Smokey and the Bandit II Review

Now it’s time for the big sequel. Smokey and the Bandit II retreads a lot of ground from the first film but tends to do it in a weaker way on all fronts. Right off the bat I can say that this is still a good movie but it’s a step below the first. In no way does it surpass the original and that’s a shame because a sequel should always strive to do better…to be better! This one doesn’t quite accomplish that in the end.

The story starts with Snowman being recruited once again to help with some smuggling. He’s forced to call in his pal Bandit, but the guy has let himself go ever since Frog broke up with him. He’s gained a ton of weight and just doesn’t have any energy anymore so Snowman calls her back in too which causes her to walk out on her wedding to Junior. Once again that sets off Smokey who decides to take Bandit down. Frog and Bandit will have to put aside their personal feelings to get the job done as there is a lot of money at stake here. Will they be able to pull it off or is this game over?

Right off the bat it’s a rather odd decision to have Frog and Bandit be broken up only to reunite them right away as she runs out of the wedding. Immediately you know how the film is going to spin this but now the romance works even less than it did the first time. Bandit now knows that she was absolutely going to marry someone else just a few minutes ago so how much does she actually love him? Then she reveals that he was cheating on her even while they were together which makes sense with how he is acting all the time. They have so much dirt on each other that the romance can’t possibly start up again and yet it does. This is a complete rebound which is a bad idea.

In general the script isn’t quite as tight this time either. The characters are a bit more exaggerated this time. For example Smokey is now shown as being completely incompetent. He’s scared of other truck drivers and no longer intimidates anyone. While he would usually watch the other cops crash and burn in the first film, he’s the one crashing in this one. It’s just way too much of a role reversal the whole time. The film is trying to have him be the funny character without building up his talents without it. It completely missed the point of the original which is a shame.

Smokey is still fun of course but he’s just not nearly as imposing or effective. The characters don’t fear him at all and that’s a shame because it’s part of what made him such a good character. Instead the gag of him constantly insulting Junior is played up even more here and Junior is even less intelligent than usual. You can’t see how Frog was even close to marrying him unless he is just really rich or something. That wouldn’t be a good look for Frog regardless.

As for Bandit, man he has really fallen off since the first film. He’s not the big leader that he used to be now as he got all depressed so quickly. It takes a lot for him to finally get back in shape and ready for action. Then even after that he seems a little more petty than usual like how he blows up at someone for not being a big fan of his. You just didn’t think that something like that would bother him nearly as much as it does. Bandit wasn’t out for the fame, but the thrill of the hunt right?

Snowman also doesn’t get to do a whole lot even though he’s the lead. It’s a little hard to even say what his personality is here. I guess he’s just a nice guy who is ready for some action but for the most part he’s going through the motions. Now you may be wondering at this point, how is this still a good movie? Well, to a large part I’m comparing it to the first movie a lot and of course it doesn’t compare favorably but if you look at the movie on its own then it’s still good.

For one thing, the soundtrack is still solid here. Smokey still has his big moments with his iconic theme song playing. That’s always fun to hear and the chase scenes are still good. They may not be as dynamic as the first film’s but they’re good enough. The comedy is still solid even if less of the jokes land. I feel like the film was also trying to be more family friendly which explains why the humor was a lot goofier. Not sure if that was the intent but that makes sense to me at least.

The movie still has good pacing and you won’t get bored. The slowest part has to be the opening as you just want Bandit to be ready for action already. Once he is then the race is on. The film doesn’t focus as much on the dangers of smuggling this time as it’s all easy for the leads now but I guess in the back of your mind you can assume that it’s still a tough bet for them. I think we should have gotten to see more of the big race for governor since the petty squabbles there had some potential. Unfortunately that pretty much vanishes after the opening scene instead of being a whole big deal.

While the movie doesn’t excel, I also wouldn’t say it has any seriously bad points. Reusing so many plots from the original is certainly something that it shouldn’t be doing but that is what limits it from being better as opposed to striking it down. Ultimately I would recommend checking this film out to anyone who likes a good comedy. In a way it might work better to start with this one and then go back so you end with the higher note and then treat it like a prequel.

Overall, Smokey and the Bandit II didn’t really know what it wanted to do. The film was less focused and borrowed a lot from the original. Still, it wasn’t bad and I would say it worked well enough on its own merits. It may have less replay value than the first but you’ll still have a good time here. Expect to have less laughs but you’ll be engaged all the way through. We’ll see how the third film is able to compete with the first two, or even if it can compete with them at all. It may end up just being a sound loss for the movie but hopefully it can surpass its limits and even be the best one.

Overall 6/10

Smokey and the Bandit Review

Now this is one of those films that has a classic feel to it. It’s all aged well from the humor to the plot itself. It may be fairly basic but the execution is on point and it doesn’t drag on. This is a good example of a solid all around comedy movie with memorable characters and music choices. Definitely a solid flick that you can check out at any time.

The movie starts with a trucker getting pulled over for trying to smuggle beer across state lines. This is a rather serious offense and it’s been going on for quite a while now as two guys in particular are really trying to make this happen for their big celebration coming up. Finally the rich duo are forced to ask for the help of Bandit, the most notorious truck driver in town. Everybody loves this guy, he’s effectively a local hero. Bandit agrees to help once the price is driven up enough. He contacts his friend Snowman who decides to bring his dog along. They must now get ready to drive an extremely long distance to get these beers what feels like halfway across the country in 48 hours.

There are two hitches to the initial plan though. One is that Bandit meets up with a girl who they later give the handle Frog, who has just ran off from her wedding. At the last second she decided to call it off and will be hitching a ride for now. Due to that there is a second hitch in that they’ve attracted the attention of Smokey, a very influential sheriff from Texas. His son Junior is the one who was going to marry Frog so the guy is extremely steamed and will get even more upset once he finds out what they are up to. This guy will do whatever it takes to stop them, even if it means tangling with other state law enforcement agencies. Can Bandit really pull this one off?

There’s a lot to like about this movie. The simple set up of a car chase across various state lines is really solid because then you have time to try and make the chase memorable. The movie pulls this off with its solid character cast which is rather small but as a result they all have strong character personalities at all times which can lead to a lot of good dialogue. The script here is consistently solid with all of the dynamics.

Bandit and Smokey have a very antagonistic relationship going here as Bandit will always talk very sarcastically or throw out plain insults while Smokey is yelling the whole time. Bandit and Frog also have a lot of good banter going on the whole time as they hurl insults. Now you know this will eventually turn into a romance so you will probably shake your head at that, but before that point there’s a lot of good dialogue going around. I’d say the same is true of all the characters, you’ll have a lot of fun here with how quickly they throw out all the lines.

Bandit is a very entertaining main character. He’s up for any challenge and always knows how to lose the cops. He may not be a hero as the guy is illegally smuggling and it sounds like this isn’t the first time, but at least his crimes are not violent ones. He’s not attacking anyone or anything like that, which doesn’t suddenly make him a hero or anything but he has his own honor code. I don’t see any romance with him lasting for long though as he likes to flirt with everyone and doesn’t seem like a very loyal guy. He just goes where the wind takes him.

Then you have Frog who is a rather fiery character as well. She goes with her gut even if her instincts kick in halfway down the wedding aisle. Frog can keep up with the fast paced banter as well as everyone else and takes everything in stride. That’s part of what makes the dynamic with her and Bandit work. She’s not out of her element at all and is just a very grounded character. Frog even gets to drive the car herself at times.

Snowman is a solid partner to Bandit. He plays the part of the more reasonable member who isn’t necessarily jumping on these challenges but won’t back away from it. His dog was a nice member of the crew as well. Part of what makes the scheme Snowman and Bandit are running have a much better shot of working than all the other truck drivers is because there are two of them. Basically the set up is that Bandit drives ahead in the car and if he sees any cops then he will lure them away as Snowman goes through in the big truck. Likewise if Snowman sees them then he can give Bandit a heads up. It’s not a full proof system or anything but it’s better than going it alone.

A lot of the time the heroes end up getting bailed out by their friends though. Bandit has a ton of fans on the airways so you constantly have people intentionally getting in Smokey’s way and helping out. Without them the main characters would have lost a lot of times. You can see why Smokey gets so heated because everything seems to be against him. What he doesn’t realize is…everyone is against him!

Smokey is a very entertaining character and definitely one of the highlights here. Part of what makes him really work is how exaggerated he is. The guy is extremely full of himself and believes that he represents the law 100%. Nobody else can get any say here because he knows that he’s always right. I respect his determination at least. You can tell that he’s someone who takes advantage of his power and gets set off too quickly but that’s what makes him such an intense antagonist. You may even find yourself rooting for him at times.

He sure takes a lot of shots at his son Junior though. Junior isn’t very smart and seems to lose intelligence the more he appears but at least he means well. Things just never work out for him and so he digs a hole for himself that’s deeper and deeper with each line. Sometimes the best thing to do is to not say anything at all and that’s what he will have to try and learn at some point.

As I mentioned earlier, the soundtrack here is solid. Smokey has his own theme which is always good. It definitely lets you know that something’s about to go down. What this film also got right was having Smokey still be a competent officer. We see that he does better than the other cops and is also intense enough where the teen delinquents fear him. This is a hard but important thing to balance. If Smokey was totally comic relief then the whole dynamic wouldn’t work as well because you need that fear to show how good Bandit is. It’s only impressive to see Bandit beating Smokey because we know that nobody’s ever bested him before.

The only weak part here is the obligatory romance and the film doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on it. You can just tell that it’s here because it has to be when Frog and Bandit’s banter was much better as reluctant allies. Once you go the romance route then you can’t really recapture that and so the film loses out on a lot of potential for the sequels and for the final act of the movie. Changing the dynamic like that is always risky and it didn’t pay off here.

Overall, Smokey and the Bandit is a very fun film. It’s got a lot of really solid dialogue moments which is important for a film like this and the humor is really good. It’s a very balanced movie from start to finish which is important. It never drags on and you’ll have a solid time with a very satisfying ending. So there’s no point in the movie where it loses steam and that means I can easily recommend this to just about anyone.

Overall 7/10

Breath of Fire Review

The Breath of Fire video game was a lot of fun so it was time to see how the manga would fare. Adapting a complete RPG in only 6 chapters is definitely quite the task. I’d say the manga did a good job but of course for obvious reasons it does cut a whole lot out. Things tend to move quickly here, particularly the climax which has to go at lightning speeds. Some of the villain generals also don’t get to appear here. For example you’re not going to see Goda here unless he had some kind of wordless cameo. Even in the game these guys didn’t appear much until the end though so it’s not too surprising.

The manga starts off with a ton of lore and the cliff notes version is that the world was once inhabited by a bunch of dragon clans. One day the Dark Dragons decided to go and murder everybody for some reason. The White Dragons were the only ones that could have stopped them but unfortunately they decided to become complete pacifists so they just watched as everyone got slaughtered instead. I’d be steamed if I was anyone living in that world tbh. Well, eventually the dark dragons got to the final survivors and nearly murdered them too but Ryu’s sister Sara made a deal to keep it as a 1 on 1 fight. She sacrificed herself so that Ryu could live.

Fast forward a few years and Ryu has made it his life’s goal to destroy all of the dark dragons. This will not be easy but he’s ready for this. Inn the meantime he also comes across other characters who have had their lives ruined by the dark dragons as well. The heroes will have to move quickly though or there won’t be a world left to save. They are also heavily outnumbered and so the heroes have to make sure that their plans are completely on point.

This feels like a very classic action adventure story. You’ve seen the characters and this kind of adventure before. It’s not trying to be super ambitious or anything like that and is just trying to tell a good story. It works well at doing this and if you like fantasy adventures then you will definitely have a good time with this one. Ryu makes for a solid main character. He’s your classic heroic kid who has a personal grudge against the villains. As the series goes on he learns that rage isn’t the way and that he must fight for justice instead.

Ryu never backs away from a challenge and will defend his friends to the end. He jumps right into action whenever there is danger and so I definitely don’t have any issues with him. I thought he handled all of the situations really well. Then you have the main heroine Nina who is rather retro in how she’s always beating up on poor Ryu. She can’t fight super well or anything but she does have healing abilities which come in handy. What Nina lacks is self confidence as she is easily set off by the sorceress Deis with rather light teasing. Nina needs to stay strong so she doesn’t cause any trouble.

Danc gets a fairly important role here as he has a tragic sob story as well and is ready to help out. The kid can’t really fight but helps give a motivational speech as one point. I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of his but he’s not bad. If you want a bad character, Manillo fits that bill. They try to play him off like a decent guy by the end but I wasn’t buying it. He wouldn’t let the heroes get a boat so they could go save the world because he wanted extra money. His offers to them were pretty bad on the kinds of other tasks they could do to raise money. I don’t see how any of the characters were cool with him after that. They should have just knocked the guy around instead.

Builder gets his moment to shine as well. Things started out rather rough for him but the heroes helped him regain his confidence and make a comeback. Ultimately he got a happy ending which was nice, things almost got pretty dark for him there. Gillian also has his own chapter and that’s probably one of the perks of being an early character. I feel like you get more time to shine since you’re also around in the background for the rest. He’s a good character and helps everyone stay calm.

Mogu is an example of a character who came in too late. By the time he appears the series is pretty much over so there’s not much for him to do. He is a nice enough character who wants to help out but you don’t really feel like he can fight as well as he may think that he can. Deis is the final member to join the group and she’s a fun character like in the game. Her abilities are actually really good so she can help Ryu on the front lines unlike the others. Her spells have a lot of versatility to them and you can count on her help in any circumstance. She does enjoy teasing Nina for sure but you can say that it’s to help make Nina stronger. Deis has quite the strong personality and definitely helped to enhance the overall team dynamics.

As for the villains, most of them didn’t really make the cut here so the roster is rather small. You have Zorgon who thought he was the leader but he is manipulated from start to finish and never actually gets to look all that good. In the end this guy was really all talk and his role is so small that you may chuckle at the end. Judas is definitely the standout villain. He makes his presence known at all times and is incredibly powerful. He lands a lot of super big blows to the heroes and is relevant for the whole series. He gets more to do than I would have even expected and it makes for a great character arc.

Naturally Ryu’s sister Sara is also really solid. She’s determined and has a lot of power just like he does. She never backs down and doesn’t end up playing second fiddle. Sara just goes in and keeps on fighting all the way through to the end. She gets one of the most emotional moments in the manga. Finally you have Myria who is really the big bad here. The destroyer of the universe and she has other cool titles like that. She can fight and has kept up with the power creep over times.

While her goals may not be much more than total destruction, she does a good job of setting this into motion. Myria is strong and I liked her well enough as a villain. She may not stand out in terms of personality but her abilities are the real deal. This is where I would have liked another chapter or two though because the final fight ends up being a little rushed due to the length. In the span of 10 pages the heroes have to try and land their first blow on her and then the series ends. Not a lot of time for a real fight considering how powerful she was right?

The artwork is nice and retro. This looks like a very old time manga and it does adapt the video game designs well. At times the action can be a little hard to follow along so I think the manga could have been clearer there. It’s still good but it’s what keeps the good art from being very good. This would lose to a lot of modern titles for example but it’s solid enough where I wouldn’t call it bad. You’ll be able to blast through the chapters either way. The series has a little fanservice like with the obligatory river washing and Deis messing with Ryu but for the most part there’s not much here. It feels more like the series was ticking off a box than they were trying to add a lot of this. I’d argue that’s a box you don’t need to tick off since the scenes don’t add anything but they’re minor enough where they don’t bring the series down.

The story has good vibes to it and stays upbeat for the most part. There are a lot of tragedies as each character has a sob story but there is no time to really dwell on it. Even the characters are quickly back to having fun as they travel the distance. I’d say the manga does a good job of showing just what an adventure would feel like and how the characters adapt to it. It’s fairly low key even with the world at stake which helps on the retro feel.

I still say that the manga should have been longer but ultimately that’s not something that would shave a star off of the final product. It just means that this will probably encourage you to play the video game to really get the full experience. That’s my recommendation here as well, if you like the manga then definitely play the game. You get the bullet points here and all of the big story moments but it’s just not the same compared to a 20-30 hour experience on the game version. You get more time for the twists and character development there.

Overall, Breath of Fire is a solid title. It’s a very quick read at only 6 chapters long. It’s ultimately 2 volumes long as a result but they would feel like fairly short volumes to me. At least you could also say this speaks to the quality of the series as you will have no problem binging it all the way through. It’s what I’d consider to be a fairly safe pick. It’s not really going for any outlandish twists or bold story choices. This is a traditional adventure with fun characters and really plays out exactly how you would expect it to. So it’s a fun story that should appeal to most without trying to test the waters. I’ll be checking out the Breath of Fire 2 adaption soon and we’ll see how that one stacks up. I’d say I’ve got pretty good hopes on that one as well. Should be a solid adventure too.

Overall 7/10

Fairy Tail: Happy’s Heroic Adventure Review

Fairy Tail is one of those franchises that is very interesting because it has extremely high highs but suffers from never ending fanservice that always drops it way down. This spinoff is no different. Well, I wouldn’t say the highs are that amazing but in a lot of ways it looks rather solid. The fights are great, the art is top notch, and the story is interesting. Towards the end it starts to sputter a bit but it’s never able to truly achieve greatness because the fanservice sticks around. Yes, even without Lucy and the gang this keeps up for the animals…ah well Fairy Tail will be Fairy Tail I suppose.

The series starts with Happy being warped away from his normal world over to animal village. He’s not exactly sure why this happened or how but now they are saying he is the hero of legend who is here to save them all. Happy is more interested in going home but the only way to do that is to perform a lot of good deeds. This will fill up the smile heart that he has to wear and once it is filled up, then a miracle will occur which will take him home. Sounds easy enough right?

Happy is a nice guy for the most part even if he’s not super heroic. So for example if he sees a crime in front of him then he’ll definitely jump in. Happy isn’t about to let something like that slide. At the same time he still just wants to go home above all else so it’s not like he’ll stay to fulfill the prophecy first if he has a choice. Ultimately Happy doesn’t really have a say in the matter though as completing all of the tasks will take a while. There is a lot to do in this world that’s for sure.

The pre arc introduces us to some of the characters in the village and Happy starts to win over everyone’s trust. It isn’t particularly difficult since he is able to fly and is physically strong enough to help everyone out. I wouldn’t say that he is the strongest character around but he can hold his own with the heavyweights since the characters aren’t all that powerful here. The introduction is sound and all as we gear up for the first big arc.

At first you may have expected this to be more of an adventure title without a whole lot of action but that quickly changes as the series goes on. It transitions into a complete action story which I thought was an excellent move. You get dynamic fights with a lot of characters who have different skillsets. The art is top notch as I mentioned earlier and the story is sound. The chapters really breeze through too so you can definitely fast blast through the series.

On the negative side, yes the fanservice is as bad as you would expect. It’s crazy how even with no human characters in the series for most of the arcs, the series still manages to include a lot of fanservice like this. You have one character constantly flirting with Happy and while he doesn’t react to it at all, it still gets crammed into the series a whole lot. If you take this away then the series would be a lot better without a doubt.

The final arc involving time travel also gets a little dark. Keep in mind that these are all animals running around here. They are evolved versions that can talk and walk so they get a bit more humanoid but we find out about a farm that basically forces the animals to fight and get slaughtered in vicious war games. It’s possible that they all survive since Fairy Tail tends to spare them at the end but they certainly go through quite the ordeal and it’s hard to say if they actually did make it completely intact. I think for a series like Happy this felt rather out of place. You even had characters pretending not to know about it and while they were threatened, it’s awful that they didn’t try harder to stop this whole project. Ultimately this ended up being the weakest arc.

Lets jump into the first arc now though. We are introduced to a group of animals from Wild Town led by Chee who want to rule the village. They don’t believe in friendship and operate in a might makes right kind of mindset. Happy’s group of fighters will have to try and show them the error of their ways but it won’t be easy at all. This was a solid arc with a lot of fights and a really solid villain in Chee. It was the first point where the series really felt like a Shonen title with a lot of good battles. I would even say this was the best arc in the series.

Chee is an emotional villain who has a tough exterior but the whole time you know he’s going to have a big backstory. The fact that he is constantly emitting a poisonous aura that he can’t really control shows just how tough he would have had it. Not being able to approach anyone is hard to deal with no matter how you slice it. Chee ends up becoming a solid supporting character afterwards and someone that Happy can rely on. It’s always good having allies who can really fight.

Then we have Rhino who is one of the more petty villains. Sure, he eventually sees the light but I felt like he went a lot farther than Chee the whole time so it was a bit harder to get on board with his turnaround. The guy was just willing to go so far to claim his win and help the villains that I ended up already not liking him. It’s not bad to really go all out as a villain but you typically need some kind of master plan or honor code. There just wasn’t anything that I found really cool about this guy.

Tigre was a much better character and like Chee she would really get to help out in future fights. Her speed is excellent in combat and she has a lot of confidence. If anything I thought she should have been able to defeat her opponent Eleph but it was a close fight either way so that works out well enough. The villain group as a whole was rather impressive which really helped you take them seriously as a threat in this arc.

I should go back and talk about some of the heroes now though. I already talked about Happy for a bit so we can get past him. Long story short, he’s a good main character and surprisingly a lot better than in the main Fairy Tail series where he could be a bit iffy at times. Ururu is a reoccurring character and one of the main heroines in a way. Happy helps her out when she’s sick and she looks up to him as the legendary hero. Ultimately her role isn’t particularly big since she’s very young and can’t fight so she represents the emotional part of the village. Hamta is in the same boat here as he’s a little hamster kid who looks up to Happy but can’t really fight. He has his big moment where he stays back to fight the villains but that’s really it.

Captain Bull is the police chief who means well but tends to scare Happy a lot. He’s a nice guy though and while he isn’t very strong, he does stand up for what’s right and tends to always show up in the climaxes. Bull just can’t keep up with the power creep. There’s the elder Tortoise and while I would say he’s a non character for most of the series, he suddenly gets a big role near the end. I can’t say I liked him though. To me he makes all of the wrong decisions both in the past and the present. I wouldn’t want him as the leader of my village.

Now we get to Luna who is the real main heroine in a lot of ways. My issue with her aside from being the main fanservice character here is that most of her character is about flirting. She has a tragic backstory and can fight but those elements always fall to the background for her. I think there is a decent character somewhere here but I don’t think she was handled all that well in the series.

Dori Dorin is another character running around who was a villain and then helps out the heroes. That’s a running theme in Fairy Tail as most characters can ultimately be redeemed so long as they are fought with healthy amounts of friendship. He doesn’t leave as much of an impact as the other characters though because he doesn’t fight much once he turns good. One character who was good from the start was Eleph who is a powerful warrior. You can probably tell from the name what kind of creature he is. Eleph is good and even gets a power up before the series finishes.

As someone who was loyal from the start I definitely have to give him extra credit here. Agi was another good fighter here who was always ready to rumble. He had some good combos with Happy and was a great addition to the hero army. He tends to create a lot of misunderstandings with the roundabout way he talks but ultimately he does mean well.

One more villain from the arc was Moppity but I didn’t like him at all. He’s the pervy character of the series and that’s all that you need to know about him. He was completely doomed from the start and whenever the manga tries to make him sympathetic or something it just doesn’t work out. It’s just not going to happen, there’s no way I’m going to buy into that. He just needs to try being a better person and since that’s not going to happen, he was never going to rise up.

There’s a mini arc where Happy shows up to help a girl named Kai against some robots but then we get to the next big arc. Happy is captured by Leon who rules the holy kingdom and is sentenced to death as the devil who will bring ruin to the world. Even Happy’s friends begin to doubt him so this will be a true test of loyalty. Naturally Leon has a powerful group of fighters at the ready for him so we get a lot of action here. I do have to say that I don’t see why anyone had doubts about Happy though. By this point in the series he had already saved them so many times. Even if the prophecies were turned around, you have to believe in your friends right?

It’s not like this kingdom is all that trustworthy either. They showed up and were acting real aggressive right from the jump. At least once the heroes focus up then they are ready for the big battles. Leon himself works well as the big boss. He talks tough and wants true power. It may be a little straight forward but he had more charisma than Rhino. The guy didn’t even need a big backstory here, just the ability to run in and take names. He gets a cool final form and really gives Happy and the other heroes a lot of work in trying to take him down.

One of his big three advisors is Shieshiemon who is really impressive as a villain. The guy is able to fight numerous opponents at once with how his hair can stretch out and even by the end of the arc he looks like he can fight a lot more. The guy was rather naïve in being quick to believe Leon but his fighting abilities can’t be doubted. I thought he was rather solid as a result. Shadow is another good villain who ends up getting some emotional moments. His role isn’t huge or anything but he does a good job with what he’s given.

Needles and Maru are also decent villains but they got more of the shaft compared to the other villains. They have good designs and potential but their fights are over in a flash. Happy means a little animal named Bakkun but he has that annoying gimmick where his nose is always running and he talks like a baby with how he can’t pronounce some of the words. He can read minds to an extent which is handy but the kid’s not too subtle which leads to him being captured. He’s a kid so you can’t expect him to be an expert but I didn’t think he was all that good here.

Finally we enter the final arc where Happy gets to find out the true reason why he is here and goes through his last trial. This arc involves time travel which is always fun and there are a lot of twists here. It is still my least favorite arc but we do get more fights. So Happy heads over to the tower now that he has the hearts and it sends him 1000 years into the past where he gets to meet Marice and the ancestors of all his friends. It turns out that a villain named General Star wants to use her powers for himself so of course that’s something that Happy can’t allow.

One of the big issues with this arc is the ending. Oh man, this is the kind of ending you never want to see because it effectively voids the entire series. It’s not a dream so everything still happened but the ending is the classic copout you do for spinoffs to ensure that it is never mentioned or brought up in the main line. It’s the ultimately copout for me and just hurts the arc. If you ask me they should have played it straight and you could easily handwave questions about why Happy never brought up this place in the main series. He just chose not to, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Then as I mentioned way earlier, the arc just randomly gets to be more on the darker side here. Star ends up torturing a bunch of the animals and even the kid Marice for her power. Everyone is too shellshocked and nervous to do anything about it either. So what you have is a cast that doesn’t look very good here as they overlook Star’s actions. Blackmail can buy some time for the villain for sure, but I’d expect the heroes to have thought of some way to stop him eventually. Instead it felt like they hadn’t done anything on their end.

Ah well, we do get some fights but then there’s also a whole new group of villains that show up when there are only around 5-7 chapters left in the series. Needless to say, they don’t last very long. I liked their designs and everything but there isn’t enough time to really like them. Their names are Cyclops, Unicorn, and Griffin. They are robotic fighters who are super powerful and get a lot of hype. Technically they would have really won and done a whole lot of damage if not for the heroes getting major buffs at the end. Take that away and it would have really been game over.

The 3 were all cool, I just probably won’t remember them after a while. General Star is the only villain with a really big role here and he’s a tough villain but not really my kind of antagonist. For starters he probably could have had a winning strategy if he was nice to Marice instead of tricking her. She would have listened to him if he wanted to use some power since she doesn’t know much about the world. Why not just have her help you like that instead of going through all the trouble of having a conspiracy and all of these different plans? Star ends up overcomplicating the issue which costs him in the end.

Dr Magicana is a lot more reasonable. He’s still not perfect as he’s one of many characters who just overlooks what Star is doing the whole time but at least this guy isn’t quite as insane. You can at least count on him to try and think of some idea to help Marice. Better to help a little than to not do anything right? It’s a start at least and he’s a decent doctor kind of character. He’s just not much of a fighter.

Marice gets to have a big role here. The whole arc is definitely tough on her since she’s a little kid and yet she has to deal with a whole rebellion going on and a would be world conqueror. She grew up in a small area and doesn’t really know anything about the world either so it’s easy to manipulate her. Ultimately she is manipulated for almost the whole saga and tends to go wild so she didn’t end up being very high.

Finally, you have the 3 hearts who were actual characters in the past. It was nice to see them try to help out but I was glad that Happy beat them in the competition. He’s the true hero after all so he’s not about to lose to these guys like that. It’s just not happening. I should mention that this arc throws in some DBZ homages like the introduction to power levels and one character’s power level going over 10,000. It was a small thing but it’s always cool when DBZ is brought into the fray like this.

Overall, That wraps up the Happy adventure. Happy was a surprisingly solid lead so that worked out and the action was good. If you cut out the fanservice then I dare say this would be a pretty good manga but ultimately that held it back just enough to keep this one from breaking even. There’s less time for it at the end of the series but man is it heavy at first. One day Fairy Tail will be able to resist the whole time and that’ll be a great day. I mean I know some of the shorter ones can be fine at times but I’m talking about a decently long adventure like this. I want Fairy Tail to reach its full potential and this is the best way. Of course I’d like to see the actual members appear next time. Happy is cool for the novelty and all but ultimately you want Natsu and the gang to show up and get their action.

Overall 4/10

Dr. Stone Review

Now it’s time to review Dr. Stone, a manga that ended a while back but I hadn’t gotten around to reviewing it yet. It was pretty nice to see this title get successful. It’s fairly outside of the box with the premise and is going for a different feel than the average Jump title. Yes, I still tend to lean towards the fully action packed ones myself but it’s never bad to have a change of pace title. My thoughts are, if a series is good then no matter the genre I want it to go on for as long as possible. That includes everything that’s a 7 or up, for a 6 I suppose so but I’m less invested. Either way this title ends up being above both scores.

The series starts off by introducing us to Senku who is a brilliant worker who isn’t very emotional. In contrast his friend Taiju is always acting very emotionally as he runs off to make confessions and do his thing. Well, one day the Earth is blasted with a powerful ray that turns everyone to stone. All of the characters slumber for thousands of years until Senku finally wakes up due to his incredible mental fortitude. He must now bring humanity back from the Stone Age and find out what happened here. Will he be able to pull this off or is humanity already completely doomed?

Now that’s a very early plot summary of course but no worries I’m going to be diving into the arcs in a minute. Right off the bat I can say that part of what makes the science work is how some of it is actually possible. As the series goes on some parts may be a little tricky or stretch disbelief a bit. I suspect it’s because the manga needed to be wrapped up so things were going fast, but especially in the first half the attention to detail is really great. I even put the series to the test. Yes that’s right, I decided to find out if this was actually real and so I made the Senku Cola.

To this day that was a very memorable moment for me and I had a blast with it. The drink actually did taste really good too and that’s when I really gained respect for the series. The author clearly did his homework and so then you get extra enjoyment out of seeing how it goes since you could make some of the other stuff yourself. I was mildly tempted for the homemade ramen but to me the Cola looked the best either way.

There are some fights here but I do want to stress that the series is more about the journey. Seeing how the characters overcome all of their hurdles without the benefit of high powered technology. I’d say the series does well with that throughout. The characters are fun and it’s just a solid series through and through. I’ll list some issues I had with it down the line but for now lets focus on the main aspects that really worked aside from the science.

One big thing is that the artwork is really solid. This artist really knows how to add a whole lot of extra detail here. It makes for a solid read when you want to really narrow in on a page or set of pages. The backgrounds hold up to the extra scrutiny and the character designs are on point as well. The clashes we get during the fights are also solid. On the flip side, you will rarely see a prolonged fight for that reason as the art style is better suited to powerful stills than a lot of choreography. You will see the rare extended fight but not very often. It does show glimpses of the author being able to draw a long fight if he wanted too though. I think if he made that a focus then it would be done well, this just wasn’t the series for it.

I also give the author credit for having Senku get everyone up to speed so quickly. I do not like stories about cavemen and such. Never have and this series could have easily gone in that way but fortunately with his tech, Senku keeps things civilized right from the jump. Definitely a really good move and even the people who grew up in the village can speak English normally and aren’t just being super quirky the whole time. Characters do have their quirks of course but not the cavemen type.

There are also some solid philosophical debates here with the villains having very different reactions to a world of stone. In a way this is a chance for humanity to reset so some characters like the heroes want to make everything normal again while others want to radically change the world. It never gets into a very gray area as you don’t doubt Senku and the crew but at least the villains do have some solid thought processes behind their actions which makes most of them rather solid. I do think it’s important to have good villains to balance out with the heroes whenever possible.

Now for my main issue, it would be that the final part of the series moves at such breakneck speed that you feel like it misses some opportunities and also that some parts are impossible even for their mastery of science. Building multiple rockets in a super short span of time? We needed some more time skips there. The whole final twist? It wasn’t super satisfying, now there were a lot of theories for this and I liked the future Senku one the most but what we got just didn’t lead to any real big moments. If you do go with this angle for the reason as to why the Earth got turned to stone, then you need to take it further and have a follow up arc. Finally, there’s a moment where we nearly got another huge timeskip of many, many years that ended up being a fake-out. That said, I wasn’t particularly torn up about it since it would have been about a character that I wasn’t a huge fan of. I think it would have been interesting of course but I wouldn’t call that one a bad thing.

Now that we’ve talked about the series on a large scale, lets dial it back and talk about the sagas. First up is the pre arc which involves Senku and his childhood friends being split up so they go with Tsukasa as spies while Senku heads over to Ishigami village to recruit some troops and get started on his transformation into a world of science. This was a good way to introduce a lot of characters and it’s a fun pre arc. Senku gets to show how he fights with science and it was also a really solid way to introduce Tsukasa as a true threat. I definitely would have removed the whole him fighting an animal part though as he already know that he’s tough. No need to stress the point.

As a main character Senku is definitely solid. He’s not going to be joining the top ranks of protagonists anytime soon but he gets the job done and always has a plan. His lack of emotions help him in a lot of ways since he doesn’t panic easily. I like his confident demeanor and he just doesn’t make mistakes. Senku’s a very well rounded character who even learns to lighten up a bit by the end and has some emotional moments like with Tsukasa. He may not change a ton but he doesn’t need to, he was already equipped with good skills from the start.

Then you have Taiju who was also solid. The guy doesn’t get to appear or do as much as you might expect but he’s always a good friend. He did well in standing up to Tsukasa initially and can always be counted on. My main problem with him is that he takes being a pacifist way too far at times. You should absolutely still be able to punch someone in self defense or to protect a friend. He takes his ideals a little too far at the expense of the safety of his crew. Fortunately he is rarely put in a position like that but it is a slight mark against him.

Yuzuriha was sort of the main heroine for about a volume before vanishing and she’s another good character. Like Taiju she ended up vanishing early but made the most of her screentime. She’s a nice person who wants to help out. Ultimately she didn’t get a lot more character than that but she is around so you’re not going to forget her or anything like that. She helps out as needed.

Tsukasa is the first villain to show up and right away I liked the guy. So his goal is very simple, he figures that grown ups are the reason for all of the strife and corruption in the world so he wants to spare only the children and remove everyone else. That means he’ll go around busting up all of the adult statues and then he’ll revive the youth to take over the world. It’s a pretty interesting way to rebuild the planet but you can argue that it just delays the inevitable as they will be adults someday. If humanity is just that corrupt then this strategy won’t work.

His only chance is if he can raise the next generation personally so that they don’t end up twisted but it seems hard to stop that if the adults are that bad. It’s an interesting idea though and why not try to make the world a better place instead of resetting it to how things always were right? It’s just that his methods involve murder which destroys his chances of having a good discussion about it. What would have been interesting is if he decided to instead keep them as stone and made a case to Senku that they shouldn’t revive them yet as they think about what to do. I want to say Senku may have at least heard him out for a while even if ultimately I don’t see them coming to terms on this.

Tsukasa can fight and lead really well though so he was the perfect character to put in as the first major villain. He really has a lot of presence in the story and he’s so powerful that even great plans can end up crumbling in front of him. That’s what it means to wield great power. Back to the village characters though, we get a mini boss in Magma. Eh, the guy never interested me much though. He’s the kind of villain who is fighting for the girl and is super petty all around. Not much to cheer on in that case and he ends up lagging behind.

Kohaku is the character who really takes over the main heroine spot and I enjoyed her character as soon as she went up against Tsukasa in the forest. She had no fear as she charged in and while she ultimately didn’t prove to be a match for him, I respected the courage there. Kohaku was absolutely not going to back down and that’s the right approach here. Always try to go for the win and don’t back down. It’s the best way to go about this. Throughout the series she is really handy whether it be for scouting missions or helping with the inventions. Her excellent eye sight and hand-eye coordination really come in handy.

From all of the village characters she is certainly the best one. Chrome is another villager and his thing is that he’s a scientific mastermind like Senku. Of course he doesn’t have the benefit of formal education like what Senku has but in a way that makes it more impressive that he’s able to keep up. He’s not really my kind of character though. He’s helpful in a pinch but the whole time you just feel like he’s a weaker version of Senku so he doesn’t get to make as much of an impact. He contributes a lot but he just can’t catch up to Senku even if he does mean well.

Finally you have Suika and she is just too young for this. There’s only so much that you can do as a kid and while her watermelon crawl is handy and all…she just never ended up being all that interesting. Kids often just get in the way in Jump titles and while she wasn’t panicking or being taken hostage a lot, I would put her as one of the weakest villagers. She definitely needed to be a little older to really help out.

The village has a high ranking member in Ruri who is good for the info dumps, but she doesn’t ultimately get to do much. Once she is cured from her disease she just sort of fades into the background. She isn’t a fighter so that was probably inevitable though. Someone had to give out the news right? So at least she had that job but ultimately her sister Kohaku ended up being a lot more fun.

Kinro and Ginro are two supporting characters in the village but I never ended up being a big fan of either of them. For Kinro, he is technically a good fighter and he tries to be strict, but often times it’s hard to take him seriously. I feel like he needed to be a little stronger to have really had an effect like that. Meanwhile Ginro is the comic relief character who is scared of everything. Unfortunately he never gets to be endearing so instead he just ends up being annoying the whole time. If I had to pick a comic relief character who was better then I’d go with Kaseki. He really just has one gag that is used on repeat with his whole turning buff thing but at least it’s not a super annoying gimmick or anything like that. I’m not a big fan of the guy but he’s not really around much anyway.

Okay now it’s time for the first big arc of the series which is the famous Stone Wars. Tsukasa and his group make their move so Senku and friends are forced to respond in kind. It’s a great way for the heroes and villains to finally meet up after all of the build up. It certainly lived up to it too with the best climax out of all the arcs. To date this fight has not been passed in the series. It was a great way to wrap up all of the character arcs and aside from the whole finding out why everyone was turned to stone thing, would have even worked as the series ending. It was a lot of fun all the way through and the arc really blasted through at a quick speed. It never dragged on and the whole thing had a very fast paced feel to it.

We got to meet more of the troops during the war as well. First up is Hyoga who is certainly very ambitious and a talented fighter. Next to Tsukasa he was likely the strongest one here and really looked impressive. He makes for a fun villain and while he’s nowhere close to Tsukasa, I liked his fighting style. His weapon certainly does have a long range which is really handy for any fight. His opponents always have to make sure they’re out of range or they’re plum out of luck.

Homura is another fighter on their side and her acrobatics are impressive. She was even able to stalemate with Kohaku for a bit there. Senku looked bad in letting her go at one point but she definitely showed why Tsukasa trusted her with the dangerous recon jobs. At the end of the day she did good. Then you have Ukyo with his super hearing. Not the most loyal fellow to have around but he’s got good aim and is another solid fighter. I wouldn’t say he ranks against the other villains but he’s reasonably good.

We can’t forget Gen the trickster who always has everyone on the ropes…at least for a few arcs. My only gripe with him is that his mentalist abilities don’t tend to help out much later on. In a way his biggest weakness is the fact that he’s well known so nobody believes him anyway or he’s going up against other geniuses who aren’t going to fall for that kind of trick. So either way he ends up being put in a tough position. Gen’s a fun guy though even if he is ineffective a lot of the time. He just needed some kind of power up although I’m not sure how that would work in this context.

Yo is another one of the villains in Tsukasa’s army and I liked him well enough. He’s a corrupt cop who is used to using a gun so he is actually very helpful on the battlefield. I thought he was a rather unique character who worked well in this context. Definitely someone you don’t forget too soon. He may not be super talented but he’s better than the no names so he at least earned his spot as one of the guards.

Well with the Stone Wars done, it was time to get a boat and then head off to the next adventure. This time it’s a big battle on an island against someone who knows how to manipulate the Medusa stones in order to turn people into stone. It makes for a very dangerous weapon and this is definitely not someone that you want to go up against without a plan. The villain here isn’t as interesting as Tsukasa by a longshot but it’s still a fun arc. We get some memorable visuals like the villain jumping head first towards the water while yelling. That could be a good jump scare in the show if handled right.

Ultimately it doesn’t have the hype and pure stakes as the Stone Wars but it’s still a good follow up arc. Plus it probably would have been very difficult to have topped that initial saga. The villain being rather lackluster is the arc’s biggest weak point but as a whole I would still say it does more good than bad. It’s the weakest of the big arcs pretty much by default and that’s because I merge the Xeno and aftermath as one arc. If you split them then this beats the epilogue.

Ryusui got to join the crew during this adventure and he’s really a standout character. Now here is someone who can absolutely hold his own with the old guard. He brought a lot of confidence to the table and ended up being a very memorable character as well. His expertise with the boats were absolutely unmatched and he always knows how to have a good time. I’d argue that the cast really needed a high energy guy like this to keep everyone focused.

Then you have his assistant Francois who does well with the cooking. This character doesn’t get a ton to do but is still fun enough. Ibara is the main villain of the island arc and he never grew on me. In a way he’s the perfect example of the kind of corrupt grown up that Tsukasa was talking about. He found out how to use the medusa power and immediately used it to be an evil ruler. Literally the guy wasted absolutely no time in doing so. If he was a little less greedy and focused more on leveraging that into being an unstoppable king who at least cared for his tribe then he may have actually made it out of this.

Matsukaze is a solid character. I like that he can fight well and it’s just a shame that he happened to decide to serve a comic relief character. Man he could have really gone places but he was introduced rather late so it’s possible that he wouldn’t have had a chance to do much more than that either way. It’s just nice to have another fighter on the team. Mozu is another strong warrior but he doesn’t have much to do. Again as this isn’t really a battle manga, you can’t expect the characters to get to mix it up with the others too often.

Finally we approach the Xeno arc and this time we got to have some real competition for Senku. Xeno is the first villain to actually be able to keep up with Senku on an intellectual level and it works extremely well. Basically he is a part of the Nasa group and he actually had a plan for if this ever happened and he got a chance to rule the world. The guy thinks ahead, that’s definitely his forte without a doubt. Can Senku and friends really stop him? The guy has homefield advantage since they’re in America or maybe Senku and friends have finally picked an opponent who is too powerful.

It was great to see America and part of what I also liked about this arc was it showed that Senku wasn’t the only one to defeat the stone conditioning. You have to assume that at least someone else was able to keep their mind active the whole time and it’s fitting that Xeno could pull this off. They don’t call him a genius for nothing after all. When the heroes land in America and see that the place actually still looks okay, it was a great shock value moment. The villains had already started tending to the crops and such to build a civilization of their own.

For the first time Senku and friends were truly out of their depth in a modern world. Stanley also does give us some really good action scenes as that villain’s an expert with a gun. The series also paid special attention to show that as a soldier he was still bound by a code of ethics and didn’t suddenly become a monster or anything like that. It was a good way to give the villains some nuance here. Stone Wars is my favorite arc still but this one was definitely a blast.

If I have one issue with the arc it’s that at this point with a way to not only undue the petrification but also to glue the parts together, there isn’t a lot of stakes anymore. At one point the villains start blowing up the heroes to kingdom come but you know they can be revived anyway so it’s not particularly a big deal. At least in DBZ the planet might blow up so there are no dragon balls but here it’s not like the villains are going to do anything. As soon as the heroes found out that the serum pretty much makes them immortal, it meant that traditional fights wouldn’t have the same impact as they used to. At least it was a good way to show how effective guns are as even Tsukasa couldn’t do much against them. Guns are truly overpowered in a world where only one side has them.

Xeno definitely lives up to the hype here as the big bad. His discussions with Senku are really solid. Even if they both disagree on a whole lot of things, they have respect for science which is what still unites them. They never ended up forgetting that part of themselves. He has a cool design too and has to be one of the stand out characters here. Likewise Stanley is excellent as the muscle of the crew and is also very smart in his own right. He picks up on all the clues Xeno sends him, no matter how subtle they are. He’s also an expert at reading the room and using his expertise in a fight to get the upper hand on the heroes. These two are a big reason as to why the arc was a lot of fun.

After the main fights we also get a lot of new characters added into the mix for Senku’s group. For the most part they’re all added in too late though and don’t really get much to do. I dare say they didn’t need to be added like the watch guy or the girl who can read the land. It’s nice to have some more support but ultimately I didn’t feel like their roles were so big that they had to be around. At least Sai got to give us some video game moments which is always fun but for the most part you knew the series was ending so you were more interested in seeing the Whyman plot come to an end.

Now for that part, that’s where things crumble a little bit. So lets overlook how the science goes really fast here. While I don’t buy into them creating numerous rockets back to back in a short timespan like this, we had to get the heroes into the Moon somehow. My issue is that Whyman does not live up to the hype. This guy had great moments where he yelled to the planet and even had Senku’s voice somehow. Needless to say, the hype was through the roof here!

Then when he shows up, the guy has no passion, no vision. His true form isn’t very interesting and his whole plan makes absolutely no sense. The heroes even mention this and Whyman has no real response to this. Because even he knows that his actions made absolutely no sense. I didn’t think the manga did a good job of really explaining this guy. Considering that this plot was around for almost the whole series, it feels like the author didn’t really think it through. There were so many interesting routes that could have happened for this and they all ended up fading away.

It’s not a train wreck ending or anything but I thought it was super underwhelming. If ever there was a time to throw in some action and fighting then this was it. It would have made for a very memorable climax with everything at stake instead of whatever this was. At least the aftermath/epilogue for the series was cool though. We finally get the high tech gizmo I had been waiting for and it would work really well for a sequel series. There’s a lot of potential there.

Before wrapping things up, I should quickly mention that the series handled the mini flashback saga well. I liked Byakuya and Lillian as the two leads to that adventure. The old ship crew all had a good dynamic and it was nice seeing them end up creating their own small world on Earth as well. Naturally they couldn’t wait 3700 years for Senku and friends but they did well to accomplish a lot on their own without a resident genius.

Overall, That about wraps up Dr. Stone. It was definitely a great series with a solid amount of characters and action. It certainly had a long lasting career with all the chapters it ended up with and it’ll be nice to see some kind of sequel or spinoff eventually as an ongoing. Of course if the author is busy with more One Piece projects I’d definitely understand. I’m sure he’s having fun getting to tell a lot of different stories. If you haven’t read Dr. Stone yet then I would definitely recommend changing that. It makes for a very interesting read and you should definitely try making the Senku cola once you get to that point.

Overall 8/10

Jurassic World: Dominion Review

It’s time to bring the Jurassic World series to a close. It’s been quite the run and while I have yet to find any of these titles to be good movies yet, it’s always neat seeing dinosaurs. You could just say that the films are usually doomed from the start because it’s hard to have a dinosaur film without the dinosaurs themselves eventually running into peril. The animal violence sabotages the film right from the jump and this one is no exception with several hunting scenes. I’m afraid the franchise has overstayed its welcome and needs a new premise like robotic dinosaurs to get to the next level.

The film starts off by giving us a massive info dump about the dinosaurs having taken refuge in all parts of the planet. There is no escape from these dinosaurs and so Biosyn has taken this chance to quickly become one of the biggest companies in the world. Yes, it’s time to rake in those profits like nobody’s business! They were granted exclusive rights to grab the dinosaurs and so everyone else needs to stay back. Naturally they aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their heart though and seem to be doing something nefarious with the insects in their company. If they aren’t stopped quickly then the entire planet could be in danger.

There are two main plots here. First, you’ve got Owen and Claire who are still trying to raise Maisie as best they can, but they seem to have gotten lost in the sauce as in trying to protect her from everything around them, they’ve effectively trapped her in a house. Maisie quickly started to resent this and so she ran off and gets captured along with Blue’s kid. The heroes are in a race against time to find her and so we get a good amount of action here as they get to relive their action hero days.

In the B plot, the 3 main characters from the original trilogy have to try and get proof of Biosyn’s wrongdoings by infiltrating their headquarters. This plot has less action by comparison as they do their best to find out the facts but it’s all a bit more low key. I feel like this is intentional as the old characters do things by the book and it’s a very old fashioned type approach while the new characters are having fancy gun fights and hand to hand combat scenes. Naturally the main plot was typically more interesting. Then eventually the plots converge.

Lets get the obvious issue out of the way first and that’s the animal violence. Within 20 minutes of the film starting you have a rabbit eaten and a wolf murdered. Later on you’ve also got birds taken out and a fox hunted down. Of course eventually this also goes to the dinosaurs as they attack each other and one gets stabbed. It’s inevitable that this would happen with so many dinosaurs around and that’s the real issue here with dinosaur films in general. They are cool to see but of course they won’t stand a chance against properly armed fighters or bigger dinosaurs so someone’s going to get hurt. Each time that happens, the film ends up losing some momentum.

The other biggest issue I’d say is just that the film feels very long. The pacing isn’t air tight and it actually does drag on a bit. The plot with the old main characters can almost get boring at times. There are a lot of chase scenes and everything but when the film slows down, man does it slow down. You don’t care too much about the conversations on the dinos because we’ve heard it all a million times before. You just want to get to the good stuff and the film peaks early in that regard.

The best part of the film is when Owen and Claire confront two of the villains. Owen has an excellent close quarters fight against the knife wielder and it’s the best action scene in the movie. It reminds me of how his fight in the last film was also the best scene. I think it’s time for these films to transition into being more about the hand to hand combat because that’s clearly the best part of these films. I did think Claire was not intense enough in the moment which felt out of character though.

Keep in mind that they are trying to save the kid and it’s a matter of life and death. Owen certainly acted like it with how he was going at the guy and not taking prisoners but Claire’s battle had a lot more comedy mixed in and she was still trying to ask questions and all. I would have liked her to have tackled her villain and got right into the action. It all works out in the end but the villainess really got off easy the whole time.

Owen and Claire do make for solid main characters though. They get the job done and get a lot of good scenes. I do think they made the wrong choice in isolating Maisie as much as they did though. Yeah you’ve got to be careful but wouldn’t it still be better to be in a city environment than in the middle of the woods? Seems to me like being isolated is a bad idea when everyone around the world wants to get you because eventually they would. Just get some fake IDs and a decent disguise and you should be good.

I do think they could have played up the fugitive angle for these two characters a bit more though. In general there’s also more the movie could have done with the whole dynamic of having the dinosaurs on the go too. Having them just randomly running around the world seems like it should have had more of an effect on the planet than what we’re shown. Only around 30 deaths due to dinosaurs?? I find that extremely hard to believe.

These two are joined by Kayla later on in the plot as she gets roped into the adventure. Initially she’s here just for the money but gradually gets a conscience about the whole thing. She’s a decent fighter and helps them out when they’re in a pinch. Without a plane the heroes definitely would not have gotten very far here. As for Maisie, she is quite the rebel in this film and gets everyone into trouble. I’ll give the parents more of the blame here though because she did try to talk things out first several times and it felt like they weren’t giving her any great options.

For the other plot, well Ian definitely steals the show from the 3. He’s just way more of an interesting character than the other two. Ian always tries to find the bright side of things and remains calm even under pressure. His character is always a blast and while he isn’t as much of a field agent as the others, he does come in clutch on many occasions. Without him getting into the company first the others would have had a much tougher time of it.

Ellie and Allen are held back a bit by the inevitable romance which feels like it’s way too late. You can see the romance a mile away but cmon now, they’ve only just gotten reunited after how long? There’s no time for all of that and these two feel like they’ve been out of the game for so long that they’re a bit out of their depth. Their plot just never comes close to being as interesting as the main one.

On their plot you’ve also got Ramsay who gets quite a lot to do. The guy ends up being rather helpful the whole time so that’s good. The B plot has its share of danger and everything but 9 times out of 10 you’re ready to go back to Owen and team. Finally there’s the main villain Lewis and I’m not sure exactly what they were going for with him. He can be rather serious at times and then almost incompetent at other moments. He’s always very hyper/manic so he doesn’t always have time to finish his sentences. He works well as a funny villain in that degree even if I’m not sure how intentional that was which is a bit of an issue.

If he was meant to be more of a serious villain then the film failed but if you’re supposed to laugh at him a bit then that works well enough. He had some of the funniest scenes in the film although I would say Ian was still the most humorous character in the grand scheme of things.

While the movie is fairly lighthearted the whole time, it does have some grim moments like when two kids are attacked by a bunch of locusts. I was actually a little shocked at that because it just comes out of the blue and man, they were not expecting that. Of course you could try to say that they escaped but it was probably all over for them. I would still not call the film particularly violent or anything compared to older ones though. It’s certainly not touching the original films in that regard. Even the dinosaur fights usually happen when it’s really dark so you can’t actually see too much of what’s going on. I like to think that was to hide the violence and not because they’re afraid of how the CG looks.

The movie uses the classic Park theme at one point but for the most part it feels rather quiet. There aren’t any standout tunes at all which is a shame. Good music can really help take you to the next level and it could also have been used to make some of the slower scenes a little more exciting. In fact, that really might be what the film was missing. Throwing in some more good music could have really helped take the film to the next level or at least get a 1 star boost or something.

There’s certainly more to dislike here than to like. There’s also virtually no replay value because of how long the film is and how it ends up dragging instead of really utilizing that length. There are quite a few portions of the film that it feels like you could almost cut out so that it goes along a bit quicker. Now this may not sound good for fans of the original trilogy, but I think a strong case could be made that Ellie and Allen should have been cut out. All you need is Ian for their plot and when Maisie shows up she can take care of the rest. The two characters are almost filler if you think about it.

In a way the biggest way I can tell that the film wasn’t super interesting is I’m already running out of stuff to talk about and usually reviews for films in theaters tend to be on the longer side. There’s usually a bunch more to talk about but I guess that’s it here. At least the T Rex does get to show up and I will give the film props for the dinosaur models. I still think they look cool at least. I liked the one with the claws, that was nice. The film definitely could have used more day-time scenes with the dinosaurs so we could really appreciate how they looked though. A dark climax makes sense for the scary vibes but c’mon, this film isn’t really scary like that.

Overall, Jurassic World ends on a bit of an eh note. I would say this beats Fallen Kingdom for me but it loses to the original Jurassic World. I’m inclined to say Jurassic Park III beats this one as well. This one probably beats the first two though so all in all…that means this one’s roughly in the middle or slightly above the middle. That’s not bad. It’s not a particularly high bar for me though but it’s a start. If you really like dinosaurs then you should still get a lot out of this movie but it really should have been more exciting than how it turned out to be.

Overall 3/10

D.N.Angel Review

I remember starting this manga well over a decade ago. It may have even been close to 20 years ago at this point so it’s been quite the journey. Well, after a long hiatus it finally came back and actually got an ending so I figured I’d take it back from the top and read all the way through. It’s a fun title but one where the plot is actually the least interesting part. I was just way more engaged with Daisuke’s day to day life and comedic hijinks compared to the actual story which is the only thing holding this one back a bit.

The story starts off by introducing us to Daisuke who lives in a house that’s a bit out of the ordinary. His Mom is always building a ton of traps for him to get through, some of which are quite lethal and he has to get around them to leave for school. This is because he is training in order to be the next in line to house the Phantom Thief Dark as part of the Niwa family tradition. See, Each man in the Niwa family eventually takes on the role and they have to go around stealing a lot of treasures. Typically they focus on stealing artwork from Hiwatori’s family throughout the ages.

Daisuke isn’t thrilled about this but there also isn’t really anything he can do to refuse. Dark just appears in his soul at one point and now it’s time to start the party. Whenever Daisuke’s heart rate speeds up, it triggers his transformation into Dark and then he won’t change back again until Dark’s heart speeds up or if he just chooses to cancel the transformation. This will be difficult for Daisuke since he has a crush on Risa. Will he be able to get close to her without his heart rate going crazy or is he doomed to be forever alone as long as Dark is here? Also, can he keep his double life a secret without any of his friends finding out?

There’s a whole lot of rules to the body swapping part and it keeps on changing as the series goes on so it’s really rough for Daisuke. He doesn’t even care about the whole stealing art thing and just wants to be a normal kid but his mom is super enthusiastic about it. She’s always encouraging Daisuke to steal the artwork and will even put up signs and notices for him to alert the authorities. This all must be done by the book after all and Dark puts in a notice so the cops have a fair chance to try and stop him. Daisuke’s dad doesn’t care as much and in fact he never got possessed by Dark back in the day but he does his best to help out. He makes up for his lack of physical abilities by being great at finding research and ancient scrolls to help the heroes out.

The end game for Daisuke is that Dark should eventually fade away and in the past that has happened if both Dark and his human host fall for the same girl. The issue this time is that they’ve fallen for different people this time as Daisuke likes Risa and Dark likes Riku. Both of them are twins and this complicates things because then Dark may never leave which would make things really difficult for Daisuke. Another wrinkle is that Risa likes Dark while Riku likes Daisuke. As this is a romance manga first and foremost, expect those pairings to change quite a bit as the adventure goes on.

Now you may be wondering, why would the rom-com moments beat the actual plot? Well, the story tends to be very repetitive when it happens. For example, one arc may have Daisuke fall into a painting where he is now in a what if universe where there’s another kid who likes Riku. Another time he’ll fall into a painting where he has to confront his confidence issues. Each arc tends to feel like a bit of a retread of the last one and the arcs can be a bit long. So it can just feel like nothing is really happening the whole time and you want to get back to the real world to move the story along. Typically you do get a lot of lore and sometimes you will get a new supporting character but that’s about it.

The arcs aren’t bad or anything but the just aren’t as interesting. It feels like the real world is where things are going on. As for the characters, I’d say we’ve got a reasonably solid cast here. As the main character, Daisuke definitely has to be strong enough to hold the story and I’d say that he pulls this off from an interest standpoint but he’s not really my kind of character. The guy isn’t very confident and gets pushed around throughout the whole series. He tends to be a little too forgiving even when someone is trying to murder him.

He can also be a little flip floppy. As mentioned earlier, he likes Risa at first but gradually changes to Riku. This is exactly what I would call a rebound romance since it was clear that Risa was not interested in him. The same is true of Dark who ends up switching sides so only Risa and Riku followed the person that they actually liked from start to finish. Daisuke is a nice guy and he will ultimately make the right calls in the end but I just wish he had more confidence. Even by the end of the series you can say that he still isn’t very confident yet so he hasn’t gotten the full amount of character development that Yugi got.

As for Dark, well I like his confidence but he is definitely more of a flirt. He’s fallen for many different girls and so as a result it’s hard to ever take his romances seriously. Does he really love Risa or is he just going to move on again? That’s how I always feel for characters like this. At least in a fight you can certainly count on him though. This series doesn’t have too many action scenes but Dark is consistently shown to be one of the more powerful fighters in the verse. He can definitely hold his own and then some.

Then there’s Risa who is my favorite member of the twins. Risa ultimately steps up when the going gets tough and she is also quicker to realize when something isn’t right. While Riku is still fumbling around and unsure of what’s going on, Risa is always 5 steps ahead and still making plans of her own. She doesn’t get discouraged as easily as Riku does and still looks out for her sister all the time. Risa plays a big role in at least one of the dream adventures and she comes across as being more understanding. She certainly takes more risks as well which isn’t always a good thing but it all tends to work out for her.

She just does all of the right things each time. Riku’s fun enough too though. She does her best to uncover the situation behind Daisuke always running off. She does suspect that he might be Dark but the whole concept of that is just so out there that she has a hard time convincing herself of that. In fairness to her it can be hard to believe but she needs to trust her eyes more like Risa. Risa ultimately just took a look at the facts and it added up so then she connected the dots. Riku takes a bit longer to get to her destination. Risa and Riku definitely end up working well as the two heroines though.

That said, while I have my issues with Daisuke and Dark, they do have a fun dynamic as well. Naturally they are complete contrasts to each other and Dark will occasionally try to be helpful. Sometimes he’s clearly just there to get in the way and make Daisuke feel bad but other times he’ll do his best to help the kid out. It just ends up being frustrating for both of them since only one person can use the body at once. That makes going out difficult on both of them, especially since the other is always watching so it can be a bit awkward.

Then you have Hiwatori who is a big detective and the latest in the lineage of the family that Dark robs from. Naturally that means that he is a very big character here and with Daisuke not always being very clever about hiding his secret, Hiwatori is always right on his tail. Hiwatori does have some honor so he won’t just attack Daisuke at school or anything like that. If not for that self imposed rule then Daisuke would have been really doomed.

I’m not really a fan of Hiwatori though. For starters the manga tries to build up a bit of a romance with him and Risa but it starts off way too late for it to work at all. He needs to stay in his lane there especially since he’s trying to destroy Dark and he knows how she feels about him. Hiwatori is the kind of guy who tends to follow orders most of the time and doesn’t question them. He is dealing with a lot as his alter ego Krad isn’t as nice as Dark. So you do feel bad for him and things rarely go his way. That said, he just doesn’t make the right choices most of the time and is certainly not someone that Daisuke can rely on. I don’t blame the mom for being really concerned whenever Hiwatori is around. I’d say he has earned that distrust from how he acts in the manga.

I never really ended up becoming a fan of that guy. His alter ego Krad doesn’t appear as often as you’d think. At first you would expect him to appear almost as much as Dark but that’s actually not the case. Krad makes the most of his brief amounts of screen time and is one of the only people who can actually fight Dark in close quarters combat but I still didn’t care for him much. His goal isn’t great at all and he just feels desperate since he knows that he can’t actually beat Dark in a fair fight. It’s impressive of Hiwatori to hold him back all the time but it’s also a bit of an anti feat for Krad.

After that we get into the art characters. So you’ve got Towa who I completely forgot from back in the day and she’s a nice enough supporting character. She knows a bit about the supernatural stuff going on in the series and can usually provide insight to the characters not trapped in the mirrors. Ultimately her function is more as a guide/informant than as a fighter but she adds to the dynamic reasonably well. The cast was really small without her there so she helps to round things out a bit.

Then we have Argentine who is the first big villain. The guy starts off rather whiny though and so he never got to be all that good. He just wants to be loved and all of that which is pretty deep for a painting, but in the end it’s never going to be one of the best character motivations for me. He tries to be helpful later on but I can’t really think of any really big moments where he contributed. He’s around a lot but just doesn’t do much of anything so that doesn’t help his case either.

Then you have Manisumea who ends up being one of the biggest threats in the series. I’ll give him props for having a painting arc with more personality than the others. Seeing Daisuke have to fight with a new kid for his romantic dreams and Risa actually getting her own plot was nice. None of that really helps Manisumea though who comes across as rather desperate. It seems like the only way for him to get his own identity in the real world is to replace Daisuke which is definitely a rough deal but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. He’s less memorable than Argentine but I suppose he’s a better villain.

Outside of the paintings you’ve also got Saehara who is Daisuke’s best friend. The guy serves his role as the comic relief character but doesn’t actually do much beyond that. He’s a big Dark fan and also wants to catch him someday so the guy has spirit but you almost forget that he exists half the time. He just doesn’t tend to leave a big impression and I don’t think the series gives him a ton of screen time either way.

The final main character in the present is Hiwatori’s dad- Elmroot. So that guy is an interesting figure because the whole time you’re waiting for him to make some kind of grand move. You know it’s going to be really epic and then you see that the series is almost over and he hasn’t done anything yet. He’s a little more on the ruthless side compared to Hiwatori but ultimately he does have a pretty good backstory. By the end I thought he was an interesting character. Definitely an underused one without a doubt, but I was glad that he was around. It would have been nice if he could have met Daisuke’s Dad at some point though. I think that could have been a lot of fun with how different they are. Daisuke’s dad always had a lot of good moments even though they were low key. You’ve also got Wiz who does his best to help Daisuke out. He’s like a little winged rabbit who initially can’t talk or anything but can gradually talk a bit. This is perfect for helping Daisuke’s cover when he has to be in two places at once. He’s also Daisuke’s wings most of the time so yeah this little creature is absolutely a crucial member of the team and should not be overlooked!

Finally we get to the 3 flashback characters. Near the end of the series there was a quick mini arc about one of Daisuke’s predecessors and I thought it was handled pretty well. In fact you could probably say that it was the best arc out of the big story ones. So Taize was considered a rebel in the family and he refused to steal anything. He got along with Dark well enough but the issue was that Taize was also a big flirt and so he didn’t actually feel a special way about anyone. As a result Dark couldn’t come out. Well, one day Taize runs into a girl named Fukami who works for Yuu and that’s when his heart speeds up for the first time.

It’s a very dramatic story for sure with a lot of drama but the big 3 had a better dynamic than the main 3 in the present timeline. I think what helps a lot is how confident Taize is. He’s certainly not about to get pushed around here and he also has a lot of skills even without Dark stepping in. Taize ultimately worked on his own terms and left in much the same way. He was just a very interesting character through and through.

Fukami made for a good heroine as well. She was insecure about her voice and so initially she would only speak to Yuu. She only made an exception when Taize stole Yuu’s painting so that she could get it back. She succeeded in getting it back but Yuu was super petty and upset that she talked to someone else. Throughout it all Fukami always took the high ground and would even talk using paper after that so as not to upset Yuu. She was a very considerate person and I’m glad that things went well for her. A tragic ending would not have felt right there.

Finally there was Yuu and I didn’t care for him. You can see how the whole thing is tragic for him since he clearly liked Fukami a lot but basically lost her in an instant. I just lost my respect for him when he was upset at her about the whole thing. He only has himself to blame for not making a move and he needs to keep that in mind. From there it continued the eternal rivalry between the two families on an even more intense level. It was a nice way to see further into the rivalry and the arc was just really good.

Now after all of that you may be thinking, this review seems pretty negative eh? Can it actually achieve the positive score in the end? Wel, I’d say that this one is able to do it. It’s true that I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters or the story but I was always engaged with seeing what would happen next. The series is a good page turner and that’s because the dynamics are solid.

Dark and Daisuke always have a lot of fun conversations. Riku and Risa also have a nice bond going and the series is definitely at its best when it is focusing on the comedy. It has a lot of charm to it and the adventures are nice. In a way the stealing things element is just the backdrop for these school adventures. If you cut out the actual arcs of falling into a painting each time then the series would excel even more. Perhaps it would run the risk of being too low key but I think it could pull this off.

As for the artwork, it definitely changes a lot as you go through the series. It makes sense when you consider how long this series had to wait until the final arcs. There is something nice and retro about the original art but either way I would say it looks solid throughout the series. You can definitely follow along with no trouble at all. The character designs are all unique and at most you can just have trouble when Daisuke is turning into Dark sometimes. You aren’t always sure if he’s in the hybrid form, the faux form, or if he actually is Dark now. In fairness to the art though, sometimes the mystery is intentional by the manga since you aren’t supposed to know how it is. The transformation rules can be a little complicated as I said earlier.

Unfortunately I was not a big fan of the ending at all. I thought they kind of fumbled the ball there a bit. It reminds me of the ending for a series with a dynamic very similar to this one and it made the same mistake. When you’ve been together for so long and become best friends, you want both characters to be able to have a satisfying end. When that doesn’t happen then it just feels like a really big shame. Especially because the journey was so long. There is still more to like than to dislike here of course but a nice ending would have been a good cherry on top for the experience.

As for the romance, I touched on it a bit earlier but I wouldn’t call it particularly strong. Mainly because both characters are on their second choices in a sense. Not saying you can’t change your mind or anything but it’s always a bit of a trickier sell as opposed to going for the main pick. That’s when you can really get behind the romance and it all works out nicely. There’s no room for doubts or anything like that.

Overall, D.N.Angel is a good series. I’d say the best way to describe it is as a very peaceful manga. You can easily blitz through 20 chapters or more at a time because you are always eager to see what will be happening next. The story knows how to keep you at the edge of your seat even without any action as you wonder how Daisuke will get out of revealing his secret identity this time. The series just tends to stall a lot whenever it enters a story arc. While that may seem like it should be reversed, it is the slice of life moments that feel a lot more important. I think a better cast could have helped it turn around to the next level but if you’re looking for a solid romance type manga then this is still a good one to check out. The phantom thief element shakes things up a bit and there’s nothing really crazy here. This is the kind of title you could recommend to someone who hasn’t read much manga before and they’ll be able to follow along real easy.

Overall 6/10

Pacific Rim: The Black Season 2 Review

The Black certainly took a break for a long while but at long last we got season 2. I was pretty much blown away by how good season 1 was. It had a great premise and really executed on it. The solid cast brought this to completion and I was eager to see how season 2 would play things out. Season 2 is a very different show in a lot of ways and while the first one had me gushing about everything, I would say that this season had more weaknesses. It’s still pretty good but I had some issues which wasn’t the case with the first season.

Last time Boy transformed into a Kaiju and saved the day but now the group has to decide what to do with him. Taylor thinks its way too dangerous to stick with him and Mei agrees but Hayley says they will not abandon him under any circumstances. The Sisters of the Kaiju are after him as well which complicates things. Protecting Boy could end up costing all of them their lives. Taylor will be faced with a tough decision there and this could even cost him the trust of his allies. Will he make the right move? Also, does this group have ties to their parents?

There’s a lot going on here of course but the Sisters are definitely the main threat now. Not to say that the Kaijus aren’t a threat but at this point it’s fairly easy to outmaneuver them and to stay safe. The sisters can control Kaiju which is the real danger here since that means they can utilize strategy and all kinds of tactics to keep the upper hand. I wasn’t able to take them very seriously though which is part of what made this season a bit weaker. This group isn’t all that strong individually. They can be shot like normal or just overpowered. Their ability to use Kaiju is impressive but it’s not enough to make the group as a whole very scary.

You feel like the heroes probably could just storm the base and blow them up a few times. I like the concept of the group for sure and I remember being intrigued in season 1 but they just didn’t live up to the hype. Giving them some slight super abilities or a more charismatic leader would have gone a long way towards helping the group out. It did at least give us a fairly satisfying plot with the mother though. The episode of jumping into her mind and trying to bring her back was cool. It was like something out of X-Men with the whole exploring the mental realm part.

So this is around the point where Shane shows up and he’s definitely changed quite a bit. The guy was the big antagonist last time but here he is played up more like someone who deep down cares for Mei a lot the whole time and has just made a lot of tough calls. He walks back some of his more nefarious moves from last season with revelations like him storing up the memories and now he’s ready to risk his life to save the main characters’ mother. It’s impressive that he didn’t walk away from the challenge and just went for it. It feels like there’s a bit of a disconnect here but either way he makes for one of the better characters in this season.

The scene of him casually taking out a few of the sisters just made him look that much more impressive even if it had the opposite effect for them. His partner was also decent but more of a tech guy so there wasn’t a lot for him to do in the field. Shane’s group should live on rather well with their new commander who knew how to fight and lead the group. He ends up bumping off one member of the group but she was handling everything in a really awful way. Why shoot at a monster that’s not even going towards you? The scene was meant to show how she cracked but man was that a bad time for it.

The season is only 7 episodes so by this point we’re already about halfway and then we get the climax with the sisters launching their final assault and Apex even showing up. The government also appears to mostly get in the way by the end. I felt they were unreasonable the whole time but the kids did not help their case at all. We’ll get into that more later on. The fights are good as always with a lot of solid back and forth. There aren’t as many robot vs kaiju battles here but the ones that we do get always deliver when it counts.

There are also our share of human battles against the smaller creatures which is good. I did think that the main wolf type Kaiju looked way too weak though. You couldn’t go one episode without them getting wrecked by someone. They would lose to humans, Boy, random villains, etc. Seriously, it’s almost each and every one of those 7 episodes where they lose and it felt like they were complete fodder now. Losing to Boy is fine of course but when they were losing to Mei and the others it could be a little harder to buy because of how ferocious these things are supposed to be. It’s mostly just a power levels issue but they went down too easily.

As with last time I really enjoyed the animation. I still say it looks like something out of Nintendo with Hayley looking like a cross between Link and Samus. The style suits the series well and takes 0 time to get used to. It just works right from the jump even when there are no action scenes. It’s really colorful and striking so each scene has a big impact on you. The soundtrack or lack thereof isn’t impressive though. I couldn’t tell you any big themes from the show which is a shame because I think you could have had a lot of really cool sci-fi themes going the whole time. It seems like that wasn’t meant to be this time though.

Now we do meet a crazy guy named Bunyip who actually manages to keep the Kaiju at bay to an extent. I thought he was pretty interesting because he has managed to live all these years but he definitely didn’t think things through by the end. His system was never going to work forever though with how it relied on the food like that. One moment of sabotage and it’s all over. I did find it interesting that they had to do the whole sabotage thing instead of controlling the Kaiju outright. Maybe that would have been too much for them or their hunger for food would supersede the orders.

Now the most controversial character here would be Taylor and for good reason. This guy makes a whole lot of mistakes in this season and they are rather large ones that you can’t walk back from. He argues with Hayley in basically every episode about Boy and what they ought to do with him. Naturally he wants to cut ties with Boy the whole time because Taylor thinks the situation is too dangerous while Hayley says they should keep looking after him since they’re all a family. Taylor then does the unthinkable in brokering a deal with the villains to take Boy off their hands and it’s a move that you can’t come back from.

You can’t just give Boy over to an insane cult like this. Who knows what could have happened to him and then the fact that he did this in the dead of night so the others wouldn’t realize just makes the whole thing even worse. It wasn’t a brave thing to do but a cowardly one. I wouldn’t blame Haley if she decided to never speak to him again after that. Then in another scene has her take the tough job of helping talk to someone as they’re dying so it can be peaceful. Hayley has to go through a lot here and a good chunk of it is Taylor’s fault.

No matter how he rationalizes it, he made a terrible choice here. You can’t just betray your allies like this no matter how tough the situation gets. It was very disappointing since he was pretty good in the first season. It may have sown the seeds for their future disagreements but at least they were talking it out rather than him just making a big move like this. At least Hayley was still a very good character. She did advocate for helping Boy a whole lot in the season and never backed down. She proved herself to be more of a hero than the other 2 who certainly had a lot of doubts about the whole thing. Hayley just doesn’t give up the way that the others do and has managed to keep her optimism the whole way through.

She is also able to keep a better control of her emotions at times. Perhaps not all of the time as she’s under a lot of stress to but when the going gets tough she steps up. That’s exactly how it should be. As for Boy, he doesn’t get a ton to do here since he is being mind controlled half the time but he means well. He’s just too young to have much of a character yet though so he’s mainly just around as a plot point more than a character.

Mei is still the most hardened member of the group and she’s always talking about leaving but deep down you know that she’s here for the full ride. She has some history with the sisters which can cause her to freeze up but it doesn’t stop her from going in and helping with the whole attack on the base. Ultimately she does the best during this operation which is not surprising. The show always gave her the respect and poise that is due of such a good fighter. She was more on Taylor’s side the whole time but unlike him she wasn’t going to try anything sneaky in the dead of night so she’s way better than he is.

One character who shows up briefly here is Apex but you feel like his character was wasted. This guy still has the best design in the show and is one of the fiercer characters but he doesn’t get a true fight this time. He shows up to help with the Boy situation and that’s it. Ultimately it wasn’t much in the way or closure for this guy and they could have done better. I was happy to see this guy and so to have his role be so small just didn’t feel right. He deserved a big battle if nothing else.

Finally you have their mother Brina who is a solid character. It’s definitely a shame that she got brainwashed so thoroughly but it’s hard to imagine someone. holding out against the sisters for so long on their own anyway. They’re a professional cult with a ton of experience in this domain so that makes sense. Ultimately it’s hard to remove their influence and she has a tough time throughout the season. I was glad that she got to appear and have some conversations with the main characters at least. It was definitely a long time coming there.

As for the government stepping in, so here’s why I blame this on the heroes a bit. They should have yelled right away that they were the children of the two legendary pilots. After that have the A.I. try talking and just keep saying trivia and fun facts that establish their identity. Instead they were a little too curt and down to business on the liens which didn’t give the government a lot to work with. Of course I do think the government wasn’t very reasonable here either as they immediately started firing the whole time. At lest look at the situation and see what’s happening here. These guys were way too gung ho and if the barrage was successful then the robot would have been taken out too. You feel like they could use every suit they can so breaking it would be a huge waste for them.

It ended up making the final fight a whole lot closer than it needed to be. I’m also not convinced their assault would have done much to stop the real Kaiju enemies so being here may not be the safest thing anyway. Well, the season works as an open and shut ending to the series which most of the important things wrapped up. The Black does well in feeling like its own stand alone story while acknowledging that things are going on around the planet as a whole. I’d like to see this continued and incorporate them into the main plot to stop the Kaiju once and for all. That would make for a great season 3.

One of the things that helps the show excel so much is the very solid writing here. It’s a very advanced writing style here where the characters debate and talk each path through. They don’t always see eye to eye by the end and sometimes the plans are no good but the dialogue is quite strong. Writing plays a key part in any show and this one was definitely in a good spot as a result. Mixing in the fun action and graphics is an extra bonus to take this even further. So what I’m saying in the end here is that you’ll have a lot of fun here and you should be satisfied with the ending. It may have had its weak points but at the end of the day it’s still a well rounded show with a lot of fun moments. The action scenes are all a lot of fun and while this is a show for the story first and action second, they give each fight a good amount of time and effort.

Overall, Pacific Rim The Black has been a really fun ride. Watching the two seasons back to back would definitely make for a really solid watch. A lot of franchises would be desperate to get a show this good so it’s really fortunate for Pacific Rim to get something like this. There was a lot of effort put into it and there’s a lot of replay value to be had here. If you’re looking for a solid action/adventure show then you definitely can’t go wrong with this one.

Overall 7/10

Cells at Work!! Review

It’s time to look at the next installment in the Cells at Work series. Season 2 focuses more on the side characters like Normal Cell so it serves to expand on how well you know the cast. It is not quite as explosive as season 1 though and you will miss Red and Neutrophil when they aren’t around. You can tell the production values have dropped as well. Since the show is a slice of life title it’s not like you could call this a filler season but it does feel like that a bit since nothing big happens until near the end of the season. The climax is really solid though and ultimately this is a good title even if it isn’t a great one.

The general premise of the show is that all of the blood cells in a person’s body are sentient. They go around making sure that everything works and this is how you stay alive. Red blood cells move the nutrients around and the White blood cells take out the germ intruders. It all makes for a smooth operation and so you see their day to day lives. Near the end of the season the big villain known as Cancer makes his return to kick things into high gear. Can the heroes stop him?

This is a rather short season with only 8 episodes in it so the whole thing goes by pretty fast. The cast may not be the strongest out there but they’re still nice enough. Lets get the weak points of the show out of the way first. As with the first season I do find that the backgrounds can feel a bit repetitive because there’s only so much you can do while being inside of a body. It limits the show to an extent because the average slice of life has a lot of fun outdoor backdrops and elements to keep things fresh. With that out of the question here the characters have to do the heavy lifting.

Some of the characters are pretty fun so that works out well enough but at the same time I wouldn’t say that this is a series with top tier humor. Titles like Bleach and Noragami would be funnier. As a comedy it’s probably a little below average and the action is only standard. In a lot of ways that is the best way to describe the show. It’s not particularly weak in too many areas but it’s not strong in any of them so it only ends up being a rather standard show that isn’t too remarkable in any way.

From the soundtrack there is one theme that I liked a lot in season 1 and it returns here but barely. Felt like it didn’t get used to much this time which is too bad. The rest of the themes are okay but not really memorable. The animation also isn’t all that impressive. The first season had a lot of really intense, fast paced action scenes while this one has those very rarely. The battle with cancer at the end is probably the only one that felt like it had a lot of really good shots.

Now onto the good stuff. Neutrophil is still one of the best characters here. I like his drive to always protect the body and help the others out. He doesn’t waver in his goal and just keeps on going while also being reasonable. He did help the normal cell with hiding the other germs at one point and isn’t the automatic killing machine that everyone thinks he is. All you have to do is watch how he always supports Red to see that he’s a nice guy. Whenever he was the focus of an episode that was a good thing.

Red really gets the shaft here so don’t expect to see her a lot. She’s still a fun enough character but in a way she got bumped from being one of the 2 lead characters to a very minor supporting role. She makes the most of her moments but it would have been cool to have seen her do more. Maybe not a fight per say but some kind of support role.

Killer T is a fun character as always. He can be a little stern and rough around the edges but that’s just how he rolls. He still put in a ton of effort in order to master his super attack and won’t give up on his friends. He can be a bit much but Killer T will still land in the positive section every time. Meanwhile Regulatory T Cell definitely took a heavy hit here. She ultimately crumbled when the going got tough and that’s not easy for me to forget. She was on the wrong side and used a technicality as an excuse.

By the time she turned things around she had already done a ton of harm. There was no way to get on board with her character after all of that. She quickly sunk to being one of my least favorite cells here and there’s no real way to climb up again. At least realistically I don’t see that happening. She really enjoyed dishing out the pain against her friends too. It’s not like there was any hesitation, she just went right to it. You can’t make mistakes like that.

As for the normal cell, well he’s decent enough I guess. He was a bit annoying in his first main episode though where he is making fun of the white blood cells and all. I get that he’s jealous but the guy was insanely petty the whole time. You should be showing a little more respect to the guys who are keeping you alive right? Without them the germs would have infested the planet and that would be it for them all.

The first episode is mainly about the little cells who go around building bridges and being generally helpful. I liked their coach who got to appear since she was a strict teacher who ultimately helped them all out. It was a low key but fun way to kick things off. The second episode reminded me why the Memory Cell is still one of the worst though. He never comes through when the heroes actually need him to and when your weakness is your memory then you know you’re doomed. How could you start thinking you know about the future?

Neutrophil did well in the other part of that episode to stop the invaders. The 3rd episode has two segments as well. In one of them the Mast cell struggles with being liked vs doing her job. It’s a bit messy since the others don’t appreciate her. Ultimately she finds a balance here but I can’t say that I was a big fan of hers either way. The other segment had one of the more intense fights here as Neutrophil had to fight for the hair. The fact that thousands of his comrades died in this fight makes things surprisingly dark for a minute there. This villain really had a good setup going to stop the heroes each time. Kind of a shame that none of the others ever messaged for backup before though. You’d think that some of them would have done that.

Then we get to the mini arc of the normal cell watching out for a bunch of little creatures. Its nice and wholesome to an extent but at the same time you just feel like he’s not handling things very well. Being mean to the white blood cells is never cool and how is this guy so clueless about the world as a whole? He basically has to grow copies of himself all day so he can’t leave his room. Why not use that time t read or learn about the world? It might be fair to say that the world has no real educational books like that but in that case he should try asking around. Normal cell wants to be a hero but ultimately it just isn’t working out for him.

Finally we get to the Cancer Cell plot and this one is definitely fun. It also brings up some deep questions like Cancer Cell asking why he has to be murdered just for being born. The interesting part of making every cell’s job automatic while also making them sentient is that it can bring up dilemmas like this. White blood cells have to murder germs and cancer cells. That’s the law of this reality and yet as this cancer cell points out, that means its unfair to his group. From the instant they are born, they are slated for destruction. Even if they stopped their activities they would have to be destroyed.

Neutrophil doesn’t really have an answer for that either. He just explains they have to finish this and proceeds. Cancer Cell is a villain so don’t get that mixed up but his points were worth thinking about. He also mentions why they have to risk the lives of trillions of cells and lose them in many fights to protect one body. Why not just take out the body so they can all die together or just ignore it until it eventually shuts down. It’s not an option that’s sustainable in any way but sacrificing trillions of lives for one does seem a bit lopsided.

So you can always count on the cancer cell to really get you thinking. He’ also got a cool design and really solid powers. It took all of the strongest fighters teaming up to take him down for the count. NK cell got to appear again and she did really well in the fight. She’s another really solid character for sure and works well with the others.

As for my final thoughts on Cancer’s questions on just destroying cells because of their type, I agree with him that it’s not right but I can’t think of many ways around that. The characters are very limited in what they can do because of the setting and in his case he was already acting aggressively evil. Maybe there’s some kind of prison that can hold them. At the very least I was glad that Neutrophil didn’t hesitate and just rushed in. If you don’t have the answer then there’s no point in dragging it out. Just get out there and take care of business. Maybe one day he will be able to get his happy ending if they can find a cell that cures other cells.

The stakes were high and cancer is a fitting final boss so it was a good way to wrap up season 2. It always feels odd to finish a show that’s less than 12 episodes because it feels short. We still got the final saga to be a two part event though which was neat. You’ll have a good time here and you might even pick up a few things. It’s very science based like last time so you may recall some more scientific names than you did to start the show but at the same time there are so many names that you may forget them just as easily.

If we ever get a season 3 I think a good idea would be to get them out of the body somehow. That, or make it a time skip where the body now looks like a city. That would make for some fun new dynamics and even having the human shrink and appear in there would be cool. It would be tough to make that work but it would spice things up. Assuming we need to keep things reasonably similar then just bringing the animation budget back up to season 1 levels would be good for all of the fights. It’s hard to know how you can possibly top Cancer as a final boss though.

Overall, Cells at Work!! is a fun sequel. If you wanted to see the characters again then this definitely does the trick there. It should feel nostalgic seeing all of the characters again. It’s definitely got the same vibe as last time and due to its nature you can jump in on almost any episode and know what’s going on the whole time. It’s very accessible for casual watching and makes for a solid experience. There wasn’t a ton to say here compared to many shows since there isn’t a lot to theory craft or a huge cast to discuss but ultimately I’d say I covered the main points. If you checked out season 1 then you’ll want to watch this as well.

Overall 6/10