Battle Angel Alita Review


Now it’s time to take a look at a big thriller film that came out a while back. The trailers for Alita always looked like a lot of fun. It definitely had a solid budget behind it and the story looked to be on point as well. You just couldn’t go wrong with this one or so I thought. As I watched the film I was pretty happy with how it turned out. The movie was easily at the level of an 8 star movie and it’s safe to say that this would automatically put it as one of the greatest Sci-Fi films of all time. Unfortunately then the film jumped the shark with one critical scene that shot itself right in the foot. It’s a shame but at least I can still have a lot of hype for the sequel now since it’s unlikely that it would do the same plot point again. I mean…it better not because that would just be terrible writing!

So the film starts off with a scientist named Dyson finding a broken robot in the junkyard. He repairs her and names the girl Alita. She doesn’t know where she came from or anything like that but she seems to have a talent for fighting. Dyson warns her not to get into trouble but in this corrupt future that’s a tall order. She meets up with a guy named Hugo who quickly takes her to the rowdier spots in town and she also notices Dyson heading off on one of his bounty hunter missions. The more Alita finds out, the less content she is with just observing. She aims to fix this future if it’s the last thing she does.

Lets quickly get some background on this future. There are two main areas of society. Those who live in the air and are considered high class, and then you’ve got the guys on the ground who struggle to survive. The only change you have of ever getting to the rich zone is through Motorball. If you become the grand champion then you will be elevated. Everyone else makes money however they can. It’s a brutal world where you can be murdered just about anywhere. There are no cops anymore and the black market is right out on the open. You’ve got gangs who go around ripping people up and seeing off their mechanical parts. So, no place is really safe which is why I have issues with Dyson not helping Alita get combat ready. Even if he didn’t want her to get in danger, wouldn’t he feel better if she was at least in a super safe body with extra durability?

So lets talk about all of the things the film does right first. The special effects here are quite solid. The battle scenes are all excellent. Right when Alita takes down the thugs in the alleyway you know the rest of the film is going to be a blast. There’s a lot of great choreography here. I also think a good amount of it was probably borrowed from Spider-Man with the poses and landing techniques as well. It all moves very quick with a solid back and forth during each battle. These feel like battles inspired by a manga and definitely hold their own as some of the best live action fights I’ve seen in a long time. You don’t really see this kind of action outside of CBM’s usually so you’ve always got to savor the genre while you can. If we get more manga adaptions like this it shouldn’t even be such a rare thing. This is what a DBZ fight could turn into down the road.

The graphics are so good that a lot of scenes from the film look like they’re straight out of a CGI film. During the whole movie Alita always looked CG although I suppose to an extent that’s because of the edits they did to the face. It reminds me of those phone apps where you take a picture of yourself and get an anime look. The main character looks like that process was done to her throughout the whole film. Mix that in with the interesting sci-fi backdrops and I wouldn’t have been surprised if you told me that the whole film was real locations that were digitized and this was low key a CGI film all along. It’s all pretty surreal and unique which works out quite well here.

Battle Angel Alita also makes the most of the sci-fi backdrop. This may be a pretty grim future but at least we kept the tech this time around as opposed to those futures where everything is back to the wild west for some reason. I also liked the Motorball sport. My only question though is if you’re fast enough to get to the lead, once you have the ball shouldn’t you be able to just race to the finish? It seems like whenever someone would grab the ball then the others would suddenly catch up. All I can think of is the ball is that heavy or when you grab it you feel a lot of pressure so you go a lot slower. Regardless, it’s a pretty fun sport. Definitely high stakes since you can get wrecked at any point but I suppose that’s part of the point.

I wouldn’t say I can recall many of the tunes here but I remember them being solid while watching the film. Then we’ve also got a very strong main character in Alita. What I like about Alita is that she’s very quick to jump into action. She doesn’t back down when it gets dangerous and also doesn’t hesitate. Her scene in the alley was pretty powerful as she took down the 3 enemies who stood in her way. When you consider that she had no memories at the time and this was her first fight after being rebuilt, it was pretty courageous of her. You can tell that she makes for a dependable ally. My favorite scene for her was in the bar though when she challenges everyone to stand up or to stay as cowards. She delivered quite a lot of damage to all of them there and I liked this confident portrayal of her character. She started out strong and ended strong. Alita’s not a main heroine you’ll be forgetting anytime soon.

It’s not surprising that the film had such great positives. As I mentioned, it was on track for an easy 8. So where did it falter? Well, there’s one scene where a dog shows up and the instant that happened I had a lot of warning bells go off. Unfortunately the villain decides to target him and the heroes all sit on their hands and just allow it to happen. The film tries to minimize the damage by having the dog murdered off screen but it’s still a rather vicious scene and one that was undeserved. We didn’t need this to happen and it also doesn’t make any sense in context since Alita should have been able to block the attack. It’s not like she needed any extra motivation either. No matter how you slice it, this was just for shock value and it completely destroyed the film’s score with a massive 3 point swing.

The writing is pretty good otherwise though. The film decides to go edgy with one line Alita has, but otherwise there’s a good script here. One scene that was unintentionally funny though was the big villain meeting. So you’ve got Grewishka, Chiren, and Vector all in the same room. Up to now we can assume Vector is the leader. Well, he comes in talking really tough and intimidating Chiren so Grewishka threatens Victor…by saying that Chiren shouldn’t be messed with. Vector then feels the fear as Chiren threatens him and hit the ground…then he gets up and threatens Chiren so she backs off. The whole thing had me doing a double take because then who is the boss? Well, once Vector’s eyes started to light up then it all made sense so the scene quickly has more context since this happens right after that but otherwise it was worth a good chuckle.

There’s a little more detail to this at the end of the film. I wouldn’t say that either Chiren or Vector made for particularly solid villains though. Chiren made her choices but ultimately couldn’t live with them which doesn’t make a lot of sense. Then you have Vector who’s not exactly the smartest villain around. His plans weren’t terrible I suppose but you’d think that he could have acted a lot sooner once he knew where Alita was. He basically gave her complete freedom until it was too late. I did like Grewishka and Zapan as villains though. Grewishka was definitely determined and managed to put up a solid fight multiple times. While he was critical in destroying the film, as an antagonist he was pretty fierce.

Then you have Zapan who is rather weak to be honest but he was really solid in the scene where Alita beats the guy up. Look, he’s super petty but that’s part of what makes him a fun villain to have around. He gets off extremely easy all things considered though. I just don’t get it. Alita should have taken him out a whole lot sooner so what happened to Hugo was really her fault to an extent. She needed to be more decisive even if he was terrible at explaining things himself. I also liked the lady villain who fought Alita in the android because she had a good amount of confidence but she didn’t exactly last very long.

I had some problems with Dyson though. Again, the guy didn’t do much to protect Alita in this crazy world. He should have prepared her with the new armor right away and taught her more. Why be surprised when she starts rebelling with how restrictive he was right? Then there’s Hugo who is one of the weakest characters in the film. He’s a total villain for a large chunk of it and the romance is pretty weak. Hugo and Alita shouldn’t have connected and even by the end it’s hard to really sympathize with the guy. He always makes the wrong calls again and again. He was definitely holding her back.

Battle Angel had quite the body count though. You may be surprised at how many people get sliced apart. The film’s not super violent or anything as they’re robots a lot of the time and even when a human gets sliced in half the camera quickly cuts away. Still, the deaths tend to happen very quickly and without warning so it can catch you off guard if you’re not ready. It really shows how this world is so dangerous and why you need to be careful. If you don’t have cool robot abilities then you probably should hide at home because it seems like going outside is pretty much rolling the dice. There are just so many crazy abilities to watch out for and a human stands no chance. In a way you want to turn into a cyborg as soon as possible because then at least you have a chance to defend yourself.

Overall, Battle Angel Alita is a very fun movie. You’ll have a blast for about 95% of it. I can’t stress enough how unfortunate the whole dog thing was. It was just not needed but it is what it is. I’d recommend checking this film out if you like Sci-Fi action. There’s a lot of that to be had here and all of the technicals are at a super high level. This is a film with masterful pacing and you are unlikely to find a better Sci-Fi around right now. That said, I have a lot of confidence that the sequel will be just as good. After seeing the hype ending to Tokyo Drift I wasn’t expecting another ending to be quite on that level for a while but this one is also very good. Definitely gets you hyped the right way.

Overall 5/10

Makai Senki Disgaea Review


It’s time to take a look at the anime adaption to a game I played pretty recently. This anime isn’t a straight adaption and has quite a bit of fun along the way. It’s certainly not a great show and mileage will very but I thought it was solid. It’s certainly entertaining and the cast is strong enough to hold their own here. With solid writing behind it, Disgaea is a show that is good to pass the time with and they do quite a bit with the 12 episodes they had. I’d definitely be game for the second title getting an anime someday as well.

The show starts with an angel trainee named Flonne showing up in the demon world to assassinate the King. She finds a boy who is asleep and wakes him up. It turns out that this is Prince Laharl and his father actually died by choking on some food. Laharl is now the demon king and Flonne decides to accompany him and prove that demons have feelings too. Laharl isn’t thrilled to have company but he won’t let this distract him from assuming command. The demons won’t follow Laharl until he possesses the legendary book which proves ownership and also gets back to his real castle. His “loyal” retainer Etna also arrives to come with him on the journey. Will these 3 really be able to get alone and is Flonne right that Laharl has the potential to be a good guy?

This is a main plot in the show that is actually played pretty seriously or at least relatively so for this title like in the game. The idea of demons being capable of feeling emotions and being heroic is quite foreign for a lot of characters. The demons themselves certainly don’t think it’s possible but at the same time they all act like regular people so you never find the idea to be all that outlandish. If you’re familiar with this kind of plot you’ll also be very willing to believe that it might happen as well. Flonne can be a little naive about it but she’s still on the right track here.

I’d say that the biggest difference here compared to the game is while the game was a blend of action and comedy, this show is going for full comedy. There are rarely any serious moments until the final episode. For the most part the show is actually going for a slice of life feel as the main character visit different areas and have a lot of stand alone adventures. There are plots that reach through the whole series in the background but they don’t really take center stage here for quite a while. So how much you enjoy the series will really come down to how funny you find it to be.

As I mentioned earlier I thought it was pretty entertaining. The dynamic between the three main characters is a solid one. Laharl definitely takes everything pretty personally so he’s always fighting with the other two. Etna is openly antagonistic with Laharl and is constantly trying to get him assassinated which is a fun subplot. Then you have Flonne who keeps talking about love and forgetting that the mere mention of the word ends up weakening Laharl considerably. This also means that Laharl is rarely able to go all out in a fight. It might be for the best as he is clearly one of the strongest characters in the series and would end most fights really quick.

He’s definitely a solid lead character. Laharl’s design is certainly memorable and he would make for a really good overlord. The guy knows how to run a kingdom even if he acts like a kid a lot. The most memorable part of his character is easily his laugh though. It’s brilliant and I dare say it’s the best laugh in media. It’s just epic and the shows even ends off with this laugh. That’s when you know that the laugh itself has hit the big time. You just can’t watch this show without giving it some credit.

Etna is a fun side character to have around as well. I do think she looked a bit weaker than I expected at times though. If she really wants to be the overlord then she is going to need to hit the gym quite a bit if she wants to compete. As it stands right now she is nowhere near strong enough to become the leader that everyone will end up following. It’s another reason why the sequel needs an adaption because she got much more powerful in that title. She may be constantly trying to destroy Laharl but she’s still someone he can count on in the meantime. It may seem like a contradiction but that’s a crucial part of her character. Logic is flipped with demons so the fact that Etna wants to murder Laharl is why he wants her by his side. The show also has a nice gag with this when someone tries to take some demons hostage. As if that would work on Lahalr.

Flonne is definitely the nicest character in the series and always trying to convert the characters around her. She may not always live up to her standards such as accepting the Prinnies carrying the heroes around for a while even when told that she should probably get off to help them out. Flonne has her limits but at the end of the day she tries her best to make the right move. Laharl doesn’t make things easy for her though by doing things like stranding her in the desert and such. Flonne always takes on each new challenge with a smile. I would argue that she had no reason to accept such a punishment in the final episode of the show but heroic sacrifice is the whole idea of her character.

Then we’ve got the Team Rocket of the series which is Gordon, Jennifer, and Thursday. As the protector of Earth Gordon is pretty full of himself but he really can’t fight at all. I like the team because the camp works quite well in this setting. I would have liked Gordon to have looked a bit better against Curtis though. I think the fact that the show uses them as a full Team Rocket blasting off again approach weakens their characters a bit but they still work well enough. Similarly Kurtis doesn’t appear nearly as much here. He was one of the best characters in the game but I couldn’t rank him quite as high up here as a result. Still, he is fun to have around.

Then you have one of the standout characters, The Dark Adonis. The show pretty much spoils his twist early on but I suppose they thought people might find it obvious anyway. Now this guy is a show stealer. He’s always around with a cool line and shows up whenever the heroes are in trouble. Unlike Laharl he doesn’t mind being openly heroic although that doesn’t mean he will always do the right thing. The guy is as chaotic as can be and just does whatever he feels like. He is not someone you can count on. Even if he is usually portrayed as more of a good guy the fact that you are never sure means he is not the guy you want to absolutely have in your corner. You want someone that you know will have your back right?

Then you’ve got the Angels. Vulcanus gets a big role and is one of the main villains here. The guy can’t fight much though so he focuses on summoning demons to help him out. That definitely means you won’t really be seeing him as a threat here. The tougher angel is Lamington who is also a villain. The guy may try to justify his actions later on but there’s just no way he can. At the end of the day his decision was to try and murder a bunch of people to answer the question of if love was real or not. The guy does a lot of back pedaling. Laharl doesn’t buy it and neither do I. If anything Lamington seems to get off really easy by the end of the series. If only Laharl could have acted a little quicker.

While parts of the ending feel a bit forced due to one character making a terrible move, the show still manages to have a pretty satisfying conclusion by the end of it. The ending is definitely close to ideal if you ask me with the final twist being excellent. The ending could have easily swung the wrong way if you left out the final scene because that is critical. It just provides the closure we need for such an adventure.

The animation for the show isn’t all that good. I liked the art and the character model style though. The character designs look like they’re out of the show but when they start moving that’s when things fall apart. It’s not very consistent and a lot of shortcuts are taken. We maybe get 3-4 very solid animation scenes throughout the whole series. It’s rare to see so when the scenes pop up it’s pretty nice to see. It feels like the show had a very low budget and perhaps that’s why it decided to go for the comedy angle. That takes up less budget than if you decided to go full action. The soundtrack is certainly good and nostalgic though. It grabs all of the classic themes from the video game which work really well with all of the scenes. The game did a masterful job with all the tunes.

While there’s definitely lots of room for a sequel the show stands up well on its own so you don’t feel like there needed to be a second season. I imagine it would have gone more into some of the plots here like Laharl’s fake sister. At the end of the day that plot didn’t appear as much and goes about how you would expect. I have to say Laharl absolutely did get punked there though. It happens to him a few times though so it’s nothing new for the overlord. He’ll only improve from here though. I should also quickly mention that the Prinny makes for pretty fun creatures. Their plot is a little sad if you think about it, but they really are nice followers. They put up with a lot and their whole purpose is to support an overlord and his army of demons who don’t actually care for them in return. The idea is that they’re working towards their salvation in the end though so that’s probably what gets them going. The world has quite a few unique rules and the show lays them out nicely.

Overall, Disgaea is a solid story. If you could only choose one way to experience this series then you should do it with the games. The game does a much better job of telling the story. Still, if you want to see it in another way then going with the show is not a bad idea. The show is still a lot of fun. It may add a lot of gags and extra stories but at the end of the day it’s still relatively close to the main game’s plot. The creative liberties help you to experience things in a fresh way which is not a bad idea. It’s only 12 episodes too so you’ll definitely be blasting through it and whenever you see a critical story moment from the games the show does its best to adapt it sometimes even word for word. I definitely need to go and get Disgaea 3 at some point even if it will be with whole new characters.

Overall 7/10

Mother 2: Giygas Strikes Back Review


It’s time to look at an Earthbound manga from a while back. Of course this one didn’t come to America so it’s under the original name of Mother. The games always looked pretty fun and based on the story here I can definitely see why that’s the case. It’s a very surreal adventure that ultimately doesn’t give you all of the answers. A lot of the quest remains a mystery even by the end and that’s all right with me. It definitely allows for a sequel pretty nicely but can also wraps up well like this.

The adventure starts with Ness and his dog enjoying a normal day when Porky shows up. Porky’s friend has fallen in a ditch so he needs Ness to help. Ness is reluctant since Porky isn’t exactly known as a nice guy but Ness’ Mom tells him to go and help. Ness frees the friend but falls in during the process which of course leads Porky to run off and ditch the hero. Aliens possess Ness’ dog and tell the kid upon waking up that he must save the world and stop Giygas. Ness is ready to do so, but doesn’t have any powers so he wonders if he can really pull this off.

This manga definitely feels quite retro with how the art looks like something out of a Sunday newspaper comic. It’s pretty nice to see and you should be blasting through all of the pages with ease. It’s hard to place the faces at times but you’ll definitely recall them from various characters if you used to read a lot of comics back in the day. I definitely like the art style. It works well for what this story is going for as it gives you that Tintin adventure feel. The characters are all drawn well so you know them from the video games and the action scenes are handled well too. This all helps for adapting the stranger scenes in the series as well.

The cast may be on the small side but there are lots of supporting characters running around. Ness definitely makes for a pretty solid main character and it’s cool to see his trusty bat. He uses it to great effect when the villains show up. He’s definitely the leader of the team. He has that subplot about feeling like he isn’t strong enough to be on the team but gradually gets past that and even learns PK abilities of his own. He is definitely the best member of the heroes and a solid all around character. It’s part of why I want a new cinematic Super Smash Bros story someday. There’s a whole lot you could do with all of the characters actually talking and getting to use their experience from the main games.

Jeff isn’t really my kind of character but he’s a decent supporting one. He is just a little too timid the whole time. He does help out for fights though and even gets his own chapters so in a way he is the only other character who becomes a main character at one point. Then you have Paula who seems to have the highest amount of raw power. Of course the issue with PK abilities is that they completely drain you which leaves you vulnerable to attack from all sides. It’s a big drawback but considering how useful the PK abilities are it’s still useful to have them in the end. Otherwise the monsters would just be too overwhelming.

Ness’ Dad gets a lot of hype here. As I mentioned, he just seems to know things. It’s one of those eery elements of the series but for once it’s actually a good thing for the heroes. There’s no time to question how he knows these things and the knowledge does help the heroes out quite a bit as the series goes on. Without these tidbits they would really be in some serious trouble. Then you’ve got the federal agents who are on the case but don’t seem to know about the alien factor. It’s interesting though because the aliens are even public knowledge through books at the library. Maybe it’s one of those things were some people believe them and some do not.

As I said, this series has a lot of mysteries and is intentionally vague. It’s part of the charm. At the same time, there’s not a whole lot more to say about the series. It’s over very quick and is only around a volume long. There are a lot of mini adventures the heroes have on their way to the goal and they’re all pretty solid. The monster that forces you to puke just by being near it is certainly unique although I wouldn’t say that enemy landed in quite the same way as the other big obstacles the heroes had to face off against. One of the better obstacles was probably when the heroes had to break into a corrupt church and fight it out. It was one of the first big enemy forces that Ness had to deal with. There was also an interesting inn that felt like something out of the Twilight Zone. When you enter there’s no guarantee that you can leave. It’s all linked and takes you to different dimensions and things like that. Definitely not something you want to mess with.

Overall, At this rate Earthbound will never get a true remake over here but it would definitely be cool if it did. This would also be a fun volume to bring to America. It’s a complete story from beginning to ending that you can understand whether you’re a fan of the series or a newcomer. I haven’t read a manga with this kind of art style before either so that was nice and unique. Personally I thought it fit rather well with what the story was trying to tell. I’d say this is the definition of a solid manga. It hits all the right notes and while it may end very quickly, you still feel like you got to have a good amount of adventures.

Overall 7/10

RWBY: The Official Manga Review


It’s time to look at the recent RWBY manga that ended. The series has now had a few different manga titles although it has yet to have a breakout hit. Unfortunately while the series is still the greatest TV show of all time it has had mixed outcomes to the other mediums. The video games have ranged from pretty good to super low budget and the manga titles before this one were very short and didn’t have solid art. The comics at least sound like they’ve been really solid although I haven’t checked them out yet. This manga covers the first two seasons so it was a shame that it didn’t get to go further. I’m always up for a re-adaption as this could hopefully get the show on people’s radars. That said, the art for this one was also pretty sub-par and while it had some interesting changes, there was nothing to really hook you.

The basic premise of the series is that the world of Remnant is inhabited by a ton of monsters known as the Grimm. The people who fight these creatures are known as Hunters and Huntresses. As a result, each country trains them up through school so that we will have a solid army of people ready to take back the land. This introduces us to our 4 main characters, Ruby, Yang, Weiss, and Blake. Together they make up Team RWBY and will put their effort into stopping Grimm. They’ll have to overcome many hardships but they’ll also make some new allies along the way. Are they ready to save this planet?

RWBY’s main story arc wouldn’t really start until the second half of Volume 3 so this is what I’d consider to be pre-arc. We do get to the first big boss though so that was good. It’s always nostalgic to see the characters in the original adventures. The manga also has the benefit of knowing what’s going to happen in the future so it can always add some foreshadowing or change a few things. There are a lot of little changes in the manga but nothing really major until the final two chapters as we shuffle some fights a bit. We now know that it’s because the series was ending so in a way this helped to close things off a bit more. Arguably anyway, season 2 had a pretty resolute ending either way.

I’ve already touched upon it, but I should get my main negative out of the way here. After all it’s really my only qualm with the series, it’s just a pretty significant one. The art is just really bad. It’s easily one of the weakest I’ve seen in a very long time. Most of the manga titles that I read have very solid artwork. It’s a bit rare to see titles where it’s a little hard to see anything or where the character models are all wrong. Usually you just see that in cash-ins/tie-in manga. Unfortunately that’s at the level where this one is and it feels like the title was thrown together to get some sales as with all the rest. I’m just surprised that RWBY couldn’t get a bigger artist. Perhaps it’s because the series already exists so almost by default it wouldn’t get the same budget as a brand new idea. Either way it’s always a shame because I think the series had a ton of potential to be far better with real art. After all, the series is a 10 star title so with good art I don’t see why the title couldn’t at least get a 9.

Part of the problem is that RWBY got to be amazing in part because of its great humor and solid fight scenes. The art isn’t really able to capture any of that which leaves the series in a bit of a pickle. There’s only so much you can do if the art isn’t up to snuff because even the best scenes falter a bit. It can’t capture the same intensity. For example, all of the fights are still present but none of them are particularly exciting. I dare say that they would be even lower if I didn’t already know the series quite well. I think with Season 3 the series could have still jumped though, it just wasn’t meant to be. I really hope we get a sequel soon because I don’t get how you can just suddenly end like this.

For the positives, Team RWBY is still fun. Ruby is a solid leader who doesn’t compromise in her sense of justice. She always does the right thing and helps out those in need. Towards the end of the series Torchwick tries to mess with her through a bunch of mindgames and Ruby doesn’t buy into them for a second. I can always appreciate that level of determination. When you’re click to waver then it means that your convictions simply weren’t that strong. If you are absolutely confident in yourself then nobody should be able to shake you so easily and also not for long.

The rest of the team are also solid. Yang’s still my favorite member who’s always up for a fight. Weiss hasn’t gotten to most of her character development yet, but she’s still solid. I always like that she has a bit of edge to her. Blake is also pretty good and I consider these volumes to be when she’s at her best. She’s a bit of a vigilante, but Blake’s fighting the good fight and trying to stop the criminals since nobody else is doing much to stop them. Team Jaune is also around to provide backup support even if they don’t get quite as much focus as Ruby’s group. The series has to move fast so we mainly skip to the main chunks of plot and fights. As an abridged series you should definitely be able to get a good feel for all of the characters and the writing is still solid.

Overall, I was expecting this RWBY manga to adapt at least the first 6 volumes, but to hopefully keep going alongside the show. It would have been cool to have gotten the whole series in manga format to hopefully draw new viewers into the series. Unfortunately that didn’t end up happening which is pretty unfortunate. The actual story is good but it really feels lifeless the whole time. The characters aren’t really able to save the series. It’s a decent read and you should find it entertaining, but I don’t think it’s a series that you would ever end up re-reading. For that you can just watch the show which is way better. Hopefully Rooster Teeth learns from this and gets some really good art for the next series.

Overall 6/10

Cardfight Vanguard Review


It’s time to look at the manga adaption of one of the greatest anime of all time. This one takes a lot of liberties though and diverges early on. This is a great decision if you ask me. It’s an interesting debate on if the following media should adapt the original. I do think that when the manga comes out first the anime should adapt it pretty straight, but if it’s vice versa then I prefer for the manga to do its own thing rather than try to copy the anime. Not sure why, but when the manga tries to copy the anime it usually just doesn’t feel as real or the artwork can’t really capture the animation in the powerful moments. When it does its own thing then it really begins to excel. In fact, the manga was so good that the anime did a reboot that followed the manga so that tells me even the company saw how good this new storyline was. Nothing will beat the original anime version of the arc, but I really did like the manga’s take on it.

The general plot revolves around a kid named Aichi Sendou. He used to get bullied a lot when he was a kid, but things began to look up for him when a kid known as Kai showed up and introduced him to the world of Cardfight Vanguard. We then skip ahead a few years and Aichi is ready to begin playing in earnest. This soon gets him new friends and rivals, one of which is Kai although the kid has gotten a lot more stern over the years. He no longer loves the game as he once did. Aichi will have to show him how much fun the game can be again. Also, a villainous organization known as the Foo Fighters have shown up and they are forcing everyone to play the game in a painful way. Their methods threaten to wipe Cardfight off the map so Aichi will have to stop them as well, but in doing so he may unlock a dark power.

That’s arc 1 and there are really only two arcs in this series. Lets talk about this one and the characters before going on to the second arc. It’s definitely pretty similar to the anime version here. With the Foo Fighters taking over various schools we are quickly introduced to the VF Gloves which allow you to feel damage in the duels. It’s a quick way to raise the stakes and it works well. It’s also a good introductory arc for expanding the cast since most of the main villains here would end up becoming supporting characters in the second arc. It’s not quite as large scale and exciting as the second arc, but it’s a great way to get the ball rolling.

The main villain is Ren and he’s one of those aloof leaders. He doesn’t even care much for the organization’s methods and just lets Tetsu do whatever he wants. Ren just wants a challenging card fight, but the problem is that he has become too good at the game. He has the ability of Psyqualia which allows him to know the ending of a match as soon as it begins. He can also talk to his deck and basically control the whole flow of the game. No wonder it became boring right? He’s a fun character although I’d definitely say that he’s more enjoyable as a rival than as the villain. Both versions work pretty well, but with his very laid back demeanor he just never really felt like a big villain.

In comparison it is the opposite with Tetsu. He feels like a villain through and through so even by arc 2 it’s hard to trust the guy. You could try to say that he’s just a super curious fellow, but I don’t think that really excuses him shocking everyone constantly with the gloves. He’s a good villain, but I can’t say that I ever got around to liking the character. The final member of the big 3 is Asaka. She is only in the group to support Ren and her strong bond has helped her elevate her Cardfight skills. Asaka has quite a few big duels in the series and her biggest one is likely in arc 2 where she is forced to fight Ren. It’s definitely a pretty emotional duel since neither one of them really wants to take down the other.

There are other members of the villains of course, but I’d say that the only other important one is Kyo. He also gets a pretty big role in the series. He acts as one of Aichi’s friends for the most part and the main character seems to believe him the whole time. Even once Kyo shows his true colors nobody takes him seriously enough to actually get upset. In a way you could say that this is the ultimate disrespect. As for the heroes, there are quite a few of them of course.

For the main group we should start off with Aichi. He’s basically the same as his anime version. He starts off as a pretty timid kid, but gradually he becomes more confident as the series goes on. By arc 2 he is still quiet, but in a more confident way and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s definitely an expert by then as he even managed to win the big national tournament. Aichi definitely looks very good here. Kai also has a great role even if he isn’t quite as overpowered as he was in the show. By arc 2 he has been surpassed by quite a few characters and just seems very relaxed. He may have found his happiness again, but it seems to have come at the expense of his hype.

Kamui’s a pretty good ally as well although he only gets a small handful of duels here. His main role in the show is to offer Aichi vocal support. Then you have Misaki who takes the leadership role in arc 2. Even in arc 1 she is usually the first line of defense against the villains. while her abilities aren’t quite on the upper echelon as Aichi and friends she is always able to put up a really good fight. She does have some solid wins under her belt as well. Leon and the Gundam kid get to show up as well in what I’d say are basically guest star appearances. It’s nice to see them even if they don’t do much.

This next saga starts off with Aichi heading off to a new school. I believe it’s high school. This school doesn’t have a Cardfight club and even worse, most people there don’t seem to have even heard of the game which is completely uncanny. Aichi decides to start the club and while it takes a little while to find members he eventually gets a full squad with the additions of Shingo, Kourin, Misaki, and red hair. They don’t have a lot of time to relax though as it turns out that a mysterious being known as Takuto shows up and has decided to conquer Earth and the world of Cray. The 3 idol singers are his captive minions and anyone they defeat in a duel turns into a Psyqualia zombie. Slowly they are conquering the city and Aichi may even need to take down his friends along the way. A wild card is a man named Ibuki who is going around erasing Cardfighters. If you lose to him you lose all of your feelings and memories of Cardfight. You simply don’t want to play anymore.

This arc is definitely what transforms the series from being great into being amazing. I always loved this arc’s plot with everyone turning into zombies because it really raises the stakes of losing a duel. Additionally, since having Psyqualia instantly makes you a better cardfighter it is also a good way to make the old characters relevant again. The series gets to turn a lot of people in a pretty short amount of time. It also does a good job of introducing Naoki and the other characters very quickly. Throw in Ibuki’s role and the arc has everything.

Speaking of Ibuki, he’s actually the best character in the series. This is also impressive since I wasn’t his biggest fan in the original show. This one handled him a lot better as he is introduced as a big threat and has a solid origin story. Even by the end he is definitely one of the strongest Cardfighters around and he makes his presence felt. It’s rare to get a true wild card character who deals damage to the heroes and villains, but he does this perfectly.

From the 3 members of Ultra Rare Kourin definitely gets the biggest role and is certainly more likable than the other two. The other two are basically just your average villains while Kourin gets a lot more depth. While her original goal may have been to spy on the gang she quickly became a valued teammate. Things don’t go too well for her here, but she made the hero call when it counted. Meanwhile Takuto is the ringleader here of course and he goes through a few changes. Either way I consider him to be a villain though so whether or not he is the conductor it doesn’t really change things. He makes for a fun villain, but he isn’t quite as intimidating as Ren or Ibuki.

For the new heroes, I’m still not a fan of Shingo. He never becomes much of a duelist and could be written out of the manga without changing anything. Naoki is a great addition though. He immediately jumps up to being one of the best heroes here and his skills are definitely the real deal. It’s always good to have a more aggressive character like him in the works to spice up the main cast. He gives the group a whole lot of energy that they didn’t have before his arrival.

The art here is definitely quite solid so you don’t have to worry about it feeling second rate or more like a tie-in level quality. The artists here definitely put in the work and the duels feel very intense. It’s quality throughout and we even get some fight scenes during the cardfights. Of course they’re playing with cards but since it’s so imagination based they are able to take some liberties and throw in some action scenes from time to time which is always appreciated.

Cardfight managed to get a little over 10 volumes in so that’s definitely time for a lot of quality Cardfights. Both arcs were excellent and this is definitely a title where you will walk away satisfied. I’d actually say that it beat all of the Yugioh spinoffs except for possibly Zexal and R. As I mentioned earlier this is definitely a fresh take on Cardfight so whether you’ve seen the original show or not you can definitely check this one out and get right into the thick of the action. Who doesn’t like a good card fight right? The only unfortunate part is that the series couldn’t keep on going longer. That definitely would have been great.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how good this manga was. Don’t get me wrong, it was always going to be pretty solid and a 7 at the worst to be honest since I really enjoy these card fighting titles. That being said, it went above and beyond my expectations and turned into a super memorable experience. It sets a pretty high bar for future card game titles to try and beat and definitely did live up to the original anime version. It was concise, but still long enough where we got a lot of action. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check this one out.

Overall 9/10

Dragalia Lost


I may not have stuck with the Dragalia Lost game for very long but the plot was definitely pretty interesting. The manga is actually very impressive with how good the art is. It looks like this one will be taking a very detailed look at the story so if all goes well it’s going to be an excellent title. I’ll have a review for it when the series ends.

Overall 7/10

Power Rangers Review


All right, it’s time for the recent Power Rangers film! I’ve always been a big fan of the franchise from the concept to the video games to the costumes. It’s just a series that is brimming with so much potential and there is something for everyone. The trailers for the film came out and while they had some potential, the film started to bring up some concerns. Would the heroes get enough screen time as the Rangers and would the Dinobots get too much screen time? I prepared myself going into the film, but unfortunately it just didn’t understand what the series is all about. It’s really not a Power Rangers film at all and merely borrows the name.

The film starts out by introducing us to a group of teenagers and trying to get us to dislike them as much as possible. First is Jason, a “misunderstod” delinquent who steals Cows and tries to evade the police. He’s caught since the authorities aren’t messing around this time and not only sabotages his entire town’s chances of winning the Football championship in the year but also doesn’t seem to regret his actions at all. This lands him in detention. Next is Kimberly. She decided to humiliate one of her former friends by sending a risky picture of her all around the school. This got that person in trouble and also destroyed Kimberly’s social life. Kimberly blames everyone else for this and winds up in detention. I forgot why Billy is in detention, but he’s good at annoying everyone so it probably wasn’t too hard and he does go around breaking the rules and blowing things up for no good reason. Trini is a kid who likes to be alone and goes to the mountains to meditate, but she is being spied on by Zack. Zack has a sick Mom so he worries her further by getting home late and hanging out in restricted areas. This group was clearly made for each other.

The heroes are busted by the cops yet again, but this time they manage to evade capture. They secured some mystical amulets from the rocks nearby and were all granted super strength and speed. The characters try to point out that they all got different powers at the beginning, but the film forgets this so they all end up with the same powers. They then fall inside a spaceship where the formerly heroic Red Ranger has now turned sinister and wants them to transform so he can come back to life and destroy Rita. Rita is an evil ranger who wants to destroy the world to grab a shard and then she’ll use that shard for her own purposes. The heroes get ready to rumble, but realize that they may be in over their heads. Can they do this!?

All right, there’s a lot of problems with this film, but also some good things. I’ll just mention them all scatter shot style so there’s no real rhyme or reason to this review. For starters, I have to say that these kids are impressively slow on the uptake half the time. After they obtained their powers and saw an actual spaceship, Trini still believes it’s all a big joke and only stops talking when the door slams. At this point, I can’t picture anyone actually saying that. It’s a common trope for the characters to constantly doubt everything, but it just comes across as rather annoying. Can’t we have a more quiet character who just takes all of this in stride and nods along? The art of bluffing is truly lost on these guys.

The heroes also do make sure to make quips every other second and they’re all pretty annoying. The writing is quite bad in this film to say the least so don’t expect any good lines. Aside from the language and everyone getting worse and worse as the film goes on, this also makes the film a little too dramatic. This may come as a surprise, but the film takes itself way too seriously at times. One such scene is when one of the Rangers seemingly dies. It’s not a spoiler because there’s no way they’d actually kill off one of the main members. It would have been a PR nightmare to do that since it would be like killing off Superman or Green Lantern right away. Film 3 could be a different story, but the first one? I don’t think so. The death scene is still around 15 minutes though as everyone carries him back and the music picks up. There are many similar scenes like the campfire where everyone starts sharing their secrets. The film tries to be incredibly somber and I just wasn’t sold.

The proper way to handle dramatic scenes is to be quick and not dwell on them. If it was a powerful enough moment, the audience will get it. Grabbing a 30 second scene and stretching it to 5 minutes doesn’t make the scene any more powerful. Usually this is where I’d bash the romance for being just as dramatic, but fortunately the film actually stayed away from that landmine. I admit that this was rather impressive.

The film also completely ruined Rita’s character. She spends most of the film as an undead zombie who loves to caress all of her opponents before finishing them off. It’s an old trope that I wish had died in the 60’s with all of the old Vampires. It doesn’t make her any more intimidating and is just hard to watch. Her design could have been cool, but they decided to make her a troll by giving her a ton of wrinkles and scars the whole time. She never even got to actually use her cool Power Ranger suit. Get this…she doesn’t even get a big fight. There is one action scene where she beats up the heroes before they turn into Power Rangers, but that’s it.

See, this is where the film forgot its origin. Power Rangers is all about the high speed hand to hand battles where they duke it out with the villains and you get amazed at the choreography. If you ask someone about Power Rangers, the first thing they’ll think of are the hand to hand fights. It’s like having a Dragon Ball Z film without the characters powering up and shooting energy blasts. The action in the film is very limited throughout as we only get a small handful of actual fights. Again, the 5 teens against Rita is the only real fight scene. The rest are against small rock golems that don’t put up any more of a fight than the NPCs in Dynasty Warriors. I think we deserved more action.

I think it’s partially because the film decided to add in the Zords. Their fight scenes aren’t particularly good either because….they’re up against a giant stone golem that is extremely slow. That’s the last thing I was hoping for from the climax, but it happened all the same. They just keep blasting it and jumping on the thing and it shakes them off. Rinse and repeat for quite a while. The only good part of that fight was when they merged into a giant mecha robot and then fought it. I could at least get behind that fight a little even if it was even slower paced. At least it felt more like a fight. I just don’t see the appeal of having giant machines fighting an even bigger opponent who can’t move. For some reason that is mainstream and people like it so it’s here to stay, but then at least give me my classic hand to hand fights.

That’s where the potential was. For example, we see that Jason has a cool energy sword as the Red Ranger. He just never gets to actually use it in a fight. What was even the point of showing it off? On that note, the effects were pretty good though. Ignoring Rita, everything looked very crisp and flashy. It felt like a good sci-fi film and you can see that they used most of the budget on it. Maybe they ran out and couldn’t use it much, but that’s still a big mistake.

I also can’t forget to mention that the soundtrack is pretty bad. Most of the songs are just really sad rap songs with no heart or the lyrics just make you wish the scene was silent. We do have some good themes like the electronic battle theme or the Power Rangers theme song. They were just outnumbered by the bad tunes. The film also heavily overused the slow mo effect which goes back to the being too dramatic thing. Once or twice is okay and more than that can be good if the film is poking fun at itself. Otherwise it’s just wasting time.

On a positive note, it was nice to see Jason just shut the bullies down right away instead of thinking about it for a while or waffling on whether it was the right thing to do or not. He just walked into detention and took names. He also made the right call in deciding to go after Rita right away even if everyone else was too scared to do anything. She would come after Trini again otherwise so not doing anything would have put her in danger. He also doesn’t care about everyone’s dark secrets and just wants them to move on. He’s the best member of the team even if it pretty much is by default. He’s like a badly written Captain Kirk from the recent movies. Similar backstory but less heroic and less sympathetic. I think he’s past most of the negatives though so he should be more likable in the next film.

Billy wasn’t too bad, but he’s more annoying than anything else. He’s the classic “Are we really heroes? I should keep on asking that so that’s exactly what I’m gonna do” character. He keeps repeating things to let the audience know that this is important. When you think about it, this film is really just filled with cliches. So, it takes Billy a long while to actually understand what’s happening, but at least he was the first one to learn how to transform. He’s the smart member of the group so he helps them find the Krispy Kreme’s. I still wonder why he was going around blowing stuff up at the beginning though. Isn’t that one of the worst things you can do when you’re at a restricted area you’re not supposed to be in? He went from being a nice guy who was getting bullied to suddenly coming out as a delinquent himself. He was quick to help trick the authorities with Jason’s home arrest button after all.

I know the whole point of a sob story is to show us that a character made a mistake and all, but Kimberly’s was pretty drastic. I don’t think we ever really got a proper reason for why she sent the picture. The bullying was also extremely tame which I was cool with, but why would she even think that she could maybe get back on the cheering squad? Once we learn why everyone isolated her, then that should have been a given. It all just seemed out of character, but the Kimberly that we do see is reasonably good.

Trini is the tough character who tries to be a loner. Honestly, if she had escaped the other Rangers and stayed a loner that could have made for a good plot point. She is probably the second best ranger though. Her origin story is the least sympathetic since she runs around with a bad attitude the whole time, but at least she doesn’t get buddy buddy with the others too quickly. It would have been nice if she could have put up a better fight against Rita though.

Finally, Zack is the worst ranger and supremely annoying. He spends the whole movie basically flirting which never works and is the main comic relief character. Well, everyone is comic relief at one point or another, but he tries to crack a bunch of jokes even if none of them ever actually work. He breaks the rules just because he can like when he almost squashed everyone with his robot, but no worries, he’s not apologetic about it either. That’s something that the characters always have in common.

This review has come off as rather negative and deservedly so as I would give the film under a 5, but it’s not a 2 or anything so keep in mind that the film does have its positives. As I mentioned, the effects are good and the little action that we do get isn’t bad either. Aside from the fact that the characters are unlikable, the scenes of everyone insulting each other and getting into fights aren’t bad. It makes for reasonably entertaining moments. The pacing is also good so the film never gets boring at all. It actually moves from scene to scene with ease. Jason’s Dad may not have been on the same page as him, but I thought they did a good job of not overdoing it with making him very antagonistic. He was upset with Jason’s decisions, but he should be considering what a big mistake that was. He still drove out into the battle zone to save him if necessary. I wouldn’t mind him being the down to Earth adviser for the team in the next film as he eventually gets accustomed to the whole Power Rangers thing.

On a side note, anyone else find the Rita eating teeth scene incredibly random and out of nowhere? It seemed like it was just trying to be creepy and disturbing for no reason. Honestly, it was just one of those things that makes you shake your head. The whole gold issue is one thing since she needed it for her staff, but eating it to get younger was really out of nowhere. The scene of her just eating it all and various other things while hanging out at the scrapyard just cemented the fact that she wouldn’t be a good character. At least the film is taking some cues from Teen Titans Go assuming the episode came out first.

Is it just me or were the main teens pretty bloodthirsty the whole time as well? Their first instinct when entering the alien ship is to try and murder the little robot. They mention this 2-3 times and when they are told by a giant floating head that they must destroy a girl named Rita they don’t hesitate at all. They basically just yell “No prob” without question. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised though.

As a positive note, the film’s atmosphere is pretty enjoyable though. It’s light hearted so at least you will leave the film on a high note. That’s why getting through the film is easy since you won’t constantly get turned off from it. There’s no animal violence which is always important. Not that any film wants to be compared to Pixels, but that’s a good example. That was a bad film, but it’s one I could easily watch again. It’s not quality entertainment, but it is entertainment.

I did like the fact that the film included Krispy Kreme’s. That doughnut shop doesn’t get enough screen time anymore and hopefully the film paid them for the endorsement and not the other way around. I’m always up for a good doughnut scene after all and maybe that will become their base. By the way, the film does have an after credits scene. It’s pretty underwhelming and the film clearly phoned it in, but at least we see more destruction of school property. He’s going to fit right in with the rest of the gang. I won’t say who it is, but prepare yourself!

Overall, The film may not have a lot of heart, but Power Rangers can be decently fun. The effects are nice to look at and the banter can be enjoyable. The writing holds it back considerably and the lack of action is disappointing, but you can’t have it all. I think a sequel would likely be able to fix a lot of the film and would hopefully regain its identity. It needs to put the Power back into the Power Rangers. I wouldn’t really recommend this film as it just isn’t good, but at least it’s an entertaining bad film. That’s the optimal kind of bad flick to watch as it does have a reasonable amount of replay value. The issue is that most films can say “I’m you, but better” to this movie with a straight face. There isn’t much original about this one and honestly it would have been a better film if it had simply not called itself Power Rangers.

Overall 4/10

Phantom of the Opera Review


It’s time for a retro film that is rather iconic. I guess I should say that the Phantom of the Opera is rather iconic to be precise. It has had many adaptions on just about every medium over the years, but this is the first one that I’ve checked out. (Pretty sure) It’s a decent enough story with some fun characters and okay dialogue, but it doesn’t stand out as one of the all time greats or even as a super solid story. It gets you through the film all right and the pacing is good, but I would have liked the main character to have stopped leading everyone on by the end.

The story starts off with the Phantom being kicked off the opera because his hands are going bad and he can’t play well anymore. While he should have been rich since he served for 20 years, he spent all his money getting lessons for a girl named Christine. She doesn’t even know that he is providing the lessons for her and believes that she is getting them for free. While the Phantom is at least 20 years older than her, he wants her to be with him, but lacks the courage to say so. In the meantime, he will help her as much as possible from the shadows so she will owe him later in life. He realizes that if the opera won’t let her be the lead singer on their own, he’ll have to take the top singers out of the picture and threaten the opera into making the switch.

It’s a classic story of a villain thinking that since he is doing nice things for someone, they have to reciprocate. The whole situation is also his fault as he mistakenly thinks that someone stole his song and murders a guy for it. (Not even the guy that he thought stole his song) As a result his face is half burned off and he is forced into hiding. Fortunately for him, the Phantom is a master of hand to hand combat and has a surprising amount of physical strength. He murders a bunch of people with ease and the film hints that he could have taken on the two male leads as well before losing to a cave in. He’s not a very good/interesting villain, but at least the design worked rather well. Who doesn’t like the simplicity of a cape and mask combo? It’s why Batman got so popular.

I do have some issues with the main heroine though as she was annoying throughout the film. Christine has a lot of admirers as you can tell by now. The main two are Anatole and Raoul. She knows that they are both interested in her, but decides to play the field. She goes out to dinner and accepts flowers/gifts from both of them. She notices that they constantly fight over her, but seems to thrive on the attention. It’s rather inconsiderate of her, but that’s consistent in the film. She is not upset at all to learn that the main singer was poisoned and even celebrates in front of everyone since she will now have a chance to be on the big stage. There’s nothing really heroic about her and she even feels bad for the Phantom at the end. Sure he murdered a bunch of people, but he liked her so he couldn’t have been a bad person. You have to take a double take at her reasoning there since it’s rather outlandish. She was glad he got to hear his music one last time while I think it would have been poetic if he had gotten caved in before hearing it. That’s just me though.

While Christine is leading them on, I can’t feel bad for Raoul and Anatole since they know it. It’s hard to say who the better character is, but I’ll give Anatole the edge. At least he does know music and is a professional. He’s polite and ultimately has the better plan which ends up capturing the Phantom. On the other side, Raoul’s plan ends up failing and he seems to enjoy her musical career a little less. He basically wanted her to retire when he first showed up which instantly signals a bunch of warning bells. Fortunately, one of the higher ups told Christine that music is more important than anything else and it seems like she has decided to follow that advice.

The character roster is small, but that means they all got a lot of screen time. The film’s writing was pretty solid as well. While I didn’t care for the characters as much as in some of the other retro films, the script was still on point. I enjoyed all of the sarcastic/passive aggressive banter from all of the characters. Most of them did not get along in the slightest, but they were very subtle about it. The humor may not have been a great success, but it was also handled very mildly so it didn’t get irritating or go in the way of the story. The main comedy angle was that one character believed that a ghost was causing all of the trouble and would constantly describe him by pulling out his nose and imagining a beard. I forgot why, but he would never want to refer to the ghost by name. Perhaps he thought people would make fun of him, but the ones that he did tell took it pretty seriously for the most part. There was only one guy who disagreed and that’s not bad considering that I thought everyone would make fun of him for it.

Overall, This is a fairly good film. It’s not the greatest out there, but it was enjoyable during the run. As I mentioned, it’s rather short as well so the pacing is on point. It’s cool to see just how large an opera house is. I imagine that it would be difficult to find a criminal since there are 2500 rooms and he can keep hiding in different ones. Hopefully this will teach the Opera staff not to put the Master Key in an unlocked drawer in the main room that anyone can break into. Especially since their ex staff member was the main suspect of a crime and everyone knew about it. These guys just didn’t think ahead. The actual plays in the film didn’t seem all that interesting, but fortunately they never got all that much screen time at all. With a better cast, this film would get another star. As it is, I’d recommend checking it out. There’s not much to the film, but sometimes that makes it easier to watch. The plot is as simple as can be so you can just follow the journey from start to finish without thinking about it much.

Overall 6/10