The Law of Ueki Review


The Law of Ueki is a manga that was a lot of fun back in the day. It tends to be overlooked when talking about some of the top action titles but it can certainly hold its own. The series had a lot of fun characters and engaging fights. It’s no surprise that the anime really handles this quite well too. You can really divide the anime into two sagas even though it’s all the same tournament. Pre Celestials and Post. Either way you should have a blast with both versions and with a satisfying conclusion you can put this away as a very complete anime.

Law of Ueki opens up with a premise about a big tournament about to be held by the Celestial King. The winner of this tournament will receive the Talent of *Blank* meaning that you can write down whatever is there. Naturally that’s a very enticing prize for most. Each Celestial is able to choose one human to represent them in the tournament as this is a battle through proxy as the celestials would be too overpowered. You are allowed to give your candidate one power that you currently possess.

The candidates then have to seek each other out and defeat their opponents. Each time you defeat an opponent you also gain a personal skill like the talent to dance or things like that. Defeat them all and you will presumably win the tournament. Injuring non ability users is a strict no no though as you will lose a talent for each person you injure. Lose them all and you will cease to exist.

That brings us to the main celestial Mr. K who is thinking about having Ueki be his candidate. Mr. K is determined to see if the boy has an air of righteousness about him though and gives a lot of tests. Ueki completes each one as the guy is just a nice kid by default so Mr. K selects him. Ueki makes the rather interesting decision to take the power of turning trash into trees. Will he really be able to win this tournament with such an ability? His best friend Mori isn’t so sure so she decides to tail him everywhere to keep him safe.

Mori’s definitely a great friend to have. She really has nothing to do with this battle and prior to the series it’s hard to say if they really were true best friends. Still, she knew he was in danger so she jumped in to help which is definitely a heroic thing to do. Throughout the series she always has his back. She may not be the biggest fighter but she does participate in the tournament and does well when needed. Mori is quite determined and doesn’t go down easy. I would go as far as to say she is one of the better Shonen heroines.

The opening episodes of the show are mostly about introducing us to Ueki’s opponents, future rivals, and how the fights will go down. Ueki will typically end up going against a power user not because he really wants to win but because he realizes that it will be a bad thing if these guys get the talent of blank. Let’s just say that they don’t exactly have an air of righteousness about them after all so they would definitely end up leading the world into ruin. Sometimes their wishes aren’t super crazy evil but they’re always very selfish.

Ueki shows these guys what’s up by taking them out and he also gets more familiar with his ability. He doesn’t mind using it on humans when he sees anyone acting with evil intentions though. Due to this Ueki quickly starts losing a whole lot of talents. It’s a good thing Mori is here or he would probably go down to 0. Still, aside from one episode about track and field where he wasted talents for no real reason, each of the other times it felt necessary for him to use his ability or people would really get hurt.

The power to change trash into trees is a unique one so I give the series credit there. In general I thought the author was very creative with the abilities. Being able to turn towels into iron is another unique one for example or being able to put a portrait of someone’s face to simulate their voice. They aren’t abilities I’ve seen anywhere else or that I expect I’ll see in the future.

Ueki’s power system is also pretty well thought out. Each ability has a limiting condition that must be applied in order for it to work and also to negate it. That means there is a lot of strategy here instead of going for the I win button each time. Every character has to watch their actions closely which makes for a lot of nice back and forth battles.

Then the second half of the series I’d say is when the Robert’s 10 shows up although you could also make the case it should be when the tournament’s next round starts so they all go to the Celestial World. If we go with the latter, a big change is this is now a team tournament to Ueki teams up with Ai, Sano, Rinko, and Hideyoshi to form their 5 man team. Additionally, Ueki starts to learn some new abilities thanks to being a celestial and the concept of a grade 2 weapon is introduced as well.

Ueki getting some twists and a power up was pretty good because it does explain why he survives some absolutely brutal attacks throughout the course of the show. They are moves you wouldn’t expect a normal human to walk away from but taking a beating in anime isn’t exactly a new concept. So even without the twist I don’t think it would be a big deal but it is part of what makes this knowledge effective.

The major change here though are Ueki’s new abilities. Now that he has celestial weapons, super speed, and a bunch of ranged weapons, the whole tree power grows less and less helpful. It makes sense because such an ability had huge limitations from the start but you do feel to an extent like it changes all battles going forward. Now instead of strategy it was more about spamming your celestial weapons so for better or worse it completely changes how all of the fights go.

Personally I was a fan of it though. No matter how you slice it, it would have been a little cheesy for Ueki to have caught up to the others without some kind of big boost. Most of the other characters still have to rely on their natural talent so for their battles you still have the strategy. Ueki also does his best to mix and match weapons so it’s still unique.

Ueki’s just a pretty great character. At times they definitely use him to parody some of the usual moments. One such scene is when a guy he barely knew gets super injured so Ueki goes into a rage mode to fight Robert. The next episode Ueki doesn’t even remember who the guy was though which is super random but he did barely know the guy so maybe it actually makes sense. Ueki’s all about winning the right way and saving everyone he can. He’s a classic main character who always stays very heroic.

You could say the main rival of the series is Sano although Li-Ho could make a case for that as well. Sano’s another heroic guy and his ability of turning towels into iron may not sound impressive but he makes it work. Sano is a master strategist so coming up with plans on the fly like that is really what makes him stand out. He ended up easily being my favorite character in the series due to how impressive he was.

Sano makes up for his lack of pure strength with plans and this is something that comes in handy right through the final episode as well. Whenever you need a hand, Sano is your man. Rinko is another one of the main allies and while she is also a strategist, her methods differ greatly from Sano’s. She prefers to think everything through before making a move while Sano acts as he goes to test out his theories and troubleshoot. While neither approach is objectively better I would go with Sano’s in a fight.

Both of them have issues thanks to this during their team fight and in that case I thought Sano was right since you can’t just hide. Rinko’s power is to turn beads into bombs which is handy but since it’s not the most mobile technique the opponents tend to use that against her. She gets a glove near the end of the series that amps up her powers to a great degree but it’s so late in the game that she doesn’t get to use it a whole lot. She’s a fun character though.

Finally you have Hideyoshi who was added so late in the game that I don’t really think there was a reason for him to be included. He doesn’t really add anything to the dynamic that wasn’t already there and he can’t fight for beans. I won’t take any shots at the guy because he’s okay, but he just didn’t feel necessary is what I’m trying to say here. His power needs a lot of work.

Mr. K gets a fairly big role of course but I admit that he tended to be more annoying than anything. I liked him when he was alive. Despite his tough talk he did come to help Ueki when it counted. Where he got more annoying was once he was dead. The guy went out of his way to try and not hear about how Ueki was doing. It’s all just an act of course but he goes to such extremes that he just ends up being unlikable. So…yeah I wasn’t a fan by the end.

Tenko’s a much better ally for Ueki. He’s willing to make a lot of sacrifices to help him out and isn’t ashamed to be helping him. Now that’s a true ally. Then you have Yodogawa who is not the most loyal guy around to say the least but he gets a lot of fun scenes. There’s a certain track from the OST that plays for all of his scenes and it’s really great. So this guy worked rather well as a comedy character.

Now lets check out some of the villains. First off is the main villain Hanon. I guess I should say final villain as opposed to main since he doesn’t appear for quite a while. The guy is very powerful and really sets his own plans. I like that he’s not just someone who simply follows orders. He also likes a good fight and even entertains Li-Ho on this for a while. That said, he did try going after a random dog so it was lucky that Ueki was there. It could have gotten very dicey. I like his combat energy but going after a dog is just plain petty.

The other big villain is Robert and he really serves as the first huge obstacle in Ueki’s way. His bubbles ability is actually a lot cooler than it sounds with how it can raise and drop objects. Once he takes out the celestial weapons don’t expect that you’ll see a lot of this again though. He served as a good benchmark for how you could measure the rest of the characters. Robert is quite twisted to be sure and the show executes this well. He’s quite the intimidating villain.

Li Ho isn’t really a villain per say but he is a powerful obstacle in Ueki’s way. Part of this guy’s hype is he is so strong in martial arts that he doesn’t even use his super power. The show really milks this since the whole time you are waiting for him to use his abilities. The guy is very determined not to do so which means you can certainly appreciate his resolve even if you feel like he should put his pride aside to just win the fight. His battles against Ueki and Hanon are most excellent and he is definitely one of the best characters in the show.

Onimon is one of the earlier opponents but worth noting as he’s a fun character. He’s really powerful with his whole cannonballs attack and he has a good honor code in place. He’s definitely determined not to win his fights with cheap shots or anything like that and I always like characters like that. Winning isn’t enough, you have to win the right way.

I should also mention the King. He doesn’t get to do a whole lot but as the Celestial King his abilities are absolutely top caliber. There are very few opponents who can take him on. You feel like he probably should have acted a bit sooner though as his plan was very shaky and full of holes from the start. If he had a better plan or thought things through a little more then things would have been very different here. He’s a charismatic guy but there’s no excuse for not acting so I’d give him a thumbs down.

Each of the Robert’s 10 gets a role of course but lets talk about some of the biggest members. First has to be Don as the guy had a big grudge against Ueki from the start. His power to turn rings into rockets was also very impressive. His raw power was absolutely insane and he’s a good example of someone who just isn’t very compatible with the trees ability. Ueki needed something more to take that guy down.

Then you have Marco with his lava ability. Honestly if not for being with Rinko and then trapping Ueki in a tough spot, he would have gone down quick. The guy is good at playing dirty though so he’s pretty memorable. Then you have Taro who is the strongest member of the group. With his lasers and saws it’s tough to take him down. Of course that’s against the rules but it’s not like the Celestial King is paying any attention right? People break the rules constantly in this tournament. Taro was a solid villain though.

Kabara is another tough member. While the guy got humiliated in the end, he did look good in his fight with Mori. A fight that was quite original I might add and really stood out. Then you have Carpaccio who is more like a street gang guy but a very tough one to be sure. His ability to copy powers was already tricky to deal with and then when you combine it with all of his other abilities the guy was a true menace. Definitely not someone who could be taken down easily.

Margarette is a villain who doesn’t appear until near the end of the series but he was also impressive. His grand master plan is certainly ambitious and even end of series Ueki would have a tough time with him. (Ueki would probably still win though) This guy was fun and I wouldn’t have minded seeing him appear a little more just so we could learn more about the guy.

Team Marilyn was certainly one of the most impressive teams in the tournament. Mainly due to their leader, Marilyn herself. Her super speed ability is so broken that even by the end of the fight there was no way for Ueki to beat her. It’s why you have to wonder where she was during the climax as she could have actually given Hanon a good fight. The celestial weapons are all too slow to hit her after all so maybe she could have even won.

Her fight against Ueki is probably the best battle in the series as well. It’s just really good and it fits in well with the rest of the fights because the team battle was also the best in the series. Each member was very dangerous so everyone on Ueki’s team had their work cut out for them. It also helps that nobody on Marilyn’s team was even evil so at times you aren’t sure who to root for. You can just enjoy a battle between two elite teams.

In comparison, Team Barrow at the end isn’t quite as impressive. Sure, maybe they could beat Team Marilyn but I think it would be close and not a guarantee. They have no single member stronger than Marilyn, however as a whole their members are way stronger than her teammates so it does even out. Barrow’s members are all solid. They have Celestial weapons that have different gimmicks so each one has to be handled in a different way. Underestimate them at your own peril.

Law of Ueki has a lot of great humor which is worth noting. The characters lend themselves well to the humor such as Yodogawa being foiled in his plans or Ueki trolling his music friend. Mori’s antics as she tries to use her powers can be a great bit of fun as well. The show also subverts your expectations at times like when one character is gearing up to use some kind of super ultimate attack only to be foiled in the end before he can even do it. Scenes like that really land.

The show has a solid balance of being serious, funny, emotional, and dramatic. To an extent this is true for any good show of course. I’d say where this show really hit the next level and got big was the Robert’s 10 arc. Now I think Ueki took a huge risk that he didn’t need to in trying to join but he was definitely determined. The challenge where he had to lift a block up for several days without moving was crazy. Especially with the characters beating him up and jumping on the rock during the process.

That has to be one of the most intense scenes in the whole show. I’m sure Ueki was definitely ready to take them out after all of that. Even while being undercover Ueki made sure that nobody was going to push him around which I appreciated as well. He matched them blow for blow. That’s also the arc where we started getting a lyrical song before the episode would end which was a great way to end the fights.

The theme song just sounds really epic and it’s part of why you should always choose an opening with that in mind. A similar scene is when Ueki shows up near the end of the series with another inspirational track. The show puts the heroes in some really tight corners so when they get out it definitely feels pretty hype.

The animation is definitely very nice here. The battle scenes are on point and there are a lot of nice effects. Each attack looks good and the hand to hand battles have a lot of smooth transitions. The soundtrack is also pretty solid. I wouldn’t say most of the tunes seem to stand their ground when listened to on Youtube but when you mix them into the scenes with context I thought they were quite impressive. Both of the openings are also really good. The first one in particular stands out and really works well when the heroes have a big moment to end the episode.

Overall, The Law of Ueki is a great anime. It’s a show built around a tournament which is always a lot of fun and they are able to develop each character really well. The 50+ episodes all flow by really quickly. Before you know it they’re gone and that’s always the hallmark of a solid title. I can easily recommend this to anyone who likes a good action anime. It’s written well and every aspect of the show holds up well. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a Plus anime someday to see the characters return.

Overall 8/10

Sakura Wars: The Animation Review


It had been a long time since Sakura Wars had gotten a complete TV show before this one came out so it was definitely a big deal. Between this and the new game the franchise was finally going to hit it big again. I get the feeling it wasn’t quite as big a hit as they intended at least since to me the series seemed to vanish again. That being said, the show is great. It’s easily the most complete Sakura Wars product out there and in 12 episodes it accomplishes a whole lot. This is absolutely the kind of vibe you want to have for the show and the new cast is a lot of fun.

The show starts out with a very engaging scene as a monster shows up to kidnap a kid named Klara. She is stopped in her tracks when a mysterious lady shows up known as the White Cape. Both of them are interrupted when Seijuro along with two guest stars from foreign combat revues show up. Seijuro takes the girl over to his team to look after her since it’s clear that a lot of villains are after her. While he will be away in Europe tracking down some clues, he leaves Sakura in charge of the team. She vows to watch over Klara with her life and the two of them hit it off really well. The rest of Sakura’s teammates are pretty cool about this as well. It won’t be so easy though. The Moscow team have arrives and claim that Klara is one of them and demand that the team hands her over. They refuse but the Moscow team is appealing to the government so this may be taken out of their hands. Can Sakura and her team protect this kid?

When you think of Sakura Wars, action usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s more of a drama or slice of life that includes a lot of action. Well, this show definitely tossed that out the window. There is a ton of action here and as you can probably guess, I was a big fan of that. The first scene in the show is a pretty powerful battle between the various characters. We got to see Excalibur and another girl briefly as they helped Seijuro fight these girls off. They definitely feel more like guest star characters and so you shouldn’t expect to see them do much again until the very end. Still, they had excellent character designs and just really helped to start things off on the right note. They’re exactly the kind of allies that you want to have by your side at all times.

This was also a nice way to build up the stakes and get the show ready from the start. It wouldn’t let up after that either as you could typically look forward to some kind of fight going on in each episode. Surprisingly the heroes don’t fight the demons quite as much as usual since it’s mostly the Moscow group getting in their way and the Black Cape. The monsters probably figured they should lie low for now and I don’t blame them. They do look pretty good when they appear though as the main unit had a lot of trouble with them. There is even one moment in particular that is pretty rough for the group since they had to be saved. It just goes to show that there is always someone stronger after all.

This time around the animation is in pure CGI. Fortunately this is an example of using CGI the right away. The character designs are on point and the fight scenes look good. Naturally with hand drawn animation I’m sure the show would have looked even better but this one handled everything pretty well so I had no complaints. The energy effects are still quite vibrant whenever the characters are attacking and the fight scenes are good. There’s one scene where White Cape has to deflect a ton of bullets and she does it with ease. Then you’ve got Leila blocking Hatsuho’s punch with ease which was another pretty hype moment. You can still feel the impact each time which is definitely the important part.

Then we’ve got the soundtrack. The opening is pretty solid and it feels like a nice remix of the classic intro. That said, the ending is what really stands out here. It is quite stellar and just feels like an epic way to end each episode. You’ll be at the edge of your seat each week as you wait for things to continue. In the actual episodes the music is a little more forgettable though so mainly it’s the beginning and ending where it shines.

Still, this wouldn’t be Sakura Wars without at least having some time to calm down and just enjoy the sights. We get one full episode where Sakura gets to go on a family outing with Seijuro and Klara. The main villains as well as the rest of the heroes all decide to tag along and wreck this little trip of theirs. It’s pretty interesting to see even the villains get in on this. I suppose it may have been a decent time to try and steal Klara away but you feel like they’d never get away with it. You could say that this is the only episode that doesn’t seem to further the plot so in a way it’s like filler.

It was a fun episode though and it gave Shiba some much needed screen time so that alone makes the whole thing worth it. The show balances out the genres pretty well. Aside from that happy episode then you get a more emotional one early on with Hatsuho as she feels bad that Seijuro didn’t choose her to be leader. The tough truth is that Sakura was just better suited for it. Then of course you have the pretty serious episodes of the climax where the villains are making their big play. The show succeeds at every theme so whether the heroes are just having fun on their own or jumping in to make some kind of great stand against the villain, the episode really flies by.

The writing is on point throughout but you would expect no less. The ending to the series is also very satisfying. There are a few ways they could have gone about this of course but this was the optimal route. Additionally, there was one character moment that would have just been plain unfortunate but the very last bit of the ending made sure to correct this. Make sure you stick around til the very end of the show. Ultimately the ending was just great when you consider all of that and so the whole show benefits as a result.

Lets talk about the characters now. First up is Sakura, the leader of the team. She is a very dedicated fighter who stuck to her guns and wouldn’t let Klara go. She also took a lot of big risks in putting her life on the line to protect Klara. Sakura also mastered the more powerful suit of armor pretty quick. It’s clear that she is the most powerful member of the group, especially thanks to her sword skills that she can use even without a suit. When you put that all together, her allies just don’t have anything on her. Seijuro made the right choice.

The bond between Sakura and Klara is also just a lot of fun. Sakura’s always got her back. As for Seijuro, he doesn’t get a whole lot to do here. The higher ups keep throwing him on wild goose chases so he can’t help out at home. From what we see he is clearly a good fighter though. While Black Cape was able to take on the entire Sakura team and do well, Seijuro was able to take on 2-3 of them at once and came out on top. He’s easily one of the most impressive fighters in the series so that’s why it’s a shame that we couldn’t see him fight more. He has trained the team well though.

Klara has a big role of course and she’s good. Now it’s not always easy for a kid character to be very impressive as worst case they can just be really annoying and hold everyone back. Fortunately that isn’t the case with Klara. She’s just a nice kid from the start. While English isn’t her first language (Well, technically it would be Japanese since this is a translation) she does well at fitting in and even throws in a few Russian lines on occasion. The fact that she has some special abilities helps out quite a ton as well. There’s a lot of build up to this so when she finally gets to join the team the scene feels very well earned.

I was also glad that Seijuro was quick to let her help instead of just wasting time and trying to stop her. She is a member of the team after all so it only makes sense that she would jump in right? This is one case where Klara feels necessary to the team’s dynamic so it was good that she was on board. She ended up being a lot more fun than I had expected. Then we have Hatsuho who is the power member of the group. Unfortunately because of this she loses just about all of her fights. It’s sort of like Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon or Tauros from Saint Seiya. Since they are the power members of the group, they are always the first to get wrecked to show how powerful the next villain is and after a while you wonder if they really are the strong member. I guess physically yes, but when Hatsuho is physically weaker than every villain she encounters in the series, that makes things rather difficult for her.

It does lead to one of the best scenes in the show though when she throws a punch and Leyla casually catches the hit while also bringing Hatsuho to her knees. Hatsuho has a tough time here in other scenes as well like when she lost to the demon twice and then growing jealous of Sakura. Fortunately the two talk it over with Sakura being oblivious to what the chat was truly about and then Hatsuho was able to get over it. It was good character development because staying jealous would have just made her look really bad. As it stands I do like Hatsuho quite a bit but she’s got to work on that.

Azami’s the ninja of the group and is not nearly as talented as she thinks she is. This leads to a lot of fun little scenes where she does her best. My main issue with her is the fact that she seems insanely weak in a fight. Ninja stars aren’t going to work on giant monsters. Additionally she seems like the character who would be quickest to betray Klara so I definitely would not trust her in the slightest. Anastesia is another member of the group but unfortunately she really gets nothing to do here. I guess maybe she had enough screen time in the game so they decided to skip her here but it is a shame since everyone else got a big role. All we know about Anastesia from the show is that she’s probably the most serious character of the group.

Claris is more of a low key character but she is quite solid. Her magical attacks definitely look a lot more impressive than the bullets and ninja stars everyone else is using. She is a very pleasant character who is happy to help and doesn’t really worry about anything. She’s quick to try and cover for Azami despite not being too invested in what’s going on just because she is a good friend. So while she doesn’t do a lot in the show, she leaves a very good impression. Their boss Sumire doesn’t do much either but you wouldn’t expect the boss to get mixed up in all of this. Mainly she is notable just because she was on the original show so it’s nice to see that she moved up. Hopefully one day she can access her powers again and suit up, defying what we thought was possible.

Then you have Hakushu, the White Cape. The show makes it plain as day that they are the same character so you don’t have to worry about spoilers. The show is definitely self aware about this the whole time as her disguise is completely obvious. All she does it put on a mask and a cape but everything else is the same from her voice to the hair style. In her first scene we have Sakura chasing White Cape and when she turns the corner there is Hakushu who half heartedly says the Cape ran off. Hakushu also tends to make errors when talking as if she was White Cape and always has a weak excuse as to why that happened.

The show has a blast with this so get ready for the big reveal. Either way Hakushu is easily the best character in the series though. The fact that she is portrayed as the most powerful character while not having a robot is pretty incredible. She always jumps in to help and is willing to do a whole lot more than any of the other characters. The scene of her deflecting tons of energy blasts using super speed is pretty incredible. It’s clear to see why she commands so much respect as Sakura’s boss. Part of why she is the best character is because of how many times she saves the characters. Aside from that, she also seems to be the most intelligent as she stays one step ahead of everyone else. She also finds time to run an orphanage so she is truly a woman of many talents. She steals any scene she is in.

Then you have the main villain Kaminski. This guy is your classic take over the world kind of villain. There’s not much different about him but he does have a flair for the dramatic which works really well. In general he tends to be a fun guy. He keeps a polite demeanor about him at all times even though you know it’s most likely fake the whole time. Considering how long he kept up this charade though, you feel like he gets really sloppy by the end. If he hadn’t suddenly tried being as evil as possible and being cold to Leila then he had a good chance to win this. It almost felt a little out of character for him to be honest as he made things really easy for the heroes. Well, either way he was a pretty charismatic villain that’s for sure and definitely not someone to underestimate.

Leila is his right hand woman and a great villain. She’s the standout villain because of her great character and hype demon form. Her story is a tragic one since she looks up to Kaminski and sees him as a hero so she chooses to ignore the fact that he is manipulating her the whole time. Again, at least he was pretending to be nice which is good so why wreck a good thing and start pushing her away? Leila does all of the hard work throughout the series and is quite powerful. Not only is she able to take on the whole Sakura team with ease but I dare say even White Cape would have a tough time with her. Part of what makes things tragic for Leila is there’s also a lot of memory and emotion tampering going on within her so she is rarely in her right state of mind. You’re certainly rooting for her to break free the whole time.

Then you have Shiba who is a solid mechanic here. One thing that separates him from most is that the guy can actually build useful things that don’t break. It’s a bit of a foreign concept in Sakura Wars where usually the geniuses are a little eccentric to put it mildly or just build walking disasters. This guy even showed some leadership experience like when he had the team tail Sakura. This guy’s a pure comedy character that’s for sure but he excels at it and all of his scenes are a blast. Now, would I sacrifice a scene of his to get some more of Excalibur and the other heroine? Absolutely, but that was likely not on the table anyway so I’ll take what I can get here.

This show even manages to avoid having much of any real fanservice. The fact that the show is CGI probably helps a bit with that since even if the character design for Leila’s super form could have gone tricky, the show didn’t go there. Aside from CGI, that’s just a directing thing though so the director did really good to always play the scene straight. She’s a demon fighting the heroes, the show never tries for anything other than that. That’s when you know that the show is going to be a really solid adventure from start to finish. I suppose we have the gag of Shiba running out of the shower to get slammed but I wouldn’t really count that to be honest. If you like the gag of someone yelling as the camera fades out though, Shiba gets a lot of that.

While the animation is quite solid as I mentioned, I will say that it’s still hard not to chuckle during the dance scenes. Maybe it’s because of how smooth and gracefully the characters move, but it’s just hard to take the villains seriously when they’re just dancing as they talk about the plans. I will say that it’s fun when Leila styles on the heroes while dancing though. Now that’s a whole other level of disrespect right there. There’s even a dancing battle so you can tell the show was having some fun with this. Hey, if you can do solid dance numbers and want to show off the animation why not right? Then you have the epic stills where the colors really jump out of the page and you’re reminded of the potential of CGI all over again. Honestly if every CGI show looked like this we wouldn’t have any problems. Hand Drawn would still be the best but this would be a much more respectable backup plan.

Overall, Sakura Wars: the Animation is a terrific anime. The government looks pretty bad as they fall for every trick in the book but Sakura’s team stays strong throughout and makes sure to protect Klara. When they fail that job White Cape is always around to help out so they have a great system going. Part of what sets the show apart from the rest of the titles in this series is how much action it has. The rest of the Sakura War titles just can’t match this. The best bet would be the OVA for Revolution but that is shorter so by definition it can’t match up. This one’s got fights in pretty much every episode. The final episode especially goes bold with this as the whole episode is really a big fight scene. By the end of the series we learn why one character is so exceptionally strong and I dare say that leaves room for a nice sequel someday. Honestly the humans are in a fantastic spot right now so they don’t need to worry but it’s still good to be prepared. One plot still going is the demons approaching. It’s implied that as long as Klara exists they will keep on coming so ultimately they need to find a way to take out the demons for good. That would make for a fun sequel.

Overall 8/10

Pacific Rim: The Black Review


I’ve been awaiting the Pacific Rim show for quite a while. From the start it looked like the show was doing all of the right things that the movies couldn’t quite capitalize on. I mean, I did enjoy both films pretty well to be honest and would definitely recommend them but the idea of Kaiju vs Robots has a lot of potential out of that. An animated format will always be the answer for taking something to the next level and The Black definitely pulls it off. I’d be game with them just continuing the rest of the franchise in this style.

The show starts off with introducing us to the main characters’ parents. They are trying to help with the evacuations particularly since their kids are still around but the government has declared this place as lost. The parents manage to protect everyone and then leave to go and find help. Unfortunately help never came and many years have passed. Taylor and Hayley are the two kids who couldn’t escape in time. As siblings they are quite close but have taken the loss of their parents in different ways. Taylor thinks he has to protect Hayley at all costs and wants to stay safe in the village until they return while Hayley is convinced that they are dead and thinks they need to leave. Well, their hand is forced when a Kaiju attacks. Taylor and Hayley take a test Jaeger (Giant mech suit) and escape. Their best bet is to try and find civilization but can they survive in this Kaiju wasteland?

There are 7 episodes out currently as season 1 concluded. I’m hoping we should get season 2 pretty soon. If they could fast track that and get it out quick that would be ideal. The show does manage to conclude a lot of the main plots pretty well but we’re just at the tip of the iceberg here. The show doesn’t reference the movies all that much beyond a few names you might recognize like easter eggs for the suit and the pilot. Otherwise this works as a standalone title which works for me. We’ve already got a pretty solid cast and world going on here after all. Then we can build to an eventual crossover so far. Right now we haven’t really had time for any aliens to show up for example so throwing that in will be cool.

A lot happens in these 7 episodes after all. We get a new villain faction and it’s hard to say if they are human or alien yet. My bet would be alien but it’s hard to guess. Either way they get the stinger at the end of the season and it’s a pretty hype way to get season 2 rolling. Then there is the bio form running around. Won’t get into specifics since that would definitely be a spoiler but it seems like an interesting take that’s different than what Uprising did. It’s another kind of fusion and based on the dialogue we should see some more of these soon.

Meanwhile the animation here is pretty solid. It looks like it’s straight out of a Fire Emblem cutscene. That video game kind of look works well and the animation’s pretty smooth. It may not be quite like Castlevania or a true anime look like that but it works well enough. The fights are also nice and colorful with the Kaiju and Jaegers. If you’re going to do CGI then this is the level you’ll want to be on. The soundtrack is a lot more forgettable though. I can’t say that I could really recall any themes by the end of this.

Taylor may take a little time to get going as one of the main characters but he does get better. Hayley handled the situation better initially but eventually Taylor came around. He still panics quite a bit and I see more character development incoming for him. At the end of the day he is ready to step in and help Hayley and is determined enough to reach his goal that he even goes through the solo diving process. Meanwhile Hayley is solid from the start with how she jumps into battle and always tries to have a plan. They make a good team and who knows, if Taylor had gone with her initially and helped with waking up the Jaeger then they may have had time to train a bit more.

Loa is the main A.I. for the bot and I like that she has some good personality here. The series is already hinting at an origin story for her. It’s hard to say how it’s going to play out. Is it simply that she used to be the A.I. for another Jaeger and the pilots have traumatized her or is there something more to it? A lot to explore here but she definitely helps to keep you guessing. Then you have Mei who is the best character of the season. She’s the right hand woman of Shane and so starts out as an antagonist. From the start you can see that she has a lot more humanity than the other members though. She’s not just going to destroy humans without giving them a chance.

She is also the most skilled human in the series. That doesn’t mean she will stand a chance against any of the Kaiju but it’s good to have a solid human fighter on board with how many corrupt people are out there. There’s no end to the humans trying to take them down. I imagine this will only continue as the seasons go on. Mei still has some more demons to get past since she isn’t quite 100% past them but I do think she’s at a point now where she is ready to actively participate and be a part of the team. I look forward to seeing this play out.

Then you have the main villain Shane. Effectively he’s a black arms dealer who sells things for a profit and makes sure that he always has some plan at the ready. The guy suffers a lot of losses to his troops though and doesn’t make for a great general. Just look at how he sacrificed so many brains in the experiment to try and get a pilot on the Jaeger. Not the smartest move when you already don’t have a lot of men and are living in a Kaiju wasteland. By the end of the season you’re sure he will be back but the guy doesn’t have a whole lot of resources left. You feel like it’s going to have to be a big coincidence that he ever catches up with them at this point.

Then you have Boy. Now, I think everyone will know exactly how his plot is going to go the instant you see him in the tube but I won’t say just in case. He has to be the weakest character though. Most of the time Boy is just holding the characters back. He doesn’t have much common sense so he runs off all the time picking on little animals. There’s nothing heroic about this guy for most of his screen time because a more heroic soul wouldn’t be attacking all these creatures. He gets the heroes into a lot of trouble all the time. I’m hoping he improves but his core personality is one that doesn’t usually change all that much so I admit that I am having some doubts here.

Then you have the mysterious Apex, a being that seems to be part Kaiju and part Mech. In the film we saw aliens piloting mechs by sort of infusing the two so this is like a more advanced version of that. It’s got a pretty great design and has a great role. Definitely one of the more hype characters and he gets a lot of really pivotal scenes. One of the best things about this guy is that he shows some real intelligence so I can call him a true character more than most. Whether we see an army of them soon or stick to just this one, I don’t see any passing the first. This guy will come in handy soon.

As for the Kaiju, we get to see quite a few as the series goes on. The Rippers which are like little dog Kaiju. I was a bit on the cuff with these guys. They were a little close to looking like real dogs. I would say there was just enough Kaiju where they weren’t, maybe in part because the blood is blue or they just didn’t show a whole lot of animal type mannerisms and mechanics compared to others. If any of them had been taken in as a pet or something it could have changed things entirely since the viewpoint shifts but it’s hard to say for this kind of thing. They are fairly weak though and only good against humans. Then you have the Eel who goes down awful quick. The best Kaiju personally is Acidquill. The two tendrills it shoots out are very impressive and I liked the fightstyle. That’s a good way for a Kaiju to stand out among its peers and this worked out quite well for it.

The Kaiju with the biggest role here is definitely Copperhead. He follows the heroes around quite a lot and is a very determined Kaiju. He gave us some solid fight scenes and made for a good opponent. Most of these Kaiju likely won’t be returning for the second season so we’ll see who the replacements are next time. As long as their are mechs, Kaiju will continue to show. Right now the humans are definitely on the back foot since the aliens can seemingly summon an infinite number of Kaiju to keep on bumping up the ranks. No wonder the humans are always running.

All right, time for a spoiler paragraph so skip this if you haven’t seen the show. It won’t be in depth spoilers but just my quick theories on things. So for the parents, I’m thinking right now that the Dad is dead but the Mom escaped. The reason for this is based on what we saw, the Dad definitely seemed to be crushed in the ship while the Mom did run out of the hatch in time. Now, why is the father’s body not there? Well, someone took it so perhaps the Sisters will turn him into a Kaiju or something like that. There’s a lot of possibilities so it’s hard to say for sure but it’s definitely going to be a pretty interesting path to watch.

Rim: The Black definitely has quite the body count at times. Someone’s head gets blown off, a village is blown up, etc. This is definitely not a world that has worked out very well for the humans. The show can have some violent moments on occasion like this but usually they are either mostly off screen or stylized quite a bit. The show has an intense atmosphere but at the same time by and large I wouldn’t call this a violent series all that much. Again, if the dogs had been more like real dogs then we may have had some real problems but as it is the show has stayed the course.

Part of what makes The Black so much fun is really just boiled down to the premise. Giant robots vs Giant monsters and the characters keep this working well. The main suit is Atlas Destroyer and I definitely like the design of this Jaeger. I also like that it becomes more of a hybrid later on which enhances the design anymore. I expect the main characters will be fighting a little more in the second season now that they are more experienced so that will be fun to see. There’s a lot of adventure and action throughout the show so you should be on the edge of your seat. The writing is also quite solid so the show ends up being really balanced and makes for good marathon watching. I saw all 7 episodes back to back after all and it definitely didn’t drag on.

As a final note, am I the only person who thinks Hayley completely looks like Link from Breath of the Wild? I think it’s due to using a similar shading system but you would really mistake her for Link easy. I’d also say she has a strong resemblance to Samus from Metroid. I guess you could say that some similarities can be drawn from Link to Samus by extension and I would say that is true at least in Breath of the Wild. Maybe it’s just a character design that is easy to make you think of other characters but the instant the trailers came out I remember thinking that right away and that never changed during the show. It’s just a random observation but it was interesting.

Overall, Pacific Rim: The Black is a great show. I had been pretty hyped for this ever since the trailer since it looked so dynamic and the show did not disappoint. It definitely ends up finishing in the blink of an eye but it really delivered on everything the show promised. The characters are a lot of fun and the fights are dynamic. The water type effects when trading out blows or when they are used in place of the blood is an interesting one. It could have been hit or miss but it works well in this one. The show opens up a lot of plot lines to be completed at some point in the future. I’ll be looking forward to how that goes. I’m sure there will be a lot of theories on everything going on right now. Lets see if Rim keeps going strong and finally re-establishing Rim as one of the premiere mech titles.

Overall 8/10

Astra Lost in Space Review


I remember reading the manga for Astra a while back and it was a lot of fun. It’s not every day that you get a space exploration manga like this. It’s sort of like an anime version of Star Trek only all the exploration is for one singular purpose of getting back home. Part of what really makes the series succeed is the quality character roster. I like almost all of the characters and even the weakest ones still bring something to the table. The story here is very character focused so if the writing wasn’t on point or if the characters were forgettable then this could have easily been rather lackluster. Instead, it’s a great anime that I could easily recommend.

The series starts off with a group of kids getting ready for a field trip to space. Aries is excited for this since she can make some new friends. The trip almost comes to a screeching halt when a pickpocket steals her bag but Kanata shows up to foil this theft and introduces himself as the captain. The other kids don’t agree with this proclamation but quickly allow him to take the title. The heroes do some exploring on the first planet but before they can head home a black hole sucks them up. Fortunately a spaceship was nearby and the heroes manage to get inside. They are now many light years away from home. Their only chance to get back it to go from planet to planet grabbing supplies and doing what they can to survive. There’s only one problem…this was no accident. One member of the crew is attempting to murder everyone on board.

Including the bit about a murderer on board really helps to take the series to the next level. It’s just a great plot line because it also gives you extra reason to really look at each character. Every character gets at least an episode to themselves and they all have distinctive personalities. None of them appear to have a motive but of course they’ve only just met each other so technically they don’t even know a whole lot. Each character could easily have a motive here. This extra layer of danger is always present on the journey which changes this from potentially being more of a slice of life to a high stakes adventure. You’re always assuming that the murderer will help out while the heroes are stranded in space but of course at any time this could change. With that said, lets talk about all of the characters.

First we have the fearless leader Kanata. He’s a world class athlete who doesn’t believe in giving up. A friend of his died a long time ago when he fell off a cliff and Kanata wasn’t strong enough to hold on. He blames himself for this even now and it’s his motivation for becoming strong. He has a lot of survival tips and sayings that he utters throughout the series. They’re all rather basic so the other characters make fun of him but at the same time they are quite true. Kanata’s easily the best character in the series and that’s always the ideal situation for a show. When your main character is great then the show’s already off to a brilliant start. Is all this bravado and heroism just an act to bump everyone off?

Then you have Aries who is the main heroine. She can be a bit of a space case at times and her main quirk if that she sometimes can’t hear what someone says and instead thinks they said something that rhymes with it. Like if a character tells her “Go get some help” she might think they said “Go and fry some kelp” which leads to some tricky situations. It doesn’t happen very often though. She has a photographic memory and wants to be friends with everyone so she is always very nice to all of the characters. Aries is a fun character and is quite useful on the team. Having a photographic memory is no small potatoes after all. Of course that ability would also make it easy to systematically take down every character.

Next up is Luca. He’s got a quick wit and likes having fun with the rest of the characters. He’s the only person who can easily approach Ulgar. He quickly figures everyone out and as a result is able to connect with everyone. Luca’s got a pretty sunny disposition but of course that could just be his way of coping with guilt for blowing everyone up. Luca’s definitely a solid character, you really want to have someone like that on your team to keep people from feeling too tense or anything like that.

Following Luca is Charce. He’s really into science and all of the foreign wildlife in these planets is fascinating to him. Charce is a good cook and just a man of many talents. He can also be a bit of a flirt at times. From the main characters I would say he is one of the weaker ones. The science angle isn’t quite as interesting as some of the other character quirks. Of course by cooking a lot of the meals he could potentially poison everyone so that’s something the gang will have to take into account.

After Charce is Zack. Zack is the genius member of the group. He remains rather emotionless at all times and is ready to repair whatever gets broken. He tends to find out a lot of the clues for the mystery going on and always reports to Kanata. Of course discovering the clues should not make him any less of a suspect as it could be a way to deflect suspicion. Zack makes for a very solid right hand man to Kanata and may be the most important member of the crew. He’s definitely a very high quality character and the show wouldn’t be the same without him. It’s nice to have a genius character who isn’t a jerk or anything the whole time and is actually quite reliable when it counts.

Quitterie is the next heroine on the ship. She’s definitely more aggressive than Aries and being friends with everyone isn’t her goal in the slightest. She has a colder disposition to the rest of the crew initially including her younger sister. Quitterie just isn’t good with people so she always has a wall around her emotions and is quick to dish out insults. You can probably guess how her character arc will go and she is a very necessary member of the crew. You always need a character like her to balance out all the super friendly ones. She just tells it like it is and serves as the ship’s doctor. Of course that means it would be easy to give people the wrong treatment intentionally.

Then there’s her younger sister Funicia. While she may seem too young to be a suspect, that could be what she wants you to think. She also has a toy bear she talks through which always acts a little meaner. Based on the show’s explanation it seems like the Bear acts out her thoughts which explains the different personality but at times you get the feeling Funicia is just messing with everyone. She’s a charming little kid and doesn’t get in the way you might expect one too. That’s the main reason why she is pretty fun here. She does her best to contribute. She may get in trouble at times, but who doesn’t on this ship right?

Ulgar changes things up and makes Quitterie look nice in comparison. This guy gets set off by anything and doesn’t even want to talk to the other characters. He makes it clear that he’ll only help out when it’s life or death. Of course there are 100 reasons to suspect him but one big thing against that would be that it may feel too obvious. Ulgar is a solid character and I enjoyed him on the show. He talks a good game but I wouldn’t say he’s ever overly mean or anything. The closest is when he piles on Yun-Hua with everyone else and you wish she would speak up a bit. Ulgar helps keep the crew on edge.

Speaking of Yun-Hua, she would have to be the weakest character in the series. Her main gimmick is that she’s super timid and is afraid to ever speak up. She feels like she has no particular talents and this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy as her hesitant nature causes her to mess up at times. Perhaps she wants to bump everyone off so that she will have accomplished something. By the end of the series I don’t feel like she ever really left a big impact though. Even her big moment basically involved singing while everyone else did the work. I wouldn’t go as far as to call her a bad character but I admit that I just didn’t like her. Substituting her with another person for the final member would have worked out well.

There’s one other important character in Paulina, but she doesn’t appear until near the end of the series. She’s a nice enough character. I wouldn’t say she does enough to really leave much of an impact though and is mainly here for some more plot twists. Paulina may panic a little too much with her fainting spells though. You can cut her some slack for just being really surprised I guess. Eh, she’s basically just around so she doesn’t change much of anything in the dynamic.

Naturally we do get some meanwhile scenes on Earth. You have the classic round table meeting type scenes with a bunch of the hype characters. These discussions were always very interesting and naturally they are quite crucial to the plot. You definitely need them around and this is one time where I didn’t mind when we would cut away from the main plot. For a mystery like this you want to see other points of view so this worked out quite well. The parents of the kids naturally have to appear as well and this was a good way to do it. Naturally Kanata’s father was the most interesting member of the group to me. The guy just has a very cool disposition.

The show also did a good job with its pacing here. Pretty much every episode ends with some kind of plot twist. As a result there is a final scene (Like a movie’s after credits scene) quite often where the twist is unveiled. You may feel bad for Kanata in each case as it almost always happens when he’s getting ready for bed. I haven’t seen a show consistently dish out so many hype twists like this in each episode before so it was quite nice. This show was just built really well for the 12 episode format. It pretty much lines up perfectly with each episode.

As for the animation, it’s pretty good. There aren’t a lot of chances for the animation to really shine for a show like this since it isn’t very action packed of course, but the character designs are on point and the level backdrops work well too. There’s definitely nothing to really say against it. The soundtrack is relatively low key. You won’t be finding any standout tunes here but nothing holding it back here. It’s basically just a sci-fi 101 kind of ost.

I already talked about the writing and naturally it is great. The question is, was it enough to make you sympathize with the traitor once that person was outed? Well, I would say no. To me the traitor still loses a lot of points in the end. I can more or less get over the original attempt from episode 1 because the character didn’t really know the others yet and the backstory covers this really well. I can’t overlook the issues from the last episodes though. By that point the traitor has absolutely no reason to go through with this particularly because of everything they know at this point. The character would have been redeemed in my eyes if they had just admitted to the whole thing or even not made any more attempts. Let the whole thing be a secret to the end. So acting on this and trying to murder everyone again is why this character was no good.

With as many plot twists running around as Astra had, naturally you may not be able to buy into all of them. For me there was just one that I find to be super sketchy. Lets just say it involves historical revisions. The sheer scale of this one just makes it impractical to me to the point of being impossible. If it was hundreds of years or something then I can buy into it as things can easily be suppressed in a long enough period of time. It was all too recent for it to be this complete though. I think the only way it would work out is if we were introduced to the world as some kind of closed off dictatorship where information is heavily funneled. That would then work out quite nicely because even in modern days we see that countries or areas where information is regulated leads to a lot of misinformation. It wouldn’t be beyond the pale for this to happen here. The issue is that Astra’s land functions as a very well run place with a lot of safety and access to information. They can bump people off when they find out the truth but they would have to have done it a lot more often. So, I don’t really buy into this twist but I wouldn’t say that it hurts the show either.

Each planet was fairly different which helped the adventure angle. So you could look forward to the heroes hanging out at the ship but also all the unique dangers that each planet would bring. Whether it would be not having enough food to survive or giant plant monsters trying to eat everyone. The show always had a good contrast going which was nice to see. The episodes just really fly by because they’re all just very interesting. It makes for being a very complete show and one that could have easily been stretched into 26 episodes and I’m sure it would have worked out quite nicely.

Overall, Astra Lost In Space is definitely a great anime. Fitting in a classic adventure story with a good deal of mystery is always a good idea. The genres support each other really well and you’ve got an engaging watch here which is really what you were hoping to find. It’s a self contained anime that you can really watch at any time so I’d recommend it to fans of all genres. Of course I’d be down for a sequel even though there aren’t any real loose plot threads left. Just seeing the characters again would be fun and with space exploration there is naturally a whole lot that you could do with it if you really wanted too. We can see how Kanata would handle future situations.

Overall 8/10

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy: Earthrise Review


All right, we’ve made it to season 2 of the War for Cybertron trilogy. The first season started things on a high note as we had some good debates between Prime and Megatron. Both characters were written really well so you could legitimately choose which side you were on. Both of them made moves that even their own sides questioned. This season adds in a lot of extra elements. Both teams have their own plots for most of the season before converging at the end. It’s really hard to say how things will play out from here but one thing’s for sure, it’s definitely going to be interesting to see how this ends.

The season starts off with Megatron’s plot. Since Prime stole the All Spark, Cybertron is slowly dying. Megatron has been stalling the inevitable by using the sparks of robots to power up his rocket ship. He intends to find Prime once and for all to bring the All Spark back or at least avenge his planet. However, this is one of those times where the end doesn’t justify the means. He’s effectively slaughtering many members of his own people as Elita points out and this causes a lot of friction even among the Decepticons. Can Elita stop him or is Cybertron really doomed?

Meanwhile, Prime and his crew exit stasis but find that they have been taken prisoner by a group of bounty hunters. These hunters are going to sell them off to the Quintessons. The Autobots will have to find a way out of this predicament and soon but the issue is that these villains are actually quite powerful. Both Autobots and Decepticons are at their wits end here which ends up leading into the solid climax. It’s clear from the start of the series that there are more Decepticons than Autobots so they have the edge there but they are consistently a lot weaker so it helps balance things out in the end.

I feel like there was more action here than in season 1 although it’s close. We got to actually see Shockwave get his own fight which was really nice. Additionally, we have a guest star show up from the future or another dimension. That’s easily the most intriguing plot for me right now. When this character jumps out of a portal and starts fighting Megatron it’s just really interesting. It’s also rare to see Megatron be dominated so completely but it makes sense that he wouldn’t be able to defeat this opponent. This fighter is one of the stronger Transformer characters out there and he really lives up to the hype. He leaves as suddenly as he appeared but not before leaving something. Personally I take this to be a warning from a possible future as opposed to the present. It would work out well with all the distortions taking place.

Of course, the ending of the season is pretty open at the moment. You can have a lot of different theories on what just happened here. Personally I’m going to assume time travel once more. That’s pretty much always my default response but I feel like it just makes a whole lot of sense. Then there’s an equal debate on if the characters are going to the future or the past. I would say past personally. Of course we should know pretty soon once season 3 starts. There’s so much going on that it’s almost a bit hard to picture the series already coming to a close. Maybe we’ll get a sequel series or something.

There’s one part of the show where the characters enter another dimension where willpower is how you fight. This was pretty neat and reminds me a bit of Accel World’s Incarnate system or even the one SAO invented later on. Megatron really adapted to it quite well. At the same time I was really underwhelmed by another character who was in this universe for a very long time and claimed to have mastered his mind. Despite this, he was easily dispatched in a single move. You’d think that in a world where mental power is absolute experience would be vital. I guess the difference in their abilities was just that drastic though.

The animation here is definitely solid as expected. The designs are very full and detailed so the robots really feel sturdy. You can feel the power behind all of the blows. We get another solid Prime vs Megatron fight here as well as a whole group battle with Scorponok. If we ever get the mental world again, I’d like to see more of the energy effects there. The colors were pretty striking so it worked out quite well. The soundtrack is a little less memorable but it works well enough for the scenes that are present. I certainly had no complaints at least.

There are quite a few character arcs at play here as well. Naturally for Megatron we’re seeing him go on a darker path. He’s slowly going from more of a misunderstood anti-hero to full villain. The instant he decided to destroy an entire factory worth of Cybertronians you knew there was no turning back for him. He doesn’t yet realize it but Megatron is now a villain simply justifying his every move. He is a very interesting villain though and the character arc’s been handled well. As always he is still quite confident and self assured in his own power.

For Prime, his arc is a little different from what you may expect. He’s had to live with the fact that a lot of Autobots don’t support his decision to remove the All Spark and then to search for it, including Elita. These feelings of guilt seem to have made him even more obsessive now such as when he was beating up on Megatron. Prime was really losing control there to the point of going crazy, even begging Megatron to forgive him before murdering the guy. Prime is done taking prisoners although circumstances ensured he didn’t finish things off yet. I’m assuming in the next season Prime will regain control of himself although if he doesn’t then things are really going to get crazy around here.

Naturally we have a lot of other characters on both sides. Some characters like Bumblebee and Soundwave don’t get a whole lot to do this time. Bumblebee already had a good amount of screen time in season 1 though so that’s fair. He is also around in every episode so it’s not like he goes missing. I would say the Autobot with the biggest role after Prime would have to be Elita. Not only does she get her own big fight scene but with Prime gone she is effectively the Autobot leader on Cybertron. She’s also doing a good job in this role as well. She does her best to be fair to everyone and take the villains down without hurting anyone in the middle. Perhaps she can be too trusting in these times of war, but she is focused on not losing her ideals even if it means her defeat and I can certainly respect that.

Jetfire also has a sizable role here. As a former Decepticon he’s definitely not as quick to offer mercy as Elita. He makes a lot of good strategic points. Technically his methods are correct if you simply wish to win the war. Particularly with how the Autobots are totally outgunned in terms of energon and numbers they do need every advantage they can get. Continuing to hit every base to free Decepticons does truthfully sound like a task that will backfire horribly. He continues to help though and never turns away so this guy is quite good.

Naturally Starscream gets quite the role here as always. You’ll probably think he gets off a bit easy and that’s exactly why Starscream continues to pull these stunts. He knows that nobody is going to mess with him. This confidence is part of what makes him such a solid villain. His abilities know no bounds. Then you have Shockwave in what’s his best appearance in a long time. We get to see him using his tech in the field of battle instead of in the lab for a change. He has to be one of the most fearsome opponents to have to face here because of the fact that he has no emotions. He will do whatever it takes in order to claim victory and doesn’t care what the price is. There is no negotiating with this guy.

Quick shoutout to Scorponok as well for being a very interesting villain. He even got his own origin story where we find out that things didn’t go well for his people and then he goes right on the attack. He’s not the kind of villain to get overly sentimental or anything like that. His sheer defenses are also pretty crazy considering just how many opponents he was taking on at once. Right now you would have to put him as the strongest fighter in the series. The Quintessons get a solid mention for being powerful as well. Although in their case it’s more due to prep time and tech than sheer fighting ability. Don’t underestimate them though. There’s a pretty intense scene involving in-fighting among the group and lets just say we definitely know the hierarchy of the group now.

Naturally with so many spoiler filled events here I had to keep things vague. Still, there’s a ton to unpack here and most importantly, the story is just very engaging. Transformers has a lot of lore and characters within the franchise so it’s nice to see the show taking advantage of this. It’s also cool to have a different kind of story line here as opposed to the usual Autobots vs Decepticons story on Earth. That one’s a classic too of course, but with a space setting you’re free to branch out a whole lot. There are enough villains and plots going on now where it’s hard to say who the next opponent will be. The heroes may need some kind of power up to come out on top though.

At most the only thing I would say against the show is that the Decepticons look a little too weak most of the time. Aside from the named bots like Megatron and pals, the rest are treated quite poorly. A single Autobot will beat half a dozen Decepticons with ease. I don’t see why the gap would be so large. It explains why a group of a dozen or so Autobots who are all almost out of energon are beating 5-7 times that amount of fighters on the Decepticon side but I just don’t think it adds up all that well. Particularly since the Decepticons have more energon which powers up most functions. In a way I think this was the easiest way to keep the Autobots in the fight as otherwise they all should have been taken out a long time ago. The show paints a very drastic picture of just how massive a disadvantage the heroes are at. It’s a fairly minor thing in the grand scheme of things though but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Decepticons make a comeback in the third volume.


Overall, Season 2 of the War for Cybertron trilogy continues to take things in the right direction. I would say it even beats the first season. With the introductions and world setting out of the way, this season was able to jump right into the action. Seeing the Quintessons again was fun and the bounty hunters were also pretty interesting even if they didn’t look great in the end. This is exactly why you must never underestimate your opponent and keep your guard up at all times. Scorponok was given a ton of hype here being able to take on the combined forces of Autobots and Decepticons for so long. Now with the ending we can look forward to more characters being introduced to the action. Again, I’m not sure how everything can be addressed in the next season but I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

Overall 8/10

Saint Seiya Review


Saint Seiya is a very well known series. To call it a legendary title would actually be pretty accurate. It was effectively the DBZ before that title actually came out. It’s got a ton of quality action and solid characters. While the show is a little more formulaic than most with each arc following a lot of similar beats, the anime adds a new arc which really changes things up. it’s an example of a filler arc that’s actually pretty solid. (Still the weakest arc in the series but solid nonetheless. You’d never know it was an anime original) I’ve had this review on the backburner for an extremely long time so it’s time to finally take a look at it.

The series starts by introducing us to Seiya. He’s an orphan who grew up in a rather tough place. One day he was sent out along with a few others to different parts of the globe to train to be a Saint of Athena. Seiya has no interest in this but he was told that doing so and obtaining the Bronze Cloth (Proof of conquering the Saint trials) would be the only way he could ever see his missing sister again. So Seiya has conquered this task and arrives back home where the agreement has been changed. He will have to win a tournament against the other bronze candidates now. Well, Seiya’s up for the challenge because nothing will stop him from finding his sister.

This was a really great way to start the series. After all, who doesn’t like a good tournament right? It’s always a solid way to set up the characters and let us learn about them. It also weeds out the rest of the Bronze Saints who would never really be main characters after this. Only the main 5 would continue on. I thought Unicorn left more of an impression on me in the anime than the manga though. I liked his rivalry with Seiya here even if he would ultimately be out of luck early on. Seiya just surpassed him by a ton and never looked back.

Additionally we then got to see the Dark Saints and that was a really fun arc as everyone fought their shadow selves. One thing I greatly enjoyed was seeing the characters actually fighting out in the real world here. One fight was on the highway for example. While that may not seem like a big thing, you’ll never see that for the rest of the series. All other battles take place in enemy territory or at Athena’s home. I suppose there was no reason to fight in the city after that but I always get really excited when it happens. I find the city environment to be the perfect backdrop to a fight.

We are introduced to quite a lot of the characters in this arc. First off lets talk about Athena I suppose. She is effectively a lady who has been imbued with Athena’s spirit and has effectively become her as Athena is born again in every generation. She has one of the highest cosmos (Power level) in the series but for the most part can’t use it in an offensive context. She is great at using it for defense and healing though. I’d say she’s a solid character but I do think she allows far too much corruption to occur at home.

For example, her butler Tatsumi gets away with absolutely everything. We see that he would actually beat up the Saints when they were kids and in particular he really would beat up Ikki. At the time it was Athena’s father running the show but the all knowing Athena should have certainly let him go after that. This is mostly a comedic plot later on with the Saints messing with him, but Tatsumi never actually changed his ways. They just became stronger than him. In some ways I feel like Tatsumi was the real villain behind all of this. Athena is a good character otherwise but I do wish that she would fight more. For example, instead of jumping into the water chamber to stop Poseidon I’d prefer if she called in the Knights to assist. With all of the Golden Saints they would have beaten Poseidon’s generals with ease.

Seiya is of course a great hero. He never really wanted to be a part of this but when Athena is in danger he steps in. At his core Seiya is a hero of course so he can’t just leave someone behind if they’re in trouble. He’s also a lot more hot headed than some of the other characters and is quite willing to invade any territory to help Athena. While the Gold Knights are just holding back and staying at the castle Seiya is actually jumping in to take center stage. From all of the Knights he may be the quickest to jump into action and his dedication is rewarded time after time with his power ups and the fact that he surpasses most of the characters right away. His fighting style is the most basic and yet because of that he can move with so much speed and power that it is hard to stop.

Next up we have Shiryu and he solidly represents the third most powerful Bronze Knight. Every good Shounen series always has a guy in the solid third place. You’ve always got the main character and the rival, but then you also need the dependable third in command who stays near the top of the power scale to the end. That’s Shiryu’s role and it’s a painful one because the show really liked to put him through the ringer. He’s a fairly solid character though. All of his scenes are definitely on point and his Shield is probably one of the most impressive equipment items in the whole series. While it isn’t 100% completely indestructible, it is still durable enough to block almost any blow and gets him through most of his fights.

Shiryu also works as the voice of reason a lot of the time. He isn’t quite as headstrong as some of the others. Next is Hyoga who can be one of the meaner saints at times. He never actually turns evil like Ikki though but takes the whole thing very seriously. His Diamon Dust technique is certainly a classic and he holds up with the rest of the Saints pretty well if you ask me. I probably wouldn’t put him quite above the others power-wise (Aside from Andromeda) but he’s got a good amount of skill. I like all of the Bronze Saints and Hyoga is no exception. He’s a solid hero who is always ready to step up.

Then you have Ikki who is easily my favorite Saint. I would argue he is also the most powerful one. He can keep on coming back to life forever thanks to the regenerative abilities of the Phoenix cloth. That’s an incredibly useful ability to have at your disposal and it really sets him apart from the rest of the characters. What can you do against a character who just keeps regenerating like that right? Ikki did have a period of time where he turned evil but he did have to go through a whole lot of craziness so you can see how it happened. From there he would end up being the most dependable character on the squad. Whenever his brother Andromeda is in danger you can count on Ikki to jump in immediately and start saving lives. It’s just what he does and he makes it look easy.

Finally we have Andromeda and he’s probably the weakest of the Saints. He’s one of those characters with a ton of potential but ultimately doesn’t like fighting so it takes him a while to actually get serious You can draw up a lot of parallels with him and Gohan from DBZ. Andromeda does have one of the best weapons in the series though with the Chains he carries. They can follow an opponent across whole planets and even into other dimensions. They automatically protect him from harm and attack on their own as well. It’s a very versatile weapon to be sure and as Andromeda grows stronger, the chains will as well.

Then we have the two Silver Saints Marin and Shaina. Both of them are pretty helpful characters who assist the Bronze Saints in times of great peril. They’re both reasonably tough although I would definitely take Shaina in a head to head battle. She’s much fiercer in combat and has beaten Marin in the past. Both of them have to hide a lot of secrets and appear to switch sides a lot as a result. I never became a big fan of Marin but Shaina was always fun. She was definitely willing to risk her life quite a bit to help Seiya out of a pinch.

The next big arc is the famous Gold Saints saga. It’s an incredibly long one and deserves the praise as it really took the series to a new level. Well, after some Silver Saints showed up to cause trouble and were thwarted, Athena was struck by an arrow. The only way to keep the arrow from claiming her life is to get to the top of Sanctuary and turn the shield monument. To do so the heroes will have to get past the 12 Golden Saint temples. Each Golden Saint is thousands of times stronger than the bronze ones and their armors have been created to effectively be indestructible. Attacks simply bounce off of them or get absorbed entirely. The heroes also have a time limit of 12 hours so they can’t afford to waste time. Can they surpass their limits and save Athena?

This arc’s just a blast. Seeing the heroes have to go into the temples and take down the Gold Saints is just incredible. You can feel the tension in each match particularly as the heroes are completely outmatched each time. Each of the Golden Saints are far more powerful and faster than the Bronze ones. Their armor is better as well so all of the advantages are at their disposal. It means you can prepare for a lot of good heroic speeches from the Bronze Saints as they call these guys out and dredge up their inner power.

The Golden Saints do deserve to be called out because they all either get played for fools or just make the wrong decision. I couldn’t call almost any of them heroes to be honest. I would just say that about Aiolos because he was willing to stand up to the other Golden Saints to save Athena and stop the Pope’s evil plans. Nobody else tried helping, in fact they actively tried to fight him off. Others simply ran off never to be heard from again. So Aiolos is easily the best Golden Saint and it isn’t even close. The rest of them should probably have renounced their titles after this arc was over.

Aries doesn’t play a big role in this arc as he is one of the Golden Saints who decides not to interfere anymore. He prefers to just watch over everything without picking a side. I’ll remind you that choosing not to pick a side is actually choosing one anyway. As a result this guy’s definitely one of my least favorite Saints. He is not someone you can count on and could have helped the Bronze Saints so many times but chose not to. As a result I’d think of him more as a villain if anything. Particularly since he actively threatens anyone who says they are going to help. Definitely a very poor character I must say.

Taurus is the first true Knight to take on the Bronze Saints so he looks really good but we can probably say he’s the weakest one around. He’s a very direct guy who has an honor code and just lets his fists do the talking. He seems like a Saint who can at least be reasoned with so I’ll give him some respect there. He’s a fun guy so it would just be nice if he could fight a little more. I suppose at this stage it is relative though because there’s no shame in being a little weaker than his fellow Gold Saints since those guys are so powerful as it is.

Gemini Saga has a huge role to be sure. He’s a critical part of the Sanctuary arc and makes his presence felt at all times. I would put him as the strongest Golden Knight. I think there is a case to be made that Virgo or Aiolos could take him on 1 on 1 but it would definitely be a great fight either way. I’m a big fan of this guy for sure. He’s definitely dealing with a lot of issues and you can probably guess based on what sign he represents what is going on here. His Galaxian Explosion technique is also famous. It’s sort of like how Sephiroth blows up the solar system in his cutscene. Gemini Saga has an attack that’s like a galaxy crushing into you. It definitely looks cool and his “Another Dimension” ability definitely deserves some praise as well.

Virgo Shaka is low key one of the most evil Saints around though. He knows exactly what was going on the whole time and chose not to do so. He seems to think that he is above good and evil and that’s exactly why you can’t trust him. When someone gets such an inflated opinion of himself it can be quite dangerous. Virgo is basically saying that anything he does is justified. I’ll give him props for being able to fight so well with his eyes closed though. He is undoubtedly powerful. It’s just a shame that he always picks the wrong side. I’d have to list him as a villain here.

Deathmask is an interesting Golden Saint because he is the only member who is downright evil 100% through. He really couldn’t care less about fighting for justice and actively goes around murdering people. It’s a shame that the other Saints allow this…. I was not expecting one of the Saints to be truly evil back when I first read the manga though so that was interesting. He makes for a pretty intense villain to be sure but definitely not a particularly likable character.

Aiolia is a fun Saint and as one of the most heroic ones that naturally means that he has to be mind controlled so he can fight the heroes. Without that there’s no way he would have gone to blows. He did really well even while mind controlled so at full power he should definitely be one of the most powerful Golden Saints. He actually acts like a true warrior worthy of his position so he is definitely one of the best knights around. You can’t go wrong with this guy.

Scorpio is one of the more vengeful Seiya characters. Due to a big misunderstanding he thought he was fufilling the will of Sanctuary. For that reason I’ll give him a little credit as he was at least trying to protect Athena in his own way. It just didn’t work out the way that he thought it would. His abilities are definitely pretty good. I wouldn’t say he stands out as much as some of the other characters but he’s a well developed character all the same. Then we have Shura who has some of the most impressive scenes in the series. He can strike with his fast energy blows in the blink of an eye. Most of the characters can’t even keep up with him and even Shiryu’s defense couldn’t hold his power. Shura was very impressive throughout the series and is one of the best members of Sanctuary. He’s at least one Knight who acted quite heroically in the end.

Next up is Camus He’s an ice user and has some history with Hyoga’s mentor so this naturally ends up making them rivals. Camus is a pretty interesting member. He seems to be one of the most senior Saint members so he doesn’t blindly take orders like some of the others. He even voluntarily leaves his temple to seek out a fight which was pretty neat. I liked him, Camus may not have been one of the most reasonable guys and his methods are rather drastic but he’s a solid fighter and at least his motivations did make a lot of sense.

Finally we have Aphrodite, but this guy wasn’t particularly noteworthy. His fighting abilities are good and the rose based abilities are neat but compared to the rest he felt tacked on to an extent. I don’t believe he ever gets a big role after this. I’ll take him over Aries any day though. At least this guy stays by his temple and actually contributes to the plot instead of waiting for it to come to him. I should also mention that Dohko appears but that guy annoys me as well. He basically hides from the fight and chooses to pretend to be an old man so that he does not need to get mixed up in any of the action. Not exactly the heroic nature you would expect from a Saint now is it?

It was always going to be tough to follow up such a masterful arc but the Asgard arc would try its best. In the remote land of Asgard, Queen Hilda has been corrupted by an evil influence. She summons her God Warriors to prepare for a war on the human world and even attacks Sanctuary. This forces the hand of Athena and the Knights who show up to stop them. Athena can hold back the ice and water for a while but not forever. The Saints must now defeat all of the God Warriors and take down Hilda before Athena perishes. This will be difficult as each of the God Warriors are as powerful as a Golden Saint! The Bronze Knights will have to once again surpass their limits and claim victory.

One nice thing about this arc is that as an original one it could deviate from the usual Saint Seiya script a bit. As a result we actually got some group fights and even Athena got to very briefly show what she could do offensively. The God Warriors were also introduced well so you could see why they were a threat. The only thing holding it back is that this arc introduced some animal violence which the other arcs had been good about. One sob story involves some bears and of course Fenrir uses a lot of wolves at his disposal. What’s even the point of using wolves against a Saint of Athena anyway? I think everyone knew that Shiryu would take them out yet Fenrir acts surprised and even gets super upset with Shiryu for doing that. He only has himself to blame for making such a poor decision in the heat of battle.

Hilda is one of the big players here and she works well as a foil to Athena. Effectively she is an evil version of the goddess and she actually fights from time to time which is pretty neat. She’s a lot more interesting than her sister Freya who doesn’t really fight and just pleads with Hilda to stop the madness all the time. I think it’s safe to say that there was never such an option once Hilda had been corrupted. I would have liked to have seen Freya fight a bit.

Siegfried is effectively the leader of the God Warriors and he is naturally the strongest member. His fight at the end against all of the Saints is definitely a blast. In particular he has a really good fight with Ikki before Seiya eventually steps in to have his tur at back. Siegfried definitely made a few wrong calls near the end of the arc that had me shaking my head but otherwise I did like the guy. His final scenes are also on point as he contributes and takes on one of the future villains. I should mention that the ending of this arc directly connects to the Poseidon arc which I thought was a really cool twist. It was like a sneak preview of what was to come.

Hagen is the lava warrior. He’s a good friend of Freya but I have to say that he was completely unreasonable the whole time. He was given so many chances to stop and keep his life but he just kept on going. It makes it a little harder to feel bad for this guy. I did like him in the flashbacks though. In the present he just wasn’t smart. Meanwhile Thor’s more of a fun fighter. All of the God Warriors have tragic pasts to an extent but Thor’s really just here to fight and take the Saints down. His battle with Seiya is a lot of fun and man, Thor’s huge! Probably the biggest fighter in the series, taking him down wasn’t easy.

Alberich may not have been the strongest member of the God Warriors but he got the most done. If he had any real backup then that would have been game over for the team. What I like about this guy is how cunning he was. He’s got a lot of big ideas even outside of working for Hilda. He takes down almost all of the Saints back to back which is absolutely crazy. It’s really just lucky that he didn’t finish them all. He has a lot of cool abilities and absolute confidence. I would definitely say he’s my favorite villain of this arc and it was sad to see him go.

Meanwhile Fenrir is the worst member. I already spoke about the wolves so I’ll keep this brief. He just failed as a pet owner here and didn’t even realize that it was his fault and started blaming Shiryu instead. You can’t do that, he needed to at least own up to his mistakes and that would have gone a long way. He brought the worst fight of the series in so I could have done without this guy. Even for Saint Seiya standards the fight was one sided too. Am I really supposed to believe that Shiryu could get up after the injuries he sustained? The guy was getting beaten up, bit, and stabbed for whole episodes and then managed to get up. I dunno about that one, but it’s a great durability feat for Shiryu that’s for sure.

Then we have Syd and Bud who are effectively two sides of the same coin. I liked the dynamic here as it was sort of like Gemini Saga only they weren’t quite as aware of each other as Saga was at all times. It also explains why Taurus lost so easily or at least partially. I still don’t see Taurus going down like that. As a Golden Knight of Athena you have to be able to take a few hits and keep on going. They did give us some of the better episodes with the battles involving Ikki and Andromeda though.

Finally we have Mime who had a pretty emotional fight with Ikki. There were quite a few plot twists in that battle to be sure as Ikki kept showing the guy more of his own past in a way to force him to see the truth. I should mention that Ikki’s ability to mess with a person’s mind is pretty impressive. Mime’s a solid villain either way though. I wouldn’t say he’s one of the absolute best but he did well in his appearances.

So the Asgard arc had a lot of great moments. It easily would have passed the Poseidon arc if not for the various animal backstories. I liked that we got more freestyle fights here and I also thought the initial attack as the Asgardians approached Sanctuary was cool. This arc did feel like it was stepping up the intensity at all times and the villains were developed very well. It’s just a solid arc through and through.

Finally we end with the Poseidon arc. While attending a fancy party, Athena is approached by a man of great renown. He is the reincarnated vessel of Poseidon and he has decided to flood the entire planet. Athena pleads with him to stop but he will only do so if she marries him. Athena refuses and offers her one chance to slow the flooding down. To do this, Athena will go inside of a locked chamber where the water will drown her. This will keep the Earth from flooding for as long as she lives. The Bronze Knights will have to defeat all of Atlantis’s powerful Generals in order to break the pillars down and rescue Athena. The issue is that the generals are around Gold Saint level in power. Can the Bronze Knights surpass their limits one last time in order to save her?

Poseidon’s cronies all have a whole lot of confidence and I suppose it’s easy to see why. They are very powerful and did manipulate Asgard into getting destroyed with ease. With Sanctuary weakened as well this is the perfect time to strike. The arc also gave us one of the better Saint Seiya bonding moments as Ikki explained to Hyoga that they’re never allowed to give up while they fight for Athena. The other characters thought it was harsh at the time but Hyoga explained that Ikki was right. It also gave Ikki some time to shine as he went straight for Poseidon instead of bothering with the minions. I always liked that guy’s confidence.

Poseidon is the big bad here and he’s probably the weakest leader villain. Mainly that’s because part of his motivation here is just to marry Athena. Not quite the villain mastermind goal you would really want to see from this guy. He can fight decently well thanks to the powers of Poseidon but the human host isn’t super skilled so he really has to rely on the power as a crutch. The arc as a whole is still excellent but I definitely wouldn’t say that Poseidon is a big reason why. Thetis a loyal minion and the first one to really get a role here. She’s around Silver Saint level so this gave the Sanctuary Silver Knight a chance for a real fight. Beyond that Thetis is reasonable but doesn’t stand out a huge amount.

Baian probably has the least amount of character from Poseidon’s warriors but he has a ton of confidence which is all that I need. His punches are insane to the point where he can knock you across an ocean. He’s very simple, no gimmicks and no tricks. Baian just takes you on face to face and I can appreciate that. Io was cool because of his attacks more than because of his character. Each of his attacks is based on a different animal and it can be tough to predict which one he will use next. It was a good fight with Andromeda and the guy was pushed to his absolute limit in trying to counter each move. Without the animal skills though, Io would definitely be out of luck so he needs to work on his fundamentals more.

Krishna was a fun member of Poseidon’s army. His unstoppable spear was an excellent match to Shiryu’s indestructible shield. Their battle was very solid to be sure. At the end of the day Krishna’s not the kind of guy who’s going to back down in a fight like this so naturally it went all the way down the wire. Caca is more of a deceptive villain. His physical abilities aren’t amazing but he can shapeshift which makes it difficult for the heroes to really go all out against him. It makes sense that he wouldn’t fare quite so well with Ikki though. His fights are always a bit sketchy because you do feel like the heroes shouldn’t take it so hard. He does a number on pretty much the whole cast though so while I’m not a big fan of the guy…he definitely gets results.

Isaac was a very interesting figure. I do find it a bit hard to believe that we had someone who was important to Hyoga’s childhood but wasn’t even referenced earlier. This is one time where some advanced foreshadowing would have been good. The guy was excellent in the flashbacks we see of him though. He is put into a very difficult situation in the present but did as well as he could have. If things could have been different then maybe he would have really been a good ally. Then we have Sorrento who is such a major player that he even appeared in the Asgard arc earlier as a preview. His playing on the flute makes him a tough enemy to deal with to be sure. I’m not really sold on the guy though. He’s decently good but I wouldn’t call him a standout character either.

When Kanon appears he definitely changes everything quite a bit. He’s certainly got big ambitions and it was really nostalgic in a sense seeing him since he’s so similar to Saga. At the end of the day I prefer Gemini Saga but both of these guys are really close and also evenly matched so you can imagine some pretty good battles behind them. He feels like he wasn’t 100% needed in the arc but he adds an extra level of drama to be sure. He’s a wild card that nobody can trust so that’s always interesting to see.

So as mentioned earlier and you can probably tell from the plot descriptions, most of the arcs have that same format. Athena is always at death’s door and the only way to save her is to defeat a specified number of enemies within a restricted time. The Hades arc would actually change this up quite a bit but that’s really the plot for every other arc of Saint Seiya. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the classic Justice League stories from around half a century ago or older where each story would be divided into 4-5 parts and they would all follow the same format with new villains. I suppose repetition may have been encouraged back in the day to show consistency or something. It’s purely conjecture as I don’t know.

Regardless, I’m fine with the arcs having the same format because at the end of the day it’s the execution that is truly important. Each arc is handled really well and the fights are always excellent. Saint Seiya is a series where the action and characters are super important. So long as those areas continue to be strong then the show succeeds. There’s always a great sense of heroism and self sacrifice among the knights. They’re heroes through and through and it makes each fight compelling.

I do have big issues with the Gold Saints at large though. In the first arc I guess I can accept the fact that most of them were following the Pope over Athena since they figured he was telling the truth. Well, not all of them can use that excuse since some knew better and didn’t act. There is 0 reason not to jump in during both the Asgard and Poseidon arcs though. They stand idly by while Athena and co. are in danger. Their entire job is to protect Athena. That’s the number 1 priority even over Sanctuary and yet they never actually act. I’ll give Aiolia some credit for at least assisting by sending his armor in the Poseidon arc but the rest of the characters should have done something. I’ll never be able to come to terms with the fact that the Gold Saints just leave Athena to her own devices each time. Perhaps some of them still hold a grudge against her for the events of Arc 1.

The animation is also very solid. It’s got that classic look and feel to the old days of Shounen. You really feel each and every blow. The heroes are put through the wringer time and time again. I dare say that few main characters have endured the same level of abuse and punishment as the Bronze Saints. Every arc ends up having them beaten to an inch of their lives repeatedly with each battle. In particular Dragon Shiryu takes the brunt of this. His fights tend to rage on for a long time with him taking every bit of punishment possible. At the end of the day though the Saints always get back up and it’s pretty inspiring.

The soundtrack is also good although I wouldn’t call it stellar or anything. The soundtrack as a whole seems a little limited considering how long the show is. That said, the main battle theme is sound though and I never had a problem with the music while watching the show. The songs match the scene in question really well so they did a good job of making sure that things were pairing up nicely.

Overall, Saint Seiya is a timeless classic. It’s aged really well and I expect that this will still be true 20 years from now. This anime doesn’t adapt the Hades saga but it covers the rest of the manga and is a great starting point for fans. The franchise has definitely expanded quite a bit since these original days and I look forward to seeing how the sequels fare someday. The show can be pretty intense so you may be surprised when starting it how badly the heroes get beaten but it’s all in a combat context and never gets too crazy. I’d say that anyone who enjoys a good action anime will definitely like the series. It’s just a blast. Between the strong writing and solid pacing, you’re bound to love the series.

Overall 8/10

A Certain Scientific Railgun T Review


Railgun’s definitely had a great track record so far to the point where it has even been crushing the main series and the spinoff led by Accelerator. To this day I still say that Railgun S was the best season for any of the Raildex shows so far. T comes pretty close and I would put it in second but ultimately I give S the slight edge. It’s just really difficult to take that one down for the count. There are quite a lot of story arcs and characters here to prepare yourself for quite the long review.

The first story arc takes place at the Festival and it’s certainly the longest story arc here. With the festival at play all of the classes are participating so they can prove that they are the best. During this there is a group that is trying to capture Misaka as well as the Misaka clones in order to gather information on the Misaka network and get the Level 6 project ready. Meanwhile Misaka’s friends have all forgotten about her and she suspects that Shokuhou is responsible for this. The tricky part is actually confronting her since it’s difficult to reverse the mind wipe and of course without proof it’ll look like she’s attacking another student without provocation. As her friends begin to get targeted though, Misaka grows less reluctant to cause a scene.

This arc was a solid jumping on point since it continues the Sisters plot and introduces a quite a lot of characters who would be important down the road. It also gave Misaka’s friends a chance to shine before she intervened and had some pretty intense moments. One of the scientists beating up on Misaka’s friends was intense because it took her so long to get there. If anything I thought that guy got off incredibly easy since he basically just got to escape after being threatened and didn’t even get beaten up a lot. I feel like after everything he did they should have at least taken him down officially and shut down the group before handing him over to the cops. I suppose with the threats that should be it for him though.

Kongo and her clique had their first really serious fight in this arc and it was nice to see what they were capable of. All 3 of them seem reasonably powerful but Kongo in particular has a great power set with air. If the circumstances had been just a little bit different then I dare say she would have been able to come out on top. I was glad she got her respect here because she has always been a very loyal ally to Misaka but rarely gets a lot of recognition. Kongo definitely had a very solid role here though.

Then you have the villain Mitori who is pretty interesting with her ability to create a metal version of herself that attacks and defends on its own. Naturally she’s not very tough when you take the clone away but getting past it is quite troublesome. It seems like she will be appearing more in the future but under Shokuhou’s watchful eye I don’t see her trying anything crazy.

With the Level 6 project completed here it feels like we ended a plot line that had been going on since forever. Even in the original days of Index people were trying to get Espers up to Level 6. I don’t doubt that more people will try in the future of course but now that we’ve actually seen Level 6 I feel like it won’t be as much of a focus. We now know what it can do after all so it’s no longer some kind of huge mystery.

As always Misaka is an excellent main character here. One of the reasons why she is so likable is that she is never afraid to just jump in and get on the action. She’s a very pro active character and if the red tape looks like it’ll take too long to go through then she just skips it and goes undercover with her baseball cap. It may not be much of a disguise but it works, particularly due to the fact that she tends to short-circuit the cameras and hide from building to building anyway. I didn’t expect we’d see Misaka acting as a renegade so soon after S so that was nice to see. If only her friends were more understanding she probably wouldn’t even need to hide this from them but until then I definitely agree with her decision to be low key about it. You never know quite how the others will respond.

Of course Touma shows up in this arc as well and it keeps showing me why the guy works even better as a side character than as the lead. He always looks really good in the Railgun titles such as him being able to help Misaka even as she’s a Level 6. The fact that he’s mastered his right arm here more than even in Season 3 of the Index show is pretty telling. He just launched those dragons out without a care in the world and it worked out. He’s just brimming with confidence here even with his arm canceling out good luck. If Touma was always like this then he would probably be one of the best characters.

Touma got to team up with a new character named Gunha who also stands out as an excellent character. He’s one of the other Level 5 Espers from Academy City but didn’t really get to appear much until now. Well, they definitely ended up saving one of the best characters for last because this guy really stands out. He’s just an excellent character all told. Gunha is all about fighting with guts and that allows him to really surpass his limits and get to the next level. It’s clear that his raw power would even rival that of Misaka’s and I would imagine that he could put up a decent fight against any of the fighters that we had previously seen in the series. The show hasn’t gone out of its way to explain his abilities yet but it seems to involve wind manipulation. That would be my guess at least and it helps him display feats of speed and strength as a result.

This arc also brought Shokuhou back into the mix. She would end up being a main character in most future arcs as well so get ready for that. Fortunately it works out because she is just a great character. Pretty much any scene that involves her ends with Shokuhou completely stealing the spotlight. Her memory manipulation ability is incredibly handy, especially mixed in with the fact that she has absolutely no qualms about using it. As a result she’s really got the city in the palm of her hands. Whenever she is in a jam she can just mind control someone to help her out. Shokuhou can be a bit spoiled as a result but she also uses her personality as a clever way to prevent other characters from realizing just how smart she really is.

Her ability involves a lot of mental mathematics and using her abilities super creatively. Her 1 on 1 battle with Gensei was a super intellectual battle and she held her own quite well. It’s effectively a battle of traps both physical and mental the entire time. There was a ton of back and forth with a lot of fake outs as well. Then we eventually see Shokuhou’s emotional backstory. As the show goes on and we learn more about her, Shokuhou goes from being a very good character to an excellent one. It seems like she will be sticking around as a supporting character down the road and that definitely sounds good to me. You also can’t help but like the fact that she never missed an opportunity to mess with Misaka. The fact that she has memory altering abilities makes it too easy. Misaka is just super lucky that her electrical abilities prevent such abilities from working on her as things would definitely get ugly otherwise. Low key her butler is also a great character. I do like that he actually knows how to fight and understands military strategy. He’s out of his league in this season but handled the situation as well as possible.

Gensei was surprisingly a solid villain as well. Usually with a guy like this you’d expect him to be a fairly boring villain who is just here for the plans and such but he surpassed my expectations. His goal was actually really well thought out and the fact that he even gave himself super abilities was impressive. He planned things down to a T and has to be one of the best mad scientists I’ve seen in a very long time. He’s a villain through and through but one who plans for every contingency. Usually you see heroes having to overcome great odds but in this case he was the underdog. Who’d have thought that an extremely old man with no way to really be able to fight physically could take on two Level 5s the way that he did.

Time for a mini arc about Indian Poker. This was definitely an odd little thing that has a lot of plot relevance to the rest of the season and even the future beyond that. It’s going for more of an emotional saga as opposed to being the next big thing. The first two episodes focus on Kuroko’s team. Saten as usual is trying to pick up on more hobbies to tease Uiharu about. Well, this new Poker system allows you to buy a card where you pick up on someone’s dreams. So for example, as the recorder you would go to bed and dream about eating pizza. Well, the dream is now recorded so putting it on your head will allow you to keep reliving the dream. You can also sell the dream so others can experience it.

In this way you can learn someone’s secrets or even their talents. The idea is that if you’re an expert at juggling you may dream about juggling as well and then when someone roleplays as you during the dream then you’ll be an expert by the end of the dream. I don’t think picking up a hobby would be so easy just from a few dreams but I guess if you do it enough you can become an expert. Naturally that also means a lot of people have rather sketchy dreams which they turn around for a considerable profit. The sketchiest dreams tend to be the most lucrative.

Now, the success of Indian Poker will depend on users actually controlling their dream so they sell a good product. That part seems easy enough though as controlling your dreams isn’t that hard once you actually try it out. For example I find that an easy way to target your dreams is to pick a scenario to think about and then as you slowly fade into sleep it’ll continue as your dream until you wake up. I use it quite extensively as I reimagine tournaments in Smash Bros going a bit differently or I win the lottery and have fun spending the money. It’s a good mental exercise as you retire for the night and then it’s also a positive dream which is fun.

Back to the arc though. One episode is mostly just a comedic one with Misaka fighting over cards and is forced to relive a lot of dreams to find the right one. The whole adventure ended up being a bust though. I’d have to put that as one of the weaker episodes. It had some fun moments of course but does take the low hanging fruit here at times with the dreams. The other two episodes have Kuroko and Uiharu meet up with a kid who can see the future. He uses the cards and his camera to record the dreams and hopes that Kuroko will be able to stop them. He only tends to see disasters after all. The heroes help him out and it leads to an emotional journey to save his dog as well.

These episodes can feel like filler to an extent and in the grand scheme I would say it’s fair to call them that. There are technically elements that make these episodes important though so it would depend on your definition there. The episode involving the dog could have gotten dicey for sure but fortunately things turned out well. I’m still not a fan of Uiharu or Saten so I don’t mind that they’ve had a very small role in the season.

Kuroko’s a fun character but ironically only tends to not be quite as enjoyable when Misaka is around. Kuroko’s always been a far better protagonist when she’s on her own. Some heroes are just like that I guess as being around others reduces their character personality to one note. So on the whole I would say Kuroko’s okay. At least in these episodes she did well. Teleporting is always a useful ability to have and when Kuroko’s serious she does get some good wins in this season. Her battle of wits with the living metal user in the mall was also very solid.

Next up is a 2 episode mini arc featuring Frenda and Saten as the main characters. They make for a very unlikely lead duo and the saga works out quite well. Frenda is a ruthless assassin after all but part of how she copes with this is by being a fairly cheerful teenager otherwise. She really likes her canned mackerel and that’s what leads her to Saten. Frenda repays the favor by saving Saten from being kidnapped but is then attacked by the assassin Yumiya. Frenda could win easily in most circumstances but they are fighting inside of a crowded mall and Frenda was already injured prior to the battle.

Now these two episodes were exceptionally good. It’s really the ideal mini arc as it’s a self contained story with characters who don’t get to appear a lot. It’s easily Frenda’s best appearance in the entire franchise to be sure. We really get to see her mastery of bombs and hand to hand combat as well as her solid strategy tactics when cornered. Saten may just hold her back the whole time but Frenda still doesn’t run away or anything. If anything the whole situation feels all the more tragic since you know what happens to Frenda in Index season 3. This way we at least got to see her a little longer.

Yumiya was also a pretty solid character. She’s a very delusional villain to be sure and has a complex personality. She wants to be popular at school and tends to misread everything. Her job as an assassin is also very inconvenient of course since it gets in the way of being at school. While she is very shy and timid at school, she is a vicious murderer otherwise who will use any means at her disposal in order to win. It’s a solid character contrast and it would be fun to see her return someday. Of course she will need to heal quite a bit in order to be as much of a threat as she used to be since Frenda did quite a number on her.

The final 5 episodes take us to the final arc and it was a great way to close everything out. We are introduced to Kuriba, a scientist of great renown. She has been experimenting with the idea of splitting a person’s soul in two and proving if one really exists. Well, she accomplished this but it may have been more of a dangerous experiment than she anticipated. There now exists a Doppelganger who has all of the same knowledge and experiences as Kuriba. When Doppelganger finds out that she is the fake she does not take it so well and is now threatening to blow up Academy City as well as murder Kuriba. A team of assassins’ are sent after her but they won’t be enough. Fortunately Misaka is also on the case and ready to take this foe down.

There are a few twists in store as with any big arc. The climax is also really high end as the Doppelganger continues to upgrade from form to form. She even brings out a giant Kaiju mode at one point which was really cool. Now, you can sometimes worry about a giant opponent taking on someone who’s human sized since it can devolve into 0 choreography where they whack at each other but this fight was handled really well and also animated on point. Misaka gets to unleash one of her largest Railguns in the series. I also liked that in this arc Misaka made more use of her black iron ability. I find it to be one of the most versatile weapons at her disposal but she rarely ever uses it in combat. I suppose she prefers to use electricity through her Railguns but I think long-term she may find even more success with this.

The Doppelganger made for a great character. It’s always tough finding out you’re not the real thing after all. It’s pretty understandable that she would go off the deep end. Additionally Academy City is so corrupt and we learn more and more with each arc. It becomes increasingly harder to defend them and if the villain were to destroy the city they would take out a lot of bad guys instantly. Of course they can never truly win because we would also lose a lot of heroes. Doppelganger’s plan is solid though and she’s also a terrific fighter with how quickly she can adapt and learn new techniques. She works out quite nicely as the final boss.

For the assassin group Scavenger, it’s fun to see them after they got trounced in the Accelerator series. Unfortunately for them they are once again completely out of their league here. There’s never a doubt in your mind that Misaka or Doppelganger could take them out. I’ll give props to the kinetic energy girl for actually trying but of course she was dispatched like an after thought. The group is very lucky that Misaka bought into all of their excuses because she would have been able to take down the rest of the group with ease. If anything they get off a little too easy here.

The final episode nicely wraps up all of the various subplots and gives the characters one last scene. Naturally there are still a ton of ongoing plots occurring in the background. Some of these would likely get wrapped up in other titles but I’m sure some will make it for the next Railgun series. It’s part of the fun of being an interconnected series. You really need to see all of the titles to get the complete context. Some characters show up here with direct repercussions from the Accelerator and Index series so if you came here directly from Railgun S there would probably be a bit of a disconnect there. You can just watch all 3 seasons of Railgun on their own and be okay of course but checking out the rest really helps to give you that extra context.

The only thing to say against the show would be that it has a decent amount of fanservice. Certainly the dream episodes have fun with that and Misaka’s ongoing insecurities are only magnified by having Shokuhou appear all the time. There’s a consistent level of this to an extent but the show always keeps this aspect reigned in well. It doesn’t really hold the show back much. It would be nice of course if the show side stepped this entirely but it seems almost inevitable that some fanservice would appear. As long as it’s always overshadowed and outnumbered by the high quality scenes here then we should be good.

As always the animation here is most excellent. The animation may have even gone up from the first two seasons. There are a number of excellently animated fights here like Misaka vs the robotic Kaiju, Touma and the new Level 5 taking on Misaka, and low key the battle with Frenda and the assassin. It never really lets up and makes for a very consistent experience throughout the show. There are no poorly animated episodes which is always great since it shows that a good amount of time and effort was put into the show.

Next up we have the soundtrack which is unsurprisingly very good. You’ve got a lot of the classic tunes here along with new ones. The new intro to the season is also very solid. I would definitely take the first one over the second but they both sound very good. The battle themes are on point and so on a technical level Railgun does really well as expected. The writing is on point and Railgun gives so many characters so much development that it’s just really impressive. I’ll definitely be ready for the next season. Each episode is just handled in a way where you’re always interested in what happens next. Even the bust upper episode which I consider to be the weakest one still has a lot of very solid humor moments. The sign of a great show is when every episode is engaging in its own way and Railgun T pulls that off.

One thing that the Raildex series has always done well is throw a lot of fancy terminology and lingo at you. I always love seeing characters babbel on about their crazy abilities and plans. Railgun T is no exception to that with a lot of great concepts thrown in there. It’s willing to tackle any idea or premise no matter how crazy and it works. I just really enjoy a good speech and the villains and heroes both make a lot of those. It all just ends up being very compelling and the series is so fleshed out now with over 10-20 groups running around that you never really know what’ll happen next.

While a big reason as to why the show is so fantastic is the fight scenes, it does manage to blend together a lot of different emotional moments as well. For example, Shokuhou’s backstory ties in with one of the sisters and another character. The 3 of them have a lot of pretty emotional moments there since they all grew up with rather tough backgrounds. To go from there to having a very light hearted episode would be tough for some shows but Railgun pulls it off. All of the characters get satisfying endings to their stories and so the sad moments have great payoffs. Then of course we have the action episodes where it goes without saying that those are really satisfying. The single best fight scene here would likely be Gungha and Touma’s team up against Misaka but I would put Frenda vs Yumiya and Misaka vs Doppleganger as close runner ups. There’s a lot of good action here to be sure.

Overall, Railgun T is a great successor to Railgun S and shows that the series has still got it. Not that there was ever any reason to doubt this after how good Railgun S was though. I’m wondering if the next season will be called Railgun U or if they’ll just switch to another letter. If we assume that each one meant S (Second) T (Third) then maybe Railgun F makes sense for Fourth. Either way I can’t imagine that they would want to wait too long before continuing the adaption but it is pretty cool how they keep on adapting more of the franchise. So whether we get more of the main series, Accelerator, Railgun, or another spinoff, it’ll be fun to see how that turns out. If you haven’t seen Railgun T yet then you definitely need to change that asap!

Overall 8/10

Cardfight!! Vanguard Extra Story -IF- Review


Cardfight Vanguard’s had a very impressive run. Not only did the original series have 4 extremely impressive seasons but when we got another set of installments that took place in the future G verse. After that the series went into reboot mode readapting all of the original arcs but using the manga as a reference this time so there were a lot of changes. That finally leads us to this installment which re-adapts the Legion Mate saga to close things off. This means the next step could be the G remake but whether it’s that or just a completely new adventure I’m sold. Even “If” is a unique adventure in its own right as the plot is so drastically different from the original that it shouldn’t really be called a remake. At this point Cardfight has long since left most franchises in the dust.

The series starts with Kouji as the main character. Following up on his adventures in the last season, he has finally come to terms with his past. He may have deleted a lot of cardfighters but he has put that past him now. Unfortunately his ghosts won’t rest. Suiko shows up one day and tells him to get in the car. He reluctantly does and she explains that the timestream is unraveling. The Tatsunagi family needs him to go inside a book to a parallel universe to set things right. Kouji’s not really on board with this but he isn’t given a choice as the book sucks him in.

In this alternate world Cardfight Vanguard never became a huge thing. Instead there is a dark castle in town that only some can see. Ruling over the castle is Aichi who has somehow become a dark mastermind surrounded by his faithful knights Kourin, Naoki, Shingo, Morikawa, and Miwa. The two heroes who oppose them are Aichi’s sister Emi and her friend Suiko. In this universe they are magical girls who are able to cause their cards to materialize in the real world to fight off Aichi’s minions known as the Jammers. The Jammers want to keep on corrupting the timestream so they go through the past and future as they take control of various characters to force them on an alternate destiny.

Naturally this causes Emi and Shuka to meet up with Kouji and Suiko. They all have the same goals of course but their methods certainly vary. At the end of the day Emi and Shuka really do the hard lifting with the actual duels but since Kouji and Suiko are familiar with how the characters should be acting they are good at spotting the Jammers. The first half of the show is really focused on these day to day adventures as the heroes find a problem and correct it.

The show is quite good at these adventures. It brings in a ton of characters from all of the old arcs which is pretty cool. It really feels like a grand crossover which is neat. Even the very first episode deals with G themes as Kouji has to make sure he gives Chrono a deck. From there things would only get more and more expansive. It’s also a fun way to see what things could have been like had the characters made different decisions in their lives. Some would have become quite successful and rich while others like Shinemon would have just become traumatized by having to make the same foods over and over again. The show isn’t afraid to get pretty out there.

One of the reasons why the show is so much fun though is because of Kouji. He steals every scene he is in. The guy’s been through a lot for sure as he’s been both a hero and villain in the past. You can really understand why at this point he just wants a chance to relax and forget about all of this. Kouji just desperately wants to have a Cardfight with someone but the Jammers always prevent this from happening. It’s a bit of a running gag where Kouji constantly tries to get in a fight but it never actually ends up working out. I’ll give him props for effort though as Kouji tries this a bunch of times.

This season definitely has the most humor out of all the Cardfight shows and it’s all handled so well that I wouldn’t mind them incorporating more of this into the main titles. Kouji is extremely exaggerated in all of his reactions to everything but it works well. He’s also quite talented as during the course of the game we learn that in addition to being a top rate duelist he’s also an expert chef which comes in handy a few times. There’s one episode built around the concept of cooking from the start.

Eru Nakagami gets a big role in that episode which was cool to see. The guy has always wanted magical powers after all so finally getting to flex them on the characters was amazing. He always gets great music to accompany his appearances and knows how to milk the drama. The instant he got involved I knew that things were getting interesting. I would have to put that as one of the better episodes in the season.

It’s just so great to see all of the old characters showing up. Meanwhile Suiko gets a lot of character development here. I suppose it’s about time as Kourin always stole all of the screen time from the main 3 and you could argue that Rekka had a lot of character from the beginning. Suiko is a very by the books character who follows orders so she is never quite as free as the other two. Now’s a chance to see how she adapts on her own. There’s one critical moment where she takes down Kouji with a cheap shot that results in the two of them getting kidnapped so she doesn’t always make the right moves but for the most part she’s a pretty solid character here. It’s easily her best appearance in the series that’s for sure. I’d probably still put Rekka and Kourin ahead of her but this season definitely showed how Suiko should be portrayed.

Then of course you have Emi and Shuka who have big roles here. Shuka is a character with suspicious origins as she hides quite a few secrets for a while. Naturally the show can’t let this one go without some fun moments so there will be times where she looks like a horror character with her eyes glowing. Naturally you get the feeling the show is going for some red herrings here but it works well. I like that the show was really going for all genres. Shuka definitely made some big mistakes here and I would say that she is completely to blame for them. Coming clean from the start would have probably helped out a lot. At the end of the day though I would put her in the good character range here. She always speaks her mind and has more bravery points than Emi and is always there to protect her.

Emi being one of the main characters was definitely a switch from the rest of the series. Usually she is a minor supporting character at best so seeing her take such a prominent role was pretty cool I must admit. I also like the fact that she is wearing Aichi’s original gear too. She is doing all that she can to save Aichi and while Emi does waver in her goals at times, it makes sense. From her perspective Aichi’s never been involved in Cardfight so even though everyone says he is distorted, that isn’t necessarily the case for her version. Of course either way she needs to shut down the castle to stop Aichi from being a super villain though so that’ll need to happen regardless.

Emi’s personality here is pretty similar to the original series although she tends to throw insults around a lot more even if they are in a passive way. It’s a fun addition to her character though so I approve. Between her, Suiko, and Kouji they have a pretty great dynamic. Kouji may talk tough but he’s always ready to defend and help them out when needed. Emi also does get a duel near the end so she was training up her dueling abilities. It’d be neat if she and Shuka would be supporting characters in some future seasons. I guess she wouldn’t have powers anymore but who knows, anything is possible with imagination in this series so maybe she would have them unlocked.

Aichi is quite different from the classic version as well. Usually he is super polite and always willing to go the extra mile to help someone. How did he go from that to being a world conqueror who is fully ready to murder everyone in his way including his friends and sister? Well, we get some background to this via a flashback later on. How believable the transition is will probably vary. It’s interesting because it is totally played off as this still being Aichi. He’s not being mind controlled or anything. If anything he just cracked because he learned a little too much about the future. Takuto should be ashamed at his performance here but the scene was really cool because it felt like such a horror moment.

The animation got rather dark and Aichi even had a super sinister expression on his face. Effectively Aichi turned to the darkness as a form of self sacrifice to an extent to help someone out. He goes as far as to say the person he is helping has no say in the matter though so it goes back to the old question of “If you’re helping someone out and know that they will be better off, does it matter if they don’t want it?” For example, if you can see the future and know that someone’s going to be in a fatal plane crash the next day. Once peaceful means have failed, would you be able to go as far as to kidnap the person or sabotage the plane prior to taking off so that nobody is hurt? In the present everyone will be upset at you including your friend who would never find out the truth so it’s not like they would know better. In this case Aichi is preventing a possible future from occurring so the more drastically he tries to prevent it, the more likely it is that nobody would ever forgive him.

It’s a pretty interesting dynamic here for sure. That said, I do think Aichi loses his credibility here when he starts actively trying to murder people though. Put it this way, he may prevent the timeline he thought was coming to pass but this one is getting far worse. Effectively the person he was helping escape their future is going to have an awful time here. So Aichi really lose sight of his true goals and completely cracked. For most of the series he was relatively restrained. I would say for at least half of the series he handled things really well as nobody got hurt and he saved lives. He just ended up going too far and started messing up which is common for villains. The morality of reshaping time to make things better is a debate for another day but for now all I’ll say is that I wouldn’t fault Aichi for that. It’s only once he started taking things too far that things went off the rails.

The animation throughout the series is excellent by the way. The character designs are on point and all of the attacks are sharp. I wouldn’t say the real time battles are always quite as high end but I don’t think the show was really focusing on the fights. If they were really top notch that probably would have taken the show to the next level. Still, it was all very consistent. Naturally the writing was also exceptional as well. It’s just very witty and it makes all of the episodes a real blast from start to finish.

Then we’ve got the soundtrack which is naturally excellent. A lot of the classic themes are back from V including Kouji’s excellent Deletor theme. Now that’s always a tune you’re ready to hear as he gets ready to start dealing damage to his opponents. The theme song for the series is also pretty catchy. The real standout would be the ending for the second half of the series though. It’s really fast paced and just makes for a super action packed theme that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. It was a good way to note the shift in tone between arcs as the series would change quite a bit.

Speaking of which, now’s a good time to discuss the second half of the series. Things take a very different approach here. The first half was really a comedy most of the time with a lot of crazy scenarios that Kouji and Suiko were put into. Well, Aichi and his Knights have decided to take the offensive in the second half of the series and the first thing they did was eliminate Kouji by throwing him out of the planet. The new main character now is Kai. He finds out that his life isn’t quite correct since his parents are now alive. The sad thing for him is that his life truly is perfect but now he’s going to have to find out what’s going on.

It’s one of those things where if he never found out that things were different then he would be okay but as soon as it became known to him it meant that he had to act. Unlike Kouji, Kai is able to merge with the cards that are summoned so whenever Emi and Shuka fight, Kai is able to directly get into the action as well. Usually he will merge with Blaster Blade who could definitely use the power boost here since he tends to lose a whole lot in the series.

Kai’s definitely a fun main character. I wouldn’t say that he is able to match up to Kouji of course but it’s always great to see him getting a starring role. Kai is definitely one of the best Cardfight characters after all and a top duelist. It’s also fitting that the series gets a lot more serious and emotional once he shows up since that’s Kai’s whole thing. We get a lot of flashbacks during this half as we learn the origins of Shuka, this version of Aichi, Kai, and a lot more.

Kourin is one of the big characters of this half as well. Things never tend to work out very well for her. In the first continuity she was manipulated by Takuto the whole time and had to sacrifice everything to serve him. In this series she was forced to part with her memories and couldn’t get them back again. Despite all of this she is always willing to defend Aichi which is exactly what she is doing now. No matter how far into the darkness he goes, Kourin is quick to follow him. As a result she has mastered her abilities to a higher degree than most.

Kourin can bend reality, time travel on a whim, merge with one of the strongest monsters in the planet, and even mess with someone’s mind. Her abilities don’t seem to have much of a limit which is pretty interesting. Of course in general I wouldn’t say the series puts a lot of thought into the abilities. Even Suiko and Emi seem to be able to do all of that when they want to but rarely do. Everyone here seems to have a lot of fantastic abilities so I guess it’s no wonder that nobody wants to bother with an ordinary Cardfight. Why bother settling everything with cards when you can just blast them out of existence right? It’s always been a meme that this was the case so it was pretty cool to actually see it get acknowledged here.

Kourin gets the short end of the stick every time so I was definitely rooting for her to win or at least get a happier ending this time. The other knights get less of a role but usually at least get a pair of episodes. Naoki for example was a pretty solid opponent. He’s definitely someone who’s always got Aichi’s back at well but once his memories are back he’s not the kind of guy who would keep following orders without questioning them. I did enjoy the twist on what his end game plan was though. It was a pretty interesting one. Meanwhile we have Shingo but that guy is far less interesting. Even this season couldn’t really change that for me. Morikawa loses so quickly you can forget he’s even in the show. Miwa gets a sizable role and looks pretty good. He takes a while to make his move but definitely did more than most so you have to give him some credit there. At least he had his suspicions early on.

Then you have Nome who is effectively Takuto’s replacement for monitoring the universes. I don’t think the guy did a very good job at all. He underestimated the book and at the end he’s ready to just run away instead of solving the issue. He’s certainly no hero which I suppose is pretty clear from the start but I don’t even think he can duel nearly as well as Takuto. For those reasons I would definitely have to give the guy a thumbs down.

Aside from Kouji and Suiko, Ren and Rekka were also sent in to fix the disturbances. There is a twist about this though so lets just say they didn’t do a great job. The heroes should be pretty mad at Ren for sure. At least he was having a lot of fun with his costume as a tribute to Tuxedo Mask though. The show pokes a lot of fun at his character to be sure but he does step in to help when the threat gets really serious. Otherwise he’s content to just troll everyone. Rekka also has a lot of fun with her own gig. She vanishes for large portions of the show though and doesn’t get to help out quite as much as the others.

As for the show’s ending, I suppose it’s pretty satisfying but still not perfect for one character who seemingly can’t win in any timeline. The characters all get their closure though. I do wish that they would all retain their memories of the season though as a little thing I never like is when the characters just forget. I think they should remember and be forced to acknowledge these events forever since it helps make the adventure mean more. Ah well, maybe next time I suppose. I guess with this, this version of the series may be over now. We’ll see what the next timeline brings.

Overall, Vanguard If was definitely an excellent way to celebrate all the characters over the years. It was a very different kind of Cardfight show to the point where it was really like a comedy/parody of the whole thing and it was executed excellently. Kouji was a stellar pick to be the main character here and the show did a really nice job with Emi, Shuka, and Suiko as well. The 4 of them had a great dynamic going which you may not have expected at first. Low key I also thought the show’s decision to have a character narrate each opening was great as well. The dialogue was handled super well along with one of the show’s original themes created for If. That music would make any scene entertaining and mixed in with the fun dialogue it was perfect. Since this show functions more as a spinoff it’s a good launch point if you’re not really into card games and duels so you just want a magical girl show. With all the timelines and flashbacks going on you should be nice and confused and can make this feel like a mystery title. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next show in this series.

Overall 8/10

Beyblade Review


Beyblade has always been one of the biggest anime franchises left that I had not seen yet. In fact I would argue that it was by far the biggest franchise I had not started. Not that honor would probably go to Bakugan, Pretty Cure, or Duel Masters. It’s a lot more debatable now though while Beyblade was unquestionably the top spot. Well, it easily lives up to the hype. This initial season was fantastic and really contains everything you could want in such a title. The cast is incredible and you really feel pumped thanks to the excellent action and soundtrack. It’s easy to see why this one hit it big.

There’s quite a lot going on here but the series opens up by introducing us to Tyson. He’s a kid who really likes the game of Beyblade. One day his life is forever changed when a bully shows up and beats the best player in school. Tyson isn’t about to let that slide so he takes that guy down and realizes he has what it takes to compete in the big tournaments. Tyson gradually meets with other skilled Beybladers like Max, Ray, and Kai. Together they form the Bladebreakers and aim to clam the top spot in the world. They’ll have to win a lot of tournaments along the way if they want to reach that title. It means travelling to far off places such as Russia and England and dueling everyone in their path. Not every match is in an official tournament setting either as the Dark Bladers and evil scientists also want to get in their way.

With 50+ episodes you can tell that there are going to be a whole lot of characters and story adventures to cover here so prepare for a pretty long review. There’s so much to cover that it’s always tough to know where to start but lets go with the technical areas here. The animation is quite excellent as you would expect. You really feel the intensity behind the Beyblade battles. It’s all nice and hand drawn which allows the tops to really have a lot of great movement. For the most part the power levels don’t get too crazy but by the end of the series you have dimensional rifts being opened up by the Beyblade’s power so they still shouldn’t be underestimated.

I also have to give the character designs some major props as well. The characters are extremely built considering that they’re just kids. You certainly would not want to mess with these guys that’s for sure since it looks like they could wreck you in a fist fight as well. It helps to add a sense of danger to the series. For example, there’s one episode where Kai has to infiltrate a facility and tape out a bunch of drones and automatic defenses. Between the serious character design and excellent animation in that episode, it got pretty tense. You always knew the series was not pulling any punches.

As for the soundtrack, it’s pretty large. There are a ton of themes here and they’re all pretty great. Sure, there may be one or two songs that don’t land if you were to really go back and listen to all of them but for the most part they’re all pretty fitting and get you into the moment. One song that really sticks out is Kai’s theme. It’s more of a rap song than the others and seems to be about someone underestimating him. It really works well as his “evil” song during part of Kai’s character arc. It just felt like the beginning of a new era and was a perfect way to launch the climax of the series.

The pre arc of the series is really about Tyson meeting up with his future teammates Max, Kai, and Ray. They all get along pretty quickly aside from Kai who’s always pretty aloof. Interestingly Kai is really the team captain for the first tournament which means that he doesn’t get to actually fight much. That’s the only thing that can be unfortunate as until the final tournament Kai is basically on the bench permanently. He only gets to duel occasionally when someone is injured or in a match outside the ring. Since at that point Kai was the big fighter it would have been nice to have seen him duel a little more. Still, we got a lot of different matches this way which was always a lot of fun.

While all the tournaments are leading up to the World Championship you could say that the others are all part of one grand arc. The heroes get to fight Ray’s old team, then they fight Max’s Mom’s team, and then they fight Kai’s team relating to his past. Each team tends to have something to do with one of the members which makes for a pretty good dynamic there. Each arc consistently gives great moments so there’s never an arc that just feels dull. It sort of goes without saying but the final arc is the best one. We get a lot of great character moments with Kai and the final villains just feel like huge threats. Certainly not the kind of guys you can afford to underestimate. It’s also always a good sign for the show to end on the best arc.

The writing with the show is definitely excellent as well. There are countless great moments and one liners. It’s part of what helps make the character cast so great. If I had any issue with the series it would be that the power levels can be a tad inconsistent. It’s hard to see the White Fang being any kind of threat to the All Starz based on what we’ve seen from them. Their feat of busting a boulder was also good enough where you don’t see how Max was able to compete much in the tournament. At the end of the day though it looks like the energy of the Beyblade depends on the owner’s will power so I suppose a lot of that is really subject to change here.

As you can tell I was quite impressed with this series throughout. It really just kept slamming home runs throughout. Same with the character cast and I suppose now is a good time to launch into those guys. First lets go with the Bladebreakers. As the leader of the group Tyson’s a pretty incredible character. For starters he’s never afraid to jump into battle. When the bully attacks his school Tyson is the first person to jump into action. Similarly whenever any opponent shows up disrespecting Tyson or his friends our lead doesn’t take that lying down. He’s always ready to jump in and put an end to that. His skills are also the real deal. Tyson is extremely confident in his abilities but it is absolutely earned. The fact of the matter is that Tyson is always taking care of his business so why shouldn’t he be confident?

He quickly became the leader of the group and while all of their skills remained fairly equal for a while, by the end Tyson easily surpassed the others in ability. His bond with Dragoon is really strong and helped him unlock a completely new level. Then you’ve got his rival Kai who is the best character in the series. Not only are his skills able to match Tyson’s for a while to the point where he even surpassed Tyson, but Kai is also good at fighting outside of the ring. One of his pretty hype moments was when he infiltrated the villain base as I mentioned earlier. Kai’s definitely more of a loner compared to the others and rarely gets in on the team atmosphere. He does mellow out a bit near the end of course but otherwise he keeps that calm and cool persona throughout.

His Dranzer has to be the coolest Beyblade in the series as well. I also liked the Dark Dranzer form quite a bit. The sheer power level on that thing was insane. Naturally you don’t want to be using an evil Beyblade for long but if Kai had kept that then it’s hard to see him losing to just about anyone. There is a brief moment where Kai turns on the team for power and how much you like the character will likely depend on how you feel about Kai’s heel turn there. I was all for it to be honest. You always want to see the rival turn evil at least once and it was a good excuse to see him take on all of the Bladebreakers.

I would consider Ray to be the third member of the group. In most series you’ve got the big 2 (Main Character and Rival) but then there is usually a third character who is under the top 2 but still considerably stronger to the rest. For example I would say that is Gohan in DBZ, Todoroki in My Hero Academia, Shiryu in Saint Seiya, and T.K. in Digimon. Ray can’t quite defeat Tyson or Kai but he’s still a very intense fighter. He takes a lot more punishment than the others as well as he gets beaten up to the point where his clothes are shredded and his hair comes undone. Nothing is able to take him out of the fight as long as he’s still conscious though. His Drigger is a fitting Bit Beast for Ray as well due to his aggressive fighting style.

I was definitely a pretty big fan of Ray. He’s a lot of fun to watch and you always feel like he has a chance at victory. Then you’ve got Max. From the Bladebreakers who can fight he’s easily my least favorite member although I wouldn’t call him bad. He doesn’t take things as seriously as the first 3 and isn’t really one of the stronger members. That being said, he does get a significant power up near the end which boosts his Beyblade’s defense to an extremely high level. You could make a very strong case that at the very end of the series he actually surpassed Kai and Ray. Not that this is likely to stick for the second season but at least the writers threw him a bone. He gets a big role in the tournament against the American team since his Mom is their captain. It made for a lot of drama that’s for sure even if Max usually ended up getting psyched out in the end.

Then we have Kenny who is more of a coach than an actual fighter. He mostly consults with Dizzi before and after every match as he gives tips to the team. I wasn’t a fan of Kenny. Part of the issue is that since he can’t actually play, it’s hard to really buy into him giving the characters such critiques. He wouldn’t really know how to improve their game if not for Dizzi giving him the play by plays. At least in the Dub version. Kenny also tends to complain an awful lot and doesn’t have fun like the other characters. he would have to easily be the weakest main character and one of the lest interesting ones in the whole show.

Time to talk about the White Tigers. They certainly made for a good threat early on. The leader is Lee and he’s pretty upset with Ray for leaving which you can understand to an extent. It sounds like Ray could have explained things better. Of course once you’re in the ring then there’s no chance for mercy. He was a good villain although it was hard to buy him being able to match the American representatives later on. He must have gotten a lot stronger to compete with them at that point. Mariah gets the biggest role aside from Lee and is also one of the most impressive ones. I still remember how she shattered a boulder with a single swing from her Blade. From the whole show that’s still one of the best feats. It’s why it was hard to buy into her not doing so well in the actual tournament but I could definitely see her getting some good wins later on. She’s a fun Blader and one who is easy to root for. It’s clear that she has honed her skills to a great extent.

The other two members Kevin and Gary don’t get to do nearly as much. Both of them seem to be a lot weaker than the main two members. Gary’s your classic power type fighter while Kevin is more about sneaking around an opponent. The fact that Kevin tried to take down his opponents with trickery outside the ring tells you all you need to know about his skills. He was benched from the team for good reason. Not to say he’s awful or anything but he can’t keep up with the other two.

Then we have the All Stars led by Michael. This team was definitely a lot of fun, I’m always up for seeing an American based team appear and make some noise. Michael was also a solid power hitter even if he didn’t get to duel until pretty deep into the arc. I’d say he’s definitely the strongest member of the team even if they sometimes hint that Emily can keep up with him as well. He has a lot of confidence and is a pretty tough blader. While he is no exception among all the side characters who get surpassed by the end he has a solid road to that point.

Emily is the next strongest member of the group and she’s pretty solid as well. She’s more about analytics than high energy and just pushing her way to the top. That said, it’s an effective tactic which seems to work out pretty well for her. She certainly enjoys messing with Max. Then there’s Steven, the Football member of the group. I like his direct, no nonsense style of blading. He goes all in on trying to take these guys down for the count. Steven definitely had a lot of great moments here. Then you’ve got Eddy who is good friends with Steven. Both of them seem to be pretty equal in strength and both have a lot of confidence. Again, you can see why the All Starz are such a great team. Pretty much all of their members are on point.

Judy is the coach of the team and as Max’s mom she gets a pretty big role here. Naturally she is a bit torn on who to root for and at times it seems like she is rooting for the Bladebreakers. It was good to have a parent who is actually here and contributing to the story though. Tyson’s Dad could learn a thing or two. Even Kai’s grandfather to be honest. The guy seems to be a villain with some big plans but he really has almost 0 impact in the series. You could blink and miss the guy’s scenes to be honest. Boris has a much bigger role as a villain. Now that’s a guy who makes his presence in the series felt and has a lot of pretty good master plans. You don’t want to mess with this guy.

We can’t forget Tyson’s grandfather Ryu. This guy’s pretty fun. He definitely loves being the center of attention and at the same time doesn’t care if people think he looks kind of crazy. He’s just determined to have a good time. Ryu can’t fight in the world of Beyblades but he does teach Tyson how to fight hand to hand which is still very helpful. Nobody will get the best of Tyson in the real world. As for Mr. Dickenson, he’s good for scheduling fights but doesn’t really come through when it counts. I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of the guy although I do like how occasionally he’ll launch a secret plan. It shows that he is at least fairly cunning.

There’s one group known as the Dark Bladers who to me seem like the most pointless characters in the show. No offense to these guys of course, but in their very first big appearances in the “New World” they all get wrecked by the European champs. There’s no point where you can take them seriously for the rest of the show. None of the characters were all that interesting either. It’s a cool name too so it kind of feels wasted on these guys. They’re like B leaguers thinking that they can actually take on the real characters and naturally that does not go over well.

If anything the big villain team led by Tala should have been called the Dark Bladers. Tala was a great villain. He didn’t get to do a whole lot at times but he has a terrific character design and is definitely a real threat which is what you want to see here. He can definitely hold his own with the other characters even if you feel like he wouldn’t stand a chance at all against Kai and Dark Dranzer. His only chance was with Kai in his normal form. Tala really took away the character chances from his teammates though. For example Spencer seems like a pretty tough guy. In fact his water battle was really good and solidified him as a true threat. He never got to duel again after that though so it was a very brief appearance. Same for Bryan. He’s clearly hooked on fighting and is like a battle machine. A lot of potential there but he never really got to take advantage of it.

Finally we have the European fighters. Oliver is pretty interesting since he seems very two faced. He acts nice to the Bladebreakers most of the time and then suddenly he’ll be insulting them behind their backs. As a result I definitely got to give this guy a thumbs down. The fact that the team did not participate in the tournaments because they were unable to work as a team was also pretty interesting. He is a good fighter though. Then you have Enrique who fights in a Colosseum which is a pretty nice power move. How many people can say they’ve done that in the past right? He’s definitely more of a flirt than the others but he hasn’t let his skills waiver so he clearly still practices. I’m not a big fan but he’s okay.

The other two players are a lot better. Johnny is a pretty tough fighter and he is always ready to rock and roll. From the 4 characters he probably gets the smallest role but he’s always a lot of fun. His skills are the real deal and he’s probably the strongest on the team aside from Robert. Robert is the best of the 4 of course. He’s very emotionless so it can be a bit jarring when he tries to be one of the gang and have some fun at the end. In general the European group is pretty interesting because they are all supposed to be top tier fighters but they spend a lot of their time getting wrecked or dodging the big fights so it’s hard to take them seriously.

The show did a great job of having the power levels slowly go up though. Tyson started out as a local fighter who wasn’t really ready to take on any of the bigger members to being a world champion class fighter by the end. At the end Tyson was taking on multiple fighters at once with no real effort which is impressive. Of course the power scaling means that nobody should ever be able to keep up with him again but I suppose with new technology that helps even things out as the excuse can be that new Beyblades have been created which just have better specs.

Overall, Beyblade is just a great series. You can easily get into it and just watch at any time. It’s got the right balance of action and solid character moments. There are a ton of duels here and the replay value is quite high as a result. These episodes really hold up to a rewatch and have a lot of replay value. I look forward to seeing if season 2 can match this one. After all here we got all of the hype initial meetings but of course sequels are always pretty nostalgic when you get to see all the characters return. Either way this is definitely a must watch anime.

Overall 8/10

Lostorage conflated WIXOSS Review


Time to take a look at the final Wixoss season. Well, the franchise isn’t over but this was the latest season at the time at least so that was a big deal. It also serves as a big crossover event bringing the characters from the first two seasons together to meet the ones from the third. It’s pretty balanced because the first cast had more episodes to work with but this whole thing is a lot fresher to the cast of season 3. Additionally the main character this time around is Kiyoi who is the only character to really have ties to all three seasons. She’s a very appropriate pick for that reason. This is definitely my favorite season. I do feel like a little more could have been done with the crossover concept here but it’s a solid adventure.

The season starts with Kiyoi asking Suzuko to help her out. She needs powerful fighters at her side in order to stop the next round of Selector battles. Satomi may have been defeated but all that means is that Carnival now controls his body and is using it for her own ends. Her goals are just as twisted as his ever were. Unfortunately Suzuko is not eager to join the battles again and decides not to help. Desperate Kiyoi also approaches Ruko for help but…Ruko says no as well. It looks like the adventures took an extremely heavy toll on both of the previous leads so Kiyoi will have to deal with this on her own. That’s not a promising prospect.

This is true for several reasons. The main one being that the heroes are all divided right now while the villains have united stronger than ever. You’ve got Akira, Carnival, and an extremely powerful new villain named Layla. Additionally there are other fighters here and even another cosmic being. If the heroines don’t get their act together soon then it’ll be too late. The rules are different yet again. This time there is no end to the battles until there is only one girl left standing. In addition to your LRig you can also summon another one, even having as many as 3 in one battle. The LRigs from season 3 still have their unique special abilities which puts them at an advantage over most of the original cast. Although, super LRigs like Tama can still activate their Rank 6 stage to balance things out.

Another new thing here is if you lose one battle then you lose your LRig immediately. The winner captures the LRig and can use it in future fights. You don’t have the luxury of being able to ask for a rematch or anything like that. It’s a pretty interesting approach although the rules aren’t explained too well. For example Carnival can summon 3 but when Kiyoi tries one of hers gets blown up. I believe the reason is that Carnival’s ability is that she can disregard the rules..but that’s a bit suspect at best. In general my favorite style of play would be the original way but I do like how they are always innovating.

It’s part of why I really enjoyed the Ruko vs Suzuko battle even if the ending was not as bold as it could have been. Ruko fights using the skills and tactics from the opening seasons while Suzuko uses her fancy game altering abilities and tag team LRig style. It may almost seem unfair but it’s how they play the game so it makes sense that a match would go that way. It’s like seeing someone from Yugioh 5Ds fight someone from Yugioh Arc V. The rules are so different by that point but it’s why a fight would be a lot of fun. Ruko’s LRig is far more powerful than Suzuko’s two so then she needs the special abilities in order to balance things out. It just makes for a great back and forth with a lot of tension as they both acknowledge the other’s strengths. Replace the ending of the fight with something more satisfying and this would be the best fight of the franchise.

One thing this season does really well is the slow build up to the eventual meeting. Now, with the season being fairly short this is a risky gambit. I think it would have really benefited from having 24 episodes personally. Of course Wixoss has never had a long season like that but it would have been really good. We would have really fleshed out more of the battles and gotten everyone involved. Still, it’s a great strategy. The tension for the fight starts building early and then they finally fight in episode 10. When you consider that there are only 12 episodes you can see how the build up was done so well. You may already get this from how this review is going but I also just love crossovers. You can milk the hype for the battles as long as you want because once it does happen I’m definitely going to be thrilled to see them return.

Even just little things like seeing the old cast hanging out is pretty nostalgic. It’s great to see Tama as a human since it took so long to get her to that point. The ordeal certainly put the characters through the ringer. Tama’s also such a nice character that you’re glad she got a happy ending. She’s easily one of the most heroic characters and is probably the only one to not hesitate when hearing that her friends were in trouble. Hitoe and Yuzuki could learn a thing or two from that. Seriously, I can’t state enough how annoying they are with all the bad advice to Ruko. Ruko’s the strongest fighter there so why not let her get involved with the battles? At least let her know what’s going on. The constant lying to her is always a pretty bad idea and just makes the situation that much worse.

As a quick tangent, this is also why the opening theme song is so good for this season. I’m not sure if I’m going to say that it is the best theme song out of the 4 but it certainly has the best intro. It’s a very ominous opening beat and it helped that most of the episodes would begin with an ominous note as the theme song starts. The soundtrack as a whole is pretty solid as always and the graphics are up to the task as well. The series has always managed to keep itself operating at a consistent level. In particular Tama’s fight against Layla was excellent, in part because we had been waiting so long to see her cut loose. Both of them are savage hand to hand fighters who don’t have to rely on energy blasts or special abilities. It’s part of why their fights can cut loose with the choreography. It doesn’t hurt that they are also two of the strongest characters in the series so naturally neither one of them is just going to go down without a good amount of back and forth.

So the build up is good and the season really takes its time. As effective as it is, I do feel like the season maybe bit off more than it could chew with the concept. It’s a grand tournament with all of the characters involved but several of the fights have to get cut short as they resolve off screen. Even big characters like Yuzuki only get 1 real duel before being taken out. I mean…in some ways that’s probably a good thing to be honest. At the same time, she should easily be one of the strongest fighters since she is an LRig herself but you definitely wouldn’t know that from how she performs in this show. Then you’ve got brand new villains like Layla walking around with a lot of hype but there isn’t a ton of time for it.

Due to this you can’t say that the season drags on at all though. There’s always something happening. It’ll always be hard to beat the first viewing of the season but this should hold up really well on a re-watch as well. It’s like a Secret Wars event as you have all of the villains going up against the heroes. At the end of the day that’s why it’s easy to see why this is my favorite season. It’s nice to just get everyone on the same page and have a ton of battles.

Kiyoi is a very solid main character. She’s doing her best to take down Carnival and finally end the eternal battles once and for all. If anything you have to give her more credit than a lot of the other characters who are content to sit back until they are literally forced to join in the fights. Kiyoi gets so many twists in her backstory it can be a little hard to keep the timeline straight but clearly she has been through a lot. I was glad she finally got to get some attention here. She certainly does really well in the climax. The climax is basically a free for all with the rules thrown out the window which was a lot of fun to see. The cosmic being may not have had much of an identity but a faceless opponent like that can make for an imposing final boss either way when you think about it.

Of course there are a lot of characters to discuss here so lets talk about them now. One of the big characters who got to return was Akira Aoi who was a big player in the first two seasons. She is back to take names and fortunately she acts a lot more like herself from season 1 before season 2 threw all of her character development into the waste basket. Here Akira is a tough fighter as she is supposed to be. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of time for her but I can’t complain since she gets more duels than most of the characters. She’s just such a great villain that any scene with her is always a lot of fun.

In general the villains have a pretty stacked lineup here. Instead of Satomi we have Carnival as the lead villain and she is a vast improvement. Finally we have a villain who isn’t twisted in some way. Season 3’s Satomi is obvious, The villain from season 2 was also about emotional manipulation with Akira, and then we had Season 1’s main villain who was just messing with people because she could. I still couldn’t buy into that character’s origin story. Carnival just wants to take revenge on the humans which is a very reasonable goal for an LRig. LRigs were either born into misery or forced into it afterwards so they certainly have some very strong feelings towards the characters and for good reason.

Then we have Layla who as I mentioned is a great new addition to the cast. In fact, she may have risen up to be my favorite villain. Of course I love Akira as an imposing threat but as much as I can’t stand what season 2 did to her…it’s technically canon so I have to take that into consideration. Layla has no such events hanging over her head. She’s just an incredibly strong fighter who really wants to take down everyone she fights. She gets quite a few solid wins which was excellent. Her fighting style is bold and impressive as well. There’s really nothing not to like about her character. She was even willing to fight Carnival which was superb. Layla is a character who I wish could have gotten more time. I wanted to see her fight Ruko at her best for more of an extended amount of time.

Chinatsu sort of gets a big role here. So in season 3 she is one of the characters who didn’t get a happy ending. At the end of the day her memories were erased. Suzuko tries to tell Chinatsu not to worry about it but that’s easier said than done. Chinatsu sees this as her way to get her memories back but of course this means that she is no longer a powerhouse in the skills department. The show even teases the possibility of a fight with her and Yuzuki/Hanna vs Yuzuki although they end up not happening. That could have been a lot of fun. Again, this is where extra episodes could have come in handy. In the end she isn’t able to accomplish much on her own but that’s what her friends are here for.

Suzuko naturally didn’t want to enter the battles again but the situation with Chinatsu forces her hand. She does want to get those memories back no matter the cost after all. I would argue this isn’t as selfless a motive as just wanting to save the world like Kiyoi but at least this gets her into the fight. She doesn’t fight much here but is treated with a lot of respect as a Wixoss veteran. At this point in the story she is considered to be the second strongest fighter behind Ruko. She even gets the honor of fighting against Carnival which was nice. I was very satisfied with her fights here.

The same can be said for Ruko although I would have liked to have seen her fight just a bit more. As with Suzuko, Ruko is a veteran to the point where it seems like she doesn’t even fight much anymore. She’s grown too powerful for the game and as always her friends are around to give her the worst possible advice and hide secrets from her. Due to circumstances Ruko is without Tama again for a period of time which is unfortunate since that serves as a big nerf to her. I suppose the writers needed a way to ensure Ruko wouldn’t just clean shop but I do admit that I really wanted to see Ruko and Tama take names. After all, that means even with the fight against Suzuko, Ruko couldn’t use Tama. That’s the fight we all wanted to see after all the build up.

Hanna and Hitoe are examples of big supporting characters who ultimately are forced to stay by the sidelines. There’s just no time for them to do much so they are promptly taken out for the count. Neither fighter was ever that impressive to me so that’s not very surprising. There are a whole lot of other characters running around though as almost every old LRig and Wixoss player were brought back into the fold. It’s just a lot of fun to see these guys back in action. Even characters like Shohei aren’t forgotten as he finally gets some real closure here. Kazuki is given the shaft as he appears for like 5 seconds but that’s definitely for the best.

So this ends up being a very balanced season and a nice way to see all of the characters one last time. The final episode definitely ends things off on a high note. My main complaints would just be the season’s plot being a little too ambitious to the point where it couldn’t totally deliver on what it was hyping up. We should have gotten many more battles with the characters all finally getting to duke it out with each other. I’d also say that Tama seemed to be a little nerfed here by falling in the cage. Fortunately her shadowy partner was around to help out and I’m glad she wasn’t forgotten but they should have been able to bust the cage with ease.

To an extent the new Wixoss rules are there to help mask the short length by having each player eliminated after 1 match. It’s not a bad idea particularly with the LRig being taken each time but I think to make things simpler it should have been that the player is also taken out of the picture. Keeping the human around adds even more variables and potential plots to keep track of. This is the kind of thing that I would consider to be more of a minor issue at best though. It’s not something that would lower the score or anything. I do feel like the score could have definitely gotten higher with more battles and episodes though. Even just having a real ending to the Ruko vs Suzuko battle would have probably added a star. We got a 8-9 episode build up to that fight so I was really counting on a true ending to show who the strongest character of all was once and for all.

Overall, This was a really fun way to end the saga. It may not have all ended up exactly as I would have written it out but I can’t deny that it was a lot of fun. Akira and Layla were great villains while Ruko and Suzuko still make for great heroines. Kiyoi did a good job of taking on the mantle of taking on the mantle of main character as well. At the end of the day that gives you a very balanced show firing on all cylinders. While the Ruko vs Suzuko battle may have gotten the most hype, I would say that Ruko vs Layla was another big hitter and one of the best fights of the season. It probably did have the best animation at the end of the day. Then Layla vs Carnival was great because I always like to see in fighting amongst the villains. It adds a lot of tension and underscores that Layla isn’t some pawn who will just follow orders. She makes sure to have her presence felt the whole time. If you’ve made it this far into the series then you should definitely check this season out. If you haven’t gotten into the series yet then you should at least watch season 3 to really get what’s happening here. Otherwise you’re definitely going in blind and will have to prepare for exposition based on things you don’t know a whole lot about yet.

Overall 8/10