Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Pokemon The Power of Us: Zeraora’s Story Review


Time to look at another Pokemon one shot manga. This one’s a lot more recent than the Giratina one I checked out last time. It’s also a lot thinner as this is basically a mini manga so it goes by in a flash. That being said, it’s actually considerably better and one of the best one shot Pokemon manga that I’ve read. Surprisingly it beats Giratina in every aspect. I also have to give this volume some kudos in the art. The simple style actually ended up working really well for the fights.

The volume starts off with Ash running into town and bumping into the mayor’s daughter. The two of them head over to the nearby lab and put on some VR goggles so they can learn about Zeraora’s origin. It seems like the Pokemon was born out of a thunder storm and then he decided to protect all the nearby Pokemon. Unfortunately poachers show up so Zeraora has to stay sharp and keep on fighting. It feels like people are always trying to fight this guy. You can see how the volume is pretty short though because the whole volume is basically the professor showing them the story and then they go home. Interestingly the manga ends with a preview which basically recaps the first few pages almost word for word but with a few changes.

Back to the volume though, Zeraora is a fun Pokemon. He clearly loves to fight as seen by his smirk after being attacked. I’m also glad to see him actually take a hit and keep on going. It’s always sad when a Legendary Pokemon gets wrecked by random poachers or gets caught in a cage. None of that was happening to Zeraora. He took down all challengers and I dare say that he had the upper hand against Lugia as well. That fight was the highlight of the volume, but admittedly it was Zeraora’s fault. Lugia just came in to get rid of the fire. Zeraora blamed him for not coming sooner, but that’s hardly Lugia’s fault. The Pokemon can’t be everywhere and at least he saved some people.

It would have not been good if Elekid had perished, but fortunately the manga didn’t go down that route. That would have gotten a bit dicey if you ask me. With Elekid safe then we could really enjoy the fight. This is where I have to go back and talk about the art. The fights are very smooth here. It actually seems like a similar style to Bleach where you feel the impact beyond every hit. The characters may look a bit chibi at times, but it’s worth it for the action scenes. It’s really going for the opposite of Pokemon Adventures. That series has a ton of detail and epic fights. It works really well, but the same can be said for the flip side where this one is really focusing on the hits. This doesn’t feel like a cash-in level of art, but that of a real title.

If there are any negatives here it’s just in how short the volume is. Hopefully the going price would be a little lower to compensate. So long as that is the case then there are really no negatives to be found here. The manga has a direct plot and goes about it with no delays or distractions. You don’t need to stretch out the volume just to pad out the pages. This one just gets right down to business and it’s also probably Lugia’s best showing. It may be a little sad that we don’t get to see Ash fight, but he got his match in the actual movie. This is really Zeraora’s time to impress us and he was quite impressive. I’d take him over quite a few Legendaries. He may not be as intimidating as some of them, but his speed and power are still forces to be reckoned with.

Overall, If this had been the plot of the actual movie then things would have been quite different. This would make for an excellent TV special so I hope it is animated in some way or form. If you watched the movie then this is a must read to really see more of Zeraora’s character. He may be a little too quick to jump into a fight and doesn’t have the cool head that you’d want your ally to have, but his heart’s in the right place. At least he’s actively protecting Pokemon from poachers since the Officer Jenny’s of the world don’t seem to be around when you need them. It’s still really something to see how many poachers exist in the Pokemon world. Throw in Team Rocket and all the other teams and the world is actually quite dangerous. Hopefully Ash and friends are ready for them, but with Pikachu at his side I suppose I don’t even need to wonder. I hope that whoever the artist of this was gets another chance at more Pokemon manga in the future.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

One Piece: Stampede Review


Time to look at the latest One Piece film. This one was definitely getting a lot of hype before it came out because it was bringing together a ton of One Piece characters. Pretty much every big pirate who is currently alive in the series is returning for this film. Naturally since the film is under 2 hours you can’t expect all 60+ of these guys to get a big role, but the movie does a good job of at least allowing them all to get their special attacks in. Then you’ve got the second wave of characters who are big enough to get their own fights. It’s definitely an amazing One Piece experience for fans and anyone who enjoys a good action film is sure to have a blast as well.

The film starts by taking us back to the famous Blackbeard prison breakout from a while back. It turns out that there was one pirate who was far too powerful for Blackbeard to let him join. This guy’s name is Bullet and he once served aboard the Pirate King’s crew. Well, now he is back in a big pirate festival. Festa has organized this thing in order to bring together the Marines, Pirates, and Revolutionaries so they can all be destroyed in one fell swoop. He doesn’t really care who wins so long as everyone gets crushed in the end. Strawhat Luffy and friends have arrived here as well even though they figure it’s probably a trap. That’s because the prize is a treasure from the Pirate King and nobody can resist such a tempting offer. Can Luffy protect his crew and secure the prize before Bullet destroys them all? It’ll be a hard battle for sure.

Right away you have to acknowledge that Bullet is going to be an incredibly powerful villain. He has to be in order to take on pretty much the whole cast of One Piece. The film does not disappoint with his abilities. The guy is pretty much on the level of the 4 empires with how easily he is able to dispatch his opponents. The best fight in the film for me is definitely when he takes on “The worst Generation” (Which is basically a bunch of the hype characters) and defeats them all with ease. They can barely land any decent shots on him which shows just how unbelievable he is. Bullet’s speed and power are off the charts to the point where it’s like seeing All Might bump off the League of Villain lackeys back in season 1. Luffy and the gang are completely outmatched.

Bullet’s also just a fun villain. His goal is to be the strongest and stop the Buster Call. A Buster Call is when the army sends in their admirals and a fleet of ships to sink an island. To date nobody has ever really been able to stop a buster call on their own. Sure, a bunch of characters escaped in Marineford but that wasn’t technically a buster call and they did manage to stop the main threats the government wanted to end. For Bullet to defeat such a thing would be very impressive. He also likes a good fight and seems to have a reasonable honor code. He’s defeating his opponents at the top of their game and doesn’t use any cheap tricks.

Festa is the only other important new character and he’s a fun enough villain. The guy definitely holds onto his grudges and really wants to wreck havoc on the world. It’s for a surprisingly petty reason though. The guy has a great seat but you do have to wonder how nobody noticed him the whole time. I guess he’s so weak that the heroes don’t need to bother prioritizing him. They’d probably just finish him off afterwards which works well enough.

The animation is definitely top notch. It’s all very smooth and vibrant which is great. The fight I mentioned from earlier is very impressive and like something out of DBZ. There are also a bunch of other fights throughout that have great cuts as well like Zoro vs Fujitora and pretty much any scene with Sabo. It’s all very consistent for the duration of the film. We also get some CGI which looks good enough. I think CG is at the point where it should always look good so long as you splash it in a lot of colors. That’s where CGI is at its best. It may not be enough to make giant things exciting, but it tries its best. As for the soundtrack you’ll recognize some tunes from the show. The main new theme was Bullet’s theme and it’s the best piece of music in the whole film. Whenever it appears you know that things are going to get tricky for the heroes. It’s just great all around.

This film also completely avoids the occasional fanservice issue that the series has at times and even Brook doesn’t have time to do anything iffy. The film managed to avoid having any real issues and that’s the first step to being a great film. The next step is to actually have great moments and this move has them in spades. There are a ton of homages and nice little scenes for fans. All of the characters get quick moments where they look good and they all get a ton of hype. That being said, keeping up everyone’s hype does come at a bit of a price.

Pretty much every fight in the film is a tie. That’s something that tends to happen when you bring in a bunch of old characters who still have a lot of fans and Stampede wasn’t able to get around it. Unlike some titles like DBZ where there are big power gaps between everyone, a lot of characters in One Piece are still very close. There are characters from the opening arcs who can hold their own against the current villains. That’s because the characters get stronger very gradually and the old characters keep training as well. The matches are still hype, but this does dampen the excitement for them a little since you know that the battles can’t end. This happens over and over as everyone gets a skirmish and then backs down. Unless you’re fighting Bullet then your battle won’t end.

This film is trying to be Marineford 2.0 with how every character is around and that arc also had the same issue at times. Naturally nobody can die this time around, but all things considered the film did do a good job of keeping that same energy throughout. Once the action starts near the beginning of the film is really never dies down. That’s always important for a big movie like this one since it helps for replay value. Stampede definitely has a lot of that at its disposal.

Then the only other part of the film that could have been improved was Bullet’s final form. When he started to transform I admit that it was a little disappointing. That’s because he went from being an awesome DBZ villain to suddenly being a skyscraper who can barely move. Naturally this is where the CGI starts to come into play. No matter how neat a design the giant form might be, it’s just not going to be able to make for really fun fights the way that his first round was. When one fighter can’t fight back then it’s no longer a real fight. Since Bullet’s giant form can’t do much it just barely counts as an actual match. Bullet does manage to bring back his human form near the end of the film for a quick fight as well though so we did get a true climax.

Luffy is definitely at his best here. He may not look too good against Bullet for a while, but not being strong enough to win isn’t a bad thing in itself. The important thing is that he was trying to win right from the start and was quick to try and help Usopp. Helping his crew out has always been Luffy’s main objective and it’s good to see that hold true here. The rest of the gang aside from Brook look good as well. Zoro and Sanji definitely contribute the most, but Franky and Nami are also very useful. Then for the other pirates it was nice to see Sabo since it’s always rare to see his adult form. It’s a little surprising how calmly Luffy and Sabo exchanged a casual greeting here and then just didn’t talk again. I guess it wasn’t really the time or place to really have a long dialogue but a team up would have been good.

Stampede did a good job of choosing the all star team at the end. Hancock is one of Luffy’s most dependable allies at this point while Law is practically a strawhat now. Smoker may not always be able to compete against some of these guys but his ability is really neat and he has been improving quite a lot. The fact that he can still give these guys a fun for their money is pretty good. Mihawk also shows up to flex real quick and the heroes are lucky that he didn’t stick around since the guy still appears to be way out of their league. He’s definitely Emperor level or at least that’s the way he appears to me.

Overall, Stampede is definitely a great film. I like this new trend of the fight starting early on and then continuing for basically the entire film. Dragon Ball Broly did that to great success and now the same is true for Stampede. I definitely preferred it to Gold and Strong World. I haven’t seen the rest so I can’t comment on that, but that would put this as the best One Piece film right now. There are really no serious complaints I had with it and the movie definitely has a ton of replay value. Naturally as a fan you will get extra enjoyment out of it since it’s a reunion type film, but I dare say that casuals who haven’t seen the series before will enjoy it as well. There’s something here for everyone.

Overall 8/10

Manga

Black Clover Gaiden: Quartet Knights


Looks like Black Clover’s finally got a solid spinoff to expand the franchise. I played the video game that this manga is based off of and it was definitely a lot of fun. The manga looks to be adapting the material pretty well and I’ll have a review for the series up when I’ve finished it.

Overall 8/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Kingdom of Paradise Review


It’s time to look at a pretty obscure RPG. I don’t think a great many people have played this and I dare say that it’s because of the cover. It just isn’t an interesting one and will do nothing to catch your eye. At the most you may just look at this game and shake your head. Still, if you do end up purchasing the game then you’ll have found a keeper. This one has some pretty tight gameplay and the story isn’t bad. The length is also pretty good. There are some issues which keep me from calling this a great game, but at the end of the day there’s a lot to enjoy here.

The plot follows a warrior named Shinbu who was expelled from his clan a while back for breaking the rules. Well, he’s come to terms with this and is now eager to make himself a better man. He runs into a girl named Sui Lin who is heading back to his old clan with some dire news. He decides to follow her for a while before informing her that he is the one she is seeking. It turns out that their entire clan has been murdered and Shinbu’s parents were destroyed by a pair of orcs. With his life in shambles Shinbu agrees to help Sui Lin warn the other 4 clans. It appears that all 5 are in danger as a new kingdom is quickly approaching. Their ruler has tempted the second in command from all 5 clans to help him conquer the world. Will Shinbu be enough to turn the tides?

The gameplay is that of a 3D beat em up. There are a lot of enemies always crawling out of the woodwork and you have to slam them back inside. There is no rest for the weary and you have to stay sharp at all times. While you don’t always have to fight them, you’ll probably want to as you won’t be strong enough to fight off the bosses otherwise. One thing you’ll want to do is find a room where the enemies are close enough for you to enter battle mode but far enough where you can’t hurt them. Then just spam your energy attacks. See, the way your energy attacks level up in this game is to simply keep using them. Whether you hit the opponent or not doesn’t matter so it’s easiest in a situation like that where you won’t have to move. It can be a little dull since you’re literally standing in one place and using the same attack over and over. Still, that’s how you get the attack to improve its potential. Just keep on doing that for at least one element and you’ll have an attack that will still be relevant even against the final boss. It can one shot all minions up until that point as well.

Without the magic abilities you’ll see what a tough fight the climax can be. I brought along 3 revives and 30 max potions and I had to use up almost my full supply at the end. Money doesn’t come easy but once you enter a long tower near the end of the game that is your chance to grind quite a lot. The room with the 5 bat creatures is your best bet since you can take them all down in one shot with no real effort. Rinse and repeat for a lot of exp and money. I got a ton of level ups that way which was really handy. Your skills and magic attacks all have elements and choosing the right one for each battle also helps a lot. You can switch at any time, but it can be hard to know what element your opponent is so I would usually just stick with fire.

The graphics aren’t bad. I am glad that we get full voice acting and cinematics. The faces don’t move much though which can make for interesting cutscenes where the characters are just staring at each other for a while. It can unintentionally be pretty funny. Some scenes just also seem like they end a little sooner than the developers planned. One such scene is when a confession is made and the other characters just stares in silence for a moment before the screen goes white and you walk away. I suppose you can make a lot of different assumptions about what happened there, but my guess is that he got overwhelmed and just walked away.

There are a lot of twists in the story. We meet two girls of cosmic nature who hold the keys and each of the 5 kingdoms have their own issues. At times it could be difficult to keep all of the names straight since there were just so many characters running around. There were multiple traitors and even mind control going on so not everyone who tried to destroy us was actually evil. It raises a lot of questions but by the end of the game I’d say that they’re all answered. It’s definitely not the happiest ending though as a lot of people didn’t get a happy ending once this had all concluded.

One plot that definitely didn’t go over very well was Shinbu’s parents. So, there’s a twist and one of them survived while the other one was murdered. Why? These Ogres don’t seem that tough so I can’t see how they won in the first place. Then there’s the issue of the survivor being generally emotionless and uncaring about the whole thing. The reunion with Shinbu is laughable as the dialogue amounts to a “hey” and then the characters part ways again. I think a sequel could flesh out some of these characters like the mysterious man in red who has a lot of skills, but chooses to hide all the time anyway. Most of these characters are pretty guilty of not doing anything since they definitely could have stopped the villain’s plans earlier. At the very least they could have slowed the villains down. Ultimately Shinbu has to do everything.

I liked the boss theme. It was pretty atmospheric and let you know that things were getting serious. The rest of the soundtrack wasn’t too memorable though. Now for the parts of the game that weren’t great. For one thing, there is a lot of running around in this game. The hub world is huge and you are expected to traverse it multiple times on your way to the end. A lot of times the hint given in your quest menu is fairly vague and you may end up going to the wrong town a lot. From the 13 hours I was playing this game I dare say that 3-4 were just about running to where I needed to go. The boats don’t show up til near the end of the game and even then they don’t take you everywhere.

Then you’ve got the map which isn’t very helpful. Left in game doesn’t mean left on the map which just doesn’t make any kind of sense. The grinding is not handled quite as well as in other games. It’s very slow and the way that the magic levels up just doesn’t make any kind of sense. There are also parts of the game where you might really be in a jam if you don’t have enough magical abilities. I remember getting trapped in the tower room for a while because I didn’t have one of the elements. Fortunately using the sword worked in its place. Really the main drawbacks here are the map and unclear directions. The gameplay is fun though which is always the important thing.

Overall, Kingdom of Paradise is a fun game and one that I would definitely recommend. It brings you the top notch action that you would expect and then some. It’s definitely not super polished and the plot pales next to other RPGs, but it’s got enough fundamentals to keep you going. You will certainly be entertained and it’s always nostalgic going back to the PSP. The games on this console all had a certain feel about them that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Overall 7/10

7 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Guardians of The Galaxy Review


It’s time to take a look at another recent Marvel cartoon. This one actually made it to 3 seasons which is pretty impressive. Whenever a show ends up with more than 50 episodes I’d count that as a win for the title and this one had over 70. It’s pretty by the books and the main characters aren’t quite as engaging as the Avengers of course, but it’s nonetheless a solid action/adventure show you could recommend for all ages. It also did get a fair share of guest stars and such which is always nice to have.

The first season mainly deals with the team being on a wild goose chase to find the Cosmic Seed before an onslaught of villains can grab it and use the seed to destroy worlds. Among the powerful villains who want this seed is Thanos and Ronan. Get used to most of the Guardian villains because you’ll be seeing them a lot. This season has less of a focused plot than the next two, but it does serve to introduce us to the main characters and since the seed’s signal is always hiding it does give a good reason for the Guardians landing on every planet they can.

The next season brought in Adam Warlock which was a lot of fun and Star Lord’s father shows up to try and cause trouble again. This time he plans on using the Nova’s power to conquer the world and he also tricks the cult with Mantis and the others into trying to stop the Guardians. Since their abilities run on belief that makes them very difficult to defeat since it’s just hard to shake them. As long as their faith holds true they are effectively invincible. The Guardians definitely have their hands full here. I’d say that this season did beat the first one. While there was no noticeable uptick in animation compared to Assemble’s upgrade, it did give us more fights and a fun plot.

Finally we had the third season. This time the Guardians are framed and have to travel the cosmos to clear their name. Along the way they meet up with Spider-Man and also have to team up with the Mad Titan Thanos to stop the latest enemy. This new enemy is called the Serpent and his abilities are so powerful that he is even able to overwhelm powerful foes like Thor. The episodes with the Asgard plot and the Darkhawks is definitely solid. The episodes where the Guardians are split up and have to re-unite are more hit or miss since Starlord typically carries the show and he doesn’t always appear there.

First lets get the technicals out of the way. The animation is pretty solid. It’s nothing amazing and gets shredded by any 90’s-2000s comic book show, but it’s still not bad or anything. The screen is always clear and we do get some pretty reasonable fight scenes. The hits just don’t pack the same punch as they would have in an older show and that could be due in part to the lack of sound effects. I think a big part of a good fight scene is having solid effects to back it up and that’s something that Guardians is definitely missing. Still, it’s not as if this show is all that focused on power levels anyway. At the end of the day it’s fairly loose so just enjoy the action scenes and don’t think too hard about who should win the battle.

In terms of writing the show isn’t bad. Just keep in mind that this show is a comedy first and foremost, the action and adventure are back-up genres. It’s a mix of all 3 of course but the show always throws in the one liners during the serious moments as well as in the fights. As a result it’s naturally not going to be in the same league as some of the big hitters from back in the day, but it also means that you’ll be looking at the writing a little differently. It’s entertaining which is the important part.

A good amount of this is due to Star Lord who is handled perfectly here. He’s easily the most fun character in the series. It helps that he got Ron’s voice actor from Kim Possible which was a brilliant casting choice. I can’t stress enough what a good move that was since it fits his character perfectly. Nobody on the team respects Star Lord and that is amped up to 10 in this TV show. Everytime he talks one of the other members is quick to jump in and insult Star Lord. I think one of the most powerful parts of his character personality is that he just lets the insults roll away. Star Lord does care but he knows that deep down the team is still on his side. He may not have won their respect, but a good leader can still adapt. At least 90% of the funny moments are thanks to him.

Gamora is definitely the next best member of the group. She’s always up for a good fight, but knows her limits better than Drax. She’s the most professional member of the group and saves the team quite often. Even when she is not familiar with the rules of battle in a specific setting like the video game episode, she is quick to learn how to win. She’s just a natural and that’s why she’s known as the deadliest woman in the universe even if the title is hyperbole. Groot is still the worst member of course and basically just slows everyone down. He’s always complaining about something or other even if we can’t actually understand him. You can just tell because Rocket has to tell him to quiet down.

Drax is not very smart as always so he falls for all of the traps and such. There’s one episode with the Hulk where he is completely unreasonable the whole time and even Hulk has to point out how sad it is that he is the smartest guy in the room. Rocket is always talking back to everyone so he can be fun, but he definitely can’t hold his own episode the way that some of the others can. He needs someone to banter off of in order to succeed and that’s where Howard comes in. Howard is handled extremely well in this show and tends to steal the show whenever he appears. He’s a solid rival to Rocket and part of why it works is because he’s shown to be around as good as Rocket. I would give the raccoon the slight edge overall, but it’s actually pretty close throughout.

Thanos gets a big role here so it’s always fun to see how he is portrayed compared to his movie self. While they go for a similar vibe, he is naturally less “heroic” here compared to in the movies. He has no delusions about being the savior of the universe here and is more of your classic villain type. It was cool to see him take on the Serpent near the end of the series. Obtaining the Carnage symbiote was definitely a fun idea even if he would become way too OP at that point. The guy’s already well above the Guardians weight class so whenever he shows up they usually need some kind of plot hax to defeat him. Nonetheless, he’s one of the highlights in the show.

I also did like the Serpent and he worked really well as a final boss. The guy did a lot of damage throughout and was a great villain. While the tree did a lot of the work he also showed that he could fight up close with the the other power hitters. Another solid villain was Star Lord’s father J’son. J’son shows up quite a lot and the show does a good job of showing how manipulative he is. No matter how many times he turns out to be evil the guy does a good job of suckering everyone. Just about every planet he goes to ends up buying into his act. He’s also a sharp thinker and does tend to plan for things well in advance. You always want a mastermind villain like that to back up the other more aggressive villains so you get a nice balance.

On the Nova side, Rhomann Dey gets a pretty big role. He’s definitely had enough of the Guardians’ antics by the end of the show, but it’s not like there is a whole lot he can do about it either. He doesn’t have any powers and the Nova Corp is so easily corrupted that he gets demoted every time the heroes get away. Still, you gotta love the guy’s determination I suppose and his voice actor also does a good job since Dey always sounds irritated and a little defeated on the inside. It’s like he knows that things are not going to end well right from the start and for the most part he’s actually right about that.

It was also nice to see Nova show up a few times. Yes, it’s the kid nova and not the classic Richard Rider, but he’s still a solid hero in his own right. He gets a decent amount of development and screen time here as he learns to use his powers more effectively. There are a bunch of other guest stars here like the Avengers and Inhumans as well. The show does a good job of bringing them in while also focusing on the main cast quite a lot. Towards the end you may start to wish that the show would expand a little more by bringing in different guest stars though. It’s hard to explain but even though the show has a lot of guest stars it has a tendency to always bring back the same ones. Take the final episodes with the Serpent, it’s the big gathering of Earth’s mightiest heroes and yet it’s the same guys we’ve been seeing throughout the series. That would have been a perfect time to bring in other characters like Wolverine, Human Torch, etc. I don’t imagine it saves time on animation either since this isn’t CGI so there’s no real reason not to bring in different fighters. Maybe it’s a voice actor thing or the show felt like it would be a better payoff to see the characters you’re familiar with. I guess that’s reasonable.

If the show has any real weaknesses beyond just being rather standard the whole time, it is in how much Star Lord carries the show. There are multiple episodes that focus on the other members or just other characters in general and they are never even close to as fun as the Peter centered episodes. He brings all of the humor and fun with him. The others try to be funny in their own ways, but can’t really pull it off. Fortunately it is very rare that Peter isn’t with the group so it’s not a big deal. Beyond that I wouldn’t say that the show makes any real mistakes. It serves its purpose and by the end of the show you will be very familiar with the team as well as their general lore. (Most popular enemies and such)

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun show. The team isn’t quite as popular as the Avengers even with the big films so you’ll possibly get to see some characters you didn’t know about before like Drax’s final living relative or that cosmic cult. It’s a very easy show to just pick up if you see an episode on TV. At the same time there are some multi part sagas which is always fun to have because you can really develop a story a lot more if it’s 3 episodes as opposed to always being a stand alone adventure. I’d definitely recommend this show if you just want to have a good time experiencing some comic book adventures. I also think you’ll end up enjoying Star Lord quite a lot since he just ends up being a real blast.

Overall 7/10

Manga

Dr. Stone


I’ve finally started the manga that’s become quite the hit lately. Dr. Stone has some similarities to the Promised Neverland with the main cast being trapped in a dangerous world and looks to have a lot of potential. I don’t imagine it’ll end for quite a while, but when it does I’ll have a review at the ready.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

One Piece Strong World Review


This has definitely been a movie that’s been on the backburner for quite a while. Strong World is known as one of the better One Piece films or at least when it came out it was known as such. After that we got some heavy hitters like Z and Gold which have also forged a name for themselves. Strong World is definitely a fun film but definitely a step under Gold and I get the feeling that Z will win. It’s a good all around adventure, but does have some issues.

The film starts off with the Strawhats scattered once again amidst a bunch of flying islands. We then see that Nami has been captured by the pirate known as Shiki, the strongest man in the world. Luffy and friends will have to hurry if they want to save her and after this we also learn how she was captured in the first place. Shiki has amassed a large pirate army and many other crews have also gathered to help him wipe out the East Blue. The stakes are high and continue to escalate as the terror approaches the home of the Strawhats.

Shiki is definitely established as a powerful villain here since he is untouchable for most of the heroes and even Luffy has to play defense for most of their encounters. The film makes it very clear that Shiki is stronger than Luffy. In a straight fight the hero just has no shot to win here. While not unheard of, it is still rare to see Luffy losing like this. He takes quite a lot of hits throughout the film. Shiki’s ability is to manipulate gravity and that helps him enhance his speed and power as well. Shiki is definitely a powerful enemy, but I can’t say that I cared for him.

He’s super quirky to the point where it is hard to keep thinking of him as a threat. He panics with his subordinates quite a bit after all and has a very short memory span. Nami manages to escape from him several times as well so you do have to doubt his security measures. Being good in a fight is not enough to make you a great enemy. His two lieutenants also aren’t all that good. One is basically King Kong and the other one is decent with a sword, but too busy trying to keep up charades to actually remain as a threat.

As expected the animation is quite good. Surprisingly the film doesn’t lead off with the big high budget scene. Typically the films love to show the environment and the animation in the first shots like in all of the Pokemon films. For the One Piece film it starts off with a Shiki scene first and then cuts away to Luffy which is where the animation goes way up. The visuals for the jungles are definitely quite solid and the whole thing is very smooth. This is one area where it can definitely hold its own against the newer titles.

I also really liked the soundtrack. The tunes are a lot more fun than what is in the actual show. It’s going for a very “nature-esque” array of themes which makes sense since Luffy is in the jungle the whole time. It’s all very fast paced and high energy. The film definitely went all in on a technical level.

So where does the film falter? Well, it does have a fanservice issue. To an extent we can always expect that with One Piece with Nami around, but Gold for example did a good job of restraining itself. Maybe a tiny moment here and there, but Strong World just keeps it coming for quite a bit. It’s enough where it is noticeable. As mentioned, the villains are also a little on the weak side. The ones in Gold had a lot more character. Brook also still exists and so naturally most of his dialogue is terrible.

It is also a bit iffy to see Luffy and the others get wrecked so badly, but that I can roll with since you can’t ask for the strongest villain to fight and then be upset when he clobbers the heroes. At least Luffy and the others put up a fight although Luffy should have gone into Gear 2 as soon as Shiki went after Nami. There’s no real reason to hold back when lives are at stake right? Zoro and Sanji are definitely shown to be out of their league this time, but they do get to contribute a little at least. The scene of the whole team trying to fight Shiki was cool because they almost never get to fight an enemy like that. The only time I can think of off the top of my head is when they all fought Aokji. I love group fights like that and for One Piece I feel like that may never happen again, but the series has a ways to go so hopefully they do get to do that. In the meanwhile the movies help with this since it’s a lot easier to have the whole group assemble here.

A standout character was actually a thunder bird named Billy. At first you expect he’ll just be a fun animal mascot to aid Nami, but the guy can fight. He takes out a ton of giant monsters and without him Luffy wouldn’t have stood a chance against Shiki. Billy’s the kind of movie character you want to have. He doesn’t steal moments from the main cast, but does assist a lot so he doesn’t feel like a filler character either. The guy just wants to help his friends out and you can’t go wrong there.

One key part that the film does right is keeping the adventure very fast paced like all good fantasy films should. There’s rarely a time where the film really slows down so there is a lot of replay value. I may not call this film great, but I did have a fun time and there’s a lot to like here. It’s just a good popcorn fun adventure where you get to see all of the characters unleash their signature abilities and take down some villains. It’s a little contrived that both Sanji and Zoro’s opponents escaped only to have to fight them again though. I’m thinking they wanted to include their second intros, but you do have to wonder how the villains would have escaped in the first place.

Overall, Strong World is definitely a fun film that I’d recommend. Whether you’re a fan of the series or not you’ll definitely enjoy it. There are enough recap nods and such to ensure that even people unfamiliar with the series can get into it. I thought the opening showing off all the members of the crew was handled really well. They all get the name bumpers and a quick scene so you can see what they can do. Nami is the last to be shown, but I think you’ll still be able to tell that Luffy is the main character since his segment is the longest and he just feels like your classic Shonen lead. I’ve always loved character intros like this so One Piece really nailed it here. I look forward to seeing what the next film is like.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Aladdin Review


It’s time to take a look at the remake that came out recently. The original film was one of the weaker Disney classics for me so I was ready to see if the remake could fix that. Fortunately it was up for the challenge. I’d actually put Aladdin as one of the best remakes and holds its own/even beats other heavyweights like the recent Maleficent film which I was impressed with. Aladdin’s a very high energy film and it paid off.

The film starts with a guy telling his kids a story about the olden days. We cut to what is a normal day for Aladdin as he slips through the streets grabbing whatever he can. He’s a thief who needs such things to scare by as his country isn’t exactly one of the more luxurious ones. One day he notices a lady having some trouble so he helps her get out of the jam. Unfortunately due to a misunderstanding with his monkey stealing her pendent she dashes off. Aladdin tried to repair the damage but he is soon captured by the Jafar and forced to enter a dangerous cave. He secures the lamp and will now get 3 wishes, of course Jafar won’t forget about his wishes for power anytime soon. Can Aladdin impress Jasmine and stop the kingdom from being plunged into chaos?

Right away the film got off to a really strong start here. The chase scenes with Aladdin right from the beginning are great. The scenes have a lot of energy and with the song it all flows together nicely. It’s always risky to have the best scene show up this early on in the film, but I think it’s good because first impressions are important. It’s just nice how casually Aladdin is basically taking on a full platoon of troops and singing about it. He also does a good job of directing Jasmine as well and showing how well he has mastered the city and all its alleyways. He’s basically a genius.

Aladdin definitely makes for a really solid lead even if he does weaken a bit towards the end of the film. He gets corrupted awfully quick when he becomes a prince and I feel like there were a lot of ways he could have gotten himself out of the situation earlier. If he was going to lie anyway, why not just admit that he was pretending to be a prince to impress Jasmine later on? I think she probably would have been impressed as to how he could pull that off since he had such a large troop of fighters behind him. I’d also argue that Jafar even deciding to mess with Aladdin is super risky because if those troops were real than Agrabah would have been doomed from the start.

Jasmine’s a fun heroine and definitely a character who has also been very improved from the original. She’s very determined to become the next sultan and also stands up to Jafar and the others. Jasmine gets a fun song towards the end about how she won’t be quiet anymore and gets to quickly exhibit her time stop powers until the song ends and you realize it never really happened. The thought is what counts though. She may not have grown up in the streets like Aladdin, but she’s definitely got that toughness about her.

Then you have Genie who steals the show as expected. It was a tall order to try and top Robin Williams from the original so I think adding in Will Smith was the perfect option. His style of humor is very different, but ultimately very charismatic and fast which works really well. His powers are still impressive although the way that his powers work is still awfully loose. At the end of the day he can still do whatever he wants and is just pretending to have to work on the rules. It seems to me like he just can’t go against his owner, but otherwise he can do what he wants. If I were Aladdin I’d be tempted to ask for a wish back, but at the same time he is still alive so being grateful is more important in this scenario. Genie is definitely here to look out for Aladdin and does a great job of looking after him. Without Genie Aladdin would have been doomed.

The film does a good job of mixing in a lot of good humor to supplement the action and adventure. The jokes land and the film is just written really well. They certainly didn’t phone it in here which is key. It would have been easy for the movie to just try and borrow all the original jokes and such but coming up with a completely new script is always good. The film’s still a direct remake and all, but it brings its own unique flavor to the mix.

Then you’ve got Jafar who is a much better villain than he was in the original. In that film he felt more focused on the marriage to Jasmine than his actual aspirations. Here it is flipped and he really just wants power to capture everyone else. He’s the kind of villain who while not relateable is just very interesting. It makes sense why he would have a bit of a power complex here since he started at the bottom of the social totem pole and now wants to go to the very top. I also thought his character had more layers here since he actually kept his thief skills and is a legitimate threat to the other characters. The scene of him pick pocketing Aladdin was handled very well.

There’s the Sultan but there’s not much to say about him. He gets mind controlled the whole time as expected. Abu doesn’t get to do a whole lot and mainly just gets Aladdin into trouble. He does save the lad from making a critical mistake in the cave of wonders though so I’ll give him some props, but he basically nullifies this after that by actually falling for the trap.

Iago doesn’t get the witty dialogue that you’ll remember from the original which is unfortunate. I think the film could have gone all the way with him if it really wanted to. At least he did get the super form though so that was neat. Then you’ve got the character made for the film called Dalia. She’s basically Jasmine’s best friend and just like how Genie supports Aladdin she helps Jasmine in this journey. I’m not sure about the random plot with her and Genie though. That romance was a bit weak, but for the character Dalia was definitely a standout. She’s definitely the kind of character that you want to have by your side. Dalia is very loyal and supportive.

Then you’ve got Hakim who also gets a bit of a big role here. He is quick to change sides though and while the characters gets his redemption arc it doesn’t work all that well. It just seems a little too late in the game for him by this point. He’s not really my kind of character but I’ll still give him some credit for making the right call even if it was late.

The first half of the film is definitely more dynamic than the second half, but I wouldn’t say there is any part of the film where it totally loses steam or anything like that. The dance scene with Aladdin being manipulated was also pretty fun. I don’t think that the back flip was overdoing it to be honest, but he definitely did show everyone up. All of the songs are also a blast. It seems like the film is using some kind of auto tune or audio adjustment to give everyone a certain kind of voice though so I wonder if the characters actually sound like that. It’s a sound that works well though so no complaints here.

Aladdin doesn’t hold back on the special effects either. I think part of what makes the film work so well is that it just looks great. The musical numbers feel grand as a result and especially the “You’ve never had a friend like me” song is awesome as a result. The special effects are really akin to that of a big blockbuster movie (Which this film basically is) and I dare say that this may be the best musical out there. I don’t really know how you would go about topping this one.

Overall, Aladdin was definitely a success. It’s a very fun film that has a lot of replay value. I think a good bit of credit here goes to the great script/writing. There are a lot of clever moments and even some callbacks to the songs. One good scene is when Genie points out that Aladdin’s never had a friend like him as opposed to vice versa. The only annoying part here is really how quick Aladdin was to betray Genie. It’s definitely something that will be annoying on a re-watch and all since Genie was so helpful the whole time. Still, if you’re looking for a great film to watch then this is the one to check out.

Overall 8/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

My Little Pony: Rainbow Roadtrip Review


It’s time for the latest look at the MLP series. This special throws in the movie type animation which is a nice twist. It’s a good way to keep the fans satisfied as we await the rest of the final season. It’s a pretty fun special that gives each of the main characters a nice role while reminding us that there is always time for friendship. I would have liked a good fight scene though.

The special starts with the Mane 6 getting ready to leave Ponyville as they have been invited to a Rainbow event and Dash will be the guest of honor. However, when the heroes arrive at this town everything appears to be off. None of the events are as advertised and nobody wants to talk to them. The town has had its color drained away and have lost their happiness. Twilight and the others decide to introduce friendship to this town as they get this festival going. Can they really bring the color back!?

The special is definitely pretty solid so I’ll address the only weak point right off the bat. From the premise you are initially expecting some kind of villain here. After all, it’s not like the color left on its own right? Unfortunately the special does not take that route. There are no action scenes in this special nor is there a real villain. Sure, this series isn’t really about that but throwing in a villain would have been great even if she would have been doomed to turn good by the end. In a lot of ways this special feels like a redo of the Starlight Glimmer episode only without a lot of the best parts. Of course this doesn’t really hurt the score since it’s more of a “what if” than anything else, but it would have been pretty cool to have gotten a little more intensity in here.

All of the Mane 6 look pretty good. I’d say that Applejack and Rainbow Dash were the most dependable members of the crew though. Applejack really got the townsfolk to believe in themselves while Rainbow Dash inspired confidence in her fan club. They actively helped bring the color back into the town which was important. They also took the situation in stride pretty well. Twilight Sparkle tried using her science to secure a win here, but at the end of the day this task proved a little too difficult for her on her own. Together with the others she was ultimately able to succeed though.

Pinkie Pie probably looks the worst from the main characters though. She was almost mean with how she was knocking the old couple’s apricot pies. She has to realize that part of the problem here is that without being able to see color the apricots are all going to look the same. Then you’ve also got the issue with the neighbor being the only one with the good fruits. The resolution here is definitely a little on the cheesy side. It’s a decent subplot, but one where Pinkie Pie didn’t help quite as much as she could have.

Rainbow’s subplot is pretty good. The kids definitely mean well and did a good job of making the unofficial fanclub. It’s really one of the only parts of the town that was actually real even if they were short on members. The main plot involves one of the ponies blaming himself for what happened. I can see why though since he really did mess up here. There is a twist about this though so it’s not 100% his fault. He really just needed more confidence in general.

As I mentioned the animation is definitely pretty good here. The character models are on point and in general this style just makes every pony feel a lot more authentic. This style just fills out the characters a lot better than the old flash style could. Meanwhile we do get a big song at the end which is good. I wouldn’t say that it’s one of the strongest songs in MLP or anything like that but it’s always good to have a song regardless.

There isn’t much to say about the special in general because the whole thing is pretty straight forward, but it’s good at what it does. The writing is on point so even if the whole situation seems rather mild it makes for a pretty interesting special. You’ll definitely be on board right away and there’s no part of the special that drags on which is always important. It’s just a fun experience even if it may not leave much of an impression after you’ve finished it.

Overall, Rainbow Roadtrip is definitely a special that I would recommend to all big MLP fans. It definitely feels like one of the old episodes where you didn’t have to worry about supporting characters so the original 6 get all of the screen time. As good as the supporting characters are, it’s always good to be able to focus on the originals once in a while. There’s nothing to really dislike about the special and I hope to see more like this one in the future.

Overall 7/10