Kaguya-sama: Love is War? Review


It’s time to take a look at season 2! I like what they did with the title. It’s a small thing but a season 2 should always have some way to easily differentiate itself from the first and a question mark even works on a story level since the competition is starting to get trickier for the two leads. It’s definitely a great follow up to the first season. I would still give season 1 the edge as it had more standout segments for me, but it is nice to see Ishigami and Ino getting more of a role here. They do help to make the student council feel more complete.

The general plot here is that Shirogane and Kaguya are still trying to get the other person to confess their love first. Love is War after all and the first person to concede is the one to lose here. That’s the general set-up but more specifically it’s time for the election arc. The first year is over after all and that means the Student Council will be temporarily disbanded as the elections go on to elect a new student council president. Shirogane ultimately ends up running for the position again but this time he will be up against Ino. Ino is a first year student with big dreams and she wants to change the school. Thing is, if she wins then Kaguya and Shirogane might not see each other as often anymore so even if they can’t admit this, it adds extra fuel to their determination to win this.

The season is 12 episodes and a lot of those are stand alones so I won’t say the election arc lasts for very long but I would still consider it one of the major story beats here. Then we have the aftermath and the other big story event is that we finally see Ishigami’s full backstory of what happened to make everyone in the school dislike him. It’s certainly one of the more emotional parts of the story and while you may have expected that to be the season finale, there is one episode after that so that things can end on a lighter note. I still say Ishigami’s episode would have been perfect to end the whole thing on though.

So lets dive in and first off I’ll get the technicals out of the way since not much has changed since season 1. As was the case last time, the soundtrack is dynamite here. I don’t think it can be stated enough how important a soundtrack is for a comedy/slice of life kind of show. You need it to really inject a lot of energy into each scene. While strong writing would be enough to keep the show interesting without it, why turn down an advantage right? Kaguya is leaps and bounds above all other shows in these genres with the soundtrack. There are a lot of fun themes and then you even get the occasional homage like a Mission Impossible/James Bond kind of track.

Also the theme song’s pretty catchy. It even remembered that Kaguya was in the archery club and incorporated that into the song which was a nice detail. Then you have the animation which is still really good. It may be slightly calmer than season 1 so the original may have the slight edge there but it’s extremely close. Either way the animation is still very smooth and works well with the scenes. It never feels low budget and it’s a show that remembers to give everyone eyes that stand out. One of the big benefits of anime is how crazy they can make the hair and eyes so whenever a show remembers this it’s a good thing. In fact there’s a whole segment about Shirogane’s eyes and how they change when he has gotten some sleep. This would not have been as effective if they hadn’t given it as much detail earlier.

One of the reasons the franchise made it so big in the first place is how clever the writing is and this season doesn’t stop with that. One of the most effective gags in the whole series comes in the final episode as the gang play a fun Mario Party type game where you have to pump up a balloon. If it pops during your turn then you’ll lose and may also get a bit traumatized with how big the explosion will be. Each character has emotional flashbacks and inspirational montages where you’d expect them to surpass their limits and they don’t. It’s definitely a great scene and that was one of the better segments so it was a good way to end off the season.

The show is always funny without being silly. It’s got a great balance here. Another really solid part is when Kaguya has a trial against her other selves in her mind. The way each personality is represented while also being recognizable from her previous moments is solid. It’s a comedy scene for sure but at the same time you can tell that it’s not coming out of nowhere and can even be a bit of foreshadowing for her future moments. The show has quite a lot of depth which puts it apart from the average comedy.

I’ve read the manga and in a lot of ways that’s why these early adventures were my favorite part. I like the fun shenanigans before things get too serious. Serious moments are all well and good too of course but the banter between the characters and the fun games are when the show is at its peak. We definitely get a lot of moments here for that throughout the show as well so it never loses its momentum. Now lets dive into the characters although the cast is still a little on the small side.

Kaguya is still a great lead and certainly gets her share of wins here. From the main two I still think she tends to plan out her attacks a lot more thoroughly and is also willing to cross the line a bit more to get what she wants. Whenever we see how she knocks candidates out of the running through poison tea (Probably just sleepy tea or something very mild) or blackmail, it shows that she is really someone who has Shirogane’s back at all times. She can still be a bit quick to betray Chika all the time though so their friendship certainly isn’t the best but I’m sure she’ll get better at that eventually.

Kaguya’s plan of using citrus to burst the balloon at the end was also inspired. In general she definitely has quite a few good showings here and part of why the dynamic works is because she and Shirogane both get their clear cut wins from time to time. So instead of constant cop outs you have times where each one can feel proud of their complete accomplishment. She’s also very supportive of Ishigami even if he doesn’t always realize this.

As for Shirogane, it’s also a great season for him. While he may not be as thorough as Kaguya, his reaction times are always impressive as he’ll be able to think of some kind of excuse to save his bacon all the time. His most impressive win here had to be tricking Kaguya into being the one to beg him to stay on the council. His plan here was solid in a few different ways because if she hadn’t done that then he probably wouldn’t have re-submitted the application so it was a win-win. He created a scenario where he couldn’t lose.

Shirogane is also able to take the high road many times. He helped Ino when he saw she was in a jam and he’s the kind of guy who will accept a personal loss if it means helping someone out. I’d say that’s his humble beginnings showing here as he had to work his way to the top and knows what it’s like to lose. He’s just a very nice guy and probably one of the nicest characters in the series. You can always count on him in the end.

Ishigami has a lot of character development here and getting his own arc was impressive. He definitely had a rough string of luck. I would say he didn’t handle some parts amazingly like trying to convince the girl of why he was beating up the cheater but in the spur of the moment it’s not always easy to make the right call. I’m glad he didn’t end up writing the apology because that would have definitely been unfortunate. In the end he did not have to compromise on his ideals and now he can finally move on from the past.

He may not have gotten the perfect ending to his arc that he would have wanted but ultimately he’s still in a much better place than he was. You can see how he’s gotten more confidence over time as well. He’s not always perfect and can speak his mind a bit too much but at least now he has a positive relationship with just about everyone. Ino is really the only exception with how she’s constantly attacking the guy for no real reason. At least right now she always appears to be the instigator.

Then we have Chika who is still the fun comic relief character here. She does well in that role and is always ready to brighten up everyone’s spirits. She enjoys her role as the love detective as well and is always ready with some good advice. Chika also still has the sub plot where she will occasionally train Shirogane on a task that he’s really bad at. That continues here as well and you have to applaud her dedication of not giving up. She even ends up having a bit of a rivalry with Kaguya this time around while poor Shirogane is stuck in the middle.

Chika’s role may not feel as big as the others in a sense since the serious story parts never involve her but she is always around. You don’t feel like her role is small while watching the episodes since she is constantly around. Next up is Ino who has now joined the ranks as a main character. She makes for a solid antagonist in the election arc. Ultimately her points and ideas may not have been particularly valid in a lot of ways which explains why she would have a tough time getting votes but she tries hard.

I like her enthusiasm and confidence but do think she could work to be a bit nicer. It does appear to be true that she doesn’t really incorporate feedback most of the time or she could have done better and of course her baseless attacks on Ishigami don’t help her case. Ino’s timing can also be rather rough most of the time so she ends up not getting a very good opinion of the whole student council for a while there.

Hayasaka is more of a supporting character but one who’s always a lot of fun to have around. She plays a lot of roles here like being a student and Kaguya’s maid. She is expected to help out on the field and subtlety find out intel for Kaguya as well. There is no break for her and there’s a whole segment about Kaguya bugging her constantly when she is just trying to relax. It’s quite the thankless job for her but ultimately Hayasaka always pulls the mission off without a hitch. It’s why she is the ultimate bodyguard.

Finally there’s also Kei, while she did appear a little in season 1, her role has gotten a bit bigger here. As Shirogane’s sister you would expect her to have a role since it’s a common practice to win over someone’s family members so you can get closer to your actual target. This doesn’t tend to work out very well for Kaguya in this season though. Kei’s a fun enough character even if she always seems a bit rude to Shirogane when he’s just trying to help. Imagine getting mad at him for trying to get you a present for your birthday right? The show did good in also giving her eyes a distinct design too. No detail was left out for this anime that’s for sure.

Now with the amount of segments that the show has (2-3 per episode) you’re not likely going to find all of them top tier. The reason why the show still manage to be great though is because the vast majority of the segments are really excellent. The weaker segments for example can be when the two randoms are always asking for love advice from the main characters when they’re just trying to flex. I’d like to see the council call them out on it although still being more low key than Ishigami’s reaction. It’s always tough when your rep is on the line though.

Still, the show avoids the easy pitfalls of romance/slice of life titles like fanservice. The show has been very good about staying sophisticated so this doesn’t become an issue. There can be some small moments here and there but never any scene that stays into focus for very long or an extended situation that would make this an issue. The romance still plays a backseat to the comedy as well so things don’t get too dramatic. It’s a little more serious than in season 1 as you can tell the characters are weakening but it’s still not quite there yet. The two characters are best as rivals so it’ll be sad to see the dynamic go away once that changes.

The pacing is also really fast with how many segments are in every episode so things are always happening. You’ll never be bored in any episode that’s for sure. Whether the characters are playing a game or going for one of their many schemes, it’s always moving quickly. You’ll laugh at the funny scenes and get emotional during the triumphant ones. We even got a whole tragic plot with Kaguya’s phone getting damaged. I know it can definitely be rough losing out on all of your data like that. It’s why my important photos are backed up through social media or this site so if my phone were to ever be destroyed I’d still be okay. It’s still a hard loss though so you can feel the sadness of the scenes before the heroes are able to help her out. The show really knows how to handle every genre and we even get a lyrical song to close out the final episode as it transitions well into the opening. We’ll see if season 3 can keep up this momentum but I have no doubt that it can even if passing season 2 can be another story.

Overall, Season 2 is a solid follow up here. If you liked season 1 then you will certainly like this one because it really keeps the same energy and focus that the first season had. It’s really just as strong in most ways. I still give season 1 the edge because I felt like the climax was more emotional and the segments would beat out the season 2 counterparts on average but it’s a very close battle to be sure as I still gave them the same score. If you’re in the market for a fun rom-com then this is definitely the title to check out. With season 3 having started recently you also know right off the bat that there are a lot of episodes to check out so it makes jumping into the franchise that much more appealing.

Overall 8/10

Megaton-kyuu Musashi Review


Megaton is a show that I would consider to be reasonably obscure. I forgot about the franchise entirely after it came out because you just never saw it talked about anywhere. Well, the show actually turned out to be rather great. You’ve got a solid main character here and a lot of good battles. I do think parts of the core plot don’t make a lot of sense so you will have to stretch your disbelief but the show turns up in all the other aspects and ends up making for a very satisfying experience.

The show starts by explaining that humanity was nearly wiped out by aliens. These invaders struck quick and hard so the humans that did survive now live inside of one last city. This city is protected from the outside world and most of the people within it are being mind controlled so that they think life is going on as normal. The ones who do know better have constructed robots to fight against the invaders and protect us as a last line of defense. There are also some scattered human settlements around the planet that try to survive but for the most part humanity is over.

We then cut to our main character Yamato who is a bit of a delinquent. He is always getting into fights with Ryugo and the other gangs. Well, one day he is attacked by a group that’s a little different as they’re all cyborgs. Yamato crushes them and even the robotic leader so he is brought into the fold by the government. They unlock his memories which were torn away and he decides that he will exterminate all of the aliens. Ryugo and Teru join up as well and find out that more people are a part of this resistance than they ever could have known.

The robots require multiple pilots to use so you can’t just go in and start moving around but Yamato gets the hang of it right away. The show starts off with a very Attack on Titan kind of vibe with humanity almost being down for the count and all. Same with Yamato and his grudge against the aliens because they destroyed his whole family. From there the similarities start to end and either way this is a pretty solid way to kick things off.

We actually see the alien’s point of view rather early on in the series too. They don’t all seem super evil but they do want to eradicate humanity so we still have to stop them. At the end of the day they’re trying to take over our planet so we have to stop them no matter what. You’ve got the queen and her loyal subordinates trying to make a move on their end and then you have the subplot with princess Anshem and her mentor. Anshem wants to prove herself by murdering Yamato but has a hard time doing this. At first it’s due to comedic shenanigans where she just can’t pull this off but gradually starts to doubt her cause.

I should mention that the aliens can’t live properly in Earth’s atmosphere so they terraformed most of the planet. The city that survived has its own oxygen so in order to carry out her mission, Anshem possesses the body of one of Yamato’s classmates. You feel bad for the girl being controlled since Anshem is really hurting her reputation the whole time. It’s a fun enough subplot even if you’re really waiting for the battles.

Where the series really excels is in the fights, particularly the hand to hand ones. Yeah this is a mech show but the best fights are definitely when Yamato just picks up a pipe and starts to beat everyone up. He gets many different fights in the series ranging from street thugs to robots to aliens. In each fight he gives it his all and manages to come out on top. At first you may think he’s just a little too talented but I like seeing him be able to take on these new challenges without a sweat for a change. Usually you’d expect the lead to be overwhelmed eventually but that’s not what happens here.

Yamato’s determination really goes above anything that can be thrown at him and he is really a great main character. It may be hard for anyone to change his views about destroying all of the aliens but it’s hard to really be trying to stop him since they are the ones that invaded the Earth first and are causing all of these issues. As much as Anshem starts to talk about peace later, it’s hard to forget that they did already genocide billions of lives across the globe. That’s a rather large thing to put to the side for peace.

Now, I mentioned that there is a part of the main plot which is hard to buy and this is it. The aliens knocked out almost everyone on the planet except for this one city. They know where the city is as evidenced by their sending assassins to bump off individual agents and have known about it for a while. So why not take everyone out? The reason the villains don’t nuke the place is because they want the evolution factor. This hasn’t been fully explained yet but clearly it’s not super crucial since by the end of the series the villains are launching a big invasion anyway.

There are just so many ways to take out the city without nuking everybody. At least send a big group in to wipe out the chain of command and get some villains stationed there instead. It’s hard to buy into the human’s survival here because they are so outmatched. The reason it worked in Attack on Titan is because the titans were largely mindless so a wall could actually work. In Seraph we had ways of fighting back and the numbers weren’t so bad. The issue here is that the villains have an entire planet’s worth of fighters on their side and countless enemies. We’re talking millions and more as they send thousands of fodder to be wiped out by the heroes every episode.

Conveniently they send just enough to be destroyed each time. In ep 1 for example they’ll send just enough to Yamato could beat all of them. By ep 3 they’ll send more than he can handle but the heroes recruit Jun to the team. By 5 even more but now the heroes have more mechs, etc. If the villains had just sent more mechs then humanity would have been doomed but they always send too few again and again. Just send a full assault of aliens and mechs to take over the city once and for all. When you do that then there will be no way for the humans to fight back.

The fact that they haven’t just feels like incredible plot armor. There’s no way the aliens should have not done that by now. It just doesn’t make any sense. Moving beyond that, I think it’s a mistake on the humans part to be mind wiping everybody. What’s the purpose of them living ordinary lives instead of preparing for war? They certainly could have helped the war effort a great deal if they could have been allowed to do that. I also think that erasing their memories on principle is the wrong decision. That’s something you’d expect out of the villains, not the heroes. It’s a big mistake and I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a bigger deal in season 2 as more characters think about it.

Meanwhile I thought the soundtrack was excellent as well. There’s a lyrical song that plays when Yamato is beating people up. It’s surprisingly catchy and really shows just how skilled he is. You can feel the power behind all of Yamato’s attacks and it feels like a bear that he might listen too while walking down the street. There are plenty of solid tunes throughout the show but the only one I was not really a fan of was the intro. It’s just not all that catchy and I would like to see the song changed up a bit for next time. It just wasn’t really working for me.

Now back to the characters. Ryugo is the classic punk type character who ends up being one of Yamato’s best friends but I never liked him all that much. The guy isn’t very tough even if he thinks he is and never really enhances the show in any way. He’s not all that bad but there’s nothing particularly interesting about him. In comparison Jun is a lot more fun because of her fiery personality. She’s always picking fights, having hero moments, and generally dominating during her screen time.

It’s also worth noting that she was beating Ryugo when they fought briefly. It wasn’t a great look for him since he didn’t lose for great reasons but I was impressed that she quickly went into battle mode. Jun clearly put a lot of work into the whole scheme of finding out what was going on and also defending her troops when it was time to do so. Ultimately she was one of the more memorable characters as a result.

Reiji is more of a pacifist so you can bet that he wasn’t my favorite character. When you have great power then you need to use it to defend everybody rather than sitting on the sidelines. Doing that isn’t going to ultimately end up helping anybody at all. He takes too long to act and it ultimately costs the life of one of the cats. It was a very emotional moment to be sure and it was regrettable that the show had a cat die at all. He didn’t deserve that and it was really a gut punch by the show in having such an emotional moment there. Don’t think we needed all of that to guilt trip him into action.

I can see his role growing even larger in season 2 as we delve further into his super abilities. Yamato seems to be developing his as well so that would make sense. Then we have Teru but I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of that guy either. He’s the smart member of the group and tends to pick up on things rather well but at the end of the day his emotions will get the best of him at the worst times. He stops Yamato from saving someone near the end of the show which wasn’t a good look for him. I’d like to see him be a little more aggressive in battle instead of calm and calculating in season 2 as he takes a harder stance against the enemies.

On the alien side we have Anshem who has a solid character arc as she starts wishing for peace. At one point it seemed like she wasn’t very powerful considering that she was an alien but fortunately that didn’t turn out to be the case and she ended up using her true form. At this point she’s doing all that she can to help. It may be a little late in the game but better late than never right? She’s a good character and I look forward to seeing how this plot plays out.

There are quite a few students that I didn’t talk about but the show doesn’t really have enough time to juggle all of them so some don’t get to do much yet. A good example of this is Takumi who is around but doesn’t do a whole lot. He’s the tech guy so he doesn’t go into the robots but helps with preparing them and making sure that everything is ready. It’s a necessary role even if it isn’t a particularly interesting one. Meanwhile Asuna spends most of her time being mind controlled but tries to help out when possible. Fortunately she remembers being mind controlled even if she doesn’t know what she was doing.

She’s a little quick to be okay with Anshem taking her body over but at least since she could sense the alien’s emotions that helps a bit. It would be nice to see Asuna pilot one of the robots eventually. Momoka ends up becoming Jun’s rival in the show and she does well in that role. She can fight well in hand to hand and also has a good amount of super strength. Both of those traits are handy in this fight. I was usually on team Jun in these moments but Momoka made for a solid rival all the way through.

Kiyoka hasn’t had nearly as much to do so far. She is working in a support role but I’d like that to change soon since it’s the only way that she can end up rising in the ranks. Otherwise there just isn’t a huge future in the support field. Kouta was the worst member of the heroes though. He’s an android who has decided not to fight back so he lets everyone bully him all the time. Momoka slowly teaches him how to defend himself but it’s a long road. One of the most egregious moments here is when a villain runs into the command room with a gun. Kouta is clearly the best person to try and take him down but he just watches until after someone is shot and then he makes a move. The rest of the characters are guilty of not jumping in either but as an android I would put the heaviest burden on Kouta here. It’ll take a long while for him to really go up after that.

Sayaka has a fairly big role here as the commander in charge of field ops. She gets a twist which you might see coming a little before it happens since the anime throws you some hints but either way it’s a solid twist. Sayaka is a good character even if she never got to do a whole lot here. From what we saw she was always a good leader. Then you have Sarzant who is the bodyguard to Anshem. He’s not very good in this role as he tends to lower his guard constantly and allow her to go into dangerous circumstances. He seems like a nice guy but perhaps being a bodyguard just wasn’t the right role for him. It’s a shame since he always looked and talked like he would be really tough.

Rounding up the villain side we have the Queen who is all in on destroying the humans. I blame the fact that they haven’t done this yet on her though since the buck stops here. She talks really tough but never really lives up to her hype. I liked the idea behind the character and she’s cool in most of her scenes but ultimately that just isn’t good enough. She couldn’t step up when it counted and that cost her.

Finally there’s Grieffas and he is easily the highlight as far as the villains are concerned. He has a clear goal in trying to save Anshem and is loyal to her above his normal duties. He has some great fights with Yamato and just doesn’t back down in his convictions. The guy is crazy but doesn’t just throw away his goals in the end. Instead he stands by them and I look forward to seeing more of this guy going forward. He’s really got a lot of promise.

For the most part the show has the look and feel of a kodomo type anime. The characters have vibrant designs, the atmosphere is light and the soundtrack is energetic. That’s why it’s particularly effective when a character dies or the fights start to get intense. This clearly isn’t a kodomo but you could have been tricked for a little while there. In the end I would consider this to be more of a classic Shonen but it balances all of the genres well. There’s even some drama here although I would consider the romance to be a little more on the weak side. The show is always at its best when there is some action going on but that’s true of most titles.

With the way the season ends off I’ll be interested to see how season 2 goes. We could easily have a time skip or just continue from where this one leaves off. I do think they will have to address how humanity isn’t just wiped off of the map though. We need more than a vague “evolutionary materials” excuse now that the villains are getting more serious. The heroes are getting stronger and stronger too so the aliens absolutely need to factor that in before they become the prey in this equation. Once that happens then there is really no way back.

As for the debate about destroying the aliens or not….right now I’m with Yamato’s initial view on taking them out. Look, there will be a time for peace and coexistence later on but right now you’re looking at an army that is many times stronger than your own. There isn’t an easy way to spare them on the battlefield without sacrificing your own men. It’s different than in most situations where I’d say to spare the villain where you have the framework to do so. When you’re defending the last 10% of your species against the invading force that has every advantage then you really just have to go for the win.

Holding back at all will put you in a really bad spot. It’s also fair to say that most of the villains have pretty much been brainwashed right now so it’s unlikely that you will get many supporters. It’s just a slippery slope with Anshem saying to spare the villains every time when they just run back to their ship and request reinforcements. It’s not a viable strategy at the moment and I’d say the episodes illustrate that pretty well. Near the end of the season the villains come up with a giant robot that takes everything the heroes have to take out and they only barely manage it with a trick that probably won’t work twice.

The more time you buy for the villains who seem to have better tech, the more unwinnable the fight is. I will say that the show did a very good job with that fight as it could have easily been more on the boring side with the heroes not being able to do much of anything but instead you really felt the durability of the robot and made the whole thing feel grand. I use robot and alien rather interchangeably for the minions because in a way they both work but they really are robots since the actual aliens look like humans.

As a final point, the villains even have a lot of operatives running around the city assassinating the pilots so they can’t fly the mech suits. Until you deal with that then the situation will keep on getting worse for them. It’s why it’s still odd that the humans are being mind controlled to just go to school and live life as normal. Makes it way easier for the villains to bump them off if they feel like it. The slice of life scenes we do get in the show are always fun enough but this is what you’ll be thinking in the back of your head.

Overall, Megaton might not be a show that you are super familiar with but I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot. Whether you’re a fan of classic mech shows or just want a good action title then you’re in luck either way. While I singled out the hand to hand fights in particular, I thought the mech battles were still good as well. The animation is solid in each way. The story is interesting and while I may not be a big fan of some of Yamato’s friends, he stands as a strong enough lead for the rest of them. You do not want to miss out on this adventure!

Overall 8/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Review


Kaguya is definitely a title that took the romance genre to new heights. It has to be up there with Nisekoi as one of the all time greats. The manga has definitely been a lot of fun with how crazy it is and season 1 of the anime manages to capture that same energy. The premise is excellent and the show really manages to capitalize on this. So in the end you’re bound to have a good time with this one and you’ll definitely be really hyped for the next season.

The show starts by introducing us to the 2 main characters, Kaguya and Shirogane. They are members of the Student Council and are considered to be elites in a school that is already comprised of only the rich and influential. Shirogane has earned his way to the top as the student council president through good grades and being a general genius. It’s something he is quite proud of since there is otherwise no way he could possibly be in the school. Then you have Kaguya who is a member of the most powerful family in the world, the Shinomiya family. She is a natural prodigy at just about any skill she picks up.

With such talents comes a great ego on both sides though. Shirogane and Kaguya both like each other but refuse to make the first move. That is where “Love is War” comes into play as the anime uses a lot of battle analogies for this. The way to win this battle is to get the other person to confess first. If you can do this then you will have won the match but on the other hand is you break down and confess then it will be an eternal loss. So who will end up conquering the other? That is the basis for each episode as they use their impressive intellects to try and get the other person into a tight spot where they have to confess.

Right from the start I thought this was really a great plot. It’s also a fairly big departure from the usual rom-com setup where it would be one character obviously chasing after the other. Here we actually get to see into their heads as they come up with all kinds of crazy plans. It’s safe to say that Kaguya tends to be better at planning things out long-term as her plans usually involve a lot of research from before the day has even started. Meanwhile I would say that Shirogane is quicker at thinking in the moment like when he has to counter her various plans and come up with some strategies of his own. He’s never on the back foot for long.

You may wonder how this premise could go on for so long but it’s really easy as the show comes up with all kinds of fun scenarios throughout the 12 episodes. Additionally there are other characters here as well and I’ll get into them in a moment. First off, as an adaption the anime really does a great job. The soundtrack is a 5 star title. There are so many great themes that fit each of the various moments in the show. You’ve got action themes, comedic ones, emotional tracks, etc. Whatever scene is happening, the show is able to amp it up with some well placed music. You’ll definitely want to listen to a lot of those tunes again. As for the theme song itself, it’s fairly decent. I wouldn’t call it high tier or anything but the song is catchy enough. I think the visuals can feel a bit too lazy with how so many scenes are reused over and over again.

It’s a stylistic choice but one that didn’t land for me. Otherwise the general animation in the show is really quite good. There’s always a lot happening in every scene from background effects to things happening in the character’s eyes. The show is never taking a break with the animation and it helps keep everything as interesting as possible. The story is engaging enough where it would still be good but that’s why this ends up being a great adaption as it makes everything even better.

You can feel the tension in the episodes as the characters have to try and get each other to crack. In that sense the Umbrella segment is one of the best ones because almost the whole thing is the two characters casually hinting that the other one is lying about not bringing an umbrella. There isn’t a lot technically happening so the scene has to carry itself with pure dialogue and music. It does so quite well. On average my favorite segments tend to be the game themed ones though. Whether the characters are playing a card game, board game, or a mental game, I like the competitive fire it brings out in the cast. Chika tends to do surprisingly well at some of these too even if she doesn’t always win.

All right, lets talk about the characters now. I think it’s a strong testament to how good the cast is that I can remember the names of the main 4 immediately. Sometimes it takes a little while to really know the characters. Kaguya is a solid lead for all the reasons I mentioned before. She’s a genius, always has a lot of plans at the ready and knows what she wants. Kaguya does well in this war of love and is also just a good person beyond that. She will put aside her competition to help someone out in need, whether it be a child who needs to cross the street or Ishigami flunking a class. So her role as a member of the student council never really takes a back seat and that makes sense.

Kaguya is someone who certainly values honor and duty so she doesn’t let go of those things. Then you have Shirogane who is also a blast. He’s someone who is always under a lot of stress since he has no family connections or money to fall back on. As a result the guy is constantly doing a million things but he always has time to compete with Kaguya and the others. He really comes through in the climax of the season and definitely helps to put everyone in a better place. At the end of the day he’ll also stop to do the right thing even if it might hurt him in his battles with Kaguya.

The two have a really solid balance going in part because of how different they are. They each have similar goals but you’ll see how they tackle this in different ways. I’d also say Shirogane tends to overthink things a little more than Kaguya does. He imagines things going in the worst possible way all the time. While this may happen to Kaguya once in a while, it’s almost constant for him.

The next biggest character here would be Chika. She’s the main comic relief character of the series and fulfills her role very well. She doesn’t notice any of the tension between the main two characters and just likes to have a lot of fun. She’s often the character who will bring in the games to play with. She has less of an honor code than the other two and doesn’t mind cheating at times though. Chika can often be a bit of a space case and mess things up for the others but at times you also figure she’s a lot smarter than she lets on.

Chika is one of those characters who just doesn’t let anything really get to her and has a lot of fun all of the time. She’s another very strong character as a result. The main two still win but she’s still an extremely solid character and probably one of the best you could hope for to slot in as the comic relief character. Often times those characters don’t seem to contribute a whole lot to the plot or can get annoying but that never happens with her. She’s just consistent through it all and the series would lose a lot in the dynamic if she wasn’t around. Just having her here as a third party to mess up Kaguya and Shirogane’s plans is great.

Ishigami is the final member of the student council and doesn’t really get to do much until fairly deep into season 1. I liked how the anime would keep him out of frame or have him facing the wrong way until it was time for his debut. It was a good way to acknowledge/foreshadow that he would be appearing soon without actually spoiling that part yet. While I don’t think he’s as strong as the main 3, he’s still a solid member. His gimmick is that he’s super afraid of Kaguya and loves playing video games so he doesn’t take the school as seriously as the others. It’s to the point where he nearly flunks so the guy definitely likes to live life on the edge.

Ishigami tends to get in trouble a lot but most of the time it’s through situations of his own creating so you don’t feel super bad for him. The guy needs to work on reading the room which is not one of his strengths right now. He does add to the dynamic though and so I’d say he didn’t arrive too late or anything. With these 4 the student council is in good hands and they’re all quite different so it’s not like they’re stealing a lot of screen time away from each other or anything.

That’s it for the main characters and right now there aren’t too many supporting characters. A few like Shirogane’s sister do appear but haven’t had much to do yet. I’d say the two main ones to show up would be Hayasaka and Nagisa. Nagisa and her boyfriend have a bit of a running sub plot where they will show up to separately ask the main 2 for advice since they assume Kaguya and Shirogane would have a lot of experience even if that is not the case. There’s not a whole lot to say about them beyond that but they seem like nice enough characters.

Hayasaka is a much more entertaining character though. She is forced to live a double life so that nobody suspects that she is actually Kaguya’s maid. Her role is really to keep Kaguya safe and so she does this really well by also being at school so she can help out as needed. Hayasaka is more old school on the romance angle and just thinks Kaguya should confess but of course that’s not going to happen. Hayasaka really goes the extra mile in her duties to help Kaguya out so she’s a very solid ally to have.

That about wraps up the characters. Each episode tends to have 2-3 adventures in it so the episodes really breeze by. It shows how quick some of the adventures are but also that the show isn’t really going to drag them out which is good. The pacing is always on point here. While the series eventually gets more plot driven I would largely say that season 1 is episodic. Some development and events do carry over of course but for the most part you can pop in any episode and understand what’s going on right away.

There really aren’t any negatives to speak of for this show. With any comedic title there are bound to be some segments that you won’t find quite as funny as others but with multiple segments per episode I doubt there will be any episode where you don’t like any of them. The weakest segments for me would be Kaguya getting sick and Kaguya being unable to laugh. Then the best ones would be the Umbrella and all of the game episodes I mentioned earlier. The series also avoids some of the potential pitfalls of the rom-com genre like random fanservice and lots of rivals popping up out of the wood work. Not to say that the show is completely devoid of fanservice but it’s fortunately just about nonexistent.

Finally, the writing just feels very sophisticated. It’s the kind of show that will randomly drop lots of different scientific theories at you. The characters are always showing off in one way or another so it makes sense and works naturally. This helps to enhance the script all around and the line between the characters stating facts or just bluffing gets really blurry which is always nice. You don’t want to necessarily believe whatever you hear them say but it’s always nice to see them invoking all of the theories anyway. The show is really a comedy first and a romance second but balances the two to perfection and never gets overly dramatic. It is just a great all around title.

Overall, If you’re looking for a solid rom-com then look no further. Even if you’re not big on romance I could still recommend it entirely because at its core the series is about the mind games that come from this. The romance is always around but it’s not a dramatic romance or anything. Often times the characters will just seem more like friends anyway and you might even hope that this could be the end game instead of getting together. It’s just season 1 though so it’s too early to be thinking about the end game. Just enjoy all the laughs and fun and the 12 episodes will go by in a breeze. You’ll also be looking forward to Chika’s continued assault against the Ramen Kings. It’s a small subplot that begins in this season and is just a lot of fun with how seriously they take their food. I’m more of a “Stuff my face” kind of eater personally but I understand that some like to really savor the experience. It’ll also make you hungry for some good pasta even if you don’t have a ramen on hand.

Overall 8/10

Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold Review


It’s definitely good to have the Gold Saints back in action. They mostly just got wrecked a lot in the original series although some god to have their moment to shine in the Hades arc. This time they have a whole show to themselves where they can really get to cut loose and it works really well. The show can be rather formulaic so you know what to expect but it ends up being a great show from start to finish.

The show starts with Aiolia being mysteriously revived over in Asgard. He’s unsure of how this could have happened as he is sure that he died. Well, no matter. Aiolia has to head over to Hades to back up the bronze saints but he is asked by Lyfia to stay and save Asgard. The place has become very corrupt as the God Warriors serve Andreas now. Hilda is sick and unable to take control and Odin is sleeping as usual. If something isn’t done quickly, all of Asgard will fall as the villains raise up the world tree.

Usually Aiolia could just end this in an instant but it won’t be so easy this time. For starters, the World Tree absorbs the energy of the Gold Saints so their abilities are heavily nerfed. Making things even worse is that the God Warrior have their abilities amplified at the same time so what ends up happening is a double disadvantage. On the bright side, the rest of the Gold Saints have been resurrected as well. Fighting as a team has never been their strong suit but perhaps Aiolia can rally the group to save Asgard. Then they will head over to help Seiya and friends.

I may as well say now that they don’t get to help Seiya and friends but you probably guessed that since it would have completely changed the timeline. That could be fun in a way as a massive plot twist but keeping things separate isn’t a bad idea. It’s fun to just see the Gold Saints hanging out and we get more of their personalities here since there’s some down time. In the main series you certainly didn’t have time to see the Gold Saints just hang out and grab a drink. I would say the first part of the show is more of a creature of the week format as they beat up on a poor God Warrior with their own God armor and then end up fainting. Rinse and repeat until we get more structure.

It’s not a bad set up though and will remind you of the classic Saint Seiya structure. At no point would I say this show gets close to the original but it still works well. The first reason for this is since this is an original story, you don’t know how it’s really going to play out. After seeing the classic adventures in a few variations, it’s fun to see a brand new ordeal here. Even the tone and feel is a bit different since the main characters are the big shots here and not the Bronze Saints surpassing their limits all the time. We’ve got a bit of a mystery subplot with how Lyfia will randomly stare at the Saints once in a while with a dangerous look on her face and of course the tensions of Saints acting in another jurisdiction.

The animation isn’t great here but it works well enough. They put in some extra effort for the climax as well. I still wish we can get a truly top notch Saint Seiya animation at some point though. Some of the movies look great and take the lead there but I’m talking about a Studio Pierrot or Ufotable kind of production. With how flashy all of the Saint designs are it would be really easy to make the fights look amazing. Regardless, it works well enough.

As for the soundtrack, I wouldn’t say there are any real standout themes here. The music all feels almost free domain at times. The opening has a very good opening beat but then it fades from there. Also, there are a ton of sound effects in the song that make it hard to just listen to casually. I think they could have done better on this front. There are a few decent themes scattered within but I wouldn’t call this a very good soundtrack.

Before I jump into the characters part, I also have to give the series credit for directly referencing the old Asgard arc from the show. As an anime exclusive arc I’m sure they may have been tempted to ignore it but that arc was quite solid so I’m glad that it was still relevant. We learn about how these new God Warriors came into place and it makes sense since the Bronze Saints didn’t hold back against the last ones. It also reminds you that these guys would be easily dispatched if not for the tree messing up with the balance the whole time. Take that away and things would be different.

All right so Aiolia is the main character here and he makes sense as the pick. He’s easily the character who is the closest to being like one of the original characters. He is a hero who does the right thing and never wavers. That’s something that most of the other Gold Saints could learn a thing or two about. Aiolia also tends to lose quite a few fights here as a result but by exploding his cosmos he is usually able to win in round 2 or make a last second comeback. While most of the Saints seem fixated on doing whatever they want or protecting Athena, Aiolia seems to actually believe in justice which is important.

He was always one of my favorite Gold Saints and he certainly looks good here. We also get to see Aiolia’s older brother Aiolos. I was surprised that he was resurrected since he died so long ago but I was definitely happy to see him. He’s as tough as you’ll remember from back in the day and he gets a good role here. It’s not a particularly big role until the end so you have to wait, but it’s worth it. It’s safe to say that he’ll always be the best Gold Saint. Not saying he’s the strongest but he’s the coolest.

I never cared for Mu much. Usually he prefers to just watch all of the fights instead of doing anything which is annoying in itself. Then he went full on traitor in the Hades arc and kept on sinking and sinking. Well, in this show he’s not bad. He still seems a bit weaker than the other Gold Saints but the guy is more of a defensive fighter so that makes sense. When your main technique is a big shield…it’s inevitable that somebody’s going to break it. That’s how these things always go. Mu does his detective work in the show and helps find the weakness to the tree though.

Usually Dohko is in the same camp as Mu in terms of just watching everything the whole time but he gets a little more involved here. As one of the more powerful Gold Saints I expected him to do more than what he did. He’s still around for some battles though. Then there’s Aldebaran who is still the strong man of the group but his fighting style is what really lets him down most of the time. The guy always crosses his arms as his fighting stance which doesn’t work. I mean his big attack is then unfolding his arms with a great push. What kind of combo is that?

Aldebaran badly needs some new material. I think you can only get away with that if you’re one of the stronger Gold Saints and it seems like this guy would get smoked by most of the others. Scorpio Milo is one of the Gold Saints who looks really solid the whole time. He just wants a good fight and is eager to fight the villains. He also takes Camus’ betrayal very seriously and just wants to beat the guy up. He ended up being a lot more engaging than I expected him to be.

Unfortunately Camus is the perfect contrast here as that guy looks awful. It wasn’t enough for him to be a traitor once, he has to do it again? His whole character here is that he’s with the Gold Saints. Yeah, they explain why but the reason is as shallow as it gets and I don’t buy into it being reasonable. So I was rooting for the Gold Saints to absolutely devastate this guy in the fights. Just get him out of there asap. There was no coming back from this.

Shura is one of the Gold Saints who doesn’t get much of a role. With 13 episodes and 12 Saints it makes sense that some wouldn’t get much of a role. Especially when some Saints get a considerable role so there is even less time for the others. Shura gets to prove that his sword is the best though. Aprodite gets the smallest role but to help make up for it, the writers made sure that his moment really counted at the end. So in a way you could say that Aphrodite ended up being one of the more crucial pieces in the whole show.

Deathmask gets an entire character arc here. He starts off as a very annoying guy who refuses to hel and just gets in the way the whole time. Definitely the kind of character that will make you shake your head. Fortunately after that he starts his journey of recovery although it takes him a long enough time that things get a bit tragic for him. By the end he’s learned what it means to be a hero but it sure takes him a long time. He was still one of my least favorite characters by the end of it. He’s lucky that Aiolia didn’t knock him out when they first met.

Speaking of which, the show continues the urban legend about how a fight between Golden Saints will take 100 days or something like that. It’s a great story but we’ve seen many Gold Saint battles at this point and they’re still over rather quickly. 100 days would really imply that their powers and abilities are exactly equal but this just isn’t the case. I think the Saints tend to overestimate themselves a bit which ultimately ends up coming back to bite them. I do like the bravado though.

Now we come to the big 2 Saints who get a lot of hype in the show. First up is Gemini Saga and whenever he shows up all of the villains start to panic. I like that he is given this much respect because he has definitely earned it. Gemini Saga was the highest ranking Saint who was even in line to become the Pope after all. (Aiolos was the #1 choice though) While there is always a fun debate to be had on whether Virgo Shaka is stronger, either way they are near the top. Even while nerfed Gemini Saga was able to hold his own against various opponents here. He always has a very cool demeanor to him and I was glad that he still had that presence here.

Finally you have Virgo Shaka who really did look quite good here. He was even portrayed as a bit of a mastermind and really came through when the team needed him. His attacks have the most variety to them and since he is the man closest to god in this verse, he is able to even handle the various demi gods and actual gods that show up in this show. Ultimately he still isn’t unbeatable or anything but when he shows up you can expect that the villains are going to have a tough time.

Andreas is the main villain of the series and he’s your classic evil dictator. The guy acts really nice the whole time but he is tricking people to be used in live experiments and only cares about conquering the world. His nice personality is all an act but unfortunately one that works well. Everyone trusts the guy and the sad irony is he probably could have become the King legitimately with how people liked the guy. I guess he would never settle for being second fiddle to Odin though. So Andreas is okay but I wouldn’t say he is super memorable.

Loki makes for a much more interesting villain and that guy is also a lot more powerful. As another true god in the Seiya verse, you would expect him to be strong too. Perhaps not as strong as Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, Athena, and Odin as the 5 great gods here but he would be about as strong as Hades’ two right hand men. Of course we canm’t take this standing too seriously as Athena always looks super weak and Odin can’t do anything for himself. Loki also appears to be stronger than Hypnos and Thanatos, that or Seiya and the gang are just that good.

Either way you should be satisfied with how Loki looks. He shows up and starts to dominate right out of the gate. His abilities are the real deal and the fight actually goes on for quite a while. He’s got the kind of confidence you would expect from such a villain too. On the hero side we don’t have any gods to aid the heroes but we do have the heroine Lyfia who is always around for moral support. There are quite a few twists about her seemingly evil mode. For her normal state though, she’s nice enough. The show starts to mess around with a possible romance involving her but never really goes through with it so we can write this off as normal admiration.

She certainly owes the heroes a lot for saving her people and the people of Asgard owe her even more since nobody was helping. Lyfia was really the only person trying to stop the evil in the kingdom which paints a very bad light on the rest of these guys. She can’t really fight but considering that everyone here’s an easy planet buster it’s not like she should be expected to battle. Just summoning everyone here was enough.

Frodi is the main God Warrior here and while that means he’s a big sucker who bought into all of the villain plans, at least he means well. I don’t usually have a lot of patience for these guys who are just following the rules and don’t think about the truth. I should think the whole thing is pretty obvious when Hilda is “sick” and Lyfia is trying to help take down Asgard’s ruler. Shouldn’t it make you think a bit if the royal family isn’t happy with what’s going on? I would have just liked this guy to try thinking ahead a bit more. In terms of ability and design though this guy was fun.

Fafner is the worst member. Every villain group tends to have that one creep and that’s Fafner in this case. The guy likes to run human experiments to make the villain tech work better. He uses people to power up the tree and to increase his own energy. The guy can’t fight nearly as well as the others and usually gets taken down quickly but any scene with this guy is usually annoying.

Heracles is the power member of the villains but I didn’t find him to be very impressive personally. He gets wrecked by Aldebaran really early on and never came back from that. He is one of the only God Warriors to not get any kind of convincing win. The guy talks a big game that he just can’t back up and doesn’t have many long range options. When you’re weaker than the others and are the “power hitter” of the group then that’s a problem.

Surtr is the guy who guilt trips Camus the whole time but I don’t even blame him for that. That’s all on Camus for being a chump here. In battle Surtr is decent. He prefers not to just jump into battle and relies on strategy but that shouldn’t be mistaken for being weak. He just fights in a smart way but if he has to get into the ring personally then he will. This is why the guy’s such a big threat. I liked him well enough and he was one of the better members of the group.

Another solid member was Sigmund and this guy has more of an honor code than the others which is always appreciated. This guy wants to win on his own merits and as a reward of sorts he gets to fight Gemini Saga. I liked this guy through and through. Of course he is still on the wrong side of things and didn’t think any of this through but at least he isn’t using any cheap tricks and that goes a long way.

Baldr is the last big member of the group and he’s the one who became an actual immortal which makes him very dangerous. His fight against Virgo Shaka is one of the best parts in the whole series as a result. Both of these guys are a lot stronger than the average fighter and you can feel it in each of their moves. They can counter any attack thrown their way which leads to a lot of back and forth. I liked Baldr quite a bit and he has a fairly emotional backstory. I thought it was sadder than most of the others at least.

So the show has a very solid cast of heroes and villains which always goes a long way to making the show great as well. As you can probably guess, there is a lot of nonstop action here as well. The battles never really end as each episode will throw something at you. Then the climax is a bunch of other battles in a row before we get the big team up. Seeing the Gold Saints team up is also a very nice moment. Soul of Gold did well to take the premise of having the Gold Saints in the front lines and making the most of it. It’s why this works so well as a spinoff.

Overall, Soul of Gold was definitely great. I really didn’t have any big issues with it. Of course it would be nice if the show was longer and could get more arcs but it would probably get more and more difficult to do this without having them get in the way of the main series. After a while it may be forced if the heroes aren’t able to get to Hades. The ending also could have been a bit different, I’d prefer many different options to how things played out here. In a way it’s because it feels like a bit of a cop out. The classic “If you didn’t watch the show then you didn’t miss anything” kind of feel. I always think making the whole show not feel important after all is a shame. It doesn’t take away from the experience but it would be nice to tell someone they have to watch this to find out what’s going on in the Saint Seiya saga. With the way the ending goes (Don’t worry, it’s not a dream) you can’t really say that but I would still highly recommend this to anyone who wants a good action story. In this case it is highly recommended you watch the classic Saint Seiya show first though.

Overall 8/10

Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace note Review


It’s time for the next installment in the Fate franchise. While Zero may not have ended up hitting it out of the park for me, it set up a pretty solid framework with the Grail War and this title takes place after that. While you never really think that El-Melloi will be entering a Grail War since that would really end up being a completely different kind of series, it has enough connections to the main adventures to stay hype. Throw in some fun mysteries and this ended up being a great ride.

The series starts off with an episode 0 which is easily the weakest episode in the series so you may as well start with 1 tbh. It sets up the world to those unfamiliar with Fate. Magic is something that most people live with and manipulate nowadays. Those of the Clock Tower are especially familiar with magic as they tend to train the most skilled mages. The main character here is Waver although he has now taken on the title of El-Melloi II in part because he is being blackmailed by Reines but also in part to prove that he can handle the job as the previous El Melloi died during the Holy Grail War. With his loyal friend Gray at his side, Waver teaches classes of promising students in the ways of magic. Waver also hopes to enter the next Holy Grail War so that he can see Iskandar one more time and get some closure for being one of the only survivors of the whole event.

It’s hard to even call this the full premise of the show because there’s a lot to unpack but what you mainly need to focus on is that this is a case by case series. Waver will always be thrown into some kind of magical mystery and has to solve it fast before the various magical departments start to make a mess of things. There is always a whole lot of infighting among the different magical groups and in a world where any of them can curse you in an instant, you have to tread carefully. I wouldn’t say Waver is always super diplomatic but he tries to at least keep up the appearance of being calm and collected.

So in episode 0 a cat ends up dying and it turns out that this was to lay a lethal curse on Waver. He has to quickly team up with his two students Flat and Svin as well as Gray to track the culprit down before it’s too late. Unfortunately as in Fate/Zero Waver is still very weak and did not have enough ability to save the cat. The cat is able to help to an extent thanks to Gray being able to sense its presence so they track down the culprit but starting your show off with an animal dying like that’s a pretty bad idea. As I said, you should probably just skip episode 0. Fortunately the rest of the series was strong enough to get things back on track.

Right from the start it’s also fair to say that you can feel the high production values here. The animation is really great. There’s a lot of detail in every scene and the colors are always striking. It’s definitely got the same kind of style as the main Fate titles and we also do get some fight scenes which go all out. Now, I wouldn’t quite put them on par with the bigger fights that Fate has to offer but it’s makes for a satisfying watch all the same. The battles have a lot of weight to them even if there aren’t a lot of them.

The soundtrack is also master class here. You have a lot of great tunes which have the same level of drama as Fate/Zero. I also liked the opening here quite a bit. It’s not really an action packed one or anything but works well for the mysteries with how ominous it is. Usually the music will start playing after some kind of dramatic statement and the opening starts so this is styled well. There was no expense spared in this title’s production, that’s for sure.

As for the main cast, they’re solid. Waver is much better than he was in the Fate/Zero days so I was glad to see that. This is the kind of improvement that helps a character go a long way. It would be nice if he could fight more but he has helped to bridge this gap with the knowledge that he has acquired. He knows enough to be a teacher after all and his theories/knowledge allow him to crack the many cases here. He’s like a Sherlock Holmes of the magical world. I imagine that the magical setting here makes it a little easier for the writers since you can keep on adding new concepts though.

Waver rarely shows any fear or anything like that and is perceptive. He’s just a strong all around lead and also knows when to back off and just let Gray do the fighting. It would be nice to see him enter the Grail War but ultimately you can’t fault him if he wants to back out as well since there would be a lot to lose and not a whole lot to gain at this point. For the most part there are rarely casualties in the Grail War outside of the combatants so he should be safe in that case. Even if his title is temporary, Waver has also crafted a whole new life now so why throw it all away?

As for Gray, she’s still a bit of a mystery. We still don’t know the full story behind her. She looks like Saber and is said to always be close to death which came in handy during episode 0. She seems to be a type of Pseudo servant like Mash from Grand Order although she isn’t amped up with technology or anything like that. Instead she carries around a talking cube who seems to be a personality that she created to nerf her abilities. When she has to go all out a Sword Art Online type voice rings out saying that the false personality has been disengaged and then she is able to fight harder.

I don’t know exactly where that’s going but she makes for a very intriguing character. I’m also glad that there is at least one big fighter on the hero side since it inevitably means that we can have some strong villains as well. Her big fights against Faker are some of the highlights of the show after all. Gray’s a very earnest character as well who always feels out of time but takes everything in stride. It’s like seeing a What If for a servant who sticks around after the Grail War to help in everyday life. She could crush almost every character in the cast but doesn’t have to fight like that too often. In a way Waver has a top notch bodyguard at all times though.

Reines makes for a fun heroine and a good troll character throughout the show. As mentioned, she really forced Waver into this. While she claims that she wasn’t going to murder him, it certainly seemed like that at different points in the flashback so I can see why he was getting nervous. Now she mainly teases him while helping out from the background. She’s often a lot more helpful than she lets on. She has the ability to detect magic with her eyes which is handy at first glance but there are so many downsides that I would not want to have it.

One such downside is that she gets intense pain spasms if the magical energy is too high. Considering that this is the case for all strong fighters, it gets to her quite a few times. She always has a cheerful disposition though and has some solid banter with the other elites at the Clock Tower. Reines can hold her own and once she is of age and gets the title formally, I’m sure she will do a great job. The anime has a lot of solid banter between many characters and she is certainly consistent in this.

Flat is one of Waver’s students and while he isn’t bad, he can be a bit boring. He’s a very by the books kind of kid who does well in class and takes everything seriously. As a result he’s seen as more responsible and does well but just doesn’t have much in the way of personality. Meanwhile Svin’s the go getter who is always trying his best. I like how he keeps trying to positively “curse” Waver by calling him things like “The Powerful Waver” or “The All Knowing Waver” since we learn in the first episodes that merely using titles next to someone’s name can actually cause good or bad things to happen to them.

So it was a nice way for Svin to try and help his teacher even if there was no effect. On the other hand, he’s got a big crush on Gray that’s so intense he is usually not able to talk to her much and gives her the impression that he doesn’t like her. There’s also some kind of berserk mode within him that causes him to lash out against Gray for some reason. This isn’t something that is delved into at all so it will remain a mystery. I guess it ties into his abilities and her near death state but it’s hard to say why there’s a connection. Waver is aware of it as he forbids Svin from being near Gray. It speaks badly of Svin’s willpower though.

With the opening episode out of the way, the next adventure is more of a flashback to see how Waver became El Melloi. He ended up getting kidnapped by a mage and met his future best friend Melvin as they had to team up and take the mage down. It was tough since neither one of them really have any powers but they were able to use evil spirits to get the guy by taking advantage of the temple. There was good strategy involved and it was a fun enough episode. Not really a mystery like some of the others but it was a good one shot.

Melvin also makes for a good character. He’s someone who is always on Waver’s side and he’s rich which is always handy. At the same time, it does seem like he will prioritize “fun” over everything else so even if it means that Waver will be in danger, he’ll take the risk. So you can trust Melvin to an extent but you probably don’t want to be around him or you could be in danger. He also seems to have some kind of terminal illness which pops up now and again.

We then get another quick mystery where someone has been murdered and there are a bunch of suspects in the estate. From research partners to family members and the maid, El Melloi has to figure out the true culprit quickly or the government will probably pick someone off at random. This is the first big appearance of Hishiri who will always be a thorn in Waver’s side. See, she’s from the Department of Policies and they just want results at all times. She makes this quite clear to Waver and so “Justice” will be served whether it is just or not. Often times she is basically used as a timer so Waver has to hurry. It was an interesting case and of course it does involve a lot of spellcasting and plotting in order to get the situation just right.

Hishiri is a fun villain. While she may help the heroes at times, I would consider her to be an antagonist because she will do whatever policies says no matter what. At the same time, if Waver will save her some time then she’ll help him out. It’s not like she’s actively malicious but to me she may as well be if she’s that calm about just grabbing innocent people. There’s even one case where she intentionally hides evidence which could have gone badly. It’s very rare where she is actually very helpful.

There’s also an episode about Waver finding out what happened to his favorite tea shop which closed down due to suspicious circumstances. It’s more of a low key episode although it is one of the few times we see his students fighting. Gray also gets an action scene of her own and I’m always up for that. They rarely let her go all out but when she powers up that’s really game over for these guys.

Now we get to the first big case. So there was this mage who created a bunch of lightning but was super sloppy and died. Now the strikes are getting more and more frequent which is putting the whole estate in. Waver is called in to help and find a way to dispel this while the holy grail is dangled in front of him like a carrot. If he helps out here then it will help his chances of being in the next Grail War. This one plays out like a classic mystery with the lightning slowly taking its victims and we have to see who is really responsible. Is someone actually causing these strikes to occur or is it just an accident? Hishiri certainly doesn’t think so and already believes she knows who is causing this but Waver has to be sure.

There are a lot of suspects as always and I think it’s fair to say that nobody really believes this is just random coincidence right from the start. That would have been really hard to buy. We get some action in the second half of this and the ending is definitely an interesting one. A character makes a very dicey decision involving a portal although….I don’t necessarily disagree with it. Honestly in that situation I would say it might even be the right move. There is also a bit of a cliffhanger leading into the Zeppelin arc.

Right before that arc though we get a filler slice of life episode with Gray, Reines, and Luvia hanging out. The three of them have fun at the mall until they are warped inside of a reality marble and have to get out. The thing is, who is targeting them and how do they get out of this? Luvia is a strong fighter but Reines can’t really fight and it’s risky on if Gray should show her true powers here. It’s a fun episode though, certainly a lighthearted one with low stakes but the dialogue is strong as always. The reveal on who the culprit was is also very unexpected and works as a solid twist.

Luvia doesn’t get a huge role in the show but at least she got one big episode here. Her hand to hand skills is refreshing to see as most humans in the series don’t seem to know how to fight all that well. Personally if I lived in a magical world like this I’d want to be able to defend myself but it doesn’t seem to be the highest priority for a lot of the mages.

Finally we have the 6 part Rail Zeppelin arc. Basically the Zeppelin is a train and on it is a big auction for magical eyes. You can buy and sell them at will here. Why does Waver care? Well, his piece of Iskandar’s cloak has been stolen and it will be impossible to summon him in the upcoming grail war if he does not have that. It’s imperative that he grabs this at all costs. Meanwhile someone is naturally murdered on the train so everyone is alert. Was it infighting between Spiritual Evocation and Policies? Was it the member of the Anti-Clock Tower faction who is on the train? One of the many sorcerers here? Waver will have to find out and quickly as the murderer may also be the thief that he is looking for.

We get quite a few new characters here of course although maybe not as many as you would think. It can be a little hard to choose who you think the suspect is at times because not all of the sorcerers really get a big role here. You have Leandra who is effectively the top member of the train. She makes sure things are going smoothly but perhaps wanted to shake things up a bit. She doesn’t do a lot in this but is around the whole time. There’s even a JoJo’s type summon which is part of the train itself and helps with transactions.

There is the ticketmaster Rodin who is always very ominous. As someone who’s always been around the train you can see how it would be easy for him to make a move. I liked his design for sure, you have to take him seriously after seeing the guy. Then you have Yvette who is one of Waver’s students but also likes teasing him to no end. She’s super rich and has many resources at her disposal. Naturally it wouldn’t be hard for her to have stolen his artifact if she really wanted too. I can’t say that she was one of the better characters though. Her teasing is more excessive and not quite as fun as Reines. Additionally there’s also not much more to her character than that.

Then there’s Olga and it’s fun to see her since her role in Grand Order was so small. At the same time because of that it’s hard to say that she’s ever truly a suspect since we know her future state. She isn’t quite as powerful now of course but she has a memorable role and helps out quite a bit. Things don’t go quite as well for her butler/assistant Trisha who doesn’t last very long here. Every train murder mystery needs its victim after all and this was her role.

Finally you have Karabo who is one of the Anti Clock Tower guys. The show doesn’t get into the whole factions part much but it’s probably self explanatory. The Cloc Tower is an elite group of sorcerers and training them for the Grail War. I’m sure many oppose the group on principle. Karabo wants to get rid of his eyes for reasons which are explained later on but the whole time you wonder if it’s worth it. Aside from the fact that losing your eyes is pretty bad, it seems like they won’t even give him normal ones in exchange so he’ll be blind.

It’s a magical world though so I’m sure he can buy new ones somewhere. The downside is he’ll lose his powers. His ability is that with his future eyes he is able to see events from the past by making contact with someone and of course can see his own past. The best part of the ability is that he can bring past attacks to the present. So for example if he throws a punch and misses, he can try to get you back to that spot later and then instantly resummon his old punch at any time. It means that the longer a fight goes on, the more he will be at an advantage.

The downside though is that he can’t control the eyes really well. Imagine having a painful experience or a sad memory and it will suddenly appear in front of you at any time. That’s not very easy to deal with, especially if it happens very often. The bad experiences will keep on piling up. It’s a unique downside to an ability as you don’t often see things like that. Karabo’s a fairly nuanced character as well and I liked him.

Then you have Faker who shows up as one of Iskandar’s allies from the distant past. Having a real servant here is a blast and she immediately leaves a big impact on the series. I can say that she single handily elevated the show up a star because along with her presence meant that we got some big fights between her and Gray. The show may not be a big action most of the time but having big fights for the climax is always a very good idea and the show made the most of it. I also liked Faker as a character quite a bit. She’s serious and knows how to fight but also has an honor code and won’t just be destroying people for no reason. She gives Gray a breather at one point when the heroine is clearly not doing so well and that does a lot for a character.

An honor code is huge for a villain because it separates the ones with no vision or who just won’t work for me from the big all stars. Faker’s also clearly stronger than Gray which makes sense since a servant should always beat a pseudo one. If she went all out from the beginning then the encounter would have been brief. Since she held back we got to have several fights which were all a blast. Then you have her summoner but as the arc is a mystery I won’t say who that is. He looks good though and clearly has a lot of plans at the ready. I see him being a big threat in the adventures to come, whenever we get the big continuation. Since I liked him here I’m definitely cool with that, it’ll be nice to see what he’s got up his sleeve.

Well, that brings us to the end of the adventure. It was definitely a great ride. It’s a title where you feel like they probably skipped some stories and adventures though. It’s hard to describe but it’s the little things like a supporting character appearing in back to back cases but it seems to be a big deal that he or she has returned. Things like that, but if it means getting to the big parts sooner then I can’t turn that down.

A big part of what makes the show fun aside from the big action scenes and top notch animation/soundtrack is that the mysteries are handled well. I do like a solid mystery any day and these cases are all very sound. It’s also unique because they all use many different magical concepts within them. Half of it may be things that are made up just for Fate but the concepts are always explained so you can follow along. It means that you may rarely ever get ahead of Waver since you don’t even know the rules of engagement but the explanations are always satisfying.

A good mystery should keep you engaged throughout and the show pulls that off. The cast is also solid enough to the point where you can enjoy even just the talking scenes or the more low key moments in between cases. There are also a lot of cameos from other Fateverse characters so they’re always fun to point out. Of course I’d love to see Shirou and the gang show up at some point but I suppose they may end up stealing the show as a result if that were to happen.

Overall, I would definitely recommend checking this show out. The name may be a bit of a mouthful but I just think of it as the EL Melloi show and that works just as well. Really the only weak episode here is episode 0 so feel free to duck out of that one and you’re still good. Naturally if you’re a fan of Fate/Zero then you’ll have a lot of fun with this one but it also works well as a stand alone adventure. Of course there will be a lot of flashbacks to events that you didn’t get to see first hand but there’s a bunch of context thrown in as well as little clues you can figure out since Waver keeps having the same dreams and visions. Fate has certainly been able to branch out in many different ways and has done a pretty good job of this. We’ll see what the next adventure has in store for the team!

Overall 8/10

Black Rock Shooter Review


Black Rock Shooter is one of those shows that I knew nothing about except the design of the main fighter. One of the oldest music themes in my favorites list is “Battle of BRS” which may be from this show but I was listening for it during the show and didn’t notice it so maybe it’s from the OVA or something else. Either way it’s cool to be entering into this adventure now and it’s definitely a great show. It’s a fun divide between the human world and the other place where fights rage on forever. It’s short but makes the most of the length.

The show starts off by introducing us to Mato who has had a very fun life up to now. She really enjoys reading a book about the bird who saw a million colors and has lives her life modeled after that. Mato enjoys everything and sees life as being something amazing. When she sees her classmate Yomi is really by herself and not having a good time, Mato tries being her friend. This will be tough though as Yomi is shackled by her sick friend Kagari. Mato will have to learn what it means to go through both emotional and physical pain on this journey of hers but she doesn’t want to stop trying to get Yomi to a better place.

The plot changes over the course of the 8 episodes but a large chunk of this is really about Mato learning that there’s more to life than just pure joy even if it would be cool if that was the case. So by trying to help Yomi she ends up throwing her own life off of the clear path it was on. That’s why throughout the show Mato is just great. She doesn’t get down easy and she’s always going out of her way to help out the other characters. She helps out quite a few characters before this is over.

Now I should talk about the other world. It’s a very interesting concept and one that the show dives into quite a bit by the end. So in this show, every character has an inner self which is quite literal. This self is born to fight on your behalf in the other world. Mato’s counterpart is Black Rock Shooter. So BRS’s objective is to protect Mato’s soul and get rid of anyone who endangers it. It is quite literally a life built for nonstop fighting. There is never an end to the battles and there are always more fighters to battle.

As a result it can be a depressing existence for these beings. Fortunately they are built to have no emotions by default but as we see in the show, it is possible to develop them. So all these years BRS has been fighting off enemies and protecting Mato. I’d say she has done an excellent job of it considering that Mato’s had a near perfect life. It’s important to note that the humans don’t know about their inner selves or at least most don’t. Mato has dreams about BRS on occasion but that’s really the extent of it.

When your inner self is destroyed, you lose all memory of whatever had been causing you pain. So, lets say someone bullied you at school and stole your lunch. Your inner self absorbs that pain and if the despair is too much then it will cause your real self to also be empty inside. If someone destroys your inner self containing the despair, your real self will completely forget it. It’ll be like that deed never happened to you so you now have peace but it’s a false peace since you’ve lost your memory. So one of the trials here is deciding if what BRS is doing is right. After all, aside from protecting Mato she is going around and destroying all of the negative inner selves.

This is helping these other people by conquering their despair. It takes Yomi and Kagari from each being near suicidal to being able to be happy again. So it does seem like a really positive thing but it completely erases all of their bad memories which does have a big impact. There’s a whole debate to be there for sure. My short answer though is that BRS is doing good. She is protecting Mato and if she didn’t destroy those inner selves then they would have possibly destroyed the human hosts as well. It’s hard to say for sure but it definitely seemed to be going that way.

BRS seems like one of the only positive inner selves though. So I wonder if you have to have despair in order to generate one of these or if we just don’t see the positive ones. I am going to assume it’s the latter for now and BRS is intentionally only going after the evil ones. If so, it speaks even better of BRS even if by the end some characters are convinced that she may destroy the entire world. BRS is very determined and gets the job done, that’s definitely very impressive. She is easily my favorite character as well. She takes some really heavy blows and always manages to get back up. Additionally, just imagine what it’s like to be locked into a never ending conflict for years and years at a time. You have to have strong mental fortitude to keep up with that and we see that BRS really is a strong soul.

That’s about all I need to say on the Other World so you get the gist of it. We see several other inner selves of course as each main girl has one and they all try their best to fight off BRS. Aside from Strength none of the others get any real character but the designs are all fun. Of course they do give us a ton of great action scenes as well. It’s all very styalized and is using a noticeably different animation style than in the human world. It helps to make the fights stand out and I definitely liked it quite a lot.

The fights are great throughout and you really feel the blows. If handled wrong this could have been excessively violent but it’s all styalized so it never actually feels that way. The characters are almost like machines fighting and I’d say this is intentional to show how they have been containing the despair for so long and nothing phases them. BRS will be getting pummeled over and over only to jump up and land a powerful combo. The other world scenes are definitely the best part of the show.

Not to say the human stuff is bad, I’ll get onto that shortly. The human stuff is really good too but it’s nice to have a literal battlefield where we see how the emotions are affecting these fighters. It also adds the action genre to the show which is never a bad thing. The fights remind me of Madoka a bit with how everyone has an absolutely massive arsenal where they can spam their attacks at will. These fighters never run out of attacks to use and will fight until one of them is completely destroyed.

So now lets get to the human part which is almost like a different show. Maybe that’s part of what makes the show so effective, it’s like two shows for the price of one as we switch into worlds. For an emotional story like this where Mato is helping everyone out, I’d say a crucial part of whether it succeeds or not depends on how dark each person’s story is. It’s very easy for a show to write everyone going through absolutely horrible tragedies where the scars will be with them forever. Fortunately the show has a lot of restraint and while all of the characters are in bad situations, it never crosses that line.

The darkest situation is the first friend for sure which is Yomi. So here’s the situation. When they were kids, Yomi was best friends with Kagari. Unfortunately Kagari got injured and blames Yomi for this. Yomi must now play with her and her alone at all times. If she tries to play with anyone else Yomi will guilt trip her further. Unfortunately Yomi’s mother is also in on this and doesn’t notice how Kagari completely terrorizes her the whole time. Yomi is now too scared to do much of anything and even allows Kagari to physically injure her. This is where Mato steps in to save the day.

This is the kind of situation though where I have to blame Yomi quite a lot though. I get why she feels guilt here but at the end of the day the injury was actually more on Kagari when you think about it. Additionally, guilt can only go too far. Yomi has already given Kagari many years but when it comes to letting your friend stab you and scare everyone away that’s just going way too far. I wanted to see Yomi stick up for herself a bit here. It’s a character arc I’ve seen before definitely and each time I think it just goes way too far.

Yomi ended up being my least favorite character in the series as she just keeps sinking even after the arc. You’d think that the experience of having a possessive, abusive friend would help Yomi learn what not to do in friendship. Instead she becomes unreasonably jealous of Mato’s other friend Kotari. It would have been so easy for the 3 of them to be friends. Mato and Kotari were both all for it but Yomi of course had to make sure this couldn’t happen. It takes forever for Yomi to finally turn into a decent character. In a sequel I’m sure she would look better but in this show she was really annoying with how this all ended up. I still think there was no reason for her to go off the deep end. (Not gonna blame the inner self for any of this)

Kagari was of course an awful bully in the first half but fortunately after BRS saved the day she was able to become a good character. I mean she still has some moments that seem off like when she yells Yomi not to be too clingy but I guess she was trying to be nice about how she framed it and just didn’t know how to do it. It’s hard to just forget about the first half so I wouldn’t say Kagari is a good character. She is on a good track to be a better person going forward though.

Another character who needed help was Arata. Her situation isn’t nearly as bad though. Basically she likes a guy but he’s a wimp who lets his friends make fun of her for that and does nothing to stop them. Now that Arata had her heart trampled on like this she has retreated within herself. She has always internalized all of her issues and believes that anything bad that happens is her own fault. It’s a rationale she uses to make sure that she never gets sad but of course this is catching up to her. It doesn’t help that Saya is always making some little comments about this but I’ll talk more about her shortly. I liked Arata quite a lot though.

Internalizing like that isn’t healthy but it is certainly better than blowing up at the other characters and causing a scene. Arata never does that and does ultimately stand by her ideals of rising or falling on her own merits. You’re rooting for her to have a happy ending by the end of all this. Her inner self is probably the weakest one as she doesn’t really fight but it makes sense. Her inner self has no despair to absorb since Arata keeps it to herself and the inner self probably doesn’t even know what to do at this point.

Now lets talk about Saya. So for most of the series Saya was my favorite villain. She’s the counselor at the school but her actual role is the opposite. She will call in a student who is having a bad time and will intentionally give them bad advice. For example Yomi arrives in a very bad mental state and Saya tells her that nobody needs her. Arata mentions how things went badly for her and Saya basically says that’s a good thing. Mato goes in for help and Saya literally starts choking her before saying that she lost control for a sec.

It’s how not subtle Saya is that really sells the character for me. It’s also just surreal because I’ve never seen a character like this. Everyone is caught up in their feels so nobody ever complains about her to the administration so Saya’s really in the clear. The comments are always obvious but when the character questions this Saya will say that she misspoke or just do the classic “Huh?”. It’s very twisted of course since this is a villain who only targets you when you’re already down and in a delicate headspace. It’s why this makes her so unique as a villain though. She doesn’t do anything over the top, she’s not using swear words, beating people up, or doing anything crazy. She’s just using mild comments but ones that are specifically tailored to each character to maximize how hard they will take the comment. Now there are some twists about this that make you think about her character some more. It’s an interesting twist but whether it truly helps her or not can be debatable.

Finally we have Mato’s best friend Kotari and from the start you probably figured that something would happen to her eventually. She’s always happy and cheering Mato on so clearly something is wrong here right? Well, she gets quite a lot of development such as a burning house and growing up in an awful household. It’s certainly not a good situation for her and like Arata she seems to internalize this. At least..that seems to be the case at first. So the next 5 paragraphs are pretty big spoilers so avoid them if you haven’t seen the show yet. This will also tie into Saya as I untangle this a bit. Get ready to skip nowwwwwwwww.

Begin Spoilers. So Kotari actually switched places with her inner self “Strength”. How is this possible? Anything is possible in these things if you believe hard enough. So now Kotari is the one who receives all of the despair and it’s sort of driven her crazy. She has a whole speech about this at the end where she’s screaming about how it hurts but how she’s also still here and she won’t let the pain beat her. The speech itself could be rather inspirational if she wasn’t so crazy by this point trying to murder BRS. The message is good how Kotari has been through a lot but won’t let the pain define her. At the same time, Kotari has completely abandoned the human world so is she really dealing with the pain or avoiding it? She’s clearly been through a lot and was a really good character.

Then of course the character we thought was Kotari for most of the series was actually Strength. As a result I can safely say that Strength is a great character as well. She takes a lot of risks to help Mato throughout the series and was really a nice person to everyone. It seems like she takes her life very seriously since she knows first hand how any sadness would affect the real Kotari in her world. So the setup they have is pretty good and it’s a credit to both characters. Ultimately this can’t last though and the real Kotari will need to go back and hang out with everyone. Hopefully she still has all the memories of Strength and knows what is going on or school’s gonna feel crazy.

Now lets talk about Saya’s plan. It turns out that there was a method to her madness. So she was intentionally breaking each student down to expose their true selves so BRS could destroy them. This would grant the students their inner peace. Then once BRS had absorbed all of that negativity, Saya would destroy her so then Mato would be free and everyone would be free of despair. It’s one of those plans that doesn’t sound crazy at first glance. If Saya succeeds then everyone will be happy so isn’t that good?

Well, it would be except how can she beat BRS? We see how powerful BRS is in every fight and she seems to get stronger after each adventure. Saya’s inner self is powerful as well but definitely not on the same level. Maybe the fact that Saya seems to pretty much be able to control her inner self would make her stronger but I still see no way to close the gap. Saya is also tempted to murder Mato at one point which would have really not solved anything and would have made everything worse. I don’t think BRS ever needed to die though as she only happened to go crazy because of the failed fusion with Mato. Otherwise I think she would have stopped once the threats were gone. So Saya’s plan was very convoluted and was no good.

Here’s another huge flaw in the plan. What if she broke down Yomi and the others too well and they ended up doing something they’d regret? If they died then her plan would have been completely off the rails since she would have indirectly murdered the people she was trying to help. That’s why I think they should have played it straight and kept Saya as a villain. Make her the final boss and that would have been more satisfying. This plan just doesn’t make much sense to me even if it was well intentioned. Reminds me of Athena’s plans in that sense. Plus Saya was just so much fun as a villain. Ah well.

End spoilers. As mentioned, Mato is a great main character so that wraps up what I would consider to be a very impressive lineup here. You really won’t have any issues with Mato because she does her best to protect everyone at all times. She is willing to put her physical and emotional selves in jeopardy to help out as well. Mato really doesn’t hesitate to put herself in harm’s way and while it ends up hurting her, she’s okay if she has helped someone. You can’t ask for much more out of a hero.

The animation for the human world is good too. It may not stand out as much as the inner world but of course that’s because we don’t have big action scenes in the real world. Either way it works well as the animations and designs are on point. The soundtrack is also good. I wouldn’t say there are any really standout themes but the battle theme is good. The opening and ending are okay but I wouldn’t say they are too memorable. I don’t think you’ll be humming these tunes after the show ends or anything like that.

Black Rock Shooter works in large part because of the writing. Of course the fights are good as well but this is really a show that could have gone sideways. Writing an emotional show will always be tougher than a standard action one because you have to be sad without being too tragic. It’s a tight line that you have to walk and this show did a great job with it. It’s why it ended up surpassing expectations for me and is definitely a top notch show that I would recommend checking out. At only 8 episodes you’ll be done with this one in a flash. The story breezes by and the pacing is always quick so you can’t go wrong here.

Overall, Black Rock Shooter is a great show that is emotional by day and action packed by night. The contrast between both worlds is really handled excellently. I would be cool with a whole show for either world but by merging it like this you really get a complete adventure. From the two though, a full show for BRS in her world would be a lot of fun. Since nobody there talks though I can see why this would have to be more of a sub plot though. I mean, not that they can’t talk but as emotionless fighters they don’t tend to talk much. Only BRS and Strength really show any kind of emotion here. Well, it’s nice to know the story behind the fun battle song “Battle of BRS” now. I’d recommend looking up that tune if you haven’t yet and of course you should check this show out if you’re up for a solid adventure.

Overall 8/10

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 Review


Slime season 2 feels like the biggest glow up I’ve seen between seasons since Mob Psycho. Now it may not seem nearly as drastic just looking at the score but I would say it can take a whole lot of effort to go up from being a 7 which is pretty good to being an 8 which is truly great. Additionally I was tempted to push this all the way up to a 9 but I told myself I needed to calm down. The entire last chunk of the season was incredible but I had to carefully factor in what I would consider to be a very rough start. Ultimately the series was able to pull itself up rather well and I’m definitely looking forward to season 3 more than I would have been before.

I would say there are really 2 main arcs here. The second arc is really the highlight but the first one is solid too. It’s just the opening episodes before that which get tricky. So life is good and Rimuru is still building up his alliance in Tempest. At this point he already has a Demon Lord on his side as well as the incredibly powerful Vendora and hundreds of powerful warriors. Perhaps he will be the one to achieve world peace. In the meantime though he has to meet with powerful politicians and share drinks and such.

So this arc was pretty weak….but I consider this to be pre arc. For around 3-4 episodes it just feels like not much is happening. Rimuru is socializing I suppose but it feels like an excuse for just lots of fanservice and not much else. It was a weaker start than season 1 so I was a bit nervous here. I mean the production values are still great and all but where was the fun story? I would even say there wasn’t a ton of world building here. Fortunately that changes when the outside kingdoms decide to attack Tempest which is what really sets off Arc 1 for real. The Kingdom of Falmuth hatches a plan along with the holy Church. They will send 3 humans to frame the monsters for an attack which will give justification for these guys to murder everyone. Meanwhile Rimuru will be held at bay by Hinata, one of the Church’s most powerful fighters. Can Rimuru get back in time to win?

This was great and for another show you might have expected this to be the climax of the season. First off, we now know that there are more humans in the world which is a really big deal. We do know that humans are summoned and saw two of them in season 1 but now you have a fighting force of evil ones. Each human is also shown to be exceptionally powerful as they are treated as a powerful race in this world. As a sidenote, it is nice to see humans actually looking really tough as opposed to just being fodder in these fantasy settings. This also helps make the world feel even bigger as these 3 could be twisted leads in their own isekai adventures and now Rimuru has to take care of them. All 3 of these humans are complete villains of course so Rimnuru does have to hurry.

Another reason why the arc stands out is because Rimuru faces his first true challenge in quite a while. Due to the double barrier in place, all of his abilities have been greatly sealed while Hinata is at full power. This does tell me that Rimuru is already much stronger but of course excuses won’t matter if he’s dead. This was a great plan from Hinata from start to finish and I appreciated her confidence. This was absolutely a great fight as well and by this point in the show (Which is still fairly early) I knew that season 2 was going to rebound quite well from those opening episodes. You can almost skip those and not miss much tbh.

Hinata’s skill is something of a mystery though. By the end of the season we see her scaring opponents who are potentially even stronger than a demon lord or at least one with the rank but true power is more of a pseudo demon lord. So in theory Hinata wouldn’t even need Rimuru’s powers to be limited to stop him unless Rimuru had already passed that level. I’m inclined to say he had not at the time but his Gluttony ability bypasses defense so maybe that’s something she knew she had to avoid. Either way this is an arc with a lot of action and an incredible climax which even involves Diablo showing up. Rimuru also gets a big power up which will certainly be handy for later on.

After that we get a break in the action for a while as the next episodes are all meetings after meetings. I actually liked these episodes quite a lot though compared to the non action ones from before. For starters these are all serious meetings and not just an excuse to have a lot of fanservice the whole time. Additionally, I’m always up for a good strategy meeting so it’s nice to see everyone hanging out. It certainly could have been sped up but it’s fine either way. We also get a quick villain meeting which is a lot of fun and sets up the new characters as everyone gets ready for the main meeting.

See, the demon lords have a meeting for Walpurgis whenever there is something big to discuss. Clayman has summoned everyone for important news and now that Rimuru is so powerful and has the rank, he will be in attendance as well. Clayman has been the mastermind for pretty much every event in season 1 and 2 so Rimuru needs to be there to see his future plans and also to throw some threat around. Each demon lord can bring up to 2 attendants as well in case any funny business happens. That said, the attendants would likely be out of luck anyway though.

Meanwhile, Rimuru wants to take the initiative against Clayman and his forces this time so he’s having his army attack Clayman’s while they are both at the meeting. That means they are all sent to different areas to take down Clayman’s Five Fingers, a group of elite fighters. Given how powerful Rimuru’s guys are this is as much of a stomp as you can imagine but we do get a lot of great fights as a result. Even some of Rimuru’s fighters who don’t seem like offensive specialists show what they’ve got when it counts.

I would say this arc even beat the first one. It’s just the perfect climax to everything the series was building up to. Clayman may have looked really bad to the point where I wrote an editorial about one mistake that he made but it was still good to have him as the final boss. It made sense to get him out of the way and now every demon lord has to respect Rimuru and his abilities. You certainly can’t trust any of these demon lords either so that sets up a lot of interesting paths for the future. It’s really hard to say how things will play out as a result since everyone is keeping their cards close to the chest.

I have an eventual editorial coming up about the power levels in the series and discussing how powerful the heroes are so I won’t go into too much detail here. I will say that this is one of the most interesting parts of the series though. There are an absolute ton of factions running around and there are so many big shots that you will be curious how they all stack up to each other. You have the Demon Lords, Elder Demon Lords, Hinata, Diablo, Rimuru, Veldora, etc. Each of these guys have claims to be some of the strongest in the verse but who really outranks each other? Throw in the Clowns who seem to be exceptionally powerful with the fact that Hinata likely has her own bosses and it makes things very interesting. Veldora also isn’t the only dragon. So I won’t start ranking them here based on what I believe to be the correct ladder, but it’s something that Slime does quite well.

I dare say that only perhaps One Piece has more active factions and power level discussions that come from it. Otherwise it’s hard to top Slime with how many moving parts there are and it makes all the fight scenes even more interesting. Another reason why this show is so great is because you are always wondering what is going to happen next. Who will make their move and how will the world change as a result of it? While the Slime show loves its peaceful talks you know that eventually battles are going to break out.

At the same time you are never worried for the main characters though. Rimuru’s army is far too powerful to be endangered by anyone or at least it seems that way. Perhaps before he got a power up but in this season Rimuru gets a massive one which means that he greatly outranks almost every character in the series. While that may be a wrap for most of the tension here, you can still get some similar to One Punch Man by keeping Rimuru out of it. Much like that series I think this one was effective at pulling that off by giving the other characters their own big fights.

It doesn’t hurt that the animation is exceptional. There is a great deal of budget behind each fight with a lot of quick moves and solid special effects. Each battle stands out with the sharp colors and you will be on board right from the start. At no point in the season do you feel like the animation falters at all. Then you have the soundtrack which is also greatly improved from the first season. Surprisingly it feels like a lot of the season 1 battle themes have been completely discarded and replaced. I’m cool with that because these themes are just better. “Going Forward and Backward” for example is my favorite track in the show and it fortunately plays for almost all of the battles. It’s a great theme that immediately increases the tempo and gets you ready for a top notch battle.

I also greatly enjoyed the new theme song that plays for the second half of the show. (First is good too but not in the same league) Now this is a top tier opening with incredible visuals and a really catchy song. I’ve certainly listened to it a fair number of times. It’s also a good first look at Rimuru’s new costume even if he doesn’t wear it much in the season. I wish he would stick to that one because it’s easily his best one. It’s also fun that we’ve finally gotten to the Hinata fight since it felt like it was in the first 3 openings because they never knew when the fight was going to be adapted. Still feels off with how long it took but I guess the animators were really looking forward to that moment.

Rimuru continues to look good in this season and works well as the main character I think sometimes he doesn’t trust his own abilities as well as he should though and gets nervous over nothing. Still, gone are the days when he wasn’t really sure what to do. He’s now learned well how to be a true leader and takes command when needed. It’s hard to believe that the guy was just an ordinary joe not too long ago. Now Rimuru isn’t trying to be a hero but he is doing his best to be a leader who watches out for the people.

For example at one point he has to destroy I think it’s 100,000 people in order to bring back a few hundred. It was a no brainer for him since these guys were on the villain’s side and he needed to get his people back. Perhaps not what a hero would do there as this is the definition of trading lives for lives but it is something you would expect your king or leader to do for you. Rimuru set a strong example for his fighters that he will defend them at all times without exception. You also may feel like he didn’t need another power boost, but why not right? At this point it feels like Rimuru has to be top 10 in the verse at the minimum and I would argue he is likely stronger than that. We probably won’t know for a while.

Either way, Rimuru is able to hold his own seasons really well and had a good rage moment at Clayman when he struck Milim. That was a good way to know that Rimuru was for real. Meanwhile Great Sage is also fun. At this point it’s fair to say that she’s basically a character as she can take control of Rimuru’s body if he allows it so she can fight. Additionally she is always giving out helpful information and is almost like a sidekick that Rimuru can count on. She has a lot of attitude but that just helps for the banter.

After what feels like ages we finally get to see Veldora in his human form in this season. It’s nice to have him out of the prison for a change and his human form has a lot of fun with the cast. He is incredibly powerful as you would expect and certainly doesn’t back down to anybody. He gets a brief fight at the end which will cause you to really wonder about where he stacks up as well. Either way Rimuru has another good friend now and I think Veldora will fit in with everyone really well. He had a great first impression on them after all.

I’m still not a big fan of Gobta but I will give him credit for immediately believing his friend when the humans tried to frame him. Gobta wasn’t having any of that and that’s good because your friend should always have your back when it counts. So he may not be a great fighter but he’s a good friend. Meanwhile Benimaru gets a chance to show what he’s got as well. As always he seems to be the most impressive from his family of fighters and hasn’t really had to break a sweat. He even takes down a very powerful villain from season 1 in an instant which is very impressive. I don’t think he’s demon lord level but this guy can hold his own against anyone under that.

Shuna has her very best appearance in this season. Usually she just appears as the rather quiet and timid princess but here we get to see what she can do on the battlefield. Sure enough, she doesn’t need backup or for other fighters to protect her. She takes one on of Clayman’s leaders and shows him just how outclassed he is against her. Shuna’s magical spells are very impressive and she can be ruthless in combat. Now whenever she stays at the village we know that it’s in good hands.

Shion also looks great here and had one of the biggest improvements from season 1. She has really settled into her role as being Rimuru’s right hand woman and makes sure that nobody slanders him. When the villains start being sassy she quickly takes them out. While she mainly seemed evenly matched with Suphia, I think we all know that she would have won in the end with her big energy attack. Shion even takes a demon lord near the end which is further evidence of her power. In a true one on one fight she will not be going down easy that’s for sure. Her loyalty is also just great and she’s a fun character through and through.

Souei is the ninja of the group and his speed is always very impressive. He doesn’t look quite as powerful as the others but he gets less opportunity to fight like that. When he does join the fray you can usually count on him to get a win or look pretty good either way. The mentor of the group Hakuro gets a pair of fights to himself. The first fight doesn’t go very well for him but the deck was stacked against the guy. Once he is able to fight at full power then everything changes immediately.

Ranga is still around and while he doesn’t really get anything super big to do, he is always a loyal fighter for Rimuru. His ability to hide within shadows is handy and he gets a fight at the end but it’s mostly off screen. Now Milim is a character who gets a whole lot to do. I’m not sure about some of the twists with her though. There is a particularly big one near the end that will reframe all of her actions throughout the season but I’m just not sure that I buy it at all. Seems like a really convoluted way to go about things and it just doesn’t seem to make sense with the flashbacks of around when her plan would have started.

Either way it does show that she has great self restraint though. The characters rightfully do call her out on how this was rather irresponsible but I don’t think she seems too apologetic by the end of this. She is powerful enough where nobody would want to mess with her anyway though. She is one of the 3 top level demon lords after all so there’s almost nobody in the verse who could hope to beat her anyway. It’s why Rimuru got so lucky in having her as an ally.

Speaking of allies, Geld gets to have his first bit of action now that he is a part of Rimuru’s army and he looks good. His raw power is able to overwhelm his opponent’s regeneration. It’s a really intense fight to be sure as he just keeps pounding away at his opponent until the guy just can’t get up anymore. If not for outside help he would have ended things right there. As a power type I’m usually not going to think Geld will win much but he did really well here that’s for sure.

Unfortunately Diablo has not done much yet but he’s certainly a character that you will want to keep a real close eye on. He gets one fight in the season and it’s a really impressive one because he is able to easily overwhelm his opponent who is supposed to be incredibly powerful. In fact, we know he is based on previous appearances so the fact that Diablo is basically able to dumpster the guy is crazy. I have really high hopes for what Diablo will be doing in the future.

Yohm is an adventurer who gets a much bigger role here. He’s a nice guy who may not be extremely powerful but does rather well for himself with a sword. He has a bit of a romance with Myulan going. There is a rival in Grucius but you know that Yohm is the only one with a chance from the start. They three of them have a good dynamic though. I do think Yohm doesn’t handle the situation with Myulan very well though. As soon as things started to get fishy I would have liked for him to have been yelling for backup or trying to interrupt her technique. That would have made a world of difference for Tempest.

Of course things go well for Tempest but otherwise a whole lot of blame would be on Yohm. The most blame would be on Myulan though…you know for being the actual traitor. Ultimately she was under a bad circumstance here but still went through with all of this. Grucius gets some credit for trying to stop this from happening even if he wasn’t successful. I like his confidence but Grucius really doesn’t get any big wins here.

Then we get to good ole Clayman. The man with the worst plan possible and he makes mistakes at every turn. He really was in a good position initially but showed his cards too early and it cost him. Due to some twists it is even worse for him as we learn that Clayman was doomed for the start. He tries for some sympathy points at the end but Clayman was way too far gone by this point. No way you would really sympathize with that guy much. The situation is entirely of his making and now he has to live it.

Meanwhile the Jesters are interesting wild cards right now. They seem to work for Clayman’s boss and are really confident in their skills. It seems like they might all be Demon Lord level and if that’s the case then the heroes could really be in some trouble now. We’ll see how that plays out. Carrion doesn’t look great as far as demon lords go but to his defense, everyone would lose to Milim really. Or at least most of them would but when you factor in that she was sandbagging a bit then it gets really tricky for him. Ultimately it’s probably a good idea that he has decided to work for her though.

Ramiris might be the weakest demon lord here but she works well in the comic relief role. I like to think that she must have a crazy support ability to have become a demon lord though. Surely you can’t make it to that rank without having some kind of ability right? So I’m skeptical at how weak she is and figure she must be hiding something. All of the Demon Lords show up of course and while some are more impressive than others, they all seem like they can fight so something has to be going on here.

Leon is another one of the demon lords and he looks impressive. The guy hasn’t fought yet or anything but he has a confident atmosphere about him and doesn’t back down from a fight. Even Crimson who seems to be at the top regards him with a good amount of respect. While Crimon is always joking around you can tell that he does mean it when he says he would help Leon out if he was in a jam. I like the comradery between the demon lords. I’m sure some of them would backstab the others in a second but for others I do think they would be good friends. take Demon Lord Frey and Milim. They seem like good friends and Frey isn’t really the ambitious type so I don’t think she would have much motive to go around seeking more power. After all they’ve been demon lords for a while so I doubt they want anything to disrupt the balance of power. It’s why things should get crazy once that breaks down.

For miscellaneous characters first we have Suphia. She is one of the beast warriors and fights rather well. I like how aggressive she is and that makes the fight with Shion really good. Then you have the mysterious Yuuki. Remember that he did block Rimuru’s full powered punch when they first met so he can certainly fight. As a bit of a secret mastermind I could see him being a huge focus in season 3 unless he is truly the end game goal. Then there is Hinata who is a bit of a wild card since we don’t really know how the Holy Church will play into things. They seem corrupt already but at the same time I would assume that they won’t openly team up with the demon lords. I would love to see them as a true third party that causes trouble for both sides. Hinata has the raw power to pull this off after all.

The Church is manipulating her but I don’t think that’ll last forever. The question will be if she ends up joining the Tempest Federation or not. Personally I think she will just to make Rimuru’s army of unbeatable fighters even more impressive. Yamza is definitely Clayman’s most impressive minion. The guy can fight really well with a sword and while he was never a threat to the heroes, he looked way better than the other fingers. I wouldn’t have minded seeing him more that’s for sure, but I should be satisfied with his appearances here.

Middray and Hermes are fun characters who serve Milim even if she doesn’t seem to know about the Dragon Faithful group. Hermes is more of a rookie so he tends to lose his cool a bit. I don’t blame him for wanting to fight off Yamza though especially if he believes he could win. The whole arrangement seems one sided for Clayman’s army. Once again, the twist about Milim doesn’t help for scenes like this where they are only standing down because she has cosigned all of this. Not a great move that’s for sure.

I don’t agree with Middray allowing all of this disrespect though. He definitely has to defend himself when the villains are going in like this. It would go a long way to building up the kingdom’s credibility. Especially since he does seem very powerful. Not as strong as Benimaru or anything like that but he can take on many other fighters. Then we have Albis who is one of the stronger beast warriors. She has a full super form and everything which is always tough to defeat. She was the one fighting Yamza too who is an impressive opponent to be going up against.

Then we have the 3 otherworlders. They’re all total villains but made for entertaining characters. First up is Kirara who has the ability to hypnotize people so they agree with her. This doesn’t work in the wonderful realm of Tempest though since the demons can block that ability from working. She can also heal though which is very handy. Things don’t end very well for her though and it’s why you never want to be in a group of villains for very long. They will always turn on you.

Then you have Kyoya who is always acting very polite but it seems to be an act as he is just as crazy as the others. It only comes out during a fight when he’s winning though. Otherwise the guy stays quiet and tries not to make a scene. His sword skills are impressive as is his future sight. With that he can dodge attacks easily. His abilities feel like something an isekai lead could have too so it helps with the whole image of these guys being reverse leads. The otherworlders give us some of the top fights in the season too so credit there.

Finally you have Shogo who is effectively the leader here. He can punch really hard and his berserk skill improves his stats even more. That really makes him hard to stop. He ends up taking a whole lot of punishment as the fights go on though. He can dish it out but he certainly can’t take it. I like how the guy is always yelling but he’s definitely not a villain you can count on. Ultimately Razen gets the best of him but things don’t even go very well for that guy either. I liked Razen’s confidence though. I thought his arc was going to be a lot longer and that he would show up later but it just wasn’t in the cards for him.

That wraps up most of the characters in this season. Of course there are a considerable amount of other characters that I haven’t mentioned like the various kings, other members of Tempest, etc but the cast is exceptionally large so mentioning them all would take quite a while. It’s really an excellent cast and that’s part of what makes the show work so well. No matter what plot they go to you can bet that something interesting will be happening. Season 2 is quite busy with all of the plots and sub plots going on.

The show is really a blast and it’s also a very calming title. For most of the show you never feel like the heroes are in danger so you enjoy the spectacle of all the fights without worrying about the heroes much. There is a tense moment in arc 1 to be sure before Rimuru gets his power up but it’s safe to say that after that you don’t get a very serious moment like that again where you think this might get ugly for the heroes. It probably wouldn’t work if every show started making things too easy on the heroes but it’s just rare enough where it works as a change of pace. You’ll be having a good time throughout.

Even when the fights are not ongoing the show has a good amount of humor and solid writing to carry it at all times. Really the only problem with the show here that keeps it from being a 9 is that the fanservice can be quite excessive. Particularly in the opening episodes there is a lot of fanservice and it just keeps on coming. After that the show dials it back to more of a normal amount. Slime isn’t really the kind of series that ever totally gets past this issue but at least it’s mild enough where it takes a decisive back seat to everything else going on. It’s Rimuru’s primary concern when meeting one of the demon lords which is unfortunate for his character. I did say he is improved from season 1 a lot with experience and all but this is still an unfortunate trait of his.

Overall, You’ll definitely have a really good time with this season. Slime has certainly improved since its days in season 1. The animation and soundtrack have never been better. The story is also at an all time high and the pacing is good. The fights are on point and you’ll just be having a great time here. There is just so much action and no matter who is fighting you know you’re in for a treat. The power levels being mysterious is also good since it allows the series to go in a lot of different directions for the next season. Once we know that Rimuru really is the strongest then that’ll probably limit what it can do to an extent. Either way you’ll want to check this one out.

Overall 8/10

My Hero Academia Season 5 Review


It’s always impressive how the MHA seasons keep arriving like clockwork. You can usually expect a season every year and the next one will certainly be coming soon as well. The seasons have all been rather consistent as well with really solid animation throughout. This is probably the first one where it felt like the production started to catch up with them in the end but ultimately you’ve got another great season here. There’s a lot going on so lets hop right to it.

The show quickly opens up with the aftermath of last season as Dabi shows up to taunt Endeavor a little bit. As one of the enemy top commanders it would be great if the heroes could take him out but he’s too crafty and slips away. We then go to the heroes who need to get stronger and have a tournament between classes to pull this off. Class 1A will have to try and take out Class 1B once and for all. Can they really pull this off though or are they already doomed? Class 1B has far less real world experience than 1A but of course their quirks are still the real deal.

This lasts for the first half of the season and it’s a fun arc. The animation really helps to increase how intense the battles are but either way I’m always up for a good tournament. We get to see everyone contribute this way and you know that Bakugo is going to be set. Honestly I think Class 1B should have won the third round based on how things played out but I’ll go into each individual match in a second. All of them were fun though and I liked how 1B’s teacher was openly rooting for them. He may not be impartial but he’s certainly loyal. I’d like 1A’s teacher to have been a little more supportive like that.

After the tournament ends we get the mini arc of Todoroki, Bakugo, and Deku working under Endeavor. We get to see more of his family drama and the heroes learn how to make the most of their quirks. In the background Hawks is working on a mission of his own and it’s hard to tell if he’s a double agent that the heroes can trust or if he’s gone off the deep end. Either way he’s their best hope for secret intel but of course he has to be careful how he transmits the data. This arc’s definitely more on the low key side but it’s another way to build up experience for the main characters and to get them strong enough for the battles that are to come. There’s not a whole lot to say about these episodes but of course it’s still going to be a long journey to even begin to forgive Endeavor. I don’t blame Todoroki’s brother for still being super sore about the whole thing. I can’t say Endeavor ever bounced back for me personally.

Then we get to the arc that most people were really excited for in this season. The big My Villain Alliance arc where Shigaraki and the gang are forced to fight against a new villain group led by Re-Destro. It’s always fun to see a villains vs villains arc and so of course that would be the case here too. The new villain group has the absolute massive advantage in numbers since it’s really hundreds against less than 10 fighters. The league of villains are also heavily weakened since they’ve been fighting almost nonstop for days already. With their abilities weakened can they claim victory here?

Imagine if Re-Destro hadn’t been so determined to beat the villains on his own and had called in the heroes? He could have ended up ending the series early but fortunately his hubris made him want to fight personally. I don’t think he realized that this would be the best path for him as well but figured he couldn’t lose either way. Now there was a lot of controversy about how the arc would be adapted though. The events got shuffled around a bit to try and build up synergy with the movie. As a result, the anime put the training arc with Endeavor before the villain arc. Not a really bad thing on its own, both events are far enough away where they shouldn’t reference each other.

The big problem here is that the anime still includes future scenes…including spoiling the ending of the arc with the result of who won the war and what happened to both team members. Everything is absolutely spoiled with a classic villain meeting scene where we see everyone. We hear about the destruction on the news in the episode and I don’t understand this choice by the writer/director. Surely it would have been incredibly easy to move that scene to the end right? Also, due to so many episodes being for the other events, the my villain arc had to be rushed quite a lot. Many scenes are cut and so the arc doesn’t feel quite as complete as in the manga. It only gets 6 episodes to itself (Although 5 since the last episode is really after the arc) so there just wasnm’t a lot of time. It’s still a very solid arc but it is heavily weakened to the point where it’s fair to say that the Class 1A vs Class 1B arc is stronger. At least in the anime I would say it absolutely is. The first arc has better animation, more big battles, etc.

So that part was unfortunate but even if you know how the arc will end, it’s still a fun journey here. You get to see the villains gaining more power and how this will make things tougher for the heroes going forward. They can’t hope to just roll on past the villains now, although that was never really an option. The heroes are gaining power at a much slower rate than the villains so now the villains may have even taken the lead. To be honest, I would say the villain group is more powerful than the heroes right now. Their abilities are simply too good to be stopped.

So lets go back to the battles for a minute here. Class 1B messed up in the first battle because they really had the edge once Kirishima was taken out of play. On paper 1A is much stronger there but 1B had such a promising start. Unfortunately for them they got a bit overconfident. It was a fun way to start the tournament off. Ultimately most if not all of the other battles would surpass this one but we got to see what Shinso could do in the fights.

In the second battle we had another match that appears to be a stomp for 1A on paper but 1B came out with the better plan once again. This time they were able to close the deal and I was glad to see that. Momo and Kendo have a big rivalry here and it was nice to see. Momo seems to usually come out on top so at least Kendo has a win here. Her plan was well thought out and they took advantage of how emotional the heroes could get. I liked how their shadow guy baited Tokoyami at one point. Ultimately this is a main theme for the tournament with how 1B would make up for their lack of physical abilities with really smart planning.

Then we go to the third battle which is the most lopsided because of how stacked it is for the heroes. I’m not a big Ida fan but I can still say that he is quite fast and a threat in a fight. Then you have Todoroki on the same team? Well, that’s a wrap. This fight may have had the best animation out of the 5. We got some great scenes of Ida dashing around at limitless speed and Todoroki’s fire was really sharp. That said, the tie was not satisfying here. While I think 1A should have won from the start, at the end they should have just lost if this is how it was going to go. With the bar hitting Todoroki like that Rocketti needed to come in clutch for 1B.

After that it was time for Bakugo to take the stage. It’s the most one sided battle out of the 5 and for good reason. Up until now 1B has had all of the planning but Bakugo had enough of that. He conducts a really solid plan for 1A and they have a perfect win. It was a good way to show how Bakugo has been improving over the course of the show and now knows how to be a team player. It isn’t something he likes doing but it makes sense that he would know how to work with others since that will be necessary when he is a pro.

Finally we get to the 5th match with Deku. Of course Deku could solo the entirety of Class 1B on his own so we have to have something to prevent this. In this case it was that Deku develops his new ability during the fight and loses control which gives 1B a chance to come back. I really like Monoma so I was glad that he got to have a good role here. Certainly the standout of 1B. The match is never in doubt but it’s suitably dramatic and works as a good way to end the arc off.

So the arc was definitely a lot of fun. Constant fights and everyone got to show off their stuff so I was satisfied here. I would like to see 1B get to do something more in an action context at some point though. I know that they’re probably outmatched against the League of Villains but surely there’s some fodder they can fight against. It would be good to show that they are still contributing and can fight when the chips are down.

In terms of people choking when they’re about to win though, that happens to Re-Destro’s side a lot in the villain arc. At the very least you feel like Shigaraki and Toga should have lost their battles. Toga was getting utterly devastated throughout the match to the point where she was exploded several times when her opponent rigged the blood flow. Toga should not be getting up from that, much less turning the tables. I know the reporter got overconfident but that was the match to me. Meanwhile Re-Destroy also had such a huge lead but then he started admiring Shigaraki and losing his resolve. It was a shame because that guy was so cool but now he has faltered. I guess that’s why he is no longer the mastermind though. He doesn’t have the grit for this.

Now lets talk about the characters. Of course the main cast has already been appearing for a while so I won’t go super in depth there. Deku still makes for a solid lead. As far as Shonen Jump leads go he has always been one of the weaker ones for me but just going off of this season he doesn’t really do anything wrong. He does well in the fights and you can excuse him sandbagging a bit because if he goes all out he could murder someone by mistake. As the seasons go we should see him displaying more and more power in a safe way.

Bakugo gets a really great role of course with how he commanded his team to victory. It was nice to see and he’s never lacking in confidence. Jiro had a great assist in the match and she is quick to act on the orders. I see them having a good dynamic on the field going forward. Uravity doesn’t get to fight a lot here but she does come in handy for helping Deku come to his senses. Ida has his speed moment and while he ultimately has a rough matchup here, he does help his team a lot.

Likewise, Todoroki has a good moment with his fire and ice abilities but ultimately it’s really hard to use those abilities at their peak without murdering someone so that nerfs him in the tournament. The rest of class 1A is mainly uneventful but of course they are all in this tournament so you’ll see all of your favorite characters doing their own thing and upgrading their powers. We still don’t get to see much of Invisigirl so she is truly living up to her name.

For Class 1B the standout characters start with Monoma of course. His ability to store powers and use them at will makes him a true threat. He even has his delayed effect on one of them which is used strategically. You can see how his ability has its own share of weaknesses since he always has to use borrowed abilities which means that he has less experience than his opponent but his high IQ helps to balance that out. He is not someone that you want to go up against in the field.

Kinoko is an interesting case because she’s like Deku where she has to be careful of how she fights. She can cause mushrooms to appear all over your body which impairs your ability to move and breath. She is also shown to be able to do this across an incredible range as she covered a good chunk of the battlefield. What this means is she could conceivably cause this to appear in your lungs and you’d be dead instantly. Her abilities have countless ways to be used but many are lethal and even with knocking out opponents she has to be careful not to suffocate them. I doubt she’ll ever get to do much again but honestly she would be a huge help against the villains.

As mentioned earlier, I was glad that Kendo got her moment to shine. Even if she doesn’t get to fight later on. That’s at least something she can hang her hat on and she really is a solid strategist. Mudman deserves some credit too for being able to react to Ida’s speed and still land his counter blows. He did quite well in using his ability creatively. Certainly not someone that you want to underestimate.

Shihai also gets kudos for the mind games he was playing the whole time. It was quite effective and he’s a good actor. Then you have Spiral who isn’t super remarkable but his abilities are so basic that it makes him feem like a very earnest guy. Ultimately I think he could have done better here but I won’t forget his abilities too soon. The way he punches while spinning reminds me of Jin from Yu Yu Hakusho.

Shinso gets a good role here as he gets to participate in both team sessions. His ability to mind control you is super handy. Even if it won’t work too well on Deku or Shigaraki, most opponents are immediately going to lose if he can hit them. The trick to his ability is that he needs the villain to talk back to him. Assuming that most don’t yet know about his ability, that makes him a real asset on the field. He also wants to learn mor close quarters combat which is a good idea since that never hurts.

Then we have Endeavor who is of course trying to turn over a new leaf. Props for effort of course. I may not like the guy but it is still important to start trying to make amends as it’s better than just continuing down the dark path. As the number 1 hero he has huge shoes to fill but is doing his best. I would still consider him to be the second strongest hero in the series (That we have seen so far) but I would argue Deku has surpassed him. Endeavor is just able to control his abilities better and then go all out.

Meanwhile Hawks still has the toughest job here as he has to hang out with the villains and learn things. He could be murdered at any moment so he really has to be careful. He does well in his role though and knows how to use his laidback attitude to his advantage. Now that takes us to the villains and of course quite a lot happens with those guys. I’ll start with Spinner since he gets the least to do. Most of his scenes are the ones that had to be axed although to be fair, if I had to axe any scenes I would have gone after Spinner too. He’s just not super interesting compared to the others and he’s a bit weak as well. Right now the guy doesn’t have nearly as much drive as the others.

So first off we have Twice who gets a lot of big moments here. For starters he is able to awaken his quirk so he can now copy anybody he really knows including their powers. That’s a huge power up especially considering that he can now make hundreds of clones. It was nice to see him be able to recover from his split personality issues as well. His backstory is definitely something I’m sure everyone imagined at least once in Naruto as a dark what if route. Well, he’s back and stronger than ever now. He may be a villain but Twice is the kind of guy who really cares about his comrades and so you end up liking him well enough. He’s easily one of the more likable members.

Then you have Toga who is still as crazy as ever. We get her backstory which doesn’t make her any more sympathetic but it isn’t really supposed to. We just learn now that she really was crazy from the start. I’m not a Toga fan and this certainly wouldn’t change my mind in that respect. I have to say that I was rooting for Curious from the start and I still say that she deserved that win.

Next up is Dabi who is great as always. It was a hype moment when the team called him in to help in the fight. Makes sense because without him things would be difficult. His fire attacks are great for fighting many enemies at once after all and one hit could be deadly. Surprisingly he seemed to still be on the losing side against Geten and is lucky that backup arrived. It was a rough matchup for him though.

Finally you have Shigaraki. Oh there’s a guy called Compress? Well he didn’t do anything so he may as well not exist. Anyway back to Shigaraki, I’m not really a big fan of his. I mean he’s your classic crazy villain who wants to see the world burn and all. The insane types can be good sometimes, sometimes not. I’ve always found that specific kind of villain to be very hit or miss. He’s slowly starting to get past his issues like always needing the hands which is good and he’s gaining focus. Down the road Shigaraki could end up being a stronger villain personality wise.

His origin story is also the weakest part of the show as of course he has a dog and you can imagine how that goes. He grew up in a toxic household which ultimately ended up speeding his descent into madness. It’s too bad since things could have been different for him otherwise but the heroes were just not around in time. Not like they can be in every household though. Shigaraki’s father just looks terrible here. You can’t really blame the sister since she’s just a child but he deserves a lot of the blame here.

Of course you aren’t likely to sympathize with Shigaraki much here. Even if his childhood was rough, he ultimately ended up becoming a mass murdering villain so that was that. With his new powers he seems nearly unstoppable though so the heroes are really going to have to put out all the stops here.

As for the other villain group we have to start off with Re-Destro. This guy was great at the start, he has a ton of confidence and has his own empire. He blackmails the league of villains openly and it shows you just how many connections he has. He was making a case for being one of the best villains in the series but unfortunately he completely cracks once he is humbled by Shigaraki. He goes to being someone that is absolutely loving being a minion but way too much. He has no more self dignity anymore and I lost all respect for him so fast. He’s just a shell of himself now.

Gigantomachia is sort of a third party villain until he accepts Shigaraki but now we can say he is in the league. He’s super powerful to be sure but one of those really big and not very fast guys so I can’t take him ultra seriously. He’s really good for obliterating tons of fodder quickly though and since it’s hard to damage him, he’ll end up being one of the big players in the upcoming battles.

Back to Re-Destro’s allies, we have Curious next. She’s effectively a twisted reporter who always has to get the scoop even during battle. She’s quite good at her job and made for a fun villain. Curious may be short lived at the end of the day but she certainly made the most of her screen time. Then there’s Geten who also doesn’t appear much but this guy stole the show for me. His fight with Dabi is great and I love the guy’s confidence. Usually you’d assume that ice won’t do anything against fire but Geten showed why his abilities surpass all of that. The fact that he can use water to create a near infinite supply makes me think that he may be more powerful than both Todoroki and Dabi at using his abilities. I dare say Geten was going to easily win if not for the fight being interrupted.

Finally we have Skeptic but he’s more of a support villain than someone who will go in personally. He uses his pseudo hypnosis to get everyone on board and fired up. His abilities also seem to give his fighters a little extra strength so he’s useful to have around. Not really my kind of villain though and he doesn’t leave the same kind of impact as Curious and Geten. Both of those villains you won’t be forgetting any time soon.

For the soundtrack we’ve got a lot of the really solid tunes that are from the older seasons which are always good. There are also some new tracks particularly in the villain arc which are solid. I’m not sure what the name of the theme is, but it plays quite a bit during the villain fights and is a good way to build things up. I like the idea of the villains having their own ost to counter the heroes as well. Ultimately the only aspect that still remains on the disappointing side is the openings. For some reason MHA has really started to have really below average openings. It reminds me of One Piece where the openings just never tend to be all that great. At least MHA had the first opening which was exceptional though, there’s never been a standout tune for One Piece. Maybe it’s a tough thing for long running titles in general as I can’t think of any really top notch Naruto openings. Black Clover would be the exception although Bleach had some solid ones in the mix.

I will give the show credit having 2 intro songs though which is how it should be. When you have 25-26 episodes you should have 2 openings, 4 for 52, and 1 for 13. Every 13 episodes you should have a new opening. Them’s the rules. As for the animation, well it’s pretty great as always. Particularly the first arc with the heroes against heroes. We get a lot of great animation cuts there and top tier moments throughout. The famous cubes for the big moments and the heroes look plus ultra as a result. You could say some of the best animated cuts in the whole series are in the first half.

As mentioned earlier, it does come at a bit of a cost though. The villains arc noticeably seemed to get the worst animation of the series. In the other seasons every episode always looked consistent so even if some fights got more attention than others, it was always at the same level. Here it just looks really different at times, almost outsourced. Even the color palette looks different as it gets a lot brighter and less detailed at times. It may not be on point compared to the rest of the show but I would say it still looks good if you take it as a stand alone. Additionally they still pull out the budget for the final fight of the season which is good. I would say even that one doesn’t look as good as most of the cuts in the first half of the season but it still ends on a solid note.

Also, a part of me is just wondering if maybe the show was just trying something different with the animation. Like if you see the Dabi screenshot above or watch some episodes, it just looks different. It’s why I mentioned potential outsourcing. Perhaps it was a different style they wanted to experiment with and it just didn’t work out as well. I remember Black Clover tried some experimental animation in one of its fights when things were going through a big time crunch and if the style is quicker to animate then it would make sense to use it.

The arc definitely had a lot of really solid animated moments as well even if I don’t think the style was nearly as good as the first half. The less detailed approach may help to mask if this was rushed which could be the intent. I love bright colors like this so the art style worked even if it was less detailed. To put it one way, I wouldn’t mind if it ultimately went in this direction next season even if I would prefer traditional. After all, I really enjoyed the Dabi fight and I thought the scene I attached a screenshot of looked great. It’s certainly eye catching and pops out at you.

Overall, My Hero wraps up another important saga in the mix. It may have been a little less high stakes compared to the last few seasons but we do have a solid cliffhanger to set things up for the next season. Season 6 is really going to be intense from start to finish with nonstop battles so if they need to take a few extra months to set this up that’s fine. It has the potential to be the best season in the show depending on how this all goes. Also, how many shows get to have 5+ seasons like this? Definitely shows how big the series has gotten and I’m expecting more movies coming up as well.

Overall 8/10

Saint Seiya: Hades: Chapter 3: Elysion Review


It’s time to wrap up the Saint Seiya saga. Chapter 3 closes out the Hades arc. It took 3 OVAs to knock out the arc but I’m glad that they persisted and kept churning these out until it was over. The arc ends in an epic fashion and is certainly not an adventure you are likely to forget. It’s been an emotional ride with the Saints from start to finish but every adventure has to end at some point. With great fights, story, soundtrack, and animation, you are in for a very solid time here.

The OVA picks up immediately where the last one ended. The heroes are finally closing in on Elysion, but are confronted by some more spectres. Shiryu stays behind to fight them while the other Saints arrive to take down Hades and the other two gods who serve him. Meanwhile Phoenix Ikki is getting ready to make his own move but what secrets of the past bind him together with Pandora? Her assistance could be the critical point of the war or if she stays evil, that could signal the final defeat of the Saints. Will Athena’s awful plan look any better in hindsight? Time to find out!

With only 6 episodes the OVA has to move quickly but we still get a good amount of time for the fights which is the important thing. There are a lot of characters running around at this point but the OVA juggles them well. At this point the only plot you probably won’t care about is with the other bronze and silver saints at home. They have a crucial moment where they protect against Hades’ attacks but otherwise you’re ready to go back to the Saints where all the battles are taking place.

Shiryu gets a big role to start things off with his fight against 3 spectres at the same time. I always thought that was a really impressive moment in the manga and it definitely keeps that same intensity in the OVA. Each spectre is no joke power-wise so beating 3 is impressive. You don’t expect the Saints to get a whole lot to do now that we’re near the end so it’s cool that Shiryu got to have one last hurrah. He is around during the climax fight as well but this is a match he can say that he won completely on his own.

For example, Andromeda and Hyoga get moments of their own of course but not in quite the same way. Hyoga takes on one of the top 3 Spectres and even manages to win on a technicality that they can’t exist in the void since they have no god blood while Hyoga does. Then you have Andromeda who is closely tied to Hades with a lot of twists there. This was a good way for Andromeda to finally be relevant though so I was all for it. In a power sense he’ll never be one of the top Saints but he at least did well in trying to hold Hades back the whole time. Ultimately Ikki was never going to sacrifice him though.

Phoenix Ikki looks great here as always. You have to give him a lot of props, right up through the final arc he is holding his own with Seiya and getting involved in the battles. He actually gets to go up against Hades and is the final Saint left standing with the main character. I like Ikki’s confidence and he also tends to be the most perceptive of the Saints. He was able to get here on his own after all which is impressive and he officially took down the final Spectres as he swore to avenge Pandora.

Even the scenes of him as a kid protecting Andromeda are really intense since most kids would have folded at that point. Ikki really did the rest of the Saints proud and I would expect no less from such a true fighter. He always reminds me why he is my favorite Saint Seiya character although Kanon and Aiolos are both very close. Saint Seiya really has a stacked cast here. Then of course you can’t forget Seiya himself who does well here as always. He really has to put up with a lot of punishment but always manages to get up.

He embodies the saint saying that no attack will work on him twice. He may go down after the first hit but once he gets up then you know that there is no chance left for the villains. Seiya’s an inspiring character who leaves his defeated opponents to trail behind him. Ultimately he steps up when it counts at the end of this OVA as well and does well in his golden mode. I would say he tanked the ending and made it back safely but there are definitely different ways to interpret the ending as you see the credits start to roll. Either way it makes for an emotional end to Seiya’s character arc.

The only aspect that isn’t very satisfying is how Seika reappears. So throughout the entire series Seiya has been looking for her but she was nowhere to be found. Even Saori with her vast resources and wealth could not locate her and we find out that Seika just had amnesia and was wandering around for a while. That’s really not a very satisfying resolution, certainly not the one you would expect to see after such a big build up. She comes in clutch with motivating Seiya to fight on but it just felt like this was a forgotten plot point that was thrown in at the last second.

As for the villains, in general I liked all of the important ones. The throwaway Spectres were mainly forgettable but the three judges and then the two gods were on point. The only exception to this would have to be Hades himself. I just never cared much for the villain and seeing as how I didn’t like Poseidon much I guess you could say that Saint Seiya has a bit of a main villain problem. It’s not that Hades is weak or anything but his goals and motivations aren’t super interesting.

So he wants to create a great eclipse so that the underworld will rise and he will rule over all. Athena tries to talk him out of the plan a few times and he refuses but it’s hard to even get a gauge on the guy’s character. He seems to be annoyed when anyone attacks him since the guy sees himself as being above everyone. He has the arrogance of a god type villain but none of the usual charisma that you need with it. I like his character design at least. Hades looks the part and appears as a very intimidating threat. He’s just not interesting and always lets things escalate until it’s far too late for him to stop the heroes. Even in the Lost Canvass he didn’t get to do much and that series went out of its way to develop everyone a whole lot.

For a main villain who improved here, I have to say that Poseidon was impressive. I didn’t like him in the last arc but it was cool to see him pitch in a bit here to help out when the chips were down. It shows that at the end of the day he will protect the planet and that makes sense since if Hades wins that will be the end for everyone. The oceans won’t be exempt from such a fate. It’s a very small cameo but I thought it was an effective one.

As for the gods Thanatos and Hypnos, both of them were fun. Hypnos certainly seems to be the wiser one and also a little more powerful. He warns Thanatos time and time again not to get too overconfident and yet the guy does so anyway. This is often the folly of any fighter who goes up against Athena’s saints. Lost Canvass retroactively makes this look even worse for Thanatos since he never learns his lessons. In this case, I prefer Thanatos’ confidence to Hades though. Thanatos has the charisma that Hades was lacking and I just like to see him talk a good game. He was able to back it up for a while as well with how his fight against Seiya went. Ultimately he gave it his best effort but he just wasn’t strong enough. Hypnos also gets a good fight but it is quite a bit shorter.

Then we have Pandora who I always thought was a very interesting character. At first glance she is just the evil version of Athena only in her case, Pandora was pretty much forced into this life. Her whole family was murdered and two gods threatened to make things quite rough for her if she didn’t help them out. While you can’t really throw out excuses for her since Pandora still acted as a villain, there’s not much stronger coercion than that. Unlike Athena she can actually fight as well. The Spectres are actively afraid of Pandora and she ends up being rather helpful in the arc. Without her, Ikki wouldn’t have made it to the end and without Ikki, Seiya would have certainly been defeated. So it’s no exaggeration to say that she saved the day here. That’s why she is a very memorable character and also a solid villain. Ultimately you know that things won’t end very happily for her but that’s just how it goes.

Finally, to answer the question on if Athena’s mission/plan looks any better in hindsight….it doesn’t. So lets look at the plan here. Athena decided to destroy herself and allowed the evil Saints to murder almost all of her guards so she could go to the Underworld. From there she would travel to meet Hades and ask him nicely to stop his plan of destroying the world. She would let him murder her and in exchange he would stop and allow the world to continue. I have so many problems with this plan but the biggest one is that there’s no reason to assume this would ever succeed. I don’t think Hades has any problems with lying so he could just say “Sure, I’ll be good” and then after murdering Athena he goes through with the plan.

Alternately he doesn’t even need to lie. He could just wink and say he’s going to destroy the world anyway. Athena is far too weak to stop him and she has helped decimate her own forces. Athena is probably one of the worst rulers I’ve ever seen. She is consistently attacking her own members by proxy like when she refused to let Seiya help out and her plans are poorly thought out. At no point in this entire scheme did she do something that made sense. Stopping the Spectres from the start would have been the absolute best plan of hers. Given how powerful the Gold Saints are shown to be, they likely would have won the battle.

The villains can regenerate which is true, but not when Shaka uses his beads so there is a counter. It’s not full proof but the odds of victory would have still been terrific. Athena’s Saints are simply stronger and that’s all you really need to know in such a battle. I never quite forgave Athena’s plan here. At the end of the day it just resulted in countless deaths that were completely needless. None of the characters call her out on this which is probably the worst part.

As expected, the animation is solid here. Considering how much newer it is than the show, it may not look as spectacular as you would hope but it does the job. The character designs are on point and the fights are good. The armors are really shiny which is always cool. If anything that’s the first part that always catches your attention for any Saint Seiya product so you want to make sure that it looks on point. The OVA did well here so I was satisfied.

As for the soundtrack, it’s got all the usual tunes you would expect from the show so that’s good. The battle theme and every other song are just iconic by this point. Eventually I’d like to see the series experiment with some more songs but considering that this was the end of an era, I really don’t see an issue with bringing the same tracks back. It can work as a very nostalgic kind of thing.

Overall, This was a great way to end the Hades arc. It really ended up being a blast and it’s good to have made it to the end. It’s easy to see why the Saint Seiya franchise has expanded so far. The characters are fun and the battles are always intense. The plots are easy to follow so it’s the kind of title you can pick up and watch at any time. The fights are dramatic and the stakes are always super high. Sometimes pride will keep the characters from making the right decisions but you know that the bronze saints will always be around to reign in the Gold fighters if they go too far off the path. If you haven’t seen this OVA yet, then you will want to change that so you can say that you’ve ended the saga once and for all. It’s only 6 episodes so it won’t take long and it’s almost all nonstop battles. After all, this is the climax now so there’s no time to rest.

Overall 8/10

Pokémon Evolutions Review


Pokemon has had quite a few mini series so far. They all tend to be pretty solid. Some are more action based while others follow the story more. They’re always a glimpse at some fun concepts for an ongoing story but at the end of the day they can sometimes just make you wish that it was a title that you could pick up and watch for 20+ episodes. Well, Evolutions is the strongest show to date. It may also make you wish that they could just adapt all of the games like this already but each episode does still manage to have a complete story within so it doesn’t feel like you’re missing everything. There are 8 episodes contained within and each region gets an episode. I’ll break them all down below.

The first episode is almost a somber one to an extent as the champion Leon recalls the big battle against Chairman Rose’s legendary monster. Even Leon’s Charizard wasn’t quite a match for this powerful Pokemon. They got to show their strong bond here though as Charizard never gave up and Leon gets his swagger back by the end of the episode. Leon’s always been a fun character since his whole thing is that he is incredibly powerful. While I wouldn’t say he is the strongest Pokemon Trainer out there, he has earned a very solid reputation for himself. If we get to see him take on some more powerful trainers and continue to win in the main anime that could change things. Either way this was a good episode to start things off with. It’s not one of the most intense ones but with the action scene we did get and the solid animation, it was a good omen of things to come.

Episode 2 brings in the Sun and Moon cast as Necrozma shows up and starts dishing out the damage. Lunala has to fight against him and it’s nice to actually see Lunala fighting with great animation like this. Lunala has rarely gotten the spotlight compared to some of the other legendaries so this was a good chance to change things. That being said, Necrozma is not a Pokemon that goes down easily and is even one of the stronger Pokemon legendaries I would say. This one really ends with a lot of momentum on the villain’s side. The fight is one of the best in the series and you can feel the tension. It was an excellent way to continue on from the first episode.

In the third episode we get Lysandre making his speech about why he’s actually the good guy. We see his past and also how he originally had good intentions that just started getting more and more extreme until he was completely the villain. It’s a much weaker episode than the first two. Not a bad one but I think the issue is that he just isn’t a very convincing villain. See, someone like N I could understand. I think you can make some valid points for why Pokemon should not be fighting and he just made sense. There’s just no part during Lysandre’s pitch where you actually think he’s in the right, especially not when he’s strapped to a giant machine and fighting off the other Pokemon. A villain with a strong goal is always at least interesting though so while this episode couldn’t compete with the first two, it still kept a high amount of energy.

Following up that episode has N appear which is quite fitting since he was a good comparison in the last one. It’s from Ghetis’ point of view for the most part though as we see how he orchestrated all of these events. He was at the front of the situation from the very beginning and it turns out that he really was a tactical genius. I was never a big Ghetis fan but his plan was sound. N is really the one doing all the work though as we see him take down the Champion and get ready to fight the main character. It’s another reason why I always found N so fascinating. Defeating a champion is pretty much unheard of except for the main character and rival. A villain taking down the champion has never really happened before. This episode didn’t have any really long action scenes but it was really hype throughout.

Episode 5 is certainly more of an upbeat one. We get a glimpse into Barry’s life as he lost to Team Galactic initially and then pressed forward until he gained the skills needed to stand up to them. It’s one of the more emotional episodes. He may not be as strong as the main character yet, but he’s giving it his best effort. I always like how stoic the main character of the relevant Pokemon game is in these episodes but more on that later. It was a bit more low key than the last episode but still a fun adventure and it ended up covering quite a lot.

Episode 6 is my favorite episode in the series. We get to see the ceremony with Zinnia as she explains the prophecy of her people to Ruby. They climb up the tower as May tries to get the stone back before they make it to the top where the summoning begins. This was a really powerful moment in the manga with how Zinnia lived her whole life for this moment only to find out that she wasn’t the right person. It’s definitely tough because she did everything that she possibly could and yet it was not enough. That’s the kind of thing that’s hard to really get any silver lining out of. Still, she makes the hero call and lets May be the one to summon Rayquaza and save the world. She at least gets to have her fight at the end though. It’s a dynamite episode from start to finish, Zinnie continues to show why she is one of the best Pokemon characters and we still do get some action in this episode even if that isn’t the main focus this time around.

It’s fitting that episode 7 is my least favorite for the ultimate whiplash. Episode 7 has a few girls telling a story about Ho-Oh and Lugia. If it sounds familiar it’s because we also got a story for the Johto portion in one of the previous Pokemon miniseries when we learn how the dog trio were created. Is Johto just not good enough to get the big action treatment like the others? I guess the most interesting thing here is seeing how the Pokemon contribute to the show. It’s like real life special effects in this verse but at the same time there was just no big hook and to me that’s what held this episode back. The whole time you’re waiting for some kind of fight or something but it never comes. The artistic style here was a big step down from the other episodes as well. Ultimately it was just not a very engaging episode.

Finally we end with Kanto so you know things are going to get hype. Green is searching for the final Pokemon in the Pokedex: Mewtwo. Unfortunately another trainer is already in the cave so now it’s a race to the finish. That said, both trainers have a good amount of chivalry so there isn’t any cheating or things like that. They both want to win in a clean fashion. At first I didn’t recognize Green since it appears more like her new design. I actually thought that it was the Let’s Go main characters at first and then Red and the others would get their cameos. Red and Blue do get a quick cameo at the end but this was in fact Green. (Don’t know the names of the Let’s Go crew assuming that they have new names) This was a great way to end the series though. It doesn’t quite defeat the Zinnia episode, however it had the longest action scenes. Not necessarily in a fighting context but with all the acrobatics and running around in the cave. We also got to see a fun look at how some of the gameplay mechanics would work out like how a fight is initiated when two characters meet each other’s gaze. Of course the guy chickened out the first time though.

There you have it, those are the 8 episodes of Pokemon Evolutions. The animation throughout the series is really solid. The battles are on point and the character designs are smooth. I dare say that the animation here could hold up with the main series and the battles in particular probably beat some of the main title fights as well. Of course I imagine it’s easier to make the fights look spectacular when it isn’t weekly 20+ minute episodes. The soundtrack also deserves a lot of respect here with how many solid tunes and remixes we get.

Pokemon Evolutions succeeds in all areas and just makes for a really fun experience. As mentioned, it feels more self contained and complete compared to the other Pokemon titles. I would say this is the best one. Yes, the episodes still tend to have cliffhangers but we got to see the fights before that happened as opposed to the battles being left to your imagination. That’s a big difference. Also, this series covered more of the big events. You’ll likely remember all of these scenes from when you played through the video games and that’s a lot of fun since now you get to see it happen in real time.

Additionally, the video game main characters all look really hype. You have Ruby who gets to prove that she is the chosen one to go and fight with Rayquaza. Then you have the main character of the Diamond and Pearl games who is holding his own against Jupiter and the others. Green gets to show her persistence in combat and Red/Blue appear to be pros as always. The fact that they are all silent for the most part just increases their mysterious aura. Not all of them are silent though like Green has a lot to say but for the most part they silently dare their opponent to make a move. Their unlimited confidence makes it easy to see how they would end up becoming the champions.

Now that we’ve gotten to explore all of the regions a bit, I’d really like to have a crossover at some point. Pokemon Adventures did this so why not a show right? Red interacting with Black or Green meeting up with Platinum would be a lot of fun. If they can keep this big animation budget as well then you could also splurge on some really big fights. Of course the best way would be to have a full TV show for this but even if the episodes were shorts, you could still do a lot. Maybe go back to the series’ roots and make it a big tournament anime. The possibilities are really endless although my money would be on Red to go all the way of course. You couldn’t rule any of the other characters out though as they all became champions by the end of their journies.

Overall, Pokemon Evolutions is a really solid title. It’s a short one so you’ll definitely be done with it in a blast but it should help to inspire you to go back to the games or read some of the manga. If you’re a Pokemon fan then you will definitely have a major blast with this one and even if you don’t know Pokemon (Somehow) you should still be able to enjoy the quality writing and pacing of the episodes. Given that you can easily complete the whole series in less time than it takes to watch a movie, there’s no reason not to watch this one. Hopefully at some point this leads to a full movie or show but in the meantime I’ll be satisfied with getting another mini series as well.

Overall 8/10