Samurai Jack vs Urbosa



Suggested by iKnowledge Samurai Jack is a talented swordfighter who has incredible durability and speed. While he lacks Urbosa’s pure strength, his path to victory would be with quick strikes. Ultimately I would still give Urbosa the edge though. It’ll be difficult for Jack to block her strikes while also working to dodge the lightning bolts. Ultimately this combination will just be too much for him and Jack will go down. Urbosa wins.

Ceodore Harvey vs Daruk



Suggested by iKnowledge This is a pretty tricky one since Ceodore Harvey has a lot of good techniques but we don’t really get to see him in action beyond gameplay mechanics. Then you have Daruk who is a real powerhouse but doesn’t have a great amount of speed. So…who takes this? Well, in this case I’d say that the speed factor is the main thing holding Daruk back here. I have no doubt that his raw power will be really dealing a lot of damage to Ceodore but landing blows will be difficult and I don’t think he can endure Ceodore’s attacks for too long. Ceodore Harvey wins.

Marka Ragnos vs Mace Windu



Suggested by iKnowledge Marka Ragnos is one of the strongest Sith warriors of all time while Mace Windu is one of the strongest Jedi. Mace was able to use both the light and dark powers while also being able to take down Palpatine in a straight fight. I would have to give it to him mainly thanks to his incredible reaction times as well as his skill with a blade. Marka is one of the original fighters but he wouldn’t have fought someone like Mace. Mace Windu wins.

Candy Flurry Review


Candy Flurry is a fairly recent Jump title that never managed to get out from the bottom of the rankings. While its cancellation always appeared imminent, it seemed to have a pretty cool gimmick going. Who doesn’t like sweets? In many ways it was going after the One Piece angle of eating a food that gives you special powers while still being different in its own right. It’s a solid series but I think its attempts at humor were ultimately its undoing.

The series begins by explaining the general lore of the series which is that Tokyo was destroyed by a bunch of giant lollipops that rained down from the sky. 5 years later nobody has actually started rebuilding yet but people are still trying to raise funds to do so. A toy company had come out with 100 snacks which gave people super powers. Each candy is unique so no two people will have the same power. As a result the government put together a special unit known as the Recette to track down these 100 power users.

Each user needs to either register with the government or be arrested. You are not allowed to use your powers against non power users and that is true even for government agents unless you’re taking down a criminal. Nobody knows much more than that about the company that released these snacks and so the world is still going ahead as normal but now there are many people who no longer like snacks.

We’re then introduced to our main character Tsumugi. She has the ability to use Lollipops in combat but is not the one who attacked the system. This is dangerous because as the world knows, no two people can have the same power. So nobody will believe her if she tries to say anything and since she knows this is a lie, is it also a lie that there are only 100 power users out there? She aims to find the true culprit and live a normal life in the meantime but it’s difficult with criminals running everywhere.

Her life is changed forever when she meets a guy named Misaki. He’s a young member of the Recette who is determined to be a great agent but lacks real ability. She saves him from a punk so now he is the only one who knows her identity. Together they must catch the criminals while making sure she isn’t detected but that will be difficult. Can Tsumugi pull this off?

At its core this is a classic Shonen Jump title. It’s a very light hearted adventure that is part school comedy and part action. It reminds me a bit of the opening act for Seraph of the End but without the violent beginning. This doesn’t really seem like the kind of series that will go that far. It’s early on of course but definitely happier than most titles and you can get a feel for that from the art style as well. Perhaps World Trigger would be the best comparison.

One of the strongest positives for the series is the artwork. It’s way clearer than you would expect from a new series. Unlike the Ghostwriter, I don’t believe this is from an already established artist either which only serves to increase how impressive this is. The powers are very clear when they’re in use and the fights are on point. The action scenes are always pretty fast though with Tsumugi typically defeating her opponents in a single shot.

I’d like some longer fights but I’m sure the author was trying to cover as much ground as possible so I can see why the pacing is so fast. The fights are good and I do like the overall atmosphere. The school combat routine lends itself well to these kinds of adventures. Many memorable titles started out like this such as Bleach, Buzo Renkin, Seraph of the End and more. There are so many different ways you could take this and there is a lot of groundwork laid out for a lot of extra lore.

You’ve got different classes of fighters and a whole government structure. The toy group will clearly have a nefarious agenda and with 100 power users, that may not sound like a lot but it’s still enough to last for a few arcs until we get more villains. Presumably the Recette isn’t completely useless so lets say they’ve already apprehended about 30 power users. The government probably employs around 30 agents so when you throw in Tsumugi then there should be at least 30+ on the loose. If they’re all strong then that will work out well.

You’ve also got the steroid pills that anyone can use so you can have human villains as well. I do think it was a mistake to show us some of the most powerful government workers this early though. Irie and Amanai are both members of the top 5 agents in the whole government and they are struggling against the villain group right away. That’s why you usually keep the strongest fighters hidden until later. Jujutsu Kaisen pulled it off by showing Gojo right away…but he wasn’t struggling in his first fights. That would be anti climactic and so Candy Flurry should have made these guys maybe Top 30 or Top 20. Going straight to Top 5 is too fast.

Still, it’s all good so far so where does the series struggle? Personally I think the writing is the biggest problem that Candy Flurry has. It’s not nearly as funny as it seems to think it is. One of Tsumugi’s gimmicks is commenting on how cute she is so the guys will always buy her snacks and be nice to her. That’s a rather…narcissistic trait for a main character. I was rather taken aback when she talked like that. We learn that she has been asked out like 30 times or so which I guess has bolstered her confidence every time she declines.

Then she accuses one of the villains of sexual harassment when he pointed out that his gum might get stuck in her hair when he’s shooting his attacks (He has gum powers) so maybe she should cut it. That’s….a very big stretch on her part. It just makes Tsumugi a little more unlikable than anything else because that’s a very out of place line and destroys any chance at bantering.

I like Tsumugi’s confidence when in battle but as a character I actually didn’t like her all that much. She has her share of comedic moments that are solid and she is serious in battle but her personality just doesn’t mesh well with the character. If anything you just feel bad for Misaki when Tsumugi is using him or framing him to higher expectations than he can ever hope to achieve. He is rather slow on the uptake though so a lot of it is his fault.

Not to pile onto her character too much but she also has some of the worst comebacks to the villains. One of them mentions how he wants to make everyone a power user so he can be the strongest with his lollipops at which point Tsumugi says that sweets are for eating not fighting. Keep in mind that she’s saying this after smashing people in the head with her Lollipop and defeating numerous opponents. Her speech about how anything connected to a stick can be a lollipop also felt incredibly random.

So, Tsumugi has her charms but I think the writing hurts her character. Ideally as the series went on she would get a lot better though. Not every character is amazing out of the gate like Bam, Yoh, or Yugi but if a series goes on long enough usually you will improve. So I don’t doubt that she would get better. One step to doing that would be to stop holding back even when you’re about to die but that’s mostly on the series being abruptly ended so I think she wasn’t meant to be as powerful as she was in the final chapter.

Continuing on the writing angle though, it’s not like this only hurts Tsumugi. Irie is another character in the series and one of the Top 5 fighters that I mentioned. She has some of the same iffy dialogue. She accuses another villain of harassment and what I did like is that he calls her out on it. He asks why she has a double standard between him and another villain who’s traditionally more good looking and she struggles for a response. When she accuses him a second time he flat out denies it and she admits that she made a mistake.

This in no way makes Irie even slightly likable. Now, she was stalling for time in the second instance so you could say this was to that end, but it has to be one of the worst ways to stall for time. Additionally she is very one note. Her personality is that she can be really smart at times and really dumb at other moments. She’ll make a great deduction and then fall for the simplest trick in the book. Or she’ll land a great combat technique and then remember that she left her books at home.

Thing is, this happens in every single one of her appearances. This goes back to Candy Flurry trying to move really fast even to its own detriment. Each character has a gimmick and the author wants you to remember this so it is brought up every time. Irie has her forgetfulness, Misaki always follows the rules, Amanai is a tough coach, Tsumugi’s teammate is super in love with Irie and always crying, etc.

Now I get that there is pressure to move fast or you’ll be cancelled but this does end up hurting Flurry a bit. I think to a large extent the series was trying to also be a commentary on Shonen Jump titles like Medaka Box but doesn’t have nearly the same level of writing ability. You have Tsumugi criticizing the trope of just jumping into battle without a plan, a villain getting insulted for wearing a uniform that just so happens to have an image that looks like him, etc. The dialogue can feel really meta a lot of the time but it’s just not executed very well.

You know how when meta dialogue is very well done you don’t think twice and just grin because of how true the critique is? That’s not the case here as you’ll just pause and think, would the characters actually say that? It’s entertaining though even if not very realistic. To underscore, the series is still a lot of fun. There are plenty of humor moments that do land like the dialogue with the Popcorn user and Tsumugi. The debates about which candy is best can be good as well. What truly counts as a Lollipop and what doesn’t. Things like that are interesting and I also like that the characters don’t have exaggerated reactions to the humor. They take things personally and keep joking around while trying to hurt the other one. The moments like this are really good so I think the series is at its best when the humor is being direct like that. So it has its flaws but I do want to underscore that you should still get some good chuckles out of this.

Lets talk about the rest of the characters now. I already talked about Tsumugi quite a bit and also started on Irie. Not much more to say about her but Irie’s ice cream ability seems like it would be really useful. It’s just a shame that she isn’t immune to her own power and can only fight for 3 minutes after activation which is a huge weakness. I also found it a little funny how she disregards Tsumugi as a suspect for being too weak since Irie was stomping her and nearly murdered the heroine but later on we find out that Tsumugi was holding back and is actually way stronger than Irie….

Misaki is the main guy here and while he may be powerless, he has a heart of justice. It would be nice if he were a bit stronger though as he loses to random minions on the street. Additionally, he gets beaten up by the bullies because he refuses to harm a civilian. Sorry but this is taking things wayyyy too far. If someone’s beating you up then you better defend yourself. There’s nothing heroic about being pounded into the dirt so that hurts him quite a lot.

As for Amanai, he doesn’t appear nearly long enough to get much of a read on him. They’re definitely going for an Eraser feel for him as the guy has a similar costume, is sleepy/bored all the time but gets really serious about the rules. He doesn’t get to have a proper fight though as it is interrupted by the main villain and he’s sidelined real quickly. I could see him being a fun character if the series had kept going though.

Umino is the son of the boss of the Recette so he’s a fairly big shot but his opening appearance is him crying a lot. Now, this is a character I can maybe get behind. If you can get around the fact that he is constantly trying to impress Irie even if it means dying in the process and his lack of confidence, and you’ve got a good character. He has enough power to defeat several fighters at once after all and even gives the Popcorn user a good piece of advice.

I dare say that he is probably my favorite hero in the series. I’d have to think about it some more but off the top I’d say that’s true. I also think there were a lot of things he would probably do in the future. My actual favorite character is the pop corn user. What’s his name? Well, this is a slight nitpick for the series but they rarely use names so that makes it difficult to find them. Even for Umino, they only say his name once in his debut appearance chapters on a little tablet when you’re looking at the tournament bracket. Otherwise you just don’t know who he is. Seriously, in the first three chapters where this guy appears they don’t say his name once so I’m just going to have to call him the Popcorn guy.

But yeah Popcorn guy is pretty great. He’s clearly modeled off of Bakugo’s character design to the point where one panel almost seems ripped straight out of MHA. Same costume from that angle and the same pose. I like that this guy is your classic “Really wants to fight” character while also having some original traits. When Tsumugi calls him a loser he refuses to tell her anything about the villains which is reasonable. A lot of times you see the villain still tell everything but he took that insult rather personally.

In fact, he takes every insult she dishes out (And there are a lot) personally and even tries to change himself as a result. Umino points out that this would actually make him a loser if he changes upon request so you feel bad for the guy because everyone is taking shots at him. Still, as a villain he has a lot of personality and just really sticks out. Which I quickly skimmed through the chapters and it looks like none of the villain members aside from the leader gets a power so they’re just off handily referred to my their snacks. I guess like a hero name? Hmmm…..well I’ll go with that for the review too then.

Another villain member is Gum and he’s another good villain. He’s the one who called out Irie’s double standard and he is fairly creative with his ability. Even once the gum is frozen he is able to quickly figure out how to fight with it. The guy is even crying during the battle because of how hurt he is. Candy Flurry really loves its emotional characters that’s for sure. It works well for this guy.

Then you have Gummy who is one of those villains that acts like a hero the whole time. He doesn’t believe in cheap shots and just wants to have a clean fight. He doesn’t like hostages either. Yet…he does use cheap shots and take hostages so the guy is absolutely all talk. He seems to want to help Misaki keep his secret identity though. It’s hard to get a read on him so ultimately I’d say he’s just insane or heavily misguided. We have a quick flashback where all of the villains actually wanted to be heroes the whole time but it never worked out due to off screen events we’ll never know about.

I think it’s an interesting idea to have a villain who feels like he’s a hero. You can do a lot with that but this guy betrays his ideals within the span of a chapter so I can’t take him seriously. Meanwhile there are about 4-5 other members who show up briefly in the third last chapter but they’re all taken out off screen and only appear in one more panel. I guess they were about to have some big fights before the author was told that the series was about to be abruptly ended. They looked like they had potential but we don’t know a whole lot about them at this point. The third member would be cookie I think but he didn’t even get a line so there’s not much to say about him.

It is uncanny how each member of the villain group looks so similar to other characters. You have Bakugo from MHA, Yuji and Megumi from JJK, Zora from Black Clover, etc. I suppose it’s tough to come up with new character designs after a while but with so many characters it’s hard not to notice.

Finally you have the main villain Amato. This guy took out an entire city so he’s definitely a threat and he does take out most of the heroes really quickly. His goal of turning everyone into power users is a pretty interesting one although we don’t know how he would go about doing this yet. I do like that he’s very loyal to the rest of his group though and even sets out to save them.

Based on the flashback we see that he’s a rather caring guy as well. I definitely expect he would be turning good at some point since the series already laid the seeds for that along with the rest of the group. Ultimately he only gets to fight for 2 chapters at which point the series ends but he was impressive. I liked his personality and abilities so he could have gone far.

The snacks lend itself well to the fight scenes because of how much variety they had. They were very different from your average fights and I imagine the creativity would have only continued to increase if the series was given more time. The giant robot at the end felt extremely random to the point where it became a bit of a meme but I think that only happened because the series was cancelled. Otherwise it makes no sense because no matter how Tsumugi tries to explain it…that robot was not a Lollipop in any shape or form.

I did appreciate the twist that Tsumugi was actually the most powerful sweets user around and was just holding back the whole time. I’m all up for having an overpowered protagonist and it also explains her absolute confidence the whole time. I do suspect that she was not meant to be this powerful and had to be boosted since she needed to beat the main villain in one chapter but maybe not. It was hinted in one chapter that she was super powerful when she “barely” defeated one villain only to suddenly be at full strength when fighting another. Even the villain commented that she had seemed tired just a moment ago.

As you can see by the size of the review, there was a lot to discuss here. I think that speaks volumes about the potential of the manga. It was only 19 chapters and yet there is so much to talk about. It really was a unique experience even if a lot of the overall fundamentals were on the generic side. After all, a lot of battle Shonens will have similarities and it’s that extra element you add to it that determines if you will be an all star or not. If this could have gone on for many more chapters maybe it could have been the next big thing.

As a final note, here’s what I would have done differently to keep the series from being cancelled. The first thing is to make Tsumugi more of a likable character. Just don’t make her the kind of character who is too into herself and take away the accusations from the villains. It seems like the author wanted to make her a very confident character based on most of her portrayal so just focus on that.

Maybe throw in some bragging about her abilities or trash talking during combat. Give her the kind of lines you would see Yusuke, Ichigo, or Ryoma have since it seems like she should be that kind of protagonist. That’s a quick fix and I think it would be a good one since Tsumugi does have a lot of instances where she is very likable. Just a tiny tweak here and there and you would stick the landing.

Work on improving the writing as well. Get rid of the dialogue that feels extremely out of place. If you want to keep the humor up, keep doing it with the meta dialogue and all but try to make it feel more natural. A key thing to remember here is also that the heroes should be likable so don’t make them create false claims to buy time or give the villains any chance to make it seem like they are the sympathetic ones. With the government being as extreme as they are here and the lab doing live human experiments on kids…it makes it very easy to be rooting for the villains more than you should. Especially when they’re the ones using the power of friendship while the heroes are fighting among themselves.

Beyond that, I’d say just take it slow and keep introducing everyone. There’s a lot of potential for this to have been a really long running series. There’s not much more to say as those are really the only two things I would change. Writing and Tsumugi. With those two areas improved I think you’ll have a real winner here.

Overall, Candy Flurry is a fun title. It’s certainly got its flaws but nothing super drastic. I would still call this a pretty good title through and through. At only 19 chapters this makes for a very quick read. It seems like most cancelled titles tend to get a bonus chapter when the volume comes out as an epilogue of sorts so you’ll want to keep an eye out for that to give it a read when this becomes available. We’ll see if the next cancelled title can keep up with Candy Flurry. At the very least it’ll be tough to top the fights and artwork since both were quite solid. Who knows, maybe in 20 years this will get a sequel or something.

Overall 7/10

Murder Ahoy! Review


Time for the final Marple movie in this era. This time we’re on a boat which is definitely the most drastic change in scenery yet. It’s a fun way to end the adventure with the commander of the ship being one of the most interesting suspects in the whole series. Mix in the solid fundamentals we’ve come to expect in this series and you’ve got a winning film on your hands.

The movie starts with a meeting of the trustees for a nearby battleship. Marple is here of course and throughout the whole meeting one of the trustees is trying to say something but nobody will listen. Finally it’s his time to speak and unfortunately he dies before he can say what was on his mind. Marple knows that it was something serious though and the answers are aboard the boat. She manages to gain access as a trustee but the crew wants her to leave immediately. Marple will have to solve this case before they throw her overboard but any one of these sailors could be the culprit.

As mentioned, I enjoyed the captain quite a bit. He is used to being king of the vessel and so having someone with her rank here diminishes that quite a bit. Additionally, he had to give her his room so now he is stuck with a smaller one. Throw in the murders aboard the ship and it seems like she is ruining his life. He needs to get her out of here but she effectively outranks him so that will be difficult as well. The Captain is in quite the jam you could say.

Meanwhile she also has to watch out for the Inspector who has never been crazier. He even wants to arrest her at one point but his boss prevents this from happening. The Inspector doesn’t even want to here her side of the story and is convinced that Marple is not going to be very helpful here. Clearly the guy doesn’t really keep track of his own adventures because that just doesn’t make any sense. His promotion was only thanks to her after all.

Still, he’s the best character as per usual here because he just makes for such a good antagonist. You know he will lose at the end but he definitely gives her a good run at times. Springer also gets to help out here in his most dangerous role yet. Having to stay up all night and evade the police isn’t exactly an easy task to do. He goes to great lengths to help Marple and ends up being a very loyal friend.

As for Marple herself, well this time she gets to put her sword skills to good use. It was a nice way to see her turn the tables here since she now has a whole lot of ways to defend herself. It was an impressive battle and while she would lose in the end, at least she wasn’t going to make things easy on the guy. She is always coming up with plans and even out smarts the captain at one point. Marple’s a very solid all around character and works well as the lead.

There are quite a few suspects here as always. You have one lady who is playing the field as she leads two guys on at once. You have the two guys who naturally dislike each other as a result and you have the 2nd in command. Any which one of them might have a secret aboard the ship but it’s hard to say who without some more evidence. Additionally, this is a boat where they are training a lot of cadets so Marple needs to be discreet or she will arouse everyone’s suspicions as she walks around.

You’ve still got the quality soundtrack here as well as the tight writing. The fun thing about the series like this back in the day were that they came out so often that each film feels really similar. All 4 films act in the same way with the only difference being the storylines. So if you liked one film then you would like them all and it was a safe bet to just check out the whole series. You don’t really see that as much now as usually a series will change things up in each installment. The Murder series is really a product of its time in that respect.

There’s something nice about seeing the characters and just enjoying a new adventure with them each time. This series really got that down to a T. There is a bit of a rushed romance subplot at the very end of the movie which comes across as odd but I suppose it gave the captain the end of his character arc. It would have been nice if he hadn’t damaged the sword in the process though. Even if it wasn’t as important as he tried to act, it was just a shame to see it go like that.

Now, while he was fun, I do think he dug most of his own troubles up. He wanted Marple to go and yet he is the one who offered her a chance to stay. I know it was just him pretending to be polite but even the rest of his team had to let him know that this was super sloppy. If he had said almost anything else then Marple would have had to force her way in and the optics would have been really different. By pulling this stunt it just made her job a lot easier.

Overall, Murder Ahoy! is a solid way to end things off. For once even Springer actually got to help in the climax which was nice. Surely this time the Inspector can’t ignore Marple but if we had gotten more sequels I’m sure he would have found a way to do so. If you like a good mystery film then this is a good one to check out as well as the first 3 films. They’re all rather stand alone with the Inspector’s promotion being the only reference to the older films. The movie is over very quickly and I have no real complaints. It’s just a pleasant mystery title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Murder Most Foul Review


Marple returns for another adventure in my little marathon but this time she really has a time limit since an innocent man will die if she doesn’t solve the case in time. Unless of course she is mistaken and the cops did grab the right fella in this case. Only time will tell but Marple is also going to have to become an actress for a little while if she is to succeed.

The movie starts out with someone getting attacked and murdered but unfortunately the police officer who was passing by did not notice. A trial is held with the primary suspect who was found near the lady who was murdered. Everyone including the police think it is an open and shut case but fortunately Miss Marple was there as one of the jurors and prevented the case from being concluded. She believes that he has been framed and intends to prove it but the Inspector shows up and reminds her not to interfere with police business. She is going to have to be on her own this time along with some help from Springer.

The first thing she will have to do is join a local acting circuit and while she is initially turned down for being too old, her money has a clear voice and alters the outcome. She must figure out which member of the troupe committed this foul deed and bring him or her to justice. It’ll be difficult though because all of these guys are rather young and fairly quick on their feet. Underestimating them would not be a good idea. Can she crack the case?

Marple is about as solid as always here. She makes sure to have the upper hand against the villains at all times and even reminds us that she has her gun skills at the ready. She isn’t afraid of anyone and takes all kinds of risks in order to get close to the case. Her confidence never wavers and you could go on and on about what a quality character she is. The overall point is that since she can fight as well, that elevates her character since she now has ways to defend herself.

As for the Inspector, well by now he’s starting to play a really central role in these films. He’s also starting to take the whole battle with Marple a lot more personally or at least that’s how I see it. At first he may not have believed her but he didn’t seem upset about it. Now he throws fits and even tries to arrest her. He’s really not happy to see her at all and you’d think he would be since she is always solving cases and putting murderers beyond bars. The Inspector starts to appear very unreasonable but he’s still fun as an antagonist.

He may mean well but since the guy is constantly trying to get in her way it’s hard to call him a protagonist at all. It’s a shame since he does want to be a defender of justice. Springer is helpful here as well as he always gets orders from Marple to head to various places and gather intel. In some ways his missions are very dangerous as well since he’s really going places to find out information that the villains don’t want to get out.

As for the actors/actresses, some of them do seem a bit unhinged so you can definitely see how things would get a bit crazy. One of them tries to strangle another only to say that it was all a joke at the end. Then you have a girl who hears voices and talks about spirits as she loses her mind every night. She comes close to even stabbing Marple which is crazy and shows that there may not be just 1 villain around. The director of the troupe is desperate for money so he at least makes a show of trying to be helpful but you don’t buy it. He’s more obsessed with having a good show than with actually aiding the police which is not a good look for him.

All of the usual musical tracks are here along with the quality writing you would expect from the series. The case is interesting and the characters are good which is all that you need. The suspects may not be the most likable bunch but as they are suspects, this works well enough for me. That said, I would consider this to be the weakest film in the series.

For starters, having the court case be almost completely off screen was disappointing. There’s a lot you could do with Miss Marple in a court setting. It would be an interesting dynamic to have had her solve the case while in the room with the jurors. Maybe it would have been difficult to turn that into a whole movie but I think the idea has potential.

Then you have Marple’s tryout scene which I thought was rather dragged out and not too interesting. It’s easy to see why she was initially denied entry since she just wouldn’t work very well in the play. None of the actual acting scenes were particularly exciting though as you just want to get in on the action. Near the end you have the main plot going on at the same time which works better since there is a point to it. The Inspector’s right hand man looks pretty bad in the process though since he really left his post completely. When you’ve got one task and there are life and death stakes you definitely need to take everything rather seriously if you ask me.

Overall, Murder Most Foul is still another quality title overall. I would have played things out a little differently but at the end it’s a murder mystery that does deliver on both aspects. You shouldn’t have any serious issues with this one as stay engaged with the case. With the inspector even getting a promotion at the end you like to think that maybe he will be a little nicer to Marple going forward and can even help her out in her cases right? Well, we’ll see in the final installment in the series.

Overall 7/10

Murder at the Gallop Review


Miss Marple is back in action once more to stop the upcoming murders. We once again deal with a will and a bunch of very suspicious family members. This time though Marple will have to make sure that her horse riding skills are still on point because otherwise this could get a little tricky. It’s a solid follow up and continues with most of the positives that you would have enjoyed from the first film.

The movie starts with Marple and Springer collecting some funds for charity when they visit the house of someone who notoriously never gives his money. He won’t be given the chance this time though as he is dead. His family shows up for the will and they each get a nice chunk of real estate but one of them says that he was murdered. Before Marple can properly check with her, this lady is murdered as well. Now this definitely seems like it can’t be a natural death so Marple joins the horse club as she explains that she was a bit of an expert back in her day. She will have to do this without the aid of the police since they believe the earlier deaths were due to natural causes. Marple may be on her own but she isn’t dissuaded and will fight hard until she can get the proof that she needs.

It’s a pretty good change of scenery here at the horse club. It’s pretty much a fancy hotel out in the country side after all and there are a lot of rooms where murder can happen. Marple spends a lot of time trying to find the right boot since her main clue is something that fits into the boot. I forget what term they used for it but it looks like Styrofoam and she has to try matching it each time she gets an opportunity. Not necessarily an easy thing in a high speed place like this.

The Inspector returns of course and he’s fun as always. This time you’d think he would cut her some more slack but he doesn’t believe Marple as always. At least they hint that she calls on them a lot and we only see the successful attempts but it would still be nice for him to be on her side this time. He does try his best but the guy is completely out of his depth in these cases.

Part of why he’s still a great character though is because he does try really hard. No matter how many times he is proven wrong or outshined by Marple, he continues doing his best to try and serve out some justice. Now that’s the kind of attitude you need to have as an inspector or else you will quickly fall behind.

As always Marple is a solid character as well. She is good at getting right into the thick of the action and also doing so in a way where the police can’t just remove her. Like here for example where she is a proud member of the hotel right now. They can’t just boot her out and it’s a very clever way of also pressuring the criminal into making a move.

I should also mention there is a bit of a running gag from the first film that continues here where someone falls in love with Marple at the very end. That happens here as well and it shows that while she makes a considerable amount of enemies in each film, people just tend to like her by the end. It is impressive to find an older lady who is still good at so many things but that’s just how good Marple is.

It goes without saying but the writing is solid here as well. The mystery is put together in a very solid way and the script is on point. The pacing is good and you’ll always enjoy the witty exchanges between the characters. Part of the fun in mysteries like this is seeing all of the characters quickly affirm their innocence as they grow more and more insistent on the fact. You know that one character is lying out of his or her mind but you just don’t know who yet.

The soundtrack also continues to be high energy as the main Marple theme plays whenever she is on the go. The fact that the soundtrack is memorable at all is impressive since a lot of films just don’t have a whole lot of music to keep you entertained.

It is nice how for once nobody has a proper alibi when the police show up. It makes sense though because in a hotel like this you would often be by yourself. 9/10 times in a movie like this I would have no alibi because I probably would have just been playing video games or eating somewhere. Of course some of the characters are quite happy to say they have no alibi but it’s hard to say if that makes then more suspicious or just bigger jerks.

Marple’s final plan involving a dance is a good way to get the villain to lower their guard even if it’s extremely risky. One thing you’ll notice about Marple is that her plans are as dangerous as they come. This one for example involves her pretending to be asleep and all alone in her room. It all tends to work out but in several cases you feel like she would have been murdered before anyone is even able to get close enough to save her. That’s my main critique of her strategy since I don’t think the results mean that the plan itself was sound.

Overall, This was a nice follow up to the series. Looks like the murder mystery series is on the right trail and Marple can hold her own with the rest. I’m slowly getting to learn more about her which is nice because if I ever watch Murder by Death again I’ll have an even better understanding of each detective. You can expect the third movie in the series to be reviewed in the very near future.

Overall 7/10

Murder, She Said Review


It’s time for my first Miss Marple film. I definitely am not too knowledgeable about her compared to the other detectives around but the film was quite solid. It has really high quality writing as you would expect from these retro mysteries and I also thought it took a rather unique take on the genre. As an elderly woman, Marple has to be careful when solving these mysteries that she isn’t put in imminent danger.

The movie starts out with Marple noticing someone get strangled on a train. She reports this to the conductor but he doesn’t believe her and the cops don’t but it either. What are the odds that she could have truly seen such a murder from a different train at high speeds? Making matters worse is the fact that she was reading a murder mystery so everyone figures she lost her mind. Her only friend Stringer believes her but what can they do about it?

Well, the two of them do some poking around the train site and manage to figure out that the main suspicious location is a nearby manor. Marple gets herself hired as a maid and now she will be able to do some sleuthing with plenty of time to spare. There was a recent death in the family so now everyone is getting ready to get the money so you can probably guess who the suspects are. Every person in this family is absolutely a suspect so Marple will have to do her best to find the right person before she is murdered. Fortunately she will have the aid of a very inquisitive kid.

Another difference with the Marple series compared to most is that she will always get herself hired or involved in the location itself. This requires actually getting a job in several instances like this so she has to find clues between shifts. As a maid she is kept quite busy but does really well even considering that she is older at this point and not very fit either.

Miss Marple is not running low on confidence though and gets a lot of good lines throughout. She isn’t intimidated by these suspects in the slightest and just keeps on going as she normally would. She’s very methodical about getting the clues as well and does a good job of slowly tightening the noose around the villains.

Then there’s the kid although I can’t find his name anywhere. Needless to say, I was quite impressed with him as the kid was actually not annoying for a change. This is very rare for a kid since they tend to drag each scene down. This guy actually had some wit about him though and also didn’t desert Marple when they were nearly caught. He’s fairly brave as well and even knows how to scare people off. This is exactly the way I’d like to see all the kids look and it’s certainly a credit to the film’s writing.

While the Inspector would go on to get much bigger roles in the next few films, this was a good debut appearance for him. He certainly doesn’t believe Marple theories much but it isn’t yet personal in this film. He just has his own way of doing things and doesn’t want to be slowed down all the time. As long as he learns his lesson in the next films then he won’t look bad but….we’ll see how that goes. He’s always entertaining to have around though.

As for Springer, he’s a lot more cautious than Marple. She really ends up causing him a lot of stress throughout because of her dangerous tasks. It’s not like he can just walk in and help her out if anything happens either so that wears him down. I like his enthusiasm though as he will always try to help out even if he has absolutely no idea what is going on. He had a fairly good job at the library too but is ready to drop everything when she needs help.

As for the actual case, it goes pretty well. There are just enough family members/suspects that it’s hard to remember just about any of their names but they’re all suitably suspicious. You could close your eyes and just pick any with how incriminating all of their dialogue is. It makes for a strong opening case to start the series out. I would say there are enough clues where you can try to complete the case on your own as well.

There are always a few extra wrinkles thrown in to trick the police so you’ll have to watch out for those as well. In a way it’s a good chance to see if your theory is right because if the inspector says that this is what happened…you know that it did not. A shame certainly but that’s just how it goes since you know Marple will be the one to bring out the right theory.

Mysteries can come in many shapes and forms. You can have a very serious one, a fast paced thriller, etc. This one is more of a slow boil mystery that’s quite light hearted and it works well. Marple wants to help make the world a better place and sure there are murders and everything so this is serious but the movie has a lot of happy music throughout which is why I’d consider it fairly cheerful. Marple even has her own theme which will continue to play in the next few films as well.

You also get to see her life around the town a bit. She sips some tea while discussing the case with her friend and it’s all rather peaceful. It’s s calming environment which likely helps her focus and collect her thoughts. You’d barely believe that a murder just happened but it’s this hybrid of serious and calm moments that really makes the series work. I wouldn’t say it matches up to Sherlock Holmes or Poirot but I would take it above Nancy Drew and most iterations of the Hardy Boys.

Overall, Murder, She Said is a good way to start things off. It’s always fun to see the opening movie in a series so you can see which characters and running gags will continue. The writing is definitely on point and the films have good pacing. You won’t be bored while this is going on and it all moves in a very brisk manner. I’ll have a review up for the first sequel shortly.

Overall 7/10

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the latest Marvel installment, Shang Chi. This one’s been getting a lot of hype for the hand to hand fights and it delivers on this. It’s got a great balance of action and humor so in the end this movie has a ton of replay value. You’ll have a blast from start to finish as you go through the journey.

The movie starts by introducing us to Shang Chi’s father Wenwu as he wipes out army after army. The opening scene is like something out of Dynasty Warriors as he can use his rings with such speed that it appears to be a forcefield which blocks incoming arrows. That was definitely implemented really well. After that he ends up meeting Wenwu and they get married. Shang Chi and Xu Xialing are born and we then cut to the present.

Shang Chi and his best friend Katy work for a hotel as they drive cars around and enjoy their job. They have a good bond of friendship going for them but Katy’s family want more for her. One day the two of them are attacked by a group of assassins. Shang Chi fights them off but not before they steal his pendant. This means that Xu may be the next target so the two head off to go and help protect her. Can they protect her from this group led by Shang Chi’s father or is she already doomed?

Right off the bat the opening fight scene in the modern day sets the tone well. It’s really good with minimal use of cutaways so you can follow the choreography. Even as someone who did think that the Black Widow fights were really good, it’s night and day compared to this one. The hand to hand is very high energy and the train fight is probably my favorite fight in the film. Likewise, Widow’s first big action scene was my favorite so I guess I just really like the way these films tend to open. they’re doing it right, that’s for sure.

The battles continue to be solid throughout the movie though. Whether it’s the fight on the roof top or the climactic showdown, you can always expect a lot of hype. While this is usually more of an anime movie trend, the movie even decides to go for a little Godzilla type action at the end. It’s not quite as solid as the rest of the fights but it’s always good to see the creatures getting some hype. I’d consider the battle before that to be the true final battle for the combat while this is more of a general climax.

The effects are definitely on point as well. The creatures have really epic designs and lighting for their attacks. I also like the way the rings are used in combat. It’s very much in the style of what you would see in the Tron films. It’s a very versatile weapon and if Shang Chi keeps those to use in combat for future films he is going to be very tough to beat. Certainly none of the street level fighters can handle him.

As for Shang Chi himself, he’s definitely a great lead. I did see some talk about him being too merciless and going for the kill, but I definitely didn’t see that. For the most part each fight is always from a self defense angle. Yeah you’ve got enemies being thrown out of buildings and moving buses but there’s no easy alternative there since he’s in the middle of a huge fight. So just putting my two cents into the ring to say that Shang Chi was definitely a full hero here and I didn’t find him to be going too far in any of the fights.

He does have a moment where he nearly does cross the line and the film’s clear in showing that he was about to, but ultimately he doesn’t. That would be the only true example you can use. His upbringing and origin do explain this fairly well though and he certainly had to deal with a lot. All in all, I thought he handled his past and present really well. Shang Chi’s the kind of guy you definitely want to have in your corner at all times. The movie also did a great job of showing just how good he is at hand to hand combat. Throughout the whole film it’s fair to say that he didn’t lose any fights straight up from the present and beyond. He always had the upper hand.

In the comics he was known as the greatest hand to hand fighter for a long time. I don’t know about currently, but at least in the days when I was reading comics. I imagine the films will be going that route too so this was a great way to show it. I look forward to seeing him interact with the other characters because he has a lot of good banter with Katy in this movie as well. Shang Chi’s very charismatic and that’s why I would put him as the best character in the film. Ultimately he really excels in all of his roles.

Katy is also a solid heroine. She has a lot of fun lines as well and knows not to take things too seriously. In general the film had a really fun script for all of the characters but in particular Katy is one of the characters that stands out. She even gets to contribute towards the end of the movie in an action setting which is nice.

Shang and Katy also have two friends in the film who only appear for two scenes but both are worth mentioning. It’s nice seeing the characters openly talk about their heroic exploits and everything rather than trying to hide them like you would expect. It’s a nice turn of events and it’s such a big contrast to how Peter Parker is handling the whole situation. Yeah the situations are a wee bit different I’ll grant you, Shang has less people he needs to worry about. Still, it’s a very Iron-Man type move which is always fun.

As for Wenwu, he’s definitely a very solid main villain. The movie’s going for more of a sympathetic vibe for him sort of like Thanos. Ultimately he did try to put his weapons away at one point and suffered the consequences for it so you can see why he never takes the rings off anymore. Honestly he probably never should have taken them off but that’s more of a hindsight thing and he was trying to do his best. So in the present you can definitely root for him because if there was even the slightest chance that he was correct then he had to check for himself.

So I don’t blame him for going as far as he did and that’s what makes him a high quality villain. He can also fight really well which is also nice to see. Old age hasn’t really hurt him in a lot of ways, he’s thousands of years old and still kicking. His wife Ying may only appear in flashbacks but she definitely looks really good as well. I liked her fighting style and the powers she used were quite impressive. It’s a shame that the powers can’t follow you out of the village because with them she would have been extremely hard to defeat. Her meeting/battle with Wenwu was a great way to introduce her.

Then you have Xu who is also solid. She did well to build her own empire for underground fights. I question how she is able to get in some heavyweights like Wong and Abomination but maybe there are a lot of benefits to being in the tournament. As a slight power levels issue, I do think the Abomination looked way too weak here. I’d like to say it’s a different Abomination to be honest. That’s my little head canon in case he never appears again because otherwise that scene did make me shake my head a bit. There are a lot of ways the fight could have had the same outcome but I wanted to tell the film to check it’s route at that moment.

It’s the only scene I questioned in that case though. All of the fights were presented well and everyone got their time to shine. Back to Xu, she definitely proved herself very well in a fight. Her skills may be a touch below Shang’s but they’re still quite formidable. She’s definitely not an opponent you want to underestimate.

In general the film had a fairly stacked cast and that’s definitely a big part of why the film is so solid. Even the side characters are fairly memorable like one of Wenwu’s main subordinates who is missing a hand. He’s definitely a solid minion. There’s also Trevor who does have an effective opening scene but I will say that he’s best in small doses. I don’t think you really needed him in the film after a little while.

All right, now these next 3 paragraphs will quickly be for spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film yet or the recent MCU shows then definitely skip these three paragraphs. It’s going to be time to do a little speculating here. All right, so I’ve noticed a bit of a trend here. In Wandavision we saw Scarlet Witch as the main villain as she knowingly tortured a whole town of civilians and by the end of the show she’s getting sucked into the DarkHold. In the Cap & Winter Soldier show, we found out at the very end that Sharon is actually compromising the U.S. intelligence for money and is a fairly reputable information broker in the under world. Finally in the Loki show we see Sylvie turn to the darkness at the very end and set course for a new timeline. (At best you could say she just made a dubious call and isn’t as downright evil as the first two but it’s a tough case to make) Here, we end the film with Xu taking over the 10 Rings instead of disbanding them for presumably shady reasons.

You can cut Xu some slack but if this trend is anything to go by, she will be a villain soon. So, what is going on here? Are these all isolated incidents or is something going on here? Personally, I think it’s going to be something like the MCU version of the Sinister Six. It’s going to be a group of 6 female villains who band together to take over the world or something. Wanda brings the power, Sharon has the intel, Xu has the manpower, and Sylvie has more magic which is never a bad thing. For the trend to continue, we’ll need to see if some other players are introduced in Eternals, She Hulk, Spider-Man, or Dr. Strange. Still, it does seem like something’s going on.

Also, while Nick Fury was the main figure head for the first few phases as he connected everything, it seems more and more like that will now be the role for Dr. Strange. He’s going to have a role in the Spider-Man film, Wong is here in Shang Chi setting up some future elements, and you’ve also got the Dr. Strange film coming up. Seems like the Sorcerer Supreme is going to have to start earning his paycheck as the ultimate sorcerer with everyone messing around in the universe. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how that unfolds. End spoilers

I can’t close out the review without also mentioning that the soundtrack was really solid. There were a lot of great tunes here and so I thought the music selection was absolutely on point. The scene of the guy stepping out of the car only for us to see that it wasn’t Shang Chi was also a good fake out. Again, the film’s humor was always on point so even when there weren’t big fight scenes you were having a lot of fun.

Overall, Shang Chi definitely lives up to the hype here and is a great film in this phase of the MCU. I really didn’t have any issues with it and I’m certainly ready to see him start appearing in more of the films going forward. Shang Chi could easily work as one of the central figures going forward since I can see him having good banter with just about anyone. There’s still a whole lot you can do with the Ten Rings as well and we’ll see which film is the first to connect to this one. It’s the MCU so you can bet that there are a lot of plans in the works. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you’ll definitely want to change that.

Overall 8/10

Megaman Zero Review


Time to look at a manga I started a long time ago. It was time for the full revisit and to finish it off this time. Unfortunately the series still suffers from quite a few issues that end up limiting its overall potential. The Zero games have some of the best storylines in the whole franchise and could have become one of the best Megaman manga titles on the block. Instead this one decided to go for more of a comedy route which was passable in Arc 1 at best but went over the edge in the second half.

The story picks up with a group of kids heading to an abandoned factory where they see a deactivated Zero. It has been many years since the Megaman X series and we learn that there was a civil war that the humans managed to win and so all of the reploids were destroyed. There are some exceptions though and robots still work for the government. Unfortunately, the world is now run by a dictator and as a result there is no peace in the land. The kids accidentally awaken Zero who saved them from a nearby patrol. Unfortunately Zero is suffering from complete amnesia and can only activate his Zero mode once in a while.

He has a complete case of split personality now and in both forms he doesn’t retain his memories of the other. As Zero he is a merciless fighter who is excellent in combat but not all that compassionate. As his human form he is a complete scaredy-cat who gets beat up by the kids and doesn’t want to fight against anyone. He cries a whole lot as well. Will Zero really be able to help the resistance reclaim the world while he is in this state or is it just a lost cause?

Right away you can see how the manga is taking a lot of liberties from the game. Why give Zero amnesia and make him a complete comic relief character? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense and I don’t think it works as a great narrative move either. If I was the author I would have played the game straight and it would have made for a great story.

The tragic part about all of this is that the art is actually extremely good. The fight scenes that we do get are on point and I like the character designs. The humor can really get in your face though as the characters yell and cry a whole lot. Seeing Zero get picked on by Lito (The main kid) is a bit jarring as well. The villains are played seriously though and Ciel was a fun character. There are a number of good elements here but you feel like it all could have just been better

It’s like looking at a distorted view of the actual adventure. Still, this arc was pretty good and if it ended here I would have said that the title was different but still pretty good in the end. We then cut to the second arc which may as well be a completely different series.

So 50 years have passed since the events of the first arc. The main kid is now referred to as grandpa by everyone in the village and he is fairly well respected. Well one day Lito has finally finished rebuilding a brand new Zero to protect the village. This one doesn’t have amnesia of course and his personality is totally different. He’s like a kid and really just wants to impress grandpa. While he starts out as being rather weak, he gradually improved throughout the series. That’s good because the evil Dr. Weil is fast approaching and he wants to find the Dark Elf so that he can do something sinister. His main ally is a robot called Omega who may be the most powerful opponent yet. Can this Zero duplicate really claim victory?

The humor was already high in arc 1 but they double down on it in arc 2. There isn’t a serious Zero anymore to fight for the people and this time the villains aren’t played straight either. All of them are comic relief like Omega being scared of ghosts, getting kidnapped, etc. Even grandpa is a shadow of his former self as he willingly sells off one of the elves to the villains without hesitation. The only reason why he ends up helping is because the villains ended up cheating him on the money but otherwise he was perfectly content with the trade. Not a very heroic kind of guy now is he?

The arc also just doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with the Megaman Zero games. Sure we do have the dark elf but it isn’t really important to the plot. Even by the end we never actually find it and the villain just gets sent packing again as always. It’s really just an excuse to have some more fights which would be fun if they were actually taken seriously. Since they are all comedic moments now, the artist doesn’t get nearly as much to do this time around. The art is still on point whenever something serious is going on but there’s not as much big action as I’d like.

We do get a Christmas chapter though which is fun. It’s nice to see the gang celebrating even if the idea of drunk Zero is definitely pushing it a bit. Getting drunk on cola eh? Seems like a design flaw from Grandpa if you ask me. The final chapter doesn’t even feel like a big finale with how Zero and the gang just beat the villain up again.

We do get a final side story chapter of sorts where we get to see where the real Zero is. It’s a fun way to end things off but it almost makes things more tragic since this is really serious and intense so it makes you wonder why the series couldn’t have been this way the whole time. It’s pretty emotional as Ciel misses Zero the whole time and he’s nearly destroyed but he’s finally able to make it back home. It’s a wholesome way to end this whole we also know that the villains are still around.

The second arc ultimately ends up shaving the series down one star just because it really lost its way. The series went into full comedy land which can work with the right writing but that isn’t really the level of quality you would expect to see in this manga. Ultimately it wasn’t ready for this genre combo and that’s what ended up finishing it off in the end.

As for the characters, well I wasn’t a fan of Zero here. I liked the glimpses we got of him in his serious mode but they were few and far between. That’s effectively only half of the character in this series and the other half drags him down a lot. He has no courage and is always trying to run from his problems. That is really not the Zero that I know.

Then you have the kid who is rather annoying the whole time. Lito is always beating up Zero for every little thing and you feel like he should be giving him a break sometimes. He definitely doesn’t deserve all the hits that he gets. Additionally, the kid got worse as an old man like when he tried to sell the elf. There’s no real going back from that even if it was a gag.

Ciel was a good character though and it’s too bad she couldn’t have appeared more. I liked her personality here as she was quick to start blasting and a little more headstrong than you may have thought. The scene where she tells Zero that he’s in danger when she starts shouting was great. Despite being a central figure in the games you shouldn’t expect to see a lot of her here.

The 4 guardians like Pandora and the others are fun. As mentioned, the series does play them out to be very serious which is nice. I always thought their designs were real solid but then again, designs are an area where the game series really thrived in general. Copy X also gets to show up but that part was a bit anticlimactic. Let’s just say that he ultimately goes down in one hit which I don’t think makes any sense. It feels like more of a cameo than anything especially with how his origin is a lot different here. He shows up out of nowhere.

Arc 2 introduces a few new characters like Craft. Craft starts out as a serious character for 5 seconds before he falls in love with one of the girls in the village. From there he is a changed man as every scene with him is a gag of him stalking her or getting beaten up in one hit by Zero. At first he was shown to be really powerful but after that we knew the truth. This guy wasn’t very powerful at all and would he one of the first to get absolutely crushed in short order. I thought he had potential at first but didn’t like him in the end.

Then you have Omega who is as comic relief as you can get. He is scared of ghosts, cries a lot, and is shown to be much weaker than Zero. He is not even remotely a threat and Zero doesn’t respect the guy so why should the audience?  Ultimately that is what keeps him from being a quality character.

Dr. Weil doesn’t even have much of a personality either. The guy wants the Dark Elf but that’s really all he talks about. He threatens Omega a bit I suppose but I don’t think anyone is really taking that very seriously. This arc could have absolutely used some more quality characters. The reporter is okay I suppose. She is at least trying to get her story the right way and is a fun enough character but doesn’t really get to do much even after she decides to stay at the village. You’ve also got Roze but all he does is show why the village is filled with a bunch of ungrateful guys. They are quick to turn on Zero in an instant which is just awful.

Overall, Megaman Zero is a series that could and should have been great but instead I can only say that it was decently good. It’s a fine read and it’s short so you should blast through it. The comedy can be jarring and the characters aren’t great but the fight scenes are good and occasionally you will see a glimpse of brilliance. This is not how I would have created the series but if you’re a big fan of Megaman then it’s still worth checking this one out real quick.

Overall 6/10