LBX: Little Battlers Experience Review


After completing the LBX game it was definitely time to go back and check out the manga. As it’s only 6 volumes it makes for a quick read and I marathoned it all during the Cowboys vs Giants game. Watching the Cowboys drive a truck through the Giants defense was really satisfying and the manga was just as intense. It may not be a perfect adaption, but it did a really good job in the volumes that it did have and I’d definitely recommend checking it out. It also seems as if the series was only scanned in Spanish or French online so you’ll need to buy the volumes to see it in English. It’s definitely worth the purchase.

The story is divided into two arcs which are each 3 volumes long. I had read the first four volumes back in the day, but I never got around to 5 and 6 so reading those for the first time was pretty cool. The first 3 volumes’ plot you should be familiar with after my recent LBX game review but here’s a brief reminder. Van lives in a future where LBX is the hot game that everyone is playing. You grab a toy robot and fight it out with other kids. The tricky part is that all of the robots use real weapons and equipment so the stakes are always high which is why the toys are controversial. A terrorist group wants Van’s LBX since it has a code inside of it that lets you harness unlimited energy. Van must stop them and also rescue his father who has been kidnapped from the group.

Months after the first arc has ended, Van is called into action once more. A new organization is threatening the entire world and hits multiple countries with LBX attacks. The threat is wide in scale this time so Van enlists the help of a new kid called Hiro. Hiro has never had an LBX battle before, but he’s eager to learn. Hiro gets the hang of it pretty quickly so now Van has a reliable teammate to help him against the dangerous robots at the ready. Will they be able to conquer the obstacles ahead of them or is it Game Over?

The manga can feel like an abridged series at times. Not the kind of abridged series that changes the plot and makes it more comedic, but in the literal sense as it’s chopping scenes and condensing the series as much as possible. Considering that they’re trying to adapt a 15 hour game into just a few volumes, it makes sense. Some characters show up only to get wrecked and at least half of the cast from the anime/games don’t really get to do much. It’s worth it though since this allows the series to still give the fights an appropriate amount of screen time. I can definitely get behind that. In that sense this is one of those manga titles that you can more fully appreciate after you’ve seen the anime or played the game.

Meanwhile, the art isn’t exactly top tier quality. The artist reuses stances and whenever a character yells it is as if they dislocated their jaw. It can be funny, but I get the feeling that it isn’t intentional. Justin is also drawn to have long fingernails and stands in a way that looks as if his back is broken. It’s a rather odd design for him and while this may have been an intentional choice to make him appear more feminine, it didn’t work when comparing it to his game design. Fortunately the art stepped up when it came to the battle scenes. We got a lot of really good splash pages for the bigger attacks and the action scenes in general were pretty good. As such, the art is a mixed bag but at least it does have its positives. The action is what I’m focusing on anyway so that’s the most important element.

By now you’ve heard me talk about these characters quite a lot but this is the last time since we are now caught up with LBX media. Van is the main character and he’s pretty solid. He’s actually a little more hardcore than his other versions as he goes through several chapters being badly bruised and injured while still fighting to the end. He was really determined to save his Dad even if it didn’t work out. He also makes the hero move to risk his life against the final boss on his own so the others wouldn’t be in danger. Now, he claims this was just so he could fight 1 on 1, but I don’t actually think he meant that. It would be a weird jump from the rest of his character arc. I’m definitely a big Van fan at any rate.

Ami is a nice friend, but unfortunately she doesn’t get to do a whole lot in the manga. She loses her very first fight in a single hit which was a bad omen of things to come. Even when she gets her new robot she is mostly relegated to a background role. Her most impressive showing was likely when she turned evil and was able to fight Van and Hiro teaming up. That was pretty impressive. Kaz is the other friend and he’s in a similar boat as Ami. His LBX gets a little more screen time and looks reasonably good. The manga actually improved Kaz from the anime quite a bit as he didn’t randomly join the terrorists or get mind controlled by an LBX. He just stayed as a dependable friend from start to finish. I also like how he wanted to go with Van at the end for the big battle before Hiro stole his role. Technically it would have made sense for Kaz to have gone right?

Justin is a solid rival. He may have started out as a rather mean guy, but he was never evil. Once he found out that he was working for the bad guys he quickly left them and joined the heroes. He looks really good during Arc 1, but his only real role in the next saga was to lose to minions off screen and remind the audience that Van was their only hope. It’s always tragic when you go from being one of the strongest characters in the series to someone who is just here for the show.

Dak and Gouda get identical roles to the anime and games. Their roles are so set in stone that nobody wants to mess with them. Dak’s magician is certainly an impressive LBX to have and I didn’t mind him as a rival. His best scene was actually when Van walked over and ripped his card up. It was an amazing moment because usually the heroes will just watch as the villains brag and play mind games with them. Van wasn’t having any of that and set the tone from the start. Gouda is all right, but he’s fairly weak and not much of a factor.
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Professor Yamano is a decent character here. He stays on as a hero the whole time and it’s not as much his fault that he can’t be with the heroes. The villains just keep kidnapping him, but otherwise he would be here to help. It was funny how he kept creating new LBX machines that were stronger and stronger the whole time. The guy just doesn’t take a break which is fortunate for the heroes.

Hiro is one of the main characters from Arc 2, but I can’t say that I would be much of a fan from the manga. He doesn’t take the situation very seriously and comes off as a rather unlikable guy at times. I am glad he switched his character design after falling in the pond since that at least helped a bit. The anime did a better job of giving him a more complete personality. Still, he’s not a bad character, he just doesn’t feel like he had much of a reason to be here. He had his share of action scenes and all, but it easily could have been someone else.

Ran shows up as well but unlike the anime where she got a big role, she doesn’t do much here. She helps the team in their fusion fight, but mostly just watches for the rest of it. It’s still a better fate than most of the season 2 characters as a bunch of them only get one page cameos or don’t even talk. Even though it was 3 volumes long like volume 1, they weren’t able to adapt much of it in the manga. I guess they just focused on other fights and such instead, which isn’t necessarily bad. It’s a very loose adaption to the point where it feels like an original story which is pretty fun.

Lex is one of the big characters in the first three volumes and he gets pretty intense. The bonus stories try to mess with his hype a little, but they are just side stories so you shouldn’t take them too seriously. He’s definitely a very likable character and I like the design. His LBX is one of the best in the whole franchise. Kaido is also a pretty big character in the series and I thought his ending was handled better than in the anime. The guy just wouldn’t give up and his tenacity was impressive. Not even a bullet could stop this guy and we didn’t need robot thrown in. In a way, the same set of circumstances happened like last time, but the event was moved back.

Kurtis is a really fun character. He felt like a nice addition to the cast as Justin had recently become an ally instead of a rival. Kurtis is another genius whose abilities are on another level. He loves pulling off fancy JoJo poses all of the time and maybe has a little too much fun with that, but his skills are certainly the real deal. His role in the series may not be huge, but it is memorable. We also got to see Kousuke in Arc 2 who looks so similar that I often mix the two characters up. He’s another really solid character and you almost feel bad for him since he wants to be known as the greatest LBX player in the world, but Van is too strong. Van also just ducks their fight the first time and waits until he gets a stronger LBX so is it possible that the main character would have lost the first time around?

Finally, Mizel is the big final boss. There’s also the leader of the Directors (Should have kept it as Detector) but that guy was pretty bland. He’s basically just an old man after all and he is mostly around just to panic the whole time. Mizel could actually fight and his LBX was one of the strongest of all time. If anything it may have been a little cheesy the way he was taken down, but I can live with it since the set up to the fight was incredibly hype. He had a really good design and a great LBX, you can’t ask for much more than that.

It’s definitely cool that LBX got a full manga like this. It’d be nice if I could read one for Season 3 as well but it seems like that may not be in the cards. I wonder if this one sold well. If you didn’t watch the show, I can still picture the cover being enough to attract people into reading the manga. It’s a pretty easy concept to get into since it’s a lot of action and has robots. That should be a winning combination for just about everyone right? The quick pacing means that the series cuts out all filler and even slow cannon moments so something is always happening. It may not be the same experience as watching the anime, but it’s a fun adventure all the same.
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Overall, If you haven’t checked this series out yet then you need to reconsider if you’ve made the wrong move. There’s really nothing to dislike about the manga because it has no weaknesses. If anything, the only problem is that the title is too short and that the art could have been a little better. Neither one of those issues are groundbreaking though and the manga is absolutely great. Now we just need Custom Robo to get a big manga and it can join Megaman and LBX as fun titles where mini robots fight each other. Seeing as how Megaman and LBX both got at least an 8, I’m confident Custom Robo would as well.

Overall 8/10

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Pokémon + Nobunaga no Yabou ~Ranse Iroemaki Review

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It’s time for a rather odd Pokemon adventure. Do you guys remember Pokemon Conquest? It came out quite a while ago and it was always an interesting concept. The game didn’t really look like it was my style but who’d have thought that the Pokemon characters would go back to retro China. (Or Japan, one of those) Well, it got a one shot manga to bring in the hype. Unfortunately, it fails for the most part due to not having a plot or any really good fights.

There are 6 chapters and they all have some kind of story going on. One of them has Nobunaga, the famed Devil King show up because he wasn’t invited to the party. Some of the heroes get him to come anyway though and they all have a fun party. There was a story with someone being tricked into thinking that Pokemon could evolve into food and training to surpass the guy. There were some comic relief characters who went intro the mountain, etc. You get the general jist of the story.

That’s not to say that there was absolutely no action. It was just kept in the background throughout and any action we got was quite brief indeed. What also holds the manga back is the artwork. Honestly, I thought it was rather sub par. Perhaps being in color made it that much easier to notice its limitations or if we’re being honest, maybe it just wasn’t very good to begin with. That may be more likely to be honest. It doesn’t seem as if the artist wasn’t skilled though. This seems like it was some kind of style and it just didn’t work well for me. It is neat that the whole thing is in color though, most manga never really get the color treatment.

The characters were okay, but all of them were rather generic. They all had personalities and yet they were completely forgettable. It was just fun trying to see how many names I remembered from the Sengoku Basara anime. Of course this version of the characters are certainly very different from the anime so it is really just them in name only. You won’t really have much to say about any of the characters by the time you’re done. This is one of the many weaknesses of the anthology format. You barely get to really meet any of the characters since they appear and disappear so quickly. The series not having a plot doesn’t help either, but there’s only so much you can expect from a one shot right?

I don’t want to be too harsh on the title as it is pretty short so there’s not a whole lot it could have done. There’s nothing downright bad about the manga so that is actually a good start. The worst aspect is the art and even that isn’t unbearable. The main problem is just that the title is boring. That is pretty serious, but it won’t automatically make this a bad manga either. I certainly don’t see myself getting the game anytime soon though. I’ve warmed up to the Fire Emblem style of combat, but not quite enough to buy a full game just yet.

I also have to admit that I’m not a big fan of the Sengoku cast in general. The anime/main series games are the only ones that have made them interesting. As much as I like the gameplay in Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, the plots are extremely boring. I wish they had used the anime versions for this crossover as I guarantee it would have made the manga a lot more enjoyable. I almost hate to say this next part, but I would have even preferred it if the manga had added an original character to the mix. A random kid from Tokyo or New York or something who has a Pokemon and travels to the Dynasty Warrior era. That would have made for a much more enjoyable time than everyone randomly having Pokemon, but not doing a whole lot with them. It says something when Natsume’s Book of Friends is more emotional and entertaining at the same time compared to this one.

I think the series did try a little though as each chapter was over 50 pages. That means it’s roughly a 300 page series which is pretty good even if all of the “pages” are extremely small. Maybe the format was just built that way, but it feels like someone divided each page into 3 different pictures to make it look more impressive. I’ll assume this wasn’t the case as that seems just a little bit sketchy if you ask me.

Overall, This Pokemon manga is one that will likely be forgotten by everyone almost instantly. It is very short, has no plot, and the art isn’t very good. There are just no real reasons to actually sit down and read it except to add it to your collection of manga titles that you’ve read. I don’t recommend the title because it just comes across as pointless. That being said, if you do read it you can at least take solace in the fact that it didn’t really do anything wrong. It didn’t do anything right, but that’s just how it goes. I wish they’d go ahead and finish scanning the Reburst chapters. Now that was a Quality Pokemon series that even rivaled Adventures.

Overall 5/10

Pirate’s Quest: Hunt for Blackbeard’s Booty Review

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It’s time for another Wii party game. It’s actually been quite a while since I got to play one so this was nostalgic. The actual games are better than most in this genre although that is fought back by the limited content in this game. Seriously, the game only has 5-6 minigames which is significantly less than pretty much any other party game. Name a title that has less minigames, I’ll wait. I give the game some kudos for actually getting a story together with actual cutscenes though. It’s not much but it shows that this game has more of a budget than the rest.

So the main mode is story mode of course. You can also just play the minigames freely in multiplayer mode as well which is where you’ll likely spend most of your time after beating the game. After all, there is nothing else to do. The main story mode has 3 worlds which each have the 5-6 minigames. It’s just the same ones that get recycled so this is an obvious ploy to extend the game without actually coming up with new content. It’s a little sloppy and forced if I’m being honest, but at least it’s only 3 worlds so it could have been much worse. The cutscenes explain how Blackbeard found his treasure. They’re fairly low budget, but not half bad. The story should last you for a full 2 hours. Multiplayer can be infinite but considering that you’ll likely switch to Mario Party before long, I doubt you’ll be sticking around. There’s really almost nothing to do in this game so buying it at full price would have been crazy. For only around 2 dollars though, it’s really not a terrible bargain.

The graphics are pretty underwhelming but what else is new right? It’s what I’d expect from a Wii game of this caliber. There isn’t much of a soundtrack either so just focus on the minigames. On a technical level the game does not surpass expectations and merely meets them half heartedly. So far this review has been pretty tough on the game eh? It’s time for the actual games then to see if they can save the title. First off is Poloball which is actually my favorite. It’s like Golf, but actually exciting and with more stakes. Essentially you have to hit a ball through about 10-16 checkpoints. Once you cross them all, then you get a poison ball and want to hit all of the other balls. Whoever gets the poison ball first naturally has a huge advantage over the others. The game can theoretically take a long time if everyone is good though. This is because the gates are narrow and if you bump another ball then you can shoot it far away. As a result, everyone could keep shooting each other’s balls away for a while which would make for a big stalemate. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.

The swordfighting game is probably the weakest one. It’s about swinging your Wii remote as the sword so you can see why this didn’t work out too well. The remote just won’t listen to you half of the time and it feels like the computer always has the edge. You’ll just want to keep swinging and hope for the best, but it doesn’t make for a very balanced minigame. It was generic at best. We had the tag team boat racing where one character controls the cannons while the other steers. This one is pretty fun although I don’t like the fact that if you get too far ahead of the opponent he is brought up to where you are. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of the minigame don’t you think? That felt like a big flaw.

Another minigame is treasure hunting. It’s also 2 on 2 which the game seemed to love. You have to dig for chests while the other team tries to whack you on the head. Then you switch placed after a certain amount of time or it happens instantly if they get both of you at the same time. This game has a lot of strategy behind it and I definitely enjoyed the game. You really have to try and stay one step ahead of your opponent throughout the game. Teamwork is also important because if both players go after one person then the other one has free reign. It’s pretty well done for the game. As you can see, in general the minigames are actually pretty good. They’re just really limited and you can only play a minigame for so long before you grow tired of it. I doubt I’d want to play too many games of poloball back to back after all.

Technically there are a bunch of a costumes, weapons, and characters to unlock. You’ll just notice very quickly that they don’t make for much of an incentive to grab them all. I was happy to grab some along the way with the in game currency but they’re way too pricey. I would have to play the game for a very long time to get them all and I’m not willing to make such an investment in time. Not on this game anyway and especially without any trophies for my efforts.

Overall, This game ranks up there with Casper as one of the shorter games. Perhaps the campaign is longer than the others since it is 2 hours, but in terms of actual content this one is way shorter than that. The lack of minigames just can’t be ignored. While there are unlockables they seem purely cosmetic so it’s not as if they really add a dimension to the game. If you find this title for 2 dollars then you should probably snag it but otherwise I’d advise getting a better party game instead. There is no shortage of other options to be honest as even the newest Mario Parties are better games than this one. Sorry Blackbeard, but my treasure is in another title.

Overall 5/10

Good Scouts Review

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It’s been a while, but time to finally check out the next Disney special. Donald Duck always makes for a pretty good protagonist and this time is no different as he tries to survive the harsh elements of the great outdoors. Unfortunately, he doesn’t tie up his tent correctly so he gets splattered with honey and then a bear attacks him. Can Donald stop the bear and get back to teaching his nephews what being a professional is all about or is he doomed?

The special is super short as always, but it manages to capture the adventure rather well. The plot/pacing felt a lot tighter than usual which was really good as all of the scenes really had a purpose. When you have to tell a full story in roughly 10-12 minutes you really have to think through every scene to decide if it should be there or not. I can’t think of any scene that should have been removed. Donald was perhaps even more sputtery than usual as it could be hard to hear what he was saying, but it just increases the “Donald” effect that you like to see in his specials. His nephews were pretty solid this time around as well. They did at least try to stop Donald from nearly breaking his back on the stone tree. Perhaps they could have tried a little harder, but they did enough.

Donald also recovered from it pretty well which is why he’s such a good character. He took the whole thing in stride and even decided to play a practical joke on his nephews. It may have failed in every sense of the word and I’m not sure about the spelling of the ketchup (Was the word copyrighted back in the day?) but it showed that Donald was ready to spread the chaos. It just didn’t work this time around.

The animation is pretty fluid and consistent like you’d expect it to be. I do like these simple hand drawn days. You can tell that the animators put a lot of effort into it and I still can’t imagine drawing frame by frame. That just sounds like soooo much work. There isn’t much of a soundtrack in this one, but we get all of the classic sound effects for the chase scene. You could feel the desperation in Donald as he struggled to escape before realizing that it was all ultimately futile. There is just no running away from a big bear.

Overall, I enjoyed this special quite a bit. It’s easily one of Disney’s best shorts. The cast may have been a little smaller than usual, but it just meant that we got to see Donald more. I’m waiting for a special where he challenges Mickey to something like Basketball or Hockey so we could see his competitive side come out a little more. We know that Donald never gives up and is always bursting with confidence after all. Putting him in a situation like that would absolutely make for quite the spectacle. If you haven’t seen this special yet, then I’d advise you to do so ASAP. Prepare yourself for the somber ending though. Donald knows that he’s got to keep running because if it catches him….it’s game over.

Overall 7/10

Tegami Bachi Review

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Tegami Bachi is one of those titles that took a big risk as it has a very original plot. It’s about mailmen who deliver letters in an apocalyptic world where giant monsters run wild. Nobody dares leave their house because of these monsters and there really isn’t an army or police to speak of. The Mailmen are known as the last defense and their method of attacking the monsters is to use guns that are fueled by their hearts and the hearts of others. As such, the mail that they deliver carries the feelings of the person who wrote them and that is what allows them to fight the monsters. Otherwise, they have to use their own heart and if they use too much, they’ll die as well.

The series follows a kid named Lag. He cries a lot and isn’t really as tough as you’d expect a mailman to be. That being said, being a mailman has always been his dream ever since he saw one in person a while back. He soon finds out that the group may not be as heroic as the stories say and everyone has an agenda. He also learns the startling truth that the Sun is actually being powered by humans around the world. They are kidnapped and fed into the Sun to keep it bright. The hearts that the Mailmen are using also seem to have permanent effects on the humans so while they are helping the world….they’re dooming its inhabitants at the same time. There are others who know this and call themselves the Revolutionary army. At first I thought they were trying to black out the Sun, but they just went crazy at the end so I’ll assume that they are Twitch commentors. It seems like a simple solution though right? Just blow up the Sun. The Problem is that the embodiment of the Sun is actually Lag’s mother, who was kidnapped and forced to be the vessel. Lag can try to save her and keep the Sun alive, murdering millions in the process, or save the humans but end up destroying his Mom. Alternately he can do nothing and the Mom will turn into a giant monster and destroy the Earth on her own. He has some tough calls to make.

Honestly, one of the reasons why the series wasn’t very good is that the characters just aren’t very interesting. Lag is our protagonist, but it’s hard to like the guy. He spends over half of the series crying. It becomes such a huge part of his character that it’s how he is recognized by the others. After he spent a year training in the wilderness, everyone thought he was an imposter because he didn’t cry anymore. Honestly, that could have saved his character if it didn’t only happen for the final 2 volumes. He essentially sealed off his emotions in exchange for great powers. It was so complete that he couldn’t even shed a tear when his sister died. Was it really worth the power? Well, it gave him enough of a boost where he was able to take down the evil Insect Queen so I suppose, but I can see why the others would be completely alienated. Especially since Lag had absolutely no intention of cluing any of the others in. So, I liked Lag in the final 2 volumes, but considering that the series was a full 20, it was wayyyy too late for any of that.

His Dingo (Essentially it means partner in this series) is Niche. She has an unfortunate habit of constantly taking her pants off since she doesn’t like them and it’s one of those running gags that was never funny even at the start. I do like the fact that Niche has actual powers. She can use her hair as a barrier or as a means of attack so she doesn’t have to worry about carrying mail around. She even has a pet although she claims it is just in case she gets hungry. Again…not a very funny joke. Niche just wasn’t all that likable. She’s all right at best and is a slight improvement over Lag, but not a big one.

Gauche is one of those intriguing characters. He starts out as a great character. He’s the expert that everybody looks up to and manages to stay rather mysterious as well. Then he decided to betray everyone and joined the villain organization…then he became a hero again. By the end he has decided to stick to the path of the hero but he sure did flip flop a lot. He also lost his memories in the process so so much for that. He was a pretty good villain and I suppose he is still one of the most interesting characters in the series, but I wondered what the point of his role was.

Zazie is sort of like a sub rival. He’s a fairly good fighter, but a considerable step below Gauche. He is fairly confident and likes to talk a big game, but his weakness is that his shots lack power so he can’t take down the bigger monsters. He also looks up to Jiggy Pepper a lot. Jiggy gets a considerable amount of hype, but he never actually does much. He only appears once in a while and while it seems like he is a pretty good Letter Bee (Mailman) he just can’t be bothered to help out. You’d think with the fate of the world at stake that he’d make more of an effort.

Connor is Lag’s best friend. He’s the comic relief, overweight member of the Letter Bee police. He can’t really fight much, but he likes eating so that’s what motivates him. He’ll eat anything at any time of the day so I suppose you have to admire the dedication. That being said, it doesn’t really make him a compelling character.

Largo is one of the main leaders of the Letter Bee and naturally he also ended up being a big traitor. As with Gauche though, he seemed rather conflicted about this so after sticking with the villains for a while, he decided to become a hero again. I suppose it’s lightly hinted that he only joined to trick the villains into heading for the final boss room to provide more hearts for the heroes. He also got a really rushed/dark origin story as we find out that his Mom was experimented on and his Dad was a villain. It really had nothing to do with anything, just like this character as a whole.

Roda is Gauche’s Dingo and it’s nice to see one who really knows what she is doing. The obvious parallels between her combat ability and Gauche’s vs the pair of Lag and Niche makes you wish the series would consider trading main characters. Roda is definitely pretty good and is a little more committed to being heroic. Then there’s also Lawrence who is the main leader of the villains. Thing is, since the villains had no plan, I have to put most of the blame on this guy. Whatever he was trying to do didn’t work so clearly he should have thought it through more.
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We also meet the Head Letter Bee at the very end of the series. Essentially he went insane upon finding out that the government was using massive amounts of slaves to fuel the Sun and went crazy. Instead of trying to save them, he decided to help since “what’s done is done.” After reminding us of how he is still evil, he decided to run away, but under the guise of a giant teddy bear. Even though he ran off he still has enough authority to boss around the whole cast. He claims that he has transcended gender as well so he only talks with hearts now. I also don’t know what point this character had, but that’s a running theme in the series.

When you really break this series down, you realize that the story had a really good premise. It really could and should have been a great series. One issue is that there are no real fight scenes. Every action scene is just the main characters firing their guns and hoping for the best. The monsters never really fight back or do anything. They are portrayed as being completley mindless. The final Insect which hovers over the whole sun seems to be as abstract as it is physical. It barely matters since it is taken down in one shot as well. I’m all for mindless monsters attacking, but then that’s why you also need humanoid opponents. However, the villains never directly fought the heroes because they were too busy.

At least the art is pretty decent. It’s not great or anything, but it works well for the somber atmosphere that the series is going for. The characters can look rather similar at times which is a little iffy, but it’s not too bad or anything. Unfortunately, the series does have some fanservice at times. It’s nothing too frequent, but there is some actual nudity in it. The volumes may blur it out as I don’t remember coming across it although a panel in the final two volumes may have had a moment like it, but fortunately it seems like a stain got in the way. Basically stuff like this only happens when Niche’s sister is in town, but that’s still pretty terrible. I am reviewing the title from the volumes that I read though which is why I’m not bumping it down to an instant 0. If you decide to read it online though, be warned. There aren’t a lot of positives to go around as it is so it’s tougher to fight the negatives.

The plot is fairly confusing like Pandora Hearts, but it isn’t interesting in the way that Hearts was. You’re never interested in learning more about Letter Bee because there isn’t much more to learn. Even if you re read the series, it’s not as if you missed a whole lot. It’s just that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense anyway. Here’s one big issue with the series, at the end they say that they can only send one person to the capital to stop the giant monster. Why? The whole world is going to end anyway so why not send everybody? After a lot of drama, they decide to send 2 Letter Bees, but then the whole cast follows them anyway. There was never any reason whatsoever not to send the whole gang in. While they’re bickering and wasting time on side missions to decide who is worthy to go, whole cities are being wiped off of the planet. Yes, the aliens can take out whole cities in a single flash from the Sun but nobody seems to care. Even the manga doesn’t really treat it like a big deal. It’s just a city after all.

This is just one example of how the author didn’t think things through. I also think that he went too far in making every character act like a villain. I know many titles like to make the government evil, but you need to have some good characters. The only two groups are the evil government who kidnaps and tortures its subjects for no real reason and the terrorists who want to either take control of the Sun or blow it up. No matter who you pick, they don’t have your best interests at heart. There was no reason to go to this extreme. The government could have been shady without being evil. Did the Sun really have to be Lag’s Mom so he would be forced to destroy her in the end? Of course, it’s seen as more like he was setting her free, but it’s still rather dark.

Even the ending is rather dark to be honest. I won’t spoil that since it would be a bit much, but part of the whole point of the final journey was to try and save everyone. That’s the whole reason why Lag sacrificed his emotions and tried to get stronger. Unfortunately while it wasn’t futile, the body count was pretty high by the end. Some characters won’t even be thrilled to get their hearts back because they have already lost everyone they cared about. Nobody’s bringing the various cities back. The ending’s a little vague on a certain character, but I’d say that he’s probably dead. It tries to be an inspirational ending, but I certainly wouldn’t call it one. It’s not a classic time skip though so I’ll give it that.

If only the series could have done more with its premise instead of worrying about a terribly conceived plot. I like the idea of people being unable to travel anymore so they have to rely on messages for communication. It’s retro and still gets the apocalyptic feel across. Mailmen being the ones to travel is a nice exaggeration of what really goes on as the famous saying that Mailmen deliver no matter how the weather is. It’s a fun concept and could have made for a really good series. It could have tackled some other themes like if they should deliver messages from villains and the like since they shouldn’t read it, but can read emotions so they typically know what kind of message it is. This was all far too nuanced for Letter Bee though so it simply wasn’t to be.
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Overall, Letter Bee’s not a very fun series. It’s too bad as the series was trying to get back on track by the end. Lag’s new personality was certainly a positive although the Teddy Bear at the end and all of the random twists didn’t help matters. Lag’s friend was going to sacrifice her whole city even though Lag said he had a plan just because she could. (Her plan didn’t work anyway) The series never really seems all that dark except it just is. The manga just doesn’t portray the events as being too serious. There’s not a lot of action and the cast is rather weak. There aren’t a bunch of negatives though so that’s a good thing but they weren’t needed when there isn’t much positive to fight it off. There isn’t much reason to ever revisit the series, but I suppose if you want a title with mailmen and giant monsters, then this one’s a good pick for you. That’s rather specific, but it’s the best I got.

Overall 4/10

Future Card Buddyfight Triple D Review

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It’s time for the next installment in the Buddyfight series. For a little while there I was worried that it would only get 2 seasons and die out because many great anime don’t make it to 3 seasons. However it did make it and now has a 4th season so we can safely say that the franchise is safe. Even if it were to end soon, it’s had a great run. It’s awesome to be living in a time where we have Yu-Gi-Oh, Buddyfight, and Cardfight all airing new episodes. Buddyfight is the weakest of the 3 at least when it comes to the franchises, but it always puts up a good fight. This season had a rocky start, but by the end I’d say that it surpassed season 2 while still not being able to catch the original.

Gao doesn’t have his Drum Bunker Dragon anymore so he has to get a replacement. He ends up getting a buddy named Bal. Bal is a lot younger than Drum and acts like a little kid. It takes a while for the pair to really get along, but they gradually develop a tight bond. They decide to enter the local tournaments to prove that they are the best and gradually approach the World Cup. However, they will have to get past some powerful rivals like Tasuku, the boy prodigy, and Gaito, a mysterious newcomer who wants to prove his strength above all. Meanwhile, Kyoya has been replaced as the head of the financial company and has decided to enter the tournament as a normal participant. What are his goals here? There are many other foes who have surfaced like the new head and a mysterious scientist with a split personality. Gao will have to keep his guard up at all times since these games may not just be for fun anymore.

Lets talk about why the season had a rough start. It acts a little bit like a reboot at times. It’s not a full reboot though so the best way to describe it is like Pokemon. Ash has gone on all of his adventures, but he is still only 10 years old and forgot a lot of his battle experience and even acts like he doesn’t know some of the original Pokemon at times. That’s how it is here. Gao and friends act like they barely know some of the old characters like Tasuku and many supporting characters. This is only relevant in the first episodes as they all become friends again and act like their old selves, but the early episodes are fairly bizarre. It feels like the writers couldn’t decide if he knows the others or not so it goes back and forth on that.

Another issue is that the show seems to aim a little younger this time. Particularly in the first episodes again, it seems a little like Pokemon Sun and Moon. There are a lot of visual gags now with characters faces getting exaggerated and crude humor jokes. One new addition to the show is Zom-B. His whole character is made for excessive humor as he constantly panics and destroys himself. It’s a running gag that the show spams in almost every episode of the first half along with recycled animation the whole time. None of his jokes are funny at all and he does drag down some of the battles to an extent. I was glad when he slowly started to appear less. As you can tell, I didn’t care for the humor. It did not work well at all.

So you may be wondering how this season could possibly top 2 right? Well, it has less repetition. What severely brought Buddyfight 100 down was how many times Gao had to fight the same enemy. That’s never an issue here fortunately. The season is also filled with nonstop tournaments the whole time which was really good. As a result, the action never let up and there were a lot of interesting fights in the mix. In the end we watch card game shows for all of the epic duels and that’s one of the reasons why this show succeeds. Tournaments are particularly fun to watch in this genre although I’d say that they work in just about every genre as well.

As always, the show doesn’t disappoint with the over the top visuals. Every final smash ends up severely damaging the planet and you wonder how the player can survive the intense virtual damage. All of the character designs are on point and a lot of the monster designs look really good. Gaito’s design is solid and his monster is very cool as well. The show’s soundtrack is also amazing. The show is now at its height in that regard. This is mainly because Gaito’s theme is really good and may even surpass the arena theme from 100. Fortunately that one returns along with the despair theme. Combined, those themes make this show one of the best in the business.
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Gao is a likable character as always. He’s not quite as awesome as he was in the first two seasons, but he’s still solid. He’s less intense, but still has a lot of skills. It’s just a shame that he’s not as overpowered as he used to be. I remember when winning every single battle was child’s play for him. Kuguru and Baku don’t really do much in the season. They’re even more irrelevant than they were in the previous two seasons which is a little disappointing for their fans. Fortunately, I don’t like either character much so I’m pretty fine with this.

Bal is certainly no Drum. By the end of the show I didn’t mind him. He beats the new Buddy in the current season, but Drum is still the best. Bal’s true form is really epic to watch and I’m glad that he can actually fight. He didn’t master the form for quite a while, but the payoff was good once he got going.

Tasuku’s as cool as ever. He (finally) quit the Buddypolice for most of the season although there is a slight twist about that. Anyway, he is one character who did not lost his character development. Since he already had a bunch in the previous seasons there is no longer any room for doubt or worry. He is completely sure of himself here and doesn’t have to enter any morally grey areas. Unfortunately this also does make things tricky for him near the climax. He disagrees with challenging Kyoya because he wants to wait for the cops to make a move and thinks it’s dangerous. I disagreed with the rationale there because stopping Kyoya is the safest way to save the world. It’s risky, but still the best move. Still, Tasuku ultimately relented and was pivotal in taking down some of the minions. With Gao being slightly nerfed in the personality department you can make a case for Tasuku being the best character. His buddy Jackknife Dragon is as reliable as ever and serves as a mentor to Bal.

Gaito is the new rival on the block and he’s a really good character. He uses a Dark deck and has shadow energy at all times. This instantly meant that he was going to be my kind of character. His Dragon Abigail gets a lot of development throughout and has a big subplot to himself. I liked him a lot and he is probably my favorite hero dragon in the season. That may seem a bit specific but if we count enemies then I’d probably have to go with Kyoya’s dragon. Gaito gradually does get a little more friendly, but he always stays serious compared to the rest of the characters. Heading off to face Kyoya alone is the kind of decision that I’d expect him to make and it’s one that I supported. I didn’t like his odds going into that fight, but everyone is outmatched against that guy.

Kyoya is the main villain once again. This means that he was the final boss in 2 out of 3 seasons. It could seem repetitive if you see the plot summaries from afar, but it makes sense. True, Kyoya may have had a bit of a personality shift since he seemed like he was turning good after the original season, but his motives are fairly complex. Season 1 was like the opening act for him to gather data and season 2 was something he just didn’t calculate on. I was surprised to see him lose there, but it helped to legitimize the threat. It’s like if an alien attack our world, heroes and villains alike would team up to stop them because we want the world for ourselves. Kyoya just didn’t think it would be enough to beat him. He regained all of his hype in this season though. His new card is great and without plot hax it is virtually unbeatable. There are always some tough questions to ask like if creating your own card is really legitimate or not, but Bal gave Gao, Gaito, and Tasuku one so fair is fair right? It’s no coincidence that the 4 created cards are the strongest either. Why would you make yourself a weak one right?

Azi Dahaka has always been a fun dragon in the series. His fans may be a little upset that he doesn’t really get to activate his master plan and is basically used by Kyoya the whole time, but he still has a very intimidating presence. He’s a good villain to have around for sure. I’ll miss him if he doesn’t return, but I somehow get the feeling that Kyoya will bring him back. If not, maybe this finally was Kyoya’s last hurrah, but I won’t believe that until I see it. Even if he returns as a rival instead of an enemy, I’d be on board with that. Kyoya’s 2 on 1 duel against Gaito and Tasuku is one of the most epic moments of the franchise. The duel may have been off screen, but it’s unheard of to beat multiple opponents. In Buddyfight, that is basically impossible to accomplish thanks to the structure of the game.
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Rouga also gets to appear a little, but I have no idea what the writers are even thinking with him anymore. His character serves no point and I just don’t like the guy anymore. That may be a bit harsh, but I used to like him. It just feels like his character has gone nowhere and he hasn’t gotten any stronger while everyone else has improved. He’s not a threat anymore and I think the franchise should just write him out unless they have a specific plan in mind for him. Noboru is the opposite as he’s still a great character as always. It’s just rather tragic as he loses basically every big battle that he gets involved in. He always gets to make a good speech and it gets emotional, but he can’t close it out. It’s because he always ends up fighting the big villains. It’s a shame, but at least he is a character who tries. Actually, maybe he should be known as the best character in the series now. He’s certainly consistent and I’m always rooting for him at any rate.

Lets talk about some of the new characters. Kaido is a guy who loves yelling about festivals. He never gets serious, but that’s part of his character. He always makes sure to have fun when playing Buddyfight even if everyone else forgets that when the world is at stake. He has the largest monster in the franchise which is essentially his gimmick. It’s pretty impressive and he’s a nice guy. I don’t mind him all that much and he’s a decent rival. I don’t find him to be all that cool, but his gimmick doesn’t get too annoying which helps a lot. He’ll either be your kind of character or not. As far as the new additions go, he’s probably the weakest not counting the one shot characters.

Doctor Gara is one of the big villains who shows up and I liked him. His happy personality as a scientist is pretty boring, but his deranged form works really well. I don’t know how everyone kept getting tricked by him, but I suppose it was the Team Rocket effect. He was actually a very powerful opponent and nearly took Tasuku down. Mix that in with his cool design and he was one of the best parts of the season. Buddyfight is probably one of the few shows where the new villains always seem to be cooler than the new heroes. Maybe that isn’t too rare depending on who you ask, but I liked all of the new villains. He may be no Kyoya, but at least he was a threat. His monster: Zodiac was really good as well. He had a great design that was on point.

Genesis is the other big villain who entered the fray. He replaced Kyoya in the company and now makes it his life’s work to mess up Kyoya’s plans when possible. We get a lot of episodes where both characters are constantly trying to one up the other and it makes for an interesting plot. Kyoya always seems to win in the end, but Genesis came close. He may be the single strongest duelist in the game to be honest. His one hit KO combo is incredibly good and it really should have won. He only lost due to the cheese factor and the fact that someone came back from the grave. Yes, one character’s ability lets him keep on dueling even if his life points hit 0. All right, it’s Gaito, I may as well say it since the ability isn’t a huge plot point. Genesis’ final monster form has a really cool design and the next Buddyfight season even brought back the concept. I guess it must have been a big hit.

As always, the show has an incredible climax which just made the rest of the show even more awesome. It made me really realize what a fun show it had been. The original still wins because it had consistent writing and quality the whole time. The climax may not have been quite as explosive and awesome, but everything else made up for that. This show’s climax is easily the best of the 3 seasons and one of the best anime climaxes in general. Part of it is the fact that Kyoya returned as it feels like a big payoff from the 3 seasons.

I have to say that there’s going to be a lot of pressure for the next season I’m roughly 10 episodes in for that one so it’s way too early to say how it’ll fare. Buddyfight generally starts to ramp up the plot and intensity in the 20s as it loves to use the early episodes for character development and world building. You may think that’s a little excessive but it does work. Hear me out, it can be tough to sit through a bunch of episodes that feel like filler, but it absolutely does make you care more about the characters. Why do you think Cardfight was so successful? It takes just as long to get started at times and G gave us roughly 40-50 episodes of pure character development in the form of the first season before the plot really went underway. As long as the episodes are good anyway (Which they were in Cardfight. Buddyfight admittedly does struggle in this area) then it’s fine. It’s shows with lackluster plots like Naruto which gives the impression that development episodes are bad.

A big element in this season which I almost neglected to mention is the legendary Dragon Force. It is a super ability that only the chosen may wield which naturally means that the main 3 characters obtain it. Gao, Tasuku, and Gaito. The ability is pretty handy. Aside from the cool visuals it also gives some nice abilities to the users. Gaito gets the ability to obtain a second life, Gao can attack multiple times, and Tasuku’s also increases his attacks. Clearly Gaito got the best one if you ask me. Each character also gained an Impact Card which is essentially a super attack that their main monster can use. Gaito’s so good that he obtained two of them though.

These attacks and forms get a pretty high budget animation, but it is one that is reused constantly so it’s a mixed bag. Personally I’m all for it. Recycled footage can be a little dicey at times, but it seems more like a fun gimmick than a crutch in this case. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to have to reanimate these moments every single time. It would certainly get old fast.

When it all boils down to it, one of the best parts of the show is the large amount of hype that everyone gets. Unlike World Trigger where it is a little overdone at times, the characters all live up to the hype. Gaito gets some really epic scenes where he takes down enemies even after they figure out his Impact ability. He quickly grew to be one of my favorite characters because of it. Similarly, Kyoya, Genesis, and Tasuku had big moments as well. Unlike Sengoku Basara where the show didn’t want to give up on the hype, this show knew when it was time to choose a winner though. For example, Gaito and Genesis got to fight when both of them were near the height of their hype reputations. There wasn’t a draw though and a clear winner was chosen. The show is pretty good at not having draws overall as there was only one big one that I can recall and even in that instance, Kyoya would have won, unfortunately the machine couldn’t handle the power of his card.

There are some power level stuff that gets a bit tricky. I didn’t really buy into how Genesis was defeated and there may have been a few cheesy moments here and there. Nothing major though and a big part of card games is the luck factor involved. For the most part it was all fairly believable. I’m definitely hoping for a big reunion season soon though with a tournament that encompasses characters from all of the seasons. You have to admit that this would be hype. On one last note, Kiri fans will be disappointed by the fact that he looks terrible here. He nearly resorts to kidnapping Bal to run away from the enemy threat and doesn’t fight almost at all despite gaining these super powerful abilities of his. Not a good look considering his character development.

For fun, here are the card game seasons off the top of my head. Shows without subtitles are treated as the same though and I’m merging Zexal and Zexal II since that’s what I did on this site. The order would be Yugioh GX, Cardfight Link Joker, Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds, Yu-Gi-Oh Arc V, Cardfight Legion Mate, Yu-Gi-Oh, Cardfight Vanguard, Cardfight Asia Circuit, Digimon Tamers, Future Card Buddyfight, Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal, Cardfight G GIRS Crisis, Scan 2 Go, Buddyfight Triple D, Cardfight NEXT, Cardfight G, Buddyfight 100, Buddyfight NEXT, Yu-Gi-Oh Capsule Monsters. I’m pretty sure I got them all. It’s pretty tough to put them all in order since most of the shows are really close to each other. Some are still ongoing as well so they may move up by the end. The worst card show (Minus Capsule Monsters) on the list is still a very good title overall which is why the genre is just so much fun. I’m glad that it has been doing so well as of late.
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Overall, This was a great anime. I highly recommend watching this season. The best part is that since they tried to target newcomers with this title, you can go ahead and watch it without knowing much of the series beforehand. The rules are easy to follow and the plot is pretty basic. After all, a tournament is as straight forward as it gets while still being incredibly epic. We also get the awesome climax and there is a real time fight during the night where Bal fights Azi Dahaka outside of the game rules. That was fun and I’d love to see more of that. Please bring Azi Dahaka back as well, there’s still so much that the franchise can do for him. Buddyfight’s action and pacing ensure that this is a show everyone can check out.

Overall 8/10

Moana Review

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It’s time for a fairly recent animated film although it feels a little old by now. We haven’t gotten too many films that take place in the islands. Lilo and Stitch is one of the only big ones that I can think of. I’m perfectly okay with this since the big cities are where I like the films to stay. It just makes for a more engaging backdrop. That being said, the film did have some pretty nice visuals along the way thanks to the nice action scene at the end. It’s a good film, but one that does have some issues.

The plot revolves around a girl named Moana. She is destined to rule the island at some point so she is learning as much as she can. That being said, she wants to venture off the island because she feels too constricted there. It’s prohibited because of a risky endeavor led by her father. The choice is taken out of her hands when she is chosen to save the world by delivering a relic to an island where it was stolen long ago. She’ll need to enlist the help of Maui, a demigod whose abilities are matched only by his intelligence. He really doesn’t want to help, but he gets taken along for the ride. Can these two really manage to get the stone to the island where they will have to face off against Te Ka? It certainly won’t be easy!

Moana is a good main character. I’d want to leave the island if I was in her shoes as well. The economy wasn’t going well and the job market seemed to be wearing thin as well. The village simply needed new materials and she would have to venture out to get them. Moana is very determined and keeps getting back on the track no matter how many times Maui fails. The ocean’s blessing was also super useful since it meant that Moana couldn’t drown. She had a little crisis of self confidence towards the second half of the film, but fortunately she managed to get past it.

Unfortunately, Moana is perfectly countered by Maui who is one of the worst Disney “heroes” that I’ve ever seen. There is absolutely nothing heroic about this guy. He seriously tries to drown Moana in one scene and then leaves her to die in a blocked off cave in another. Fortunately, the ocean saved her the first time and she found an exit the second. The fact that Maui tried to murder her is glossed over later on and his attempts grow less drastic as time goes on. That being said, he was already too far gone for me to see him as a likable character. Even up to the end, Maui is really just fighting for himself and his ego.

What makes this even worse is the fact that Maui isn’t even very tough. On the contrary, I’d say that he is actually very weak. He can’t really hold his own against anybody. He gets wrecked by a giant crab and doesn’t even put up a good fight against the fire demon. Maui is really just one of those characters who is all talk and no action. He gets old rather quickly. For the other supporting characters, we also have Moana’s father and her grand mother. The Dad gets annoying pretty quick as he tries to stop Moana since he lost in his mission a while back. I definitely don’t think leaving the island should be banned. The grandmother is nice and seems to know a lot, but she also does act a little crazy half the time. Her antics probably could have been dialed down a notch.

There are two main villains here. The first one is Tamatoa, a giant crab who sparkles. This guy humiliates Maui quite a lot so I was on board with that. He’s a fairly intimidating villain as well even if he is easy to trick. He made for some pretty fun scenes so I was glad to have him on board. He didn’t seem that strong, but his strength was ultimately enough anyway. The other big villain is Te Ka, who defeated Maui so completely that the poor guy was scarred for life. Te Ka’s fire abilities were pretty great and the heroes definitely didn’t seem like they had a chance against her. That being said, it does lead to one of the film’s biggest plot holes. Te Ka is probably the best character in the film.

Here’s where the plot gets messy. Okay, the whole point is that the ocean is sentient in this film and wants Moana to save the day. She needs to get the pendent/stone/mcguffin to the island to seal the demon. Here’s where the plot falls apart. We learn that the water can move and walk around. It can grab things and shoot blasts of water. Why isn’t the ocean just placing the item back itself? From what we see in the movie, it would be very easy to stun the fire demon and place it. After all, the ocean finally does take the fire demon down in one shot when it acts at the end. The fire demon keeps healing so it’s not down for the count, but it would be long enough for the water to finish the job. There is no reason for it not to act and I feel like this is a glaring hole in the film’s script/plot. It just made no sense and I was puzzled about that during the entire film.

The film isn’t very long so the pacing is relatively sound. Quite a lot happens during the time frame as the heroes have to reclaim Maui’s weapon, fight off pirates, and go on a bunch of adventures. I have to say that Maui’s shape shifting was as underwhelming as you’d expect though. He made a big deal about how he would get super tough once he had his weapon back and he still had a habit of getting knocked around by everyone. I was just surprised that he never lived up to his own hype.

The animation looks pretty good. The water is crispy and clear. The energy blasts and disaster zone with Te Ka are also visually striking. It’s a pretty well made movie all around in terms of the visuals. The character designs are also on point and I certainly didn’t notice any animation errors. By and large, the writing is pretty good as well. It’s nothing special, but it doesn’t make any mistakes so that is most certainly a good thing.

The humor can be a bit weak in this film. One of the main comedy subplots is that Moana has a bird who can’t really think straight. This means that he is always getting lost, pecking the ground, or just getting in everyone’s way. There’s nothing really fun about seeing a bird just crash into everything all the time and I could never get behind the plot. As far as animal mascots go, this one was a complete dud.

Overall, Moana is a good film. It goes by fairly quick and has some nice action scenes at the end. What holds it back is mainly Maui. The guy is just unbearable whenever he’s on screen and comes off as a total jerk. The bird subplot certainly didn’t do the film any favors either. It’s a fun flick, but odds are that you’ll find yourself choosing something else to watch. There’s nothing that this film does particularly well that isn’t completely surpassed by a better film. Don’t even get me started on comparing the songs to the classic “Let It Go” That won’t end well. Still, if you’re in the mood for a tropical animated film, there aren’t a lot of other options. This will definitely be the option for you.

Overall 6/10

Mobilize!! Pokemon Ranger Review

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You may remember that I started this series about a month ago. I ended up finishing it about a day or two later, but I didn’t get a chance to put up the review til now. It’s only 12 chapters long so it makes for a very fast read. The chapters are also small so it’s considerably shorter than the average manga volume. It basically adapts the first game, but think of it as an abridged version.

A Pokemon Ranger wants to be the very best. He’s at a pretty low rank at the moment, but his heart’s in the right place. He completes several missions and then becomes aware of a new danger lurking over the horizon. They are essentially the anti Pokemon Rangers as they use their capture nodes to control Pokemon and bring them over to the dark side. Is there anything that our young hero can do to stop them? Luckily he is not alone as he has two main comrades who help him when they feel like it. They are far more experienced so typically they’re busy on other tasks.

Grabbing this series was pretty tough since Deviantart is really the only place that has it all. It’s so obscure that websites even say that it has 12 volumes as opposed to chapters. I suppose the chapters may have been called volumes or something, but I think that’s just because it was labeled that way on the site. I read it all in one batch and I’m glad that I did because finding it again would be a bit of a hassle. It’s mostly due to the fact that the site doesn’t load well and the same goes for the pages so it takes a while. That’s the main reason why I didn’t go back to grab the names. You don’t really need them here anyway since the personalities are what’s important.

The main hero isn’t bad. He’s a nice kid who is very determined. In effect, he’s a generic Shonen kind of character who doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. Luckily, he’s just got a lot of natural skills and Pokemon just want to work with him. He’s courageous and can definitely hold his own story. His more experienced partner is a good character as well. As I mentioned earlier, she doesn’t get a whole lot to do though. For the most part, she pitches in once in a while along with the boss, but it’s all up to the main character. Without him everyone would have been doomed anyway.

The art is a little basic, but it works just fine. It’s certainly clear at the very least so you always know what is happening. It’s nothing that’ll win awards, but it gets the job done. With each chapter being so short, I imagine that the artist had a lot of time to make sure that each page looked just right. As this story is essentially a one shot, you don’t really need to know anything about Pokemon to jump in and enjoy this one. The title gives you the basic premise and explains what is happening.

I played the first Pokemon Ranger game a while back. It’s been a while, but I’d say that the volume felt pretty faithful for what is adapted. Either that or the pre-arc and the main villain were just very similar. One thing that was a little sudden was how the main character jumped from around rank 1 all the way to the max in the final chapter. I guess he did save the world and all, but it seemed a little sudden and out of left field. Well, at least he can boldly proclaim how he got to his goal a lot faster than most other heroes. It didn’t take him almost 6 years to be the Hokage or 10+ years to finally unlock Super Saiyan 4.

Overall, This is a nice little title. It’s a bit of a fluff piece as you’ll read and enjoy it, but then never come back to the title. There isn’t really a need to ever re read this piece, but it’s still good. It didn’t really make any mistakes and it was just a pleasant little tale to read. There’s a lot you can do with the Pokemon universe and I’d like to see more manga titles like this. A longer one would be nice as well, but this is better than nothing. I’d recommend checking it out if you can find it. Maybe it’ll convince you to buy the game since that’s the whole point of this. I aim to buy the next few titles at some point, but it could be a while.

Overall 7/10

Yogi Bear Stats and Records

Stats Time!

% Complete 57%
Continues Used: 0

Picnic Baskets Badges
Jellystone Trail 5/8 3/3
Wolf Forest 3/8 2/3
North Caves 1/8 3/3
Jellystone Ridge 6/8 2/3
Tower Falls 2/8 2/3
Crystal Creek 4/8 2/3
Hawk’s Nest Pass 7/8 3/3
Gold Rush Trail 4/8 2/3
Hanna Cavern 4/8 3/3
Cougar Ridge 1/8 3/3
Barbera Springs 4/8 3/3
Gilder Gauntlet 4/8 3/3
Ranger’s Retreat 4/8 3/3
Dry River Cave 5/8 1/3
boulder Pass 7/8 3/3
Eagle Mountain 3/8 1/3
Huckleberry Canyon 5/8 3/3
Jellystone Lake 2/8 0/3

Maximum Ride Review

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Maximum Ride may have been a really popular book series back in its hay day, but that doesn’t mean that it was destined to get a big budget film. On the contrary, the film got a really low budget title instead. The effects in this feature look worse than some fan made projects that I’ve seen and I’d expect a lot more out of it. Parts of the film show glimpses of hope and potential, but on the whole it is simply not a great adaption. Ah well, maybe it’s for the best that it ended here since an adaption of the last few books would have been dicey even with a big budget. Hopefully the inevitable Daniel X Netflix pilot gets a higher budget.

The film starts off with Max and the rest of her flock. She is a human who has had wings grafted onto her and the same applies to her friends. They escaped from the villains thanks to the help of a scientist there. It’s been many years and the scientist never returned for them. He is either dead or imprisoned. Max and her flock have been hiding at a hut during this time, but the Erasers (Wolf hybrids that were created by the villains) show up one day and kidnap Angel. (The youngest of the group) Max and Fang (The “tough” rival) decide to go after her while they leave the little kid, the blind one, and the fashion girl to fend for themselves. Is this a wise move? Probably not, but Max has to save Angel as soon as possible. The clock is ticking after all.

This movie definitely doesn’t bother to explain a whole lot to the viewers, but that’s okay. It gave you enough to make piecing the puzzle together pretty easy. It gets right to the plot, but unfortunately it isn’t executed well. Maximum herself is one of the big issues here. Now, the film did do a good job of casting her so that she actually looks like my interpretation of Max as opposed to the manga. (Worst design for Maximum ever) That’s where the positives end for her. She talks a really good game and is constantly making threats, but always ends up losing. She loses in one hit to a minion and then loses to an ordinary guy with a gun. She even loses to Ari when they meet up. It makes her confidence seem very hollow and undeserved. Max is definitely a lot more reasonable than the other characters, but that’s a very small consolation when you are still losing left and right.

The other characters are mostly just around to make bad decisions. Nudge is more interested in fashion than in keeping up with the others. She nearly jeopardizes everyone’s safety over a sweater and also takes the time to browse while Angel is in trouble. I certainly couldn’t sympathize with her at all. Gazzy likes explosives and messing around with them even after being told not too. He’s essentially your average kid and isn’t all that likable as a result. Iggy isn’t a bad character, but being blind is his only personality. Beyond that, he’s just an everyday guy who can talk a decently tough game, but doesn’t do a whole lot beyond that.

Ari is the main villain of this film or at least the guy with the biggest role. He’s a minion who has a personal grudge against Max. He snarls a lot and makes faces to be intimidating, but I can’t say that the act was all that convincing. It was hard to ever respect him as a villain either since he came across as really petty. He just got jealous of Max and that’s why he decided to become a villain. Certainly not the best reason eh? Jeb shows up and acts as shady as possible. I never trusted this guy from the start and I’d advise you to do the same. No matter what his reasons are, he did leave the heroes alone for years and didn’t seem all that broken up about it. Yeah…the guy seems suspect to say the least. I never liked him in the books either though.

Fang was horribly miscast, but ignoring that…he’s just not a good character. His romance feels very artificial and he always gives Max bad advice. Telling her not to help people and to actively just ignore trouble is something you’d expect a villain to say. It’s hard for Fang to get past this and he comes off as very self centered. Finally, there’s Angel. She’s not nearly as shady as in the books (yet) so she’s a good character. I do question how she was captured so easily when mind reading is her own gimmick. I mean…..it just didn’t make sense. She could even hear the thoughts while she was still far away from the villains. Naturally, the movie cut away so you couldn’t see what happened next since nobody would have believed it otherwise.

I’ll give the film some props for the dynamic opening credits. It sounded like something out of a video game adaption or a Tron kind of movie. Was it totally fitting for this film? No, but it should have been. How I see it, a good novel adaption can be mainstream like Harry Potter or it can be more of a niche product that aims at the hardcore fans. The theme fits the latter and I feel like the film was going for that, the execution just wasn’t there. There wasn’t much of a soundtrack otherwise and the writing is pretty generic.

One noticable issue is the bad special effects. It’s not as if special effects is a huge deal, but they are so painfully bad that you have to wonder who was handling this. I’ve seen fan projects with better effects or at least flashier ones at any rate. Whenever the characters fly around, it looks like they’re just jumping in front of a background as if we’re back in the 60s. It was scary just how unrealistic it all looked. I’m sure the film tried its best, but the result just wasn’t very good. If the effects were gonna be bad anyway, then I would have liked to have had some big fight scenes along the way. Not having any real action in the whole film is a bit of a let down. The film’s not all that bad as a drama adventure I suppose, but it’s hard to take the heroes so seriously when they’re this weak. If they can’t even beat a thug with a gun, then how can they hope to stop this whole organization? You really have to stretch your disbelief with this.

The heroes also take a little long to get to Angel. While she’s being repeatedly zapped, they’re busy getting knocked out, spending time at a hospital, and flirting instead of going full steam. It made them seem a little unemotional when they should have been going full blast constantly. Naturally, Fang kept saying that they should take a break and rest since that’s all he’s good for during the film.

Overall, Maximum Ride isn’t a really good adaption. The heroes are too weak and all of the villains are as generic as can be. Considering how young Angel is, it’s also a little grating to see her getting zapped over and over again as she waits for the heroes. The cliffhanger for the possible sequel is definitely not much of a draw either. The dream came out of nowhere and didn’t really help much. My final pet peeve is the opening scene as well as when it comes in at the end. Max jumps off of a cliff to escape the villains. It’s a dramatic moment and I figured it wouldshow her taking out the wings and flying off. It didn’t happen either times so I’ll assume she just died in the dream world. Maybe the budget ran out, but everything in the scene pointed towards her being ready to fly and it just didn’t happen. It was fitting I suppose.

Overall 4/10