Kino’s Journey: Country of Illness -For You Review

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It’s time for another Kino special. I’ve never been much of a Kino fan but the concept isn’t bad. Because the whole series is about watching her go to various lands and experiencing their traditions and customs, it means that there is always the chance you will enjoy the adventure or also dislike it by the same token. Effectively the franchise gets a blank slate each time. I’d say this one was the best yet mainly thanks to the Moped not getting to do much and Kino being a little less deadpan this time around. It’s short so the special doesn’t drag on or anything either.

In this adventure, Kino heads to a futuristic city. The inhabitants are worried about germs because they may prove to be fatal. Their way of society seems rather flipped from the usual norm. The wealthy and influential people live outside in the rugged desert as they make a home and defeat the outside elements. The poor and middle class live in the city where they can do whatever they want thanks to the tech. It seems like a paradise for them and an endurance test for the wealthy, but why is this? Kino becomes friends with a girl who is sick at the hospital and agrees to deliver her letter to a boy who lives on the outside. Is Kino ready for what she may discover there?

It’s not a Kino adventure without a few twists and the adventure should keep you guessing for a little while. You can probably imagine that things didn’t go very well for the boy when the girl explains that she hasn’t seen him in over a year. That’s always a bad sign and when Kino sees how desolate the outside world looks, it brings a few questions to mind as well. People rarely tell the actual truth to outsiders in these things so at least Kino is ready. It’s also fortunate that she always has her gun at the ready as well. You really can’t trust these guys.

While it’s a pretty somber special, it doesn’t go overboard. It’s sad, but not over the top with big time human experimentation or anything. People were effectively sacrificed though and the government looks shady as always. We don’t really get any fights in this special although Kino does get to fire a shot. Her recommendation to the girl to go check the outside world out when she is better is probably not the greatest advice though. The girl is certainly going to be in for a very rude awakening.

As far as Kino herself goes, the character wasn’t all that bad this time. She’s still not very interesting, but at least she tried to keep the girl’s spirits up and didn’t stand by as a bunch of people were murdered for a change. Her “no interference” policy still ensures that she’ll never be a hero though. At best she will always be a person who looks out for herself first and foremost. The Moped still tries to be funny in all of his scenes, but they never really work. I’ll give him some credit for the constant attempts though. He certainly never gives up.

The other characters in the special were okay although none of them got a particularly large role. They’re meant to be background elements as you focus on just taking in the land and how it works. The sick girl was reasonable although it’s unfortunate that she has to go along with all of the tests. I opt out of just about every shot at the doctor because most of them just seem so pointless. That’s definitely what she should have done here. The boy from the flashbacks was all right I guess, but he was a little generic and nothing really happened with his plot. The night guard may have tried to justify his actions with every other line, but they weren’t very convincing. He makes for a decent antagonist though.

One thing Kino’s Journey always does well is keeping everything very quiet. The towns always seem desolate as Kino walks around even when people are there. There’s something about the series that always makes everything seem hollow and fake even if the people are being jolly. It’s that elusive Twilight Zone effect and it certainly gives the series an air of mystery.

The soundtrack is really nothing special as it’s the same tunes that we have been hearing over and over again. I can’t even say that it’s all that memorable. I suppose the laid back feel of the music is supposed to go hand in hand with how mellow the special is in general, but I wouldn’t mind some fast tunes once in a while. The animation isn’t bad either. It’s below average as it definitely hasn’t aged well and much older shows look more impressive. There is no way that you’d guess this film came out in 2007 as it looks like something closer to the 90’s or very late 80’s. However, if you look at it in a vacuum without comparing it to anything else, then Kino’s Journey still looks fine.

Overall, This was the most enjoyable Kino’s Journey feature. It’s still held back by a number of issues like the underwhelming technical aspects and the lackluster main characters. The plot is still interesting though and it doesn’t drag on. At it’s core, Kino’s Journey is like a nice breeze that is fun while it lasts and is then forgotten. There’s nothing there to call it a bad film, but there isn’t much to make it memorable either. It’s a good film because it doesn’t make any mistakes is the best way to think about it. Hopefully the series can get a reboot/sequel nostalgia film which will energize the franchise. I think that’s what it needs the most, some energy. It’ll be difficult balancing that and the eerily quiet scenes, but I’m sure it can manage. I think this is it for the franchise at the moment though so it feels pretty good to be caught up. At least as far as the animated content goes.

Overall 6/10

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Mob Psycho 100 Review

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This show is a nice contrast to Attack on Titan. That show had amazing animation, soundtrack, and writing which helped to counter the terrible source material. It managed to bring up the manga which is like a 1 all the way to a 5. Granted, it hasn’t had to adapt the really sketchy stuff yet so we’ll see if that can last. Mob Psycho is the opposite as the animation is terrible and the soundtrack is only average at best while the plot isn’t bad. It’s funny how two shows can be so different and so similar at the same time. It’s no One Punch Man, but the series manages to pick up its game just enough in the end to save itself.

The series is about a kid named Shigeo. He was born as the strongest being in the universe and he could end all life on the planet if he wanted too. Shigeo was unable to deal with this so he locked away his true powers with his emotions and decided to train under a con artist named Reigen. As a result of losing his emotions, Shigeo is now super timid and unsure of himself. He basically says whatever he is thinking and is typically a very oblivious person who is also not fit physically. He is forced to come to terms with his powers more when an evil organization known as Claw kidnaps his brother. Can Shigeo defeat them without losing his cool or is it curtains for him?

Right from the start you’ll notice a lot of similarities to One Punch Man. I like to think of it as the poor man’s version of OPM as it does everything on a lower level, but at least it still tries to be like that show. If you’re gonna copy something, you should copy from the best. It’s from the same guy so at least he’s just copying himself, I imagine there would have been a lot of waves online if this had really been a ripoff from another person.

Lets start with the negatives and then go into the positives. Mob Psycho is hurt by a very slow start. The show is only 12 episodes and the plot doesn’t really begin until around episode 8-9. The first chunk is just for filler and character development. Most of the development isn’t any good though which doesn’t help its case. The show isn’t so much boring as it’s just very underwhelming because of the animation. You won’t really begin to like any of the characters aside from Reigen and most of the supporting cast is pretty bland and lackluster.

The beginning of the plot didn’t help matters either as it covered Shigeo’s brother Ritsu on his descent into darkness. He turned completely evil and wrecked some lives before being beat up a few times and realizing that being a hero is less paiful. He was definitely one of the worst characters in the series so getting multiple episodes to himself wasn’t a really good idea on the show’s part. Next up is the biggest negative of the series though…the animation.

You can call the animation indie or experimental, but it leads to the same result. It’s just really bad. The average episode will look like hastily drawn title by the Dragon Ball Super B team. (Not even the starters) The character designs are only good when the episodes get serious or during a battle so otherwise they don’t look very good at all. It’s like we’ve time traveled decades into the past for this show. Moreover, the show looks ugly on purpose at times. The show has a really awful way of drawing characters sweating and we get some dicey facial expressions the whole time as well. The animation focuses on elements that don’t help the show’s case and parts of it will even seem like FLCL. It can be subtly gross if anything.

Now, the animation isn’t terrible 24/7. It magically transforms into a solid spectacle once the action gets underway. Suddenly the show remembers that this is 2016 and it looks top of the line. For the final 3 episodes, this is mostly the case for the entire adventure which also proves that this “experimental” style as intentional. It’s a little insulting that the show looked so bad on purpose. It would be like if the One Punch Man anime had decided to look like the web comic sketches. It would make no sense and would have severely hurt the show. Unlike Mob Psycho, the OPM series is just a lot better in general so it’d probably still get a 7, but it would be a massive two point drop.

As for the soundtrack, it’s not bad. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a little standard, but I’ll take it. It has 1-2 really good themes with the rest not being very notable. I wasn’t a big fan of the theme song and I still don’t care for the visuals, but the actual music grew on me by the end of the show. It’s definitely pretty catchy and the serious Mob themes are good. I’ll give this area of the show a thumbs up. All right, lets talk about the characters.

I definitely don’t like Shigeo. He’s not very smart and is way too timid. While the first trait can work to a character’s favor if handled well, the latter pretty much never works. Shigeo gets serious when he reaches 100% rage of course and he quickly jumps into the other extreme since there’s no middle ground for him. I wish he’d stay like that though. Not only does his design get a lot cooler, but he actually has a personality. Normal Shigeo has no character and just lets everyone walk right over him. He stays in normal mode for so long that a member of Claw even defeats him and then he loses another round later on for losing control again. Shigeo’s just not a good character and he is extremely annoying whenever he is on screen. For being the world’s strongest fighter, he’s got a ways to go.

Luckily, Reigen is the best character in the series and he gets a lot of screen time as well. Since he is a professional con artist, he doesn’t fall for any of the tricks that Shigeo steps into. Reigen knows how to steal money from people and trick them into enjoying the process. While he doesn’t have any powers, Reigen does know basic hand to hand skills and has most of the best moments in the series. He takes on the final bosses and it’s just great. While his advice at the end was completely terrible, it was the only out of character moment for him. The rest of it was all pretty legit and he just steals the show plain and simple. He’s the kind of character who should definitely stay powerless as it’s part of his charm, but I’d still love to see him beat up more villains at some point.

Next up is Dimple. He was a big villain who got turned into a powerless spirit and now Shigeo allows him to hang around. It may just be to fuel his ego though as Shigeo will threaten him now and again. He is definitely a villain even if it’s not played too seriously so the other characters need to watch out. He’s not a great character, but he can definitely be amusing. Ritsu on the other hand never gets amusing or likable. He’s the classic “jealous brother” trope along with characters like Yukio from Blue Exorcist. He doesn’t have any powers so that makes him feel bad. Ritsu does whatever he can to gain powers, but nothing works so one day he decides to take a shortcut. After he gains his powers, Ritsu immediately uses them to bully people because of his inferiority complex. This is the part where Ritsu makes sure to never redeem himself. He really only turns into a good guy because he was completely humiliated by the villains and spends the last episodes just getting beat up over and over again. He got to keep his powers so now he can fight to a degree, but he’s nowhere near Mob. Like One Punch Man, if you’re a supporting character then you’re doomed.
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Ritsu does officially turn good so he’ll probably be a solid character in season 2, but it was too late for him here. He already ruined the lives of a lot of classmates by framing them and he just really crossed the line into full villain territory. It’s hard to reverse that in a handful of episodes as opposed to Naruto where Sasuke had hundreds of episodes to show you why he was a villain before turning good. Granted, it wasn’t handled any better than this show though, but that’s another story. Ritsu actually does bring down the show.

The last member of the heroes is Hanazawa. He has a similar plot to Ritsu as he starts off as a bully and then becomes a good guy after Shigeo shaves his hair off and beats him into the ground. There’s a trend here if you’ve noticed, the only way to turn a villain into a good guy is to beat him up. The series goes even further with this by the end of the series. I actually liked the ending of the show quite a lot. Just about everyone turned good, apologies were made, etc. It was a nice uplifting ending to the series and while Shigeo looks bad as usual in his epilogue, it hit all of the right notes. Since this is supposed to be a light hearted parody anyway, it should have an ending like this to match that beat. It’s why I have much higher hopes for the 2nd season. If it plays its cards right, I could definitely see that one getting a 7. Hopefully they don’t get the same animation studio though.

Time for the villains. Shou is the hype antagonist who they are saving for season 2. His abilities are certainly extraordinary as he was able to take down one of the strongest villains in the blink of an eye. He’s pretty charismatic and I think that I actually will end up liking this villain. He’s the best villain in the series at the moment. Another big villain was Sakurai. He’s a swordsman who uses psychic energy to amp up his equipment so he can take the fight to the heroes. He’s very strong and is certainly the most no nonsense of all the fighters. His role may not have been huge, but he was one of the big villains and I’d say that he was the best member. (Shou doesn’t count as a member of course)

Koyama was another one of the big members. He has super strength and it was quite formidable since he was actually able to punch a hole through Shigeo’s defenses. He wasn’t at 100% yet, but that was still really impressive. Furthermore, he was able to survive a long combo from Shigeo’s true power and had enough strength left to counter-attack and take him down. This guy was definitely no joke even if he was treated like one during round 2. He was another really good villain. There were other members of the group who shows up like one guy with fire powers and another who used a whip. The organization definitely had some really talented fighters under their belt.

Ishiguro was the leader of the group and “her” design while in villain mode was pretty cool. The gravity balls were also a nice touch. Gravity powers are some of the most underrated abilities in all of media if you ask me. They can definitely be very lethal and she was holding her own even after Mob stepped in. The ultimate reveal for Ishiguro may have been underwhelming for some and funny to others. It was mildly expected that something like this would happen, but at the same time it’s still a little surprising. It definitely destroyed Ishiguro’s character so hopefully it was worth the laugh.

One element of Mob Psycho 100 that can be a mixed bag is the fact that it’s a parody. Shigeo is meant to be virtually invincible which means that he can beat people whenever he wants. The reason why it doesn’t work as well as One Punch Man is because he’s just not likable. Also, Shigeo does lose 2-3 times in the series unlike Saitama who has yet to even come close to losing. It hurts the whole concept a little. Also, this means that there is never any real danger in the show. The show did randomly get dark at a few points in the series like with Ritsu’s plot and when the organization showed up for the first time. It’s a little all over the place with the tone and especially when the show would just go full parody mode and have some big comedic reveal to disrupt a tense moment. It just didn’t always work well. Some episodes had a perfect blend like with the last episodes as Reigen wrecked everybody, but others like the super strength guy getting one shotted by Shigeo didn’t work. I do think that it’s a formula which could work like OPM proved, but this show just isn’t as good at it. As a result, many of the fights in this series are completely one sided which is never a lot of fun for the viewer. Whether it’s the hero outmatching the villain or vice versa if you make it too lopsided then it’s not going to be any fun. It has to at least be at the level where the other side has a slim chance like with Aizen wrecking the Bleach cast or Broly dishing out the pain. Those were lopsided battles, but they still felt like battles, not just one guy murdering everyone else or knocking them out with a thought.

Also, the supporting characters just need to be written out. The Alien, Psychics club is really just a waste of time. None of their scenes are funny and the characters aren’t likable. At least the body improvement club members help out Shigeo when he needs them. Those guys are honorable and you can count of them. Unfortunately, they are still side characters so they get beat up quite a lot. I definitely felt bad for them at any rate since they didn’t really deserve it. It was also one of the moments that hurt Shigeo a lot as he just watched all of his friends get beaten up in front of him and didn’t move a muscle to help. Considering that these guys only got into this mess to protect Shigeo from the bullies and it’s pretty messed up. The bullies sure get away with quite a lot in this show.

On a final note, making Reigen the main character would really help the show. As I mentioned, he has most of the best scenes in the show. He takes out the villains while staying classy and not breaking a sweat. One problem with the show is that all of the fights revolve around someone beating Shigeo black and blue until he turns into rage mode and then crushes the opponent while insulting him the whole time. There’s no middle ground so the supporting characters are your only chance at a good fight. It’s just Shigeo turning into rage mode constantly, but not even a really cool version like Kirito. (Best kind of rage mode) Reigen wouldn’t have that problem since he never even gets upset. The show could just tap into its comedy/parody nature and think of cool ways for Reigen to win through his scams. A show like that would definitely be a lot of fun and that’s the key thing. It would be fun as opposed to just being dark and brooding at times.

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Overall, I wasn’t really a fan of Mob Psycho. It had its hype moments and did get really good at the end, but the painful beginning really held it back. It could get a little mean spirited and the fact that Shigeo’s not a good lead doesn’t help either. That’s why I make the comparison to Attack on Titan, they’re both similar when you think about it. Mob Psycho has a whole lot more potential, but actually realizing it will be the struggle. Improving Mob as a character and getting the animation to a reasonable level should be the show’s two top priorities. Along the way it should also try to get the blend of genres balanced and write out some of the supporting characters as well. If it can do all of that, then Mob Psycho will be a success. Looking at One Punch Man and learning how to use humor as effectively would also be a valuable use of time. If you love One Punch man, then I guess you should check this out. I’d recommend just watching the first episode and then skipping the next 5-6 and starting with the plot if anything. That would probably help the experience quite a lot. Alternately, just check out One Punch Man instead.

Overall 5/10

Attack on Titan Ilse’s Notebook Review

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It’s time for an Attack on Titan prequel OVA. This one adapts a side story from the manga so it’s fairly short. The OVA does manage to pad itself out a little with a brief recap on the state of things though so it’s not extremely short. It’s around the length of the average episode which is a pretty decent length for an OVA. It’s fairly interesting, but I can’t say that it’s actually good as it suffers from the usual Attack on Titan issues.

The main character of this story is Hange (Or Hanji depending on which name you’re more used too) and she really wants to experiment on a Titan. As she has no conscience to weigh her down, she has always been the perfect person to lead the scientist division. She may creep the rest of her comrades out, but that’s just a side effect of being insane. You’re basically rooting for the Titans here since you don’t want them to be enslaved so Hange can stab them forever. Things aren’t moving quickly enough for Hange so she decides to go rogue and head after a Titan. Along the way she learns that there was once a Titan who could talk. What does this mean?

The Notebook/Journal that the heroes find is the main item of importance in this story. It’s another tragic tale, but that’s to be expected here. Ilse was running through the woods when a Titan spotted her. The rest of her comrades had already been taken down for the count so she had no backup. Surprisingly, the Titan didn’t destroy her right away as it prolonged the experience by stretching its face and trying to let her know about the war going on and how the series was all a lie. Ilse didn’t handle this too well and panicked so she was quickly eaten. It’s meant to be pretty important since it shows that Titans have some level of intelligence even if it’s been buried pretty deep. At the same time her death in the end made the whole thing suspect anyway. Maybe she was just delusional. The heroes don’t seem to think much of it either as they just use this as an excuse to go on the hunt once more.

Humor has never been a strong point of the series and that continues here. A running gag is that Hange is super unhinged so she chokes one of her comrades and nearly murders him. She loses her cool constantly and I don’t know how she still has her job. Well, the government is corrupt so I guess that fits. It doesn’t make me like any of her comrades though since they don’t speak up about this and just keep on enduring it. Levi and the others seem to turn a blind eye as well. At least he’s one of the few people along with Erwin who doesn’t fear Hange, but if he’s not going to do anything about it, then it doesn’t really matter all that much.

Attack on Titan never fails to deliver on the technical side though. The soundtrack is pretty good as we got an awesome techno theme at the beginning of the OVA. It played when the series was giving a recap of the situation and it made for some fun visuals as well. If the whole OVA was like that, then I wouldn’t have had any problems. The strategic part of the series is when its typically at its best. The graphics are also pretty sharp as it looks and feels very modern. The character designs are on point and the OVA had fun using Sunset effects for when it was getting late, but not quite night time yet. It all looked good and at least that helps the OVA speed along even if it can’t totally nullify the negatives.

In the end, the OVA was still a little too violent and dark by the end. The novels pointed out that Titans don’t bleed so we technically shouldn’t be getting any blood when they’re slashed. The anime has always chosen to ignore that though and either way we have the Titans eating humans as well so that doesn’t help. The scene of the Titan trying to rearrange his face came across as completely unnecessary and eating Ilse at the end wasn’t a great ending either. Following the novels more closely would absolutely help Titan in all of its future products.

Overall, Ilse’s Notebook is fairly standard Attack on Titan fare. If you like the show then odds are that you’ll like the OVA. Eren and the other main characters may not be in it, but the rest of the OVA feels like it could easily be a normal episode. I still say that the show is too violent and melodramatic the whole time and Hange is a pretty terrible main character so she holds it down. To make it more interesting, I wouldn’t have minded some time travel thrown in so Eren could be around to yell a bit. It’s not exactly the feel good film of the year, but if you really want to make sure that you’re an expert on Attack on Titan lore, then you’ll want to check it out. For the rest of you, just go prepare yourself for Season 2 instead. It is certainly drawing closer and closer with every passing day.

Overall 4/10

Kino’s Journey: Life Goes On Review

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It looks like Kino is back on the job with this prequel OVA. We’re back in the days of her youth before she became devoid of personality but still after the tragedy of the original Kino. At less than 30 minutes long, this OVA is fairly short, but it’s not bad. We get to see more crazy customs and a lot of pondering by the cast. In a way, you could say that Kino’s Journey is like a grim Charlie Brown…just think about it.

So, Kino wants to find the village where the original Kino used to live. After all, she may have taken his name, but she feels like she can’t properly use it until she wraps up these loose ends. Her master allows her to go, but gives Kino a gun just in case. Kino may run into all kinds of dangers and having some form of self defense has never hurt before. What could have happened to change Kino from the happy girl that she used to be into the emotionless person that she would transform into? It is all explained in this special.

We may as well get down to business right off the bat. The series likes to show a lot of odd superstitions and customs from the various places that Kino visits and this one is no exception. The villagers have decided that anyone beyond their village is someone who cannot be bound by their laws. As such, they decide not to do anything while an old lady murders all travelers who come by so that she can avenge her son. Many travelers meet an ill timed fate at her hands until Kino shows up one day and puts an end to it. Kino ultimately puts her gun skills to use and the taking of a life took its toll as she immediately became a different person. I suppose it’s hard not to get jaded after that, but Kino should have suspected something.

I figured that the old lady was approaching nut bar factor 6 once the animation gave her a red tint and she started glaring at Kino. Kino didn’t quite realize this even after she started to tell the lady about how her son was murdered by Kino’s parents. Probably not the best way to go about this although the lady was going to take her down anyway. Remember, never accept a tea from a stranger or it’s probably going to be spiked. I suppose the old lady was almost a decent antagonist, but I’d like to see another gun pro as the main villain at some point. It would give Kino more of a challenge.

I can’t say that I’m crazy about Kino’s animation. It’s not really my style as it goes for a more retro, grainy look. I suppose making it look older can help make the atmosphere a little more mysterious, but I’m sure you could do this with modern animation as well. There’s not much of a soundtrack since this is a rather quiet show, but it was neat to hear the classic sound effects from the show.

While this special was good, there is one area where the franchise could improve a lot and it would help future titles. The main cast needs a serious revamp. As it stands, there aren’t really any likable characters at all. I liked Kino until she reverted to her TV show form in the end, but nobody else stands out. The Motorcycle is a pretty bland character and the master didn’t seem to have a personality. The main villain probably stood out the most and she’s totally insane. Adding in good characters can definitely make a difference and it’s probably what separates this from Twilight Zone as the two have a very similar concept. This show just doesn’t have the cool alien episodes or supernatural adventures and prefers to stay old school. Not a bad decision per say, but it does limit its opportunities.

Overall, Life Goes On is a good way to continue Kino’s Journey. I clearly did enjoy it more than the show as this kind of series is definitely a case by case basis. If the story is good then we’ll have a winner, but if the traditions are too dicey then it won’t have the same effect. This special was interesting enough and the time went by at a good speed. If you enjoy adventures where you get to see different lands and situations then this should be up your ally. It’s a special that easily stands on its own so you don’t need to have seen the show to get what’s happening. It’s not the most exciting thing out there, but it’s good enough to warrant a watch.

Overall 6/10

Little Battlers eXperience Wars: All Star Battle Review

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It’s time to look at a little special that LBX Wars got after the series finishes. It gives us the crossover that we had long been waiting for; the big battle between Ban and Sena. It’s a little under 10 minutes so the special really has to hurry to the fight, but we got two quality fight scenes so I’d say that it did a good job of getting right to what I wanted to see in a crossover.

The premise is a little sad for Sena though as it turns out that he never got the proper approval to leave the island at the end of the series. Luckily, this is how he meets Ban, who has stopped at the island to teach the kids. Sena challenges Ban, but the old hero quickly brings along Jin for support. Sena gets a teammate as well, but ends up getting back stabbed (accidentally) and loses. Sena isn’t totally satisfied so he gets another rematch against Ban and this time it’s one on one. Can Sena squeeze out a win?

Don’t expect anything decisive as the special decides to play it very safe at the end. I’ll still give it credit for having a real victor in the first set though. At the very least, we know which tag team is better. While it was written to show that the loss was really Sena’s fault for rushing in, I don’t blame him. His robot’s specs should be vastly superior to Odin’s by this point so rushing in is a good strategy. Not to mention that being aggressive in combat is usually the best approach as opposed to the “wait and see” tactic that was suggested. I’d also say that Sena did a good job of holding his own for the most part.

It’s still a little hard to get used to Ban’s new design. (Yes, the glasses count as a whole new design) At the very least, he does seem to still have his old personality in tact. He was already drifting from the LBX game in the second series and it seems to be complete here as he mentions that he hasn’t played in a long time. It’s regrettable, but sometimes you live long enough to see yourself turn into the old man of the series. I can’t say that I’d like Ban much based on this, but he was great in the first two series so he still has that going for him. The supporting cast members like Jin and friends all seemed in character, but naturally there wasn’t enough time for them to do all that much here.

One thing that’s noticeable is how the special decided to save as much budget as it could. As such, we get several scenes where it’s just a giant head floating around or a sky view of the island. It’s not bad, but you can definitely see what the special is doing. I’m guessing this was made really quickly with a limited budget so they wanted to save it for the fight. I’d say that was a smart decision and it paid off since both action scenes were quite good. The animation has aged really well as with the rest of the series. We also got to see a lot of the classic tunes return for this special which was nice and nostalgic.

Overall, This was a pretty good special. It’s a shame that it was so short, but finally getting to see the main characters fight each other was fun. If anything, it probably hints that Sena would be able to beat Ban since he didn’t even use his full synchro mode in their fight. That makes sense since Sena was never a fan of it and the world isn’t in danger this time, but it’s something to think about. LBX did about all that it could in the 10 minutes and the one thing that I would have changed was to have a decisive victor in the last fight. That would have definitely been nice to see. I’d definitely recommend this special. You’ll probably enjoy it more if you’ve seen the show, but it could also be a nice way to get into the franchise as a whole. After all, it has the main strengths of why I like the series so much. The high quality action scenes and the solid soundtrack make for a good combo. Hopefully we get a Hollywood LBX movie or a nostalgic anime movie sequel at some point. We just need LBX to live on!

Overall 7/10

Sengoku Basara Review

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It’s time for an anime that is nostalgic in a sense. I played the original Devil Kings game a while back which is what this arc is based off of. Admittedly, I can see how the game would sell better with that title over Sengoku Basara as it just seems a little more intense. The anime did a great job of adapting it and was just about perfect. It was a really well done anime all around and I look forward to seeing how good the sequels are. This will be a tough season to follow though so I can’t say that I’m expecting it to be surpassed. I look forward to seeing it try to prove me wrong though.

The series takes place back in the really old days of warring nations of Samurai. There are many factions along the land and they feud over territory all the time. Despite this, many of them have fairly friendly relations with each other. They don’t hold grudges over destroying each other because it is simply their way of life. Whoever wins, there are no salty losers. That being said, it all changes when the Oda army descends onto the battlefield. They are led by the infamous Devil King who has no such compassion or morals on the battle field. His army doesn’t play by any set of rules and believes in winning at all costs. The heroes of each warring faction must either team up or face annihilation.

This is one of those series that has multiple protagonists through the different factions. Some of them are clearly evil while others are more heroic. You ultimately have to decide which group to root for. There are 3 main heroic factions to choose from with Yukimura’s getting the largest focus. That was where my allegiance was since he is easily the best character in the series. I did like Masamune a lot as a runner up though and the show did a good job of giving everyone a good amount of screen time.

Before talking about the show any further, lets delve into the characters. Yukimura is the headstrong protagonist whose fire abilities really enhance his fighting style. He has absolute confidence and never backs down from a fight. In fact, the moment that solidified him as the best character for me was when he didn’t even back down from the Devil King even when Masamune was frozen in fear. It was the deciding moment between the two and Yukimura passed the test. He may not have done too well against Mitsuhide, but you can’t win em all I suppose and the power levels were wonky by the end. More on that in a bit though. Having Ichigo’s English voice actor also helped a bit as well. Yukimura is one of the best main characters that I’ve seen in a while. He’s honorable, a great warrior, and he has fire abilities. Fire is the best element so that’s always a good sign.

Shingen is Yukimura’s boss and he’s a reasonable leader. He definitely gives Yukimura quite the beating over the series, but the main character is very tough so he can take it. I can’t say that I ever found him to be all that strong compared to Yukimura and Masamune since he is really lacking in speed, but he is still one powerful dude. It would have been nice if we could have seen him get a full fight as Shingen never really got the opportunity. Sasuke is the ninja in the fire squad and he gets a lot of subtle hype. He’s very quick and knows how to get out of a dangerous situation. He never gets into any danger or even ends up nearing a loss. Sasuke is essentially untouched during the whole season so I’d like to see him help out more next time.

Masamune is the big rival in the series and the second best character. His design is really good and his intense personality is fitting for Yukimura’s rival. He also enjoys combat quite a lot and it’s impressive that he’s the leader of his clan at a relatively young age. He gets a very large role during the course of the show. While Masamune may have overreacted at his first defeat and had to be snapped out of his stupor, he made a full recovery. I dare say that the show even hints that he may be slightly stronger than Yukimura. At the very least, he did look a little better against Mitsuhide, but Yukimura wasn’t in the right mindset for that one. Masamune’s 6 sword style was definitely unique even if it’s hard for me to imagine someone using it effectively. That’s a lot of swords after all, but it shows just how good he is.
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Kojuro is Masamune’s general and the two are pretty close. Kojuro will defy Masamune occasionally if he thinks that the leader is going down the right path. The leader may not like it at the time, but that’s exactly the kind of person that he wants as his second in command. Kojuro is also a pretty strong fighter in his own right. I don’t think he should really be a match for someone like Mitsuhide, but he’s probably the strongest secondary fighter in the series. His strategic knowledge is just as useful during this war even if Masamune does ignore it for a more direct plan.

Kenshin was another one of the leaders, but he was a little disappointing. He only got to very briefly fight for about a minute or so before being taken out of the equation and all he did was talk. His rivalry with Shingen even felt out of character with the rest of his personality. Honestly, the guy was just a little more on the annoying side and while he may not be a bad character per say, it did feel like he was stringing Kasuga on for a while. Kasuga is his 2nd in command and the head ninja. While she could have had potential as a strong mercenary like Nina Williams of Samus Aran (Bounty Hunter anyway) the show mainly just uses her for fanservice. She is out shined by Sasuke whenever the two characters meet and she also just ends up failing in all of her fights. As she is a professional ninja, you’d think that she could defeat the Devil King’s wife. Kasuga even got her in a choke hold, but then she allowed Nohime to get free and shoot Kenshin. Honestly, that was probably one of the most embarrassing moments in her career. The only moment that may have been worse was when she got one shotted by Nohime again while trying to avenge her master. Kasuga fans definitely won’t be pleased with her portrayal and rightly so. She’s usually a pretty strong character, but she wasn’t given any respect in this season.

Nobunaga or maybe I should say the Devil King, makes for a great villain in the series. He doesn’t appear right away, but still manages to make his presence known the instant that he appears. His theme is absolutely amazing and he is really a perfect villain. He’s absolutely ruthless as well as a brilliant tactician. He didn’t get to where he is by being naive and manages to double cross his lieutenant before he was back stabbed. It was a great moment because being outsmarted would have really hurt his character. I also like the fact that he actually has super powers of his own and that allows him to fight with his gun, cape, and a sword of course. A gun wouldn’t be very useful against most opponents, but since the Devil King is naturally powerful already, he can make it work. He’s one step ahead of the heroes for the bulk of the series and it was even a little surreal to finally see him take to the front lines at the end. Nohime is his wife and probably the only person that he can count on. She’s pretty skilled as she infiltrated one of the hero groups and took out the leader. She also managed to defeat Kasuga pretty easily and just did a really good job of backing up the Devil King overall. She only went down due to plot hax. Unfortunately, that meant that we could never see her get a full fight as her other battles were mere skirmishes.

Mitsuhide Ranmaru really got the shaft from the villains. He’s a kid who is working with the villains, but his backstory isn’t developed here. He can shoot arrows, but that’s about it so he is incredibly out of his depth here. I can’t say that I liked the kid at all so I was glad that the writers threw his character to the curb. Oichi is Nobunaga’s sister and he used her to entangle the clan leader Nagamasa into their ranks. As her husband, Nagamasa decides that he has to help the villains even if his whole shtick is that he fights for justice. It’s a shame since he is always talking about justice, but his honor gets in the way. That was pretty terrible to be honest and then when he finally decides to betray the Devil King, Oichi is used as a hostage. She puts up no resistance though and constantly makes things tough on him. I actually liked Nagamasa so his whole plot was pretty tragic.

Oichi’s a pretty terrible character though. She spends the majority of her screen time on the floor telling everyone to forgive her and asking the Devil King to turn into a good guy. Naturally that was not going to happen and he makes it clear several times that she is expendable. She almost dies a number of times as well. Oichi does have some Devil King abilities within her as well like when she destroys one of the main villains, but it quickly vanishes in time for her to be shot. Her character arc was very poorly developed and never went anywhere. Her powers were also odd as they just randomly appeared for a single scene and then never showed up again. It was as if the writers needed a way to take down one of the main villains and they decided to just make this up. If the powers had transformed Oichi into a good character then I’d be okay with it. As it stands, she basically got her husband murdered and then she went down shortly afterwards.
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Tokugawa is the worst clan leader. He can’t fight for beans and he continues to work for the Devil King even when he knows that the guy is evil. Naturally Tokugawa gets back stabbed and he would have lost the battle anyway if there wasn’t any interference. While Tokugawa may try to act as if he’s not a villain, he’s just as guilty as the others if you ask me since he’s working with the villains. He may use honor as a justification, but it’s just an excuse. His main general is Tadakatsu, a giant cyborg. This guy is physically very strong and Shingen even claims that Yukimura would not be able to defeat him. I don’t buy into that and I didn’t really believe the fight either, but the general seemed like a decent character.

There’s also the wandering warrior Keiji. He’s apparently extremely strong, but prefers to goof off and enjoy life while he can. This guy is critical to uniting the various factions to oppose the Devil King as they probably would not have worked together otherwise. He’s not really my kind of character, but the show portrayed him decently well. A lot of times this character trope ends up being a lot worse. There were some other minor characters in the show like a few clan leaders who showed up out of nowhere, but they’re really not all that important. They got a little bonus OVA episode that explains their involvement a little more, but it just shows that one of them is a villain and the other is another battle hungry leader. I actually liked that guy at least. It makes sense that there are more clans across the sea, but the show really didn’t need to add these guys.

While I have some issues with the show that are coming up, they don’t really hurt the show all that much. They’re just things that the writing could have worked on and some viewers may not even notice. The only one that was a little aggravating was the fanservice that would pop up once in a while. It was pretty mild and not too frequent at least, but Kasuga was basically used purely for fanservice. Her outfit is pretty outrageous and I can’t picture a ninja actually using it. I know Marvel’s reasoning for costumes like this for assassins is that they can distract the target which makes the job easier, but that seems more like an excuse than anything else. Whenever Kasuga talks to her boss she makes exaggerated poses as she exclaims her delight. It’s a pretty sad running gag and it’s the only part of the series that has fanservice in it. Take this away and that angle would have been perfect. So, that was definitely a little unfortunate, but I realize that it certainly could have been a lot worse. At the very least, the show never puts any real emphasis on her costume aside from these moments, which could have certainly been a disaster.

One thing that the show is comically bad at is the power levels. You get glimpses of this early on, but it gets worse and worse. All right, we know that Yukimura and Masamune are about equal since all of their skirmishes are completely deadlocked and have to be interrupted. They are seen as the absolute strongest warriors even if the leaders would beg to differ. Then we get Nagamasa who is also able to match up to Masamune. Then we get Mitsuhide who has the upper hand against Masamune (He was weakened though) and later on starts to beat Yukimura. The two of them team up and Mitsuhide is still holding his own. That’s when Kojuro shows up and says that he’ll take care of it. He beats Mitsuhide pretty easily, but that shouldn’t be possible since he’s weaker right? Keiji was also shown to be at around the same level and he also took down one of the big hyped leaders.

The problem here is that the show wanted to give everyone a bunch of hype which resulted in all of them being at the same level. It just didn’t make sense and as a result some characters would suddenly look weak for no reason. Yukimura losing to the cyborg for a while in the fight didn’t work for me and Shingen looked really bad against Mitsuhide. It reminded me of LBX, but that show’s probably The most extreme when it comes to power levels so we’re not quite there yet. You’ll also just be able to tell since the visuals are so exaggerated for the two main heroes. They’re making twisters with every hit to launch hundreds of soldiers away one second, but then they can’t dodge a bullet the next. The heroes are cornered by conventional weapons at some points and it makes you wonder how this is possible. Well, that’s because the visuals are more just for entertainment. They’re not actually jumping and staying in the air for whole minutes or cleaving mountains in two, it just feels like they are. At the same time, that’d be kinda sad and some scenes don’t support this as other characters see the battle and feel the tremors. The other explanation is that they can only awaken their powers at some points like in a video game and their normal mode is just really weak. My own theory is just that the power levels are inconsistent and the writers could have handled it better.

The show made some odd decisions towards the end. The story was really good and this isn’t necessarily a negative, but the ending had a lot of cop outs. At the beginning, characters were dying left and right, which kept amping up the stakes and it felt like a show where 90% of the cast would die off and there wouldn’t be any room for a second season. I’m inclined to think that the writers just wanted more money and season 2 would give them a chance of that. As such, a ton of characters just randomly survived at the end even when it felt like they should not have. Yukimura’s boss, the ice boss, Masamune’s henchmen, they all felt rather artificial when these characters survived. Allowing them to die would have made the ending a lot more impactful. So, I think this decision did hurt the tone of season 1 a bit, but it could help season 2 a lot since not having all of these characters could have been a little tough. Even Masamune may have died if there was no season 2. Fans of these characters should also be happy since they may get a chance to fight more thanks to this.

Finally, I have to point out that the characters in this show have a very distorted version of honor. It’s an old school kind of honor where if you make a deal, you have to stick to it even if nobody else is. An example is how several heroes made a pact with the Devil King and then had to stick to it even while he was murdering their allies and stabbing people in the back. At that point, I’d say that the honorful thing to do is to stop him yourself instead of standing back and aiding him. A lot of characters were confused about that, but at least Shingen and Masamune knew better. Honor like that just isn’t worth it, but you’ll be surprised at how many characters in this series are paralyzed by it.

Sengoku Basara definitely doesn’t disappoint with the epic soundtrack. The tunes are all very high octane and full of action which makes all of the scenes that much better. Nobunaga’s theme is absolutely the best one as you’d expect. It’s very atmospheric and perfect for all of his moments. That being said, the hero themes are also really good and the battle themes are exceptional. There are also some lyrical themes which occur during big fights. Basara’s animation was also the real deal. At times it could maybe be a little too stretched out with the attacks though. It’s like watching a 90’s Marvel comic in anime format at times as it’s all very Topsy Turvy. It may seem odd at times, but overall I’d say that it worked really well. The colors are very sharp and it felt like the anime got a pretty high budget overall. At the very least, you could tell that this was as video game adaption right from the start and I do think it should embrace that fact.
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Overall, Sengoku Basara is a pretty great anime. It has a lot of action nonstop and the pacing is really good. I’ve said this many times, but that’s one of the things that I love about 12-13 episode shows. They don’t have to bother with a lot of fillers (typically) or drawn out scenes to buy time. This show just goes all in and never gives you a break to relax. The only real negative here is the fanservice which is fairly limited and the fact that the heroes have horses that they ride into battle. I didn’t really get into it, but there is one scene in particular where a horse dies and that was unfortunate. If it had happened more often, that would have definitely been enough to have really hurt the score. It’s why I heavily advocate against heroes having animals in any capacity as it usually ends up being targeted. Kind of a downer to end the review on that note, but essentially just brace yourself for that scene and the Kasuga shenanigans. Beyond that, the show really hit all of the right notes and I look forward to the next season.

Overall 8/10

Yugioh: The Dark Side of Dimensions Review

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It feels good to finally have another Yugioh movie out in the world. The 3D crossover still ranks as the greatest film of all time so I had really high hopes for this one. Spoiler Alert- it doesn’t manage to topple the 3D film, but nothing really can. This film was handled perfectly and I can safely say that it is in my top 5 movies of all time. At the moment I’d put it in 4th. 1st being Bonds Beyond Time 2nd being Broly The Legendary Super Saiyan 3rd being DBZ Resurrection F and Bleach: Hell Verse being right under the Dark Side of Dimensions. It gets a little tricky after that with Boruto, Final Fantasy VII, Madoka Rebellion, and others films fighting it out. Whether you’re a Kaiba fan or not, you should definitely be able to enjoy this adventure.

The film pretty much starts with Kaiba reminding the world why he is the greatest. He manages to finally defeat Yami Yugi. Granted, it was an A.I. version of him, but with Kaiba’s top of the line tech it may as well have been the legendary duelist. Kaiba wants to bring the real deal back though after Yugi and friends sealed the Pharaoh away in the past for all of eternity. To that end he has uncovered the Millenium Puzzle and must put the pieces back together. Things don’t go as planned when an avatar of the Plana shows up. His name is Deva and he can’t allow Yami to come back or else he will lose his special powers. This would ruin his plans for revenge so he attempts to get in Kaiba’s way.

The heroes are thrown into the mix because they are Deva’s targets. Joey is still really into dueling, but Yugi has mostly moved on from such things. He is forced into action once more though when Deva kidnaps Bakura and Joey. It’s personal this time and Yugi is determined to end things once and for all. Can he really hope to win without the help and guidance of Yami though? It may be time for Kaiba to step up as the new hero.

One thing you’ll notice from the start is that Kaiba’s practically the main character of this adventure. He gets the most interesting plot, the best lines, and the best duels. He completely steals the show here and his genius goes to brand new heights. He is able to make just about anything from power inhibitors to space ships. Kaiba even comes up with a solid light duel disc which can repel reality warping. If that’s not impressive, then I don’t know what is! Almost every single line from Kaiba is an insult or a way to brag about himself. It wouldn’t work so well if he was always full of hot air, but Kaiba can back up all of his tough talk. He basically doesn’t get to lose in the entire film. He is a master class duelist and as far as I’m concerned, he’s the best. Kaiba has completely surpassed everyone to the point where they can only hope to deal some damage with gimmicks and cheap tricks. Kaiba’s basically a perfect rival and the film reminds me of why he is so awesome. Aside from Jaden, he is definitely the best character in the franchise and one of my all time favorites in media. He even subverts the trope of the rival getting wrecked by the villain in the opening scene. Kaiba really stops every trope that opposes him as seen in his duel with Yugi and the ending as well. Kaiba really wasn’t playing around in this film and shows that you can be obsessed with getting payback while still serving the community and the world in the process. He’s just an upstanding guy.

Deva is the main villain of the film and he is definitely solid. I’d have to say that he is a far superior villain to Paradox. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the Pyramid of Light, but I’m inclined to say that he is better than that guy as well. Deva is not quite ready to surpass the big shots like True Bakura and Marik, but I’ll also give him the edge over Pegasus. Deva may have gone off from the heroic path, but I have to give him credit for his determination. He never forgot the identity of the person he had to get revenge against even after many years and he did manipulate his powers well. If he was facing anyone other than Kaiba, he could have really done a lot of damage in the opening acts.

This film really did manage to bring back as many big plots as possible along the way. As I mentioned earlier, the film was basically perfect. To be perfect, it had to bring back a certain character from the manga that I had been hoping would return. Well, it happened and I suppose I won’t say who exactly, but this villain’s a fan favorite. He does quite a lot of damage even if the film didn’t allow him to re obtain his true form. That would have been even more fun and I was actually expecting it to happen for a while there. The film gave him many opportunities, but I suppose it simply wasn’t to be.

Yugi gets a big role as expected. He nearly dies in traffic which would have been a very sad way to go, but he managed to get out in the nick of time. It was a nice contrast to when Kaiba was around. I’m not crazy about Yugi deciding to step away from dueling, but I suppose that was always more Yami’s thing than Yugi’s. Yugi just likes games in general so I guess it was about time for him to move on. He’s a nice enough character as always. While not as tough as Joey, Yugi’s always ready to do the right thing and he is a determined guy. He does his best to search for Bakura and comes through when the stakes are high. He does give up a little too easily on Yami though, but luckily Kaiba called him out on it. It’s interesting to see Yugi in a semi retired state being forced back into action by Kaiba. Especially since he’s barely the main character this time around. It’s a different perspective and one that I definitely enjoyed.

One part of the film that was puzzling was the fact that Joey didn’t get to duel. He talked about dueling quite a lot in the film and it felt like the film was trying to build that up as an actual plot. I was fully expecting him to duel Deva at one point, but I guess maybe it was going to take too long. That, or it was planned for an extra long uncut version which will debut any day now. That would definitely be fun right? Tea and Tristan are also around although they don’t do all that much. Tristan spends most of the film getting choked and messed with while Tea supports the duelists from the stands. She ends up being the first person to ditch the group for good so the status quo is certainly changing. Bakura is fairly important to the film, but I do definitely miss his true self. Normal Bakura just doesn’t work as a character quite as well as when he had that extra edge. Either way, it is fun to see the whole gang back again.

A cool tribute to the classic game of Yugioh is that the film had each duel start at 8000 life points. The manga and anime titles never got to do this all that much because each duel would take too long. Technically, Yugioh should always be played with 8000 life points though as that is the standard. Since this was the big movie and time wasn’t really an issue, Dark Dimensions got to pull it off. I can safely say that I do prefer the 8000 life points set up. It allows each duelist to unveil longer combos without instantly winning through them. Yugioh 5Ds showed us the cons of a 4000 life point duel since you can feasibly beat someone in a single turn so they wouldn’t have a chance to counter. With 8000 life points, that isn’t really an issue.

The theater where I saw this film had a lot of lively Yugioh fans in attendance so that was cool. This also meant that they were paying a lot of attention to the cards and naturally all of them had to subtly call out a moment where Kaiba had a special ability that let him instantly summon a Blue Eyes. Based on the reaction, I’m guessing that the effect was a little sketchy (Does it work like that?) or the card was a super obscure one that nobody has. It was a very cool ability though and Kaiba always makes sure to have the best cards. His preparation is second to none. Considering what a big film this is though, I’m fairly sure that the film played by the rules. Unlike the show where it can get away with breaking the rules sometimes, I doubt the writers would dare here.

For kicks, there is one gimmick style of dueling in this film, Dimension Dueling. Under this style, you can summon whatever cards you want by infusing your cards with your limitless mental energy. Ultimately, there is absolutely no point to this technique and the only reason they probably added it was so you could see Yugi and Kaiba striking DBZ poses as they powered up. As such, it was less annoying than some other gimmicks like Action Cards from Arc V and it was passable. Of course, I was still thrilled that most of the duels in the film where of the standard kind. Why mess with something that’s not broken?

If you’re waiting for Yami, then I’ll just say not to expect too much> This film’s really meant to be more of a Kaiba searching movie similar to Homura’s search for Madoka in Rebellion. Both climaxes are just as satisfying though so while Yami and Madoka didn’t get to appear all that much, the brief moment is hyped to the max. In this case, the rules probably were destroyed since the summon came out of nowhere, but I’m cool with that since the villain basically broke the rules by using a power up in the first place. His unlimited attacks with the cubes were also a little over powered and hard to stop. Anything goes at that point right?

As expected, the animation is absolutely top notch here. The energy effects are great and all of the characters designs are completely on point. You won’t have seen so much blue in just about any other film. Kaiba has made the place so futuristic that you’d think you were in 5Ds or Zexal world at this point. It’s kind of cool that the classic series may finally be more advanced than the sequels. Whether it’s box monsters or a bunch of cool dragons, you’ll feel each and every blow from the monsters. A punch will send debris everywhere and the animation will crisply move on to the next scene. This film even made it easy for TV channels to air it as some scenes will go with a fade out before entering the next moment. Not to be outdone, the soundtrack is also excellent here. I would have liked a good GX tune or two of course, but this is a classic Yugioh movie so it makes sense to stick to its roots. We get a really nifty remix of Kaiba’s Batman theme from the TV show and also a pretty good remix of “Your Move” for the end credits. With the writing also at 5 star quality the whole time, the movie really has everything going for it.

Also to bring it up one more time, the film handled Kaiba’s counter to reality warping perfectly. It really sets the standard for how other characters can handle it. Just activate your high tech gadgets and the villains are forced to respect it. Kaiba’s tech really knows no bounds and coming up for counters to abilities that have never been seen before was another epic moment. It’s easy to see why the crowd cheered for every single Kaiba scene. It was insane. The other characters were lucky to get cheering for half of their scenes.

It was a really good decision to make this movie 2 hours for a change. It allowed the film to fit in a bunch of duels and also made the film more satisfying. It is hard to do quite as much when you only have 30-40 minutes as the duel has to be very short and that leaves no time for hype. Half of this film is really devoted to Kaiba’s hype and it paid off very well. The film never even comes close to dragging on as it’s almost nonstop action from the start. I’ve got to give the film a lot of credit for being this amazing. It really didn’t make any mistakes which is why it’s the optimal classic Yugioh film. I can’t see it being surpassed by another. In fact, even the bullies were defeated by the guy who was being bullied for a change. That was nice to see.
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Overall, Yugioh The Dark Side of Dimensions is a film that I highly recommend. Whether you’re a Yugioh fan or not, you can appreciate the intensity and amazement that each scene brings to the table. There are a bunch of homages for old time fans, but enough flashbacks to help newcomers along as well. It’s hard to see anyone walk out of the theater and not pick Kaiba as the stand out character, but I suppose I can also see how his overwhelming presence and confidence can be a little intimidating for a lead. He’s certainly not here to make friends and accomplishing his objective is all that matters. At the same time, Kaiba never fell off the wagon so to speak. He never went crazy or power mad as he tried extreme things to bring Yami back. He didn’t even physically threaten anyone this time as he calmly just made sure to get what he wanted. Kaiba manipulates people, but he does so in a professional way that will keep his PR agency happy. As such, the ending of the film is perfect. Naturally, it would have been awesome if the film could have been extended another 20 minutes since Kaiba deserves the win. It would have been highly controversial though so the film may have been wise in playing it safe. It’ll be very hard to top this film to be honest, but if they do another crossover with Yugioh GX, anything is possible. It’s a really good time to be a card game fan with so many titles going on right now. It feels good!

Overall 9/10

Digimon Tamers: Battle of Adventurers Review

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Picture’s a little fuzzy, but bear with me here folks, the soundtrack image didn’t work for some reason. Well it finally happened, we’re at the first and possibly only bad Digimon film. It all comes down to the main plot with an unfortunate moment of animal violence and a Sleepless in Seattle message about how you should be ready to let go. That’s a knockout punch and one that’s hard to get past unless you’re a super long running show or manga where you can have enough high moments to overcome the lows. In a 30-40 minute movie, there’s not enough time to get past this rather large issue.

Takato decides to head over to his Cousin’s place for summer vacation. It’s time to relax and unwind from the challenging adventures of the TV show. Unfortunately, that’s not part of the game plan here. Omnimon was unable to stop a mysterious new threat and because of that, evil Digimon are showing up all over the place. Takato’s cousin means well, but he is a little outmatched since he doesn’t have a Digimon and his Grandpa pretends to be oblivious to the whole thing. Takato will have to try and win this fight or stall until Henry and Rika show up, but it’s going to be tricky.

Lets get the obvious dragon in the road out of the way first. The part of the film that destroyed it was the sob story that was attached to the original character made up for the film. When she was little, her dog drowned while she was surfing. Boom. The film hits you with this hay maker and there’s no real way to recover from this right? The only way is to bring the dog back and the film couldn’t do that…could it? Well, the film brings the Dog back all right as a Digital Monster. He shows up to be her pal, but she doesn’t like him anymore because he’s not “real.” During the course of the film, she realizes that he is in fact her dog from a while ago. Then the film kills him off.

Wait a minute….why’d the film bring him back then? See, this is possibly even worse than just not bringing him back at all. You’re essentially destroying the dog twice. The film gives you some hope for a second there that everything can be okay and then snatches it back. It was very poorly handled and I was pretty dismayed at the whole thing. See, it ties into the film’s message about moving on. The girl needed to move past her dog’s death so the film got to have her say a final goodbye to the dog again and then watch it get destroyed in front of her eyes. It’s supposed to be calming as she can now be at peace, but it’s just distasteful. That’s why I’m typically not a fan of the whole “moving on” message. You do have to move on in life with a great many things, but not with some and not like this.

Anyway, past the animal violence, this film functions like your average Digimon film. We have some pretty good fights and solid animation for them as well. The opening scene with Omnimon scaring away the villain was pretty cool although I’m calling plot hax on how it just casually outran Omnimon to a portal and that Omnimon could not follow him. If it’s so easy to just make a portal and escape, then I don’t see how any of the villains are ever captured. It’s such an overpowered escape option. I wasn’t expecting to see Omnimon show up though so even if he didn’t look great, it was a nice homage to the rest of the continuity.

The soundtrack isn’t so good, but that’s just the price of subbed Digimon vs dubbed most of the time. Tri did have a pretty good battle theme at the end though so there is always a chance that more Digimon films will follow its venture into greatness. I’ll never get used to the really soft Digievolution theme though, it just doesn’t fit with the action that’s happening on screen. I need hype and intensity!

As always, Rika had a pretty good subplot here. Hers started out with a good amount of action and Renamon continues to prove that she is a very reliable partner to have. Rika’s easily the most likable out of the three main characters of Tamers so I was glad that the film was able to get her into the main plot by the end. Henry’s just around and at least he gets to help I suppose. It was awfully convenient of him to also be in the general area, but that’s Henry for you. He’s always around when needed and will give you some support….you do need someone stronger if you want to win though.

I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of the side plots and less of the main one. Takato’s cousin just isn’t a very interesting character and there’s not much that he or his grandpa can contribute to the story. They’re really just here for pep talks and to remind Takato that he’s a pretty tough guy. It’d be more moving if they were big characters from the show or actually had a Digimon.

I wasn’t crazy about the island as a setting, but the film was still pretty interesting. I wouldn’t say that the pacing ever completely died. It may not have been as eventful as the previous films and had a more laid back approach, but that was probably intentional with the island backdrop. The stakes never got as intense as the Diaboromon films, but then again…how do you top those? It just operates as a fun little side adventure where the heroes had to combine their might with a cool super attack. Nothing fancy, but a chance to see some good fights and reconnect with the characters. If not for the dog scenes, I’m sure this would have gotten a casual 7 or maybe a high end 6. So that means if you can get past the dog moments, then you can enjoy this film.

Overall, I cannot get past them so the film was doomed. I like to think that a plot like this won’t surface again though because seriously, what are the odds right? At most we’ll have a plot about a Digimon dying and everything which Tri is possibly looking to do, but that’s a lot more acceptable. It’s like how Goku dies or if you want a more serious example, Mami from Madoka. It’s pretty emotional, but in a more legitimate way and I can work with that. A tragic death with no other purpose to be tragic like Eren’s Mom from Attack on Titan is another story, but that’s a topic for an editorial someday. I’m one step closer to watching all of the Digimon films with this and with Tri Part 2 coming relatively soon, the Digimon experience continues on.

Overall 4/10

One Piece Film Gold Review

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It’s time to look at my first ever One Piece film! I got to see this one in theaters the other day and it feels good to finally join the One Piece community. I’ve seen around 3-400 episodes of the anime and am caught with the manga plus I’ve played several of the games, but checking out a movie seals the deal. Now I just need to work on getting back to One Piece Z, which shouldn’t be too hard. I forgot that it has a DVD release. Gold is definitely a fun film and one that is certainly amplified in the theater. While it is certainly not ready to compete with Naruto or DBZ, it’s a film that stays consistent with the high energy nature of One Piece throughout.

Luffy and the gang finished beating up Doflamingo in what was an incredibly difficult situation so they figured it was time to relax a little. The crew heads to Gran Tesoro, the fictional equivalent of Las Vegas. The entire country lies on a boat which is owned by Tesoro and he puts on a big show for the rest of the world. Beneath the luxery hotels and gambling sites, the place has a dark underside. Luffy and friends manage to gamble away all of their winnings as they underestimated Baccarat’s luck abilities. They try to fight their way out, but Zoro is captured. The crew must now recognize him and stop Tesoro’s plot before it’s too late. Raw strength won’t win the day this time so the Strawhats have to get to action with some stealth.

For a minute there, I actually thought that the film was going to be subbed because of the Japanese credits with no translation. I’m not saying that this would have been a bad thing since I’ve seen many films subbed and it’s always fun, but the Dub really does make a difference. It’s night and day comparing the two versions and it’s fun to hear all of the old voices since I’m still watching One Piece every week on Toonami. The film starts off nice and strong with a quick fight scene as the full crew of the Strawhats get to use their signature attacks against a group of overconfident pirates. I’m always game for an opening action scene and moreover, I think all films should have a start like that. You need to do something that grabs people’s attention and nothing does that better than a fight. The animators also had fun experimenting with the animation during this phase.

Most of the Strawhats didn’t get to do all that much so I’ll quickly gloss over the least important members here. Tony Tony Chopper’s bounty is still significantly lower than the rest and he isn’t all that strong anymore, but he has heart. He helps the team get past some lasers and the whole crew does help in some challenge or another, but that’s about the extent of it for him. Brook also doesn’t do much, but he does have his hardcore moment in the intro where he takes out three pirates. He even borrows the legendary saying “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” as he one shots them. It’s a shame that Brook can’t keep this up forever as he would actually be a great character if not for one trope. Luckily, that one is not present in the film so as far as this movie is concerned, Brook is actually a good character. Sanji’s mostly just around as well and he doesn’t even get his own 1 on 1 fight during the climax. He looks pretty bad for most of the film when it comes to power, but gts to show up some of the guards.

Usopp is pivotal in stopping one of the last villains so that was a good way for him to wrap things up. I expected him to play things up a little more while at Gran Tesoro, but I guess it wasn’t worth the risk. Robin questions things as per usual and is a little more sharp than the others, but with a Captain like Luffy, this ultimately doesn’t help stop the crew from doing whatever they want. Franky’s role isn’t quite as big as the main three, but he helps a lot on the spying part. I’m wondering why he didn’t use his Robot Mode until the end, but maybe it wouldn’t have helped that much anyway given who they were fighting.

Zoro’s role is smaller than the other two since he is captured for most of the film. I wasn’t really disappointed with how he looked though as his battle plan was sound and he did a good job of stopping Dice in the end. The fight was a little closer than you’d expect and I do miss the days when he was portrayed to be around equal to Luffy, but those days are long gone. I still think he was a better character before Impel Down, but in this film he acted a lot like his old self and ended up being the best character in the film.

Nami plays a rather large role here as well. She was pretty misleading when she said that Carina betrayed her in the past, but ultimately we found out the truth by the end. She’s still a good thief as always and she does get her chance to fight in this movie. As the brains behind the Strawhat crew, she’s definitely a member who will always be needed on the team. She’s a charismatic character and her banter with Carina was solid.

Finally, Luffy is the leader of the gang and he is very determined as always. He can’t usually back up his tough talk here as he spends most of the film getting beat up and tricked by the villains, but at least it never deters him. He makes a lot of good speeches by the end and he is certainly the heavy hitter of the team. While he’s certainly no Goku, Luffy’s a good main character. His comic relief moments can sometimes be a bit much as he doesn’t take their plight seriously enough, but he fights when necessary.

Tesoro is the main villain of the film. His gold abilities make him a very deadly adversary and he is very confident from start to finish. This is his world after all and he is used to getting everything that he wants. He gets a sob story by the end and it is pretty drastic. It makes you wonder why he never used his newfound riches to get revenge or see what happened to his friend. Usually, the flashback would have ended with that kind of moment as Tesoro takes out the villains before becoming the villain, but not this time. Of course, Tesoro ended up going off the deep end and becoming a big villain himself so it went just about full circle. It’s hard to sympathize with him when he has made a paradise island for the same villains who stole his friend though. It makes the whole thing rather sketchy.

Baccarat’s the public face of the villains as she scouts out the opponents and uses her luck abilities to ensure that they fall into Tesoro’s trap. His plans wouldn’t work quite as smoothly without her. She’s a good villain and her luck powers are certainly convenient for combat. It’s the kind of power that can be tough to deal with, but luckily Usopp was on the case. She probably wishes that she had toyed with the heroes a little less and gone straight for the win.

Dice was a good villain because of his abilities and how powerful he was, but his personality wasn’t that great. He enjoyed fighting in the wrong way and that gimmick was a little distracting from how good he would have been otherwise. I didn’t expect him to be as physically strong as he was and he was certainly the most intimidating member of the villains. It’s safe to say that only Sanji, Luffy, and Zoro could hope to defeat this guy.

Tanaka’s not as much of a fighter and he prefers to do recon and give intel to Tesoro. He leaves the actual combat to the others, but his ability to phase through things does allow him to fight when necessary. It’s hard to get a bead on the guy because of how quick he is. He held his own well enough and rounded out Tesoro’s trio.

Carina is one of the main heroines in this film and she spends a lot of it switching from side to side. You never know who she will be helping out as she may not even suspect herself. She’s not really a fighter unfortunately, but she has survived for quite a while on the island so she certainly has a talent for living and being sneaky. You can’t help but feel that her task would have been doomed from the start though. There’s no way she could possibly steal a bunch of gold and get away with it on such a big island where Tesoro sees all. She may have been a little too confident there, but she’s a nice addition to the cast and even helped Nami out back in the day. Whether Nami wants to see the truth or not, she would have been in quite the pickle without Carina.

The film also gives us some quick guest star appearances from CP0’s Lucci and Sabo. They show up as a little treat to the fans and get into a quick skirmish, but nothing really comes out of it. I honestly wouldn’t have minded if they just had Sabo win that fight since I think he should certainly have the edge, but maybe Lucci is stronger than I thought. Either way, the situation won’t make the government look all that good, but when are they ever all that heroic in One Piece? It was also cool to see the Magma guy as I can definitely see him being one of the final bosses in the One Piece manga as well. The scenes may not lead to much and you’ll know this beforehand, but they’re still pretty hype.

The main positive of the film is its incredibly high budget. It’s certainly some of the best One Piece animation that you’ll see. The first fight scene gets very flashy as the camera moves around a lot and everyone uses exaggerated attacks. The rest hold up as well with nice effects and consistently good animation. I think the animation will continue to hold up well for quite some time and this is the kind of animation that I’d expect from a 2016 film. Forget CGI, Flash, Stop Motion, Lego, Live Action, and any other techniques you can think of. Classic anime style graphics are all you need. There really wasn’t much of an epic soundtrack to be found here, but the tunes weren’t bad either.

Film Gold is also just fun from start to finish. There’s always something happening and the pacing is nice and quick. It’s the kind of film where you can just sit back and enjoy the show. It does its best to be a complete story filled with a lot of side characters and hintings at their past and then the main plot. There’s no time to fully get into these other character backstories, but I wouldn’t have wanted the film to do that anyway.

That being said, there are some things that keep this from being a great film. For one thing, while there is a lot of action, I wouldn’t say that there are a lot of fight scenes. We’ve got the fight at the beginning and then that’s basically it until the very end when the Strawhats take on the main 4. The final fights are naturally a lot of fun and Luffy’s as well as Zoro’s are played seriously. The group against Baccarat’s was more of a comedy fight, but it was enjoyable as well. The climax was mostly solid on that end.

I did have one main problem with it though and that’s the fact that Luffy’s fight is mainly against Tesoro in his giant form. As a result, it becomes a battle of giant fighters so there isn’t much moving or hand to hand action. Luffy even uses Gear 4 and that’s more of the same since he basically becomes the Hulk. I still think that form was a big mistake as Gear 2 is still the most impressive by far. Even when you see Luffy moving in Gear 4, you’ll wonder how nobody just swats him out of the sky.

This film can also be a little on the fanservicey side at time. Since this takes place in part 2 of One Piece, Nami and Robin are always in a swimsuit and while the film gives them new attire for the Casino part, it’s not much of an improvement for Robin. Nami’s new costume is okay though. Since this is a parody of Las Vegas, you shouldn’t expect the attire to be much different for all of the other characters who show up. Carina also has to use this to her advantage to distract some guards. It’s not all that egregious, but still rather noticeable. Even the racing scene can’t avoid it as the camera angles decide to get a little tricky.

I also think that Film: Gold is one of those titles that probably wouldn’t hold up quite as well in a rewatch. Similar to Battle of Gods which got a 9 immediately after watching it, but dropped to a 7 afterwards, I think Gold would have a bit of a drop as well. Part of what makes it so grand and special isn’t just the animation, but the sound effects as well. They were all quite loud in the theaters and you could really feel all of the impacts. It’s hard to get the same effect at home unless you have a really good sound system. It’ll be a little more noticeable when you’re in the wait between fight scenes.

One plot in particular that will drag on is Luffy’s adventure through the gold sandy wasteland. Nothing really happens there for a little while. I also didn’t care much for the cafe plot as Luffy and friends just watch as someone is beaten up for a while. It’s unfortunately something that the cast is consistent with doing, but most main characters wouldn’t just sit back and watch this go down. It’s probably one of the reasons why the cast has always lagged back a little. They aren’t heroes as they’re just pirates who happen to save the day and it becomes readily apparent at times like this. With the government also being corrupt, it’s rough for the every day citizens. I did say that the pacing was pretty good though and these plots don’t take too long but are the most uneventful parts of the film. I also have to point out that Nami’s big plan at the end of the film doesn’t make too much sense. It revolves around a ton of little events that had to happen just right in order for the plan to work and there was no way that the team could have prepared for such an eventuality.

Finally, I have to say that the Strawhats just looked very weak. They talk a good game a lot of the time and even make some of the right moves, but it doesn’t matter if they’re just going to get overwhelmed. Zoro, Sanji, and Luffy put up such a terrible fight against Tesoro. I don’t think that they should have lost so easily. Zoro I can understand since he was already turning into gold, but Luffy and Sanji had no such excuse. They were simply outsped and that’s just hard to believe since they are so fast by this point. This guy isn’t exactly Doflamingo, they should be able to handle him. I do like his ability to manipulate gold though, I always liked elemental type powers like that.
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Overall, One Piece Film Gold was a fun film. It’s basically a summer blockbuster film and is certainly a technical masterpiece. It may have had its share of issues, but I could easily watch it again. It was really close to scoring that 8, but just missed it. There’s a lot of action and excitement throughout plus I’m always up for a good anime film. It’s a good way to be introduced to the One Piece films and I’m sure that big fans will enjoy the movie even more. One Piece as a franchise has always been below the other big titles for me as the humor and characters just never caught up to the others. As such, it makes sense that the film would have the same problems for me. One thing that would help the other One Piece films would be to have a better final fight and to ignore Gear 4 and mostly just focus on 2. Nevertheless, I’d say that it’s one of the best films in 2016 as a 7 for anime can still take on a 9 for live action. If you haven’t checked this film out yet, then I’d definitely recommend that you do. Now I just have to wait and see how this compares to other upcoming films like Sword Art Online and Yugioh. I am assuming that the other two will likely win, but it could end up being a close fight with Sword Art Online. You can never tell with that series.

Overall 7/10

Little Battlers eXperience Wars Review

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It’s time for the next and final series of LBX or Danball Senki. Whichever title you prefer to use for the series, it can’t be denied that it is one of the best franchises out there. Each season was consistently great and you could compare the franchise to other big names like Yugioh and Cardfight. LBX’s score range is currently 8-9, Yugioh, (8-9 excluding Capsule Monsters) Cardfight, (7-9) and that’s about it for series where I’ve seen a bunch of seasons. I could add Transformers and Slayers, but their scores aren’t quite as impressive. I am tempted to make an anime section where I divide them all by scores, but that’s a bit of a time consuming project so I’ll let it be for now. While this season of LBX doesn’t quite surpass the last one, it’s still absolutely great and I highly recommend it.

The series seems to take place a few years after the last one. The governments of the world decided to place a school on an isolated island. This school is used to fight mock wars in place of real ones where the outcomes of these battles have real world consequences. As such, each country selects the most promising students to represent them. Sena is selected and he is super excited to have gotten into this prestigious institution. He is teamed with Hikaru, Haruki, and the mechanic. They have to do their team justice and win as many battles as possible. Still, it’s a little sad that they have to crush other countries in the process right? The heroes begin to grow doubtful as to whether they are doing the right thing or not…but what can they do about it?

First off, I do have to admit that the premise is completely unbelievable right from the get go. I won’t go as far as to say that it insults our intelligence for the show to insinuate that it’s possible, but it makes every government look completely inept. Lets put this into perspective. Instead of America running into Europe and taking it over, they’ll have their kids attack the European kids in the school through the mock LBX fights. (In case you’re not familiar with the franchise, LBX robots are basically mini machines that can fight through virtual reality controls. They are quite dangerous and fight in a secure containment field as a result, but are still more dangerous than the average rocket launcher. If the main kids win and claim the territory, then the same thing happens over in the real world.

How is this logistically possible? Do soldiers just come in and tell everyone to vacate the premise? Do the countries that lose these fake battles actually accept them? That’s the main problem with the system. Lets say America lost New York in the video game battles, I could see them just laughing and telling the other country to take it by force. Considering that we lost no actual soldiers in the fight, there is no reason to actually honor the deal. There is another thing to consider here…cheating. This actually becomes a big part of the show towards the second half and it’s a possibility that should have been considered when the idea was first brought up.

The main villain is Kreisler and he acts as a terrorist, bringing along a bunch of traitors from the other countries. They just go around blowing everything up and taking over cities. They don’t play by the rules and this tips the scales quite a lot. The virtual equivalent of Russia had been winning throughout the series, but lost about 80% of their forces due to these attacks. How does the real Russia feel about this? Their virtual counterpart is now a lot weaker even though their physical country is still the strongest. This is why the game just had way too many limits and the villain was right about this.

Kreisler’s main objective was to end the mock wars as he believed that they solved nothing. They simply gave off the illusion of peace, but one that could not last. I don’t see how the game lasted this long anyway though. The government even locked the creator inside of the main engine so he could keep it running through his brainwaves indefinitely. Not a very heroic move eh? Following this, which government is in control of this? Throughout the whole series, the teachers and the principals can’t make a move because the “controllers” forbade them to do anything. The problem is that it turns out that these guys were with the villain all along. I don’t know who signed off on this rigged system, but it wasn’t a good move. The villains end up taking the Prime Minister (Or his foreign equivalent) hostage at gunpoint, but this was another odd scene. How did they get past the guards and why did this plot point never show up again? It was rather odd.
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I could go on for days about how the whole plot of the show makes absolutely no sense, but you get what I’m saying. No need to drone on about it and if you have any theories as to how this could make sense or any input in general, feel free to let me know. As I already mentioned, the show is brilliant overall so lets talk about why it was so good. For starters, the show takes on a very different approach and tone than the first seasons. It feels completely different and plays out a bit more like a shonen than the last few. The new locale actually worked out quite well and I liked the visuals for their new training environment. The team based strategies for the battles were also fun although 1 vs 1 is still the best.

The main cast was interesting from the get go. Haruki may have been a bit bland, but Sena was the typical hard working hero that you can always root for. Hikaru was a champion of LBX tournament fighting so he already had a lot of experience even if he still had a lot to learn. Having all of the countries hang out for lunch break added some intrigue and tension since there could always be traitors or people listening in on your conversations. You even had real currency that you would use for every day activities and if you didn’t budget well, you’d go hungry. Finally, you couldn’t afford to lose your LBX at any time. If it was ever broken, you would instantly be escorted off of the island and would be labeled as dead inside of the game. You could retreat with injuries before being completely destroyed and many characters had to use this.

It comes as no surprise that the show had an excellent animation budget. The visuals were top notch throughout and there was constant action. You could expect a big fight in just about every episode and some fights would go on for quite a while. The power levels did start to be an issue by the end though. The problem is that the show kept trying to make the next villain even stronger over and over again to the point where they just ran out of power scaling. It makes for great visuals since they move so fast that everything becomes a blur, but the side characters shouldn’t be able to do anything by the end if the main characters are as strong as they appear. I think the power levels were better than in W though so they certainly have improved. By the end, the only real contenders for the title of the strongest are Sena, Kreisler, and Itan. The rest get left in the dust by a wide margin.

Accompanying the great graphics are a stellar soundtrack. This show had quite a lot of epic tunes and the music helped to build up hype for future scenes and to also amplify the battle scenes. The openings may have been not quite as epic as W overall, but I really did like one of the theme songs for Wars. I forgot if it was the 2nd or third one, but it was really sharp. On a technical level, LBX certainly did not disappoint and when you add that to the cast and the story, it comes as no surprise that the show was so great.
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Sena is a great main character and there’s really no reason not to love him. He’s hot headed and always ready for a fight. While Sena is super eager, he never gets full of himself or arrogant. He’s just a really nice guy who likes LBX battles and he always does what he thinks is the right thing even if it breaks the rules. He’s a friend that you can count on to have your back and you can be sure that he’ll always give it 100%. He doesn’t back down to Hikaru and if anything, the only mistake that Sena makes is not using his special abilities whenever he can. Sena can move his robot at super speed through the same power that Hiro had in W. Only Kreisler and Itan also had this ability and you can see why they were the strongest. Without it, there is literally no way that you can win since you move in slow motion next to them.

Hikaru is the main rival of the series although you can throw Muraku in there as well. While he had great success in the tournaments, apparently it doesn’t always translate well to team battles. I don’t really buy this logic or at least not how it was implemented, but he still did good for the most part. He stayed neck and neck with Sena until the series was almost over and I really liked the design of his LBX. Hikaru was a good character and he definitely went through a lot. The villains sabotaged his capsule which nearly destroyed him and did traumatize him for a few episodes. Hikaru recovered, but it certainly made the game a little scarier than it ever would be for the others.

Muraku starts out as the first major villain, but he’s always been about honor. He gets along pretty well with Sena and while he did destroy many of Sena’s teammates over the years, it’s not as if they’re dead in real life. You should be going all out in the game and I think that’s why Sena didn’t hold it against Muraku at all. Muraku’s very skilled and is certainly one of the best operators in the game, it’s just a shame that he never got the super power. He is heavily outmatched by the end, but his fights with Sena are still some of the best in the series. Muraku’s a solid rival and one of the more interesting figures in the show.

Now let’s talk about the captains of Sena’s army. These captains are: Kaito, Catherine, Rikuya, Gendou, and Haruki. Kaito has a pretty high opinion of himself even if he isn’t that strong. His LBX just never seemed all that special and he never got a big fight to himself. He likes telling the others what they can’t do and stealing the glory whenever possible, but Kaito never earns it. He’s definitely not a very likable platoon leader. Catherine is pretty good and at least she is usually ready for a fight. She’s also not quite as tough as her banter though and desperately needed a power up throughout the series.

Rikuya is pretty important to the plot in the second half as the villains want a program inside of his mech, but he doesn’t do a great job of protecting it. He also keeps to himself a lot more than he should, which gets others to think that he’s a bad guy. He may as well be though as he gets quite a lot of people expelled from school. It was their mission though so I like to think that the government took good care of them. Gendou is a character who got a lot of hype, but ended up not doing a thing either. The show would constantly zoom the camera in on him or have everyone get worried when he’d just stare. Unfortunately, he actually wasn’t that tough or heroic. He quickly said that his group should keep the super lab even though Sena’s team put in the most effort. LBX always loves to have a character get hyped all season to no avail though so I guess it’s to be expected.

Finally, Haruki is one of the leaders and he’s actually a main character so he gets a big role. He once led his squad to complete defeat against Muraku and they were all expelled. This causes him to be a lot more cautious this time around, but that’s not a strategy that Sena and Hikaru are going to follow. They like the direct approach and I can’t really blame them when they are always way stronger than the villains. Without plot hax, a frontal assault should always be the tactic of choice for the heroes. Haruki gradually opens up and helps the heroes more. He’s a good character by the end even if he’s naturally not as charismatic as Sena or Hikaru.

Sakuya is the mechanic and he’s probably the most annoying character of the bunch. He can’t fight so he just watches (The show says that he can fight, but he retired so that’s the end of that) and fixes the mechs between battles. Honestly, that sounds a little boring and I don’t know how Sakuya doesn’t get tired of it. He’s not quite as reasonable as the others and is quick to get upset when the other characters don’t play by the rules. His episodes can’t really hold their own and his romance was also pretty bad. This guy deserves to stay in as a secondary character. Yuno was a heroine who hung out with the main group a lot despite being in another division. She never really did all that much, but she inherited a mech from one of the main characters so that gave her a pretty big power boost. She’s a nice enough character and she did save Sena at one point. Yuno’s a loyal friend at any rate and a good member of the cast. There were a lot of other supporting characters in the show who were around, but not quite enough to be mentioned. Yuno was more prevalent than them, but not quite as much as the main characters so she’s in an interesting position.
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Mito is the squad’s teacher and she has a personal stake in all of this. While she teaches by day, she searches for her father by night. She is pretty strict and by the books the whole time so she never gets quite as interesting as the others. Furthermore, she doesn’t handle the situation very well at all once the stakes are high and even faints at one point. I’d expect a little more determination considering that she wants to find her father.

Finally, we’re at the two big villains. Kreisler is the final boss and shows up with his seriously overpowered mech at the end. It basically can’t be damaged and it’s so fast that the mere thought of getting hit is out of the question anyway. He completely outclasses Itan as well as Sena during their fight. This also gives us some more brilliant battles as Itan and Sena even team up at one point while still not being able to claim the win. Kreisler was definitely a very good villain and at least he wasn’t completely loony. I also liked that he had a contingency plan for just about everything. Even while the guards were leading him off the premises when they finally caught him, Kreisler was ready. His submarine appeared out of nowhere with all of his armed troops and that was the end of that. It was really hard to keep this guy down and the show certainly got even more interesting once he showed up.

While Itan was not the final boss, he was certainly a major villain and probably had the biggest role of them all. I always felt bad for his teeth though. He always held onto a lollypop to suck on, but would end up crunching it accidentally when he got some bad news or got too stressed about something. The sudden crunch would always startle you and he would still go for another one. Lollypop aside, Itan was definitely solid. He didn’t give up like the rank and file and even after being betrayed, he vowed revenge. He lasted quite a while as he kept dodging the cops and he did his best to get back at Kreisler. He was an exceptional fighter and the fact that he could fight Sena on equal grounds is quite telling. Almost no other character can say that and he was also fun to root for. He’s probably the second best character in the series behind Sena, although Hikaru is quite close at third. I’d probably have Muraku at 4th and Kreisler at 5th. As I said, it’s a solid cast and they’re all pretty high.

One slight disappointment was that the old characters didn’t get to do anything. The big heroes like Ban/Van are mentioned and acknowledged, but they never get to appear. They get a lot of hype, but I was hoping that they’d show up to stop the main villains. After all, they do work for the government and are LBX experts, you’d think that they would have been called immediately. Jin shows up quite a lot towards the end, but he never joins in on the fights and just watches the whole time. That was a big missed opportunity and I can understand that sometimes writers want the season to stand on its own, but then why add Jin in the first place? It’s like a tease to something that will never occur so it’s better left forgotten.

I also can’t stress enough how impressive it was for the show to have constant action all the time while still introducing more and more villains. The fights started off very grounded, but gradually got as fantastic as you can imagine. Sena also got quite a few excellent rage moments where he utilized his LBX to the fullest and took care of the villains. You’ll get very invested into the show right from the get go and it never falters from there. The writing is always on point and I don’t expect that we’ll ever see another show quite like this one. It’s a shame that LBX had to end. Hopefully another long running mecha show can fill the void for this one someday, but until then at least I have the LBX game to help me remember this. The show isn’t even all that popular as finding images for this review was tough for a while. We need more people to spread the word and it all starts with this review!

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Overall, LBX Wars is definitely one of the best anime out there. The visuals are absolutely amazing and the screen caps can’t do it justice. Its decently long length will ensure that you don’t breeze through it too quickly and also gives it time to develop the characters and have a lot of things happen. There are a lot of big twists even if you’ll figure out some of them way before the characters and there are a lot of enemies to defeat. The show takes quite a lot of turns by the time you’re done with it and you’ll have to decide what you think the heroes should do. Fight and possibly allow the system to control you or stay back in an attempt of defiance, but it could be futile if nobody joins you and the villains may end up achieving their true objective. There are a lot of tough calls to make here, but Sena is always ready. If you haven’t checked this show out yet, then it’s not too late. You can still make your move now before they announce a big Hollywood film that will adapt it all!

Overall 9/10