be the same thing with how regal the dragons here are. It’s like they’re an elevated life form) to be relevant then I really need season 3 to make this more of a focus. With Sorcerers effectively being humans who have some of the dragon blood within them, I wonder if that means we could get some super forms in the future. I’d definitely be down with that. For the animation, the show looks pretty solid as you’d expect. I liked how vibrant everything was in season 1 and that continues here. I would say it looks just as good and while most of the show is pretty low key so the animators don’t get to show off, the climax is able to go all out.

As for the soundtrack, there aren’t any real new themes that I can remember but it was decent. None of the tracks really stand out in particular. The ending is decent enough and the opening’s good. I wonder if it’s some kind of remix because the opening sounds like one I’ve heard many years ago but it could just be that it’s the same band or something. The visuals in the opening are a lot of fun though and while it may make you think that the show is more action packed than it is, it certainly serves its purpose of getting you hyped to see what’s coming up next.

While the middle of the show may not be the strongest, ultimately Orphen is able to continue to be solid because it did have a strong start and ending. The intro where Orphen shows up to save Madchen and fight off the dolls was a good way to start things off and I already talked about the climax. The show also makes for a pretty easy watch because it’s an upbeat fantasy adventure. I’d also say there is a good amount of replay value for the title as a whole because the writing and banter are good. So while this didn’t match season 1, I would be pretty hyped for a season 3 if we ever get that.


Overall, Battle of Kimluck doesn’t ultimately end up matching up to season 1. Mainly I’d say this is due to the Orphen guilt plot and the underground episodes just not being very exciting. I want to say that way more happened in season 1 than 2 and maybe that’s partially because it was pre arc but the pacing was always on point. Season 2 can be more of a slow boil leading up to the final fight. It’s still a good show though. The writing is on point and I do like the character cast as a whole. The graphics are good and the music is solid enough so that has all of the makings of a good show. It doesn’t make any big mistakes either and will leave you hyped for season 3 to see what Azalie is going to do next and what all of this lore is leading up to. If you want a good fantasy watch then this is up your alley.

Overall 7/10

The World Ends With You: The Animation Review


I remember it feeling random that The World Ends With You was getting an anime adaption but I’m definitely all for it. It’s always fun to see a game get the TV show treatment and maybe soon they’ll do the same for Kingdom Hearts. It’s got an interesting animation style which is supposed to really emulate the video game and I’d say it does a good job of that. It certainly doesn’t look as good as a traditional show due to this but works well enough. It adapts the game well and maybe if we’re lucky a season 2 will come out some day to adapt the sequel game.

The show starts off with Neku waking up in Shibuya with no memory of how he got here. What’s even worse is the fact that nobody can see him. It turns out that he must have died at some point and is now forced to participate in a Reaper Game. Effectively this is a 7 day survival competition where he has to complete a mission each day or face erasure. The situation continues to grow more challenging for Shiki when he finds out that he needs a partner in order to fully use the super powers that are given as part of the game. Neku’s not exactly a people person and his partner is the very happy go lucky Shiki. Can the two heroes make pull this off or are they doomed?

The ole survival competition is always a good way to get some really quick tension. After all if you die while you’re already dead then that probably means you’re gone for good. You’ve also got the mystery of how Neku died since he can’t seem to remember that for some reason. The show is only 12 episodes long so things tend to move at a very quick pace. You may wonder how the 7 days will last for 12 episodes but the show does well with the pacing throughout. As someone who played the game I’d say this is a very faithful adaption that really hits the right notes. There is only a single moment where I feel like the anime had less impact than the game and I’ll get into that later on.

The soundtrack here is a lot of fun with the classic themes from the game showing up. While it’s always good to have new music to spice things up, I’m never opposed to grabbing some tunes from the source material since it’s a good nostalgia boost. The game’s main theme certainly works well as the opening even if that wasn’t the original intent. As for the animation, I would say it’s below average. The colors are striking but when they all start moving then you can see the flaws here. The actual combat isn’t very fast or smooth most of the time. It all looks like video game cutscenes for the most part.

I do like how the combination attacks look though. You can always feel a lot of power behind them. Also, as I mentioned the colors are striking so this works really well for special abilities. You can pause the show at any point and it’ll look good. That’s the strength of this style so if anyone shows you a screenshot at any point it should look good. The show doesn’t bother getting into the mechanics of the abilities here so sometimes you’ll see Neku and friends randomly using new attacks but I think even without the game you can understand what’s going on here. After all they do show the pins briefly here and there with different symbols so you understand that the power comes from them.

A more traditional style certainly could have done wonders for the series and propped it up to the next level but as they say, the animation could have been much worse. The production values probably keep this from being higher than it is but at its core the show is still fundamentally solid on writing and story so it’s not like this score will take a big hit. It’s still a pretty fun show that I would recommend to anyone looking for a quality action/adventure story. Even if you haven’t played the game you should be able to get on board with Neku and the others.

As a main character Neku starts off as a bit of a jerk and gradually gets used to hanging around with people. It’s a classic character arc that is handled well and you should be able to have a lot of fun with him. I tend to enjoy characters who are rather blunt like this and he is trying to survive after all. In this tournament, you lose that which you hold most precious to your heart which exposes his feelings for one of the characters later on. It shows how he’s changed but is also a pretty awkward way for others to start finding out about it. Ultimately the Neku we see at the end of the show is far different from the one who entered it.

Then we have the heroine Shiki who is certainly Neku’s polar opposite at first. She tries her best to see the silver linings in being trapped within a death game but is a bit timid despite her cheerful disposition so this isn’t always easy. She is good in the support role throughout the rounds and is a quality character. With her psychic cat she can certainly deal damage to the villains as well.

Next up is Beat but I didn’t care for him for big chunks of the story. See, I like his character type as he is the classic tough guy. Beat is always willing to pick a fight but deep down he’s a good guy. My issue is that he isn’t very loyal and there’s a part of the story where he doesn’t take some events very well at all and actively tries to put others in harm’s way. Once Beat broke down there really wasn’t a way for him to get back up. While you do get that he’s in a better place now, that was a really rocky moment there.

Rhyme doesn’t get to appear nearly as much but is a nice enough character. There just isn’t a whole lot of time to have any real development there. You could say the same for the other contestants. Technically there are a ton of players in this game after all and we never really get to see most of them as they end up dying off screen. The show is quite light hearted for the most part and doesn’t dwell on them but if you think about it, things get awfully dicey for most of the characters in this world.

Joshua is my favorite player in the game and 2nd favorite character in the show as a whole. He has a lot of confidence and is easily the smartest member. While the show has to cut down on a lot of the dialogues to save time, I always enjoyed his back and forth conversations with Minamiimoto. Joshua was the only guy who could ever keep up with the guy’s number phrases and insults. Joshua is also quite powerful and plays a big role in the mysteries of Shibuya. Whenever he appears, Joshua tends to steal the show.

Hanekoma is a mysterious cafe owner who seems to know a whole lot about the rules of the game and what’s going on. You can always count on him to give the heroes a pep talk while wondering what else he is doing. Sometimes you learn a lot by just staying back and observing which could be what he is doing. He’s decent enough but for a character like this I always question why they don’t do more. In a sense Hanekoma also loses points for not getting in on the action.

Uzuki and Kariya are both reapers within the game. Their job is to mess with the players and sometimes destroy them via the Noise. (Monsters) They aren’t allowed to attack players directly but that happens a lot anyway. I’m not a big fan of either one and they are completely overshadowed by the main villains. They’re not as ineffective as Team Rocket or anything but you never really feel like they are a threat. You get the feeling that the heroes could take them out if they got serious.

Additionally, both of them fall for traps very easily. Kariya is supposed to be the smart one and even he doesn’t do very well here. They talk a really good game but ultimately don’t really do much to enhance the story here. Now if you want a great villain, look no further than Minamiimoto. This guy’s just great whenever he shows up. He’s got extreme ambitions and has the power to back them up. I like his boundless confidence and his gimmick about always using numerical terms is a lot of fun. How can you not like a character like this right? His role is big here and you only wish he could have lasted longer.

Then you have Konishi who is another one of the big villain members here. She is also quite ambitious but tends to be quieter than Minamiimoto. She can also fight well when it’s time to do so and is also a good villain. She contrasts with Minamiimoto’s style well and ends up being memorable. In comparison, the final villain Kitaniji isn’t as memorable. You get the feeling that he is very powerful and all but it took a while for him to do anything. He does get a bit of a backstory by the end though which gives him more character.

The World Ends With You is a title that has a lot of twists and turns so I think it’s fair to call this part mystery. I’ve made sure to avoid those elements so you can have fun discovering them for yourself. They all have satisfying conclusions to them which help to enhance the show. Now I did mention that there’s one scene that the show just didn’t adapt very well in my opinion. Well, it’s a scene near the climax so I can’t give too much context away but Neku’s in a pinch against a very difficult opponent. Then just as things are getting hopeless, a glimmer of hope appears and the music jumps up as the whole situation is turned upside down. This was an amazing moment in the game and the music came at the right moment.

In the show the moment isn’t really treated like a big deal though. You don’t have the music climaxing at the right time, the big inner monologue before it and so it doesn’t feel nearly as powerful. The fast pacing may have worked against the show there as it had to move quickly. That was the only point where I felt the adaption wasn’t on point though, the rest of it hit all the right notes and got things moving. The pacing is quite fast and it needs to be to adapt a whole RPG into a quick 1 season show. The game had a ton of gameplay and missions that would slow things down though so the show was able to easily navigate around that and kept in what I would consider to be all of the important moments.

The review feels a bit short but it’s because there isn’t a ton to talk about here. The plot is very straight forward and while there are a lot of twists, I’m not really going into those here. Depending on the title I sometimes jump in if the twist didn’t make sense or I had something to say about it, but it all works really naturally here. By the time the show ends you don’t have any lingering questions of anything like that. So as a result when you finish the show there aren’t any big plot threads that you’re thinking about either. It’s a very open and shut case. You had your fun watching it and then you go on. For that reason maybe it should have had a stinger for the sequel but I’m not sure if that would have made a lot of sense anyway. Of course I’m always up for a little cliffhanger so I’d be game.

Overall, The World Ends With You is a pretty solid show. It’s a good all around title that has your fight scenes, adventure, and mystery angles all thrown in. The animation style may not always work for the fight scenes but it is a very distinct and colorful style that is easy to look at so that’s still important. I wouldn’t say the show ever made any big mistakes either. So perhaps it isn’t the next all star but it’s just an easy anime to recommend and have a good time with. I’d say the replay value is good here too. It’d be great if they could adapt the sequel into a show someday too. There’s a whole lot you could do with that and of course it would just be a lot of fun to see the characters back in action. I assume it’s a longshot but you can always hope.

Overall 7/10

In/Spectre Review


I know what you’re thinking. Inspector Gadget finally got his own anime right? Well, not this time but this is still a mystery type show. It’s a very unique kind of approach to it though as the cases revolve around finding an explanation but not necessarily the correct one. I’ll explain what I mean in a moment but it’s a nice way to change things up. Ultimately this is a show you will remember quite well after watching it and I’ll be interested to see what cases season 2 covers.

So the series starts off by introducing us to Iwanaga. She was kidnapped as a child and when she was found, Iwanaga was missing a leg and an eye. In exchange she has now gained the ability to see yokai and helps them out as the goddess of wisdom. There is still some mystery regarding what exactly happened to her but the outside world is unlikely to ever know the full truth here. Well, Iwanaga has been solving mysteries for a while now but her top goal is getting Kuro to fall in love with her. Now that he has broken up with the girl he was dating for the last 2 years, it’s time to make her move!

Okay that’s the plot for the first episode and after that we get the cases. The first episode is important though because it sets the stage for the rest of the series and the dynamic between Kuro and Iwanaga. Also, I would say the first episode is the best episode in the series. Not a diss to the rest of the show but I didn’t feel like it ever quite matches up to the first adventure.

The first episode really has a similar vibe to Death Note. We know there’s something odd about Kuro but it’s hard to say exactly what. Iwanaga is odd in her own way too so who is the hero and who’s the villain here? Kuro gives a story about how his girlfriend Saki broke up with him because a Kappa appeared and Kuro was too scared to help out. Iwanaga counters that this is unlikely and we get an interesting dynamic there. There’s a lot of verbal battles as they compare theories. Finally the episode ends with a massive cliffhanger as Kuro seemingly outs himself as a villain and walks away.

From the first episode you almost get a Death Note meets Carmen Sandiego feeling as Kuro will keep avoiding Iwanaga while she chases him. Things don’t quite go in that direction though as Iwanaga is not scared of his abilities and is still in love with him anyway. From there they end up forming a very reluctant team as they are “dating” and Kuro has to protect her at all times since the world of Yokai is a dangerous one. It’s a different dynamic compared to the first episode but still a good path. That first episode just really leaves a strong impact.

The first case is a fairly small one. So a body was found inside the lake of the Great Snake and so he summons Iwanaga to ask what happened. If the answer is not satisfactory then he will create a giant storm and cause a lot of destruction. Throughout the two episodes Iwanaga poses several theories and explanations on what has happened. This is really the meat of what makes the series interesting. So in most detective shows/movies you will have the main character explain everything as we get flashbacks as to exactly what happened and then we call it a day.

Well we get the explanation and the flashback but then the Snake starts poking a lot of holes in the theory. So Iwanaga switches her story up and you quickly realize that she was completely bluffing the first time. It’s a fun subversion because you are used to the main character being correct the first time around, not having to backtrack and try again. I can’t think of the last time I saw something like that. It happens over and over again as the Snake keeps dismissing the theories until he accepts the last one. Thing is, we don’t know if it’s actually correct. Iwanaga ultimately admits to Kuro that it’s still a guess since it’s not like she was actually there.

Although she did have her mystic Yokai informants to fill in some of the holes but ultimately she doesn’t know if this is the truth. Iwanaga points out that it’s close enough though and works as an “Alternative Truth” which is a main theme of the show. As long as you get to the correct outcome, the details themselves don’t matter and can therefore be made up. Iwanaga’s job is to make everything make sense, not to necessarily uncover the truth behind these mysteries. You can see how that’s a very different perspective from what you may be used to. It makes for a fun watch and becomes a bigger debate/point of emphasis in the upcoming arc. The snake adventure was a good way to kick things off as we see different flashbacks which keeps contradicting themselves as the story goes on. I’ll give the Snake props for shooting down so many theories initially though.

Now we enter the final arc. You may be thinking that this was awful quick but the final arc is quite long which is why it shows up immediately like this. So there is a rumor going around about “Steel Lady Nanase” which is believed to be the undead spirit of Nanase that is going around and murdering people. Nanase was crushed when a giant construction beam broke and fell on her. The circumstances of her death were very suspicious though. Why was she alone in the middle of the night at an abandoned construction area? She was a very well known voice actress of world renown who should not have been there at the time. Additionally, the way she died makes it appear that she didn’t react to the beam falling down at all as if she was already knocked out or put to sleep. Thing is there are no other injuries to be found or any traces of a drug. Naturally Iwanaga is called into action.

With almost 10 episodes for this arc it’s quite a long one as you can expect with quite a few twists and alternative truths mixed in. We also meet a new villain and several new characters. This is a good place to talk about Kuro’s abilities since they will play a big role in this title. So Kuro ate part of a mermaid at some point which is part of his origin story and so he is immortal. Any fatal wound he receives will quickly heal up at all times. Additionally, while he is dead, Kuro has the ability to grab onto the literal strings of fate to determine what path he takes.

This isn’t an invincible ability where he can change the future though as it has some limitations. First, he can only see some branches into the future and can’t follow them along too far before his healing factor kicks in and he regenerates. Additionally, if the future is something very strong then he can’t change it. For example, if a villain is attacking someone, it’s probably too late to change their fate to spare the victim because the action is already in progress. Another wrinkle to the equation is that he’s not the only one with fate altering abilities so if the other user is more powerful than he is, then Kuro will be blocked out.

A side effect of Kuro’s abilities is that his blood is poisonous to monsters/yokai now. So most avoid him by default. Mix that in with his immortality and getting eaten intentionally is an actual battle tactic for him since he can walk away from that while the monster will blow up. So that wraps up Kuro’s abilities and it makes him a very valuable asset to have. Iwanaga always wants him to help out but unfortunately for her he isn’t a great team player and tends to vanish a lot. Ultimately he will show up to help out in each arc though.

It does also feel like the show jumps around a lot. It feels like there is a significant jump between the giant snake case and then Steel Lady Nanase. Personally I’m thinking the show may have skipped some stories to get to the big Nanase case or something but it may just be a normal jump. Either way the duo have really grown comfortable with each other by this case and Kuro no longer denies being her girlfriend. The two of them are just partners in for the long haul at this point although if Kuro’s immortality includes his age then that could be tricky for Iwanaga eventually.

Back to the arc though, here’s a bit more of the details. So of course Yokai exist in this world and the Steel Lady Nanase is very real. The trouble is that spirits grow stronger based on how many people believe in them. Initially there weren’t a lot of people who believed in Nanase, but a certain website has helped her become big through its active forums. It turns out that Rikka, Kuro’s cousin is at the helm and she appears to be using this as some kind of experiment. That makes the case extra personal for Kuro. The problem is that it’s not so easy to figure out how to beat Nanase since Rikka keeps using fate alteration to prevent her defeat.

So the goal here is really for Iwanaga to convince people on the forums that Nanase isn’t real. Effectively she has to make the truth appear to be a lie and the lie appear to be truth. It’s interesting because we know that the villain in this case is telling the truth about Nanase being an evil spirit murdering everyone so in a way you’re hoping that the forum won’t fall for Iwanaga’s fake news. On the other hand, this is the only way to stop the spirit since if nobody believes in her then she will fade from existence.

We get a lot of rules about how this specifically works. The fact that everyone knows how Nanase looks and that someone drew an image of her also made the spirit more powerful since everyone would have the same illustration in their minds. It was really quite the impressive trick by Rikka. Rikka is quite fortunate that the forum was so supernatural though as on Reddit I can’t imagine a lot of people buying into this. They may ironically post about it but that’s really it.

It was a lot of fun to see the forums going though as Iwanaga and Rikka both infiltrated and pretended to be random users. We get multiple episodes of all these users interacting as Iwanaga provides story after story. Like with the giant snake she just keeps on throwing out constant theories until one sticks. I personally thought she should have used a different user name with each one to really split everyone up though. See, her goal isn’t to win everyone over at once but to gradually split up the group so that everyone is believing in different things at the same time. That would weaken the collective image and allow Kuro to take Nanase down.

After all, while Iwanaga is typing all of this, Kuro is fighting Nanase so that she can’t murder anyone else in the meantime. I did have major issues with this fight though. So Nanase isn’t super strong on her own, I mean she is decent but you can absolutely wrestle her to the ground. For someone like Kuro this should be easy right? Nanase’s only big weapon is her steel beam which murders Kuro several times. That’s fair, I accept those losses since the man seems to have 0 fighting instincts. There are 3-4 times in the fight where he throws her beam off of the stairs or she is separated from it.

In those cases he should absolutely be grabbing the beam right? No, each time he’ll just throw her back into the beam, just stand there with a stunned expression on his face, or he’ll destroy her but then she’ll regenerate and just pick up the beam again. Kuro’s win conditions aren’t too hard here. Just keep the steel beam out of reach since she can’t summon it remotely and then get her in a choke hold. He successfully did this and murdered her once but then ran off. Instead keep holding onto her as she regenerates and wait for Iwanaga to solve the case.

I feel like they made Kuro fight super poorly the whole time so that her solutions would work completely but it would have been more impressive if he was just holding her in place the whole time. Maybe it wouldn’t have been as visually interesting but then just keep the focus on the inside world with the texts and the virtual selves. I think that would have worked out quite well if you ask me. That fight just didn’t make sense the whole time and since the climax is so long, it just makes this impossible not to notice.

So lets talk about the characters. First off you have Kuro who works well as the main guy. You feel bad for him to an extent as he clearly doesn’t want to get back into a relationship but Iwanaga is quite persistent. Even now when they are together you feel like he’s just there to protect her but doesn’t really return her feelings just yet. They work better as just being friends but I think we know that’s likely off the table right away. Kuro is never quite as mysterious as he was in the first episode but you always get the sense that he could crack at any second.

He does have some character weaknesses though like how he runs off to take care of the Rikka element by himself and that ultimately comes back to bite him. The whole plot with Rikka does no favors for Kuro either. They are still cousins after all so I don’t care how big the family is, that means Kuro needs to stay out of that arena. At least he’s finally starting to get over that but in the meantime it does hold him back as a character.

As for Iwanaga, her detective skills are on point. When solving cases she is second to none and I do like how quickly she is able to pivot from one story to the next when they are proven to be incorrect. She’s quick on her feet in that respect and is also willing to jump into danger as needed. On the minus side, she can be rather crude at times. That’s almost her whole gimmick with how she obsessively chases after Kuro and tries to keep his ex Saki at a distance. Iwanaga is always calculating and that includes when she is talking to her friends. I’d like for her to be a little more dignified at times though. So like Kuro I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of her so far.

Saku is the ex girlfriend who gets a big role in the Nanase case. Her first appearance in that arc is quite good as she charges Nanase and tries to fight. Of course it doesn’t work since Nanase is a ghost but I did like her enthusiasm there. She really went for a big punch and since she is usually scared of the occult that was a big character moment. I was surprised when it happened but very much in a good way. You’ve probably noticed a trend with the characters so far though which is that they all have a weak point as well. Saki is no different and my issue is with how she ditched Kuro so easily.

Mainly the show points to the incident with the Kappa as why she ran off. When she noticed that the Kappa was scared and not Kuro, she had to dash out of there because it was all too scary. If she broke up with Kuro because he was emotionless I could buy into that. Or if he started acting evil and edgy, sure that makes sense. Running off because of that? I think that’s a real stretch and even in the present it doesn’t make much sense to me. Later on we see that she knew about his regeneration after witnessing it at one point so I don’t see why this was so much of a shock to her.

At the very least I would have expected them to sit down and talk about it a bit. So that really hurt her character since it makes her look bad. At least it looks like there won’t be a “Take Two” so they will just stay as friends now. One minor character who stole the show for me was Terada. He’s Saki’s superior in the office and while he doesn’t believe in the supernatural he keeps his mind open about it. I was glad that he was trying to crack the case and didn’t just say Saki was crazy or something like that. Unfortunately, going up against a spirit will usually be the end of you and that’s how things went here. At least he was a lot of fun while he was around and that’s how you develop a good one shot character.

Finally we have the villain Rikka. Eh, I’m not a fan of hers either although we don’t really know her full goals yet. It appears that ultimately she wants to die since immortality is a bit of a curse for her. So, perhaps by figuring out how to make spirits come to life, she is trying to find a way to reverse her own immortality. I don’t really know why she was trolling at the hospital for a few years though as with her immortality she seems to have been okay. When the hospital discharges her eventually she just walks off. Maybe she just liked scaring Saki. (Yeah Saki’s also scared of her which isn’t a great look) I’ll need to see what Rikka’s real motivations are but in the meantime she’s just not a very interesting villain. It is fun to picture her typing on the keyboard as the enemy troll in the final debates though.

I doubt she really knows what she wants to do at this point but it would be hard for the heroes to stop her if she got serious. Put it this way, there’s nothing stopping her from creating a lot of myths around the world and summoning more monsters. Maybe they wouldn’t be as powerful if she doesn’t get the circumstances just right but the heroes can’t be in more than one place. Just summon a bunch of them and watch the world burn. It’s not like the humans can do anything against Yokai so that’s game set and match. Her goal isn’t to destroy the world but if she needs the spirits for her goal…well that’s how you do it.

That about covers it for the characters. There are a bunch of random yokai running around too of course but they’re not quite big enough to go in depth on. As you can see I wasn’t the biggest fan of the cast but they hold their scenes well enough. You’ll still be entertained while going through it mainly because the detective angle is a blast. The series is at its best when the characters are debating viewpoints and trying to find flaws in each other’s arguments. Since Iwanaga is creating lies each time, it makes sense that there will usually be a hole to exploit somewhere.

It does have a bit of a fanservice issue in the final case with Nanase. The fanservice is effectively built into her reputation which is why it’s emphasized and mentioned so much but it’s not really needed. Kuro doesn’t miss a chance to tease Iwanaga on her appearance with this and they mess around a bit but it ultimately felt like a bit of an excuse to use Nanase for fanservice. The rest of the show is pretty much devoid of this so I like to think it won’t be an issue for season 2.

The opening song is very solid here. It’s quite catchy and I particularly like the guitar strum at the beginning. It’s the kind of opening you can listen to a whole lot. Within the show the ost isn’t quite as memorable but it’s hard to top that intro. As for the animation, it’s pretty solid. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly memorable but works well enough for a more mystery based show. The action scenes aren’t quite the focus after all and everything is still clear enough. There are good contrasts with the colors and you can’t mistake the fact that this is a newer anime.

As this is a mystery show you can also expect some of the backstories to be a little dark. Usually with murders that’s how things go but I would say the show never goes too dark with the backstories. At times things can get a little violent as the show exploits how Rikka and Kuro can keep regenerating anyway. Rikka keeps destroying herself to grab onto fate and I would say Kuro is sandbagging to an extent to keep grabbing fate as well. As a result they do die a lot and quite brutally in some ways. It certainly can be a bit much at times and they could tone down the violence in season 2 but for the most part it’s usually not excessive like that. Certainly none of the other cases aside from Nanase were that violent so I wouldn’t expect it to be a trend.

Overall, In/Spectre is definitely a fun show. It may not have gone the route I was expecting with the dynamic between Kuro and Iwanaga but ultimately down the road you always expect a two man show for the detectives. The one solving the cases and then the muscle to back the detective up. (Alternately the second person would be comic relief like with some variations of Watson) The show maintains really solid dialogue throughout with the cases and I like how unique the whole thing is. To get to the next level I’d like the characters to get a little more likable and then we’re really in business. If you’re looking for a good mystery show then this is one to check out. The first episode will almost certainly have you hooked.

Overall 7/10

Tokyo Mew Mew Review


I read Tokyo Mew Mew a while back and it was fun enough. I preferred the manga to Sailor Moon by a large margin but would the same be true of the anime version? Not in this case as the gap between the manga and anime for Moon is like night and day to the point where I would say the anime is really quite good. In Mew Mew’s case I would say the anime does enhance the manga as well but it’s still not quite topping Sailor Moon. This is a fun show all the way through so you should have a good time here.

The show starts by introducing us to a happy girl named Ichigo. Her life has been rather ordinary so far as she tries to balance her school life while also trying to build up the courage to tell Aoyama how she feels about him. Well, that will have to wait as she is blasted with a strange ray along with a few other girls. They are now destined to be the Tokyo Mew Mews. A fighting force of epic proportions that must defend the world from aliens who seemingly wish to destroy it. These powers come with some unfortunate side effects like how Ichigo will gain cat features if she gets too excited. That will make her confession to Aoyama rather difficult. Her only chance is to save the world quickly and put these powers behind her. Will she be able to do this?

At first the show is mainly a monster of the week format. Ichigo will fight a monster and then we move on to the next adventure. Along the way she meets the other fighters in the group and then once the team is assembled we really start to learn more about the villains and their motivations. It’s not quite so simple as just destroying the world and they have some interesting reasons for attacking. You’ll never stop rooting for the heroes but at least you can see where the villains are coming from.

The show does tend to use the same kind of plot cycles like Saint Seiya for a while though. For example, if one character gets a power up, you can bet that the next 4 episodes will be about the rest of the team getting power ups. If one character gets an adventure then the others will each get an episode in turn. It may make things predictable to an extent so I’d like the show to have changed things up more. Fortunately the adventures are all fun though and you’re not really expecting the show to veer off into a crazy direction so it works well enough. The whole episodic kind of experience is one that can always work as long as the writing is good.

One of the reasons why I preferred the show to the manga version is it felt like each of the characters got more personality and development. I usually feel that way for anime adaptions and consider it a strength of the medium. For example I did not like Pudding very much in the manga but thought she was a lot more likable here. Her antics would actually be funny and she did her best to help out. I’m still not a big Lettuce fan in any version but I never tend to like the timid member of the group as much as the more intense ones.

The animation here is solid. In fact I would say it’s surprising just how good it is. The colors are very sharp and the show looks a lot newer than it actually is. I suspect it’s because of the bright color pallete that makes all of the characters stand out at all times. Or maybe this show just got a bigger budget than I thought. The fight scenes that we do get are quite solid too even if they aren’t really the focus here. I definitely had no complaints on that end. Of course there is a ton of recycled footage here for all of the transformations. That always feels like a lazy way to save budget for the show though. Imagine if we got a redrawn transformation every episode. That would take more effort but it would be neat. I’m not a big fan of long transformations though so I wouldn’t mind if you did the DBZ instant change version instead. It’s cool to have a long transformation for the first time though to show what a big deal it is. The soundtrack was also solid. It had quite a few tunes as well so there was a lot of variety here. The theme song is only okay though, I didn’t find it to be too memorable. The best soundtracks tend to be the character themes when they transform and enter battle.

With 52 episodes this means you’ll be seeing a lot of monsters but the show does a good job of not really reusing those. You’re also having fun throughout so it never feels like the show drags on. In fact, I would make the case that it is always good to be a very long show if you’re a slice of life because it lets you get used to the characters. For example Cardfight G may have been one of the weaker seasons for me for a while but it had almost 60 episodes of the characters just hanging out and so when the plot stuff started you were already invested. Perhaps the new Cardfight season could have been better with more than 12 episodes.

So with 50+, you get to know the Mew Mews very well by the time we’re entering the climax. They are all solid characters for the most part too which is important. The writing here is solid from start to finish. Now, I may give the dub the edge slightly because I love how they made all of the characters extremely overconfident and aggressive but this review is really of the subbed version where I saw the whole thing. The writing is still good there as the characters have good dialogue and the episodes don’t drag on. If an episode drags on that usually means either the writer or director did not do their job and that never became an issue here. The show has good humor and dialogue at all times so you’ll be feeling good after each adventure. Now lets talk about the characters.

Ichigo is the main heroine here and she does well in carrying the show. Ichigo has a lot of energy and is a hero through and through as she sacrifices her social life to fight the monsters. She has a bit of the Parker luck at times as things usually don’t work out for her. Fortunately Aoyama is probably the most understanding guy I’ve ever seen in a Shojo series as everything bounces off of him. Ichigo stands him up for 3 different dates? He shrugs and figures she was busy. Ichigo avoids him at school for a few days? Must be a coincidence.

I mean he does get sad at times but he pretty much always gives her a pass. It’s nice to see him be so understanding but at times it feels like he has no real character. He’s just standing around to be the love interest and that’s about it. It’s why I was glad he got some twists and character development since he needed that. Ichigo does well in her spot as the leader here and also appears to be the most determined Mew Mew. So I definitely liked her quite a bit and would even put her above Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon as far as the Shojo leads go.

Since I already talked about Aoyama a bit, lets wrap up his part of the plot. He does have one episode where he has a really good character arc which is when he has to fight Ichigo’s dad in order to date her. The episode wasn’t always played seriously but his resolve was and it’s the first time he really seemed to step out into being his own character. It was satisfying in that respect and it was his best episode. Ichigo’s dad is also cool. The guy doesn’t get to do a whole lot but I do like how protective he is of Ichigo. The guy is absolutely going to make sure she doesn’t get mixed up with the wrong crowd. I also like Ichigo’s mother and how she is always cheering the father on. They have a really good bond going there and it makes for one of the more wholesome relationships I’ve seen for parents in anime.

Next up we have Mint and she is sort of like the rival or Sailor Mars of the group. She is rich and can be rather stuck up at times. She isn’t going to be quite as selfless as Ichigo but she does want friends. Mint is just one of the tsundere types who can’t really admit this. Ichigo helps her reconnect with her family and make more friends so they have a strong bond by the end. Mint also gets a good fight with Zakuro at one point which was really hype. Mint seems like one of the stronger Mew Mew fighters and I liked her tough personality. She’s certainly a standout.

Then we have Lettuce and I never quite warmed up to her. She’s one of those characters who seemed a lot more powerful when she was “evil” than when she formally became a Mew Mew. She has a hard time expressing herself and is really timid which holds her back in fights. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being timid but usually that means that you won’t end up being one of my favorite characters. I tend to like the bold characters and that’s really not her style.

Pudding is a character I usually wouldn’t expect to like very much. She’s the youngest member who can’t really take everything seriously. So Pudding tends to goof off even when things are tough and doesn’t understand that the villains are evil. I think what separates her from some of the other characters though is how she does still have a lot of responsibilities and appears to be a mature character when it counts. She looks after a bunch of orphans and in one episode we see how she has to take care of all fo them in between missions. Throw in the fact that she works in the Mew Mew cafe with the others and she is very likely the busiest member of the group.

I’d still like it if she was a little more serious during the fights or not being oblivious to how the villains are fighting against her but by the end I was a fan. The episode with the orphans is the one that ultimately won me over. Finally we have Zakuro, the most powerful member who is also on the shady side at first. Her character is really impressive here. She gets a lot of powerful imagery like when she appears in the church initially. Now that was a great way to introduce her and she has an aura of mystery that no other character in the show was able to attain. Zakuro gets a lot of cool poses and fights to herself as well which is rare for a supporting character. She seems to be the only fighter who can really take care of herself without Ichigo having to come in and save the day.

I also thought the show was fairly consistent at showing her as the most powerful member. (Aside from Ichigo of course although I do think Zakuro is more skilled but Ichigo has the 1 hit KO moves) Zakuro is the oldest member and likes to play the bad cop routine to get everyone focused. At times she goes a little too far with this though like her attack on Mint and the crew. That felt completely unnecessary and the plan just never ends up justifying that. Should have just stuck with the heroes and attacked the villains from the start. Regardless, she was certainly my favorite character in the series. Definitely a winner through and through.

Then we have the mysterious Blue Knight. The show does a pretty good job of keeping the mystery of who his true identity is. It adds a little mystery to the series and he’s effectively the Tuxedo Mask of the group. He’s strong and makes for a very good ally to the group. He comes in handy on more than one occasion and I like his design. This guy’s certainly someone you can count on to always deliver in his scenes.

I haven’t talked about them much but the Mew Mew girls have two benefactors who set this all up. Their named as Shirogane and Keiichiro and they’re responsible for the alien rays. Basically they needed a fighting force against the aliens and so the girls were chosen. These guys aren’t super apologetic about what happened from the lab experiments but I guess deep down they get worried. Shirogane is your classic tough guy who always keeps an attitude up while Keiichiro likes to appear as a really nice guy. Keiichiro was rather boring for me though and I never liked him much.

Shirogane gets a good character arc though and we learn about the big risks he had to take. He even gets a very emotional backstory that ties into one of the monsters that the group ends up fighting. Shirogane probably had to endure the most before the series starts. I forget what the male version of a tsundere is, but that’s basically him as well. He hides his feelings behind the constant insults but you can always count on him to help out. So he’s a fun character and even Aoyama gets intimidated by the guy and runs off at one point.

I should mention there is a little robot named Masha who helps the heroes by finding Mew Aqua fragments that they need for saving the world and also detects monsters. I wasn’t a huge fan of Masha though as he fails absolutely every time when it counts. By the time Masha senses any incoming monsters they have already arrived so there’s no real point. The heroes are getting absolutely devastated in their home base and this guy’s quiet as a whistle. I will say that episode was really cool though because it makes sense that the villains would eventually attack the Mew Mew home base. It’s hardly a secret and everyone knows about the cafe as it is. Surprisingly the villains never attack after this though despite the overwhelming success of the plan.

It makes so much sense to attack this place directly but maybe it’s against the villain honor code. Not that they all have much of one but at least Kisshu seems like the type of guy who would have unwritten rules. He’s certainly the most popular villain but I was not a fan. His first scene is of stealing a kiss from Ichigo which is always a super annoying shojo trope for villains. How do you end up liking that guy after such a moment? He becomes more and more desperate to be with Ichigo from that point on to the point where it becomes his complete motivation.

It’s not written horribly like in Tokyo Mew Mew Au Lait, but it’s still not a great villain motivation. Especially once we learn his full backstory and what happened to the aliens you feel like he should be staying focused here. He has some good fights and is always ready with the insults but I’d prefer if he had kept his romantic feelings out of this. It ends up completely taking over his character by the end but at least he does get some quality fights in the mean time.

I didn’t care for Taruto either. This villain’s more of a rival to Pudding as he’s the youngest villain who also messes around. He has his whole emotional character arc and all but I just didn’t like him. His romance is even more unbelievable than Kisshu by how much he despites the heroes at first and tries to murder Pudding only to have a change of heart. Nah, I wasn’t on board with this guy. Finally we have Pai as well and he’s also an annoying villain. Ultimately he’s the kind of guy who will follow orders without thinking about it. He’s supposed to be the smart villain of the group who thinks this through but it’s not like he has any big plans either.

Finally you have Deep Blue sama who is mentioned a lot. He is the ultimate leader of the villains after all but rarely appears. For most of the series he is a disembodied voice that just zaps the other villains or reminds them that he won’t give them a 300th chance to beat the Mew Mews. When he finally gets to do something he makes for a deep villain but I admit that for most of the series I only liked him ironically. Your villains can only defy and fail you for so many times before I stop respecting the guy. He did leave Kisshu in a critical state at one point though so he did do something there.

Well that wraps up the characters. So it’s a pretty fun cast overall. As you could tell I much preferred the heroes to the villains here. None of the villains really clicked with me all that much. They could fight which is good but most of the time they let their minions do all of that so it’s not like they are even on the front lines all that much. When they did go there they could usually stalemate or buy some time but they weren’t exactly getting any big wins or anything like that. The heroes meanwhile were putting in the work right from the start.

Overall, Tokyo Mew Mew is a fun show. I had a good time with it and each episode will entertain you from start to finish. It’s the kind of show that could have run for several hundred episodes and you would still have a good time even if the plot didn’t move much. It’s a credit to the writing and characters which were handled well. I can see why the series has such a big fanbase. I’m not going to call it great or boost the score further for being entertaining but at the end of the day an anime’s job is to give you a good time and keep you engaged. This show completely succeeds at that and makes for a very consistent experience. With no real weaknesses to speak of, I can recommend this show to anyone. Whether you like adventure, action, or slice of life, this will tick off all of the boxes.

Overall 7/10

Hawkeye Review


Marvel continues with the next installment in the TV show division. This time it’s Hawkeye and so we’ve finally made it to one of the Core Avengers. The shows have been on an upwards trend for me so far. Wandavision<<<Cap and Winter Soldier<<<Loki<<<What If. Well, this one doesn't quite continue the trend as it loses to Loki and What If but it beats the first two shows. While it doesn't have quite the large scale stakes of some of the other shows, Hawkeye makes for a fun lead. This is more of a fun adventure next to the others and is definitely a good pick for Christmas. You can't go wrong here.

The show follows a girl named Kate Bishop who is an aspiring archer. She looks up to Hawkeye after he saved her during the 2012 attacks. Well, one day she ends up noticing that her mother Eleanor's new fiance Jack seems a bit suspicious. Kate follows him down to an auction when a bunch of thugs burst in. Kate takes the chance to steal the outfit of the Ronin which was on sale and uses it to beat up some crooks. The issue here is that the Ronin is infamous in the underworld because during the 5 year gap Hawkeye was going around murdering all of the villains in that costume. Now Kate is a wanted fugitive by the underworld.

As this involves his persona as the "Ronin", Hawkeye can't really ignore this issue. He heads into town and promises the family that he will be back in time for Christmas. That'll be tough though as the situation gets more complicated with the arrival of Black Widow and one of the biggest crime lords in town. Can Hawkeye help Kate stay out of danger or are they both in over their heads?

One thing I noticed during the show is that Hawkeye is portrayed as being much older than I remember. He didn't seem that way in Endgame but it's almost like Wolverine from X-Men Evolution where he just seems a lot slower and as if he's near the end of his career. Hopefully Hawkeye has some more moves in his arsenal since I'd like to see him around for a while. Of course as a mentor figure which the show is leading him towards, it's fine not to always be in the front lines.

Hawkeye makes for a charismatic main character. He's been around the block a few times and knows how to handle himself in a situation. It can always be a bit annoying when he's telling Kate to stay back when she is saving him though. You get why he would rather not have a kid around but he would have been finished off several times if not for her. There was a key moment when she broke into a villain lair to save him which was certainly a good moment. Hawkeye gradually lightens up by the end of the series though and learns how to have some fun.

As for Kate, she's one of the standout characters here. It's safe to say that her character was always going to be pivotal in the show because if she was unlikable or annoying then it would drag the whole story down. Fortunately she is a lot of fun though and she even reminds me of Katniss a lot. (Which the show references as well) Her outfit and appearance are extremely similar to the point where I'd assume it was the same actress if not for such a gap between now and when Hunger Games came out.

Kate can also fight which puts her well above the average aspiring hero. Now, some of her fights can get a bit cheesy yes. I had some power level issues with this show. They aren't as extensive as the ones I had with Loki but are definitely noticeable. What If had the biggest power level moments but that's to be expected with such a big cast. Kate's a loyal ally and she always has Hawkeye's back. I look forward to seeing her get another big role in season 2.

As for Jack, he's a rather solid fiancé. He's extremely suspicious throughout the show such as when he holds back his power in a fencing match but on the surface it does seem like he's doing his best to fit in with the family. You have to give him a lot of credit there and he even gets a fight by the end of the show. I liked him more than I thought that I would. Then you have Eleanor who wants to make sure and protect Kate at all costs. No matter what lines she has to cross, this ends up being Eleanor's main goal.

I thought she was a really solid character as well. Her very last scene in the whole show felt a little out of character and petty to be honest but she was really solid in every other moment. Kate could potentially end up with a really strong group of parents. Then you've got the villain group who all wear jackets. They're not nearly as intimidating as they think they are. There are really only two important members to the group. First off is Kazi who whines a lot and is always trying to pick the easiest route to success. I never really liked him. I feel like he's only confident when he completely has the upper hand. He's the kind of villain that I can picture making excuses at every corner. He's a decent fighter but takes a lot of Ls in this series. Ultimately I could do without him. He's even trying to translate for someone at the end of the series who knows and understands sign language. I was shaking my head because it seemed like Kazi was just trying to score some points.

Maya is one of the highest ranking members of the gang and she has a lot of development here. She isn’t able to hear but was still able to become a great fighter. It shows the level of talent that she has as this would definitely not be an easy feat. Sound is how you predict enemy movements and prepare for sneak attacks. Without that you’re in a much tougher spot. She can be a bit unreasonable at times though and didn’t really think the whole situation through. I think she’ll get better as she goes on but I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of hers. Much better than Kazi though.

Then we have Yelena who gets to make her big return after the Black Widow film. As always she is a lot of fun here and does her best to try and make sure it isn’t personal to Kate and the others when she takes down Hawkeye. Yelena definitely trolls Kate a lot during their interactions. It’s not that Yelena doesn’t take anything seriously but she always seems to like breaking the ice first. She’s sort of like Spider-Man with how she’s joking around although it’s less on the quippy side.

While she is a lot of fun, I do think the rationale for having her fight Hawkeye felt a bit flimsy. I had a hard time believing that this would actually happen or that Yelena would be so quick to believe just anyone. Not after she has already experienced so much deceit while being one of the Black Widows. It just didn’t make a whole lot of sense there. Now that the misunderstanding is cleared up, it should all be up hill for her. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want to know about a certain guest star. I don’t really consider this to be a spoiler as I don’t consider it to be a huge plot spoiler or something that would change your experience but even so this is a heads up. If you skip the next paragraph then you’re all good.

Towards the end of the show we even get to see Kingpin for a bit. Netflix fans will be happy since we have one of their fighters appearing in the big Marvel show. That said, while he gets a lot of hype from Hawkeye and the others, I wasn’t very impressed with him. The guy barely has any kind of plan and underestimates his opponents a lot. The amount of times he just throws Kate away instead of knocking her out is quite numerous. Now you can say he’s just trying to be nice and doesn’t want to fight a kid. That’s fair but you still feel like he should have been able to escape numerous times. He’s never been all that threatening though as any hero should be able to quickly beat him since he’s the equivalent of just being a really strong henchmen. That’s why I would have kept him in the background instead of having him appear. It was surreal to have him show up though.

So to quickly touch on the power level stuff, it happened as early as the first episode for me when Kate showed up and took down a whole gang by herself. She was flipping over minions and knocking everyone around. Considering that she never had any real practical experience before now and just the skills she was taught, it felt a bit like a stretch. Then you have Kate giving Yelena a good fight. Sure, Yelena was holding back but since it was putting her mission in jeopardy I would have liked to have seen her show a bit more urgency and take the win instead of it being so even. The difference in skill here should be massive so Yelena would be able to win without going through all of that.

Likewise on the rooftop fight, Yelena is considerably more powerful than the other 3 fighters. She should have completely knocked them for a loop and there was no reason to retreat. Just secure the victory and take them out. Yelena was the most nerfed character here and while I can see why this was done, I think it could have been smoother overall. Power levels aren’t the kind of thing that loses a show any real points but it’s still something you want to try and avoid.

The rooftop fight is the best battle in the series though. It’s cool to have two different fights going on at the same time here. All of the combatants knew how to fight as well so there was really a lot of action there. Hawkeye isn’t a show that’s filled with action scenes but the ones that we do get are all pretty good. As mentioned before, what makes Hawkeye really work is that it’s just a lot of fun. The writing is good and there is consistently solid banter throughout the show. Each episode really flies by and the pacing is good. There’s no episode that is boring and something big happens in each one. The show makes the most of its miniseries format.

For the soundtrack, the show doesn’t quite match up to some of the previous ones but we have some good tunes on occasion here as well. Whenever a Christmas song shows up that’s always a lot of fun. Season 2 won’t be able to rely on those songs though so that means the show will need to develop more themes soon. One episode had a good end credits theme but for the most part the show usually didn’t have anything too spectacular.

Meanwhile the team had a dog who was fun in his quick appearances. I’m still game for the dog never appearing again though as it’s too risky. There’s also a group of would be adventurers who help Hawkeye and Kate at times but they’re probably the cheesiest parts of the adventure so you really don’t need them here. They somehow manage to beat a few henchmen and that just shouldn’t be happening. As it is I didn’t believe it when Kate was taking everyone down and she is considerably more skilled than these guys. I think the best thing to do is to really just keep those guys out of it.

The show has an after credits scene but it’s definitely skippable. It’s one of those scenes that isn’t actually plot important nor does it contain any of the good characters. I wouldn’t even call it entertaining so just skip it and go full blast towards season 2. Of course it may be a bit of a wait before that comes out but I’m expecting good things from it once that does eventually happen. The cast here is just solid and will hold their own in a sequel.

As a final note, I liked the way that they filmed the car chase scene in one of the episodes. The way it was filmed was really unique and just helped to make the chase feel different from most car battles. We got to see how arrows can be quite useful for attacking and defending even while in the car. There are a lot you can do with trick arrows in general so I would like to see more of those in season 2 as well.

Overall, Hawkeye is another fun Marvel show. The shows have done a good job of really feeling like the movies both in tone and graphics. The special effects here wouldn’t be out of place in a future film and since all of the big characters are here, it does feel like a proper continuation of their stories. There’s a lot you can do even if the characters stay in the town and fight local threats. Especially with someone like Hawkeye who was really built for street level encounters. His whole jaded outlook towards being a hero will always be a fun contrast to Kate’s more upbeat personality. In a way it’s fitting that this review is shorter than the other Marvel shows so far because there is less to talk about. There’s no time travel, moral debates with terrorists, seeing a lead get corrupted by her own power, having a battle across realities, or anything like that. Hawkeye isn’t a show that has any tough questions or big plots to deal with. It’s really a street level adventure dealing with some mild villains. It may not leave you with a whole lot to talk about, debate, and theory craft but you’ll leave the final episode satisfied that you watched a fun adventure fold. At the end of the day, that’ll always mean that the product was a success.

Overall 7/10