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My Hero Academia Season 4 Review


It’s time to take a look at the long overdue season 4 of MHA. My Hero’s definitely been going pretty strong getting season after season. It’s definitely good to see because when you’re a Jump flagship title like Hero is then you definitely deserve to get it. Back in the day it was more common to see long running anime that just wouldn’t end as they adapted like Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach but seasonal is the new in thing and I’d say it works pretty well. Especially in MHA’s case as the next season is announced almost immediately each time. In general I’d say the seasons have been getting better and better with 3 being my favorite followed by 2 and then 1. 4 breaks this trend as I would consider it to be the weakest one. Still very good of course and I suppose if a series continues to go up it has to stop at some point. This one happens to involve a what I’ve always considered to be one of the worst decisions by the main hero. More on that later.

As with the other MHA seasons it is divided into 2 story arcs here. The main one is easily the Overhaul arc. So it turns out that a gang of Yakuza led by Overhaul is making a bit of a comeback. The Yakuza have an interesting setup because even though everyone knows they’re evil, the live out in the open and can’t really be attacked. The heroes need to find some proof of their wrong doing and the Yakuza’s new alliance with the League of Villains is the perfect tie to do so. Additionally, Overhaul has a girl in his custody who he is forcing to create anti-hero bullets using her body/quirk. Deku and the team had a chance to save her early on but did not take it. Now he is extra determined to save her this time around. The heroes launch an all out assault on Overhaul’s base. Can the heroes really get through to the goal?

That takes up the first 14 episodes and we have a lot of action here throughout the arc. Right when the heroes approach the mafia base they are quickly attacked and from here on out the whole arc is a bunch of nonstop fight scenes. I always enjoy when the heroes have to split up and take everyone out. It’s a tried and true arc setup that doesn’t disappoint because you really get to see everyone fight. It’s not like the main character can take everyone on so this is the time for the secondary characters to shine and it’s why you need a strong supporting cast. None of the fights in this arc are weak. They’re all quite good and it makes the whole thing feel pretty grand. Perhaps not with the same literal stakes as All Might vs All For One but it’s more of a personal fight which ends up making it pretty equivalent.

Let’s get the Deku stuff out of the way early and then go into the rest. Early on in the arc Deku and Mirio head out on patrol and run into Overhaul and a little girl. The girl has obviously been through quite a lot and is injured. She has bandages over her arms and legs. Still, Eri manages to run from Overhaul and over to Deku where she literally tells him not to go. Now, before this you could make the case that he wasn’t sure she was in trouble but by now there is no way this isn’t happening. Ultimately once they go into the dark alley Eri realizes that the heroes aren’t doing anything while Overhaul is getting ready to make his move so she runs back to him while Deku and Mirio just watch. It’s a terrible scene all the way around. Even ignoring the fact that Overhaul is running live experiments on Eri which the heroes couldn’t have known about, they do know that he’s been injuring her. He basically confirms that to them in his speech. She’s just a little kid, they’re obligated to help her out.

It’s not a morally gray situation or a scenario where the heroes aren’t sure of what to do. The solution is clear as day and it is that they need to help her. This really hurt both Deku and Mirio’s characters as heroes. I dare say that a lot of characters who are vigilantes or heroes with heroic tendencies would have stepped in. These two are both heroes and that’s what their whole lives are all about. It’s inexcusable of them to just ignore Eri when she’s in trouble like this. They spend the rest of the season and even future seasons reminded of this at every turn but it’s just not a mistake that should have happened in the first place. Some mistakes make sense, but this was really something.

So that takes care of that and it’s why Deku gets a low grade from me in this season. There’s just no way you can bounce back from that in the same season. As for Mirio, he’s one of the new characters in this series. He’s the man who wants to save a million people. While that isn’t quite the same as saving everyone, it shows that he acknowledges that it won’t always be possible to save everyone. He has one of the best quirks in the series. With permeation he can make parts of his body intangible and can slip through the ground very easily to attack someone from behind. He’s portrayed as not only being one of the strongest students in the series but even one of the strongest heroes. It’s no exaggeration to say that he’s easily Top 5 among the pro heroes. Obviously All Might would defeat him but after that it gets interesting. Personally I think Endeavor matches up really well against Mirio so I would give him the win. It’s very close with Hawks so I’d say Mirio is either 3rd or 4th which is really good.

Naturally Mirio is also to blame for the earlier season. Debatably more because he was the one holding Deku back although it’s still equal since as a hero you can’t let others tell you what to do. Mirio does have one of the best fights in the series. While the animation isn’t quite given the special budget the way Deku’s fight was, I would consider Mirio’s fight second in the season only to Deku vs Gentle Criminal. Part of what makes it work is how intense the fight is. The music is top tier and the fight is a mix of regret and utter determination. Mirio’s fighting overwhelming odds. It’s a fight that as the viewer you know he cannot win which makes it all the more intense. I’ve rewatched this fight more than any other in the series. Part of it is also the stellar voice acting and that the fight is fairly short so it’s easy to go back and check out quite a lot. In some ways it’s a more powerful fight than with the Criminal although that’s still my favorite because of how great the action choreography is. That first shot of Mirio taking down both villains and grabbing Eri was super impressive though. Without a hostage he definitely would have won this round rather easily.

Suneater is another member of the big 3 and he gets a pretty big fight. The guy is super nervous and doesn’t believe in himself the way that Mirio does. He prefers to stick to the shadows and just observe what is going on. His quirk is that he can take animal attributes from what he eats and uses that in combat. It’s a very unique quirk. Perhaps not as useful as Mirio’s but it works out pretty well either way. I prefer characters who are more confident so he’s not one of my favorites but I really enjoyed his fight. It’s rare to see villains using so much teamwork and yet they were acting like a well oiled machine. I actually think Suneater should have lost that fight in the end but ultimately it was a satisfying encounter either way.

I’ll give this to Overhaul’s minions. A lot of them aren’t very memorable as I don’t remember their names but when you rewatch the fights they did rather well. This trio was very good against Suneater. Then you have the guy with the dizzy powers who fought Mirio. It may not be a very offensive ability but it was a useful one to have. I’ll probably never remember that guy’s name but he was quite solid. Then you have Rappa who is one of my favorite Hero villains. The guy loves a good fight and he fights fairly. No underhanded tricks for him because he’s confident in his abilities and that’s how it should be. If you doubt yourself then what’s the point right? When you really think about it, Overhaul has a much better villain group than Tomura. I’ll take these guys over the League of Villains any day.

Unfortunately the only member of the Big 3 to not really get anything to do was Nejire. Her abilities of flight and energy blasts would lend themselves well to a fight. Hopefully one day she gets a proper match. She’s a fun enough character but I want to see her get some action. Even Fat Gum got a big fight here. I’m not a big fan of the guy but he’s a reasonable hero. The ability of being able to soak up damage and then release it is very handy and we’ve seen quite a few characters use that effectively in media like Yang from RWBY or even Adam from the same series.

Eri is a nice enough character even if she can’t fight. She always prioritizes other people’s safety which is quite mature for a little girl like herself. Once she learns how to control her ability she will end up being one of the best support characters in the field. Aizawa is another great support character since erasing an entire quirk is an incredibly useful ability to have. It’s why the villains always have to try and knock him out of the fight early. In a 1 on 1 fight it’s unlikely that you’ll defeat Aizawa. I can’t say I was sold on him in the beginning but I’ve grown to enjoy his character more. Between his origin story (Not in this season though) and his various appearances throughout the series he has solidified himself as a solid mentor you can count on.

Sadly Bakugo pretty much misses out on the whole season. He’s around for the babysitting arc of course but that’s about it. It’s a shame because having him in the Overhaul arc would have been a blast. He has a decent matchup against Overhaul as well. He’s still the best character in the series and has already appeared a ton so I guess taking a season off isn’t bad. His main partner Kirishima gets more of a lead role instead. He has a few notable moments here but the best one is definitely his fight against Rappa where he has to try and shatter his limits. His ability to shore up his defense by becoming as hard as iron is definitely handy. The fact that he was able to awaken this to a level 2 ability was definitely useful as well. If he keeps growing like this he can definitely be one of the top heroes. It’s a simple quirk, but a highly effective one all the same.

Nighteye is one of the new heroes and since he used to work with All Might that makes for a pretty personal connection to Deku. His ability to see the future is a very useful one. In general I always like that ability. It can be hard to write around but s long as you define some limits then it works out. I would make the case for example that Deku still should have crushed him in the fight because even when seeing the future you can’t hope to keep up with Deku’s speed. That’s the one thing about seeing the future. Just because you can see what the opponent is about to do doesn’t mean that you can hope to stop it. He was a quality character either way though. I actually thought he was in the right with his arguments about the future with All Might. It’s an incredible useful ability and the two of them could have worked out a way to try and change things. All Might’s decision to just get out of there wasn’t good. Nighteye at least stayed in the field and continued using his ability for the good of everyone.

Tomura appears here but he definitely plays second fiddle to Overhaul. Sure, Tomura gets his big moment at the end but it’s more petty than anything since he didn’t dare go in on a frontal assault. There are quite a few parallels with the two such as their similar quirks. A single touch can obliterate either one of them. In that sense I don’t think Tomura would lose to Overhaul as it would be a mutual kill but that wouldn’t benefit anyone. It’s still fair to say that Overhaul had the edge in their meetup though. His group was better prepared and it was a tough one for the League of Villains to overcome. It’s why they needed to get their revenge in the end. It’ll be good to see Tomura take up more of a role in the future although the nature of his ability means that it’s tough to have a real fight with him. The current arc addresses this though.

Finally we have Overhaul himself. Well, the guy is about as evil and corrupt as you can get. Only the most evil of villains tend to mess with kids and since his whole plan involves effectively destroying Eri over and over again that’s very twisted. He makes for an imposing villain even if he lasts longer than he needs to. Based on the Mirio fight from earlier it’s safe to say that Mirio could have defeated him in the alley. His ability to become intangible is the perfect counter against a villain like this. I don’t like Overhaul personally, but he does make for a threatening villain. If you give him enough time to power up and stockpile abilities then he becomes quite the threat. He’s also very confident and does have a whole organization backing him so you can’t take the guy lightly.

The next arc we get is the School Festival. Deku is determined to make this a fun one for Eri but there’s one possible obstacle that could get in the way. A villain known as the Gentle Criminal has made UA his next target. He aims to break in just to prove that he can. While the goal is harmless to the actual students, the school has been warned that if yet another villain breaks into the school they will go into emergency lockdown and the festival will be cancelled. That means Deku will have to take this guy out very quickly and decisively. Can he really win though? Gentle Criminal is easily one of the most dangerous villains he has ever tangled with. It’s a very quick follow up arc but one of the highlights of the season.

Right when this arc occurred in the manga I knew it was going to be a good one. I also thought it was a way to show that Deku had learned his lesson this time. The circumstances are fairly different but he is once again forced to decide between overlooking the villain’s actions or stepping in even though it would not be advised by the pro heroes. Deku doesn’t hesitate this time and launches into battle. You want to see that kind of character development. Additionally, Criminal’s quirk is really quite impressive. Initially it looks like creating air pockets may not be very helpful but the guy is really good with using it. I’d also make the case that any and all elemental abilities tend to be very useful in combat. In particular gravity and air tend to have many different uses which is good. Their fight has quite a lot of back and forth which both fighters giving it their all. It’s not just a clash of might but a clash of ideals which is part of why the fight is so effective. I would consider that the best fight in the arc no question. In all of My Hero I would consider it one of the best fights in the series, the animation is also incredible.

Gentle Criminal may not be around for too long but I hope he gets to return someday. He may have given up on being a hero but he has fine tuned his abilities to a degree where he would definitely be quite useful. He may have been a villain but at least he did his best not to hurt anyone. His main goal was really just showing that he can do something when he puts his mind to it and that La Brava’s editing skills are on point. They make for quite the difficult team to conquer. If Deku had not been the one to go up against him I doubt the Criminal would have been captured right now. I like the guy’s charisma. He’s the kind of villain who’s easy to root for just due to the nature of his criminal actions and the fact that his theme is pretty great. You really can’t count this guy out.

After that the season is effectively over but we do get a little bit of a lead up to the next season which will heavily involve Hawks and Endeavor. We get to see one of the new Noumu creatures in action as well. The season ends rather quickly so the next season should pick up almost immediately which is cool. While this season adapted the fan favorite arc in the Overhaul saga, the next season looks like it’ll be adapting some of the most important parts of the manga which will be pretty intense. I’d make the case that coming up are some of the darkest arcs in the series so we’ll see how the anime handles it. Some parts can definitely be quite twisted and while I expect My Hero will be going on for a very long time, I do feel like we’re getting close to the end of “Part 1”

The final bit does its best to try and show Endeavor in a more positive light but at this point it feels very late for that. It’ll be good if his character is ultimately redeemed but if you ask me it’s way too soon for that. While Todoroki’s brother is portrayed as being the unreasonable one here in how he can’t forgive Endeavor, I can’t blame him. The others are very quick to welcome him back except for Todoroki although he’s getting rather close, but if anything that will just widen the gap. Todoroki’s brother just can’t believe how easy this is for Endeavor. Of course at the end of the day they’re all hoping Endeavor doesn’t get destroyed by a monster though. Not only would that not atone for anything but it makes things too easy on him. Endeavor needs to live so that he can really turn into a better person. He’s certainly working at it so hopefully this works out for him.

We don’t see Hawks for long but right away you can see why he’s such a fun character. The guy takes his hero work very seriously but is far less rigid than the other heroes. He’s more about being practical than just blindly following orders. He’s got a lot of thoughts of his own and you certainly don’t feel like you can trust him for that reason. His feather abilities are very handy and it’s yet another versatile quirk. It’s easy to see why he is one of the Top 10 heroes even if he lacks the sheer power that some of the other heroes have. Technique will certainly trump raw power any day of the week although it also means you have to be 100% focused the whole time as one mistake can mean the end for you.

As always the animation is very solid. It’s no surprise though, the show has always been very consistent with this. To date I wouldn’t say that any episode has had bad or even average animation. It’s all looked quite solid from the start. It’s easy to see this as clips from season 1 still age really well and yet you can see the improvement from season to season. The Deku vs Overhaul fight definitely got the maximum amount of budget here. Meanwhile Mirio’s fight was more still based but all of the images were very dynamic so it still looked very good. The colors pop out at you and the fight scenes are on point so My Hero definitely delivers as always.

It almost goes without saying that the soundtrack is very solid as well. I wouldn’t say that any of the openings quite have the same iconic energy as the very first MHA opening but they’re solid. We get a lot of the classic tunes here as well and then there’s also a new theme for Gentle Criminal. The theme is excellent and really shows you what kind of character you can expect from here. It’s a theme that has a lot of intrigue and a hint of mystery which is the perfect blend for this character. It definitely helps to take him to the next level. “Brawl” and “Sword and Shield” are two other excellent themes in the show.

In a way the Deku vs Overhaul battle gives us a preview of what Deku will look like at 100% power. He won’t be able to use this consistently until we get some kind of timeskip I imagine since his body won’t keep up but it’ll be fun to see. The form effectively has him go Super Saiyan and like this there is no hero who can even dream of stopping him. Just one 100% punch is enough to take down almost any fighter so using it consecutively? That’ll be fun. I’m always glad to see Deku going all out at last so that worked out quite well. Definitely makes Overhaul’s defense also look very impressive when you think about it since he was able to keep regenerating from that. We’ve got a lot to look forward to with Deku power wise after this.


Overall, My Hero Academia has definitely become the next big show in America. It has been for quite a while at this point and I expect it will continue to be quite mainstream with the consistent releases and solid story arcs. There’s just a whole lot you can do with this universe and the solid cast built around it. If you haven’t checked the show out you should certainly do so. With 4 seasons out you’ll have a lot of episodes to binge through and perhaps that will take you up to the season 5 release date. I don’t recall when that is coming out but it definitely can’t be much longer I’d say since this review took me a while to write. With excellent music and animation throughout you really owe yourself to check this title out.

Overall 7/10

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

Sakura Wars Review


Looks like it’s time to finally review the original Sakura Wars anime. This one has definitely been waiting its turn for quite a while now so it’s time I get right to it. Ultimately I would consider this to be the definitive Sakura Wars experience at the moment from what I’ve seen. While the OVAs may have more energy to them, this is a complete 26 episode anime so it gives us a full plot complete with an array of enemies. You also get a lot of interactions with the cast and natural character development as a result of it. I’d classify this as a slice of life that transitions slowly into more of an action series for the second half. Lets take a deeper look at one of the classic mech franchises!

The show starts off by introducing us to the Flower Division. This is a group of undercover fighters who use mech suits to take down the alien/robotic creatures that attack the capital. In order to not draw too much attention to themselves the group operates a theater by day. It’s a pretty detailed disguise as the group actually performs quite a few plays throughout the show. It’s a career they have dedicated themselves too. Then when the enemies strike they get into their uniforms and get ready to strike the opponents down. Well, one day Commander Yoneda is finally able to recruit the final member of the team. Her name is Sakura and part of the reason why he is eager to recruit her is because she is related to one of his old partners who saved the world a while back. There’s a decent chance that she would have inherited those abilities plus her own maiden ones.

See, in this world maidens are able to use a sort of energy that powers their mechs and allows them to unleash super moves. Guys aren’t able to draw out this energy with the exception of Sakura’s father as well as a man named Ogami. This suggests that men can use the energy but it is an extremely rare occurrence. How the energy manifests will differ from person to person. Of course at its most basic level it will move your mech but after that you can do so much more. For example, Iris can teleport and Sumire seems to amp up her spear’s attacks with this. Sakura channels the power into her sword and Kanna may use it with her fists although she may just be naturally strong. That’s a real possibility as well to be honest. The show doesn’t go into the energy abilities all that much to be honest as the OVAs show more of that like with the elemental abilities. Still, the process of controlling it is a big part of the show.

The Flower Division is definitely not a big fan of Sakura’s when she first shows up so the heroine gets a very cold reception. Eventually she wins them over but it takes a while so you may not even like them for a while there. At the very least you feel like they showed their true colors initially. I can’t imagine Sakura giving other characters a hard time like that although she is by far the nicest character of the group. By the end of the series they are a close knit group even if you feel like Sumire will continue to give Sakura a tough time as long as they are teammates. Some things never change after all.

Sakura Wars goes for a pretty interesting tone here. The whole time the villains keep on invading and being pushed back and yet this often feels like an after thought. A lot of times the main plots for the episodes will be about the theater which leads to a lot of character development. You’ll have an episode where Sumire wants to be the star over Sakura or one where Kohran has another crisis of confidence and runs off. The villains don’t become more of a major factor until near the end of the series. You should think of this as more of a slice of life and then it’ll all feel pretty natural. Just don’t think of it as an action series despite the mechs.

I wouldn’t have minded the action part coming in a bit sooner but the slice of life stuff is fun enough as well. It’s a pretty good cast. Perhaps not the strongest out there but most of the characters are good which is important. The heroes are also a bit lucky that the villains don’t use much in the way of teamwork because just one villain is enough to put the heroes on edge so if they had all attacked initially then that would have been game over for the heroes. As it was, the heroes should blame Commander Yoneda for not leaving them more prepared. Sakura had a meeting with one of the villains and had no idea of his true identity until later on since so many secrets were being kept.

I’m not a big fan of the robot designs because they are so old school and don’t feel very streamlined. It’s going for a very steam type design here which does match the rest of the era. It’s to the point though where you feel like the heroes would be better off fighting without them some times. I don’t think the show did a great job of making them appear to be stronger than the heroes individually. Meanwhile the villains go down like butter except for the high ranking members of the cabal who seem to easily crush the robots. Those guys definitely can’t be defeated 1 on 1 at all. You really want to have the whole group ready for them.

The soundtrack is a little on the forgettable side but I’d say that it works out well enough. It’s a pretty peaceful ost that never feels repetitive. It isn’t the easiest bit to remember by heart but as soon as it plays during the scene you’ll immediately be able to recall it. Likewise the animation isn’t anything special but it gets the job done. I’d consider it to be standard animation so it’s good and I have no complaints. In a lot of ways that is how the show is in general. It’s not about to become the next Railgun or Madoka but it’s a quality adventure where you’ll have a lot of fun. You’ll have fun with the case before very long and this is the kind of series where I feel like an anniversary OVA/TV show reboot would probably do pretty well.

Lets quickly take a look at the characters. Sakura is the lead so it makes sense to start with her. She can be a bit of a timid character so at first she definitely gets steam rolled by the others. I wouldn’t say that her character has any negative qualities though. I’m not usually a fan of timid characters though so I was ready for her to regain her confidence. Fortunately that happened sooner than later. She begins to stand up for herself more by the middle of the series and since by then she was awakening her abilities it’s not like the other characters could say a whole lot about it. Once the hazing period was over she was able to make a good connection with the other characters. I wouldn’t say that Sakura has a ton of personality, but she’s a good character and definitely a nice person. She brings a good contrast to the group.

Then you have Sumire who is always pretty entertaining. At first she may come across as overly mean spirited though since she is pretty unrelenting in how she hounds Sakura. As the show goes on you learn that she is like that with everyone so her character will be hit or miss. I ended up liking her by the end although at first she wasn’t quite my favorite character. By the end you can see how Sumire really enhances the character dynamics though and the show wouldn’t be the same without her. She’s also a lot more eager to just jump into the fray and let the chips fall where they may. That’s definitely the kind of character that you need in a group. Sumire pretty much took down one of the enemy commanders on her own and then also won in the rematch.

Kanna is next and she’s a lot of fun as well. Her deal is that she’s very good in hand to hand combat and sensitive to changes in nature. She’s the only character who can really stand up to Sumire on an even playing field in part because she has a lot of confidence as well. Kanna is unquestionably a much nicer character than Sumire while still having that absolute confidence which makes for a lot of banter between the characters. These two definitely have the best dynamic to be sure. Kanna doesn’t really get to show off her strength quite as much as in the OVAs but you still know she is the power hitter here.

Then we have Iris who is one of the weaker members. I’m talking in terms of character as power-wise she should be the best. She has much greater amounts of spirit energy than the other characters but she is also a lot younger so she is unable to control it. As a result what tends to happen is she’ll panic and teleport away from the characters rather than actively using her abilities to help out. That bit is unfortunate because she would have been a great asset to the team. She never quite gets her confidence even by the end of the series. Sure, Iris has her big moments on occasion but it’s more like Luigi or Scooby having a quick brave moment. It doesn’t exactly stick which is unfortunate.

The worst member of the Flower Force is Kohran though. It’s hard to know where to start with her. I guess the main thing is that she ultimately ends up running out on the team when the going gets tough. I understand (very slightly) that there would be some shock upon learning that the inventor of the legendary robots is evil, but it should be very mild. Certainly not enough to run away and hide while the heroes are fighting for their lives. It was a terrible moment and every other character handled it better. She had not even met the guy before so why is there such a strong connection just from reading his notes? I also felt like Kohhran never really did much in the way of improvements for the mechs. She would repair them a lot but that’s about it.

Finally we have Maria. She’s a very serious member of the group who is effectively the leader of the team when Ogami, Yoneda, and Ayame aren’t around. She’s a Russian fighter who specializes in gunplay to take down her opponents until she gets into her mech suit. One thing I hadn’t mentioned up til now is the series has the Flower Division be a global group of sorts. All of the girls are from different cultures which also helps to make this a pretty interesting dynamic since they have different ideas on everything. One episode had Iris throw a fit because French parties are different from how they celebrate in Japan where it’s about festivals. That episode still came across as very petty on Iris’ side though which is another reason why I wasn’t a big fan of hers. The whole group went out of their way to make her birthday exciting and that’s how she reacts? Yeah, definitely not a good look.

Back to Maria though, she’s a solid character. I’d say that she’s one of the better ones. Her serious nature means she doesn’t have as much fun with the group for the most part but by the end I’d say that they have started to chip away at her. She is a solid tactical fighter and never backs out on the team the way that others (Iris and Kohran) do so I’ll give her points for that. She also acts as a mentor to Sakura at times and is easily the most supportive member of the group.

That covers the Division but then you have Ogami who is effectively the captain. It’s pretty tough for him because he doesn’t have the same level of ability that they do. At times he tries to compensate by having the drills run very strictly which tends to backfire. He goes through his own sets of issues during the series like struggling with confidence and such so he never has an easy road. I liked Ogami well enough. He may not be the most exciting character but he did a good job of hanging out with the team. He took some key steps in improving their unity like when he made everyone have dinner together. That was definitely a pretty good move.

Then you have the higher ranking Yoneda who didn’t do a very good job. For one thing he tends to get drunk quite often. It’s mainly played for laughs of course, but even so this isn’t someone I would trust to have my back. He also decides to go up against the villain completely on his own which was a really bad idea. I understand not wanting to get everyone involved but he should have at least left some kind of letter in case he was defeated so people would know what was going on. As it stood, to them it looked like he just vanished without a trace when they needed him most. Then he also took the bomb and hinted that he would have used it if the heroes had failed. You can assume that it was a bluff, but I’d have liked to see him throw it away later on or something to show that he wasn’t serious. As it stands, I just wasn’t impressed with Yoneda.

Ayame was his right hand woman. She didn’t really get much of a role although we can assume she used to have a much more active role within the group before the series started. Maria and Yoneda both trust her guidance quite a bit although now she tends to decline on giving her thoughts so the others can grow. The last hero to really talk about would be Kazuma. He died before the series started so we only see him in flashbacks but it’s easy to see why Yoneda believed there was so much promise to Sakura’s future with the group. Kazuma was an incredible fighter who could harness spirit energy better than anyone else in the series. He really did a good job of making his last stand count. At most maybe you could say that if he kept fighting with his sword he could have won without sacrificing himself but there were still a ton of monsters at the end so his sacrifice felt pretty justified. It’s too bad we couldn’t see more of him, the guy was definitely cool. A prequel TV show about the guy would definitely work well I’d say. Since they had to fight without the robots I can see those fights being pretty tense. Additionally, it seems like this is a case where the previous generation may have been stronger than the current one so I’d like to see what other abilities they had. Although if like in the games every character should have special moves, maybe the TV show just toned down the super abilities a bit.

Yamazaki is the main villain of the series and makes for an interesting guy in general. He’s easily my favorite villain of the series. His motivations for being evil are a little on the weak side to be honest as the guy just totally cracked but since he does completely remember how things used to be it makes him a pretty deadly opponent. For the most part the enemy forces tend to be rather mindless so when they finally got a leading figure I was happy about that. He made for some good fights with Sakura and the team as well. Between a solid character design and impressive abilities, I would definitely say that Yamazaki is a winner in my books.

Then you’ve got Miroku who was the first big villain to make a move. She gave Sumire a solid fight and the two almost became rivals in a sense. It definitely got personal there and was one of the first moments where you really saw what a great character Sumire was. I’m not sure if the others would have fared so well in this battle. Miroku is a fun villain. She doesn’t have quite as much personality as Yamazaki but she is dedicated to the cause and doing what she needed to. She represented a shift in the series from mindless drones to an opposing army so she was effective in that respect.

Then you have Jade who looks like a kid but can actually be a pretty dangerous opponent. It’s hard to land a hit on him because moves tend to go right through him. He definitely has his way with Ogami’s friend for a while there before they learn how to counter him. I wouldn’t even say that his physical power is anything to be afraid of, but his abilities are tricky. You’ve got Silver to compensate for that though. This guy is rather slow but has a lot of super strength. He’s like a Frankenstein of sorts who just barrels into his opponents. This guy’s the definition of a mindless opponent though and is my least favorite member of the group. At least Jade gave us the closest thing to a horror episode here and was a thorn in the heroes side. Silver would have been doomed without backup.

There are other characters but I think I’ve covered most of them. The show definitely has a lot of events happen during its run. In part because of how stand alone a lot of the episodes are it lets the show cover a lot more with all of the characters and their personalities. I’d say it’s a pretty organic way of adapting the game if it’s anything like the Wii installment I played where you focus on improving your bonds with the other members while also defending the capital at the end of each chapter. That format lends itself really well to a show like this. At the end of the day what is really key here is the writing and characters. So long as those are strong then the show will be a success and that’s exactly what happened here.

Overall, Sakura Wars is a pretty fun show. It’s definitely going for a different angle than other mech series like Gundam or Transformers. It’s really balancing the action element with more slice of life themes like the girls all trying to get alone despite having such different personalities. Sakura Wars can definitely handle the action elements really well though as you can probably tell from some of the images I chose. The stakes do get pretty high and the series definitely picks up the action at the end with the quick onslaught of fights but I expect you should enjoy the series before then for the strong writing and pacing. I’d definitely recommend this series no matter what genre you like. It’s a fun title that should satisfy you with action, adventure, and comedy.

Overall 7/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

The Promised Neverland Review


It’s time to look at a quick anime that came out a while back. Season 2 shouldn’t be far after though and with the manga being over they can really fast blast now. At 12 episodes this is a pretty quick anime and your classic seasonal type show. It makes for a nice quick watch with a compact cast. The show was pretty unique in its premise so it made some waves. While I wasn’t a big fan of the manga as the concept grew darker and darker in its execution, the beginning always starts off pretty ominous. I think season 1 was a pretty solid adaption with definitely a lot of notable moments within.

The show starts by introducing us to Emma and her friends at school. They live in an orphanage and don’t know anything about their parents. They have numbers tattooed on them but beyond that it’s a very ordinary home where they live perfect lives. The kids all eventually find foster parents before they enter their real teen years which is good too. One day Emma decides to follow one of the kids who is sent out along with Norman and then they find out the truth. They actually live on a human farm where the kids are sent off to be eaten by demons. As the oldest kids with the highest test scores, Emma, Norman, and Ray will be the next ones to be shipped out. Do they tell the rest of the kids, bump off Isabella, or try to escape? There are a lot of ideas but not a lot of time. The heroes will also have to try and keep a straight face in the meantime but will they really be able to do that?

This is definitely a horror anime. The kids know that their odds aren’t particularly good and finding out that you were born to be shipped off isn’t a great feeling either. There’s a lot of things that the kids just don’t know either. What exactly is this planet and how does it work? They can’t trust anything they learned at the school and it seems like escape will be nearly impossible as well. There are a lot of natural defenses to take into account as well and since they are just kids it’s not like they could fight off the demons either. They don’t have any true weapons either and there is a tracker built into each of the kids so the villains know where they are at all times. The deck is stacked against them so the show is mainly about their planning a way out of this.

The season adapts the complete arc and doesn’t really even end with a cliffhanger so it handles all of this rather directly. It feels like a pretty complete story even if there obviously has to be a season 2. The cast will definitely grow in the next season so you can eagerly await that. The main cast we have here is pretty solid though. First you’ve got Emma who is extremely determined and wants to save everyone. Her view is that they can’t escape unless everyone is safe. I feel like they toned down how crazy she can be a bit in the anime as the manga did a terrific job with her close ups. Still, she is still the same character here and does everything she can to make the plans succeed. Emma isn’t afraid of death or pain and will go to drastic measures to make sure things work out. As she is here, Emma’s definitely a solid character.

Then you have Norman who is easily the smartest kid in the class. He has a bit of a rivalry with Ray on this but I think it’s fair to say that Norman is always a step ahead. He finds out quite a lot during the season. He may not always beat Isabella in wits but always comes close so it’s neck and neck. I like Norman’s calm demeanor here even if he’s always got something up his sleeve. He’s also determined to make Emma right so his plans are built with that in mind. By throwing his plans on top of hers he makes them sound even better.

Then you’ve got Ray who is not quite as much of a “Gotta save them all” person as Emma. He looks at things scientifically on what gives him the greatest chance of escape. If he has to sacrifice others to do it then so be it. Naturally this is a very ruthless way of looking at things but you do have to look at the situation from his point of view. Emma wants to bring along kids who are only 2-3 years old with them on a journey through the forest that could last for months and they will be on the run from demons. While anime can help kids be a lot tougher than in the real world, there is only so much you can do with a 2 year old. Can you picture such a kid making this kind of journey? So Ray’s right in that sense that taking everyone would be pretty crazy.

In a way the best thing to do would be to bump off Isabella but at most that would only buy them some time. She has to make regular communications to the demons so if she suddenly stops then that will really raise some red flags on their side. That’s why escape is still the best bet but they’ll need a terrific plan to bring everyone together. As planning is one of the core focuses of the show you can rest assured that the plan is sound. A lot of thought goes into all of this and it ends up being pretty satisfying. If you think about it hard enough of course there are many ways Isabella should have been able to stop the kids. At the end of the day a big part as to why the kids get away with so much is her overconfidence. She thought she had more power than what she really did and also underestimated the kids quite a bit. That can definitely be a fatal mistake.

Isabella is still a good villain though. While she may have made some mistakes here, she’s had a long track record of doing well in the meantime. You can’t say that she didn’t do a great job when she’s maintained the place for so many years. She also has an interesting origin story showing the lack of choices you have in this society. Ultimately you end up being another one of the villains or you die out. There aren’t exactly a lot of rebel fighters out there. She’s still a villain as a true hero would have fought despite all of that though. Sister Krone is in a similar spot as she had to go through the same trials to get this far. After a point the characters just stopped worrying about others and started thinking about themselves. Krone really wants a win here so she can be back in control.

There are two other kids who get a main role in the form of Don and Gilda but they aren’t that great. I feel like they’re just here to get in trouble. There’s one scene where they decide to break into Isabella’s room just to stick it to Emma and friends. It ends up working out but that was such a petty thing to do and it could have literally gotten everyone murdered. Gilda also tends to panic quite a bit. These guys feel a bit out of their league next to the main characters. In some ways it’s not their fault since the main 3 happen to be super geniuses. Don and Gilda are technically still above average in intelligence but in this fight that’s barely even a consolation at the moment.

A lot of the fun in the show is thinking about the various arguments the kids make and who you agree with. There’s also a traitor subplot throughout the show that’s pretty interesting to follow. With all of the dynamics going on in the show there is always a lot of story to follow. Now as for who is right. Emma is naturally right morally since leaving anyone to die is a sacrifice. As it is, kids have been getting sacrificed left and right but you can’t change the past so you may as well change the future. That said, she doesn’t really have a concrete plan to do so. In that case taking Isabella out makes the most sense. In terms of probabilities Ray’s plan makes the most sense. The 3 of them leaving on their own would work pretty well. Then in theory you’ve still got about a year or two before you need to go back and save the rest. Of course sometimes a shipment leaves early so it’s a complete gamble either way. If your test scores are low you get shipped out a lot sooner as it is. If you had someone to protect then that would give some strength to leaving people behind but that isn’t the case so you do need to bring everyone. Better to all die together than 2 surviving instead of most right?

The animation is good. I wouldn’t say it’s anything great, but for a show like this you don’t need anything fancy. As long as the animation is solid you can still get across the horror vibes. The show likes its quick 3D looks as well which are fun enough. The whole thing feels very standard and since this is a pretty modern show that means it still holds up rather well. The real test will be once we get more fight scenes in a future season. Then we’ll see how the animators handle that. As for the soundtrack, I’d say that one’s pretty good. I like the opening song and the tunes during the episodes are suitably ominous. You’re not going to hear a lot of super happy tracks or anything like that of course. The soundtrack fits the tone which is crucial.

Overall, The Promised Neverland is definitely a pretty unique show. As far as the various dystopia futures go, this has got to be one of the darkest. There is really no backup for the heroes and not a lot of hope either. Still, they’ve made progress so in season 2 we’ll see how they use that. If you’re up for a dark thriller then this will be up your alley. It never gets violent or anything like that, it’s just dark because of how the kids are being eaten off screen and all. The show doesn’t beat you over the head with this fortunately so it doesn’t turn gritty. It’s just the premise of the show and Neverland runs with it. If you managed to watch the show without knowing this beforehand then the first episode is especially powerful although odds are that you’ll already know the twist before that happens. Usually even the promos spoil that part since it happens so early. The show builds up the tension through the atmosphere as opposed to crazy shock value or anything outside of that. You might quickly yell plot armor during the final episode when someone isn’t instantly murdered the way the last few were but I suppose it helps to build up the hype for season 2 as well.

Overall 6/10

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

Sakura Wars: Return of the Spirit Warriors Review


It’s time for the next Sakura Wars OVA. This one introduces two new members to the group who show up pretty quietly in the second half. That’s a fun part of having a spinoff to a game where they are probably introduced midway. They’re gone one moment and here the next. They’re not bad, although naturally it feels like they have less character development than the others. This is a pretty follow-up OVA with a good array of stories. I would still give the first OVA the edge but it’s pretty close.

The 6 episodes have 5 stand alone stories and one two part adventure at the end. The main story holding them all together is that they are being presented via flashbacks from Ogami as he remembers his time with the Flower Division. It’s an unforgettable time for him and I suspect that he is slowly regretting his decision to leave them. It just won’t be the same at his next location but I’m sure he’ll make the most of it. It almost becomes meme worthy by the end as every step he takes triggers a new flashback to the point where you feel like he will never leave the house. There is just too much to remember at this point. So lets take a look at the 6 episodes.

The first episode is a good way to start things off. An assassin from Maria’s past has arrived in New York and he is determined to destroy her and the rest of the Flower Division. Maria goes off to confront him but her skills have been faltering a bit lately. Perhaps it is because she has started to come out of her shell and be more friendly with the other members. Sakura will have to convince Maria that this is actually a good thing as they team up against this guy. Can they defeat his giant mech? The episode had a lot of action and pretty high stakes. Sakura Wars as a franchise isn’t always about the big fight scenes and action segments but this one certainly went in that direction and I’d say that it worked out quite well. Maria’s a fun character and Sakura’s always got everyone’s back. They make for a very solid tag team.

Next up is the episode about introducing Reni. She seems to look up to Iris to an extent or at least appreciates how nice and innocent she is. As a result Reni lets Iris put the blame on her for the latest mishaps in the theater. When Iris runs off to pout, Reni goes after her to try and talk sense. It’s not so bad being a kid, at least that’s what Reni is trying to convince Iris of, but it’s been a tough sell. I’d say that this was the weakest episode. It wasn’t bad or anything but Iris was definitely acting like a kid here and just made things tougher on everyone. If she had been a little more reasonable then the episode would have been pretty short if anything.

After that we get a haunted opera. So Sumire and Kanna are co starring in an episode about a detective who is taking out a corrupt business lord. The play is going as normal except a lot of unfortunate accidents start happening on set. Supposedly it is the work of a ghost who is haunting the place. Sumire doesn’t buy into this but the rest of the group is nervous. Turns out something wrong is happening here and the ghost intends to murder them all. Can the Flower Division handle it? It’s always interesting when you’ve got a ghost running around because the main characters do have powers so you’d think they could wreck it right? Kanna does pretty well with blocking the attack so I think she was doing pretty well. Sumire wanted a peaceful resolution for once though so we don’t get to see the battle.

This was probably my favorite episode in the saga. It had a little action so that was good and I’m always up for a supernatural angle. The ghost could definitely put up a fight and even was able to fire off energy blasts which was pretty cool. The scene of Kanna being able to block one with her fist was also pretty noteworthy. That’s not something just anyone can do. The actress comes across as pretty spoiled throughout but I’m glad she had her happy ending. She was fortunate here since if the others knew that she tried to vaporize the friends they may not have been quite lenient.

Next up was an episode about a town getting harassed by a bunch of bullies who wanted the land. This one’s a little less notable but we got to see the heroes pretend to be costumed fighters so that was interesting. It also continues to show why Kohran is easily the worst member of the group with how reluctant she was to help. She had the costume so at that point it was her duty to help out as best she could. It’s definitely a pretty wholesome episode. Orihime helped to make it better than if Kohran had to hold the whole episode on her own.

Finally we get the two part episode where Sakura and Yoneda leave on some kind of journey. Word gets out to the team that Sakura is about to get married and they’re all sad about this as well as upset that she didn’t tell them. It’s all gossip and yet they believe that it’s probably true. After some sleuthing they find a letter that hints Sakura doesn’t want to go through with the marriage so they take the blimp to go and stop Sakura. Meanwhile Sakura’s intent on following the traditions and won’t take a man for herself. In the Shinguji family what happens is you take a man who then becomes one of their family and the next in line to be a demon slayer. As a result it seems like she would rather do this on their own. The family traditions seem to be pretty bad as always so hopefully they put a stop to this. It seems like there is no end to the demons anyway so they should all keep fighting as opposed to doing this. Well, Sakura may wish she had told the others ahead of time because they’re on the way!

This was a solid way to wrap things up since it is going for one of the more emotional beats in the series. There’s definitely a good amount of character development here and we get to see some more flashbacks of Sakura’s father which is always fun. A shame he couldn’t live through the battle but the guy was heavily outnumbered so he really did good when you think about it. Definitely a character you can look up to. Yoneda also spends most of the episodes drunk but at least in this one he tries to be responsible since Sakura asked him to be in the event in place of her father. The guy ends up drunk in the end though so I have to deduct some points. Sorry Yoneda but you just can’t stay serious long enough to be a likable character.

Right away you can also tell that the animation certainly got an upgrade here compared to the first OVA. The colors are very sleek and this looks way newer than the first one even though there technically wasn’t much of a gap between this one and the first so that’s impressive. I wouldn’t say that the soundtrack is particularly notable although the theme song is definitely pretty iconic at this point. The 6 episodes really breeze by as well. The pacing is on point and same for the overall writing. It’s why the 6 episodes are all pretty solid. The characters are interesting and so this is a title I would recommend to any viewer who likes a good story. It’s effectively a solid slice of life.

Sakura is a solid lead as she was last time. She’s definitely still the heart of the group and without her I don’t think they’d be the same. Aside from being the most powerful member, she’s also the sharpest and tends to know when something’s not going well like with how she helped out Maria. Meanwhile Maria is definitely a solid character as well. Even though her confidence was shaken early on she was able to bounce back from that and came in handy for the future fights. She may be getting more emotional than she used to be, but it’s nothing overdone or handled crazily.

Then we have Sumire who looked the best here. As always she can be pretty harsh with her criticism and doesn’t mince words. I think the reason it continues to work more and more in the execution is that the team is already one unit. So it’s not super personal when she’s taking shots at Sakura because they are friends. It’s more posturing than anything else to put Sakura on notice. Then there’s Iris but she is a bit weaker here than last time. She acts a bit more spoiled and otherwise doesn’t get much to do. In the first OVA I liked seeing her flaunt her abilities so confidently while she takes a bit of a backseat here.

Kohran is not very good as always. She continues to mess up all of her inventions which is sad since being a genius is her whole gimmick. If she’s not really able to make any great inventions anymore then what’s the point of her character? The original show played it straight but in the OVA adventures they act like she’s just not that bright. It’s pretty unfortunate and so she continues to spiral down the chains. Even making the microphone box was a pretty low moment for her since it’s not like the thing didn’t work, it was built to be a microphone and she just didn’t realize it. That’s pretty sad.

Meanwhile we’ve got the more battle tested Kanna who is a hype member as always. The scene of her punching away an energy blast was extremely impressive. You never really see a character doing much against the supernatural without their mechs but Kanna wasn’t worried. She comes across as the most reasonable member and the banter between her and Sumire is always a lot of fun. They’ve got a great dynamic there. From the two new characters Orihime is definitely the better of the two. I still maintain that she doesn’t add much to the story though. Effectively she is like a backup version of Sumire in that she believes in being very harsh on everyone. She’s also super rich so it really feels like they just grabbed the same character. It’s not really a bad thing per say but at the same time it means that her character doesn’t feel necessary. I’d have liked to have seen her and Sumire go at it a bit more, I think that would have been fun.

Reni may need some more time to really get going but she’s not off to a great start. We didn’t really need another kid type member of the group. She may try to always be very calm and collected, but we already have Maria for that who executes this a lot better. Finally we have Ogami who has certainly started to get very nostalgic in his old age. He’s a solid character as always even if his getting drunk is never a good look. The guy needs to learn how to block peer pressure and just do his own thing instead of drinking to make his boss feel good. Ogami certainly can’t handle his drinks. When he’s serious he’s a solid character though and means well. He helps to balance out the dynamic.


Overall, The Return of the Spirit Warriors is a pretty solid second OVA. It carries on the strengths of the first OVA and brings them along here. While the first one still takes a narrow win thanks in part to the fun of seeing the team get together initially, this one’s pretty close. I wouldn’t say it has any weaknesses or anything like that. The characters are still as solid as ever (Or in Kohran’s case as weak as ever) and it’s always fun to see them have adventures. I look forward to seeing how the next one stacks up.

Overall 7/10

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

Sakura Wars: The Gorgeous Blooming Cherry Blossoms Review


It’s time to look at the Sakura Wars OVA. I actually saw the show before the OVA but this one certainly makes for the quicker review since it’s only a handful of episodes. It’s a pretty solid alternate look at the series. It’s got a greater focus on the origins of the characters and works as a solid prologue for the most part even if it ultimately ends up catching up to the main series a bit. You could almost watch the first 2 episodes of this show and then cut right to the main show for an almost seamless experience. Of course, you will have to get used to the new voices if you’re watching the Dub though so that’s one thing to keep in mind here.

The show introduces us to the setting. It’s old style Japan but the world is a lot different than the one we are used to. Monsters continue to attack the capital so the Flower Brigade has been tasked with taking them down. A lot of the older members are already dead or not strong enough to win though so now we need a new generation. Several characters are brought in who I will talk about shortly. The main character is Sakura and as the daughter to one of the strongest warriors of all time, people expect big things from her. There is certainly a lot of pressure. Will she be up to the task and do the heroes really have what it takes to defeat an entire army of fighters?

Right away you can tell this show is buffing the power levels quite a bit compared to the show. It feels more accurate to the game to me. I haven’t played the original Sakura Wars but I played the Wii game and the characters were all quite powerful there. You had elemental attacks and special abilities while in the TV show for the most part that just wasn’t there. Kanna is able to punch through solid brick and Sumire/Maria are using elemental energy blasts. It’s definitely nice to see and the battle on the bridge was pretty exciting due to that. I also liked the aerial fight scene against one of the monsters where Iris took him down for the count. Iris is greatly improved from the TV show here. In general I think the OVA’s short length helped it really focus on giving you a solid peak into the video game.

I also always like seeing the heroes get together for the first time. It makes for a lot of solid banter and the OVA doesn’t disappoint here. It’s not surprising in the slightest that Sumire and Kanna would be bickering right from the jump. Their idealogies and personalities are just completely different so they won’t see eye to eye. They do work well once a battle is on though and that’s the kind of dynamic you want to see. Constant bickering is fine if at the end of the day you still join forces to stop the enemy in front of you. That’s exactly how these things should go. Sakura and Ogami start to take the show over for the last two episodes but the first two are really about the other characters who get the starring spot.

The writing is definitely solid. The characters are introduced well and you quickly get a feel for them. The animation also holds up rather well. It looks pretty much identical to the show. It’s certainly old enough where you can tell the OVA’s age to an extent but there aren’t a lot of shortcuts taken or anything like that. It’s very smooth. To an extent the fact that it’s going for a very steam based aesthetic also means it won’t look quite as flashy as some of the other titles. It’s not exactly Gundam but that’s also why it’s good that we finally got some more energy attacks here. It gives the show a chance to show some solid energy effects here.

Sakura is the main character of course and she’s solid. Sakura is definitely quite nervous at first and doesn’t believe in her abilities as much as she could but she gradually gets over it. I feel like she’s not hazed quite as much in this version although the characters can definitely be tough on her all the same. I’m glad that at least Maria and Kanna would stand up for her at times but even then Sakura had to fend for herself at times. Even Iris was surprisingly antagonistic towards Sakura. You’d think that she would at least cut Sakura some slack but I guess she didn’t want to risk being out with the in crowd. Well, Sakura does a good job of pressing past this and shows them why they need her on the team.

Sumire is definitely the meanest character of the group but it’s part of what makes her fun. She adds a lot of division to the group and you always need a member like that stirring up the pot. Her rivalry with Kanna is especially good and we even get a bit of a fight scene between them which I wasn’t expecting. That was a lot of fun and if they hadn’t gotten interrupted I fully believe Kanna would have won that match. Based on the strength we saw earlier she would have punched through Sumire’s weapon like it was butter. Sumire’s technique is the best from the group though and against the aliens she is an absolute machine.

Kanna is the best member of the group although she and Sumire are close. I just like Kanna’s confidence and how she is always ready for a fight. She also makes the right choice in heading off to avenge someone. The OVA is a bit vague on this and she settles her business off screen. Still, she has to go and do this while the enemy is around. Why should she have to wait in the building? I’d say that Yoneda made the wrong call here. Then we have Maria who is not quite as emotional as the other characters. She still likes to enjoy life and its experiences though, she just keeps it to herself more. Her main weapon is a gun though which I’d say puts her at a bit of a disadvantage next to the other characters. In shows like this guns just don’t do a whole lot. If anything they just hold you back and prevent you from really accessing your full abilities. Part of why I like Maria is she doesn’t bow to Sumire like some of the others. When Sumire threatens to not be in the play because Sakura will lead Maria basically shows her the door and tells Sakura to lead anyway.

Then we have Iris who is greatly improved from the show. In the show Iris could often be annoying, had no idea how to use her abilities, and would just get in the way a lot. Here Iris is a whole lot more confident and takes down the enemies like it’s nobody’s business. The heroes would have been in considerable trouble without her. She can still be a little mean to Sakura but for the most part Iris is a much more consistent character. I think when you’ve got a kid with overwhelming ability it’s nice to see them confident for a change instead of still working to train at it. Then we have Kohran but from the main girls she gets the shaft here. She spends most of the episodes still working on building the mechs and as a result doesn’t even get to interact with the other characters much. By default she would be my least favorite character for that reason.

Ogami takes a little while to really show up here but to make up for that he gets a whole episode to himself where he tries to write a play. It was a pretty fun episode and I’d say that the plot was handled well. We even have an interesting meta subplot where his inner self is following him around and helping out. He’s a solid character. I do feel like the fact that he can’t fight as well as the other characters hurts him a bit but as commander the main thing he just needs to be able to do is make good plans and execute them. At the end of the day he does good in this task so it all works out for him. He is a pretty solid commander and he’ll only continue to get better. He would have gotten even more props from me if he was able to take down all of the monsters by himself. Now that would have been impressive!

Ayame doesn’t get a huge role but she definitely makes for a solid sub-commander. You get the feeling that if she was able to harness the energy abilities the way that the others could she would have been commander instead of Ogami. She certainly seems well equipped for the task, but I suppose if you can’t access the power then that’s the end of that. Yoneda is also a better commander here than usual. I still don’t particularly like the guy all that much but he was absolutely correct in yelling at everyone for prioritizing a stage play over an alien attack on the city. Really guys? That one’s a no brainer. I know they worked hard on the play but you’ve absolutely got to go after the aliens right away. The sub-general should have told them all right away and they all run off after Ogami. So Yoneda seemed like a capable leader here and he also knew when to stay out of the action.

The mecha themselves are let clunky here which is good. I remember thinking at times that it seems like the heroes could fight better without them than in the suits in the show. In the OVA it seems more like they help channel the abilities to their fullest so the heroes can use elemental attacks. I feel like that helps to justify their use a lot more. I still have my issues with the suits like the fact that if you fall down in them you can actually get trapped though. That seems like a huge oversight. I think that’s the point of the designs to an extent but I still think they could have been better. I’d also have liked to see one fight where the heroes try to fight without them and lose to really spell out that they need the mechs. As it stands I have some doubts but I will definitely give the series this, the suits have a very unique design. I can’t think of another anime where they look quite like this.


Overall, Sakura Wars is definitely fun to check out. With only 4 episodes it’s not like it’ll take you a long time to get through either. The characters are well written and the plot is pretty interesting. It does feel like the adventure just doesn’t end of course, but it’s not like this was meant to adapt the whole game. If you want a full adaption then for that you get to watch the whole show. This is like a preview of the story which I have seen less of in anime format. It would have been nice to have seen more of the villains but that’s why I appreciated the fact that we got a few more action scenes early on. In some ways that’s why I would say it even beats the full length TV show but at the same time that one’s just so much longer that it gets to do a whole lot more. SO for example, on average each of these 4 episodes would beat the show’s, but when you take the full 26 vs 4, I would still say that the TV show wins. The climax was pretty intense there. If you want a solid mech anime adventure then you should definitely check this one out.

Overall 7/10

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

Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works Review


It’s time to look at the legendary Fate Stay Night show. If you know anime then odds are that you have to have heard of this show at some point or another. The fate franchise has always been pretty massive and so it makes sense that when you take the best animation company and put them on this project, it’s going to be a big hit. I have a separate editorial talking more about animation soon, but for the sake of argument right now, Ufotable does have the best visuals. This show is definitely real solid and one of the things I like about it is how there are a lot of moral debates and philosophical discussions. I always like that kind of thing. The show’s first half is rock solid and while the second half stumbles a bit I would still say this is a very good show in the end.

The plot revolves around a kid named Shirou who lives a rather ordinary life at school. He is treated as a bit of a pushover due to his ideal of wanting to help everyone at all times. Still, he’s satisfied with where he’s at, but then he suddenly gets thrown in the middle of a big fight going on and is fortunately able to summon a servant in time to survive. He is now a participant in the Holy Grail War and must take out the other masters. Throughout all of this, he needs to keep his ideal of being a Hero of Justice. Ultimately that will be the toughest part of the journey.

Lets quickly talk about the Holy Grail War to really understand this. 7 Masters are chosen to be in this war. They are chosen by the Holy Grail and typically come out of prestigious magic families. Each master is then to summon a powerful servant who is a mythological hero of legend. The Holy Grail will only appear once a single servant remains so the idea is to destroy the other servants. Of course, the easiest way to do this is to take out the master since the servant can’t continue to exist without one. There are a lot of different methods to try of course and the only result that matters is victory.

The concept of the Grail War is definitely another gold mine. It’s basically the Hunger Games but with each player having an immensely powerful guard at their disposal. It makes for a great dynamic as well as trying to figure out who each Heroic Spirit is. Good luck though because a lot of them are pretty obscure. I dare say only two of them you would be able to figure out and even then it’s hard to say. The others I definitely would not have had a shot from the start. So from here the show really picks up. It’s got a very serious atmosphere throughout. Not to say that the show is without its happy moments of course. I’d say it’s definitely more upbeat than the original but there’s always a sense of foreboding.

The very episode (Episode 0) was the perfect pilot for the series. An easy 10/10 episode with a lot of replay value. It explains what is going on very smoothly while also giving us two fight scenes. I thought this was a clever way to also start the series off a bit differently by having Rin as the main character. While it might be a little hyperbolic to say that this is flatout the best episode in the series, it really might be. I’ve basically seen it 5 times (Twice normally, twice abridged, and once via reaction) and I can’t get over how well it is done. The characters are immediately interesting, the animation is out of this world, and the soundtrack is epic.

In general the first half of the series is pretty near perfect. I think the first 12-13 episodes (I forget what is exactly the halfway point but you’ll know it because the theme song from the original show plays) are basically 9/10 caliber. It has set all the pieces on the board and now you just need to see what happens next. I would consider this show to be an action mystery with some horror elements. At this point things are as dire as ever for the heroes. The villains really have all the cards and the problem is that there are different villain groups so you don’t know who to go after. I also thought the song here was perfect and suitably emotional.

Let’s continue with the strengths of the series. The animation is absolutely masterful. One Punch Man is still the best looking anime if you ask me, but this would probably take second. Ufotable really does not disappoint and all of the fight scenes here are excellent. There is no such thing as a poorly animated fight here. Everything’s just on point and it does a really good job of showing how powerful all of these characters are. You really feel the vast difference between the spirits and the humans. It also just makes a difference having great animation, really sucks you into what’s going on. The scenes just feel very powerful and you’re especially taken off guard in the beginning. Both the Archer vs Lancer (Round 1) and Saber & Archer vs Berserker fights happen within the first few episodes and quickly show you that you’re going to be in for an amazing ride.

The soundtrack is also top tier as I mentioned. The best theme in the show is probably the Archer theme. It was a really good theme to have show up whenever he pops in. Both of the openings are also excellent as well as the remixed version of the original theme song. Then you have Last Stardust which is a great emotional theme near the end of the series. Pretty much every theme in the show is really solid and you can keep on jamming to these tunes for a long time. It’s got a lot of replay value just like this show.

The script is also excellent. It’s a little harder to describe what an amazing script is without watching it but the show’s just super interesting. Just about any conversation with Archer and Shirou is one to watch. In general you could also say the same for any conversation Archer has. He just has a really good way with words and articulating what he’s thinking in a way that makes you really think about what’s going on. He’s certainly manipulative and uses this to great effect. Due to the nature of the show being a mystery, it’s also important that everyone acts cryptically without being too obvious. I thought it was all handled rather subtly. Due to how the show goes through 3 routes so you have to watch them all to understand everything, that spins perfectly here as not every plot line is actually explored, adding to the overall mystery of what’s going on here.

Now to the second half. First, I have to say that while it couldn’t execute nearly as well as the first half it is still pretty solid. We get quite a lot of top tier fights in the second half and they may even surpass the first half. Shirou vs Archer, Gilgamesh vs Berserker, and Rin vs Caster are all excellent fights. There’s a lot of variety in these action scenes so none appear to be identical. Since the tournament is getting closer to ending that means everyone is forced to start making moves so now the plot is at its most explosive. In particular I think that’s why Gilgamesh vs Berserker is a fight that particularly shines. I always like when villains attack each other because it’s harder to tell who will win. In this case you’ll have a really good idea just by context clues but it’s still great. Especially because Gilgamesh is a third party at this point so you really don’t know how he is going to affect things.

So what was weaker about this half? Well, it did start to creep a little more towards the Fate/Zero edge that I’d prefer to avoid. It never gets nearly as over the top gritty as that show but it goes farther than it needs too. One brutal scene is when Illya is blinded by Gilgamesh. It’s a pretty brutal scene and one that feels really unnecessary at that point in time. I don’t see how the scene really adds to anything. Then we get an origin story where a bunch of dogs get slaughters. That felt rather extra as well and there were much better ways to show a bond. Additionally I don’t see how the character got so injured by them when his durability should be so great.

The Caster and Saber stuff could also be a bit sketchy. It doesn’t go super far or anything, but why? Caster didn’t really seem like that kind of character. Especially from her origin where she is played as more of a sympathetic character. Why did we need kid sacrifices again? She did good in putting a stop to this even if it wasn’t in the best possible way. At the very least she was way better than her master. Finally there’s the Shinji and Rin stuff by the end. The show really wanted to do its best to make sure there was no way you could like Shinji. It succeeded of course and he’s definitely one of the worst in the series. These scenes together don’t negate all the good we get in this part of the series of course, but it’s also why it can’t come close to matching the first half. The first half of Stay Night is ideal and you could just watch it over and over again.

Shirou is the main character so naturally there’s a lot to say about him. He’s definitely a very solid character. Shirou does act a bit too much like a pushover during the start of the series but at least he has a better reason for it than most. He wants to be a Hero of Justice but is ashamed at how weak he is. As it stands, Shirou currently doesn’t have the ability needed to accomplish this goal. So in a way he punishes himself by doing all of these extra stuff. He’s still getting to help other people out which is ultimately his goal and that’ll just have to do. This war gives him a chance to really test his ideals and work to not let this game corrupt him. He does an excellent job of this and is definitely a very good main character. I already wrote an editorial about why his ideals are correct so it almost goes without saying that I think he’s great. He can also fight when needed and steps up when the chips are down. The other characters give him a hard time but would be in a tough spot without him. I’m not really on board with Shirou’s romance plot though. I think that could have been whittled down some.

Saber is the main servant here or at least she works with Shirou. In the first show she is definitely the main heroine with a ton of screentime but you could argue that her role is smaller than that of both Rin and Archer this time around. She’s still a solid fighter although I consider her to be over hyped in universe. When she is first being summoned there’s a huge deal about the Saber class being the most powerful and that everyone’s in trouble. Then she proceeds to lose almost every fight she gets thrown into or when she has the upper hand she is unable to close the deal. I’ll have more to say on that in another time. Power isn’t the only factor in how likable a character is though and so I still like Saber quite a lot. Her goals and motivations are pretty strong as well. She’s an excellent tactical fighter and is always ready to jump into the action. Her moves may be considered a bit more straight forward and basic next to what some of the other Servants can do but her physical stats are still high enough where she is able to get the job done this way.

Rin gets a huge role here so it’s important that she be a good character. Fortunately that is the case and part of why episode 0 is so good. She’s just a very interesting character and prepared well for this tournament. She may have messed up a bit with the time but that’s a pretty easy slip up. One of the reasons why she is really good is the fact that she can actually fight. Unlike most masters who don’t engage in combat she can actually charge the field along with her servant. She has a lot of good back and forth discussions with Archer. I think she tends to be a little too lenient on him given some of the actions later on though. She just figured out too many things which in effect made her sympathize with Archer even more but after a while it is a stretch. Either way Rin is definitely a highlight here though and has too many good scenes to name. I’d say her biggest highlight is probably the battle with Caster.

Then we have her servant Archer. He’s a very mysterious entity from the beginning as he claims not to know who he is which makes battle tactics quickly. Also, he’s an Archer but always uses a pair of short swords. Still, this guy is pretty powerful. He gives all of the other Servants quite a tough fight as the series goes on and his role is massive next to the original. The anime perfectly nails his confident attitude and the design is extremely crisp. He gets a lot of great dialogue with almost everything he says being memorable. Again, I already talked about him a lot in my editorial so I won’t go as far into this. Additionally I can’t talk about his appearances in the second half of the show as much without going into spoilers. Needless to say, his reasons for doing what he did was interesting but given his goal I feel like he could have made a move a whole lot sooner. I suppose maybe he wanted an even playing field so he could really have a battle of the minds. It’s a reasonable guess but he went really far in doing this to the point where he was basically willing to destroy everything. Not really a proper goal for a Heroic Spirit right? The guy’s definitely not very heroic compared to some of the others. He is quite jaded and even if he ends up doing the right thing at the end of the day in a lot of cases, it’s hard to call him a hero for the most part. Of course, there can be solid debates on that well. Regardless, Archer is a very interesting character and actually rose to being my favorite in the franchise. That was Gilgamesh for a while but I’d say that Archer surpassed him with this one. A mysterious enigma like Archer who manipulated everyone is just hard to top.

Rider doesn’t get much of a role here. She got a bigger one in the original show and even there she didn’t really do much at all. I think fans of her will be a little disappointed at just how quickly it’s all over. She was never one of my favorite servants thugh so I was okay with it. Illya was always one of my favorite masters though so it was too bad that her role was reduced. In particular I missed the scene of her kidnapping Shirou. I thought that was a really ominous moment in the series and one that definitely raised the stakes. She’s still really fun here too of course. She has a lot of great dialogue and was definitely showing Rin up during their fight. Her role may not be huge but she’s as confident and smug as ever so she’s definitely still a winner as far as I’m concerned.

Berserker is one of the big servants. I always thought it was interesting that his debut is that he’s basically the strongest servant. It seems to happen 3 times in the series, first for Saber, then for him, and finally for Gilgamesh. He is quite impressive though and his Noble Phantasm is very practical. I also like the fact that he is shown to be very agile despite being a Berserker. It makes him a complete nightmare to fight and he is consistently shown to be a very tough fighter. I liked the guy and despite his tough exterior, he does feel like a real hero unlike some of the other spirits.

Lancer really stood out in this version. He stole the show quite a bit and from all of the heroic spirits he is easily the most heroic. He has a very solid honor code and is willing to resist orders to do the right thing. I also liked his ultimate attack. It may not work a whole lot due to plot hax and all but otherwise reversing cause and effect is almost impossible to stop. How do you stop something like that? He’s just a very cool character and whenever he appears you know something cool is going to happen.

Gilgamesh is also a character that just radiates power and a cool personality. I like how smug he is and as you can tell, this show is filled with a lot of fascinating characters. I just wish we could have gotten more scenes with him and Archer. I think you have the potential for a lot of great character dynamics with them because if you think about it they’re very similar. Regardless he is one of the coolest villains in the series. He doesn’t fear anyone and you never get the feeling that he’s outmatched. If he would get serious a little sooner then I think he could have caused some real damage to the others here.

I already talked a bit about Shinji earlier so no need to go back into that. He’s a pretty terrible character. Kirei on the other hand is a lot more interesting. The fact that he’s more of a moderator is an interesting role in itself. He knows a whole lot more than most of the other characters and in a tournament like this that’s a huge advantage. He will be able to have a bird’s eye view of things. The voice chosen for him is perfect as well and I always did like the claw type weapons he uses. I’d have liked to see him do more in the series. Then you have the crew at Shirou’s home like Sakura and Taiga but they don’t really get to do anything here. Sakura has some interesting scenes with Gilgamesh but they’re completely off screen. I was surprised Shirou never tries to ask about that but I suppose at this point in time he was trying to keep her out of this. Taiga’s a reasonable comedy character. Her scenes don’t amount to much by themselves but it was good to show Shirou’s normal life before everything completely changed. She’s also good at fencing which is nice to note. At least it means she can fight a bit in self defense although it won’t help against a servant.

Caster gets a huge role in this series to the point where you could call her the main villain of the series. She may not be a close quarters fighter but her magic is so versatile that she can go head to head with just about any other servant. She tends to bend the rules quite a lot, making a mockery of the whole thing. That’s a solid way to approach things for a Caster though and I liked her plan. It was really just about perfect if you ask me and she just took too many risks by the end. She got way too greedy and it cost her.

Assassin is a pretty interesting character as well. In part he doesn’t feel like an Assassin though because the guy fights with a sword at close combat and quite well. He was easily overwhelming Saber after all. He’s very honorable and really just got a bad hand here. His actions are quite limited but he will leave a solid impression on you. Definitely a really fun character. Then you have Kuzuki. He does give some power level issues here though. I am glad to see a master who can fight but he should not have been able to do anything against Saber. I can understand the magic amping up his attacks to deal damage but he should have been far too slow to land any hits. No matter how the show tried to explain it I couldn’t buy into that. He made for a solid antagonist though. His set of ideals are definitely quite different compared to the other characters and how dead inside he is was pretty interesting. He’s a villain who isn’t pretending to be anything else.

There are more characters of course but those are the big ones. So I think this is a pretty good recap of the series. Ultimately one last thing to say here is that Fate has a ton of themes. That’s part of what makes it so much fun is there’s a lot to discuss and think about here. Every character has quite a lot of motivations going on here and a full plot to themselves. When you add that to every character then you’ve got a large multi layered story. It’s hard to find a story with as much depth as Fate. Typically you see this kind of atmosphere the more you get into pretty intense territory like Attack on Titan so Fate was able to grab that atmosphere without getting mired with the usual negatives that come with it. That in itself is pretty impressive.

One quick thing to note here is that the power levels can be a bit iffy though. I already touched on the whole Kuzuki managing to take on Saber and even overwhelming her in close quarters combat. I don’t see how that’s possible. Then you have the fact that Saber is supposed to be the strongest Saber but gets beaten left and right by just about everyone. I have an editorial for that at some point as well. How is she losing to Archer near the end of the series when the guy’s been without a master for a while and is super weakened? This is sometimes an issue for various shows where all of the characters have a lot of hype so we get a lot of deadlocks. There are quite a few of those here. Still, in this show it’s not like everyone lives so things do come to an end. Some fights just aren’t as believable as others. Archer vs Shirou made sense with the realization that one character was holding back for legitimate reasons while Gilgamesh vs Shirou is more suspect.

Overall, Fate Stay Night is definitely a show I would recommend. It’s got a top tier production behind it and now I can finally understand for real why it’s titled Unlimited Budget Works by fans. The series has a ton of replay value. When you’ve got a story that already has a good plot and then throw excellent music and animation at it you know you’ve got a winner. Ultimately I still did prefer the original version ever so slightly. It does lack in animation and soundtrack compared to this one but I thought it really nailed the uncertainty and the scary atmosphere of Fate. Perhaps it is due to the animation being darker and more misty but that show’s pretty hard to top. I also thought no moment in this show was quite as powerful as the Archer vs Berserker fight from that series which I never forgot. It was a real highlight for me. Either way, whether you’re a Fate fan or not you should definitely check this out. Unlimited Blade Works definitely sets a pretty high bar and there’s a lot to talk about here.

Overall 7/10

8 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Sorcerous Stabber Orphen (2020) Review


It’s time to look at the 2020 remake of the classic Orphen story. This one takes a far different approach than the last one though which was pretty interesting. Azalie plays a much bigger role here which I was happy to see. It definitely ended up completely surpassing the original series. This one is a blast and a half from start to finish with excellent animation and story beats. If you want a solid action anime to check out then this is definitely the one that you will want to have at the ready.

The show starts by introducing us to Orphen. He used to be a member of the Tower of Fang but left to pursue Azalie since he disagreed with the Tower’s approach. Most of this is cloaked in mystery and explained as the story goes on so I’ll leave it there. He’s now a renegade mage trying to make ends meet until he can find her. He takes on an apprentice named Majic who really wants to be a great mage but Orphen doesn’t take him too seriously. A rich girl named Cleao also ends up joining the party so now this trio have to try not to hold Orphen back as they tag along. Orphen will have to go up against assassins, the Tower of Fang, and of course Azalie. Are his skills as a stabber and inheritor of the Razor’s Edge going to be enough for this?

The show starts off quite fast paced and it has to in order to cover all of this in only 13 episodes. The show does a great job of making you feel like a lot is happening. We get to see Orphen in a lot of different fights and scenarios. I’d say that the first arc of the series is naturally finding Azalie and then the second half is sort of about finding her again. We get mini arcs throughout of course so there’s always more than one plot going on. For example, one plot has the heroes head to an isolated village of people who can’t stand sorcerers. Naturally they aren’t too happy to see Orphen and pals so the heroes have to end up fighting them off.

Another mini arc and my personal favorite in the series is when a fake Orphen appears and stars murdering Tower of Fang members. Naturally this puts Orphen in a bad light especially as this clone looks like how Orphen was back when he was a member. Orphen has to try and take this guy out but the problem is that the Fake Orphen appears to be as powerful as Orphen was at his peak. Unfortunately the Orphen, he has actually grown weaker over the years because he is not able to actively train like he used to and so his skills have naturally deteriorated. It’s a pretty intense arc for sure.

Finally the last arc involves some more assassins. These guys want a book that the Tower of Fang currently possesses and they will do whatever they have to in order to get it. Once they start targeting Orphen’s friends he takes it personally and decides to remove them. He is a stabber after all and isn’t opposed to destroying his enemies when necessary. They went after Cleao and Leticia (Tish) so at this point Orphen needs to make sure they don’t go after anyone else.

The season ends with a nice cliffhanger setting up the next season pretty well. Once again Orphen and the gang are going to be heading to a place that isn’t exactly known for being nice for mages. Should make for a pretty tense second season. We already know Azalie can protect herself so the question is if Orphen’s up to the task. He never backs down from a challenge so I expect he will do just fine here. He’s ready for whatever they throw at him and is pretty good at using underhanded tactics in a fight to make up the power gap as well. He’s not the kind of guy who will just give up.

All of this is to say that Orphen is a pretty great main character. He has confidence and ability, two traits that you absolutely need to have.
His fight against the Fake Orphen is a good example of that. He was completely outmatched in terms of physical and magical ability so he had to win with his pure intelligence. Otherwise he had no real shot to pull this off. Same as when he fought with Azalie. He knew that he couldn’t take her down in a fair fight so he had to have some good equipment at the ready. It’s not really uncommon in this series for Orphen to be outmatched so it’s good that he’s so cunning. He is the inheritor to the Razor’s Edge which the show loves to bring up every episode and used to be the strongest but he no longer holds that title. Even so, I feel like he is second only to Azalie in terms of ability from Tower of Fang members. I wouldn’t be surprised if people outside of the tower would be able to take him on though. He didn’t exactly do well against the Elder Dragon.

Then we have the main heroine Cleao who is a fun character. She may not be much of a fighter but she’s a good morale booster and is always here to raise everyone’s spirits. She also has her pet dragon Lucky who can fight really well. At least this gives her something in the way of defense and she can land a surprise blow when needed. She definitely will always try to contribute when needed. Her role isn’t huge and it doesn’t look like she will ever be going into more of a full combat role but as it stands she does add to the dynamic.

Unfortunately Orphen’s other partner Majic is not nearly as good. He’s just around to hold the team back. He’s the hapless trainee whose abilities aren’t improving at nearly the rate he was hoping for. Usually that could be an inspirational character as you root for his success but he ruined that in his first appearance when he betrays Cleao’s confidence and only stops because he is caught. His character never recovered from this peeping incident and for the rest of the series I was rooting against him. Clearly Majic doesn’t have the discipline needed to improve his magical abilities.

You’ve also got the pair of comic relief characters Volcan and Dortin who follow the heroes around. Their roles have been greatly reduced compared to the original show though. They show up a few times as they sell out Orphen over and over again but that’s about it. They’re pretty fun though and it’s a comic relief kind of style that has aged pretty well. I dare say that it’s about as funny now as it ever was. Keeping it in short doses is probably a good thing though so we can really focus on the actual plot going on.

Azalie was always a great character in the original show and the same is true here. She makes for a very good wild card. I would certainly not call her a hero but as a loner she doesn’t mind helping the heroes out once in a while. Her abilities are still formidable and she only loses one fight in the series due to a good magical item. Otherwise she looked pretty much invincible. She definitely enjoys being quite mischievous and pranking Orphan all the time. It makes for a very fun dynamic and she really is the heard of the series. The whole thing revolves around her so much that you couldn’t have the show without her.

Then we have Childman who is a pretty interesting character. He certainly looks after Azalie like how Orphan does although in his own way. He doesn’t have a huge role in the series but gets a lot of respect in his own right. He’s certainly a powerful opponent and a pretty reasonable guy in general. At least he’s someone that you can count on when the going gets tough and that’s always important. We’ve also got Leticia who’s another high ranking member of the group. Her abilities are fairly decent although I wouldn’t say I was too impressed. Her first big fight doesn’t really go all that well. In a fair fight I’d take her over most of the opponents though. When you’re outnumbered it’s hard to really do much.

The other members of the Tower of Fang like Heartia or Forte are around but don’t do quite as much. The final character I’d single out here is the Fake Orphen who really steals the show. Naturally there’s a twist about his true identity. His episodes were really the peak of the series with how fantastic they were. This guy would really keep you on your toes the whole time and I loved his absolute confidence. He’s definitely one of the strongest characters in the series without a doubt. Unfortunately he will likely never appear again so you will need to have enjoyed these scenes as much as possible.

As mentioned, the animation is quite solid here. It’s definitely bright with a lot of good color contrasts. The energy fights are good and the same goes for the hand to hand choreography which is quite impressive. I think this goes a long way into helping shape the series into the great title it is. When you’re following a show that just looks really good in addition to its good writing and solid soundtrack then you’ve got a solid combo. The soundtrack may not be an all star or anything like that but I thought it sounded really good for the scenes that were there. You’ll hear the themes a lot over the course of the series. The opening theme is also pretty catchy for sure.

Another thing that separates this show from the average title is that it was even able to make the flashback scenes interesting. In most shows I definitely don’t look forward to flashbacks at best and normally I dread them. It’s the perfect way to absolutely destroy a show’s pacing and give us extra info we didn’t need to know. 9 times out of 10 we don’t need a sob story for the characters. Fortunately the flashbacks are actually pretty interesting this time though. I think they could even make a whole show about Orphen’s days at the academy. It’s always rare to see a main character who was stronger as a child than when he was grown up. The idea that he had to fight while always holding back at the Tower was a pretty interesting one that they could run with. The writing here is just exceptional and it’s why the show is so much fun and so interesting throughout.

Overall, Orphen is definitely a great anime. As a reboot it’s very easy for anyone to just pick up and watch as well. You don’t need to go back to the old shows and can just start here. The animation is very smooth and the writing is on point. The show really has no weaknesses and had no bad episodes. It just does a superb job of showing what you can do in 13 episodes. It set a high bar for the next season but I look forward to seeing what other adventures we get. This was definitely one of the more fun self contained shows I’ve seen in quite a bit. It really took all of the strengths of the first show and expanded on them.

Overall 8/10

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

Prétear Review


It’s time to look at a magical girl anime from the not so distant past. I haven’t seen a whole lot of titles from the genre but they tend to be pretty solid. This one’s no exception and makes for a good adventure. It’s not really trying to do anything particularly special and just tries to hit all the usual beats for what you would expect. So that means the show just has to execute well and I’d say that Pretear manages to do this. The show really ends before you know it and we get our good share of fight scenes.

The show starts off by introducing us to the Leafe Knights. They protect the world from demons and such that seek to suck the life out of the world. They operate in secret but have slowly been losing ground to the enemy. What they need is to find the legendary Pretear who is a teenage girl living somewhere on Earth. That leads us to Himeno whose father recently married into a rich family so now she has two step sisters and a step mom to get along with. Himeno really does her best to fit in but unfortunately her new family is not very receptive to her at all. Himeno never allows herself to get down about it though. One day a monster attacks and the Leafe Knights confirm that Himeno is their champion.

Himeno is a little reluctant to join at first but after getting insulted by Hayate she decides to become the Pretear. The only issue is that transforming is a little more awkward here as she has to merge with one of the guys to actually use her powers. Effectively which guy she merges with determines what element her abilities are. From there on she is tasked with destroying monsters as they appear but is there more to this than they are telling her? The Leafe Knights appear to be keeping quite a lot of secrets so this won’t be an easy journey for Himeno.

As the show is only 13 episodes it has to move at a pretty steady pace. While it doesn’t take a real dark turn the way Madoka did, we do get a pretty serious plot for the second half of the show that I thought was handled really well. We are introduced to the Princess of Disaster Fenrir. She is a very imposing villain and gave us a real threat. Her design was sharp and I liked her raw power output as well. I do think the series tries to go a little too hard for the emotional beats with her. It’s a little hard to buy into her backstory because she takes the whole thing way too hard. She is also quick on the rebound as well. Fenrir is at her best when she is just being an evil mastermind and messing with everyone. Her debut appearance in particular was really solid as she completely dismantled the team. I dare say that Fenrir did a lot in making the show’s plot pretty interesting.

Pretear is a very focused show which I appreciate. The episodes all tie into each other and something is always happening. There were no episodes that I would consider to be pointless/filler which is good since the title is so short. There is one character that I would consider to be pointless though and that is Yayoi. She’s supposed to be Himeno’s best friend from school but she rarely appears. When she does appear it’s just to talk about crazy ramblings and she really adds nothing to the story. Cutting her out entirely would have been fantastic because her scenes drag on and have no purpose. If you’re not enhancing the story then that’s just a bad thing.

Lets talk about the main character though. Himeno is pretty great. I like her enthusiasm throughout the show. She takes things in stride a lot better than most heroines. I would actually put her above Ichigo (Mew Mew Power), Sailor Moon (From…Sailor Moon), and Sakura (Cardcaptors) because of how resolute Himeno is. She just jumps into action and also proactively tries to get stronger. How many other leads do you see actually training between missions? I can’t think of a single time I saw the others actually training their abilities although it’s possible I’m not recalling their scenes. The point is that Himeno has a pretty tough living situation with characters actively trying to sabotage her and she never takes it personally. She has to put up with quite a lot but always ends up being the bigger person. Gradually this gets through to her new family and then they end up getting alone.

Himeno has some reservations about merging with the others but I don’t blame her there. Actually having to merge with someone doesn’t seem like an easy decision. Additionally it does lead to the show’s only real weak point in that the merging scenes are a bit fanservicey. More so than the other magical girl shows I’d say. It’s nothing too crazy but since she transforms in every episode with the same recycled animation it still does appear quite a bit. A good transformation scene shouldn’t need any fanservice. Just go for full silhouette and you’ll be okay.

Mayune is one of Himeno’s sisters and loves playing tricks on her. Most of the time they’re fairly harmless of course and Himeno dodges them all but that does mean Himeno always has to be on her guard. That’s got to be exhausting after a while. Mawata is the other sister and gets a much larger role. She has had a difficult time of it because she has always had to be the mature and sensible member of the family but that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. She’s naturally very quiet as well so the others don’t really reach out to see how she’s doing. Having this be a main plot in the show was good because we get a satisfying conclusion to it all. Ultimately Mawata doesn’t look great for parts of this but she has a much better excuse than other characters. Overall I thought she left more of an impression compared to most of the cast and she was solid. Definitely a character you can sympathize with.

Kaoru is Himeno’s father and he’s very annoying. For starters he doesn’t notice everyone picking on Himeno at all. He’s played completely for comic relief and is also oblivious to everyone’s insults. It’s great that he’s so in love with Natsue of course but I would have liked him to have been portrayed a little better. He should at least be aware of some of the things going on right? At the end he gets serious but it’s way too late. Meanwhile Natsue seems reasonable. I thought she was going to be portrayed as the extreme step mom but for the most part she’s amiable to Himeno. She may be slightly biased towards the others but it never gets too crazy. She also seems to think Kaoru goes a little too far at times but tries not to let it show.

Hayate is the main Leafe Knight so he gets a huge role. You probably know where his plot is headed the instant the show starts. He has a fun design and is definitely the “toughest” member of the group with how he acts. He’s always got a burn at the ready and doesn’t play nice like the others. In general the Knights are pretty weak without having a Pretear to merge with but at least he puts up a better fight than the others. I thought he worked pretty well. Meanwhile you have Sasami who is the quiet Knight but ends up being the worst one. He just can’t control himself very well and loses sight of what’s the right thing to do. He’s the kind of guy who lets romance end up ruining his life as he throws his morals away for a quick chance. I’ll give the show props for playing the second half straight though. Sasami completely goes in his direction. There’s no way I could forget that so he was one of the worst here but it was unexpected.

The show did a good job of throwing some twists and turns at you. For example there’s one character who is around quite a lot but in a very low key way so when a twist happens you’re pretty impressed. Sasami gets a plotline like that which is handled really well. It also gave Pretear an extra layer compared to what you would have expected and enhances the story quite well. It makes the show more memorable and when you throw in the action scenes you’ve got a solid show. It’s able to shift genres and get quite serious when needed as well.

After the main two Leafe Knights, the rest don’t have a whole lot to do. If anything the show probably had too many of them because the rest never get to do a whole lot. They show up and get their transformation episodes but otherwise they’re mainly around to get wrecked. I think the reason they are here is so we could have a whole team. I wouldn’t say any of them are bad characters though. I didn’t particularly like them much but as far as supporting characters go they served their purpose of being around for moral support. Mr. Tanaka on the other hand is more like Yoyoi in that he could have been cut out. His job in the series is to be the but of everyone’s jokes and to constantly get wrecked by everyone. The show didn’t need him as a comic relief character.

The show’s humor could get a little repetitive in that sense. There’s one running gag where Mayune constantly tries to seduce every guy she meets and this results in the exact same scenes over and over. Once or twice is fine I guess but it happens at least 3 times if not more. I feel like low key this was to save on budget but I dunno. The animation is good I’d say. It’s nothing particularly spectacular or anything but it’s not bad. It’s smooth enough where you can enjoy the fight scenes and the character designs. There’s one scene that is animated a bit oddly as Hayate tries to find Himeno though. We get a scene where he seemingly sees her and isn’t able to save her from a car in time but then later on it seems like that was a red herring and he never saw her. The whole thing was odd but that’s probably more of a directing thing than an animation error. So it’s not anything special but it works well enough.

The soundtrack isn’t too memorable but there was one theme I really liked. I guess I’d call it the danger theme or the Leafe Knight theme since it appears in one of the very first scenes in episode 1. Sadly after that it doesn’t appear much at all but it was good. It started the series off on a high note and let you know that things were getting serious right away. The villains may not have great designs but it quickly let you know that the aliens were ready to invade the planet. Fenrir may be the only big villain but she’s the only one we really need because of how powerful she is. The heroes aren’t ready to deal with someone like her.

Outside of the humor gag that didn’t work, the show’s writing and humor are solid overall. I like the banter with Hayate and Himeno. He definitely feels like a throwback to the classic Shojo hero who would always be rather standoffish with the main character. He insults her quite a lot but they still manage to grow fairly close. Now you knew this was coming but the romance isn’t particularly great though. Himeno seems confused on who she likes for a bit and there are a lot of rebounds happening here. I think you could cut out all of the romance to be sure but it could have been a lot worse. At least the tight script helps to make things work out here.

Overall, Pretear is definitely a really solid magical girl show. I haven’t seen too many in this genre so it was fun to jump on board. It develops the characters pretty quickly and gives us some nice writing and banter as well. The story is very direct and there are actually some twists and turns to keep you interested. If you’re looking for a fun little show to check out then this is definitely a good one to keep an eye on. That’s one thing that is always a lot of fun about shows that are only 12-13 episodes long. It’s easy to jump into them and more often than not the pacing is going to be fantastic because of how fast the plot has to move. Not every show has to be the next big all star and as long as you have solid fundamentals you’ll end up being a good adventure. That’s exactly how Pretear rolls.

Overall 7/10

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

Magia Record Review


It’s time to look at the follow up to the original Madoka show. Technically this is more of a spinoff than a direct sequel though as it’s based on the mobile game. In true Madoka fashion a lot of the background is shrouded in mystery. We don’t yet know when this show takes place or in what timeline. Thanks to the time travel elements and alternate timelines there are many ways this can go. I have my own theory about it which I’ll elaborate on later on. It’s tough to come after the first show since I currently have that in my top 5 all time anime. (Black Clover and One Punch Man are both gaining ground fast though so we’ll see if it can ultimately stay in the 5th spot) While this show isn’t quite ready for that level, it is very good with a dynamite ending.

The story follows a girl named Iroha. She used to have a sister who was very sick and so she entered into a contract with Kyubey to restore her health. Unfortunately, now her sister no longer seems to exist. Nobody remembers her either although since Iroha has her abilities now that means the wish should have been granted. Is something wrong with her memory and did she potentially wish for something else? Iroha works with other magical girls to get to the bottom of this mystery. In the meantime they also work on shattering many myths and legends around the school. These myths are dangerous and many people die until they are busted. Iroha also has to deal with the fact that witches have begun to appeaer in the town much more frequently than usual which is attracting attention from other magical girls who are willing to murder each other so that they can be the ones to defeat the witches. Is this all part of some sort of elaborate plan?

Magia Record has more of a slice of life feel than the first show. In the first half of the show typically each episode is about solving a different rumor and stopping the villain. There are subplots hanging out during these adventures like various magical girls acting cryptically in the background and of course Iroha’s plot to save her sister. Those seem like they will mainly be saved until season 2 though. The final episode is really what starts to set the stage for everything as we get big fights and hype guest stars. That tells me there is a lot to look forward too. The show mainly runs on how interesting you find the cast to be and they hold their own. There were a pair of characters that I could mix up at times since they both had blue hair and looked rather similar but everyone else is pretty distinct.

Iroha is the main character and she’s a rather timid character. She’s one of the weaker magical girls around and is used to fighting in a city where the witches are a lot weaker. Still, she had to come here to find her sister and fortunately the other magical girls are willing to help her. Iroha is a pretty decent character even if I wish she was a bit more aggressive. It feels like she sort of goes with the flow half the time and is pretty soft spoken like Madoka. Fortunately unlike the old main character we actually do see Iroha fight quite a bit. She rarely wins but she does contribute.

Yachiyo is one of the characters with the biggest role here and serves as the Homura of the group. She’s very serious compared to the rest of the characters and always has to remind them that this isn’t a game. She has very personal reasons for being a Magical Girl (As do the rest of them) and we slowly find out a bit about what has made her so jaded. She’s a pretty solid fighter and one who has unlocked her hybrid form. I’ll speak more to that in a minute. Yachiyo is pretty strategic and also probably the strongest member of the main cast. While she can’t hold a candle to the original Magical Girls, she does better than the rest.

So what are these hybrid forms? Well, it seems like they are a pretty clever way of balancing the power gap between the original main characters and the new ones. Think of it sort of like how in Cardfight Vanguard G they added Grade 4 units so the new main characters could keep up. In a human 1 on 1 fight the original cast would slaughter these guys as Mami showed when she appeared later on. However, the new iteration of magical girls have the power to turn into a witch when they are close to despair. This allows them to gain great powers and stamina. It’s rather interesting that a magical girl could turn into a witch temporarily instead of it being perfect. In a way that makes them superior to the originals in that it’ll be harder for their stones to break. With these monster forms the heroes were still losing but it’s a lot closer. Once the rest of the cast gets these forms it should be interesting to see how they fare. I’m definitely glad they got these power ups.

Tsuruno is a very fun character in Magia Record. She has supreme confidence all the time and her fire abilities mixed in with the fans are quite impressive. She feels like one of the strongest Magical Girls and doesn’t mind letting the others know that from time to time. She even owns a cafe which is pretty impressive considering her age. At least it seems like she owns it. Might be a family shop but seeing as how she is the only worker there whenever the heroes meet at the shop it’s fair to say that it’s hers. I look forward to her appearing more in season 2 and taking names.

Felicia has a hammer which is pretty cool because I don’t think any of the characters used that weapon before. She’s definitely more of a power fighter who likes to just run in and start hitting Witches. Her wish is easily one of the most direct ones of the group as she wants to eradicate them all. It’s a nice change of pace as most only destroy witches because they have to and it isn’t their ultimate goal. I feel like she’s the kind of character who will start out strong but quickly get surpassed by everyone as the series goes on. We’ll see though, perhaps she will stay as top tier. I thought she looked pretty solid here.

Momoko’s role is unfortunately a lot smaller than the other characters which is a shame. She’s one of the more mature members of the group and is always trying to keep everyone’s spirits up. It’s a difficult job considering how much they all have to go through on a daily basis between the witches and everything. One potential red flag is that she’s very upbeat all the time right now which usually means that she is hiding some kind of deep pain. I expect she’ll get a much bigger role in season 2. I’d like to see her in more fights because she was talented and her battle style is fun to watch.

Kaede and Rena get their own plot as their friendship is tested quite a bit as the show goes on. Rena isn’t good at making apologies and Kaede can be a little too quick to say sorry which makes Rena get even more upset. It’s a pretty tough dynamic they’ve got going on. It’s particularly tricky since they are both magical girls since one moment of despair can quickly prove to be the end for them. Then you’ve also got the cult of magical girls running around trying to get everyone to join the darkness. More on that group in a sec but they’ve definitely become pretty influential in the series. They’ve assembled a whole lot of magical girls.

For guest stars we get to see Mami, Kyoko, and Sayaka. Mami gets the biggest role out of the group and proves to be the one with the weakest will as always. It’s a shame because she always seems like a nice person, but one who is easily manipulated. She cracked in the alternate timeline of the first show, didn’t look so good in Rebellion, and then now we have this show. Kyoko only really gets a guest star role here but it does let us know that she’ll be around so she’ll probably do more in season 2. Right away she looked better than Mami here though as she realized that things were not adding up and was quick to assist the real heroes. Finally we have Sayaka who finally steps up at the end of the show. Her regeneration is as good as always but in a battle of pure force she’s nowhere near Mami’s level.

So the big plot going on throughout the show is about the group known as the Magius. They consist of a group of Magical Girls who claim to have found a way to rid the world of Witches once and for all while also ending the curse of Magical Girls being fated to die and turn into them. Naturally this is a pretty tempting offer so a lot of girls join their ranks. It’s still unclear exactly what their true purpose is, but even some of the main characters join their flock. I wouldn’t say that this is such a bad thing if they appeared to be on the level but they don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re shady. One of them openly threatens to murder anyone who disagrees with her and they also created a sketchy program to trap people in an endless abyss until they die. These are the “heroes”?

I’m glad Iroha, Kyoko, and Sayaka didn’t get fooled. The girls who did definitely lose some points there. I do like the idea of a group of evil Magical Girls though. It’s something that this franchise hasn’t really explored before. I admit it was always a little disappointing when a fight was getting ready to break out with them only for it to be called off. This show has quite a few fakeouts like that but it looks like they want to leave all of that for the sequel. Here they mainly summon Witches to fight as their proxy. Still, the group clearly does have a goal and who knows, maybe it is on the level. Perhaps they are just a more extremist version of the Girls who want to use any means necessary to murder the Witches. Not to build up too much hype for season 2 but it does seem to be when everything is really going to meet up and all the plots hit their climax.

The show mainly relies on a new ost but there are some old themes here as well. The ost is still pretty hype and whenever the heroes end up in a labyrinth you know things could get tricky for them. The animation is also quite good and it’s nice to see the characters fighting with more updated animation. In that regard the show certainly did surpass the original title. Everything is quite streamlined and the fight scenes are smooth. This isn’t really a show where fights are the main focus although I expect season 2 will have more of them so I’m always glad to see good animation.

So, where does this show take place? For now I am going to assume you have seen the first show. If you have not then skip the next two paragraphs. After all, it doesn’t make sense to discuss the future seasons if you haven’t seen the original. So here’s how I see it. At the end of the original show Madoka sacrificed herself to end all Witches. This created the Wraiths in their place. This show still has the witches so the first guess would be that they are before the show ended right? Alternately you could say it takes place after Rebellion since Homura undid Madoka’s wish and brought back Witches although they weren’t quite real. I don’t think this would work though because Walpurgisnacht wasn’t revived. As a result, I think this is one of the broken timelines.

We know from the first show that Homura tried to stop Walpurgisnacht hundreds of times and failed in each timeline until Madoka saved the day. So it stands to reason that this is one of the many timelines where she failed. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is the one who has formed this group of rebel Magical Girls to try to end the curse and finish off Walpurgisnacht. It would make sense as Homura took a different strategy in each attempt. While it would mean that ultimately every action in the show would be futile it would be a pretty epic twist. So right now this theory makes the most sense to me and it’ll be fun to see how season 2 goes with this. I really doubt the show would do something to reverse Rebellion’s ending as that would be saved for a proper sequel. I know Homura shows up in the game though so I expect she’ll make her presence known in season 2 and that should answer a lot of questions.

Overall, Magia Record is definitely a lot of fun. It can feel more episodic and it’s not trying to be quite as deep as the main show but there are always elements beneath the surface just waiting to pop up. The ending is also pretty excellent. It was quite possibly my favorite part of the whole show. It feels like the tone suddenly shifted and it helps that the song was really great as well. In a way, the first 11 episodes were all setup for these final moments. It really sets up the sequel season quite well and also raises the stakes. It ties in a bit to where this takes place as I mentioned earlier as well. I’m hoping season 2 jumps us right into the action there. I’m expecting we’ll see more of the old cast as well since they are destined to show up for this confrontation. I highly advise watching the original show before checking this one out so you can understand the framework. After that, definitely jump into this show and if the wait for season 2 is too long you can always download the mobile game and try to reach the end.

Overall 7/10

6 Star TV Shows, Reviews, TV Show Reviews, TV Shows

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga Review


It’s time to look at the next installment in Blue Exorcist. This is a pretty unique season two because for starters it completely ignores the second half of the first season. That’s because the first season diverged and ultimately went to filler. It’s a pretty interesting tactic but one that makes sense and more titles should give it a try. That said, I don’t mind series going all the way back to the starting point because it means more adaptions of hype fights. That said, one problem here is that most of the characters have slid way back in terms of character development. It’s a solid show but definitely one that has its flaws.

The show starts with Rin and Yukio stopping a kidnapper from getting away. The guy seems rather skilled though and was able to easily best Yukio before escaping. This compounds with Yukio’s inferiority complex over Rin getting all the power and friends which causes a bit of a rift between them although Rin is oblivious and Yukio tries not to show it. They each go their separate ways as Yukio is called to a mission in the mountains while Rin goes with his friends to a temple mission. The problem is that nobody likes Rin anymore after the events of the forest arc. Even the super nice childhood friend seems to have turned on him.

Rin does his best to cope with this though. At the temple things aren’t quite as they seem. The two main factions are feuding with each other and the leader always skips meeting. They suspect he may be a traitor now which would be devastating. See, the temple is in charge of protecting two eyes because should they ever be brought together then a giant monster would appear and end the planet. Rin wants to help but he is not allowed to do so on account of his devil powers. Will the heroes be able to get past all of their individual dramas in order to help save the day?

As you can see, this season does bring up a lot of plot points from the past and they are necessary to fully get what’s happening here. The show has a lot of flashbacks though so you’ll be up to speed real quick. Here’s why part of the season can feel like a retread though. In the first season once it turned to filler, the series decided to delve into Yukio’s character quite a bit. It makes sense because the manga had been building up this plot since the start and if the anime was doing its own thing anyway they may as well finish it right?

In the first show Yukio briefly turned evil due to mind control and such and he finally got to properly have a talk with Rin. They squared away their differences and vowed to get stronger in their own ways. While the filler arc wasn’t all that great (Trying to turn the Devil into a sympathetic guy who didn’t know any better is still pretty crazy) this plot was handled reasonably well. It’s about at the same level as how the real one went although Yukio not flat out turning evil here is a plus.

The other plot was about Rin’s friends not trusting him after he saved their lives in the forest. (By the way the friends are pretty awful about this in every possible context. If Rin didn’t step up and fight the guy then they all would have been murdered. The friends are so petty the whole time that it’s crazy) That one was handled in the first show as well so the got back to being on good terms. This show has to go through all of that again since they are back to square 1. It’s not that the show does any of this poorly though. Other shows also handle the same plots over and over again with changes like the Fate series as you go through the different paths. It’s rare that you see it in a classic Jump anime though.

All right, that’s enough about the similarities. The whole thing is pretty fun to look at though. Ultimately it makes sense why the series would ignore it and do things the canon way. The series is only 12 episodes so it definitely goes by you in a blast. It’s very nostalgic seeing the old characters and part of what helps seal that effect is they grabbed all of the classic themes. The Blue Exorcist series had a terrific OST so this was a smart play. I’d liked to have seen more of Rin’s theme as it only gets played once or twice but he doesn’t get to fight much here so I suppose that makes sense. I also like the 90’s techno/jazz theme that plays. It’s hard to describe that one but it’s always sounded pretty great and gets you pumped for what’s about to happen.

The animation is definitely on point as well. I always like how they draw the blue flames here. They pop out at you and the same goes for the fire blasts as well. All of the shots look crisp and modern so I’ve definitely got no qualms about this. On a technical level the show definitely holds its own and maintains a consistent quality throughout.

Rin’s still a pretty solid lead. That’s a good thing because at times it feels like he is holding the entire show on his shoulders as far as the cast is concerned. He’s definitely the most interesting character and always puts up a brave front. One subplot here is that Rin has lost a lot of his confidence after his friends undermining him the whole time but he tries to never let this show. To an extent I feel like it was also the sword trolling him or someone preventing him from using it though. I feel like he should have been able to use it sooner. Regardless, Rin always dives into action and definitely handles the situations pretty well.

Shiemi is the main heroine here but she doesn’t manage to stack up as well as most. The reason for this is even she is unable to stay by Rin’s side and is a big reason as to why he has lost confidence. Later on it’s played more like she was too nervous to talk to him but it was hard for her to rebound from this. In comparison Izumo handles things a lot better. She’s already mean to everyone and isn’t afraid to talk to Rin throughout the adventure. She treats him the same way as normal and at least that helps Rin’s experience feel a little more normal at times. Izumo is also portrayed as one of the most skilled exorcists here. She is quick to help heal the monks and also thinks fast during the invasion. From the supporting cast she was definitely the best one.

Ryuji is more of a mixed bag but I would definitely put him on the lower side. He mainly just gets in Rin’s way and gets the lead into trouble on quite a few occasions. It would help if he could fight a bit more or something but most of the main characters can’t really fight for beans. He had his big moments at the end of the season since this is his arc so I think he’ll be a much better character in the next season. At least he ended strong right?

Konekomaru is definitely the worst character though. He’s the one most actively afraid of Rin and getting everyone else to fear the lead as well. The guy never really minds his own business. Look, I would cut the characters a little more slack if I could see why they were scared of Rin but I’m not really buying it. He totally saved them all. Konekomaru just needs to remember that. He’s also one of the most reluctant to go and help Rin when it counted.

Shima is also pretty sketchy although not specifically for Rin. The guy just never wants to risk his life so he’ll run for safety even if it means that all of his friends will die. There’s no real way to support him after something like that. I did appreciate that he was a little quicker to start being cool with Rin again though.

Yukio is still pretty jealous of Rin’s abilities for most of the series. He covers It up by acting calm and collected but as Shura pointed out that makes it a lot easier for demons to manipulate him. Todo plays a ton of mind games with him for most of the series although Yukio ultimately stays strong. He looks better than his first series self in that respect. I liked the magic trap that he used near the end of the series. It was pretty well thought out and at least helped him start to make a comeback. Todo was a supremely difficult opponent to stop so any measure that slowed him down is solid.

So right now I don’t really care for Yukio but hopefully he’ll be on the upwards trend now. He is still keeping secrets from Rin though so I can’t see that ending well. Mainly Yukio’s worst scene here was leaving Rin to die and even trying to stop him from using the sword. For a proper redemption arc we need Yukio to step in and save Rin next time or at least defend him when the chips are down. That’ll go a long way to raising him up the ranks.

Then we have Todo who is the big villain of the arc. The guy definitely does pretty well here as he holds off multiple exorcists and even eats two different spirits. This gives him incredible powers in addition to what he already had. The heroes really had a hard time taking him on to the point where he probably should have crushed them almost instantly based on the speed we saw from him. The guy was just out of their league and when you mix in his regeneration abilities this makes the matter even worse. He was a fun villain. Ultimately I don’t think that guy will be super well remembered but this series hasn’t really had many good villains so almost by default he’s my favorite villain in the series right now.

The show does suffer from a bit of fan service at times. For the most part it’s nothing crazy but it seems like the mentor’s only role at times. Shura’s whole attack on Mephisto is one of those scenes because everyone knew the plan had 0 chance of success. If anything it just makes her look pretty terrible. Is she really so scared of this guy? Why even pick the fight if this was out it was going to end? She also doesn’t look too impressive considering she’s a mentor since Rin is able to shake her a few times and in the final fight she helps a bit, but not a ton.

It’s always a bit dicey to have a villain like Mephisto working with the heroes when he’s way stronger than them and they know it. I don’t see how they can all get along so well. I don’t think the dynamic works to be honest. He puts them into a ton of danger and helps the demons out a lot. Why is the guy still here? While the heroes are very weak compared to the villains, I wouldn’t yet call it a hopeless situation for them. The reason being that there isn’t really much of a villain group yet. The villains just do whatever they want and usually almost beat the heroes. This random monster (Well the Impure King is a pretty cool name and I guess he’s not totally random but there could be a lot of other monsters like this guy around) is apparently pretty strong but for one monster to basically have the whole order in check is a bad sign for them. Without Rin the heroes would be doomed and they should really start to realize that soon.

We get quite a few characters from the two sects over at the temple although most of them won’t stand out. Mamushi gets a big role since she gets involved in the conspiracy. She appears to be a bit gullible the whole time but is certainly dedicated to the cause. I do think she had good reason to doubt that Tatsuma was on the level though. She was a fun character. Then you have Juzo who was my favorite character from the group. He had some good fire abilities and took more of a leadership role compared to the others. That being said, I do think it was a bit odd that he tried to stop Mamushi from saving the eye. At that point nobody knew who the traitor was, but it was about to be burned in flames and the whole point is that they need to protect it right? Seemed like an odd moment in the show and the defense for doing that was real weak. Finally we also have Tatsuma as a character with a big role but he’s pretty terrible from start to finish. The guy was just impossible to redeem by the end and his actions still make no sense if you ask me. Stirring up trouble and getting the sects to suspect each other of treason was not the right way to handle this.


Overall, It’s nice to see Blue Exorcist back. The manga seemed to start diving off the deep end and going nowhere fast but anime is a solid medium that can make things more exciting. The directing here seems solid so I’m sure they could pull more seasons off. It seems a bit unlikely right now since this one came out a while ago, but there’s always a chance for another season. Considering that this one had to work with almost no fights and was still entertaining I think the next one should be in a good position.

Overall 6/10