9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Review

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At this point, who hasn’t heard of this show right? It became a pretty popular title back in the day and I’m sure that the fanbase is still strong right now. I had heard of the show and knew that it was supposed to have been very different from the average magical girl title because there were some dark twists. This did worry me to an extent especially when I saw one of the big names behind the show, but Madoka Magica actually ended up being a fantastic show and one of the greatest anime of all time. It’s not something that I had expected (To put it mildly) but it just goes to show that any show has the potential to be great if it plays its cards right. The show starts off with a bang and never lets up!

Madoka wakes up one day to witness the end of the world as a magical girl fights against a powerful deity. The girl appears to be losing and a creature asks Madoka if she wants to help change this fate by becoming a magical girl. Madoka thinks long and hard about this and then wakes up from her dream. Was it really a dream though? In the real world, she has had a perfect life. She never lies or does anything wrong and is essentially as good a person as one can be. The girl from her dream appears one day along with the creature and the Witches start appearing. Magical Girls must hunt and destroy the Witches to keep people safe and the creature is really determined for Madoka to become a magical girl although everyone else tries to stop Madoka from making such a decision. What could possibly be wrong with becoming a magical girl?

I’ve mentioned in the past that a few shows have managed to really feel like movie quality titles with a great soundtrack, writing, and animation staff. Unfortunately, the three shows that pulled this off all ended up being pretty bad by the end. (Attack on Titan, Fate/Zero, and Sword Art Online) Aside from those three shows I can’t say that any other title has ever had that big budget movie effect for me. Even shows that I love like Yugioh GX and Digimon Data Squad while they are amazing, still felt like classic anime and not necessarily that mainstream theater effect. Well, now I can finally say that I’ve found a great show which pulled it off. If you can imagine how I enjoyed the overall development of the previously mentioned shows when they didn’t end up turning out well, you can imagine just how great this was for such a good show.

First of all, Madoka Magica has the greatest opening in anime history. Not the opening in terms of music, but the opening scene. Within the first 2 minutes, the world is already on the brink of destruction and we see a big budget fight between a deity and a magical girl. I have to quickly pat myself on the back here as I knew that the magical girl in that scene would be my favorite character in the series immediately. One glance at her and I knew that this was a character who wasn’t going to mess around and who would be a deadly fighter. I’m glad to say that my instincts paid off and she was definitely a shining point of the show although the writing was so good that virtually every single character was great so she did have some steep competition. (Never a doubt though)

When your first scene is that epic, you know that the show is going to go places. Seriously, name a better opening scene to an anime. There is none and I doubt that there will ever be a better one although it is always possible. (Like an opening scene to a new Megaman EXE show where Bass is fighting someone with a high budget. That would be amazing) Immediately you can tell that this isn’t going to be the next Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon’s a fun show, but this one destroys it in an instant. This show is a better Sailor Moon than Sailor Moon, a better Fate/Zero than Fate/Zero and a better Serial Experiments Lain than Serial Experiments Lain.

Why did I pick those three shows in particular? Sailor Moon is self explanatory as they are both magical girl shows where the heroes fight villains with their powers. Fate/Zero tries to be really deep and philosophical with a lot of dark themes like Madoka, but Madoka pulls them all off so much better without going overboard. Finally, Madoka can also be very abstract at times like Lain, but it’s far more interesting. You could make a case for Madoka being the greatest anime of all time, but Yugioh GX still holds that honor. However, it’s impressive in and of itself that Madoka could be so great in only 12 episodes while GX had 180. If GX had ended after the first 12 episodes, it’s safe to say that Madoka would win. No other 12 episode start to a series can match up to this title.

I’ll start to actually discuss the show and the characters in a minute, but let’s cover the rest of the technical information. The soundtrack is incredible and easily a 10/10 for the show. The opening theme song is the only weak part and the actual music is still really good. The images just aren’t that exciting and while that is the point, I could do without the metaphysical Madoka meeting herself as that was a little on the fanservicey side even if it was all meta, which I am slightly more lenient with. It’s still not really needed. Beyond that, look to the ending theme as it is one of the greatest pieces of music in all of anime. It’s a great opera styled theme that is similar to what you would hear in Tsubasa and it really sets the tone for the battles. There are also many more opera themes as well as fight themes, which makes for a very epic soundtrack. It doesn’t get much better than this and the end theme will probably be my favorite theme to listen to for the next year or so until I find another really cool theme. I never keep a favorite theme forever due to a mix of hearing it extremely often so that I am ready for a new theme and the fact that there are always new themes to listen too.
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As you would expect, the writing is impeccable and the series wouldn’t have been able to have been as thought provoking or interesting if the writing was not as good. The characters are all typically polite or politely rude (Think of it as being passively aggressive in their manner of speaking) so they don’t resort to swearing. The logical loops and deep thinking will make you think as well and you’ll have to choose a side many times since the characters disagree with each other. It’s all handled very well and you will definitely be engaged at all times.

There is only one moment when the writing falters and it is to make a point about how the Earth may not be worth saving. Several characters come to this conclusion and I’ll go into that more in a moment as some of the points are fairly valid. Still, you should SKIP THE SCENE. It’s really the only bad scene in the entire anime and while it is trying to prove a point, you can still skip it and you won’t miss much. Just have the remote ready when Madoka’s friend Sayaka is on the train and you hear two guys talking. They essentially try to cram in as many swear words as possible in that minute and it’s a pretty terrible scene. They are cut off before they can say that dreaded f word and they presumably don’t live through the experience, but you don’t need to hear their dialogue. They’re just being generally gruesome and skipping the scene will allow you to enjoy the episode a lot more. It’s only about a minute or two so you seriously aren’t missing anything.

The animation can be a little hit or miss depending on what style you prefer While the characters are not in combat, the animation can be a little abstract and the characters always have lines in their eyes. It’s odd and the characters feel like they are in a sketch half the time, but I quickly grew to enjoy the style. It’s not something that will fit with all titles, but this one pulled it off. I wouldn’t call the animation amazing though as it is simply good. However, once the fights starts, the animation quickly rises up to epic levels of awesomeness. I would call the animation amazing during the battle scenes. They are very fast paced and trying to keep up with the action is one of the fun parts about watching the show. The heroes seem to have limitless variations on how they can use their abilities, which fits the abstract style. Their abilities are certainly great and I’ll talk about their powers more later as the series is definitely fairly high tier.

The abstract scenes are always fairly interesting. Usually, it’s just a bunch of unrelated images that hit the screen and if there’s some kind of meaning to them, you likely won’t get it. It does make for a lot of very interesting backgrounds and minions though. Everything just looks so crazy and insane that you’ll feel like it’s all in some kind of acid dream. If handled poorly, this could have been bad, but it’s very interesting to see what the animators can think of. It’s not overdone and it does show how chaotic the Witches are. Between the creepy laughs and the cotton balls with mustaches, there is always something to capture your attention.

Madoka is the main character of the show and she’s certainly the most innocent of the bunch. She’s essentially led a perfect life as she has never lied or really done anything wrong. Not literally of course as she has likely made mistakes, but she has always made sure to do what is right and never lost sight of that. Once she finds out about the other magical girls being hurt, she wants to become one and help out, but everyone gives her a tough time about it. Let’s just say that her becoming a magical girl would present a dangerous situation for everyone. Also, it would mean breaking her ties with family and friends since there are a lot of circumstances that would be tough to explain in her situation and her life would certainly be changed. It would also force Madoka to make a lot of tough choices. She tries to please everyone, but that is impossible due to how everyone wants something different.

She does a lot of crying during the show as a result, but it’s a lot more genuine than the average lead. Madoka does a great job of fulfilling the lead role. She doesn’t actually get her powers for the majority of the show so if you’re waiting for that, it will be quite the wait even though the theme song spoils what her costume looks like as well as all of the posters. Her final decision in the show is great and she really thought it through on all angles, which shows how intelligent she is. Her ending can be seen as sad depending on who looks at it and you need to have strong emotions and believe that what you are doing is right if you don’t want to fall into despair. Madoka had complete confidence in what she did so the ending turned out to be a happy one for her. You don’t come across a main character like this very often. I would mention Madoka’s abilities, but they mostly don’t come until the end. I can say that she fired pink arrows, which are fairly powerful. Her main powers are tougher to describe and while I could give you the general idea, I don’t want to spoil them because it could hint at her overall wish. You’ll need to watch the show if you want to figure it out!

Sayaka is Madoka’s best friend and she gets a fairly large role in this adventure. She ends up getting super speed as her main ability along with unlimited swords at her disposal. She has less raw attack power than the other members, but she makes up for this with her high speed regeneration. She ends up being the weak link on the team for sure, but she means well. Unfortunately, she decides to use her wish to help someone else anonymously. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but she ultimately starts to realize that this may have not necessarily changed her life for the better and that’s when the doubts start to come through. Her ending isn’t quite as happy as the other characters, but she still got closure and she meant well. She was a good friend for Madoka and her strength allowed the lead to make it so far through the adventure. Sayaka was very outgoing and always ready for a fight.
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Homura is easily the best character in the show and it’s not even close. As I mentioned earlier, I knew that she would be the best before 2 minutes had even passed by in the show. First impressions are important and Homura started out strongly with her first fight scene. She ended up being one of the strongest characters in the series as the only one who can really hope to challenge her from the heroes is Madoka. Most of the villains are child’s play for her except for the ultimate evil. Homura’s ability isn’t revealed for quite a while so I’m a little hesitant to say exactly what it is like with Madoka’s. Needless to say, she can control one of the elements of reality, which allows her to put up a good fight against anyone. Thanks to the extent to which she can control this, there is literally no other super power in this show that can counter her. Homura could defeat the rest of the magical girls in an instant thanks to this and the whole show is essentially a constant reminder of her strength.

Watching Homura mop the floor with the rest of the cast is always very satisfying and even the ending is fairly accurate. I can safely say that there is no plot hax in the ending as the villain being too powerful makes sense. Homura’s ability is great, but the one thing that she is lacking is offensive power. If something is strong enough to block all forms of conventional weaponry, then there is nothing that Homura can do. That is essentially her limit and while she can still outclass most of the opponents that she fights, there will be some that even she cannot defeat. Homura is very powerful, but she’s not insanely overpowered and that’s always a good mix. (Although I like overpowered characters as well.)

From all of the characters, you could argue that Homura has the toughest road. It’s even sadder than Madoka’s as Homura has a very tragic history. She is always trying to help out a friend through her actions, but the task proves to be nearly impossible. Despite all of this, Homura manages to resist the feeling of despair for quite a while and ends up helping a lot of people along the way although she acts reluctant about it. For her purposes, Homura must put on a mask of coldness so that others will find her to be calculating and unfeeling. In reality, Homura cares a lot about what is happening. Still, she is not Madoka. She does not care about what happens to the world, she simply wants to protect her friend. Homura is a very deep and interesting character. She’s certainly one of the best characters that I have seen in a while.

Mami is my least favorite member of the magical girls. She has the least amount of willpower and she is quick to take drastic measures that never help out the situation. She has mastery over strings and also has unlimited guns. From all of the members, she seemed to have the widest arrange of techniques and it was fun to watch her take down whole armies with a single combo. She was certainly powerful and while she wouldn’t be a match for Homura or Madoka, it’s safe to say that she could beat Sayaka and Kyoko. As a villain, she’s a good character, but I’m not crazy about her as a hero. Her latter scenes really destroyed the character even if Mami meant well. Mami just didn’t know all that much about the contract so she was mostly just leading the other characters astray unintentionally. Mami is not necessarily the kind of friend that you want to have by your side although it was definitely happy for her that Madoka showed up as fighting alone for eternity definitely does not sound like a fun thing to do.

Kyoko is the tough member of the group and she uses a spear. Her abilities were probably the most limited as she was mainly just good at slashing at high speeds. She’s quick and still proved to be more than a match for Sayaka, but she never looked overly impressive. It’s safe to say that Homura would have crushed her had the battle kept going. Kyoko’s personality shifts the most from the members as she goes from being a cold blooded killer to remembering what it means to truly be a magical girl. Her character got a lot of development and by the end it’s safe to say that she even passed the main character for me. She was really likable at the end and she was certainly willing to risk her life to save Sayaka. Things may not have turned out so well, but Kyoko never backed down and stood by her beliefs. I also like her policy about not wasting food and her wish was pretty selfless. Unfortunately, the people affected by the wish did not respond very well to it.

As for the Witches, a lot of them have names, but you won’t remember just about any of them since they come up so quickly. It doesn’t matter as it’s not a big deal, but the designs are still fun to watch. Typically, the Witches just get curbstomped as the heroes open up a clinic of combos onto them. The exception is the final boss, Walpurgisnacht. Walpurgisnacht is an incredibly powerful Witch who is immune to all methods of conventional weaponry and her attacks come in very quickly. Given how many minions are available to Walpurgisnacht, it is said that no single magical girl can defeat her. It’s safe to say that this is true for the most part and that’s why the Witch makes for a great final boss. She’s even got a really cool evil laugh that you’ll want to watch out for.

The new villains who replace the Witches aren’t quite exciting. They are the Wraiths and as far as we know, they all look more or less the same. They may appear in the film or maybe they just won’t be a focus anymore. They appear to be very slow, but there are thousands of them so their quantity helps to overshadow their lack of quality. I don’t see any of them being as powerful as Walpurgisnacht, but maybe they’ll surprise me. Either way, their designs aren’t bad as far as minions are concerned.
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Even the supporting characters are fairly likable in this show. Hitomi is another friend of Madoka’s, but she is not chosen to be a magical girl. As a result, she is typically only around for the slice of life scenes, but I like to think of her as the Fluttershy of the series. As polite and sincere as Madoka is, Hitomi is even nicer typically. She does end up stealing someone’s potential boyfriend, but she does it in a fairly nice way. Hitomi never lets up with her polite lines and she’s a good friend to the other girls. You would typically expect at least one bad influence as most shows have a classmate who’s terrible, but not this time. Madoka’s mom is also very nice and she was an entertaining side character as she tried to rise to the top of her business. She gave Madoka encouraging words whenever the situation called for it and she opted to trust Madoka up to the very end. Madoka’s father got less of a role, but he seemed to be a nice guy as well. The only supporting character who wasn’t that good was the love interest for Sayaka and he still wasn’t as bad as I expected. He’s the kind of character who overreacts a lot and never seems grateful, but even he apologized for his behavior later on, which is something that you usually wouldn’t expect. A little more gratitude would have been great, but this is better than nothing.

Kyubei is a very deep character and a fun mascot for the series. Upon first glance he seems like a very innocent creature who’s just looking out for the heroines, but you quickly find out that he has some ulterior motives. He needs energy to save the universe and that’s where he starts to come to odds with the humans. He is essentially just using them and he knows that they will ultimately be destroyed and their souls will forever be lost. He knows this, but he doesn’t really care as he is the embodiment of a population which can feel no emotions. As a result, if each life that is lost can save another thousand, it is certainly worth it in his book and the final death will save an entire universe. Looking at it that way, his motives make sense. Many of the characters dislike him by the end and they feel hurt by his choices, but I never actually disliked him.

See, most of his points actually made a lot of sense. Now, I’m not justifying his decisions and saying that he is a hero because he is not. Kyubei still did not tell the main characters all of the details, but I do agree with him about the fact that he told them enough. Kyubei did warn that making a contract with him means that your life will be at an end, but you could gain whatever wish you desire. In a sense, he is asking if any wish is worth losing your soul and living the rest of your life in nonstop battles against Witches. This is a deal that is naturally not worth taking no matter how you look at it. Trading your life for a wish is an interesting matter and one that could work. If you knew that you could save your family or a friend in exchange for your life, a lot of people would be willing to do it.

Your soul is another matter. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about that in the real world as no one can snatch your soul away from God provided that you have given your life to him. Only you can choose to take your soul back and ultimately lose your right to Heaven. Still, you can redirect the example. Would you be willing to go to a dark path in order to keep a friend or relationship? Hopefully you won’t make the wrong choice there and the characters are forced to make some tough choices. Luckily, there are themes of redemption and second chances here and Madoka helps the other characters to have a happy ending although they all go through some tough battles with despair. In short, one’s soul is infinitely worth more than their life and you should be wary of making any sort of deal with it here.

Still, Kyubei did make sure that the terms of the deal were clear and he always gets the character’s permission before undergoing the contract. Kyubei is quite fair in this matter and he always talks very eloquently. He also got me when he brought up the classic animal debate. The sad part is that he is not wrong. He explains that he gives humans much more respect than they give their animals. This was the only part of the show where I was legitimately worried. For a moment there, I thought that the show was going to jump the shark with animal violence, but luckily the show narrowly avoided this as we got some abstract images and then some peaceful ones with animals. That being said, the point was valid.

Many animals are slaughtered each and every day in order for us to keep consuming meat. It’s why I’ve always had great respect for the vegan lifestyle as it does save many animals. If everyone were to live like that, many more animals would be alive. Unfortunately, it’s not something that will ever realistically happen and I do eat meat myself. I love animals so it may be a little hypocritical to eat meat and it’s a tough debate. Perhaps it seems futile to not eat it or I just like to hope in the back of my mind that the animals were at least ended in a humane way. I don’t think that I will ever stop eating meat, but I do feel bad about the consequences of such an act and recognize that it does hurt the animal race. Hopefully some day, there will be no need for animal violence in this world with technology. At least in Heaven I won’t have to worry about animals being hurt anymore. This argument nullified most of the points that the main characters brought up about them being tricked with the contract completely so I give Kyubei a lot of credit here.

I also thought that the main characters overreacted with some of the twists. What happens when their soul gems turn completely black felt a little obvious given that it is literally their souls. The plot twist about their bodies also wasn’t that major if you ask me. It was a twist all right, but it doesn’t actually change anything about what status their body is in. So, I understood Kyubei’s confusion at their reaction even if he doesn’t completely understand the concept of emotion.
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Another concept that the show deals with is whether or not the human world deserves to be saved. Naturally, the heroines are magical girls who fight to save the humans and thus the world from the Witches. Many of them begin to wonder if the mission is something that they are interested in and most of them come up with different answers. Homura doesn’t care what happens to the world and she just wants to help her friend. It’s a bit of a natural response and one that makes a lot of sense. When you turn on the news each day, something terrible is constantly happening and you can easily understand the argument of how humans are plaguing the world. Acts of unspeakable cruelty are likely happening this instant and you wonder if we would all be better off if the world just blew up.

Kyoko just fights to help herself and it’s another attitude that many take. As long as you help yourself and get the best of life, your life will have been satisfying right? Of course, many people figure out the hard way that it just isn’t that simple and end up being unfulfilled. Others will end their lives thinking that is was great until they see what is in store for them next. Sayaka wants to help others, but when you fight your whole life just for the sake of helping someone once, you risk being depressed on the outcome. For example, if you work overtime for many hours to help the boss finish a project, but then get no recognition in the end, you may feel like the whole thing was just a waste of time. Helping others is always great, but you do have to think of yourself a little as well.

Naturally, Madoka does the best job with this. She essentially represents the purity of someone who just wants to help everyone have a better life and she is satisfied with doing so. She essentially gives everyone a second chance and they can hopefully find redemption. You can draw many similarities to the Cross and the death of Jesus. If I wasn’t a Christian, I would honestly just agree with Homura’s view. The world really can seem like a bad place at face value with terrorists everywhere and you are essentially living in a corrupt world. When you look at how our world is turning away from God and how so many people just believe that there is no God, it’s easy to wonder what the point is as many people will not be saved. Luckily, with the Bible and its teachings, we know that there is always a chance for redemption and you can never give up.

Redemption is one of my favorite themes in media. No matter what your past is, you can always turn things around as Jesus always gives you another chance. It’s not to say that you can abuse this by constantly sinning and going back since Jesus can sense what is in your heart, but if you generally want to turn your life around you can do so. You’re not saved by acts, but through submission and trust in the Lord. Madoka saw the world and instead of focusing on the bad, she saw the good parts of life and tried hard to help everyone. She definitely experienced a lot of sadness as you certainly will when you care about everyone so much, but she never lost faith in the fact that she could help everyone. Nobody is every beyond hope and so long as you believe that, you will be willing to keep on trying to help people. There are many people who will never be saved and who will keep on committing vicious acts, but you need to focus on the fact that you will be able to save others. Even if you only save one person during your journey, that is one person whose future has been rewritten and it will have made your life worth the journey.

Hope and Despair naturally play big roles in the show as well. Once you feel despair, it is all over and your soul is lost in the show. Homura was my favorite character and she tried to cling onto hope right until the end. She went through unimaginable hardships trying to help her friend as she relived the same month over and over again watching helplessly as the future kept on happening. Still, she tried and tried to save her and this showing of friendship and loyalty was very well done. Having a friend like that is certainly an amazing privilege. Even Homura began to feel despair towards the end and we’ve all gone through similar times of doubt and hopelessness, but so long as you remember the positive points of life you’ll be okay. Even at the very end of the show, a message plays stating that someone is always fighting for you so don’t give up hope. For us Christians, we know that God is standing by our side through tribulation and strife so we must never give up hope even when things look bleak.

It’s one of the reasons why the show probably has the best ending in anime history as well. While I can’t say that I am 100% positive of this like I am with the opening scene, I can’t think of an end scene that beats this one. That inspirational message at the end was great and the ending turned out to be happier than I would have guessed. Homura has not quite bought into the redemption message and still believes that the world is not worth saving, but she continues to fight for her friend. She is truly a loyal individual and I hope that she can see the world as Madoka sees it someday. After all, the second chance opportunity applies to her as well and she is such a great character that I’m hoping she will see the light. She is still fighting the villains so there is always a chance and we know that she will never give up.
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One of the good things about the show is the fact that it manages to avoid the fanservice trap for the most part. There is a scene which you can describe as fanservice in the opening that I thought wasn’t needed even if it is trying to be meta as the main character meets herself. It then takes a break until the final episode (Unless you count transformation scenes like in Sailor Moon, but even then, most of them are simply skipped or pass by very quickly) where two characters meets each other on the astral planes. There bodies don’t have any defining features so it’s fairly safe, but it can still definitely be called fanservice. I’m slightly more lenient on the meta stuff, but it’s also a scene that didn’t really need to be handled like that. Still, it could have been much worse and was still not that bad. Actual fanservice would have forced me to have taken away a star from the show so I’m glad that it didn’t come to that.

I mentioned earlier that the series is pretty high tier so let’s talk about where it stacks up. Madoka vs Sailor Moon is certainly a classic debate and I’d say that the overall consensus is that Madoka has the slight edge. I would agree with this although I don’t think that it’s too slight. Most of the magical girls in this show could easily crush the whole team of Sailor Scouts and I can’t think of many magical girls who can oppose them. All of the heroes are incredibly fast and very durable. While they wouldn’t be able to overpower the opponents in titles like Naruto and Bleach, they are still skilled and stronger than I had been expecting. Homura and Madoka in particular were much more impressive than I could have thought. There’s also one character in the show who grows so powerful that she makes the One Above All from Marvel look like chump change by the end. She was basically able to alter the universe itself and perform time paradoxes with ease. This is power on a multiversal level and it’s safe to say that I hadn’t been expecting anything like that. It was a pleasant surprise and her meta feats were much better than the usual ones.

While Madoka Magica does deal with some dark themes, I would ultimately call it an inspirational story full of hope. While things look bleak many times, it also shows us how hope can always make a difference and we see many characters who have strong bonds with each other. The ending is a little on the uplifting side even if the memory plot is always a little sad. I prefer when everyone knows everything that has transpired. At least one character remains in the know which is more than I would have usually expected and that’s definitely a good thing. The character even gets a power up out of the deal, which is always a fair trade.

The show is also very mature with its themes, but it’s handled appropriately. We don’t get any gritty moments or overly violent scenes just for the lolz. It’s mature in the sense that the characters are dealing with serious problems, but the show is rather tame. In terms of violence, it’s less violent than the average shonen show and there are only some moments that have blood. None of it is excessive and it never gets bad. The romance plot that is around is also handled delicately and is nothing like what you would see in current films. The rival in the romance plot is even polite about the whole thing, which is fairly rare to see nowadays. This is just another check mark for Madoka Magica.
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Overall, Puella Magi Madoka Magica was an incredible anime. Of course, you could probably tell that from how positive this review was. The show was very moving and every part of the anime was fantastic. From the soundtrack to the writing to the fights, Madoka Magica can hold its own against any show. All of the characters were very well developed and it’s amazing how the show could accomplish so much in 12 episodes. It accomplished quite a few things like having the best opening scene of all time, the best ending theme of all time, one of the best final scenes of all time, and just being one of the overall greatest anime of all time. I have a feeling that the movie won’t be able to match up to this show, but few things can. This is definitely one of the most unique anime titles out there and I highly recommend checking it out. Whether you are a fan of action, slice of life, or you just want to watch something thought provoking, this will fit the bill. You won’t have seen a show quite like this one.

Overall 9/10

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9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Cardfight Vanguard Review

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Cardfight Vanguard has quickly risen up the anime ranks and it is currently the third greatest show of all time. The series controversially decided to leave the old cast so that we could get a sequel series in the form of Cardfight Vanguard G. I have no doubt that it will be a great sequel, but I can’t help thinking that they’ve made a grave mistake. It’ll be extremely difficult to pass this series. If you’re looking for action and good visuals, you’ve definitely come to the right place!

The first season is around 60-70 episodes and it starts the franchise off on a high note. The world is engrossed with a mysterious game called Cardfight Vanguard. Aichi Sendou is your average student who is a little on the timid side, but he’s always liked the game. A bully steals his card, but then gets it taken from the local pro so Aichi is forced to duel this kid. His name is Toshiki Kai and Aichi crushes him in the first episode. Of course, that means that Aichi is now on everyone’s radar! The show stays on a day by day schedule for a while until the plot really begins. Kai had a friend who goes by the name of Ren. Ren has now unlocked Psyqualia, which allows you to win any game of Cardfight. This is practically cheating so Aichi needs to put him in his place, but that will be difficult. He enters a lot of tournaments and gains experience, but defeating Ren and crushing his evil ambitions may get dangerous. Aichi is also getting tempted to join the dark side.

Season 2 began the Asia Circuit and once again, life was back to normal. Everyone just had fun playing Vanguard and things seemed right with the world. This couldn’t last as Aichi woke up one day to find that his deck was erased from history. The whole clan had been wiped out or so it would seem. None of his friends have any memory of it. Aichi’s only chance is to win the VF circuit so that he could meet Takuto and force him to spill the beans. Takuto is suspect number one since he always has an evil grin, happens to be rich, and just looked downright sinister. Aichi teams up with Kamui and Misaki, but this isn’t quite the dream team that you would expect because Kai has joined up with Ren on another team. No worries, Ren’s a good guy now, but this will make Aichi’s journey a lot more difficult. Throw in new teams like I.T. Genius and Leon’s group and the journey will definitely get intense. The climax also involves a mysterious entity that sticks around for the next 90-100 episodes.

Next up was the Link Joker arc and it’s easily the best arc in the entire franchise as well as being one of the best arcs in anime history. I would probably say that it is the second best arc of all time behind GX’s Yubel story. The theme song perfectly sums up the plot as Aichi appears with his friends and then they start to disappear. See, a mysterious foe known as Link Joker has appeared on the planet Cray (I’ll talk about that later) and it is eliminating all of the clans. The infection spreads to the human world and it takes over Takuto, using him to take over Kai. Kai is now going across the planet as he defeats many fighters. When a character loses to someone with Link Joker’s power, they are reversed. Being “reversed” means that the person now works for Link Joker and their dueling abilities are greatly strengthened. One by one, most of Aichi’s friends are corrupted by this force and he will have to finally win on his own. His friends have provided him with strength in the past and now Aichi will get to return the favor. Still, can he beat a foe who was able to beat Kai (Arc 1 Boss), Ren (Season 1 Boss), I.T. Genius, (Season 2 Sub Boss) and almost all of Aichi’s other friends? This will definitely be Aichi’s toughest challenge. It’s also the final season of this saga that is dubbed, but at least it got to end on a high note.

Finally, the anime took a pretty big turn as the final arc is pretty different from the others. Aichi has disappeared..the main character is gone! Kai realizes that nobody else remembers who Aichi is (Sounds like season 2’s plot a little eh?) and that people only remember if he defeats them in a Cardfight. He recovers the memories of Misaki, Miwa, and Kamui. Before they can help the other friends, a group called the Quatre Knights appears and warns them not to interfere. The heroes are crushed by these new villains and they will need to get a lot stronger if they want to win. They will have to do this on their own since letting the other friends in on the action will put them in danger. Kai has been through a lot of tough duels, but this will be his toughest challenge yet. The question is…what happened to Aichi and why are these Quatre Knights able to use super powers? It’s time to find out!

Before I go into the characters or why the show is so awesome or even about the planet Cray, let’s go through some of the more basic positives. One of them is the stunning animation. It really looks dynamite and it puts a lot of other current shows to shame. NarutocoughShippudencough. The colors are all very vibrant and I really like just about all of the character designs. You can bet that I won’t be forgetting Aichi or Kai anytime soon. Aichi’s new look for the final 2 episodes of the show is more than a little dicey, but it’s only 2 episodes and I liked his first 3-5 designs so I’d say that the show more than filled the bill there. Watching the monsters duke it out is great and they look very intimidating. Watching the Link Joker arc will let you see just how intense a cardfight can really get. It’s pretty amazing just how great everything looks.

Naturally, this wouldn’t be a proper 9 star rating without an elite soundtrack right? I’m confident that it could have theoretically gotten a 9 anyway, but soundtracks are so pivotal for shows that I’m glad Cardfight brought us such a good one. The themes are great right from season 1 and we also get a signature theme for Link Joker in the third season. I can’t think of any new tunes from seasons 2 and 4, but I’m sure that they brought in something. The battle themes really make sense and some characters like Kamui have their own themes, which makes their battles feel more unique. The show also had 8 openings and they are all good. Some are definitely better than others and I don’t think that the first opening of Link Joker aged very well. That’s quickly countered by the other two Link Joker openings, which are downright amazing. Season 4’s second theme is pretty incredible as well. Once again, Cardfight manages to never let us down in any of the areas that really matter.
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All right, let’s take a look at the cast. Aichi Sendou is the main character and he definitely gets a lot of character development as the series progresses. He goes from being a total rookie to being one of the most respected and talented individuals to ever play Cardfight Vanguard. His confidence also goes up through the series and we see him become very heroic and noble once the Link Joker arc occurs. He’s essentially the perfect main character and he’s basically flawless. Aichi can be a little naive as he believes that anyone who plays the game must be a good person deep down, but at least he always tries to see the best in everyone. His role in season 4 is controversial to say the least, but I’ll discuss that later on. All in all, it’s really tough for a lead to pass Aichi and he’ll forever be known as one of the elite characters.

Toshiki Kai is the rival of the series and he eventually becomes the main character for the final season. It’s a pretty big step up since it’s rare for the rival to steal the spotlight from the lead. He starts out as a loner who is obsessed with being the best player in the world, but through his own strength. He doesn’t wasn’t Psyqualia or any shortcuts to get more power. He has a brilliant speech in his two part battle against Takuto, but the ending gets a little dicey for him. His character development is much like Sasuke’s, but you could argue that it’s a little more emotional. Kai’s easily my favorite character in the series and he does a good job of playing the rival role. He maybe gets a little too into the friendship angle in season 4, but he more than makes up for this once he duels the opponents. He is easily one of the best rivals of all time.

Misaki started out as the senior member of Aichi’s little group. Kai was the mean loner, Aichi was the heroic rookie, and Kamui was the inexperienced kid who always rushed in first. The dynamic definitely made the team feel complete. Unfortunately, Misaki started to get the shaft towards the end of the series. After the pre arc in season 3, she only got a few duels and she didn’t even get to win any of them in season 4. She definitely ended on a relatively low note. Her dueling abilities never seemed to be very impressive as her skills seemed to halt after the VF circuit. It’s entirely possible that Kamui and Naoki surpassed her. She’s a good ally to have on the team and her strategic style of playing the game was unique. Misaki may not have had much to do at the end, but she’s probably one of the best main Cardfighting heroines that we’ve seen so far.

Kamui rounds out Team Q4. You could say that he’s the lucky member as he gets to be a main character for the sequel series as well as this one. He does get phased out during season 3 in favor or Naoki, but he still gets a mini arc there, which isn’t bad. His hot headed personality definitely makes him a fun character to root for. Unfortunately, he does have a subplot where he has fallen into romance with one girl while another tries to divert his attention to her. That subplot I definitely could have done without and it never goes anywhere so it really was pointless in the end. Kamui may not always have the skills to back up his tough talk, but he’s definitely an exceptional fighter in his own right. He was one of the few characters to get his own theme, which is pretty impressive.

Ren is the main villain of season 1 and he may remind you of Creed from Black Cat, at least his attire. He was corrupted by the abilities granted to him by Psyqualia and he will use these new talents to take over the world. This skill has allowed him to surpass even the great Toshiki Kai so you can imagine why he is so feared at this point. In season 2, he becomes more of a rival. He interacts with Aichi, but he’s more of a rival/friend to Kai as they used to be when they were kids. Perhaps to make up for his evil ways, Ren is now extremely polite and nice. His character definitely did a complete 180 to how he was before the Psyqualia. That’s how he stays until the series ends. Ren still keeps his dominant Cardfighting abilities though and while he may not be stronger than Kai anymore, they are certainly at the same level and continue to pass each other.

Leon has a pretty sad history and it resulted in him going with a dark power to survive this ordeal. He makes for a pretty climactic boss in season 2 and his skills are to be feared. After that, he helps out a lot in the climax of season 3 and he even trains the heroes in the final season. He’s a rival figure like Ren and I would say that this mainly applies to Aichi this time. Leon rarely interacts with Kai and they don’t even get to fight in season 3. That would have been great, but it’s safe to say that Leon was outmatched. I consider Leon to be a little weaker than Ren and it was cool to see Leon face off against his future self. There are some plot elements that makes this a little dicey, but it was a daring strategy that was fun to see. It shows that you always have to duel with your best effort since the future is now. Leon’s wind gimmick is also a pretty good one as it never gets annoying or too obvious.

Kourin is the main member of Ultra Rare as she certainly appears a lot more than the other two members. She is a mysterious figure who arrives to challenge the heroes randomly during the first 2 seasons. She works for a mysterious man named Takuto and she is also a master Vanguard player even though she is supposed to be a pop idol who shouldn’t even know much about the game. She eventually rises up to become a main character during season 3 and a lot of twists start to occur. Kourin definitely gets one of the saddest conclusions to a character arc from anyone in the show. Things just don’t end on a happy note for her and it can be tough on her fans. She was a good character from start to finish, which is why it’s regrettable that she couldn’t stick around. Her final deck is very dangerous and even Kai has a lot of trouble with it.
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Naoki goes from being a character who missed the first 2 seasons to ultimately being one of the most important supporting characters. His role is probably the most important aside from Kai once he is introduced. He just started playing the game so he is a rookie, but that doesn’t stop him from challenging pros like Kai and Aichi. He improves at a rapid pace as he duels the other opponents and he’s a serious contender for world tournaments by the end. He’s more of a hot head than Kamui and he used to be known as a bit of a delinquent so he definitely doesn’t back down from the villains. He does a good job of standing up to his opponents and his confidence never wavers. His deck may not be as flashy as some of the other characters, but he gets the job done. While his appearance does start to throw Kamui and Misaki out of the show, it’s hard not to like him. The show did a good job of making him likable so quickly considering that he entered the show pretty late.

Shingo is another new character who debuted alongside Naoki and he’s not even close to as talented as Naoki. He loves reading about Vanguard, but that doesn’t always translate well into pure skill. You could say that he is more of a beginner at this point and even by the end he is not a serious threat to any of the villains. He continues to insist that he is a better cardfighter than Naoki, but nobody ever really buys that. His dedication to the game is impressive I suppose, but I definitely wouldn’t have minded if he had not been introduced. Shingo’s a good example of a supporting character who came in too late and didn’t end up becoming likable.

Morikawa is one of Aichi’s pals from season 1 and he eventually becomes more of a guest star figure who pops up once in a while. He’s always very confident and it can be easy to root for him, but his obsession with Kourin definitely hurts any chance that he had of really being a likable character. It turns out that he is actually pretty good at the game when he doesn’t have to create a deck. (So he would fit in pretty well over in Buddyfight) but that’s more of a comedy gag than anything. He never gets any serious moments so he really is used as the comic relief of the show. Admirable, but he could have been better. At least having one cool moment or big fight would have been epic.

Miwa has been Kai’s best friend for quite a while and he always helps the rival when he is in a pinch. Whenever Kai is in a pinch, Miwa is ready to step in and help. His duels are always full of passion and Miwa tends to bring a well rehearsed speech with him, but he is almost always doomed to be defeated. It’s too bad since he’s a likable character, but he rarely ever gets to win. I can’t think of a single high stakes duel where he was able to be the victor and that’s pretty sad. Nobody wants to lose all of the time and Miwa is shown to be a very good duelist, he just happens to always fight top tier opponents.

Emi is Aichi’s sister and she’s a supporting character who appears quite a few times. She never gets a big moment where she has to face one of the villains or anything like that, but it’s good that she likes Vanguard. It’s possible that she could eventually get a big role in Cardfight G since she is probably a very good player by now. Likewise, Manager Shin is another character who is always around, but never gets to duel. He likes to crack jokes and keep the atmospheare light so that the heroes can bounce back a little easier after they are crushed in Cardfights. It would be good if he could at least fight a little though since he’s so far out of the loop that he can barely even give moral support.

Rekka is one of the other members of Ultra Rare and while her role is not huge, it’s of a decent size. She gets a good amount of duels and she even becomes a temporary rival for Misaki. Her abilities are definitely potent even if her deck doesn’t appear to be very good. She’s always pretty cheerful and in that sense she’s similar to Ratie Curti. She does like to taunt her opponents once she’s safely in the lead though so it’s definitely not all nice when facing her. She makes for a good antagonist.

Suiko is the third member of Ultra Rare and you’ll ultimately wonder what the point of her addition was. She mostly just trolls the other two members and she rarely ever gets to duel. She’s meant to be the mysterious member of the group, but since that plot ultimately doesn’t go anywhere, it just ends up feeling a little pointless. I definitely did not care for her character.

Takuto is the leader of Ultra Rare and he’s a pretty sinister figure. He wants to help the Planet Cray so he’s always involving people in his plots. He actually erased the memories of the Ultra Rare members, which is how he brought them over to his side. It reminds you that this guy can’t be trusted and he’s definitely a villain. Takuto also doesn’t let Aichi know why the Royal Paladins were taken away and it’s definitely hard to forget that. When Takuto is taken over in season 3, it’s hard to feel bad for the guy. Takuto ends up being one of the strongest cardfighters to end up playing the game, but it doesn’t help his personality. As long as you remember to think of him as a villain, he’s not bad. He’s definitely pretty threatening and his evil voice is intense. It’s like a DBZ moment as he continues to power up.

Tetsu is the muscle of Ren’s organization and he’s always ready for a good fight. His skills are definitely formidable and while he is not at Kai’s level, he can win some tournaments on his own. He grew up with Ren and Kai so it’s only natural that he inheiret some skills. He does whatever Ren wants and I think that he should have tried to stop his ally when Ren went off the deep end. Tetsu definitely isn’t perfect, but he’s a nice guy deep down, which is what counts. He’s certainly not evil and he makes sure not to drag innocents into Ren’s plans.

Asuka is the third member of the team and she always wants to impress Ren with her circus themed deck. It doesn’t make for very entertaining duels, but Asuka is definitely a talented fighter. She goes up against Misaki a few times and she typically seems like the more impressive Vanguard player. She doesn’t really level up or switch decks though so she always appears to be at the same level. It’s a high level so that’s good, but it would be nice to see her get some development and a new deck to boot. Her infatuation with Ren can be a bit much, but she’s likable otherwise.

Koutei is the leader of Team Caesar and he’s pretty great. He’s extremely optimistic and whenever he makes a speech, the theme song tends to play in the background. He uses a Mecha deck and it has really helped him through the years. He makes it to the final round almost every year and it’s just his bad luck that Ren is always around. It’s a bit of a running gag that he always loses the fights that matter, but he manages to stay really confident despite all this. He never lets anything get him down and he’s a shining beacon throughout the series. I definitely became a fan of his rather quickly and it’s always a thrill to see him duel. It’s no exaggeration to say that he’s one of the best characters in the series!

Yuri is on Koutei’s team and she ends up being yet another rival for Misaki. Misaki ultimately ended up with 3 rivals, which is pretty impressive since some characters like Kamui never got to have a true rival. Yuri is the tough member of the group and while she is not as strong as Koutei, she was good enough to make it to the finals in the team tournament. Koutei always blew that opportunity since he simply cannot beat Ren so Yuri always did her part. She’s a pretty good character and her bond with the other members is a strong one. The third member is the one who doesn’t really have a point here. His name is Gai, but he is usually pushed around by Yuri and he’s actually not a very good duelist. You could say that he is basically just along for the ride….no wonder his role is so small eh?
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Gouki is the leader of Team Handsome and he is only a threat for a couple of episodes in the early part of season 1. He’s fairly weak, but he can be considered tough when you are just starting out in the world. You can compare him to Iruka from Naruto. Naruto probably couldn’t defeat Iruka when he was just starting out, but by the time he got to the Chunin Exams you could make the case that it could actually be a close fight. Gouki definitely helps Aichi improve his skills, but he doesn’t do much after that. He was never my favorite character so I wasn’t sad to see him go, but he was still pretty decent.

Chris is the leader of team genius and he’s the only member who really matters. His two sidekicks never really get to do anything and while they talk tough, I was not impressed with them. Chris unlocks the power of Psyqualia, which greatly improves his game. While one of his partners is distracted with romance and the other one’s desire to be the best isn’t very strong, Chris is the capable leader of the group. He always shows up when there is trouble and he proves to be a tough obstacle when he is reversed. I never liked him as a character though because he is a little too full of himself and he doesn’t seem like he can back it up. He’s too inexperienced to compete with the other big leaguers like Kai, Leon, or Ren. He’s naturally still a pro, but he’s definitely not the best one.

Gaillard is the (unofficial) leader of the Quatre Knights and his abilities are exceptional. Not only is he one of the best European fighters on the planet, but he has supernatural abilities that come from his ring. He has the ability to create blue fire and he can create his own environments for when he is cardfighting. The loser receives “judgment” which means that they suffer a severe burning. Gaillard can be pretty unreasonable at times, but he does everything in the name of justice and he believes that he is doing the right thing. He makes for a good rival to Kai in season 4 and it would be cool to see him appear again. Gaillard could very well be in the top 5 strongest characters in the series and it would be fun to see him fight someone like Ren or Leon.

Neve is another member of the group and his powers involve thunder poles that zap his opponents. He may get to have the most impressive resume from the group since he never loses to anyone aside from Aichi Sendou. It’s all right to lose to the world champ so there’s definitely no shame there. Neve’s country is in the middle of a civil war so his circumstances are pretty dangerous. This has also helped him to close off his feelings for when he’s in the middle of a job and he always brings his A game to a cardfight. He’s certainly not as interesting as Gaillard, but he’s a great fighter.

Serra is the only member who doesn’t have any heroic ambitions for what he does and let’s just say that his sob story is a little sinister. In his family everyone had to fight in order to survive with the loser being thrown out and losing his finances. Serra beat everyone, which is how he survived and he is a tough cardfighter. It’s hard to gauge just how tough he is, but his skills do seem to be worthy for that of a Quatre Knight’s. You’ll likely be rooting against him whenever the guy is on screen and he is certainly the least likable member of the team.

Ratie Curti probably has the best backstory since she always liked donuts. When she first appears, you’ll probably be expecting her to troll the main characters before she beats them up, but she is just naturally happy. It can make losing to her all the more bitter as she’ll be having fun as you get stabbed by her vine powers. She’s doing what she needs too in order to save Planet Cray so she’s all right with taking down a few heroes. If they’re in her way, then it’s time for them to be removed. By the end of the show, she has learned more things and she will probably end up being a more likable character.

Now, you’re probably wondering what the rules for Cardfight are right? It’s significantly different compared to Yugioh, which is good since it means that Cardfight was able to make it into the world on its own merits. On your turn, you are able to “ride” (summon) a unit of your choice as the vanguard. You must start at 0 and every turn you are able to level it up. You can have up to 3 monsters in the front row at once and then you can put 3 in the back to power up the front row units. Whenever you attack with your avatar (center monster) you can flip over a card in the deck. If it has a symbol on the top right hand corner, then it will give you some kind of bonus effect based on what color it is. You may not want to always summon all of the cards in your hand either since those are used to block attacks when it is your opponent’s turn. Level 1 cards can perfectly nullify any attack if you discard another one. Those are the basic rules of the game.

More advanced techniques start to show themselves as the season goes on. You lose when you take 6 damage. There is a chance to not take a damage point when you flip over the card from your deck. Before putting it in the damage zone, check to see if it has a green chest on the top right. If it does, then you can recover one damage. You can also flip over 2 damage points to activate one of your counter blast’s. (A technique that a monster has) You don’t heal the 2 damage, but it’s still useful. A Limit Break requires you to flip 3 cards and it’s an even stronger ability. There are other abilities like riding the same monster on top of another one and using “Seek the Mate!” That’s the final ability used in the series and it’s definitely not the greatest one out there. The whole 4th season was about this, but I was never crazy about the addition. Basically, you can summon 2 monsters in the center circle instead of one, which makes for a better ability. So, it’s technically strong, but it’s just not as impressive as some of the other abilities.

Season 4 will definitely raise a lot of questions and I think that the show went a little too far in its quest to make Aichi look like the ultimate villain. Before now, Aichi was rather timid although he became commanding when the stakes were high. In season 4, Aichi travels the world recruiting powerful Cardfighters to help him and his personality definitely seems a little different. Even as he attempts to recruit Ren, he doesn’t seem like the Aichi that we remember from the old days. Where did he get the money for his constant road trips and how did he harness his Link Joker abilities to perfectly? Aichi created a large fortress on the moon and warped himself there while also giving Kourin back her memories before transporting her to the moon. He found out how to seal the Link Joker seed and also gave the Quatre Knights objects of power that gave them super abilities. It even allowed them to erase everyone’s memories. The abilities are pretty cool, but Aichi naturally loses them when he turns good, which is regrettable. I think the writers could have found some more realistic ways to make Aichi undergo this big character change, but the premise is pretty hard to swallow as it is so I suppose that there wasn’t a whole lot of things that the writers could do this time. He even bashes the concept of friendship and lets the heroes know that it can’t solve everything. The scene will make you take a step back as you quickly start to root against Aichi. (Although he does make for a great villain)
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The writers do a good job of handling the victory speeches that the heroes make. Typically, a character wins when he makes a really heartwarming speech, but that is not always the case here. There are many times where the stakes are high and the main character makes a huge speech, (Sometimes even a 2 episode speech) but ultimately ends up losing the match. You’ll find yourself shocked at the outcome more than once and that’s definitely impressive. I think that this maybe goes a little too far in season 4 when the heroes manage to lose just about every fight, but it still ends up being pretty unexpected so I’ll give the writers some props there. By the end of the show, Aichi and Kai may be two of the greatest cardfighters on the planet, but the show wasn’t too cheesy and showed that the other characters are still pretty outclassed compared to the pros. I wanted Misaki and Kamui to win at least one match, but technically I suppose that they would be expected to lose such a fight.

Cardfight Vanguard’s writing is very good and that comes in handy for the early part of every season. As with Yugioh GX, the show typically has a very light themed atmosphere that quickly grows darker during the climax each season. So, we know what to expect when a season starts and it’s easy to wish that the plot can start. Typically, the plot won’t begin for maybe even the first 15+ episodes so it can be a long wait. If the wrong writers were involved, it could be a chore to see the heroes tackle their filler opponents. Luckily, the pre arcs are still a lot of fun. There are no real stakes in the duel, but the actual duels are still entertaining enough that you can watch them with ease.

Season 3’s start was probably the slowest as we had to get used to new characters like Naoki and Shingo while losing a fan favorite in the form of Kamui. It still did get better as it went along and it was fun to see the student council oppose the heroes. Season 1 and 2’s beginnings were also rather slow, but we got to see new characters and the heroes entered many tournaments. There are few shows that have as many tournaments as Cardfight and it’s always fun to see them enter these competitions. I’ve been a big fan of tournaments since before I even started watching anime and it’s a great way to develop the heroes while introducing potential rivals and enemies.

Cardfight Vanguard really did just about everything correctly in just about every area. It was able to introduce new main characters, which is always a risk and the progression of the main characters was rock solid. You can clearly see the development that they’ve had if you watch part of season 1 and then skip to season 4 or 3. You are able to grow up with the characters as you watch the show and it’s probably the most realistic cardfighting show that I’ve seen yet. (In a good way since realistic typically doesn’t translate into a positive thing) There is naturally a lot more to the show than can ever be covered in a review so that’s why you need to check it out to see everything for yourself.

The big question is..does this match up to Yugioh? I actually do think that this show beats all of the Yugioh series aside from GX so that’s a pretty great start to the franchise. I do prefer Yugioh’s actual gameplay since it’s a lot deeper and the luck factor is lessened. That being said, Cardfight’s pacing is a lot faster because of the simplistic rules and battles can easily be finished in one episode even if it’s a long fight. Since this is Cardfight’s first show, we should just count it as such and since it’s beating the classic Yugioh show, we can say that the Cardfight anime franchise has the lead at the moment. Yugioh is winning by sheer numbers, but let’s see how close it’ll be when both franchises have 5 shows. G is almost definitely going to lose to GX so we’ll need to see where Cardfight goes from there. Yugioh is likely not going to relax either as Arc V is still airing so the gap may never lessen. This means that Cardfight will likely never pass Yugioh, but at the same time, I don’t see any other card franchise ever passing Cardfight. We’ll have to see if Buddyfight ultimately gets to hold the third place spot or not.
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Overall, Cardfight Vanguard is one of the greatest shows of all time. It has a fun cast and the animation is excellent. The soundtrack is certainly worthy of such an all star title and you’ll be at the edge of your seat in each season. The climax of each arc never disappoints and watching the characters develop their skills and personality is part of the joy of watching this title. I recommend this to anyone that wants to watch a fun anime with a lot of action and excitement. At around 200 episodes, it makes for a pretty satisfying watch.

Overall 9/10

9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

The Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Review


The Avengers are one of the most well known superhero teams in comics. They had a film that broke the box office a few years back and they have now had 3 shows to date. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was the best of the three and it is one that ranks very high up in the comic ranks. I definitely say that it is Marvel’s top show and it isn’t likely going to be surpassed anytime soon.

Season 1’s main plot is about the Avengers forming so that they can bring back a large group of super villains who escaped from Shield prisons all across the planet. It’s technically the plot of the show, but it’s mostly used as a backdrop. The season is pretty episodic, but it does begin a lot of plotlines that are explored in those episodes so it’s definitely better than the average pre arc. Ultron, Kang, and Loki all get multiparters as well as the Leader. There may not be much of an overreaching story arc, but most of the episodes have a cliffhanger scene at the very end so the transition from episode to episode is actually pretty great. Season 1 is a lot of fun and you can count on many excellent battles.

Season 2 decided to go for a big plot and one that featured the Skrulls deciding to invade the planet. They have taken many people in powerful positions so they are all set for their bid to conquer the human race. The Avengers have to get past several obstacles and the lack of trust in their teammates to even have a shot at taking down the Skrulls. Other highlights of the series includes the return of Ultron and Kang. It should be noted that the Kree also get a multi parter as they finally make their big move. This season can get a little dicey since we have to miss out on Hulk, Captain America, and Thor for various parts of the season, which makes for a limited roster. The Guardians of the Galaxy do get to appear though, which is pretty intense.

I will admit that I was one of the many Marvel fans who was not a huge fan of the designs for the show when they first popped up. The characters just looked a little off. Thor was actually one of the biggest offenders for me. His build just didn’t seem right and his arms were huge. The hammer looked so small when Thor was holding it and the handle should have been longer. That being said, you get used to it as you watch the show. I wasn’t a huge fan of Captain America’s design compared to United They Stand, but it is still a very good design in its own right. The Abomination was one of the characters who drew the short straw in terms of design.

I don’t know whether this is a result of the character designs or whether it was the overall animation, but the fight scenes were pretty over the top in a great way. Some of the energy blasts looked like they came out of an anime. The action scenes definitely shine in this series and they put most of the other Marvel shows to shame. The first few episodes tried some unique things with the animation, particularly Iron Man’s view from inside the suit. I think that the animation took a bit if a dip after the beginning, but it still looked pretty good overall. Season 2 certainly looks sharp and it was definitely an improvement. I wasn’t sure about this at first, but I definitely am now.

How does it stack up against the Justice League? I am afraid that it is not even remotely close. Justice League wins in all areas, but it should be noted that the show’s roster was comprised of heroes who were far cooler than the Avengers. The Avengers are cool of course, but they are no Justice League. Considering that the Justice League show also happens to be my favorite non anime tv show of all time, this isn’t bad for Avengers. It’s safe to say that no western Marvel show will ever be able to top Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Now, let’s look at the show’s portrayal of the characters.

Iron Man is one of the main characters and he is a pretty good hero. He acts just like what you would expect from him. He is always ready with a witty comeback and his armors are fairly powerful. The show essentially takes all of Stark’s good qualities without bringing in his bad ones. He does a pretty good job of being team leader until he decides to give up the role. His fans should be pretty pleased with this incarnation of him. His battles against Kang and Dr Doom are matches that we have longed for and we finally get to see them play out here.

Captain America is our courageous leader once more. The writers really seem to like him so Cap gets quite a few wins under his belt. Even the mighty Terrax and the Super Skrull are powerless against him. Unfortunately, he misses the first few episodes of the series and a big chunk of them in the second half. This is sad for his fans of course, but he still gets a lot of screen time and he tends to look very good. It is basically a spot on incarnation of the legendary hero.

Thor looks better than he has ever looked in this series. He is portrayed as an intelligent warrior while still keeping his incredible strength and skill. He isn’t crazy about technology, but he is never obnoxious about it. His banter with Tony Stark on the subject can be pretty fun to watch. As with Superman in various DC shows, Thor does lose to an opponent who is weaker than him at times. Luckily this only happens a reasonably few times and he typically looks as strong as he should. He looks like the Thor of the 60’s and that’s a good thing.
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Bruce Banner is pretty much a non factor here because the Hulk is in control for the whole series. Bruce only gets a cameo once in a while. As for the Hulk, his portrayal is pretty good here. He is decently smart and a very loyal friend to have. He gets a raw deal in season 2 since he is tricked by the Skrulls and forced to miss a lot of it. He looks pretty strong and he is portrayed as the strongest Avenger in physical strength. He is definitely a likable character.

The Wasp is a lot more cheerful than usual and it works for her character. She isn’t the strongest Avenger, but she can fight when necessary. This is easily the best portrayal of her that I have seen and it will be tough to too this version. Wasp never backs down from a fight and she even takes on the Vision. Even if her chances of victory are slim. Wasp will jump into battle anyway and it is why she is one of the better Avengers.

Antman had a big role in the original Avengers show, but then he began to fade into obscurity. The new Marvel film aims to change that..more for the superhero than for Pym. Pym actually doesn’t end up looking quite as good in EMH. It is to be expected since he isn’t the fearless leader anymore, but he is still an Avenger. He wants to rehabilitate the villains and he puts a lot of effort into this goal. Unfortunately, most of the villains don’t plan on changing sides anytime soon. He starts to think that the Avengers have lost sight of this and coupled with the Ultron incident causes him to leave the team. This causes his character to undergo a radical change as he becomes more of a hot head who tends to act overconfident. While I typically like this kind of character a lot, it comes off as a little forced and it is also hard to take him seriously. Antman was a good character in the show, but he was definitely outshined by the others.

Hawkeye had a tough road since it would be nearly impossible to pass his original animated version. That being said, he’s typically a likable character. It can be sad to see him get tricked and one upped by Black Widow for most of season 1, but he does manage to capture her on occasion. His skill with a bow is as excellent as ever and Hawkeye is always brimming with confidence. He couldn’t pass the original version, but this is still the Hawkeye that I remember. Black Widow is also pretty true to form as no side can really tell if she is working for them or if she has an ulterior motive. Her accent is at its strongest here and she rarely gets to operate with the Avengers since she’s a solo act from start to finish. She’s a pretty good agent, but Hawkeye is actually able to best her when they fight. Black Widow’s never been my favorite character, but she still looked decent here.

Black Panther joins the team pretty early on in the series, but he was never my favorite character. He’s a little too confident and he has no problem hacking into the Avengers mansion when he feels like it. He’s the definition of a “hype” character who constantly insults everyone and belittles them. He may only be human, but he always gets his hits in and he puts his kingdom before the Avengers. A noble gesture I’m sure, but he’s really just a copy of Captain America, but without the leader’s character development.

Ms. Marvel arrives in season 2 and she cannot be trusted as much as the other members since she also works for the government. She was quick to turn on the heroes when the government duties created a conflict. She is just trying to help her country of course, but the whole scene didn’t look very good. Ms. Marvel is a capable heroine who can still fight at the Hulk’s level so that’s pretty good and she is a solid character despite having her flaws. She does get a lot more screen time than the Vision, who is basically thrown in at the last minute. The Vision looks pretty good and very tough when he first appears. He gradually gets weaker, but it never goes too far as he still helps out a lot in the final battles. I didn’t really care for Vision’s big moment where he betrayed the Avengers, but he’s a good hero to have. I just wish that he had turned good in a different scene.

Graviton is the first major villain in the show and it’s why the series started out on a high note. His abilities are very impressive and it’s no stretch to say that he is the strongest villain in the entire series. There are many other powerful opponents who do make this very debatable. He’s a very likable villain and this show made me a fan of him. Seeing him take on the combined might of Thor, Hulk, and the other Avengers is incredible and it’s not something that I shall forget anytime soon. It’s too bad that he never got to appear again, but maybe next time.

Ultron is the villain that everyone was hyped for and he did not disappoint. He got a pretty great two parter when he first appeared and then his return was also pretty great. Naturally, his demise in both appearances is loaded with plot hax, but that’s just because the show did a good job of adapting his character. He looked about as strong as he should and he was thoroughly annihilating the Avengers. He has definitely been a great villain in all incarnations and I believe that Age of Ultron should be able to keep up this tradition.

Kang The Conqueror is probably my third favorite villain in the show so I definitely wanted to put him next to Ultron and Graviton. He may seem like a much weaker villain on the surface, but his tech definitely brings him up to their level. His array of barriers and energy attacks make him a very tough opponent to deal with and you can even say that it is impossible to beat him. He only loses when he lets his guard down and forgets to block or fight back. It’s the fate of being an overwhelmingly powerful villain in the midst of heroes who are strong, but not strong enough to legitimately defeat him.

Red Skull is certainly not as impressive as the first few villains and it’s surprising that it took so many episodes for him to finally appear in the present. He’s fairly generic and he’s definitely not a threat no matter how many inventions he gets a hold of. He does give us one of the better episodes in the series when he assembles his own crew, but it still doesn’t make him a good villain. He wants revenge on Captain America and that sums up his character arc.
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Skull’s team consists of quite a few members. Dr. Sampson is one of them and he was not my favorite supporting character anyway. I did appreciate the fact that he didn’t blame the Hulk for what went down at the Cube and he actually dealt with his new powers pretty well. That being said, he’s just not a interesting character. The Falcon’s one shot role is probably disappointing for his fans. He actually had potential to be a good character and he was much better than the Falcon in Avengers Assemble. His appearance was just too short to really get a good grasp of how he was.

One of the final two members was the Winter Soldier. After Bucky vanished when Captain America fell into the ice, he was forced to work for Skull for decades. It’s easily the saddest sub plot in the series and he really didn’t have a choice since he was on his own and they effectively brainwashed him. He tries to atone for this once he gains his freedom back and this is probably the best incarnation of Bucky that we’ve seen so far. He’s pretty noble and you can tell that he is trying to be a better person.

Finally, we have Red Hulk. He gets a few appearances although his role is still not very large. He does get to fight Thor and the Hulk, which shows how powerful he is. I like him as an enemy although he’s not very interesting. Watching him sucker the Avengers into allowing him to join is pretty wince worthy, but a plot twist at the end definitely helps to negate those scenes.

The New Avengers are introduced to the scene in Kang’s big return. The villain managed to destroy the Avengers so an automated protocol quickly gathered up the new heroes. One of them was Luke Cage. He seems to know what he’s doing and his street manner of dealing with his obstacles is a nice change of pace from the politically correct superheroes who help him against the villains. He doesn’t get much of a role and he doubts himself pretty quickly, but Cage still has what it takes to be an Avenger. He’s a step up over Iron Fist, who is still cool, but really has no character development. He appears for a very short period of time and he’s pretty ineffective against Kang. His hand to hand skills are great and they would do well against most opponents, but it was simply a bad mach up against someone like Kang. We also got to see War Machine and I was not impressed. His weapons still look terrible compared to Iron Man’s and he was way too serious when the other heroes were just trying to have a good time. He arguably has more experience in the art of being a super hero than the first two fighters so he needs to lead by example.

Spider Man was also selected for the team and he also got an episode to himself before that so he’s all set on the character development area. He was adapted pretty faithfully as he tells a lot of jokes, but never manages to get hit. He’s the only member of the team who was able to dodge every single one of Kang’s attacks. His spider sense is his weapon and he just uses his jokes to keep the enemy off guard. This is the Spiderman that fans will remember from the good ole days and it’s good to see him getting the respect that he deserves. I was more than satisfied with his portrayal here.

Wolverine also gets to join the team and he’s definitely in character. Unfortunately, this means that he gets animal violence in his scene as he destroys a few dinosaurs. It’s the worst scene in the entire show and you can bet that it hurts his character. It’s hard to root for him after such a scene and he also doesn’t really help a lot when the team is fighting Kang. That just makes it worse since he wasn’t needed in the episode and the heroes still would have gotten the job done.

The Fantastic Four are recurring characters in the background of the show. The Thing gets more of a role than the others since he does join the New Avengers, but he doesn’t look particularly impressive when it comes down to strength. He’s pretty likable and you’ll be satisfied with his portrayal even if he looks like a second rate fighter. Reed Richards looks pretty great as he belittles everyone and puts up a brave front when Galactus appears. Human Torch and Sue Storm don’t get to do a whole lot, but they look pretty decent when they get to appear.

Nick Fury changes a lot as the show goes on. He fights on the front lines more in season 1 and then he turns into the MCU version of Fury in season 2. He’s pretty corrupt as you would expect from a Shield agent, but he has his moments where he can actually be likable. He was a capable leader for Shield (Not going to bother using the periods everywhere) while he was around. Maria Hill steps in for him once the Skrull invasion occurs. She is notably less tolerant with heroes than Fury was and she can definitely be a thorn in the side of the heroes. Hill does mean well and she is definitely a likable Shield agent, but her policy towards the heroes can definitely hold her back.

The Guardians of the Galaxy get to appear and this was before their film so the roster is much different. It’s vastly superior to the normal crowd as we have someone with Green Lantern’s abilities. Groot, Star Lord, and Rocket Raccoon are still around. I’m still not the biggest Rocket fan, but it is always good to see him jump into the action. Groot is simply Groot and still the worst member on the team. Star Lord was pretty reasonable and it was a very fun episode as we saw them match up against the Avengers before fighting Korvac. The Guardians are lucky that Thor was not there since the episode had the potential to be a stomp for the Avengers. Their portrayals all seemed pretty good.

Baron Zemo is another big Cap villain and he gets to team up with the Masters of Evil for a while. He never gets any super powers, but the Norn Stone makes him more of a threat in his final appearance. He’s still not my kind of villain though and he mostly just lives on by backstabbing all of the other villains. The series could do without him.

The Enchantress looks much more formidable than you would expect and she goes toe to toe with the Hulk and Thor in the series. Her magical abilities seem to be very well suited for offense and her speed is impressive. As a character, I’m still not a fan of hers as she always lets romance cloud her better judgment. Getting defeated by Zemo at the end is pretty bad for her and her loss in round 1 was bad as well. She lets her guard down a little too easily considering how powerful she is. Just wiping out her enemies would save her a lot of grief.
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The Leader gets a multi part episode towards the beginning of the series, but then he vanishes. This is definitely one of his better portrayals, but he’s still not a great villain. His lack of attack power is just hard to get around. It’s actually why I am not a big fan of the Abomination in this show. He’s constantly portrayed as being much weaker than the Hulk and it undermines the notion that he could actually be a rival to the green Avenger. He never looks good, not even once as the series goes on and this very well could be the worst portrayal of him.

Wonder Man looks a lot different from his counterpart in the first Avenger show. He is always in his energy form and the villains basically have a hold of his life so it’s tough for him to go back to the Avengers. He has his hero moment and he ends on a high note, but he should have kept an open mind about Stark before. (Not that Tony was pretty polite when they met) He may have had a better fate.

Dr Doom gets a brief role in the Skrull arc, but it’s a critical one that really helps the heroes out. He is a political enemy so he still wants the Earth to be in one piece. His armor looks impressive as it can keep up with Tony’s and likewise with his intellect. It was definitely a good portrayal of the villain. He certainly looks better than Loki. Loki’s big two part episode to end season 1 wasn’t very interesting and I can’t say that I cared for any of his appearances. He is a difficult opponent to handle because of his trickery. His design is pretty unique and I’m not sure what the writers were going for, but I suppose that it works.

Galactus finally joins the fray in the final episode and it’s good to see him. He doesn’t actually have a mind this time, which does undermine him as a villain, but he is still pretty strong. It may be his worst portrayal to date, but he’s a decent villain. I just wish that he could have fought back against the heroes instead of just staying there and taking everything that they had to give. His heralds are also pretty souless and weak as small groups of Avengers are able to take them down with ease. It’s the price of filling an episode with so many villains and fights. Power levels have to go out of the window and there can be no form of character development.

Ronan appears for the Kree and he looks pretty good against the Avengers. Thor may not have been there, but he was still keeping the Hulk and Iron Man at bay for a while until Ms. Marvel finally took him down. He looked much better than he did in the FF cartoon. He’s certainly not one of my favorite villains, but he makes for a nice opponent for the heroes. The other notable Kree agent would be Captain Marvell and I really didn’t like that guy. He never knew when to pick a side and he only jumped in at the end once the battle with the Supreme Intelligence was over. His abilities seem pretty interesting, but he’s just not a good character.

Naturally, there are many more villains to be found in the show. We got a healthy amount of them and the only big one that the show missed was probably Count Nefaria. Some of the villains that I didn’t mention include: Purple Man, Whirlwind, The Absorbing Man, the FF villain who looks like an insect, but with a name that’s hard to spell, Bi Beast, and many more. The series is definitely a complete one and it’s one of the few shows with 50+ episodes that I’ve seen in its entirety more than once.

For some reason, the show really loves to throw in the Serpent Society for when they need a throwaway action scene. These guys are constantly breaking out of jail and I’m always sad to see them. They really don’t make for interesting action scenes and they’re extremely weak. It’s hard to picture them ever holding their own against the Avengers and they feel outclassed from start to finish. Their leader gets a bit of a role during the Captain America Escape episode, but I can’t say that I’m a fan of Viper either. She’s just a little too generic for me and she is interchangeable with just about any other villain.

Naturally, the show’s power levels are more than a little wonky. This is certainly a weakness that superhero shows tend to have. Anime spend more time on the power levels or at least manga based ones do. Here, you can go from having the Vision beating up on the Avengers without effort to being crushed by Thor. Iron Man’s durability also comes into question a whole lot as the scenes don’t always make a lot of sense. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something that you’ll definitely think about as you watch the episodes. A little more speed would definitely come in handy for the Avengers and their enemies.

Unfortunately, the show does end with some loose ends. The main one is definitely the Surtur plot that the show had been hyping up in the background for quite a while. It got a whole episode devoted to the future arc with Beta Ray Bill and Odin. All of it was for naught unfortunately as the series ended. It definitely had a lot of potential so it’s too bad that the series ended when it did.

The show definitely deserves some props for having cliffhangers and new subplots in just about every episode. It’s one of the reasons why the show is able to separate itself from the average show. Including all of the classic plots and new characters, the show was definitely ambitious. It’s epic to think of how many things may have happened if it had reached 4-5 seasons. This really could have been a true rival for Justice League. It’s doubtful that it could have surpassed it, but more episodes would have cemented the show as the ultimate Marvel experience.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ soundtrack is pretty amazing. It has the greatest theme song for any superhero show and that includes Justice League. It’s by far the greatest western theme song that I’ve heard and it can even match up against anime openings. That’s some great praise for the show and the themes in the episodes also sound good. A lot of western shows seem to believe that a soundtrack is not necessary, but it certainly augments any scene. Whether for better or worse, taking the plunge and adding a lot of good tunes is definitely the right move for a show and Avengers pulled it off.
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Overall, Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is a pretty incredible show. It surpassed all of my expectations and it has a lot of replay value. It’s the kind of show that you can easily find yourself re watching since the battles are so much fun. It’s really too bad that this show was cancelled in place of Assemble since it’s many times better. This show had heart, solid animation, a good soundtrack, and the writing was very well done. This is one of those shows that you can possibly consider once in a life time since I have my doubts on whether superhero shows will be able to reach the level of greatness that they once had. Well, we’ll keep our hopes high I suppose. I recommend this to all comic book fans and to anyone that wants to start a good action show. This is definitely the cartoon to watch!

Overall 9/10

9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Yugioh GX Review


It’s time to finally review the greatest TV show of all time. Even better than Cardfight, Digimon, Pokemon, Justice League, Avengers, Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Trigon, Full Metal Alchemist, I love Lucy, The Odd Couple, Twilight Zone, The Honeymooners, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Barney, The Powerpuff Girls, Breaking Bad, The Big Bang Theory, The NFL, The Walking Dead, Dr Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Godzilla, even the original Yugioh. This show beats them all and that’s a pretty incredible feat if you ask me. Yugioh GX just had all of the necessary traits of a great show and the stakes kept increasing as the seasons passed. It all starts with the terrific characters and continues to the legendary music. Prepare yourself for the ultimate show, for Yugioh GX!

There are 4 seasons and typically they each have one arc, but the third season is so good that it has two. The series revolves around a kid named Jaden Yuki. It takes place sometime after Yugi’s big win over the forces of evil in Millenium World and he is now travelling the world. (Probably to win more tournaments) Kaiba left his mark on the world by creating a Duel Academy, which Jaden is a part of. He only barely gets in since he was late, but Jaden quickly beat the Professor in a duel so they had to let him join. There are three dorms and they are based on the Egyptian God Cards. The Slifers are the lowest rank and then you move up to Ra. Finally, the elites go to Obelisk and then you get ready to leave. Jaden tests the waters by crushing just about everyone at the school. That’s when the plot really starts as the Dark Riders attack the school. They have quite a few members, but Jaden is backed up by his (un)dependable friends so that evens the playing field. “All he does is win” is a trait that can be applied to Jaden as he takes on the group.

We get some one shot episodes in the 2nd season before the plot truly begins. They do help bolster the hero ranks though since we get some new characters like Hassleberry. A new rival also appears in the form of Aster. He uses a mysterious group of cards as his deck when he fights seriously and Jaden counters by switching up his hero deck into a Neo Spacians one. He now uses a lot of aliens in combat and that will come in handy since a cult has arrived. They wish for everyone to see the light and they do this by defeating duelists. When you lose, you become brain washed and must do The Light’s bidding. Sartorius goes after Jaden’s friends and that’s where he made his big mistake. Jaden’s going to have to show him what it means to duel a pro.

Season three decides to start off with…more new characters! A tournament is held so that the old veterans can fight the new guys so Jaden quickly takes them to school. Unfortunately, it appears that these newcomers may not have arrived for fun and games. The new teacher seems like he’s up to something, but he definitely picked the wrong school to mess with. Jaden isn’t playing games now and he’s going to take the win as always! He also heads to the world of the Duel Monsters where he gets to duel a mysterious being named Yubel.

This is where things start to change. One of his friends didn’t make it back out of the world so Jaden decides to go back in. His friends quickly jump at the chance to help, but little do they know that they’ll just get in his way. It’s too late to turn back now though so they head into a dark world filled with the sorrows of many characters. Zane and Aster have been fending for themselves for a while and Jaden realizes that even his skills will have a tough time getting through this. Can he take on the Supreme King and stop Yubel or was it all for naught? The ultimate tale of heroism and determination is finally here.

Jaden’s adventures were not done yet though as the final season began. Mysterious beings of darkness appeared to destroy Jaden’s friends one by one. The friends resisted since they’ve seen this tune before, but it is all for naught. Ultimately, Jaden has to step up and use his newfound abilities to take these guys down. He’ll have to duel the ultimate being, a foe even stronger than Zorc if he wants to win. Knowing the stakes at hand, “All he does is win” will need to be true in order for Jaden to rise to the top.

I realize that the plot sounded awesome so you can probably tell why this is the greatest TV show of all time. Don’t worry though, that’s just the beginning. Another one of the reasons why this show is awesome is the great soundtrack. Just about every theme is a nice guitar/rock theme that works very well with the duels. They’re all very heart pumping so you really get excited about what’s going to happen next. It’s no stretch to say that it does have the greatest soundtrack of all time. I would expect nothing less from the show and it’s all thanks to the dub. I’ll admit that I’m not crazy about the original music. There’s one really good track there and a couple that hold their own, but nothing beats the American version. It probably would have still been the greatest show of all time anyway, but the music really makes a difference.

Next up, Yugioh GX also had some stellar animation. Season 4 is clearly a cut above the rest and I definitely liked Jaden’s new hair style. You could tell that he was a changed man and his abilities were also a nice improvement. That being said, Season 3 also looked really good and the colors are vibrant. Season 1 had its charm since it was the original and the characters looked a whole lot younger. Season 2 was pretty close to season 1 in animation and definitely held its own. Watching the show’s animation transition as it went from 1 to 4 is pretty cool. The characters grew older and their personalities also began to change, which was fun to see. Jaden certainly had a lot of development, but he never stopped being a downright awesome character.

GX had another big thing in its favor when it came down to the writing. Yugioh GX had a pretty light atmosphere going for it during the average episode and then it would quickly transition into a darker theme. The average show would just create a fake light tone by adding in as many jokes as they could before things got serious. Look at the dialogue in Pac Man or Hulk and come back to me. That kind of thing wouldn’t fly in Yugioh GX and it always stays classy. The light tone is natural since the characters just want to have fun dueling. It is their biggest hobby and they’re serious enough about it to go to a school just for the card game. That’s dedication and it makes sense that they want to play. It’s easy to lose sight of this when the fate of multiple planets is hanging in the balance, but they always give it their A game.

I also give the show props for the fact that there isn’t really any fanservice in it. There’s a very quick bath scene in arc 1, but 4Kids quickly helped us stop that and it never really came back. I was pretty proud of GX to say the least since it would be easy to try and add some in today’s culture. Many shows have it, but GX stayed firm and decided that they were going to operate on a high level. That takes guts and character, both of which GX ends up having in spades.

The show’s new addition to the dueling system is also my favorite. It’s much better than the whole concept of Synchro Summoning and I prefer it over the Numbers system of Zexal. Merging monsters is the big deal here and while that was mildly featured in the classic series, it has been refined since then. Merging monsters doesn’t mean putting a swordsman on a dragon and calling it a day. Now, you’ve got a lot of cool hybrid monsters as a result of fusion. Jaden is known as the fusion master and he uses a whole lot of them in his deck. I like the fusion idea and since it plays a central role in the series, that’s good for me. Flame Wingman is one of the best examples of a fusion done right and he’s a pretty awesome card with a cool special abilitity.
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We can’t forget that Jaden Yuki is also one of the big reasons why the show is so good. He’s a great main character and an even better person. He always has fun when he’s dueling and he definitely doesn’t back up from any opponent. No matter how tough or intimidating they may look, that won’t deter someone like Jaden. He’ll keep on fighting all the way until the bitter end. The serious duels do start to take their toll on him though and he begins to have less fun once arc 3 hits.

To his defense, all of his friends were murdered in that cruel world so he didn’t really have a whole lot of reason for hope. This didn’t just happen once by the way since they are all taken down again in season 4. He starts to rely on the power of darkness a little more as he is able to use the Supreme King’s power from within and then he also gains Yubel’s abilities for season 4. He becomes more of a loner like Batman who protects people from the shadows and may seem like a pretty cruel person to others. It’s all just a facade though as he’s still out to help his friends.

In season 3, he decides to become “a devil” to save his friends during one of his final battles. It depends on the translation though and what’s really happening is that he decides to use the forbidden Supreme King ability to fight even though it’s pretty risky and soul damaging. Risking one’s life to save someone is one thing, but risking your soul is definitely another. Jaden’s the kind of friend who will do anything to save an ally, which is why he’s such a great friend. I find his allies to be rather ungrateful sometimes, but it can be hard to appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Alexis in particular looked pretty bad during her team up with Jaden in season 4. They were winning and Jaden wasn’t really being that rude so it was a bit of a stretch for their disagreement at the time.

Either way, Jaden’s a winner. He goes through a lot of changes as the series progresses, but he ultimately sees how fun dueling can be once more as the series comes to a close. Dueling is something that Jaden will always be doing and it’s one of the reasons why he is so much better than Yugi, Yusei, and Yuma. He has the most passion for the game and I dare say that he’s been through tougher situations than the other main characters. Jaden is definitely one of the best characters of all time and he elevated this show to the next level.

Another great thing about GX is that it doesn’t just have an interesting cast, but it also makes sure to bring characters back from the original show. Did you miss Yugi and Kaiba? Well, they both return for guest star roles/cameos. Kaiba doesn’t actually get to duel, but he looks as good as you would expect. Yugi gets a pretty big role at the very end of the show and it was a pretty legendary moment. They definitely looked as good as you would expect and we get a lot of references and appearances that let us know that GX is still relevant to the original days. This is something that 5Ds and Zexal dropped the ball with as they decided that they would have nothing to do with the old days. This is an edge that GX has and it won’t let it go so easily. All right, let’s look at some of the characters in GX.

Syrus is a kid who looks up to Jaden and eventually he learns how to be a brave and capable fighter. He’s not my kind of supporting character since he typically drags Jaden down with his lack of dueling ability. He means well, but he opposes Jaden sometimes to show how far he’s gone and it always makes him look bad. He got a lot of development, but it didn’t win me over. The Chazz is a character who actually regressed thanks to his character development. He has a crush on one of the other heroes, which becomes a pretty big thing as the series goes on and it really hurts his dueling ability. He was around Jaden’s level when the series began and he’s not even close by the time that the series ends. He is even reduced to wearing a chicken costume on national television in his final big episode. He was one of my favorite characters in the beginning, but he definitely lost his edge.

Alexis is one of the main characters who arrived in season 1 and stuck with Jaden and the others all the way through season 4. She may not have gotten as many duels as you would expect, but she’s a pretty likable character. She challenged Jaden in one of the earliest episodes and she tries to help against the villains when needed. Ultimatly, the supporting characters rarely manage to actually help, but they do tend to surprise you once in a while. Her deck lacked firepower, but that doesn’t stop her from giving the match her best effort.

She’s certainly an improvement over Bastion. He started out as the genius of the series and then he fell all the way down to the comic relief role. It may not have been all that bad except that he was used for comic relief in a crush role and it doesn’t get much worse than that. He got lost in the desert and he continues to prove himself as a very unreliable friend. I’m not sure why the writers decided to mess with him so much, but he definitely became one of Jaden’s worst friends.

Zane is Jaden’s ultimate rival and he is one of the only characters who actually manages to get a win against the hero. Zane’s role is similar to Kai’s as he starts out as an aloof rival before turning over to the dark side. By the end, he sees the light once more, but it may be too late as he gets into a life or death duel. He’s the second best character in the show and it’s always great to see him duel. He was easily able to overcome the shocks in the underground dueling tournament and his Cyber Dragon deck is pretty fun to watch. He easily satisfies the “rival” character that every good show needs
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GX is so great that it has two big rivals for Jaden. Aster shows up in season 2 and he gets to duel Jaden at least 3 times in a very short period of time. He’s pretty full of himself when he first starts out, but Jaden quickly puts him back in his place with his new deck. Aster may not be quite as good as Zane, but he’s still a pretty great character and he’s one of the better GX fighters. You could say that Jaden has a third rival in the form of Jesse, but he came into the show during season 3 so you could say that he arrived a little too late. He’s a pretty likable character, but the show tries to make him a little too similar to Jaden. Highlighting their differences would have made it easier to like him as a character. I was never impressed with his Jewel deck either and I believe that it holds him back. It’s thanks to Jesse that we did have a fun 2 on 1 climax duel in season 3 though so that was pretty cool. He’s certainly better than most of the other supporting characters.

Professor Crowler is a character who is always in the background, but he rarely ever does anything important to progress the plot. He duels a few times, but he always loses and he’s not a great character. I never found him to be particularly funny and while the show tries to convey to us that he is a good guy deep down, we are never given a reason to care. Crowler is around, but his role is basically filler. Professor Banner’s role is definitely not much better, but his saving grace is that he actually gets a super form at one point. It’s pretty great and truly fitting for a Yugioh boss. The moment was notable and it gave Banner a lot of personality, but he was ultimately doomed to a similar fate as Crowler. He just wasn’t interesting and letting him fade into obscurity was fine by me.

Hassleberry was a pretty decent friend. His dinosaur gimmick could be a bit much at times, but he was still an improvement over the other characters. He tries hard to secure victory for his team and he has a lot of confidence. What he lacks in character development, Hassleberry makes up for with his passion for the game. He never becomes one of the top players, but he gets a good amount of duels. Atticus is actually a pretty minor character even though he’s related to Alexis. He becomes Nightshroud once in season 1 and he does so again in season 4, but he never became one of the big villains. He’s mostly relegated to background status and the manga fleshed him out more than the anime. His role is probably smaller than Crowler’s and that’s saying something. He’s not my kind of character.

Axel is one of those characters that I couldn’t get myself to like. It was probably a mix of hype and overconfidence on Axel’s part that made me grow weary of the character very quickly. He just wasn’t interesting and I really didn’t like his duel with the Supreme King. Axel just rubbed me the wrong way and I wasn’t crazy about the fact that he sort of became a main character. He even got an origin story at one point and I knew that the series had gone too far. Jim is another one of the transfer students from season 3, but he got less character development than the others. His eye came in handy at one point, but that’s really the only big contribution that he made to the series. He’s a nice guy, but he just seemed a little outmatched.

Gecko let power consume him and he became one of the antagonists in season 3. It was almost sad watching him go up against Yubel since you knew that he was doomed. It was similar to the Shademan vs Laserman scene from Axess, but even more lopsided. That being said, I wasn’t a fan of Gecko so I was waiting for him to lose the entire time. He had no real reason to turn evil and the power corrupted him pretty quickly. He got to humiliate Chazz before he left, but that isn’t anything new at this point. Gecko’s Exodia themed deck was definitely pretty neat though. Chumley is a character who was written out of the show after season 1 or 2. He liked to eat a lot and he had the famous “Now I know what a grilled cheese feels like” line, but that wasn’t enough to make him a good character. He had one of the worst decks in the entire show and you never got the feeling that he actually improved a lot. It’s a good thing that he decided to pursue another career since he wasn’t making a whole lot of headway here. Ah well, we can’t have all of the supporting characters be too cool right?

Blair is a supporting character who didn’t get a whole lot of development. She just popped up one day and stuck around for the end of the series. She’s a decent duelist, but she doesn’t get a whole lot of chances to show off her skills. She seems like a nice kid and she realizes that Jaden is one of the best in the biz. While Blair was likable, it would have been nice for her to have had more of a role. She does help to introduce Marcel, who ends up becoming the vessel for Yubel. That is really it for Marcel’s character though since he’s basically being used the whole time.

Trueman seems to be a tribute to Agent Smith from the Matrix. There are many Trueman who haunt the multiverse and their dueling abilities are not to be underestimated. Aside from Jaden, they seem to be a match for just about any member of the heroes. Their dark cards are simply that tough and their supernatural abilities give them an edge over the average foe. Their sheer numbers is enough to discourage even the bravest of opponents and they made for pretty fun villains.

Yusuke is a mysterious antagonist who appears in season 4 and there is more to him than meets the eye. He was never a great character and he probably got one plot twist too many, but he’s another classic case of someone who went to the darkness for power and was unable to return with his personality intact. He’s pretty confusing and he is not as intimidating as the other villains, but he’s still a pretty cool figure to face in battle. All of season 4’s villains had a dark theme about them and Yusuke was no different. The darkness certainly gives him some cool points.

Kagemaru is the final boss of the first arc. He is overshadowed by the other three, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s a pretty great villain. He fits all of the classic Yugioh tropes as he’s really built. It’s a running gag at this point that each Yugioh series has to have a villain who’s really muscular so it can look even funnier to see the guy playing the card game. Since the other three villains weren’t buff, you could say that Kagemaru saved the series from missing out on the gag. He had the three sacred beasts, which made for a pretty powerful deck. He didn’t have a lot of character on his side, but he was a cool villain anyway.
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Camula is one of the Shadow Riders and she’s pretty notable since she gets to duel 3 times. That’s pretty unheard of for a mere minion and it was pretty emberassing for the heroes. I loved the arc because it destroyed the concept of teamwork in GX. Jaden basically had to beat the entire team on his own since his partners just couldn’t get the job done. Camula has some special abilities since she seems to be a vampire and she’s certainly one of the more dangerous members of the Shadow Riders. I can’t say that she’s a great character, but at least she can duel. She has more character than most of the other Shadow Riders.

Nightshroud is the final boss of the series and you can really tell by his epic design. He is basically darkness incarnate and his power is absolute. It’s totally hinted that he could just end the planet and maybe the galaxy if he wanted too, but he chose to duel Jaden first and that was his big mistake. It’s a bit of an honor thing since not dueling would prove that he doubted his abilities. He definitely had a lot of over powered cards at his disposal and he was worthy of being a final boss in the Yugioh franchise. He definitely did a good job of weakening the heroes and Nightshroud is a villain who shall not be forgotten as time goes on. From the 4 big villains, he’s definitely the second best.

Sartorius is the big boss of season 2 and he was definitely a lot of fun. He’s pretty similar to Marik since he practically transforms when he enters rage mode. He uses a lot of light based cards and I’ll admit that they don’t look very fearsome. They are tough to be sure, but you never get that flight or fight instinct that the other villains may trigger. Sartorius is definitely a villain to be taken seriously and I liked him, but his appearances should have ended with season 2. He gets a brief role in season 4 and it is not very flattering. Ah well, making that season transition can be tough for some characters.

Yubel’s the ultimate fighter of season 3 and she’s definitely my favorite end boss. Her origin story is definitely pretty sad since she’s marooned in a far away place with no other sentient beings. It’s definitely a pretty tough fate so you can see why she heads over to the dark side for her revenge. In her true form, Yubel is virtually unstoppable. Simply attacking her will cause you to lose since she reflects damage and she has so many special abilities that it isn’t even funny. She’s certainly one of the strongest Yugioh characters of all time and she could definitely give some of the other OP final bosses of the franchise a good run for their money. (Interestingly, the big boss of Zexal’s deck matches up against hers in a favorable way for him, but that’s another story) Yubel had great fights with Gecko, Jaden, and Zane. Each battle was great and Yubel always put up a terrific fight. Whether she was using the Sacred Beasts deck or her true one, you can bet that the heroes would not be able to rest easy.

Tania is another one of the Shadow Riders who got to duel more than once. She humiliated Bastion when they fought so it makes sense that she would get to duel Jaden afterwards. I don’t care for her deck since it’s mostly made up of Tigers and other animals that are threatening in the real, but not in a fictional world with monsters. She may have actually gotten to appear in season 3, but she’s definitely not my kind of villain. She has a lot of determination and a fiery will, but it’s not enough to make her cool.

Professor Viper is actually a pretty big villain in season 3, but it’s easy to forget him since he’s completely outshined by Yubel. One of the only reasons why I can picture him so clearly is because he got to make a cameo in the Bonds Beyond Time film. Every moment of that film is unforgettable so that’s mainly why I remember him. He was a pretty tough antagonist. Viper is definitely not likable, but he works for his role and the duel against Jaden was definitely very intense and one of the better moments of season 3.

Brron is one of the sub villains of season 3 and really the only one who’s noteworthy. (Not counting Yubel, Viper, and Gecko) He is the villain who finally gets to crack Jaden. He took care of the supporting characters, which got Jaden riled up and he’s a decent duelist. The main thing that Brron overlooked was the fact that he simply wasn’t at the same level as Jaden. It’s a common mistake since villains tend to underestimate our invincible protagonist.

As you can see, GX has a pretty colorful cast. Because of this, even the filler episodes are usually entertaining. There are some that are not great like the cooking contest, but they could definitely be worse. When the canon episodes do start though, they tend to run for quite a while without any interruptions and that’s always a good thing. The series has action, drama, and finesse. Three things that can be used to make a show great and GX naturally pulls them off without a fault. Season 3 was my favorite one with 2 being next and then 1 coming in third. Season 4 is still great of course, but it’s much shorter so it makes sense that it wouldn’t rank quite as high as the others.
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Overall, Yugioh GX is the ultimate show. It really has no negatives and the 180 episodes are a blast to watch. The soundtrack is dynamite and the animation is very good. Jaden is easily one of the greatest characters of all time and you’ll be hooked from start to finish. The plots get going pretty quickly here so it’s a thrill seeing the new villains each time. The seasons are typically 50+ episodes so that gives the show a lot of time to pace itself and allow the plots to progress naturally. If you haven’t seen this show yet then you’ll want to correct that immediately. I don’t know what your favorite show is right now, but watch this one and I have a feeling that it’ll get bumped down to second. It’s tough to be a perfect show, but GX comes closer than any other show could ever hope to reach.

Overall 10/10

Update 03/31/2018 It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that Yugioh GX has been surpassed. RWBY is now the greatest show of all time, but Yugioh GX will always hold a special place in my heart.

Overall 9/10

9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Digimon Data Squad Review

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For a while now, I’ve talked about how Cardfight Vanguard is my 2nd favorite show of all time behind Yugioh GX. Well, I’m going to have to back up a little there because I actually overlooked this show for a while. Data Squad is really the title that has earned second place so Cardfight will have to lower itself to the 3rd spot, which is still pretty respectable. This is definitely the best Digimon series and it hit all the right notes. There aren’t really any major negatives here and it could have gotten a 10 if that spot wasn’t already taken.

The series starts off with a main character who is very different from the former protagonists. He’s always looking for a fight and he beats up whole groups of villains with ease. He picks a fight with an Agumon and he manages to get the match to a tie. He learns that a Digimon group wants to take Agumon back to the Digital World…by destroying him. Marcus (The main character) doesn’t like this and he defends Agumon. Eventually, he joins the group…which was an interesting decision, but I’ll get into that later.

The plot really begins when a little kid by the name of Keenan appears. He was raised in the Digital World so he’s a little wild and the humans decide to eliminate some of the higher ups. Things get pretty hectic and there is a traitor around so Marcus and his team find themselves up against a Mega Level Digimon. This arc is mainly about exploring the Digital World and then the big Digital War against a certain scientist. This arc is very long and it takes up the first 30 or so episodes. There are a lot of twists and turns so I definitely didn’t describe the whole arc, but that’s the jist of it. (You can even divide the arc into mini arcs depending on how you look at it. Pre Arc, Digital World/Keenan Arc, and then Kurata War Arc)

That arc was great, but the next one was just as intense, if not better. It’s a lot shorter though, but the Royal Knights have assembled. The Digital King has ordered them to destroy the human world so Marcus and his allies will now have to fight the toughest Digimon in existence. The irony is that they are supposedly knights of justice so the final bosses actually aren’t villains this time. (Although I’ll still call them villains since they have decided to destroy the Earth. That basically makes them villains right?) It’ll be their toughest fight yet! Before I really talk about the show, let’s look at the characters here, since they are a large factor in why the show is so great. (For the most part)

Marcus is the main character of Digimon Data Squad and he is definitely as epic as you may expect. He’s like Ichigo Kurosaki or Yusuke Urameshi. He’s always looking for a fight and his confidence is unwavering. He doesn’t blindly follow the government and he’s a very loyal friend. He protects Agumon from the Data Squad members even though he had only known him for a few minutes. Marcus even manages to get some good hits in on Thomas when the latter decides to attack Marcus. Marcus also isn’t your average Digi tamer since he can fight on his own.

He has a pretty unique ability that lets him gather Digital DNA in his fist when he strikes a Digimon. Later on, he learns how to harness that power on his own, which makes him just about unstoppable in a fight. He can punch through just about anything and his blows even affect Mega level Digimon. It’s pretty awesome and it lets me take him seriously. It’d be tough for the average main character to talk as big as Marcus since he doesn’t have the physical strength to back it up, but Marcus can. That’s a critical point and Marcus never goes downhill. He may make a mistake or two as the series goes on, but he’s typically consistent in his wise choices. He’s easily one of the best main characters of all time. On a side note, Marcus switches his outfit for the final arc of the series and it’s pretty great. I’ll admit that I had been waiting for that one to show up since I find it to be a lot cooler than his original get up. Just another factor to help him out even more.

Thomas is the rival in this series. He is probably the best rival in the franchise so that’s pretty cool for him. Chris (Who looks a lot like Thomas) is a decently close second though. Thomas is rich so he has used his resources to become a very skilled agent. You could say that he is similar to Bruce Wayne in that respect. He has trained in the art of combat and he is skilled enough to take on a champ without all that much effort. To top it off, Thomas is also a genius. You can see where the Bruce Wayne comparisons come into play right? He’s a pretty fun rival although he’s meant to be very annoying at first. He always plays by the books, which means that he’s just a government lackey at first with no real character development. He gets better with that as the series goes on and he’s a very good character by the end. As a rival, he’s perfect for Marcus.
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Yoshino is the main heroine of the series and she’s a pretty tough agent. Before Marcus rode into town, she was the squad’s premier agent since Thomas was typically away on official business. She managed pretty well on her own for all those years even though she doesn’t always look very impressive on screen. She’s pretty likable and I would place her over all of the heroines in the first two series and the one in Frontier. I think Nene and Rika are cooler though so she’s basically in the middle. That’s not bad and she’s about as good as I expected her to be. Maybe a little more so, but just barely. She gets the job done and while she tries to stop Marcus from going on his cool adventures, she doesn’t turn traitor like you night fear and rat him out to the big boss.

Agumon is a pretty good partner for Marcus. He’s technically cooler than the original Agumon, but there’s something about the classic one that makes me hesitate before putting this one higher on the totem pole. The other Agumon just had more heart I suppose and it’s hard to forget him. That being said, this Agumon is pretty good and he’s always ready for a fight. He certainly has his arguments for Marcus, but he’s typically a dependable ally to have. He regards Marcus as his leader so he acts as if he’s his minion for the most part. That just doesn’t apply to meal times where he can go all out. I always knew that it would be tough to pass Agumon’s original Digievolution route, but this Agumon actually succeeded in that task. I like all of the Shining Greymon forms and they really look great. The animators did a good job of bringing these forms to life and we even get to see the Burst Mode in all of its glory.

Gaomon is Thomas’ partner and he’s pretty good. He has the same voice as Might Guy, which can be distracting since it makes it hard to take Gaomon seriously. That being said, he’s still a pretty likable Digimon. Gaomon is definitely loyal to Thomas and he’s always ready to fight. He makes for a nice rival to Agumon. Gaomon also knows how to fight on his own even if his trainer is not present, which is a pretty big advantage over the typical opponent. His evolution forms are very good and I like just about all of them…although his champion form isn’t great. His ultimate and mega forms make up this.

Lalamon is Yoshino’s partner and she is definitely the worst partner from the main three. She can’t really fight that really hurts Yoshino’s chances of being a great fighter. Her champion form is no match for a random Digimon with no experience and it she loses in her first big fight. Lalamon gets her moments as the series goes on of course, but she never reaches the heights that the others do. Her strongest forms still aren’t as impressive as Agumon and Gaomon’s. You can argue that the same thing happened to Renamon’s Mega form since it was no Gallantmon, but at least it was still as impressive as Henry’s ultimate form. Lalamon definitely can’t say the same and she’s too much of a pacifist. She definitely could have used some development.

Keenan is definitely one of the worst characters in the series and I definitely wish that he had been cut out. His whole gimmick doesn’t make any sense. He was raised in the Digital World so his English skills are pretty broken. This means that he ends up talking like Tarzan, which is already a pretty annoying cliche if you ask me. “Me am Keenan” is an example of what a typical line from him is like. Why does this not make sense? Well, all of the Digimon can speak perfect English. I’ve never heard them make a mistake and they barely even use slang. So, Keenan shouldn’t have a problem with the language. Moreover, he’s just really annoying. He doesn’t know whether he should choose to side with the humans or the Digimon and this ends up with him not really being loyal to either side for a while. Marcus has to constantly defeat him until he finally sees the light. Once he is a hero, Keenan is still pretty annoying and I never liked him from start to finish.

Falcomon is Keenan’s partner and he’s not much better. He talks tough, but he’s rather weak. The only impressive moment that he has is his very first appearance and that’s just because the writers were trying to give him a lot of hype. It doesn’t really work and it doesn’t make him likable. Falcomon seems to be the intelligent and refined character from the way that he speaks, but he doesn’t have any really cool moments. It also helps that most of his Digi Evolutions aren’t that good either.

Commander Sampson is the leader of the D.A.T.S group and he can definitely be pretty iffy at times. As it is, I’m pretty suspicious of the group’s overall goal and he’s their leader so that doesn’t help his case. He talks tough to be sure, but he’s a part of the system so he has to listen to his higher ups at times. He’s a decent leader, but he’s definitely not my kind of character and I always side with Marcus against him. Kudamon is Sampson’s partner and he’s decent as well, but not always. He’s pretty skeptical of Marcus and he’s usually the voice of doubt. He does get to fight towards the end of both arcs so he is definitely strong. He’s still not my favorite Digimon, but he’s decent to have around. He beats the knights and the shell Digimon.
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Homer Yushima is a fisherman who knows more than he lets on. It’s safe to say that he’s one of the most annoying characters in the series. He constantly taunts Marcus, but he is somehow able to avoid the hero’s punches. This guy could get 100 plot twists and I still wouldn’t like him. He’s just too cryptic and you know that he’s probably doing it on purpose. He could have helped out more if he decided to join the action instead of just fishing all the time.

Merukimon was one of the cooler opponents in the series and he was one of the first Mega level Digimon to battle the heroes. He’s rather large, but he’s still humanoid so that gives him points in my book. He has super strength and some good energy blasts at his disposal so he can give any fighter a run for their money. He rules the Digital World, or at least a fraction of it. Merukimon believes in peace and he tries not to go to war with the humans, but his subordinates and evil humans make this rather difficult. I don’t care for how his character arc ended since I just don’t see him losing so easily, but he had a pretty good run. He’s definitely a Digimon that you can respect.

Gotsumon is Merukimon’s right hand man, but he’s a pretty treacherous opponent. He wants a war to start between the Digimon and the humans. He will do just about anything to start this and I mostly just disregarded him as a comic relief character. That changed when he evolved into Meteormon and had some of the best speed feats of the series. It’s no stretch to say that this guy could be a match for Superman and I gained a lot of respect for him. Now, having a lot of power doesn’t mean that you’ll instantly become a likable character, but I can safely say that it did wonders for this guy.

SaberLeomon is an ally to Merukimon although they don’t always get along. His abilities are considerable and he definitely isn’t going to let the humans get away with doing what they please. He launches an attack on the human world and it’s a pretty epic episode. He’s clobbering the heroes and even Commander Sampson is forced to suggest a retreat. Marcus won’t have any of that, but it’s definitely a pretty cool moment. His end isn’t satisfying as with Merukimon’s fate, but he gave us a great battle and he had a cool personality. He’s like your average Shonen Jump rival and that’s always a good thing.

Gizumon is a robot that Kurata built and he’s part Digimon I believe. It brings up the good ole question of whether a human can build something to surpass anything. We saw in DBZ that Androids can be created who are stronger than Super Saiyans and now we have a robotic Digimon that can surpass a Mega. A single blast from this fighter can disintegrate most Digimon. It’s a little too overpowered if you ask me and it’s really hard to swallow this fact. I don’t think that it can beat a true Mega so it’s tough to see it beating up the heroes. Its speed and power are simply off the charts, but it has no true character development. It’s design is also lacking somewhat in coolness. I wasn’t a huge fan of this thing, but it’s definitely tough.

Belphemon is one of the big foes to appear in the series, but only for a very short amount of time. For the most part, it’s sort of Belphemon, but not really. Let’s just say that he’s not in full control of what he’s doing for about half of his screen time and then his time is pretty limited when he does show up. He’s definitely as cool as ever when he does appear though and I’ve always liked him as a villain. His design is basically perfect for an antagonist since he can fight in any style. Whether short range or long range, his attacks are guaranteed to deal some major damage.

Kurata is one of the most annoying villains in the series and he could be one of the worst in the franchise. He’s made to be a very unlikable character since he’s despicable in just about every way. If that was the aim of the writers, then they certainly succeeded. There just isn’t anything likable about this guy and you’re just waiting for him to be crushed the whole time. The only problem is that he lasts for quite a long time. He’s around for over half the series, which is a pretty impressive feat for a villain. The only other villain that I can think of from the top of my head who has achieved this (In a series with at least 26 episodes and two different arcs) is Aizen, but I’m sure that there are others. He is a brilliant scientist and inventor, but those just aren’t good enough reasons to actually end up liking the character.

Nanami is one of the three humans who have the ability to change into a Digimon. It’s a very handy ability to have and these fighters have an incredible theme that plays whenever they transform. Nanami is a genius so her rival from the main characters is naturally Thomas. She’s definitely a great fighter and her speed is really off the charts. Unlike Kurata, Nanami is a villain that you won’t mind rooting for since she is pretty interesting. I can’t bring myself to root for her since I’m a much bigger Thomas fan, but she isn’t an unlikable villain. It’s also cool to see her have a strategic battle with Thomas…even if she should have won that battle.
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Kouki is the next member of the trio and he’s easily my favorite one. He’s Marcus’ rival so I suppose that this makes sense. He’s always eager to battle and his personality is similar to your average Shonen Jump Protagonist or eager rival like Grimmjow. He doesn’t really have any bad scenes and it’s nice to see someone else jump in to fight instead of it just being Marcus all the time. Their punch in the Digital Wormhole was a nice way to start off their arc and he grew on me pretty quickly. I’m hesitant to say that he was the best villain in the series, but I’m thinking that there is actually a strong possibility that he is. Kouki is just great!

Unfortunately, every group has its weak point and this one is no exception. Ivan is the third member of the group and he’s easy the worst one. He’s not very smart and he’s always trying to flirt with Yoshino, but failing epicly. He doesn’t really know how to think yet so he just says all of his thoughts out loud. This results in wince worthy scenes were you just have to hope that he’ll be quickly defeated. His super forms also aren’t quite as cool as Nanami’s or Kouki’s. I could definitely do without this guy and Yoshino deserves a better rival.

Craniamon gets the biggest role from all of the Royal Knights. He has the most impressive fight and he is probably the most likable member as well. He fights with a shield and a double edged blade. (Not really a sword though) His shield is said to be unbreakable so getting past him is very tricky. His one on one fight with Marcus and Agumon was one of the better fights in the series. He eventually learns that it is not right to follow a leader without any questions and his character development definitely carries him to new heights. Not only is he one of the strongest Digimon in the franchise, he’s also one of the more likable ones.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Royal Knights don’t get the same treatment. They have a cool moment where they all show up at once, but they don’t get a lot of development after that. In fact, most of them don’t even get to have climatic fights like Craniamon. Gallantmon looks pretty great in his appearances, but maybe a little too great. The heroes don’t really have an answer for him so one character is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice to turn this into a stalemate. Gallantmon doesn’t return until the very end when the fights are over.

Dynasmon is still a pretty cool figure, but all of his feats were in Frontier. The producers didn’t decide to challenge this and he is mostly relegated to the sideline. Likewise with Magnamon, whose role is very small. It’s interesting to see Magnamon since I’ve always considered him to be of a weaker tier than Royal Knights level. Good for him, but he is probably the weak link of the team…maybe. UltraforceVeedramon could be his rival in terms of power, but I have to say that he just looks a lot tougher. He would have had a really good fight I’m sure and his fans were probably disappointed.

Leopardmon got his own fight at least and his portrayal is…interesting. He’s the only Royal Knight that you could probably call pure evil. Might makes right according to him and he seems rather insane. I hope he is kicked off the team by the others and I have to wonder how he made it in the first place. This guy just seems a few graham crackers short of a smore if you know what I mean. He looks decent, but he also looks a lot weaker than the average Royal Knight.

LoadKnightmon is pretty lucky since he got a big role in Digimon Frontier and then he got a major fight against Thomas in Data Squad. I actually do like the design since it’s very robotic and stream lined. LoadKnightmon looks like he can be a real threat and it’s the kind of design that you might expect from something like Eureka Seven. He definitely doesn’t disappoint while in battle. This is why an extra 5-6 episodes for the series would have been good. If all of the Royal Knights had gotten big battles like LoadKnightmon and Craniamon, the ending would have been even more satisfying.

Omnimon is a perfect example of this since he is easily the strongest Royal Knight. (In theory anyway and I think it’s a safe assumption) He really should have gotten to fight since that would have been really cool. Marcus could have had his ultimate mega form battle with Omnimon and it would have been a battle for the ages. That was a missed opportunity, but I suppose that every show misses a chance somewhere along the line. Hopefully we get that fight someday.

King Drasil is the ultimate boss and his power is basically unlimited. It’s good to see that he can physically fight though since it would have been easy to have made him a high above being. His first form is pretty cool and I also liked his final mode. It wasn’t totally humanoid, but it was close enough so that he could still fight in close quarters combat if he had too. This guy got a lot of hype so it was fun to finally see him once and for all. It was a nice way to end the series.

Spencer Damon is Marcus’ father who vanished prior to the start of the series. He was apparently a nice guy and we learn more and more about him as the series progresses. Like Marcus, he can use digital data to amplify his attacks and do some real damage. He seemed to be even stronger than Marcus since his strength may have been on a planetary level. It’s a shame that we never really get to see him fight seriously on screen. The only time where we come close is in a flashback and the match is mostly off screen. This is one guy who could definitely hold his own series and it would have been cool to have seen him a little more before the series finally ended.
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BanchoLeomon is a mysterious Mega Digimon who helps the heroes from time to time, but I definitely didn’t care for him. He’s pretty skilled and he’s a pure hand to hand fighter, but he’s just not my kind of character. An example of this is when he locks the main characters in a hut to train and then he refuses to let them out until they complete their training. You expect a strict instructor in these shows, but he goes too far. See, the Digimon partners of the main characters were getting blown away by some villains at the time and the heroes knew that they couldn’t last much longer. Knowing that, BanchoLeomon still refused to let them out and he didn’t mind letting their lives be snuffed out. Marcus quickly did something about that, but I never let BanchoLeomon off the hook. As far as I am concerned, he’s evil and someone who needs to be stopped.

Now, is D.A.T.S. is evil or just severely misguided? They decide that they have to destroy Digimon as quickly as they appear in the human world so that they don’t cause panic in the streets. Destroying a Digimon merely reverts them back to their baby form though so they aren’t really dead. That being said, you still wonder about this since they’re basically shooting first and asking questions later. The show tries to help them out by explaining that all Digimon go crazy when they go into the real world by mistake so they can’t be reasoned with. That being said, Mega Level Digimon seem to be an exception and likewise with the partners of the main humans. D.A.T.S. was quick to attack Agumon so it makes you wonder how many other heroic Digimon were taken down. They naturally mellowed out since Marcus joined (Since he makes sure to keep them on the side of justice) but it makes you wonder just how good they are. Governments and military groups never seem to be trust worthy in TV shows and this is no exception.

I think that Kurata probably gets away with a little too much during arc 1. He takes down a whole lot of Digimon and he basically forces them to retaliate. You really can’t blame the Digimon for wanting to destroy the Earth since the humans are constantly trying to harm them. Unfortunately, the heroes are ready to stop them so it’s a dicey predicament. The Digimon are in a no win situation since they can decide not to strike back and watch as their allies are defeated or they can attack and get bested by Marcus. So, you can definitely sympathize with these guys and it’s one of the only reasons why you can accept the Royal Knights deciding to destroy Earth. That being said, they are supposed to be completely just heroes so you expect more out of them. Also, where were they when Kurata was attacking the other Digimon? With their extreme speed, they should be able to help out a lot. I’ll assume that they were in statis or something.

Data Squad’s animation is definitely sound. It has a Shonen Jump feel to it that the other series just didn’t have. The previous installments looked good of course, but this one is just that much better. Tamers also had some good animation so it can hold its own, but I’d go as far as to say that Data Squad easily surpasses every other Digimon show in terms of animation. It helps that the fights are really intense here so the animators can take advantage of that of course. I’ll talk about the battles in a short while. Needless to say, the animation really shines throughout the series and especially during the final arc.

Another factor that was in the show’s favor is definitely the soundtrack. Digimon is a franchise that is very well know for its great soundtracks or at least in the English dub of each series. Data Squad takes it up another notch as at least 90% of its themes are fight related. Only 1 other show has managed to pull that off in the past and that was Yugioh GX. You can already tell that Data Squad is in some pretty good company here. From the cliff hanger music to the tense themes, Data Squad just nails them all. Even the “previously on Digimon” scenes become epic as the show plays a great battle theme. There’s never a dull moment in the series and the soundtrack really solidifies that fact.

The action scenes are another thing that separates this show from most anime. The battles are pretty reminiscent of DBZ and they’re very high tier. Digimon Frontier actually started this off since their fights felt like classic DBZ scuffles, but this show just takes it to the next level. The strongest fighters in this series are easily stronger than Frontier’s. (Don’t get the wrong idea, Frontier’s strongest fighters are still immensely powerful, but they would not be able to win this fight) The action scenes are intense regardless of how high tier they are though as the first fights with Marcus against rookies and champions are still exciting. This is thanks to the soundtrack mixed in with the animation. The hand to hand certainly helps since those fights are always excited. Brawling action is great to mix in with beam fights since it makes the battles that much more dynamic. We even get a classic scene where someone catches Marcus’ punch, which is an impressive feat in itself. As far as the power levels go, the top fighters from this series could take out many fighters in Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and maybe even some DBZ fighters. Don’t underestimate these Digimon!

I already mentioned that this is my 2nd favorite show of all time so it probably goes without saying that it beats the other Digimon shows. That being said, they put up an admirable fight. As of this post, the Digimon rankings go: Digimon Data Squad–Digimon Tamers–Digimon Adventure–Digimon Frontier–Digimon Adventure 02–Digimon Fusion. The last two spots do tend to shift around sometimes though as it’s really close. Digimon Adventure 02 had the better writing, but the songs were terrible so it’s a tough call. Data Squad wins in characters, fight scenes, soundtrack, and animation so it’s basically got all of the areas covered. Like I said, it’s just about perfect.

If I had to mention a negative aside from Keenan, it would be that the ending is a little rushed. All of the Royal Knights should have gotten a chance to have a real fight. The series really could have used the extra 4 episodes to reach 52 so that they could fight. 4 episodes would certainly be enough or at least it would be enough to satisfy me. There’s a lot of action that you can fit in those 2 hours. It wasn’t to be though and when a little pacing problem is the show’s biggest concern, you know that you’re doing pretty well. The show gets by without resorting to fanservice tactics, which is another check on its overall score.

Every show has a moment where things get real. That moment where the show jumps from good to great or from mediocre to good depending on the title. The moment where the show peaks and that happens towards the end of arc 1 in this title. When the 3 humans who can biomerge into Digimon appear, that’s when Data Squad went from great to elite. It’s an intense scene and you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the screen when that happens. On a bright note, even the filler episodes are pretty entertaining. The boxer episode comes to mind and there were no big stakes, but it was still a pretty great episode. That’s because the writing for this show is pretty consistent.
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Speaking of which, the ending leaves a lot of room for possible sequels. It would be great to see a certain character who’s returned join in on some action and Marcus is only just beginning to unlock his full powers. I would have liked a sequel to this show since the possibilities are really endless. Adventure is finally getting a sequel though so maybe there is still a chance for this show. As far as endings go, Data Squad’s is pretty great and it certainly beats most other titles in that regard. (Naruto)

Overall, Digimon Data Squad is just about perfect. It’s a show that has a lot of replay value and nearly everything went its way. The pacing is pretty good and the animation is sure to help you enjoy the fights a lot. The soundtrack is easily 5 star material and Marcus makes for a great lead. Keenan may not be a good character, but you can definitely overlook him on this epic experience. The show is ironically a few episodes shorter than the other seasons, but that’s okay. Over 40 episodes is still enough time for you to get used to the characters. I definitely recommend this show to any anime fan and especially if you are looking for a title with a lot of fights. It’ll be tough for any show to pass this one and that’s why my top 3 shows of all time are virtually set in stone at this point. 1. Yugioh GX. 2. Digimon Data Squad. 3. Cardfight Vanguard. Everything else can fight for the remaining spots on my top 10. Check this show out and tell me what you think! I’ll have to wait a while before I see Marcus in action again, but that should be pretty epic!

Overall 9/10

9 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Megaman NT Warrior Axess Review


Axess continues the Megaman NT Warrior franchise and brings the series to new heights. While NT Warrior was pretty good, Axess is excellent and it’s everything that I could have hoped for in a Megaman series. The grand scale of things is definitely a lot larger than NT Warrior and the threats are very real.

Axess starts off with Megaman effortlessly defeating his opponents. It has been a time of peace and everyone has moved on from the past dangers. Even Megaman seems to be pretty overconfident as he toys with the opponents. When someone tries to eliminate Lan and his friends by removing the air in the building, Lan send Megaman in against his most lethal opponent yet. Savageman is behind this and he may be Megaman’s first true threat in a long time. Megaman hits him with the program advance, but it doesn’t seem to have any noticable effect. Things get dangerous when Savageman appears in the human world! Lan and Megaman are forced to Crossfuse to take him on.

This is just the beginning of the Nebula saga. Crossfusion is a major part of the series, since it’s the only way that the good guys can really fight. (Although, I think that Megaman and pals could just materialize into the area like the villains. I’ve always wondered why they didn’t just do that. It would be simple enough and they could hopefully win.) The series opens up with a lot of solid episodes including the battles against Vineman and Flashman. They introduce a new type of super form called Doublesoul. With this ability, Megaman can merge with a netnavi and gain his abilities, or just absorb a portion of his power and add it on to his own.

The saga reached its climax in episode 27. Megaman and Protoman launch their final offensive against Nebula’s boss, but the Darkloids have also come to finish things. Their are many powerful darkloids and I will talk about several of them later on in the review. When Megaman and Protoman reach the big boss, they find that he is gone. “MY NAME IS LASERMAN!” a voice yells out as a being of pure power gets up from the throne. Megaman and Protoman were quickly dispatched by the leader of the darkloids (Shademan) and are unable to challenge Laserman. Laserman and Shademan quickly have a talk and then Laserman leaves…after blowing up the dimensional area generators. Shademan decides to blow the place up in the hopes of destroying Laserman. Now, Megaman and Protoman must fight Shademan in the cyber world. The battle is very nostalgic, but things get dangerous for the heroes.

The 2nd saga is about Laserman’s group of darkloids. Lan and Megaman have their work cut out for them and they are now outnumbered by a large amount. Chaud can’t do much since Protoman is unable to help at the moment. They call in Raika and Raoul for backup and they come in handy…they just aren’t quite at Protoman level. The climax of the series is definitely intense and has a very cool atmosphere about it.

Lan is still a pretty solid protagonist. He hasn’t changed that much from NT Warrior and he’s always ready for a fight. Now he actually gets to fight which is pretty cool, but sometimes he doesn’t handle it well. His battle experience isn’t as good as Megaman’s so he definitely holds them back.

Megaman is also pretty similar to his NT Warrior counterpart, but he makes less puns. He does seem to be pretty confident during the earlier episodes which is good and he hesitates less than in the old days. His double soul abilities are pretty good to have and they are much better than the Style Change.

Chaud is a pretty solid character for the first saga, but he doesn’t do as well in Arc 2. He makes the ultimate sacrifice and gives Megaman the vulcan, but (Thanks to Lan) he hesitates and loses some time. He fires off the vulcan, but it is too late. That scene was definitely one of the greatest in the entire series and it felt like I was watching a shounen anime. Protoman is pretty solid as well, but once in a while he won’t look so good. Still, he’s one of the better heroes in the series.

Mr Famous is a new character to the show and he seems to run the NetSavers division. He’s not a fighter in the anime and while he’s smart, it’s never enough to help Lan out. There is also a detective and his assistant, but I can’t even get into those guys. They weren’t really great characters and never pulled through when the going got tough.

Lan’s friends don’t appear quite as often in this show. Dex gets an appearance, but he looks pretty bad and he can’t stop Burnerman. Maylu and Roll try to help Megaman out against Flashman, but he proves to be too powerful. Yai and Tori are around, but they also don’t really get to help.

A new hero added to the bunch is named Raika. His netnavi Searchman is pretty good for long range combat and his fight against Shadowman was pretty cool. Shadowman is far stronger thanks to his speed and close range combat, but when you throw a wildcard (Megaman) in to shake things up, Searchman has enough time to get out the shot. Searchman is willing to destroy innocent lives to achieve his target, so he doesn’t get along with Megaman at first. Of course, we can’t totally call Searchman a hero after that right? Arguably he changes his ways, but do we know for sure? Prismman is also a pretty cool navi. He has a solid fight against Gravityman and even takes on Megaman. He’s a solid close range fighter and his design is pretty epic. I wish that we could have seen more of him.

We also can’t forget about Tamako and Metalman. Tamako is one of Lan’s newer rivals and her netnavi packs a punch. Metalman has a lot of raw power, but Megaman’s speed is a good counter to that. He comes in handy during the big battle against Searchman and they’re both decent characters. I can always use a new rival for the main character.

Savageman is the first darkloid to fight and he’s also one of the best ones. Like his name suggests, Savageman is a very savage fighter. He’ll take any opening and launch a powerful attack. He was able to take on the powerful team of Metalman and Megaman. Definitely not an easy feat and one that few can reproduce. He’s very fast and in his final form, he may be one of the strongest darkloids of all time. He’s definitely a high tier Megaman fighter.

Flashman is another great darkloid and his thunder abilities are very quick. He was doing pretty good against Megaman and nearly deleted him. Roll went to take him on as well, but Flashman proved to be too strong. He has a pretty good array of attacks and he’s also a master at close range combat. He was actually holding his own against Protoman in a sword fight.

Shademan was the leader of the darkloids for Arc 1 and he’s a very strong fighter. He’s not that agile, but he makes up for that in raw power. One solid attack is enough to take down Megaman and Protoman teaming up. (In Crossfusion, since Lan and Chaud can’t endure that kind of power. In the net, things would be different) Shademan’s definitely a powerful fighter and he manages to go up against Laserman! He has Bubbleman as a loyal minion, but Bubbleman’s pretty weak. He’s definitely one of the worst darkloids..maybe The worst darkloid.

Desertman is also one of the best Darkloids. Not only does he claim to be immortal, but he has a lot of raw power. He was defeating Megaman with minimal effort and his abilities are great. He’s most dangerous in an enclosed space thanks to his sand lions. They will home in on the opponent and charge. It’s pretty tough to dodge them when there isn’t time to maneuver. His attacks also deal great damage and a couple of lions would end any battle.

Gravityman appeared pretty late in the series, but he quickly became one of my favorites. His gravity drive is immensely lethal and it’s nearly impossible to dodge. Once it gets near, the gravity pushes the opponent into the ground. He can also use gravity to block any projectiles, so he’s essentially invincible in a one one fight. Protoman and Megaman teaming up were nearly destroyed.

We can’t forget about the mighty Laserman! In arc 2, he’s a pretty major character. Not only does he lead the villain armada, but his abilities are very potent. He doesn’t fight until the final episode, but it’s a pretty great one. He uses his super speed to fight with Shademan and then relies on his sheer durability and power to take on Megaman and Protoman. He must be the only fighter to survive a program advance and 6 double souls. “Tremble Before me!” is just one of his cool lines. He’s definitely a fighter to watch out for. Dr Regal is his human ally, but he doesn’t make for an interesting villain. He’s pretty smart though and even surpasses Lan’s dad in that area.

There are many other darkloids that I could continue to mention. Vineman was pretty awesome and his episode was one of the best in the series. Burnerman is also a solid fighter and a decent character. To end on the characters note, I should mention that…BASS appears later on! It’s a small role, but he hints that he could take down Laserman and Shademan pretty easily. He’s definitely not an opponent to underestimate.

Megaman Axess is an anime that I strongly recommend watching. The soundtrack is superb, (The vulcan scene is an example of the greatest music in the show. Possibly one of the greatest of all time!) there are a lot of cool techno music and other sounds from the games. The animation is also a solid step up and the battles are amazing. The cliffhanger also makes you eagerly anticipate watching the next show in the franchise…Stream! So, check this anime out right away!

Overall 9/10