What If…? Season 1 Review


Lets take a look at the latest in the series of MCU related TV shows. This one’s a bit different from the rest as it takes place outside of the normal universe although you could probably guess that from the title. The What If comics from back in the day were always a lot of fun. There’s a ton you can do with the concept to the point where there are really limitless possibilities. A single story can turn into 20. Any scene where you might have called for “plot hax” or something can now be rewritten so you can see how it “should” have ended. This show’s off to a good start, lets break down each episode.

The first episode is What If Peggy Carter became Captain America instead of Steve. In this case Steve ended up getting shot and was in no condition to continue the experiment so Peggy went in his stead. Can she still end the war and save the world? It’s a decent way to start off the season but at the same time the reason this was not very exciting is because it doesn’t feel much like a What If. Put it this way, Steve had no real combat experience and was rather scrawny before taking the serum. Carter knows how to fight and has kept in top shape.

After taking the serum they would more or less be equal and Peggy should actually be more skilled initially thanks to her combat experience. So completing the events of the movie is sort of a given. The show tries to add a bit of a change here with a random monster at the end which was fun but for all intents and purposes this is just the first film again. It’s a good story, just nothing that you haven’t already seen before.

Next up we have an episode that really goes out there. The Ravagers head to Earth and pick up T’Challa by mistake instead of Peter Quill. T’Challa ends up becoming the Star Lord and is rather good at it. He ends up being an accomplished Ravager and even ends up convincing Thanos not to snap half of the universe away and gets the guy to join the team. The Black Order is still on the loose though and they could do a lot of damage with the “Embers” so the team has to put a stop to this assuming they can trust Nebula.

Now this is what you would expect from a What If episode. By changing one thing you’ve changed a whole lot of other aspects. Thanos being a Guardian of the Galaxy is a good example of this. It’s fun seeing how T’Challa would work as a Ravager and the episode has quick pacing and a lot going on at all times. It’s an engaging story although it does have some power level issues.

Namely Thanos and this is not the only time he will be clowned in this series. I can’t believe for a moment that Thanos would be having any kind of trouble against these guys. He was actually losing against the Order and it’s like he just became a huge punching bag the instant he turned good. Remember that Thanos was casually beating the Hulk in Infinity War and that was without using any of the stones. Given that, there is no way he would be having any kind of trouble against the Order. This should have been an easy stomp. Still, power level issues aside this was quite solid.

The third episode is one of the highlights of the season as we get a true mystery episode. Someone is picking off members of the Avengers but the trick is that the Avengers haven’t actually formed yet. So someone knows who was going to be on the roster and is taking them out ahead of time. This ends up bringing in some attention from Asgard as well since Thor was one of the targets. Who could possibly be strong enough to defeat everyone?

This is a well written story in large part because I can actually buy a lot of this. At first you may be skeptical as to how this person could take down all of the Avengers and the episode has a pretty good explanation. At most you may just be skeptical with the Hulk. It’s a question of if the radiation and blood would be enough to break through and prevent this from happening or if the skin was strong enough to resist. In both cases I would say there is enough room for doubt where I would buy into it. I had no issues here which is impressive for this kind of story. The reveal at the end also makes sense.

Following that up is a Dr. Strange story. Basically he doesn’t go into a car crash initially and lives long enough to have a good relationship going with Christine. Well, one day she dies in a car crash and so Strange decides to become a magician to bring her back to life. Everyone warns him against this but he correctly decides to go back in time. The problem is that every attempt seems to end in failure so he has to find some way to save her life for good. What depths of power will it take to pull this off?

I definitely like this kind of story quite a lot where we see the lengths Strange will go in order to save Christine. Now where he crosses the line is when he starts to actually destroy other monsters to get stronger. There’s nothing wrong with altering time and going back to make things better as long as you aren’t hurting anyone. The moment time travel is established you don’t know if someone else has been messing with time so it’s all fair game. It does seem as though the universe is rigged as Strange tries to save her many times and I appreciate the effort. You really can’t give up and have to just keep trying until the end. The climax fight with the two Stranges was also a blast. I felt like this episode really fit a whole lot into it.

In the 5th episode we get the big Zombies episode. So what if the Wasp came back but she had the Zombie virus and quickly started transmitting it. Before long the Avengers are infected as well so there is just a small group of heroes left to fend them off. Either they will find the cure and save the world or the entire planet will be covered with zombies before long. It’s a solid thriller kind of episode. Now this one does feel a bit more iffy with how the heroes are infected though. Now granted there are a lot of ways to make the zombies do well here. The way it was shown just didn’t seem right.

So the Avengers fly in and land in the middle of a bridge only to be surrounded by zombies and quickly got slaughtered. There were thousands of zombies by this point so it was impossible to miss them. Why fly to the middle of the bridge? You either blast from afar or if you don’t want to hurt the zombies, then stay in the air. Going to the bridge was effectively a suicide mission. The twist ending I also have a hard time buying because I don’t see how a certain someone would get infected. Unless a bunch of other planets already got infected, I don’t see how Earth would have had time to tag this guy.

It was cool to see the last remnants of humanity banding together here. It was a good team up here and the end of the world always gives a good opportunity to see some team ups that you wouldn’t otherwise have. I’d say this is probably around the middle of the season. It doesn’t beat a few of the others that I’ve mentioned but still offered a good scenario. This is such a famous story that you almost feel like it could and should have been a multi parter though.

In episode 6, what if Killmonger was the one to save Tony from the events of Iron Man 1? This causes him to be promoted to a very high position and he convinces Iron Man to help him build a bunch of armors. The guy is surprisingly quite smart with tech here to the point of it maybe being too convenient. He then decides to slowly start taking control of the world. This one’s definitely quite out there which is good but I do feel like the characters got sloppy at times. There’s no way Killmonger should have made it out of the room once Tony knew what was up. I had a hard time believing he could beat the robot or that Tony’s room wouldn’t have some kind of evidence of what really happened.

Things certainly worked out quite well for Killmonger that’s for sure. It was a good episode although a bit on the unbelievable side to me. You know, come to think of it this has been a rough stretch for Iron Man, seems like he’s died quite a few times in this series. Surprisingly this is one of the only episodes where the twist ending actually gives the heroes some hope as opposed to almost all of the others where it ends with the villains getting ready to win.

Next up is the party Thor episode. What If Loki stayed as a frost giant so Thor grew up on his own and got super spoiled. He decides to throw a big party that’s so powerful it starts to destroy the planet. Fury is forced to call in Captain Marvel and the two have some big fights. It’s definitely the most light hearted episode to the point where you can call it a comedy. There’s more slapstick here, the characters are having fun and Thor’s mom even gets to have some hype.

It’s a nice enough episode. The fight with Thor and Marvel is absolutely the highlight and really why you will be watching this. It’s nice to see both characters blasting each other back and forth. I would say Thor definitely has the edge based on how the fight was going here since he was holding back the whole time and just having fun while Marvel was clearly going all out. Even with her best attacks Thor was just having fun the whole time which speaks to his skills. I think the episode would have benefited from being taken just a bit more seriously though. The next two episodes get quite serious though so I suppose this was a way to brace yourself for those parts.

In this case Ultron ended up getting the full download into Vision’s body and was able to quickly wipe the team out. He even one shotted Thanos (I had a hard time buying into that one) and then proceeded to take over the world. Black Widow and Hawkeye are the last lines of resistance against him and need to find some kind of way to take him down. It’s difficult because of how strong he has gotten though so they may need some unexpected help.

Part 1 is the best episode in the season so far. The fight scene between Ultron and the Watcher is really solid and I like how far the series went with it. We have reality breaking and Ultron even eat a universe at one point in one of the rare moments where we see what a universe buster can do in a practical setting. Now this does come back to haunt the show in part 2 with how powerful Ultron looks here but the whole thing is definitely very impressive. It also shows us what a threat Ultron is and why we will have to band the team together.

The final episode is really a big team up as we have reps from almost every episode show up to try and take Ultron down. It’s nice to see what reality’s final line of defense can do. The only one you can take seriously as a threat to Ultron at this point is Dr. Strange. I liked the show’s decision to have a magic barrier blocking all damage for the rest of the heroes since it at least gives a reason for why they don’t all get one shotted. I still don’t see why Ultron couldn’t just beat everyone a lot quicker though.

Keep in mind that he should be able to destroy the planet in an instant with no real effort that would have put most of the heroes in a bad spot. At one point he even ponders out loud why he is having so much trouble. I don’t know myself, Ultron was shown to be so powerful that he should have easily been crushing these guys. If you can get past the power level angle then you’ve still got a solid end here. It’s naturally fun to see all of the characters teaming up at the end like this.

And that wraps up season 1. There were definitely a lot of fun adventures here. They’re entertaining and the writing is on point here. I may have some power level issues mainly with Thanos in all of his appearances and Ultron at the end but the scenarios themselves are on point. I also like how each of the episodes have a twist ending at the ready. Usually you can assume that the heroes are doomed to be destroyed but if season 2 continues some of these scenarios then we’ll see how they get past them.

Personally I’d rather season 2 is completely filled with new scenarios though. Keep each one as a one and done because there are just so many slots that you don’t want to have to go back and revisit any with such a limited amount of episodes per season. Trust me when I say it would only take an hour or less to come up with a full 10 seasons worth of great scenarios so the more new ones you can do the better.

One thing I would like them to change for season 2 is the animation though. It’s well below average and just doesn’t look all that good. The art style is trying its best to look fairly realistic but as a result it doesn’t stand out and the colors are very faded except for some of the fight scenes. The fights can be quite solid but another style would really do the show some wonders. Give it a more traditional animation style like Spider-Man or the Avengers EMH show and then you’re in business.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Watcher keeps claiming that he won’t interfere during the pre episode narration in season 2 now that he has broken his vow. Hopefully he doesn’t so we can acknowledge that now he is ready to step in if things get too dangerous. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Watcher because of how slow he is to act. At least in this show he can fight rather well so I give him some props there. It is his best appearance in all of Marvel but he needs to start interfering to save these universes and then I would really start liking the guy.

Overall, Marvel’s What If is a solid show and it’s a great premise for a title. This is a good way to really bring up some fun scenarios that you couldn’t do in the main universe. As the seasons expand I like to imagine we can expand the character roster too and really get in some more characters like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc. If you’ve been curious to see how things could quickly go off the rails then you’ll want to check this out. Hopefully season 2 doesn’t take too long to come out.

Overall 7/10

Eden Review


Eden’s a show I hadn’t heard of before. It’s fairly short at 4 episodes so this almost could have just been a full movie. The animation feels very RWBY inspired which is a good thing and this ends up being a fun title to check out. Having Sara be the only human in the present setting was a bold move but one that works out well.

The show starts by introducing us to the far future where humans seem to no longer exist. Two robots named A37 and E92 are completing their tasks as normal when they come across a baby named Sara. They are supposed to immediately alert the high council to dispose of the human but they can’t bring themselves to do so and instead raise her as their kid. She grows up with them and while she isn’t thrilled about always having to be in hiding, she still has a good life. One day, she discovers a robot and a message. It would appear that the human race is still alive but trapped in stasis. Sara will have to find the unlock code to save them and she will have to do this quickly or they will never wake up again. This is going to be dangerous but it’s a mission that she is ready and prepared for.

A and E make for interesting characters since they are pure robots. We’re not talking about androids who have human emotions or anything like that but robots who do their best to understand what is going on. They’re inherently good robots as we see them taking a stand compared to most. Perhaps the fact that they are protecting Sara at all suggests that they do have true emotions. They can be rather awkward and don’t always know the best way to talk to her but I’d say they did a very good job of raising her.

The whole plot is very wholesome and I like the way that it was executed. Potentially it could have been a bit dull at first before the danger elements come into play but Sara is a good character and the robots make for solid supporting ones. It ends up being a solid dynamic either way. As for Sara, she’s a good lead and one who isn’t even that unreasonable. She does take some tremendous risks like jumping from high heights because she knows that her robot friend will catch her. I don’t blame the parents for being worried about that and of course Sara likes to venture fairly far away from her home.

She’s ready to jump into action when she finds out about her mission. It’s not an easy one either since the world is filled with robots that are after her. They’re fairly powerful ones too led by the mighty Zero. Zero has a design that really stands out here. It’s sort of like the Shredder from the TMNT 2003 show. He has a futuristic armor and a really booming voice so you can see why everyone follows him. Among the robots he seems to have the most character as well.

As the show goes on we learn more about Zero and more about the world at large. It’s pretty easy to see how Zero ended up going down the path that he did. In any show or movie where the villain makes the case that the world would be better without humans, it’s always hard to debate their point. Take this instance, with humans stuck in stasis, the world has become a utopia with no crime. Life and nature have prospered as well. If the humans return then Zero says they will bring war and crime back with them as well as polluting the Earth.

It’s not as if they would change and the issue is that he’s right. Now you can still root for the humans to return and everything but it will be sad to see the Utopia go away. That’s mainly the conflict at the end of the series. There is also a quick mecha battle near the end of the show but action definitely isn’t the main part of the show. It’s a fun little battle with the fighters but the emotional battle is really what the focus is on.

As mentioned earlier, I did like the animation style here. It may not be quite as polished as RWBY, you can see how the animation is a bit more stilted, but the art and backgrounds are definitely on point. I’ve always wondered why more titles don’t try to go for the colorful CGI style that RWBY has so I’m glad that this one finally embraced it. The character designs are memorable and I like the world that it’s based in. It all just looks very descriptive.

Eden is really a family drama title at its core. Sara learns what it means to really have a family while in the past segments we have someone feel the pain of losing one. These two focuses act as complete contrasts to each other and also show us how each character made it on both sides. So while I say this is a light hearted title there are definitely quite a lot of sad moments throughout. Enjoy the first two episodes while you can as they’re really about showing the happy times first like Sara growing up. I thought it was a good move that she grew up so quickly as well since she’s able to do a lot more as a teen compared to being a toddler.

The flashbacks about the final humans before they all went into stasis definitely have the most sad moments throughout its run. You can tell that not everyone will get a happy ending which makes sense. They each have their own struggles to go through after all. I didn’t really have any issues with the show by the end of its run either. It’s a pleasant little title with all the proper elements an adventure needed. The writing was on point and the conflict was solid.

I will say the only part that felt like it was edging towards a plot hole was how inconsistent the timer was. There’s a timer that consistently shows how close the humans are to being locked in stasis forever. Each episode has the timer appear a whole lot but it just doesn’t make sense based on how much time was there before her time skip and afterwards. I think they either shouldn’t have shown the timer when she was still a baby and only showed it afterwards or just set it to a different time. With a calculator it shouldn’t be hard to have set that up properly especially since it is so crucial to the story.

It’s a small thing overall though and my head canon is that the A.I. was just malfunctioning at times and showing the wrong values. That seems like it should be within the realm of possibility. If you want to go a bit farther, it’s hard to see Zero and the robots not stamping out the two protecting Sara instantly but I suppose for a while she just wasn’t on their radar. Also, Zero’s minions don’t seem to be very intelligent and just have basic skills developed so that would make sense. His personal A.I. would be the only exception there. The heroes have an A.I. too and they even have a very brief skirmish which was fun. The two A.I. were always entertaining so it’s too bad that they didn’t appear a bit more.

Overall, Eden is a fun title and really gets the adventure/journey across well. It’s a fairly personal story that it just pleasant to watch. It’s definitely got a rather somber end so I won’t say it’s a huge feel good title but throughout the 4 episodes there are a lot of fun moments. You can also interpret the ending as still being happy in a sense as Sara won’t give up and will create more experiences but to me it would have been perfect if one more thing could have been fixed in-universe. Ultimately the title is really about Sara experiencing the world for herself and seeing that robots can be a real family just as well as a human one. A & E really did a great job for as long as they could and this was an impressive effort considering that they had no formal training before now. If you’re looking for a good family drama title with some action elements at the end then this is a good one to pick up. It really feels like a solid one shot movie that gives you a complete experience from beginning to end.

Overall 7/10

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Kingdom Review


Transformers has been quite busy. Since the end of the second part in the trilogy I got to review the Rescue Bots Academy show as well as the recent Battlegrounds game. Well, now we’re at the final part of the trilogy. Part 2 ended off with a ton of plot lines to explore but since each part only has a few episodes I’d say a lot of us expected there would be loose ends. The only question was, would these be in the form of direct cliffhangers or more like threads that aren’t really mentioned but you know they’re out there? I’d say it’s closer to the former to we’ll see if there’s a part 4.

This part pretty much opens with the Autobots and Decepticons crash landing on this mysterious planet. They are greeted by the locals which are the Maximals and Predacons. Unfortunately for the heroes, the Decepticons and Predacons hit it off really quickly. Meanwhile Prime has to figure out a way to defeat the Maximals and to find the All Spark once and for all. If he can get that, then all the sacrifices will have been worth it.

Now you may be wondering about what’s going on with the subplot back on Cybertron but there’s no time for that so we don’t get one. We find out what happened in the aftermath though. The Kingdom saga is only 6 episodes so those are all really spent on this planet as the gang tries to work together. The series has certainly come a long way from the original days of war on Cybertron that’s for sure.

It’s fun to see the Maximals return. It’s been a while since I saw Beast Wars but the old characters are all pretty familiar. Primal and the gang actually do pretty well in the fight. I would even argue they should have beaten the Autobots pretty quickly. The heroes have been running on the last smidges of Energon pretty much since the beginning of the trilogy so I’d expect they would be out of luck by now. I suppose Autobots are naturally tougher than Maximals so it balances out but if the fight kept going they really should lose.

We don’t really get to see the heroes fight much in any part of Transformers so it was a cool skirmish and I wouldn’t have minded if it kept on going for a while longer to be honest. The heroes look good as you would expect. Prime is still calling the shots well. While I may not have always agreed with him in the previous two parts, at this point he is committed so I’m with him on seeing this mission through to the end. Turning back now would just not make any sense and they all know it.

Prime’s so close to the goal after all. The rest of the Autobots are solid as well but Prime really gets the biggest role. Bumblebee also gets his moment to shine as he is acknowledged by Prime as being the best candidate for the Matrix and leadership position. In context I definitely think it’s a stretch since Bumblebee just joined the team but you can also interpret it as a diss to the other members not being ready for this.

For the Maximals, Primal is fun of course. He definitely does not like Nemesis at all which is why it’s hard to work with him at first but gradually he softens up. He doesn’t really have the same commanding presence as Prime but does what he needs to. Then you have Airazor who does the most dangerous jobs for the team. It doesn’t always go well for her but she stays strong and does well at convincing a Predacon to rethink things.

Then on the Predacons side you have three main members. First is Megatron II but I wasn’t a big fan of that guy. He basically worships Megatron and is always mentioning how great the guy is. He doesn’t exactly feel like a leader and acts like a minion. The guy needs to have more self respect to be taken seriously here.

Dinobot was great as always though. He looks very strong and is also reasonable. His decision to go along with Starscream for a while may have been shaky but ultimately he wisened up and got out of there pretty quickly. He was one of the best characters in Beast Wars so I wasn’t surprised that he was great here as well.

Then you have Blackarachnia. There are so many spider themed villains in Transformers that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Still, she’s a fun member and definitely likes goading Starscream on. Both of them aren’t exactly the most loyal fighters out there so they make for a good team. Both will need to watch their backs though.

As for the Decepticons, Megatron is a fun leader as always but at this point he’s just a complete villain who is running around and trying to destroy things. Gone is the Part 1 Megatron who you could make the case of having a stronger argument than Prime. That’s one thing I miss from the first part which is that we had a whole lot of nuance between both factions. Due to the show skipping the initial outbreak of what set off the war, you really didn’t know who was right. We could assume that Prime was given the entire franchise history but the fact that it was close was interesting.

Megatron insists on using the Matrix in this season but you can’t help and think that it is just holding him back. The matrix doesn’t offer any super abilities and all of the characters let him know that it refuses to be used by a Decepticon. I’d toss it or lock it up if I was him.

Then you have his loyal follower Soundwave who finally gets some action here. He’s definitely not portrayed as a big fighter here but Soundwave still gets his hype. Mainly through Laserbeak who really does good here and takes on several challengers. Finally there is Starscream who has his plans as always. You wonder if he will end up being the main villain since that happens a lot. Either way you’ll be satisfied with his portrayal. He’s as cunning and quick witted as ever.

Throughout the part we have a lot of fights between the 4 factions but gradually we are given more and more hints that something else is coming. Galvatron appeared in the opening episode after all with the golden disc of destiny and there was all the foreshadowing with Unicron early on. Well, here’s where this all comes to play as Nemesis and Galvatron show up. I wish they could have appeared more because to me this was the most interesting part of the whole saga.

In season 2 the show already delved into the idea of a multiverse with the whole Dead Zone aspect. (Which comes into play here) Well, it looks like in one timeline Unicron ended up winning and took both Prime and Megatron as his lackeys. In a Galactus kind of way, Unicron reformatted them so they would work for him as Nemesis and Galvatron. It’s very interesting and cool to see both a Prime and Megatron teaming up like this.

Sure, they may be evil and potentially not in their right minds but it’s a great team up nonetheless. I love it when a show introduces multiple timelines and parallel dimensions. There is so much you can do with that and even if you don’t go the guest star angle, you can still get a lot out of it just through discussion and lore.

Mind you, Netflix sometimes likes to go a little too far with sci-fi lore and there was an instance where I was worried this was going to happen here as well. We do get some info dumps and pondering about the universe but it ends as quickly as it begins so we’re good. The climax is really a big battle as everyone tries to fight these invaders off and it’s pretty epic. Galvatron and Nemesis were pretty outnumbered but otherwise I dare say they would have crushed everyone.

In theory we’ll see them more in a Part 4 if we ever get that. You know how I’m a big fan of cliffhanger endings so of course I had a blast with the ending. If we ever do get a sequel it’ll probably be the best part. Nemesis may not talk but he has a cool aura around him and Galvatron is as fun as ever. I like that he has a lot of plans going and was doing his best to defy Unicron. In a way he’s like Starscream in that respect as Megatron doesn’t like to work for anybody. He’ll likely continue resisting Unicron until he ceases to function.

The graphics are pretty good. It’s CGI so it won’t look quite as clean as all of the animes but you can always tell what is going on and who is who. CGI will likely never quite stack up to hand drawn for me but if you are going to go the CG route, you should always try to be colorful. That way the fight scenes will pop out at you and you can still get a lot of cool visuals. So I’d say the CG here is good because there are definitely a lot of moments where you can pause and what is happening on screen will look pretty good. The soundtrack is more on the underwhelming side though. I couldn’t tell you about a single theme in the show. I’m sure there is music of course but none of it is memorable.

It’s worth mentioning that this is another Transformers title that didn’t need to add any humans. It’s all about the bots and it works well. There’s a whole lot you can do with the franchise without even needing the humans because the Transformers world is incredibly vast. Part of the fun in season 2 was seeing the world with Soundblaster because it was a whole alien culture that the Transformers had to visit. You could make a Star Trek type story just about exploring other planets as well. The battles with Prime and Megatron are classic but those are all other avenues we could explore.

Of course in a Part 4 we need to go into the whole Unicron angle. That said, I think the toughest part about incorporating him into the mix is it’s hard to picture him being defeated. Take this trilogy for example. Both sides are incredibly low on energon and the combined armies had trouble with his heralds. What would they do when the actual Unicron shows up? They would need a bunch of the celestial Transformers and some of those living cities to do much of anything to him and even then I’d find it pretty hard to buy into them winning.

In the end I’d put this one pretty close to the Machinima Transformers show. This one went the more conventional route initially but by the end we had a lot of guest stars and pretty ambitious plot lines. This one wins in terms of it being so much longer than the few minutes per episode and it had time to do more. At the same time, I’d give Mach the edge in terms of the actual story and scale of what was going on. It was cool seeing all of the obscure Transformer characters showing up and doing their thing like the Mistress of Flame. This one wins overall though as the extra length is just too good to pass up. Now we just have to wait and see what the next CGI experience is, hopefully it arrives sooner than later.

Overall, The War for Cybertron trilogy was pretty fun. It does feel like the name was more applicable to the first two parts though as the third was mostly unrelated. I suppose the battles are an extension of what happened previously though so in that sense you can say it was still a war. I don’t think this will go down as one of the more memorable Transformer shows but I am glad they keep pumping out titles left and right. At this point Transformers has so many shows you’d be hard pressed to name them all without thinking about it. If you haven’t checked this one out yet then you definitely should. If you combined all 3 shows you’ve effectively got a full season’s worth of content.

Overall 7/10

Kiznaiver Review


If you watch a lot of anime you know that summer vacation is usually high stakes. Either you get thrown into a cybernetic world, scouted for a professional sport, or you end up getting run over by a bus and have to thrive in a new world. It’s rare that you actually end up just having a blast and these characters are about to learn that the hard way. It’s a pretty fun show and ends up being unique as well.

The show starts off by introducing us to Katsuhira who gets bullied every day. He is forced to hand over his lunch money to these bullies and get pounded for a while anyway. The thing is, he doesn’t really mind. He does not have the ability to feel pain, it’s just not something his body can do. So he doesn’t mind being beaten up since he doesn’t feel it. Additionally, he doesn’t really possess emotions or they’re too muted to really be felt. So he’s rather apathetic about life itself.

His best friend Chidori is always really upset about Katsuhira being beaten up like this but she can’t convince him to fight back. One day his life changes when a girl named Noriko shows up. She decides to murder him and pushes the guy off the stairs. Katsuhira manages to survive somehow, only he is trapped in a facility. She explains that she is going to run an experiment by which his pain will now be transmitted to the rest of the Seven Deadly Sins. These are 6 other students she has chosen from the school who will now be forced to partake in this experiment. The Kiznaiver program.

The 5 don’t have a choice as they are kidnapped and taken to this school. Here’s how the program works, whenever any of these 7 experience any kind of pain, it will be split 7 ways and everyone will feel it. So the good part is that no pain you experience will be as bad as it usually was. The bad part is that if someone gets beaten up by bullies a lot….prepare for extra pain. The 7 students must survive the entire Summer Vacation in order to be released from this program. They’re all from different social circles and circumstances though so they will have to try and get along first.

That’s really what this show is about, seeing if the students can come together. In a way the show’s even a metaphor for how anyone can get along no matter what their background or situation is. The show creates a scenario that forces each person to have to at least make an attempt to get along. It’s in their best interests if they want to make it through the Summer without too much pain after all. They’ll be put through many different situations and scenarios before they can get out of this.

So lets do a roll call of the characters. I’ve already talked about Katsuhira for the most part. He doesn’t know what his dark secret is (Everyone is tested on this during the first trial) I wasn’t a big fan of his. His lack of emotion does mean that for a while he lets anyone push him around and doesn’t really think for himself. He does get a character arc around this though so by the end he is considerably improved from how he started. I still wouldn’t say I’m a big fan or anything but I am glad that he made progress.

Then you have Chidori, (I could have sworn they pronounced her name as Chitori the whole time though. I really thought that was her name until I looked up the spelling for this review) the best friend. Her darkest secret is that she’s in love with Katsuhira so that’s pretty tough for her since he doesn’t have the emotional knowledge to know how to respond. She’s a nice character and one of the more likable ones. She does her best to try and take this all in stride but Noriko’s presence makes it rather difficult. Usually if you start off strong it makes it difficult to stick the landing though as she takes the final episodes the hardest. Still a quality character throughout though.

Next up is Hajime, the tough guy of the group. His darkest secret is that he’s extremely afraid of dogs to the point where he plans out his routes so he doesn’t pass any dog owners. It would wreck his image so you can see why he hides that away. He’s quick to step in and help Katsuhira out in the opening episode which was good. At his core Hajime is a good person such as how he ignores his own romantic feelings so they don’t get in the way of this adventure. He’s not always great as he can be rather crude like his threat to Noriko but for the most part he definitely stands out and is loyal. He’s more likely to have your back than most of the other characters even if he did beat someone up a little too quickly near the end. I know he cracked but it still felt uncalled for.

Nico is the quirky member of the group. She loves talking about fairies and just bouncing around all the time. Her darkest secret is that…she doesn’t actually believe in any of that stuff and just acts quirky so people won’t think she’s normal. I thought that was actually a pretty interesting subversion and in a sense, thinking up a whole elaborate act like that means she was already quirky to begin with. It’s definitely an interesting development. Overall she’s one of the strongest characters for sure. Nico probably takes the end of the series better than the rest as well.

Tsuguhito was my favorite member of the students. He’s the cool kid in class who is super popular and has a lot of friends. His darkest secret is that he used to be fat and has tried to make sure nobody knows that part of him. Honestly, while it’s good as a comedic moment, it’s probably the lowest stakes from all of the secrets. To most that’s actually more of an impressive moment than anything because it showed that he was able to lose a lot of weight and turned his life around.

Part of why I like him is because he’s just a good guy. He doesn’t brag about it or show off like the others but just does the right thing when it counts. He gives Honoka a lot of pep talks and sticks up for Katsuhira. He really doesn’t pick fights or get anyone into trouble throughout the show. He does put up a tough façade at times and throws some insults around but never anything too serious. He does just enough to keep the act going and also wasn’t about to rush into a romance like certain other characters in the show.

Then you have one of least favorite members of the group Honoka. She’s definitely not a people person and likes to keep to herself. Her darkest secret is that she murdered someone a while back although of course there is more context to that later on. Honoka is just the meanest member of the group by far and carries this attitude on for way too long. Right up through the last 2 episodes or so, she is still going on about how none of them are friends. She does her best to hurt everyone else’s feelings as well.

Her origin story was definitely a sad one but even that got worse because she didn’t face it head on. If she had then she would have been in a much better place since she did misinterpret things. Should have just read the manga…. I would say her backstory was probably the weakest part of the show.

Finally you have my actual least favorite member of the group, Yoshiharu. His thing is that he’s really into pain and even enjoys injuring himself just to get that sensation. He’s got a few screws loose so to speak. I don’t even remember what his darkest secret was. He missed the first trial so maybe it didn’t come up. Part of what hurts him is that the guy never really contributes to the story. You could cut him out and I dare say that not a single thing would change. He really felt like he was added on to an extent. Even how the other 6 characters all match up in pairs while he’s just running around. Yoshiharu’s gimmick wasn’t really funny either so he just fell flat as a character.

Of course you have the two teachers who are in on this. Both of them signed off on this very corrupt experiment so it’s hard to like either one of them. Both are willing to put the students in danger on multiple occasions. Mutsumi seems to at least have more of a conscience than Kazunao though. She finally has a breaking point while he never backs down even to the end. The students definitely shouldn’t forgive these two anytime soon.

Finally you have the mysterious Noriko. She also appears to be rather emotionless and didn’t feel a thing even when she nearly brought Katsuhira to his doom. So that’s a character you want to be wary of. I’m not a big fan of hers for the same reason I wasn’t a big Katsuhira fan for a while. When you’re emotionless like that there’s just less opportunities to have cool moments where you really stand out.

By the end we learn her origin story of course and it does help her case. She definitely went through a lot and made some rather big sacrifices to make sure things went well for everyone else. I can respect that without a doubt. Noriko definitely takes the cake for the hardest path in the show and had to endure way more than the rest of the characters combined. It’s very dark and I’m glad she at least got a happy ending since it would have been really tragic otherwise. She was a lot of fun in the flashbacks too.

That’s mainly it for the cast as there aren’t many supporting characters beyond that. The show is 12 episodes after all and it’s heavily character driven so there’s not much room to throw in others. The two bullies appear for a bit but Chidori put them in their place when they try to complain. They haven’t been through nearly as much as the main characters so they definitely had no room to complain. It’s not like it’s a competition of who had it the worst but when you’re a bully you don’t get to suddenly say that life isn’t fair. They really picked this battle for themselves.

Now there is a whole lot of romance here as you might have gathered. It’s summer vacation with 7 students who are forced to hang out with each other constantly. Naturally there was going to be a lot of drama here. Moreover, you’ve got multiple triangles going. Katsuhira likes Noriko, Chidori likes Katsuhira, Hajime likes Chidori, and Nico likes Hajime. Tsuguhito likes Honoka but there isn’t a third party in that one. With characters all connected like this, it makes it hard for them to approach.

Even more so once the characters begin experiencing each other’s emotions as well. In a way that’s the scariest thing about the Kiznaiver program. When everyone knows every little thing about you, it means that privacy is now a foreign concept. You’re really boxed in and when you’re forced to be honest as opposed to doing it willingly, that’s naturally going to bring in a little more tension.

The Kiznaiver program is a very fascinating concept because even if you could implement this in real life, the show depicts why this would be dangerous. For starters, you could simply die from the sudden pain of someone else feeling something. Throw in the emotional pain and you could suddenly have a group of suicidal people. From the start the show makes sure to depict this as a very dangerous experiment that would be outlawed by any government. The main characters have to thrive in spite of it.

So going back to the romance, that part could get a little overly dramatic. I’m not the biggest romance guy and aside from Chidori who knew Katsuhira ever since he was a kid, the rest only just met each other. A little quick to be developing romantic feelings right? Perhaps the Kiznaiver accelerated the program since it connects people so thoroughly but even then it all just feels fast.

Now, most of the characters do keep their feelings hidden which is an interesting twist. See, I usually judge the characters for moving too quickly but for the ones who were hiding their feelings until Kiznaiver exposed them, is it really the same thing? I’d say no. See, in this case that means the character might subconsciously know it’s too soon so that’s why they didn’t say anything. I don’t think Chidori, Nico, or Hajime would have said anything. They’d just have kept their feelings in their heart and squashed them eventually.

It’s a very interesting dynamic and one I could get behind here. Particularly in the triangles since they were all holding their feelings back since they knew that their friends were already interested. If you like a girl but your best friend has already made the same interest clear, then stepping back is a pretty honorable thing to do. Now, if you friend doesn’t do anything for ages then absolutely you can jump in, but the core concept is sound. So I’ll give them some credit for that. That said, it does feel like Chidori going with Hajime would feel like an absolute rebound if Katsuhira chooses Noriko in the end. Kiznaiver probably has more romance sewn into its themes than most other shows I’ve seen and yet it handles them better than a lot of others too. I wouldn’t mind if you cut out a lot of the drama of course but if you’re going to do it, then you should do it well of course.

While things get really serious by the end, I’d say the show keeps a good balance of being light hearted along with this. Nico for example is a character who keeps everyone feeling pretty chipper the whole time. The characters also have opportunities to just hang out and have a good time once in a while. Don’t expect it a whole lot but they at least aren’t having to worry about the Kiznaiver program all the time even if it’s not exactly something you can forget either.

I said it once and I’ll say it again, the Kiznaiver system itself is absolutely terrifying when you think about it. The fact that these 6 strangers (Lets be real, they’re basically strangers since you don’t know them well) will eventually know your every thought, emotion, and pain is pretty intense. It’s enough to make you decide to just move away like in the Kino’s Journey episode only in this case you can’t quite escape the pain so it isn’t a full proof solution. Then if you keep residual effects even after the Kiznaiver implant is gone…well I guess there’s no real escape at that point.

The animation looks pretty solid. This is more of a slice of life so there’s not a chance to show off with the graphics most of the time but the city shots look great like in the climax. This is also probably why they gave Chidori’s hair a sharp color since that always stands out. The show also takes advantage whenever there is a chance to use some bright colors so the Kiznaiver energy bands are an example of this or when Noriko is standing in front of a data computer. As for the soundtrack, it’s not very memorable but it’s decent. The opening is one of the weakest I’ve seen in a while though. It’s going for more of a low key route but give me a hype opening anytime.

The writing is solid throughout and the episodes really go by in a flash. It feels like a very natural journey to the point where this could easily be turned into a movie. You’d have to remove some of the trials of course but it would work pretty well since it’s all 1 grant story here. You could probably cut some things out if needed like Honoka’s origin story and even most of Noriko’s or at least the parts that are still around in the present. I wouldn’t mind if they threw some more scenes Tsuguhito’s way instead.

By the end you will question why the company was looking into these Kiznaiver experiments though. If you think about it, there’s still no long term gains for this project. At least not without some kind of redesign because even if you make it safe to an extent, nobody is going to want to sign up for this. I can’t see it being useful in military applications either as it would just confuse the soldiers. Maybe it can help with medical research if a doctor wants to see exactly what kind of pain you are experiencing but I still can’t see that ending well. So in that way it almost feels like the kids were put through a whole lot for no real reason other than learning how to be nicer people.

It is cool how the company has a bunch of people in mascot costumes going around and kidnapping the main characters though. They have a whole lot of pull when you think about it. Even enough to hide some pretty deep secrets in the school. I admit that I was taken aback at how a few select students are just sorta sitting around. When you get to the final episodes you’ll see what I mean but they were just hanging around there the whole time? That was absolutely crazy, not in a plot hole way or anything as it’s easily explained but I was just surprised at how suddenly they appeared. Not everyone gets a happy ending in this show I’m afraid as the Kiznaiver program definitely has a lot of skeletons in the closet.

Overall, Kiznaiver is a pretty fun show. It’s got a solid concept going for it and is also a fun new approach to showing how characters can learn to get along. It certainly gets serious as the characters have to really look inside themselves to discover their true feelings. It’s over in a flash but has a good run throughout. It also starts off with a bang as the characters initially get trapped in that facility. I wouldn’t call the show high stakes for the most part but they are put in some real danger at times and for a while it’s hard to tell what the intentions behind the tests are. Also the final episode raises the stakes pretty suddenly as well which made for a good climax. You should always end on a high note right? I’d recommend checking this one out.

Overall 7/10

Loki Review


The next Disney+ show is now upon us. Can it continue the upwards trend of each show? I would say yes and that this is the best of the first 3. Loki’s always been a pretty fun character so it makes sense that he could hold his own show pretty well. Throw in time travel, dimension hopping, and you’ve got yourself a pretty fun premise. There’s definitely a lot to unpack here even if the show is only 6 episodes so they did a good job of throwing in a bunch of concepts. Lets start taking a deep dive into this.

The show starts with Loki’s escape from Endgame where he narrowly got away from the Avengers. Unfortunately this was short lived as he is then kidnapped by the TVA. He is approached by a man named Mobius who explains that this organization is effectively in charge of the multiverse. They make sure that nobody messes with time and they keep things progressing in the way they ought to go.

Put it this way, according to the TVA, all of life is predestined to go in a certain way. If a character so happens to defy destiny and step off the path, they go to that world and destroy not only the character but the entire timeline. Rinse and repeat as often as is necessary. As the characters are not aware of their destinies either, this just happens randomly and must be quelled. If a timeline goes too far off the beaten path, it will cause calamity and destroy everything. Now you may question why TVA even bothers to erase individual characters when they will immediately erase the entire timeline right after. It’s a fair question and one that is addressed by the end.

Mobius basically asks Loki to join them. They are on the hunt for a particularly dangerous Loki variant (“Variant” is any being who has gone off of the natural timeline) and they could really use his help. After all, who better to stop a Loki than another Loki right? It’s not exactly a proposition that Loki really likes but he’s not exactly in a good spot right now. If he declines then he will be erased. Loki will play their game for now but he vows to be the one who wins in the end.

So right there you’ve got a pretty interesting angle. This is the kind of show with a lot of twists and turns but I’ll leave those to the spoiler paragraphs since it’s naturally more fun to see those play out if you don’t know what is going to happen. Most of the show is about the gang trying to get on the other Loki’s trail but it’s difficult. The TVA may have been around for a while but most of their members are normal humans so they aren’t the most powerful group around.

Lets get the basics out of the way first. The soundtrack here is really good. It’s easily the best out of the 3 with some really ominous themes going for it. You’ve got different remixes as well. The special effects are also on point with all of the magic being thrown around here. The Loki show lends itself well to this kind of thing that’s for sure. The fight scenes are also pretty solid.

Now, I would argue that Loki looks a bit too weak at times though. He struggles against humans on multiple occasions. The TVA beats him up in the first episode, he gets wrecked by a mind controlled human 1-2 episodes from there, and then he gets overpowered on a train and thrown out the window. There are many other times he gets owned as the series goes on but these were the 3 that are the most striking. Yes, Loki has been used as a comedic character for quite a while now but I would say this is stretching it.

Loki is still a frost giant raised as an Asgardian. He should have more than enough power to easily dispatch these opponents. Still, as a character he’s fun. Loki gets a lot of constant witty dialogue throughout his appearances so you can always bet on him saying something smart. The humor is a large part of what makes the show so much fun. He also gets a lot of personality development as well.

I don’t agree with all of it like Loki saying he doesn’t actually want to cause people pain and all of that. You’ll find yourself rolling your eyes a bit during his confession scene with Mobius where he talks about how he’s misunderstood and all that. I don’t buy it…nobody buys it. Like Mobius I’d just pull out the scene of him zapping that poor guy’s eyeball from Avengers 1. Loki’s defense is that it was an act that he was even playing on himself…sure. I think this is trying to retroactively make him less evil but whether he was tricking himself or not, he was totally evil at the time. I don’t think there can be any doubts about that.

On the other hand, I do like that he gets some closure with Freya in this version and that it’s part of what starts setting him off on a different track. Ultimately, acceptance by his family was something he really strived for. If things had played out differently he could have been a hero someday. Since he now knows how the adventure would have ended for him, it makes sense that he would start looking at life in a different way. By the end of the series or even fairly early on into it, you already feel like he’s becoming more heroic. Not sure I’d call him a full hero just yet but he’s close to it. I mean…he’s already more heroic by the end of the series than Scarlet Witch who is an Avenger soo………just something to think about.

It was fun to see clips of pretty much every old film Loki was in as well. Thor 2 seemed to be the only one that was skipped over a lot except for what happened to Freya. Maybe there just weren’t enough really good Loki scenes to pull. It’s been a while since I saw that film but I feel like there should still be a good amount.

Loki definitely carries a lot of the show with how much fun he is, but he does have a lot to work with. Mobius is another main character and he’s really solid. The guy has a fairly sarcastic attitude towards everything and he tends to have the best conversations with Loki. The two of them really go at it on different occasions. Mobius usually has the edge thanks to the TVA tech but otherwise Loki has the edge in overall charisma.

Mobius is old and set in his ways but you have to give him credit for eventually getting up and actually starting to take a hard look at what is going on. He’s certainly more dedicated than the average worker at the TVA. By the end he was one of the best characters. Then you have Ravonna who is one of the higher ups who serves the mysterious head of the TVA. She’s very by the books which naturally means things will be a bit dicey for her here.

Ravonna starts out better than how she ends up. She was acting pretty questionable by the end and that’s a weakness of being by the books. She was unable to adapt while everyone else was. I’ll be interested to see where she goes from here since in theory her next appearance will really be a fresh start. Then you have B-15 who seriously needs a real name. She was pretty solid. Right now she has a bodyguard type of role where she dishes out a lot of damage but doesn’t have too much personality yet. I expect she will have a bigger role going forward though. She already has a lot of confidence which is good.

While not a character, I wanted to give Miss Minutes a quick shoutout. This mascot is very amusing and works well in the TVA atmosphere. Her job is to constantly yell propaganda at everyone 24/7 through all of her TV shows and things like that. The tech behind her also seems very advanced. Naturally I would advise not believing anything she says but maybe the big trick is that what she is saying is actually legit. Who knows right? Either way you won’t be forgetting her anytime soon.

Then you have Sylvie, who is a variant that gets a pretty huge role in the series. She is pretty powerful which is why she is considered to be such a threat. In her first appearances she manages to take down quite a few TVA agents. She’s a fun enough character and is quite determined to achieve her goal. By the end of the series you have to decide if you’re on her side or not and that’ll probably determine how much you like her as a villain. I thought she did a pretty good job in the role.

Finally you have the leader of the TVA. Throughout the series they hype him up which makes sense since the guy running this whole multiversal company has to be pretty solid right? He knows everything that’s going to happen and as a result he is always at the top of the ranks. A cosmic being like that can always be a bit hit or miss depending on how powerful you find them to be. He’s interesting but I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan. He’s certainly not much of a fighter and that never helps a character’s chances in my book.

I would say the show’s biggest weak point is the romance though. It just doesn’t work at all. I’ve always found it hard to believe that two characters would fall for each other so easily and in Loki there is just no time for the characters to really learn about each other. Loki and Sylvie know each other for a few days at best before this starts up. You could definitely have had the whole adventure without the romance if you ask me and it would have probably worked better. Just have them be friends who understand each other in a way most could not. Since they are effectively the same person in different timelines, that could be a great way for them to empathize with each other. Would have made for a better dynamic.

Okay, it’s time we enter spoiler territory so tread the following grounds only if you have seen the show already or don’t mind spoilers. It’s time to really talk about what went down in the final episodes. While I would say the Cap and Winter Soldier didn’t really have a lot of twists in the end, this one’s like WandaVision where a whole lot happens in the second half. At only 6 episodes you expect a fast pacing of course but one impressive thing has been how big the effects of the shows are. Now to an extent you expect a lot of things to wrap up so people who are film only won’t be lost. WandaVision goes in a way where if you missed it, I get the feeling that you will still be okay. Likewise you can probably handle this in a similar way so you shouldn’t get your hopes too high but it certainly does change the game quite a bit.

So the TVA is basically a front for Kang (Kudos to the people who figured he was the head of the TVA from the start) as he tries to stay master of the timelines. See, he created them because without the TVA, a Kang ends up being born in all timelines and they inevitably fight for control in the end. With the TVA he is able to prevent any other Kang from being born. So it’s not that he prevents all timelines from splitting, he only stops this one outcome. It serves as a good way to add purpose to the organization and show that they don’t just act randomly.

It doesn’t change the idea that the TVA is a villainous organization though. They are openly brainwashing people to follow them and erasing entire timelines. This may be to stop the greater evil as they would say but the end doesn’t justify the means. They are still wiping out a bunch of people on a daily basis. So at the end Loki and Sylvie are given two options. Destroy Kang and dismantle the TVA or assume the throne and keep the status quo going. Naturally Sylvie wants to finish the job while Loki likes the idea of keeping things the same.

They both have merit of course but ultimately I think Sylvie’s on the right track. You don’t have to murder Kang but definitely you should dismantle the TVA or assume control in a new way. Wiping out people’s lives and brainwashing them can’t be the answer. There has to be a better way and at least this forces the issue. The final fight with Loki and Sylvie is pretty cool even if you know how it’s going to play out. Once you let emotions get to the top, you’ve already lost.

So in the ending, the war of the Kangs starts up again and a different one claimed victory this time. So, Loki retained his memories (Presumably Sylvie will keep hers as well) but everyone has been reset to the new timeline. Here’s the interesting part, the war has already ended since it takes place at the end of time like the last one and then scales back. So the reason the rest of the Marvel universe might not notice is they would have all been reset already. Perhaps Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange would notice and perhaps not. The universe has already been reset in the past after all.

So I’m not really sure what Loki can possibly do in Season 2 since everything is already over. Perhaps he can convince Sylvie to murder the next Kang but based on the show’s logic, he would need to allow this since he would foresee it coming. In a way the show has probably written itself into a corner here. Kang is all powerful and he has already won in this universe. There are statues of him and the TVA is alive and well. No matter what Loki does, the universe has already been completely changed. You would need something crazy to stop Kang and change the universe, but again…Kang would know about it. That’s the tough thing with time travelers, they already know the future.

Still, I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out of course. It is a pretty unique concept to have battles across space and time since they’re already over before you were even born. It’s a fun concept to play around with in your head. It made for a really exciting ending to be sure. I’m much happier to see Kang at the top then the lizard creatures that turned out to just be a façade in the end.

As for the actual twist behind being erased, honestly I’d prefer if that just wasn’t a thing. It turns out that when you’re erased you fall into a desert land where a giant being just eats you. It takes the power of several Lokis to stop this long enough to escape. I’m not sure I buy this creature being able to destroy too many more powerful fighters but maybe Kang got lucky and only fairly weak ones ever caused another Kang to appear.

My main issue with the whole erasure plot twist is it just feels unnecessary. Why not just have the characters actually get blown away when they’re erased? I don’t see why you would need to send them somewhere and honestly blowing them up would be simpler for the TVA. Less variables and loose ends to worry about. Your target is just gone for eternity and you now have nothing to worry about. It was fun seeing the other Lokis though.

One of them even points out how using a knife is not as practical as general energy bolts. There was also a long standing fan theory that Loki escaped from Thanos with an illusion so those fans will feel vindicated here. Of course it was a different incarnation of Loki but it does show the strategy was feasible. Presumably you could even make the case that perhaps the main Loki did this trick as well and we just wouldn’t know until the future pops up. It seems unlikely though so I wouldn’t hold your hopes out for that.

The battle royale between them was fun as well. I would have liked to have had more cool action scenes like that. I do think the show had the proper balance between action and comedy though. Each episode was sure to get you some good laughs and treat you to fun action scenes. I wish Loki had thought of a better way to dodge or defend himself in the Sif situation but it was intense to see him get beaten up so many times. Throw in the cool time travel concepts and that’s a wrap. The show was a complete experience. I also like the TVA as well. I may not take them seriously as an organization because they seem far too weak but considering that they’re really just a front for Kang messing with everyone, it starts to add up quite nicely.

Overall, Loki was a pretty fun show. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how season 2 goes. I hope Loki is ready to focus on the task at hand and isn’t moping about romance though. That would put a damper on his spirits in season 2. He’s definitely at his best when he’s being overconfident and smug about everything. It’s what makes him a really enjoyable character so you need to keep that in. There’s still a lot of places you can go with the plot even if I think it will be constrained in other areas. Loki’s probably going to need a whole lot of plot armor if he wants to get through this which is pretty unavoidable when time travel is involved anyway. We’ll see if the “What If” show coming up can match this one.

Overall 7/10

Anonymous Noise Review


Anonymous Noise is a title where I started the manga much sooner than the anime, but ended up finishing the show version first. Sometimes it just ends up working out that way. The anime is pretty quick after all. It’s a really solid adaption of the manga to be sure and while it does end really early, there isn’t a big divergent point so the anime could just get a season 2 someday and wrap things up. There’s definitely nothing about the adaption I would give a thumbs down.

The series starts with Nino at her first big day of school. Right away you can tell she probably has some kind of story since she’s wearing a medical mask as if this took place during Covid-19 but of course the show came out way before that. We gradually learn that she had two different origin stories. First she met up with a kid named Momo who she would hang out with. They had a great time singing and such but one day he vanished. Nino got depressed but then she met another boy named Yuzu. Yuzu couldn’t sing because he would vanish if he did but he would write music for her to sing. This went well until he vanished as well.

Cut to many years later where Nino is a teen now. She is still really into music though and decides to join the school’s music band. Surprisingly….Yuzu is the leader of this band. That’s right, they are reunited although he doesn’t seem thrilled about it and won’t even talk to her. Then Nino finds out Momo might be around but he is avoiding her as well. The only constant she has is music and she is going to use her voice to reach everyone. She aims to reach Yuzu as a friend and Momo as something else.

The opening episode has to be one of the strongest premiers I’ve seen in a while. It really does a good job of introducing all of the characters and setting the stage for the plot. The animation was really solid and there was a lot of energy throughout the episode. The colors are used well and the songs are really on point. I dare say it may even be the best episode of the series although the one where the cliffhanger had the characters finally meeting was pretty hype.

A lot of the suspense here is really because initially as the audience we know all of the characters but naturally they don’t know each other. For example, Yuzu and Momo actually become good friends but neither one of them know about the other’s relationship with Nino. You know that eventually they will find out though which is where the suspense comes in. The only question is, how long will it be until they find out?

Also, giving Nino two different origin stories was certainly a bold move. It’s not really something you see all that much. I remember there being one show/movie where the character’s friends all got murdered twice with a few years in between so I guess that counts but it’s super rare. So that was also another pretty interesting thing in the series.

The writing is on point and the character cast is pretty strong for the most part. The animation is also really solid. I like the contrast with all of the colors the whole time. It helps make the show feel even newer the whole time. A lot of effort was clearly put into this for sure. Then you have the soundtrack which is pretty excellent as you would expect from a music based show. The band Nino is a part of specializes in rock songs so you can expect to see a whole lot of that. There isn’t a big variety in songs but the series is only 12 episodes after all so that makes sense. You can only squeeze so many things in.

The opening and ending songs are both really solid as well as the songs they play in the show. So with all of this in its favor the show is basically firing on all cylinders right? There is only one thing that’s not so great and that’s the romance. Granted, I would say the romance is actually better here than in the manga in many respects since it ends sooner so there’s less jumping around. That said, you aren’t really given any good reasons to root for either guy.

First up is Momo. He’s taking on the role of the “mean boy” so get ready for him to constantly give Nino the cold shoulder. Now that might not be bad if he was just ignoring her or something but he openly goes past that with how rude he is. He insults her singing voice in front of everyone, tells her not to talk to him, insults her friends + the band, etc. So he goes out of his way to be as much of a jerk as possible. This never really stops Nino from chasing after him but you feel like it should. There’s just no good reason to root for the guy.

The only redeeming part for him is that he does have a fun supporting character in Kuze. She’s always messing with him and basically forcing him to make the right decisions once in a while. Without her at the ready he probably would be really doomed right about now. If anything I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of her in the series. Her scenes always tended to be a lot of fun.

Then we have Yuzu. So he is definitely the nicer guy even if at first he tries to play it cool as well. It doesn’t last past the first episode though and after that he’s good friends with Nino. The problem of course is that he doesn’t want to be just friends but doesn’t know how to tell her this. He’s always trying to climb out of Momo’s shadow but it’s a pretty tough challenge since the guy is just so talented. Yuzu’s best chance is to beat him in a battle of the bands but since he can’t sing he’ll just have to hope his song can do it. Both of them are primarily song writers after all so that’s where it will hurt the most.

I can’t really get behind the guy though because aside from the fact that he’s not straight forward with his feelings, he tends try and make advances to Nino even when she’s in a vulnerable spot. He’s not above winning as the rebound guy and he even steals a kiss at one point. That definitely doomed him absolutely. While I do like him more than Momo in the manga, if we strictly go by the anime Momo would probably have the edge here. It helps that his character hasn’t done multiple 180s at this point yet.

Naturally not all of the subplots can have a chance to shine just yet. With a limited amount of episodes that mainly meant some of the supporting characters would have to bow out. For example, Miou is one of those characters. To make the romance situation even more complicated, she likes Yuzu and is always dismayed since he only has eyes for Nino. Meanwhile, another member of the band named Haruyoshi likes her. The anime hints at this a bit but there’s never anytime to go into it.

That’s probably for the best since it would have been really rushed if anything happened just yet. He actually tries to confess to Miou at leas once but she assumes its a joke and keeps on going. Haruyoshi wasn’t very confident though so he did say it as if it was a bit of a joke. He’s a fun enough character here. Haruyoshi helps keep the band together and never really panics much.

Miou’s also a solid character as she’s one of the only characters who feels like she has always got Nino’s back. Some of the other characters may waffle around a while but she’s always right there with some good advice. That’s considering that she didn’t even intend to become friends with Nino for quite a while.

Speaking of which I didn’t really talk about Nino herself all that much. From all of the main characters I’ve seen she may be the one with the shortest attention span. Characters will be talking to her and then she’ll suddenly talk about something completely unrelated. Other times she’ll just tune out mid conversation. Fortunately the characters don’t take it as being rude but it’s so extreme that Nino feels quite unique.

When she isn’t having more comedic moments like this, she is quite serious about studying and everything. Even when she loses herself in song, she is able to keep concentrating on the outside such as when she was able to save Yuzu when he dropped his pick. She has a good awareness about her at all times except when it comes to romance of course. She makes for a fun main character.

Kuro is the last member of the band but his subplot never even starts or gets hinted at. That’s fine with me but effectively that means he is an empty character here. Aside from being in the band he doesn’t actually have a role in the story. He seems like a nice guy though and his drumming skills are certainly necessary to make sure the whole group has a good time. Finally you have Yana who is the manager of the band. I like his confidence and he doesn’t back down from a challenge. He gets them good gigs and really earns his keep.

The big climax here is really the battle of the bands which is a fitting way to end the show. All of the plots have a big update here and while nothing ends, it’s the kind of ending where you can easily fill in the gaps yourself. In general as I mentioned the romance wasn’t really my thing but I did find the story to be very engaging. The directing and everything was solid so the show never got boring. It’s a pretty easy title to binge.

As the story goes on you’ll end up seeing why Momo and Yuzu ended up leaving so suddenly. You can judge their actions further from that. Thing is, for me at least it doesn’t excuse their actions anyway. Couldn’t they have apologized, tried to find her, or at least acted friendly at school? A random bully from pre-school made more of an effort to be Nino’s friend than they did. In a way that’s just embarrassing for the two main guys.

At the end of the day, what makes the anime work is that it’s just a fun watch. There’s a lot of good banter between the characters. Nino definitely takes a lot of shots at Yuzu’s height but he never takes it personal which is good. Miou’s probably the most sympathetic character here since you get the feeling that she has absolutely 0 chance with Yuzu from the start since Nino exists. It’s a lot harder to sympathize with Momo/Yuzu since they’ve created a lot of their problems just by how they handle each situation. They would still have some family issues regardless but the situation would have been better for them.

It’s also fun how the band has such a revolving roster depending on the time of day. For example, Nino’s band is technically a secret one which is why they all wear masks. So by day at the school there is the music club which is the full team + Miou. Then at night it’s the team without Miou while she joins Momo’s team. Then by day Momo is writing songs for other groups. Each character is really wearing a lot of hats here. Of course Nino should be a giveaway in either team since she has a tendency to start screaming out the lyrics. The anime handled how this works really well as she effectively yells out all the lyrics. Fortunately since it’s a metal band that doesn’t seem to bother the audience much so they tend to get into it.

It partially ties into why she wears the mask. I didn’t delve into it much but it’s also more of a focus in the manga with how she begins to suffocate/want to scream without it. Basically the mask psychologically helps her not break down while she’s wearing it. It’s similar to how Yuzu believes he can’t sing and Momo can’t even think about writing if he sees Nino. Each character has a lot to deal with which is why the show can also be quite dramatic.

Overall, Anonymous Noise definitely makes for a fun show. If you’re looking for a good slice of life/romance title to watch then this is a good one. The musical scenes definitely help to take the series to the next level. It’s almost like a sports anime in that sense and that’s why the show is at its best when it is focusing on this aspect. The CGI for the shows is quite noticeable to be sure and can’t match the hand drawn parts of course but it’s nothing too bad. You’ll probably be focusing on the music anyway. After watching this one you will be all set to continue on with the manga to see how the story ends.

Overall 7/10

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Review


Marvel is keeping it going with a second live action show connected to the movies. Following up on WandaVision this one is more of a down to Earth story with two characters still trying to move on after Cap seemingly died or at the very least is super old right now. Personally I’m in the “he’s dead” camp myself but you never know when he might pop out to mess with everyone. This one’s a good show and I would put it above the WandaVision show. As it all takes place in the modern day you can expect a lot of setup for future events.

The show starts with showing us where the two characters are at. Falcon is in a rough spot financially since being an Avenger and a top ranking government agent doesn’t pay very well. (I still have major issues believing this by the way. There’s absolutely no way the government could let this happen. Even without Tony there should be some way he should have a lot of money right now since being a free lance government worker pays really well and with the Avengers press and such that should add up.) He and his sister may even have to sell their boat which is causing a lot of tension between them. Surely Falcon can find a way to get past this but it’s going to be difficult.

Meanwhile the Winter Soldier is trying to deal with his guilt of murdering so many people back when he was a Hydra agent. He is going to mandatory counseling to deal with this and has been working as a vigilante to try and commit a lot of good deeds to overwhelm the negative ones. It hasn’t stopped his nightmares though and he needs something big to take his mind off of things.

Well, they’re in luck. A terrorist organization known as the Flag Smashers have popped up. They go around burning buildings and destroying property to realize their goal of “One People One World” Effectively, they are saying that the world was better during the 5 years when everyone was blinked out of existence and they want everyone to go back to that time. They are led by Karli, a super soldier who is willing to do whatever it takes to get this mission accomplished. Sam and Bucky are going to need to unite forces to stop her.

Right off the bat it was nice to see some pseudo Avengers action here. One of the highlight battles was definitely when they engage the Flagsmashers on the train and get some assistance from the new Captain America, John Walker and his partner. With 4 on 4 effectively you figure the heroes would win but they still get rolled up like a burrito. It just goes to show that they are still lacking that power hitter to win the day but it was a well balanced fight that went back and forth.

All of the battle scenes here are on point. There’s a lot of good choreography throughout. That said, Falcon and John feel incredibly outmatched here since they are normal humans dealing with super soldiers. They should be getting rolled every time they try to fight because the gap is just too huge at this point. Especially as in later films we’ve seen more of what the super soldier serum could really do for Cap. It’s not a level of power that you can easily match.

The show only lasts for 6 episodes but it gets to accomplish a whole lot within that time such as plot setups for the future and different developments that will be relevant to the films coming up. One character who was fleshed out really well here was John. I rather liked the guy and thought that Sam and Bucky were way too harsh on the guy. He really was just trying to help initially but all they had to offer him were insults and a bad attitude. You can see where his character arc is going from there from the start though.

It’s a classic Ironwood kind of path although handled with a lot more subtlety. By the end you can’t even say John is fully evil or anything. The fact that his emotions run away with him is incredibly dangerous though so he’s likely going to end up more like Punisher than the actual Captain America. Still, I look forward to seeing more of him. He’s a versatile fighter who was usually fighting against bad odds and still did well.

His 2 on 1 fight against the other heroes was impressive, so impressive that you could make the case he would have beaten either one of them 1 on 1. That would scale him to possibly being even a little stronger than Steve who was initially getting overpowered by Bucky at times although I suppose since then he had surpassed him. John does have a whole lot of combat experience though so it makes sense. To him the whole thing must feel unfair as two vigilantes are trying to take away the shield he got from the government. Mix that in with the other events from that day and he had a really rough time of it.

On the government crowd we also have Sharon who finally gets to appear in the universe again after being gone for a long while. She’s a fun character and definitely doesn’t seem to have an issue with murdering her opponents though. She has managed to survive for a long while on her own which has definitely had an effect on how she sees things. Sharon will be an interesting character to keep an eye on.

Zemo also gets a big role here. Yes, I do think the heroes busting him free as part of the plan was an extremely risky plan that could have easily backfired. I disagreed with it from the start mainly because of how many innocent people would and probably die die during the escape. It’s glossed over but they had to free a ton of prisoners to keep the guards busy and we see a lot of guards getting knocked out during the chaos. Considering that all of these villains were incredibly dangerous like Zemo, I doubt they would be taking prisoners.

So the benefits didn’t outweigh the dangers there. At that point you could easily be rooting against the heroes for the rest of the show and I wouldn’t blame you. It was pretty shocking how dubious a decision that was. Zemo’s a fun guy though. He’s certainly as villainous as ever but he does agree that the Flagsmashers are a big concern since the guy really doesn’t like the super soldier serum. He’ll be an ally at least for a little while but he’s not someone you can turn your back on.

Joaquin is Falcon’s main army contact and the guy does pretty well for himself. He certainly isn’t someone who is ready to fight with a bunch of super soldiers but he does well when needed and finds out a lot of info. Then there’s Falcon’s sister who is fun enough. She helps to keep him grounded and is doing what she can to stay afloat.

Now let’s look at the two main characters and the main villain. Falcon leads the title card so as you can imagine he is effectively the main character here. A big part of the story is his character development from giving away the shield to ultimately deciding to take on the mantle. You’ve probably seen certain shots from the final episode between the film announcement and the big deal it got but he will certainly be entering a new status quo going forward.

I would like for Falcon to get a super soldier serum of his own just because I don’t think it’s possible to compete for long without powers but maybe that is coming up. He’s a good character here and there’s a lot of nice banter with Bucky. Falcon does fumble the ball towards the end though with his speech about how Karli wasn’t a terrorist. You can understand the idea behind this and not rushing to conclusions, but he shouldn’t have used her as an example.

Let’s face facts here, she blew up several buildings that still had innocents inside, she was going to blow up a bus of government officials to send a message and she was just getting started. She was getting more and more extreme throughout the show so calling her a terrorist is fair. His main comeback seemed to be that she had a good message but your intentions and goals don’t matter when you cross a certain line.

After all, there are tons of villains who had goals that people may even agree with but the methods are what nullify them. The universe is over populated so you may agree with Thanos on reducing it, just not by destroying people. Adam Taurus fought to help give the Faunus equal rights which everyone agreed with but he wanted to do that by murdering people so it voided the cause. It’s the same thing with Karli. Maybe they can think of a way to make the world better but it doesn’t change the fact that she and her Flagsmashers were absolutely 100% terrorists.

So I think Falcon got caught up in his feelings a bit there with a character who had just threatened to murder his sister an episode ago but otherwise he was a fun lead. It’ll be good to see how he handles the mantle in the next season. Meanwhile Bucky is definitely the more down to Earth guy in the group. I would say it seems like he was nerfed quite a bit to make sure he wouldn’t just outshine the rest of the cast though. Based on how well he fought Captain America he should absolutely be dominating these Flagsmashers. Unless it’s 4 to 1 or something he just has way better combat experience and his arm is on point. There’s a 1 on 1 fight where it’s fairly even near the end and I feel like Bucky should waste the guy.

On a personality level though Bucky is finally getting past his old feelings of guilt so I think we’ll see a more confident version of him if we get a season 2. It’s no secret that I’ve never been a Bucky fan in just about any incarnation but he’s not bad here. At least I’m glad we don’t have to deal with the mind control and such anymore. Now he works pretty well as an anti-hero and the banter with him and Falcon is always a positive. His super rushed romance that doesn’t go anywhere could have been skipped though.

Finally we have Karli. In case you couldn’t guess, I was not a big fan of hers. In part it’s because I don’t exactly see her group having any tangible ways to make the world a better place. Okay, she’s upset that half the world came back and destroyed the world unity that people had. Since she can’t destroy half of the population to bring things back to normal (Although I wonder if that was the plan pre-Covid. If it was, then that changes everything) how does she propose the world make this situation work? She doesn’t offer any solutions throughout the whole show.

Presumably she tried peaceful options earlier based on her dialogue but we never even learn what her proposal is. She always goes right to burning buildings and beating people up so there isn’t even any kind of agenda that you can get behind. Ultimately that’s why I can’t get behind Karli because her group didn’t seem to even have a tangible goal.

There’s also a guest star that shows up here but I won’t go into that here as it’s probably the first guest star from one of these shows that I didn’t even know was in it. So that was a nice surprise and her role is pretty good. She gets to show off her skills rather quickly. Including cameos and guest appearances like this also helps to cement this as something really in the universe which is always nice to see.

As always Marvel delivers with a lot of impressive effects here. The show does really feel like you’re watching an extended movie which is always impressive. TV Shows have certainly come a very long way from how they used to be. It probably helps that this is a mini series. I also like how the events seem really important to the movies. With a show like Agents of Shield no matter how many times they may say it was canon or the show would have references, you suspected that nothing big would ever happen because the execs would worry that people wouldn’t watch it. Sure enough, Shield is basically not cannon to the extent that nothing there mattered if you just watch the movies. While the movies could somehow back out of the events for WandaVision and this show, I find that to be 99% unlikely. There just seems like no way it would be possible. The events here are massive which is nice to see.

Overall, Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a pretty good show. We have a solid cast of characters and a lot of interesting plots going on. I do think the two heroes did really overstep their boundaries as heroes and acted like vigilantes quite a bit. Not a problem as I rather enjoy vigilantes but it’s never really portrayed that way which is odd. You’d think they would be full fugitives by the end of the film no matter what results they got. I particularly enjoyed John Walker’s character arc as he tried to use the mantle well and be the best hero he could be. Whenever I see him swinging Cap’s shield around I do wonder how people don’t straight up get murdered though. Never forget that the shield is made up of Vibranium. You feel like a single shot would utterly shatter someone. I think this show has a better chance of getting a season 2 compared to WandaVision but at the same time the odds are still small since this will probably continue on into the movies. If you haven’t seen this show yet then I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Overall 7/10

WIXOSS Diva (A) Live Review


Wixoss has returned although this time we’ve got a completely new cast, rule set and a world that’s so different this may as well be a hard reboot. Whenever a series decides to sort of go back to the drawing board it can be fun to see the new characters even if you end up missing the old ones. Aside from Pokemon, virtually every long running merchandise show has done this like Yugioh, Beyblade, Digimon, Cardfight, Buddyfight, etc. It’s just the way it goes so maybe this is a good sign that Wixoss still has a big future ahead of it. It’s a fun season that is going for more of a slice of life feel than the previous ones. Don’t expect the fate of the world to be in the balance but you can expect a lot of action.

The story picks up by explaining that the game of Wixoss has gotten incredibly big over the years. The top team was known as the Eternal Girls but they faded away into retirement very suddenly. Now the best team in the world is known as Deus Ex Machina and all of the idols strive to match that team. See, the battles are now 3 on 3 and those who fight in the arena as known as Divas. You are expected not only to win but also to put on a good show while you do it. You have to sing, dance, and show the world that you have skills as an idol as well as a player.

Hirana is a girl who really wants to compete with the best of the best but her two partners aren’t really into the game and so they aren’t the most powerful members of the group. Hirana heads to a show to watch some real opponents when she is baited into a fight. Fortunately, the cold hearted Rei happened to be around and Hirana’s good friend Akino who doesn’t like being in the spotlight. This team ends up coming together and winning so they decide to stick through with it.

It won’t be as easy as all of that though because each of these characters bring some baggage along with them. Rei has broken many teams apart because of how cold she appears to be. She wants to win at all costs and doesn’t accept anything less than 100% in every battle. If her teammates don’t live up to this then she leaves. Hirana is sure that Rei is still a good person but the rumors are flying around everywhere.

I will say though that Rei never appears to be nearly as cold as her reputation. Really if you take any scene she is in, you could make the case someone like Sailor Mars or Jupiter may have been colder at times. Rei does have skill though and does seem to be the most talented member of the trio. She’s a fun character and is always willing to try and handle the drama on her own so the rest of the team can relax. She’s selfless and gets the job done.

Then you have Akino and as I mentioned, she does not like the spotlight. You feel bad for her because she did step in to defend Hirana’s honor and overcame her shyness temporarily. It was never expected to be a long running thing though. That was supposed to be one and down, yet Hirana and Rei continue to pressure her to enter again. Ultimately Akino is too nice to turn them down but she probably should have just stayed firm if that really wasn’t her thing.

Especially since you have to dance and sing as well and her auto costume isn’t exactly the most conservative one. You feel like the deck is stacked against her here. From the main 3 she would have to be my least favorite member. I don’t blame her for not wanting to have to go on stage because it isn’t for everyone but I think she should have been more resolute about this. Either you’re in or you’re out.

As for Hirana, she’s definitely a very solid main character. She’s a classic lead who’s all about wanting to win every battle. Her catch phrase is that there are no limits so you always have a chance to win if you put your mind to it. There’s not a whole lot to her beyond that level of determination but it’s enough to build a solid character around. That trait has always been a solid one after all so it would certainly work out in a character.

She is tested after getting wrecked in a lot of battles though. You do have to wonder how much virtual damage you experience in this game. It seems like the games can actually get rather painful which is a little odd but maybe it’s just because it happened so many times in a row. I was pretty skeptical about the climax there to say the least but if it was painful then I can see how it would be traumatic.

Either way Hirana did stay in there for a while though and battled many times so I wouldn’t hold that against her. Her abilities are definitely the real deal and she did well playing in the center position despite not having a whole lot of practice earlier. She also put a lot of time into studying which is important.

Of course they aren’t the only team here so lets look at some of the others. First there is the music team led by Nana. I would say next to Deus Ex Machine this is the best team. They are a well rounded bunch who always put up a good fight and Nana is one of the best supporting characters. She isn’t afraid to throw in some music puns and also has a lot of confidence. She doesn’t give up as easily as most of the other characters and she can duel really well. Her teammates don’t get to do as much but they’re around for support.

Then there is Dr. Tamago’s team. They are all about using data to calculate victory and such. Usually there’s always at least one team for that. They’re a good team but relying on data will always be a rather dangerous way to go about things. You can only learn so much about the heroes without improving the skills of your own group. Her teammates were Big Bang and Koeru. I’ll give Big Bang this, it’s cool that they had an actual A.I. as a sentient partner, it’s a nice twist even if she still doesn’t really get a role.

Next up is one of the more powerful teams and one of the only groups where all 3 members get a big role. This is Mujika’s team and the big deal is that her teammates were Rei’s old group. Mujika gets a lot of hype when she first appears because she’s effectively on the level of the pros. That means that the heroes can’t afford to underestimate her although in a 3 on 3 battle it seems like that’s not something that matters a whole lot anyway. She’s a reasonable fighter though and also helps to stop the drama with the others.

Then you have Madoka who is rather naïve and one of the weaker characters. I won’t go into detail about the falling out with Rei here since it’s a rather big plot point but it goes back to the whole issue where a character just takes someone’s word at face value without even trying to contact the actual person being discussed. It’s like if person C tells A, “Hey, B doesn’t want to be your friend anymore” and you just say “Wow!” Madoka needed to do a lot more ground work here to be honest so a lot of this is on her. She’s not a bad duelist as she actually put up a pretty decent fight against Rei but ultimately she couldn’t quite manage to claim victory there.

The third member is Sanga and she has to be the worst member of the trio. In fact, I would go as far as to say she was the worst character in the series. She’s one of those really petty characters who gets away with a whole lot without any real consequences. The worst part is that Sanga doesn’t regret anything aside from being caught. She doesn’t get as much as a stern talking to here so there was no going back for her. Characters can make mistakes, but her decisions were no accident.

Mikoto’s team are fairly big supporting characters although they aren’t nearly as skilled as a lot of the other teams. They put up a good fight in the opening episode but that’s about it. Mikoto’s all about winning at any cost even if it means breaking the rules and playing dirty. In her mind, whatever you got to do in order to win is what you have to do. Certainly a rather intense mentality on that and one that won’t get her far. She was pretty entertaining though and makes for a very fun villain.

Then you have the big team Deus Ex Machina. The main member naturally has the biggest role here and she’s a fun character. We get the classic plot of her meeting up with Hirana in the real world so they don’t recognize each other only to later fight in the cyber world. It’s definitely a bit of a shock to the lead especially since Deus and the others are much more aggressive on the playing field. The other two members don’t get quite as much to do but the time is rather limited for them.

I wouldn’t mind Deus Ex Machine getting more of a central role going forward. Their team is clearly pretty well focused and they’ve been through a lot to get this far. With their level of skill and ability there is no one on the whole planet (Aside from a possible return of the Eternal Girls) who can even challenge them. Effectively these girls have successfully become world champions which is no small feat. So it was fun to see them. If the virtual damage is really high then the leader may have been excessive when beating Hirana up but if it wasn’t then I think the whole thing was fairly normal despite being portrayed as rather intense. Keep in mind that Hirana has to formally accept each challenge in order for it to continue.

One side character who doesn’t do a lot here but contributes behind the scenes is Azami. She runs the card shop and if you’re any card show beyond Yugioh (Where Yugi’s Grandpa never helped) then you know that she can probably fight. We learn a lot about her and her character arc has a satisfying conclusion. I’ll admit that I was hoping she could have actually fought a bit but I guess that would have to be a season 2 kind of thing. You can probably guess at least part of her story as soon as she appears just because it’s that kind of series. Azami was fun so I’ll expect good things from her.

Pretty much the whole season here is about nonstop tournaments and battles so that was always fun. As soon as one battle ends the next one is usually right around the corner. I’m pretty sure there was a battle in each episode. Now granted, while I would effectively call this a true slice of life, the show tries adding some stakes at the very end. See there is an actual plan beyond just having Deus Ex Machina knock the stuffing out of everyone.

A lot of the Wixoss players are rather soft so just losing once is enough to get them to retire. The “villain” of the show figures that she will get all of the weak players to retire so the game of Wixoss can be pure once more. It’s just too over saturated right now. Here’s the problem….that’s actually not a bad plan. Think about it, there’s nothing evil, illegal, or even morally bankrupt here. She’s not going around insulting the players or bending the rules. Literally the plan is to have the best team welcome all challengers on TV and win within the rules. Their power is just so incredible that a lot of people realize they can’t match up and retire.

There’s nothing problematic here at all. In fact, if you’re going to completely quit a game because you lost once…then you weren’t going to stick around with it either. The villain here is just speeding up the process and it has another positive benefit of giving the Deus team some new challengers since they were clearly bored. The side characters with the right attitude like Nana were also thrilled to have a chance to fight the top team in the world.

So the plan wasn’t nearly as bad as the show would have you believe. For that reason I wouldn’t even consider the “villain” to be evil or even an antagonist. It’s just a nice marketing plan she has that some characters overreact to. I suppose it did give some drama to the final bouts though so that’s always fun. The battles with Deus Ex are undeniably the best part of the season and they stole the show.

In general the show’s just very entertaining so that’ll keep you invested throughout. The main characters have a good dynamic about them. The cast is also at a reasonable size so in the 12 episodes all of the captains get to do something. Their teammates may just be around at times instead of making a name for themselves but it’s all juggled rather well. The writing is on point as well.

The show does manage to squeeze in some fanservice of course so that’s a bit of a downer. It’s nothing too crazy but just the usual tropes of transformation scenes that get recycled in each episode and one beach episode. It’s nothing too crazy but it does all feel rather pointless like the show is going through the motions of adding this because it’s just expected at this point. Akina is the worst example of this since her whole point is that she’s timid and she doesn’t like people staring at her. Why wouldn’t she change her costume? Don’t tell me you can’t change your costume in a futuristic world that is centuries beyond Earth tech. I won’t buy that for a second, it would make 0 sense not to have such a feature. So every episode she has on the same costume is one where you’ll shake your head at that.

At least the animation is solid though. I wouldn’t say it looks quite as good as the original seasons of Wixoss which may be a slight shot since those are older at this point. I don’t know why a newer version wouldn’t look as good but maybe the budget was slashed for this season? It would explain the transition to more of a slice of life setting with less focus on the battles since you don’t need as many solid animation effects there. It also would explain the constant recycled animation in each episode as they transform into their Diva forms.

The soundtrack is really good as well. Part of what helps is that every team has their own signature song so the ost is quite varied. Nana’s team has the best team song but all of the tracks are pretty good. It’s got that classic techno vibe which is always fun to see. Nothing can beat the opening to Wixoss season 4, but the opening and endings here are solid as well.

Much like the earlier seasons this one doesn’t bother explaining the rules much. I still feel like this is a super convenient way for the writers to do whatever they want. You’ll have a character getting blackmailed into not attacking for 8 turns only to suddenly win on the 9th when they can fight back. The rules are so completely lopsided that nothing makes sense. Now that it’s 3 on 3 this only gets more and more noticeable as the characters on the side can level their cards up whenever they want and enter the battle.

The show never makes it clear what each role is or how the battles work. You may as well be watching a game of chance. It’s why I said earlier that the skill levels don’t seem to matter. Whether you’re a pro or it’s your first week of battling it just doesn’t seem to matter at all. That’s one thing the show really needs to work on. The rules need to at least be modestly explained for anyone to take the battles seriously. Otherwise you don’t even need to try and follow along since it doesn’t really matter towards who wins.

Overall, Wixoss Diva is a good follow up to the other series. It does feel like it’s taking the franchise in a very different direction. It’s not trying to be part thriller with showing us the horrors of being a magical girl. This one’s a very up beat slice of life about girls trying to be the top Diva fighters in the world. I expect we may start to ramp up the stakes in a season two but maybe they will actually play it straight. So long as you go into this knowing that it’s not going to be an action title you should have a good time. It’s a well balanced show and tournaments are all the plot you need in these shows. Just seeing the heroes enter battles and win as they rise up the ranks is fun. Now I just hope that if we get a sequel we get to see the Eternal Girls fight this time. Of course the best thing to do would be to bring back some of the older characters into real supporting or even main roles to hype up a crossover.

Overall 7/10

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Rimuru’s Glamorous Life as a Teacher Review


That title’s definitely a mouthful isn’t it? In theory I could have taken out the franchise title since you don’t always need to have that as part of the intro but in this case it did make sense. This one’s a 3 episode special about Rimuru’s days as a teacher. It’s a fun little adventure and works well in this universe where Rimuru already does get to have a lot of down time between battles. You can picture him hanging out at the school for a while to flex and show why he’s a better teacher than the rest. It’s a solid adventure that goes by in a flash.

The special starts with Rimuru slacking off at school as per usual when Jeff shows up. This teacher has always had something against Rimuru. Rimuru doesn’t know if it’s because he’s always slacking off or the guy is just jealous that he transformed the most problematic class into the most powerful one. Either way Jeff lets him know that a big protection test is coming up at the school and as always Rimuru’s class won’t be invited since they don’t have equipment. Rimuru quickly changes that so now his class can in fact enter. The rules are simple, the kids will drive a van/wagon past the mountain plains and into town where they will drop off the teacher unharmed. They will all then participate in a cave challenge fighting monsters.

To keep things fair, the students will be guarding different teachers. So for example Jeff’s students will be guarding Rimuru and his students will be guarding another teacher named Tiss. Your points are based on how quickly you make it to the castle along with how smooth a ride it was. Rimuru’s not particularly concerned since his kids are far more powerful than your average class. They each have spirit animals and basic offensive magic skills at the ready. Still, this trip may be more dangerous than they had expected.

The special does deliver on the action as the kids are inevitably attacked by bandits. They handle them rather well and then even have to fight off an actual demon. They don’t look quite as good in that battle but I don’t think anyone would have been quite prepared to handle this guy. Not only does he have regeneration but he is also very fast and powerful. Such a foe is completely outside the limits of a usual school test. Fortunately we had Diablo show up to clean things up by the end. The guy continues to prove why he is one of the best characters in the series which is why it’s almost a bit funny that he hasn’t technically appeared in the main show yet outside of a cliffhanger, a prequel episode, and now an extra episode.

You can tell he will definitely make a splash when he gets a proper role. There’s also a bit of an epilogue as Rimuru helps cure a fatal illness because he’s just that good. One thing you figure out very quickly while watching the slime adventures is that there isn’t much that Rimuru can’t do. Thanks to Great Sage he is a super genius and he has so many extra abilities that he is also a whiz at combat. This makes him pretty much untouchable to at least 90% of the cast which is no small feat. He’s a fun character and definitely looks good in these episodes.

Then you have the rival Jeff who is fun. I mean, you know he is completely and utterly out of his league in the fight but it doesn’t take away from his being a rather amusing character. It’s always fun seeing these characters give the lead a hard time, particularly when like here it isn’t overdone. He’s not trying to frame Rimuru or do anything drastic, he just throws out a lot of insults.

Then you have the third teacher Tiss. She’s a nice person but you feel like she should be a lot stronger than she is. My main issue is that she looked up to Shizu as a great role model and aspires to be as powerful as her. You would expect that she would have started training then right? Unfortunately she acts like she has never held a sword a day in her life. How does that work out? It just doesn’t make any sense no matter how you slice it. I’m hoping when she next appears she would have gotten a lot stronger.

Meanwhile the kids are good, they continue to defy expectations and actually appear as very solid characters. I would say the weakest of the group is Gale mainly because the guy barely seems to have any character next to the others. Kenya is a blast though and is always ready to charge the enemy. With his sword and design he looks like someone out of Dragon Quest. Then you have Chloe who is also always ready for battle. Her chosen weapon may not be the best one but she makes up for it in hidden talent. Then you have Alice who is quite possibly the most powerful of the kids. She is a little more on the timid side but definitely fights when it counts. Ryota is also a fairly quiet kid so you won’t see him make a name for himself, but he is there ready and willing to help at all times.

While the special is a fairly light hearted endeavor, the action scenes are pretty serious. Kenya actually sliced off one guy’s arm which was unexpected but of course the guy had a potion to regenerate it. I’m glad Kenya had been prepared for this though. The kids put up a brave stand against the demon as well which was nice to see and of course this led to Diablo stealing the show as always. It was a great climax and the perfect way to end the special. If you merge the three parts this works quite well as a mini movie. It’s got a complete plot and while Rimuru doesn’t get to do a whole lot in terms of fighting here, he’ll have plenty of chances in the main series anyway. This one really focuses on why he is known as such a great teacher. He may be rather hands off in his approach but his sheer genius makes up the difference.

The animation is on par with the main show. It’s a very solid display for the character designs and backdrops. I definitely have no complaints with how anything looked. The soundtrack is also taken from the show so this is good as well. It is able to really capture the feeling of just being another pair of episodes which is good. It’s a seamless transition. The pacing is on point so this will also keep your interest all the way through.

Overall, This was a fun trilogy of episodes. I wouldn’t say there is a ton more to discuss since it’s a rather straight forward plot. It’s a quick challenge to see which class is best and we all know that Rimuru’s absolutely destroyed the others no matter what Jeff says. Of course, they all have super powers and spirit boosters so it may not be super fair, but that’s neither here nor there. I’d be cool with Jeff returning in the main series for more of a rivalry with Rimuru from time to time. The kids also still want to visit Rimuru’s village so I assume that is probably going to happen soon. If you want a fun little adventure to see the old characters again this is definitely a good special to check out.

Overall 7/10

SSSS.Gridman Review


Gridman is an anime from not too long ago. It deals with robots, aliens, and a whole lot of other sci-fi elements. It’s a pretty fun show and one that makes for a pretty quick watch since there are only 12 episodes at the moment. There are quite a few twists and turns as you go through the series so you can try to see if you get where the show is going early on. With solid action and an ongoing mystery type plot on the back-end what’s not to like? Either way you should definitely have a good time.

The show starts off by introducing us to Yuta. He has complete memory loss which is pretty unfortunate since he seems like he had just said something to the popular girl at school Rikka but has no idea what he said. She’s nice enough to take him to the hospital and then show him where he lives. Yuta then gets reintroduced to his best friend Sho and tries to make the best of this new life. He’s a bit weirded out by the fact that the town is surrounded by giant Kaiju. Nobody seems to notice them so only Yuta can even perceive the giant things. Yuta also dreams about a being named Gridman who is stuck in a computer. When a Kaiju attacks the city, Yuta follows his instincts and jumps into the computer. This allows him to turn into Gridman and fight off the Kaiju.

There is more to the story than this though. So Sho, Yuta, and Rikka form the Gridman alliance to stop the Kaiju. There are a few concerns. One is naturally what these Kaiju are and how they are appearing in the city. 2. Nobody remembers the Kaiju attacks once they are foiled and all of the damage to the city ends up being fixed. 3. Anyone murdered directly by a Kaiju stays dead even when the city is refreshed but now nobody remembers that character ever existing. Clearly there is a mastermind behind this and the heroes need to figure that out.

The viewers know this from the jump though as the show immediately reveals Akane as the big antagonist along with her alien friend known as Alexis. It’s one of those interesting dynamics where you are many steps ahead of the protagonists from the jump. Akane may not seem like your average villain but she is quite sinister with how willing she is to murder anyone who crosses her even if it’s just something minor like dropping her sandwich. Akane absolutely doesn’t have any sympathy for other characters.

As the show goes on you learn more and more about the city and all of your questions will be answered. Delving into any of that would be heavy spoiler territories though but needless to say it makes for a pretty fun twist. There is one supporting character who briefly appears to explain the twist and throw an info dump on Yuta but she disappears after that. I would be interested to see what she does in the future. I hope the character returns because there is a lot of potential there.

As the main character Yuta is decent. He’s a nice guy who always tries his best. Yuta does resist Akane’s attempts to seduce him which is good since you want to have a strong main character. He fights well in the mech and basically does whatever needs to get done. Yuta doesn’t have a whole lot of personality outside of just being your classic main character but there’s nothing bad to say about him either. Maybe he gets a bit jealous at times involving Rikka but that’s about it and it’s usually pretty mild.

Then you have his friend Sho who tends to panic a little more. Sho gets a bit of a mini character arc where he experiences a lot of self doubt. Aside from that period he was pretty confident the whole time though and did well as Yuta’s right hand man. The main heroine is Rikka and she’s a solid character. At times she may seem a bit desperate to be Akane’s friend despite Akane always insulting her but the show even explains this one pretty well. Rikka’s definitely a fun character so I can see why she grew pretty popular. She has more development than a lot of the other characters.

Gridman has a few allies who show up with Calibur probably getting the best role from all of them. They’re helpful to have around and each of them help out in the big fights. The fact that Calibur can fight rather well even in the human world is handy though. Gridman mostly just repeats his speech about saving the world the whole show but there is something that happens at the end which helps him a lot. It makes him a far more interesting main character so there’s a lot that season 2 can do with him. The guy has potential and I like the design.

As for the villains, Akane is naturally the main one for the season. She is constantly coming up with new Kaiju threats to use in battle. She certainly has a lot of Kaiju knowledge which is handy as well. Ultimately she really became her worst enemy as she could have had a much easier time of things if she wasn’t trying to be so commanding all the time. Her trying to make the world perfect is really what drives people away. She ultimately doesn’t seem to like people all that much despite wanting to be liked the whole time which puts her in a bit of a spot. Ultimately she may take a lot of detours in accomplishing her goals but if that’s what it takes for her to have more fun then I guess it was worth it to her. Her actions don’t always make a lot of sense but that seems intentional.

Then you have Alexis who is a blast. The entire show it feels like he is really just trolling everyone and that makes him a compelling villain. It reminds me a lot of the villain “Hero” from the Hyper Neptunia Virtual Stars game. They have similar designs and voice styles. Alexis has a plan of his own of course and he definitely looks really good by the end. This guy was definitely a scene stealer and it was always fun to see what his responses are. Despite his joking around a lot of the time, you always knew that you would have to keep your guard up around him.

Finally we have Anti who ended up being the best character in the show easy. This guy had a whole lot of character development. While he is a Kaiju who has a human body, he gradually grows more sentient as he stays human. From being one note to actually creating plans and understanding what it means to be human, Anti really manages to stand out as a result. He had some really great fight scenes as well. His ability to adapt to any opponent and keep on fighting was definitely impressive. His final form in the series is pretty great as well although my favorite form might have been 1 or 2 steps behind that one.

There’s a lot to like in Gridman with the engaging story and characters. I wouldn’t say the cast of characters is one of the strongest that I’ve seen recently as the main heroes don’t have a whole lot of personality next to others but the villains were all solid and we do get a lot of quality interactions. The writing is never in doubt and remains solid all throughout the series. For me the best episode in the series was number 6 as that is when the show really took a turn and we learned a whole lot of twists about the series. Now, I could have done without the very final twist in the closing seconds of the final episode personally since the twist could have taken a few other directions but it is a bold play either way which you can appreciate.

The animation here is very smooth indeed. The fight scenes are on point, especially when Anti was fighting Calibur or the final episode clashes. With the Kaiju there is a little less movement of course and yet the studio did a good job of making them give Gridman a good fight. Gridman often had the speed advantage of course but the Kaiju would either have enough durability to tank it or they would move pretty quickly. The weakest one was probably the giant volcano though since he couldn’t really move. Anti looks even more impressive by the end of the series considering that 1 on 1 most of these Kaiju gave Gridman a good fight while Anti was mowing through a bunch of them.

In particular aside from the excellent action scenes I also liked the eye effects. Eye effects are always a lot of fun in anime and that’s no different here. The characters had very detailed eyes which would sometimes even have more than 1 color. It’s a fun thing to see because it just makes the characters that much more memorable. It adds an extra dimension to things you can say.

On the opposite side, the series did have some fanservice here and there. Nothing really crazy, mostly it’s limited to just Akane in the show when she’s at home or messing with Yuta. The beach episode is the one exception because of course you know the Beach episode is always going to be here to try and shake things up. So on the whole I wouldn’t say the show has a big issue here. Enough where it is noticeable but it could certainly be far worse.

The soundtrack is pretty good in the show. We get some solid scenes like the insert song at the very end of the show and some good action tunes. It’s a well rounded soundtrack that works well for the show and the theme it’s going for. We even have a bit of a mysterious theme going on for when the heroes are wondering about what to do next. As much as it’s an action show this title also does focus on the mystery angle quite a bit as well.

The initial episodes of the show go for a more monster of the week kind of vibe until the end so if you’re a big Kaiju fan I imagine that may be your favorite part. Each Kaiju gets to have an episode to themselves after all and they get a good amount of hype. Being able to go up against Gridman is definitely not something that just anyone can do after all. The opening of the show is always a good way to introduce the characters as well since they get to bond while fighting off against these threats.

Time for two spoilers paragraphs so skip these if you haven’t seen the show yet. It deals with some of the final twists of the show so learning this ahead of time would definitely spoil the twist. So at the end of the show there’s quite a bit to think about. For example from Akane’s perspective, is she really as bad as all of that if her actions don’t actually effect anyone real? For example, when her Kaijus attack the town aside from anyone she is targeting, nobody stays dead or injured. If she is targeting someone who never truly existed and who technically doesn’t in the present either, then is she really destroying someone? It’s sort of like the next step to a VR video game. If you destroy an NPC nobody bats an eye. If the video game was drawn to scale and you were playing through it, suddenly the violence and gameplay mechanics are a lot more real so that would be more of a real attack right? Where the line gets drawn is definitely a very interesting point. That’s not what’s going on here with video games or things like that but it’s a decent analogy. My view would be she’s still the villain clearly because the instant she created all of these people as god from her bed in the real world, they did exist. Now, it’s implied that the entire series is just a dream she was having and none of it is real. In that case if it’s a pure dream then nothing is actually happening anyway right?

Well, it’s hard to say for sure because of the Gridman team who come from another planet and the Kaiju girl who appears on the train. In theory they could also be apart of the dream since if this is all happening in Akane’s mind then nothing is really happening. If you look at it from that perspective as everything being one big dream, then she was having fun playing the villain in her dream but that’s it. Alternately, she essentially manages to create a whole psyche in the dream world and then created a city. Her entire life just happened in the span of a dream and it felt longer than in the real world. The Gridman team was somehow able to get in to try and fix this or Akane’s dream managed to take over an existing world. There’s just a lot of ways you can spin this but personally in this case I think the simplest solution is the right one. The entire series is an elaborate dream including every character and lore mentioned in the series. None of it is real and when Akane goes back to sleep she will just dream about it all over again. Of course a sequel could theoretically destroy this theory but at least that’s my take on it.


Overall, SSSS.Gridman is a pretty solid anime. It’s got a lot of great action and solid pacing which is what you want to see in any show. At 12 episodes you’ll definitely be able to blast through this one in no time. Perhaps even in a day you can just speed-run through this. Any action fan or someone who likes a good ole action/mystery story should get a kick out of this. It’s just a very well rounded title that doesn’t really have any weaknesses. The whole amnesia plot does mean that Yuta isn’t really given a chance to do much for a while but he gradually just gets used to his new self and acts like one of the gang. It would definitely be fun to see the characters again and how they move forward from all of this. I imagine it will definitely be pretty tough on Yuta that’s for sure. Meanwhile Gridman seems quite similar to Ultraman so perhaps we can get a battle crossover someday. That would definitely be a blast.

Overall 7/10