Revisions Review


Revisions should remind you a lot of Attack on Titan in several ways. The main character is big into revenge and the world is quite apocalyptic so it’s got those vibes right from the jump. A whole lot happens in the show and it’s got a satisfying ending so this makes for an impactful 12 episodes. There’s a whole lot left to look at for future seasons so hopefully we get a sequel at some point.

The show starts by introducing us to Daisuke who trains hard every day. The reason for this is that he was kidnapped as a child and saved by a mysterious lady named Milo. She told him to train because one day he would have to save everyone from an impending disaster. Many years have passed though and everyone thinks that Daisuke is crazy. Even his friends don’t have his back and prefer not to even think about that incident which disturbs Daisuke. It’s like they’re just trying to forget everything for some reason. Still, the prophecy comes true when the city is suddenly transported into a desolate future where monsters have invaded. Milo appears again and gives Daisuke a mech suit which he can use to fight the invaders off. Finally all of his training has paid off but Daisuke almost seems happy about this which concerns his friends. Their friendship will be tested as humanity tries to survive this crazy situation.

Right off the bat this is a great premise. For once it’s not just one character who has been isekai’d but the entire city. So you’ve got a bunch of people all trying to adapt to this crazy situation in the future going up against monsters and the like. It also gives us a rare opportunity to se the government’s reaction to this. Naturally some of them crack under the pressure immediately while others stay the course and do what they can to help. It’s a nice dynamic that we don’t see too often. Additionally there’s an alien race that is here claiming they can help but it all could be a trap. So there is a lot going on in every episode.

This show starts off strong right out of the gate with a very powerful first episode. While the show is usually not all that violent, it does go all out in the first episode as the monster shreds everyone to pieces. We get to see which characters are brave like Daisuke and which ones end up cracking like the teacher but more on her later on. I thought the show did a good job of not dwelling on the violence too much while still emphasizing the danger here. Daisuke was also a great character right out of the jump and the mystery about what Milo said at the beginning was also very interesting. I do think that the show doesn’t capitalize on every plot that it throws out there like one involving memories that I thought was going to be a big deal but it covers a lot in 12 episodes. I actually thought this was going to have to run for 24 for a minute there but they do tie just about everything up.

This is an example of higher quality CGI as well. It’s still CG so I won’t say that it’s perfect but we have some solid action scenes here and the character models are good. There are a lot of great still shots that really stand out as well. The soundtrack is also good. I wouldn’t call it great, but I liked a tune or two in there and the opening is definitely catchy. On a technical level the show doesn’t falter and since the story is already good that’s a double winner right there. The pacing is really good and the story is on point so there’s a lot to like here.

The show doesn’t have any real big negatives either. The cast is strong and there’s never a dull moment in the series. There isn’t much fanservice at all and the violence is manageable. This has to be one of the rare apocalyptic shows that doesn’t feel it has to shove numerous character deaths in your face every episode and have everything be grim dark. There are some intense scenes like someone being destroyed in their suit, a few characters get blown up and squashed but it’s usually not as graphic as you would expect. Things are dire for the heroes but they still keep their hope up all the time. Some characters can be annoying and others are traitors but at the end of the day part of the theme is about humanity relying on each other and strong community spirit which works out well.

As I mentioned earlier, I liked Daisuke a lot as the main character. People called him crazy and gave him a hard time but he didn’t let that stop him. He still trained each and every day and never lost sight of his goal. I really like that kind of dedication in a main character. It’s certainly not easy and yet he was still able to pull it off. I doubt very many characters would have that level of conviction. While the characters get worried about him, I do think that Daisuke had his head on straight the whole time. Of course he is excited to be saving lives and using his abilities but I never thought this turned into anything twisted or that he lost sight of the overall goal. Everyone was just really hard on him the whole time and I thought it was a bit much.

He even gets locked up at one point after saving people. A lot of times the characters really don’t appreciate the hero until after the fact, that’s for sure. Then you have Milo who has a big role here. So we get into a little time travel with her and it’s time for me to explain more of the plot. So with the city trapped in the future, the way to go back is to destroy the main core device at the villain’s base. The Revsions (villains) seem to have the tech to voluntarily bring people through but don’t want to. They claim that Milo’s group, the AHRV are the real villains here and want to keep humanity trapped in the future for their own gain. So they will bring some selective people back to the past and this is part of what gets the local government into a civil war. Some believe the revisions and others do not.

It gets a bit deeper from there but you’ve got the basic structure now. Milo is sent on different missions across the timestream in order to ensure humanity’s survival and that is what led her to the past to save Daisuke and the other kids. That past hasn’t happened yet for her though as she doesn’t jump until the future so she doesn’t know Daisuke and friends. It makes for an interesting dynamic where they are just complete strangers to her. Milo is a solid character for most of the show though. She’s a good ally and someone who can actually fight.

She tries to play nice with the government and just be helpful as needed but sometimes this does put her in a tough spot when they get corrupt. On the whole I was on her side a lot until the end where she really started to fall flat. My big issue with her is that she goes way too far in following orders. I figured she would have her big moment where she just tells off the group and does the heroic thing but it doesn’t happen. In fact, she was seemingly about to follow their last order which would have made her a huge villain.

That was disappointing and it did do a lot of lasting damage to her character. It’s difficult to recover from this and so by the end she became a bad character. She cracked under pressure is what it boils down to. She was someone that I thought all of the characters could trust and in the end that was not the case. I like my characters to be independent and break the rules when they have to. Someone who mindlessly obeys all orders will always falter when it counts.

Of course she still isn’t close to being one of the worst characters. For starts you have Yumiko who is a teacher that can’t handle the pressure at all and goes as far as to lock a bunch of students on the roof so that they can get eaten by one of the Revision monsters. Gee that’s real helpful…it would have been bad enough if she just ran off but locking them up there was awful. Then there’s also a brief moment where she seems to be making a pass at Daisuke who is one of her students just so that he can protect her. As the protector of humanity he would have saved her anyway but that was a really bad moment on her part.

We can’t forget about Mr. Muta either. He’s the mayor and the guy is the biggest coward in the series. He agrees to all demands by the Revisions without complaint and doesn’t seem to care about how obviously shady they are. From his perspective, as long as he lives he doesn’t care how many people they murder. It’s a shame that he had to be the leader since he gets the humans into a whole lot of trouble on multiple occasions. Things would have gone quite a bit smoother if he wasn’t involved that’s for sure.

So lets talk about the good government figures here. First up you have Izumi who is a very loyal cop who works for Ryohei and does a good job of watching over the kids. It’s a really dangerous task since she has no mech suit and any of the Revisions could destroy her in an instant. Unlike certain other characters Izumi doesn’t crack under this pressure though. Instead she continues to fight hard and does well within her role.

Another solid character is Ryohei and he’s the guy who really takes charge while everyone else is in a panic. He gets some good plans and actually listens to the other characters as a good leader should. Muta gives him a lot of issues throughout but once Ryohei is really on top then he does a good job of gripping the reins. He’s also one of the few characters who will give Daisuke the time of day. Ultimately he won’t always have the kid’s back but at least he tries from time to time.

As for the other kids, most of the time they tended to annoy me. First up is Gai who seems incredibly jealous of Daisuke for the most part. He really dislikes how Daisuke is always talking about being a hero and saving the day. Gai even tells Daisuke off after the lead saved his sister from almost being hit by a bike. Sure Daisuke may have been a little over the top but the fact that he is trying to protect everyone should really resonate as a positive thing for Gai. I don’t get why he is so upset the whole time. Tensions run even higher when Gai is chosen as the official leader of the mech unit over Daisuke.

Gai gets even more unreasonable from this point on to the point where he asks for Daisuke to be kept off the team for the final mission. He’d rather that the guy rots in jail even if it means they have one less mech suit to fight off an entire Revisions army. Gai lets his personal feelings cut through way too often. He has his share of hero moments but ultimately he’s a really annoying character that is hard to root for. I never thought he was a good choice as leader and most of the fights between the characters are directly his fault.

Lu is much more reasonable and one of the few characters who would stick up for Daisuke at times. She is careful not to rock the boat too much though and tends to not get involved in the discussions too often. By the end all of the kids have mech suits so she is able to help out in the fights too. I thought she did a good job and was one of the nicer characters, I don’t blame her for not speaking out more too. It would be tough to do when everyone is against Daisuke.

I was not really a fan of Marin though. She’s the classic shy character of the group and has a hard time voicing her feelings. She wants things to stay the same as they used to be with everyone being friends but that really has not worked out for her at all. The group is just drifting apart and there doesn’t seem to really be a way around that. She has her spotlight moments in the show but on the whole I wasn’t impressed.

Daisuke’s final friend is Keisaku and boy does he go through a lot. The guy got sent to the future along with his mother so that’s a massive red flag right off the bat. Parental figures tend to have a rough time in these things. Daisuke has his uncle warp with him too but the mother angle will naturally be a whole lot more personal. Keisaku is fairly quiet and also just follows Daisuke’s lead but that means he also bottles things up a lot and is under a lot of stress.

He goes to great lengths to try and find his mother when she is taken and of course most of the characters say this is reckless but Daisuke is eager to help. Again, Daisuke is leagues above the rest of the characters. So I’m with Keisaku on this because with Revision monsters running around there is no time for a slow and steady approach. She needs him as soon as possible after all. Even if he enters a fight that’s a little bigger than him, he doesn’t go down without swinging and doing damage of his own. He did his best to surpass his limits and cause as much damage as possible which I appreciated. He was a very solid character throughout.

Chiharu is the first main Revisions member to get a role. She tries to smooth out the negotiations with the humans and even takes a humanoid form in order to chat with them. That said, I’m not sure that her plan was very well thought out. Her current form at least has some superhuman abilities to it but ultimately she wants to switch to a fully mortal body. I guess everyone wants what they can’t have but it’s a downgrade and puts her in immediate danger. The way things work out for her certainly wasn’t great and in general I would say that the villains in this show were on the weaker side.

The next villain from the big 3 is Mukyu and she has the form of a little girl. She likes beating up on Nicholas while he’s in the teddy form but is more of a follower than a leader. Chiharu makes all of the tough calls and Mukyu just roots for her from the sideline. She doesn’t see the writing on the wall until it’s too late either. The only villain who really looked impressive was Nicholas, but perhaps too impressive. He has advanced gravity powers that can even render a mech suit helpless.

He seems like the most powerful members of the villains by far to the point where the heroes have no shot. I think the show should have absolutely toned that down a bit. It then goes even farther when he has powers that are basically cosmic in nature. Revisions may not be a realistic show but the power levels were very grounded throughout so this sort of broke the logic of the universe. There was just no way the heroes could realistically take this guy down and so the climax does get a bit iffy on the power levels. I would say that the writers got themselves into a hole here. He did make for a good villain though.

There is also a mysterious creature/robot hybrid that shows up once or twice and is pretty cool. This fighter is incredibly powerful and really gives the heroes more than they can handle when he appears. I liked his savage fighting style and for a while there I figured he wouldn’t even be able to get this plot wrapped up before the season ended. The show pulled it off though. This is perhaps another area where the villain was a little too strong but it did make for some good fights. Maybe the show should have just boosted up the heroes a bit to even things out. That would have solved the power level issues and also been cool visually.

I did mention there was one plot which didn’t seem to be resolved though and that involves their memories. So when Daisuke remembers the past and is always talking about being a hero, the rest of the characters aren’t so sure. So then they try to recall the past but all of them remember Milo saying completely different things. In one flashback she says to trust the others, in another she says not to trust anyone, in Daisuke’s she says to be a hero, etc. Nobody can agree on what she said and it’s like she talked to everyone at the same time with different conversations. I thought this was going to delve into multiple timelines or something but it’s never acknowledged or brought up again.

That means we’re probably supposed to just take it as the characters not remembering properly due to stress or something but it’s a bit hard for me to swallow. I wonder if the writers just forgot about this. In general the time travel is a key part of the show so you’d think it would be top of mind but at the same time there isn’t too much depth into the mechanics. Basically the patrol agents go into the past which directly effects the future but seems to not actually create a new timeline. It’s an interesting mix of sorts and I’d like the series to have explained how it works a bit more in depth here.

Agents of AHRV can apparently see multiple timelines at once due to their quantum brains which is another concept that isn’t really explored much. I can’t say that the time rules here make a lot of sense but it does give the writers a lot of freedom to do whatever they want. This is especially crucial in the climax of the show when one character is messing around with multiple points of time at once. It’s a pretty interesting group of scenes for sure and I like the Sci-Fi concepts that mess with your head a bit. I’m sure if needed you could make it all work out with a long thesis and with more time I’d like to do that, but either way it’s an enjoyable scene. Again it stacks the deck too much against the heroes but lets not dwell on that.

The series leaves room for a sequel with how it ends and that’s always a good thing. It would be interesting to see how this all plays out because none of the groups seem all that trustworthy. AHRV is clearly one of those really shady groups that believes any sacrifice is worth it if it will save humanity. The issue is that they have absolutely no scruples as a result and will do whatever they feel is necessary. Probably not the most trustworthy group to have your back right? Of course they’re still better than the Revisions who are basically using sacrifices to power their human bodies.

If they do a sequel, I could see Milo being the only returning character. Have her assist a different timeline with a new temporal problem and that could be the format for the series as it goes on. I think that could be a good focus but it’ll be tough to have a main character as good as Daisuke was. It’s hard to have lightning strike twice like that. As for the villains, we’ll see if they try to go for a bit of gray again. At the end of the day the Revisions were basically victims of how things turned out. They just ended up taking thing way too far in their attempt at revenge and equalizing things. I don’t blame them for not trusting the heroes since the humans are often super corrupt and all but they’re no better with how they sacrifice people all the time. I think the Revisions as a concept were interesting and how they became Revisions but it never went to the point where I found them to be too sympathetic.

There is even the twist about the Revisions monsters which as I mentioned you will see coming right from the jump, but it doesn’t land nearly as hard as this twist in other titles because we’re not given as much reason to doubt if destroying them is still the right thing to do. Based on how it is presented here, you still need to take them out at the end of the day so it doesn’t really change anything as far as the objectives go. I assume in a sequel the whole concept of them would be gone though. Only way I could see them returning is if it turns out that the future didn’t actually change yet and a big plague is still coming. Then the heroes have to try and change the future again and I guess the theme would be that the future is impossible to change and they have to try and beat it somehow.


Overall, Revisions is a great show and I would recommend it. It does a good job of showing characters under stress and bringing some fresh perspectives into the apocalyptic future. You will probably see some of the twists coming while others you will not and it’s just a really solid sci-fi show. It’s got a nice blend of action and fun sci-fi concepts to play around with so you can enjoy it as a fan of many different genres.

Overall 8/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Ultra Romantic Review


Kaguya has been a pretty great show through and through for the first 2 seasons but could it deliver in the third? Well fortunately the answer is yes there. Season 3 is another great installment in the series and this continues to be the definitive comedy series out there. It’s got all the fun interactions and character drama that you could ask for with its usual assortment of references to everything. The amount of detail and care that goes into this show is always very impressive.

I’d say the big arc in this season is definitely the festival at the end but of course we have a lot of fun segments throughout the season so I’ll talk about some of those. The season also has its share of serious moments and in a way you could say this ended part 1 of the series depending on how you break it up. Either way it’s fitting for a season 3 to go all out since it ends the trilogy in a way.

The first episode starts off strong with 3 good segments right off the bat. In the first one Ishigami has to find a way to subtly let Ino know that her earphones aren’t plugged in before the others hear. Considering how mean she is to him on the daily, it’s nice that he’s still looking out for her. It’s not an easy mission by any stretch since she’ll probably yell at him no matter what but fortunately he finds a rather unique way to get around this. I thought it was clever at least and as always he was taking the high road there.

Then you have a segment that really feels like the classic season 1 days with Shirogane realizing that Kaguya doesn’t know how Line messaging works and capitalizes on it. It’s probably one of his biggest clear cut wins in the entire series. It wasn’t a tie or one of those debatable moments, he just saw his opportunity and took it. The whole thing was retro in all the best ways. Finally we had a segment for the arm wrestling which had some DBZ action in there. All in all, that’s exactly how you want to do a premiere. All of the segments were a lot of fun.

In episode 2 we get to see the Ai and Shirogane dynamic again as she is sent to a party to watch over him and decides to mess with Kaguya some more. She definitely likes messing with the main heroine but of course Kaguya reacts quite strongly each time so it’s easy to do. There’s also a segment with trying to get Ino and Ishigami to be nicer to each other although that doesn’t go super well. This episode isn’t quite as strong as the first one though since it doesn’t have any segments that knock it out of the park.

Then in episode 3 we finally get Maki to really get a big role. She’s one character who really took a while to get a big role but makes the most of it. I always thought she was a lot of fun and the show nails her character perfectly. She has a tragic lot in life as the guy she liked ended up going out with her best friend instead. That’s a rather bitter pill to swallow but she takes it in stride or at least as well as she can. She gets two segments in a way as another one was because her friend thought that Maki was tempting the guy away.

The third segment here is finally back to a group game which is nice. Everyone gets to use their own strategies here to try and come out on top. I always like the game segments because they’re super entertaining. Seeing everyone try to accomplish their agendas is priceless and it makes the games a lot higher stakes than they would be otherwise.

After that we really begin the Ishigami and Tsubame plot in earnest. He’s finally trying to get courage to ask her out and this leads to another studying session. Whenever Kaguya teaches him it’s always fun because she’s just a really good teacher. He also does want to learn and so it’s a lot healthier than the Chika and Shirogane dynamic. Of course that one’s a lot of fun too but this is more of a proper teacher and student bond. The final segment is more of a sleepover adventure which isn’t nearly as solid.

We get to have some fun rap segments after that. Rap isn’t really my thing as I tend to find it to be one of the weakest music genres but it works well enough here. Shirogane really gets to try and get his message across this way. Then we have another Maki segment as she gets to vent to her friends. It’s nice that Ishigami and Shirogane are always there for her because otherwise she’d have to keep it bottled in which is no fun for anyone.

Another fun segment after that was the student teacher conference as Ai and Shirogane’s parents help Kaguya out since her guardians weren’t around. They did a good job of stepping up in the moment and it made for a very amusing turn of events the whole time. Beyond that we get closer to the festival arc as it starts to really be around the corner. Shirogane steels his resolve to have her confess by that date so the stakes are still rising.

After that the festival really begins in earnest. We get a lot of Kaguya and Shirogane moments, Ishigami trying to get to Tsubame, and more plots. Just about every character is here and that makes sense since no student can afford to miss the big festival right? Anyone who is anyone will have to attend and help make the whole thing a huge success. The festival is rather long but never drags out or gets dull because of how much is going on the whole time. The whole thing is a lot of fun and of course we get to see Shirogane’s big plan. The whole series will never be the same after this.

As you can tell from the episodes, one reason why Kaguya is so good is because the humor is top notch. The characters are all a blast and have great dynamics with each other. The writing is top tier as well and then the show goes the extra mile with the animation and soundtrack. The theme song’s visuals are really catchy and throughout the show it feels high budget. Then you have the soundtrack which is also top tier. This show is treated like a big budget action title in terms of how much effort is put into it and it shows.

The storyline was also building up to this for a long time so the payoff really ended up working. It all builds together to really make this a masterpiece. I really don’t have any negatives to say about this one. If I had to drilldown on something minor, there was a moment or two where the show would pick a random angle that felt like a tiny bit of fanservice but on the whole the show has been quite excellent at avoiding that. It’s all so minor here I wouldn’t consider it to be an issue. Kaguya is really high brow entertainment through and through.

As always Kaguya is a fun main character here. Her strategies are always on point and the back and forth with Shirogane is the meat of the show. This time you could say he actually had the edge for most of the show though because he had his goal to make her confess while she was still used to him trying to dodge her. It’s like he had extra intel you could say so he steeled himself and wouldn’t get flustered the way he usually would. That’s not something she had previously accounted for which is what put her in a tough spot.

As for Shirogane, his plan was really on point. He put a whole lot into this and it paid off quite well. I always like how he’s determined to learn new talents and everything too. I doubt any character works quite as hard as he does. The guy never really gives himself a breather or any kind of break. He just keeps on improving and working to make everyone’s lives better. It’s why he’s so worthy of the title of class president.

Chika’s role isn’t huge here but she’s always around to have fun. Especially when there’s a mystery to be solved or a game to play. While she may have gotten one of the mysteries wrong, I did like her enthusiasm the whole time. She was so happy when she thought that she had cracked the case that I felt bad for her afterwards. Chika definitely nails the comic relief character role down to an art.

Ishigami continues to be a great character here. His character development has been super smooth all the way through. He’s always trying to do the nice thing and he’s slowly bursting out of his shell. He consistently has great character moments in every season and this one’s no exception. While I’m not really rooting for him to get with Tsubame, at least it’s another way to motivate him to study. His days of slacking off are pretty much over at this point.

Then we have Ino who is still fun but always aggressive towards Ishigami. He can’t really do anything without her throwing some shots his way. Ino always seems bitter about the guy which makes for a fun running gag but as a character you can see why he wants to avoid her after a while. While I would put her as the weakest member of the council for now, she is still a fun character and does add to the dynamic. Right now her friend Kobachi doesn’t at all. I can’t say I’m a fan of hers yet.

Ai is a fun character as always though. Her ninja skills are still on point but gradually Kaguya is learning how to fend for herself and not have to rely on Ai all the time. This also gives Ai more freedom to think about what she really wants and this is a plot that should continue on into the future. Then there is Tsubame and she’s a nice enough character. She did her best to break Ishigami out of his shell and should accept some of the credit for doing that. As for how she took the whole confession angle, it was all in the heat of the moment so all things considered she handled it well enough.

Now for me I’m mostly a fan of Kaguya because of the humor and all of the mind games. It’s what really put the series on the map for me as a top tier contender through and through. I’m less big on the romance in general so as the series gets more serious we’ll see how it can keep up. The first two seasons didn’t really deal with romance seriously at all as it was all about the cat and mouse games. Well, now we’re starting to get more into the serious side of it so I think it’ll be hard for the next seasons to beat the original 3. Still, as long as they keep putting this much effort into it, then they should work well enough. Also while I like Ishigami a lot as a character, I do think his romance plot is a lot weaker than Shirogane/Kaguya’s.

At least as far as romances go, Kaguya and Shirogane’s has been done the right away. It’s been built up for several seasons now and part of why the show is so much fun is because they just want to be the one to win the love game by getting the other one to confess first. So it’s a fun dynamic and once the romance gets serious, at least there’s been a lot of build up the whole time. Ishigami’s is much more of a quick romance in comparison and then with Ino you already have the show hinting that it wants to add some more drama into the mix. Right from the jump you could see how this one won’t work as well and it doesn’t work within the show’s tone quite as well either. There are no mind games to be had here (None yet anyway) and it’s all just a bit basic. Keep Ishigami as the fun video game guy and Ino as the stickler for the rules and then you’re all set.

As a side note, I did think it was fun how they switched up the ending animation for one episode where the characters are in some kind of neon lights band. The animation went crazy on that one but it was fun as a little experimental moment. Then you also had Ai’s brief song which felt really high budget and the music for that was cool. So the show isn’t afraid to mix things up every now and again. It’s a difficult show to predict compared to most and I would say that’s a good thing. You always want to stay unpredictable.

One thing we haven’t gotten from the show yet which would be fun would have been a school against school battle. It’s unlikely to ever happen as the manga is nearly over too but with so many strategic juggernauts in one school, imagine the possibilities of putting them up against another group? That would be a blast and we don’t actually get to see the Student Council teaming up a whole lot like that. Maybe do it as a quiz show or some kind of Olympics event where you keep switching activities. I’m sure our team would win but that whole scenario would be a blast.

Overall, Kaguya delivers another excellent season with this installment. It’s absolutely a show that you could recommend to anyone who wants a fun laugh or a good time. The production values are really impressive and the character cast is super dynamic. You could put two of them into any situation and you’ll be able to get a lot of fun jokes out of it. That’s when you know that a series is really on a good track. There are no weak episodes here and the 13 episodes will really be over in a flash. Now with the movie announced, we’ll see how long it takes to do season 4.

Overall 8/10

Noragami: Aragato Review


It’s time for the return of Noragami! Everything you enjoyed about the show returns for season 2 and the action scenes get even more intense. Part of what made the first season a hit was the stellar soundtrack, solid animation, and it was a good time. The humor was really on point with likable characters to go around it. The only thing holding it back was how annoying Yukine was and that plot’s over now so we don’t have to worry about it. As a result what we get is a season 2 that’s devoid of any big issues like that. It may have a little less time for some of the wacky season 1 humor but it finds its moments to get that across. This one’s definitely a winner.

Season 2 starts off fairly quick with Yato and Yukine completing missions and having a good time with Hiyori. One day Yukine makes friends with Suzuha, a guy who really enjoys working on his tree. The two of them hit it off pretty well but one day Suzuha is brutally murdered and Yukine is upset at Bishamon for not spending much time with him. He feels like she has too many regalia and as a result doesn’t truly know any of them too well. Well, he may be more right than he realizes as one of her regalia, Kugaha appears and kidnaps Hiyori and Kazuma. Yato believes Bishamon ordered him to do that so he sets off with Yukine to rescue Hiyori and destroy anyone who gets in their way.

The first arc here is a full revenge arc through and through. We get to see a more serious Yato like how he was back when he was a god of calamity. Hiyori is one of his main ties to the human world so he really needs to save her but even more importantly, she’s a close friend. Yato saved Bishamon in the past even though she wouldn’t admit it but this time he may have to end her. It’s a very solid arc with a whole lot of action and character development. It also has the single best scene in the whole Noragami series when Yato does a spin move to dodge Kugaha’s attack and instantly counters.

For some reason several regalia seem to believe that the gods are powerless when they don’t have a regalia at the ready but that couldn’t be more wrong. Yato has shown time and time again that he can absolutely dish out some serious damage against any opponent even if he is by himself. He wouldn’t be a true god of calamity otherwise, but I believe the same is true for most of the gods. They tend to get underestimated quite a lot which you think wouldn’t be possible given their titles and all.

Yato is really excellent in this first arc but falters in the second one. I like that Yato doesn’t hesitate to save his friends and was really going all in here. He couldn’t afford to hold back against someone like Bishamon and also talks Yukine into helping out at full power. He’s just a dependable guy and someone that you want in your corner for any fight. Now the reason why he falters in arc 2 is because he allows himself to be easily manipulated by Nora and his father. It just feels too easy especially when he had been on such a high earlier. He should have been able to stay strong and just say no or at least get Yukine involved. Yato has a lot of powerful friends after all and while many of them may not be able to do a lot, I feel like coming clean and contacting them would have been way better.

Just vanishing like he did was really the wrong call and put him in a lot of hot water that he didn’t need to be in. Meanwhile Yukine wins the award for most improved character here and it’s not even close. He’s no longer a delinquent and has also learned to master his emotions. Even when Yato goes missing Yukine doesn’t panic in the slightest and stays calm. He knows that any negative emotions would hurt Yato and so he holds back. He does his best not to be a burden anymore and also to live up to his new position and status as a blessed vessel. He does great in that and while he suffers some self doubt, I don’t blame him. Yato just disappearing like that is still a big blow even if Yukine tries to ignore it. Then getting wrecked by Kugaha at first had to hurt.

In the end Yukine overcomes every obstacle thrown his way though and really ends up being a solid character. Meanwhile Hiyori is solid as always. She does try to fight at times which I appreciate even if the situation may be too dangerous for her to do much more than that. Either way she always proves that she has their back at all times. Whether it’s in a fight or just to say something inspirational. She keeps Yato and Yukine’s spirits up and is probably the best supporter you could ask for.

As for Bishamon, well we finally learn the truth behind the tragedy that happened to her family a while back. With Yato murdering all of her followers it’s definitely easy to see why she bares such a grudge. It’s not like she was ever given a full explanation back then and Kazuma was certainly not going to mention anything. To an extent she was in denial which she admits later on but either way that’s not something you can just let go. So I totally get her wanting to destroy Yato since he didn’t give her a chance to try and save them all. Fighting to avenge your family is a powerful motivator after all and she did well to keep fighting even after obtaining numerous blights.

Bishamon really gets to show off her stamina throughout all of this as she’s put through a ton in the arc. Ultimately she is able to get past the situation but having her family murdered twice is not something you can easily forget. I suspect she will still be struggling with this for a long time yet. At least she is trying to look on the bright side of things though and has a better setup now. She also returns for the second arc and does really well in the fight. It’s a little surprising that the new villain was so powerful that even Bishamon couldn’t do much though. I guess it goes to show that the power levels will keep on rising.

Kazuma was surprisingly really solid here. I remember not being a big fan of his in the manga but in the show he’s really been dependable. He’s a solid teacher and I was also glad with how confidently he took down one of the angel guards. At this point there aren’t many regalia who can challenge Kazuma. A big part of being a regalia is having a lot of confidence and with Bishamon trusting him completely, Kazuma’s got all the confidence he needs. Both he and Yukine get a lot of time to shine in the series and have to be the two strongest Regalia in action. The only possible competition is Nora and she seems like more of a tactical type than pure power.

Kugaha is the big villain in the first arc but I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of his. He also gets off wayyyyy too easily here. I get that Bishamon is a nice person but now you have someone who actually is directly murdering her family and the reaction is way milder than it should be. I don’t care that this guy thought he was a hero, Bishamon should still be taking him out right away. The guy tried every underhanded trick in the book. It’s a shame that they didn’t let Yato handle this because he would have definitely taken the guy down a peg. He wasn’t wasting any time like when he took Kugaha’s hand.

Kugaha is one of those manipulator types so he doesn’t fight on the front lines much but surprisingly he actually can fight when there is no other option. Between his summons and strong borderlines, he’s a legitimate threat to a lot of the fighters. I don’t think I’ll ever grow to like him since his motives are so petty but maybe one day he’ll rise up if he ever returns. His last scene seemed pretty open ended.

Aiha is the regalia that Kugaha tricks the whole time so I can’t say I liked her very much. She made his job very easy with how she was already bullying someone and causing blights on Bishamon. Basically Aiha was jealous because she wasn’t on the front lines anymore. Yes, she was blighting her god over jealousy, that’s just awful. Then meanwhile she was fully willing to do anything Kugaha said and would have possibly murdered Hiyori if Yato didn’t step in. So while she has her big redemption arc, I just wasn’t buyint into it here.

Suzuha was a good character, it’s just too bad that his spirit was broken so quickly. A few words from Kugaha was enough to distract him before he was taken out. Realistically he would have died anyway but maybe he could have put up a fight. That’s the only moment in the season that’s surprisingly brutal as he’s ripped apart. It’s mainly off screen but not the way you want to go out, that’s for sure.

In this first arc we also got to see Yukine’s true form which is a solid power-up for him and Yato. It’s good to see them getting stronger because while Yato is fairly high ranked, he didn’t seem to fare as well as you would expect against some of these fighters. I’d say it’s a mix of Yato holding back and Yukine just not being sharp enough yet. Yato doesn’t really want to murder people anymore and I think that ends up holding him back during a lot of the fights as well. He’s worried that he’ll end up being like his old self.

Then we jump into the final arc where Yato gets blackmailed/forced by Nora and his father into going back to his murdering ways. He murders a bunch of crooks and accepts any mission they tell him to complete. The final one is to rescue Ebisu from the Underworld and then he’ll be free again. The tricky thing is that the underworld is ruled by Izanami who is even stronger than the gods. Getting out won’t be easy particularly as Ebisu insists on stealing her brush which will let you summon demons a lot easier.

Right so I had more issues with this arc like the whole Yato thing that I already went into. I also thought the climax was a bit convenient involving the heroes having to figure out Yato’s true name. Perhaps with the kanji it makes more sense in Japan but if Hiyori just misspelled the name by mistake then that’s way too “destiny” for me. That just shouldn’t be happening. Now I do still leave the door open for this to be a kanji rule where you can break the symbol up into different word variations. Then I’d say that’s okay.

Izanami is really impressive with how powerful she is. Her vines just can’t be cut by Yato or Bishamon. I like to think that with Yukine, Yato would have been able to win though. Because the only reason he’s losing is because his blade isn’t sharp enough so that tells me that the match changes as soon as he has a sharper blade. Yukine should be able to cut just about anything right now so that would be a win. Meanwhile Bishamon did better because she had more weapons but ultimately also ran into the same issue where she just couldn’t land any cutting damage.

It’s Izanami’s domain so she gets an extra buff too. Honestly you feel bad for her by the end because she just wants a friend. The heroes ultimately did lie and betray her the whole time so it’s not like she even started the fight. From the context we have, she is just an innocent person in a bad situation. I feel like Ebisu should have stayed with her since he was dying anyway. There’s no indication that she is actually evil or would have done anything crazy to him so then he could have given the pen to Yato to hold onto for him until he reincarnated.

In this arc I thought Kofuku and Daikoku looked a lot better than usual as well. This time they did stick around to back Yato up even when the gods appeared. So there was no backing off or hiding when the going got tough. They just made sure to keep on supporting him even if they were branded as traitors as well. That’s the kind of determination and loyalty I like to see among the friends.

Meanwhile, Nora is super useful in combat of course but you can see why Yato tries to distance himself from her. She’s always acting rather sinister and the fact that she has a contract with just about everyone is a bit unnerving. You can’t really trust that she’s really on your side. I like to think she would choose Yato over the others but who wants to take that kind of a chance right? She is always quick to pull him to the side of evil too so you want to get bad influences like that out of your life.

Ebisu never hit it off for me here but at least I’m glad that he’s able to fight thanks to his regalia. Ultimately it feels like he had no plan though because imagine what would have happened if Yato didn’t show up? He wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes down there. It’s made clear from the jump that this guy isn’t a big fighter like that so this was all very poorly thought out on his end and he should feel bad since strategy is at least something that he should be able to do.

Ultimately both arcs don’t have clear cut happy endings so you can see why this season’s vibes are a lot more serious than the first season. There’s less time for the characters to mess around because something serious is always happening. You even have some romance drama with one guy trying to get together with Hiyori. Unfortunately when he takes advantage of her she doesn’t immediately report him to the school or her friends and just starts running. I’d like to see the guy get called out one of these days for pulling a stunt like that.

The season has a bit more fanservice than the first one though. Bishamon ends up taking a lot of baths to try and wash away the blight but I wonder how effective that can really be. Seems to me like doing an absolution for everyone would still be easier. Additionally it feels low risk since Yukine’s only got dicey since he was already so far gone. When you’re in good shape I feel like the process would be fairly painless. I could be mistaken on that though I suppose.

One them during the series is that gods can’t make mistakes. Yato explains that any action a god takes is automatically the right one and I would disagree with his logic there. Of course he is a god so he would believe that and he was also mentioning this during season 1. Given what we see from Ebisu and Bishamon though, they can still make the same mistakes as anyone else. I’d say they commit sins too and they just don’t get blighted because of how the world’s logic works. I get why Yato would think this since effectively they make the rules but it’s that kind of thinking that leads to so many of the gods getting overconfident and corrupt.

They all look really shady in the climax after all as they don’t give anyone a chance to sit down and think about what’s going on. They just launch right into their attacks and trying to bump Ebisu off. They’re not exactly paragons of moral virtue. The only one I liked here was the Hawaii guy who was eager to go help Ebisu and wasn’t about to get captured. We learn that he waged war against the heavens once before and based on his confidence I’d say that it went pretty well. I like the fire behind this guy’s eyes and he’s someone to keep an eye out for.

I had some slight power level issues here at times but nothing too crazy. I just feel like Yato’s power fluctuates a lot from being able to destroy the most powerful spell of the heavens to having trouble with Ebisu. Yes, his slashing power is dependent on his regalia but his physical abilities are always on point. He was holding his own with Bishamon and had great reaction times with Kugaha. He should not be having trouble with almost anyone here. I just have to go on the theory that he’s constantly holding back but I can only use that for so long before it gets stale. I assume the whole speech Kugaha made about how strong the Nora are is pretty much fake but at the same time I want to see the regalia have more attacks beyond the single shockwave. There should be a bigger bonus to having a contract with the god that would give you an edge over a nora who knows your name. Otherwise it does feel like you’re at a disadvantage.

I suppose the reason the power levels come to the forefront more here is because of how there’s a lot more action than in season 1. At least true fight scenes so not counting quick battles against the minions. Here you have the heroes going up against enemies who can actually fight back so you get to gauge their power a lot better. The show still has its somber moments and happy scenes of course but you can usually expect a big fight scene almost every episode. The stakes are constantly high and the show gets tense. It’s also always good to see the serious Yato return for the battles since he did have quite the reputation back in the day. You know that he can slip into that persona at any time.

As mentioned earlier, the soundtrack is still excellent like in season 1. You’ve got a lot of very catchy tunes that fit all occasions. From serious themes to comedic ones, the show has great variety. The animation is also great here and doesn’t hold back. All of the fights are really good and there’s a lot of detail. It’s a show that will absolutely still hold up 5-10 years from now and well beyond that as well. The show goes by quickly at 13 episodes but the pacing is really fast so a lot happens. There’s also a good amount of setup for the future story moments as well like with Yato’s dad being around. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of the guy at all since his appearances here are pretty bad. Hopefully he’ll end up being more interesting. The one weakness to the series right now would be that the villains are fairly weak. The guy from the season 1 climax stomps all of these guys so far.

Overall, Noragami: Aragato is a very solid follow up to the first season. It does everything the first did but even better and that’s what you always want to see out of a sequel. Yato is also just a great main character. Another standout moment for him is when Tenjin tells him to avoid Hiyori and Yato just doesn’t. That promise was rigged from the start so I’m cool with Yato breaking his word there. Tenjin was just trying to take advantage of a really bad situation and proved that he wasn’t a true friend in the way that some of the other gods were. Yato may have slipped in the second arc which I still find a little hard to buy into but I like to think that was the last time he will stumble. If you haven’t seen this show yet then you’ll definitely want to jump in now!

Overall 8/10

Yugioh Vrains Review


It’s time to link into the Vrains! Yugioh was always known as the big trading card franchise for a long while as even Duel Masters could not keep up but as the years went by it started to lose its ground at the top. Nowadays you could make a fair case for Cardfight Vanguard surpassing it in discussion at least for the shows. That said, Vrains is the end of the old guard in a sense since Sevens is really the start of a whole new direction. Vrains is another great show so Yugioh continues to go strong there. While I do think it ended up being the weakest of the classic Yugioh shows (Aside from Capsule Monsters and the original show) that’s more due to the high bar set by the franchise as opposed to this one lacking in anything. GX, 5Ds, and Arc V still remain at the top by a longshot, then you have classic and then Zexal, then Vrains comes riding through. We’ll see if Sevens can break into this very exclusive group of shows or if it’ll lag behind.

The show here follows Yusaku, whose alter ego is Playmaker. He was involved in an experiment as a kid that traumatized him as well as a lot of other kids and then the incident was buried. Yusaku has some issues with his memory, why he was there in the first place, and also has trust issues now. So he really stays by himself and the only person he truly trusts is Kolter. Yusaku now works as a hacker so he can find out the truth in the world and he’s also an expert duelist on the side. The only leads he has is the group known as the Knights of Hanoi and SOL Technlogies, and an advanced A.I. program (Ignis) named Ai. Will Yusaku be able to put this puzzle back into focus?

So lets talk a bit about the show as a whole first before getting into the arcs and characters. I do like the idea of dueling while on airboards now. It’s a natural piece of progression after being on motorcycles before. Arc V had rollerblades and flying through the arena so it’s only natural that fighting while in the air would be next right? The characters have to watch out for the constant tornadoes but it’s pretty intense. I would say motorcycles is still the best aside from normal dueling but this one is still cool.

The gimmick for Vrains is also considerably better than the one in Arc V where you could just randomly grab cards. Here you get to use a unique skill once per turn and every player has a different unique skill. It’s an interesting mechanic that doesn’t completely take over every duel so it actually feels rather balanced. At the very least I thought it was handled pretty well personally. It’s a visually interesting ability and with the characters already in the air, the whole thing helps to augment the duel without distracting from it.

I also enjoyed the mystery angle in the show with Yusaku trying to find out about his past. If he had full amnesia or something then that would have been annoying but instead it’s about that one specific event which always raises a lot of questions for Yusaku. Why wouldn’t it right? The whole thing seems incredibly suspect so it’s no wonder that he wants to find out exactly what was going on there. It’s a slow boil as you gradually find out the details of the mystery and that’s handled well.

Yusaku also makes for a very fun protagonist with how rude he can be the whole time. Yusaku is very much not a people person and he reminds the case of this a lot with his subtle burns. He’s never sarcastic but he will put a character in their place with a sharp remark at the drop of a hat. Yusaku is a master duelist so he can also quiet other characters down that way. As the series goes on he gets to be a nicer guy and someone who even believes in the power of friendship but he never completely loses his edge. He’s a solid character through and through as well as someone that all of the villains have to respect as a solid threat.

It was also nice to have various factions running around here. You had SOL Technologies and their various duelists and fighters running around. They even hire a bounty hunter at one point. You’ve got Yusaku and his friends on the heroes side and then you have the Knights of Hanoi with their own schemes to hack the world. So at all points in the series there are at least 3 factions running around and I think that’s a good thing because it always means there could be a wild card running around. It helps to keep things from being too static or straight forward.

Naturally the animation is very solid here. Yugioh never goes for looks that are too fancy or anything but it’s all well detailed and I had no issues with how anything looked. The designs and backdrops are always solid as well as the dueling effects. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable than some of the previous Yugioh titles though. I can’t really recall too many of the individual dueling themes and the English version of the theme song at least was rather underwhelming. So on the music side this one doesn’t quite hold up.

Now I suppose the question is what keeps Vrains from beating the other Yugioh shows. Well, I do think the soundtrack and animation play a part as it doesn’t look or sound as good as any of the others. While it’s not a major deal in the grand scheme of things, it’s still an important factor when you’re going up against elite titles. Faster music would have been good and the animation just didn’t get as out there as you would expect. GX and 5Ds for example came out ages ago but the animation still holds up even better I would say, especially in some of the biggest duels. I don’t even have to go into the soundtrack since those were amazing.

The cast is also a bit weaker overall. There aren’t a whole lot of Vrain characters that I would say are really high tier. One character who eventually got high tier didn’t reach that point in the final season. This was Ai as he was annoying for around the first 100 episodes before finally getting good. For the most part the characters just didn’t reach the next level though and as a result you had less heart pumping duels. The climax of each arc would get fairly intense but I would say that it could take a little while to get to that point.

Now all of these points are speaking relative to the other titles. This is still an 8 star title so you can tell that it is great all around. When you look at the show by itself, I wouldn’t consider these to be true weak points as the show still handles them well. It’s just the little things that can keep you from reaching the top and shattering all of the limits. It’s also difficult following a title like Arc V which was the big crossover saga for all of the series. That may be why this one intentionally tried to be a little more low key and about the mystery/world instead of always being about the duels. At least early on it’s going more in that direction which isn’t even a bad idea. It’s pretty enjoyable to see Yusaku playing detective and to see where that goes.

Now I’d say that’s a pretty good time to start jumping into the story arcs and talking about the characters a bit. The show had 120 episodes so as you can probably imagine, there was a whole lot going on here at all times. It makes for a great adventure and the longer you go the better. So if you’re 100+ episodes and an 8? Well that means you’re in for a treat because that’s a lot of content for greatness. If you’re 100+ but a 7 or lower then that’s still pretty good but it isn’t nearly as mind-blowing or anything like that.

The first part of the season’s more about the introductions. So while Yusaku is on his quest to find the answers, he gets to meet up with a lot of characters both friend or foe. Those who enjoy Link Vrains and those who want to see it go down. The Knights of Hanoi have taken a very drastic approach in this endeavor as they seek to completely delete it which will keep A.I. from taking over the planet. See, part of their concern is that humanity relies on the A.I. too much and so if they ever revolt, the world could be in trouble. While this may seem a little drastic, the show does give them some ammo here.

See, everything in this world relies on A.I. From entertainment to schoolwork, to hobbies, and normal work. Everything is connected with the sci-fi elements at this point. The Knights of Hanoi have seen firsthand how dangerous this can be and so they aim to nip this in the bud. It will of course be a huge inconvenience to everyone who uses Link Vrains but at least it’s not like they’re trying to blow up the planet or anything. It makes for a very interesting goal on the villains part. Then in a way SOL Technologies would be the good guys since they control Link Vrains but they have so many secrets and shadowy figures that it’s not like you can trust them either. At the end of the day Yusaku can only really rely on himself.

That said, I do think SOL Technologies could have done a little better with their council of elders. Those guys talk a really tough game but at the end of the day they can barely fight. You never see them actually running to the frontlines or anything like that. SOL has the money to buy a bunch of bounty hunters and such but I would have liked to have seen these guys getting in some action too. Now that would have been a lot of fun.

As mentioned earlier, Kolter is Yusaku’s main friend and he’s not bad. Hostage situations do force him into some tricky calls later on in the series but for the most part he’s dependable. I just wish he could duel a little better so that he could actively help Yusaku instead of always being on the sidelines. He helps out with the coding and all but dueling is the best way because you can just get right in there without any delay. He and Yusaku also have some good conversations on hot dogs and whether they’re a sandwich or not. I always thought those conversations were pretty cool.

Then there’s Ai. Well, I’ll talk about him a bit more again for the final arc but for the majority of the series I didn’t really care for him. Each Yugioh series always needs a mascot/advisor to the main character. The one in the classic Yugioh is Yami Yugi of course and he’s really serious but then sometimes you may have someone like Astral where you can’t trust him all that much and he’s not a great character. Ai is more on that level as he talks tough but is proven to be wrong every time. His confidence is never warranted and he just holds Yusaku back so there’s no way for me to like him much. It’s not until the final saga that he suddenly becomes a pretty good character.

Now Zaizen is a high quality character. At first he may seem like your classic government worker type villain who can’t fight and just sends goons after Yusaku but there’s a lot more to him than that. One of his motivations for getting to the top is so that he can protect his sister Skye and he even tries to prevent her from dueling for that reason since it can get rather dangerous. He does take it too far but you can get at least why he has that general view. Then when it’s crunch time he actually is able to duel. Sometimes Zaizen does take the easy way out and just follows the company line, but otherwise he will stand up for himself which is always what you want to see.

He looks into SOL Technologies on his own as well and gets a lot of character development. Ultimately I wouldn’t call him a hero but he was one of the most interesting characters in the whole show. Then you have Emma aka Ghost Gal who he would hire to get info sometimes. She’s sort of like a bounty hunter who will do missions for the right price. Typically she leans more on the side of being a hero and doing the right kind of tasks but I wouldn’t say exclusively. Ultimately if you’re willing to pay then she is willing to help out. She can duel very well too so she can take care of herself when a mission goes sideways. She brings a nice dynamic to the series.

Next up is The Gore but I never ended up liking this guy. He’s your classic strong but not very smart guy. There’s a nice touch to his character with how he fights so that the orphans can have someone to look up to. I think if that was played up then he could have been really good but he gets entranced by the darkness several times. It feels like he was always being a traitor and it’s not like he’s an expert duelist either. If his character had gone in a different direction then it could have worked but not like this.

As for the villains, lets start off with the leader Varis. He has a personal vendetta against all Ignis because he believes that they go too far. He doesn’t necessarily have a problem with A.I. and technology itself but since the Ignis have a will of their own they become too dangerous. He really thinks that this level of technology should not be around and so he tries to eliminate them and make a mess of Link Vrains. He has a very solid backstory here to set up this goal and his confidence is always high.

In a lot of ways he will definitely remind you of Kaiba. The two of them have a lot of similarities as characters and are both top of their field. Even by the end of the series Varis still has some edge to him. There’s one fight that he ends up throwing near the end of the series that I found to be a little cheesy though. I get that he wanted to end the cycle of violence but I would have liked him to have stayed the course and gone off to destroy the Ignis anyway. That would have been the ideal scenario for me.

Then you have Specter who I like to think of as the right hand man. The Varis group doesn’t necessarily have full rankings like that but this guy always proved himself to be the most capable fighter. His fight with Skye was really a highlight in the series as it was one of those battles that subverted your expectations several times. His backstory was surprisingly emotional and he just made for an excellent all around fighter. The guy is one of those villains who loves taunting his opponents and he puts this to great effect. The characters just have no idea how to deal with him since he throws them so far off their game.

Then you have Dr. Kogami who is a mysterious scientist who ends up having a big role later on. He’s overshadowed by the other two villains for me but this guy wasn’t bad. He has grand ambitions and has quite a few “All according to plan” moments so I’ll give him that. Maybe if his deck had more of a shiny gimmick to it that would have helped him be even more memorable.

I mentioned her before, but of course we can’t go on without talking about Skye. She plays a big role here as the main heroine and has to balance being a celebrity in Vrains while not letting her brother realize that she even uses the system. That makes for a difficult balance of course but she pulls it off. I liked Skye well enough even if she probably could have used a few more wins in the dueling world. After a while you realize that none of Yusaku’s friends can hold their own (Until Soul Burner arrives) so he really has to pick up the slack for everyone. Ultimately you can always count on Skye to do her best in helping out though.

Now we enter the meat of the first arc which is that Varis and the Knights of Hanoi have constructed a tower. Each duelist they defeat is destroyed and put into the tower. If it isn’t stopped quickly then all of Link Vrains will be taken down for good. Yusaku will have to rely on his friends to help him here but when they are soundly defeated then it’s up to him as expected. Seriously the friends do their best to help but often times they don’t really help much in the grand scheme of things. Yusaku has to do the heavy lifting at all times.

There are a lot of hype duels throughout the tower experience as you’d expect. The three highlights are Yusaku vs Varis, Skye vs Specter, and then Specter vs Yusaku. As I mentioned earlier, Specter is just a master of mental manipulation and I was really impressed with him the whole time. Initially I figured he was going to be more of a throwaway villain who was not going to be ready to fight in the big leagues like this but he proved me wrong. This guy was absolutely ready to swing for the fences.

As for Varis, well the series was hyping up his duel with Yusaku for a very long time and it lived up to it. Technically they had several duels but this was the big one to end the arc so it was extra special. A few other villains also appeared here who were reasonably solid even if they couldn’t top the big two. One was Faust and he’s a bit of a genius although all of the villains are to an extent. He has a solid duel and makes his presence known. After this season he would continue to appear but he doesn’t get to duel nearly as much. He’s more of a supporting character.

Finally there is Baira and she came up with a solid computer glitch that can damage you even in the real world when you duel in Link Vrains. That was no small feat and she made for another solid villain to go up against. Then you’ve got one hero I hadn’t talked about yet in Shima. This is the comic relief character of the series and so I don’t have many positive things to say about him. Comic relief characters can be cool of course but the first step is that they need to be funny and Shima never was. He just tries too hard in his scenes and he’s not even a good duelist. That’s a bad sign in a show about dueling.

Now with season 2 we enter the main arcs of the series. The planet that the Ignis lived on has been destroyed and so now they are appearing on Earth. Some of the Ignis wish to conquer it while others want to take a peaceful approach. Lightning ends up being the ring leader here and he quickly gets Windy on board. Then he uses the cyborg Bohman and his brother Harlin to back him up. Even the Ignis who were on the fence like Earth have to take a stand and the Knights of Hanoi aren’t making it easy to convince them of a peaceful solution since they vow to destroy all the Ignis either way. Yusaku will have to try for peace but is that even possible?

Lightning even ran simulations which showed that eventually war would break out between the Ignis and humans which would cause everyone to die. He ran this simulation numerous times and it always ended up the same way which is why he decided to make the first move. I do like that this does at least give a good reason for why he turned evil like this. If you see that in the future everyone ends up dying every time, then you would probably feel really tempted to attack.

Lightning also just made for a really solid villain. He’s easily the most memorable of the Ignis for that reason and is an exceptional duelist all the way through. Then you have Windy who is also a solid villain. I would say that he doesn’t quite keep up with Lightning in part because he had to be convinced and isn’t a true leader in that sense. Still, Windy does his share of damage and doesn’t crack when he is nearly destroyed by the humans. This was definitely another villain that the heroes had to watch out for.

Earth was my least favorite member of the Ignis. He decided to stay on the fence and also didn’t confess to Aqua quickly enough. He tends to take forever to make a point and ultimately gets captured. His fate is the darkest by far among the Ignis and it’s probably the darkest scene in the series to be honest. You definitely feel bad for him and at the same time it really makes Lightning’s point on why the humans can’t be trusted. There will always be some of them around who will show up to try and destroy the Ignis. This was just the latest example of that.

Then there is Aqua and she’s nice enough but unfortunately her dueling skills aren’t quite on the same level s the others. She’s more of a pacifist but at least is more determined than Earth was. Aqua ends up having a good bond with Skye and does her best to help out. At least she did choose a side instead of staying in the middle so I give her props for that.

Finally we have Flame and I liked him well enough although I expected better out of both him and Soulburner. On their initial appearance it felt like they were going to be the cool rival character to give Yusaku a run for his money and then it never happened. It helps that Soulburner’s human alter ego just isn’t as cool as you would expect. Part of the point is that he’s actually not a super cool dude in the real world but I would have switched that so he was cool in both realms. Would have just worked better right? As for Flame, he does a good job of backing Soulburner up but it felt like he didn’t have a ton of personality most of the time.

He’s a good guy and he can hurl some insults but that’s about it. At least Soulburner has some good rage moments when it comes time to deal with his backstory or fighting against Varis. So there would be full episodes where Soulburner actually was really cool. It doesn’t happen all of the time but when it happens that’s definitely cool at least. Now it’s time for the 4 villains in this arc. First up is Jin and sure he’s being manipulated the whole time but that means he is still showing up as a villain here.

He just didn’t end up being nearly as cool as he could have been as a result. The guy has no willpower and is really just a puppet to be used the whole time. Considering how long it took Kolter to find him, it would have been nice if Jin was more helpful. Maybe give him one big duel before he gets brainwashed. Then you have Bohman who gets brainwashed a lot as well. The guy is given different memories each time just to mess with him. The reason Bohman is cooler though is because at least he can duel really effectively.

He gets stronger in each duel and by the end he even learns how to have goals of his own. He has some really solid duels throughout and you just grew to like the guy. Bohman is a great example of a fun villain. Not saying you’ll be rooting for him or anything like that but like Lightning he at least has a fairly good thought process on what he’s doing.

Then there is his brother Harlin. That guy’s more on the emotional side for the villain as he has a hard time really appreciating Bohman until it starts to be too late. Harlin’s confidence well exceeds his overall dueling ability so he doesn’t stand out quite as much. He’s decent but you just won’t be putting him above any of the other big villains. Finally you’ve got Shepherd who is a bounty hunter and a nice wild card to throw onto the field. You definitely don’t want to underestimate this guy and he even got Yusaku into a sticky situation several times. He also can’t stand A.I. like Varis and that makes him another good character to have around. He’ll attack both heroes and villains depending on the job and I like those kind of characters. Shepherd will do whatever it takes to fulfill his own ambitions.

Finally we’ve reached the final arc which is rather short but very impactful. It raises a lot of good questions and it also what made Ai go to being a fairly high tier character. So the season starts off with Ai making a big choice. He realizes that the Ignis were right and declares war on humanity. He will take them all out and just needs to obtain the two card keys from SOL Technologies. After Ai obtains the first one, the heroes know that he is serious about this. Somehow he has become a world class duelist with exceptional cards though so defeating Ai won’t be easy. Pretty much every available character is rounded up to stop Ai but will they really be enough to defeat him? With Yusaku being shaken up at the revelation, it won’t be easy this time.

The whole A.I. vs humanity angle is something that the show goes into quite a lot as I discussed earlier in the main Ignis arc. It’s really an interesting plot and I like it when the show goes into this. The humans are always attacking them after all but it was still very surprising to see Ai going to the other side. He usually just gets beaten up by everybody but still bounces back with a smile. It turns out that he was looking at things a lot more seriously than he let on. He probably should have talked with Yusaku before going out on his own though. Ai ends up being very impulsive when it matters.

It would normally be hard to take him seriously though which is where the show did an excellent job with his character. He gets a whole new design and actually looks really good. Now he is a fighter that the heroes can’t afford to underestimate at all. Doing so could cost the planet. Naturally there are a lot of twists and turns here as well as infighting with the heroes. After all, the season is still close to 20 episodes so it’s not like the whole thing could just be the Ai duels. Fortunately the other duels are still a blast as well. This was a fitting way to end the series and it was really hype as a climax.

The ending of the series is very final and does feel like a good way to wrap things up. There is one scene in the final episode that definitely helps to give it a good buff. It’s the kind of scene that I enjoy having there as a positive twist at any rate. So that’s the story of Yugioh Vrains and it’s a good one. Of course I didn’t go into details on some of the twists and turns here so you can get into it on your own. That way they’ll really have a lot of bite and substance to them. There’s no way you walk away from the series with any feeling other than just being happy and thrilled.

Overall, Yugioh Vrains is definitely a great series. I would recommend it to any anime fan, whether they’re someone who is already into Yugioh or someone looking for a good show. Either way it’s easy to follow and a good enough starting place for any future Yugioh fan. As I wrote above it’s a great show that’s well balanced in all areas. It’s also emotional that this is effectively the end of the traditional Yugioh shows. We’ll see if Sevens is able to top it as the start of the next gen or not. Either way you won’t be forgetting Vrains anytime soon.

Overall 8/10

Kaguya-sama: Love is War? Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Megaton-kyuu Musashi Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Black Rock Shooter Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10