8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight!! Vanguard: Shinemon Review


It’s time to take a look at the next season of Cardfight Vanguard. The franchise has definitely been going quite strong for many years now. It’s easily outlasted Buddyfight at this point and now there are over 10 seasons of the show. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it. When’s the last time you had a show go all the way through, do the big next generations series with a new cast, get several sequels to that one, and then do the modern reboot of the original? Well, that’s what Cardfight has done and now we’re getting the prequel to the reboot and it looks like we’re getting close to a reboot of the next generation show. It’s really quite impressive and this is definitely staying up there as one of my favorite franchises of all time. Shin actually holds his own show quite well. While this one can’t match some of the earlier seasons for sure, it’s still a great anime.

The show starts by introducing us to Shin, possibly the youngest cardshop owner out there. However, his ownership of the place is a bit questionable. See, he decided to take it over when Misaki’s parents died as a last wish in order to keep her safe. Shin feels like he owes it to them and has quickly found his place in the cardshop setting. The problem is that he is still attending school and so he can’t be at the shop most of the time. A rich lady by the name of Esuka also wants to own the shop for personal reasons of her own. She has a fair argument for why she would be the best person for the job. She’s not a random villain or some petty person that wants to make some cash. She knew the parents as well and to be honest she seems like she would do a much better job. The show debatably has 2 main arcs, the fight against Esuka and then the G prequel arc about dimension hopping.

For most of the first half of the show Shin does his best to fight against Esuka and her corporation. The thing is, are you even rooting for him? Neither side is evil so you don’t have to worry about that. At the end of the day you have to think about who would run the shop better and I have to give the nod to Esuka here. Fortunately for Shin she also looks after him quite a bit and goes easy on the lead. For most of the series she seems to be way more skilled than he is and definitely has more resources. I have to admit that I was rooting for her the whole time. Shin’s a solid lead and all but he was too young to run a cardshop and I think this begun to sink in a little later on. Shin can be pretty stubborn though.

Then for the climax of the series we have Ryuzu showing up. Fans of the G series will remember him as one of the big villains. The guy is a little less crazy at this point in time though so this is sort of seeing how he went off the wrong path. He wants to harness energy from the other planet in order to make Earth a better place. The warning bells that trigger with statements like that though is that when you take energy from one place to make the other one better, it’s inevitable that one of the worlds won’t be doing so well at this point. It’s a conversation that he doesn’t seem willing to have at the moment. None of the other characters are really persistent about bringing it up though so it’s hard to blame him. How does Shin even fit in to all of this? Well, Rive is on Shin’s team but he may have to miss the tournament because of all this so now Shin has been roped into finding out what’s going on. It’s a pretty fun climax even if the characters could be a bit annoying at times. I think Ryuzu could have easily been encouraged to keep doing his research in a safe manner but nobody was really trying.

Going back to Shin, it’s amazing how far he has come from the original series. The other way of looking at it is how far he has fallen since his younger days I guess. This version of Shin is a lot more fiery and isn’t afraid to pick a fight. He does lose his motivation pretty quick when defeated but he always starts out strong. He has a great fight against Esuka in their first round and shows similar energy in most of his duels. I also like his go to card. It’s incredibly strong and also shows how one powerful card can take you a long way. Shin uses this as a crutch for a while in the series before eventually improving his all around skills.

While I wasn’t on Shin’s side in the debate against Esuka, at least his reasons for doing so were good. At the end of the day he just wanted to make sure Misaki could retain ownership of the shop and he needed to keep custody of it until she was old enough to do so. Shin’s always thinking about how he could help Misaki. Really my only problem with Shin is how he basically threw away one of the tournaments. After Mark had gone to the trouble of exceeding his limits and winning so many battles I thought that was just disrespectful. It’s a horrible way to lose the tournament if you ask me.

Mark is one of Shin’s best friends and so he gets a pretty big role here. Like Shin I was never particularly a fan of the guy in the main series. He is reasonable here though. While the series tries to make him look a little too powerful towards the end for plot convenience, the guy always had Shin’s back which is definitely important. Without him the heroes would have been in trouble during the tournament. He’s also a lot more reliable than Rive, who is mainly just here to be annoying most of the time. He participates in risky experiments and flakes whenever a big match is coming up. Shin and the others cut him a ton of slack but the guy is really not trust worthy. It just comes across as a betrayal when the team is counting on him to win the big tournament and he just ducks out of there. That’s completely unreasonable and I never liked him in the main series either so it’s pretty consistent. His big moment at the end also feels pretty pointless because he could have jumped to the monster along with Chrono. Deep down he didn’t seem to care a whole lot about getting back to Earth. That ending was rushed in quite a few different ways. It makes the monsters in Chrono’s deck actually seem a bit on the evil side with how they just allowed Rive to be trapped when they clearly could have done something.

Tatsuya’s role here is definitely a lot different than what I would have expected. He starts out as a nice enough kid who looks up to Shin and gradually gets a much bigger role. By the end of the series he’s a solid genius who has his own goals. Tatsuya makes for a solid antagonist because his motivation is a solid one. If anything the counter arguments that the heroes give in return are quite weak. It’s at the point where you are likely to be rooting for Tatsuya for a while. The heroes’ arguments all rest on hypotheticals and things that they can’t actually prove. Either way it’s a pretty fun battle though.

Mikuru is another one of Shin’s best friends and gets a big role. She never really gets to duel which does limit how much she can contribute compared to the others. Still, I did enjoy all of the crazy nicknames she would give Shin. His name rhymes with a whole lot of adjectives and she makes sure not to miss a beat. Misaki and Chrono don’t get to do a whole lot since they’re kids in this version. We briefly see them back to normal age at the end though and they should be quality characters as always. This just wasn’t their story this time.

Esuka’s a really fun character and she goes in a much different direction than what I would have expected. She’s definitely not your average rich tycoon. If anything it’s a bit of a subversion because to the characters she acts in much the same way as most rich villains. She uses some bribery and tricks to get her way so the heroes never trust her. The thing is, she usually means well and just has a hard time not acting like a rich tycoon. For example, she offers to make one of the characters rich and famous. The heroes assume she has some kind of ulterior motive and get out of there but she actually was going to try and make that happen. It’s fair that the other characters are suspicious though, it’s just a fun thing to note. She also isn’t afraid to go into the front lines herself like when she infiltrated Ryuzu’s base.

Nanami is Esuka’s main fighter and she gets a pretty big role in the series. She’s effectively a child prodigy and can keep up with the pros. Her deck’s pretty solid and I definitely like her confidence. Tonori is another one of Esuka’s top fighters alongside Nanami. His thing is that he gets stronger the hungrier he is. It’s a bit of an odd gimmick but it works well. He’s a bit underused though as he gets maybe 1-2 big fights in the series and that’s it. I also thought he was really nerfed because he shouldn’t have lost the final fight. The plot demanded it but I wasn’t able to buy that. He’s fun enough though.

Kanzaki got a big role in G and while his role here is a lot smaller, it’s a nice throwback to the G days. He still only thinks about power and yells that weakness is a crime. It can be a bit hard to take him seriously with that at times but he does win most of his fights here so I guess he earned it. He also paid Mark some respect in their close fight which was pretty solid. I probably would like his character more here if I hadn’t seen G first. He’s a bit one note though and his cool design can’t save him. Ryutarou is one of the members of Kanzaki’s team. I think he tries too hard to be Kanzaki’s opposite. He doesn’t really care about winning and just likes a good fight. That’s fine, but he tends to lose a lot so it almost seems like an excuse. The whole “I only lost because I didn’t care about winning” thing doesn’t tend to go well. To be fair, he never uses that excuse but I do think he should take the fights more seriously.

Ruga is definitely one of the most tragic characters in this series. All he wants is to have a serious fight with Rive and yet the guy always runs off. I don’t get why Rive is being so cold here. They used to be best friends and then Rive grew distant as soon as he got married. Yeah, both of them agreed not to get married but Ruga would have been a lot more understanding if Rive didn’t suddenly ditch like that. The only reason Ruga was opposed to this was because he felt like it would take up all of Rive’s time…and then his fears came true. Rive could have absolutely mended the bridge with Ruga if he wanted too and as a result Ruga became even more obsessive.

Finally we have Ryuzu who has always been a fun villain. His goals are pretty interesting. In this series at least I wouldn’t consider him a villain since he is still trying to help the world. Things don’t always go his way but at least he tries his best. His deck is solid and he is usually one step ahead of the other characters. At least he is actually doing something important. Towards the end of the series they try to make a case that playing a normal game of Cardfight is just as important as making research that can save the lives of millions. Ryuzu is really at a loss for words at this and I kind of was as well. Ryuzu may not be perfect but at least he is trying to better society, can Shin and the others really say the same?

Shinemon is definitely the right way to do a prequel. Each episode is a lot of fun and it develops the characters rather quickly. You know the setting and everyone in it within the first 3 episodes. From there we are able to jump into the duels. The series doesn’t really have high stakes like some of the other seasons but that’s fine. In a prequel you already know most of the characters are safe anyway and it would be difficult to jump to end of the world stuff so quickly. That’s why the series focuses more on powerful character moments and sharp duels. The series is just a lot of fun and taps into the early G feels. Shin’s also a very different main character from Chrono and Aichi which helps to differentiate him. I really had no complaints with the title. If anything I wouldn’t have minded if it got more episodes but in a way I like the short seasons because it helps the franchise keep going further. I want to see how many seasons it can churn out.

As expected the animation here is quite sharp. The animations are very clear and smooth. Whenever a monster is summoned it also looks quite crisp and it’s clear that they’re not phoning it in for any of these episodes. I’ve always liked the style that they use for Cardfight. It’s pretty simple in terms of design and such so they’re able to put a lot of effort into the colors. I’ve greatly enjoyed anime with detailed or simple designs so both can definitely work as long as you put the effort in and this one definitely did. Meanwhile the soundtrack is pretty great as always. I’m not really sure if this one added any new themes but at this point the series has so many that you barely need to do that. It grabs some themes from G and the reboot seasons so that’s already a good amount of variety.

Overall, Shinemon is a great season and a nice way to handle the prequel. It really shows us that Shin used to be a cool character as opposed to being one of the blandest characters I had ever seen in the main seasons. I’d consider that to be a bit of a soft reboot since it’s impossible to picture Shin being this great back in the day. The final episodes even try to give a reason for why he changed so much at the end and it’s a nice attempt although you will still have a tough time buying it I’m sure. Since this is a bit of an origin story you can easily watch it without seeing any of the previous seasons. It is one of those prequels made to be watched after experiencing the originals but that doesn’t matter much until the final 2-3 episodes. Either way you should have a blast.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Dr. Stone Review


It’s time to look at one of the current big Shonen Jump titles. For a while there I actually thought it was going to be one of the current Big 3 next to Black Clover and My Hero Academia but the huge success of the Demon Slayer ended up nabbing the third slot in my eyes. Also depending on how you look at it One Piece would still deserve one of the slots but my view is that even though it is still the biggest title it is firmly known as the leader of the last generation. With all that said, Dr. Stone’s anime was great and this is a really solid anime to check out. We’ve got a lot of excellent world building here and a colorful cast of characters that make this unique premise work out quite well.

The series begins by introducing us to Senku and Taiju. Both of these characters are completely different but are great friends nonetheless. Senku is a science wiz who likes to look at things objectively and isn’t very emotional. Then you have Taiju who is super emotional and despite being very powerful he likes to resolve things peacefully. One day he goes outside to confess to his childhood friend Yuzuriha but a powerful light envelops the world first. All humans and animals were turned into stone and then billions of years passed. Taiju manages to break out of his stone shell eventually and finds that Senku has managed to do the same. These two now need to find a way to find a cure and break the rest of humanity out of stone. Will they be able to restart the human race? Another question in the back of their minds is also, how did this happen?

A great show should always start off with a solid first episode. I don’t think you have the luxury of hoping that people stick around for a bunch of episodes just waiting for things to get good. There’s no excuse for a premiere to not be exciting and Stone delivers. A lot happens in that first episode and we’re introduced to the premise. You’ll likely have a lot of questions and that is intended because the series is part mystery to the extent of wondering how this all started. Was it an alien attack, did another country mess up with a chemical bomb? There are a lot of possibilities but the characters have little time to ponder this initially so don’t expect a lot of answers in the first season. I wouldn’t expect that plot to get closer to ending until near the end of season 2.

The series is pretty well grounded in reality right now so I wouldn’t expect anything too supernatural either. The toughest part about a plot like this is once you know most of the answers. The intrigue and suspense is part of the appeal as well as the limited cast. It’s inevitable that more and more people will start to get revived and I’m assuming the series would probably end once almost everyone is back as we cut to an epilogue. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the series goes in because there are a lot of paths to take. The cliffhanger for this season definitely makes the story of season 2 pretty obvious. Based on the plot coming up I’m assuming that one may even beat season 1.

Lets back up a bit to talk more about the show though. The animation is really solid. It’s very smooth and the colors pop out. The faces from the manga are adapted pretty well so you can expect some nice, crazy expressions. The fight scenes can be a little less intense and it’s clear that it’s not the anime’s strong suit. I’d like to see them put more of an effort behind this in season 2 since that one has many more fights, but they’re still good enough. Most of them just rely on stills and such to hide the movement. A good story will always compensate for the fights but I think Stone can get closer to hitting the next level with quality action scenes.

The writing is definitely great here as well. For a dialogue heavy series like this you definitely need good writing. It’s completely necessary here and Stone delivers in full. There are no episodes here that are boring in the slightest. The pacing is on point. Clearly for any series you can’t be in a big action part all the time so we have a few downtime episodes but they still further the plot and give development to the characters. An example of an episode that could have been boring in a different show is the flashback episode with Senku’s Dad and the rest of the crew. The characters are fairly short lived but they’re all fun enough. I definitely enjoyed Byakuya’s character.

He’s definitely quite different from Senku with how expressive and emotional he is, but he’s still got a good intellect as well. He just seems to hide it a little more than Senku would. All right, let’s talk about the cast. First up is Taiju and the series does a nice mis-direct here. Initially you think he’ll be the main character because he gets the first scenes and the largest role in the opening episodes. That’s actually not the case though as Senku takes the reigns and Taiju vanishes for most of the season. Taiju really gets written out of the show pretty early on but I like the concept of two main characters on different paths. It doesn’t look like Stone will fully go there as it’s 95% Senku but it’ll be fun when Taiju returns.

I like Taiju’s character, but he is too soft at times. I understand not wanting to fight. It’s not a bad trait to have and just because you’re strong it doesn’t mean you should even have to fight. However, if you are in front of someone who is trying to murder your friends then you have to fight. Taiju’s strategy is to let Tsukasa keep whailing at him without trying to land a blow but the guy is going to murder everyone else once Taiju can’t get up again. It’s not a proper strategy and it makes Taiju appear to be way too idealistic here. Sometimes you have to raise your fist.

Meanwhile Senku is a much more practical character, but his body isn’t ready for a fight. He’s devoted everything to learning the art of science so he really can’t fight at all in hand to hand combat. He is prepared to fight in his own way though with a lot of scientific gadgets. He’s a very entertaining lead and a very unique one. We don’t see a whole lot of super geniuses as main characters. The last one I can think of would be Light Yagami whose genius ended up turning him over to the dark side. Senku has a lot of great moments throughout the series.

Then you have Yuzuriha who appears to be the main heroine at first, but similar to Taiju she vanishes early on. We don’t get to learn a whole lot about her character yet, but I can say that she’s already a quality character from how she handled the situation. Rather than panicking or anything when she broke out of the stone she quickly got with the program and followed the heroes out of there. It’s extremely rare for a character to take this kind of situation well without asking a bunch of questions so she left a solid first impression with me. She’s also very pro-active and will help out with any task.

Then we have the best villain, Tsukasa. He doesn’t want the world to go back to the way it once was with the rich ruling over all and society becoming one sided. As such, he believes that only kids should be revived which leads him to be at odds with Senku who wants to revive everyone. Tsukasa is the main villain of the series so far and they did a good job of picking him to be the leader. His goals aren’t even crazy and he’s not the kind of guy who goes around murdering everyone. He stays true to his ideals and even though those don’t negate the fact that he is a mass murderer, at least he is one with a sound plan which is the first step in being a compelling villain. So far he has dominated in all of his fights and I look forward to seeing him get more fights. Right now it’s clear that nobody stands a chance against him.

Clearly you’re to root for Senku in this series but Tsukasa’s main point is hard to grapple with. He points out that if Senku just resurrects everyone society will quickly go back to how it is. Senku’s point is that none of that matters until they resurrect everyone. His main thought here is that he is not a politician or anything like that so his goal is to use science to save everyone and it’s up to everyone else to make things work after that. Both of them are rather extreme at the moment but even if they do resurrect everyone at once there is no proof that things will go to how they used to be. If Tsukasa and Senku were to work together it should be easy to change things but both of them are quite firm on their views.

Gen is another main character in the series. He is a wild card and is proud of that. Senku knows that he’ll have to try and win Gen over because this guy can cause a lot of damage to both sides. He’s a fun character who is a genius in his own way. He’s great at manipulating people although I find it ironic that at least half of the time this doesn’t work because everyone already knows that he can do this. It’s an ironic thing to happen to him, but it makes sense. If someone knows that you are great at lying then they just won’t believe you. It’s the same concept with Gen.

Then we have Chrome who is a scientist in his own right. He’s done really well in the past and is Senku’s main partner. He’s a fun character and brings a lot of energy to the series. He’s easily one of the best characters in the series. He’s improved quite a lot in a pretty short amount of time so the guy has a ton of potential. I don’t see anyone ever passing Senku because that guy is practically a robot but it’s always good to have more than one genius. This way you can work on two things at once.

Finally you have Kohaku. She’s introduced pretty early on and is the first villager we meet. She also happens to be the strongest one which is a nice change of pace because usually the strongest is left for last. Kohaku’s a great character and even has a brief skirmish with Tsukasa. While you definitely don’t think she ultimately has a chance it’s still a great effort on her part. She’ll do whatever it takes to help Ruri and isn’t afraid to jump in and grab whatever materials Senku needs. Right now they’ve got a pretty good dynamic going. While I miss the opening trio from the show, she helps the village come close to matching up to that. Between her and Chrome I’d even say that they’re a better trio than the first 3 characters but the other villagers bring them down a tad.

Suika is one of the side characters in the series. She’s a nice kid who wants to help out, but her eyesight isn’t very good and naturally there are no glasses back in these days. She’s not bad although definitely one of the least interesting side characters. You’ve also got Kinro and Ginro from the village. Kinro is a serious fighter whose eyesight also isn’t great but he has learned to fight well despite this. He’s a good character although I do admit that I thought he’d be a little stronger. He’s very loyal to the village so you can always count on him. He’s way better than Ginro who is openly antagonistic and doesn’t want to fight. I really can’t trust that guy as an ally and definitely wouldn’t mind if he got written out.

Ruri is a pretty big character in the village for a while because of how sick she is. Ruri’s definitely not a fighter like her sister Kohaku but she is very wise and helps the characters learn about the past. For a non combatant character Ruri is solid. Then you have Kaseki who helps Senku build a lot of the inventions. He’s a pretty emotional character since he never really had any friends before. The guy may be very old but now his life is a lot more fulfilling and he’s getting to really enjoy himself. I’m hoping he lives through this series, I’d definitely like to see him continue to contribute.

Then we have Magma who is the main bully of the village. He just wants to rule no matter what and for these tribal times that isn’t really unheard of. I don’t really like him as a character though and he doesn’t offer a whole lot. The main problem is also that he has strength but no real technique so it’s not like he’ll be able to do much against the villains. That was his only asset that he could bring to fights and without it there doesn’t seem to be much point to his character. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong though.

For the villains we are briefly introduced to Hyoga and Homura. Both of them have not had a whole lot to do yet so it’s almost like a preview for season 2. Homura was able to hold her own against Kohaku briefly and Hyoga seems like a dangerous foe both in physical abilities as well as with strategies. I can already see both of these characters being very solid villains which is making Tsukasa’s army look more and more stacked. At this point it’s hard to picture the heroes winning against them in a fight.

That’s where Senku comes in though. Inventions are the ultimate equalizer though so that’s why this is a series where it can actually be believable for Senku’s team to come out. Between his actual inventions and the bluffs that they can create, the army of Science is in a great position as well. The season has set up a lot of good pieces and this feels like a very complete anime. There are enough episodes to really introduce the characters and every aspect of the show is sound. This is what it takes to be a great anime.

Finally one thing I also like about the show are the various science experiments. I’m sure a lot of these things are simplified down for the sake of making everything in the show quickly a lot of these recipes and methods are quite real. I made the Senku Cola myself and it actually did taste quite good. I always like when I feel like I’m learning something while watching a show and you’ll definitely gain some good knowledge during Dr. Stone. It’s like an added bonus on top of everything else.

Overall, Dr. Stone is a show that I can recommend to everyone. Whether you want a classic action Shounen or are looking for something different this show should have something to interest you. It’s well written and the show looks nice. The action scenes are really the only weakness as I mentioned but it’s not enough to stop this show’s momentum. The animation in general is also very detailed so I feel like if the animators really put some time in they could definitely get us some great fight scenes too. Stone quickly shows why it is an up and coming title and I’m sure things can only continue to get better from here. I’m definitely looking forward to Tsukasa taking more fighters in the next arc.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Dragon Ball Super Review


It’s time to finally take a look at Dragon Ball Super. It may have finished a very long time ago over in Japan, but Toonami only finished airing it rather recently. It’s definitely a show that’s been pretty polarizing in many aspects, but overall it’s great to have Dragon Ball back. The show has significant issues to be sure, but it did bring us some big elements like Goku Black. Hopefully we do get that next show announcement by the end of the year, but the year is ending fast. Lets take a deep look at good ole Super.

The first two arcs recap the movies that came out. The first one where Beerus arrives to destroy Earth and find the legendary Super Saiyan and the second one where Frieza returns to exact his revenge. These stories are old so there’s no reason to really go into them again. Unfortunately both adaptions were not quite as good as the movies they were told in. This is mainly because the show has to pad these stories out to buy a lot of time. I’ll really be starting my story look through with the next arc, the big universe against universe showdown!

Basically Champa has challenges Beerus to a battle. The winner gets to claim the Super Dragon Balls and can make whatever wish they want. Beerus accepts and for his fighters he wisely chooses the power hitters like Goku and Vegeta. There is a mysterious Monaka fighter on the roster, but Beerus insists that he fights last. Meanwhile Champa’s team has a mysterious individual known as Hit which could get a little tricky for the heroes. It’s a fun way to really start the show off because we get to see some new characters and the first opponent to actually defeat Super Saiyan Blue. Hit vs Vegeta is definitely one of the best fights in Super and it really raised the stakes. If this random guy could beat Blue then who knows how many other guys could possibly take down Goku and Vegeta.

This arc may not have life or death stakes the way that the Z arcs had, but it was still a great kickoff event for the show. We got a lot of big fights and no real wasted time here. Hit vs Goku was also great and it was nice to see Vegeta take down Frost. It did start off the power level issues a little more, but I’m going to be tackling that after covering every arc because that’s a big topic that’s going to need its own section. This arc really let you ease into the new characters and just enjoy some nice fights.

Next we have the Goku Black arc which is definitely the best arc in the series. Trunks arrives from the future and we find out that in his timeline Goku murdered everyone. The heroes figure there must be more to it than that since turning evil isn’t really Goku’s thing. The guy shows up and easily beats Vegeta and Goku when they first fight. Black continues to get stronger with each fight which makes him incredibly dangerous. He also has an ally in the immortal Zamasu and they make for a great tag team. There’s also a bit of mystery here because we just aren’t sure exactly who Goku Black is. There are definitely a lot of people he could be, but it’s hard to get that definitive answer.

Part of why this arc is so good is because it’s the only big arc in Super to really have high stakes. The Tournament of Power is an example of the stakes not being existent because of how high they are, but more in a moment. Goku Black and Zamasu are here to destroy everyone, they aren’t following any rules and since we’re in the future there isn’t a Beerus or Whis to suck the tension away. It’s just a brutal battle among Saiyans and we get a lot of great scenes here. Trunks being around is also great. I do like the contrast of how he’s always ready to charge in and attack while everyone is still gloating. Trunks always goes for the finishing move, it’s just a shame that he doesn’t have the power to carry it out most times.

Finally we have the tournament of power. With the exception of two universes everyone else has been instructed to fight. Each universe gets 10 members and they all have to fight within 40 minutes. Each episode is roughly a minute and so we naturally get a ton of fights. The main threat appears to be a man named Jiren whose power is basically absolute. Super Saiyan Blue won’t cut it here so Goku will need an entirely new level of power if he wants to even get close to this guy. Can Goku really master such a form in such a small amount of time? Meanwhile his allies will have to try not to hold him back.

This is the longest arc of the series I believe and it does benefit from the animation upgrade Super got in the second half of its life span. It’s very noticeable how the animation improved and some of those final fights will likely live on forever as some of the best in anime. The concept of the arc is great since we have so many fights here and a lot of the best themes in the show appear here. Goku’s Ultra Instinct is definitely incredible and it felt like so long since he last had a super form. It was definitely worth the wait. There’s a lot of action and excitement to be had here for sure. While it may not be quite as serious with the stakes as the last arc the nonstop action definitely really helps to keep it at a high level.

The reason why there are no stakes here is because you know it won’t stick. The rules are that every defeated universe will be eradicated. That means Goku would be murdering untold amounts of people if he won the tournament. There’s just no way that could possibly stick so while you enjoy all of the fights it’s more of a friendly tournament at the end of the day. I love all tournaments so it’s not a big deal, but it does help to give Goku Black’s arc that slight edge. It’s really the only high stakes arc post Z and I’m hoping a sequel series brings back that tension by bringing in the demons and having foes who can defeat Beerus and Whis. That will really throw us back into uncharted territory.

The animation in Super is definitely solid. I know the show got a lot of mocking back in the day for how off model everything is, but it still looks good. Sure, it’s nowhere near the big shows nowadays like Fate, Bleach, or something like that, but it still looks good enough. The big battles also get a boost and then with the tournament of power the animation really got elevated. Towards the end there we finally get back into the high-end level of anime. The fight with Kefla, Jiren, Toppo, they were all quite solid. Once the animation goes up it actually manages to stay there for the rest of the series which is very impressive. The animation is definitely not a real concern for this show, it’s definitely very impressive and again, that boost at the end puts it up there with any anime it would like to face.

Then we have the soundtrack which is absolutely top notch. Super has one of the best OSTs that I’ve seen in a very long time. Pretty much every theme is one that you’ve just got to listen to. We have suspense themes, battle themes, emotional themes, you name it and the show’s got it. It’s easily a 5 star soundtrack and very few anime can even get on the same level as this one. I don’t know exactly where I’d put it, but I’m confident that it would make top 10.

Goku is the lead here once more but he may be a little different than you remember. Interestingly he is the most flanderized of the characters compared to the DBZ days. He has a very tough time taking anything seriously and is more kid-like than usual. To an extent this is because the old Z dub made him extra heroic but it’s also just the show dialing him back a bit. It’s a shame because he is an awesome character in Z. He’s still solid in Super to be sure, but not quite up to par with his normal self. He’s at his best when bantering with Frieza or Vegeta. That’s when he is back at his peak. Goku’s battle intelligence is also unaffected as seen by his plans against Hit and Jiren. His destructo disc plan against the latter was very impressive even if it ultimately did not work.

Naturally Goku did get some new forms here so how did they stack up? Well, I definitely loved the Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-Ken form mainly because I would always question why Goku didn’t use it more often with SSJ. Certainly it takes a larger strain but it would help him take down any foe. The form also just looks really cool with the blue and red colors blending together.

The big form is Ultra Instinct though. It’s got two modes, Onen and Mastered. Both forms are incredible. I’ll give the latter form the edge with how stylish the white hair looks. It feels more complete but I can also see why people love Omen mode since it’s more mysterious. Goku acts like his SSJ4 form where he is completely ruthless and just wrecks his opponents. Whenever Goku transforms into Ultra Instinct form it’s an epic scene. Surprisingly his first transformation scene is the weakest of the group, but I’m going to have an editorial on that soon. Personally the most impressive appearance of that mode was against Kefla. Either way I look forward to this form continuing to show up.

Then we’ve got Vegeta and the show really does an excellent job of portraying him. Yes the first arc with Beerus makes him look terrible and the running gag of Vegeta being scared of him does continue for a bit. Fortunately that starts to get dropped by the end because otherwise the show really depicts how Vegeta has changed over the years. He’s more of a family man than Goku and is always doing his best to protect Bulma. He’s kept up his Saiyan pride and no matter how many power ups Goku gets Vegeta is right behind him. Vegeta never loses sight of his drive to be the best. He may lose all of the important fights in the show, but he always puts up a good effort.

Trunks is always a lot of fun so it’s nice to see him return even if just for one arc. He gets a crispy new super form and is no nonsense as always. His battles with Goku Black are great and I do miss having him around. The show really missed a big opportunity by not keeping him around at the end. It would have made perfect sense to have brought him over instead of going to another world with no real benefits. Perhaps he’ll still appear in the future some day.

Beerus is an enjoyable character even if he does come at a big price. He has good banter with the rest of the characters and Beerus is super competitive so that leads to a lot of great dialogue as well. The show retconned the fact that Goku in SSG mode was close to beating him, but even so it’s hard to imagine that the heroes can’t beat him at this point. They’re basically just friends now though so I suppose the point is moot. The only problem about having Beerus and Whis around is that there is rarely a sense of danger. You know that the villains won’t be able to compete with Beerus which is a shame.

As for Whis, he’s portrayed as being even stronger than Beerus. Everything is a joke to him, but at least he doesn’t threaten to destroy the world nearly as often as Beerus. Whis is content to just hang out and enjoy whatever is going on. I hope to see him fight seriously someday. Then we’ve got some of the original Z fighters like Krillin, but there’s not a ton to say about him. He’s still not very strong, but at least Goku does put him on the final team roster so he gets to have a few fights.

Bulma gets a good role here. As always she is the genius of the group and develops a lot of great tech that helps the heroes out in their battles. Without her they would really be in a serious pickle. She may not fight, but her constant advancements in weaponry and armor have helped the team a great deal. Then we have Piccolo who is also not one of the stronger fighters anymore. He does help Gohan out in the tournament though and still has good tactical awareness. He’s also just a fun character to have around.

Gohan let his skills slack off once again for the first two arcs, but fortunately after that he finally takes fighting seriously again. He even re-unlocks his mystic form and gets back to his peak strength. While he is unable to pass Vegeta or Goku by the end (Nor should he since they never stopped training) he does get to be a serious threat once again. His best showing is probably when he took on Dyspo. Gohan was actually keeping up pretty well. I’m definitely up for seeing more of Gohan in a sequel show.

Android 18 joins the fray in the final arc. Unfortunately she has not gotten any stronger from the Android saga unlike 17, but she still contributes quite a bit in the various fights. She may be quite harsh to Krillin at times, but at the end of the day she really just wants the money to help out the family. Android 17 is one of the surprise hits of the series. Apparently being a park ranger can multiply your power level hundreds of times over. He went from being an Arc 2 villain to suddenly having power on the level of the gods. He’s a really fun character and I always like his dead pan approach. His best scene is probably when he caught the light speed power ranger in time to prevent him from landing a hit on 18. It was just a crispy scene.

Naturally Frieza has a really big role here. He is instrumental in the tournament of power arc. He’s definitely one of the all time best Dragon Ball villains and Super really handles his personality perfectly. He’s constantly messing with the heroes but fortunately he also has enough raw talent to back this up. He has the best strategy out of all the heroes in that he waits for everyone else to get tired and waste their energy before he steps in. Unfortunately the show does drop the ball with his character by the end. The entire time it is heavily implied that his power level is on par with Goku and Vegeta’s and his scenes support this. Then he suddenly looks terrible in the last few episodes. I’ve heard that it was a change of writers or something, but when watching the show it makes no sense. Dyspo and Toppo should not have done nearly as well as they did against him. It made all of his planning futile in the end.

Then there is Buu but in contrast you can tell that he got the raw end of the stick here. He is around for the first tournament and then gets a training episode for the second, but is quickly written out of the show. The whole sub-plot is rather bizarre. Maybe there was a plot that was intended for him at some point and then it was scrapped. It’s too bad because there was a lot of potential here. I do think he would have been a bit overpowered for this arc though. Healing and a high power level go a long way.

Goku Black is one of the most ambitious characters in the series and it was really great to see him step up to the plate. He certainly deserved his own arc so that was great. His regal personality makes for a great contrast to Goku’s design and his whole getting stronger the more damage he takes stick is also great. The end of the arc may not have been the most satisfying for his fans, but at least he got a lot of fights before then. He quickly rose up to become one of my all time favorite villains as well and I’d put him second behind Broly. Black is just that good.

Meanwhile I also greatly enjoyed Zamasu. His whole obsession with disliking the mortals is handled very well. You can feel his disdain in every scene that he is in. While his power level may not be too high, it’s nice to see his immortality in action. I always said that immortality is not a power I would want because if you’re weak then it just means that someone can beat you up for eternity. Since he has a partner in Goku Black it is less of an issue though. Otherwise he definitely would have been in a whole lot of trouble.

Jaco and Champa are two of the comic relief characters running around. Jaco’s a decent enough guy even if he is super weak. I mean, that’s basically the point. Champa is harder to take seriously because we’re meant to believe that he is about as strong as Beerus and I find that hard to believe. Not working out at all and getting super overweight should absolutely hamper your fighting ability. I just can’t see how it wouldn’t. Then we have the Grand Minister who is likely extremely powerful but we never get to see him fight. There are a ton of fan videos where he ends up challenging the gang and I must say that this would be a rather awesome turn of events.

Zeno is a high above being who can end reality with the snap of his fingers. He’s not my kind of character as I prefer actual fighting ability to triumph. He also has a habit of just repeating everything other characters are saying which gets old very quickly. His scenes are basically just around to save budget on all the recycled animation and to pad out the time. Now lets talk about some of the bigger characters in the tournament of power. First up is Frost and I really like the concept here. He’s basically a lower version of Frieza. His power level is considerably lower, but he can fight which is really all that I need. The guy has a good future if he ever appears again.

Then we have Cabba who is a Saiyan like Goku. He may not be super strong yet, but given how easily he was able to reach Super Saiyan 2 I could see him becoming a truly powerful asset at some point. In the meanwhile we have Caulifla for that. She’s a great character with a very considerable power level. I like her aggressive personality and she is always spurring on her allies to get even stronger. She really helped Kale improve for example. Kale isn’t quite as solid, but I really like her Broly form. Then when the two become Kefla they are easily one of the strongest characters in the entire franchise.

Hit is definitely a warrior with a lot of hype and it is deserved. His ability to time skip makes it so that any opponent going against him is going to have a bad time. Unless you are extremely fast there is really nothing you can do against him. He’s also important because he was the first fighter to take down Super Saiyan Blue. It would have been nice to see him do more in the Tournament of Power, but his fight with Dyspo was a lot of fun. We didn’t get to see a ton of fights where various universes fought each other without Goku’s team jumping in which is part of why it was so solid.

Then we have Ribrianne whose power level was jumping all over the place. You have to give her points for resilience because she just kept on getting up no matter how many times everyone would beat her down. Her super form is also pretty cool. I do prefer her human form to the transformed mode, but her Shojo powers were a nice homage to the classic anime. Then we have Dyspo who is part of Jiren’s main 3, but less impressive power-wise than the other two. There were quite a few times he was nearly eliminated. I do like the fact that his speed is so off the charts though. By the end of the series he’s going to fast that even other characters who are FTL have trouble keeping up with him. Dyspo definitely rounds out the trio quite well.

Nearing the end is Toppo, a pretty tough guy who doesn’t have too much going for him. His opening fight with Goku during the prelims was a lot of fun and in the tournament he gets his share of battles. He definitely did become one of the strongest fighters even if Vegeta wasted a lot of unnecessary energy in defeating him. His super form was just great and you can see why he is the 2nd in command on the team. He could have been even cooler, but as it stands you do have to respect his power.

Finally there is Jiren, the wall of power. The guy is portrayed as basically being invincible throughout Super. The writers really wrote themselves into a hole with how strong he is. Attacks on the level of Super Saiyan Blue literally could not hurt him and he was taking full shots from everyone at different points. You can see how he noticeably gets nerfed as the show goes on, but by the end you still know that he’s one of the strongest. His fight with Ultra Instinct Goku is great and I don’t think he needed more personality. A lot of people thought he was too much like a literal wall in Goku’s way, but that added to the mystery. All I need from a character like Jiren is a bunch of good fights and a solid design. It’s also worth noting that a lot of his lines were pretty great. He’s definitely a super solid villain.

Super’s writing is decent. The characters do act like exaggerated versions of themselves at times, but the plots are engaging. The music and graphics are definitely top notch so there are no complaints there. Really the big deal here are the power levels. It’s finally time to take a look at them. DBZ was not perfect, but for the most part it was very consistent in telling you exactly where everyone stacked up. This series throws that out the window almost immediately. Hit being able to tag Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta, but then being countered by base Goku is already crazy. The difference in speed is thousands, if not millions of times apart there. Super Saiyan 1 is a 50X multiplier, SSJ2 is around 2.5, SSJ3 is X4, SSJG is unknown but way higher than SSJ3, and then SSB is 50X that. When you multiply all of these things together with the original power level you can see how that makes no sense.

It would only get worse in the next arcs. Trunks goes from having SSJ2 level power to being in god mode and holding his own with Black and Zamasu. That’s definitely not going to make any sense no matter how often you look at it. Then the biggest offender is the Tournament of Power. Krillin and Roshi are able to trade blows with some fighters and their power levels are absolutely terrible. They’re so low that they should literally lose the instant that the match starts. The reasoning for not letting Goten and Trunks into the tournament was also terrible since their power levels are way higher. Then you’ve got the whole Frieza debacle.

Almost every show has power level issues, but I’ve never seen any as massive and obvious as Dragon Ball Super’s. It’s just completely unrelenting and you can’t help but think about it in every episode. Even if you’re not a huge DBZ fan you’ll likely be able to notice this. It’s just hard not to with the show throwing it in your face the whole time. It’s likely just a writing issue when you think about it. The show did struggle to get that DBZ vibe for most of the show. Really the only time it actually got that serious air again was during the Goku Black arc and then during the climax of the TOP.

The single best moment in the entire show is when Goku got up after being knocked out by Kefla and re-awakens his Omen form. With the narrator there as well it felt like the kind of cliffhanger you would see in DBZ. A good narrator makes a world of difference with how much hype he can bring to the table. Goku’s transformation into the finalized form of Ultra Instinct also gets a similar vibe. It’s just great to have such a powerhouse on the hero side and it’s also believable when Goku is holding his own and even beating Jiren. At least with that there were no power levels to think of.


Overall, Dragon Ball Super is a great show. We can do the “What if” game forever of course, but ultimately you can still be satisfied with what we got here. The show had a pretty good life at 130+ episodes and it kept the saga going. I’m definitely not in the group that says this should replace GT or that says GT is significantly worse than Super. It’s still a great sequel as well and I’d still say it takes place after Super. Super does have the advantage of being longer and keeping the Z Fighters though. Once you watch this show be sure to watch the Broly film since it takes place after the tournament of power. Hopefully the next show doesn’t re-adapt it, but no need to wait for that since Broly is available right now.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

D. Gray-man Review


It’s time to take a look at a pretty long anime that I watched quite a while ago. This review’s been in the backlog long enough so it was time to knock it out. This was one of the first manga titles that I read way back in the day. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it in the beginning. It got good towards the middle and then got a little too crazy after it turned monthly. The show covers the manga all the way through the good parts and then stops right before we start to get some time skips and other adventures. That’s for the sequel show which adapts the Kanda arc so that should be good. As for this show, it’s definitely a great title.

The series starts off by introducing us to the world of D. Gray-man. When people die, someone can visit them and make a wish to bring them back to life. Should you do so, the Millenium Earl will bring the husk of the dead person back to life to murder you. You’ll then turn into an Akuma, but hey….at least you got to say good bye one last time right? It definitely does feel like this isn’t worth it, but most people don’t know the cost until it’s too late. The Exorcists are the only ones who can fight against the Earl and his legions of Akuma. Unfortunately there aren’t a whole lot of Exorcists left in the world and they’ve been fighting a losing battle for years. Can a local kid born with a cursed arm turn the tides of battle? His name is Allen Walker and there is more to him than meets the eye.

D. Gray-man is a very grim series. That’s not to say that it’s super gritty like Attack on Titan because the show can be pretty light. It’s still a shounen, but when you think about the plot you realize just how serious this is. The heroes learn time and time again that the Earl could murder the whole lot of them at any time. The fact that he chooses to let the human race exist is still a puzzle for the Exorcists. Perhaps he needs enough people to keep the Akuma army going which would make sense. Also, if the Exorcists are not a threat then there is no reason for him to go out of his way to destroy them right? They may win battles here and there, but it really does feel like the war is completely out of reach. They’ll need a few more Allens to even start a comeback.

Lets take a quick step back though. As I mentioned, Allen is the main character here. He has a mysterious past which isn’t looked at much here so there’s always a lot of mystery around him. He’s been a loner for a long time as he worked under General Cross, but now he is ready to join the main order. He’s a powerful fighter and one of the strongest Exorcists on the planet. Once he unlocks his Crown Clown form he can take any Exorcist down aside from the generals. Allen has a lot of your usual main character traits like eating a lot and being rather hot headed, but can also be rather ruthless against Akuma. He believes that destroying them is the only way to purify their souls so he has no qualms about crushing them. The Akuma don’t have hearts and do appear to be dead which furthers his point.

As Allen has some demonic traits the order doesn’t always trust him though. The deaths also take a toll on the guy because there’s no way for Allen to save everyone. For every 5 people he saves another one ends up dying and becoming an Akuma. It’s a pretty depressing cycle for him and as a result it takes him an incredibly long time to regain his powers compared to most leads. I liked him more in the anime than in the manga. He still could have acted faster to save the dog but after that Allen doesn’t really make any big mistakes. He may be outmatched at times, but he’s always fighting to the end. There’s even one match where he continues to fight the Akuma even after he has been knocked unconscious. That shows his determination. Allen also does defy the order at times which is good because those guys always seem corrupt.

Lavi is another one of the main characters and he is the one who was most improved in the anime. It’s not that I disliked him in the manga or anything, but he really didn’t leave an impression on me. In the show he is definitely one of the best characters. Lavi is a bookman and isn’t supposed to get involved with the exorcists. He breaks the rules many times to help them out though and ultimately makes the right calls. While he may not be ready to admit that they’re his friends, Lavi’s actions speak for themselves. Even with his job on the line he goes in to protect them and you can’t ask for a better friend. It’s just a shame that he seems a little weak next to the others. Lavi won’t be giving Allen or Kanda a good fight anytime soon. His hammer is his big weapon and every villain can just slap it to the side.

Kanda is the big rival of the series and definitely lives up to the hype. He has accelerated healing which is very handy and his sword can cut through just about anything. His fights against Tyki and Skin were good showcases of what he can do. He is dependent on his sword though so once it breaks then most of his skills go away. He’s still strong, but in this world you need a weapon laced with innocence to do anything against Akuma. Kanda’s got that Sasuke/Vegeta vibe going and it works quite well. He’s really a textbook rival and the kind of guy you want to have on your side. As you can probably guess he is definitely a standout character.

Lenalee is the main heroine of the show and definitely gets a nice character arc. Right from the start it’s nice to see that she can fight. Lenalee is a very capable fighter and goes through a very similar experience as Allen when she loses her abilities. Both of them have to risk their lives in order to get back into the ring. Her powered up form seems to keep up with Allen pretty well and if anything that means they may have both surpassed Kanda. Just temporarily I’m sure, a good rival never stays down. Her fight against the Level 3 Akuma is top notch and the same can be said of her fight with the Level 4. Lenalee’s a top notch character and part of why the show is so good is because the cast is so strong.

Another exorcist is Miranda, but her role certainly isn’t as big as the main 4. She can freeze time though which is an incredible ability to have. Now, it’s not game breaking since you keep your injuries from when time is stopped, but it will let you fight a little extra even after you should have been dead. Miranda is a great support fighter and her ability also allows you a chance to catch your breath real quick. Then you have Krory who is part vampire. He can bite enemies, but that kind of ability always seems a bit dicey to me. As soon as you face an opponent whose skin is harder than your teeth that’s it. As you can imagine this happens to him quite a bit. Still, he does have enhanced strength and speed so he remains relevant for most of the series. He’s a reasonable side character.

Then you’ve got Lenalee’s brother Komui who is one of the commanders in the order. We learn that he got the position to better watch the organization since he doesn’t trust them. I think he’s too passive though. We learn from Lenalee’s backstory just how extreme they can be. It’s nice that he got such a position, but Komui doesn’t seem to have actually done anything with this position so then what was ultimately the point? It’s not like the corrupt members are scared of him so it feels like his efforts were for naught. I wasn’t a big fan of the guy. His counterpart Bak was way better.

Bak doesn’t mind defying the government and he helped Allen quite a bit. He makes the tough calls and jumps into danger even though he’s only human. His friendship with Fo was also handled pretty well and you actually grew to like that branch more than the main headqarters. Fo was also instrumental in getting Allen back into fighting shape. They sparred quite a lot which wasn’t super convenient for her, but she did it and even gave him a nice pep talk. Allen had a lot of support during his rough patch and that was mainly thanks to Fo and Bak.

Bookman is also around with the group, but he’s definitely one of those guys that you can’t call a true friend. He would be quick to ditch the Exorcists and live up to his role of just being an observer. He doesn’t really believe in taking sides and considering that the Akuma plan to wipe everyone out that just doesn’t really fly. He’s not downright corrupt like Malcolm though. He seems to be the most extreme member of the Order or at least from the characters we’ve seen. He believes that the end absolutely justifies the means and will do anything to destroy the Akuma. Somewhere along the line he became a monster himself. The guy is probably one of humanity’s only hopes against them, but you just don’t want to win at the high price he’ll put you through. I would have liked to have seen at least one of the characters take him down, but no such luck yet.

As for the generals, we get to see them all fight near the end of the series. Most of them haven’t gotten a role beyond that though. The ones with the biggest role is the one with Kanda who likes drawing and Cross. Kanda’s general is pretty annoying the whole time with how laidback he is though. He does a lot of scouting, but never turns up any results so I can’t give him credit. Cross has a lot of bad traits like gambling and messing around, but at least he actually did destroy a bunch of enemy bases and solved a lot of puzzles. He actually made a tangible difference in the war effort and we got to see him fight quite a bit. His battles against the Level 4 and Tyki Mikk show why he got this position. He definitely seemed to be more powerful than the Exorcists and he’s got some great abilities aside from his super gun. I don’t like the guy, but I can respect his power.

Time to look at the villains. Naturally there are a ton of Akuma. All of the Level 0, 1, and 2 are fun enough, but at that level they aren’t a huge threat. Usually they show up so the Exorcists can have a good montage. I suppose the Level 2 fighters were a slight threat in their very first appearance and there’s one fight where they are in the sky and they manage to do some damage. It’s when the Level 3 Akuma show up that things get interesting. For starters, one Level 3 Akuma can basically take on the entire team. Lenalee has to give it her all to take 1 down and even then it was just barely. It was impressive because Allen didn’t seem to do quite as well. Even with Crown Clown form he was getting thrown around a lot. He did last a while even though he was outnumbered though, but the Akuma just wouldn’t stay down. Their speed, power, and defense are all off the charts.

One of the cooler moments in the series is when they make it to the Earl’s island. There are tons of Level 3 Akuma there and just one is enough to be a big deal so you can see how hopeless everything appeared to be. As a result I agreed with their decision to just storm the base and try to assassinate the Earl. It’s not like they could use hit and run tactics to whittle off the Level 3 so at that point you just try to go for the head and take him out right away. This was doomed as well since they had the huge Akuma towers running around the the Earl’s Noah fighters, but no other plan would have been much better.

Then you’ve got the Level 4 Akuma who is my favorite villain in the series. He’s just super intense and the fight with him vs Allen and Lenalee is my favorite in the series as well. This guy’s completely broken. He was able to take many big hits and still kept on going. If Cross didn’t show up then he would have still managed to secure a win which is pretty crazy. If the Earl makes more of those then I just can’t see how the heroes can hope to win without some major power ups. The Level 4 Akuma are basically General level.

The Earl may be the head honcho, but it’s hard to say if he is really the strongest villain around. It makes sense that he would be since the leader usually is the strongest, but I’ve never been too impressed with him He didn’t seem too eager to fight General Cross and Allen was holding his own pretty well. This likely isn’t the Earl’s final form, but he still doesn’t look great yet. He’s definitely a very different kind of villain as he doesn’t mind crying in front of his followers and such. You just can’t forget how many evil acts he does in the meantime. The guy is a complete psycho for sure and it’s hard to see him being redeemed.

From the Noah the one with the biggest chance of turning good would likely be Road. She may not actually be a kid, but she does seem the most innocent out of the group. They’re her family so she fights with them, but she doesn’t seem as openly malicious as the others. Road does do a number on the Exorcists with her attacks though and she is very hard to deal with. She’s rather unassuming but may be the strongest member next to Tyki. Lulu Bell gets the smallest role out of the Noah. She is reasonably tough and was beating the Exorcists when they fought, but that was very early on in the series.

Tyki Mikk definitely lives up to the hype of being a Noah though. Not only is he able to stalemate Kanda, but he also takes down Allen very easily when they first fought. In his final form he’s also far too much for Allen to handle even in his final form. Lavi’s help isn’t enough to beat him either. Tyki seems to enjoy his human life with his gambling buddies, but ultimately he never would have been able to have it both ways for long. The humans aren’t going to survive an Akuma invasion so eventually they would have been bumped off. Tyki’s a fun villain though. He keeps a front of formality in all of his conversations before eventually cracking when things get tough.

Jasdevi is sort of 2 different Noah, but they eventually merge into one. I forgot if that’s how they originally were and then they split or vice versa, but I believe they used to be one. They’re a fun duo even if Cross does mess with them a lot. It’s always interesting to have a Noah who’s part comic relief as they do the dishes in one scene and then murder everyone in another. They’re fairly strong, but not on the level of Road or Tyki. Their traps are really what made them a threat to the heroes during the fight. Then you’ve got Skin who is very strong physically but doesn’t have much else going for him. I suppose you don’t need much else when you’re that strong though. His lightning is hard to dodge and he gave Kanda a good fight. That alone tells me that he is very powerful. That was also one of the better fights in the series. He doesn’t have much personality so I wouldn’t say that I was a big fan, but Skin added to the villain ranks pretty well.

The animation in D. Gray-man looks excellent. The colors are sharp and as I mentioned we do get a lot of really great fights. There’s a lot of detail here at all times and the backdrops are suitably grim. It’s almost always night time in the show with very few episodes taking place during the day. You always feel the impending sense of doom with Akuma around every corner. The animators also really kick it up a notch during the big battles in the tower and everything afterwards. You just feel an uptick in the animation and there’s no comparison when looking at the first episodes and the last ones. Initially I didn’t think the soundtrack was that good when I used to listen to it online. Context does tend to help though and the scenes worked well with the music. It’s not the largest soundtrack so you’ll be hearing the tunes quite a lot, but that’ll give you extra time to get used to them. I didn’t have any issues with them by the end.

Now, why doesn’t the Earl just destroy the Exorcists? As I mentioned we don’t really know why, but my main theory is that he wants them around to destroy the weaker Akuma and keep the supply of Innocence around. We see how the Akuma are gradually growing stronger after each invasion and it’s possible that without the Exorcists fighting them left and right this wouldn’t be happening. If anything the Earl is toying with the humans which could come back to bite him. It’s hard to see how though because the Earl can churn out hundreds and even thousands of new Akuma with his factories as well as the personal visits to people who have died. Meanwhile the Exorcists are lucky to get 10 new recruits a year. Mix that in with the fact that it takes 10 or more to defeat one Level 4 Akuma and then you’ve got a problem. The Noah also appear to be as strong as at least a Level 3 Akuma and while there aren’t many of them here we learn in the sequel that there are many more.

The power levels stay consistent in this series, but we can expect them to start flying out the window soon in order to give the heroes a fighting chance. I expect the ending to be Allen getting a way to shut them all down at once or a non-ending where the author just abruptly ends with nothing resolved. At the rate the series is going it’ll likely still be quite a few years before this happens though. Ideally this will also let the Exorcists fight against the order a little more.

The writing and directing are also pretty good. I don’t really think about directing much, but then I watch Naruto Shippuden and it reminds me why it is so important. The characters are all written to be pretty likable here and their day to day conversations don’t drag on. Flashbacks are used quite sparingly and none of the episodes ever feel like they drag on. Even the scenes of the Noah picking off random Exorcists is handled well as they at least get a chance to use their attacks. You do know that they’re doomed either way though.

Overall, D. Gray-man is definitely a great show. It may have gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but it definitely gets to its peak when the Noah start to show up. The animation is solid and the soundtrack is well rounded as well. If you haven’t seen this show yet and are in the mood for a good action title then you can’t go wrong here. It’s quite unique next to most of the other big action anime with a lot of mystery thrown into the mix with the action and horror. A lot of these questions aren’t actually answered here though so be prepared for a lot of loose ends as the series ends. The manga is still on-going so that is inevitable though. Even if it were not to have continued the ending is still pretty solid.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 Review


Time to look at the next installment in the Mob Psycho series. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first season due in part to the experimental animation style and Ritsu’s plot line wasn’t all that good. This season improves quite drastically though and even the animation appears to be a big improvement. This is the kind of season 2 you want to see because it takes all of the good parts of season 1 and expands on them. It’s pretty short at 13 episodes but that is a normal length for a show even if you get used to the 26 and 52 episode titles. There’s a lot you can do with 13 and Psycho made the most of it.

Mob has been slowly improving himself physically through the body improvement club and even mentally as he has come to terms with his abilities. He is now almost ready to ask out one of his classmates. Unfortunately there is still a villain group at large which is making it difficult to find the time. He’s also starting to wonder if he should still be working for Reigen now that he knows more about the world and his place in it. He’ll have to find the answers to all of these questions as he fights and hopefully it’ll all just turn out well. He’ll have to be careful though as he may not be the most powerful psychic around anymore.

Mob Psycho and One Punch Man were both created by the same guy and feature a main character who is unstoppable. While that is still true for the latter and likely will always be, Mob does have some limitations. He’s actually a character who can be beaten due in part to the fact that his powers take up a lot of energy so he has to sleep them off and there are enemies who can actually keep up with him. We saw that briefly in season 1 and in this season the big 5 are able to match him for a while. When Mob completely loses control and goes into 999+ mode he is still one of the strongest guys out there though. Either he or Suzuki would be the strongest esper in the world. I wonder if the series will really keep trying to increase the power levels like DBZ or if this was the height of that.

The fights are really why this season is so great though. The action scenes are all top notch and one really great fight is when Shimazaki takes on the whole group of main characters. I always like a good group fight and this one did not disappoint. His teleportation ability is incredibly handy and I’ve always thought that it could be one of the most deadly abilities if used right. Alas, most characters do not use it very well but this guy definitely makes the most of it. A particularly impressive cut is when he smashes Teru through a wall and then through a car window as he teleported mid combo. It’s such a genius idea. I don’t doubt that a lot of writers have thought about doing cool tricks like this but hold back because they either can’t illustrate it well or are worried that the teleporting character would be OP. This guy would be insane in just about any series, but in a title with Espers who can use TK abilities that helps to keep him in check at least to a degree.

One thing I was happy about is Shimazaki doesn’t get nerfed or hit with plot hax. The guy actually improves while he fights and another great scene is when his eyes open and he ascends. No cheesy friendship power victory here folks, they ultimately do need Mob to show up. That would have been an awesome fight, but the resolution that we got was also really satisfying so I can definitely live with it. I talked more about his fights than the character, but Shimazaki is definitely a great character and easily the best villain in the series. He’s really a scene stealer.

That’s not to say that he has all of the best fights in the season though. Suzuki’s fight with Mob is excellent of course and we get a lot of other fights throughout. The last few episodes really focus on the big battles with Claw and ends the season on a high note. It’ll be extremely difficult for a possible season 3 to top this one. It’ll have to be firing on all cylinders, but that’s certainly something that can happen.

Meanwhile Mob has improved a great deal since season 1. He’s not a pushover anymore and he has learned more about the world so people can’t manipulate him as easily. Those are both good things and while it means that we may never get quite the same Reigen and Mob dynamic, their relationship will ultimately be a better one this way. I did get a little worried that Mob’s emotions would nerf him, but it’s a good tradeoff. As I mentioned earlier, Mob isn’t quite unbeatable anymore, but he’s still quite possibly the strongest character in the series. You can actually deal damage to him, but it’s unlikely that you will be able to claim victory. His rage modes in this season are definitely intense. I do feel like he should have been able to see through the fire ploy with his mental abilities but as the show points out, everyone’s mental abilities are different. Mob seems to excel more in defense and offense as opposed to miscellaneous abilities.

Reigen is still an awesome character and my favorite in the series. He goes through a rough patch where he starts to let the fame get to him and doesn’t give Mob the respect that the kid has earned. He takes Mob’s help for granted and learns a valuable lesson from that. It does involve having to get humiliated on a national level but everyone learns through different methods. You just have to find the one that works for you and then roll with it. Reigen also gets to take on one of the big villains here and is always a calm voice amidst a tough situation. He is a little different from characters like King and Hercule in that he may be a poser, but he does have a lot of legitimite skills. If not for half of these villains being crazy psychic powerhouses he would actually be able to really deal quite a lot of damage. I have high respect for how he faces off with these guys all the time without fear.

Then we have Ritsu who has come a long way from his season 1 days. Now he is on the hero side and has become a capable fighter. He may not be on the same level as Mob or Teru but he is strong enough to help out against the members of Claw. His fight with Shimazaki is pretty good. Ritsu’s always looking out for Mob and I do expect that his abilities will continue to grow as well. Another supportive character or characters in this case are the body improvement club. They’re always quick to rush to Mob’s defense even though they are a little outgunned. The fight with Dimple possessing the leader and fighting one of the Claw members was fun. I think what really makes these guys solid is how loyal they are. They really want to help make Mob a better person with no agenda or strings attached.

Dimple is still floating around with goals to eventually possess Mob. It’s at the point where it’s likely all talk though and he seems like one of the heroes. He may not be the most powerful guy around, but he does help out a lot when needed though. Then you have the heroine Tsubomi. She didn’t actually get to appear much in season 1 so it was good to see her get at least part of one episode here. She still has less presence than any other heroine I’ve ever seen, but at least this season gave her a real personality. She seems a bit jaded or perhaps just careful and won’t fall for a scam as easily as some of the other characters. I’m not sure where the series is going with her, but right now she is a solid character.

Teru also returns in this season and is still one of the strongest heroes around. Next to Mob I’d say that he is definitely the strongest although Sho and Ritsu may end up giving him some competition someday. I like Teru’s character. He’s able to keep a cool head under pressure and is one of the more strategic characters. His psychic abilities are versatile and he is able to adapt mid-match very well like when he predicted Shimazaki’s teleportation angles. I see him as a consistent Trunks type character who probably won’t be able to finish off the big opponents but he will always do well against the sub-villains.

As for Sho, he’s a pretty good character. His plan may not have worked, but it is admirable that he was trying to stop Suzuki on his own. We really don’t get to see him in action for very longm, but that’s fine. We get a general sense of his abilities. He was simply out of his league this time. Hatori is one of the Ultimate 5, but the guy gets no real screen time so we can skip past him. Serizawa is one of the more important members of the group. His abilities are quite high as well and he may be the 3rd strongest member behind Suzuki and Shimazaki. He has self confidence issues and gets manipulated a lot. It’s tough for him since Suzuki got to him at a pretty vulnerable time. While he ultimately gets a bit of a redemption arc I would have liked him to have stood up for himself a little sooner. By the time he acted it was pretty late. I can see him being a fun character in the next season. The guy means well after all.

Toshiki has plant abilities that are surprisingly formidable. He gave Mob a reasonable fight with them after all and rage mode or not that is a good feat. The guy did earn his way into the Ultimate 5. He doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but is a quality villain. Then there is Hiroshi who is the power hitter of the group. He isn’t terribly interesting since the guy is just there to punch people out, but he serves his purpose well enough. Then we have Joseph who isn’t actually part of the group. I thought he was a really interesting and fun character.

The series takes a page out of Index III’s book with various groups running around. In this case CLAW had another faction built in thanks to the government and Joseph was the mole. He went around trying to cause a civil war but ultimately it did not impede Suzuki’s plans. It was a good effort though and it’s hard to ever get tired of a good ole villain vs villain throw down. The whole concept of the government having their own Espers is also interesting and I really hope we get to see that plot pursued at some point. Clearly they have some offensive abilities at the ready which is good. That means this government is automatically a lot smarter than most.

Finally we have Suzuki who is the big boss of the organization. He’s a very strategic villain whose plan has been in the makings for around 10 years or so if I recall correctly. His abilities are sort of like All For One’s as he can give people abilities. What he does is he can charge his abilities for years to build it up and can power up other people. Then when he no longer needs to do this he can just re-absorb the abilities back into himself. He’s really a serious threat and there are multiple times during the fight with Mob where he just has the upper hand in raw power. Ultimately Mob proves to have a bit of a higher ceiling, but Suzuki seemed more impressive. Without a 10 year head start Mob definitely wins this, but with the 10 years Suzuki is a total monster. He’s an incredible villain and really ticks all of the right boxes for me. A confident leader who can fight like that makes for a really high quality villain.

Before the whole Claw arc we do get other stories of course which help to develop the characters. In one of them we see an innocent group of spirits and Mob doesn’t want to exorcise them because they weren’t doing anything wrong. This is one episode where Reigen was surprisingly slow on the uptake. I remember thinking that it would have been so easy for him to just pretend that they exorcised the spirits to keep things moving. It’s not like the humans would really know otherwise. Pressuring Mob to destroy them even while knowing the were innocent was pretty out of character. Mob also goes through a lot physically in these episodes like one villain who basically tormented him for years and years in a “what if” future world. That was pretty brutal from what we saw and definitely made for a very dark experience even if it was mostly off screen. Times like that are when you wish Mob had some more mental defenses to fight with. The mind seems to ironically be his weakness.

As I mentioned the animation is a lot better here. When the fights are happening it is near the top of the biz. At times it’s hard to even think that this is the same show. Everything looks so sharp and even from the screenshots I’ve attached you can see how vibrant it looks. Then the soundtrack is also a lot better. In particular Shimazaki has a great battle theme for when he is fighting with the group. There are a lot of familiar themes from season 1 as well and it all comes together for a very well rounded experience.

Overall, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 is definitely a top notch show to check out. It’s got solid action, quality writing, a good cast, etc. You feel more of the One Punch vibes here as the supporting cast is gradually beginning to turn into a very solid cast. The episodes will really fly by and you may even feel like marathoning the last 4-5 episodes so you can really experience all of the fights in one shot. It’ll just be hard to tear yourself away at that point. Definitely watch this show as soon as you can.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight Vanguard (2018) Review


It’s time to take a look at the recent Cardfight Vanguard reboot that came out. The franchise has definitely done pretty well for itself over the years. It’s got numerous seasons, multiple movies, and a solid manga. I suppose it was about time the franchise took a step back to redo the first season to get that nostalgia in. This time they’re adapting the manga adaption of the original season so there are some differences to be sure. This title effectively covers the first 3 seasons of Vanguard in one shot but it’s a very loose adaption since otherwise cramming 3 seasons into 1 would have been pretty crazy.

The show starts by introducing us to a kid named Aichi. He’s a pretty timid guy who has no friends, but one day he is introduced to the world of Vanguard by a kid named Kai. Fast forward a few years and while Aichi is still timid, Vanguard has helped him gain confidence and actually make some good friends. The timing was fortunate since a villain group by the name of Asteroid has shown up and they are twisting the game into something painful. They force the duelists to wear gloves that shock you every time you take a hit and are taking over all of the card shops. Aichi has to stop them while hanging onto his joy of the game.

That’s the first arc and it’s the famous one that introduces Ren. From the various arcs I’d say that this one is the least changed from the original series. The series does a good job of introducing us to the characters and slowly expanding the cast. Aichi is a solid main character as always and I dare say that he gets to be a good character even quicker in this version than in the original. He becomes pretty confident during arc 1 and by the end of it is already known as a world class fighter. Once he obtains Psyqualia he definitely doesn’t back down to anyone and he isn’t afraid to fight it out with Ren.

Ren is still a super solid villain as always. He’s definitely a little insane in the first arc as he tries to act like he’s not the villain at times, but that can only go so far. Even if you plead innocence, you’re a villain if you’re the leader of the group that is terrorizing everyone. You can’t just look the other way and expect it all to fade. Ren’s definitely talented and tends to win most of his duels. The other characters are just seriously outmatched against him and Psyqualia is still as broken an ability as it always was.

Kai is still a cool rival as always. Due in part to the fact that the series has to go through the early arcs pretty quickly there is less time for him to show everyone up. He still gets a lot of wins of course, but I’d say that he isn’t quite as untouchable as he used to be. He also mellows out a little bit faster. He’s still one of the best characters of course, but this time instead of being my favorite character he was actually surpassed by someone. Kai gets a good role in all of the arcs though so I was glad about that.

Misaki gets a big role as well since she is featured in all of the arcs and is a central figure in the high school arc. Her memory method of dueling is still super useful and she saves the day quite a lot. Misaki gets a lot of character development and is definitely one of the more well rounded characters in the series. Kamui gets less of an active role here, but he actually gets to act as a coach for quite a bit of the final arc. His fans will likely still be a little disappointed that he isn’t actually on the front lines dueling, but at least he is still shown to be a great duelist.

Tetsu definitely feels pretty sinister in this series. He’s basically the reason why Asteroid turned evil in the first place so it’s hard to feel all that sympathetic for him when the losses start piling on. The characters let him off the hook for being evil pretty quick so you’re glad that at least someone got to knock him off his high horse. He’s a solid duelist for sure, but he doesn’t have the same passion that the others have. Meanwhile Asaka is still a lot of fun and she has one of the most emotional duels in the series. Her battle against Ren while being mind controlled was definitely intense. She’s certainly the most loyal of the antagonists and while she never really gets to have any big wins she is still quite skilled.

Kyou actually got a much bigger role than I would have expected. He tails Aichi around for a while to learn how to wield Psyqualia and eventually is able to access it even if it is a forced activation. He has a lot of confidence and has a lot of good duels. Once his spirit is broken he still gets to show up at times and does a better job of getting back into the mix than even some of the big characters like Kai. He’ll continue to have a role in the next season.

Alas, characters like Leon don’t get nearly as big a role as they had in the original. That’s partially because of the 3 seasons, season 2 was definitely abridged the most. Most of it simply didn’t end up coming through into the remake so that’s to be expected. Leon still gets a good duel though and while he may not have gotten to make much of an impact in the story, at least he appeared right? Better to show up and not do much than to miss out altogether.

The second half of the show is about the High School arc. Aichi decides to form a Cardfight Club and thanks to help from Naoki is able to assemble a full squad. The squad is Aichi, Kourin, Misaki, Naoki, and Shingo. Together they are ready to enter some big tournaments, but their plans are put on hold when a new villain threatens to destroy Vanguard once more. His name is Takuto and he has the ability to control the soul of anyone he defeats in a match. Likewise anyone he defeats can then go and defeat someone else to continue this cycle. Then you’ve also got Kouji who is going around deleting opponents. When he defeats someone that person is cut off from Vanguard and can never enjoy the game again. Aichi has to stop these guys, but can he do it on his own?

This is really the arc that stands out in the series because it really doesn’t have a whole lot to connect it to the original. There are a lot of elements from the Link Joker arc in here, but it’s handled completely differently. Kouji also throws a lot of wrenches into Takuto’s plans which is always cool. The arc definitely has the highest stakes out of all the arcs and it’s a nice way to get the full cast in on the action. Even in the original series the Link Joker arc was the best. It’s just hard to top because it serves as a final tribute to all of the original characters like Kai and Ren as they get their big battles.

Kourin has always been the best member of the idol trio and that continues here. She actually likes Vanguard and does her best to resist the mind control. She made for a good teammate and was a valuable member of the club. As with the original series she gets a bit of a sad ending here, but at least there is actually hope for her since the next season will be continuing the plotline. I still don’t care for Suiko and think of her as a total villain. She’s more like Tetsu as she is totally on board with these crazy plans and doesn’t even care about being a nice person like Kourin. Rekka is in the same boat. While she doesn’t seem as overtly corrupt as Suiko, you can tell that she’s got her own agenda going on.

Naoki is still one of the better characters in the series and his intro is pretty great. He may be a newcomer to the game, but he does try hard to learn the rules and is quick to help Aichi out. He’s one of the more determined characters in the series and added a nice spark to the main cast. He’s one of the highlights of the final arc and I hope to see him continue to get a big role in the upcoming episodes. In comparison Shingo’s character is still more of a miss for me. There’s not a whole lot to his character’s personality and there’s not much about him to make the guy all that likable. He never gets a big moment where he finally gets to prove himself.

Takuto is the main villain so naturally he gets quite a few moments to shine. He’s definitely a tough duelist to beat and his cards have a lot of crazy super powers. I’d like to have seen Kouji take him on a second time but they did fight once so we already know what the outcome would be like. Takuto makes for a good mastermind behind the shadows so the “Concert Master” title is definitely pretty fitting. He’s definitely a much better character when in his pure evil form.

Finally you’ve got Kouji. He’s easily the best character in the series and I was impressed by just how cool he was. Every scene with him is incredibly intense and he gets some of the best fights in the series. His duels against Kai, Aichi, and Takuto are among my favorite fights in the series. They’re all just incredible and I think part of what makes Kouji work is his absolute confidence. He’s basically just a random guy who walked into a battle between worlds and he took the whole thing in stride. Kouji isn’t worried about what is going on for a minute. He just strolls in and takes names. That’s the kind of villain that you want to have. He’s a chaotic wild card and there aren’t a whole lot of series that can pull this off. He takes down the main villain and the rival. I can’t think of a single other time where something even close to that has happened. He’s like a secret final boss.

As always the animation is definitely quite solid here. The character designs are on point and the colors are sharp. You can really get into the intense cardfight battle animations and it’s all just very bright. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. It’s not quite as off the walls as the original series, but there are several hype themes like Kouji’s delete theme. They help to set the stage for the match and the music properly amplifies the experience. A good soundtrack should always make every scene even better.

This series is just awesome. Once the climax starts in both arcs it’s basically a nonstop roller coaster of intense scenes from start to finish. I’ve always loved card game shows and this one has all of the good qualities involved. The duels have a lot of strategy and it’s nice seeing how many different kinds of decks you can build. The main cast is pretty strong and the writing is on point. Even the episodes that are just for character development end up being entertaining and that’s what makes for a good series. It achieves success in every tone it goes for.

Overall, Cardfight Vanguard (2018) is an excellent title. It’s also a nice way of recapping the first 3 seasons if you don’t have time to watch that many episodes. You can watch this one and jump right into Legion Mate without much of a problem. It’ll be interesting to see how far the series goes with this. The next season seems like it’ll be a totally original story at this point. Then we’ll either get a G remake or the series will do something else. As long as the franchise continues to go on I’ll be fine with whatever they decide to do next. So I definitely recommend this series. Whether you jump in as a newcomer or you just want to relive the original days it will definitely satisfy your needs.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God: The Orpheus Order Review


It’s time to take a look at season 2 of Phi Brain. The first season was definitely a rock solid show. We got a bunch of great puzzles and in general it was a pretty unique show. I haven’t seen many like it so it was good to have the title return. While season 2 does retread some ground from the first season it’s definitely a great follow up. It’s not quite as good as the first season of course, but the quality is very close to that of the original.

The season also does start off with a bang. Kaito and the rest of the Phi Brains are hanging out at school when they are challenged by a new villain group. They call themselves the Orpheus Order and right off the bat they challenge the heroes to a group battle. Kaito and Gammon can handle themselves well enough but can the rest hold their own? The leader of the Orpheus Order is named Freecell (Or is he the leader?) and he seems to have some ties to Kaito from the past. Kaito doesn’t remember this guy or the promise he supposedly made. Either way Kaito has to stop these guys, but the Orpheus Order is more expansive than they can imagine. Kaito may need to call on his old friends from the POG for assistance.

I always like it when the villains make a move right away. Why bother waiting 20+ episodes to appear when you can storm the hero stronghold in under 10 minutes? It’s really impressive just how quickly they move. I also really like the idea of a team battle. It’s basically a 5 on 5 match as everyone plays a square related game. It’d be even cooler to have everyone moving at once, but logistically that’d probably be a nightmare so this makes sense. It’s still super tense because even if Kaito wins his round there is no guarantee that the whole team will win.

One advantage the season immediately has over the last one is that Kaito isn’t sidelined for every other puzzle. In season 1 there kept being a ton of different circumstances that would keep him out of a fight. First we had Cubik come out with something that prevented Kaito’s brain from activating, then he went through an emotional breakdown where he forgot how to do puzzles, etc. There were so many episodes where Kaito could have solved the puzzle easily but then something happened and he had a hard time. Here the only times Kaito is having a difficult experience solving the puzzle is because his opponent is that good. In season 1 a lot of the puzzles were 1 player, most of the ones in season 2 are vs puzzles so you’re actively fighting someone. It makes a huge difference on how you go about solving it this way. Even Nonoha gets to duel in one puzzle which was definitely interesting. Her photographic memory unfortunately isn’t too helpful in most cases, but she always tries which is good.

The Orpheus Order has quite a few members so lets quickly talk about them. First up is Freecell who serves as the main antagonist here. He blames Kaito for the death of his mother, but gradually we learn more and more about his full backstory. He makes for a good villain, but typically he’s at his best when Kaito isn’t around. For example, his confrontation with Klondike is his best scene. It’s awesome and one of the best moments in the whole show. When he’s with Kaito he gets a little more delusional and in some ways is just Rook 2.0. Overall I did think he made for a pretty great villain though. He may not have been the most original villain in the series, but the execution was on point. If anything it’s too bad we didn’t get to see him fight more. I wanted to see his new powers in action.

Then we have Pinochle who is definitely the worst of the group. He’s the kind of guy who goes for mindgames and intimidation right off the bat, but can’t pull it off. As a result he seems more like a try hard and never becomes all that interesting. It’s a shame since he gets some of the most development out of the characters. Next is Mizerka who also isn’t too great, but she’s a step up from Pinochle. She needs to have a use and so that probably makes her the most loyal out of all the members. So long as the leader gives her a task she is happy to complete it. Her character is tied pretty closely to Melancholy so you can probably expect that things don’t go too well for her. She also tends to get psyched out by Ana as Mizerka takes everything very seriously.

Next up is Doubt and since he’s Gammon’s rival you can imagine that he’s pretty solid. (For the most part all of the Orpheus Order members have a natural rival) He can fight which is handy and he always struck me as the strongest main member behind Freecell. By the end of the series it is strongly implied that this isn’t the case. Things actually get pretty dicey for Doubt in general in the second half. Still, I liked his confidence and as the tough guy of the group he served in his role pretty well. It took a while for me to realize that his name was literally “Doubt” though.

Then we have Melancholy who is pretty young compared to the other characters. Still, that isn’t to say that her talent is lacking in any way next to the others. She’s always confident and sarcastic aside from her final scene. I don’t think she really got any closure compared to the rest of the group so it’s a shame that Melancholy couldn’t have gotten one more puzzle battle. Likewise, Whist gets a lot of hype throughout but ultimately doesn’t really get to do anything at the end. He does have a lot of hype moments in between, but at the end of the day he didn’t have the breakout duel that you’d expect. The butler from season 1 was definitely more impressive in that regard.

Klondike is the head of the Orpheus Order so you definitely expect a lot out of him. His role is pretty small, but definitely very powerful. He instantly became one of my favorite villains in the series. The guy’s so good at puzzles that he reached Kaito’s level during his first time even trying one out. The guy’s potential is nearly limitless. He’s another character that I would have liked to spend more time with. I suppose there are just too many characters for them all to keep on appearing, but it’d be nice if he could appear again. I suspect this was probably it for him.

That wraps up the new villains here. Well, we have Ana’s sister, but she really didn’t add anything to the show. I didn’t even realize Ana still needed a backstory although I suppose maybe it was hinted in season 1? She has her big moment at the end of course, but for the most part she’s pretty forgettable. We do see the return of an old villain from the POG arc. I won’t say who, but his role here is pretty fun. Despite the fact that this guy is always whining, he can apparently fight as he actually takes down Doubt. It was definitely intense to see him again even if I don’t really get why the villains humored him for so long anyway. I suppose testing the villains’ loyalty and Kaito’s progression is always good, but I feel like there were other ways to do this.

Rook and Bishop may be on a quest to destroy all the puzzles of fools, but they do take the time to quickly show up here when Kaito is in trouble. Bishop never really gets to duel, but Rook has some nice moments. His tag team duel with Kaito was definitely pretty cool. It’s always fun seeing the old villain show up as more of a rival in the present. It’s a nice character development moment. It would have been nice to see Rook fight with Freecell, but I think that may have ultimately been too much for him. The other POG members show up, but only the celebrity member really gets to do anything. The rest just panic a whole lot.

From the supporting characters, Tamaki probably gets the biggest role. She has to step in as student body president and naturally the villains make a move. The season is long enough where there are several sections in the plot. At one point what the villains would do is go around mind controlling people. Tamaki ends up being one of those targets. Jikukawa as well, although his was a lot more epic. It made for an excellent cliffhanger when he showed up and challenged Kaito. The guy always had an interesting history as he was close to being a Phi Brain, but decided not to do so. I guess this was his chance to test all of that. I do think his plan to put on the ring was a little sloppy, but it all worked out in the end which is what counts.

From the Phi Brain children they mostly just get a role in the first half of the season. By the end they aren’t really able to help out at all and just stay on the sidelines. Ana’s role near the beginning is to annoy Mizerka and of course the whole thing with her sister. Cubik is heavily involved with trying to figure out how the rings work and Gammon tries to teach Doubt a lesson for involving his sister. They’re all pretty consistent with how they were in the first season. In that respect, Gammon’s the only disappointing one here just because he had such a big role in season 1. He was Kaito’s rival while now he is treated more like an underling. It’s clear that they are no longer on the same level. I suppose it was inevitable to an extent but it’s still a shame.

Nonoha still gets a big role of course as she is always ready to support Kaito. She also helps get Freecell to sort through his emotions in time for the final boss. She’s definitely an integral part of the story. Finally we have Kaito. As always he’s definitely a great main character. He doesn’t really suffer from the same levels of doubt he had in season 1. The mindgames still shake him up a bit from time to time, but for the most part he’s gotten past all of that. He’s now in a spot where he can just enjoy puzzles again. He’s definitely a fun main character and his aggressive nature towards solving puzzles has served him well. I’m glad he chose to do the puzzles without the armlet as well. In season 1 he basically surpassed it so that would have felt like a step back.

Naturally the soundtrack is still great as we have a lot of old themes that return. I do miss the classic samba type music that played though. I don’t even know what style of music it was, maybe Mexican? It fit really well for the tombs, but I guess with the change of scenery for season 2 the directors thought it wouldn’t be a good fit. Still, on the whole we get the rest of the epic tunes. Then for the animation it’s pretty consistent with season 1. The visuals are still nice and shiny. It doesn’t stand out too much in particular, but it all looks good I’d say. Most of these puzzles aren’t exactly made to look super flashy anyway.

I think one difference here compared to the first season which does hurt a bit is that it’s more up and down. I feel like season 1 was consistently excellent with high stakes while this one could fluctuate. At its best the hype moments were even better than season 1’s. The Klondike duel, Jikukawa turning evil, the big duels with Freecell, Rook jumping in, etc. These are all show stopping moments with how amazing they are. At the same time, then we have the episodes that feel like they’re just trying to buy time. These include moments like: Ana’s sister, Tamaki turning evil, the puzzle adventures on the island, etc. Not to say that any of these episodes are bad. They just feel like filler thrown in the middle to buy some for the villains to make another serious move. Since season 1’s episodes were mostly all introducing the characters and getting us to know them even the “filler” felt important. It’s a perk that season 1 has which is supposed to be countered by the fact that season 2 can just jump right in. It’s a good balance and as I mentioned before, the seasons are still very close.

Overall, Season 2 is definitely quite solid. I do like the idea of a villain group of geniuses. We do get some cop outs in terms of the whole group being Phi Brains, but the higher ups still delivered with the fights. Phi Brain will continue to succeed as long as they keep thinking of fun puzzles. Season 1’s were still more creative, but this season definitely had enough hype scenes to match 1. I look forward to seeing how season 3 stacks up. Who can possibly challenge Kaito and friends now right? Maybe there’ll be a super Armlet of Orpheus or something like that.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God Review


It’s time to look at a puzzle anime which is pretty unique. There are a few puzzle franchises out there, but if we’re strictly looking at shows the only one that I can think of is Layton and I haven’t seen that one yet. A puzzle is different from a mystery after all as you’re trying to find the way to complete it, not so much finding out who made it. The season’s definitely a lot of fun and basically handled everything flawlessly. It’s a show that you can certainly recommend to anyone and it has no weak points.

The show starts with Kaito Daimon (Get used to his full name as all of the characters like using it) beating the puzzle club’s best puzzles once again. Try as they might they can never defeat him and that’s because Kaito is a genius. His catch phrase is “There ain’t no puzzle I can’t solve” which is a triple negative so it basically turns into “I can solve all puzzles!” It’s definitely one of the best catchphrases I’ve heard in a while although “I’m not done yet!” still wins at the moment. His best friend Nonoha isn’t any good at puzzles but they still get along pretty well with how different they are. Kaito’s life gets a little more complicated though when an evil organization known as the POG shows up. They have begun setting up puzzles which are designed to take the life of those who challenge them.

This goes against what Kaito believes puzzles should be like. He plays them for fun after all. Now he is obligated to try out all of these puzzles so he can solve them before anyone gets hurt. He registers with the school as a genius with an official title so he can go after the POG and is also chosen by the Armlet of Orpheus which grants him super human intelligence for a time, but also completely exhausts him. He won’t be alone though as 3 other geniuses from the school, Gammon, Ana, and Cubik are also chosen. Together they have to stop the POG, but are these other guys just holding Kaito back? If so…how can he get them to back off?

A great deal of the season is shrouded in mystery as we only learn more about the POG in small steps. At first all you really know is that Kaito has to stop them. Gradually we see inside of the POG. Their motives, how the organization works, etc. Especially towards the end as we get a full flashback episode and you get all of the context. I’d say that the show does a good job of answering all of its questions. I still have to question how practical the POG is. Apparently they used to be more of a heroic organization but gradually they became more ruthless and were just hiring a bunch of murderers. However, from the start they were going around murdering people so it’s safe to say that this was all a front. If anything the disturbing element of the POG is how like most other cults they get a lot of people who seem like ordinary citizens to quickly be eager to destroy their fellow man. It’s definitely not what you would expect from a teacher at the local school for example. The POG also gets away with quite a lot to be honest, but I suppose one day the cops will learn of them and they’ll all do some time.

Back on target, as I mentioned the puzzles are one of the big selling points of the show. They certainly deliver. All of the puzzles in the show are properly explained. They are nice and complex without being hard to understand. For example, when you see the puzzle you will quickly know what to do even if you aren’t sure how to find the actual answer. The puzzles are just written really well. My favorite one is probably the Lightsaber duel. There’s a lot of strategy there while also being more of a physical test of skill since you also need to be able to move fast enough to pull off most of the moves. The same can be said for some of the other puzzles like the battle atop the construction building. If you can’t run from pillar to pillar fast enough then it’s really all over.

The animation is quite sharp. I like the effects that are used for the armlet and the glowing eyes that Kaito and Rook have. The energy effects are just very vibrant and same with all of the backgrounds. The show always looks sharp and you can tell that a good amount of effort was put into it. I also greatly enjoyed the soundtrack. It’s an interesting Brazilian/Portuguese type soundtrack with a lot of fast paced tunes that work well for the puzzles. The theme song is also really good which is definitely fortunate since the whole season just has one. iI still think that a theme song should change every 13 episodes, but I suppose that can get expensive. It’s definitely a memorable bundle of songs so that is reason enough to give this one a look.

Now lets look at the main cast. Kaito is our main character and he’s a good lead. He is very confident throughout the series and never even considers the fact that he might not win. He knows that he is a top notch solver and I do tend to enjoy characters like that quite a bit. He does have a few times where his confidence is shaken thanks to stuff that happened in his childhood which the villains love to use against him. Still, it never keeps him down for long and Kaito always bounces back. He has to work extra hard most of the time so he wins the puzzle while still saving his opponent. It’s definitely not an easy road, but it’s one that he can handle. The best character in the show is certainly him or Gammon.

Gammon is the rival here. He’s another very confident character who is convinced that he is the best. Initially he is a solver like Kaito but eventually he remembers that he used to be a Giver. (Givers create puzzles while solvers…..solve them) This leads to a rather iffy decision where Gammon joins the POG for a while. Now this is where it’s pretty complicated. See, the show doesn’t play it off as too serious a thing. He betrays the heroes and works for a bunch of murderers, but he never personally destroys anyone. The heroes also seem to think that he knew they would survive each time which is why he had no qualms about murdering Kaito. Still, it’s taken quite far so even if the heroes can forgive him I’m not sure if I can. At the very least he did drop from being my favorite character to going under Kaito. I suppose I’ll put him in 2nd for now, but it will be interesting to see where his character arc goes from here. His tale is tragic at times admittedly as he is quite good, but always gets overshadowed by Kaito. That’s why it was interesting to see him as an antagonist since he busts into the villain base and starts taking everyone down. The fact that he was able to beat everyone aside from the boss Rook (Who he never got to fight) is quite telling.

Nonoha is the main heroine and she’s a fun character to have around. She can actually fight unlike most of the cast which is certainly handy in case any of the villains decide to take matters into their own hands. I also like how she was helpful right from the start like in the very first episode where she helps Kaito during the maze. Yeah, she almost fell to her doom, but it was a good effort. She’s always around to cheer Kaito and the gang up. Even after all of Kaito’s friends start running scared she manages to stick with him the whole time. Definitely a quality character and even if she can’t solve puzzles hopefully she continues to get a big role in the next adventures.

Cubik is one of Kaito’s less impressive friends. He tries to stop Kaito from solving puzzles several times. The worst instance of this was when he put something on Kaito that wouldn’t let him focus on puzzles and would give him shots of pain if he tried. It’s always tragic to see since those puzzles would have been easy for Kaito otherwise. Cubik also deserts Kaito when the lead needed him most. He has his reasons and at least he had one unlike the next character, but he could have handled the situation much better than he did. It was still rather tough for him to recover from what happened in the end. Cubik also isn’t one of the better solvers to be honest.

Then there is Ana who is the worse of the friends. For starters, when he deserts Kaito there is no good reason. He just couldn’t take the stress and thought that Kaito was going to die so he wanted no part of it. Even by the end of the series all he got to do was show Kaito a painting. Sure, that was Ana’s big moment, but it wasn’t nearly as emotional or impactful at the others. Ana just could have done a lot better and never taking anything seriously doesn’t help his case either. Sometimes you gotta take things seriously or overconfidence will be your downfall.

Jikukawa is the mysterious student counsel president who works directly for Principal Baron. He acts like a troll most of the time and is just around to give the heroes their orders. He keeps a lot of secrets from them, but at the end of the day he does try to help them out at times. He just has the dangerous attitude of letting them go to the death puzzles and deciding that if they can’t solve them then it was simply their time. He starts taking more initiative as the series goes on and gradually becomes a better character as a result. You should only listen to corrupt orders for so long after all. Then we have the Principal who never really became a good character.

Baron is one of the big members of the POG and he tries to get the heroes to solve the puzzles. The problem is that his end goal is to defy the POG but he does a really bad job of it. He’s in over his head and doesn’t even know what is happening half the time. He may as well be a villain since he does whatever they say without question. Don’t let his peaceful words fool you, the Baron is not someone that I would trust and the heroes should probably be less happy to see him each time. Then we have Jin who used to hang out with Kaito and Rook before vanishing. The way his plot goes may be a bit unsatisfying, but it was an original twist. Lets just say that the big showdown really didn’t go his way despite the guy’s confidence. Maybe he would have done a little better if he had kept the armlet.

Time to look at the villains. The leader/main villain of the series is Rook. He was Kaito’s friend back in the day before vanishing. Now he is focused on destroying Kaito because he wishes they could have been friends without anyone else. Of course, I don’t trust Rook much though and I think he would have made them go through the Puzzle of God anyway. I haven’t really talked about that part much, but basically the ultimate goal of the POG is to develop a talent strong enough to challenge the Puzzle of God. Here’s where it gets a bit confusing, you need 2 solvers to challenge the puzzle at the same time since it’s a battle puzzle. The loser dies while the winner receives the Book of God which can be used to destroy the world..somehow. I don’t think the show even knows how it would work, but it’s basically just an incentive to get everyone fighting. The actual book is never all that important. Fortunately since the two solvers in the past already solved it, the book is already out in the open. Back to Rook, he’s not the greatest villain. He seems pretty intense by the end with how he wants to be with Kaito, but still chooses to act as his enemy the whole time. He let his jealousy turn him mad which wrecks all of his composure. He has a cool design, but he’s probably one of the weaker villains personality-wise.

Then we have Bishop who is Rook’s right hand man. This guy was pretty cool and it’s too bad we couldn’t have seen him more. The guy’s a genius in his own right even if he is a considerable step below Rook. He always keeps his cool and helps the villains from behind the scenes. He believes in winning fair and square so he doesn’t use any cheap tactics. That definitely makes him an honorable fighter in my book. It’s certainly possible that he may return, but I just get the feeling that he probably won’t do much. Meanwhile, one of the other big villains is Elena. She’s a villain by night and an entertainer by day, but both roles involve puzzles. Her heart is never really in it compared to the others, but she still stays on the side of the POG. She may as well since she’s a celebrity and doesn’t have to fear them as much as the others. Elena is a fun character and pretty resourceful. The heroes definitely owe her for the insider information she gave them. I could definitely see her showing up again at some point. She got a lot of development so it’s time for her to challenge a puzzle as a hero.

That’s basically it for the relevant cast. I’ve also covered pretty much everything about the series so it’s almost time for the wrap up. It goes without saying but the writing is also pretty solid. I think you’ll be kept engaged from start to finish. The show has a lot of replay value given how you can also choose to pause the puzzle from the start and solve it yourself. Some of them can be a bit of a stretch to solve without clues, but others are laid out from the start with a solution. You’ll just need a paper and pen handy to see if you can crack it. It’ll definitely take you longer than the characters from the show though.

Overall, Phi Brain is definitely a blast. It’s a series that I highly recommend. The puzzles are really well thought out and the cast of characters are all pretty interesting as well. I think the random episodes of the heroes beating puzzles of fools and POG traps may have beaten some of the more plot based episodes of the second half, but both have their strengths. You can be satisfied with knowing that season 1 is a complete package. It’s a story that has a beginning and an ending. There isn’t even a real cliffhanger for season 2 as long as you don’t watch the preview. I’m certainly glad that there are more adventures to be had with the main cast though. They can easily hold their own plots. Even without a main villain group the puzzles would be good enough, but we do actually have a fresh villain group coming up which will be cool. They have a lot of potential.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Sonic Boom Review


The first time I started watching Sonic Boom I knew that I had a winner on my hands. The series is the perfect blend of action and comedy. Due in part to the solid animation and naturally the strong writing as well, Sonic Boom is one of those all star titles that is not to be trifled with. It’s rare to see a comedy centered show actually be really funny throughout as opposed to once in a while but Boom pulls it off.

The basic plot of the show is that a group of friends live on an island. Their names are Sonic, Amy, Sticks, Tails, and Knuckles. This town is fairly isolated so the friends have to try and not get tired of each other or the fact that there is only one eatery in the entire town. They just have to learn to live the sub par food. Meanwhile, we also can’t forget about the evil Dr. Eggman who uses his evil inventions to try and conquer the town or sometimes to fight off tax corruption. One thing is for sure, there is always something happening in this show.

Sonic Boom may be a CGI show but the animation is so smooth and colorful that it is basically on the level of hand drawn animation. The character designs are really on point. At first people did make fun of some of the designs like Knuckles and Sonic but you quickly get used to them. The bright animation works well for the action scenes as well as the back and forth banter. It’s very versatile. Then there is also the solid soundtrack. It’s quite large as some episodes will have guest star montage themes. The normal everyday themes work well too and one of the big ones is the theme that plays when Sonic fights Shadow for the last time. It will keep you guessing throughout the show and that’s the sign of a good soundtrack.

The writing is certainly 5 Star material as the jokes just work so well. Part of it is the delivery of course, but you also have to give credit to the script for coming up with the jokes. In particular Sonic and Knuckles tend to get all of the best ones although every character has their moment. Eggman naturally gets a lot of time to shine as well with all of the banter between him and Sonic.

One thing you’ll also notice about Sonic Boom is that the show can get serious when necessary. Not all of the serious arcs may have always worked out, but for the most part they were pretty hype. The final two part event for the series certainly brought in the hype as Shadow’s battle with Sonic was as good as it gets. We haven’t had many battles with the two characters so it was cool to see them go at it. Shadow certainly had the edge in the fight which certainly makes sense since his speed is comparable to Sonic’s plus he has his chaos abilities like teleportation. It was fortunate for Sonic that Metal Sonic showed up and that fight was certainly epic as well. He was really doing pretty well against both of the hedgehogs even though he was outnumbered. The best part of the episode was still the early part though as Shadow’s takedown of the main cast was particularly brutal and showed him to be a legitimate threat. He did have a rather similar role in both seasons, but because his screen time was rather rare and limited it never actually felt redundant.

All right, let’s look at the cast. Sonic is essentially the perfect lead as he acts just like his hand counterpart, but dialed up to 11. This let him bring in a lot of snappy dialogue while still wrecking everyone when it came time for combat. This is definitely the Sonic that I remember from the games and his character is really done Justice. Whenever he faces off with someone you basically know that he is going to come out on top. Occasionally he will even subvert whatever the message of the episode was on account of being so talented. That just goes to show his skilled he is. He also does a good job of insulting everyone without being all that mean about it. He just tells it like it is and manages to look cool while doing so.

Knuckles certainly isn’t a very smart character and the show makes this as extreme as possible. Such an exaggerated character would certainly be either a big hit or a disaster and fortunately this portrayal was spot on. I think what really sells the character is how absolutely confident he is of being right. If someone tries to correct him Knuckles will typically put on a smug expression and explain why they are wrong. He has delusions of grandeur and at times he has gotten so big into his own ego that he ends up forgetting his bonds with the others. Knuckles is a nice guy, but one who just can’t cope too well with being the head honcho. He is still the power hitter of the team as well so you want to have Knuckles on your team.

For Tails, it’s an interesting case because rather than simply play up the genius angle, they play up the “genius wannabe” card. He is consistently shown to not be as smart as Eggman in this version and his inventions have to be fixed many times. Still, he does send up saving the day a lot through his inventions as well so it basically cancels out. Tails is a good character and he also has a bit of a rivalry with Sonic at times which is pretty fun. Sonic tends to come out on top, but the same can basically be said for all of his rivalries in the show (except Shadow) so that’s not bad. Tails’ best invention was certainly the one that could make clones of the individual. That’s a useful piece of tech for any situation.

Amy has her girl power sticker on for the show and loves to remind Sonic that not all problems have to be responded to with violence. Although, she is typically the one to jump into a fight. Her split personality is played up a lot in the show and makes her a character that can be feared by others aides. You just don’t want to make her angry. Her part time job as a psychiatrist also makes for a lot of entertaining scenes. She may be a little on the gullible side, but she is also the hero who gives the villains the benefit of the doubt more than the others which is surely a nice thing to do. Sonic never tends to buy into the villains actually having a change of heart in this show for better or worse.

Sticks was made up for Sonic Boom so it was always going to be interesting to see what route they took her. She is the big conspiracy nut of the series and spends a lot of her time yelling and trying to tell the cast what is actually happening. Her refusal to use technology does come in handy at times like when the villain tries to mind control everyone through the TV. Such tactics won’t work on Sticks. In a fight she does appear to be the weakest member but it’s not all about strength when you’re looking at a character. She’s definitely not one of the best members of the main cast, but she’s a reasonably solid member of the team:

Then we’ve got Eggman who is definitely a very important character in the series. He keeps everyone in check and seems to have a fairly formalized deal with Sonic that he will attack the town every week or so. They reference these plans quite a bit. Of course, a Eggman does sometimes switch things up if the town gets on his nerves. It’s not a great defense but if we’re being honest the town can be pretty annoying. They’ll try to cheat you out of money or cut out in line. Other townsfolk will try to guilt trip you into helping them and the mayor is absolutely corrupt. Some characters may just sit there and take it, but not Eggman. In all of these instances I am actually rooting for Eggman since he just seems to be in the right. It’s the town that really needs to change, not really Eggman.

Shadow only appears in 2 different stories but they are both quite good. He sounds intimidating for sure and just isn’t someone that you want to mess with. Especially when you consider how strong he is. Shadow may be a little gullible which is an unusual trait for the character and the only one that doesn’t work well, but he looks really good beyond that. His style of chaos control based combat is always fun to watch. As Sonic Boom surprisingly didn’t use guest stars all that often, it made their appearances even more special than usual.

Then we have Dave the Intern. Well, he has many jobs to be honest but he is most well known for his time over at Metburger where he sells fast food that isn’t healthy for you and the ingredients are also very suspect. He tends to get everyone’s order wrong and you run a risk whenever you go inside. So why do people eat there? Well, it’s the only food place in the small village. This is actually mentioned quite a few times and you wonder why the heroes would even live in such a village. There are probably quite a lot of fun theories about this, but I like to think that they are just trying to lay low for a little while. They don’t want to have to constantly be fighting so this was a way to get some r n r, but Eggman showing up definitely broke that plan. Dave is a really fun character thanks in large part to how his voice sounds. He clearly doesn’t want to be at the burger shop and has a lot of goals. Dave just isn’t particularly skilled enough to pull any of them off.

Another fairly big character in the show is Eggman’s twin brother robot from another dimension. His name is Morpho and his accent is certainly on point. I imagine that it must have taken a while to perfect it. He uses his shape changing abilities to great effect as he makes it hard for the heroes to trust each other. Eggman’s mother was also a quality character as she kept everyone in line. The supporting cast is just so great in this show and all of them get their due screen time. Even the old lady who is always losing her baby manages to be a solid character. There’s also a whole group of villains who work at the club house who are sort of like the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but the evil version.

For other guest stars, we’ve got Metal Sonic and Vector. It was a surprise to see Vector show up, but definitely a nice one. He’s not one of the coolest Sonic characters, but it was certainly about time that he got to be in something animated again. Metal Sonic was awesome as expected with his abilities still being top notch. Eggman’s lackeys Cubot and Orbot show up constantly and while their comedic moments don’t work quite as well as some of the others, they have their moments. It’s hard to totally be a bad character when you’re in this show. Even relatively weaker characters like the girl fox who showed up a bit and the old man who guilt trips everyone are more passable than they usually would be.

What really brings the humor home for Sonic Boom is how self aware it is with the characters and what is happening. When it pulls off homages to old sport films or classic moments in the Sonic franchise it works because the writers clearly know what they are referencing. Research was certainly being done on this show throughout. Superman is naturally referenced as well which is hype. Sadly the show did not last long enough for us to get to Super Sonic, but I like to think that the next season would have managed to squeeze that in at some point. There are so many more possibilities for episodes here.

In the end I’d definitely have to say that this is the best Sonic TV show. Sonic X isn’t far behind and then from there they all get rather close. I’d give the original Sonic The Hedgehog cartoon third, Adventures of Sonic 4th and then Underground would take a respectable last place finish. Sonic’s never really had a bad show before and that’s a credit to how good the franchise is. The original movie was excellent as well and hopefully the upcoming one will continue the trend.


Overall, Sonic Boom is an excellent show and one of the best non anime shows that I’ve seen in a long time. You could always expect high quality episodes from week to week. I’m still not a big fan of how many shows like to divide their episodes into 2 parts nowadays, but Boom pulls it off as well as it can. Hopefully it does get another season someday although its odds aren’t looking very great at the moment. I doubt the next Sonic show can surpass this one, but hopefully it is quite solid as well. So if you haven’t seen Sonic Boom yet, be sure to check it out asap.

Overall 8/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

My Hero Academia Season 2 Review


All right, it’s time for the second season to the hit show Hero Academia! The first season really took off and this one naturally followed it with the same excitement. I especially recall seeing it get a lot of buzz when the season first started and I’m sure it held on throughout. On the whole I’d definitely consider this season to beat the first one. It had time for more intense fight scenes and both halves of the season were really solid. I’d argue that the first half beat the second but they both had their share of good scenes.

We start off the season with a bang as the tournament starts. First we get some random events in Olympic style as various teams clash. The episodes are a lot of fun and we get introduced to some new characters like Neito who are extremely good. Once the real 1 on 1 phase of the tournament starts, then things get real. The main highlights of the tournament are Bakugo vs Todoroki and Deku vs Todoroki. Those two fights were leagues better than any of the others in the bracket although that’s not to say that the others were bad. These are just the matches that I had been waiting for. Deku’s had less action than Bakugo’s so it would come in second, but I was glad to finally see him using his powers more.

The dynamic between the characters is also good since any of the 3 can make a claim for being the strongest in the school. I’d say that Deku should easily beat both of them once he gets Full Cowl, but the tourney ended right before that so I was fine with him not being able to match the other two. If Bakugo and Todoroki both fight at full power my money would be on Todoroki, but if Bakugo can use his speed a little more it could definitely go either way.

Then we get to the plot heavy part of the season where the League of Villains attacks again and Stain is around as well. It was the best part of the season to be sure as we got to see Deku, Iida, and Todoroki take on Stain. It’s known as one of the best parts of the season and it’s easy to see why. It stays exciting throughout the whole event and it’s almost hard to go back to the happy days after that. Still, the show manages to pull it off since the directing is quite good and even normal scenes usually feel pretty hype here.

I do think that the season should have ended on a more exciting note though. We get the big teacher vs student battles with All Might taking on Deku and Bakugo towards the end. He certainly wasn’t pulling his punches as much as you’d expect and it made for a really good showdown between them. That should have been the final episode as opposed to ending with Shigaraki getting in some threats and Deku being humiliated again. It could have been a worse ending as we at least got to see new villains, but maybe it just didn’t help that I’m not too impressed with them yet. There’s plenty of time for them to change my mind in the next season. I’m confident that season 3 will continue to improve the series as it’s going to be adapting my favorite arc in the series. Prepare yourself since it may even manage a 9/10 for that one if it plays its cards right.

Well, lets look at the characters. Deku is still a good main character. He was quick to divert from his main mission to go save Iida when he suspected something was wrong. A hero should always be ready to take the initiative like that after all. In his fight with Todoroki he also did a good job of talking sense to him. I don’t care much for his quirk of muttering to himself but it’s not overdone to the point of annoyance so it’s easy to overlook. Deku really just had two problems in this season. One was when he let Shigaraki get the drop on him and just threaten him for a while. It’s moments like those where you have to use Full Cowl and just blast him off. Especially once he started to get choked. That scene was just brutal for Deku fans because you’d expect him to at least do something. Anything is better than just losing like that.

The other iffy moment is when he is teamed up with Bakugo against All Might and keeps saying that they should run away. Running is never the answer and against an opponent whose main ability is super speed and strength…just doesn’t seem like a good option. I was completely with Bakugo there as the best defense is a good offense. Just fight All Might and claim victory. As the heroes always say, it doesn’t matter who your opponent is as your mission still doesn’t change. You just have to win, that’s the end goal. If they had fought together from the start they probably would have done a lot better.

Todoroki finally gets a lot of development here and he’s still my favorite character. He did a really good job in all of his fights and finally knows that he should always be willing to use his fire. He was the only student smart enough to find Deku in time and does a good job of living up to his rep as a genius. It’s a shame that he doesn’t do much in the future arcs since he has such a nice role here. He’s extremely powerful and dependable. You can’t ask for much more from a character.

Bakugo is also a fun character. In season 1 his bullying could be a little intense, but now that Deku has learned to stand up for himself at least Bakugo doesn’t even try anymore. He still lashes out at everyone all the time and is constantly growling about something, but he’s a solid rival. His attack strategy is very versatile and he’s almost as combat smart as Todoroki. His ego probably isn’t thrilled with how Deku keeps surpassing him, but at least he still just focuses on winning. His only issue at one point was saying that he’d rather lose than fight with Deku since that’s a little too drastic. Beyond that, he’s probably still my second favorite character behind Todoroki and the two of them are pretty close. Todoroki is just still a cooler rival. (Pun intended)

One issue with the heroes taking on villains though is that the main 3 are really the only ones who can fight. I suppose Iida has some combat ability as well, but the kids are just so far behind right now. Uraraka is a fun heroine, but her gravity ability doesn’t really have a whole lot of combat potential. That’s why I’m glad she’s at least learning some hand to hand skills from her mentor. That should make up for her powers and maybe she can find a way to use the two as a combo. Light gravity on herself should allow Uraraka to engage in faster hand to hand combat battles potentially. Hopefully they can do something like that for her.

This is Iida’s final big moment before his character falls down the tubes so I recommend enjoying it. His quest to stop Stain was pretty good, it’s a shame that he just didn’t have the power to back it up. Stain’s simply too fast and Iida is bad at changing directions. It also admittedly wasn’t his best moment as a hero since he didn’t even think about saving the other guy in the crossfire. I would give him a passing grade for the season though since he at least had a good plan for telling Stain. I probably wouldn’t have told the other students either since they would really be in danger at that point.

Tsu gets her own episode but it’s probably one of the weakest in the season. It’s about her helping out on a boat which isn’t bad…but pretty much the definition of filler. It’s definitely fun for her fans and all, but the “veterans” on the ship looked like chumps when they were just thrown overboard like that. They really didn’t expect the villains to try and pull a fast one? That’s a little sad for them if that’s the case. Tsu also can’t really fight so hopefully she’ll get a second power soon.

Momo gets some more development as her battle with self confidence happens during her match against the teacher. She’s a cool character and I think the series can do a lot with her ability. Being able to create anything that she understands is certainly handy. It’s surprising how often she just never gets to appear but maybe that’ll change soon. Kirishima doesn’t have an especially large role here or anything, but he’s still a fun character. His armor ability just has too many limitations at the moment so he really needs to improve it. What’s the point of super strength and durability if it’s only to a mild degree? At least he has enthusiasm.

Kyoka also has a mild role, but she looked really good. At least she’s always ready for a fight and is a capable strategist. She contributed in her battle against Mic with her cool ear drum abilities even if the self damage is a little too high for it to be worth using very often. Tokoyami is also another solid fighter who uses his dark hawk ability and his mind to outsmart the enemy. He’s treated as one of the strongest students and I guess he would be top 5. He’s a cool character that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of as well.

Finally from the main students there is also Mineta, but he is the worst by far. There’s just nothing cool to say about him and he is only here to try and bring in some fanservice. The show is really good about avoiding that trap for the moment so getting rid of him and Midnight would make the show completely stay away from it. Mineta has his own big scene which is terrible and unnecessary so hopefully we don’t go through that again.

The other classes have some pretty interesting students as well. Neito is easily one of the best as his character exists only to make fun of the main students as he reminds them that talents, not quirks win battles. He actually does really good during the opening events. Considering that he has no powers, the guy really makes an impact. I hope to see a lot more of him as he’s the kind of comic relief character that I can get behind. Mei is a tech student who invents a bunch of stuff. She seems to be a fun enough character although none of her inventions seem like they’ll be enough to help her in a real fight. She’ll definitely have to stick to the support role for a little while longer.

Hitoshi can control people if they talk to him which is certainly a very good ability. After all, as long as he doesn’t let everyone know about that, most villains will automatically talk to him for trash talking and the like. How useful this ability is will directly correlate to how well he can keep a secret. Just keep releasing fake truths to how it works through the news and such and he could be a secret weapon. It’s just a shame that this kind of ability never seems to work on the stronger opponents.

There’s not much to say about the teachers. Aizawa still serves as the Kakashi of the series and reminds the kids that you can’t mess with the adults. I don’t buy into him doing well against Todoroki at all, but being able to turn off a person’s quirk is really handy. The no blinking rule isn’t nearly as useful though since it should be easy to make him blink during a scuffle. He needs a stun gun or something. Principal Nezu is pretty cheap as per usual. I still hold onto my pet theory that he’s a traitor as it would at least give his character a purpose.

I actually like Mic. He made for a pretty good opponent during the battle and had a lot of fun with his exam. His ability is a little overpowered for how the test was structured though. Ectoplasm has a really cool design even if he hasn’t done much yet. Having Shadow Clones is always handy as well for dealing with multiple opponents. I hope he is either really fast or has some hand to hand techniques though. Snipe has a gun and he knows how to fire it. The guy didn’t get to do much in this season though. Midnight’s hormone abilities definitely make for one of the most underwhelming quirks. It’s almost as bad as just having a tail, it’s not going to help against a serious villain.

All Might’s fight is pretty good and while that’s basically the extent of his role here, it’s a pretty good one. It’s good that he didn’t go too easy on the kids because then there wouldn’t have been much of a point to the exercise. I still really like his super hero design even if the frail human mode isn’t nearly as exciting or fun to watch. He embodies what it means to be a super hero and that’s why it’s easy to see All Might as the symbol of hope. He’s starting to keep some secrets from Deku, but nothing massive yet so it’s all good for now.

One thing that’s always annoying though is how the grown ups tell the kids not to make the hero call. The heroes being in trouble for helping stop Stain is pretty awful no matter how you look at it. Sure, they weren’t given permission to use their quirks and such but I thought you were allowed to do that if it was an emergency. I feel like that was mentioned in season 1 and this would count. Now they have to pretend that they never helped in the first place which is pretty bad. I’ve seen similar speeches in many shows and I never agree with them. If you’re in a position to help someone but don’t have a license, you still have to act. There’s no time to go and find someone and being a hero means saving lives over following the rules. The heroes need to work on a better system so they encourage other heroes to help instead of stopping them. Considering that most of humanity has quirks in this series, they’d be a force to be reckoned with if they united instead of being forced to hide their quirks.

The League of Villains didn’t do much yet. One of the few weaknesses to the series is that the villains aren’t very interesting. Stain is really good and Kurogiri/Noumu have cool designs. Beyond that, the rest of basically throwaways. It’s hard to take Shigaraki seriously when he’s always grabbing his face to calm himself down. His power is actually very useful but his personality just doesn’t work as the big leader of the villains. He needs some self confidence or a better design at the very least. Kurogiri looks cool and his power is great. He should just overthrow Shigaraki at this point since he seems more qualified to be leader. I’d definitely like to see more of him since he is easily the most interesting villain right now.

Since there are many Noumu running around now, they are far weaker than the one that fought All Might. It’s too bad that they got nerfed but at least they are still a credible threat to an extent. We get quick cameos for Dabi and Himiko at the end. They will do more in season 3. Considering that they seemed threatened by Shigaraki at the end, their hype is basically gone by this point. I can see why Himiko is a fan favorite since she’s totally crazy, but it’s just not in a cool way. Dabi is fine though and I expect good things from him.

Stain is the big villain of the series and he is certainly as cool as you’d expect. He has a great design and his ability is also very handy. Being able to paralyze someone for a few minutes is downright amazing. In a 1 on 1 fight that is an instant game over for basically anyone. No matter what your quirk is, you’re not going to be able to survive for long if you can’t move. I’m pretty sure you can’t even use your quirk while paralyzed although I’m sure there are probably some exceptions to this rule. Since Stain is still alive, I’m definitely expecting him to return at some point.

Whoever the show has hired as the director definitely needs to stay on. I take a lot of shots at Naruto Shippuden, but that’s because I wish it was a show like this one. Basically every scene is interesting and the characters are mostly all fun. Each episode is over in the blink of an eye since nothing drags on and you don’t keep seeing the same flashbacks. Even though the manga starts to go downhill a little after where season 3 should end, I’m hoping the anime can save it somehow. With this team at the helm I do think there is a chance. It’s one thing to adapt the source material and another to make it even better. This show is one of the latter and this is basically the prime of the series so continue to enjoy it now while the going is good.

As you’d expect the animation is really solid for this season. The colors really stand out and everything is very sharp. You can especially see this in the high budget episodes. I’m glad the show got a good budget since just about every character has some kind of energy element to their abilities and you need to be able to show that off. One look at the episodes and you know this is a modern show. The soundtrack is basically the same as in the first season. It can be kind of nostalgic but I hope they add some new tunes for season 3. It’s a good soundtrack, but you should never be satisfied by just reusing old themes and should always incorporate new ones as the series progresses. I wasn’t too impressed with the new openings visually, but I did like how they sounded. The very first opening is still the best by far though. That one’s iconic at this point and is one of the best no matter what opening you put against it.

Overall, This was a great followup to the original season. It worked out well that we got another big villain arc here like in the first season. The first season may have done a better job of being really tense since the kids still hadn’t really mastered their powers yet. It went from happy to serious in the blink of an eye there and it was one of the best moments in the series. On the other hand, this season embraced its nature as an action series more and really stepped it up with the fights. For example, the Stain fight here beats anything that was in season 1. The characters were already developed a lot so now getting to see them fight is even more satisfying. It’s a really solid action show that I can recommend to anyone and it’s not complicated or anything so it’s very easy to start.

Overall 8/10