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

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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